Garrett Adelstein earned himself a place in the Ill-Advised Moves on Survivor Hall of Fame this week, when he became the second player voted out of Survivor: Cagayan after leaving his immunity idol back at camp.
"I think that was probably pretty clearly a mistake," a chagrined Garrett tells TVGuide.com.
With both eliminations so far being blindsides — and both being from the Brains tribe — there's no telling where this season is headed. Check out our interview with Garrett to find out why he didn't bother to bring the idol with him to Tribal, as well as behind-the-scenes scoop on a brewing feud among two of the Brains.
How's it going, Garrett?
Garrett: I could be doing better, but trying to be optimistic.
Looking back on your Survivor experience, what would you have done differently?
Garrett: There were several things I would have done differently. I would say with a few decisions I made, in each of the cases I think they were probably wrong, but it's hard to say. ... The first one that is quite controversial is me making a very unorthodox decision for Survivor, and that's to have an open forum where we decide to vote J'Tia out before the second Tribal Council.
Why were you so adamant about having conversations out in the open?
Garrett: I had many, many pieces of evidence that showed me this would be a good approach with Kass specifically ... [and] it was important that I pull Kass onto my side. So from Day 1, I made a huge effort to do that. ... We get back from the challenge and ... I thought it might be an intelligent idea to get her to commit her loyalties at that exact point.
Tasha in particular was very frustrated with the open forum approach.
Garrett: That's one thing that I think is easily confused with the episode. It showed Tasha being all upset, like, "I'm here to play Survivor." Yeah, so am I. The reason you're upset, Tasha, is because things aren't going your way. You want to use Kass to turn on me, to vote me out. So of course you're going to act like that. It wasn't like she was mad that we were having an open discussion. She could care less about that. She was there to win Survivor. ... And it was obvious to me starting on Day 4, she was a few days behind the curve, as [opposed] to Spencer and I knowing from Day 1 we would need to try to get Kass to flip.
The big question: Why didn't you bring your immunity idol to Tribal Council?!
Garrett: So, we had the open forum, I get the result that I want and expect, and then it just gets better from there. Of course, we see J'Tia throwing our rice in the fire. So, it's a situation where it really doesn't seem like it could be more of a lock that J'Tia's going to go home. And obviously those are every former contestant who doesn't win's last words. But that's why I didn't bring my idol to Tribal. And for what it's worth, if I would have brought my idol to Tribal Council, I still wouldn't have played it. They chopped up a very long Tribal into just a few minutes that I think to the viewing audience, particularly after you see the results, make it seem like, obviously Garrett should have played the idol. I regret many decisions. I wouldn't have played the idol either way. There is a risk in [bringing] it when they don't even know I have an idol. Now, the cost/benefit of that, should I always bring it just in case? Yeah, I think I actually should. I think that was probably pretty clearly a mistake, but there is at least an argument that says, after the crazy girl literally ruins everything in every challenge, everybody hates her and then she burns our rice, this is probably a Tribal Council where you're going to be safe. But, alas that wasn't the case.
But it was clear during the conversation at Tribal that Tasha and J'Tia were gunning for you. Did you start to become concerned at all at that point?
Garrett: I think to the Survivor viewing audience, they're not used to seeing a five-person tribe this early on in the game. They're used to seeing it in Week 12, Week 13, where the game's much different, alliances are so much more hardened, etc. But it didn't matter. Clearly J'Tia was going to be gunning for me. And I knew very clearly that Tasha was as well. ... All we needed was Kass to go with us in that exact situation, and then Spencer and I would be in a really good spot. ... Again, watching the episode, you go, "Well, yeah, everybody saw that, that's why Kass flipped on you." But the reality just wasn't like that.
So what do you think of Kass' decision to flip?
Garrett: I made a huge effort to make it seem like Kass was my number one and we were very close. So she had no reason to think that if we did vote out J'Tia tonight, even if we did lose again and voted out Tasha after, that in that three-person tribe [with me and Spencer] she would be the one going home. I feel like that also made it seem like Kass made a good decision because in this deal, it's her and Tasha one and two with J'Tia three. And that was just so clearly not the case. Tasha and J'Tia [are] very much linked. [Kass] is without question going to be third in that group of three.
Do you think keeping J'Tia around is going to backfire on the tribe?
Garrett: It's obviously easy and typical to be like, "Oh, they made a big mistake voting me out," and whatever. ... I think Tasha played her hand fine. She was going to be fourth of fourth, so she had to do something to flip the game around, and I give her a lot of credit to be able to do that. But I think Kass' decision is a really, really poor one, and it's one that upsets me a lot. In a word, I would describe her as totally random. ... To be more specific, she has one option where it's going to be her, two guys and Tasha, for now at least. The three most athletic people in the tribe, three people who can help her win challenges, three people who are mentally stable, three people who easily (if it also benefited them) could take her all the way to the end. Or someone like J'Tia, who's a total wild card. You always want the enemy that you know, and as far as I'm concerned everyone on that island is more or less an enemy on some level. So Tasha, again, being a smart player, she knew that she could trust Spencer and I to act in our own best interests. And with someone like J'Tia, that's so clearly not the case. But that's Kass. She's so random.
Was there anything that wasn't shown in Wednesday's episode that you think viewers should know?
Garrett: [Kass] hated J'Tia. And I know the viewers got a glimpse of that in the episode, but you just have no idea. Another scene that's not shown, just an amazing sequence, is — so J'Tia burned our fire out with water first and then dumped the rice out, long story short. It was just an insane couple hours. But what they don't show after the rice gets burned is Kass just going insane. Literally insane. Being very verbally abusive to J'Tia, taking her clothes, throwing them all over the beach. We had a couple bananas we needed to split five ways or four ways, and Kass was like, 'No, J'Tia, you're not getting one.' And J'Tia just grabs one anyway. I swear they were two seconds away from coming to blows. As crazy as the episode is and as unbelievable as it is that J'Tia didn't go home, if you were there, you would have been 100 times more shocked. I was so blindsided but also so unbelievably disappointed.
You said in your confessionals, though, that you were pretty miserable out in the jungle. Was it somewhat a relief to get sent home?
Garrett: No, not at all. [Laughs] Zero percent. Everyone is miserable when you're out there. It shows it a little bit, but from Day 3 to Day 6 it rained straight through. It doesn't show that we ate literally nothing until the end of Day 4 when we finally got our fire started. It doesn't show us literally drinking zero water until the end of Day 4 when we were able to boil water. So, yeah, it was absolutely miserable. And I can promise you, every single other person — not just in our tribe, but on the whole island — in their confessionals, without question, is whining. ... Did that have any impact on my game strategically or me ever considering going home? No. But of course, when it plays out the way it does, it makes a nice little story arc to be like, oh my gosh, I'm at rock bottom. I was. I wasn't hamming it up for the cameras. I was not in the best place.
But you don't think the physical conditions affected your game?
Garrett: A lot of people have commented, pretty stupid to go in with 2 percent body fat. You know what? They're right. The only defense I have of that is, I've been into bodybuilding for a decade. It's a really important part of my life. And it's something that before going into the game, I thought maybe could be neutral or slightly negative. I didn't really know. ... But my body shut down almost immediately, and it's really hard for it not to impact your mood. Now, I'm not going to do things like yell and scream at people like Kass, and I'm certainly not going to do clearly sociopathic things like throw people's rice on the fire in an environment where everyone's already starving. But I do think maybe it did depress me, and hopefully not in a way that impacted my game. I guess we'll never really know for sure.
Going forward, who do you think is the biggest threat on the Brains tribe?
Garrett: I don't think it's even close. I think Spencer's very clearly the best player. He knows the game so well and I think he'll do a better job than anyone else at knowing sort of what move to make strategically. He's a very good friend of mine so I'm clearly biased with this, but he's a great dude.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
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