For once, this week's elimination on Survivor: Cagayan was not a blindside.
"We knew it was a 50/50 shot between me and Spencer," the show's latest castoff, Jeremiah Wood, tells TVGuide.com. "In the end, I gave it my all. It is what it is. I love this game and I'd love to be able to play it again. I know where I messed up."
Jeremiah's ouster on Wednesday's episode was the result of a flip-flop by Jefra — who pledged her support to Jeremiah and his alliance early on in the episode, but then ended up returning to her original alliance led by Tony.
Check out our interview with Jeremiah to find out what big moves he thinks could have changed his fate, as well as his reaction to Jefra's wavering and bafflement that Tony's still in the game.
Let's start on a positive note. How great was that reward meal?
Jeremiah: The reward was unbelievable. First time I've ever been on a helicopter. That was pretty awesome. Then we got to the caves. ... Probably one of the prettiest things I've ever seen in my life. Then we get up to the reward, and we had all that food there. All those ribs. I ate so much. I ate a lot on the past reward challenge that I had, but this one here, I just kind of went all-out. And it wasn't good. (Laughs).
Is it hard to restrain yourself, after living on basically just rice for so many days?
Jeremiah: That was the hardest thing to do, is not just sit down and pile it up head high and just go to town. I'll tell you, it's amazing. To go that many days, of dragging water and eating rice every day, or eating a coconut, when you see real food, it's like you're in paradise. It was just an awesome feeling.
So, at the reward, what was your reaction when you got Jefra to flip?
Jeremiah: That was an absolute awesome feeling. I had to do a little bit of apologizing to her, because I did try to target her the very first vote. ... We were trying to let her know, "Hey, this is your million dollar flip right here. Nobody can take this away from you. You've got something to talk about at the end. This was your decision." And we tried to pump her up as much as we could, so that way she would definitely be on board with us and she would stay with us. And at the time, she was. It was perfect. Once we got back to camp, a couple of dumb decisions got made.. Honestly, you've got to have common sense to play this game, and nobody was using a whole lot of common sense. It was killing me. I was thinking, "I'm out here with some of the smartest people in the world probably, and they haven't got a lick of common sense."
That seems to be sort of a theme this season.
Jeremiah: It's just amazing. Everybody's got their own strategy coming into this game, and they're trying to stick with it. But it just kills me when you know it's an absolute dumb decision, and they still do it anyway. Because what happens is, if you've got somebody who's a strong strategic player and then you have somebody just making an absolutely dumb decision, it changes the whole outlook of the game. It changes the game completely to where some people who were there to really win this game, they get sent home too early. But yeah, it kills me when I see some of the decisions some of them made, especially with the Brains tribe in the very first part of the game. ... It sucks, because you're sitting there and you're like, this is probably sealing my fate in the game, is people making bad decisions.
Obviously you're referring to Jefra going back to her original alliance. Why do you think she did that?
Jeremiah: I guess she was thinking that she needed to go back with the numbers. I should have started a big lie right there. I've been kicking myself on that one. I should have started a big lie and told her, "Look, somebody in your alliance already flipped." ... But where she messed up is, she flipped with us and then as soon as she got back, it wasn't too much longer after that she told Tony and Trish what she had done, and then she flipped back. I said, "Jefra, you've got to use your head on this one. You've already told them that you flipped with us. Now you're flipping back. That's automatically going to put you at the bottom of that alliance." Just small decisions like that, when you don't think and you just react too fast, that seals your fate. It seals a lot of people's fate, and it just makes people not trust you out there.
So at Tribal Council, had you kind of resigned yourself to the fact that you might be voted out?
Jeremiah: That's absolutely accurate. We knew it was a 50/50 shot between me and Spencer. Tasha had won the immunity challenge, and she was safe. Spencer had the idol, but we knew it was coming towards us. ... I was trying to convince Jefra even to just let it go to a tie. ... Let's go to rocks. Let's make this thing interesting. Let's see what happens. Because, if the ball rolled our way, that puts me and Spencer back on top and we can control that game so easy. For me, it would have been a whole different outcome. It was just one of those things. She just made her decision.
You and Spencer seem pretty close. Was it hard to make the case against each other at Tribal Council?
Jeremiah: Yeah. (Laughs). I was hurt a little bit. ... I knew he had the idol, and so that's why I was trying to push it off on him. I said, "He's a strategic threat here. ... He's a whole lot bigger threat than I am right now." And I was hoping he wouldn't have said nothing back, but then he turned around and said, "Jeremiah's the most likeable guy out here. He's the biggest threat." I said, "Oh, no."
Did you think Spencer would maybe have given you his idol?
Jeremiah: Spencer didn't know how to play the idol. We had talked about that. He went up to Jeff [Probst], he handed him the idol, he still didn't know what to say to Jeff. He was looking at me and I guess he just went on his gut feeling that he needed to play it for himself. If it was vice-versa, me in the same situation, honestly, I probably would have played the idol for myself too. I don't know if I could have just played it on Spencer, just because we didn't know which way the vote was going at all.
Spencer also made the argument that he'd vote for Tony if Tony makes it to the final three. Do you think that's true? I just feel like Tony's alienated so many people at this point.
Jeremiah: Well, the thing about it is, [Tony] is playing the game. And outside of me and Spencer and Tony, there's not a whole lot of strategy going on. ... If he did make it to the final three, it would have been hard not to vote for him. I mean, he's playing a villain by all means, but he's not a Russell [Hantz]. He's not causing a ton of controversy in his gameplay. So, he's playing the villain but he's trying to keep peace too. ... He's controlling everybody. He's lying. He's doing everything he possibly can to play this game. Everybody sees it, and everybody is still siding with him. ... So, yeah, it would definitely be a valid point. When you sit here and watch people that are not really playing the game that hard and you see somebody like Tony — even though nobody likes him ... he's playing so hard, it would be hard not to vote for the guy.
Are you surprised that he hasn't been voted out by this point?
Jeremiah: I'm very surprised he has not been voted out, just because of how paranoid he is. ... It's hard to trust somebody that is that paranoid, because you don't know what they're going to do. And it kills me that I've tried to get this guy voted out. Me and Spencer have tried, and Tasha has tried, and nobody is budging. I guess everybody's strategy is, if I let him do all of this and I just stay back in the shadows, when we go to the end, nobody's going to vote for him. I think that's what some people are thinking. I don't know. To me, I love Tony to death. He's a good guy. But if it was up to me, he wouldn't have been there at final merge. I'd have gotten rid of him before then.
You mentioned wishing you would have lied to Jefra before Tribal Council. Do you have any other regrets about how you played the game?
Jeremiah: I've always wondered about, at the very first part of the game, voting out Brice. I've looked at that a couple of times, and I believe I could have pulled him in tight. ... At the [start] of the game, you've got to have numbers. ... Your strategy should be, alright, let's get to that final merge but let's have a strong alliance. So I kind of kick myself a little bit over Brice. It might have been different, but even if it was a bad decision, I rebounded hard. I had an unbelievable social game. I could win people over just by talking to them.
I think my main [area] where I messed up was going into last night's episode. ... Even though we won Jefra over, it was still four on four and I needed to do that little extra something. So, there were two things I [could have] done. I should have started a big lie, or ... I almost took a step down and let Kass have my spot [at the reward], and that way Tasha and Spencer could have talked to Kass and Jefra at reward. I could have talked to Tony, Trish and Woo at the other camp, and you never know what would have happened. ... I should have given up my spot or I should have [lied to Jefra], and it would have been a different outcome. But then again, it might not have been a different outcome. ... I really do believe if we could have gotten one person to vote with us, I could have changed that whole game around. Me and Spencer both could have changed that whole game around.
Finally, were you surprised or insulted by the many, um, inventive misspellings of your name during the votes?
Jeremiah: (Laughs.) Yeah, everybody's got a sense of humor, I guess. When I wrote Woo's name down, I put about a hundred Os on it. I don't think they did it out of disrespect. Trish might have thought my name started with a G. I don't' know. It could just be bad spelling.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS. Catch up on full episodes here. Will you miss Jeremiah?
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