Survivoris a game that so often comes down to a player's ability and/or willingness to strike first and take out a big threat before it comes back to bite them. Chris Hammons learned that the hard way in last week's first of two episodes, when David organized a blindside to vote him out.
"I saw Dave as a huge threat. As soon as he played his idol for Jess, I knew he was going to be playing aggressive," Chris tells TVGuide.com. And at the swap, I told myself, 'This is the time to take him out, right now.' And I didn't do it."
Check out our full Q&A with Chris to see whether he plans to get revenge on David from his perch on the jury (the answer may surprise you), as well as what he would do differently if given the chance to play again.
You said at Tribal that you were 100 percent confident about the vote. At what point did you start to get worried?
Chris: As soon as I saw my name, I said, "Uh oh. This is it." I knew right then, as soon as I saw my name. I was like, no one's going to go after me, in the position I was in, unless they were 100 percent they had the numbers. They weren't going to go after me unless they had it. Right then, I said, "That's it. I'm over."
Is there anything you wish you would have done differently?
Chris: You're always going to play that game. I've played it over in my head a million times. But the biggest thing I could have done that I think would have mattered in the game would have been vote Dave off at the swap. I think I could have accomplished that with Michelle and Zeke. I should have done that. But other than that, it's all out of your hands. At some point in time, you've got to just play the game and hope it goes your way a little bit. You've got to have a little luck, too.
How much will this blindside weigh on you as a juror?
Chris: When I was on the jury, it was just interesting because I'm never going to be on a jury hardly ever, because I'm a trial lawyer. And to serve on one was going to be really fun for me. But for me, it was just paying attention to what was said and who was smart enough to talk to the jury, who was smart enough to play out their game in front of the jury. And, at the end of the day, I want it to be a good champion, a good final Survivor there, so I was paying attention to it and taking my role on there very seriously.
What was your take on the Millennials vs. Gen X divide this season?
Chris: Oddly enough, I felt that the Millennials probably would have been a lot more loyal to each other. The Gen Xers, we immediately looked like we were together but we obviously weren't. We took out Michelle and Taylor, but in hindsight, I think that the Millennials were probably more trustworthy than the Gen Xers, if you want to know the truth. I think they were much more trustworthy than the Gen X team, and that might have been [a factor] at least in my demise.
You and Zeke seemed to form a close bond.
Chris: We were real close. I felt like he owed me in the game. I saved him. We could have easily just picked him and Michelle off, and I gave him life in the game. I thought we had a really good relationship, just talks we had about life and our lives and experiences that I've had, outside of even football. The football connection was there too, but we were really pretty close on the show.
Going back to David organizing that blindside, he's really emerged as an unlikely power player this season.
Chris: Going forward, he's the player to beat. He's thinking five or six steps ahead of everybody, and he had a really good game plan to take me out, because I was standing in his way. If that vote goes my way, look out. It's going to be hard to take me out at that point, and he knew it, and so he executed his plan perfectly.
Aside from eliminating David when you had the chance, is there anything about your general strategy that you regret?
Chris: I went into the game lying about my career, and that hid some of the passions I have in life. Just social passions and just my philosophy in life, I had to kind of hide and bury. I think I might have connected to a lot more people if I'd have been able to be full, 100 percent myself. So, if I get to play again, I think I will be able to be completely me, because everybody knows I'm a lawyer to begin with. At the end of the day, if I could do it over again, I would have just said, "Hey, I'm a trial lawyer, and this is what I stand for." I think it would have connected with a lot more people and I would have been able to show more of my true self.
Why did you hide it?
Chris: In general, I do a lot of focus groups and stuff, and people just don't like lawyers. They think we're either smart or sneaky or both, and that we're liars. I think I could have overcome that had I just given it a chance, and people would have seen the real me, instead of having to kind of live this kind of lie throughout the game. It's interesting. I've reflected back on that many times. I think I should have done that.
So you would play again if given the chance?
Chris: Yeah. I've said it before, if Jeff called me right now and said, "Get on the plane," I'd drive out to the airport and get on it.
As a longtime fan, what was the most surprising aspect for you of actually playing the game, as opposed to watching it from home?
Chris: Obviously being away from family and friends is really difficult. But understanding that this game is 24 hours a day. There is no rest off from it, there's no time down. You've got to be constantly looking and seeing where everybody's going, who's walking off with who. And that is really, really difficult to do. You have to be on your game 24 hours a day, little sleep, no food. That is a tall order. Survivor's the hardest game there is, period, in the world.
Your first Tribal Council as a juror was a crazy one. What was it like to witness all that chaos?
Chris: I loved it. I liked seeing Dave and Zeke kind of go at it, because Dave turns into this different animal when he's in Tribal. He gets very aggressive, very straightforward. And then Bret playing off of that was really great. Bret was chiming in, and they were going at it. And then just seeing everybody kind of stick to their guns and pull rocks. All they had to do was just vote Hannah or Zeke off! I respect everyone that put their hand in that bag and drew a rock at that point, even though I think some of them didn't want to do it. [Laughs] I think Dave, to his credit, pushed the bags more than anybody, and I think a lot of people would have said, "Hey, let's roll over on somebody." But Dave wasn't going to do it.
Were you as surprised as everyone at home was when he played his idol for Ken?
Chris: His idol play isn't going to win him any trophies from me. Playing the idol back when he played it for Jess was crazy. Because ... we were all talking, maybe there's gonna be a swap. You don't know what's going to happen, but you're anticipating. And what if you're stuck with all Millennials? He didn't know he was going to find an idol the next day. So, playing that for Jess at that point was really crazy, in my opinion, especially since we had a super-majority that was willing to vote Jess out, including Ken. So, that was pretty crazy on my part. And then playing it for Ken that night was just a gamble. He rolled the dice wrong and put himself at risk.
Is there a player, at this point in the game, who would definitely have your vote to be the Sole Survivor?
Chris: I would say that I feel Dave, to this point in the show, is playing the best game. It sounds cliché, but I think I was one of the threats. If this vote goes my way, it would have been hard to take Zeke or I out at this point. And Dave did it. And he did it in a very stealthy way. I didn't catch wind of it, and he did what he was supposed to do, and that's take out one of the biggest threats in the game. Kudos to him. I'd say Dave right now is playing the best.
Any final thoughts?
Chris: I think it's been a great season. I wish I could have went farther in the game, but to be a part of this season's been really fun. And moving forward, I'm looking forward to the next episodes, because there's lots of things I don't' know about. And I can't wait to watch myself as a fan, and then of course I can't wait to see the final Tribal Council. It's gonna be great.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)