Survivor: Redemption Island player David Murphy started the game in one of this season's strongest alliances — the alliance of six on the Zapatera tribe. But David's strongest asset quickly became his biggest weak spot when his alliance opted to vote out veteran Russell Hantz and refused to play a strategic game. "I think there was just a different mentality between the other five and myself," the 31-year-old Los Angeles lawyer tells TVGuide.com. "The approach they had to the game was not the same approach that I had." David also talked about why he thinks he would have been a better fit to play with Russell, what his biggest mistake was at the duel and his biggest boiling point in the game.
Did your close alliance with Mike Chiesel affect your mindset going into the duel?
David Murphy: That really had no impact on my performance in the duel. At the end of the day, I over-thought the whole thing. I was building something that would withstand a wind storm, not something that would just stand for 30 seconds. That was my downfall.
Obviously it was a big surprise to people that redemption island came back after Matt was brought back into the game for the merge. Were you happy that they brought back that element of the game?
David: I absolutely thought it was a good thing in the sense that after the merge, based on the numerical breakdown, we had such little control over anything. We really couldn't do much to break through the Ometepe alliance and we couldn't sway anyone to break away from Ometepe and form a totally new alliance. There was no flexibility. So going to redemption island was the only way possible to advance in the game.
Why were you so sure you were going home at your final Tribal Council?
David: Having made it to the end of the two previous immunity challenges, Rob knows enough about this game to realize that anyone can get on a hot streak and that if you start winning immunity challenges, you can't really be voted out, so you have to seize the opportunity when you can to get rid of somebody who you consider a threat. It was pretty clear from the episode that Rob saw that and he ordered his troops to act accordingly.
Rob has played a major role in his tribe's success, but has also controlled his tribe a lot. Do you ever regret voting out your tribe's returning player —Russell — so early in the game?
David: I was on the fence about it the entire time. I was reluctant to do anything, but I understood that I didn't really have a choice in the matter. When the alliance of six wanted to do it, if I had gone against that, it would have put me in a very bad position. I was not totally in favor of throwing the challenge and I was not opposed to having Russell stay around. He brought an element of chaos to the tribe which was aggravating from the outside, but there was another side to it that was potentially very positive because it would have taken the focus off of me and would have allowed me to play a much different game.
I didn't think there was any possibility of pulling any of the others from the alliance of six with me to go with them so there was no way I could have done it and known that it wouldn't have come back to haunt me. Had I tried to get someone to come along with me and work with Russell, I don't think it would have done my any favors. I think it actually would have backfired and I would have been on the chopping block even sooner.
Your alliance of six was strong from the beginning so why did you want to play with Russell, whose alliance was smaller?
David: I think it would have been a better fit for me, definitely.
David: I think I wouldn't have been the outspoken one that kind of stuck out from the crowd. I wouldn't have been the only person trying to play the strategic angle to the game. I wouldn't have been stuck in a group of people who wanted to sit around and be best friends rather than put themselves further in this game.
The biggest conflict within your alliance seemed to be between you and Sarita. Was that dramatized for the cameras or did you two really not see eye-to-eye?
David: The conflict was definitely there and that's when I reached my boiling point because I had no strong ties left to the alliance, and I had no choice but to remain a part of it or go home. I was definitely looking for a move to make and the move that I tried to make, in terms of getting rid of Sarita to keep Stephanie, would have been good for the tribe. I think it may have resulted in a better outcome for the challenge that we lost at the obstacle course, but hindsight is 20/20. The next week they decided to listen to me a little bit more and get rid of Sarita, but it was a little too late at that point.