Nobody can accuse this season's Survivor contestants of not being cutthroat enough.
Wednesday's episode featured the latest blindside from Millennials vs. Gen X, with Jay orchestrating a coup to get his fellow Millennial Michaela Bradshaw out of the game. It led to one of the more memorable exits in Survivor history, with Michaela staring Jay down and bidding him an unprintable farewell as she went back to her seat to retrieve her shoes.
However, they say time heals all wounds, and it appears that Michaela isn't holding a grudge against Jay for his role in her ouster. Check out our Q&A to find out whether Michaela thinks Jay made a smart move, as well as the unseen influence she had in Figgy's dismissal last week.
You were obviously completely blindsided at Tribal Council. What was your immediate reaction about Jay's betrayal, and is it something you're still resentful about?
Michaela: In the moment, I felt devastated. I was like, we had this path, it was golden, and you ruined it! And I took it hard on a personal level because me and Jay had both talked about how big this money would be for our families, and the things we want to do, the legacies we want to leave, and all that stuff. So for that to be ripped out from under me and for him to take part in it, oh, I was so hurt.
But less than 24 hours after the fact, I had already made peace with it. And it's just because, I get it. I get that it's great to have me on your team, but there's a fear in Survivor that somebody on your team will flip against you. And even if everything would have worked out in our favor, and the four of us would have got to the end, it's not a winning proposition for anyone else to take me to the end of the game if I were to keep playing the game the way I was playing it at that point. So, I get it. There's no bad blood between me and Jay at all. We were actually texting during the Tribal Council last night. So, yeah, it sucks that I lost a million dollars, but I'm grateful for the experience and I'm grateful for the people that I met through it as well.
Did you have any doubts going into Tribal Council? Was there any part of you that was like, "Well, there's a one percent chance this vote might not go as planned"?
Michaela: There was that 1 percent chance. I remember specifically logically thinking things out and I was like, "This is a simple vote. ... Survivor votes are never simple. So, what's the alternative? If a Gen Xer doesn't go home today, it's gonna be me." So, I had that thought. However, did I think that there was any likelihood that that would happen? I thought zero likelihood. I knew it was a possibility, but I thought that it just would not happen. So when I saw my name written down once, I was like, "That's dumb. Bret and Sunday should have voted for each other." Twice, I'm like, 'This is an attack. Somebody told them to vote for me." Three times I was like, "Jay, shame on you!" It was not expected at all.
Looking at it as objectively as you can, do you think it was a good move on Jay's part, or do you think he should have brought you to the merge?
Michaela: I think you can look at it multiple ways. You can look at it in the sense of, "Jay, that was dumb, because Michaela wanted to take you to the end." If our plan would have worked, he would have been guaranteed to go 4 to 3. The other way you can look at it is, "Jay, you were smart to knock out Michaela, because if you would take Michaela to the end, there's a chance that she could have won." What's the point of going to the end with someone you're not going to beat? Then three, another way to look at it, "Jay, you're smart, because you don't want a person that can win challenges to have the chance to win challenges after the merge." So, depending on how you look at it, I think in some aspects it was a smart move for him. In other aspects, considering that I'm super trustworthy, I was super loyal, and I had no one else to play with, I think that it wasn't a smart move. So, we'll see how it works out for him.
There was a challenge early in the season where you had a little wardrobe malfunction with your swimsuit. How did it feel to watch that on TV? And what was going through your mind in the moment, knowing it was being filmed?
Michaela: In the challenge, I don't even look at the cameras. I don't care. I just want to win when I get in that zone. We were going back and forth, the boys would lose, the girls would win. So I knew that we needed to win everything to have a shot. And what was happening under the water is what they didn't show. Under the water, Lucy was holding the back of my bikini, like the part that goes around your back, and she had yanked at the top of my bikini, around my neck, to where it broke. And so, the only thing that was holding me from going to go get the buoy was Lucy holding this one string around my neck. So I'm like, "No, I'm not going to be held back by a string. I'll just take this thing off." It was just a split-second decision, like, we've got to win. And if you're going to be breaking my clothes, then I'm definitely going to win, because I can't lose and look a fool. So, I thought it was funny. I think my friends nailed it. When I want something, I go for it. And that was just an example.
In last night's episode, you outlined a whole forward-looking game plan ahead of the vote. Do you think it was a mistake to focus so much on the long game?
Michaela: I think I would rethink the strategy in the sense of, everything in my mind does not need to come out of my mouth. That's a classic example. If that would have stayed in my mind and not come out of my mouth, I would have been fine. But the fact that I articulated something that wasn't necessarily the ideal situation for other people, that scared them, and I think that's a huge part of why I got sent home. So, I don't think it's bad to look forward. I think you always have to stay present every single day. I think looking forward is great, but you can't let people know that you're looking forward. That's where I messed up.
You were also really outspoken in challenges and your interviews. Do you think your bluntness put a target on your back or made you some enemies?
Michaela: I don't think anything I did in a challenge outside of winning put a target on my back. Because most of the time, the things that I would say, especially if it was said in frustration, that's what everybody else is thinking. That's what they want to say, but they don't have the cojones to say in that moment. So it's kind of like, woo, yeah, I'm thinking that too. But when I'm talking strategy and when I'm showing that I can strategically put myself to the end of this game, that's something that gets in the way of other people's million dollars. So, that's the distinction that I would make there.
Other than wishing you had kept your long-term strategy to yourself, do you have any regrets about how you played the game?
Michaela: Otherwise, no, not really. I felt like I was true to myself. When things were down, I was the one that could bring out a win for the team. I felt like I was in alignment with my character. I was determined. I played for my team. I tried to do the right thing, and I think it reflects who I am as a person. Even the parts of me that weren't the happiest -- if I'm snapping at a challenge or trying to get things done or saying something smart -- that's part of Michaela. I have a personality and I'm human. So, I don't live with any regrets. I loved having the experience. I'm so grateful for it. And it was really great to be able to watch it on TV.
Was there anything we didn't see on the episode or the season that you'd want viewers to know?
Michaela: One thing that's funny is that, during the table challenge, after I helped Michelle and Zeke land one ball, I turned to Adam and we were having, like, a mouthing conversation. I was like, "ADAM, VOTE FIGGY." He was like, "WHAT?" and I was like, "VOTE. FIGGY." We went back and forth for, I swear, like two minutes. Then I turned around and said, "Oh, I hope Adam votes Figgy. I hope Adam votes Figgy." So that was a conversation at Ikabula that night. Will Adam flip, or will he stick with them? Did he hear me? What happened? So, you saw when we came back and Figgy was gone, I was like, "Yeah!" So, that was epic. I'm so glad he did that.
If you had the chance to play Survivor again, would you?
Michaela: Definitely. If I got that call, I would be on a plane so fast. I'm the type of person, I love to win, and when I don't win, instead of getting bitter about it, I figure out what I did wrong and what I can do better. So I've thought of some things I could do better, and I would love the chance to implement them. And just, the opportunity to win a million dollars in 39 days? That is unheard of. And do it legally, too? Oh my God.
Who do you think is the biggest threat in the game going forward?
Michaela: Looking at everything so far, I would say, one, Ken. Because Ken's a physical player, but he has this soft, sensitive, listening side to him. And I think in the game of Survivor, being able to listen and observe and then communicate that in a soft way, as opposed to a blunt way like I do, I think that's key. And then also, Zeke. Zeke's had interaction with essentially everybody on the show at this point. He has his original alliance. Except Mari, everybody in his original alliance is still there. He's formed new bonds with multiple Gen Xers, and he knows where the idol is. So, I think if he uses those elements to his advantage, he's in a great position. And he's so smart that I couldn't imagine him not using that to his advantage.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)