And then there was one as the Galu and Foa Foa tribes merged into the new Aiga tribe on Thursday's Survivor: Samoa. Team members from both sides quickly started hashing out individual alliances but after a majority had agreed to vote Laura out, she won one of two immunity idols and took her name out of the running. As the remaining players scrambled to agree on another person to boot, Erik Cardona quickly rubbed many the wrong way by insisting either Jaison or Monica be sent home. So, with an idol in his pocket and a shocked look on his face, Erik found himself on the chopping block instead. The 28-year-old bartender talked with TVGuide.com about the merger, the pain of getting blind-sided by his teammates and reveals which player he thinks is the "Ty Cobb of Survivor."
TVGuide.com: What was going through your head during tribal council?
Erik Cardona: I was trying to put to the pieces back together and realign the focus of our tribe. What it should have been was to eliminate the Foa Foa members. I understand that we had merged but to me, it was still very much a team game ... If I can convince these people that we're not playing individual games, despite what Probst says and despite what Survivor rules say, that we need to get the Foa Foa members out ... then good. That was the point of the spew at tribal council. It was like, listen, these guys have no chance. That was not cocky and arrogant, it was strategic. I wanted to let them know: Stop scrambling, stop trying to split us, stop trying to find a kink in the armor, it's not going to happen ... That was basically a statement to my team saying: Come on, guys, let's focus, let's not do anything stupid. And little did I know they had already planned it.
TVGuide.com: Did your message of keeping the team together before the vote make your elimination that much more frustrating?
Erik: I could understand the first four [votes] because I figured the Foa Foa people didn't like me very much, which is fine. I wasn't there to make friends; they're the enemy. Even though I respected some of them and I told them that when they came over, business is business. Sorry guys, but you're on the low end of the stick here and you're trying to beat our tribe. I have too much pride in our tribe ... I'm as dedicated to this tribe as ever. That wasn't my trying to scramble to save myself, because I had no idea I was getting blind-sided. A better question would be to the Galu tribe: How do you feel about voting the guy off who just declared his undying loyalty and affection for you?
TVGuide.com: Why do you think it ended up being you over Jaison or maybe Monica?
Erik: I really don't know. I think the entire plan to oust me from the game was hatched, incubated and instrumented within five minutes. I would have thought that a person such as myself, because of the hard work ... the different things I did over the course of the last two weeks ... that would have warranted more than five-minute deliberation of whether I should stay or go. Especially if there are other viable options such as Jaison and such as Monica, I don't see how you pull a trigger on a guy like me.
TVGuide.com: How frustrating was it for you that everyone was in such agreement to vote off Laura and then she wins the immunity idol?
Erik: It sucks on so many levels. One of the most beautiful things about Survivor but its one of the worst things about Survivor is that it's not a black-and-white, super-rigid game. They can make decisions on the fly. One of the things that's beautiful in a way is the night we were supposed to have a double elimination, but out of respect to Russell, we didn't vote anyone off. At the same time, we could have gotten rid of Monica that night and we wouldn't have to worry about a Laura-Monica alliance. Then all of a sudden we jump into individual immunity and Jeff comes out and tells us that there's going to be two immunity winners. That sucks because now Laura has twice the amount of opportunity to win that immunity. You just got to roll with it, play the cards that you're dealt. That's the crazy thing about this game; you could play it 100 times and it would have 100 different endings. Honestly, I think for me, when I look back at it and I think about did I mess up here, did I mess up there, it makes it a little bit less of a sting knowing the whole world had to align perfectly with all these different little events to lead to my demise ...
TVGuide.com: Do you feel betrayed by anyone in particular on Galu who voted for you at tribal council?
Erik: I understand Laura. She had an opportunity. She thought she was one of the strongest players in the game. She thought she could flush out the idol and get rid of me. She got greedy — I think it was a stupid decision — but I get it. What I don't get is those guys in my group who didn't put the kibosh on it. I guess John tried to at the very end but there was too much weight against him. Brett definitely could have influenced things. Dave could have influenced things and he didn't. What was the point of wasting the last 10 days out here getting inside and forming an alliance with you guys if you're just going to turn tails ... that was extremely disappointing.
TVGuide.com: You also seem to have a problem with Russell. Why?
Erik: Russell was just kind of amusingly irritating. He came over and he was just so maniacal, truculent if you will, with the feeling he was outnumbered and outgunned. He went and scrambled and looked pathetic ... He just smelled bad from the get-go, there's something off about that guy ... He came up to me day one after the merger and said [we're the strongest and we should stick together]. In my head, I'm laughing my ass off. Russell, you are [minor] league, you are nowhere near the same category of the type of effort I put into this game. ... You want me to jeopardize everything I did with this tribe? You want me to throw all that away for the chance of working with you, the Ty Cobb of Survivor?
TVGuide.com: Looking back, would you have used your idol at tribal council or done anything else differently?
Erik: I wouldn't change anything. I think things happened the way they were supposed to have happened. I played with all my heart. [My tribe mates] had a choice, they broke my heart, they didn't have to do that and they have to live with the decision ... I am in a weird way fortunate to have gone out when I did because I don't get an opportunity to betray my morals, my ethics, to live with regret, because I left so early. On one side, it's all smiles for me because everybody else has to live with the fact that they screwed me.