[Warning: This article contains major spoilers about the two-hour premiere of Survivor: Game Changers. Read at your own risk!]
"It definitely felt really surreal," Eastin says about her ouster. "I felt like I was kind of like outside my body watching it all happen. It really didn't hit me until, like, the next day."
TVGuide.com chatted with Eastin about her reaction to playing against 19 other "Game Changers," whether she'd come back for a fourth time, and whether she thinks the tribe made a good movie in getting rid of Tony next. (We'll be posting our interview with Tony later today, so stay tuned!)
The vote was labeled as a blindside, but it seemed like you had an idea before Tribal that the vote might not go in your favor. Was it a true blindside?
Ciera: I definitely don't think it was a true blindside. From my perspective, I definitely knew people weren't wanting to play with me. Malcolm in particular just definitely did not want to ever have a conversation with me. And after losing the challenge and they all walked off to the well, I was literally for a period of time the only person back at camp sitting there. So I kind of was like, crap, it's probably me. When they told me Michaela, I thought, well, I'll go with whatever they're wanting to go with, because I know they had issues with Michaela early on too. And then at Tribal Council when Hali made the comment that "loose lips sink ships," I knew right then and there that I was not on the right side of the vote.
Was that scene at the well as awkward as it appeared on TV?
Ciera: Yeah. It was really awkward. I definitely knew I was walking into a conversation where... I didn't know what the conversation was, but I knew my name was one of the names on the chopping block. And then, yeah, when they told me Michaela, obviously in the moment I'm just saying, "You know, whatever. Works out good for me." But I could definitely tell that my name was on the chopping block as well.
There were so many crazy moments right from the start — Tony running off to find an idol, for starters. Was there anything that we didn't see that you feel is important? What were your impressions of the game based on the first few days?
Ciera: It was fairly slow-paced and slow-moving. To hear people's perspective that I was the one throwing names off was completely not true, because. I was told Aubry for a period of time. I was told Michaela. And everybody around camp was talking about Tony. Like, we would sit around and Tony and Caleb would be off in the middle of the night doing god knows what. Tony would run off and say "I'm going to look for an idol." And everybody was like, "Tony needs to go. Tony has to go. If we lose, Tony goes home first." So it's not like me saying Tony. At the well, you saw me walk into a conversation where they were talking about Tony and I said, "Yeah, Tony needs to go." It wasn't me walking around camp saying, "Oh, everybody needs to go." That was a very evident thing. I think what really screwed me was me making the comment and saying, if we think Tony has an idol, let's get rid of his right-hand man Caleb. And I think that comment really, really turned Malcolm against me, because Malcolm and Caleb were working together.
You might have just answered this, but if you had it to do over again, would you have done anything differently?
Ciera: That's definitely what I would do differently. In that moment, in that conversation, watching it and seeing there was a moment where Sandra was asked a question at the well and they said, Sandra, what are you thinking? And Sandra responded and said, tell me who you're thinking and I'll tell you what I think. And I made a very, very rookie mistake by throwing Caleb's name out. Because my response should have been more like Sandra's, which would have been, well, tell me what you think and I'll do what you want me to do. And that's normally how I play the game. It was just a rookie, rookie mistake in the moment to say that.
If you had made it to the second vote, would you have wanted to get Tony or Sandra out?
Ciera: I would have gotten rid of neither. Honestly, I play the game similar to Sandra in the sense where, anybody but me, so if that was the case, obviously I would do it. But for my personal strategy, I liked having the bigger players around because I felt like it did shield me more. And then, you play with a lot of people who I don't like to play with, who just sneak by and don't do anything. And those are the Halis and the Aubrys and the Jeff Varner maybe. Jeff Varner I don't feel like has ever been given a fair shot to really play. But, I like to play with the bigger players, versus the people who just sneak by.
What was it like getting to the island and realizing the theme of the season? As a Survivor superfan, were you intimidated by having to play against these huge personalities?
Ciera: Not really, but only because in seasons past, I've played against winners before. I've played against legends of the game before. And so, I felt like I had an advantage where this wasn't something that was very threatening to me. We're all on the same playing field. Cirie and Sandra and Aubry, these are legends of the game and I have such respect for them, but they don't scare me. And maybe there's a healthy fear that maybe I should have had. (Laughs). But I just felt like I had been there before. I played with Tina and Aris and Gervase, and I played with Rupert. It's like, these names are big names, so it wasn't like I was so overwhelmed.
You're probably best known in Survivor lore for voting out your mom in Blood vs. Water. How did she react to you being the first one voted out this season?
Ciera: I have the best family every, and for my mom, she totally understands how the game works. So if anything, my mom's the one person that I know is like, "Hey, you're fine. It had to be someone. It happened." She actually told me I'm still her favorite Survivor of all time, which is, like, a total mom comment. But it does mean a lot to have that constant support.
Who do you think is the biggest threat out there?
Ciera: I definitely think that Brad is. I'm rooting for Brad, but he's also the biggest threat I believe. Because Brad is a player who people want to take to the end because they think, this is an NFL superstar, successful man with a family. And it's like, sometimes there's that stigma of, people won't want to give him more money. Right? Or it's like, he doesn't need the money. And not everybody votes the same way. Some people don't vote based on money, but there's definitely people who do. And so, he has that advantage, but at the same time he's so incredibly strategic and smart. And although you didn't get to see it on his first season because there were people who hated him, he is extremely helpful around camp and the survival aspect. He does amazing. He helps in the challenges. He's just an all-around great player, and I think that he is the biggest threat out there, but I'm also rooting for him to do well.
Would you play Survivor again?
Ciera: I hope I get asked back. I feel like maybe I need a little bit of a break. I've played three times in four years, and that is a lot. And I think maybe I just needed to take a little bit longer of a break for myself and come back with the right headspace. And I think I can definitely win. It definitely sucks, but I hope I can come back.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.
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