Last week, Survivor: Vanuatu shook up the game by forcing both tribes to vote someone out. So although the Lopevi guys won the immunity challenge — and John K. earned individual immunity — they essentially lost. That was hammered home when the weaker dudes cut yet another strong player: Home Depot employee John Palyok. (Meanwhile, the Yasur girls ousted Mia.) Here, the 31-year-old studpuppy from sunny California tells TV Guide Online about his short stay.
TV Guide Online: You work at Home Depot.
John Palyok: Yes, I bleed orange.
TVGO: Did your handy skills come in, well, handy on the island?
John: As soon as I said Home Depot, everyone just assumed, "He's the engineer. He can start constructing things. Let him build the shelter, and he can start the fire and stuff like that." I was the fix-it-all person, which may or may not have hurt me.
TVGO: How'd you feel about the battle of the sexes?
John: Right off the bat, I thought a bunch of guys getting together were just totally invincible. We're all physically strong. No problem. But on Day 3, when we lost that challenge, I think that changed the dynamics of the entire game.
TVGO: Think you'd have fared better with coed teams?
John: Absolutely. My strategy going into it [assumed] it would be commingled, and so this was a total shocker for it to be guys against girls. It would have changed everything.
TVGO: You seem unsurprised by your ouster. Why didn't you try harder to stay?
John: It was like a Mack truck coming at me full force and I knew it was going to hit me. There was really nothing I could have done about it. People keep saying that I should have worked on a couple of the other guys. But I'll tell you what, those guys [Chad, Chris, Lea, Rory and Travis] knew exactly how strong and solid they were when they blindsided Brook. That was the power of five. What we tried to do was to get inside of Sarge's — Sgt. Lea Masters' — head and see if he would do the swing vote. He's the influential one, so we wanted him to come over to our side. But he made a pact, and he'll see it to the end. He's got that military mentality.
TVGO: Lea seemed bossy.
John: Yes! Very bossy. Large and in charge. I thought, "Let him take control for a while because then maybe the rest of us can stay underneath the radar while he's taking all the praise." But the other guys had an alliance with him, so they let him bark out orders.
TVGO: Was Rory really that annoying?
John: Yes, he was. On a contribution level, he just did not do anything. He's stealing oranges! I just found out [while] watching the show that he's been stealing oranges all the time. Here we are all starved and building shelters and trying to start a fire eight to 10 hours a day, and we're thirsty and hungry and tired, and he's over there sucking down those oranges one at a time. What is up with that?
TVGO: I take it, since you even misspelled his name as "Royry" during the vote, that you two won't be chummy after the show.
John: That's the game. I don't know him on a personal level. I'm really anxious to meet the real Rory. [Laughs] Hopefully I'll be able to spell his name the next time I see him.
TVGO: When you first got to the island, whom did you think would be your toughest competition?
John: I wasn't looking at strength or physical traits, but I was looking at character. The two that stood out in my mind were Sarge and Bubba. [Sarge] is a father figure. He may have a 12-year-old mentality trapped in a 40-year-old body, but he's got that overpowering, overbearing-type personality and [he's] very driven. Bubba's got that good ol' boy Tennessee accent and he's got the one-liners — "There is nothin' like a little fatback and collard greens." He's got that personality that just grabs you.
TVGO: Would you ever do another Survivor?
John: Yes. In a second! You haven't even seen the potential or the energy [I have]; there is so much more left. When I got voted off, I was in a daze for 24 hours, going, "Wow, what am I doing? I'm back in civilization. I don't belong here. I belong back on the island, cold, freezing, wet, eating coconuts and worms and having rats crawl over me." I deserved to be back on the island. I really did.