Quick Note: Be sure to come back throughout the week for interviews with the rest of the final seven. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news.
Two of the big questions Jeff Probst was hoping to answer this season were; would someone sacrifice themselves for a loved one? And on the other hand, would someone vote out their loved one?
Ironically, the answers to both ended up being eliminated from the game in back-to-back Tribal Councils.
I spoke with Tina Wesson and Ciera Eastin the morning after the “Survivor” finale and got some insight into Probst’s two questions, whether Tyson and Gervase were really even steven, and more…
Gordon Holmes: So, good news, Ciera. I spoke with your mother and you’re not disowned.
Ciera Eastin: (Laughs) Good news!
Holmes: Going into this I thought there was no way it would make sense for anyone to get rid of their loved one. And then it made total sense for you to vote out your mother. Walk me through the thought process.
Eastin: I totally agree with you. Coming in I said I’d vote my mom out, but I didn’t see a scenario where it would make sense. You have a built-in person you can trust and someone you can talk to. But then to be out there and to have a scenario where it made sense to me, it was so unreal. But, only one person can win this game. And I’d put so much energy into the relationships that I’d built with these people. And she was away at Redemption Island. She wasn’t able to do that. I had a fear that I’d keep her around and then when they’d want to split us up, she’d go on a challenge winning streak.
Holmes: Tina, what do you think about this? Was Ciera a cold-hearted snake?
Tina Wesson: Not at all. Ciera has definitely established herself as a player in this game. And to be so young and to have that savvy…everything she said about why she did it was spot on. She was out there to run the game. She wasn’t out there to ride her mom’s coattails.
Holmes: Tina, you squared off against your lovely daughter a few times, and it seemed like you got the best of her each time. Is this something that will be brought up at family dinners forever?
Wesson: (Laughs) Oh never, Katie is not a competitive person at all. And she’s not the most athletic person. She did this for me. It was nothing she ever aspired to do. So, this is nothing I could rub in her face.
Holmes: Now, you asked Katie if it was OK if you won the challenge. And Katie did what most people would be expected to do and said, “Yes.” But, what if Katie had said, “No”?
Wesson: That would’ve been a toughie. But, her key was really deep in the sand. We would have been out there all afternoon. (Laughs) That’s why she said, “Mom, go ahead.” It wouldn’t have been close.
Holmes: Well, if that helps you sleep at night.
Wesson: (Laughs) Yes, thank goodness. Katie and I talked about it before we went out. And we agreed that our love transcends this thing. Nothing’s going to make us love each other more, nothing’s going to make us love each other less.
Holmes: You wouldn’t love Katie more if she had a million dollars?
Wesson: No I would not.
Holmes: Then you’re a better person than I am.
Wesson: Do you have a kids?
Holmes: I do not. I haven’t given my mother any grandbabies.
Wesson: (Laughs) Then just you wait, mister.
Holmes: Ciera, I think you impressed a lot of people, me included. You gave up a secure fourth spot and ended up going out fifth, but you gave it up for a better chance to win. My question is, why did you wait till final six? Did you just not appreciate your standing at that time?
Eastin: The only way I can answer is to say, you’re seeing an hour out of two or three days. When Hayden and Caleb came to me and said, “Let’s get rid of Tyson” I was all for it. But then the plan kind of shifted, and they weren’t really 100% on board. And then I’d see Hayden walk away with Tyson and paranoia hits you. I just felt like I wasn’t willing to show all of my cards unless it was something concrete. And it wasn’t, it was kind of a wishy-washy plan. And I don’t have any regrets of what I did. But you’re right, at sixth I didn’t come all this way to end up fourth. So, I’ll make a big move and maybe win some jury votes.
Holmes: The people behind the ads seemed to like the idea of you being a villain, but that characterization never clicked because everything you did made sense.
Eastin: Yeah, I totally agree. I definitely got flack for that. People were saying, “What heartless person could vote out their mom?”
Holmes: I would’ve.
Eastin: (Laughs) But strategically, I think maybe people would’ve thought differently.
Holmes: Tina, the last time you played “Survivor” was during “All-Stars.” That seems light years away from the new-fangled “Survivor” we’re seeing today. Did you have any trouble adapting?
Wesson: To be honest, I was not prepared for what they’re calling “new school.” I was still in the “old school” mode. So, adapting was very challenging for me. Also, it was physically harder for me. So, I have to say that it kicked my butt in ways I wasn’t prepared for.
Holmes: How grueling was that last challenge? It looked exhausting.
Wesson: Oh my gosh, my little legs were just aching. And up and down those stairs 1,400 times. When I walked into it I was like, “Oh dear, I’m in trouble here.”
Holmes: The big question going into final Tribal seemed to be; how mad are people going to be at Tyson? The only real knock against him was his comment to Katie. Was there ever any real ill will toward Tyson?
Eastin: I had none at all whatsoever. I think Tyson played an amazing game. I was going to vote for the person who deserved it the most, not the person who didn’t hurt my feelings. It was an easy vote for me to make.
Wesson: It was a little harder for me. I was stuck at Redemption Island for half of the game, so I didn’t see things that were going on. There were things that bothered me, because you have to vote people off, but you have to make them feel like there’s no animosity. It’s the hardest thing in the world to do. And I think Tyson did a few things out there that left a bad taste in people’s mouths. He was eating all the food. He was making a few comments here and there. And everyone that came through Redemption was a little upset. So, when I was at Ponderosa, I relied on Katie. I said, “I don’t want to vote for anybody. I don’t know what to do.” So, she walked me through why she thought Tyson should win. And it made sense. And then when I watched the game, I was so glad that I voted for Tyson. I thought he was so deserving.
Holmes: Gervase made the comment that he and Tyson were making choices together. Did it seem like they were both making the calls?
Wesson: Ciera was out there longer than I was. I would say, no. But I’ll yield to Ciera on that one.
Eastin: I’d say no. I don’t think it was 50/50. Watching Tyson and then rewatching on TV, Tyson was the one finding idols, being proactive. I didn’t have as strong a relationship with Tyson as I did with Gervase. And Gervase didn’t have a relationship with Hayden like Tyson did. So, from relationships alone Tyson really took the time.
Holmes: Ciera, you made it so far in the game and made some really big moves. Which is amazing considering how close to elimination you were in the early going. I feel like that story somehow got lost in the mix.
Eastin: Thank you. I knew in the beginning that I was going to be bad at challenges, so I tried to play under the radar until the merge. And then at the merge I knew I had to make big moves to win. I think I followed and executed my plan really well. So it sucks to make it that far and not make it to the final three. But, my family is so proud of me, and I’m proud of myself. It was fun and I’d do it again.
Holmes: I hope you do. And Tina, it was great to see you get so deep and to see you come out swinging after your short stay in “All-Stars.”
Wesson: “Survivor” has been such a long journey. I had to wait four years after Australia to do the second one. Then I had to wait eight years for them to call me back for this one.
Holmes: So, are you going to be ready to go in twelve years?
Wesson: I’m ready. They’re going to have to make those challenges wheelchair accessible, but I’ll be ready.
Holmes: Could you imagine a wheelchair on that slide?
Wesson: (Laughs) That sounds like something out of “Jackass.”
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes