‘Survivor’ Castaway Vytas: Laura Coaching Tina ‘Was a Dirty Move’


'Survivor: Blood vs. Water' (CBS)

Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Malcolm Freberg. And, we’re inducting three members into the “Survivor: Hall of Fame” starting Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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It didn’t me long to pick Vytas as my pre-season favorite to win. He’s fit, smart, strategic, good-looking, likable, and has a bit of an edge to him. He’s perfect.  So, I don’t feel too bad about branding him with my famed pre-season curse.

And in my defense, everybody liked Vytas to win. So, back off.

I had a chance to speak with my latest victim in the days following his Redemption Island defeat and asked him about Laura M.’s sneaky strategy, Caleb’s Tribal Council audible, and Tyson’s Baskauskas blindside…

Gordon Holmes: I’d like to start off by apologizing for cursing you.
Vytas Baskauskas: It’s like the new car curse. It’s the Gordon pre-season curse.
Holmes: It’s “Survivor’s” own “Sports Illustrated” cover curse. So for that, I apologize.
Baskauskas: (Laughs) No sweat, man.

Holmes: Laura pulled a fast one at Redemption, coaching Tina through the final puzzle. What were your thoughts on that?
Baskauskas: “Survivor” is a game of dirty moves and it was a dirty move. And I can’t say I didn’t make my share of them out there as well. To win the game you have to make those kinds of moves. So, props to her for realizing she could get me out that way. It’s unfortunate because it’s one thing to yell out instructions to somebody, or to leave your puzzle up, but it’s unfortunate that if the placement had been different, if I had been in the middle, it couldn’t have happened. So, based on luck of the draw, Tina got to get help. If Tina had been on the other side of me, there’s no way she could’ve gotten instruction from Laura without me hearing it.
Holmes: Do you take it as a compliment that you were more of a threat than Tina?
Baskauskas: In hindsight I take it as a compliment. In the moment I was not feeling complimented.
Holmes: Did you know it was a possibility? Had they been plotting at camp?
Baskauskas: No. When Laura came to Redemption Island, the first thing she said was, “There’s no need for any strategy here. Only one of us can get back in the game, so may the best person win and we can all be friends.” I guess it must’ve happened on the fly, she realized she could get me out. So, props to her for doing it.
Holmes: I thought it was interesting that in “South Pacific” Ozzy went to Redemption to make friends and influence jury members, and Laura might’ve just done the opposite.
Baskauskas: Yeah, it was a shrewd move for her to get me out. But in the gameplay sense it might alienate both Aras and I. Aras and I are now the first members of the jury and if there’s any bitterness on our part, should she or Ciera get to the end, it’s tough for us to want to vote for one of them based on what she did.

Holmes: So many angles this season.
Baskauskas: A lot of angles. A lot of in-depth, complex analysis was happening in my mind at all times.
Holmes: It’s been tough to handicap. You guys were coming up with things that never crossed my mind.
Baskauskas: I’m a chess player and I love chess analysis, but there’s one type of chess called Fischer Random Chess where the pieces just start completely random at the bottom of the chess board. This feels like that kind of chess.
Holmes: Not to discount what Aras did in Panama, but I almost feel like his first season was checkers and this season is mega space chess.
Baskauskas: Back in Panama it was real simple. Get to the merge with numbers, stick with you alliance, ride it to the end. That’s what Aras did.  They came to the merge with numbers and then eliminated the other tribe. Unfortunately, Terry (Dietz) kept winning immunity. I was worried that being a strong guy, usually strong guys make the merge, because you needed them for challenges. But in this season, getting to the merge with numbers wasn’t going to be an issue because people had alliances on the other tribe that were going to be stronger than any initial alliance. That was really scary for me thinking my beginning alliance wasn’t going to be as strong as an alliance of loved ones coming together.

Holmes: Speaking of people worrying about loved ones coming together, everyone was worried about a Baskauskas Brothers reunion. But, it seemed like you guys didn’t pick up on that sentiment.
Baskauskas:  In the pre-game Aras and I were like, “We’re going to be big threats. We need to do everything we can to not appear threatening.” But at the merge it seemed like everybody was with us. We didn’t take our own advice. In that first individual challenge, we went one-two. And then, our other strategy was to get to the merge and if there are other pairs in the majority, we need to get with those pairs. And we didn’t do that either.
Holmes: I’ve always hoped I’d be the kind of player who would tip his cap if he got blindsided. Tyson was the orchestrator behind the moves that eliminated you and your brother. Is that something you can appreciate or does the betrayal sting too much?
Baskauskas: It was a great move. And I had never played with Tyson until that point. We’d been on opposite tribes. Aras and I got to the merge and Aras was 100%. He said, “Dude, I’ve got Tyson. Tyson’s with us.” And I said, “Are you sure?” And he said, “Yes, 100%.” I even reiterated it a few times. So, props to Tyson for convincing my brother. Aras is a little too trusting, but Aras is really good at this game. And then great job to Tyson for convincing everyone that we were the ones who should go. I think he’s playing a great game.

Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Tina.
Baskauskas: Great woman. True friend.
Holmes: Tyson?
Baskauskas: Great player. Funny guy.
Holmes: Gervase?
Baskauskas: Riding Tyson’s coattails a little.
Holmes: Caleb?
Baskauskas: Screwed my game up, got out Brad.
Holmes: Ciera?
Baskauskas: Sweet girl. I like how she’s starting to play the game.
Holmes: Monica?
Baskauskas: Challenge beast. A little bit paranoid.
Holmes: Laura M.?
Baskauskas: Puzzle master and not the best social game player.
Holmes: Katie?
Baskauskas: Sweetheart and kept me alive on the Galang beach during the tribe swap.
Holmes: We’ll finish with Aras.
Baskauskas: I love my brother. Only two brothers to ever play “Survivor” and I’m so happy we got to do this thing together.

Holmes: Let’s jump back into that. Caleb threw your game off by voting out Brad. What was your plan if that Tribal had gone according to how you’d guys had laid it out?
Baskauskas: Ugh…that Tribal…everyday when we’d go to Redemption people were throwing it at Brad. Marissa with the “(expletive deleted) you, Brad Culpepper” and Candice throwing him the bird. I was so happy. That was just targets being moved onto Brad even though I was just as instrumental as Brad at getting those people out. For me, it was take Brad as far as you can and hide behind him. Ciera was going home that night. She even knew she was going home that night.  It was unfortunate that Caleb had that emotional last-minute decision. I wasn’t going to draw rocks. I saw the writing on the wall that it was going to be a tie. I had to switch strategies.

Holmes: We talked a lot before the show about who wouldn’t have been brought on this show if they weren’t someone’s loved one. Who didn’t feel right for “Survivor.” And you and Brad were probably the last people on everyone’s list. You’ve got a great story, you were always thinking of new strategies, really fun to watch. It seems like your appearance on “Survivor” was another step in an amazing journey.
Baskauskas: Thanks, Gordon. In addition to overcoming a lot in my life, you have to understand that I am a huge “Survivor” fan. I’ve been a fan of the show even before Aras was on the show. So for me being out there, it was one of those life goals I’ve always wanted to accomplish. It was an amazing time. I feel lucky that I’ve come so far in my life.
Holmes: So you finally get to achieve your dream, and some jerk ruins it by making you his pre-season pick.
Baskauskas:  (Laughs) I wouldn’t put it all on yourself. The responsibility for getting voted out was on me.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

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