‘Survivor’ Castaway Andrew: ‘We Honestly Didn’t Think Idols Were in Play’

"Survivor: Second Chance" (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 Jenn Brown and Max Dawson. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.

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Life isn’t always fair. Neither is “Survivor.”

One minute you’re coasting through with a 40-person alliance and the next you’re flipping the bird to Brazilian dragon.

(That last sentence sounds so weird out of context.)

I spoke to the bird flipper the morning after Kelley Wentworth idol’d him out of the game and asked him about balancing balls, splitting votes, and Joe-adoring daughters…

Gordon Holmes: So, what was the mood like in the Savage household when the “Joe is perfect” story was broadcast to America?
Andrew Savage: (Laughs) The reaction from both of my daughters…here’s the thing…before I left for Cambodia I said to my daughters, Mackenzie and Skyleur, “If I’m on a tribe with Joe, I’m going to tell him that story.” And they both looked at me and said, “Yeah, daddy. We’re OK with that.” And I thought there was a zero percent chance that would make the airwaves. Then, it airs and my daughter’s first reaction was, “Oh my God, Dad. I can’t believe you told that story.” And then my older daughter Mackenzie stepped up and said, “You know what? That’s how I feel about Joe and I’m happy to tell the world.”
Holmes: If it makes them feel better, I’m sure a lot of people feel that way about Joe.
Savage: (Laughs) Exactly. That’s the consensus.

Holmes: Why didn’t we split the votes last night?
Savage: There was a lot of talk about it. In the prior episode we split the vote between Kass and Ciera. And that’s an exhausting exercise. Splitting the votes is dangerous. They can flip against you and you can get  it wrong and folks can go home that shouldn’t go home. What you didn’t see was one of my toes was badly infected. I was pretty sick. And we’re all huddled around and I said, “Can we split the votes?” And others were saying, “Do we have to do that?” And then we started talking about idols. And the reality is, the only two people who knew idols were in play were Wentworth and Jeremy and they didn’t tell a soul. So, Joe and me and Tash, we all spent hours looking for idols. We’re scouring through all the reward challenge stuff. We found nothing. We honestly didn’t think idols were in play. We thought Wentworth wouldn’t see it coming. She’ll think we’re going after Ciera. So, we decided to load up Wentworth and send her home. We’ll live another three days and figure it out after that. I wanted to get Fishbach out at the next one. But we did talk about splitting. And I can’t believe we didn’t split the vote.

Holmes: It was mentioned a few times that the dominant four included yourself, Jeremy, Tasha, and Joe. Was that accurate?
Savage: Yeah, that’s spot on. You don’t see a lot of it, but the four of us were super tight and were running the show. We’re joined at the hip. We had very discreet, quick conversations. And no one is making all of the decisions. We were making them together. It was working so wonderfully. It’s a shame to see it get derailed like that. It was tough for me to watch with my girls, they’re so protective of me. But, that’s part of the reason we love this game. It was brilliant.

Holmes: You were famously a victim of the Outcasts twist that many people, myself included, found unfair. Idols are a part of the game, idols happen. Does it make it easier that you were eliminated by more traditional means this time?
Savage: Yeah. Idols have been a part of “Survivor” history. That’s a known element. It’s totally acceptable. The Outcast twist? If I’d known about it it would’ve been more palatable. I welcome idols.
Holmes: And if those Outcasts had been suffering in some way.
Savage: (Laughs) Yeah! If they would’ve not been in a cabana sleeping on cot with running water and three meals a day. That would’ve been a little different.

Holmes: If the vote had gone your way, Kelley is gone. The next week you try to get rid of Stephen. What were your plans for deeper in the game?
Savage: I’m an old school Survivor, Gordon. So, it was boring. Frankly. We had the majority and we were going to Pagong the rest of them. Wentworth, we wanted Stephen gone. I just didn’t trust him. My gut said he was going to make a huge move and that’d be getting rid of Joe, Jeremy, or me. I was not OK with that. I could see his mind racing. Then Ciera, Abi…and we didn’t have further conversations about final seven or eight.

Holmes: If you’d known that balancing balls on a platform was going to be such a big part of this season…
Savage: If I’d have known I would’ve been practicing all the time. I would’ve been in my backyard with a  ball and a plate for five hours a day. Those challenges are so frustrating because one gust of wind or one twitch of your finger and it’s gone.

Holmes: You and Abi had a tense exchange last night where she made fun of your “making the jury” statement. You responded with one of Kass’s trademark hand gestures. Was there any animosity between you two earlier?
Savage: My relationship with Abi was terrific on Angkor. We were super tight. She was the first one to come to our side. Tash took Abi, I took Varner and Woo. We were going to divide and conquer. It was incredible. So, Abi and I got along really well. She has her issues and she takes things different ways than they’re meant. And that’s OK. Abi and I went a little south on the new Ta Keo tribe when she chose to go with Ciera and Kass and blindside Woo.
Holmes: Kass was wary of you after you told her you didn’t trust her. Did you know that you were almost a target there?
Savage: I didn’t know until Kass’s exit interviews that Kass was gunning for me on Ta Keo but Abi said, “I’m not voting for Savage.” That really touched me. That speaks to what we went through at Angkor. And I love that about Abi. She’s a loyal person.  I have nothing but respect for her. Except for when she snickered at me when I made the jury. That was not from the heart, that was not genuine. Everything was so raw to me. I couldn’t do anything except flip her off.

Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with Tasha.
Savage: My little sister. Love her to death. Courageous. A wonderful lady.
Holmes: Jeremy?
Savage: A close brother of mine. He’s strong and trustworthy.
Holmes: Joe?
Savage: Like my little brother. I love Joe. He’s a competitor. He’s honest.
Holmes: Woo?
Savage: A close ally. There were things he did with food that made it difficult to trust him.
Holmes: What was he doing with food?
Savage: We won that hero challenge and he ended up sneaking away and taking all the sugar, all the cinnamon sticks, and hoarding everything. It just wasn’t right. On “Survivor” that’s like stealing money from somebody. That rubbed me the wrong way.
Holmes: Abi?
Savage: Loyal, complicated, trustworthy in some situations, and dangerous.
Holmes: Wentworth?
Savage: Good competitor, I just never trusted her.
Holmes: Wiglesworth?
Savage: Honest, great competitor, good friend of mine.
Holmes: Kass?
Savage: Wow…I think of Chaos Kass. That’s a big part of who she is. She denies it this season, but the element of Chaos Kass was always lingering at the surface…ready to pounce. And it pounced a lot more than you saw.
Holmes: Ciera?
Savage: Dangerous. Not to be trusted.
Holmes: Monica?
Savage: Blank. (Laughs) I never really spoke to her.
Holmes: Stephen?
Savage: Decent guy. Great strategist. Not to be trusted.
Holmes: Kimmi?
Savage: Wonderful woman. Big heart.
Holmes: Varner?
Savage: The Jeff Varner you saw the first two episodes? I never met the guy. The Jeff Varner who showed up on the Angkor tribe slept all day. He only left the shelter to go to the bathroom. He had no strategy. He had no nothing. So, I don’t know the Jeff Varner from the first two episodes. So, my gut reaction is that he was a non-entity.
Holmes: Well, at least he left the shelter to go to the bathroom.
Savage: (Laughs) That would’ve been trouble if he hadn’t.
Holmes: Peih-Gee?
Savage: Probably a nice person, but she was mean to me and Tash at Angkor. She treated us like the position we were in, which was the bottom of the list.
Holmes: Keith?
Savage: A very likable, honest fireman. A good friend of mine.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Spencer.
Savage: A brilliant young kid. I’ve got a lot of respect for him.

Holmes: We talked earlier the Outcast twist sticking with you. This season you were on the bottom of Angkor and overcame it, you had that performance in the grueling hero challenge. Did your second chance help you get over Pearl Islands?
Savage: The Outcast twist was b.s. But, I didn’t do enough to overcome it. I had a lot of challenges in my second chance season and I drew upon the pain I had for twelve years, I did everything I could to not let history repeat itself. I didn’t want to let myself down and I didn’t want to let the fans who voted me in down. So, my takeaway is, similar to life, you do the best that you can. And I did the best that I can with who I am and how I’m wired. There are certain things at “Survivor” that I’m not good at. I focused on my strengths and I take away a lot of pride.

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

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