‘Survivor’ Castaway Will: ‘Arrogance Will Take You Down and Take You Down Hard’

'Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X' (CBS)

‘Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X’ (CBS)

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Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X” 

Gordon Holmes: This is a really odd season. Everybody is swinging for the fences. Did you feel that vibe when you were out there that the winner couldn’t get by on just charm, they needed to pad their resume?
Will Wahl: Yeah, it was a very hyper-competitive environment. As you said, everyone was swinging for the fences very early on. And it was apparent that there were a lot of superfans and they were all coming to play. It was kind of refreshing as a super fan to be on a season where everyone is playing so hard.

Holmes: Traditionally when you flip, you’re in danger of having some enraged jurors later on. How do you balance making the moves, but keeping the votes on your side.
Wahl: I don’t think I balanced the two very well. Which is why I think I was voted out. But I tried to come across as a the kid who’s playing hard, is willing to make new deals. But at the same time, I still want a ride-or-die. I want to have people’s backs so long as they have my back. I wanted to build a trust.

Holmes: What was the mood like before last night’s Tribal?
Wahl: There was a feeling in the pit of my stomach going into Tribal and then at Tribal that I was going to be in trouble. But, by then it was too late. I wasn’t going to be able to flip Bret or Sunday. I was really trying to see if there was anything I could do. Any idol plays, anyone willing to help me out, but anyone who was my ally at that point had really turned against me.

Holmes: As a superfan, you know that whenever someone is talking about being in the power seat, they’re probably in trouble. Did you laugh when you were watching it?
Wahl: (Laughs) Yeah, it’s all in good fun. It’s really interesting to watch the progression where I went from thinking I was the king and the next thing you know, I get voted out. That’s a classic “Survivor” blindside, someone being too arrogant. And I learned that arrogance will take you down and take you down hard.

Holmes: This is one of the most civil seasons we’ve had in a long time. It doesn’t seem like people are holding grudges. When Bret, David, and Zeke got heated a few weeks ago it was shut down quickly. Was that something you discussed back at camp?
Wahl: Oh yeah. Everybody was very good natured. Everyone was very comforting to each other. Even if you were on the other side of the vote…like Hannah and I rarely voted together, but we were really close out there. We had a brotherly/sisterly relationship. Everybody was each other’s support out there. To have people who are helping you out…it was kind of how we wanted this season to go with this cast. We wanted to be competitive, but at the same time, be supportive.

Holmes: If I’m playing this game and it’s not getting personal, people are respecting big moves, jurors don’t seem like they’re going to be bitter at final Tribal. This would seem to encourage more and more big moves. It’s like a perfect storm. You’ve got this crazy, flip-flop, no-two-people-are-in-trouble-in-consecutive-episodes season.
Wahl: With the flipping, I described it as a pendulum. It would swing back and forth between groups. And like you said; nobody was in trouble twice. After the Taylor vote, Jay and I thought we were next. But really, the pendulum swung the other way and we were safe for a little while. Somebody would do something to warrant their being voted out, then it’d be someone in some other trust cluster.
Holmes: And you’re OK with the use of the term “trust cluster?”
Wahl: More or less. It really was kind of a joke. People like Bret and I weren’t the biggest fans of that term. We moreso used “alliance” or “voting block.”

Holmes: You’re the youngest person to ever play “Survivor.” Do you think people underestimated you because of your age?
Wahl: Yes, especially at the beginning people were really underestimating me. It came back to bite me a little bit during the jury phase. I’d be looking at them for reactions and they were looking at me like I was a little kid. That’s not something you want a jury to be thinking. You want them to think you’re a strong competitive player. That’s why I went the way I did. I tried to make a big move and gain everyone’s respect.

Holmes: Given a second chance, what would you do differently?
Wahl: I would start off laying low. After that, I’d try to find that ride-or-die, one or two people I could trust and keep their trust. And I’d ride that to the end. A Jeremy/Tasha/Spencer kind of thing.
Holmes: Word association thing. Let’s start with Jay.
Wahl: Admirable.
Holmes: Adam?
Wahl: Intelligent.
Holmes: Sunday?
Wahl: Quiet.
Holmes: Mari?
Wahl: Gamer.
Holmes: Figgy?
Wahl: Loud.
Holmes: Michelle?
Wahl: Calculating.
Holmes: Taylor?
Wahl: Hungry.
Holmes: Chris?
Wahl: Leader.
Holmes: Zeke?
Wahl: Comical.
Holmes: Michaela?
Wahl: Intelligent.
Holmes: Jessica?
Wahl: Unlucky.
Holmes: Bret?
Wahl: Funny.
Holmes: Hannah?
Wahl: Trustworthy.
Holmes: Let’s finish with David.
Wahl: Wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Holmes: The Tribal where Adam played his idol as a safeguard in case you didn’t flip, do you feel like that may have stolen your thunder?
Wahl: The way I view it is I got Adam to waste his idol. He didn’t need to play that idol. It flushed it out of the game. I look at that as a win.

Holmes: Before the season we were trying to guess the theme. With you being a young Republican, we thought we might be looking at some kind of Liberals vs. Conservatives angle. Were you relieved that it was Millennials vs. Gen-X?
Wahl: Very relieved. Getting to play with people around my own age definitely helped me in the beginning.

Holmes: Did “Survivor” change you?
Wahl: I think I came into the game very arrogant, full of myself, thinking I’m going to win a million dollars. I’m coming out of it a lot more humble, a lot more empathetic of other people. And I feel like that’s something I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.

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