Interview: Tyson Apostol explains his 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' vote
Why Russell is stupid, Rob is smart and Tyson was the smartest of all
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Maybe what Tyson Apostol did on Wednesday (March 24) night's "Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains" wasn't on the same level as Erik Reichenbach giving up Immunity and promptly getting voted out or James Clement getting sent home with two Idols in his pocket. Maybe.
But the circumstances that led to Tyson's torch-snuffing certainly count as an epic blunder. Going into the exact math of what transpired would probably hurt my brain or yours, so let's leave it like this: A loose Villains alliance had a plan to eliminate either Parvati or Russell by splitting the votes between them. If Russell brought the Idol into play, either keeping it for himself or giving it to Parvati, there would be a re-vote and the other person would go home. The plan was perfect provided the six people split their votes properly.
For reasons that were only barely made clear in the show's editing, Tyson changed his vote and wrote down Parvati's name, even though he knew that his name was the one being written down by Russell's alliance. Russell gave Parvati the Idol, eliminating four votes. And Tyson went home with three votes. Effectively, he wrote down his own name.
The morning after the bizarre turn of events, HitFix caught up with Tyson to find out what exactly was going through his mind at the ill-fated Tribal Council.
You can decide for yourself if you buy his explanation.
Tyson's "Survivor" exit interview follows after the break...
HitFix: I know you've been talking to reporters all morning and I know you've been getting this question, so I hope you have a good answer... Dude, what were you thinking?
Tyson Apostol: [Laughs.] OK. So on my way to Tribal Council, this is what I thought: Danielle, Parvati and Russell know that we're splitting the votes 3-3 and I know they're voting for me. But I want Parvati gone, so I'm willing to take the risk, because I was thinking that if Parvati and Danielle are smart enough, they'll vote for Russell just to save themselves, which seems like it would be a smart play. But I guess now, looking back, too smart. I would think that if you pit 'em against each other, you would think that the one side would be like, "OK. I'll vote him out." So that's what I was thinking and I was like, "But I want Parvati gone more, because I feel like she's a bigger threat right now, so I'm going swap my vote from Russell to Parvati and regardless of if Parvati votes Russell or not, she'll be the one going home." I knew Russell had the Idol and I knew that there was a chance that he could give it to her, but you wouldn't think that that would happen. I mean, I shouldn't have taken the risk, because I didn't need to, but you know... What happened happened. It was kinda like the stars aligned for everybody but me.
HitFix: When would you say you finally made up your mind to do the vote your own way?
TA: You know, the whole way to Tribal Council, I was just thinking about it. It just occurred to me like, "Parvati and Danielle could vote for Russell and then he'd be gone." But I know he has the Idol, which I want in my hands. And I know that if I get Parvati out, Russell will be my puppy dog and so I was like, "OK. It's a risk, but if it works out, it's going to put me in a super-powerful position." And so I contemplated and I kept going back and forth and then on my way up to vote, I was just like, "Do or Die. Gotta make a decision." So I just went with that. Really, I think Russell knew he was going home and I think it didn't matter to him whether he went home this week or next, but he knew that the numbers were so stacked against him that he couldn't win. Really, I think he was giving up and just kinda saying, "I'm gonna go out with a little dignity and give my Idol to my alliance and then just go home." I really think that he felt that he was done.
HitFix: Well, the editing of the show certainly made it look as he had...
TA: Tricked me?
HitFix: Exactly. No?
TA: Well, that conversation actually went more like this. Me to Russell: We're gonna vote you 3-3 and you either have to vote Parvati out with your vote or play the Idol. And he said: I can't vote Parvati out. And we left there and I knew that they were going to vote for me and he knew that we were going to split the votes. So that's why he went up. I think he was going to play it for himself and then he was like, "Naaaah. I know I'm gonna go sooner or later now. Nobody likes me. Here you go Parvati. I want to be honorable and noble like Coach." The shock on their faces was too genuine. I knew that they had no clue. They were definitely more surprised than me, because I knew the moment the Idol came out of Russell's pocket and into Parvati's hands that I was done.
HitFix: How did that moment feel?
TA: It felt about the same as the last time as I got voted out. A lot of viewers at home don't know that you can tell when you're going home as the votes are being read. Last time, I knew the moment that my name was read twice. I was like, "They got me. I'm out." You have a moment to kinda reflect and pull yourself together. So this time, as soon as it was played, I was like, "I screwed myself and I also screwed my alliance." I mean, we had planned this plan and we had all promised it and it benefits everybody to go further in the game and so for me to do that was probably a pretty selfish move. Had it worked out, had I been there with Russell and him not being there with Parvati, he would have had to come to me and I would have another option in my cards. That would have been beautiful for me.
HitFix: In your two seasons, you've been known for not suffering fools gladly. If somebody else in your alliance had done what you'd done and you'd survived to come back to the camp after that Tribal Council, what would you have told the camera?
TA: They were so surprised. I don't think that any of them even know that I voted myself. I don't they knew that I was the one who switched the vote. I think they think that somebody else turned against us. Had they known, they probably would have been like, "What an idiot!" You know? But had it worked out the way I pictured it would, everybody would have said, "He's a genius. Who would have predicted that? Only Tyson Apostol!"
HitFix: Going back a bit, the episode was absolutely edited to make what happened last night look like a major triumph for Russell. It doesn't sound, though, like you viewed it that way? You think it was a desperate last move on his part?
TA: Yeah. That's what I think it was.
HitFix: So does that put Rob pretty much in control?
TA: On the alliance side, it was me, Courtney, Rob and Sandra and then Coach and Jerri are talking with Russell and Jerri actually wants Rob gone. She told me before she wanted Rob gone. I think that's just her ill-will towards him after the last All-Stars. But I was the one who told Jerri and Coach, "Look, you can't vote Rob out until we destroy Parvati and Russell's alliance." So I was the glue holding both sides of that alliance together, so whether or not Rob or somebody else can come in and keep them together, it's yet to be determined. I think that's going to be a big chore. I really was the middle man between the two.
HitFix: From your point of view, Rob, Russell and Parvati, are they as smart as they all think they are?
TA: You know, I definitely don't think Russell is. I think he plays stupid and ended up lucking out. On top of that, Parvati and Russell have distanced themselves from the tribe so much... You can't do that in "Survivor" when there's nine people there. You can't push yourself away and say, "I'm only going to be with these two." They didn't try very hard to befriend other people or align with other people. You can do a half-assed attempt where you're like, "Uh, let's be allies" and then you both turn away and are like, "That was ridiculously stupid." That's what they were doing. They were just on the bottom of the totem pole and they were fine being there. So I don't think that that's smart at all. Rob, I think is a smart player. I think we was a little paranoid and a little too controlling in some instances this time around. And for good reason. When you've played the game three times, I'm sure that there is a sense of paranoid and on top of that, he loves to win and he plays hard and that probably takes its toll too. I think out of those three, the smartest for sure would be Rob.
But I think, and people are going to say "Oh, that's Tyson being arrogant," but genuinely I think I was the smartest one there, other than the move I did last night, which didn't work out. But I had hands in every single alliance and I had not just a hand in them, but I was far enough into them that I could go to any of them and, for the most part, manipulate things to go my way. I steered Coach and Jerri. They wanted Rob gone, but I said "No, don't do it." Russell I didn't have completely, but I knew that if I got rid of Parvati, he would come to me. Then I had Rob, Sandra and Courtney on the other side. All of them disliked each other enough that none of them were going to get along well enough that they could do the same.
HitFix: It felt as if you came out quieter and less aggressive than in Tocantins. Was that editing or strategy?
TA: I don't know. I think it's just hard with 20 people, as opposed to 16. There's three days wrapped up in 40 minutes. You can't show everybody doing doing everything. I definitely didn't run around naked or anything, but I talked a fair amount. They choose what they want to show and not show. That's the way it came it came across, I guess. I don't think I played that much differently from in Tocantins, though.
HitFix: Did you consider yourself to be a Villain in Tocantins?
TA: I can see from a viewer standpoint how I would be a villain, although I don't really consider myself to have been one. I think villains are the true game players. They're the ones who are going to make the moves when they need to make them and the heroes are the ones who are just the friendly nice guys who either get taken advantage of or don't really play the game cutthroat and as intelligently as the villains. That's just the way society is in general. Does that make sense?
HitFix: As a last question, having done this twice, would you do it again?
TA: If they invited me back and wanted me to come back? Yeah. I think I would. I definitely would have to see where I am in life, but if the opportunity presented itself and I was at a point in my life where I could take two months off to do it? Then yeah. Yeah, I love playing the game.
"Survivor" returns to Thursdays starting next week.