Interview: Alexis Maxwell talks 'Survivor: Cagayan'
Like so many "Survivor" decisions, Wednesday (March 26) night's "Survivor: Cagayan" vote came down to trust. With a Merge coming, the remaining trio of Brains had to decide who they could trust not to flip.
Would they trust Sarah, who might reunite with the majority of her Brawn tribe?
Would they trust Jeremiah, who may or may not have gotten a clue to an Immunity Idol and may or may not have lied about it?
Or would they trust Alexis, who professed loyalty, but had two chums -- LJ and Jefra -- remaining on the other tribe?
In the end, the Brains didn't really consider targeting Sarah and they opted to trust Jeremiah, even while not quite believing him, leaving Alexis blindsided and crying.
Although she was placed on the Beauty tribe for the purposes of this "Survivor" season, Alexis Maxwell is a student at Northwestern, which isn't too shabby, and despite her disappointment at being eliminated, she makes no excuses for what she describes as "rookie mistakes."
In her exit interview, she explains why she wouldn't have flipped, at least not post-Merge. She discusses her gaffe in not believing Jeremiah's version of the Idol story. And she talks about why Sarah was never targeted for Wednesday's vote.
Click through for the full Q&A...
HitFix: You got so emotional at the Tribal Council and then in your post-eviction interview. What was it like watching it on TV and seeing it with a clearer head?
Alexis Maxwell: It really did bring up a lot of that emotion again and it's just fascinating to me that something like that could really just have such a strong hold on my emotions. I never cry. I never really get sad about anything. I'm usually very happy. But this really broke my heart and I didn't realize that I would get so emotionally invested in it. Even last night, watching it again, I kinda teared up a little bit, because it just reminded me how sad I was that I couldn't do better than I did and that the game ended for me so abruptly.
HitFix: At the Tribal Council when the votes were read, you seemed pretty shocked. Was there nothing you were hearing during the arguments that gave you any hesitation at all?
Alexis: It was a major blindside, because that whole Tribal, I was just sitting there thinking, "I'm so proud of myself." I knew the Merge was the next day. I knew it the whole time. So I'm thinking, "I cannot believe it. I've made it to the Merge and I'm gonna be in such a good spot after the Merge blah blah blah." And I was just saying that in my head while Jeff is counting the votes and then it was me! So I really, really didn't expect it.
HitFix: OK. So you knew the Merge was coming and the whole question was about loyalty post-Merge. Be honest with me: Do you think you would have flipped?
Alexis: I definitely wouldn't have flipped, at least for that first vote. Definitely not. It doesn't make sense, numbers-wise. I told them that. I said, "If you flip, that's five Jury votes that you don't get, so you lose the game if you flip." That's just how it goes. We've seen it with Cochran when he flipped his first season. It just doesn't work. So I would have probably tried to pull Jefra in and put her on our side to keep her in a safe spot, but I was never going to flip. And I definitely said that.
HitFix: The way it looked on TV, you and Jefra were stuck to LJ and kinda trailing behind him. How much of that was just editing? How much of it was strategy?
Alexis: It looked like that, but Day One on our first beach, Jefra approached me and me and her kinda arranged an alliance. She came up to me like, "Me and you are together" and I'm like, "I 100 percent agree" and then I said, "Let's each take one dude and pull them in." So she took Jeremiah and I took LJ just because of the vibes we got from them and how much we thought that we could have them stick to us. So it definitely looked like LJ was the runner of the alliance, which we were totally fine with, because obviously you never want to look like the leader of an alliance. But of course with the editing, it doesn't really do us well, which... Who cares? It doesn't really matter. But that was mine and Jefra's thing. I was willing to vote for LJ as soon as we got to Merge.
HitFix: What does it say about Jefra's job in recruiting Jeremiah that he was such a wild card out there and was causing so much uncertainty?
Alexis: Yeah, I guess he really didn't feel as strong of a connection, but for that whole thing, he was just really threatened by LJ and LJ kinda did treat Jeremiah like his sidekick, so I think it was a little bit emasculating for Jeremiah the whole time we were out there. But Jeremiah let it happen and he was OK with it happening, but I guess it did get under his skin.
HitFix: Watching last night's episode and seeing what really did happen with Jeremiah and with Tony and Woo and the Idol clue, what was your reaction?
Alexis: Umm... So... I was wrong. [She was laughs.] I thought I was right for sure and I thought that Jeremiah was just being a dummy, but Tony did pull a move there. That move really should have helped me and it should have hurt Jeremiah, but that's not how "Survivor" plays out. It's never really how it should obviously be, so it didn't even work in my favor.
HitFix: Knowing what you know now, would it have made any difference? Or would you have continued to try to put the spotlight on Jeremiah even if you knew he was telling the truth?
Alexis: Knowing what I know now, it definitely would have been different. I still would have tried to out Jeremiah and played into that whole move that Tony pulled, but I also would have understood better that even if I think things are gonna go the way they go or even if I think things are common sense or make a lot of sense, it just won't go that way and I shouldn't expect it to go that way, so I have to add more paranoia to my gameplay.
HitFix: That being said, Spencer indicated last night that he thought you were smart, but he suspected you of covering it up and that you were being shady. In retrospect again, how would you have played him differently?
Alexis: Well, I didn't want to come out on "Survivor" and be like, "Oh, I'm so smart." That's dumb. You're putting a target on your back. But he read through the bulls***, so it didn't really work in Spencer's case, which is good for him. He should never buy into that if a girl's trying to play that game. But it worked on the other dudes! So Spencer, I guess, is my kryptonite.
HitFix: You said that you needed to add a little more paranoia, but explain a bit more. What should you have been doing and why do you think the Brains decided that Jeremiah was more trustworthy post-Merge than you would have been?
Alexis: I should have listened to my "Survivor" Fan self, really. I would say in my confessionals, like, "If I was watching, I would think that I was going home" or "If I they were smart, they would send me home." And they were. I don't know why I was pretending like they weren't gonna make the right moves, because they did make the right move. I understand why they voted me out now, but I should have listened to my own "Survivor" self when I was out there. It's just my heart was so in the game that I think that I think it clouded my judgment and added so much wishful thinking and I convinced myself of the best case scenario instead of the worst case scenario, which is totally wrong.
HitFix: Speaking of worst case scenarios, how much of a worst case scenario was the post-Shuffle group that you ended up being in, with Jefra and LJ on one tribe and being with only Jeremiah and Morgan?
Alexis: Initially, I was like, "Oh, thank God I'm not two on a tribe full of five Brawn," but again, "Survivor" never plays out in the obvious ways, so when we got to my beach, I knew that I wasn't in a good spot. I knew it because I knew that Morgan and Jeremiah were gonna make moves against me in some capacity. Even so, we shouldn't given all the power to the Brains and we should have talked to each other, but hindsight is 20/20 and we didn't think like that at all when we were out there. We barely even talked to each other. I don't think that the shuffle did well for me, especially when Cliff and Lindsey went home. If LJ had been voted out in that vote, I don't think that I would have been the next one out.
HitFix: We saw last night, as you predicted, that the Merge is coming. And in the teaser, it looks as if Sarah is going to be the person in the middle. Given the numbers, was there any talk of voting Sarah out for exactly that reason?
Alexis: Well, that was my first move towards the Brains. I said, "Sarah cannot make it to the Merge, because even if we trust her, even if she seems trustworthy, she has crazy options when she gets there. She has so much to choose from." That was my whole ploy to try and get in with the brains, etc etc. But [inaudible] Sarah is very powerful in her relationship with people. I felt it. Everyone else felt it, too. When she looks you in the eye and tells you that she's not lying, you really feel like she's not. She's very good at appearing to be trustworthy. She's powerful at that. Very impressed.
HitFix: Was it your impression that she's was merely appearing to be trustworthy or that she actually was? Did *you* trust her?
Alexis: Well, a the time, I thought she was 100 percent trustworthy and I'm like, "I feel strongly that if she gives me her word, she's not lying." But obviously she was lying to me, so I didn't read that situation very well.
HitFix: You're a student at a great university. Did you feel like it was a little bit strange or weird that you were being placed on a Beauty tribe?
Alexis: Yeah, I said it that I was happy that I was placed on a Beauty tribe over the Brains tribe, because obviously it eliminates a target off my back and I thought it was the least threatening title. People didn't know if I had any brains in me and they really didn't think I did. So I was happy about that, but if it was The Game of Life, I'd certainly rather be put on the Brains tribe than the Beauty tribe.
HitFix: But if it had been a tradition version of "Survivor," tribes not divided by Beauty/Brains/Brawn, how do you think things would have gone different for you?
Alexis: That's interesting to think about. I still feel like it would have gone the same. [She laughs.] I really didn't play very well. I think that I still would have probably made the same rookie mistakes despite the labels. I think if I played again I would do three million times better, but I don't think the labels necessarily messed my game up. I think it was just me.
HitFix: As a last question, returning to your emotions at getting voted out yourself, what was your reaction at the start of the episode to a player quitting?
Alexis: It is a stark contrast to how I finished the game. When we heard about the quit during the game, it's just disappointing. One of the reasons I was so emotional after the game is because I was thinking in my head, "There's so many people that want to play and I took a spot and I blew it." That's how I thought. I felt like I took a spot away from die-hard fans like myself, but people who would have done better than me and I just felt like I wasted an opportunity and it broke my heart. So the idea of someone quitting, it really doesn't sit well with me in something like that.