Interview: Artis Silvester talks 'Survivor: Philippines'
What was Artis' problem with Skupin and his deal with Pete and Abi?
"You're asking people to give you a million dollars and as human beings, nobody in their right mind wants to give an a***hole a million dollars, unless he's up there with other a**holes," says Artis Silvester, summarizing one of the basic truths of "Survivor."
Those are wise and fitting words for the 53-year-old, who became the most recent player voted out on "Survivor: Philippines."
Artis didn't get an especially complimentary edit on "Survivor," receiving very little screentime and spending much of that time mocking, maligning or fighting with returning player Mike Skupin.
However, Artis came away as practically saintly compared to his alliance-members Pete and Abi.
In his exit interview, Artis makes it clear that while he was aligned with Pete, the more problematic Abi was merely an unfortunate byproduct. He also discusses his issues with Skupin and he insists that he knew who Jeff Kent was, even if that never was featured on TV.
Click through for the full Q&A.
HitFix: At the Tribal Council on Monday, you said it was a possibility the votes could swing and that you'd be blindsided. But how likely did you really think that was?
Artis Silvester: It was predictable for me, because I knew what vote I needed. I felt like I had it, but I wasn't sure because of the dynamics that happened at the Tribal Council before. It became imperative for me to start start patching holes in the sinking ship. It came down to one vote. I knew which vote it was. I knew which person I needed to talk to and I did not get to try to convince that person just to ride this out just one more vote and I'd have been OK. It's not like I was... I guess "blindsided" was a bad choice of words from me. It's not like I didn't know what could happen, because I had run all the possible scenarios and that was the only one scenario that could have sent me home. My odds, on the surface, were good, but I was 50-50 on feeling it.
HitFix: So it sounds like you weren't surprised that it was Skupin who flipped on you, rather than Lisa?
Artis: Oh, not at all! I had no doubt in my mind. Zero doubt in my mind about it. I knew it was going to be Mike. And Mike knew he was going to flip. Mike, he may not want to admit it, but he knew he literally screwed up everything that he touched at camp. [Long pause.]
HitFix: Go on... [Artis laughs.] Sounds like you have a little more to say there...
Artis: No! It was played out. I really don't understand how anybody could be so accident prone. But he was. I'm not the type of person who talks behind someone's back, so I confronted Mike about my issue with him. Anything else that I have to say about Mike, I need to make sure that I say it to Mike first, because unlike a lot of people, I'm not one to hide behind a TV camera or a computer screen and talk about people. If I've got an issue with you, I will confront you about it and then we can handle that any way you want to handle it.
HitFix: It was really things he did at camp, rather than any sort of prejudice against returning players or anything?
Artis: Right. Yes, I didn't want a returning player to win, but that was gameplay. My issue with Mike has nothing to do with the game. It has to do with him as a person. I don't know. America loves him. More power to him, but on a personal level -- and I told him about it and his reaction to it just confirmed my suspicions -- I could care less about Mike. Mike, he's not even worth stepping on like cockroach.
HitFix: Those feelings for Mike, how much was that what led you into the alliance that you had with Pete and with Abi?
Artis: Everybody keeps saying I was in an alliance with... I was in an alliance with Pete. Abi was just excess baggage that had to come along because she wouldn't leave Pete alone and Pete felt like he could just manipulate and twist and turn her any way he saw fit, which was pretty damn accurate. I really wanted Abi gone and my opportunity to get rid of Abi was at the ball challenge, but I couldn't vocalize that because we were still one united tribe. Abi would have quit the game at that point in time and I was like, "Can't y'all see this? She hasn't been playing anyway! She does nothing for us? Why are you..." And the thing is, you can't rid of people if you never go to Tribal Council, so you have to come up and find other ways to get rid of them.
HitFix: How comfortable did you feel in that position in which you were aligned with Pete, not-exactly-aligned with Abi and that was the core of your alliance?
Artis: Well, if you noticed, any time they started those confrontations that they had with people, I was never there, or I was off to the side just watching. My thing was, I was like, "Will y'all please just shut up, causing all this trauma!" Unnecessarily! It got to the point where I felt like things were being done not to play the game, not understanding that you're playing for a million dollars, but to be on television. That was frustrating for me, because I really was playing for the million dollars and our big move, as far as Tandang was concerned, our big move was no move, because nobody could beat us. But I couldn't everybody to get on-board with that.
HitFix: Were you able to tell as Abi and Pete were mistreating Skupin and RC that this was going to be a problem, long-term?
Artis: If you watched the filming, I know everybody watched earlier, but there was a lot of back-and-forth there. They're making it seem like it was just one way and it wasn't one way. It wasn't as one-way as everybody's making it out to be. The only reason it's being shown just one way is because that group of people, they're still playing and they keep doing it. In this game, you have to hitch yourself to a horse and you've gotta ride that horse, good or bad or indifferent, because notoriously in this game, switching horses has often been the death of you, no matter how far you make it you won't win. Because when it's all said and done, the script gets flipped, because now instead of driving the horse, you're now asking people to give you something. There's one aspect about this game that everybody keeps forgetting about and that is the human aspect. Human. You're asking people to give you a million dollars and as human beings, nobody in their right mind wants to give an asshole a million dollars, unless he's up there with other assholes. If there's any way possible, you don't wanna wake up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I can't believe I did that." So you clear the way out, any way possible.
HitFix: So you were figuring that by going to a Final Three with Pete and Abi that they were going to be the assholes?
Artis: I made no alliance to Abi. No. Abi did not deserve to be in that position, regardless of whether she would get no votes or not. She didn't deserve to be there, so I wouldn't have taken her there.
HitFix: Who would you have gone with, then?
Artis: I only made an promise to two people about Final Three action and they're both still playing. Let's put it like that.
HitFix: We saw that you guys were simultaneously totally dysfunctional as a tribe at camp, but totally dominant as a tribe at challenges. What did you make of that contrast while it was happening?
Artis: It was ridiculous. It really was. It was like a family that just can't stand one another and we all know we can't stand one another, but we dare anybody else to come tell us that, because we'll squash you. That's the feeling that we came down to. I couldn't even believe it at some point in time. I was like, "Are you kidding me? We're still winning?" And then we'd get back home and we couldn't celebrate the win. Our biggest problem was that we couldn't celebrate the win because people were too busy trying to quote-unquote "play the game" when we didn't have.
HitFix: Who were the biggest offenders?
Artis: Everybody. I'm like, "Please. We don't have to play." We were given an unreal advantage and that is the advantage of not having to play. All we had to do was eliminate everybody and when it was just us six left, do what you've gotta do. Again, all these people who say they're great game players, they may be great at-the-moment game players, but they're not long-term game players, because my perception is this: We still had our entire tribe left and I thought about that once we merged. We have our entire tribe here and you know what that means? Our entire Tribe is going to be on the Jury at some point in time, even if the Final 3 is three from Tandang, Tandang's gonna be on the Jury, so if you don't have the Tandang vote... That's just common sense. If you don't have the Tandang vote, you can't win. The problem was trying to make everybody seem happy and feel they were going to be comfortable with whoever it was who won as long as it was Tandang, but it just never game to fruition because of all the internal game playing within the tribe that just kept going on.
HitFix: But regarding your own personal elimination, are you attributing it more to bad game play by other people or was there something that you could have done or should have done that might have kept you in the game?
Artis: I've thought about it and there was one thing that I could have done. If I had it to play over again, realistically there's one move that I would have made that I didn't make and it involved Jeff Kent. Thinking back on it, if I had done something that I thought about doing with Jeff, the entire game would have flipped over and I'd have been OK. I'd have been a lot better off.
HitFix: And what would that have been?
Artis: Aligning with Jeff to get rid of Mike at the point of time that they were trying to get rid of Jeff. Because getting of Jeff... I mean. if we had gotten rid of Mike at that point in time, Tandang still would have been up on numbers, because we were up two people already and losing Mike would have just put us up one and it would have kept Jeff in the game. I actually do like Jeff, contrary to a lot of other people. I like Jeff. I knew who he was. I didn't know initially. I had an idea, because I was looking at him and I'm like, "What about him is bothering me?" And then at some point in the game I figured out who he was, but there was no sense in exposing him because: One, he was on the other tribe and Two, when we got to the Merge, exposing him would have hurt my game instead of helping my game.
HitFix: And so you just didn't mention it?
Artis: I kind hinted to people. I said something like, "There's more to him than what he's saying." But that kinda went by the wayside, so I left it alone.