I'm still not sure why Hali Ford and her alliance were so surprised at the end of Wednesday (April 8) night's "Survivor: Worlds Apart." 

I guess I can understand why Hali was surprised. It would have been reasonable that, given the options in her four-person minority group, the game steering Blue Collar group would have targeted the seemingly stronger Jenn or the seemingly more annoying Shirin rather than voting against Hali, who proved a patriotic member of the newly merged Merica Tribe.

But even after talking to Hali, I don't get why they assumed that wobbly Blue Collar partisan Sierra was going to join their anti-Dan vote, nor why anybody had a reason to expect either Will or Tyler or anybody else to give them enough votes to actually succeed. 

In this week's "Survivor" exit interview, Hali tries to explain what went wrong with the vote, why she was disappointed in Joe's strategic play and why it was more important to target Dan than Rodney. She also suggests that had she made it through this vote, she was prepared to move over to an alliance with Mike, even though we never saw them bonding on TV.

There were phone connection issues here that left me tentative about asking several Constitution studies questions that I had ready. I just wasn't prepared to have to repeat and over explain that sort of question. Apologies.

Check out the full Q&A below...

HitFix: At the end of the Tribal Council you guys all looked shocked by the result. 

Hali Ford: That’s accurate.

HitFix: Okay well who was the sixth person who you guys were convinced was with you?

Hali Ford: In my mind it was a crapshoot. I had a different plan going up. I thought maybe we could snag Tyler and hopefully we still had Will onboard. I wasn’t sure about that. Things were a lot more nebulous but it wasn’t exactly a vote counting. It was cast your bread upon the waters and hope to reel the votes in. Honestly.

HitFix: Had you had any awareness that Will had voted for you in the previous Tribal Council?

Hali Ford: Yeah. So after the first vote when me, Shirin, Jenn and Joe were on the beach I was surprised when they were talking about the votes counted. When we left Tribal Council the first, after that council I was like, "Okay, Will flipped." And then we were on the beach they started discussing it and I was like, "Wow, so y'all don't think Will flipped." I talked to Will. I subtly interrogated him the next day. I think we were down at the river and I was hurting that he flipped. I went to Joe I was like, "Joe, you need to drop all of your planning with Tyler. You need to get Will back on our side because we need to have Will." Everyone was so convinced that he was with us that they changed my mind and I became convinced that I was paranoid. I wasn’t paranoid. But I learned, you know, on "Survivor" you’ve got to trust your gut. I should have gone with that.

HitFix: So when you sort of look back at the people whose responsibility it was to either secure Tyler or to secure Will who do you think dropped the ball out there to some degree?

Hali Ford: It was Joe. I wasn’t happy with Joe. One of the reasons the girls alliance was coming together was because both Jenn and I were not happy with Joe because he was doing things that we thought were unnecessary, like showing Sierra a clue and we didn’t know if we had her. And he was kind of a loose cannon. But what could Joe have done? No one wanted to bring in Joe. Everyone wanted Joe out. He’s the biggest threat in the game. How can I blame him but, you know.

HitFix: When were you sort of realizing that Joe wasn’t as reliable as you thought he was or wasn’t as consistent as you thought he was or however you want to describe it I guess.

Hali Ford: Yeah. It wasn’t that I questioned Joe’s loyalty. It was that he seemed like a loose cannon. He was talking to everyone, blabbering. There wasn’t a lot of coherent planning going on. We would go one plan. We would devise one plan and then he’d be off talking to Sierra or to someone else that wasn’t in the plan. I guess that happened maybe two days before the last vote, three. I mean look at who he brought on the Reward Challenge. And see that was strategic but we weren't happy about it.

HitFix: I wanted to talk about that, because he won that reward challenge and he took people who weren’t in his core alliance. Did you expect him to take you when he won?

Hali Ford: I thought he would take one of us, me or Jenn. I didn’t really care. I think Jenn was really upset. That’s not what made me want to drop my like planning with Joe. It was more what he did after that. So I didn’t care, but I know Jenn was really mad.

HitFix: Well he took those people who weren't in his alliance and then he came back and it didn’t look as if he accomplished anything. Did you go to him after he returned and say, "Okay, so now who’s on our side? Who did you successfully lure over to vote with us?"

Hali Ford: [She laughs.] Well, he said he showed Tyler the clue to try to get him on our side, but that didn’t work out. I wanted Joe to stick with his guns a little more and he was talking to everyone all the time. I can’t blame him though because I did the same thing. We were all scattered because it didn’t seem like we did have anyone on lock down. Maybe if we had been more assassin instead of shotgun, we could have pulled it together better. But that’s not what we did.

HitFix: What we saw on the episode, which obviously is presumably not representative, was that it was kind of Shirin whose responsibility it was to be wooing Tyler?  Was that accurate or did everyone try?

Hali Ford: [She laughs.] I don’t think Shirin had a lot of sway over Tyler. 

HitFix: How were you guys looking at her role in your alliance? How much were you hoping that she would be annoying enough to take a target off of you and how much were you worried that she might be a goat who people would want to keep over you?

Hali Ford: I love Shirin. I wanted it to be me, Jenn and her and make that our tightest alliance. I distrusted her because I saw her talking to everyone all the time, so she was a swing vote kind of character. But in the game, I wish I had gone with my gut and actually trusted the genuineness in her eyes when she said she was on our side, because I wasted time second-guessing Shirin and working on her when I could have been securing other votes. 

HitFix: Now Dan hasn’t gotten a very likable edit this season, but the speed with which the women mobilized against him – is it possible that he was worse out there than we saw?

Hali Ford: You know I didn’t have a lot of personal interaction with Dan out there. After watching the episodes I’m thinking that was for the better. I know from conversations with Sierra in the game that he sounded like Satan himself at times. But yeah, he was never mean to me so I don’t have much personal knowledge to talk on.

HitFix: Well then why did you get behind that vote rather than Rodney or maybe Mike?

Hali Ford: Oh because I’m an advocate person. When I hear someone’s messing with my girls, I’m gonna step in. That’s the problem with my game. I played with my heart instead of my head. I was like, "Okay, you’re bullying my friend, we’ll just go for you." And it's not like that wasn’t necessarily strategic as well but my primary motivation was like, "Well let’s figure out who we can target" and the decisive factor was who was pissing everyone off. Bullying people.

HitFix: Given that you say that Sierra was sort of portraying Dan as being Satan himself why do you think that she ultimately decided to stick with the Blue Collar alliance that she didn’t like rather than going with the women?

Hali Ford: It could be two things. What I thought at the vote was that she was a pushover and like the dog returns to his vomit. Another reason might be that she’s smart and she didn’t want to go with likable people to the end. She wanted to go with the trolls.

HitFix: The previous episode ended with the great Jenn Idol play and all of that. How long did the glow from that Tribal Council last before you guys had to take a step back and look at your numbers?

Hali Ford: Not long. It evaporated. It evaporated before we got back to camp. When me, Shirin, Jenn and Joe were laying on that beach, we knew that it was over. It was time. They were picking us off one by one – pow, pow, pow, pow. 

HitFix: What is that feeling like, the roller coaster of briefly feeling as if you’ve changed the game and then realizing you really haven’t at all?

Hali Ford: I remember looking up at the stars and having a great unknown feeling. Like we needed to hustle something together. There were a lot of variables. We weren’t sure what the votes were, especially because they weren’t all read. We didn’t have all of the information in front of us to even figure out what had happened. So I guess it was an emotional roller coaster but it’s more just like our minds gearing up like, "Okay, we need to get a plan together or we’re dead."

HitFix: Did you have any flexibility out there or were you just locked in with Jenn and with Joe and that was the only place you could be?

Hali Ford: Uh-uh. I had flexibility. Me and Mike, the whole time since the Merge Mike and I were talking. We would go boa hunting together and if I had made it through that vote, I probably would have switched ships, tried to get Jenn to go with me. But she was a liability because people saw us as a power couple. They used the term "power couple," which I thought was bizarre but it’s just because we were tight and that was bad gameplay. We were too visibly tight. I was totally ready to go to Mike’s ship. I was ready to go because I knew I was on a sinking ship.

HitFix: So why do you think that of the two of you in your power couple, you ended up being the vote?

Hali Ford: I only know the reasons that I was told. I don’t want to disclose anything to take from future episodes or whatever. Yeah, they told me that I was like this badass, this likeable badass and I guess that wasn’t part of draw. I don’t know. I wish I hadn't been me.

HitFix: Did you expect that Jenn was going to be the vote or did you figure it might be you?

Hali Ford: I expected it would be Jenn over me. Because I thought I had had enough conversations with people then we figured out an option for one more vote. I thought I had put out enough offers that something was going to come through.

HitFix: And you talked about playing with your heart over your head. Do you think that that was going to happen inevitably or do you think that maybe, to some degree, being on the No Collar tribe from the beginning steered you to playing more with your heart than your head out there?

Hali Ford: I was blindsided by my own gameplay. I had no intention! I don't play life with my heart. I play life with my head. I make my decisions mentally. I’m not an emotional person. That’s why I said I’m like a dude. I’m really not. I don’t talk to people about my emotions, because that’s not how I make my decisions. But out there I had had a summer that really shook me up. Someone really close to me had died, so I probably was in a different place. I wasn't in law school mode when I went on the show. Being on the No Collar tribe I had to tap into that social and heart aspect, because the mental aspect was rejected and that was a liability. If you were talking about strategy, you were occupied. So the combination just sent me into zone where I wasn't being strategic. I should have have switched my frame of mind at the Merge, but I was late.

Other "Survivor: Worlds Apart" exit interviews:
Kelly Remington
Joaquin Souberbielle
Max Dawson
Lindsey Cascaddan
Nina Poersch
Vince Sly
So Kim

A long-time member of the TCA Board and a longer-time blogger of "American Idol," Dan Fienberg writes about TV, except for when he writes about movies or sometimes writes about the Red Sox. But never music. He would sound stupid talking about music.