Interview: Kelley Wentworth talks 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur'
It never fails that I get an early "Survivor" exit interview that makes me lament that fate or one wrong move cost us a potentially interesting castaway.
Kelley Wentworth didn't make much of an impact in the season's first three "Survivor: San Juan Del Sur" episodes, which made it surprising that Drew felt her to be a big enough threat that he threw an Immunity Challenge in an ill-fated attempt to vote Kelley out. That flawed gambit blew up in Drew's face and in our conversation, he said Kelley had "something evil" about her, but because it was an email interview, I couldn't follow-up.
Kelley didn't show that "something evil" in this past week's episode, but she still found herself a slightly confusing target when Jon & Jaclyn decided to align with Baylor & Missy instead of Kelley and her father Dale.
Between her endearing tendency to start answers with "Gosh," and her willingness to laugh, sometimes spontaneously and unprompted, at Drew, Kelley was a fine interview and showed more personality here than she got to on the show. She couldn't quite explain why Drew thought she was "evil," nor could she explain why she was voted out instead of her less-than-popular father, but she highlighted many of the strategic flaws I've been noticing this season.
Click through for the full Q&A...
HitFix: Hey Kelley. How are you doing this morning?
Kelley Wentworth: Well, I'm all right. Hanging in there.
HitFix: That's good. So okay, what was it like watching last night's episode? Did you watch with anybody or by yourself?
Kelley Wentworth: No, I was by myself. It was so sad. It was alright though. I obviously knew what had happened, I was just more curious to see what other people were kind of seeing in their interviews. Like why me?
HitFix: And what answer did you get from what you saw on TV?
Kelley Wentworth: I didn't really get an answer. I mean it was the kind of seem to be the theme this season. I didn't get an answer at all. I think it might come out next episode, but obviously I was a bigger threat than my dad and apparently a bigger threat than Baylor, even though she flips on everybody and will probably stab them in the back. But that's okay!
HitFix: Well, going into that tribal council, what would you of sort of told me the chances were that Jon and Jaclyn were going to side with you two rather than with Missy and Baylor?
Kelley Wentworth: Oh my gosh, five percent? Ten percent? It was not high at all.
HitFix: So, how had you sort of known, how had you gotten the sense that your chances were that bad?
Kelley Wentworth: Well, because we had conversations with them when we first hit the Coyopa beach. And they approached my dad and myself and just said, "Hey like we're really thinking Baylor here; she's a flipper; let's just get her out now before she does us all in." We're like, "Yeah cool. We're on board." So then the next day I kind of had another conversation with Jaclyn like, "Hey are we still on-board? Are we cool?" She's like "Yeah, yeah we're good; I don't want to deal with her." And then on Tribal Council day about an hour before we left no one would talk to me. Jon and Jaclyn were just kind of wandering around with their heads down. Like I said, "Hey we're on-board for Baylor, right?" and they all just kind of nodded at me. So I just felt like they're not being truthful here. I could just tell like, "You're not good liars." And I did not feel good about it.
HitFix: What did you think that Missy and Baylor were sort of able to offer Jon and Jaclyn that you two couldn't?
Kelley Wentworth: Gosh, I mean Missy said I was looking for an Idol, Like okay no. I was going off with my dad to get water, but that's fine. I think too, you guys didn't get to really see how close Missy and Jon were. I was kind of going after Jon and Missy caught wind of it and told Jon, this was back at Hunaphu. So of course in Jon's mind it's like "I'm going to get Kelley out before she gets me out." I think that maybe was the final thought and why I went home.
HitFix: How frustrating was it to sort of realize that you guys were in that strange position where both sides were basically wooing Jon and Jaclyn, it became like a Dating Game out there almost.
Kelley Wentworth: It was absolutely horrible, I think the worst position to be in on "Survivor," because you don't ever want to have to count on two other people's votes to get you through. And they're two votes. You can't sway one of the votes because obviously they're going to vote together. So it was very frustrating to feel like my fate was in these two people's hands that I barely knew and wasn't really happy about it.
HitFix: Now Drew mentioned last week that part of why he targeted you was because you were targeting Jon. How aggressively were you doing that and why I guess?
Kelley Wentworth: I wasn't aggressively targeting Jon. I mean I had a conversation with Jeremy mainly about, "Hey, I think Jon and Drew are too close of a pair, they're too tight and come the Merge if their loved ones are here that's a foursome that we're going to have trouble with," so it kind of came out like, "I want either Jon or Drew." Well, when Missy heard Jon's name she just ran to him like, "Oh my God Kelley said your name." I don't know when those two became so close. So I wasn't targeting hard. Once I knew Missy would never vote for Jon I was like, "Okay Drew, I'm cool with that; it's fine." So it wasn't like I was out to get Jon and that was the end of the story. I didn't pull a Drew like, "It's my way or the highway." I was cool with either one.
HitFix: Where there actual tensions with Jon because we saw none of this so I'm just trying to get a sense?
Kelley Wentworth: No, no, no tensions at all. It strictly for me was a strategic move because I knew that Jon and Jaclyn were a pretty solid athletic pair and so I just didn't want to be at the Merge with both of them. I knew Drew like, "Eh. We can carry him along; he has no clue what's going on." But Jon I was like, "You know, maybe not the smartest kid but I think he's too much of a threat."
HitFix: Now, what was it like sort of when you were reunited with your father and you were able to sort of get a read for what he had done or how he had done on his own out there?
Kelley Wentworth: Gosh, it was really upsetting because the couples get to Coyopa, we all kind of pair off so we can chat with our loved ones. And I looked to my dad like, "Hey who is your alliance here?" And he said, "No one." And he said, "Who are you with?" and I go, "Oh gosh no one and I'm trying to get out Jon. Like this is not good." So it just was kind of a really crappy draw and that's the way it goes sometimes. And I'm certainly not blaming the tribe swap. I mean it is what it is. I had a chance to dig myself out and I didn't. But I think my dad did a good job. I think there's things that he could have done better, but that's just how it goes.
HitFix: And once you were out there in that circumstance, do you feel like there was anything you could have done to sort of wrangle your father better or was his position just his position?
Kelley Wentworth: [She laughs. Ruefully.] Ohhhhhhhh gosh. Well, I tried to take him away from the rice situation to avoid any sort of a blowup. Unfortunately the damage was done. You know, Baylor hated up my dad from day one. It's just silly, really. I mean he got you freaking food and water, girl, and fire. But that's fine. I don't think there was any mending that Baylor relationship and that might have been the end of us.
HitFix: Several people I've talked to after being eliminated have talked about Baylor not having a clue what she's doing out there. Does that seem like the correct read to you or do you think she's stealthily playing a brilliant game and we're just not seeing it yet?
Kelley Wentworth: [She laughs and answers quickly.] No. Absolutely not. I mean when Missy came to the camp, Baylor just let her mom do all the work. Baylor didn't even have to go strategize with anyone because Missy was like, "We're going with Jon." And Baylor, I'm sorry but like she just flips on everybody and then she blames other people for what she did. And she tried to say like, "Oh, I never went against your dad." Like, "Go back and watch episode one honey, like it's right there so please let's be correct."
HitFix: I want to go back to something you said earlier about sort of coming out of the original tribe, coming into the Shuffle without any clear alliances I guess. Why do you think that happened?
Kelley Wentworth: That I didn't have any alliances?
HitFix: It feels not just like you didn't, but it feels like there weren't that many hard and fast alliances really on either tribe that were being made.
Kelley Wentworth: Yeah. It was interesting. Again I think being on a season with a bunch of people that really didn't know what was going on, it was hard. Because I did try to make alliances really early. I knew I wanted a solid three and then I wanted two people on the outside that felt like they could trust me, but they weren't my Final Three to the end. And you could tell from Hunahpu vote, like Jon changing his vote to Keith at the last-minute, like to stick with your plan. That's Survivor 101, just stick with what you agreed to and it will work. So I think you weren't seeing a lot of alliances because people are confused. That's what it comes down to.
HitFix: Well, give me a read on sort of who you felt was aware of how to play "Survivor" and who maybe wasn't.
Kelley Wentworth: Sure. At least on Hunahpu when I was there I mean Jeremy obviously is very savvy. He knew what was going on. He's a "Survivor" fan, which was why I wanted to team up with him initially. Reed is a big "Survivor" fan. He was pretty aware of what was going on as well, although he kind of was a floater I guess. And Natalie is super smart, a really smart girl.
HitFix: Now, do you feel like to some degree this season, because of the Blood Versus Water twist, a lot of people are just sort of waiting to be reunited with love ones rather than committing to alliances, I guess, with strangers?
Kelley Wentworth: Yeah. I think that could be a possibility. I think people could be kind of waiting for the Merge because that Merge is such a crucial moment. If you make the Merge it's huge and it can really change the game if you make the right decision. So I know that Jon is really gunning against the singles and he really wants the doubles, so I think that people are kind of holding off and seeing like, "Where do we stand at the merge? What couples are here and do couples go together or do singles go together and what does that look like."
HitFix: In my interview with Drew last week he said of you, "she had something evil about her." [She begins laughing. "Ha! Oh my God!" ] So... Evil. ["Oh, Drew *would* say that! That's awesome."] Any clue what he meant?
Kelley Wentworth: I mean if it's because I didn't approach him and hit on him and tell him how luscious his long hair is, I guess I'm evil, I don't know. Maybe he just thinks I'm a strategist and I was doing a lot of thinking, which I was. I was always watching people and always trying to sneak in people's conversations. I mean maybe he really meant say I was like sneaky and not evil. We'll let it slide this time Drew. It's okay.
HitFix: I'm just giving you the word and the word he used was "evil."
Kelley Wentworth: Oh gosh. He used all sorts of words for me. He didn't really know what I was, so that's all right. He's confused. I mean what a shocker.
HitFix: Before seeing last week's episode, had you known for sure that he had thrown the Immunity challenge?
Kelley Wentworth: Yes. Absolutely. Half the tribe knew. That's why it was so funny. I'm like, "You're not pulling a fast one on anybody." I think he told Jeremy and Jon first and then Jeremy of course came to me like I was aligned with Jeremy: he's going to tell me. And then Natalie knew. Yeah, half the tribe knew. Reed knew. And we all said, "Bad idea," but he did it anyway.
HitFix: What is sort of your reaction when you see sort of the way things played out as a result of that? I mean if he doesn't do this does it change anything or not I guess?
Kelley Wentworth: Oh my gosh, absolutely. It changes everything, especially in a game when there are so many pairs. I said, "Never throw a challenge." I told him, I told Jeremy I told Reed I told everybody, "This is the worst idea. If you've seen 'Survivor' you know that this can totally wreck you." And apparently he want to get me out so badly that it was worth it, but if he hadn't thrown that, let's say Coyopa wins and I assume my dad would have gone home because he was on the outs, and then let's say we had a tribe swap, and you never know what could've happened there. I would have been a single and maybe I wouldn't have been a target. Like it could have changed everything.
HitFix: But who did you assume that he was throwing the Immunity to get rid of?
Kelley Wentworth: Well, we had made a plan to get out Keith, then Jeremy was so paranoid about Keith. So that was the original plan, but that was like four days before that Immunity challenge. So then it's like, "Wait, no, the plan changed. Keith we don't care about you anymore." He just so was not with the program.
HitFix: Watching last nights episode, any guilt... [Kelley laughs.] Wait, what were you laughing about?
Kelley Wentworth: Just laughing at Drew. That's all. Like I can't stop. OK. But I will.
HitFix: Watching last night's episode, any guilt at all about the double portions of rice in your time there?
Kelley Wentworth: [She laughs.] I had nothing to do with that. I even told my tribe, "Hey, we are burning through this rice like nobody's business; we need to like start to ration." Jeremy and even Reed were like, "Whoa this is way too much." I mean we would have extra rice at the bottom of the pot that no one would eat because everyone was full. That is not a joke. I'm like. "You guys, this? No. Absolutely not." Everyone goes, "Well we have beans. It's fine." Like, "No it's not fine!" Unfortunately some people were complaining about being hungry and Missy kind of took on that motherly role and she was the rice cooker. I don't feel bad because it wasn't me. I was not a part of that.
HitFix: You just enjoyed the rice.
Kelley Wentworth: I did. But I knew we didn't need that much. I knew it. I was fine.
HitFix: And my standard last question for Blood versus Water contestants is were you at any point prepared to write your father's name down out there?
Kelley Wentworth: As hard as it is, now I know how Ciera felt last season. Oh my goodness that's a heartbreaker. I was, though. And at the last vote, last night, if I truly thought that my dad would have gone over me and we would have the votes to do it, I would have voted him. But there was just this weird dynamic with me and Jon and Missy where, again, I wanted him out so he was coming after me. So it wouldn't have mattered if I wrote my dad's name down, because I was a goner no matter what.