Pride and conceit are virtues that will get you nowhere on Survivor. Peter Baggenstos, an ER Doctor from Minneapolis, found that out the hard way this week on “Survivor: Kaoh Rong.”
If you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode. Get caught up on Episode 6 here.
Peter started off this season merely as “that guy who looks just like President Obama!” But after the premiere episode, he seemed like a player who had the potential to be a smart fan-favorite. When his tribe-mate Deb was acting all loony, it was Peter who said that that was the exact reason why they should keep her around. All seemed to start off fine with the good doctor.
But as early as Episode 2, it seemed that Peter was not going to be long for this game. He revealed a cockiness, an arrogance, and made massive Survivor no-nos like saying that he felt like he was in charge and that he felt good with his place in the game. As viewers, we know that if they show you saying that on TV, it rarely ends well. He had a very tight relationship with Liz, but he failed to really make any other connections.
Once Liz was voted out first off of the Brain camp, Peter was all alone in the game. He tried upping his social game at that point, but it was a bit too late for him. But when the tribe swap occurred, Peter found himself with two other Brains, Aubry and Joe, and instead of turning on them, he ultimately stuck with them to the bitter end.
Unfortunately for Peter though, his scheming and openness with his strategy was his downfall. In trying to mutiny against Joe and Aubry, he revealed himself to everyone as an untrustworthy schemer. Even though Aubry and Joe felt the need to use his vote as to not fall into the minority, Aubry ultimately decided that the time was now to get rid of him. You know it had to have been a tough decision for her, because she had actually written down Julia on her parchment before crossing that name off and writing down Peter’s. Her vote was the deciding vote that sent Peter out of the game, just shy of making the merge.
Peter had a series of missteps out there in the game, and was though of being arrogant and full of himself. I had a chance to chat with Peter today to set the record straight (or just confirm it), and to find out what his plans might have been had he made it to the pending merger. Here’s our transcript:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: So Peter, I’m going to dive right in. You were called arrogant, cocky and conceited while out there on Survivor. Are these fair and accurate measures of your personality?
Peter Baggenstos: Good question. You know what I am cocky, but arrogant? That word implies a sense of superiority over other people and that’s something that I don’t appreciate being called. But if that’s how they see me, maybe. Personally I get that I gave some cocky, over-zealous statements, but those statements are all sort of held as a joke. I mean, I’m also self-effacing…I have no problem admitting to my failures and if you were truly arrogant, you don’t see imperfections or doing things wrong.
Tom Santilli: Were these comments and labels that were directed towards you a bit surprising to watch on TV, were some of your on-air comments misconstrued or used out of context?
Peter: When you get stamped with a Scarlet Letter, I mean even really before I was out there, that was sort of my role. You just can’t overcome that. And some of these words are just picked out [from the footage] and just continually used. In Survivor you look for all of these personality flaws in all of us, and then you hang your hat on that, and you ride that pony until the end. That’s just one component. I’m just disappointed that they didn’t show anyone saying anything nice about me. (Laughs) Wow, I just came to that realization right now. Now that I think about it, I don’t think anyone said anything nice about me. It’s just so contrary to reality. I guess that’s why they call it Reality TV, because I mean I’m friends with everyone. I mean as we’re speaking I’m getting a bunch of text messages from people just saying oh how’s it going, and sorry. So I mean do they think I’m arrogant now? I’d say no, but from the small component of me that they got out there? I’d still say that I don’t think they saw me as completely arrogant. I mean at times maybe they would think that but I mean, my God, no one is truly that clueless.
Tom Santilli: During the first episode, Deb was acting very quirky and crazy, and you said that instead of targeting her, that she’s exactly the sort of person you should stick with and take far in the game, because nobody would vote for her. But after that, you never really were shown building a relationship with Deb. What prevented you from getting closer to Deb and the other members of your tribe?
Peter: Deb and Joe were difficult to work with because they weren’t interested in discussing strategy until times got rough. I’m referring to when we’d lose a challenge or something. Because we didn’t lose the first few challenges, they never wanted to really talk game-play. So I didn’t really get a good chance to know her or speak with her as much as I would have liked to. She was too interested in doing pull-ups, or trying to start a fire.
Tom Santilli: Deb though put on a front that she is crazy and zany, but on the show she is also being shown as being quite savvy strategically, and she feels like she really is pulling the strings and has her hooks in a lot of people. Does any of that, watching it back on TV, surprise you about Deb or do you feel like she is still not quite as savvy as she thinks she is?
Peter: Well, I mean look even at the words you are using. You say the word “savvy.” I mean if I was in that position we’d be using the words “over-confident,” Right? I mean it’s the dialogue that the show gives someone. So sure, Deb is savvy, but at the same time, maybe I’m being a contrarian, but she may be acting clueless and over-confident. Period.
Tom Santilli: So Scot, Tai and Julia all seemed like they would have voted with you to get rid of Aubry or Joe, but it never came together and you ultimately decided to stick with the other Brains to force a tie-vote. What was your decision based on ultimately?
Peter: It was out of frustration, that was the best option to sort of force a stale-mate and go to some kind of a tie-break challenge. I tried for three to five days campaigning to each of the three non-Brain people, and not once did they say, that’s a good plan, or anything. You know what, if Scot would have come up and said the three of us are voting out Joe, are you with us? I would have been like, yes! But every time I would try campaigning they would eventually just run back to Joe and Aubry to tell them my plans, so I was just like, you know what? What do I have left?
Tom Santilli: Joe confronted you pretty directly last night. After that confrontation, did you feel that you had handled it well?
Peter: I handled it poorly, my facial expressions just gave me up. I was totally taken off guard. But at the same time when he was saying whatever he was saying to me, running through my mind was that five minutes ago I had just talked with Tai about getting Aubry out, and he ran and told those two. Like why would he do that? I was flabbergasted that there was just no certainty, no one could realize that I was on their side and that they would have had my vote. Everything I said, they would just make transparent to the other two, so it put me in a position where I just couldn’t do anything.
Tom Santilli: You’re also getting a lot of flack for your “block strategy” during the Immunity Challenge. It ultimately wasn’t a good strategy, but in watching the CBS.com videos released after the episode, it’s clear that others agreed and signed-off on your idea. So why are you getting all the blame for it?
Peter: Well it’s part of the game, as long as it’s not you, you’re safe. So I threw out that strategy and option when we were game-planning and everybody went yeah, let’s do that! So we went for it. And because it didn’t work, because I threw it out there, it’s on me. I had nothing to say. And I get it from their stand-point, they are trying to deflect blame, that they should put it on anyone that is not you. So it’s just a defense mechanism. No one else was going to stand-up and say, I also agreed with that strategy and it didn’t work.
Tom Santilli: In those online CBS.com videos, you also mentioned that you felt like your game never quite got in stride, that you were basically reacting more and never really got to get going. We see that next week is the merge, which you just barely missed. Had you stayed in the game, what would your plan had been had you stayed in the game into the merge? Who would you have wanted to work with?
Peter: There’s a lot of things based on what would have happened. So if the Brains would have went with me [and voted out Julia], I would have went with Brains after the merge and would have stuck with them. Had I went with Scot [and voted out Aubry or Joe], I would have been rogue, and basically would have been looking for a new alliance. So it all depends on what would have happened going into the merge, and whether or not I’d have been a free-agent.
Tom Santilli: But had you stuck with the Brains and voted out Julia, you mentioned several times about them having voted out your ally Liz. It seems like even though you may have forgave them, that you hadn’t forgotten that they voted her out. Would you have rode it out with the Brains to the end, or would you have eventually wanted to turn on them and pay them back for taking out Liz?
Peter: Had I gone with the Brains, I would have stayed with them for one or two votes, and then I would have flipped. Getting others would have been the hardest part, but I feel like I’m Obama and that I can mobilize people (laughs). But I don’t know, I was more like Trump out there, polarizing.
Tom Santilli: Who surprised you the most watching it back on TV, someone that you had not realized was playing the game as well as they were?
Peter: I would say surprisingly Scot. On camera with his interviews, he lays out a well-thought-out plan, but in person, he just didn’t say that to me. If he would have, man, I would have loved to work with him better. I really liked Scot too, and I didn’t realize, I mean I know he’s an introspective guy, but I just wish he had been a bit more direct with me.
Tom Santilli: You were portrayed as the cocky, arrogant guy this season on the show, whether that’s true or not. But what would you like people to know about you that they may not have gotten to see?
Peter: I would have liked for them to at least show some components of what people liked about me. I’m really a laid-back guy who gets along with everybody. I take every new experience ready to smile instead of filled with skepticism. I wish that they would have just shown that I’m a nice guy, and not a completely clueless, cocky jack-ass (laughs).
Tom Santilli: Have you been surprised then with the response on social media? I’m taking it that it’s been mostly negative?
Peter: No, actually. It’s funny, some people like me for some of my comments. But people like to see a crown get knocked off someone’s head. And deservedly so, based on that presentation of me on TV. After seeing Liz go, seeing the crown knocked off. So they love the fall. But based on social media, everybody has been extremely appropriate, nobody has really been that bad. Some will be like, you’re a jack-ass, but if I reply they’ll be nice and say, well that’s just what it looks like. And I would just agree with them and say, yes, that’s exactly what I look like!
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