Darnell Hamilton, we hardly knew thee. On Wednesday night’s Premiere Episode of “Survivor: Kaoh Rong,” Darnell had the unfortunate fate of becoming the dreaded “first boot” of the season. It didn’t have to be that way, and all because he wasn’t able to secure his diving mask during a challenge.
If you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode. Get caught up on Episode 1 here.
Yes, when that mask sank to the bottom of the ocean, so did Darnell’s chances on Survivor. A postal worker from Chicago, Darnell was one of six contestants placed on the Brawn Tribe to begin the game, and although he is in tip-top shape, he seemed more scrawny than brawny when compared to many of the others on his tribe. The only other one that possibly appeared out of place was “Malibu Barbie” Alecia, who pretty much everybody felt was a complete detriment to the tribe. Still, for reasons yet unknown, the Brawns decided to keep her around instead of poor Darnell.
One episode is not a lot of time to get to know someone on a Reality TV show, and very little of Darnell was shown, although he did have his moments. He was shown bonding (we thought?) with Cydney and forming an alliance, but she didn’t seem too interested in saving him. Despite wanting to play the game – and who knows what he might have brought to the table strategically – the reality is that Darnell Hamilton will go down in the annals of history – mainly for using something that sounds quite similar to that – for dropping trough in shallow water, in plain sight, prompting his tribe-mates to shout the instantly famous “Watch out for the brown trout!” That, and for losing that mask that ultimately provided his tribe with reason enough to vote him out first.
I chatted with Darnell today about that crappy moment when he lost his mask…and about that other crappy moment. Here is the full transcript:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hey Darnell, nice to talk to you, sorry to see you go so early.
Darnell Hamilton: (Laughs) Yeah. It was rough.
Tom Santilli: It’s obviously everybody’s worst nightmare to be the first one voted out of the game. What would you say that you took away from this experience that maybe helped you deal with that disappointment?
Darnell: I just look at the whole thing. I was really happy to be out there, it was my first time out of the country so I really did get to see a lot. It was a great experience. Despite whether you’re the first one out or not, Survivor is a great experience.
Tom Santilli: So let’s go through all of the things you experienced in the game. Tell me what you remember about that challenge and losing the diving mask. What made you volunteer to be the diver and what happened in your recollection?
Darnell: I have swimming in my background, I was a lifeguard for six years. And then the others…I know Jen had that bug in her ear, Alecia said that she couldn’t dive (laughs). We were worried about Scot tipping the boat. And so really it was like me and Jason.
Tom Santilli: So it was more like by process of elimination…
Darnell: Yeah, and also I felt confident. It was a real win or lose situation for me. If I win this challenge for us, I’m good, I don’t have to worry about my name coming up.
Tom Santilli: And then you dive in, the mask comes off…what goes through your head in that moment?
Darnell: I jumped in and I don’t know what happened. When you go out there and compete in an event or a competition, you’re not really thinking about the fundamentals. You’re just thinking about getting out there and getting deep, hurrying up and trying to finish. So it was just a mental error. I just was in shock. I didn’t even know they had come off, they were like where are the goggles? And I was like, oh, I didn’t even know. So it was tough.
Tom Santilli: You mentioned Alecia said she wasn’t able to dive, and from the first episode, it didn’t appear like she could do much of anything. She was shown not working around camp, she wasn’t very helpful at all in the challenge and she didn’t really seem to have bonded with anybody out there. Do you have any insight then, as to why your tribe decided to vote you out instead of her?
Darnell: I’m the bigger threat. Not even that, I was building bonds with a lot of people. And they saw that as a threat. You understand, we’re not the brains, we’re the brawn (lol). The brawns think, hey we can lose Darnell and still win because we’re the brawns! It was more of a situation like, let’s take this opportunity to take a threat out, and we can get rid of Alecia anytime.
Tom Santilli: You were shown forming what looked like an alliance with Cydney early on, but she was on board with voting you out. Are you surprised that she didn’t fight any harder for you?
Darnell: No, she stood up for me. She said her thing to them and was attacking Alecia, but it was a business decision. If the tribe says Darnell and you’re on the outside, you should write my name down, because otherwise it could be you. If not, you’ll be next. So you have to do what you have to do. I don’t really blame her, that’s just the way that the game is.
Tom Santilli: Some of the other tribes seemed to separate along gender lines, with the girls getting close and the guys bonding. But you weren’t shown as having a tight bond with Scot or Jason. Do you feel then that they just felt threatened by you? Or what was the barrier there that prevented the three of you from bro-ing out?
Darnell: If anything it was more of an age thing. We were the youngest, me, Alecia and Cyd. It was more of an age thing with us. We were together versus them. That’s why they formed their alliance and it was like the outside looking in.
Tom Santilli: I have to ask you about the whole “Watch out for the brown trout!” segment of the show, I’m sure you’ve been asked a lot about it today. It’s got to be embarrassing enough to have your entire tribe watch you “do your business” over by the dump rocks, let alone all of America. Were you surprised that segment made the show and what was your reaction watching that?
Darnell: (Laughs) You know what? I had kind of forgot about it (laughs). I’m not surprised though. Look, on Survivor you want to be seen (by your tribe mates). You don’t want people thinking that you went out looking for the Idol. So I told the fellas, I’ve got to go to the bathroom. We had a designated area we would go to, and then they called me out when I was over there. Everyone started laughing, and it was crazy. But it’s still better than people saying he’s looking for the Idol.
Tom Santilli: You were only out there for three days, but you got to spend some time with the other five members of the Brawn Tribe. If you could, rank them in terms of biggest threat to win the game down to least likely to win the game.
Darnell: Number one Jason. Number two Jen. Number three Cyd. Number four…four and five would be Scot and Alecia tied.
Tom Santilli: Interesting. So what about Scot makes him not that big a threat in the game in your opinion?
Darnell: He just doesn’t know the game. I mean he was pushing for me to go out because I dropped the mask, it’s crazy. He’s an athlete who knows to play as hard as he can, that’s all he knows. But as far as Survivor and the strategic elements, no.
Tom Santilli: Speaking of strategy, what’s your background with the game of Survivor? Were you a big fan of the game or were you just learning it while you were out there?
Darnell: Yes I’m a big fan of the game. I had seen the original season, but the first season I really watched was China. I’ve watched pretty much every season since then. Well I’ve seen the majority of them. But I’m a fan. I’m not the super-fan, I can’t tell you everybody’s name, but I remember the big names, the interesting ones.
Tom Santilli: We barely got to know you with just one episode. Tell me something about you that you wish America would have gotten to see?
Darnell: I would have loved for them to see that I’m a leader and that I’m loyal. I said that had it come down to it, I would have gone all the way to the end with Cyd no matter what. But I mean let the best man win. I wanted to put myself in a position to win, but if it came down to it, and I had made that promise to her, I would have definitely took her to the end.
Be sure to join me next Wednesday for another episode preview, full recap and instant analysis, and of course, the next exit interview next Thursday.
Please check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.