Over two seasons now, Spencer Bledsoe has been a great character to root for on Survivor. But what we sometimes forget when watching Reality TV, is that these are not “characters” at all, but real people. Spencer’s second chance was all about personal growth, being vulnerable and accepting his flaws. He looked to build real relationships and to overcome his short-comings, all while allowing this to happen in front of a massive television audience. But ironically, even though Spencer showed real growth and seemed to accomplish what he set out to do, on Wednesday night, he ended up receiving zero votes to win the game despite his epic under-dog route to the Final Three.
In case you’ve missed anything, get caught up on the Finale Episode.
It’s ironic because his first time out – when he says he lacked proper social skills – he was thought to be a shoe-in to win Survivor had he only made it a few more days to the end of the game. This season, he did make it to the end, somehow, someway, but was called arrogant and cocky by the jury that was (rightly so) enamored with Jeremy’s game. The rejection took a toll on Spencer, still only 23 years old, to the point that he admitted last night at the Live Reunion Show that he actually stopped watching Survivor this season…a show that he identified with as a “super-fan” and a show that he had become an all-star on.
It was pretty clear the game took a serious toll on Spencer this time around. Here’s my candid interview with Spencer Bledsoe:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: So Spencer, great to chat with you! So you made it through the after parties last night I’m assuming?
Spencer Bledsoe: I made it through (laughs). A little bit crazy but yeah I’m still here, still breathing.
Tom Santilli: I want to start right off with what I thought was maybe the most interesting bit from the entire Live Reunion Show, the fact that you stopped watching the show this season. At what point did you stop, and I mean, are there episodes down the stretch that you haven’t seen? And the main question: Why exactly?
Spencer: I stopped watching right after the merge, the Savage boot. I went back and re-watched I think almost all of them. I started watching again at the loved ones episode. I went back and re-watched the double-header before Thanksgiving. There’s still one or two that I haven’t seen. Yeah, it’s really that I found myself obsessing over it. I found myself kicking myself and worrying. I thought that just for my health, I really wanted to focus on life, for at least a couple of weeks.
Tom Santilli: That’s something that most of us really don’t realize, the whole “aftermath” of what you guys go through after you’ve been on Survivor. Was this time any different than your last time, in terms of how you found yourself obsessing over it after it was over?
Spencer: Oh my gosh. It was night and day from the last time. The last time, there were moments that I was upset about, like losing that last challenge, maybe a certain vote that might have gone differently, but for the most part I had felt like I tried, that I had done everything that I could, and I was well-liked by my cast. It was a much easier pill to swallow. This time, there was ten times the second-guessing. Ten times the negative feelings about being disliked by the members of the jury. So this time was way worse. And harder. It’s crazy because I realize it’s a TV show for everyone watching. We’re characters and it’s a TV show and its entertainment, and it’s not that serious of a thing. But for me, when you’re the person, when it’s personal, it goes pretty deep and it’s hard to digest and so pulling the plug just temporarily was really a good, healthy thing.
Tom Santilli: And pulling the plug when you did during the airing of this season, that implies that you already felt that you had zero chance of winning. At what point when you were out there did you feel you had no shot of winning?
Spencer: When the Final Tribal ended. It ends, and Tribal Council set cuts, and everybody goes and hugs Jeremy…it was just very clear from body language and everything else that Jeremy won. I went in thinking I had a shot, and went out definitely thinking I lost.
Tom Santilli: You had gone through so much this season, barely skirting by votes and such, and you also seemed to genuinely grow as a person…it is just strange that you ended up being less-liked by the jury this season. By the way the fans love you still. I don’t know if that counts for anything.
Spencer: (Laughs) Do they? I don’t know. I’m not sure.
Tom Santilli: Well everyone in my corner of the Survivor Universe loves you Spencer. There are many big fans of Spencer out there.
Spencer: Well hey, that’s good (laughs).
Tom Santilli: What was your strategy in going with Jeremy to the end? Was there ever a point where you knew you couldn’t take him to the end or you’d lose?
Spencer: I definitely intended on voting him out had he lost the last challenge. And that didn’t work out obviously. But I had considered voting him out several times, when there were five people, seven people, nine people left. I never pulled the trigger. It’s easy to say in retrospect that it was my huge mistake. He’s a great player. You saw in the Finale, the subtle move of getting Keith and Wentworth to vote for me. Getting me to bury myself when there was four people left at Tribal Council. He’s a really smart, good player.
Tom Santilli: Even that you lost, was it still shocking to see that you and Tasha both did not receive a vote?
Spencer: No, unfortunately it wasn’t shocking. You know, at the time I thought, maybe I would get one? But I wasn’t banking on it. Yeah, he really just overwhelmed. It’s hard to get a read on the jury, you can’t see their thoughts at all, they’re really just stone-faced. And then at Final Tribal, it just became very clear that they were much bigger fans of him than me.
Tom Santilli: A lot was made this season about “voting blocs.” Do you feel like this is the future of the game, or was this a one-and-done strategy unique to this season of returning players?
Spencer: I think it’s a combination of things. It depends on the cast, but yeah I think it is the future if they continue to cast strong players. I thought that this season had a really high level of game-play. When I looked around I saw a bunch of really strong players. And I think that the impetus for the voting blocs is that everyone realizes that everyone else is really playing. And when people know that everybody else is going to be willing to do whatever they need to do, no one will fall on their swords for each other, all of a sudden the word alliance has a lot less meaning. And you can trust each other to do what’s best for each other, but as soon as stop trusting each other beyond the game, as soon as you realize that everyone is playing the game, then I think it becomes moment to moment, and that’s where I think voting blocs came from. So I think if the casting stays strong, if the players are out there, I do think that this is a legitimate evolution of the game.
Tom Santilli: There was much talk about pre-game alliances this season as well. You and Tasha were on the same tribe your last season. Obviously your relationship with her before this game ever started was huge for you?
Spencer: It was big. To be honest, I was surprised at Final Tribal when she said that our power couple relationship was ten times stronger than hers with Jeremy. I didn’t think that was true in the game. Her and Jeremy would get up almost every night and talk strategy. They were a very tight pair. I don’t know if she was saying that as game-play? We did talk before the game and said I hope we get to play together, I hope we end up on a tribe together. But it was never a “you and me to the end” type deal, it really just worked out that way.
Tom Santilli: Another fascinating relationship to watch this season was between you and Kass. You come into the game, sort of mortal enemies, and it ends with her inviting you out for a beer together. What are your feelings towards Kass inside the game and out?
Spencer: Well I would have preferred a vote to a beer (laughs). But I think that Kass was fair. I think she looked at the game objectively and I don’t think her vote for Jeremy came from a place of bitterness. I think that she saw Jeremy as playing a better game. I don’t think we’re going to be the best of friends, but I certainly don’t have anything against her either.
Tom Santilli: Do you think that what Savage said at Tribal last night was accurate – that he and others on the jury still had an open mind about their votes? Did Jeremy just have a better Final Tribal than you or were their minds made up?
Spencer: No, I think their minds were made up…well I don’t think their minds were made up, I think he was telling the truth in that they were open to changing their minds, but I definitely think that if the vote had happened with no Final Tribal Council and with no chance for us to address the jury, I think it’s a very similar result.
Tom Santilli: Watching the show, many people thought that both you and Jeremy had the “hero’s edit” or the “winner’s edit.” It was quite a feat for you to make it as far as you did, you seemed to have a lot more to overcome than Jeremy did this season. So heading into Final Tribal, from a viewer’s perspective, I think that nobody expected a 10-0-0 final vote. But it seems like you are taking this very hard and feel as if people aren’t liking you this season. Do you think that with some time, you may look back on your performance this season and feel better about it?
Spencer: Quite possibly. As hard as I’m taking it from a game point-of-view, from a results point-of-view, I am really happy about what happened in the game for me. I was happy about how I was able to play. And I don’t feel like I need the jury to validate that for me. So I do think I see it in a very positive light as well. But yeah, I don’t know. Talking about edits, that might have been some of my worry as well. I know that second-place doesn’t always get the best edit. The show wants you to be satisfied with the winner, so it makes sense to make the winner look a lot better than the losers. So it was something I was nervous about. I don’t think my worst fears came alive in that respect, I think my edit was fine. You know, it turned out OK. I think the negativity will fade and I’ll look back on it positively.
Tom Santilli: And some real things came out of this experience for you, like with your girlfriend.
Spencer: True. Yeah, and I’m really thankful for that. I think it helped open me up in a way that really wasn’t possible otherwise. She’s sitting right across from me at breakfast right now (laughs). But yeah, I’m really happy about that.
Tom Santilli: So you were obsessing over the game to the point where you had to stop watching the show. What were the moments that drove you the craziest? What things are you second-guessing the most?
Spencer: I’d say my vote with nine people left (Fishbach), my vote with seven people left (Abi). In retrospect I should have voted Jeremy out instead of Stephen. I should have gone along with Abi, Keith and Wentworth. In both cases, someone felt really betrayed and that really hurt me on the jury with Stephen and Wentworth. And with both, I missed out on the chance to take out the people who would beat me on the jury vote.
Tom Santilli: Anything you’d like to say to the fans that might have voted you back on for this second chance?
Spencer: Yeah, thank you. I’m incredibly grateful for the chance. I’m incredibly grateful for, like you said, there was a lot of great game-play. There was a lot of good that came into my life by me going out there, and that wouldn’t have been possible without people voting for me. Whether you voted for me or not, just enjoy Survivor and I am glad to have been a part of it.
Tom Santilli: What’s your future in regards to the game of Survivor? Will you still watch? Would you ever play again?
Spencer: (Laughs) No, I’m really looking forward to just being a fan and watching from the sidelines. Take a step back, take a breath of fresh air. enjoy my life. Just watch the show. I loved Survivor before and I hope I can love it again.
Thank you for a great season, be sure to check out the other exit interviews today!
Please check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.