One of them made it to Final Three and one of them fell just short. One of them seemed like a shoe-in to win had she made it to the end, the other received zero winning votes. On Wednesday night’s big two-hour Finale of “Survivor: Cambodia,” both Tasha Fox and Kelley Wentworth saw their second chances end, ever so close to the million dollars. Both of them fierce competitors, the perception of them within the game from the other players were vastly different.
In case you’ve missed anything, get caught up on the Finale Episode.
Tasha was a challenge dominator when she competed on “Survivor: Cagayan” her last time out, and was well-liked…SHE was the one that everyone was saying, if she made it to the end, she would win the million. This time around, she played what should have been considered a strong game, forming close bonds with Jeremy and also former Cagayan tribe mate, Spencer. Along with Savage, she was able to flip her tribe after an early tribe swap put her in the minority, and she survived long enough to make the merge and re-unite with her closest allies.
But when she had an opportunity to flip the game and go along with an all-girl alliance, she decided instead to stay loyal to the two guys. This did lead Tasha on the path of the Final Three, but during the Final Tribal Council, it was pretty clear that Tasha was not even being considered as the winner, not even by former ally Savage. Tasha didn’t receive a single winning vote, finishing tied for runner-up along with Spencer, who didn’t receive a vote either.
Kelley on the other hand, was in the underdog role from the get-go. Determined to prove herself after playing the game with her dad and only lasting 12 days in the game during her previous season, “Survivor: San Juan del Sur,” Kelley was somewhat of a surprise to even make the show, given the few episodes she had appeared on. But she came in wanting to play strong and “all in,” and boy did she accomplish her mission. Finding two Idols along the way and making an impressive (fake) third Idol, Wentworth pretty much willed her way through the game and found herself one Immunity Challenge win away from winning it all. She fell short, and was voted out, finishing in fourth place and becoming the final member of the Survivor jury.
I spoke with both Tasha and Kelley today, on a call together, about their times in the game and how this season ended with both of them on the outside looking in.
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hello Tasha and Kelley! It sounds like you both must have survived the Reunion after-parties.
Tasha Fox: (Laughs) Yep!
Kelley Wentworth: (Laughs) We did, we did. Barely got any sleep but here I am.
Tom Santilli: It seems that almost every season there is one player who plays a very good, hard game, but just doesn’t have the perception of having done so by the other players. Why did the jury perceive you as they did, as the one doing Jeremy’s dirty work?
Tasha: Yeah, I didn’t understand the dirty work comment, it was a lot of hard work. But obviously the main decisions, in my opinion, that got us to the Final Three, two of the main ones were getting Joe out, I was crucial to that vote because the boys were very fearful of the all-girl alliance. Had Joe been allowed to stay in the game, more than likely one, if not all, of us girls would have been sitting in the Final Three. Two, the Kimmi situation, Jeremy did not believe that she was turning on us and he wanted to split the votes. So there were decisions that I stuck us to that I think helped get us to the end, but the jury and obviously anyone in the game, were not privy to those conversations and the strategy involved in those decisions.
Tom Santilli: So do you feel there was anything else you could have done then to have made people realize what you had done in the game?
Tasha: No, no. I really felt like that I really did all that I could do in the game, that I left it all out on the island. From the beginning to the end, the decisions that I made ultimately got me to the end. Unfortunately, the person I chose to align with until the end, they won, and had the pregnant wife and was on Bayon from the beginning to the end. Jeremy had a very favorable situation, like I was going to be loyal to Jeremy from the beginning to the end no matter what, just because he had my back and he played a great game. I felt that, through the ups and downs, I did what I had to do to make it through the game and yeah, I was 100% happy with my second chance, and I didn’t leave with any regrets like I did in Cagayan. So for me, I’m very glad that Jeremy got the pay-out.
Tom Santilli: For Kelley, you were a great under-dog to root for this season. But your beginning was a bit different than everyone else because you were voted back on to the show having only appeared in four episodes on your original season…that’s the fewest of all of the players voted back on. So unlike the other “all-stars,” the fans pretty much gave you a vote of confidence in what they thought you might be capable of. Did you feel any different kind of pressure due to this coming into the game?
Kelley: I definitely thought that I had a lot to prove. But I knew how I wanted to play and what I wanted to do and that I wasn’t going to let people down. I would have rather gone out in flames, you know, like first boot, while trying to make a big move, than to play a very quiet game like I did my first season. That’s what I promised everyone that I would do this time, and that’s what I did.
Tom Santilli: Kelley, when you played your first Idol, you had your pick of basically blindsiding anybody that you wanted. Why did you decide on Savage at that point?
Kelley: So that was a really, really tough situation. I personally wanted Jeremy out, I thought that he was the strongest person in the game. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get Ciera and Abi to vote for Jeremy without telling them about the Idol. And I wanted to tell them, but you know, Abi can be such a wild card. I didn’t trust telling her. And even Ciera. I didn’t have anybody out there. I never trusted anybody in the game. I wish I did. I wish I had someone, like Tasha and Jeremy had. I just never really felt that completely with anyone. So I couldn’t tell anybody about the Idol, and they wanted to vote for Savage. And Savage was also working his game pretty hard with everybody and he was aligned with Jeremy. So, at the end of the day, Savage leaving was the only really scenario that I had.
Tom Santilli: Tasha, going into that Final Tribal Council, what did you think your chances were of winning, and what did you think your chances were by the end of it?
Tasha: I always felt like Jeremy played a solid game, from beginning to end. He always had the support of the guys. He just had a great story and a great narrative. I really didn’t have any doubt that Jeremy was going to win, and that was OK.
Tom Santilli: Well Tasha, I know there was a lot of talk this season about going to the end with great players, about not taking any “goats” into the Final Three. Was that your intention then, just to duke it out with Jeremy in the end? Was there ever a thought of betraying him?
Tasha: No. So going into the game, I knew there would be very few, if any, goats. Everybody knew the game, everybody was going to play hard. So my strategy was really to lock in with three or four people from the beginning and just stay with them until the end, regardless of whether or not they could beat me. Trust was the only thing that was going to secure me in this game of great players. You present an option to a great player, they’re going to take it. Then the next day someone else presents a better option, and they’re going to take it. So I just figured people would be going back and forth and flipping and flopping and the only way to really counteract that was to stay loyal and trustworthy from the beginning to the end, regardless of who that person is and how they played the game. And your hope is that your own narrative is as good or better than your friends. And Jeremy’s was the best narrative. There was no way that I was going to vote Jeremy out, from Day One. And I offered that to Savage, I offered that to Ciera, I offered that to Stephen. And ultimately it was Jeremy and I that made it to the end. Everyone else sort of did their thing the rest of the game, but my hope was just to check in every day, maintain relationships, and just see what happened from there.
Tom Santilli: Kelley, how hard was that final vote for you? Was Jeremy the clear winner? Why not Tasha or Spencer?
Kelley: For me personally I just felt like Jeremy played the best game. I mentioned to you earlier that I wanted Jeremy out long before Final Five or Four. I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t get the numbers to do it. I just think he played the best game, no offense to the other two. They all did different things and we all worked our asses off this season, it was not easy. They all played hard, but I just felt like Jeremy deserved it the most.
Tom Santilli: Do you feel like Keith misplayed or made a mistake with that awesome fake Idol you made for him, by not at least flashing it at Tribal?
Kelley: You know, I don’t know, that’s all speculation. I have no idea. With the Idols all looking different, that was the only reason I made it, because I thought hey they all look different, they’ve all been different when they have been played and Jeremy knows they’re all different. So I thought it could work. If that were me, I would have tried anything. Because Keith was going home either way. Either lay down and let it happen, or go out with a bang or try something. That was my thought. I was shocked he didn’t play it and just walked out at a chance for a million dollars, he just let them vote him out, but that’s his game, that’s his decision. That’s not what I would have done, but that’s all right.
Tom Santilli: To both of you, what was going through your minds during that insane Tribal Council last night, with all the voting and re-voting and all that?
Tasha: We knew that Wentworth was a formidable opponent and we knew that if she had made the Final Three, it was likely that she would win. So we just decided that no matter what, we were just going to stick together and we were all so passionate about that plan, that we were willing to go to rocks. That is how we felt. It was like, let’s just do it. So I wasn’t surprised that all the craziness happened. But what I was confident in is that we had established that it was do or die, let’s go to the rocks. That was a better option than not sticking together. Because we knew if anyone was sitting next to Wentworth, they’d probably lose (laughs).
Kelley: It was so confusing that I didn’t really know what was going on. I mean, I decided to play the Idol, and then I was like of course Jeremy! You devil! Of course you have another Idol, of course you do. Then it was between Kimmi and Keith and I didn’t want either of them to go. It was pretty confusing and it all happened rather quickly. I just need Keith to stay at that point.
Tom Santilli: In regards to the proposed “all-girl alliance,” if Tasha makes the move there to go with the girls, but would have ended up in the Final Three without you Kelley, would Tasha have won your winning vote up against Abi and Kimmi in the Final Three?
Kelley: Yeah, gosh, that’s a tough scenario. I have no idea. Tasha and I just didn’t work together the entire game. That would have been completely different and hearing her answers in that Tribal, maybe it would have changed my mind. I just don’t know which way the game would have went. I don’t know, to be honest with you.
Tom Santilli: And then from your perspective Tasha, any regrets about not choosing to go with the all-girl alliance? It seems you say you were 100% confident just staying with Jeremy, but do you look back on that choice at all as a mistake?
Tasha: I don’t have any what-ifs this season, but I will say that what I was thinking about at the time, was that I could possible, probably, go to the end with Spencer and Jeremy guaranteed, or take my chances with the girls, and I thought that…well, it’s hard to say what would have happened, but let’s say Wentworth wins the next Immunity Challenge, I’m likely going home at Four, or if I were to win Final Immunity then Kelley goes home and I’m in the Finals with Abi and Kimmi. But let’s say Abi would have won, I probably would have went home. There was just too many uncertainties and most of those roads with an all-girl alliance led to a Fourth place finish, and I would rather be Final Three than Final Four. So that was my thought process.
Tom Santilli: Kelley, for those that follow you on social media, you’ve created somewhat of a fan frenzy with your Periscope posts (short videos, for those that don’t know) following each episode this season and throughout the week. What can someone expect when they tune in to a “Team Wentworth” Periscope video?
Kelley: Oh gosh, we just have fun! I just answer questions. I do have a lot of people asking me if I would do a post-season Q & A, which I will probably be doing this weekend or next week. So yeah, feel free to tune in. It’s all good times.
Tom Santilli: Tasha, you were sort of in Kelley’s position your first season, where you were a big threat to win the game down the stretch and everybody thought you would be a shoe-in to win it all if you would have reached the Finals. You said you had no regrets and there were no what-ifs, but do you feel like you made good on your second chance at this game?
Tasha: Yeah, oh my gosh. I felt like I made the most of my second chance. Various aspects of my game were challenged, particularly at Angkor, being down 4-2, that’s a tough situation. And to flip that thing around the way I did, in my opinion, was awesome (laughs). That really just solidified my ability to build relationships and really just to play this game. I felt like I made the most out of every situation, and Wentworth can agree, just because you don’t win doesn’t mean you didn’t play your butt off. We all played our butts off, it was a very tough season with some very strong competitors, so to end as well as we did? Just because we didn’t win doesn’t really mean we didn’t win. I made the most of my second chance and in that victory, I’m very satisfied.
Thank you for a great season, be sure to check out the other exit interviews today!
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