Exclusive: Christine Shields Markoski talks 'Survivor: South Pacific'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/03/2011
Christine Shields Markoski's Survivor: South Pacific adventure was cut very short, as she was voted out of her Upolu tribe at their first Tribal Council visit of the season -- the 23rd Survivor edition's second Tribal Council session overall.
However, Shields Markoski wasn't planning on giving up or going home anytime soon after she arrived at Redemption Island. She hoped to eventually get back into the game and swap tribes to ultimately get back at Upolu for betraying her when she had put her trust in them. After winning five consecutive duels on Redemption Island, beating out five fellow castaways in a row, Shields Markoski's winning streak came to an end when she brutally lost the season's sixth duel to returning castaway Ozzy Lusth -- resulting in her permanent ouster from the competition just before the Upolu and Savaii tribes merged during Wednesday night's broadcast of Survivor: South Pacific's eighth episode.
On Thursday, the 39-year-old teacher from Merrick, NY, talked to Reality TV World about her Survivor: South Pacific experience.
Reality TV World: When Ozzy first arrived at Redemption Island he told you [John Cochran] had been responsible for his vote-off and you immediately said you knew it has been him -- why was that?
Christine Shields Markoski: Because of what was told to me from [Semhar Tadesse] and [Mark "Papa Bear" Caruso] and [Elyse Umemoto]. They gave me inside information from their tribe, and it just seemed that Cochran would've been the one to try to get out Ozzy. So, I really wasn't too surprised when he told me that.
Reality TV World: You seemed to initially buy Ozzy's story when he first got to Redemption Island, but did that ever change as you talked with him more or maybe even the next day when you guys arrived for the duel and he went into his really bad, over-the-top acting job?
Christine Shields Markoski: (Laughs) That over-the-top acting job is getting as much press as my socks. It's really funny. I bought it completely. I really did. I had -- why wouldn't I? Everyone else that came through was forthcoming with me and the idea of someone voluntarily getting voted out never entered my mind.
So, of course I believed it, and his over-the-top performance -- I didn't really pay that much attention to because I was just really kind of focused more on the challenge and now what he was saying.
Reality TV World: How long did Ozzy's acting job actually go on for? Was it one of those situations were it actually went on much longer than what was shown but had to be edited down due to time?
Christine Shields Markoski: No, I think you know -- God, I was so focused on something completely different. It wasn't much longer than what was shown. I don't think it went on too long.
Reality TV World: I was wondering if that was maybe why some of the other castaways seemed to pick up on it so -- because it was [longer and] more obvious than what we saw.
Christine Shields Markoski: I think he tried to push it too hard, maybe. That's why they were dubious, you know? He kind of pushed it out there and it was like, "Ahh, come on now now," is probably what it was.
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you realized you'd be going up against Ozzy in the duel? I mean you had obviously been on a roll and won five duels in a row, but none of the people you'd faced off against were anywhere near the physical threat Ozzy was, so had you been confident you could beat him or had you begun to feel that was it for you?
Christine Shields Markoski: You know, did you ever see Raiders of the Lost Ark?
Reality TV World: A long time ago.
Christine Shields Markoski: A long time ago. Well, Indiana Jones looked into the crypt and said, "Ahh, snakes, why does this have to be snakes?" That's what I felt like! And Ozzy, why did it have to be Ozzy!?
From watching the show for quite a few years, I knew that he was just an absolute crazy man as far as individual challenges are concerned. So, I think there was part of me that said, "Ahh, crap, might not turn out the way I want it to."
Reality TV World: Maybe that's why you were more focused on the upcoming duel than what Ozzy was saying. (Laughs)
Christine Shields Markoski: Right, exactly.
Reality TV World: Ozzy and the rest his tribe had become convinced the winner of the next duel would get to return to the game and the tribes would also be merging at that time -- did you also already have that same suspicion or did you only realize it when you got to the duel and saw everyone was there and not just a couple of representatives [from each tribe]?
Christine Shields Markoski: Well, Tree Mail gave me a clue because all the previous Tree Mails said that the winner of this duel will return to Redemption Island, the loser will go home for good. So, all of those Tree Mails gave me the idea of, "Okay, so whoever wins will come back," but the last Tree Mail -- the one with Ozzy -- didn't have that last piece. It just said, "You will have a duel this morning."
Reality TV World: So it was a clue by omission, right?
Christine Shields Markoski: Exactly.
Reality TV World: What were you planning to do if you had defeated Ozzy and re-entered the game -- were you planning to follow through with your prior plan to turn against your old [Upolu] tribe, or had you come to have second thoughts about that?
Christine Shields Markoski: Well, I was really leaning towards sticking to my plan of going with Savaii. I didn't really want to completely close off the option of Upolu, because if they made me an offer I couldn't refuse, well then I would really have to think about it.
Whether I could believe them or not, mmm, that's a different story. So I would have to say that I was really leaning towards just sticking with Savaii and I thought I made that clear, but Ozzy didn't think so.
Reality TV World: Numbers wise, it seemed like because Ozzy had told you Cochran had turned on him, that meant the [Savaii] tribe would only have really had a core four-person alliance of [Keith Tollefson, Jim Rice, Whitney Duncan and Dawn Meehan] and the best you could have done even with Cochran [and yourself] would have been a 6-6 tie [against] your old [Upolu] tribe.
Christine Shields Markoski: Right, so I mean, that played into my leaving the door open for Upolu, you know? All of those ideas were running through my head. So, I was certainly leaning towards Savaii, but I couldn't make a definitive decision until I got back to the beach.
Reality TV World: So what do you think you would have done if you'd been in Cochran's situation at last night's Tribal Council -- would you have flipped, or stayed loyal and taken your chances at pulling a rock?
Christine Shields Markoski: Ooh, I think -- I just don't think that whole rock idea I could have handled. So I think I would have flipped because I don't want to get sent home just because I pulled out the wrong rock!
Reality TV World: You don't want to be like [Paschal English] from Survivor: Marquesas? (Laughs)
Christine Shields Markoski: I wouldn't have been a happy person. (Laughs) No.
Reality TV World: Last night's episode showed ["Coach" Benjamin Wade] insisting that your old tribe is a tight six-person alliance that's not going to break. What do you think about that -- having been part of that tribe when the game started, was it a surprise for you that they could have gotten that unified in the two weeks or so after you left?
Christine Shields Markoski: No, I think he's pretty on target, saying that they were tight and they were going to stay tight. I saw how they just implicitly followed him with every decision he made with when they should pray, how they should pray, when they should eat, what they should eat.
They implicitly followed him, so I can see how he would be led to believe that he was calling the shots and he knew how tight his alliance was.
Reality TV World: Before your duel with Stacey Powell, you guys told the other tribe that Coach, [Albert Destrade] and [Sophie Clarke] were running things on your tribe, but Coach and Albert were the two main decision-makers. Do you still feel they way now that you've gotten to watch the episodes at home or do you believe differently?
Christine Shields Markoski: No, I'm still sticking with that. It's maybe not so much Albert, but certainly Benjamin is calling the shots and he still is.
Reality TV World: Has your opinion of "Benjamin" changed at all now that you have gotten to see the episodes at home?
Christine Shields Markoski: Oh, it has changed for the worst! (Laughs) It has certainly gotten WORSE! I knew he felt he was omnipotent and he felt he was the Dragon Slayer and should be King Farouk. I think that by Upolu following him so closely, that it has just made him even more arrogant.
Reality TV World: Well, he wasn't always the Dragon Slayer, as he told Cochran. (Laughs)
Christine Shields Markoski: (Laughs) Yeah, he wasn't ALWAYS a dragon slayer. He was just superior in his intellectual abilities. Ew! Vomit.
Reality TV World: What can you tell me about Sophie and Albert? Because the show hasn't showed as much about them as Coach.
Christine Shields Markoski: I mean, as far as their strategy is concerned, I guess they're doing the right thing with following Benjamin. They're nice people. I don't really have that much to tell.
Reality TV World: Why do you think Coach was able to successfully not only survive in your tribe but somehow emerge as it's leader? When I talked to Stacey a couple weeks ago, she seemed to think they tended to be younger and they just got seduced by all his stories.
Christine Shields Markoski: Yeah, I think Stacey and I were on the same page as far as that's concerned. I'm not sure if it was the age, because [Rick Nelson] isn't a spring chicken himself. I just think that they're followers and they needed someone to follow, so Coach kind of took that role and ran with it. It was just kind of fortunate that he got on a tribe that had...
Reality TV World: What did you think about Brandon Hantz? I know you were only there [five days] with him, but was he really as creepy and awkward as the editing of the season's initial episodes made him seem, and was his relationship with [Mikayla Wingle] as strange as the show made it look?
Christine Shields Markoski: No, I didn't see all the religious, explosive kind of person that has been portrayed on the TV. I really didn't. I mean, he was quite polite and a hard worker and called me ma'am for Pete's sake! He was really polite.
I saw just a kind of glimpse of it at Tribal Council that night, and that's when a red flag kind of went up. But prior to that, no. He was quite the opposite of what they've portrayed.
Reality TV World: Do you think the fact that you openly called Coach a "temporary player" right when the game began was directly responsible for your vote-off or do you think it was more complicated than that?
Christine Shields Markoski: Well, my feeling about that is he caught onto that "temporary player" comment because he couldn't tell the cameras that I was calling him out on his laziness, his excessive absences from the beach and his tendency to bark out orders.
You know, I think that's why he wanted me gone, but he couldn't say it outright. He couldn't say, "I want Christine out of here because she's calling me out on every single little thing that I do." So, he went with the "temporary player" and not the "I'm a lazy, arrogant pain in the neck."
Reality TV World: We've seen next to nothing of Rick so far. What can you tell us about him and are you surprised that he hasn't been shown more?
Christine Shields Markoski: Am I surprised? Maybe not really, because he's a great guy. He's a nice, calm -- he's a decent human being. So, he doesn't create controversy. He doesn't create drama. He doesn't lead that kind of life, so is it made for TV? No. Is it a great way to be in life? Yes, but not for prime time TV.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor -- how did you end up on the show?
Christine Shields Markoski: It's pretty funny. I told the casting department that they suck at their job because they cast [NaOnka Mixon] and [Kelly "Purple Kelly" Shinn] and other people that quit, and they didn't cast me and I didn't quit.
So, I told them how horrible they are at their job and if I did their job as poorly as they do their job, I'd be fired. So, I think they should be fired. (Laughs) So, yeah, they said, "Yeah, we want her -- the loud mouth from New York. Yeah, we'll take her."