Exclusive: David Murphy talks about 'Survivor: Redemption Island'
By Reality TV World staff, 04/21/2011
David Murphy was eliminated from Survivor: Redemption Island after he lost the season's eighth Redemption Island duel to Matt Elrod and Mike Chiesl during Wednesday night's broadcast of the tenth episode of the CBS reality series' 22nd edition.
On Thursday, the 31-year-old defense attorney from West Hollywood, CA talked to Reality TV World about his Survivor: Redemption Island experience -- including how hard he tried to crack returning castaway Rob Mariano's tight alliance, what he really thought about Rob's "genius" move to vote Matt out again and force his Redemption Island return, what his reaction was to Phillip Sheppard and Steve Wright's argument over alleged "lunatic" racial undertones and the "n" word, and why he didn't come across as the strategic player he had envisioned himself being prior to the show's filming.
Reality TV World: How close do you think you guys actually came to getting Matt to flip?
David Murphy: Well, at the moment, we thought we were a lot closer than it turns out, having seen the episode, we were. But I think he was obviously on the fence with it. He did put some serious consideration into it, so we obviously had been some progress with it, but at the end of the day, he made the decision that he made and I'm thinking he probably recognizes it was a bad decision.
Reality TV World: You didn't get a chance to talk about that on Redemption Island?
David Murphy: No, I mean, it didn't really come up.
Reality TV World: No? (laughs)
David Murphy: No, that whole thing didn't really come up. It wasn't an issue, really. I mean, he made the decision he made and we had the situation that we had. It wasn't -- I didn't want to rehash what hindsight would give you.
Reality TV World: It almost seemed like your tribe gave up and became resigned to your fate of being picked off one by one after Matt was voted out. I know you called it a "cult" at one point, but was Rob's alliance really that tight?
David Murphy: Yeah, there was no crack. In the times -- I can't say what happened after I left -- but in the time that I was there, there was no crack. I looked for any gap that I could. I tried to talk to Rob directly. I tried to talk to the other people, and their whole "buddy system" thing was impenetrable.
There was no way to get any one of them alone to just have an opportunity to say anything, and you couldn't approach two people and try to do the same thing as if you could one. So, it was insurmountable, but -- not that there wasn't any effort made -- it's just that there was no way to make potential progress.
Reality TV World: You seemed in awe of Rob's second blindside of Matt. Can you just talk about that a little bit, and explain why you were so surprised and admired the move so much?
David Murphy: Well, it exposed a lot. In one move, Rob not only showed his alliance that if there's any inclination that you couldn't be trusted, that you were done, which basically scared all of them into being his followers.
And then he flushed out the [hidden Immunity] Idol that [Ralph Kiser] had and forced us to show our hand as to who we thought was -- who we thought they would perceive as the biggest threat in Mike.
He was able to do all of that with one move, and he further strengthened his alliance and further strengthened his position within that alliance. It was a turning point in the game and had Matt gone along with us, you probably wouldn't be talking to me today.
Reality TV World: Part of the reason I was asking is because turning on "fence sitters" and voting them out is actually a pretty old school Survivortechnique. So I just wanted to clarify it wasn't so much that you hadn't conceived of the possibility that he could turn on Matt, it was more just the entirety of the gameplay it summed up then?
David Murphy: Well, it was -- I understand that turning on people who are wavering isn't a revolutionary idea -- but there's no reason to keep them at the end of the day. They still had the numbers without him and I honestly had thought that they would have tested his loyalty.
Since it wasn't an issue, I figured they would have tested his loyalty for a week or two and then he would have been eliminated later down the road or whatever. But I had no belief that they would get rid of him at that point in time just to keep a numerical advantage in the event that something happened.
Reality TV World: You were present for the Tribal Council discussion of the "n" word incident between Phillip and Steve -- what were your thoughts on it, and did anything else that was noteworthy happen during that discussion that didn't make it into last night's show?
David Murphy: I mean, I think that what was aired was the meat and potatoes of the whole thing. There wasn't any substance that wasn't shown. It was the same argument occurring repeatedly. The whole argument, I thought, was ridiculous.
Having spent time around Phillip and observing his behavior, anyone who calls him "crazy" is basing that comment on what he's demonstrated. His actions are crazy. He acts irrationally, and you can't really try to rationalize somebody that just acts that way.
For him to take a statement made by Steve after observing Phillip's behavior and turning it into something totally different -- the word "crazy" has a definite definition and it has little to do with one's prejudice or any sort of racial issue -- it's a statement. I even called Phillip crazy at one point. I didn't mean anything other than the fact that I thought he was crazy!
Reality TV World: Last week's episode showed an interview with Phillip in which he seemed to suggest he was only playing crazy -- and I'm pretty sure that was his own actual word choice -- and intentionally coming across as unlikable because he knew that it would make everyone believe he was the perfect person to take to the end and therefore keep him around -- do you believe that?
David Murphy: I think up until this week, Phillip was sort of playing the role of the "lovable loser," but I think after what he did in last night's episode, I think the perception of him is going to be very different. He takes things to a place that you can't come back from.
He made accusations that I think were completely unfair and inappropriate against Steve, and I obviously can't speak for Steve directly, but I am virtually certain that the use of the word "crazy" was much like mine.
It was based entirely on Phillip's actions and it has nothing to do with who he is as a person, or his background, or anything of that nature. It was based entirely on his actions toward other people.
Reality TV World: Before Survivor began, you had done some pre-show interviews in which you had talked about how you expected to be a big strategic player, but we didn't really seem to see that play out on-screen. What happened?
David Murphy: Well, it wasn't so much that the effort wasn't made, it was more of an issue of the hand that I was dealt. The alliance that I was a part of didn't give me much of an opportunity to do anything strategic. In the same way that they believed that Ometepe wasn't playing the game in the latter half there, they didn't want to play the game in the beginning.
I tried to shake things up and they just wanted to keep the alliance as it was and settle into their comfort zone. It's difficult to make moves when you can't get anybody to even entertain the idea.
Reality TV World: Now you're sounding like Krista Klumpp... (laughs)
David Murphy: Well, no I think to a degree she had some valid points. She didn't make an effort to play the game with anyone. She merely tried to complain about the fact that we wouldn't play.
I tried to make some moves, be it unsuccessfully, but I went out on a limb in trying to get the tribe to part ways with [Sarita White] and keep [Stephanie Valencia] because I thought at the time -- and I still think -- that would have been better for us in the challenges.
We didn't know how much longer we were going to be around, and part of the reason was because we didn't know how much longer it was going to be before the merge. I still think that that would have been beneficial to us in that one challenge that we had before the merge.
After the merge, my attempts at strategic play were pretty well thwarted by the strength of Rob's alliance. There was very little I could do to penetrate in there and there was no hole. We tried and there was obviously a degree of editing involved in the show, and what you don't see is often more telling than what you do see, but it didn't make the air.
Reality TV World: Do you think Rob really thought the fish you guys caught in your net were bad because they had already died [and spoiled], or do you think he was just trying to exert his influence over the tribe?
David Murphy: You know, I think there was a degree of both.
Reality TV World: For the record, did anybody get sick after eating the fish?
David Murphy: Not that I'm aware of. No. But I don't think I ate the fish that were dead. I think, ultimately, we only decided to eat the fish that were found still alive and I probably would not have eaten fish that were sitting there dead, because we don't know how long they were sitting there dead. A lot of the fish we caught weren't particularly pleasant anyhow.
Reality TV World: (laughs)
David Murphy: So, it was a matter of making a decision about health-wise -- what risks we were willing to take.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor -- how did you end up on the show?
David Murphy: I saw it as a very unique opportunity and unique challenge to try and put myself out in a way that I haven't really been able to put myself before in the sense of at one time, looking at something that is mentally, physically and emotionally taxing, and seeing what exactly you're capable of doing. I think that was the appeal of it to me.
Reality TV World: So how did you end up on Survivor? That's more like why you went on the show, right?
David Murphy: Yeah, I think that's a good answer to it though.