Exclusive: Eliza Orlins talks about her 'Survivor: Micronesia' adventure
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/11/2008
While most castaways view the merge as a blessing, Eliza Orlins knew she was in trouble as soon as it happened.
Lacking an alliance and the sufficient time to change her strategy after banking her survival on a fake Hidden Immunity Idol, the 25-year-old former Survivor: Vanuatu contestant from New York became the eleventh castaway eliminated from Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality show's sixteenth season.
On Friday, Eliza talked to Reality TV World about why Jason Siska's once promising deal with her ended up being more of a burden than a help; whether or not her plan to "out" Ozzy Lusth for having the real Hidden Immunity Idol will resonate with the remaining castaways; how she was unable to fulfill her game-long desire to boot Parvati Shallow; and why she made one last attempt to help Ozzy from making the same mistake twice during the Tribal Council that saw her ouster.
Reality TV World: When you dug the fake idol out of your bag after Jason had put it there, did you see any scenario in which you wouldn't be eliminated at the upcoming Tribal Council?
Eliza: Yes I did! But unfortunately what you didn't see is that only happened about five minutes before we went to Tribal Council. So I didn't have time to put my plan into action.
Reality Tv World: Would you mind elaborating on that plan?
Eliza: Of course! What it would have been was to take the stick -- because obviously I knew that meant Ozzy had the real Hidden Immunity Idol -- and I would have taken that to [Cirie Fields] and been like, "Cirie, look! Ozzy thinks I'm getting voted out tonight. It's the perfect time to blind-side him."
I would have gone to [Natalie Bolton and Alexis Jones] and if Cirie could of convinced Parvati to blind-side Ozzy, there would have been six of us including me and Jason. We would have gone and done that instead.
Reality TV World: Are you confident that's something that could have worked?
Eliza: Definitely. If I had more time I'm confident that would have worked.
Reality TV World: The whole time issue was odd -- is there a reason why you didn't ask Jason to see the idol he had when he initially told you about it?
Eliza: I did! I did! If you saw -- in the show -- it looked like it happened right before he actually gave it to me. But I had been asking him about it earlier that day. I'm like, "Jason, where's the idol?" he's like, "It's hidden." I'm like, "Well are you going to get it?!" He's like, "I'll get, I'll get it. Don't worry." I wanted to see it.
Reality TV World: Why was he so hesitant to show it to you?
Eliza: I think he just wanted it hidden. He didn't want anybody else to find it in my bag -- because he really thought it was the real idol!
Reality TV World: That leads well into my next question. How surprised were you that Jason believed Ozzy's crudely carved stick -- which seemed a pretty obvious fake to anyone that's seen any of the previous seasons' idols -- was actually the Hidden Immunity Idol?
Eliza: I couldn't believe it. He's supposedly a huge fan of the show. Doesn't he know that Survivor has an art department?! They would never use something that crappy as the Hidden Immunity Idol. (laughing)
Reality TV World: So based on that I assume you think any of the Favorites would have realized it was a fake.
Eliza: Absolutely. Any of the Favorite would have realized that.
Reality TV World: Even though you knew the idol was fake you still decided to play it to out Ozzy for having the real one. Seeing as how some of those aligned with him already knew he had it, do you think the revelation at last night's Tribal Council will have an impact on the game? Why did you think it was important to "out" Ozzy?
Eliza: I don't know. I just thought having a strategic move on my way out would be a way to go out with a bang, and to expose him to someone like Cirie -- who didn't actually know at that point, nor did Natalie, Alexis and [Erik Reichenbach].
So I wanted them to kind of know and be like, "Look guys, this is someone who can win every challenge and is a huge threat and playing a good social game, which he didn't do last time [on Survivor: Cook Islands]. He could win this game. So you need to do something."
Reality TV World: Do you think you achieved that?
Eliza: Well if you saw the scenes for next week, it looked like Cirie was already starting to think that way. She's very strategic minded. So it's possible that they'll heed my advice.
Reality TV World: It wasn't a secret that you were targeting Parvati since the start of the competition...
Reality TV World: After the merge, did you see any scenario where you might have been able to convince others that she was a better choice to boot then you?
Reality TV World: Why not? Did you talk to any of the other Favorites about possible eliminating Parvati?
Eliza: Parvati was in so deep with so many different people that at that point there was just no way that she was going to get eliminated.
Reality TV World: Since you were with her at Airai, were you ever aware Parvati had an alliance with Alexis and Natalie?
Eliza: Yeah, I think I kind of knew that. I guess I should have gone to [Alexis and Natalie] -- I mean I tried to say to the girls, "Listen, she's never going to break up the couples alliance [with Ozzy, Amanda Kimmel and James Clement]." I did definitely say that to Alexis and Natalie.
But I think that they believed Parvati more. She was very convincing. They believed she'd break-up the couples alliance and go with them when it got towards the end.
What I should have done actually was go to Ozzy and James and tell them -- try to expose her and get rid of her. But at that point, honestly, I had been talking to everyone. Nobody really trusted me. (laughing)
Reality TV World: When you approached Parvati during last night's episode and tried to see if it was still a Favorites versus Fans strategy, were you really surprised that Parvati told you that was no longer the case?
Eliza: Kind of, yeah. I mean I knew it wasn't Fans versus Favorites anymore, but I was kind of surprised by her honesty. She could have said, "Okay Eliza, sure. We'll stick together as Favorites," and then voted me out that night anyhow. But she didn't do that. In a way, I respected that.
Reality TV World: Had she said it was still Favorites versus Fans, would you have stuck to that strategy for the remainder of the competition or were you just trying to save your skin at the time being?
Eliza: I would have stuck to my MO and stuck with it until it didn't work for me anymore. (laughing)
Reality TV World: Okay, that's what I figured. Your argument at Tribal Council last night was a good one -- that it's best to take castaways who are disliked to the finale because it bodes better with the jury vote. It seems like James and Ozzy agreed with you, so why do you think they still decided against keeping you around?
Eliza: I don't know. I guess they felt that I was going to get rid of them. But honestly, that's what I was saying -- that there's certain people who have made this mistake before. I was referring directly to Ozzy because Ozzy lost to [Yul Kwon duringSurvivor: Cook Islands' finale] because Yul was more well-liked than he was. I kind of thought, "Ozzy, you're going to make the exact same mistake again."
Reality TV World: Do you think everyone's decision to eliminate you will come back to bite them?
Eliza: I think it's going to hurt them for keeping some of the Favorites around and for keeping some of the Fans around. Definitely. I think if someone had decided to keep me, I could have been a really good asset to that person.
Reality TV World: You seemed to place a lot of stock in Ami Cusack still being with Malakal after the merge -- however even if she was still there it seems like you, her and Jason still would have been outnumbered. Had Ami still been there what was the plan moving forward?
Eliza: Well if I had Ami there, Ami had formed a bond with Erik and Erik and Jason had been friends from before. So then it would have been me, Ami, Erik and Jason -- and maybe at that point we could have tried to get Natalie and Alexis back on our side and promise them what Amanda and Parvati were promising them, except with weaker guys than James and Ozzy.
I don't know, I just think having Ami there would have been... Oh I guess if Ami had been there, Erik wouldn't have been there. So that doesn't make sense.
Reality TV World: Yeah.
Eliza: Anyhow, I just knew that I was in trouble when I saw that Ami wasn't there. (laughing)
Reality TV World: How difficult was it to lose Jonathan Penner to injury. He seemed like a close ally of yours and his departure really hurt your standing in the game.
Eliza: Absolutely. That was brutal. Jonathan and I had approached Alexis and Natalie when we got to the new Airai and the two of them were going to work with us. But then once I lost Jonathan and it was just me and maybe Jason, they weren't as into the deal. They were like, "This isn't enough people. This isn't a good enough offer anymore."
Jonathan was also a close friend and it was really hard to see him go out that way and just to lose him in general.
Reality TV World: You've played Survivor twice now and you seem to have generated some strong negative feelings from some of your fellow castaways both times. Why do you think that's the case?
Eliza: I don't know. I think that I had trouble bonding with some of the girls. They're very... They all were from L.A. and they all kind of had friends in common -- they realized they had mutual friends. So it was just hard to kind of pretend to know what they were talking about when they were referring to certain bars or certain salons that they went to in L.A..
So I don't know. I guess I had gotten along with the people who had gotten eliminated earlier -- I was friends with Jonathan, [Yau-Man Chan], Ami. I remained close with Cirie.
Reality TV World: Do you think that same "constant commentary" personality that made you popular with the show's producers and a portion of home viewers was a huge liability in the game? If so, did you ever try intentionally try and change that this time around?
Eliza: No, I didn't really try and change that becuase I can't. That's just my nature. But I think that some of my opinions I just tried to keep to myself.
There was an insider clip called,"Eliza Hates Everyone" where I just kind of went-off about every single person on my tribe early on when they had told me that I was going to be the next to go. I didn't tell any of them that's how I felt about them. I just kind of walked around camp smiling -- doing all the things I was supposed to be doing.
But yeah, I would always express my opinions to the camera or to [host Jeff Probst] at Tribal Council because that's the time that you should just be honest about everything and kind of express yourself.
Reality TV World: Why do you think your Airai tribe was so successful during all those Immunity Challenges?
Eliza: Because they had me! That's why Airai won all those challenges. (laughing) No, I mean after getting picked last in that [tribal] swap, I thought I wanted to prove myself and I needed to. Those challenges were also just really well-suited for the people we had on our tribe. Both Jason and I were good at stuff like balance and puzzles were my thing. I don't know, those challenges were just easy for us to accel at. Then we had strong James, who was able to just carry me [across the water] on that little pole [during an Immunity Challenge]. So it was just good challenges for us.
Reality TV World: When we talked to Tracy Hughes-Wolf, she alleged that Malakal was intentionally throwing some of the challenges in order to be able to get rid of some of the fans -- do you believe that?
Eliza: That's absolutely, completely untrue. They didn't throw any. As you speak to people, you can ask them. They didn't throw any of those challenges. The one that Tracy refered to in particular in her interview with you was a Reward Challenge, which is ridiculous. Why would they want to throw a Reward Challenge? That just makes us get more enthused and we get to eat and we get the motivation to do well in the next Immunity Challenge. There's no way they threw those challenges.
Reality TV World: Did your tribe ever discuss throwing an Immunity Challenge?
Eliza: Actually Jason and I had contemplated it. But unfortunately we didn't have a solid enough commitment from Natalie and Alexis to actually throw it to try and get rid of James or Parvati. So had Jonathan stuck around, it might have been a good idea.
Reality TV World: Do you hold a grudge against Kathleen Sleckman for quitting? It seems like she might have really been a big help to you, Jason and Ami had she made it to the merge.
Eliza: Yeah, she would have been a big help. But she really just wasn't in the emotional state to stay in the game. I definitely don't hold a grudge towards her for quitting because I think she stuck it out for a long time. She wanted to go home and she made it 19 days, which I think is pretty amazing for someone who's just so mentally checked out. So no. I'm certainly not mad at her.
Eliza: Oh yeah... Yeah definitely that was a turning point. After [Jon "Jonny Fairplay" Dalton] quit, that had a huge impact because Fairplay would have voted with us to get rid of Parvati first. Then we thought, "Well it's okay. We're still five-four. We have Cirie." Then we didn't have her so her voting out Yau-Man was definitely a big deal.
Reality TV World: How strange was it allying with Ami after the role you had played in her Vanuatu ouster?
Eliza: I mean it was okay. I think that we had kind of made peace about that, so she felt comfortable being in an alliance with me and trusting me.
Reality TV World: How did you end up being part of Survivor: Micronesia?
Eliza: Casting called me and asked if I would do it again and I said, "Absolutely! Put me back on!" And they did.
Reality TV World: Personally speaking, which castaway would you like to see win Micronesia? Any castaway you don't want to see win?
Eliza: I would love to see Cirie win, because Cirie's the only person left who has a family -- she supports her children and to send them to college. I think she's playing a great game too, so she's someone I'd love to see win. Who don't I want to see win? Any of the four from the "showmance alliance" -- James, Amanda, Parvati, Ozzy.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you -- are you back in law school?
Eliza: I am. I'm back in law school. After this semester I have one more, so I'll graduate in December. Then I'm hoping to become a public defender in New York.