Exclusive: James Lim talks 'Survivor: Ghost Island' (Part 2)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 04/04/2018
James Lim was eliminated from Survivor: Ghost Island after a tribal swap that separated the remaining castaways into three small tribes during the latest episode on CBS.
James, a 24-year-old business analyst from Los Angeles, CA, was voted out of his new Malolo tribe on Night 17 of the game at Tribal Council through a unanimous vote. James had cast his sole vote for Desiree Afuye, a 21-year-old student from Brooklyn, NY.
The tribal swap left James and his ally, Michael Yerger, on the outs against three original Naviti members; however, the two guys had anticipated Angela Perkins flipping since original Naviti previously betrayed her once and voted for her.
"That was a great blindside and I honestly didn't really see it coming, so hats off to them," James noted following his ouster.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, James talked about his Survivor: Ghost Island experience. Below is the concluding portion of what he had to say.
Reality TV World: Based on how things played out, do you wish your original Malolo 4 on your previous tribe took out Angela when you had the chance instead of Morgan? Looking back, do you think that was the best decision to make at the time?
James Lim: [Unintelligible]. What I do regret is that I didn't capitalize on the complete Naviti breakdown and didn't throw challenges to further take out members of Naviti. We did discuss it as an alliance, "Should we throw a challenge or not?"
It would've been the case of Naviti players not having the boldness to pull the trigger. So while we orchestrated a great blindside together, we didn't choose to further disjoint Naviti and take out someone like [Wendell Holland] or Angela or [Chris Noble] or [Domenick Abbate].
And I think that ultimately came back to bite me in the ass. That's one of my regrets, frankly. I know it would've sucked for us, but to keep on going back to Tribal and to keep on destroying old Naviti, we could've done that, but we didn't.
Reality TV World: You said that was one of your regrets. Would you mind sharing the rest? What else do you wish you had done differently?
James Lim: Yeah so, one thing is that I had this idea on Day 17. Once I heard the story about Michael playing [James Clement]'s idol from [Survivor: China], it really dawned on me that these past idols were coming back in play.
And so I thought, "Okay, so, if that's the case, the single easiest fake idol that I can make is [Eliza Orlins'] 'f-cking stick' idol from Micronesia."
And so I already had it in my mind -- this plan of, "Okay, if push comes to shove, I'm going to take a random stick and carve a face on it and mask it in Tree Mail and claim it's an actual idol and then make some moves at Tribal Council and surprise some people with it."
Obviously I didn't follow through with that idea because of my confidence in Angela that she was going to vote with me, but I really should have executed that plan because it went so well with the theme of Ghost Island and it would've been a showstopper at Tribal Council. But we all have regrets, you know?
Reality TV World: When the two tribes gathered and met Jeff Probst on Day 15, what had you been expecting? Did you anticipate another swap was coming or did you expect to have a Reward Challenge?
James Lim: Oh, we definitely knew a swap was coming. We were fans enough of the game and seasoned enough that after a swap at 18, we have to have a swap at 16 or 15. So we literally -- us at Naviti, we had, like, a toast to the end of Naviti 2.0 on Day 14.
We all knew it was coming, and we just all prayed that the swap would be good for us, and I basically got the worst swap that I could have hoped for, which was tragic.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised the latest Immunity Challenge didn't also have a Reward component and that no one subsequently got sent to Ghost Island from the losing tribe? I'm sure there was a part of you hoping during that challenge you'd be sent to Ghost Island and be safe. (Laughs)
James Lim: Oh absolutely. The Reward part was not that surprising. With three tribes left, it's difficult to fit in two challenges, but I really wish Ghost Island was still in play because we had seen the format change from the person on Ghost Island being immune from Tribal Council now to, like Stephanie Johnson, having to attend Tribal Council, and now, Ghost Island isn't even brought up.
And part of me was like, "Well, where was Ghost Island [when I needed it]?" Because if somebody like [Kellyn Bechtold] or even myself went on the island, things might have turned out differently, you know? It's a bummer to play in a season like Ghost Island and not get to go to Ghost Island myself.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like you think the Ghost Island twist is done now that there are three tribes?
James Lim: Well, we know it's not going to come up in this stage, in this second-swap phase, but we'll see how it comes back into the game at the merge, you know?
Reality TV World: You mentioned how Michael voted for you at the second Tribal Council, so was Michael someone you wanted to stick with come the merge as an ally or were you looking to end that relationship because maybe you didn't find him completely trustworthy?
James Lim: No, so him voting for me at the second Tribal Council, that was fully [unintelligible] expected. I literally had a confessional before that Tribal that if they really want to play the game, it will probably be a 5-2-1 vote, if not, it will probably be a 7-1 vote for [Jacob Derwin], and so really, no hard feelings.
From his point of view, Jacob was gunning for Michael, right? So it was Michael trying to save himself from a potential idol play by Jacob, and it was the right choice.
So, when we got back, I literally told him, "No hard feelings at all," and I really meant it. And I truly thought the old "true Malolo" narrative could still hold once we got back together...
A part of what you saw on-screen where we toasted to Brendan and Stephanie, our fallen comrades, and we wanted to stay Malolo Strong. And I told him, you know, "I have a great thing going on with Angela. I can flip her. I've got this."
Reality TV World: Were you starting to shape an ideal Final 3 in your mind while playing the game, or did you not think that far down the road yet?
James Lim: No, not really, sadly. I don't think we were at a point in time to start talking about Final 3, but I knew who my "ride or dies" were, and those were obviously [Laurel Johnson], [Donathan Hurley] and [Libby Vincek].
We had an incredible run together, navigating the first swap, and we bonded as people and as players. And obviously either one of them would've been pretty terrible choices to sit next to at the Final Tribal Council, but I was 100 percent sure I wanted to go deep with them and navigate the post-merge game with them.
It's sad to go home as the first player of that alliance, but I am looking forward to watching them carry on the torch in the weeks to come.
Reality TV World: So what were your thoughts about what Domenick said about Libby, that she's "a devil in an angel's body?" He called her seductive and dangerous, a "Parvati 2.0." (Laughs)
James Lim: Well, maybe I'm biased, but Libby is -- I could sum her up pretty well like this: She's blonde and I trust her. That's all there is. I would say a "Parvati 2.0" is really high [to reach] because she's a great legend in Survivor. I don't know about that. But Libby really is a great person but a cunning player as well. So I respect the hell out of her.
Reality TV World: Watching the season back, who's surprising you? Which castaway is the biggest threat to win or playing the best game?
James Lim: It's ironic -- like everyone thought people like [Brendan Shapiro] and Stephanie were playing amazing games until they got swapped like I did. I think Domenick is making some big, flashy moves, kind of like [Tony Vlachos] and [unintelligible] did. He's kind of like that type of player, whereas Wendell is staying under the radar.
He's trying to be that likeable person to be around. I see Laurel -- my "it girl" Laurel -- as a great player. She's building bonds on the down-low.
And obviously Donathan and Libby, I have nothing but great things to say about them as well. So I think this season has a ton of great people and great players. So while it's sad to see me go, I think the season will go on as one of the best ones in history.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on Survivor? How did you end up on this season?
James Lim: Yeah, so, I applied for The Amazing Race my senior year of college with a good friend of mine, my teammate, and we unfortunately got cut towards the end.
But what happened is CBS put me on a database for all of their reality shows, and I got a random call out of the blue about 10 months later, where [casting] was like, "I saw you on the database for TV, and I think you'd be great onSurvivor." And it was an amazing coincidence for me, and I am so lucky that I got to play Survivor.