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HOME > Survivor > Survivor: Samoa

Exclusive: Ousted castaway Elizabeth Kim talks 'Survivor: Samoa'


By Christopher Rocchio, 10/30/2009 

Elizabeth Kim refused to be one of the lambs she feels Russell Hantz is simply leading to the slaughter, however she ended up feeling the "evil shepherd's" wrath anyway.

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The 33-year-old urban planner from New York, NY became the seventh castaway eliminated from Survivor: Samoa during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.

On Friday, Liz talked to Reality TV World about how Russell is serving as the season's "evil shepherd;" why she can't understand why the flock is so blindly following him; what her strategy would have been had she made it to the merge; and why Foa Foa's losing streak is the result of a "self-fulfilling prophecy."


Reality TV World: After you were eliminated, you mentioned how you were a "little surprised." Based on that comment and the way you voted, I'm assuming that meant you thought Jaison Robinson was going home?

Liz: No. I pretty much had an idea. I mean when you're down to five people, you have to be deaf, dumb and blind to not know if you're going home. I thought I had a glimmer of hope with Jaison practically asking to be voted out, but it was no surprise.  Look at the numbers, right?

Russell has the [Hidden Immunity Idol], I know this by the Tribal Council vote, but I already knew this because I confronted him and he flipped out and he stomped off like a child. So that pretty much told me. Any doubt I had went out the window when he did that. So I was like, "Okay, Russell has the idol. He's taking [Natalie White] because Natalie is riding on his coattails."

My only hope was really with [Mick Trimming] and Jaison. So I had worked for days on trying to forge some kind of yuppy alliance with them. And what I didn't know and discovered with the rest of America was that Russell had got to them sooner and he showed them the idol. The idol is very powerful in this game, and I think the two of them were like lambs being lead to slaughter. Neither of them were strong enough to kind of buck the trend and listen to me about possibly blindsiding Russell.  So just the way the numbers played out, it's no surprise I went home.

Reality TV World: Was there ever a point during the Tribal Council where you figured you had nothing to lose so you might as well just try to flush out the idol and just attack Russell?

Liz: No because it's not really in me to just attack like that. I'm not that confrontational. We were just having a good time and just incase I was going to stay, that's never a good strategy. You know what I mean? You're never 100% sure. So even though I knew he had the idol, I wasn't 100% sure that I wasn't going home. That would have been foolish. Obviously in hindsight, you'd like to take everything back. (laughing)

Reality TV World: So was there anything you think you could have done during that Tribal Council to stay?

Liz: Possibly just point out how much stronger I was.  But honestly, again, I was on Russell's hit list. He is a male, chauvinist pig and any time he's confronted by a strong woman they're doomed. I mean look at [Marisa Calihan], look at [Betsy Bolan] and finally myself. Unless I did something with Russell and never opened my mouth and was weak and demure -- like Natalie -- there's no way I wasn't going home at some point. I was eliminated because I was a serious threat, pure and simple.

Reality TV World: So it sounds like while you were out there you were aware how strong Natalie and Russell's alliance was? Is that correct?

Liz: Oh absolutely. Russell was slippery, and I tried to tell Natalie that.  But she has everything to gain and nothing to lose sticking with him. Even though he's calling her dumb behind her back.

Reality TV World: Although you didn't seem to be aware of it at the time, you and Russell obviously had very different perspectives on Natalie's conversations with Laura Morett.   Do you still think it was wrong or did hearing Russell's explanation about how he thought it was important to try and build some cross-tribal relationships given Foa Foa was likely to be outnumbered at the merge change your mind?

Liz: It did and it didn't. I don't regret what I was saying because we had a fire to make and the women were useless for the most part. Laura's our guest, that's fine, she doesn't have to build a fire. But Natalie wasn't very helpful and I am entitled to my opinion. At that point I didn't care. I didn't care to make nice with Russell because I had already put my foot in my mouth.

So it was one of those things when he called me dumb, I'm not dumb. I think the episodes speak for themselves. If anything, I was stronger than most of my tribemates. Stronger certainly than Jaison -- who's twice my size. So I think sometimes men are intimidated by smart, strong women and Russell certainly did not want me around. Given the choice between Jaison's lackluster performance and my calling him out on the beach and being this buzzing, threatening fly -- he's going to swat the fly. (laughing) Keep the dean man walking around. That's what happened.

Reality TV World: Do you think Natalie knows Russell has the Hidden Immunity Idol?

Liz: I'm not sure, but she's not dim. She probably has a clue that he has it because I certainly made enough of a stink. I would talk to her and be like, "Hey, I don't trust Russell. He's really slippery." I wouldn't be surprised if she has a clue.

Reality TV World: So you specifically mentioned to her that you suspected Russell had the idol.

Liz: Oh yeah.  I didn't suspect. I told her, "I know he has it."

Reality TV World: We saw Russell knock you for your lack of social gameplay. What's your take on that criticism? Do you think he was correct in saying your social gameplay was lacking?

Liz: It's hard because my strategy going into it was to be flexible and to talk less than more. It was one of those things where I was just looking forward to the merge. I didn't have anyone to align myself with [at Foa Foa]. As far as I was concerned, I wasn't going to make a big stink and I wasn't going to make  a big social move because there was none to make. At least for five days we were sitting in the hut shivering because of the rain.

The only person who had the confidence to make bold moves was Russell because he was empowered by the idol. It's completely a different game if I or Mick or Jaison had the idol.

Reality TV World: You've talked a lot about not trusting Russell, but at two separate Tribal Councils you stated that you trusted the other Foa Foa members.  Based on what we've talked about, I have to assume you saying that was a strategy on your part.

Liz: Yeah. It's one of those things where you're in one big dysfunctional family and you definitely don't get along with some people but you love everyone. I use the term "love" loosely -- very loosely. (laughing) At the end of the day, you're going back home with your family. You don't ever want to say anything that could jeopardize your position in the family. Right? So yeah, of course at Tribal Council I'm not going to say anything if there's a chance of me going back home.

Reality TV World: You've talked about how Russell was scared of the threat you posed to him and he's commented that your mouth would get you into trouble on more than one occasion. Is that something you agree with and, if so, was it something you thought you might have to watch out for entering the competition?

Liz: Yeah, absolutely. I made it a point not to ruffle any feathers and it was fairly easy for me because I'm just not an annoying, corrosive element like the rest of my tribemates who had been voted off before me. (laughing) But, I have to say after two weeks I ruffled -- or maybe I should say "russelled" -- some feathers that maybe I shouldn't have. In hindsight, yeah, in this social game I should not have said anything. I should have kept my mouth shut. Absolutely.

Reality TV World: You've already talked about the merge a bit. While you were still out there were you anticipating the merge was coming soon and was it difficult to know you were eliminated right before it happened?

Liz: I had an idea that it was coming at some point because we were just so down in numbers. Maybe that merge might not have happened for a while if the numbers had been more even, but we just couldn't even compete well in the challenges. We weren't winning, and we weren't winning because we were losing all the time -- it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

So it was hard because when I got voted, next thing you know the merge is happening. It was really hard to take because I knew that if we had just won one challenge as a tribe I would have been part of the merge.

Reality TV World: What would have been your strategy had you made it to the merge?

Liz: I would have flipped. (laughing) There is absolutely no doubt about it. Just like [Survivor: Tocantins castaway Erinn Lobdell] did last season, I would have flipped my butt so quickly. I would have gone to anybody who was willing to take me into their corner. There was just absolutely no love coming from Foa Foa where I was. (laughing)

Reality TV World: Do you think Galu would have been receptive?

Liz:  Sure, because I become a swing vote. Absolutely. When it's 8-5, or if it was 7-5, yeah -- I become an instrumental swing vote. I didn't trust Laura at all and I thought [Monica Padilla] was weak. So I'm not sure if I would have gone with the women, but who knows? The game would have been very, very different because I definitely would have flipped.

Reality TV World: What's your take on Mick's role as Foa Foa's leader? Do you blame him for the tribe's awful performance up to this point?

Liz: No, I don't blame him. But he was definitely not the inspirational leader that I had hoped he would be when I first nominated him. I see him as a lamb being led to slaughter and Russell is the shepherd. He's the evil shepherd. (laughing)

It's astounding that these guys didn't make bolder moves and try to blindside him when they saw that Russell had the idol. We could have taken Russell out 3-2, but instead I went home. So it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Reality TV World: Just to back up, did you talk to Mick and Jaison about blindsiding Russell before last night's Tribal Council?

Liz: Well I talked to Mick. I didn't talk to Jaison because the vote was obviously pitting myself against Jaison so that was a little awkward. I did try to talk to Mick, but he couldn't even look at me.

Reality TV World: What was your take on Jaison -- maybe it's just the editing, but he's come across as increasingly whiny in the last few episodes.

Liz: Yeah, Jaison is a Debbie-downer. (laughing)

I'm surprised for a man who is as accomplished as he is and who is twice my size -- for him to just give up, it was really, really demoralizing and exasperating to see this on television. I mean I saw it then, but to see it again? None of us signed up to play the game in the rain, and we're all starving and we're all sleep deprived. But come on. Get it together. It was kind of weak.

Reality TV World: It didn't seem like you had alliances with any of the other Foa Foa members. Was that the case or did you have alliances while you were out there?

Liz: No, my alliances were so fluid because I just wanted to be flexible. I thought about aligning myself with [Ashley Trainer] and Natalie initially, but then I was like, "Wow, I think Russell already has that on lockdown." I didn't really trust Ashley -- I didn't think she was the sharpest tool in the shed. So I was like, "Well that's out the window."

Then I really just hung my hat -- or tried to -- with Mick and Jaison. Out of all my tribe members, I thought they were the ones who were cut from the most-similar cloth as myself. But again, I was very surprised when I saw -- with the rest of America -- that Russell had shown them the idol. No wonder my job was so much more difficult.

Reality TV World: Before the season premiered, you made some headlines when you told the New York Daily News that you were shocked at how racist some of the other castaways were. Was that specifically a reference to the incident between Ben Browning and Yasmin Giles?

Liz: Yeah, I just thought there was a lot of racial insensitivity that was going around. We're complete strangers. It's one thing to think those things but it's another to vocalize them and I was just really surprised that complete strangers would say some of the things that people did.

Reality TV World: Is there another specific incident you might be able to recall besides Ben and Yasmin's confrontation?

Liz: Yeah, it was just a general demeanor --  the environment -- where I was like, "Wow, these people... I can't relate. I cannot relate."

Reality TV World: Were surprised at how quickly that argument between Ben and Yasmin escalated and do you think it was the main reason Ben was given the boot shortly thereafter?

Liz: Yeah, oh yeah. I mean that's obvious. The two of them were just going at it. You saw it, we were all sort of like children just sitting there quietly while their parents are fighting. That's kind of what it felt like. (laughing) That's kind of what it felt like. It's no wonder Ben left. He really was very corrosive in our tribe.

Reality TV World: You've talked a lot about Russell. Have you been surprised that he has been such a big focus of the season so far -- had you gotten that feeling when you were out there?

Liz: I didn't know on the island, but certainly in the airings it is surprising -- but that just leads me to believe that he's going to fall, and he's going to fall hard. I don't think he's going to make it to the end at all. Somebody's going to get onto him and he's going to lose big time.

(Photo credit CBS)


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