Exclusive: 'Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty' castoff LJ McKanas talks (Part 1)
By Reality TV World staff, 04/17/2014
Survivor: Cagayan -- Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty's merged Solarrion tribe voted out LJ McKanas during Wednesday night's broadcast of the CBS reality series' 28th edition.
LJ, a 34-year-old horse trainer from Boston, MA, was voted out of his Solarrion tribe at the season's ninth Tribal Council session, which marked the third time Solarrion had attended Tribal together.
LJ was eliminated from the game after his closest ally, Tony Vlachos, turned on the majority alliance in order to vote him out. Tony viewed him as the biggest threat still in the game, while LJ trusted him entirely.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, LJ talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: You were obviously completely surprised to be voted off. Why was that? I mean, I know you had obviously been expecting everyone to vote for Jeremiah Wood, but Tony had been very anxious and talking to you about turning on Yung "Woo" Hwang. So had you just never envisioned the idea that his paranoia might also extend to you and he could eventually turn on you? What had been going through your mind?
LJ McKanas: I actually had no idea that he was going to have that situation. Because days before, when everyone was kind of confused on why I played my idol for him and reciprocated his move, one of the decisions I made with that was that, "I'm going to actually purchase some of his loyalty."
Because he's really, in my eyes, he was the only one that was actively playing the game whether it's a good game or a bad game or a, you know, concerning game. He was actually playing the game.
So I needed to do everything that I could to make sure that he was comfortable with where I stood in my position in the game. So when I played that for him, it was kind of like ensuring that the plan we had made originally is in full effect and I am here for any decisions that we want to make as a group or just between the two of us and to go forward.
So I actually had no idea that that was going to transpire, and I did the worse thing in Survivor history, [saying] the words that I said -- that I was "comfortable." (Laughs) It was a defining [moment, like] that's the end of your game.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like you never really envisioned the possibility Tony was trying to set you up when you guys had that conversation where he seemed to kind of manipulate you into suggesting voting Woo out?
LJ McKanas: Yeah, I had no idea that the intentions of his conversation were to get me to actually verbalize that I would consider getting Woo out and breaking the plan at hand. I don't even know why -- if you're going to go through that whole deal, why don't you just go ahead and tell the others that I said it? I mean, what's the point of actually coming to me and having the conversation?
Reality TV World: So you mean, why not just lie like he did with Sarah Lacina when he told her that Lindsey Ogle was coming after her?
LJ McKanas: Exactly, like, just go make it up. And that's why I thought that I had my thumb on his paranoia, because you know, I was buffering, like, "Listen, fine. It's okay. We have numbers. What is your problem?" And I was trying to be like a psychiatrist, like, "Just tell me your problems and we will come up with resolutions to fix it."
And I thought that we had it figured out, that he might have an idol, and if we split the votes, now he's going to have to play it and get him a little concerned. And then at least if we draw the idol out of his pocket, we're going to put away some of his paranoia. So I had no idea that his intentions were to do that, because in my personal opinion, it's a little too soon to do that.
Reality TV World: When Tony was off on the Survivor spa Reward, you talked to Trish Hegarty about the conversation you previously had with Tony about targeting Woo and what not. Where was that coming from? Were you thinking there was a chance you two might turn on Tony?
LJ McKanas: I kind of wanted to start making moves into the end of the game, where I'm going to solidify the future gameplay where, say, the three of us can sit in the Final 3. I know that Trish is a very loyal person and I know that she has been with Tony since the beginning.
So I had to be very careful on what I said to her to make anything seem fishy or funny, but I was just stating the facts that he's starting to get a little out of control and that can spoil the whole game. I was trying to lead her into saying, "Let's make a move. Let's do something if we have to get rid of him." Because I didn't want to be the one to make that decision because she was close to him.
Reality TV World: So you were trying to do to her what Tony had done to you?
LJ McKanas: Right. Exactly.
Reality TV World: (Laughs) Had you planned to stay loyal to the Final 6 all the way to the Final 6?
LJ McKanas: I mean, the game is about timing. I had intentions, actually, to make a move with Kassandra "Kass" McQuillen. We had a short conversation about being able to come together because she still had some ties with, you know, the minority. [Spencer Bledsoe] is a smart player and Jeremiah will do whatever you ask of him.
So we still had a situation where -- in my thoughts, "Alright, if we can get [Latasha "Tasha" Fox] out, [Kass] can manipulate a little bit and now it'll be me, [Jefra Bland], Kass, and the two boys. So now we can actually start to pick off everybody one by one." It was just, it didn't seem like the time to make that move, because there was still that additional layer of Tasha there.
Reality TV World: Just to clarify, that's a move you think would've been made at the next Tribal Council, if Tasha had gone home at this Tribal Council?
LJ McKanas: Yes, that would've been my next plan.
Reality TV World: So that kind of got derailed when Tasha won Individual Immunity. But did you circle back with Kass and come up with an alternate plan or did that just kind of get dismissed then?
LJ McKanas: Well, that plan was going to be after we had voted out another -- one of those minority members. So this would've been at the following Tribal.
Reality TV World: So Tasha would've been out of the game and you would've had Spencer or Jeremiah in your alliance along with Kass and Jefra.
LJ McKanas: Right.
Reality TV World: So the only way to salvage it during last night's episode would've been to get out Spencer and Jeremiah instead, right?
LJ McKanas: Exactly. Right.
Reality TV World: It sounds like you're saying you and Kass weren't willing to proceed with that scenario then?
LJ McKanas: We talked about it and we were planning it, because nobody really thought that Kass and I would've had a conversation where we're plotting against the six strong. Because [through perception], we were pretty tight and it was logical that we get rid of these guys because they are threats.
I mean, if we get rid of one and then one has an idol and the other wins Individual Immunity, one of us has to go. So we just figured we had the opportunity to just pick them off one by one, and then when we get to six, things start to get interesting. So our intentions were to get to seven and then, you know, pull the trigger and start really changing the game.
Reality TV World: So clearly you hadn't been expecting everyone else in the Final 6 to remain loyal either?
LJ McKanas: No, no. This is the game ofSurvivor. There's no chance (laughs) everyone's staying loyal. And I know Tony. I mean, Tony -- aside from his paranoia -- he wants to win the game too, and we're two male threats. He's always anxious, he always wants the next big move, and he's always concerned somebody's going to put the next big move on him.
So when he saw his name a couple days in a row, in his mind, I'm no longer the bigger threat because he saw his name. So I feel like he had me as his bullet sponge and I'm going to be the first one that everyone's going to want to get rid of first challenge-wise and physically-wise. So when he saw his name, he thought, "Alright, now I'm No. 1, so I need to make this decision now."
Above is the first half of LJ's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.