Exclusive: Zane Knight talks about 'Survivor: Philippines' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 09/20/2012
Zane Knight, a 28-year-old tire repairman from Danville, VA, was voted out of his Survivor: Philippines' Matsing tribe during Wednesday night's premiere of the CBS reality series' 25th edition.
Zane was voted out of his tribe at the season's first Tribal Council, the first elimination vote for Matsing, after he came up with a risky plan to position hinself as the tribe's weakest link and act as if he'd be fine with votes coming his way. Hoping to gain sympathy from his tribemates and come across very likeable, Zane thought his idea would convince people to vote off Russell Swan, a big threat who had taken on an unnecessary leadership role, instead. But Zane's plan backfired and he became the first castaway eliminated from the season.
In an exclusive interview on Thursday, Zane talked to Reality TV World about his short-lived Survivor: Philippines experience -- including how convinced he was that Russell was getting sent home instead of him, how he described his plan that ultimately led to his elimination, when he believed his tribemates changed their minds about him and wanted to keep Russell around after all, and which castaway he referred to as an "awesome player."
Below is the first half of Zane's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Based upon what we saw after you were voted off, it seemed like your vote-off came as a surprise to you. Was that actually the case or had there been a point during or before Tribal Council when you kind of sensed it coming?
Zane Knight: Oh well you didn't see my face on the TV screen last night?! I was just as surprised as America was.
Reality TV World: So right up until Jeff Probst revealed the votes, you thought Russell was going?
Zane Knight: Well even when you saw me, I started smiling. I started smiling when he started reading the votes -- even when I saw my name -- because I thought it was going to go Zane, Russ, Zane, Russ, Russ, Russ.
I knew I was going to have a couple with my name on it because people get scared at the last minute. But when I saw all these Zanes and I voted for old Russ, it kind of hit me. I was kind of caught off-guard.
Reality TV World: Could you just explain what your plan was again and why you wanted to make the tribe think you were the weakest person? I understand that you wanted to test the strength of the early alliances you had formed, but that seemed to be a pretty dangerous way to go about it.
Zane Knight: Well, you know, and I've said this time and time again. This game is just like life, and just like in life, we're not promised tomorrow. No way. So why save up a bunch of stuff to use tomorrow when you might not even be here anyway? I'd rather go out on my own terms than to let you put me out, you know what I'm saying?
And I can still walk away from this game saying that I moved my whole game the way I wanted it. How many people get to walk away from this game saying that they were completely okay with everything they saw on TV?
Reality TV World: So your plan was that if you were going to get through the game, your strategy was to have people keep you around because they thought you were the weak person who was never going to be a threat? Is that what you're saying?
Zane Knight: No, no. It was total control. I had alliances the first day on the beach. I aligned up with the guys and with the girls. My plan was to take over. I knew if I got rid of Russ, and I was the reason why Russ left, it was a colt -- like I had everybody aligned with me.
Reality TV World: I wanted to ask you about that. You were shown making separate alliances with Angie Layton, Denise Stapley and "Roxy" Roxanne Morris, and then you went over to Russell and Malcolm Freberg and formed another alliance with them -- ultimately telling the guys you had formed alliances with all the women...
Zane Knight: That's what I goofed at man! I probably should've kept that little tidbit to myself, you know what I mean?
Reality TV World: What was the significance of telling Russell and Malcolm that? Was it because you considered your alliance with them to be your only real alliance?
Zane Knight: Yeah, I considered the dudes to be the flock, you know? I considered me, Russell and Malcolm to be the unit, and we were just going to get rid of the girls as we had to or if we had to.
So I figured by telling them that I had already made an alliance with the chicks, that would've put me a little higher on the totem pole. Like, now that's going to set me up to be like, "Okay, we've already got them in line. If we need to tell them something, we can tell Zane to do it."
Reality TV World: So did you give any thought to the way Malcolm seemed to perceive your news in that he kind of seemed insulted to be the last person you came to -- the last person on the beach you tried to align with? (Laughs)
Zane Knight: (Laughs) I mean, now I do, but at the moment -- and I've said this before, and I'll say it again -- Malcolm is an awesome player. He came into this game and he handled himself very well. At the same time I thought I was running everything, he was running around behind me doing his own thing.
So, you know, you can't be mad at the player. He did what we all wanted to do, and I just hope that for the duration of the season, he doesn't change that for me. He's doing really -- he did really awesome last night. I really enjoyed that.
Reality TV World: So was Russell's bossy, dictating behavior at the challenge as bad as what was shown on TV or not quite?
Zane Knight: Well, I mean, I feel like that if anything, you've gotta know that you're running with a bunch of newbies. We're all -- this is a new experience for us. It's the first time we've ever touched one of these islands. For some of us, this is the first time we ever left where we lived, especially to go outside of your country. That's a lot to deal with.
Russell even said to himself, he said, "You never know the way you say something is going to affect somebody or cut somebody else," and I honestly don't think that he tried to be as much of a dictator as he was. I think he just knows the game and he was trying to show people -- cutting corners.
He was trying to cut corners for us. "If you put this here, this is going to do you better." But see, the challenge is what got him. We were standing in a challenge and he was like, "Hush." That word "hush" carries a lot of ground, you know what I mean?
Reality TV World: The show presented it as though the key issue was when Russell decided to have Angie be the puzzle solver even though she had said she didn't want to do it...
Zane Knight: She told him, she said, "I'm a track star. That's what I do. Let me run." Roxy said the same thing. Roxy's like, "Well I don't think I would be good to do that." And Russell's like, "Listen, this is the way it's going to go."
Reality TV World: So why do you think the tribe ultimately gave in and went along with it? Do you think they just didn't want to ruffle any feathers?
Zane Knight: Yeah. You watch it every season, man! I mean, not every season, but you know what I'm saying. You watch it every time. Look what ["Coach" Benjamin Wade] did. Look what ["Boston Rob" Rob Mariano] did. I don't want to say that they're scared, because I don't think anybody is scared. You wouldn't show up for the game if you were scared.
But I think you don't want to speak out, because I almost said something at the challenge, like, "Maybe we need to reassess this for a minute." But you don't want to stand alone, because the power is in the numbers. And so if you stand alone, you're a target. So I think a lot of times, what happens is, they get it by convenience. The rest of the group falls in with the returnee.
I think, like I said, they just get it by convenience. You automatically trust them because they've been there before and then they use that to their advantage.
Reality TV World: Russell had seemed to be a lock to be voted off right after the challenge, but things obviously then changed. What do you think was the turning point that caused your tribemates to vote for you instead of Russell?
Zane Knight: Him begging to stay. He sat there at the jury at Tribal Council, and I mean, he basically threw himself on the court. He was like, "Look, I got so much to give this tribe, and I got so much that I could show ya'll, and I'm sorry that I was a dictator and I'm sorry that I told everybody what to do."
And it was just enough. It was enough to convince them to be like, "Maybe we should give him one more chance. Maybe he can pull something else out."
Above is the first half of Zane's interview. Check back with Reality TV World on Friday for the concluding portion.