Exclusive: Ciera Eastin talks 'Survivor: Game Changers' -- I definitely wasn't blindsided, Malcolm Freberg was running the show!
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/09/2017
Ciera Eastin was voted off the "Mana" tribe on Survivor: Game Changers' epic two-hour premiere episode Wednesday night on CBS.
After losing Season 34's first Immunity Challenge, the "Mana" tribe voted off Ciera, a 27-year-old from Salem, OR, at the first Tribal Council session via a unanimous 9-1 vote. Ciera, who previously played on Survivor: Blood vs. Water and Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, had voted for Michaela Bradshaw to go.
Ciera was blindsided in a vote spearheaded by Malcolm Freberg, who thought the female player spoke strategy too early. Ciera also volunteered to complete the puzzle in the Immunity Challenge, which they lost, and boasted a history of cutthroat gameplay many returning castaways might find intimidating.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Ciera talked about her short-lived Survivor: Game Changers experience and what went wrong. Below is the first half.
Reality TV World: How frustrated were you leaving the game that you were the first person voted off? I'm sure this is the last thing you expected to happen.
Ciera Eastin: It definitely really, really sucks, honestly. It's hard to cope with, but it's important to keep it in perspective. It's more so hard to let people down and disappoint people than it is for my own ego to accept it.
Reality TV World: Is it safe to say you were blindsided? How convinced were you that Michaela Bradshaw was going home instead of you?
Ciera Eastin: I definitely was not -- and I'm not just saying this -- I was not blindsided. Around camp, I could definitely tell people were, like, wary of me. And even Malcolm in particular, I tried talking strategy with Malcolm a couple of times and he was very standoffish. And I knew Malcolm had [Hali Ford] and [Aubry Bracco] in his pocket, like, working with him. So I definitely felt on the outs.
And then after the challenge was lost, actually at camp, everybody took off to the well and I was sitting back at camp literally all by myself. And I knew at that moment, if it wasn't going to be me, my game was definitely on the chopping block, you know? And so, when they told me "Michaela" at the well, I was obviously like, "Go for it! Sounds great."
A few people were convincing that it was going to be Michaela, but when we got to Tribal Council and Hali made the comment, "Loose lips sink ships," I knew I was not going to be the majority of the vote because that had nothing to do with the reason why I was told we were voting for Michaela.
Reality TV World: I was going to ask you what your reaction was to see that Malcolm was the one who spearheaded your vote in last night's episode, but it sounds like you weren't surprised at all.
Ciera Eastin: Yeah, no, not at all. I could definitely tell Malcolm was standoffish towards me. And even now, looking at and watching the pre-season interviews, Malcolm makes it pretty clear that -- well obviously he's pretty amazing and I love him -- but he says that I play the game too much like him and he didn't want to work with me even going into the season. So now that I get to see that, it makes so much sense, because out there, at the moment, he was pretty standoffish towards me.
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Reality TV World: Going into Tribal Council, did you feel like you were working with anyone at all? Did you feel close to anybody in particular or feel it was the group against you?
Ciera Eastin: I am really good at building relationships, so I feel like I had friendships. As far as the game goes though, especially that first vote, I don't really blame anybody. It's like, that early on, if we don't get to develop any really strong relationships, then at that point, it's really "anybody but me."
So although I can tell you I felt very close to [Troy "Troyzan" Robertson], and I really felt like I bonded with him, I totally don't, like, it's too early for him to go to bat for me, you know what I mean? It's like, people aren't sticking their neck out on the line that early for someone. So, I understand.
Reality TV World: What was your thought process when volunteering to do the puzzle at the Immunity Challenge? Were you thinking you could do it well since you had tried it once before and could remember what you did wrong, or was it more of a test in which you wanted to prove to yourself you could do it?
Ciera Eastin: You know what it was moreso of? My strategy normally is to stay in the numbers as far as the challenges go, meaning, if the majority of people are doing one task, I want to be in that task, if that makes sense. But this situation was different because people had known that I had done this challenge before and I had done the puzzle before.
So there was the pressure of, "Well, Ciera has done it, so we'll put Ciera on the puzzle," you know? And at the moment, I'm not going to be like, "No, no, no!" And so, there was that pressure but I also thought I did have an advantage because I had seen it done before.
Reality TV World: Looking back, do you regret agreeing to take on such a pivotal role in the challenge so early on in the game?
Ciera Eastin: Oh yeah, well, for sure. But I can tell you right now that was not the reason I was gone. I hate challenges, all challenges. I get the worst anxiety before them, but the gamers out there were too strategic, so the vote wasn't based on -- sure there's always the element of, "Let's keep the tribe strong," but it's not like I'm some frail, frail old woman or some, like, really, really weak girl. It was just like I wasn't the strongest, but that wasn't the reason for the vote.
Reality TV World: So why do you ultimately think you were eliminated? Was it more about the scheming and strategizing too early or your intimidating past gameplay everyone knows about?
Ciera Eastin: I think it was a mix of both. I think I definitely came in with people seeing my past seasons and knowing that I am a gamer and maybe that I am a little sneaky, and that definitely did not help me. But I think the moment that really did it for me was when I walked up to the well and they were all talking about getting rid of Tony, I said, "Oh yeah, Tony needs to go. I totally agree."
And then they said, "Well, what if he has an idol?" And I responded and said, "Well maybe if he has an idol, we can take out his right-hand man, [Caleb Reynolds]." And I think at that moment, with me saying that, Malcolm was definitely working with Caleb, and I think that was just the wrong thing to say. And I think that's what really, really did me in.
Reality TV World: Everyone seemed to be talking about how you had once voted against your own mom inSurvivor, and if you weren't loyal to your own mom, you'd never be loyal to them. So do you think that played a big role in your ouster?
Ciera Eastin: It definitely hinders me. (Laughs) I mean, the last two times [I played], it's definitely been brought up. And normally, I get out of it, like once I explain the situation about my mom, people who have played the game are usually very understanding. But there is that whole, "Well, if she voted out her mom, she'll vote out anyone." And so, I just didn't really get an opportunity to break people from that viewpoint of me.
Reality TV World: Trying to look at the game from an unbiased perspective, do you think the tribe made the right choice in taking you out when they did instead of someone else?
Ciera Eastin: I mean, obviously I am biased, but I still don't believe that it was the best vote out for a lot of the people out there. Sure, for Malcolm's game, maybe it was the best move for Malcolm, but there were definitely people out there for whom it wasn't their best move.
You know, and it's so hard to say as a whole what the best move is, because everyone is in different positions and plays different games and has different perspectives. So, for Malcolm, it could've been the best move ever. Maybe for Hali, it wasn't a great move. But definitely for Tony and for Caleb and for [Sandra Diaz-Twine], the bigger players, it wasn't the best move for them.
Reality TV World: At the time you left the game, did you think Malcolm was acting as the leader and running the show?