On Monday, Jaison talked to Reality TV World about whether Russell Hantz ever had a chance of defeating Natalie White in the final Tribal Council; why he's not so sure Jeff Probst's hypothetical Final 3 scenario would have played out as it did during the live reunion special; if he agrees that he followed the path cleared for him by Russell, the self-described "snake;" and which former Galu member he would have flipped for.
Reality TV World: You were obviously blindsided by your elimination. Did you think that [Mick Trimming] was the one who was going to be eliminated right up until Jeff read the votes?
Jaison: I kind of had an idea that it was going to be me. That was the first Tribal Council where I actually had all of my stuff. So I was a little nervous about it. I had had a conversation with Natalie that was kind of non-committal. So I had an idea what was going on. But I tried to put my trust in the alliance we had created and the people around me.
It was definitely a blindside. I can't deny that.
Reality TV World: Before the Final 5 challenge, Mick and yourself both seemed to be in agreement that Natalie was going to have to be the one to go next if [Brett Clouser] won Immunity for the third straight time. But once he won the challenge you guys both seemed to immediately drop that plan and instead fall for Russell's plan to get you to vote for each other. What happened?
Jaison: For a few days before that, I think that [Mick and I] were starting to butt heads a little bit. I was starting to get a little annoyed that he seemed to be chatting with the Galu members a little too much. He had mentioned at a Tribal Council that maybe you have to take a look at flipping and seeing if you can change up your alliance structure -- and I think it kind of made people a little angry. That was what I was seeing. So I was just nervous about his commitment to the Foa Foa thing and decided to stick with the people who decided to be hardcore yellow.
Reality TV World: Did you, Mick and Natalie ever discuss getting rid of Russell after Brett won Immunity for the third straight time?
Jaison: Russell's name had come up a lot throughout the game. The three of us had kind of stuck together in terms of protecting him, and I don't really know how at what point it became this thing that we were going against each other to kind of stick with Russell, but his name got bandied about a lot. It just never stuck.
Reality TV World: Was it surprising to watch the finale and see Russell say you were "not into it" and call you the "weakest link" when it came to beating Brett in the final Immunity Challenge?
Jaison: No. Having watched the rest of the season, that didn't surprise me at all. He was saying crazy things about everybody. (laughing).
Reality TV World: I'm assuming you ended up casting your jury vote for Natalie, is that correct?
Jaison: Yeah, it is.
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Reality TV World: What was the point of your jury question -- what were you looking to accomplish and did you get what you were looking for out of it?
Jaison: Yeah, I think I did get what I was looking for out of it. What I was trying to accomplish really was to let everybody on the jury know that Russell and Mick were two wealthy guys. Now whether or not Russell is a millionaire, I really don't know. But that's what he was throwing about on the island. So I knew that money was going to play into a lot of people's votes and who they were going to give it to.
I was really fighting for Natalie in the jury. But I was trying to do it without being as blunt as [Erik Cardona] and some of the others.
Reality TV World: That leads well into my next question. After asking your jury question you told the other jury members "no one is broke" and said "I think you guys should look for other criteria," which almost made it seem like you were attempting to convince the jury to vote for Russell. But you were just trying to point out he's wealthy without being blunt about it?
Jaison: Yeah, because I knew everybody hated Russell to begin with. There were a couple who were on the fence about who played the best game versus who deserved the money. So I figured if we actually defined if one's a doctor and one's a multimillionaire, Natalie will get it.
Reality TV World: Okay, so the answers they gave to your question didn't have any impact on your vote. You were already going to vote for Natalie?
Jaison: Yeah, 100%.
Reality TV World: Looking at it as objectively as you can, do you think the jury votes were based more on a belief that Natalie deserved to win or that Russell didn't deserve to win?
Jaison: Ooh... I can't speak for everybody else, but I think Russell did not get the votes that he wanted because he just pissed off a lot of people. I really think that's part of the game. He played, in my opinion, to get to the finals and not to win. We can base our vote on whatever we want to base it on, and when he makes that many enemies, I don't know how that makes you think you have a 55% chance of winning.
Reality TV World: You just touched upon Russell's confidence heading into the final Tribal Council. Do you think his confidence was warranted and the question and answer session is what ruined his chances of winning, or do you think the jury had already decided he wasn't getting their votes?
Jaison: I think the jury had already decided he wasn't going to win. It was a decision between Mick and Natalie, and Mick just didn't go big in the question and answer jury session.
Reality TV World: And is that why you think Mick didn't seem to get a single vote?
Jaison: Yeah. The feeling I got from the conversations at the jury session was that people were really undecided about what they were going to do, and that Natalie just managed to answer some questions the right way and enough jurors were able to express support for her so she really ran away with it. Russell got two votes, Natalie got all the rest of them.
Reality TV World: Considering several former Survivor winners could be considered coattail riders, do you think Russell simply underestimated that when he took Natalie to the end?
Jaison: I just think that he... Maybe by the end he had done well enough that he just thought he was invincible and that's what happened. I don't know. But I would think that having watched enough seasons and having watched enough people make it without being the "best player ever" or whatever, you'd think it would factor more into the equation for him.
Reality TV World: Jeff polled the jury during the reunion special and gave the hypothetical of how they would vote if you had made it to the Final 3 with Russell and [Shannon "Shambo" Waters] -- and Russell would have won. What would you have done to sway the jury if that had been the Final 3? Do you think it would have been successful?
Jaison: First I don't necessarily think that's true. You put people on the spot of getting to hear our closing arguments -- Shambo's or mine -- and the conversations that we had leading up to the final vote that got out Shambo, was that we still thought Shambo would get the majority of the votes.
They were so mad at us -- and specifically Russell -- that we thought they'd rally around Shambo and give her the votes. Even the people that were still in the game at that point that we were talking to were like, "We'd rather see somebody in purple, even if it is Shambo, win."
Reality TV World: You obviously had a close alliance with Natalie and Russell but how aware were you of their alliance with each other? Had you ever been concerned that her alliance with him was stronger than yours?
Jaison: Yes, I was concerned about that. Hindsight's 20/20 right? Looking back on it, I could say, "I should have done this, I should have done that." At the end, Brett had come to me and said, "I want you to stick around as long as possible. If I could help you let me know." I just couldn't get out of team Foa Foa mode and embrace his offer to get one other person and make a move.
But that said, Natalie and I had really long, serious, intense conversations as the sun is setting about how difficult this is, about our family back home, and had kind of been our emotional support for each other. So while I knew she was close with Russell, I also thought that I was getting inside information about what she was saying to Russell and what Russell was saying to her. I just figured she would at least tip her hat to me and let me scramble if I was going to need to scramble.
Reality TV World: During your Reward trip with Shambo and Russell, they seemed set on getting rid of Mick if Brett won Immunity -- however you never really committed to that idea. At that point, did you seriously consider getting rid of Mick if Brett won, or was Shambo already on your radar?
Jaison: I was willing to do it if I had to, but I really didn't want to do it. Mick was a good guy. He stuck with us. It's hard to describe what it was like that last night before the merge. We were freezing to death (laughing) in this bamboo hut going, "We're going to make a run at this and stay as long as we can. It's going to be us against them even though they think this is an individual part after the merge."
So we had conversations about getting rid of Mick for a while, and I had talked to Russell and talked to Natalie on a couple of occasions before that whole Shambo conversation. I mean I'm happy for the guy. He made the finals and he did what he had to do. But I didn't want to get rid of him. I didn't know how to play that. Clearly only three of us could go and there were four of us, but I just didn't know how to make it happen.
Reality TV World: Viewers saw you have that conversation on the beach with [Monica Padilla] and Brett in which you told them how Russell wouldn't be able to play his idol after Day 36 and how he was a multi-millionaire. Was there any specific reason why you told them that information and weren't you concerned it would get back to Russell?
Jaison: I think at that point we had all started to kind of... We were the new Galu. We were overconfident, we were cocky as hell -- as he says in that one episode. I think we started to think about trying to play the jury more than trying to play the game. That was a colossal mistake on my part.
Reality TV World: You also told Monica and Brett that you played just as much of a role in Foa Foa's decision making as Russell did. Were you being honest there, because if so, weren't you just as responsible for the moves you bashed Russell for during the reunion show?
Jaison: Russell and I definitely had a lot of conversations -- especially like sunrise conversations about how we were going to play this and what we were going to do. And I honestly think that what Russell said in that Tribal Council when he said we all "followed the snake" and so we're just as responsible for this as he was is right and is true.
I just think that his overt arrogance and negativity was different than what we were doing. In the last episode, he's telling Mick and Natalie how full of crap they are and how they're all getting second place -- not giving them any credit or any due. When people were after him, we were trying to save his butt, plus we were trying to save our own to keep the group together. I just felt there was a different sort of vibe come from that guy -- a different sort of backstabbing than what we were doing.
Reality TV World: When we talked to [John Fincher] he mentioned that before he was blindsided you might have been someone he could have flipped to help blindside Russell. What's your take on that? Had he approached you with that plan would have been willing to try it?
Jaison: I was trying to talk to John from the first day of the merge. I think he saw Russell as the guy that was in charge and only wanted to talk to Russell and deal with Russell. So he formed his deal to flip at that Tribal Council to draw rocks with Russell instead of with me.
When it was his time to go, I had come to him and said, "Look man, whenever you want to chat let's just chat and talk about what we can do here." It wasn't until it was too late that he decided he wanted to talk to me. So if I was going to flip and go the other way, it was going to be for John.
Reality TV World: That leads well into my next question. [David Ball] also told us that he approached you before his elimination and tried to get you to flip but that you wouldn't do it. Was that the case?
Jaison: Yeah. But I wasn't going to flip for Dave. Dave was kind of a wild card. I know he talks about Shambo and says she was this unknown quantity but Dave was just as much of an unknown as Shambo was -- if not more so. Shambo at least, when she said she was going to do something, she did it every single time.
So you at least knew if she was going to turn on you that she was going to tell you first and then she was going to do it. With Dave, there were no guarantees. I didn't really know Brett at that point -- who was [Dave's] main alliance. It was just to sketchy for me to go along.
Reality TV World: Would you have really followed through on your decision to quit the competition had [Ben Browning] not been voted out at that Tribal Council?
Jaison: Probably not. I was just trying to figure out a way to get him out. It was the fact that my initial conversations weren't moving as fast as I thought they were, so I thought I had to be drastic.
Reality TV World: What was your initial reaction to Russell and how do you think your alliance with him developed?
Jaison: Oh boy... So Russell and I chatted on the first or second day. My initial reaction to Russell was his presentation to me initially was as a firefighter who had all this Katrina experience and all this stuff. I remember looking at the camera and saying, "How do you not trust the guy who's the firefighter during Katrina and stayed behind and saved people and all this stuff." I was with him. I thought he was trustworthy and whatever.
But by Day 4 or 5, his firefighter thing was already unraveling. I was already having conversations with people who were like, "Dude, this guy's kind of shady." So I was starting to doubt whether or not I should trust him or not.
But at the same time, I recognized that he had some characteristics that are good for Survivor that I maybe did not -- the way that he thought in terms of deceit and deception and how to play people. Again, I think the three of us have to take as much responsibility for following on his actions as he has to for making them. I just think it was the way he stabbed people in the back to make moves that were just different. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I'm mistaken and I'm wrong about all this.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for Survivor: Samoa? Was it your first time applying to the show?
Jaison: First time applying for the show. Sent in a video, did the interviews and got on a plane.