Jessica, a 29-year-old nurse practitioner from Cape Girardeau, MO who currently resides in Louisville, KY, was voted out of the newly-merged Solewa tribe on Night 19 of the game through a 7-5 vote instead of her personal target, Chrissy Hofbeck, a 46-year-old financial analyst from Glen Gardner, NJ.
Jessica thought she had pulled Lauren Rimmer and Ben Driebergen into her alliance of Healers, but the pair decided to work with former Hustlers and Heroes instead.
"I think I experienced the biggest blindside of my life. My heart is broken," Jessica said following her ouster. "Who knew a game could crush you? I thought only guys could do that. I was wrong."
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Jessica talked about her Survivor experience and what went wrong. Below is a portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: You mentioned how you didn't know exactly when the opposing alliance decided to execute "Plan B," which was the plan to take you out. But how much of a role do you think Joe Mena pulling out his hidden Immunity Idol at Tribal Council played in the decision?
Jessica Johnston: You know, when I saw -- I mean, I remember Tribal. It was completely chaotic, literally chaotic. And I'm embarrassed to admit that even in the midst of the chaos, never once was I concerned, truly, about myself.
Again, I was like, "Well if the votes don't swing our way towards Chrissy, [Cole Medders] is gone, not me. And so the thought of that obviously sucks because he was a number for us, but again, I never was concerned.
I wish I knew for sure, but when I look back at Tribal -- and of course there was so much more than what we were actually able to see last night -- it was chaotic. Maybe I missed, you know, eye contact or a shoulder shrug, something!
Or maybe right before Tribal, someone was like, "Joe is crazy. Joe is going to play his idol or he's going to play it for Cole. To be safe, let's get Jessica out. She's a threat, she's an easy vote, she doesn't have an idol, we want a Healer gone."
I think it could've gone both ways. It certainly didn't help any of us, as far as the Healers go, that Joe swung out his idol like that. Obviously he was doing the best thing for his game at the moment, but when you look at the Healers as a whole, like, it put us all as targets.
Reality TV World: Why do you think they were so convinced that you didn't have a hidden Immunity Idol? I mean, they seemed concerned that Cole did.
Jessica Johnston: You know, I don't know! I think it's because I just never snuck off. You know, Mike and I found an idol together, but I think it's just because I played a pretty friendly social game. I hadn't ticked anyone off.
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Cole had talked at the merge that day about his boys protecting him, kind of alluding to, yeah, if Mike had an idol or Joe had an idol, they would play it for him.
So I think maybe that bug got into somebody else's ear. You know how things travel on the island. So maybe there was a concern that -- there was just no conversation that I had an idol. I wish I would've, like, told somebody I did! (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Did Mike and yourself talk about the idol you had found together at all prior to Tribal Council? Was playing it an option for him at that point?
Jessica Johnston: So Mike and I, and again, this is totally my bad on my game, we never had a conversation. I was so consumed with doing damage control with Cole apologizing -- I told Cole to apologize for the cinnamon sticks, like, that's how deep it was.
I was like, "Cole, what are you doing? You can't do this at the merge! This is our first day with these people! Go apologize to Ben and then go sit by the fire and don't say another word."
That was our conversation, and so, I didn't even think about talking to Mike about the idol -- huge mistake on my part, not even strategizing a little bit for myself. Instead I was like, "I've got to take care of my boys."
Reality TV World: You seemed to become the vote target simply because of your association with Cole. Would you say being in a power couple was your demise in the game? And looking back, do you wish you had distanced yourself from Cole either before the merge, when he started rubbing people the wrong way, or after, when his name was being tossed around?
Jessica Johnston: Yeah! I really hate to admit it because this whole time I've been like, "This is not the reason. I could do what I want and play the game well with Cole," but to be honest, yeah, he was the end of my game -- because I was so consumed with protecting him.
And I wish I could go back and be like, "Jessica, what the heck are you doing? Get out of the clouds." Whether this is love or the game or simply because I had made the decision to be with him, I was going to make it work. I am very goal-oriented, and when I say something in my head, I tend to accomplish it.
And I think I reverted back to some of that behavior, like, "I've chosen Cole. I'm going to make this work." And at some point, I realized how much he was disliked by everybody, and then in my head, I'm like, "Okay, maybe this can work. Maybe I could get to the end with him and I could totally argue my case for the million against him."
So there were so many lines that were confused between us. I got one piece of advice before coming on the show. A member of my family was like, "Jessica, don't align with a good looking guy and don't make best friends."
And I'm like, "Oh God, I have done both! Day 1, I'm talking to a guy with, like, an eight pack! What am I doing?!" And then before I knew it, I was just so far in, I feel like I couldn't escape nor was I given the opportunity at Tribal.
You know, I didn't have the opportunity if I wanted to. So it would've been interesting to see if my game -- if the Survivor gods would've given me more time on the island, what would've happened with Cole and I.
To read the first part of Jessica's exclusive Survivor interview, click here. And be sure to check back with Reality TV World soon for more.