Exclusive: Shirin Oskooi talks 'Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance' (Part 1)
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 10/01/2015
Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance's Ta Keo tribe snuffed Shirin Oskooi's torch, making her the second boot from the Ta Keo tribe when Season 31's second episode aired Wednesday night on CBS.
Shirin, who previously competed on Survivor: Worlds Apart, received five votes at the second Tribal Council of the season, during which her closest ally Spencer Bledsoe racked in four votes. On Night 6, the tribe unanimously decided to split the vote.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Shirin talked about what viewers didn't get to see, which move sealed her fate, and why she basically lost the game by falling on the sword for Spencer. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion of her interview.
Reality TV World: Why do you think the tribe ended up voting for you instead of Spencer, and is it accurate to say he campaigned a little more than you to stay?
Shirin Oskooi: It really came down to the fact that I was gunning Jeff Varner and I got caught. So, you really didn't get to see that much in the episode, but essentially, Jeff Varner really wanted to get Spencer out.
And when he turned on our alliance, I went over to the other side -- to [Terry Deitz] and those guys -- and I said, "Hey, Varner screwed you guys over. He's now screwing us over. Why don't we all band together and just vote Varner out?"
And ultimately, they were -- even though he had flipped on them the first vote -- still really close with him, and so they ratted me out to him. Varner thought I was a really good player. He was threatened by me and as soon as he heard I was gunning for him, he knew that he had to take me out. So that's why it was me over Spencer.
Reality TV World: So it sounds like your tribe already made its mind up about getting you out before Tribal Council, that it was nothing Spencer said to change things?
Shirin Oskooi: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Reality TV World: Did you or Spencer ever go off looking for a hidden Immunity Idol once you learned you were on the chopping block? And did you have any suspicion someone else in your tribe -- like Kelley Wentworth -- had an idol?
Shirin Oskooi: Yeah. We did go looking for it, but I actually suspected that maybe Terry had it, because Terry looked for it the most of everybody. And so, another thing that you didn't get to see, was after I got voted out, I actually helped out Spencer and [Kelley Wentworth] on my way out. I told everybody in the tribe that Terry had the idol, and that it caused a huge [scene] and scramble.
Reality TV World: You said in your final words you struggled to change in a lot of key ways. What did you mean by that? Were you referring to how you strategized too much?
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Shirin Oskooi: Yeah, I was talking about mainly playing too hard and overthinking things. In my case, if I just didn't gun for Varner, and I didn't go to bat to protect Spencer in my alliance, I would've been fine. I would've lasted through this Tribal and then I'd be there for the tribe swap and I would've found new life.
But I was too in my own head, and I still just had that fighter instinct in me that I had to have in my original season. And ultimately, that's what did me in.
Reality TV World: Is your vote-off more frustrating now that you know the three-tribe swap is coming? Because on your way out of the game, you probably assumed Spencer was going to be the next person to go after you. But now, he'll have the opportunity to make a whole new game for himself.
Shirin Oskooi: Yeah. It was definitely frustrating to find that out. Had I known that was coming, I would've acted completely differently. The reason why I played as hard as I did was because I assumed that if Spencer goes this time, it's going to be me next time. So, it sucks.
Reality TV World: We know you regret not comforting [Abi-Maria Gomes] immediately. But I guess, why didn't you at the time? What was going through your mind when she was off by herself crying on the beach, and weren't you worried when you saw Terry rush over to talk to her?
Shirin Oskooi: The thing with Abi was strategically, I should've gone and comforted her, but I actually also had a really emotional day and I had just been crying myself, which wasn't shown.
I was just too emotionally drained to provide comfort for somebody else at the time, and so, other people in the tribe were actually comforting me in the shelter while Terry went and comforted Abi. So that's why I didn't go do anything about it.
Reality TV World: Since we didn't see your own emotional struggles, your edit was basically a girl sitting at the popular table laughing at Abi, the outcast. Jeff Probst later drew the parallel of how you had been in a similar situation on Worlds Apart when Mike Holloway rescued you. It's almost like the edit transformed you into the bad guy this time around. What are your thoughts on that?
Shirin Oskooi: Well, Abi was nothing like me in this season. It was very clear that not only is she incredibly annoying, but she's constantly lashing out at people or attacking people or coming after people. The whole opening segment with Abi was precisely that point, that she's incredibly difficult to work with and incredibly emotional.
And she's the one who came up to [Peih-Gee Law] and blew up at her and then got in a fight with her, and the two of them just handled the aftermath of that fight differently. Abi doesn't like it when people stand up to her and don't take her sh-t. And so, that's why she went off to the beach and was crying.
Peih-Gee is more mature in being able to handle a conversation amongst adults where they hash things out. So she just came back to the shelter and, you know, blew off some steam, whereas the situation in my season was completely different where I was constantly being viciously, personally attacked by people.
I wasn't attacking them and then they were defending themselves. Like, they were coming at me for no reason. And so, in my case, I was bullied. And in her case, people were defending themselves against her.
Reality TV World: Viewers saw a very brief conversation between yourself and Abi when she finally told you she was flipping to work with Terry and his crew. Did you work really hard to try to convince her to stick with you or did you just view her betrayal as a lost cause?
Shirin Oskooi: No, I mean, her thing was that we just didn't have the numbers and she knew that she was on the bottom. And so, if we could've gotten one more person to flip with us, she would've voted with us.
Because she knew that Varner was running the show. She knew that she'd be at the bottom of Terry's alliance, but what other choice did she have? Before I went out of my way to gun for Varner, the vote was going to go between Spencer or her. And she knew that. And so, she was just saving herself at that point.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Shirin's exclusive interview.