Survivor: Worlds Apart's merged Merica tribe eliminated Shirin Oskooi from the game during Wednesday night's tenth episode of the CBS reality competition's 30th season.
Shirin, a 31-year-old Yahoo executive from San Francisco, CA, was the eleventh person voted out of the game and therefore became the season's fourth jury member. Her Merica tribe got her out on Night 29 at the season's eleventh Tribal Council session.
Shirin and her only ally left in the game, Mike Holloway, were on the outs against a six-person alliance -- which actually included a tight foursome and two castaways on the side. Mike hoped his hidden Immunity Idol would do the trick, but Shirin still went home.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Shirin talked about her Survivor experience. Below is the first half. Check back with us soon for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Right when Mike pulled out his hidden Immunity Idol and warned everyone he was going to play it for you, what was going through your mind in that moment? How did you view things playing out?
Shirin Oskooi: I knew it was coming. So, I actually knew that Mike had an idol. After [Will Sims II] had attacked me, [Jenn Brown], Mike and I went to our little special cave. At that point, I was like, "What are we doing here, guys?! We need to go find the idol." And Mike told us right at that moment that he has the idol.
That was a really special moment for us because that was when -- him telling us he had the idol, that solidified that this is no longer a game, it's good vs. evil, and one of the three of us needed to win. And so, before last night's Tribal, we could tell that nobody was going to flip and work with us, and so Mike said that he had something up his sleeve.
And so, I knew that he was very likely going to flash that idol and pretend to play it for me. And all I could do was help stir it up, and so I acted really surprised and I had to fully and completely sell that he was going to play it for me.
And I didn't think we could get somebody to switch their vote. I thought that, for sure, I was still going to go home. So, I'm not surprised that I still went home. And it wouldn't have been a good move for Mike to have actually played that idol for me.
I still had a sliver of hope that he just might, but it wouldn't have been a good game move and he was a great game player. So I knew he wasn't going to play it for me. But the fact that we each got a couple of votes for [Dan Foley], it was the best possible scenario.
Reality TV World: Mike was always so set on being "Blue strong" until he screwed that up. But it sounds like you really trusted Mike even though you were fresh allies. I know he was all you had left, but if the Blues wanted him back, any chance you think he'd ditch you?
Shirin Oskooi: No, but it didn't even matter. It was so far beyond that. But no, I trusted him completely. I mean, what I went through at camp with the attack and then the way Mike, you know, really stood up for me and pulled me out of there and the bond that we have, having a shared history of domestic violence.
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The trust that we had, yeah, it was kind of a fresh alliance, but it cut so deep. At that point, we were blood, we were family. And so, it wouldn't have even mattered to me if he cut me loose to go with all Blue if it meant that he could beat them. I just cared that one of us wins, right?
Reality TV World: It was shown that both Tyler Fredrickson and Will voted for Dan and the other four in that alliance of six voted for you. Tyler's position for doing so is clear, but what do you think about Will being the other person to flip instead of say Rodney Lavoie Jr. or Carolyn Rivera, who's Tyler bestie out there?
Shirin Oskooi: Yeah, I actually did think [that was a surprise]. I didn't think Carolyn would do it, but I thought Rodney would do it because Rodney's also a little bit spazztic. But I think the only -- I mean, a big reason why it worked -- you're right.
For Tyler, it made absolute strategic sense to do it. I think the reason why Will did it is because he's in over his head. He doesn't know Survivor. He's never watched it before. He doesn't know what's going on. So, he just kind of freaked out and voted for Dan to try to help his boy Tyler.
Reality TV World: Based on previous for next week, the alliance of six might crumble because Dan got two votes. Do you think Mike has any shot to get inside Dan's head and work with him again, or do you think winning immunity and his hidden idol are the only things capable of keeping Mike alive in this game going forward?
Shirin Oskooi: I was thinking that hopefully Dan has now woken up. He's a really sensitive, emotional guy. He never likes getting a single vote cast against him even though he knew he was never going home. And so, I knew that those two votes would hurt him, and I was hoping that it would push him right into the loving, welcoming arms of Mike Holloway. So, I'm leaving the game thinking, "Work it Mike! Work it!"
Reality TV World: I want you to get inside Sierra Dawn Thomas' head for a minute. Why would she vote for you instead of Tyler when Mike basically gave her the perfect opportunity to flip and do what she originally wanted? Do you really think she believes she's higher in that alliance than fifth or sixth?
Shirin Oskooi: I do think she thinks that she's higher in that alliance. I think she's also not playing a winning game, right? I mean, she's really likable, she's friendly with everybody, she's a really beautiful and good person, but at that point, nobody was crediting her for any of her moves -- for any of the moves that the alliance was making.
And so, we needed to see something public out of her, right? But at the end of the day, I don't know why she didn't vote for Tyler. I think it's because she didn't think that other people would flip, and I think she just thought that we would -- like she didn't have the numbers.
I think if she thought that even one other person would come with us, she would've considered it. But with that said, I do think she thinks she's higher up in that alliance than she actually is. And also, I want to be clear, it doesn't matter.
Even if she were further up in that alliance, it wouldn't have mattered because she'd be going to the end with people that she couldn't beat. And that's what I was trying to instill in her, that fourth, fifth, sixth place doesn't matter. [I said], "Even if you make it to the final Tribal, you're not going to win unless you make this move and unless you do something publicly."
Reality TV World: When I talked to Jenn last week, she praised Rodney's gameplay -- everything from his strategy behind the scenes to his secret alliance and managing to stay under the radar. How did you view Rodney while you were in the game and how do you view him after watching the season unfold on TV? Did you have any idea he was as much of a threat as he appears to be?
Shirin Oskooi: Not at all. Actually, everybody in the game wanted to go to the end with Rodney and Will. Because Rodney was like whining and complaining all the time at camp about how he didn't get to go on Rewards, and how he's the most sufferingSurvivor of all time because he didn't get to go on a Reward. And he's saying that to me, by the way. Just pointing that out. (Laughs)
So, also, he never did any work around camp. He sat in that chair all day, every day. So everybody just assumed, "Oh, there's no way this guy could win this game." However, he's also incredibly funny. He also was not vicious, right? Like, Rodney compared to Will and Dan, I mean, we're talking about an angel here. An angel. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: Rodney also does really good impressions of Mike. (Laughs)
Shirin Oskooi: Oh my God, his impressions of Mike, his impressions of the show doctor -- he did impressions of everybody. Even [Survivor host Jeff Probst]. Oh my God. His Jeff impression. And, you know, in a season of a bunch of terrible people and a sea of awful people, humor goes such a long way.
And no, I didn't realize how strategic he was at the time. I didn't realize he's the one who cobbled together the axes of evil. But once I was out of the game, it became much clearer that -- I was like, "Oh right, everyone wants to go to the end with Rodney and Will. Rodney controls Will's vote, so, Rodney is actually the most dangerous person out there right now."
And now it's like, "Why didn't we see that?!" That said, Tyler still would've beaten him in the end. And so that's why I think, you know, we were trying to paint a real target on Tyler's back.
Tyler is the biggest threat right now. He's not doing a whole lot strategically. He's just sitting there and looking pretty. However, doing that -- again, in a sea of ugly people -- to just sit there and not really say much, guess what? You're going to do pretty well.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of Shirin's exclusive interview