Survivor: Blood vs. Water eliminated "loved one" Vytas Baskauskas from the game after he lost the season's ninth Redemption Island duel during Wednesday night's eleventh episode of the CBS reality series' 27th edition.
Veteran player Aras Baskauskas' brother Vytas, a 33-year-old yoga instructor and math professor from Santa Monica, CA, lost the duel to returning castaways Tina Wesson, a 52-year-old motivational speaker from Robbinsville, NC, and Laura Morett, a 43-year-old construction company co-owner from Salem, OR.
Aras had been eliminated from the game prior to Vytas' ouster, as he had also lost a duel. The brothers had previously been voted out of the merged Kasama tribe after their main alliance members Tyson Apostol and Gervase Peterson turned on and betrayed them.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Vytas talked about his Survivor: Blood vs. Water experience. Below is the first half of his interview. Check back with us on Tuesday for the concluding portion.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised Tina and Laura teamed up against you in the Redemption Island duel or was that something they had already discussed before the challenge and you had kind of been expecting?
Vytas Baskauskas: I was shocked. Tina's alliance was with me, you know? When the merge happened and then the lines were drawn when my brother got blindsided, Laura was not with us.
It was Tina and I that were together, so when Laura came to Redemption Island, she was just really friendly, "Hey you guys, no strategy at Redemption, only one of us can make it back anyways, so there's no need to ally or work together." It was just, "May the best person win and let's have fun together." That was Laura's sentiment.
Now Tina and I were a little bit wary of Laura coming into that, but Laura really sort of laid it out there and said, "Hey, may the best person win." So I felt confident that she was going to follow through with that, but you know, she didn't and I was stunned.
I was blown away by the level at which she walked Tina through the solution to that puzzle. But I can't fault her for it because in the end, Survivor is just about staying alive as best you can, and Laura felt that keeping Tina around bettered her chances to stay alive.
Reality TV World: So you brushed Laura off when she came over to you after you lost the duel. Was that just because you were upset that she had helped Tina or was there more to it in which you thought they had cheated and teaming up like that should've been against the rules?
Vytas Baskauskas: Yeah, I was a little bit bitter. If you think about it, it's a game about low moves. It's a game about betrayal and screwing people over. Laura screwed me over, you know? It's not cheating, it's part of the game. But don't come to me afterward and, "Hugsies, let's work it out!" Immediately after that happened, I felt that was a little bit inauthentic.
Reality TV World: On the topic of turning on people, were you surprised Ciera Eastin turned on her mom Laura?
Vytas Baskauskas: Um, I'm not surprised. I am surprised she did it so early. I think that there were probably better strategic moves to be made, but then again, that's from somebody who obviously was not in the game at that point. (Laughs) They were further than I was.
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I just think that writing your loved one's name down doesn't send a good message to everybody else. It basically sends the message of, "Hey, guess what? I'm willing to write anybody's name down to win this game," which makes people wary of you.
Reality TV World: What did you think about the fact Ciera allowed Laura to be blindsided and didn't seem to tell her in advance about the move? It seemed a little strange Ciera wrote "Mom" on her vote to specifically let Laura know she had voted against her but didn't give her any heads-up notice in advance.
Vytas Baskauskas: Yeah, I thought the whole thing was a little bit weird. I think what Laura said in that episode was really good in that, "Hey, don't vote me out! They are going to try to take you to the end as a goat, as somebody who... they can get to the end and win against." And I think that Laura made a good point in that, "We should work together because our strength is in our numbers."
And obviously Ciera didn't see it that way, but Ciera is definitely coming into her own as a player at this point in time anyways. So, I think for a lot of us, new players in Survivor, it's just [about] kind of finding our way by hook or by crook, and Ciera is managing to do that.
Reality TV World: Jeff Probst seemed to keep pummeling Aras and yourself with questions about your relationship. Do you think all of Jeff's questioning was legitimate or do you think he was just kind of sensationalizing things and trying to make it into something more dramatic than it was?
Vytas Baskauskas: Well, you know, I don't think he was necessarily sensationalizing it. I was surprised that our relationship was a relationship that was focused on more than a lot of the others, because to be honest, when he's out there, he's asking everybody questions about it. It's just not everything makes it on-air, you know? And it's true. Aras and I, our relationship, has struggled over the years.
It's weird because we want to be close, but there's just so much in the way of us being close. There's so much history, there's so much resentment, and I guess it's an interesting dynamic that people want to see. But everything that happened out there was authentic and we definitely weren't playing anything up. So I guess they just figured out what was true and they made sure to focus on it.
Reality TV World: The show presented your rivalry with Aras as a little bit one-sided, where you seemed to have a lot of resentment towards Aras but he didn't really reciprocate any harsh feelings. Do you think that's accurate, or do you think -- to kind of borrow your own phrase -- Aras kind of basically got "a Golden boy" edit on the show?
Vytas Baskauskas: Well that's kind of, I mean, I don't necessarily have resentment toward him. If anybody has resentment, maybe it's a little bit of him toward me. I do feel, I mean, I guess it is from both sides, because it's not fair for me to say that.
Aras has always been "the Golden child" growing up. Aras could never do a single thing wrong in our parents' eyes or society's eyes. Aras has led an amazing life up until this point. He has done so many amazing things, and you know, kudos for him to getting to where he's gotten.
I, on the other hand, made a lot of really poor choices and I put myself in the hole. Our relationship suffered greatly from that and it's taken a lot to come back together.
He resents me for what I did to our relationship and to our family, and I resent him for not being able to forgive me easier. There's just so much in there! The way they portrayed it was pretty accurate. Aras has been "the Golden child" and I was "the bad boy." It was interesting to watch.
Reality TV World: What's your relationship with Aras like now? Were there any lasting changes after you got back from filming the show earlier this year and have there been any other changes now that you guys have gotten to see things play out on TV this fall?
Vytas Baskauskas: For the last 14 years, we've been really trying to mend our relationship and at last create one. There wasn't much of one at all when I was in my dark place, and you know, sometimes mending the relationship has been really slow-going. But Survivor was sort of a giant step forward for us.
I don't think anything happened that was an epiphany for us, or I don't think anything happened that made it so that it's all roses at this point. I mean, we're brothers. We're going to still have a healthy rivalry, we're going to still fight from time to time. But at this point now, we have something that we'll always be able to share, that we can always look back at and think fondly of. I think we definitely are closer from it.
Reality TV World: The editing made it look like Aras and yourself had gone into the merge thinking you two were in complete control of the game and were basically just going to cruise to the Final 3. Was that actually the case or was that just the editing?
Vytas Baskauskas: I got into the merge not knowing what was going to happen. Aras and I had this really intense strategic conversation, which they showed part of, during which Aras was convinced that Tyson was with him. "Vytas, you got to understand. Tyson was with us!"
I thought he would have Gervase, so I wasn't that shocked. But I was like, "Aras, are you sure you have Tyson?" And he's like, "Yes! Tyson is with us! I got Tyson and Gervase. They're onboard. We're going to go Tyson, Gervase, [Monica Culpepper], Tina, and [Katie Collins]. We got seven; We're good to go."
And I was, at that point, yeah. I got kind of overconfident and cocky. At that point, I was already starting to count jury votes. Because if we had the numbers, and in those numbers we have a sub-alliance of numbers, then there's no way we can't make it to the end.
But I was too trusting, and I think that was my big fault in the game, was just relying on those relationships that Aras had presented and not getting some of my own relationships.
I could've gone back with [Hayden Moss] and [Caleb Bankston], and I should've gone back to Hayden and Caleb and said, "Hey guys, let's work together until the end again," because they were waiting for me to come back to them and they trusted me from the original days of Tadhana. It was on me for not massaging those relationships further.
Above is the first half of Vytas' exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Check back with us on Tuesday for the concluding portion.