After a tribal swap in which the Goliath Tribe and the David Tribe became three new tribes, the new Vuku tribe voted out Natalia, a 25-year-old industrial engineer from Irvine, CA, on Night 11 at the third Tribal Council session of the Survivor season. Natalia became the fifth castaway to exit the game.
Given the original Goliath members had the numbers on Vuku, the initial -- and obvious -- targets were original David Tribe members Davie Rickenbacker, a 30-year-old social media manager who currently resides in Atlanta, GA, and Elizabeth Olson, a 31-year-old kitchen staffer who currently resides in Longview, TX.
Alec Merlino, however, flipped on Natalia and her close ally, Kara Kay, by blindsiding Goliath and taking out one of their own. Natalia was upset she didn't turn on Alec when she noticed a shift in his behavior.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Natalia talked about her Survivor experience. Below is a portion of what she had to say.
Reality TV World: You said Kara really trusted Alec and tried to convince you to trust him as well. If they were so close, are you surprised Alec left Kara out of his plan to blindside you? Why do you think Alec felt the need to lie to Kara about what was happening?
Natalia Azoqa: Alec knew Kara and I were really close. Kara and I were probably the closest allies in the game, and he knew he was on the outs. So Alec and Kara never really talked a lot before this.
I mean, everyone talked to everyone, but it's clear that you see Kara was with [Dan Rengering] a lot, and I think they never really built a strong bond. He couldn't put that trust in her. If I was Alec, I wouldn't have told Kara either, because if he told Kara, she would have came and told me.
Reality TV World: In your final words, you said you wanted to hurt Alec. Do you have any hard feelings toward Alec today? (Laughs)
Natalia Azoqa: (Laughs) I will always be bitter. I will always be bitter about that. Honestly, I just really thought that Alec and I were friends. We had a really good time on the Goliath tribe, and he really was someone that just helped me relax in the game and have someone fun to talk to and hang out with.
So it hurt me when I started to see that shift in his attitude, and I really wanted to hurt him in that moment. To this day, I will always think about how he could do that to me, you know? It hurts!
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Reality TV World: Alec thought you were "bossy" and "barking orders" at everybody. Looking back, do you think you came off a little too strong and do you wish you had toned things down at all?
Natalia Azoqa: Of course. Looking back, it's easy to see I am clearly, you know, barking orders. It's how I release my energy! When I'm not feeling confident, you're naturally instinct -- like, okay, first of all, [Gabby Pascuzzi] would be crying.
Gabby, for her, cries as her release. For me, yelling is my release. So I have to just -- that's the only thing I know how to do. I wish I could have controlled my emotions more; I really do wish that.
But it's hard. It's really hard to do that when you're thinking you are on the chopping block. So, I mean, it's easy to say what you want to do, but being in that situation is completely different.
Reality TV World: Since Carl Boudreaux joined Vuku following your elimination, the Davids are going to have the numbers. It didn't seem like the best strategic choice for Alec to make from a viewer's perspective. So do you think it just came down to a personality clash between you two?
Natalia Azoqa: No. I think Alec wanted to look like he was making big moves, and I think that he finally wanted to feel in control. I mean, you clearly have [Natalie Cole] being in control, you have [Angelina Keeley] being in control, and then you have me being in control.
And Alec kind of kept a low profile, and you saw that smirk on his face. He felt like he was on a cloud, like, he was just happy! And I think he wanted to have a shining moment and say, "Yeah, I did that. Don't talk to me like that." You know what I mean? That's how I read it.
And honest to God, I don't know if he really thought it through or not, but we'll see what happens! So that's all I can say.
Reality TV World: At the time you left the game, didn't you assume the three original David Tribe members would just band together and take out the two original Goliath members?
Natalia Azoqa: Honestly, I think most people would do that, and that's honestly what I thought. And Alec, I'm telling you, he had mine and Kara's vote. He knew -- we talked to him many times and you can tell when I'm being truthful because I will tell you when I don't like you and I will tell you when I do like you.
So, I told him so many times, "You have me and Kara. We are a three-person alliance right now, okay? So going forward, just know you have us in your pocket." Why would you get rid of someone that you had on your side for sure? You know?
It's way too early to do that. It's really just way too early to do that. And you look like a fool. That's really how I felt.
Reality TV World: You mentioned earlier in the call you thought Elizabeth or Davie might have a hidden Immunity Idol. What was your reaction when you found out Davie actually had one and do you think he used it as leverage to get Alec on his side? Viewers didn't see a conversation like that unfold, but I'm curious as to whether he tried to build trust with it.
Natalia Azoqa: I don't think he did. Davie kept talking about how he knew someone had the idol and he knew Elizabeth was looking for the idol, and I knew one of them had it.
And honestly, that's kind of what started the drama between Alec and Kara -- because I was so adamant that one of them had it, and they were thinking that one of them doesn't have it.
They believed no one had the idol, and I was like, "Guys, someone has the idol! We can't assume they don't have an idol!" So it's like everything I kept bringing to them and any kind of reasoning I would say, they were not onboard, and I was really starting to feel out of place.
So, maybe that was the beginning of it. No one was really trusting my instincts at all, but I mean, I didn't even trust my instincts. So what can I say?
Reality TV World: Were you surprised Davie did not play his hidden Immunity Idol at Tribal Council? Because he was clearly in trouble even though he didn't go home.
Natalia Azoqa: You know what? I am actually kind of shocked. But I think that seeing how clear it was Alec was going to get me -- like, it was very clear Alec was going to get me out at that point. I think if that conversation didn't happen at Tribal and Alec didn't talk to Elizabeth, maybe Davie would have used it.
I mean, if I were Davie, I would have used it at that point. But I really don't think he needed to after seeing how, you know, the whole transaction went down. It was clear I was going home.
To read the first portion of Reality TV World's exclusive Survivor interview with Natalia, click here. And be sure to check back with us soon for the concluding portion. About The Author:Elizabeth Kwiatkowski
Elizabeth Kwiatkowski is Associate Editor of Reality TV World and has been covering the reality TV genre for more than a decade.