They were the last representatives of the white collar and no collar tribes, and both Will and Carolyn received one vote for Sole Survivor. But on Wednesday night’s “Survivor: Worlds Apart” Finale and Live Reunion Show, both Carolyn and Will fell short of the million dollar prize, losing to blue collar hero Mike Holloway, and tying for second-place.
If you missed the episode, here is the Finale Episode Recap.
Will’s game was mostly over-shadowed by his verbal attack on Shirin. He started off as a laid-back, wise-cracking no collar, and he was instantly likeable and relatable as an “every-man” Survivor contestant. But shortly after the merge, Will took the first opportunity he got to turn on his fellow no collars, and they were plucked from the game one-by-one. It’s unfortunate, in a way, that his verbal attack actually stemmed from a very nice action: Being removed early from the Survivor Auction, he was given a secret stash of food, and instead of hording it for himself, he decided to share it with everyone. But his kindness was doubted (they thought he may have had more food for himself), and that led to his explosion at camp. Things got very heated and very personal, triggering some demons from Shirin’s past and painting Will as a despicable human being. Other than that outburst – and not to forgive it by any means – Will continued on with some funny one-liners, but was ultimately looked at as an un-liked floater – or a “dead fish” as Shirin put it – and someone that everyone wanted to sit next to in the end. He did end up getting one winning vote from his “best bud” Rodney, but he never really had a chance.
Contrast that with Carolyn, who many thought had a great chance of winning the game. She was a cunning, strategic player from the get-go who had a hidden Idol in her pocket and who sat in a great spot throughout most of the game. Every single jury member sat where they did because of Carolyn in some way, shape or form. But “Mama C” didn’t seem to be as well-liked down the stretch. She used her hidden Idol at just the right time when her alliance turned on her, but she was smart enough to not let it affect her game. Mike really gave her a chance by not voting her out at Final Four, but after nearly an hour, Carolyn was the one who fought tooth and nail, finally building a fire to send Rodney to the jury, during their tie-breaking fire challenge. In the end, there wasn’t a lot of love for Mama C, as she only earned one winning vote (from Sierra), and then was snubbed from the Second Chance cast soon afterwards. A tough way to end, for a tough, strategic woman.
I had the chance to speak to both Will and Carolyn about their time in the game, the controversies, and Carolyn’s unfortunate finish.
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Let’s start with you Will. Throughout the season, you seemed like a laid-back, go-with-the-flow player, you were really funny and had a lot of great one-liners. But what everyone is talking about and how you are being remembered for the big verbal confrontation with Shirin. You gave her and her family an apology last night…do you think she accepted the apology? And what would you like for the public to take away from this whole incident?
Will Sims II: I don’t know what Shirin is going to do. My job was to give her a sincere apology. You know, I made a mistake. We all say things in the heat of the moment, I’m human. I just wanted her and her family to know that I was sorry and that I did truly want to apologize. Whether she accepts it or not, that’s on her. I did my part.
Tom Santilli: Is there any truth to what she suggested last night, that the only reason you ended up offering her an apology was because of the public backlash that followed the airing of that episode?
Will: No, I mean, don’t you think that if I was going to give in to public pressure, don’t you think I would have done so before the Reunion Show? Like got on social media like she did and said, hey. I’ve already apologized to her at Ponderosa, what more do you guys want? But I don’t owe Twitter an apology, I owed it to Shirin. (Laughs).
Tom Santilli: There was a lot made about Dan’s press exit interviews, where he said he was the victim of a “bad edit” and that many of his sexist comments were misconstrued. Was there anything at all with the whole Shirin incident involving you that wasn’t shown, that you wish was?
Will: The only thing that wasn’t shown, and of course there is no excuse, but the comments that she was making. If you look at her confessionals, she said in her own words, why doesn’t anybody like me, why doesn’t anybody want to play with me, what is it about me that people don’t like? Because she was going around making comments about each and every one of us. Now, did I take things too far? Absolutely. And everybody knew that. Mama C came back and found out, oh, she ripped me a new one. She pretty much put me in time out, in one of the chairs, where I couldn’t leave until we went to Tribal. So she was upset. But she understood where I was coming from. I made a nice gesture sharing my food, and then you wake up the next morning and it’s gone. Then you go on your walk and you come back and two people greet you and say, hey Shirin is calling you a lot of names, and saying that you have more food and that you’re not sharing with us. And I just went all in.
Tom Santilli: What has been the public response for you?
Will: I was good up until that point. But it made it seem as though we knew about Shirin’s past and that I threw it in her face. But nobody knew that she had an abusive background. You don’t throw that in somebody’s face. That took me by surprise. But I got a lot of hate and I got a lot of love, so it kind of balanced out. I never had anyone come up to me and say hey, we hate you, we think you’re a horrible person. It was actually the opposite, people coming up wanting to take pictures, saying we didn’t like her either. And in many cases I ended up defending Shirin, saying you know what, you still don’t talk to anybody that way. Just because I didn’t like her, that was no justification on what was said. But yeah, it was interesting.
Tom Santilli: Carolyn, what a tough night for you last night, a double-whammy. You enter the night with a chance at a million dollars or another shot at playing the game, and neither of those things happened for you. How are you feeling about last night and which of those things sting the most?
Carolyn Rivera: Well honestly, the Survivor experience was great, I played a great game, I got to the Finals, so I’m pretty pleased about that. Not making it on the Second Chance season, yeah, I sort of felt like I was a shoe-in for that, but I wasn’t really able to campaign still being on the show. I think being on the show sort of hurt me because people thought I was going to win and probably didn’t want to waste a vote on me.
Tom Santilli: What a tough, unique situation for you to be in. Is there anything you think CBS could have done differently, like allow you to campaign on social media?
Carolyn: Well, you know, it really is a tough predicament. On one hand you have the restriction not to speak because you’re worried you might give something away, although I would never give anything away, that’s the whole fun of the game, having people really eager to tune in and see what’s going to happen next. But listen, it is what it is, it wasn’t meant to be, and hopefully I’ll get a second chance at another time.
Tom Santilli: Will, earlier in the game, after the merge, it seemed like you chose to flip on your fellow no collars at the first chance that you got, and it ended up sealing Joe, Hali and Jenn’s fate in the game. What made you flip on your original tribe members, or what prevented you from forming tighter bonds with any of them?
Will: What happened is, as soon as we hit the merge, they stopped talking to me. So I don’t know what happened, by that point, it was every man for himself. So I thought every person was just going to do what was best for them. But they stopped talking to me, so I just had to do what was best for me.
Tom Santilli: The Final Tribal Council last night, what was both of your feelings when you left? Did you know or feel like Mike had won the game at that point? I know you said you were surprised a bit, Carolyn.
Carolyn: I thought it was going to be a close vote, I really did. I thought I played a tough game, I thought that people saw the maneuvers I was making and that they saw that I was a great contender for Sole Survivor. I was kind of shocked that I only got one vote, I’m not going to lie.
Will: Yeah, we pretty much knew that Mike was going to win, that’s why we were trying so hard to get him out! We knew if we were sitting there with Mike that he’d win it. That’s why at that last Challenge, I said Jeff, let me put the necklace on him. He deserved it, we were paying respect to him. We knew once Mike was in the Final Three it was game over. I knew that for me, anyways, Mama C might have had a shot.
Tom Santilli: Carolyn, whose votes surprised you the most?
Carolyn: I thought I had a shot with Tyler’s vote, with Shirin’s vote, and maybe Hali or Joe. One of them I was hoping for.
Tom Santilli: Did you talk to them after the Finale? Was it a tough decision for them, were they close to giving you their vote?
Carolyn: Actually it’s been a whirlwind so I haven’t really talked to anybody after the show.
Tom Santilli: By a show of hands last night, Probst also showed that Rodney would have gotten more winning votes than you, had he been in your place in the Final Three up against Mike. Does that provide another sting, knowing that these people thought Rodney deserved it over you also?
Carolyn: Oh yeah. I was kind of shocked about that too. But it’s interesting, I don’t necessarily believe that they would have voted like that having not seen some of the TV episodes. Because in the confessional, Rodney came across as more strategic as he was thought of on the island. I think when you look at it now, you might vote differently, but I’m not really 100% sure that that would have been the case out there.
Tom Santilli: Will, Rodney did end up voting for you in the end…
Will: Yeah, Rodney was true to his word. That’s why I stuck by him. When they said they wanted to vote Rodney out I told them I would not vote for Rodney. And they knew that. If Rodney was in the Final Three and I would have been in the jury, he would have had my vote. And he knows that.
Tom Santilli: Will, what was your Survivor knowledge heading into the game, had you seen the show before?
Will: No, I was not a fan at all. I knew very little. I was basically learning on the fly. You know, I had a 12 hour notice that I could do the show, so I jumped at the chance. You don’t turn down Survivor when it’s given to you.
Tom Santilli: Do you feel like that lack of game knowledge hurt you in the game? Many even said on the show that this was a season full of “gamers” and super-fans of the show, so did that intimidate you at all or make things hard for you?
Will: I knew socially I was fine, it was the physical aspect that I suffered the most. I made those challenges extra special as I put it. Even though I was bad at that, I knew I was OK socially. But you have to do more than have a social game to do well out there.
Tom Santilli: Carolyn, watching from home, the audience could really see how good of a strategic game you played, but it seemed like nobody really saw your game -play out there. Was that a flaw in your game somehow, that you weren’t able to make everyone see how much you had done, or what was the disconnect there?
Carolyn: I think my game was all about strategy and I was keeping my options open the whole time. I’m not sure I communicated that as much to all the people, so I’m not sure all the jury members really saw all the strategy I was doing. So I think moving forward, if you want to be know for strategy and big moves you have to make sure people see you as having created that. I orchestrated a lot of moves in the game but I’m not sure I got any credit for them in the minds of the jury members.
Tom Santilli: Carolyn, what did you plan on taking with you to the end, had Mike lost a challenge along the way?
Carolyn: I’m not sure I had a dream Final Three, but Sierra, me and Will would have been one option that I thought would have been a great one. If you think about strategy, I definitely stand out with those three, I thought.
Tom Santilli: Will, watching things back on TV, what was the most surprising thing that you learned about the game, or about the other players?
Carolyn: Mike played a very tough game. Because he felt like his back was up against the wall, he was able to play pretty loose and open about strategy and maneuvers. He mixed things up. And that really came through and was noticeable to the jury. Whereas with me, I would do things more behind the scenes. Make the other people think that they came up with the idea, so that they can’t pin it on you. So it’s interesting how it played out, he played a great game and he pulled out that Immunity Necklace every single time. I just couldn’t believe it (laughs).
Will: It’s funny how all the side conversations happen. You think you’re tight with one person and then the very next scene, you see everyone talking behind your back. So that was surprising. But you know, even though it seemed like we did a lot of fighting, which we didn’t. And you know that’s the only thing I didn’t like about this season, it seemed like it was all about fighting. We had a lot of great moments out there. And a lot of us are close. Watch you put in is what you get. And what you put in is going to air. And what they focus on certain things over others, well, that’s why you play the game. That’s what we signed up for.
Tom Santilli: Carolyn, I’m sorry you didn’t make the Second Chance season. But is there anything you would like to leave the fans with?
Carolyn: Yeah, I want to leave the fans with, they need to bring me back! Mama C in the house! And I’m ready for a second chance! Maybe they didn’t vote last night time, but they need to Tweet CBS, and Jeff Probst and Survivor and make sure that I’m on the next one.
Tom Santilli: And hey, Second Chance season hasn’t officially begun filming yet, so there is still a chance we can all rebel and protest the network to get you out there as contestant 21…
Carolyn: Exactly, make it happen!
Coming up shortly is my interview with Sole Survivor Mike Holloway.
Remember, be sure to check back tomorrow for my updated “Survivor Winners” and “Most Memorable Seasons” lists and be sure to follow me, @tomsantilli.
One last thing! As always, be sure to check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.