Despite the fact that a player left the game in the opening minutes of Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Cambodia,” the show continued on and ended where it usually does: With a torch being snuffed at Tribal Council. This second-chance season is shaping up to be a season of epic blindsides, but for the person voted out this week, it was especially shocking.
Don’t read this if you haven’t yet seen the most recent episode, as spoilers are to follow. Get caught up on Episode 6 here.
If you are Woo Hwang though, pretty much every Tribal Council ends in shock. CBS even edited together a short video called “The Many Blindsides of Woo Hwang,” if that doesn’t tell you something about him. Woo is one of the most likable recent contestants to play Survivor, a noble-hearted “hero” and a laid-back “bro.” Many though, felt he was lacking in the strategic department, but Woo’s popularity among casual Survivor fans got him voted onto the show over older, well-liked players such as Shane Powers. Woo had planned to make the most of his second-chance and was determined to play a more “cutthroat” game this time around. But coming up with the short end of the stick at nearly every single Tribal Council, Woo never really got the chance.
Most would agree that Woo is a loyal player and a vote you can probably count on. But his loyalty was not rewarded this week when he was blindsided by Kass, Ciera, Spencer and Abi. Woo had just gotten back onto Abi’s good side (if it does in fact exist) even though he had written her name down twice before. When Woo’s feet were held to the fire and he was facing elimination up against Jeff Varner, Woo showed a feisty, determined side of him that we had not yet seen on Survivor. He fought tooth and nail, pleading his case, and finally won over Abi.
But Abi’s loyalties change like the wind. For some reason, while Spencer seemed like the easy choice this week, Woo was targeted despite it being Savage who stirred the pot. I had a chance to speak with Woo today about his “many blindsides,” and exactly why he thinks the others targeted him instead of Savage.
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Woo, hey what’s happening man? How are you?
Woo Hwang: Hey doing well, thanks for having me on.
Tom Santilli: Always good to talk to you! So let’s go all the way back to the Reunion Show. You are a recent cast member but also one of the more popular Survivor players not only in recent years, but maybe of all-time. People love them some Woo. But even knowing that, was is a shock to you that you had actually made it onto the show following the fan vote?
Woo: Yeah, you know what? I definitely had that going for me in my favor, to be one of the more relevant finalists up for the Second Chance season. So I definitely thought that I had a shot considering my season wasn’t too long ago. A lot of the people that were voting are going to see me and they’re going to remember me, so I definitely thought I had a shot. But then you kind of look at the full cast and you think, man, I really need to beat out a lot of these really good Survivor players. So it was definitely a shock when Jeff announced my name, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Tom Santilli: I wanted to address something that happened shortly after the Reunion Show dealing with Shane Powers. He obviously didn’t make it on the show and it was a huge shock to many of us, as a lot of people thought he was a lock to return. Shortly after the Reunion Show, Shane went on Rob Cesternino’s podcast and he had amazing things to say about you: He said you were a great guy, a super-sweet guy, had amazing energy and that he just loved you and wanted to even hang out with you once a week. But he also said about you, that you “do not deserve to be there” over him. Response to that?
Woo: I definitely feel where he’s coming from. But I don’t agree with him when he says I’m not deserving. Obviously everyone deserves to get a second chance, and it’s just unfortunate that the votes didn’t go his way.
Tom Santilli: Well OK! Moving on, let’s talk about last night. Why were you the target over Savage, when it was Savage who basically ticked off Ciera?
Woo: Well first, what they didn’t show on the air is a conversation that I had with Savage and Tasha at the old Angkor camp. They told me, hey Woo, if you decide you want to come play with us, come merge, we’re going to be sitting pretty because we have a big alliance with the original Bayon members, Jeremy, Keith, Fishbach, Joe, Tasha and Savage. And you would be in our alliance. And I thought, hey, this is music to my ears, I’m all about it. And after the tribe switch when I went to Ta Keo, I was actually feeling pretty good. I was sitting there with Kass maybe the day before Tribal Council and we were just trying to catch up with one another, like our lives and what we’ve been up to. And I remember her asking me, hey, how do you feel about Savage? And of course I said I feel great about Savage. She was like OK. How great do you feel about Tasha? And it just was not registering in my head that Savage and Tasha had mentioned nothing about Kass (being in their alliance) and I’m sure Kass is sitting there thinking that she probably doesn’t feel very close to Savage. And so I guess the reason she voted me, was that she understood the merge was happening soon, and that if I had made the merge with Savage, Jeremy and the others, that wasn’t going to help her cause. The reason to take me down was maybe to bring down Savage’s numbers, and bring Spencer on board because Savage just threw Spencer beneath the bus. That’s the reason I feel like I was blindsided last night.
Tom Santilli: But my point is, why not just take out Savage then? Why you? Savage is the one that put Ciera’s name out there, and getting rid of him would do the same damage to that old Bayon alliance, more so than maybe getting rid of you. Is there something about Savage we aren’t seeing on TV? Do people think he can’t win the game or is he rubbing people the wrong way? Why is he not being targeted?
Woo: I feel like Ciera had a big part in it as well. I feel like Kass collaborated with Ciera to write my name down. Ciera was also mentioned along with Savage as one of his key allies, I’m not sure if I mentioned that before. So during the original Bayon days, Ciera was really close to Savage. So I feel like if the conversation was like hey, let’s vote out either Savage or Woo, Ciera was probably more inclined to vote me out. And Kass was probably like OK, cool, I’m good with that too, because in the back of Kass’s mind, Woo is already close with this group and they can go a long way in the game. So it was in Kass’s best interest to go along with what Ciera wanted to vote me out.
Tom Santilli: And with Abi, it appeared you had made amends with her, but apparently she never was able to get over the fact that you wrote her name down twice.
Woo: I was able to mend my relationship after the second vote with Abi. And I was really surprised with Abi and how she’s being perceived on the show, that she flips very easily, that she is unpredictable and gets irritated very easily. Holds grudges against people. It wasn’t a strategy, is what I’m trying to say. Every day is a new opportunity, every day there are new relationships and strategies being formed. So when she heard my name was going to be written down to be blindsided, when she was being approached by Kass, you’ve got to go with the numbers. In order to move forward in this game, as close as she was to me, there’s nothing she was going to able to do. She was smart to jump with the numbers, I guess.
Tom Santilli: Last night at Tribal Council, Probst said something to you along the lines of: Your problem the last time you played was that Tony was able to manipulate you to take him all the way to the end. This time around, you were on the receiving end of several blindsides, first allies of yours and then finally your own blindside. What do you feel is your fatal flaw as a Survivor player, and what do you think of Probst’s comments to you at Tribal?
Woo: I don’t think I have a flaw. It’s just really unfortunate that I wasn’t able to be on the same page as everyone. Conversations are being conducted between people and you really want to trust them. You want to believe them. It’s unfortunate when you’re on the wrong side of the votes but it’s not really something that you can control. You kind of just have to go off of your gut instincts. That’s the tough thing, you want to trust people. You have to show people that you’re on board to play with them. It sucks because you know you’ve just been lied to, and your understanding of what’s going on in not as sharp, I guess. And what Jeff said about Tony manipulating me to take him to the end, that wasn’t the case at all. The reason I took Tony is that leading up to our Final Tribal Council, I knew that Tony had a lot of blood on his hands. The jury had a very true, deep vendetta against Tony. He put a lot of those guys on that bench, and I knew that if I stuck to my word and took someone like Tony, that first it shows that I kept my word, but second I thought I had a great chance of winning. Not a lot of people liked Tony, they liked me a lot more. But I realized that once the votes were revealed, the game is not won off of popularity. It’s going to be won off of playing a tough game. I guess they value that more.
Tom Santilli: Is it tougher to get blindsided like you did this season, or tougher to navigate your way all the way to Final Tribal Council only to lose the final vote? The bad part about the Second Chance season is that 19 of these 20 players are going to leave wishing they could get a third chance.
Woo: I would definitely would say that this second chance blindside was a lot tougher. Last time I got to experience all 39 days, which was just the greatest, coolest experience I could ever imagine. This second time around the stakes were high, there were millions of people tuning in and voting to give you a second shot. There are really a lot of expectations to do really well, for yourself, your family and your fans who voted for you. And to get blindsided is the worst way to go. I knew the merge was coming soon and that I’d have a chance to implement my game, but to come short of the merge and on top of that get blindsided, and to have my torch snuffed and you’re just walking away, and I look over my shoulder, and I realize wow, this is really happening. My second chance opportunity has now ended. Being a viewer now and just sitting on my couch every Wednesday, this show is starting to get really fricking good! And to know that I can’t be a part of this epic season anymore is a big letdown.
Tom Santilli: Who would you have liked to have gone deep into the game with?
Woo: I would have liked to play with Terry, Savage. It would have been fun to play with Tasha, Spencer and Kass. I had high hopes of playing with a lot of different people. But obviously that’s not the case. But I do wish all of the players that are still out there the best of luck.
Tom Santilli: Woo, it was great talking with you again, and best of luck to you.
Woo: Thanks man I appreciate that very much. And hey, I just want to take this opportunity for all of your readers, thanks for everyone’s support and votes to get back on, sorry I wasn’t able to make it as far as everyone had hoped. But thank you for your support and I hope everybody takes care. And I hope you have a great day my friend.
Tom Santilli: Thanks Woo. And don’t worry, people still love you.
Woo: (Laughs) Well cool, I appreciate that.
Be sure to join me next Wednesday for another episode preview, full recap and instant analysis, and of course, the next exit interview next Thursday.
Please check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, SurvivorFever.net.