‘Survivor’ Exit Interview Season 44 Episode 6: [Spoiler] deselected

The following contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode survivor.

In a game as wild as survivornot everyone can “earn the merger”.

In Wednesday’s episode of Merge(-ish), the tribes reunited on a beach as tensions between the Tika tribe reached an all-time high. Losing the immunity challenge left only Kane, Danny, Josh, Yam Yam, Lauren, and Heidi vulnerable to the vote. After hoping he could rely on his former Soka tribe and failing to mend his relationship with Yam Yam (and weaving a web of lies around his fake idol), Josh was left on his own island and promptly sent to Ponderosa. (Read a full synopsis here.)

So what does he have to say about his many idol bluffs and what was his biggest mistake out there? TVLine spoke to Josh about all of this and more.

TVLINE | Let’s start with your time on Tika. You three were a motley crew over there. You called Carolyn and Yam Yam “ridiculous and messy,” but how else would you describe your time with these two?
JOSH WILDER | Oh my God. It was a crazy ride watching it. It’s hilarious, isn’t it? Being out there not knowing what’s going to happen with just three people was very, very crazy, very messy. Everything was up in the air all the time. It was wild.

Survivor Episode 6 Exit Interview Josh WilderTVLINE | We saw you sell different stories to different people when the tribes first united. To what extent did that play a role in your vote?
A lot. I’ve tried to use it to my advantage, to create chaos and confusion, to get people to say, ‘It’s okay. Let’s just move on to someone else,” or I would pull out those who have idols to work with me. So I tried to use it as best I could because I knew Carolyn was on the other side and she told them it was fake. So I’m like, ‘Well, if she tells you that, I have to go further and say certain things to certain people.’ I wanted to work with Brandon, but I thought he would give me more information if I told him that I did have an idol, and of course that didn’t happen. But I tried to use it to my advantage.

TVLINE | You seemed excited to be reunited with your former Soka members, but they had been trying to get rid of you all along. What was your reaction when you finally found out?
I thought I was closer to Matt than I was. I knew Frannie was strategic and I didn’t know if she was after me, but I didn’t know if we could work together in the future. But my whole thing was keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. I felt like I was connected to them more than I was. I’ve tried keeping Soka strong and then slowly bringing Ratu out and getting Tika on board, but it didn’t stick that well.

TVLINE | Who did you trust the most and did you feel like someone was close to you?
No, I didn’t feel like anyone was in my corner. Looking back, Lauren and I, when I came to this “fusion” beach, we had really good conversations and she was the one who came up to me and said, “I think they’re coming because of you,” but I could not trust her at that point because I was like, ‘I just met you. You could say anything now,” so I dismissed it immediately. But she was the only one who really told me the truth and said it to me. I wanted to trust Carolyn and work with her. I really wanted to work with Yam, but it just didn’t work out. In the beginning, Claire and I were really close, but in the end it didn’t make sense to keep her, but we talked a lot.

TVLINE | If you could point to your biggest mistake out there, what would it be?
I would try to be more authentic because of course there are a lot of red flags in people’s ears. But I tried to stay as small as possible because I knew I would pose a threat. As a black gay man, you are always seen as either a threat or reserved. As a surgeon, I’m used to being in control and being a leader. So I tried not to be that because I think that would be considered aggressive. Maybe my personality doesn’t get along well with people. I tried to make myself as small as possible and win challenges so my tribe can see me as an asset and not think I’m a threat, but even then it didn’t matter. I’ve always been seen as reserved, a threat, a liar. So [if I play again]I’ll try to be more authentic I think.

TVLINE | This immunity challenge looked brutal. How heavy was that boulder and what was the hardest part of this challenge?
This boulder was So 13 days hard to be out there, don’t eat, don’t sleep, always think game. It drains. Especially with the condition I have. I had a kidney transplant. i have no stomach It was a struggle. I passed out like I was taking my meds but it was really hard and I was so weak. When I see it, I remember how I felt. My stomach hurt most of the time and that’s what my grimace was about. I just always had problems. This challenge was tough. My god it was hard.

TVLINE | Once again we saw a repeated puzzle we’ve seen countless times before, one that Carson practiced and flew through a few times. What do you think of the show’s rerun and the fact that the likes of Carson and Matthew are joining? The prepared?
To be honest I think they have to repeat some puzzles. I mean, it’s been 22 years, you have to do something different, change it, because if you have people out here studying that, doing 3D printing… of course, they’re going to do it. Of course they will have an advantage if they go in. I love it but I don’t, so I’m 50-50. For example: “OK, that’s cool that you have this advantage and you made it. Nice for you. That’s great.” But in the other sense, like, OK, switch it around. It’s kind of an unfair advantage. But I understand. It’s a game.

TVLINE | Was there anything dramatic or strategic that didn’t make the show work the way you wanted it to?
I just wish they had talked more about my condition. I wanted to speak out more about my chronic illness and speak up for those who have prune belly syndrome, who’ve had a kidney transplant, who’ve had stomach cancer, and just let them realize that you can do this too, and even better than anyone else, because it makes you someone who can stick through it all. I wish that was emphasized a little more. I didn’t want to tell my tribe about it because I was trying to take it to the end for the last tribal council so I could bring it out and say, “Look, I did all this with it and it was a fight.”

TVLINE | Can you tell me a little more about your condition?
Prune belly syndrome basically occurs when your urinary system is not developed. So [doctors] knew I was going to need a kidney transplant or I wasn’t going to make it. I had the transplant in 1997, then from taking immunosuppressive drugs for so long I got stomach cancer, which was removed in my freshman year of medical school.

Yes. It’s a lot, but I’m here and it’s a dream come true. I never thought I could ever do that in my life. I’m proud of myself and I’m so glad I give hope to others with my condition who look like me, who sound like me and who have the same condition…and to be an advocate for them and show them that You can do that too. Don’t let your condition or illness hold you back.

TVLINE | Do you regret your time on the island?
My goodness no. No regret. It was an amazing experience. I miss the sunsets, the sunrises, the air, not having a phone and not being connected and being able to talk to people. But no regrets, I’m just doing more for my social game, maybe talking to people more. But otherwise no.

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