Ciera Eastin: It was extremely frustrating. I just wanted people to play for first place and make whatever their best move was to benefit themselves to take full advantage of that second chance. I definitely feel like people were squandering their second chance and not taking full advantage of playing the game. When I say big moves, that doesn't necessarily mean going to rocks and doing anything so crazy, it just means making sure you're fighting for first place. I felt like a lot of people weren't fighting.
SK: When I interviewed Andrew Savage a few weeks back, he argued that your push to have people make big moves was only because they were playing better than you. What's your response?
CE: [Laughs] Andrew and I play extremely different games. Very different. Andrew is like the bro-down. He's like, "Let's keep the tribe strong. Let's stay loyal until five." Whatever. I play a very different way, and strictly because I'm a different person than he is. I have to do what's best with my game. I'm not a challenge beast. I'm not the leader in the tribe. My strategy is extremely different than his. To say that I was saying "let's play the game" because I'm on the bottom possibly could be true. I would still be making big moves had I not been on the bottom. I probably just would not have been as vocal about it. Clearly, his gameplay was not better. He did get idol'd out before I did. I don't know. I just think Andrew's extremely sensitive and emotional. I think he is a good player if you're playing Andrew's game, but I don't think he's very good at adapting. I don't think he knows how to play any other way. I think that I showed that I was extremely good at being able to adapt and play with different types of people and move myself around a little bit better than he did. He was very stuck in his ways and how he was gonna play.
SK: When I also asked Savage who he did not believe still deserved to be in the game at that point, he said you and Abi-Maria Gomes. Do you take any offense to that?
CE: No. In order to take offense to something, I'd really have to care what his opinion was. Honestly, who crowned Andrew king of determining who deserves a chance and who doesn't? I didn't even remember him or his season. In the group of people to be in the show, I didn't even recognize him. I didn't know anything about him or his gameplay. Clearly, he didn't know a lot about mine because he threw my name out pretty early, and he should've probably known better than that. No, I really honestly don't take much offense to that at all.
SK: Just for clarification, had you actually seen Savage's season before competing with him?
CE: Never seen his season. Didn't remember him. I know he was on Pearl Islands, but the only reason I knew that was because I played with Rupert [in Season 27]. I had never seen his season and I didn't even remember him at all.
SK: Are you on good terms now?
CE: I don't hold any resentment or hard feelings toward anybody. I definitely think there is that for Savage. Like I said, he is so emotional and sensitive. I think he might hold a little bit of resentment toward me. Me for him? No. It's not like I'm gonna be having him over to my house and he's gonna have me over. But honestly, I'm really looking forward to meeting him and his family at the finale. I wish him nothing but the best. We're just two different people who play two drastically different games.
SK: What was your end-game strategy? Did you have an ideal final three?
CE: This sounds kind of cocky, and I don't mean it cocky, but there weren't many people I didn't feel comfortable sitting next to at the end. Jeremy was one of those people I did not want to be sitting next to. I felt like I could really go with anybody at that point. My strategy moving forward was really to break up that foursome. I needed to get rid of Joe for challenge reasons, and then Jeremy because he's a big threat. From then on out, the people left in the game, I felt pretty comfortable and confident going to the end with any of them.
CE: Nobody wants to go home. That sucks that it was me. At the same time, I felt like I did what I came to do. I stirred the pot and people were making moves. We pulled Stephen, Jeremy and Spencer in to get rid of Wigles, and that really made huge cracks in that alliance because Joe and Tasha didn't know about it. Then the next time comes along, and I pull in Joe and Tasha to get rid of Stephen. That actually would've worked had Jeremy not played his idol. I left kind of reassured, like, "Hey, you did what you're supposed to do. You can't help that he played an idol. You kind of stirred up the season enough that hopefully people are ready and recognizing they need to play harder." That makes for a more entertaining season.
SK: There has been a lot of genuine surprise by the contestants regarding the hidden idols this season. Was there any real belief that there were no hidden idols in play before Kelley Wentworth used hers?
CE: OK. This just shows how Andrew Savage and I play very differently. He was very confident there were no idols. I knew there was. I had no doubt in my mind that there were. Andrew — and I don't know if this is old-school players — but he thought for sure there were none. So did Kelly Wiglesworth. Some of the older players thought that there might not be any. But they were shocked to find out when she pulled it out that there were.
SK: At this point, who do you think is the most underrated of the remaining eight castaways?
CE: I'm rooting for my girl, Kelley Wentworth, but I wouldn't say she's underrated, because she definitely is getting some respect as being a player. For underrated, I would maybe give that to either Keith or Kimmi. Kimmi is playing to her strengths. She's not gonna be some big challenge threat. She's not gonna be the leader, but she's adapting really well to the vote. She's extremely helpful around camp. She's just a great person. Even Keith, he is incredible at these challenges. If Joe wasn't there, Keith would be sweeping. He's so good and he always gives Joe a run for his money. More than that, if he can claim his game as, "Hey, I wanted to play under the radar and attach to somebody who was bigger than I was and go with the flow." If he explained that, I definitely think Keith could have a shot at winning.
CE: Oh, yes! I love playing. I love this game. I would just keep playing until I finally won.
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