The first time she played during Survivor: Cagayan, she was known as Chaos Kass. This time around, she started changing the way viewers and her fellow castaways felt about her. In our one-on-one interview with Kass, she dished on her not-so-positive thoughts about Tasha before revealing which returning player she was most shocked made the cast.
SheKnows: First of all, when the votes came down, how was it that so many names were misspelled? How could your tribemates possibly butcher “Kass” and “Ciera” after you were all very aware of each other from earlier Survivor seasons?
Kass McQuillen: Well, I think the “Kas” thing from Tasha was a sign of disrespect. Obviously, she knows how to write down my name [laughs]. When we were voted in, our names were all over the place and we were reading about each other. Yeah, it’s either they’re all illiterate or they’re all being disrespectful. Whatever. It’s their deal; they have to live with it.
SK: Did you know you were going to be voted off?
KM: Yeah. Yeah. Many people were telling me or gloating to me that I was going home. So, yeah, I don’t think there was a big surprise there; as you could see, I was kind of resigned to it and just waiting for it to be over with.
SK: So it didn’t seem like you had as much fun this time around.
KM: I had a blast, actually. If you watched every episode until last night, I was having a lot of fun. I had 18 days of wonderful experience on Survivor and then my past came back to haunt me.
SK: Were you really trying to build a bond with Spencer or was it strategy to get him closer?
KM: I think Spencer and I respect each other as players. We knew, that if we wanted to embrace this second chance, we had to both get over the past. Anyone who wants to play a new game of Survivor, if you’re given a second time, you damn well better get over your past and past relationships or you’re not gonna win. It was a marriage of convenience, but it was a making of amends and moving on. It was two people who love the game saying, “Let’s not blow our second chance because of something we did two years ago. Let’s both respect each other enough to say, “You play your game and I’ll play mine. Let’s play together right now because it works.” Unlike Tasha, who clearly was not at that place in her life to do that. Spencer and I, we genuinely were working together. It worked for both of us. That’s what Survivor is about. You’ve got to work with people, even if you don’t like them or you have a past.
SK: When you were going into the game, did you ever envision you might find yourself aligning with Spencer, considering your not-so-positive past with Survivor: Cagayan?
KM: [Laughs] I was honestly hoping someone would get rid of him before I would have to cross that bridge. I didn’t want to be the one to vote out Spencer because I didn’t want to be the person who said, “I got you twice.” I certaily wasn’t out there to get rid of people just out of spite. I honestly was hoping, because we weren’t on the same tribe, that someone would get rid of Spencer before I even had to meet him. I don’t think either of us has an ill thought about each other from this season and I think we’ve made amends for Cagayan.
SK: When I interviewed Jeff Varner after he was eliminated a couple of weeks ago, he said Tasha is the biggest villain this season. Based on what you’ve said about her, do you agree with Jeff’s label for her?
KM: I wouldn’t even give Tasha the honor of being called a villain. She is just an angry, bitter person. There’s a difference between being a fun villain who is like, “Ha-ha, that’s fun. I’m causing trouble,” and being a hate-fueled, vengeful person. What if she took T-Bird’s spot and she behaved in this manner? It’s such a squandering of this unique opportunity to be so blinded by hatred over a reality show that happened two years ago, to throw away everything to get someone out. I don’t think Tasha has evolved enough to embrace a second chance. I read some of Varner’s stuff and he’s said what needs to be said about her using God. I know that doesn’t sit well with people, but that’s who she is. I think there’s a difference between being a villain and being a genuinely nasty, mean person. Tasha has a chip on her shoulder that’s the size of a redwood tree. It’s still there and it’s sad.
SK: Was she treating everybody else poorly because the show really hasn’t featured that side of her too much?
KM: Right before that balut eat-off with her, she was like a raging bull. She was jumping around and saying, “I’m fueled by hate, Jeff! I’m fueled by hate!” You’re missing a lot of the over-the-top Tashaism that goes on out there. Personally, I would’ve loved to go to the end with her. It’s just off-putting when someone behaves in that matter. After that food challenge — a lot of people were very disturbed by her behavior; even her own tribemates. I think she will be someone this season who is on a downward spiral. We’re seeing the beginning of sabotaging your own game because you are so hell-bent on tearing up other people’s games. I know, I did that my first season [laughs]. It’s ironic, it’s poetic and it’s wonderful that Tasha has become the new troublemaker. I just don’t even know how to react to her right now. I’m trying not to say anything too mean, but it’s more of a pity thing for her that she’s in this place in her life over a game show.
SK: Was she that way the first time you played together?
KM: The first time we played, she definitely took a turn after the merge, where she got very sanctimonious and full of herself. I think it’s come out that she said God had chosen her to win and if we wanted to get to the end we needed to go with her. I knew going in to Second Chance that Tasha is her own worst enemy out there. I knew she hadn’t changed. I just underestimated that she would completely destroy her own game to get revenge. If that’s how you want to squander your second chance, then OK. I’m more than happy to sit in judgment at Ponderosa. No one was gonna let me win anyway, so it’s not like it’s some great victory. The great thing would’ve been if Tasha had been able to contain herself and exact a fascinating blindside of me rather than just come after me out in the open. I would’ve actually respected that more than personal attacks, misdirection, fear-based scrambling and targeting. I love blindsides. I just think they’re fun. I can’t respect someone who just openly guns for you and maligns you to the point where people just get rid of you. I would much rather have been blindsided by her, but I don’t think she has the finesse and the ability to do that.
SK: Was she the driving force behind your elimination or was there more to it?
KM: No. Tasha was 100 percent the driving force. I couldn’t even sit next to her. She was bristling with anger coming off of her. It’s fine. It is what it is. I just feel bad for her. There will come a point in her life where she will realize what happened and she’ll regret it. I know I did stuff in Cagayan. The difference is I had the opportunity and ability to reflect and try to move on. I genuinely would’ve worked with her. I would’ve loved a final three of me, Spencer and her. It would’ve put to rest the question of who was the best player.
SK: Going into this season, there was a lot of conversation that you were the early first target. Did you know that people were gunning for you before the game even started?
KM: Yeah. I heard my name within minutes of hitting the beach at Bayon. I knew I had a target. I knew people were pre-gaming and a lot of people were pre-gaming to get me out first. I think I did incredibly well this season. I changed people’s perception of me. I made friends. It was going well until that fateful day.
SK: Although there was talk of Chaos Kass being unleashed in your elimination episode, it really didn’t seem like that side of you was there this season.
KM: There was no Chaos Kass out there. The Chaos Kass thing would be if I hit the merge and I had been the one throwing down the gauntlet saying let’s get rid of people. The only time you saw me even defend myself was after Tasha was going in front of the camp to throw me under the bus. That’s not chaotic when you stand up for yourself and say, “Wait a minute. This person lied to me and she’s lying to you.” I don’t consider that chaos. I consider that self defense. I didn’t make people speak llama [laughs]. I don’t think you saw Chaos Kass. I think you saw somebody who knew they were going home, who was scrambling and who was defending herself. I didn’t even care who went at the merge as long as it wasn’t me. My goal was to just try to get through and stay under the radar as long as I could. But when someone just pops you up and puts a big ol’ blinking light on your head, it’s pretty hard to recover.
SK: What is the biggest difference you noticed from this experience and Cagayan?
KM: It was a different kind of excitement. I think almost everyone this season really wanted to win. I think on a new players’ season, you have a few people who are just filler or recruits. This season, every person out there fought to get on this season and pandered to the public. They wanted it. We had a lot at stake. We all sat in that audience on May 20 and that was a big risk for a lot of people. Any one of us could’ve not been called. If fans understand how much these players put themselves out there to do this, I respect everyone for doing that. We said, “Yeah, go ahead, CBS. Put me up on a Web site and let America be the first vote of the season.” I have tremendous respect for everyone who joined in this endeavor. I think it gave a sense of camaraderie to the season. I just think it’s a special season because of that. I think everyone’s great out there. Obviously, I’m not a big fan of Tasha right now. But even so, everyone out there was playing the game they thought they needed to play.
SK: After America voted to pick this season’s cast, who were you most surprised to see make it through? Many fans were shocked Shane Powers and T-Bird missed out.
KM: I was pretty surprised that Monica made it over T-Bird. I wasn’t surprised Shane didn’t make it because his audience is such a limited little Internet thing and he didn’t really pander to the general public. That’s what you really needed to do to get on. Monica was my big shocker. I was sure T-Bird was getting in. That was my only big disappointment.
SK: If CBS called and asked you to play the game for a third time, would you do it?
KM: I never say never, but I don’t think I have anything left to prove on Survivor or bring to the show. I went out there and I was a great villain in Chaos Kass. I came back and I made friends with this kumbayah thing going. Now I’m the queen of Ponderosa. Honestly, the stakes are so high, no one is ever gonna let me get to the end. I would only be going back out there to be sent to Ponderosa again. So to leave my family, my law practice, my friends, my life, it’s not something that I need. Right now it’s not something that I want. It’s so full circle. This is exactly three years ago this week that I applied to be on Survivor and got my first call to be on Survivor. I just feel like it’s complete. I don’t need to be Boston Rob. I don’t need to play four times and win. I don’t need a Survivor win. I think if you’re gonna go on Survivor multiple times, you’ve got to have the drive. I’m at peace with my Survivor experience.