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It’s a fact of “Survivor” life that the tribes that win immunity don’t get that much attention. So, if you go home during your first Tribal Council, we really won’t get to see much of you.
Which is a shame, because not only am I Zeke Geek, but I’m also a Roark Dork.
I spoke with the first Healer to fall the morning after she was eliminated. I asked her about her relationship with Ryan, life at Healer beach, and the truth about Joe-ny Vlachos…
Gordon Holmes: OK, what was the plan heading into last night’s Tribal? You thought you had both Ali and Ryan on your side?
Roark Luskin: Yes. The idea was that we would vote for Chrissy and we were under the impression that Chrissy and JP were voting for Ryan.
Holmes: Where did that impression come from?
Luskin: That was the decoy boot…wait, I think it was the decoy decoy boot? That was the plan that Chrissy told me when we were sitting on the log. Ali and I told Ryan, he didn’t love that his name was coming up. He played us amazing well. He was so forlorn the entire day at camp. He was looking sad about things. I remember saying to Ali, “Is this what he’s always like before Tribal?” And she said, “No, he’s just down that Chrissy and JP don’t think much of him physically.” But, he played it great. We were really comfortable. Then as Tribal started going down and Jeff is only speaking to me and Chrissy, there’s nothing about Ryan going on…I thought, “This doesn’t feel right.” And the moment my name started coming up I was just, “Oh…good…good…good.”
Holmes: Good, great, grand, wonderful.
Luskin: (Laughs) Exactly.
Holmes: So, for that to be the case, Chrissy and Ryan must’ve done a really good job in hiding that they were working together.
Luskin: Absolutely to their credit on that. My final words were, “I refuse to rest on the idea that I was swap screwed,” you know the “Survivor” trope. But, coming back and speaking to everybody, watching the show, I had no idea about that day one idol. It was the most original, non-traditional way to get screwed. We stepped on that mat and there was already a non-traditional relationship forged. And, although the viewer doesn’t see every moment, you do see the whole picture and we do not. Ali and I had no idea about that advantage or relationship. I understand why Ryan chose that bit of trust over the absence of built trust with me.
Holmes: If you were in Ryan’s shoes at that point in the game, why do you choose Chrissy over Ali? Did you notice anything about Ali and Ryan’s relationship that you could point to?
Luskin: We landed on swapped Soko and Ali and I started talking. One of the things she said was, “I’ve been dying for another young female to relate to.” It’s like she was starving and I was a sandwich. She and I were super close on a friendship level. I believe luck had a large component in my outcome, but I do have a lot of regrets. One of them is every night I’d sleep with Ali and Ryan would sleep with Chrissy and JP. I thought that was the weirdest things. “Aren’t you guys so close?” Ryan and Ali tell me that they’re so close, why is he over there? This is really weird. My brain clicked that information and then kind of stopped. I should’ve said, “Ali, I think we’ve lost Ryan.” I didn’t get there. That’s my fault. And Ali, Chrissy, and I were never going to be a working relationship. I understand why Ryan did what he did.
Holmes: Do you think it was a situation where Ali has Roark and if I get rid of Chrissy, I have nobody.
Luskin: Yes. I think Ryan saw that he was losing Ali to me. Why do they have to include me in this Healer/Hustler plan if we all make the merge? I don’t think he saw that going his way.
Holmes: It’s interesting that you brought up the “Who’s Sleeping Together” angle. I think Boston Rob has always been a big proponent of that alliance theory.
Luskin: Exactly. And I’d heard that before. There was that, and before we went to that immunity challenge, Chrissy came up to Ali and I and said, “I know you’re voting for me.” How did she know that? I’ve played this out and let’s say Ryan votes out Ali at this one, then I’m next. I genuinely felt like I wouldn’t get out of swapped Soko alive.
Holmes: You said there was no working with Chrissy. Last night Ryan said there was no way Chrissy would work with Ali. Why is that?
Luskin: After that reward with the peanut butter and jelly, we hit the beach, she grabbed Ali and said, “So obviously we get rid of Roark, right?” And Ali said, “I’d like to get to know Roark first.” And I don’t want to speak for Ali, but I don’t think she liked being told what to do in that moment. That set their relationship on a bad path. Once I knew that Chrissy was pretty rigidly coming for me, then I don’t have a use for her if she doesn’t have a use for me. The heat at Tribal was very real.
Holmes: What was life like at the Healers camp? Who was working together? What were your plans for the future?
Luskin: Healers beach was like a giant adult summer camp. Every night we gave each other massages and backrubs. We would all go out on the raft together and do backflips into the ocean. We’d giggle and talk. There’s a Desi secret scene where she says, “I didn’t think ‘Survivor’ would be easy, but we’re on vacation here.” My ride-or-die was Desi. That story never came to fruition. Cole did not tell Desi about the idol, I did. Cole said, “Let’s not loop Desi in yet.” And I said, “No, no, no.” And I’m glad I did because when she swapped with Joe she said to him, “I know you have this. We need to use it.” I’m glad I did that. I wish we could’ve reunited. I tried to make it clear at swapped Soko that because we hadn’t been to Tribal there are no guarantees. They’re great people, but here are some people I’d want to get rid of. I really did my best to sell a bill of goods on my position both in positive and negative terms.
Holmes: Word association time. Let’s start with Desi.
Luskin: Poise, fun, funny, unfiltered.
Luskin: I adore Ali. She is thoughtful, loyal, uplifting, spiritual, sweet.
Luskin: Straight shooter, loyal, you know where you stand with Joe. He owns it all.
Luskin: What a dear. Fish out of water, he always had these insane ideas around camp and we’d resist it. But, you don’t want to put up a fight, so we’d do it, and they’d turn out amazing.
Luskin: Total doll. I am bummed for her that the showmance is what is playing out. I think she’s one of the most charismatic…she’s like a human upper. She’s the best.
Luskin: We have a lot in common, he lied so much about his background in the game that we have trouble finding common ground. But, we have a lot in common. He’s so smart and so quick. But, introverted and bizarre.
Luskin: Cole is a young, good-looking boy who is really enjoying that ride.
Luskin: Things like that.
Holmes: Gotcha. Let’s finish with Chrissy.
Luskin: Probably the best puzzle person “Survivor” has ever seen.
Holmes: Let’s jump back into your Joe answer. We’ve seen Joe as this crazy, impulsive, schemer, and yet you said he was loyal. He kind of has this Tony Vlachos vibe. What aren’t we seeing?
Luskin: What Joe says is what Joe is doing, what Joe feels, is true for Joe. And there’s no artifice. He was really Healer loyal. I believe he would’ve played that idol for Desi. Once the swap hit, I believe he would’ve used that as a Healer idol to save anyone of us. Well, Doctor Mike gets an asterisk. Joe was the type of person, that if he’s loyal to you, you really want to work with him because you can believe in what he’s saying. He’s not creating a storm of lies and chaos like Tony, he creates a storm by being really frank. And that’s so jarring out there that it puts people on tilt. But it benefits the people he’s working with.