QUICK NOTE: XFINITY.com is the place to be for all of your bug-eatin’, back-stabbin’, “Survivor” coverage. Be sure to come back for exit interviews with all six of the finalists. Follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute updates.
Gordon Holmes: Angela, what kind of mean trick is that you jurors decide to make Laurel cast that tie-breaking vote?
Angela Perkins: (Laughs) I don’t think it was a mean trick. It was part of Ghost Island, everything is haunted, nothing is going to come easy. It’s for a million dollars.
Holmes: Sure. Now, I know you jurors chat at Ponderosa. Had you gone over the numbers and realized it was going to be a tie?
Perkins: No, at least not me. We all felt the way Donathan looked. He didn’t shut his mouth, his jaw dropped to the ground.
Holmes: Laurel, when Jeff started reading the votes, my first thought was…he’s messing with us. Then it clicked that there was a tie. How much time did you have to process not only the thought that you had lost, but that you were going to have to decide the winner?
Laurel Johnson: I think I blacked out for a while there, honestly. First it registers, “Oh my, God…I lost.” And then “Oh my, God…it’s a tie.” And then, “Oh my, God…I have to cast the deciding vote.” It was awful. I don’t know, Ang…I have no sense of time at that point. Wasn’t it a couple of minutes?
Perkins: Yeah, didn’t it seem like a lifetime though?
Johnson: Yes! I sat on the stump thinking, and then in the voting booth for four or five minutes.
Holmes: I spoke with Wendell and asked him what percentage he would put on you voting for him. He started at 100% and then came down to 99%. Was there a second where you were leaning toward Dom?
Johnson: No, I think you saw that they both played a great game, so it crushed me to vote against Dom. He would have been a deserving winner also. I thought Wendell played a slightly better game and putting our personal relationship aside, I had to give it to Wendell.
Holmes: Let’s go back in time and say that Dom decided to take Angela to the final three. Laurel, would you still have voted for Wendell as a juror?
Johnson: Yeah, I would have still voted for Wendell.
Holmes: So, if the rest of the votes stay the same, we still have a tie vote. Angela, who would you vote for in this situation knowing that Dom had taken you to the end?
Perkins: I’d like to say I would have voted for Dom, but I went in with one mindset and came out with something totally different. I thought I knew who my vote was going towards, but when Wendell was pleading his case, he brought up the family connections and that was extremely important to me. And, Laurel…did it seem like I was in the booth for a very long time?
Johnson: Yeah, you were in there for a long time.
Perkins: So, it was a huge mental battle. And at one point I said the only thing that’s going to sway me is if I look back at them and make eye contact and that will tell me who my vote needs to go towards. I looked back and Laurel looked so defeated and Dom was looking off and I made eye contact with Wendell. And it was a quick, intimate moment. And from there I knew my vote was going to Wendell. So, I don’t know how I would have voted if I was sitting next to them.
Holmes: When players like Wendell and Dom dominate, I feel like the jury wants to punish the people who helped them dominate. Did you ever have a plan to take them out?
Johnson: I think you saw me wrestle with it every week. You saw the Des vote, when she brought me that plan I thought, “Why am I going to jump to the bottom of an alliance?” It didn’t make sense. I tried to work with Kellyn, by blowing up the Des vote, I saved her. And then when she cast both of her votes for me, that burned that bridge. It seemed like every time I thought about jumping ship, there was something that told me I was dead if I went to that side if I flipped.
Holmes: The fire-making challenge is a new-ish twist. And it struck me last night that it is not a good look to try to avoid it. Is the person who is taken to the end being set up for failure?
Johnson: Yeah, watching Ryan on season 35, I watched the same thing happen to him. I thought, “Holy crap, the person that gets taken at four is screwed.” I could make fire, but the three people left in the game were the three people who were the best at making fire. I was dead. I’d love to say I could challenge him, but I would be dead if I did that.
Holmes: We all have gifts in this world. I’m pretty good at skee-ball. Ang, who knew you were so good at eating gross things?
Perkins: (Laughs) Nobody! I didn’t know going into the game that I was good at that.
Holmes: Another big moment for you was Jeff Probst breaking down during your family visit.
Perkins: Jeff said he’d never felt that way before. And as a viewer watching it, you’re thinking, “How can it be that bad? It’s only 39 days.” I’m used to being away from my family for 12 or 15 months. It can’t be that bad. I used to roll my eyes. You’re out there with these other castaways, but you’re out there alone. That is the first piece of love that you’re getting from someone who is on your side. I buckled at the knees. I was like jello. It was an amazing moment to share.
Holmes: Laurel, the challenge where Wendell forgot to call Jeff over to check his slide puzzle, what’s running through your mind at that point? I could see it being tough to argue the point with someone you’re aligned with.
Johnson: I celebrated like I had won. I didn’t know that Wendell thought he had finished first. When he said something, it took 15-20 minutes of them looking at the tape, but Wendell gave in pretty quickly. We both wanted it, but we weren’t going to fight over it.
Holmes: Angela, when you told Dom about Sebastian’s vote, he made it sound like you were giving up secrets all the time.
Holmes: Were you tossing out secrets left and right or was this a move to get into Dom’s good graces?
Perkins: I don’t think I was throwing secrets out there or was a loose cannon. But, for me moving forward with Dom and Wendell was a better choice. I don’t think the 19 other cast members would have won against Sebastian. He’s likable, he provided, he gave us blue lobster on the first day. It was hard to be a part of that plot. In the green room he was extremely emotional. He was so angry at me, and then we finally hugged it out. He started crying and then I started crying. It was just gameplay. It was wise for me to do that.
Holmes: Laurel, if Sebastian had gotten to the end, what do you think his chances would have been against you, Dom, or Wendell?
Johnson: Based on how the final Tribal went, I think Dom or Wendell would have beaten anyone. People love Sebastian, but I think the jury wanted big moves. We all love Sebastian, but he didn’t have that.
Holmes: Angela, we didn’t get to see much of you. Was there anything you did that you wish we had seen?
Perkins: No, I’m fine. There are some things they missed, but there’s a reason why this is the #1 show. Overall I’m pleased with it.
Holmes: Watching the final Tribal, Laurel, I felt like you were composed and making excellent points. But, it seems like the jurors just weren’t having it. Is that the sense you got?
Johnson: Thank you, I thought I was making a good case, but everything I said was batted down by someone else. Even if what they were saying was untrue. I think Michael at one point said, “Honestly, I’m voting for Dom and Wendell, so it doesn’t matter what you say.”
Holmes: That must be so hard to hear such rough words out of such a pretty face.
Johnson: (Laughs) Right?! All of those pretty faces over there!
Holmes: Not to be out of line, but Angela looked like a million bucks when she came out.
Holmes: Laurel, you’re a big “Survivor” fan, so I’ll put this to you. Was that the sexiest jury ever?
Johnson and Perkins: (Laughs)
Holmes: You’ve got Michael and Angela and Chris and Chelsea…there are some lookers up there.
Johnson: Every time someone would show up after they were voted out of the game…they were stunning. To see them all cleaned up and looking gorgeous…that was a gorgeous group. Ang was killing it, I’m glad you noticed.
Perkins: Thank you, it’s funny you say that, because when we first got on that boat I was thinking, “Oh great, I’m on an island with the bold and the beautiful.”
Holmes: That’s not a bad twist for season 38.