'Survivor: Blood vs. Water': Marissa Peterson on Uncle Gervase's Role in Her Ouster and Brad Culpepper's Deception

After being voted out of her tribe because of her uncle's gloating, the 21-year-old student was sent packing following a loss at Redemption Island.
Marissa Peterson

Marissa Peterson became the latest Survivor: Blood vs. Water castaway sent home in Wednesday night's episode.

The 21-year-old student from Chapel Hill, N.C, lost at Redemption Island to married couple John and Candice Cody, leading to her elimination. She had been the first person voted off her tribe (the "loved ones") following a lost immunity challenge -- mostly because her uncle, returning player Gervase Peterson, had celebrated his own tribe's win a bit too enthusiastically for the other tribe's liking. And she paid the price.

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On Thursday, Marissa talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her time on Survivor.

Have you talked to Gervase about your elimination?

We have. People were expecting me to be way more upset and pointing fingers at Gervase, but I feel like if someone else's loved one had celebrated like that, I wouldn't have taken it out on them. I understand they needed a scapegoat and someone to pick off, and why not Marissa? But I wasn't expecting them to take [Gervase's gloating] so personally and pin it on me. It's not like I had anything to do with it whatsoever. I’m guilty by relation and not association.

It was so early in the game; do you think they were just trying to find a reason to vote anyone out that wasn't them?

Yeah -- "as long as it's not me, I don't care who it is." Which is crazy, because normally in the first challenge you root out the annoying person, someone who is overeating or sucks at challenges. I thought, "It's not going to be me."

So no hard feelings against Gervase?

Not at all. One thing that's different about me and Gervase's relationship -- when Jeff [Probst] told everybody that we were not playing with our loved ones, their mouths dropped, there were tears, there was hugging. Me and Gervase were like, "OK, see you at the challenges." We were prepared for this, to be separate at some point. Maybe not in the beginning, but we knew possibly that we would have to compete against one another. There is only one winner. We're not like a lot of the other loved ones, with a shared bank account. Ours is separate. We're an individual pair, instead of a soulmate pair.

Despite having played before, Gervase doesn't seem like he's that much help around camp, and he couldn't help you the first night when it was just you two by yourselves. Were you surprised at that?

Not so much, because Gervase has his own way of doing things, and he's very well liked. He's not somebody people flat-out don't like. He gets by by putting work into other things -- people enjoy him. I was thinking he'd be [discussed as] the first one on the chopping block because of his swimming performance. But it didn't even matter; it didn't even come up.

Had you and he talked strategy, in the event that you had to write each other's names down at any point in the game?

Yeah, and both of us pretty much said if we had to write each other's names down, like if it's down to five people and not working for both of us, we'd do what we had to do. We'd play with each other, and use that to our advantage. But it's a numbers game, and when you get down to it, there's only one winner. For both of us, there was not any problem with it. It's not like we wouldn't continue to be uncle and niece; we're both really competitive people and were thinking about the game and not so much about our relationship; we're already confident in our relationship.

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Brad Culpepper played a role in voting you out. Does he deserve all the animosity that's being directed at him at Redemption Island?

Definitely, and you see Monica [his wife], who was quiet in the beginning and then started speaking up for him a little bit in last night's episode. "Why is my husband being verbally accosted for this?" Like Gervase told her, "You know your husband when you're at home, but you don't know what he's like when he's out there playing this game." But of course I was upset, I did not deserve to go, and I knew the decision came from him. He stepped on my toes in the beginning when he said he'd throw a challenge to give his wife a tarp -- that was my first strike against him. I felt like nobody was saying anything on [his] tribe. I see him making comments about the five guys [alliance] -- that it's "four guys and a gay guy" -- and nobody says anything to him because he's Mr. Football. All the guys are sitting around sipping his Kool-Aid while he's talking NFL, and they love it. He got away with so many things, and he says he's not a ringleader, then later in his confessional he says, "Oh yeah, I am running this place." He knows exactly what he's doing. It was his decision to vote me out; it was his decision to vote out John.

Were you happy to see him voted out in last night's episode?

I wish it could have been sooner. Caleb [Bankston] definitely took advantage of the perfect time, and I'm glad he did it. Part of me wishes I were still on Redemption Island to battle against him.

What do you make of Caleb's declaration at tribal council that he was voting for Brad?

I thought it was awesome. I could see the wheels turning in Caleb's head. Brad was saying, "We don't need people on our tribe who don't have loved ones on the other side." It kinda makes sense, but I don't know why they wouldn't vote somebody out who has extremely strong ties on the other side. They could [team up] against you. People knew me and Gervase's relationship -- [brothers] Vytas and Aras [Baskauskas] were going to be through thick and thin once we merged together. But I felt like I could have been a free agent. We were out there together, but competing against each other. With [Caleb's fiancé] Colton gone, they didn't have to worry about someone else. It was bizarre.

It seemed like Brad almost flip-flopped on his way of thinking, since he at first wanted to get rid of the people with loved ones and then changed strategy.

He did, and it backfired on him. He said he wasn't lobbying against Caleb, when he definitely was.

Would you play Survivor again if asked?

Oh yeah. I would do it in a heartbeat. It was a really awesome experience, and I'm a little disappointed [I didn't make it further].

Survivor: Blood vs. Water airs at 8 p.m. Wednesdays on CBS.