8:03am PT by Josh Wigler
'Survivor' Season 35: How Patrick Bolton Met Ali Elliott
Welcome to The Hollywood Reporter's Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers regular season coverage! Every week, we're bringing you exit interviews with the latest person voted out, recaps from THR's very own Dan Fienberg, and weekly check-ins with executive producer and host Jeff Probst. Bookmark our season 35 one-stop shop to make sure you don't miss out on any of it.
Warning: spoilers ahead for season 35, episode three.
The wild banshee's screams have ceased.
In the third week of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, the red-buffed Hustlers cast out their second tribe member, the third player overall to leave the game: Patrick Bolton, the excitable and energetic small business owner from Alabama. The word "blindside" gets thrown around a little too often for many fans' liking, but in Patrick's case, it really appears to fit the bill, judging by the looking on his face as the votes came his way, and the harsh words he had for his fellow Hustlers on his way out the door.
For what it's worth, Patrick's wounded reaction to the vote certainly lines up with what he told me in the preseason about his worst Survivor nightmare: "So many times, people are blindsided, and they're taken out of the game, and they're heated. The last thing I want to do is go into Tribal Council and think I'm ready to go, and then I get cut off from the feet, and I'm sitting there going, 'Wow. This really just happened to me.'"
Of course, Patrick was already blindsided before the game even began, considering who he was playing against: celebrity assistant Ali Elliott, whom Patrick went to college with at Auburn University. Ali and Patrick's connection was kept out of the show's narrative, and indeed, Patrick's lips were sealed about it in the pregame, even if Ali was an open book about the shocker.
Now that his time on the show is over, it's Patrick's turn to weigh in on his secret history with Ali, not to mention everything else he experienced on the show. Read on for Patrick's thoughts on Ali and the other Hustlers, his memories of his final immunity challenge, the tense relationship with Lauren Rimmer and more.
Am I speaking with the Sun King of Fiji?
This is the Sun King of Fiji. Good to talk to you, Josh!
How are you feeling?
I'm feeling like I've been backstabbed, and like I should still be on that island.
You're still upset?
Yes, I'm still upset! Especially after watching last night! It was hard. I hadn't really revisited it in a while. I had let it go. And last night, it really brought back the emotions for me. It was raw. It was uncut. I really was frustrated and upset with everybody who voted me off. Lauren should have gone home.
Was there anything that happened at Tribal Council that we didn't get to see, or did it play out on TV the way you remember it?
It played out close to how I remembered it. There's one moment where I feel like they may not have shown it ... I'm trying to relive it right now in my head. I remember the facial expression [on Lauren] when she said she hadn't been looking for the immunity idol, and I saw that sigh of relief. Lauren said something that I don't believe was part of the Tribal you saw last night. She said, "Somebody is going to be blindsided tonight." When she said that, there was a huge knot in my stomach. I was thinking, "If she's saying someone's going to be blindsided tonight, it's going to be me." It felt like I had a weight in my stomach. After that, I believe is when she said she hadn't been looking for the idol, or something. So it was a rollercoaster of emotion during the Tribal where for a moment I was relieved, and then for a moment I was at a bottom where I was thinking I was going home, and then something brought me up again, only to bring me crashing down to the rocks of the Survivor gods.
That's Survivor, man. It's horrible.
You're telling me! I was so frustrated when I left. Again: Lauren should have gone home, not me.
Let me ask you the question that's been on my mind for months and months now ... you and Ali went to college together?
Yes, we did. Ali and I were neighbors. She lived up the street from me, just a few houses that separated us. We were more like associates. We weren't close friends. We would see each other occasionally. Going in [to Survivor], as soon as I saw her, my jaw hit the floor. I was thinking there was no chance this was actually taking place. I knew she lived in California and I was thinking maybe she works at this hotel and she doesn't actually — and then I saw her walking with [someone from casting], and I was thinking, "Oh, gosh. They've really done this. We're on the same season." Not just the same season, but also on the same tribe, the Hustlers. How does this happen? The odds! I would need a mathematician to figure out these stats ...
Let's call up Chrissy! Chrissy could figure it out.
Chrissy could do it! She could check if this could happen. She could tell us. She could also tell us why I screwed up. Because obviously I screwed up!
When we spoke on the beach, I definitely felt like you were incredibly paranoid and tense. Was this a big part of it, knowing that you were about to play Survivor with someone you knew already?
Yes. Going in, I didn't tell anyone until the game started, that I even knew Ali — and I told it to her, not to anyone else. Until I told it to her, it wasn't brought to anyone's attention, other than she told me after the game that she had told everyone [in press and production] immediately as soon as she saw me. And I was like, "Well, that's great! So you went into this thinking it through for the past several days how you were going to deal with this." I was thinking the same thing, but I was more on the side of, "I'm going to deal with this by not talking about it." I held it in. If I had realized we could have been associates, friends, and played the show without one of us going home? I think I would have done a better job at making and building that relationship. But honestly, I didn't build a close relationship with her as fast as I should have. Knowing what we did know about each other going in, we really could have worked well together. It's my fault that we didn't.
What were those first conversations with Ali like, once you finally got to the beach and had a minute to say, "Hey, so, what's even happening here?"
Exactly like that! (Laughs.) Pretty much like you said. "How did this happen? It's great it did! Let's not let anyone know we know each other." Because that's a foul play and it wouldn't be something people would like to know, that we know each other. So let's keep our relationship low key. Let's not let people see us talking to each other too much. We kind of left it at that. Let's just go about this. You look out for me and I'll look out for you. I didn't get to explain how much I trusted her, because I did. I put too much trust in her. I thought there was no chance she would vote against me, hence why I was so shocked at Tribal Council.
Do you have a fun Ali Elliott story from college you can share with us now?
Man, I wish I had a funny Ali Elliott story to share with you now. I cannot though.
Because you don't have one, or because it's inappropriate?
(Long pause.) Both.
OK, let's leave that there and move right along. During your time on the show, it became clear that you are a wild banshee. You're shouting at crabs, you're pointing out octopuses in the water, you're screaming bloody murder. How much is that a put-on, and how much of that is the real Patrick?
When did I scream bloody murder?
You were literally screaming at the crabs!
But that crab was about to bite me! (Laughs.) That's definitely something I should have done! I don't think they aired it at any point, but I [revealed] that I was attacked by a crab in the Philippines a few years earlier and I almost lost a finger!
So you were experiencing flashbacks?
Flashbacks for real. Pretty much, I don't think I was really putting on. That octopus was in the water, and they didn't see it, which still pisses me off, because I saw it crawling around. They weren't paying attention! But me shouting? I have this one thing with two buddies, and when you're excited and happy, sometimes you just scream. I was screaming and people probably didn't really get it. I was trying to get them to join in on the fun, and they weren't really joining! (Laughs.) It boils down to this. They voted out the wrong person.
Tell me about that. You wanted Lauren gone. It felt like the relationship between you was tense out there. What was your relationship with her like?
My relationship with Lauren — or maybe it would be lack of relationship with Lauren. I didn't try to bond with Lauren throughout Survivor too much. We had casual conversations, but no deep talks, no strategy talks between Lauren and I. The only strategy you saw me talking with Lauren is when I walked up to her yesterday and told her without telling her that she was going home. That was pretty bad on my end. You never tell somebody they're going home. Honestly, I wanted her to go out with fun and not feel like she was the person who was the oddball.
I just didn't want to work with Lauren. I didn't think it would be good for my game. We weren't on the same page, as far as what we like, the personalities. I could have done a lot better by trying to be her friend. Who knows how that would have turned out, if I told her, "Lauren, I want to be friends with you. Let's vote out Ryan." That didn't happen, so can't go there. But I could have done a lot different with my gameplay, as far as being friends with Lauren. I just thought I had everyone else on my tribe on my side. I didn't think there was any chance they would pick Lauren over me.
Let's get into that. We've covered Lauren and Ali, but I would love your thoughts on Ryan and Devon. Did you have any idea they were as close as they seem to be? What did you feel your relationship with them was like?
From the beginning, Devon didn't talk too much, but the times he did talk, I felt like I had gotten done what was needed. We talked some small strategy: "We're going to stick together and work together." I didn't realize Devon and Ryan had such a close relationship. Talking with Ryan after [the game] about how he wanted to share his super idol with Devon because he felt Devon was more trustworthy going forward in the game ... that's where that relationship was built, and I didn't know about it, I wasn't a part of it. That definitely didn't help my game out, not knowing the intensity and friendship they had. If I had known that, I would have tried working with Ali more. I thought I was part of the boys. We went in immediately and said we wouldn't let these girls vote us off. Saturdays are for the boys. We're not going to let it happen. We're going to stick together. I thought we were still tight. I thought we were working together.
Whenever the last day came, I was hunting for an idol. Ryan came up and asked what I was doing. I told him I was searching for an idol. Wanna help? Who knows when we might need it. I didn't think I would need it that night. But he told me, in 100 percent confidence and 100 percent honesty, that I was not going home. Ryan sits there and says: "Patrick, come back to camp. Don't worry. You're not going home." And then he votes me off! I remember looking at him during Tribal Council, when Lauren said, "Somebody's going to be backstabbed tonight." I looked to my left at Ryan to see if he would make eye contact with me, and he would not look at me. At that moment, I was a little bit worried. I am just reliving it again. Last night, I felt like I was actually in Tribal Council. It was so real.
Talk me through your side of the immunity challenge. How often have you replayed it in your head?
I don't feel like that's what sent me home. It did send me home, but I don't feel like it did, if that makes sense, you know? Obviously if I had won, if we had not lost, we wouldn't have gone, and most likely I would have made the merge, or at least the swap, because we see that's coming next. Right before the challenge started, we had our moments to gather our thoughts. I'm the thrower, as determined. Everybody agreed. I'm the one throwing. I'm the one who will be helping lift Lauren up and push her up over this stupid thing. Pretty much, I'm in the heat of the moment and I don't hear them yelling my name to switch. It was my duty, to me, to get those blocks knocked off. I was tired at the end of that challenge. Throwing those sandbags was not easy, especially throwing 50 or more at these blocks, and I was throwing them too hard and not accurately enough, and I lost us the challenge.
Going back, I've been thinking, "If I had switched out and let Lauren throw some of these, would it have affected me going home?" I tried to play it out, and even if she had thrown half of them, and we still lost? I still would have gone home. I don't think it would have changed anything, giving her that option. I'm kind of glad. I went out on my own terms. I went out on losing the challenge. It was held at my throat there. "You lost the challenge for us." I still don't believe I should have gone home. Lauren should have. It's just unfortunate. I've played baseball before! I should have knocked these stupid blocks off. Couldn't even do it.
Looking back on it, what are your final takeaways from playing Survivor? What did this experience mean to you?
My experience ... try better to understand your surroundings and people's emotions when you're bothering people. That's one thing I can take from it. The other thing is the amount of friends, and what I've seen and learned through Survivor, is awesome. I feel like I have some amazing friends I have met from this amazing opportunity. I've gotten to play one of the best games on TV. It's such a social experiment. It's literally so much fun. I just wish I could have lasted longer. If I get asked again, I'm going back and I'm playing, and I'm not going for anything less than a million dollars.
So you want to go back?
I would go back tomorrow. Only to win, though. I'm not going back to play around. I'll be a little more serious. I'm not going to be joking around as much. I'm still going to joke around, 'cause that's me! But I'm going to win the money.
My advice would be to conquer your crab phobia before you get back out there.
Oh, for sure. I'm going to go to a crab farm and I'm going to rip all their arms off.
Oh, god, don't do that!
Click through the slideshow below for Patrick's final words, from before he played the game.
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