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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 twelve.
Sadly, it’s official: the Lauren Rimmer hype boat has come ashore.
In this week’s episode of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, Lauren became the latest player to walk down the long and lonely path away from Tribal Council and toward Ponderosa — or “The House,” as it’s sometimes known. Her exit comes paired with an odd bit of Survivor trivia: Lauren is the only person in the show’s history to be eliminated with a single vote, the third-place finishers voted out in the long gone Final 2 days not withstanding. There’s some measure of irony in the result, too, as Lauren previously forfeited her chance to vote at Tribal Council in order to steal a second vote for future use. The secret vote ultimately went unplayed, but Lauren’s fate was decided by a single piece of parchment all the same.
Lauren’s journey from a quiet place in the background to becoming one of the most powerful forces in the game was one of the highlights of season 35 up until this point, even for host Jeff Probst.
“Early on, her inability to instantly make friendships threatened her game. She could have been voted out and nobody would have missed her. But as so often happens, once she got her emotional footing and found her way ‘in’ to the group, she blossomed into another kind of player,” Probst told The Hollywood Reporter in his weekly column. “Lauren is a very subtle mover. You don’t always see her influence, but it’s there. Her blunt nature and her ability to encapsulate an idea in just a few words can be a very powerful counter to players who like to talk a lot. I think fans are already sad to see her go, but her ouster is a reminder of the difficulty of Survivor. She had an extra vote, an idol and a strong alliance — and she still got voted out.”
What’s the story behind Lauren’s exit and that wild Tribal Council, in Lauren’s own words? Wonder no more. Read on for the Beaufort, North Carolina fisherman’s thoughts on all of that and more.
You stole a secret vote a few Tribal Councils ago. You’re then eliminated with a single vote. How much time have you spent thinking about that odd duality?
It’s really eaten me alive. (Laughs.) Things could have been so different. But when you’re playing, your mind is going through so many different scenarios. It’s like playing blackjack. You have a 50-50 shot on anything you do. The whole time, you’re thinking about that. Knowing that I had done such a great job getting the extra vote, and then coming back and not getting to actually use it? It really sucked. But the secret vote was in my pocket the whole time [at Tribal Council]. Once I went out with, “I don’t have it and I’m not using it,” to try and pull in Chrissy and Ryan because they were turning against me so hard, I had to roll with the lie that I didn’t have it with me.
What didn’t we see at that Tribal Council? Is there something important that we missed?
Actually, no. Pretty much what was shown is what really happened. There was nothing extra. Just a bunch of bickering. They did a really good job of highlighting all of the major points.
Earlier in the day, you gave half of your immunity idol to Doctor Mike. He then proceeded to throw it in the fire at Tribal Council. How much do you regret giving him that power?
I should have never given that crazy man that idol. (Laughs.) I was trying to pull him in closer. Mike is somebody who you had to keep right by your hip. That’s hard to do, because he’s all over the place. I realized that Ben was throwing my name out there and that he could possibly turn Chrissy and Ryan. If he had gotten ahold of Devon, it could have really messed me up. It did, anyways. I was trying to keep Mike as close as I could, because he’s really good at trying to convince people. He can go out there and do all of the talking and all of that good stuff. But I totally regret it. I should have never done that.
Two-part question: what was going through your mind when he threw the idol in the fire, and was there any attempt on your part to fish the idol out of the fire?
What went through my mind was: “I cannot believe he just did that.” I was in such a total shock that literally I still can’t believe he did that. I’ve even asked him: “Why the hell did you do that?” And he’s told me, “I just always wanted to do it!” So that’s the reason why he did it! It never crossed my mind to even get it out of the fire, until later on. It hit me later: “Why didn’t you reach in and pick it up?” But who’s to say Jeff would have allowed me to play it, you know? He probably would have. But I literally was just in total shock. I couldn’t even function. (Laughs.) I’m not going to lie to you. It wasn’t even going through my head.
Last week, the new four formed within the greater alliance of seven. This week, we see you entertaining the notion to go after Ben, alongside Devon and Ashley. I always thought you and Ben were tight from your time on the Yawa tribe together. When did you start flirting with the idea of coming after Ben?
I had always thought about it. I always knew I didn’t want Ben at the final three with me. That was not one of my options. I liked Ben, and I liked working with him, and we got a lot of things accomplished, but then Ben started becoming a lot sneakier and paranoid. He thought everyone was talking about him, and it wasn’t really the case. When I started noticing how paranoid he was, and I started bringing up the idea of not being able to take Ben much further — that we need to start trying to get rid of him now, rather than wait for too long — I’m almost certain in my mind now that I actually went after him too early. I should have never even tried to put a target on Ben’s back. It was too early and it backfired on me. At the well, when he was sneaking down, I knew right then I was busted. We kind of looked guilty, you know? And he picked up on it. That’s when it really started turning, that we needed to start doing something now.
How much of a whirlwind was everything that came next, your final day at camp?
To be honest with you, it all goes in a blur. There was not much I could do. In my self, I was trying to be positive and think that I [was going to be safe]. I have Devon, I have Ashley, I have Mike. That’s four to three. Really, I could possibly convince Chrissy. She came to me several times and wanted to work with me. I kind of called her out: “Now that you feel like you’re on the bottom, all of the sudden you want to work with me. But you have never talked strategy with me, and you’ve been around me for quite some time.” She kind of went on and didn’t bother talking to me anymore. I was hoping it would be four to three and things would go smoothly — and they just didn’t.
How did you feel about the way Chrissy was playing the game? There have been a few different opinions on her over the last few weeks of exit press. What’s your take?
Chrissy was definitely playing strong. In my mind, she was so — and I apologize for saying this, Chrissy — but she was so annoying on a lot of different things. She played very strong and was trying very hard to convince people, but she was very obvious to me. She would literally talk to me and walk five steps over and would be talking to the person right next to me. She just didn’t care. She was seeing whoever would bite at her pitch line. Chrissy is something else.
Looking at some of the other players still out there, what was your feeling on how Devon was playing?
I really didn’t even think he was playing the game at the very beginning. In my mind, I was picking Ashley and Devon as a final three. In the beginning, that’s why I wanted to work with him all the way to the end. He really wasn’t playing. Right there at the end, he really started. That was his game, to not let anyone know. But I started recognizing it and picking up on it, that he was starting to get involved a lot more. He was playing good. But he was playing in between two or three people, too, which I think we all were.
What about Ryan, who you also started on Hustlers beach with?
Ryan didn’t help out at camp. Ryan didn’t do anything. He was funny! He loves to tell jokes and he had a good sense of humor, but his gameplay? I didn’t see anything. He didn’t help with firewood, he didn’t help to cook, he didn’t catch anything. He never even attempted to open a coconut. I almost thought in the beginning that he was just going around and following the next step of whoever told him to move. Then I came to find out he was actually telling Devon which way to move. He was playing without anyone knowing he was playing.
Aside from being a lunatic and throwing the idol in the fire, what was your read on Doctor Mike?
You said it: He’s a lunatic! I tell him all the time that he’s crazy. He kept things very interesting. He was playing. He’s very smart about the game. And Chrissy is, too. That’s something else about her. She can throw out every single thing that’s ever happened in the game of Survivor, and Mike is the same way. He was great at knowing the next thing and what the next moves should be. Mike was playing from the moment he got out there, he just didn’t do it in a very calm and cool way.
A few episodes ago, Joe described Ashley as “a goat,” a perfect person to bring to the end of the game. While you were playing, did you feel similarly about Ashley?
I wouldn’t call Ashley a goat. I think she’s a great person. At the same time, taking her to the final three — she didn’t really talk a lot and she didn’t seem like she was trying to put any kind of alliance together. She never really came to me, or anybody that I could see, to try to start something. She would just wait for someone to come to her. She wasn’t trying to make a lot of big moves. Between her and Devon, I felt like I had a good shot at beating them to the punch.
How incredible was it to have your super-fan sister out on the beach even for just a few minutes, and how much more incredible will it be when the two of you are on a Blood vs. Water season together?
(Laughs.) Um, well, she’s a nut. I love her, but she’s crazy. It felt really good. Before I left, I promised her that I would at least get her to the family visit, and I did. She got to live part of her dream and enjoy the experience of it. Granted, I wish we could have spent the barbecue dinner together, but it didn’t happen. But in my mind, I know she was having a blast. As for Blood vs. Water? That would be hysterical.
Do you want to play again? After the experience you had out there, and the fact that so many fans are heartbroken over your exit today, do you feel like you have a second run in you?
Heck yeah. I would go back out there in a heartbeat. I was in my element. I love being outdoors. If I had a decent place to sleep, you could have just left me out there for the countdown. The major part of it is the mental game. Even though it was all crazy, it’s still a lot of fun, and it’s still a huge challenge, just to overcome each and every individual personality and try to figure them out. It’s a great game, and I would totally play again.
Check back with THR.com/Survivor all season long for more from Probst, weekly exit interviews with the eliminated castaways, and weekly recaps from THR‘s very own Dan Fienberg.
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