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And then there were seven.
Peter “Pete” Yurkowski became the latest castaway voted out of Survivor: Philippines in last week’s episode. While the 24-year-old engineering graduate from Holmdel, N.J., did some major late-minute scrambling with his alliance mate, the polarizing Abi-Maria Gomes, the two were unable to get anyone to flip their vote.
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During his time on the show, Pete was part of the initially dominant Tandang tribe, whose members never went to tribal council until the merge, after which the tribe began to fall apart. His biggest strategic move was perhaps hiding the clue to the hidden immunity idol in RC Saint-Amour’s bag, putting a final nail in the coffin of her tenuous alliance with Abi.
On Monday, Pete — who became the fourth member of the jury after his elimination — talked to The Hollywood Reporter about his alliance with Abi, whom he wishes he had aligned himself with instead and whether he regrets hiding the clue to the idol in RC’s bag.
The Hollywood Reporter: Were you surprised you were voted out?
Pete Yurkowski: I wasn’t definite, but I knew it was pretty close. Nobody gave me any indication they were going to flip. It was always, “Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.” But I pretty much kind of knew.
THR: You worked hard trying to convince [Michael] Skupin. Did you think he might flip and thereby save you?
Pete: I was 20 percent on Skupin. He’s not that good at lying, so I could tell he was seriously considering it. But I really worked on Carter [Williams] most of the day. He was Jeff [Kent’s] little puppet, and kind of [Jonathan] Penner’s little puppet. I thought maybe we could switch things up and get a young-person alliance.
STORY: ‘Survivor: Philippines’: RC on Her Feud With Abi and Skupin’s Vote Against Her
THR: It does seem like the older players are dominating this time, which hasn’t always been the case in seasons past.
Pete: I know. It sucks [laughs].
THR: You fueled the friction between Abi and RC, who formed an alliance on day one, by hiding the idol clue in RC’s bag. Do you regret that?
Pete: I think it didn’t affect anything at all. There had already been a falling-out between RC and Abi, and this was the final nail in the coffin. It was pretty obvious they were not still in an alliance with each other, and this was just really fun.
THR: RC told me you apologized to her after the show and acknowledged that the move was kind of the beginning of the end for Tandang.
Pete: No, that never really happened. But I did apologize to her if she was upset for anything that happened in the game.
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THR: Do you regret forming an alliance with Abi?
Pete: Yes and no. I should have cut her loose when Jeff Kent was voted out. Stuff was starting to get shaky.
THR: Who would you have aligned with instead of her if you had to do it over again?
Pete: I probably would have tried better with Lisa [Whelchel]. “Hey, I’m sorry, this is why I’m trying to bring Abi to the end because I don’t think she’ll get any votes.” Also probably Penner and Carter.
THR: Is Abi being portrayed accurately?
Pete: At times, yes, that’s exactly how she was. But I thought it was good to bring this girl to the end because she may not get any votes.
THR: You, Abi and Artis [Silvester, previously voted out] were dubbed the “mean” group by some of the other players. Was that an unfair characterization?
Pete: I think so because Abi went on her little tirades and pissed everyone off. I never said anything mean to anybody. But it’s kind of like a country harboring pirates — Abi’s actions in our alliance [reflected] on me.
THR: Why do you think Tandang went from being so dominant to becoming such a disaster?
Pete: It’s a new Survivor life lesson: Never win all the challenges because you never get to test your alliances. We did consider losing one on purpose, but we didn’t think we were merging at 11 [players left]. I think it was a really good idea. … It would have helped a lot come the merge, because I knew RC was flipping the second we [merged].
STORY: ‘Survivor: Philippines’ Competitor Jeff Kent on His Elimination: ‘I’m Bitter, and I’m Ticked Off’
THR: Why did you — and several others — seem to take such a disliking to [returning player] Skupin?
Pete: I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, it was just the small stuff that annoys most people — eating too much food, going off with RC all the time on walks, swims. That stuff gets annoying. Obviously, they were talking [strategy].
THR: There also was a situation where Lisa told you that Malcolm [Freberg] had a hidden immunity idol, which he denied, and you chose to believe him. Is he just really good at lying?
Pete: No, I stumbled into that one. It was such a [last-minute] decision to do that; it was probably an hour before tribal, and she comes to me with this information. We had everything planned out, and then went into whole chaos mode. I thought, if he has it, we’ll find out in about an hour. It was the last thing we needed to happen. He could have been voted out, but if he had played it, we were screwed.
THR: What was the hardest thing about being on Survivor?
Pete: The rain. It was out of control. It did not stop raining, and I don’t know what Survivor magic they worked, but it only stopped raining during challenges. It was awful.
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