If you’re a physically fit male who is heading into the game of “Survivor,” you should have a pretty good idea of what to expect. You’re going to be relatively safe during the early going, as your tribe is going to want to stay strong for challenges. After the merge, you’ll be an automatic target.
That all goes out the window when the tribes are divided by gender or age.
Suddenly you’re a physically fit male on a tribe of three or four physically fit males. Your skills become much less valuable. Shannon Elkins found that out the hard way during “Survivor: Nicaragua” and Matt Quinlan found it out last night.
I spoke with Matt the morning after his elimination to get his thoughts on the target he felt was always on his back, Colton’s place in the alpha-male alliance, and chicken-gate…
Fun Fact: Matt is a San Francisco personal injury lawyer.
Gordon Holmes: In seasons where tribes are divided by gender or age, it seems like buff, good-looking guys like you and I lose that pre-merge advantage.
Matt Quinlan: The format of the game dramatically affects who is at an advantage, what peoples’ motivations are, and when people start executing their strategies. So, when you split it men vs. women, I think it’s the same as you said when it was old vs. young. The males felt like the challenges had to be fair, they wouldn’t be really physical and you wouldn’t have hand-to-hand combat or anything like that. So, it gives the males an opportunity to feel safe. Every man, whether he’s an athlete or not, thinks he can balance or do puzzles or have hand-eye coordination. So, you don’t feel the need to keep athletes or the people that would be one of the better teammates in a physical game.
Holmes: That’s a good point. I hadn’t thought about how the style of challenges would diminish the worth of athleticism.
Quinlan: I wish I would have had the benefit of mixed tribes that appreciated and needed my athleticism. Once I lost that, I feel like I lost my safety net. I didn’t really get an opportunity to work on the social game with a sense of calm because I was running for my life from the first day. Leif mentioned to me on the very first day that I was up for elimination.
Holmes: You seemed very confident in your alliance with Jay, Michael, and Bill. Was there ever a chance to bring in a fifth person to give you a numbers advantage?
Quinlan: Yeah, the first few days we were working with Colton. And that changed once he got the hidden immunity idol. The way the alliance worked is, nobody was in a big rush to commit to anybody. There was no strong five that formed immediately. And I know in recent seasons that has happened and the girls did it within ten minutes. But, given that I felt threatened because they viewed me as the muscle or whatever, I wanted to protect myself with people that were viewed the same way. I tried to instill some fear in Jay and Bill and Mike. I kept saying, “They’re coming for us, they’re coming for us,” because I knew they were coming for me. I made the comment that I was in the dominant alliance, but that was when I thought Colton was working with us.
Holmes: Now, if Colton had become the fifth member of your alliance, you guys would have had the numbers and it seems like he could have easily coasted to the merge. However instead he seems to be flying by the seat of his pants. He wants Bill out because he’s annoying, he wants you out because you’re the head of the snake. It seems like he’s taking on a much more dangerous role. So, I’ve been trying to figure out if this guy is a genius or a lunatic.
Quinlan: I think he’s more genius than lunatic. With Colton, he’s a tough one to figure out. Ironic as it is, Colton is an alpha male. He is clever, he is way more socially savvy than people want to give him credit for. People think he’s a loose cannon because he’s crying and he seems unstable, but I think there’s a method to his madness.
Holmes: The feud between Manono and Salani seems unnecessarily fierce. How much of that is based on Michael’s looting of the girls’ equipment on the first day?
Quinlan: We didn’t even know what had happened, or I didn’t. When Mike was stealing all of that stuff, nobody saw him do it. They were accusing us of stealing their stuff and Mike was playing dumb. So honestly, I don’t think we figured out who did that for a week.
Holmes: Is that why you were so upset over chicken-gate?
Quinlan: I didn’t realize that they had this animosity toward us. Why would Chelsea make this deal with me and agree with me, and it was a formal agreement, and then go back on it? Why would you start the game like that? I didn’t realize that they felt slighted with the axe and we really did steal all of their stuff.
Holmes: Last night, it seemed like Salani was peeking over at Bill’s puzzle. Was that something you were aware of? Was it something you could try to prevent?
Quinlan: They definitely were looking at our puzzle. I wish that they couldn’t do it. There was a mat there that we couldn’t get off of so we couldn’t huddle around him to protect them from seeing. But I think that was just part of the challenge. It was an equalizer if someone got behind. But Sabrina did a great job. It was just one of those things.
Holmes: Let’s do some word association. Tell me about Colton.
Quinlan: Colton is a diva. But, he’s also underrated.
Quinlan: Bill is a funny guy. He’s the center of attention. But he’s also very deep. There’s a lot to Bill.
Quinlan: Chelsea is a great blend between a girl-girl from the south, a southern belle, if you will and a girl you can watch a football game with. She’s just a really cool girl.
Quinlan: Jay is authentic. He is who he is.
Quinlan: Alicia is out there. She is a lot of fun, she’s the type of girl who speaks her mind. She is somebody who will always be talked about one way or another.
Quinlan: He’s a pretty smart guy, but he’s also a ham.
Quinlan: Jonas is measured. Jonas is thoughtful.
Quinlan: Mike is well-rounded.
Holmes: Let’s wrap this up with Troyzan.
Quinlan: Troyzan is a charismatic dude. He’s really youthful and has a lot of fun.
Holmes: “Survivor” is, of course, a TV show. And I think that sometimes it gets lost that these are real people who will have to go back to their real lives and real jobs. In your case, I don’t think you were shown in a very positive light. Do you think your portrayal was accurate?
Quinlan: I certainly have gotten a pretty potent blend of positive and negative reactions. I think people either love me or hate me. And, I’ve been able to see that on Twitter and the boards. I do think that I was portrayed to be angry and agitated, and I wasn’t thrilled with that. I’m really not an arrogant guy. I’m a straight shooter and I say it how it is. I think the serious, business side of me came out on the show and I wasn’t as fun-loving as I am in real life. But, all of the negative “Matt’s a jerk” stuff is fair because I saw it too and that’s all people have to go on. But I know if you were to ask my fellow castaways what they thought of me, nobody thinks I’m a bad guy.
Holmes: Well Matt, I’ll be sure to tell everyone that you were not being angry or agitated during this interview.
Quinlan: (Laughs) Thanks Gordon, I appreciate that.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes