Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.
I’m not a fan of tribe swaps. On paper they look like a good way to break up alliances and shuffle dominant tribes, but in practice it often makes challenge threats less valuable before a merge (which is the only time being a challenge threat is valuable) and messes up people who have been playing strong strategic games.
Maybe Matt Bischoff wasn’t the strongest challenge threat, but he was playing a good game up until this point. With his buddy Michael by his side, the duo had quietly positioned themselves as the swing votes in the Gota tribe.
One crack of a paint-filled egg later and Matt is out of the game. Not fair. But “Survivor” isn’t fair. Neither is life. These are the days of our lives.
I spoke with the bearded wonder the morning after his elimination and asked about his near Stealth R Us Too induction, his alliance with Michael, and his first-hand account of Brandon’s blowup…
Gordon Holmes: I’m a little annoyed that we never got a really good shot of your back tattoo while you were out there.
Matt Bischoff: (Laughs) I know, man! I know. What can you do? Got a lot of stuff of my beard though.
Holmes: Seemed like there was a lot of confusion before Tribal last night. Can you walk me through what happened?
Bischoff: Leading up to Tribal Council everyone was freaking out about this immunity idol. They weren’t sure if one of us had it or not. Corinne was especially freaking out. My strategy was to be completely honest; I convinced them that I didn’t have it. They believed me. They thought that Julia had the idol because Julia did not try to strategize or save herself at all with any of the favorites. I told them she’s just not a very talkative person, I can guarantee you that she doesn’t have the idol. I knew it was one of the three of us going home.
Holmes: Did you think it could be you or were you blindsided?
Bischoff: Was I blindsided? Sort of, but not really. I thought it was going to be Julia. But I think I was their safest bet. They knew that I did not have an idol. I wasn’t pissed off at anybody. I think it was just bad luck. I don’t feel like I could’ve done anything to save myself at that point.
Holmes: The thing I’m having trouble with is Julia comes to you and Michael and says, “Let’s target Dawn.” But then she never goes to the favorites to get the fourth vote that’s necessary to send Dawn home.
Bischoff: She just came to Michael and I and said, “Let’s vote Dawn.” And Michael and I were just trying to appease Julia by saying, “Yeah yeah, that’s cool.” Michael and I thought that it was going to be Julia. Julia messed up the challenge for us. She was supposed to be this puzzle wizard but she messed up the whole challenge. She was the weakest physically out of all of us and we knew we were playing a super physical new Gota. She just didn’t talk strategy with anyone.
Holmes: Even if you guys did try to target a favorite, do you think there were any cracks that you could have exploited?
Bischoff: Those four were so strong. They were sticking together until the merge no matter what.
Holmes: You and Michael were on the receiving end of quite an impressive sales pitch from Phillip regarding Stealth R Us. Was there ever any follow up about initiating you two?
Bischoff: It was pretty comical. Phillip is hilarious, dude. I was trying to keep a straight face, but in my mind I’m thinking this guy is out of his mind. We were kind of initiated into his group. We were playing along with his silly plan. Michael and I felt confident that we were on his good side. But, I guess I wasn’t really a member. Which is a problem, I wish I had a sweet name like the Beardinator.
Holmes: That’s the big disappointment of last night. Not that you were voted out, but you missed your opportunity to be given a Phillip-official nickname.
Bischoff: I know! Oh well…maybe next time. (Laughs)
Holmes: Last week you had your game face on, ready to face the faves in an immunity challenge. Next thing you know you’re witnessing one of the weirder moments in “Survivor” history when Brandon and Phillip start going at it. What was Gota’s take on that?
Bischoff: I was in complete disbelief of what was going on. My thing is, I’ve never seen anything since the first “Survivor” ever…that was pretty much the most bizarre, crazy thing. But, I was super stoked. First, my feet were jacked. I didn’t want to compete in a challenge. And the fact that we got immunity and Brandon’s telling us everything that’s going on over at their tribe. I knew it wasn’t all fun and games at their tribe, we thought it probably was. It gave us a confidence boost. Maybe this is going to switch things up and be good for us. I’m very psyched that I got to witness that part of “Survivor” history.
Holmes: Reynold seems to have all of the tools to be a solid “Survivor” player, but he keeps making all of these weird missteps.
Bischoff: Now, I love Reynold, I think he’s a strong competitor, he’s great at carnival games, but I don’t think he really got the game of “Survivor.” I was playing them so hard. Basically blindsiding both of their girlfriends, Allie and Hope, two times in a row. Then it hit him, “Wow, you guys are really playing the game.” I was like, “No crap, dude. This is ‘Survivor.’” We’re from the same town, he invited me, he said, “My parents live in Cincinnati, I’d love to have you over for dinner when the game’s over with.” And then when we voted off Allie he got all pissed off and said, “I take back that invitation for dinner.”
Bischoff: It was hilarious, he was like a little kid pouting. I love all of those guys, and despite that I lied to them, we had to break up that cool kids alliance. And I think Eddie and Reynold still trusted me and would have played the game with me later on down the line.
Holmes: Michael Skupin made a good point about him fist-bumping Eddie after finding the second idol. Did you guys know he had found it?
Bischoff: No, I didn’t have any idea. It boggles my mind that he found it a second time so quickly. All of us were looking for the idol once we knew it was back in play.
Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Cochran.
Bischoff: Sun burned.
Bischoff: I love him.
Bischoff: Carnival master.
Holmes: I really enjoyed your alliance with Michael. It’s like you were leading the tribe, yet playing under the radar.
Bischoff: Michael and I had a great alliance. Michael and I had a hand on everything that was going on. Sherri, who was part of our alliance, she was the one freaking out. She was talking to every single person. So, people didn’t want to tell her much information. Michael and I would just calmly walk in the jungle and discuss everything that was going on. We had a strong bond and alliance. I feel Michael was the strongest strategic player out there. We were playing very hard and it was an honor to get to play with Michael.
Holmes: That’s my issue with tribe swaps, sometimes they punish strong players and rescue bad ones.
Bischoff: It screwed up my whole game. In the end Corinne wanted to keep Michael, or “her gay” as she called him. And they knew I didn’t have an idol. I can’t be pissed. I would’ve done the same thing. I would’ve been a force to be reckoned with, I get along with everyone and I’m a likable guy. It sucks though.
Holmes: No idol and not gay.
Bischoff: (Laughs) That’s correct. Maybe if I pretended to have an idol hidden in my beard and pretended to be gay I would’ve last longer. Maybe next time I’ll use that strategy.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes