‘Survivor’ Castaway Woo: ‘The Doctors Said They Could Pull Me from the Game’

"Survivor: Second Chance" (CBS)

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When the last decision you make literally costs you the million dollars, that’s gotta be the tied for first-place in the “worst moves of all time” competition. So, if anyone needed a second chance, it was Woo Hwang.

Unfortunately for Woo, only one of these Second Chancers is truly going to fulfill the dream of taking home the big check…and it won’t be him.

I spoke to the master of “Ninja Stealth Mode” the morning after his elimination and asked him about his brutal blindside, his relationship with Abi, and his top skee-ball tips…

Gordon Holmes: Did you see last night’s blindside coming at all?
Woo Hwang: No, Gordon. Not at all. Hashtag blindside.
Holmes: When there’s no indication that you’re going home, does it just drive you insane until you can question someone who was part of that vote?
Hwang: A lot goes through your mind. You’re just kind of whacked out. It’s an out-of-body experience. I think that night, that blindside, my name was written down more times than my whole career in “Survivor.” Just the suspense of one vote left and it could possibly be me. I’d never been in that situation. Handing my torch to Jeff and having him snuff it. And him saying, “I’ve got nothing else for you. Get out of here.” I walked away and I glanced back and realized, wow…my second chance opportunity is finished. It’s a really empty feeling.
Holmes: Does it change how you feel about the game? You played with Tony Vlachos so you’ve seen some blindsides. But this is your first time going through that.
Hwang: Yeah, it changes my view in many ways. When I watched the blindside and remembering the conversations that had happened before Tribal. If I had done this, or said this… If I had aligned with Spencer would this have changed? But, you just go with your gut. Everything was set to have Ciera be the decoy, we told Spencer we wanted to get rid of someone who’s not going to be strong in challenges. It didn’t turn out that way. It’s unfortunate because I’ve been sitting here, the game’s been over, but reliving that whole experience is a tough breakup with the show.

Holmes: I was trying to figure out why they’d target you when Ciera is annoyed with Savage. Was it to not send the wrong message to the other classic Bayon members?
Hwang: I don’t think it was entirely Ciera’s call. Kass had a big hand in the decision making. I remember being at the old Angkor and Savage saying, “Stick with us. When we hit the merge I’ve got all the numbers with Bayon.” He said, “I’m really close with Jeremy, Fishbach, Joe, Ciera, Tash…and if you jump on board you can be our man too.” I just remember him never mentioning Kass. And when we were the new Ta Keo tribe, I was talking to Kass and I said, “I feel great with Savage.” And she asked how I felt about Tasha and I said, “I feel great with Tasha. I feel like a part of this big alliance.” Walking away from that and looking back, I realize Kass didn’t feel close with Savage and now I’m part of this alpha male alliance. She was probably thinking, Savage wants Spencer out, so I can get him on our side. So, it’s better to get rid of Woo now because  if he makes it to the merge he’s going to lined up with Jeremy, Joe, Savage…Keith was mentioned…Fishbach. So, I think Kass was instrumental in that vote. So, I don’t think it was entirely on Ciera.

Holmes: On day one, actually hour one…your feet were injured on one of the boats. What happened and how did it affect your game?
Hwang: Unfortunately on my way to swim to the rice, the ladder that led to the boat…I don’t know if there were nails or pieces of wood, but I managed to cut up my feet pretty well. My right, big toe there’s a big chunk missing. A couple of more lacerations on the other side of the foot. And when you’re out in these isolated jungles, you don’t know what kind of infections are rolling around. The doctors checked it out because it was so bad. They usually don’t come out. They said to keep it clean because there’s not much they can do. The doctors said they could pull me from the game because infections were rampant, so I had to keep it dry and clean. That was a big downfall to the beginning of the game. A lot of strategy talk was being conducted in the water. People were walking here and there and I had to stay in the sleeping quarters.

Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with Varner.
Hwang: Hilarious.
Holmes: Wiglesworth?
Hwang: Mom.
Holmes: Wentworth?
Hwang: Question mark.
Holmes:  Shirin?
Hwang: Interesting.
Holmes:  Spencer?
Hwang: Crafty.
Holmes: Peih-Gee?
Hwang: Friend.
Holmes: Terry?
Hwang: Proud father.
Holmes: Kass?
Hwang: Random.
Holmes: Ciera?
Hwang: Question mark…no comment.
Holmes: Vytas?
Hwang:  Yoga instructor.
Holmes: Abi?
Hwang: Fireball.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Savage.
Hwang:  Great guy.

Holmes: You had a very contentious relationship with Abi.
Hwang: I started the game with Abi and we hit it off really well. She came up to me and said, “Hey, Woo. I have this weird crush on you. I think you’re adorable and super cute.”
Holmes: Yeah, she said similar things in her pre-game interview. Hubba hubba.
Hwang: (Laughs) I was flattered and I was thinking this will really help my game. After that first vote, we got back to camp and I tried to apologize to her. And she forgave me. And she said I have to give her my loyalty and never write her name down again. I said, “Yeah, sure. I just want to make sure you’re in a good mood and I’m on your good side.” Because you know how she is.
Holmes: (Laughs)
Hwang: So, I write her name down twice and she still forgave me. She voted out Jeff. She really had some trust in me. Honestly, the relationship wasn’t as bad as you’d think. If I was Peih-Gee I’m sure it would’ve been terrible.
Holmes: Are you willing to admit now that you put Abi’s necklace in Peih-Gee’s bag?
Hwang: (Laughs) That’s so funny.
Holmes: That’s not a denial.
Hwang: (Laughs) Any one of us could’ve accidentally picked up her bag. She was so fixated on Peih-Gee, she wanted her out. Abi’s a great “Survivor” player, character, she’s great entertainment.
Holmes: You were talking about your mother last week and Abi countered by comparing it to her knee surgery. How did that sit with you? It seems like a case of comparing apples to nothing.
Hwang: I don’t hold it against Abi. How do you blame her?  She doesn’t know my real story. All she knows is I might’ve made that story up to get in favor with Tasha and Savage. She’s just thinking of the game. What did happen to my mom is true. But that’s old news because she is healthy and strong. That’s all I’m thinking about. Do I hold anything against her? Absolutely not.

Holmes: You have the best attitude.
Hwang: (Laughs)
Holmes: Seriously. Between seeing Abi’s side of things and your farewell last night…
Hwang: How can I not? These experiences we go through…I’m just so grateful. I try to stay positive as much as possible. Any negative thoughts or regret…there’s not much I’m going to be able to do.
Holmes: One positive is; now that you’re back home you have more time for Chuck E. Cheese.
Hwang: Right?! My fiancée and I get to hit up more skee-ball. It’s best on the weekdays around nine when all of the kids are in bed. The skee-ball section is wide open! No distractions.
Holmes: Are you a straight-up guy or do you try to bank it off of the side?
Hwang: Straight up. The big left and right corner pockets have the most points. That’s my main move. I’ve been getting 34 tickets every token. I’ve been coming out with some pretty nice prizes.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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