‘Survivor’ Castaway Peter – “I Had No Moves, Like Checkers”

Peter Baggenstos (CBS)

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I get an email from my mother every Thursday morning. After she updates me on the status of her garden and makes some not-so-casual requests for grandchildren, she tells me which “Survivor” players are annoying her. I’ve noticed over the years that the people that drive her batty tend to be same people I enjoy in person.

I’m not sure if that says a lot about our relationship or the divide between someone’s real personality and what CBS chooses to show us. It’s probably a bit of both.

I spoke with the latest nice person that America thinks is arrogant the morning after his elimination and asked him about the cast’s perceptions, tribe dynamics, and last night’s crazy vote…

Gordon Holmes: What was the plan going into last night’s Tribal?
Peter Baggenstos: I think the context that I can provide is; first impressions can nail you and the first impression everyone had when we swapped was that I was arrogant. That’s the narrative that was provided to them by the other two Brains people. It’s hard to get over that. So, when Anna was voted out and we lost the challenge and we’re trying to make a plan, I talked to Julia, talked to Scot, talked to Tai, no one would work with me. Period. Nobody would say, “Let’s do it.” I’d give them perspective. I’d say, “Guys, I’m on the outs with the Brains.” At the end when Joe and I had that falling out, the truth was I trying to get Aubry out. I was throwing those two names out and nobody would take the bait. So by the time we got to Tribal, nobody would work with me.
Holmes: So, during the scramble that happened at Tribal, were they changing the plan from something you were already involved in?
Baggenstos: Well, during Tribal, Scot said to me, “Vote for Joe.” And I looked straight ahead. I told Joe right before we went on lockdown that we should stick with numbers and they should try to get me out later. So, I stuck with it. Scot gave me an out and I didn’t take it. Then he went with plan B or vote for Julia or something. I was like, I had no moves, like checkers. I was blocked. I was done.

Holmes: You said that people view you as arrogant, we’ve heard the same thing about Nick. Do you think that’s accurate or is it more of a situation where “Survivor” puts you under a microscope and people are looking for flaws?
Baggenstos: I think the nail that sticks out gets hammered down. A lot of the confessionals are conversations. My arrogance is not mean or derogatory.  It’s a joking…I can bench press this Chevy. I can run three marathons straight without getting tired. But people see through that and it’s fun-loving. Maybe I’m clueless. I’ve asked my friends, “Am I really like that?” But I don’t think I’m so clueless that I think I’m the best in the room. That’s something I’ve never felt. But it is under a microscope. I really like all those people. (Laughs) I didn’t realize they didn’t like me, so maybe I was out of it.
Holmes: How your cast feels about you after the season tends to be a good measuring stick for how a person is in real life.
Baggenstos: (Laughs) They like me now.

Holmes: You were subjected to Joe’s interrogation techniques…
Baggenstos: Right when he talked to me I was thinking, “Golly, I just told Tai that I wanted to get Joe out.” I went for a walk with Scot and when I got back Joe was on me. And I was wondering why would Tai just go to Joe and tell him? I’m giving him opportunities to save themselves and get someone else out. I was frustrated. I didn’t get it. Why?
Holmes: It was very intense.
Baggenstos: In the E.R. you get cussed out all the time. People challenge you and go straight at you. I have no poker face. It was so obvious to him that I was (expletive deleted) him. The truth was at the moment I was going for Aubry.

Holmes: Was there ever an opportunity to work with Anna or was taking care of the Beauty problem the priority?
Baggenstos: I would’ve loved to work with Anna. Right when we got to the beach, Anna and Joe were talking. She didn’t really talk to me once. If she had asked if I wanted to work together I would have said, “Yes, yes, yes.” I cannot stress…I was open to work with anyone.

Holmes: Tell me about Debbie.
Baggenstos: Debbie is great. She’s really funny. She lives in her own little world. She’s never rude. She never says things to the point where it hurts your core values. She’s got a memory like a goldfish. She’ll have a really serious statement, and then five minutes later she’ll have another. She’s fun-loving and goofy. She doesn’t really hold grudges against people. I really like her.
Holmes: Back when the Brains tribe went to Tribal, was that just a case of you and Elisabeth trusting the wrong people?
Baggenstos: I think I stayed with Liz too much. Liz just pissed Debbie off because Liz had a food allergy. She had a lot of restrictions around camp. You had to always clean the pot because of shellfish. That burden really got on Debbie and Joe despite Neal and Joe butting heads. They’d rather get Liz out than deal with all of her crap. And I was the barnacle that was attached to Liz. Once she was gone, I was next.

Holmes:  Word association time. Let’s start with Anna.
Baggenstos: Sweet, she thinks the best of people. She loves or she hates which is dangerous, there’s no grey zone. She’s clever.
Holmes: Debbie?
Baggenstos: Outlandish. From another planet, good-hearted.
Holmes: Liz?
Baggenstos: She’s clever, she’s witty, she had a good sense of humor.
Holmes: Joe?
Baggenstos: Sensitive. He’s thoughtful, rugged.
Holmes: Neal?
Baggenstos: Self-promoting. Genuine…and he does the right thing. He fights for people who can’t fight.
Holmes: Julia?
Baggenstos: Receptive, a good listener, good-hearted.
Holmes: Tai?
Baggenstos: Genuine, a hard-worker, looks for the positive in everything.
Holmes: Scot?
Baggenstos: He reminded me of my older brother. I do like Scot. He’s thoughtful, he’s introspective, and he’s got inner demons.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Aubry.
Baggenstos: She likes to weigh things with different perspectives. She’s thoughtful. And, I think she has good emotional awareness.
Holmes: Do you think she’s playing more strategically or more reactionary?
Baggenstos: Reactionary. I think there’s a scene where they took Aubry out and told her I was targeting her and that freaked her out. She and I were on good terms and when someone told her that she reacted to it.

Holmes: What did you mean when you said Scot has “inner demons”?
Baggenstos: Just in talking to him, he always has a need to prove himself. He was on a national championship team, but he didn’t play. So, he thinks that people question how good of a player he is. But, he’s a champion in my mind. If you go through his history with his father being a Mormon, or an ex-Mormon, he’s got a lot of things that he needs to get through on his own. I don’t know. I like him a lot. He deals with things with an introspective and silent way. Behind Scot there’s a lot of issues that he’s been through and dealt with.

Holmes: Did you know Neal had located the Brains idol?
Baggenstos: I saw him right before we went to the swap. I was looking for it everywhere. And I remember seeing him through the bushes, maybe 300 yards down, and the cameras were all around him. I didn’t want him to see me, so I went around, but he was gone. I saw him later and he had a smirk on his face.

Holmes: What’d you learn from your “Survivor” experience?
Baggenstos: It’s a fun experience. It’s difficult for me because I learned that the first opinion of me is that I’m untrustworthy. (Laughs)
Holmes: (Laughs)
Baggenstos: And arrogant. I had to get over that hump. Whereas with medicine they want someone who is confident. If someone is diagnosed with cancer, they want me to say what I think it is. This is the plan, like it or not. We can’t mess around here. Maybe when I walk away the patients think I’m an (expletive deleted). But I learned that people really talk crap about people. When someone would walk away, I wouldn’t talk crap about people. But, they’d nitpick character flaws.
Holmes: And with the swap, you’ve got people spreading that first impression without you even being there.
Baggenstos: Well after the second challenge when Darnell was gone, Tai made fun of the Brawns for losing as we were leaving that challenge. And I called him out as we were lining up for the next challenge. And Jeff interviewed us and I said, “That guy over there, he made fun of the Brawn tribe for losing. That’s not the right thing to do. He’s being an individual in a team game.” So at that point the conversation was “We don’t like Tai,” but after the swap it became “Peter’s an ass for calling him out in public.”

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

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