Tegan Gasior became the 12th person voted out of Australian Survivor last night, in a tense episode that saw her plead for her place twice in back-to-back votes.
Earlier this week, a shake-up saw the Champions and the Contenders swap some of their tribe members. In her new tribe, Tegan was unable to crack through the core alliance of the Champions and was ultimately eliminated... twice.
First, Tegan was eliminated from the Champions tribe. It was a move she saw coming, as herself and Shonee were newcomers. Next, the new Contenders tribe had a chance to save her and they chose not to.
Before the second vote, Tegan begged the original Contenders (Heath, Fenella, Robbie, Benji) to vote to save her. She told them that the Champions plan to take as many members of their original tribe to the merge as possible and will continue to pick off the Contenders.
In the words of Fenella, who voted to save Tegan, "I am living with two very young, very pig-minded boys. I hope they save you."
Unfortunately, Benji voted to send Tegan home and, as always, Robbie followed suit.
We caught up with Tegan to chat about her devastating double elimination, where she revealed the real reason she had a target on her back, her fears for Shonee in the Champions tribe, and why she hopes Robbie will step out of Benji's shadow.
TV WEEK: It was a pretty brutal tribal council! Was it hard to watch the episode back last night?
Tegan: I was really nervous about last night, I didn't know what would really be shown. It was actually a little bit of a relief! I obviously would have loved to have stayed, but that's the way it goes unfortunately.
The Champions seemed to be targeting you slightly more than Shonee, why do you think that is?
I think it was… I had this label on me as being a strategic threat in the game. I don't think people wanted to sit next to me in the final two. So when it came to Shonee and I, at that point in the game, I was seen as a threat so I was the obvious option to go home unfortunately. I think it was very obvious it was going to be me.
Do you blame Benji a little bit for that label? You weren't really doing anything overly 'strategic' yet, when he orchestrated your elimination. And it seems like you couldn't really shake the reputation he gave you…
One thing that wasn't shown was that I had made a family planner. I love planning my life out, and I had researched past seasons and where I thought challenges and the merge would be. And we had this kind of running joke [in the tribe] like 'Tegan what does the spreadsheet say? What's happening today?' and I would kind of predict for the tribe what I thought was going to be on the day. I think I was right up to until Day 15. My spreadsheet was 100% right. So everyone thought I was like researched and that I knew the game backwards and forwards. But really, all it was was a planner for my family to say 'Hey, on this day this is going to be roughly where I am, and at this point is where you would maybe expect me to make jury and I wont be coming home'. It was really about who was looking after my kids.
It was this stupid little thing, and it kind of snowballed in to being 'Tegan is a really strategic player.' Paige shared the information with Matty Rogers [when they shared a winners lunch], Matty then went back to the Champions and said 'Tegan is so strategic' and you know… even though I was a strategic player I was really trying to downplay that side of my personality. So to get blindsided, I then had that label and I couldn't shake it.
Heading in to tribal council, Sam tried to be honest and say they were voting you out. In the episode you said you would have preferred a blindside, is that how you feel now?
I one hundred percent would have preferred to be blindsided. I think it was very obvious that it was going to be Shonee or myself. No one was talking to us, it was really awkward at camp, and I knew that if we lost that immunity challenge it would be one of us.
Brian approached you to recruit you to vote out Mat or Steve, but you said to the camera that you didn't trust him. Why was that? Was it just a gut feeling?
So that conversation happened a little earlier and at that point in time I wasn't sure what my options were. I didn't want to commit to Brian at that point because I didn't know if anyone else was going to come up to me and try pull Shonee and I in as a vote. I probably should have just jumped on it and said let's work together but… he then had time to go and speak to Mat and say he was sorry and then all of a sudden the Champions were working together and Brian was stonewalling me, he would not budge. He didn't want to work with me any more, it's really why I targeted him in that tribal council. He was the only other option, other than Shonee and myself. No one else was talking about the other four players, but Brian really was the only name mentioned and that's why we targeted him.
I think it's one of my favourite things on Survivor when someone just lets it rip at tribal, and last night you were very blunt about what was going on. Were you hoping by being honest about what you had experienced that maybe some of the Champions would reconsider their vote and send Brian home instead?
I actually was holding back a little bit! I really wanted to go to town, on even Matty and Steve, to be honest. I wanted everyone in the Contenders tribe to know what the lay of the land was. But at the same time, as much as you want to let rip you've got this little niggling thing in the back of your mind that maybe you might stay and if you stay, what are you going to do back at camp? So as much as you try lay it all out, you've got to be mindful that if you don't go home you've then got to work with these people. Trying to make Brian seem untrustworthy, was what I thought was the best move.
What was running through your mind then when the twist was announced?
Oh gosh I was just like 'not again.' I know that sounds ungrateful, but I was just like 'no not again!' This is too much for my little heart to handle. I was so excited that there was a possibility of me staying and I thought oh my gosh I am literally the luckiest person ever, how have I managed to be sent to Exile and be saved, and then again. But I looked over at the Contender boys and I could see Benji was flat-out avoiding my eye contact and I knew he was going to send me home. As much as I wanted them to save me, I knew Benji wasn't going to write 'save' down.
How do you feel about the whole Benji and Robbie thing? They've stabbed you in the back AGAIN, and sided with the Champions, what do you think of that decision and how do you think it's going to affect them?
I think Robbie is just kind of playing in Benji's shadow. Benji is playing the best game in my eyes, he has played it perfectly. He managed to avoid elimination when I came back from Exile. Although his game didn't suit my game because we were against each other, as a Survivor fan I think it's great. I still really like everybody on the Contender tribe and I'm hoping that any one of the Contenders can take it out. I would like to see Robbie separate himself a little from Benji and play his own game, and I think we're seeing the emergence of that at the moment with him and Lydia.
Are you friends with those boys on the outside, even after everything?
Everyone keeps saying 'why didn't you vote out Benji' but I had no idea what he was saying to camera! He's actually a really nice guy and really likeable. For whatever reason we just never worked together, I don't know why that is still at this point, but yeah he's really funny and likeable so no hard feelings toward the guy. I would have liked him to pick me to work with, but that just wasn't the way it went down.
After last night Shonee is by herself on the Champions tribe, how did it feel to be leaving her in that situation?
The two of us at the Champions beach, it was awful! There were obviously some of the Champions I clicked with, but it was just such an awkward environment to be in where you're clearly an outsider and no one wants you there. So Shonee and I really clung to each other. We were a source of comfort for each other, and I did feel really bad for her having to go back on her own to that Champions tribe and I hope she can stay in the game as long as possible. If anyone can go back five versus one, it's her. She's a strong person.
We know you're a big Survivor fan, did your experience live up to the hype? Are you happy with the game you played?
There's definitely things I'd loved to change about my game. I was actually quite surprised because the challenges for me, I was so excited to do, and I don't think anyone realises how bloody scary they are! It is so daunting doing some of those challenges, and being on TV is not something I expected to be so nervous about. I would have loved to have gotten to the individual point because that's where I think I would have come in to my own. I would have loved to have seen more puzzles, because that's what I wanted to do. But yeah I'm really happy with how my game was. It was eventful is all I can say! I didn't go away thinking I didn't get much opportunity, because I was voted out nearly three times so… very lucky!
Australian Survivor airs Monday and Tuesday, 7:30pm, on Network Ten.