Tai Trang now has two seasons of Survivor under his belt, and his success rate is certainly high. He was in the final Tribal Council his first time, and last night on the Game Changers finale he was able to make it all the way to the final four before getting voted out. We also learned from Jeff Probst that had Tai made it to the end, he would have only lost to Brad because of a tiebreaker rule, with Troyzan being the one to break the tie as the third-place finisher.
In this interview today, Tai discusses his improvement from Kaoh Rong, the frustrating perception of him as sneaky, and why he’s so good at finding hidden immunity idols.
CarterMatt – What did you think about learning that the vote would have been so close between you and Brad last night?
Tai Trang – It was a gift to me, because I knew I didn’t do a good job with the jury last time and I wanted to have a really nice relationship with the jury this time. I wanted people to like me. I felt like I did do better with that than last time, and getting five votes was pretty good. I feel like I accomplished what I intended to do.
So was that your big focus coming into the game this time, ensuring that you made sure that people on the jury felt better about you?
Yeah. Jury management was a problem for me last time. This time, I was pretty lucky in that I found idols, I was on the Nuku tribe in an alliance where I felt comfortable, and I was dealt a pretty good hand.
One of the things that I do struggle with is not being able to articulate my mind. I often speak in broken sentences and I don’t always finish my thought. People thought I was wishy-washy last night and didn’t think I owned [my game]. This time, I owned it.
Still, it was pretty weird watching the season watching people say that I was being sneaky and that they couldn’t trust me. It really took me by surprise. I still need to do a better job at explaining myself.
I think a good indication of the bonds you were forming was that we didn’t see a lot of your relationship with Troyzan, but he really seemed upset to vote you out. How close were you with him out there?
Yeah, Troyzan and I had a lot of great moments together! We went fishing together a lot, and there was this one scene where I was trying to catch this eel with my bare hands in a cave.
Troyzan and Brad were just really tight together. One regret that I have is that at the final four, I should have pushed it with Troyzan and Brad a little bit more [to get rid of Sarah]. I had a chance to be in the final three with Brad and Troy. I just thought that since Brad was so mad at me, there was no way to make it happen. I just focused on my energy on working with Sarah.
I want to get to the bottom of something — what’s the secret to being amazing at finding immunity idols?
(Laughs) I don’t know! I’m a gardener. I’m out around trees all of the time and I’m very comfortable. The secret is that you just have to put your hand into every crack and crevasse and not worry about snakes or anything else.
I didn’t really look that much. When I looked I would hunt in a specific area, but I didn’t really spend a lot of time. The funny thing is that everybody looked, but I was the one getting called the sneaky person. Ozzy looked a lot, Brad looked a lot. There’s no secret — just be sure to put your hand in all of the cracks! Be observant.
So are you interested in playing again?
I don’t know. I need to grow from it a little bit. I would, but not too soon. I’d like to have a third time.
Finally, what did you think about the way that the jury twist was implemented? Would you prefer that if you were in the final three?
I think so. I would be able to have more of a dialogue as opposed to answering direct questions. I think I would have more time, and there is less answering yes-or-no questions. I think it was more of a complete picture of the game. You don’t have to deal as much with one person or relationship you don’t want to deal with.
I really liked it. I wish we had it in Kaoh Rong because our final Tribal was really brutal. I was shaken up for months afterwards.
Further Survivor finale coverage
If you do want to get some other exit interviews from the finale, plus some reviews and a look ahead to next season, head over to the link here. (Photo: CBS.)