‘Survivor: San Juan del Sur’ interview: Val Collins on Exile Island, ‘two idols,’ hiding her profession

Going into “Survivor: San Juan del Sur,” we felt like Val Collins had a heck of a lot going for her. She was a smart woman, a strong competitor, and seemed to have a knack for what was going on with the game.

Unfortunately, her strategy of “go big or go home” led to her going home. She tried to claim that she had two idols when she didn’t, and while John Rocker actually believed her, this lie led to her being targeted even more and ultimately voted out of the game. What we were curious about going into this conference was whether or not she felt in danger at all before she even tried her stunt with the immunity idols.

CarterMatt – So the question many have right now is whether or not you felt like you were the target before you even claimed you had two idols.

Yeah. I definitely felt like I was the target. There was almost a toss-up from the first tribal. Around camp, they were saying that ‘someone hasn’t been here, someone didn’t help us when we didn’t have fire.’ They [eventually] voted out Nadiya, but when she was gone and was part of my alliance, Jaclyn and I both felt the heat. I definitely thought I was going to be next because I wasn’t there to socialize as much with the other people.

So being one of the first people on Exile Island this season really hurt you.

It was huge. Plus the fact that we [as women] were outnumbered. You come back and try to socialize, and you have five guys against four women, and they were all bro’ed up at that point … It is the easiest thing for them to stick together and start going after some of the girls, and the males knew I had some type of clue.

Knowing that I had some type of clue, and them knowing now that John made it obvious that he wanted to go on a walk with me. Now they think that John and I are possibly working together because of him and Jeremy … What I was looking at from their standpoint was that if they’re smart about it, I wouldn’t be an immediate target because I had gone to Exile, and if Jeremy and John are working together, then I would also be working with John, which meant that Jeremy would be working with Julie, and I had already gone with Keith, and the firefighters got together, it could be the three firefighters (Wes, Jeremy, and Keith), me, John, and Julie. That’s a huge group.

People aren’t even asking stuff like that. Blood vs. Water, there were so many people who weren’t gamers. You have 20-year olds who probably weren’t even watching it when they had the last Exile. So I felt like this was the perfect time to do some outlandish stuff, especially since I [wasn’t] going to go out a sitting duck.

So in going back to Exile, why decide to not show Keith the clue at the time?

Keith kept questioning why Jeremy would send him there. Once I told them that Jeremy told him he was a firefighter, he was still kind of aloof. He wasn’t like ‘oh, us firefighters have to stick together.’ He wasn’t showing complete solidarity with working with Jeremy. He kept questioning me. I didn’t want to show him the clue.

I already felt kind of jaded that I was sent there, and having to start my game off by Jeremy beating me in the challenge and volunteering. I didn’t want to put Jeremy in the same position … Keith didn’t even have a clue. He wouldn’t know that the clue would be for both camps. He didn’t know any of that. That’s what you are kind of dealing with. Some people can play that game and be aloof; women often fly under the radar behind men and used flirtation to get further in the game, but there were also people in this game who were aloof, and I didn’t know if that was their angle, or if they really had no clue. I was still trying to figure out who was the person that applied, and who were more of the superfans. At that point, I knew it was Wes who was more of the superfan, and Keith wasn’t questioning me on anything. I wasn’t going to give him more than I had to.

Watching last night, what did you think when you saw John Rocker with an idol, and he still thought you had two. How many idols does this guy think are out there?

That’s the thing. When I was in tribal and I was trying to throw Baylor under the bus, I knew I had to shake things up. There were some who was going to vote Baylor, and some were going to vote me out … At that time, John should’ve known that I didn’t have it. He should’ve known that he got it, and he should have at least questioned me. I told him that I got an idol in Exile, but so many people have no clue.

Honestly, again I felt like this was perfect [for us to succeed]. There were some people who were 20 years old, and was it seven years ago the last time it was Exile, were they in junior high? They had no clue about it at all. I was just going to try to do anything to see who was on their game and who wasn’t.

So one last question here. As a police officer, how did Tony impact your game out there? Did you tell anyone you were a cop?

Nobody knew I was a police officer while I was there, at all. They all thought I was a Realtor. Nobody even questioned it. I do have my real estate license, so I could talk the talk.

Tony played a huge factor in me saying that, because he was so fresh in everybody’s mind. And I think that is why not everyone was so against that I could have two idols, because with Tony they threw in the new idol where you could play it after the vote. We did think there was going to be Redemption Island, and we were shocked when it was Exile, and when we saw there were less females and it was an uneven number. At that point, with losing and the paranoia, it was probably the only time that I could do something as crazy as I did.

But Tony was fresh in everybody’s mind. People talked about that a lot, and if I had told them I was a police officer, I would have been an even bigger target.

Did you think Val was going to go far on “Survivor” this season? Share with a comment.

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!