Monica Padilla is probably not someone you saw leaving “Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance” a week or two ago. While castaways with limited screen time typically do not win the game, we thought that this was going to be a situation similar to Brenda Lowe in “Caramoan,” where she would probably last for a while and have a few big episodes before being voted out. Alas, that was not the case, as a stray comment to Kimmi Kappenberg ended up causing her to be voted out.
Suffice it to say, we had a number of topics to discuss with the “Survivor: Samoa” alum in an exit interview today, including who she felt the most betrayed by, why she was excited for the tribe swap, and why she’s not interested in going back out for a third crack at this game.
CarterMatt – I know you were someone who fought really hard to get back out there, so how did it feel to come back and to really see you not get a whole lot of time on the show?
Monica Padilla – I don’t know why my story wasn’t told. I have no idea. I think more of the viewers and the fans are more [angry] about it than I am, because I got to experience it and to live it. That’s cool for me. It’s not about the edit for me. It sucks that you guys didn’t get to see my story, especially for the first time that you have fans voting you in. You don’t get to see any of the rationale, or any of the redeeming factors or the failing factors. You don’t see any of it, and that sucks. I have things that play back in my head, but you guys never got to see that. You didn’t get to see my alliances form and fail, or attempt to form and fail and crumble. I don’t know.
So who did you feel the most betrayed by last night?
For me 100% it was Kimmi. I aligned with Kimmi from the second I hit the beach. She was the first person I aligned with, and I was like ‘you know what, I’m in. I’ve seen you play, we’re cool, we’re both New Yorkers, let’s stick together and go all the way to the end.’ I honestly meant it. To see her go off the deep end on me was just crazy. I don’t know where that came from!
Should we be making a big deal about the clams? Do you think she held onto any anger from that?
It’s interesting because [I know] that getting into arguments on ‘Survivor’ may cause your downfall. However, I honestly thought that Kimmi and I were that tight so that we could bicker about something and then be cool. I was wrong. It sucks to realize that my gut feeling was that off. I went with my heart and I was that wrong. It was definitely an eye opener.
Is there anything that you think was that bad about what you said? I feel like had you said it to a Kelley Wentworth or maybe a Shirin, if she was still around, you would be fine.
No, and we were tight! It’s not like I said it to a dude. Kimmi’s a girl! I said ‘let’s do a girls’ alliance,’ and then you go back and you rat me out, and you call me a snake? (Laughs.) Let’s reanalyze who the real snake in the grass is!
We saw you talking about wanting to get rid of Spencer. Why did you want to get rid of him: Was it reputation, or did you just see him trying to get closer to Jeremy?
It wasn’t because of Jeremy. Going into the game I thought Spencer was a huge threat, just as going into the game people thought Abi was crazy. (Laughs.) I thought that Spencer had numbers with three other people who he had strong relationships with. He and Kass may have [acted] like enemies, but I felt they would have put their conflict aside to go far in the game and then figure it out from there. He had Kass, he had Tasha, and I know they are really close, and he had Woo. I know that they in some form backstabbed each other, and I figured ‘keep your enemies close’ and with a four-block like that, that’s numbers.
Then, Spencer is also pretty likable, he’s smart, and he proved to be a huge threat the first time around. Why not get rid of that threat? That was my reasoning.
In kind of going along with that, are you surprised that nobody else really talked about the idea that these ‘Cagayan’ people could all link back up?
That’s my logic. Obviously that really didn’t resonate with anyone else. (Laughs.)
One thing I was curious about from before the game is that in past [returning player] seasons, people who have won like Amber and Parvati have been these young, smart women who did not necessarily get a ton of screen time their first time. Did their success work almost against you, and make you into a threat?
Absolutely. I think there’s a stereotype that goes with it. I think the first time I played I even tried to talk myself down. I never let anyone know I was in law school; I tried to be the dumb cocktail waitress, that’s all I told people. No one ever knew for the duration of the game that I ever went to law school. So I just tried to play off the party-girl [archetype]. It worked better for me than being the feisty lawyer who put a villain in their place and fought until the end. That, along with the stereotype and people trying to play a Parvati game, I think that all worked against me. I think I was just destined to fail. (Laughs.)
Do you think that the Tribe Swap really hurt your game in some major way? Do you think you were in a better spot before it?
I was actually really excited for the Tribe Swap. I thought I was pretty cool with my tribe, but I wanted to get to know some of these other players. Playing with Wiglesworth was awesome. I watched all of these people play! I was excited to watch some of these people go in. I didn’t realize that it would work so badly against me, but going into it I was excited! I was excited to take part in the game and take part in the twist. I didn’t realize at the time that the Swap was something that ended up saving Spencer, so for me I was excited about it.
Okay, so how much do you blame Stephen for scoring for the wrong team?
(Laughs) Not a ton. You know, Stephen’s super-goofy, he’s smart but he’s also like [insert ‘Survivor’ dodo music here]. Unless he was trying to throw the challenge, but I don’t think he could have scored for Angkor if he tried! I don’t know why Jeremy sat out of that challenge. Maybe they were trying to throw that challenge to get rid of me, but that challenge … wow.
You mention Jeremy, and I’ve wondering if you got the sense that in sitting out, maybe he was trying to make himself appear like less of a threat.
That was very weird. I don’t know. I don’t think he was downplaying being a threat. You’d have to ask him that.
How different did you find playing the game this time? Was the speed different? I know in ‘Samoa’ you had someone [in Russell] playing 120 miles an hour, but was everyone going like that here?
It’s weird. The first time I played I was nervous! I really just wanted to have fun and play the game. I think the second time it was a lot of pressure, it was really stressful from the campaign and on. I had a hard time having fun with it; I was so down to business. I really wanted to focus and make it to the end, and I think being that stressed-out and tense and the constant over-analysis made it really stressful the second time around.
People voted for the Second Chancers to go on, and people were so careful to not make the same mistakes as the first time they played. People were on high alert, and it’s just very stressful and the pressure was on.
In closing, any interest in doing this for a third time? Maybe you can enjoy it more.
No, I’m done. It’s too much. I’m not super-athletic, I’m not great at challenges. It’s very high school, being very worried about what people think of you. I just want to live and do my thing and not be so worried about where I fit in the popularity contest. It’s too stressful, and it’s over nothing.
I’m glad I did it, and I’m blessed to have had another shot at it. I think the first experience was way more fun for me, but that’s [just] me.
Thanks to Monica for her time! You can head over here to read our full review of this past “Survivor” episode, and also be sure to sign up here to get some updates and exclusive content on everything we cover, sent right over to you via our CarterMatt Newsletter. (Photo: CBS.)