Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers interview: Desi Williams on vote-out, Cole, Joe, and more

Desi WilliamsDesi Williams had a nice run on Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, making it as far as the jury phase of the game. She’ll have a say in who wins the game come finale time; unfortunately, she isn’t in contention for the million-dollar prize herself.

So what happened to get her to this point, and what did she think about some of the antics that unfolded in the game with Cole Wednesday night? We discuss that and much more in our latest exit interview now.

CarterMatt – So what’s the aftermath of being on the show like today? You’ve had to watch yourself get voted off, and now you’re doing a wide array of interviews on it.

Desi Williams – Filming finished a few months ago, so I’ve had time to internalize everything that’s happened. But it is hard to live it out over and over again and hearing people be like ‘oh, you’re so stupid’ when I knew what was going on. It hasn’t been awful. Luckily I wasn’t portrayed to be a villain, but it’s not easy to watch yourself on TV.

I think the vote last night proved that you and a lot of your Healer tribe members knew that you were in trouble. How much of a sense did the Healers have that, no matter how much campaigning you did, you all were pretty screwed?

I just felt like it didn’t make sense for us to split up that early on and not vote together. But I had some inkling that people were getting a little antsy.

What did you think that their mindset was out there? Were they just trying to get some good will to maybe last another couple of votes?

Pretty much from the beginning Mike felt like he was at the bottom of the Healers, so I think he was a little more willing to flip. I think he felt like ‘I’m at the bottom regardless, so I might as well be at the bottom of a larger alliance.’

As for where Cole stands, because I did spend a lot of time with Cole earlier in the game, what I know is that he needs a lot of reassurance. You can tell Cole ‘we’re good, don’t worry, we’re voting as a team,’ but unless you’re telling him that three times a day, every single day, he thinks that he is being lied to. Jess was really good about that when she was still around in that she kept him level-headed and felt fully confidence in the alliance. Once Jess left, there was nobody really there to stroke that ego. It’s not my personality to have the same conversation five times. I do what I say and once I’ve said it, why do I need to keep having the same conversation? I probably could have done a better job with that.

I want to go back to the very beginning of the game. I spoke with Roark when she was voted out and she said that you two had a really tight alliance. How did you feel about it?

Roark was without a doubt my closest ally. It was for a while me, Jess and Roark, but I think my connection with Roark started to get a little stronger once the Jessica-and-Cole romance started to unfold. That further solidified my relationship with Roark and 110% I would have loved to keep playing the game with her. She and I are still great friends. It certainly paid off in the long run.

You were put in a really tough spot after the tribe swap with Joe, and he’s not the easiest person to manage. What was your immediate reaction to being swapped with just him?

Obviously I was [mad] at Joe very early on [after the swap], especially after that first Tribal Council we went to. I really did think he threw me under the bus.

After that, there were still points at the Swapped Levu tribe where I would have flipped on Joe. Post-merge and post Jessica being voted out, I really felt like Joe was all I had. Cole and Mike had that time to bond with Ben and Lauren, and Mike made it very clear that he and Ben had a good relationship. I was stuck with Joe. I feel like I was his #1 and he was my #1.

Let’s go back to that Levu tribe where it was just you, Joe, Ashley, and Devon. Had you four gone to Tribal Council do you think you would’ve flipped and Joe would have gone home? Was there any way to convince Ashley or Devon?

I don’t know. It’s not really being shown, but I think there was a showmance emerging with Devon and Ashley. I was starting to think that they were unbreakable and while I wanted to feel that same way with Joe, there was also the situation where if nobody flipped it was a 2-2 vote and we’re going to rocks.

At that point in time had I been in that position, I may have turned on Joe. It’s hard to play ‘what if,’ but I think that could’ve been a possibility.

Based on what they showed last night it seemed like the rationale for getting rid of you was that you were a bigger threat in challenges and that you were more likable and therefore more dangerous. Is that accurate?

Yeah, absolutely. That’s exactly why I was voted out. I do take that as a little bit of a compliment because they were afraid of me more as a threat than Joe, and that’s saying a lot because I really respect Joe as a player.

What did you think about Cole and the great immunity idol disaster last night?

It played out for a long time last night, but it played out even longer at camp. It started out with them just digging for an idol, and then it just turned into [chaos] — like, why is this still going on? It was all made [so much worse now] by the fact that Chrissy knew all along that the idol wasn’t even down there! She went to great lengths to make Cole think that the idol was still down there — she was jumping on his back and she knew all along it wasn’t there! Watching things play out at home last night was all the more frustrating. It was ridiculous in the moment, but it was even more ridiculous watching it on TV knowing that it wasn’t down there.

How much did you prioritize looking for the idol? Did you assume that it would be bad for your game and not look as much?

Oh my god, no. Especially in the original Soko days we spent so much time looking for the idol. So much time. It is annoying to sit back now and watch them being found — I don’t know how quickly they were found, because it is all downplayed on the show. Roark and I had went on an hours-long search for the idol, but it happened a day after Joe had found the idol and cut that clue off of the tree.

If you were to go out there again and there’s a Desi 2.0, what would you take away from what you learned this time and try to apply it?

The biggest thing for me is that I thought it would be easy for me to separate who I am as a person from who I am [playing the game]. That was a tough thing for me. I’m almost going to need to counsel myself pre-show to tell myself that it’s just a game! That’s what I had the hardest time with.

I think I would go back and play a little bit harder. I was trying to lay low early on, but I think I probably should have done the opposite. I was already a big physical threat, and I was worried [this time] about being a threat across the board.

Last question: Did being identified as a Healer, someone who is meant to take care of others, impact how you played at all? Did it make it harder for you to separate the game from real life?

No. I think I am that person — everything about being a Healer goes along with who I am as a person. I wasn’t playing into a character — I was just being who I am in real life, truthful and loyal and helpful.

More Survivor coverage

If you’re interested in getting even more updates on the show, including our review of last night’s episode and other exit interviews, you can do that over here!

Also, like CarterMatt on Facebook to get some more insight regarding the show and some others we cover. (Photo: CBS.)

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