‘Survivor: Blood vs. Water’ interview: Vytas Baskauskas on Laura’s big play, alliances, and Tyson’s game

Meet Vytas -Vytas Baskauskas had himself a heck of a run on “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.” He had the whole redemption story, he was a good competitor, and apparently, he also charmed the pants off of some of the players enough that Tina was ready to marry off her daughter to him. He was one of the most interesting players of the season, and thanks to that, this was one of those interviews that we weren’t hoping to do until a little later down the road.

But within the span of our exclusive interview today, we covered quite a bit with Vytas, whether it be his decision to get rid of Brad Culpepper, being honest about getting “hosed” at Redemption Island, or why he will never be Prince to Aras’ King. Overall, this had to be one of our favorite chats of the entire season since you can tell that Vytas is both a fan of the game and extremely self-aware about the way that he played it.

CarterMatt – The issue I want to address first here is what the reaction has been to you online. I know some on Twitter really like you and relate to you, and then others characterize you as more of a villain. What have you felt on your end?

Vytas Baskauskas – I’ve felt both, man. I’ve felt people villainize me. I don’t know what for, like [how] within the tribe of all women I was able to keep myself alive by the skin of my teeth. I feel like if anything, they can villainize me for the cockiness and overconfidence that I displayed when Aras and I met up come merge-tine. I really tried to play the game. I don’t think I played any sort of vindictive and spiteful game, I was just trying to stay alive. The tribe swap was really unfortunate in that I just tried my best to stay alive at that point.

One of the things I feel you did this season that was pretty impressive was knowing what side of yourself to show to others in the game, especially after the tribe swap. I know it’s pretty impossible to hide who you are, but how were you able to focus in on just a certain side that you wanted others to see? Was that hard to maintain?

Very difficult. Of course, you try to calculate which part of their personalities they want to put forward out there. Was I good at that all the time? No; just look at when I cheap-shoted Aras. That cheap shot comes from me competing against my brother. As soon as that happened, that was my first real mistake of my game in showing people that I was capable of something like that. I tried to present myself as that really trustworthy guy who has been through a lot, but then I put a cheap shot on my brother and they were like ‘wow, that’s a different side of him.’

It’s a marathon, and you have to be aware every single day, each and every hour, of how you’re coming off to people. What is the opinion of me on the beach? Are people trusting me, are people coming to me? It’s really important to figure out what you choose to share about your life, and what you don’t choose to share about your life.

I want to make sure we take on this subject, so let’s talk Redemption Island. Are you angry at Laura forwhat happened?

Laura did what she had to do. At that point, she thought it was her best to play to stay around. I don’t know if that was her best play. You put someone on the jury who has a negative opinion of you, maybe that’s not such a good idea.

Did she act in a way that I completely didn’t expect her to? Yeah. Did I think I got hosed? Sure. But is that part of ‘Survivor’? 100%, that’s a part of ‘Survivor.’ It’s a game that I signed up for, and those things happen in ‘Survivor.’ I can’t be bitter, since she made a move that she thought was good for herself and watching the episode, it certainly brought back some of those feelings of bitterness for me, but I hope it works out for her.

How could it not bring back feelings of bitterness?

I think people are wanting me to [always] be like ‘good for her,’ but I was bummed, man! I’m a competitive guy, and I felt like I got swindled. But it’s a game and you got to let it go.

Did you even sense when you were on Redemption with Tina and Laura like something like that could happen?

No, because if you remember, Tina was on our side. She wasn’t on Laura’s side. So Laura had no preexisting friendship with Tina. We were having a blast out there on Redemption Island, and then Laura comes and she is like ‘Hey guys, I just want to let you no there’s no strategy on Redemption Island. We can just enjoy this time to be together. Only one of us is going to get back, so let’s forget the strategic gameplay, and let’s just be nice to each other.’ That’s what Laura said.

I’m sure that what happened was that as soon as she finished the puzzle, she looked at me and looked at Tina, and thought ‘hey, I can get rid of Vytas right now.’ And I think that it was a little bit personal because Aras had voted her out, and strategy because Tina would be easier to beat in the next one.

I want to go back for a minute and talk about voting out Brad Culpepper. What went through your mind back then?

I loathed that decision, man. For me Brad was key moving forward. He had such a big target on his back; I knew that Aras and I were going to have big targets, but if we could hide behind Brad, and at least not be public enemy #1, it would be great for my game. And going into that vote, it was 4-2. It was me, Caleb, Hayden, and Brad, and then Ciera and Katie. We were voting out Ciera. It was going to happen, because people never change their minds at tribal council!

But then Caleb pulls this thing about voting about Brad, and then when we vote me, Hayden, and Brad stay true. It was 3-3. This early on in the game, there are other options out there for me besides drawing rocks. I’m not going to risk a 25% chance to go home. If we draw rocks, Brad and Ciera are safe and it’s the rest of us four that have to draw rocks. I didn’t want to risk that, and Brad had to go.

Were you surprised then that Hayden still voted for keep Brad? I know that if I went through everything to get out there on the game, the last thing that I’d want to do is draw rocks.

I was very surprised that Hayden didn’t change. I think the writing was on the wall at that point and it was self-preservation. I was stunned, and I tried to use that to my advantage moving forward, saying that ‘hey Caleb, I changed because I wanted to support you’ or ‘hey Ciera, I didn’t want you out.’ I tried to use that. It seemed like Hayden was kind of going down with a sinking ship.

Aras and Vytas -This is a tough question, but while you were happy to see Aras around after the merge because he’s your brother, were you at all bummed that he put a huge target on you?

Maybe at first I was a little wary of the target we were going to have. Pre-game, we were really worried because we were huge targets, but hopefully we were going to make it far. But then Aras and I had that strategy conversation [after the merge], and it seemed at the merge feast like he was so chummy with Tyson and with Gervase. It seemed like he was so well-liked, and he told me that Tyson and Gervase were with him 100%. That’s where my confidence kicked in, thinking ‘they’re with you?’. It was then that I was thinking that Aras had done a great job forming a relationship, I’ve done a great job of building relationships, and we’ve mitigated a good many of these targets on our back.

Obviously, it didn’t work out like that. (Laughs.) Tyson’s playing a great game, and he realized that the best way to get your biggest threat out was to befriend him. So he befriended Aras, and then threw him under the bus and took him out. It was a great move.

Okay, so two last quick things. Would you want to go out there and play again, knowing that you didn’t have the pressure or the target of being with your brother?

In a heartbeat I would play again. I’m a huge ‘Survivor’ fan, and getting to play again would be like lightning striking twice. I’ll keep my fingers crossed, but I doubt it.

Finally, if Aras is King Aras, where does that put you on the royal family tree? Are you Prince Vytas?

If Aras is King Aras, I must be like the freakin’ czar. (Laughs.) There has to be some sort of different parliamentary system, because I’m not going to be lower than Aras.

Do you miss Vytas on “Survivor” this season already? Share below! We’ve got the latest updates on this season in a sidebar to the right, and we will have a sneak peek for Wednesday’s big episode come tomorrow evening.

Photo: CBS

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