The following contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Survivor 43.
Playing the middle may work for the first Tribal or two, but as Survivor‘s Sami Layadi discovered Wednesday, failing to pick a side will eventually come back to bite you.
After the legendary immunity challenge Last Gasp left three players (Karla, Owen and Cody) immune, Sami was one of only four players on the chopping block at this week’s Tribal Council. Despite his attempt to turn the tight duo of Karla and Cassidy against each other (and burning a few bridges along the way), the rest of the tribe just couldn’t trust his flip-flopping, and elected to send him packing with a unanimous vote. (Read a full recap here.)
But who did he want to go to the end of the game with and what were his biggest regrets in the game? Below, Layadi breaks it all down.
TVLINE | So why are you the one giving the exit interview today?
SAMI LAYADI | I forgot that people have eyes and ears, to be honest with you, man. I was double-crossing and flipping and flopping, and it caught up with me. I think there’s a point in this game where you have to be like, “OK, this got me this far. I need to stick with these people now.” And you stick with the people you think you could beat. I wanted to snake my way all the way to the end and it caught up with me!
TVLINE | You played the middle for a very long time. Is there anyone you wouldn’t have voted out or turned your back on?
I didn’t want to turn my back on Owen, Gabler and stupidly enough, I didn’t want to turn my back on Cody. There was a point in time in which I didn’t want to [vote out] Cass or Karla [either], but those two were just such good gamers. They were such good thinkers. The difference with Cody, Gabler and Owen… as far as Cody, I thought he was “livin,” just out there having fun. And Gabler and Owen, I felt if I got to the end of this game with them, I was in the game with them from the beginning so I can say and articulate what they did in this game vs. what I did because I was there. I saw it. As for the others, Cass, Karla and Jesse, I didn’t know, and I’d also have no shot if I made it to the end with them.
TVLINE | Had you survived that vote, do you think you could’ve repaired your game relationship with Karla?
I didn’t want to vote for Karla again. After that vote, she gave me so much hope and was one of the only people — you see it in the episode — telling me, “I don’t want to cut ties with you.” Nobody else talked to me like that after I wrote down their name. For her to have done that, our relationship was really strong at that point. It would’ve been interesting to see. I would’ve had a really hard time writing her name down again after that point, but I also would’ve had a hard time beating her at the end of this game. It’s hard to say, man. I probably would’ve tried to get to the end of the game with Gabler and Owen, but you never know.
TVLINE | Both you and Jesse talked about trying to turn Karla and Cassidy against each other. Did you get the sense that getting Cass out at this stage just wasn’t going to be plausible?
I did. I was talking with Gabler and Cody throughout the day and they were like, “Listen man, if something goes wrong, we’ll let you know.” I was like, “What? Why would you tell me that? Just tell me it’s going to be fine!” Then at Tribal, I was trying to talk to them and they wouldn’t look at me or do anything, so I owe them credit for playing the Shot in the Dark.
With Cass, it was just unfortunate. We had built a pretty strong bond where we did at some point discuss, “Maybe we can take out Karla at some point,” and I kind of ruined it. I toasted it. I remember throughout the day that Noelle got voted out, Cass was trying to tell me, “Listen Sami. Don’t do this yet. Wait on this,” and I didn’t listen. I built so many strong relationships in this game and at some point, I stopped paying attention to each and every relationship. That was my biggest flaw in this game, I think.
TVLINE | You got to participate in that classic Survivor immunity challenge. What did it feel like being in the water and under that grate?
I don’t know if I would say I participated! They were out there a long time, dude! Even Jesse, who was the third one out I think, even he was battling that tide. For somebody who at least touched the grates, I really wasn’t in it that long. But listen, Owen is a nutjob because he said, “I would love to do this challenge. I cannot wait to do this challenge.” I freaked out when I saw this was the challenge we were doing. I was like, “Is this legal? Are there any Fijian laws I can bring out of my back pocket that can save me from having to compete in this thing?” That challenge is freakin’ freaky, bro! Salt in your nose, eyes, throat… and I was only in there for 30 minutes, let alone three hours. Come on!
TVLINE | Three people out of seven were immune, which was crazy! Had only one player been safe, would you have stood a better chance?
I do think so. There was a lot of rumbling about who was a priority to take out at this point. I was on the bottom. You don’t take the guy on the bottom out at seven, you start taking your shots at seven. Had Cody or Owen or Karla not been safe that day, there might’ve been some talk about taking out some of these big threats still in this game. But eventually, it fell upon me, and I don’t blame it on the fact that three people were safe; I blame it on the fact that I totally blew my own game up and that’s on me. But it was definitely unprecedented. I was ecstatic for Owen and Karla. They were such warriors throughout that challenge. They beasted that thing! I couldn’t be mad about it. Listen man, Survivor‘s a crazy game at its core. Some things go your way, some things don’t.
TVLINE | By announcing you were using your Shot in the Dark, were you hoping that would’ve scared people away from writing your name down?
I was. I felt like all the votes were against me. I wouldn’t say it was a bluff when I said it, but it was like, “Hey, listen. I’m doing this. If you guys are doing what you said you were going to do, you don’t need me to do this.” By the time I said that and Karla said it was unfortunate, I was like, “Well, this is totally happening.” Even after Jeff read Not Safe… when you’re playing this game, you have to have hope, man. Some little bit of hope. So I still had this little, little, little inkling of hope that it would be Sami, Sami, Cass, Cass, Cass. Then when it was all me. I was like, “Shucks, man. That’s the end of the road.”
TVLINE | In hindsight, is there anything you wish you’d done differently?
I think people are silly when they say they don’t have regrets. I should’ve nurtured my relationship with Gabler more. I should’ve kept Owen more in the loop. Obviously I should’ve identified Jesse as a threat. One of my biggest regrets is not keeping true to Karla when she kept true to me and trusted me. The same thing goes for Cassidy. We built a good relationship out there and I kind of burned it without giving it too much attention.
For future players, don’t burn relationships in this game. Don’t do that. Don’t count anybody out because it can come back to get you at the end of the day. You have to always be aware that people matter. Even if it’s a group of eight, nine, smaller groups. Everybody’s opinion matters. Everybody’s voice matters. That’s something I can learn going forward.