At first glance, Kat Edorsson may have seemed to be an unlikely choice as a returning player on "Survivor." Her first time in the game was on "Survivor: One World" and it was memorable, but not in the strategic sense. She was a fun-loving but naive player who didn't quite seem cut out to be a real contender in a game like this. But when casting a "loved ones" season, how could you possibly pass up on Kat when you consider who her boyfriend is: The winner of Big Brother 12, Hayden Moss? Fans of both reality shows have been dying for a cross-over and the charismatic Hayden seems like an ideal choice to break the barrier. But on Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," Kat's second go-around on Survivor came to a close when she finished in last place during the Duel, leaving Hayden alone in the game (if you are not caught up yet on Episode 7, here is the full recap).
But it almost didn't go down like that. After Kat was voted out of her tribe for targeting then-ally Monica before Vytas, she arrived with high emotions at the Redemption Island Arena. She was extremely worried that her relationship with Hayden would suffer, or that he'd be disappointed in her for how she played the game. Not only were her fears not realized, but their bond was strengthened. Hayden left the choice up to Kat as to whether or not they should swap places in the game. Hayden seemed more than willing to do so for his girl, Kat. But ultimately, Kat felt Hayden had a better long-term shot at winning the game, so she decided to stick it out. That decision led to her exit.
Today I got a chance to speak with Kat. Here is my exclusive one-on-one conversation with her:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hi Kat! Man, that was rough to watch last night!
Kat Edorsson: You know, between you and I, I had to get up twice (while watching last night's episode). It was just hard. It was hard to re-watch it. The elements of this game are just intense. Last night me and Hayden were live Tweeting and I looked to his left, right when he started crying on the show, and he had put his phone over his face. It was just really hard to re-watch because it was such an emotional time.
Tom Santilli: So give me some background on your relationship with Hayden going into Survivor. How long had you been together? Are you still together? Was your Survivor experience ultimately a good thing or a bad thing for your relationship?
Kat: It was the best thing that we could ever do. I mean think about it. We could have been at home and relaxing on the couch but instead we got to get up and go play Survivor for the Summer. Hayden and I are just very blessed. We feel very honored to be chosen to have this experience. As of right now, me and Hayden live in two different states. When we went on Survivor we were probably dating for a little less than a year. Our one year anniversary is actually in December but we've been speaking and dating for almost a year and a half. And actually when we were on Survivor, that was the longest time that Hayden and I had ever been in the same place for more than five days. We had just started saying I love you a few months before. It was just so fresh. It doesn't mean that mine and Hayden's connection wasn't as strong as others. We don't get to spend that much time together but he's the love of my life and vice versa for him.
Tom Santilli: Seeing the preview next week and seeing that the merge is coming, how did that make you feel, to see just how close you were to having a chance to play the game with Hayden?
Kat: God, that sucked, didn't it? That was awful. I'm emotional on a normal basis. I'm not a thinker, I'm a do-er. I do things without thinking about them first. So when you're starving and your boyfriend is out there, it's just really intense. It was really tough to be that close and to not play with him. That is what we had wanted the whole time, just for us to interact together and even if one of us didn't win and one of us just made the merge, you know how precious that time would have been? I say it with truth right now, because I still only get to see him like twice a month, for like three days. Making the merge meant more to me than to anybody else out there. That's what bothers me the most, we never get to see each other or spend time together, but we're crazy in love with one another. So not only was Survivor and a million dollars taken away from me, but so was the chance to spend two or three weeks with Hayden. That's something that I can never take away and that's what I was so emotional about.
Tom Santilli: Now had things been reversed in the game...let's say you were on your tribe and you see that Hayden was voted out...do you swap with him?
Kat: I mean, without thinking? No! Play your own game! But from a strategic standpoint, absolutely. Let's say if it was a balance-beam challenge, I would have gone in there for him because I know that he would have had a tough time and that he has a better chance long-term than me. It depends. Most likely though, I wouldn't, because he would never ask me to do that. I'm the only person from the beginning to my elimination to ask for the swap. That's just because I don't think before I talk.
Tom Santilli: The whole idea that Hayden has a better chance than you in the game, does that bother or hurt you somewhere deep down inside, that people don't feel like you pose a chance of going far in a game like Survivor? Why do you feel you don't stand as good of a chance as Hayden?
Kat: I mean, do you think you could play against Hayden? (Laughs) I'm just kidding...
Tom Santilli: No I don't! Or you for that matter!
Kat: It bothers me only when I feel like I can't come into my own skin. I don't want to come away from this and have people not recognize me for me. I didn't want to just be known as Hayden's girlfriend. That's kind of what I was afraid of when we first came into the game, because Hayden is a very recognizable player from Big Brother, one of the favorites, he has a really big following and everybody adores him. I don't feel like that though. I'm going to quote the Culpeppers on this, one plus one equals two. I feel that I am the biggest supporter of Hayden as he is of me. So if he does well than I do well. I'm very much OK being a team rather than being an individual at this point in the game.
Tom Santilli: Let's talk about what happened on your tribe. Why do you think you weren't able to convince the others to turn on Monica?
Kat: That wasn't my intention. I was just accommodating my conversation that I had with Tina that same hour. Monica and I had bad trust stemming from the beginning of the game. Honestly, my alliance was with Tina and Tina threw me under the bus with Monica because she thought that I was strategizing against her. I took Monica to the side right before the vote and talked to her for about 45 minutes. So the fact that I did that made Tina worry, so Tina dropped my name to Monica that I had talked against her, and then Monica went bonkers. So she thought that I was trying to get the whole tribe against her, which I really wasn't. It was just Tina playing hard ball. It was easy to point the finger at me because I had already been caught in an untrustworthy lie. I should have never lied to Monica, I should have just told her the truth. You know what I should have done, I should have called out Vytas at Tribal Council for having eliminated her husband, Brad.
Tom Santilli: Speaking of Vytas, what were your thoughts watching the episodes back and seeing Vytas's true nature, how everything he was doing was calculated?
Kat: He's a crafty little son-of-a-gun. He's doing his thing, he's playing his game. All's I'm going to say is don't get too crafty because it will end up biting him in the ass.
Tom Santilli: Moving forward, what does Hayden have to look out for? What are his weaknesses or potential vulnerabilities?
Kat: If I was in the game still, I would just tell him to watch out for my tribe. My tribe are conniving little things! (Laughs) Everyone has their own agenda and everyone wants to do their own thing while their out there. I would just tell Hayden, know that I'm safe. Know that I'm in a good place. I don't blame you for not switching with me. I love you and I think you're going to do incredible. Just play the game that you know that you can play. And just do whatever it takes to stay in the game, whatever it takes. That's what I would tell him.
Tom Santilli: Well Kat, best of luck to you, glad to hear that you and Hayden are going strong! Could their be wedding bells in your future?
For even more, be sure to watch Kat's day after interview to the upper left of this column. Also be sure to subscribe to this column (above by my name) to receive email alerts of new postings and you'll want to follow me on Twitter too, @tomsantilli, and at tomsantilli.com as well!
Also, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.