Candice Cody wasn't supposed to be here. A fierce, blunt competitor who lasted over 30 days on each of her previous two seasons, Candice Cody (formerly Woodcock) and her husband John were actually alternates this season: Survivors kept in reserve on the off-chance that something last-minute happens that prevents someone from playing in the show. Wouldn't you know, Candice and John entered the game late when RC Saint-Amour and her father were pulled from the game after her dad showed signs of high-blood pressure. Enter Candice, who on last night's episode of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" finally saw her third time in the game abruptly ended...partially due to the hands of her husband, John (click here for the full episode recap, in case you've missed it).
But she wasn't supposed to be there. Not only an alternate called in at the final hour, but Candice - a pretty good Survivor strategist - never got a chance to really play the game she has grown to love. Candice was voted out right off the bat when the game started, immediately putting her on Redemption Island to fight for her life in the game. In her time out there though, she made the most of her position, winning or finishing in second in every Duel until last night, when she fell short behind her husband, John, and nemesis, Brad Culpepper, whom she had traded words with (and flashed a few middle fingers at) after he was responsible for her husband's blindside.
In a way, it could be argued that Candice was also responsible for her husband's early demise, choosing to give him a clue to the hidden Idol that ultimately put a target on his back.
Today I had the chance to chat with Candice about her time in the game, about playing the game with her husband and if she thinks her late arrival to the game as an alternate had anything to do with her being voted out first.
So how bummed are you that you didn't even really get to play the game?
Candice Cody: Super-bummed! I love playing Survivor and it's such a challenging game, socially, physically and emotionally. So it's tough for me to have never stepped foot on a tribe beach. But I'm proud of myself, lasting 11 days, having to fight for my life every time at Redemption Island. I was hoping to fight my way back in and return from Redemption Island but, you know, it's a game and it is what it is.
John had a hand in eliminating you from the game because you had to compete against him at the Duel, but you had put an inadvertent target on John's back by giving him clues to the hidden Idol. Any regrets in doing so and were you worried about making him a target when you gave him the clues?
Candice: I was definitely concerned. The Idol is such a touchy subject and ideally you find the clue secretly and no one knows about it. It was really difficult to have to give the clue in public. It definitely crossed my mind that it may make John a target. So I thought, who could I give it to to keep the target off his back? Obviously I can't give it to anyone on his tribe who could then use it against him. I don't really know who I could give it to that he could trust. Then I thought about giving it to someone on the other tribe and, again, I don't know what's going on or who was doing what. Potentially, that person could use the Idol against John in the future. In a bad situation, you have to make the best decision out of the bad choices.
Did being on Redemption Island with Brad change your view on him at all?
Candice: Yeah, I mean, Brad is not a bad guy, he's just a very loud, boisterous guy who doesn't really allow for anyone else around him to have an opinion. With some of the loved ones, they were trying to be careful in the game and not be too loud or make too much of a stink, but on Redemption Island, you don't have anything to lose at that point.
It was recently revealed that you and John were actually alternates this season and only came into the game at the last minute. Jeff Probst implied that he felt that your late arrival put you at a disadvantage in the game. Do you agree with his assessment? Were you at a disadvantage?
Candice: Yeah, I definitely think that was a huge disadvantage coming in and having to vote someone out in the first thirty seconds. I was definitely nervous coming in less than 24 hours before the game started but I thought, getting that first three days before we hit Tribal Council and I'll be good. I'll let people know what happened, why I showed up late, and just try to get in with people. But yeah, that first thirty second vote-out, yeah, that was hard! I just think that it may have been the easy vote.
You mentioned in your day-after interview (watch it at the upper left of this column!) that you had only seen John cry one time prior to this season of Survivor, but out there he was a pretty emotional guy. How hard was it to watch him have such a hard time emotionally during your time in the game?
Candice: It was tough. My husband is a put-together, tough guy. To see how much it effected him to see me hurt or put at a disadvantage, it was touching. I felt bad because I wanted to tell him, I'm good! Don't worry about me. I'm not mad at you. We just didn't have the opportunity. So I just made sure the first chance I got, the first time I saw him at that Duel, I gave him a wink and let him know, don't worry about me, I'm good. Go play your game.
During that last Duel, had things worked out where Brad would have finished in first place, you would have been pitted directly against John to see who stays in the game. What would you have done in that situation?
Candice: We did talk about it ahead of time. I told him - and he agreed - that we were going to fight and that we weren't going to stop and to play as hard as we can. May the best Cody win! I think it's probably easier said than done and I'm glad it didn't come down to that. Because, I just don't know if I could have done that in my heart. It's tough. It's definitely a distraction when you're trying to win and you're worried about your loved one. But we had agreed that we were both going to fight it out and that we weren't going to give in to the other.
Obviously at this point, John has to win his way back into the game. But if he is able to, what do you think is his best move strategically? He can't re-align with the guys who blindsided him, can he?
Candice: I think that as people start getting voted out, the game starts shifting. You got people who still have loved ones in the game and then you have people that don't have a partner. So when you go back in the game, you have to look at the numbers and if it's close - as far as the number of people with a loved one and the number of people without - you have to go with what you are. So if he's a single coming back in and he can possibly band the singles together, then do that. He also has two clues to the hidden Immunity Idol - and they may or may not even end up at the same beach. So keep those clues in your mind. He's a smart guy and I trust that he will end up doing the right thing. But you can never predict what the playing field will look like once you're back in the game. Survivor is all about staying on your toes, staying adaptable and being ready for anything.
For even more, be sure to watch Candice'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!
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