Both Laura Morett and Hayden Moss qualify as winners. Of course, many of us remembered Hayden as the winner of "Big Brother" a few years ago. And although Laura lost on "Survivor: Samoa," she established herself as quite the Duel challenge beast this season, surviving six Duels in total and winning five of those outright. But both Hayden and Laura entered unfamiliar ground when they lost the Final Duel to Tina on Sunday night's Finale Episode of "Survivor: Blood vs Water," sending them both out of the game. On a conference call with both Laura and Hayden, one day after the Finale Episode, I had a chance to speak with them about their time in the game.
In case you missed the action, here is the full Finale Episode recap.
Laura had a rough road, but her relationship with her daughter, Ciera, became the emotional center of this season. Laura fought her way back into the game from Redemption Island only to be voted right back out of the game with the help of her own daughter. The two shared many touching moments as we saw a mother's love and the growth of a daughter take shape before our very eyes. The "Morett Girls" were the last remaining couple in the game and Laura came quite close to re-entering the game twice, before losing that Final Duel.
Hayden on the other hand, seemed to be in a great position early on, but losing challenge after challenge quickly put him in the minority. Along with Caleb, he was able to maneuver his way back into a majority alliance once Tyson and Gervase joined his side after the tribe swap. Sailing along, this former Big Brother winner knew that he had to make a big move against Tyson at some point, but he chose the wrong moment. He confided in Ciera and it came back to bite him. Showing his social strength and why he was able to win on Big Brother, Hayden was actually able to pull Ciera back in during a Tribal Council, leading to only the second rock draw in Survivor history. Had Tyson pulled that white rock instead of Katie, Hayden may have found himself the winner of yet another TV game show.
Here is my chat with Hayden Moss and Laura Morett:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: So nice to talk to you both! Let me start off with you Hayden. Having now played both Big Brother and Survivor, you have to know that having "in-game awareness" is a really important thing in order to do well. What is the key, do you think and why do some people have such a hard time recognizing where they rank?
Hayden Moss: You know what? I don't really know the answer to that. Being aware of your surroundings is almost something that, some people have it and some people don't. Knowing where you are and being able to read people, for some reason comes natural to me. And a lot of times I can understand, OK, just by somebody's body language or the way they're talking to me, I can tell if they're lying to me or if they're respecting me. Just reading someone's verbal cues plays a huge part in the game. And really, understanding where you are in your alliance, I'm not sure why some people have such a hard time grasping that, but it happens all the time. It's pretty common.
Tom Santilli: Hayden, I was also a big fan of yours on Big Brother, where you had the unstoppable, all-guy alliance called the Brigade. Early on, I thought for sure that you were trying to build Brigade 2.0 this season with all the guys, Caleb, Vytas, Brad and John.
Hayden: You do realize that was exactly what I was trying to do, right? I mean we had five big, burly-ass dudes who were also smart! It's frustrating though, because I told them if we just all stick together, we could run the table. We got rid of Marissa and Rachel, but then Brad was like, it's time to boot John. You just can't make too many games early on in a game like this. You just can't. You make waves, you go home.
Tom Santilli: Do you blame Brad for that whole thing or do you blame Caleb for voting for Brad, or even Vytas for caving in with his vote?
Hayden: No, I mean, if you're going to blame somebody for the fall of the five-guys alliance, you have to blame Brad. As soon as you vote somebody out you create that sense of mistrust. Caleb thought he was next, so you can't blame him for making a move to stay in the game. But yeah, the whole fall of the alliance was totally Brad's fault.
Tom Santilli: You're the only person to ever play Big Brother and Survivor. Factoring in all of the physicality and mental strategy required, which game do you think is more fun to play and if you could only choose one, which game would you play again given the chance?
Hayden: I don't know the answer to which game I'd play, I really don't. It's something I'd have to think about a little bit. But as far as more fun, Big Brother I'd say is more fun, Survivor is more this amazing experience. Because when you're out there playing Survivor, it's fun, but it's not like it's the best time ever, because you're miserable. When you're playing Big Brother, you have a full stomach, you're drinking beers at night. You're just hanging out. It's more of like a fun, Summer vacation type atmosphere. With Survivor, you're more like, this is amazing, it's so cool to be here, but it's tough.
Tom Santilli: Can you clarify for us at all what Kat was trying to say at the Live Reunion Show last night?
Hayden: I can't actually (laughs). I can't.
Tom Santilli: Now Laura. A lot was made about how your daughter voted you out of the game, but she didn't really have to. The others were voting for you and would have understood had she thrown a vote a different way. So looking back on that decision, to you feel like that was a move that Ciera had to make?
Laura Morett: I think she made the smart move. She was also trying to show that she would do what the alliance was willing to do. She didn't want to go against the grain, you want me to vote out my mom? I'll vote out my mom. So Ciera was starting to build up her resume for when she made it to the Final 3. That was definitely one of the biggest moves of the season. So she made the smart move.
Tom Santilli: I know that it is difficult to be critical of a loved one, especially your daughter, but looking at Ciera's game, did you think she made any mistakes, where had she done something differently, the two of you might have had a better path to the end?
Laura: I don't necessarily blame her, by any means. But I do know that there was a point in the game where there were eight of us. It was me, Caleb, Hayden and Katie and we were going to vote for Tyson. She told me originally that she had Caleb and Hayden locked into that, to trust her and not to talk to them much about it, that it's OK. And so, I trusted her relationship with Hayden and Caleb to let them know that I'm with you guys. But I didn't go to Hayden and Caleb to tell them look, you guys can 100% trust me, and I didn't do that sort of because Ciera told me to trust her, that she's got them, just believe me. I don't blame her for that, I blame myself. But maybe she could have said, you may want to go over there because they don't trust you, that's the only thing that I can say and I take just as much blame for it than her.
Tom Santilli: Describe how you felt the moment that you realized Ciera was getting voted out of the game.
Laura: Everything from cry, to she played an amazing game, to disappointment because she deserved to be in the Final 3, to joy because she was going to be at Ponderosa and we could spend a little bit of time together and hang out for a little bit. Also thankfulness that she was going to shower, that she was going to eat, that I didn't have to worry about her. Everything, there's just this rush. I just know how she feels so when she lost it just broke my heart because I know how much she wanted it.
Tom Santilli: This question is for both of you: Why did you ultimately vote for Tyson to win and more specifically, why did you choose to not vote for Gervase and Monica?
Hayden: It was kind of an easy decision. Tyson was just the man out there. He was the one pulling all the strings, he made all the big moves, he won challenges when he needed to, found two idols. Just played a really good game. The perception out there was just that Gervase was a follower, he wasn't a leader. It's hard to reward that. Tyson played this great game and Gervase just happened to be part of his alliance. He did put himself in a position to get to the Final 3 and he deserves to be in the Final 3, but Tyson was just the clear cut best player of the season.
Laura: I absolutely agree. He walked in here with a big target on his back and he somehow continued to divert attention away from him. So yes, voting him to win was an easy vote. Kudos to Gervase, it had been a long time since he played the game and he had to adapt from the very first season until now. He definitely got some respect for going far, but Ciera said it best. They didn't show this, but she said why didn't you ever turn against Tyson, you were clearly settling for second or third place and that is obviously OK with you. She made a real valid point. With Monica, the same thing. She didn't make any big moves that we saw. Everybody's got their perception of how they play the game and I just didn't think that she made any moves. It was frustrating because every time she had an opportunity to make a big move, she didn't. It was frustrating to see each person come into Ponderosa and be like, Monica just doesn't get it. It was hard to give my vote to somebody who was willing to settle for third place.
Also, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.