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Interview with Sarah: Her badge was 'one thing I was not willing to swear on'

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Sarah Lacina was a contestant who immediately caught our attention from the very first episode of "Survivor: Cagayan." The police officer from Cedar Rapids, Iowa seemed tough as nails...and very perceptive too. She was able to peg Tony as a fellow cop just by looking at him. But in what was one of the craziest, most memorable Tribal Councils ever, Sarah saw herself the victim of a mind-numbing blindside (In case you missed the episode, here is the full Episode 7 recap). I had a chance to speak with Sarah today, just one day after the airing of her Tribal Council exit.

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Starting off on the Brawn tribe, Sarah seemed to be one to watch and had several lines on-camera. Forming the "blue blood" alliance with fellow police officer Tony, the two seemed to have a real alliance going. But the tribe swap didn't do Sarah's game any favors. She was the only contestant who ended up without a single ally on her new tribe, yet she found a way to survive a Tribal Council.

When the merge happened, Sarah suddenly seemed like she was in a great spot. There were two seemingly tight alliances of five, with Sarah as the potential swing vote. Rarely does the swing vote go home in such a situation...unless they over-play their hand. Which is exactly what Sarah did.

Feeling bullied and wanting to carve her own way in the game, she resisted the ideas of her new tribe, especially that of Kass, whom she didn't much like (a mutual feeling it seemed). She insisted that her new tribe vote for anybody but Trish, ultimately suggesting that they get rid of Tony...her "blue blood" ally was just too big of a threat in the game.

Ultimately, Sarah did stick with her new tribe, but her feud with Kass ended up being much worse than first thought. In a shocking, down-right jaw-dropping blindside, Kass switched her vote and sent Sarah home in a 6-5 vote. This isn't the last we'll see of Sarah though, as she became the first member of the "Survivor: Cagayan" jury.

Here's my exclusive interview with Sarah, as we discuss her time in the game, that crazy Tribal Council, her alliance with Tony and much more:

Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Wow what a crazy episode, sorry to see you go!

Sarah Lacina: I know! And thank you.

Tom Santilli: So my first question is, what the heck happened to the "blue blood" alliance?

Sarah: You know, once the whole "top five, final five" thing [where Tony chanted that after winning a challenge], after that happened, I just realized that they had moved on and I was no longer a part of them. At that point, you just need to make an alliance elsewhere. Otherwise you're going to sitting at the bottom of their alliance, if that's even an option. It just didn't work out.

Tom Santilli: But had you just swore on your badge, Tony would have believed you fully and you would have perhaps been able to pull off a successful blindside without making yourself the target of his tribe.

Sarah: Yeah, you can clearly see him asking me to swear on my badge and I wouldn't do that. That was one thing that I wasn't willing to swear on. Some people say, oh, I'd swear on my mother, or whatever. It was just that that's not the type of person that I am. So some may see that as a flaw in my game, but that restitution was not something that I was willing to jeopardize.

Tom Santilli: It was really portrayed that you were dead-set against voting out Trish and that seemed to be Kass's main reason for not trusting you. Why stick up for Trish? Or were you just very adamant that LJ or Tony had to go?

Sarah: A little bit of both. I really liked Trish and I was really hoping that a little later in the game I would be able to work with her again. And I felt like LJ and Tony were bigger threats. But again, I was kind of wrong on that, because of how well Trish is playing the game.

Tom Santilli: Tony was really pushing hard and giving you some very compelling reasons why you should re-align with him. But could you explain your reasoning for ultimately deciding to go along with your new Aparri tribe?

Sarah: Before the merge had happened, we had said that in the event of a merge the next day, we had agreed that if you flip...and by the way it was more directed at me because everyone was concerned with me...they were saying that if you flip you are not going to get any of our jury votes. So at that point it just sounded like I couldn't win the game if I chose that way. For this particular vote, it just wasn't an option for me to flip and if anyone does they've just sealed their own fate.

Tom Santilli: Which player would you say surprised you the most based on what you have seen on TV thus far?

Sarah: I think Trish has surprised me the most. I completely underestimated her and she's playing a phenomenal game. She's making big moves and getting people voted out and that's what needs to happen. And yet, she's not really looking like the bad one. But if she's sitting in the Finals, she can claim all of these things as hers. I definitely think she's playing a stellar game right now and I didn't recognize that out there.

Tom Santilli: Your Tribal Council was an epic one that will be remembered as one of the most unpredictable in the show's history. Walk us through it. Was your alliance's original plan to vote out Tony and then to vote out Jefra if he had an Idol? Was that all pre-planned?

Sarah: In hindsight it was pre-planned, but we didn't do that purposely. We had a 3-3 split vote while we were standing in the water, three of us wanted to vote out Tony and three to vote out Jefra. After playing out some scenarios, everybody agreed that we were going to vote out Tony. Then once he pulled out the Idol, luckily we had discussed someone else and we just said "the other one," and they had no clue who we were talking about. In the event that we would not have done that, we would have been stuck just hoping we were all on the same page in our heads, or we would have seen three or four different names written down. Then we clearly would have lost.

Tom Santilli: So once you're all on the same page to vote out Jefra, Tony and then LJ both pull out their Idols. You have to be thinking at that point, sweet! Flush two Idols and Jefra is going home!

Sarah: Yeah absolutely. Once Tony pulled out his Idol and we changed the vote for Jefra, then Tony plays his Idol on LJ. We were like, OK great, we got away with that one. And then LJ pulls his Idol out. We had no idea he had an Idol. Then he plays it on Tony and we were just ecstatic. I mean I could barely keep it in. We just flushed two Idols and Jefra is going home. And then Jeff couldn't read the votes fast enough. It was five to five, but then I see my name come up. I was in complete shock and couldn't figure out what happened. I mean it was clear what had happened - someone flipped - but I was in such shock that I couldn't figure it out.

Tom Santilli: How long did it take you to determine that Kass was the one that had flipped?

Sarah: Once I got my torch and was walking back past everyone, I heard everyone talking because they were wondering what had happened also and someone was talking about flipping, so it put the idea in my head that, oh, someone must have flipped. That's what happened. So everybody I walked past was like, not me, not me, and then Tash was like...Kass. I couldn't believe it.

Tom Santilli: So as a fan of the show, in regards to the move Kass made against you: Is that something you respect as a player or is that something you feel bitter about?

Sarah: I don't think that that move benefited her in any way, shape or form. She just made five potential jury members overly angry. And you're going to need those five votes to win the game, in the event that you make it that far. As a fan, it actually made me mad because it completely screwed up five other people's games.

Tom Santilli: Overall, how do you feel you were portrayed on the show and were you happy about how your storyline played out on television?

Sarah: Well I would say it's pretty accurate. Last night it totally looked like I was being a diva out there. I mean, everything I said, I said. Everything I did, I did. But I would like to say that the original Brawn tribe actually got along really good and we had some really fun times together and joked and laughed a lot. But otherwise, I'd say yeah, it was accurate.

Watch Sarah's Ponderosa video at this link.

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.

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