Winning physical challenges in the game of Survivor, can be both a blessing and a curse. By winning, you ensure yourself another few days in the game. But by winning too often, you paint a target on your own back as being a physical threat. For Tasha Fox, she overcame incredible odds in the game, culminating in three straight Immunity Challenge wins. But she was unable to tie the Survivor record of consecutive Immunity wins (set back in Season 1 by Kelly Wigglesworth) by winning her fourth straight challenge on Wednesday night's episode of "Survivor: Cagayan." Despite some late voting shake-ups, the others on her tribe saw Tasha's rare loss as their only potential opportunity to strike at her. They did, and Tasha was sent to the jury after 33 days in the game. I spoke with Tasha today, one day after the episode aired.
Originally placed on the Brains tribe, Tasha quickly learned that her tribe name couldn't be more inaccurate. One of her earliest allies - J'Tia - ended up dumping out the tribe rice and put Tasha in a difficult spot. As a member of this dysfunctional group, Tasha's chances to go far in the game seemed highly unlikely, despite showing that she had very good game sense and seemed to be a very strong social player.
Her luck never really changed though, when Kass jumped ship and turned against Tasha after Tasha and her alliance weren't able to make Kass feel like an important part of the group. Although Tasha's name was mentioned often, she was able to maneuver herself deeper and deeper in the game, even managing to keep her closest ally, Spencer, safe as well.
Just when her time seemed to be running out, Tasha won Individual Immunity. Then she won again. And then again for a third time. Suddenly, Tasha went from being on the outs and slightly under-the-radar to a full-fledged threat to win the game. The scuttlebutt around camp was that they needed to get rid of Tasha the very first chance they could, if she would only lose an Immunity Challenge. Fighting some nasty weather, Tasha was just one number off on her combination that could have given her Immunity for the record-tying fourth-straight time. Instead, 33 days into the game, she was finally exposed and vulnerable.
Still not out of the game, they very nearly were able to sway Woo and Kass against Tony. But in the end, Woo and Kass voted along with Tony and Trish to remove Tasha from the game, the one person that everyone else agreed they'd probably lose to should she be able to reach the end.
I spoke to Tasha today about her time in the game, what went wrong with Kass, her Immunity wins and how close she came to winning the game.
Tasha Fox: Hi Tom!
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Hey Tasha! Darn, I was rooting for you, sorry to see you go!
Tasha: I am as well!
Tom Santilli: So everybody at this point in the game is referring to Kass's decision to flip on your alliance as the game's biggest move thus far. At the time, she said that her reasoning for the move was that you and her other alliance members hadn't made her feel important enough in the alliance and she saw herself as being on the bottom. So in your opinion, what went wrong with Kass at that point in the game?
Tasha: First of all I will not be a scapegoat for Kass's bad decisions. Honestly, me and Spencer had talked to Kass like every day, so I'm really not buying what Kass is selling in regards to that bad decision. I think that she was jealous of Sarah because people were trying to court Sarah and trying to get her to go with them. I think she made an emotional decision that cost her a million dollar game. And then to try to cover it up, she just said well I thought I was on the bottom. So I think its just a scapegoat.
Tom Santilli: Ironically, your fate in the game came down to Kass again last night, where she could have tried to shake things up by forcing a tie-vote between Tony and Trish but instead, Kass and Woo wrote your name down. But you were a huge threat to win the game, so you can't really blame them for their decision, right?
Tasha: Well here's my thing. I was definitely a threat and I could have won the million dollars. The thing with Trish, Woo and Kass is, you're not going to win unless you make a move. Yes, a person like me might win, but it's 100% guaranteed that you won't win unless you do something. Here's your chance to at least tell the jury something that you did, instead of just oh, I did everything that Tony wanted me to do. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't. If you go with Tony, you're going to lose because you didn't make a big move. But if you make a big move against Tony, you can at least tell the jury you did something. Just do something!
Tom Santilli: Let's go back to earlier in the game for a minute. Any regrets looking back on, keeping J'Tia around for as long as you did?
Tasha: Absolutely not. It was the best strategic thing to do because, had I voted out J'Tia, Spencer and Garrett would have had the chance to say let's keep Kass or let's keep Tasha. I would have been at their mercy. So I'm not going to let a five dollar bag of rice ruin my million dollar game. So I took the bull by the horns and kept J'Tia and even though I was pissed about the rice, it wasn't enough for me to give away a million dollars. J'Tia went home at the appropriate time and I stayed in the game, so it was the absolute right thing to do.
Tom Santilli: So you win an Immunity Challenge. Then you win again. And then again. During that streak, did the winning give you even more confidence that you could have ran the table all the way to the Final Three? Or did you feel increasing pressure to win knowing you were becoming an even bigger target? Or both perhaps?
Tasha: I was really just thinking about three days at a time. I was just thinking that every three days, I had to find some sort of a crack and make something happen. And to stay in the game, I needed to win. So that was just me pressuring myself and saying like, you can't depend on anybody but yourself. And that's really the way I felt the entire game. The only person I could play with was me and the only person that wanted to play the game with me, was me. I did the best I could with what I had, which was very little. If I were to get the chance to play the game again, my hope would be that maybe I could get a couple people together who would actually want to work with me, and then I think I would kill it.
Tom Santilli: While you're winning those challenges though, you have to know that your resume is starting to look awfully good, that if you were to make it to the end you'd be tough to beat. But at Final Six, who among the remaining players were you possibly worried about sitting next to at the end the most? Who was the person that you were scared may actually still be able to beat you?
Tasha: The only person that I think might have been good competition was maybe Spencer. Our narratives were pretty much the same, the only edge I would have had over Spencer is that I saved his game twice. Other than that, our stories were pretty much the same so he would have been the biggest threat to sit next to at the end. Tony, given the fact that the jury was pretty bitter and that I hadn't really pissed off anyone, I thought I could have beat him. Kass definitely, that's kind of a no-brainer. Trish maybe would have been a little bit of competition because she was the empitus for Kass flipping, but yeah, Spencer would have been number one.
Tom Santilli: I noticed the only person you didn't mention there was Woo. What was your take on him while playing?
Tasha: I saw both Woo and Trish as being Tony's minions. I felt like Woo was the enforcer. Tony would come up with the idea, Woo would enforce it and then I call Trish the clean-up woman. Because even though she may not have been in on the decision, she'd be right there to mop up after Tony's mess. It's really good to have role-players within an alliance, people who know their role. But they're not really playing to win. They're just playing their role, even at the expense of their million dollar game. I will say this though: Watching the show on TV, I was surprised with Trish. She actually did some things in the game. But when you're in it, it kind of looks like Tony's the one making all of these things happen when in fact, Trish is a big part of his success. And that's something I didn't know about and that's a big flaw in Trish's game. If she is next to Tony and Woo in the Finals, no one will look at Trish because she was just seen as being one of Tony's minions. But she deserves a lot more credit than what she's getting. But that would have been on her to make that known.
Tom Santilli: Overall with your game, do you feel like you were a victim of bad luck at all? Or did the things that worked against you in the game, could they have been avoided somehow by better gameplay? What's your take?
Tasha: Well any time you start with three tribes and then go into a switch or a merge with three people, you are automatically at a disadvantage. But again, Survivor is all about adjustments and re-adjustments and just doing the best you can with what you have. So even with starting out on my Luzon tribe, it forced me to be strategic from Day One. When you're losing you're strategizing a lot. So we're already in game mode by the time we get to the switch or the merge. I'm not even going to use that as excuse for coming in sixth. My circumstances were what they were, a good Survivor adjusts and just keeps it moving and that's exactly what I did, I just kept it moving. Even when Kass flipped I said, OK, what else can I do? I'm competitive, I'm athletic, so let me show that side of me. So I loved the experience, I wish I could have gotten further, but given the circumstances, it was incredibly difficult to do that. But I'm OK with it.