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Interview with Tina Wesson and Ciera Eastin, talking all things 'Survivor'

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Why would there be a Tina/Ciera joint interview instead of a Ciera/Laura, which would make perfect sense? Don't over-think it. That's just the way it is. The only thing that these two really have in common is that they were the last two people voted out of "Survivor: Blood vs. Water," as we saw on Sunday night's Finale. They are also both moms, who played this season as tough as nails, albeit in different ways. Today I had the chance to speak to both of them about their time in the game, amongst other more important things.

Here is the full Finale Episode recap, in case you need to get caught up.

Of course, the more serious thing was talked about at last night's Live Reunion Show, the death of Tina's son just a few weeks ago after a car accident. Rather than shell up, in pure Tina fashion, she took the tragedy and created an opportunity to help others. Had her son wore his seat belt, he would still be around, so Tina urged us to listen and learn.

That kind of mettle is rare, but it's a quality Tina has possessed since we first were introduced to her in Survivor's second season...a season that saw her crowned the Sole Survivor. She played again during the All-Stars season but was the first person booted out, mainly due to her reputation and her past win. But years have gone by and this season there were many targets that overshadowed Tina. She had a solid alliance, but the Aras blindside through her game into turmoil. Being Tina, she wasn't done just because she was at Redemption Island. She fought hard to win Duels and it earned her a spot back in the game at Final Five. But unfortunately for her, the power alliance was still running the game. She pleaded with Monica to force a tie-break fire-making challenge between Tina and Gervase, knowing that if she did have to make fire to make the Finals, she would probably be on her way to her second winning season. Monica knew that too though and voted her out with a fourth place finish.

Ciera on the other hand, became one of the standout new players this season. You could tell her crafty, strategic mind was firing on all cylinders early in the game, but she was immediately thrust into the minority on her tribe. After the tribal swap, she was able to form a power alliance with Tyson, Gervase, Hayden and Caleb and all things looked good for Ciera. After the merge, to prove her loyalty, she even voted out her own mother!

That move was one of the season's biggest, but it also showed Ciera's cut-throat ability to play Survivor. Her relationship with her mom was the emotional center of this season and without these two Morett girls, this season would not have been nearly as good. But voting out her mom wasn't all. She would then switch mid-stream during a Tribal Council, forcing them to draw rocks in an attempt to overthrow Tyson, the person she had just sworn loyalty to. She made it through the rock draw - even won an individual Immunity - but that random act set in motion an uphill battle for Ciera down the stretch. With no play left to make, she was voted out, finishing fifth.

Both Tina and Ciera voted for Tyson to win the game. Here is my interview with the two of them:

Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Tina, first I just wanted to give you my deepest sympathies for everything you are going through with your son, Taylor. What has the reaction been like from fans and the Survivor community?

Tina Wesson: Thank you so much for asking. It has just been amazing. I really haven't gotten on the social media train until this season and to have so many people who care so much, leaving the sweetest messages and tweets and feeling so supported and included in everyone's thoughts and prayers. It really means so much to me. And my CBS family has just rallied around and has been such a comfort. It's just been so heartwarming. That's really why me and Katie really wanted to be at the Finale. Our cast members, we are a very close cast. We had our own rooms when we were out there, and none of us wanted to be in our own rooms. We wanted to all be together. So I think that's a testament to how close our cast was this year.

Tom Santilli: Well you're an inspiration for all of us, that's for sure. If I can let's segue into the game and your daughter, Katie. You talked at the Live Reunion about how much you love your daughter, but how proud of her were you this season and did she surpass even your motherly expectations with what she was able to accomplish?

Tina: Well that's a good question. I'm so proud of her. Partly because Katie came out to play the game for me. Katie had only seen my season, she is not competitive or athletic at all. So for her to come out for me and to do so well...I knew she would do good socially in the game because she's a sweet and kind person. But it was just a wonderful experience to have her with me. And it meant so much.

Tom Santilli: You obviously won Survivor, then came back a second time and were the first person voted off. Now you play for a third time and get all the way to Final 4. Did that surprise you at all, how well you did this season?

Tina: Survivor is such a surprise and a game of luck, to some degree. I don't know a single person who won the game who wouldn't say that there was an element of luck to their win. I felt like being at Redemption Island, it was kind of safer there than it was being in the game. You don't have all the psychological torture that you have in the game. I hate to say that I'm satisfied with fourth place, because I'm not. And I feel like whether it was me, or Laura M, or Ciera, or Hayden, if any of us had gotten back in the game and actually won that last challenge to get to Final 3, I feel like they would have won the game. The Final 3 wasn't too popular with the jury people, so if any of us would have gotten back in I think we would have won.

Ciera, any regrets looking back?

Ciera Eastin: I've been asked a lot that, do I regret not making a move against Tyson earlier? And the answer is yes, but, there is also so much more that goes into the decisions you are making and the relationships you have built. In that moment where Caleb and Hayden came to me and said let's vote out Tyson, there was a lot that wasn't shown. They also very shortly after that came back to me and said nevermind, we're going to switch the vote. That's why you see me saying that they're all over the place, because there never was really a plan that I felt confident in. I also heard they were saying my name as well. At that moment, I don't know if I had done something differently how it would have panned out. But obviously I didn't play a perfect game because I didn't end up there at the end. But I learned a lot from the returning players. I learned so much.

Who ultimately made you decide to pull rocks? Was it Hayden's pressure or Gervase's words at Tribal?

Ciera: So as you saw earlier that episode, there was talk that Gervase might flip on Tyson. And Hayden went to Gerv and said you need to make a move. If you remember, I thought in that moment that I was very willing to make a move against Tyson if Gervase was on board. So going into that Tribal that was still in my mind, that we may be doing that. I think it was a mix of me already realizing that I'm number four right now, maybe Gervase would want to vote out Tyson and then Hayden just laid it on thick. When Hayden gets backed into a corner, he slings. I think it was a combination of Gervase not saying the right things and making me feel like I was number four and Hayden telling me to wake up and make a move as well as me already knowing going into it that a big move had to be made against Tyson.

Tom Santilli: Ciera, your relationship with your mom was really the emotional core of this entire season. Going into the game, I'm sure you were expecting this to be an amazing experience, but in what ways did the whole thing kind of surprise you? It probably took on facets that you could not have anticipated.

Ciera: Oh my gosh, there were so many ways I was surprised. I was surprised by how I was able to make decisions and my fearlessness. Also coming home and watching it with the public and my family and seeing our relationship being such a big part of it. I didn't really realize that when you're out there. My relationship with my mom is very natural, so to see how it effected people in the way that it did, it's unbelievable. It surprised me beyond words the amount of support that we got. And that our story was such a big part of the season. I felt so privileged to have my story be shown. We were all out there playing and we all had a story. Even Marissa had a story. For me and my mom to be such a focal point of the show, I just felt so humbled and so blessed to be able to share my relationship with my mom with the rest of the world.

Tom Santilli: Some questions for both of you. There was a time in the game where the two mother/daughter couples could have aligned. From each of your perspectives, why didn't that ever happen?

Ciera: Speaking for me and a little bit for my mom, it had nothing to do with the fact that it was Katie and Tian. I was very close with Katie in the game and my mom with Tina. It had more to do with who was in that alliance, Vytas and Aras. Aras had previously voted out my mom and I had bad blood with Vytas because he had already written my name down. So it wasn't so much that we didn't want to work with them, it was just that we couldn't trust Vytas and Aras. And had we entered into that, me and my mom would have been on the bottom.

Tina: She's accurate with that statement. She was wise to catch on to that. Of course, hindsight is 20/20. If we would have known then what we know now, we could just kick ourselves for not doing that.

Tom Santilli: Another question for you both: Why did you ultimately vote for Tyson to win and more specifically, why vote against Monica and Gervase?

Tina: Oh good question. That's a really, really good question. While I was out there, Katie was the one that actually convinced me to vote for Tyson in the end. I was torn, I did not want to vote for anybody. There seemed like there was a bitterness within the jury for all three people. I got to Ponderosa and Katie was giving me the run-down on why she was going to vote for Tyson. Of course, now that it's all over, I think Tyson totally deserved that win, he played an awesome, awesome game and I'm really proud of him. The smoke has been able to clear and I'm able to see the game a little more clearly, and he definitely deserved the win. I wouldn't have voted for Monica just because she wasn't the one controlling the game, Tyson was. Same reason I wouldn't vote for Gervase. Tyson was the master.

Ciera: I definitely agree with Tina 100%. Those last few Tribals I was trying to get Monica and Gervase to wake up and make a big move, that they could win this game. So me giving Tyson my vote is a very strong testament to Tyson's game. I think he did incredible. And like Tina said, it's one thing to be out there and think that he was playing a good game, but to watch it, I'm very proud of him. I made a really good friend in him. And to watch his reaction to winning, it was so genuine and heartfelt and I definitely think the right person won. Had Monica or Gervase tried to make a move, I think it could have been totally different story, but they both road coat-tails. Plus neither of them had a resume. Gervase says he got out Aras, but it took us all to get him out, so he can't really take credit for that one. So Tyson was an easy decision for me.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, @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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