The following contains spoilers from the Season 44 premiere of Survivor.
She aimed to go big or go home… and home is where she went.
In Wednesday’s Season 44 premiere of Survivor, Maddy Pomilla worked hard to oust her main target, Brandon, but things didn’t go her way after two Ratu members used their Shots in the Dark, while Lauren played her Bank Your Vote advantage to avoid choosing a side. From there, it only took one idol and one vote to seal Maddy’s fate, as she became the second person (after the medevac’d Bruce) to exit the game. (Read a full premiere recap here.)
Does she have any regrets over how she played, and who was initially her target before that unfortunate birdcage conundrum? Here, Maddy talks to TVLine about all of that and more.
TVLINE | In hindsight, do you think you may have played a bit too hard, or were you confident at the time that people were going to join you in voting out Brandon?
MADDY POMILLA | Totally fair if people think I played too hard. I just have a different philosophy when it comes to Survivor. I want to climb the biggest mountains, I want to surf the biggest waves, I want to rock climb without a rope. When it comes to Survivor, if you make a big move and it doesn’t work, then you’re crazy; if you make a big move and it does work, you’re a genius. And I was really close to that working, and I know exactly where it went wrong.
Some could say I never should’ve done it, but to hell with that. I don’t care. I wanted to play the way that I wanted to play. Survivor‘s a formula, and if I wanted to just make the merge or have a socially acceptable game that people could stomach and not comment on, then I would’ve done that. If I had shut my mouth, we would’ve voted out Jamie or Lauren and that would’ve been that. But why would I have done that? It’s not enticing to me at all to vote out the women when there’s a known guy’s alliance on Ratu.
TVLINE | Besides the birdcage fiasco, did anything else happen between you and Brandon that sowed seeds of distrust between the two of you?
I really liked Brandon. We had a lot in common, we joked a lot and laughed a lot. When it came to Survivor, I think he was intimidated by me. He’s an alpha and I’m an alpha. And I love the showdown of this 6’4″ professional athlete and me, this 5’2″ not professional athlete, but in my brain I am. [Laughs] Him and this spunky, delusional girl going head-to-head. That dude met his match and I was ready to rumble. [But] I really like him a lot. We were friends out there, but he was just too intimidated by me. He was like, “You know this game really well,” and I was like, “Yeah, so work with me. I’ll help you.” One thing I know about Brandon is he has really strong women in his life, so I take it as respect. He saw me as a strong woman, had a lot of respect for that and was scared of it.
TVLINE | What were your expectation for how the votes were going to go?
I wish there was more context shown around the vote. I said point blank: This is 50/50. I’m rock climbing a wall with no rope. If I make it up the wall, great. If I don’t, I die. That’s just kind of my style of how I do things. Go big or go home. I hate doing things just for flashy moves. It would’ve been really good for my game, had it worked. And it almost did, but I knew it was dangerous. I told Matthew the plan and I never trusted Matthew. He was the No. 1 person I was afraid of because that dude’s a wild card. And guess who else is a wild card? Me, baby! I knew what he was capable of. He was my No. 1 “Get. This. Guy. Out.” Until Brandon wouldn’t work with me when we found the idol together. At least there was an inroad when it came to Matthew, but there was no inroad with Brandon. He was staunchly anti-Maddy. So going in, I shouldn’t have told Matthew, but Survivor is Survivor and I couldn’t find Kane, who was my secret alliance, and I needed one more number.
One thing they didn’t show: It was a three-hour challenge, so we [only] had 45 minutes before Tribal. It all happened very quickly. I didn’t know how much time we had until Tribal, so I told Matthew on a whim, and that’s exactly why I went home. Brandon wouldn’t have played his idol if not for Matthew tipping him off. He absolutely would not have. That’s why I made this crazy plan! When in Survivor history has someone played an idol at the first Tribal? I’m a huge fan. Never. And I knew that. So I’m calling his bluff. “You want a showdown, let’s do it.” I knew he probably wouldn’t play it, but he had someone help him, and that sunk my game.
TVLINE | Three people didn’t vote. How much was that a factor to your downfall and also, did you have any inkling that Jaime and Matthew were going to play their Shots in the Dark?
I knew that Lauren had that advantage. She told two people about it, me and Brandon. Another reason why, once I pivoted from Matthew to Brandon, I was like, “Once Brandon’s out, we have the idol out, we have someone who won’t work with me out, and my No. 2, Lauren? I’m now her No. 1.” So, I’m in a very good position if he goes.
I knew Lauren didn’t have her vote, but she was tight with Brandon, so to flip her at all… that’s why I was saying he’s the Godfather. He wasn’t the Godfather, I was! I was projecting! I was trying to get her to be afraid of Brandon. Once I flipped her, she was like, “I don’t want to vote for him. I told him I would never vote for him.” I was like, “Girl, don’t vote for him,” because I had Kane, Matthew (or so I thought) and I thought I had Jaime, even though she said she was going to play her Shot in the Dark. I was like, “Don’t!” because I wanted some extra padding and more votes. But if Brandon doesn’t play his idol, I only needed two votes to get him out. I was pretty confident. I caused a lot of chaos and tried to alli-Gabler, I guess, and go back under water and just shut up for Tribal, but what I should’ve done was do what I do best and stir up more chaos. I should’ve gone crazy at Tribal and I think people would’ve had trouble putting the pieces back together. But so it goes.
TVLINE | Was there anything from your time out there that you wish was shown in the episode?
I talked a lot of crap in my confessionals, so I thought that would’ve been funny. I have four sisters and am one of five girls. If there’s one thing I know how to do it’s drag someone by their hair, and that is all I did. You didn’t see a lot of me standing up for Jamie and Lauren when they wanted to vote them out, just giving the guys a bunch of crap. They were trying to come up and tell me who to vote for with no rhyme or reason. I’m a big personality and was causing a lot of chaos and confrontation and conflict, and I think it would’ve been funny to see me ragging on these dudes in confessionals a bit more.
TVLINE | Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
I wanted to see someone play differently. I went out there as an experiment. I wanted to see what I could do if I played like me. I wasn’t interested in orbiting around anyone else. I did my own thing. I do have strategic regrets. I wish I split the vote, one for Matthew, one for Brandon. I wish we saw more of me and Kane’s weird alliance. But at the end of the day, I’m really happy. I’m someone who does what I say I’m going to do, and I definitely did.
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