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'Survivor': Ousted Jim talks about Cochran and the 'spectacular move' that could have saved Savaii

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Jim Rice thought he was in a good place to possibly take home the million dollars on Survivor: South Pacific, but the medical marijuana dispensary owner’s game went to pot when John Cochran flipped sides rather that risk pulling a colored rock. That sent Jim to Redemption Island, where he (and Keith) lost a duel to Ozzy and was out of the game. Has Jim forgiven John? What’s his biggest regret in the game? And whom would he have taken to the finals? The never cowardly contestant answers all that and more!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Tell me, what was Secret Double Redemption Island like?

JIM RICE: There was a lot of beer! I put on about 20 pounds.

I saw that. I watched the videos of you at Ponderosa and every shot I saw, you’re all chug-a-lug.

I think we were out for 25 days, so yeah, ice cold beer was at the top of my list.

If you could point to one thing you’d like to redo in the game, what would it be? Voting off Elyse instead of Cochran perhaps?

A lot of people have asked me about the Elyse vote-off. That was the right decision at the right time. I didn’t know for sure that the merge was coming so if I didn’t get rid of Elyse at that moment then I was on the chopping block next, because all of a sudden there’s a four person alliance of Whitney, Keith, Elyse and Ozzy, and they’re going to get rid of me. A lot of people said I was paying a post-merge game pre-merge, but I really wasn’t. I was playing the game I thought kept me in it the longest. When you talk about mistakes, the biggest mistake was assuming everyone was on the same page as me, that everyone was playing to win, and they really weren’t.

Did Dawn warn you guys at all that Cochran might be flipping?

There’s a story called “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” I love Dawn, but Dawn thought she was getting voted off when there wasn’t even a Tribal Council that night. Dawn was the most paranoid person out of all of us and she would agree and say the same thing. She said “We need to go talk to Cochran,” but she never let us know that Cochran was flipping. I didn’t know that he was flipping. I guess I thought that everyone was looking at the game the same way as me, which was to win. My thought process was, if I pull a rock it’s a 14 percent chance of me going home. If I flip on my tribe it’s a 100 percent chance of me losing. That’s how I saw it at the time.

That’s exactly what I wrote in my recap. If you care about winning, you really have no choice but to pull the rocks. Was there any thought as to saving the hidden immunity idol at the first post-merge vote, because then even if you lose that first round, you have a chance to even it up again the following Tribal Council?

In hindsight, yes, but in my mind there was only one opportunity that the hidden immunity idol would have a double impact. What I mean by that, is if we play the idol then, we have a 25% chance of being right because there’s only four of us that they could have voted for. We wouldn’t have had those good odds at any other point in the game. When you combine that with the fact that it’s also one less person to have to draw rocks, you all of a sudden are getting a double hit on this immunity idol. You get to play it once for somebody, and if it doesn’t work, now you have one less person drawing rocks. In hindsight, obviously, it didn’t work out right but I still think it was a solid move at the time.

Was there any thought to really messing Upolu’s voting strategy up and making them scramble last minute by having Ozzy and Dawn give up their immunity necklaces and then Ozzy give up his idol so all three targets of you, Whitney, and Keith would have been protected?

You know what, I think that’s a great strategy move we did not consider. I’ve had six months to think about it now. Every time I get on the treadmill I’m thinking about things we should have done. I think that’s a spectacular move. And it’s a little bit of what I wanted to do when I won individual immunity, to throw that last minute wrench in the machine, but Upolu found out about that beforehand and told me I was going home if I did it so it had lost the element of surprise.

Let’s say Cochran hadn’t flipped and you guys had ended up with the numbers? Whom would you have wanted to go to the final 3 with?

I thought of it a few different ways. I had to get Dawn out of there. Dawn was way too nice. Nobody was going to take Dawn to the end. Everybody wanted to take Cochran to the end. When people talk about being sixth in the alliance, I’ll tell you this — Cochran was in every single person’s final three. Every one of us, and when I say everyone, I mean all 11 people that merged. So he was not at the bottom. He may have been at the bottom of the pecking order pre-merge. Post-merge, he was Phillip Sheppard. We all wanted him at the end because he didn’t do anything. The kid every morning would wake up and ask if he should put on his contacts or his glasses. And endearing turns to annoying very fast when you’re in a survival scenario and you’re playing for a million dollars. So I kind of went back and forth. I liked the idea of taking Ken and Barbie — Keith and Whitney — to the finals because I could garner some votes there, but I also liked taking Cochran and probably Keith. I went through a lot of those scenarios., and it changed. The only constants were that Ozzy wasn’t going to make it to the final three and Dawn wasn’t going to make it to the final three.

You told Cochran you never wanted him to speak to you again. That still hold true?

No, it was heat of the moment. It’s hard to be angry because I have a good life. It’s hard to harbor any ill will towards him. You’ll find a lot of people that disagree with that, but I’ve spoken with Cochran since then. He’s a great guy to go have a beer with at the bar, but I wouldn’t want to be his roommate. I told him this, as a friend, that self-deprecating turns into a little bit annoying after a while.

I was surprised that Rick and Brandon were rooting for you at the duel. What was that about?

I have no idea what’s that about. To give either of those two credit for strategy would be giving them way too much credit. Rick? Who? Who?

Did you tell the other jury members what you really do for a living as a medical marijuana dispensary owner, and if so, what was the reaction?

Umm…you’ll have to wait for the season finale for that one.

Has Ozzy been asking for some free samples?

Let’s just say that I’ve been hit up by more than one current and former castaway.

Follow Dalton on Twitter: @EWDaltonRoss

Survivor: South Pacific episode 10 recap

Jeff Probst on episode 10 of Survivor: South Pacific