She convinced someone to switch sides, which totally altered the course of the game. She performed admirably in challenges. She garnered respect from the opposition for being a hardcore competitor. But for Aubry Bracco, it wasn’t enough.
Aubry was on the losing end of a final Tribal Council vote, getting only two votes (Neal would have been a third had he not been removed from the jury) to winner Michele’s five. For viewers, it was a somewhat shocking result to see the person considered by many to be the most complete player end up on the wrong side of that result, but as Aubry told us when she called into Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) this morning, she knew once she arrived at that final Tribal Council that things were not going to go her way.
Aubry also revealed the one thing she wishes she could have changed, how she thinks she would have done in the finals against Cydney and Tai, and whom she would have voted for had she lost that fire-making tiebreaker. (Also make sure to read our exit interview with Tai.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Even after the voting took place we thought you were totally going to win. What didn’t we see?
AUBRY BRACCO: The jury was just not loving me. It was tough, because they weren’t overtly angry at me, but I didn’t get a question from Julia. I got a very short question from Jason. I knew when Scot stood up and asked the question he asked me and then told me to keep it short, and then he had the speech that he did for Michele, that there was something that had gone on where I wasn’t sure what it was. I suspected there had been some time people had spent together and there was a decision made that they did not want me to be the Survivor in that moment. I picked up on that, and I did my best under the circumstances. I could tell that they didn’t see me whatsoever as an underdog and I just stated my case. I tried really hard, but Survivor’s about moments, and sometimes it’s also about who’s an underdog at a particular moment.
You say you got to final Tribal and could tell by the mood that things were not going to go your way. What about before you got there? I know you were doing Survivor juror math in your head, so what did you think your situation was looking like before you got to Tribal?
We all agreed that we thought Scot and Jason were somewhat up in the air. Scot and Jason were people who had shown themselves to be very much showmen in the Tribal Council space. So we knew those votes were up in the air. I thought I could possibly have Cydney because Cydney had had enough time to process the way she went out of the game, which was a very abrupt and painful way to go. I was hoping that Debbie would be able to understand the conundrum I was in, that it was a hard emotional decision, but that I was the true game player. So I thought I could get Cydney, I thought I could get Debbie, I knew there was a chance that emotionally they were super hurt, and I assume that’s what ended up happening. Scot and Jason were up in the air, I thought I had Joe for sure. Nick, I would have thought possibly would go to Michele, but I knew he was also a game player and would respect strategy.
Do you think Michele’s move to get Neal out of the jury changed anything? Do you think he might have been able to sway the jury, or was it a done deal going into it?
The final vote was 5-2, so it was a done deal. I think Neal could have helped me as a speaker, but I also think he could have hurt me on that particular night. When Neal went out of the game, and he had his comment toward Michele, as much as I felt good that I had someone who defended me, it was kind of a tough moment to watch back. People might not have been so psyched that that was how he went out.
You mean because it may have come off as a little bit of a bullying moment?
It was abrupt in that moment. I wasn’t expecting it, but Neal has a way with words. He was being very honest. I did not see it as a bullying moment; I saw him as being honest of what he saw in the game. He was frustrated, and he went out with an infection on his knee. He was like, ‘Oh, man. Here’s my Survivor experience and I’m going out again in a very unorthodox way.”
I love playing Survivor What If. I’ve got two “what if” scenarios I’m going to throw your way. What sense do you have of how you would have done if you’d just been able to figure out that last immunity puzzle? Let’s say you win immunity and vote Michele off, and it was you, Tai, and Cydney at the end. Who wins?
I would hope it would be me, but with that particular group of people, it kind of wasn’t ever known. I thought that Scot and Jason respected my game, but Cydney also was a fierce competitor. She started on the Brawn beach, which was the lowest of the low. Those poor guys couldn’t win anything at the beginning, so I think Cydney would have given me a run for my money. But I still think I could’ve had it.
Okay, here’s scenario number two. Let’s say you don’t win the fire-making tiebreaker. You lose that. You’re on the jury now. Whom do you vote for at the end: Cydney, Michele, or Tai?
I would’ve voted for Cydney. I thought she was a fierce competitor. Who am I to say? I’m not in that situation, but I believe I would’ve voted for Cydney. I respected her game.
You clearly saw the threat of Michele, when as viewers—and so much of the show is in the editing—we thought Michele was a no-brainer to take to the end because she just kind of floated her way through. What did you see over the course of the game that led you to believe she would be a threat?
I wouldn’t necessarily say it was so much Michele as it was the combination of people. We had some very big characters, and I learned with that group of people, when there are a lot of very big characters in the room, sometimes the person who’s kind of chillin’ out and hanging out knows how to play the middle and keeping it low-key is what they might need in a particular moment. At the end of the day, Michele was sitting up there, and there were people who were very big characters, very big personalities; Michele was what they needed at that very moment. For them, I think they just couldn’t swallow the pill of who I was in that moment.
How did you keep a straight face while attempting to convince Michele to use her jury removal advantage on Scot? Clearly she was going to use it on Joe or Neal.
I realized that she knew that Neal or Joe were probably the sure bets, but I tried not to push her too hard because then I thought she definitely wouldn’t listen to me. I tried to just say, “Hey, this is your chance to make a move if you want to make a move.” I tried to sell it to her in terms of her game. At that point, we thought Scot was up in the air, so I was taking the gamble that I knew he wasn’t into me from earlier in the game when we worked together. I just thought I had a shot to get her on that.
Has anyone on the jury, having now watched the entire season, come up to you and said, “Listen, I voted wrong after seeing everything you did out there.”
I’ve had conversations with people about the fact that they definitely saw my game a bit more after the fact. I’ve had those conversations where I believe that in that particular moment… like I said, Survivor’s about moments, and Michele had that moment. So even though that could be said to me now — and I appreciate them and I love this cast and get along with everybody at this point — it was just her moment.
Any time you don’t win, you probably look back and say, ‘I should have zigged here or I should have zagged there.’ If you could go back and change one thing about your game and how you played that would have turned the tide, what would that be?
I would have had more fun. I think when you have more fun, people around you have more fun. I think that kind of finesse in making people feel comfortable or having a more easygoing relationship with them could have helped me out at the end.
I have little doubt that they’re going to be asking you back on the show soon. I assume you’re not opposed to that?
I would go back in a heartbeat. Survivor really did change my life. I know it might sound a little corny, but if you’re open to all the positive things it can bring you along the way, it’s worth every bug bite, infection, or medevac.
So the result is not torturing you at night still?
No. I’m not gonna lie, when you have a long time to wait, it’s hard no matter what. We had a year, and I’ve had many nights to think about what happened and I worked really hard to make this an experience where it’s one that empowers me to be a better person moving forward. The fans have been super awesome. After seeing me on day two, telling me they would relate to me and that’s how they would play — that’s been really humbling because I’m a fan of the show. I could just as easily be one of them and they could be one of me.
Also make sure to read Dalton’s full episode recap, Jeff Probst’s answers to burning questions from the finale and his reaction to the Sia reunion surprise, plus scoop on NEXT season of the show. For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss, and check back soon for our interview with winner Michele.