By Dalton Ross
Updated October 09, 2013 at 11:50 AM EDT
Monty Brinton/CBS

Tonight features a Survivor first: spouses competing against each other in an individual competition. Thanks to this season’s Blood vs. Water twist (which features returning players playing with/against their loved ones) husband and wife John and Candice Cody will be competing against each other — as well as Marissa Peterson — with the last place finisher being eliminated from the game. We got some exclusive photos from tonight’s contest (at 8pm on CBS) for you right here, as well as a Q&A with the husband and wife themselves. What do they have to say about the big spouse smackdown? Read on to find out! (Click through all 5 pages to read the entire Q&A and see all the exclusive photos.)

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what was going through your mind, Candice, right before the competition as you thought about potentially sending your spouse home if you beat him in the duel, or “truel” as it were?

CANDICE CODY: John and I had talked about potentially competing against each other in challenges before we started the game. We had agreed to both fight our hardest no matter what happened. I think it was easier said than done though. I made sure we reiterated the plan to go hard or go home before leaving camp for the truel. I needed to hear confirmation from him that he was going to try his hardest and not just let me win because my own heart was feeling heavy knowing that he was counting on me to do the same. He kept trying to look at me and smile and encourage me leading up to the duel, but the more support he offered, the harder it was for me to put ice in my veins and focus solely on the task at hand. Walking into the duel, I had so many things on my mind: blowing up Brad for cutting my man, making sure John made it through, making sure I made it through, having to hope that Marissa, a young woman for whom I have the utmost respect, comes in last place. It was gut wrenching.

NEXT: Click here for more exclusive photos from tonight’s episode and more from Candice and John

EW: John, what was your mindset in terms of taking out your wife?

JOHN CODY: Before the game started, and after I joined Candice on Redemption Island, we discussed the idea of “playing our own game.” We promised to each play as hard as possible and trust the other to take care of themselves. Of course, that’s easier said than done. To be honest, I was mostly concerned about not going home myself. Candice is great at individual challenges, she always has been, and at that point I was completely untested in that arena. I assumed going in that Candice was going to finish first and that it would come down to Marissa and me, and I definitely didn’t want to be the guy who’s wife bumps him out of the game!

NEXT: Click here for more exclusive photos from tonight’s episode and more from Candice and John

EW: Candice, usually when you compete in an individual contest, all you need to worry about is doing your best, but in this duel you also have the distraction of worrying about how your spouse is doing next to you and if he is also doing well enough to stay in the game. Is that just impossible to completely block out?

CANDICE: Absolutely. Of course, Jeff is doing his part to narrate for viewers, but as a competitor, his commentary can be distracting. Now, make your husband one of your competitors in literally, a million dollar challenge (lose, and your shot at the million is over), and your anxiety level listening to his commentary gets exponentially higher. I was listening to him talk about how John was doing, listening to him talk about my progress, and listening to Gervase and others in the stands cheer on and give hints to Marissa. Without my own cheering/calming section in the crowd, it got pretty tense. I’ve never felt pressure in a challenge like that before. It was do or die, times two.

NEXT: Click here for more exclusive photos from tonight’s episode and more from Candice and John

EW: John, is it impossible to block out the distraction of how your wife is doing while you try to compete and stay alive?

JOHN: The simple answer is yes, it’s impossible to block out entirely, but it’s absolutely necessary to try if you are going to succeed. I’ve always done my best to compete “inside the lines;” not competing for what’s going on in the crowd, what’s happening at home, who’s thinking what, but how can I crush this obstacle immediately in front of me. I had a lot on my mind at the time. I was pissed at my tribe for voting me out. I had a lot more game left in me. I was betrayed as a loyal member of my alliance. Then I was there at Redemption Island, competing against my wife, who gave up as much or more than I did to be out here, only to be voted out first and to have to fight tooth and nail to stay in the hunt. Only one of us could eventually make it. Thinking about all of that is enough to make anybody’s head spin and lose focus at a critical time. I just kept telling myself to “play within the lines” over and over again. I knew Candice would be able to do the same. That was the best chance we each had of moving forward together.

NEXT: Click here for more exclusive photos from tonight’s episode and more from Candice and John

EW: Be honest: How awkward was it having Marissa around as a third wheel when it was time to go to bed at Redemption Island?

CANDICE: It was TOTALLY awkward! Marissa and I had been spooning it up for the past 5 days on Redemption Island. We were so happy together on “Lady Island” or as Marissa had been calling it “Candissa Island.” We had our routine down with the fire, catching fish, hunting for crabs, boiling the water, Marissa being the big spoon etc. When John came, I felt like I was cheating on Marissa. I slept in the middle to try to smooth things over, but you know, these things never work out. There’s always a third wheel. I’ll let you guess whether it ended up being Marissa or John.

JOHN: It was a little strange. They had been spooning together for warmth every night, and now there was this little passive-aggressive tussle over Candice. I wanted all the attention, but Marissa wouldn’t have it! In the end Candice graciously slept between us so we could share.

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