By Dalton Ross
November 03, 2014 at 12:00 PM EST
Monty Brinton/CBS
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It’s merge time on Survivor: San Juan del Sur this Wednesday night, and we’ve got your first exclusive look at said merge right here. Check out how happy everyone appears to be as they engage in the traditional merge feast! (Did Jeff Probst make them trade comfort items for that food?) Of course, we know that happiness will soon fade for many as alliance lines are drawn going into the first pre-merge Tribal Council and one of these players is booted out of the game. But while we peek ahead, let’s also look back at the first half of the season by checking in with one of the contestants for a mid-game chat. We caught up with Jeremy Collins to get his thoughts on the big rice trade, his wife’s bizarre lie, and…an apology to John Rocker?

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Okay, Jeremy, give it to us straight: Who was at fault for cooking and eating all of your tribe’s rice?

JEREMY COLLINS: Point blank, it is Missy’s fault but not hers alone. Reed, Drew, and Jon (in that order) were the ones that complained the most about needing to eat more. But Missy was happy to cook it.

Do you agree with Probst that the extra rice consumption by your tribe had a direct impact on you guys winning so many challenges?

No, we were a more athletic and smarter tribe across the board. We were just a better tribe…bottom line. Coyopa is cursed.

If it had been solely up to you, would you really not have made that deal giving up all your comfort items for the extra rice?

If it was up to me we would have sucked it up for the night and ate our reward the following day. We knew the merge feast was soon. I had no problem stretching out the rice and beans for a few days. We wouldn’t starve to death.

We saw you comforting Julie in this last episode when she appeared ready to quit the game. This was particularly interesting seeing as how you were the one that ended up being responsible for getting the ball rolling on her boyfriend being voted out. At this point in the game, is protecting her just a numbers thing or are you valuing her as an important ally?

At this point in the game I was happy that John was gone and my revenge was settled for Val being voted out. I looked at Julie as a valuable piece to my alliance. She was just a number, but all my alliance members are valuable.

Making it to the merge is a big milestone for any player. What were you thoughts at this point about making it this far in the game?

I expect to make the merge. Not to sound conceited or full of myself, but I did. It is a big part of the game and a nice accomplishment, but I prepared for this game for a long time…I expected to make the merge.

You’ve watched a lot of Survivor, Jeremy. I’m not trying to get you in trouble or anything at home, but how bad a move was that by your wife to lie and say she had two idols? Did you cringe when you watched that?

You are trying to get me in trouble. But I think Val felt like her back was against the wall and she made a big move. She wasn’t going down without a fight. It’s not like people didn’t believe her either. When you are in the game, you are paranoid but feel like anything is possible and bluffing that you have 2 Idols is crazy, but we just came off a season where Tony had 3 and one was magical. Maybe she should’ve said she had 1 but it was the Tyler Perry idol. I don’t cringe…I’m proud of Val.

When you are out there playing you only see the game through your own eyes, but now watching it back on TV you see everything else going on. What’s been the biggest revelation so far watching everything play out?

My biggest revelation????  I don’t know, I had a good sense of most that was going on. You know what? I take that back: John Rocker. I do feel bad about how I threw him under the bus and he genuinely tried to help Val. I wish he did a better job at it, but he kept his word and you gotta respect that.

What’s been the best and worst thing about watching yourself on TV?

This whole experience is the best…I love it all. I’ve loved this game for a long time and I love watching everything unfold. I’m not liking that I look like I’ve been homeless for 5 years, but I guess I gotta take the bad with the good.

Check out our pre-game interview with Jeremy and Val in the video player below. And for more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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