By Dalton Ross
September 06, 2015 at 01:45 PM EDT
Monty Brinton/CBS
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Her tribe of Galu was up eight members to four at the merge, yet when it got to the very end of Survivor: Samoa, there were three Foa Foa tribemates competing for the million dollars. It was one of the biggest tribe collapses in Survivor history, and one that still frustrates Monica Padilla.

With that in mind, we asked Monica out on location for Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance (premiering Sept. 23) if it still boggles her mind that such an epic meltdown happened. “Totally,” says Padilla. “And it boggles my mind that I could have completely prevented it. I go back to that one moment on he beach where we had that stupid false sense of calm after we were up to the next Tribal and we had just voted out Erik, and we completely just miscalculated. And I remember me myself having that feeling in my heart and having that gut feeling that maybe our next target would have another idol. Which seemed unlikely, but I expressed it and I didn’t follow through. And had I followed through, it would have been a very different game.”

Of course, the Samoa season is also known for perhaps Survivor’s most controversial and hotly debated final result ever, where Russell Hantz was beaten by Natalie White by a jury vote of 7-2 (Mick Trimming got skunked with zero votes). I also asked Monica if she would change her vote now having seen everything play out and having some distance from it all.

“It’s tough to say,” says Padilla. “Looking back now, it’s probably easier to maybe consider writing Russell’s name down. But at the time we just couldn’t stomach it, and as a jury we couldn’t stomach it. And after I made my threat to him on that beach and I gave him my word that I wouldn’t vote for him, I couldn’t really go back on my word because then it would have been an empty threat and where would I sit as a player?”

We also looked ahead to the coming season. Did Monica forge any pre-game alliances? And whom does she want to work with out on the beach? Click on the video at the top of the post to find out and see more from my chat with Monica in addition to some in-game footage of her out on the beach.

For more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Monty Brinton/CBS


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