Alison Raybould may not have gotten a lot of screen time on Survivor: David vs. Goliath, but she certainly got a lot of time on the island. 37 days, to be exact. Unfortunately for Alison, that was two days too short.
Alison was voted out during the Survivor: David vs. Goliath season finale and ended up in fifth place, but her exit ended up being somewhat controversial after Angelina appeared to try to embarrass Alison by planting a fake idol for her to play on her way out so that she could score more points with the jury. How did Alison feel about that move? What was it like to make it that far, but just not far enough? And was she frustrated not seeing herself on TV more? We asked Alison all that and more, and finally gave the 28-year-old physician a forum to talk at length. (Also make sure to read our interview with Survivor champ Nick Wilson, Q&A with runner-up Mike White, chat with third place finisher Angelina Keeley, and sit-down with Davie.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I have a famously terrible record when it comes to picking Survivor winners. I picked you, which was after the season had already filmed, so how do you feel about me retroactively jinxing you?
ALISON RAYBOULD: I blame you for what it’s worth, so there’s that.
Fair enough! Let’s get into everything that we just saw in the finale. First off, you voted for Mike to win even after what he said to you before you were voted out. So why Mike?
I think that one of the things that didn’t make it into the season was how close Mike and I were. Part of the reason that I survived four or five Tribals was because I had Mike in my corner each step of the way. I call him my Guardian Angel and he called me his Wonder Woman doctor. And we were a duo. We maybe didn’t come up with the Rock Star alliance nickname, but we were a duo in this game. And I felt like I played so much of this game with him and I could see his inspired social game play and his inspired strategy. And so that was the insight I had.
Nick stole my vote, never played with me, and had a vendetta against me. So I could not appreciate his strategy because I was never included in it. And I think that, at the end of the day, that biting comment really hurt. But he owned the biting comment and I was able to look past that. And to me, Mike was just the person who shined when I reflected on the game. Now that I have all the cards on the table, Nick is a phenomenal winner and I’m so excited for him.
Let’s talk about that plan of Angelina’s to have you find a fake idol to play. Mike called it evil, Nick said it was done only to embarrass you. Angelina claims it wasn’t. What do you think?
I say it was 50/50. I believe that from Angelina’s perspective, there was strategy behind it. She wanted to get the votes and have a successful idol play. She then went kind of on a rampage with it and created that fake idol. I think that at the end of the day, she was still hurt by me calling her a contingency plan, which was a mistake and a poor strategic decision on my part. And I think that she wanted me out for so long that this was the final flourish that she was going to give to the game.
Had you been tipped off by Kara about that fake idol?
Oh my gosh. When I find the idol, I grab it and I say, “Well look at this!” First of all, I woke up on her putting it in the tree branch. I go out there, I see it, and I say, “Look at this fake idol that I got.” I mean, it was a janky idol. The strings were not symmetric and there was the whole scene of me coming up on her.
When I came up on her, she said, “Oh my God, Ali, I’m so sorry.” She started saying, “I’m so sad because now I’m going to leave the game. You have an idol and I’m going to leave the game.” And it was truly acting from a daytime soap opera. And it was hilarious because everyone here knew it was fake idol. Then she went off and sort of fake cried on the beach, as if she was going home. So it was a lot of high comedy, being the person that was receiving this fake idol.
But there was a part of me that said I can’t not play this, because what if there is that 0.0000000001 percent chance that it’s real? And so at the end of the day, I decided to play it and I think most people on the jury didn’t see it as a grand strategic move. They saw it as a heartfelt, personal attack.
Yeah, they did not seem impressed.
Nope. Nor was I.
So, look, you make it close. Not quite close enough. Have you played the “What if?” game since you got back? Thinking about, oh, if I could go back and change this or that?
I think at the end of the day, one of the other things that I find difficult is the extent to which I was a target. There’s a reason people were targeting me for Tribal after Tribal after Tribal. And it’s because they saw the winning potential in me and therefore wanted to see me gone before I could get to a final four fire-making twist. I call it the Ben Driebergen effect actually, because they didn’t act on him soon enough and therefore he was able to idol his way to that final four fire-making twist. And that was the final season we had seen in total as a cast. So I think people from our season were so fixated on whatever this idea of a threat is, so that meant Christian got 18 votes against him. And what it meant for me is I survived until the fifth Tribal with those stacked against me as the initial target.
How do you think you’d do if you make it to that final three? Obviously it depends who you’re sitting next to, but…
Yes, I think it’s complicated because the endgame is so important and we saw Nick have a very strong immunity challenge endgame. I feel as if I was sitting next to anyone in the final five, final six even, once Christian was out of the game, it was mine. I don’t want to say mine to lose, because that’s not true. There’s so much complexity to it. But there was a perception that it was mine to lose.
Wow. What happened to you up on that perch in the water? You couldn’t get your balance. What was going on?
Well, first of all, I’m deathly afraid of heights. And so standing on a 15-foot-high whatever it was was just terrifying to me. But secondly, the last time I had eaten anything truly substantial was the wrap, which I vomited up. So I had reason to believe I had severe electrolyte abnormalities, including low magnesium. Which leads to muscle twitching. Which leads to me not being able to stand on a balance beam or all the endurance games that we had this season or the stand on a tiny perch in the middle above the water.
But then you were the first person to the beach in that challenge!
I was so afraid that I had to fricking dip the water in the bucket or that little tiny little hole as quickly as possible because I needed to get off of that perch because I was fearing for my life.
Every season there’s one player that just hardly seems to get any screen time. And for a long stretch of the season, you were that player. And I always think about that, because I imagine how difficult it must be. You go out there, you live this experience 24 hours day. That’s 72 hours of your life each episode. And then you come back and you only see, like, a few seconds of those 72 hours while some other people in this cast were all over the place. What was that like for you?
It was truly crushing, because I did give my heart and my soul. And at a certain point, I was the contender, or a major contender. And so to be invisible, and to have so many people tend to just count me out as winning potential strictly as a result of the edit was crushing. There are so many moments that mean so much to me and I’m a huge super fan and I wanted to share this experience with everyone that I love. And to only get a snippet of me getting crushed by a wagon in episode 2. Or I don’t know, a tiny confessional. It was truly very disheartening.
I knew that I had a lot of endgame in me and there was so much story left to tell. I also have to say, production has such an insurmountable task. They have to condense 72 hours times 20 people into 42 minutes. And this cast being as electric and dynamic and all together as insane as it was, I mean, of course a rational thinker like me is going to be tossed to the wayside at some point in the game.
That’s what you get for being too nice and level headed! Was there anything in particular you wish had made to the air?
I think the relationships I had. I do believe my relationship with Mike was an essential one. And my relationship with Kara was an essential one. They started on day two, day three, and I don’t understand when they lasted to day 37, how they could not be a focus of the season. I also think that I would have liked to have shared a little bit more of my letters. That was truly a magical moment and I have a very verbose family, but my little brother included a hidden immunity idol in my letter. I think it was a powerful moment that could have made it on air.
I think the final thing is there was a really cute moment between me and my mom when she came out on the beach, she was hugging me, and she was fixated on how skinny I was. Jeff asked her a question and my mom is… she is very gregarious and a charmer. And Jeff asked her the question. She wouldn’t answer him. I’m like, “Mom, Jeff Probst is speaking to you. You have to answer Jeff Probst.” But my mom would have loved to have seen it because it was such a rare dynamic between me and my mother.
Also make sure to read our interview with winner Nick, our Q&A with Mike White, our chat with Angelina, our sit-down with Davie, our full episode recap as well as intel from the host and four returning players on NEXT season of Survivor. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.