The ousted castaway also shares what we didn't see.
Molly Byman was sitting pretty. Little did she realize where she was sitting was on the hot seat. Molly was perceived as being part of a power trio alliance with Jamal and Jack on Survivor: Island of the Idols that appeared to be running the Vokai tribe. Combine that with Molly’s looks and charm — even at one point being compared to Survivor legend Parvati Shallow — and the 27-year-old law student became a big target and the first person voted out of the tribe.
How did it all go so wrong, so fast? Did she and her alliance really nap before Tribal Council? And what happened out on the island that we did not see? We asked Molly all that and more, including if she feared for her life as she was attacked by a giant clam and repeatedly fell from a ladder into the ocean. Read on to hear what the ousted castaway had to say.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What happened, Molly? Why did it all go wrong for you?
MOLLY BYNUM: Well, obviously I did not see it coming at all. I think the biggest thing that went wrong for me is that I didn’t really commit to the relationships that I thought I was building — specifically people like Kellee and Janet. I thought I had a really great relationship with them, but I think they didn’t fully believe that I was with them and they saw me more with the guys. And I think if I had kind of solidified that earlier, they would have come to my defense a little bit and we could have swung it my way.
It appeared like you all thought you were being much more stealthy about your power trio alliance than you actually were. Did you think you were keeping that under wraps better than you actually were?
I think we didn’t think that we were in a power alliance. We spent a lot of time at camp as an entire group. All three of us talked to a lot of other people. Jack went around and asked every single person what their dream job was and had full conversations. Jamal put more work into the shelter than anyone else. I had conversations with a lot of people and led a lot of group games, things like that. And I think that we were given that label and honestly were surprised by it. And even after the show, we were like, “People thought this?” because we didn’t see that. We wanted to work in a group and specifically with Tommy and Janet and Kellee and Jason. So I think we were kind of surprised at how much that was presented as being this power threesome.
And I guess it was ultimately the Tommy and Kellee votes that could have potentially saved you, but then they went as a block to the other side.
Yes. And one of my biggest issues is when I connect with someone I’m very confident in it and I’m like, “Okay, we get along. We’re similar. This is great.” And I felt that with Kellee, and I think Kellee felt flickers of that with me. But she was more nervous and a little more paranoid and didn’t think that I was fully behind her when I would have been loyal to her. I didn’t want to go to the end with Jack and Jamal and it wasn’t shown, but I made that pretty clear to even Jamal and certainly to Kellee. So I think that if I had been more forthcoming in showing that, whereas I was just sitting back a little bit more, then I think that could have positively influenced Tommy and Kellee and I think Janet would have had to be looped into that group as well.
Well, if you didn’t want to go to the end with Jamal and Jack, who did you want to go to the end with? Did you have specific people in mind or you just knew, “Hey, I’m gonna have to cut these two before they cut me?”
I viewed it as getting to the final six. I viewed it as: I want to surround myself with people who are going to be perceived as threats because I will be perceived as a threat. And, to me, they were included in that group.
Inquiring minds want to know, Molly: Did you take a nap before Tribal Council?
I did not take a nap before Tribal Council! Because you know they would’ve shown it if I did. And actually, I did not nap ever. I was sleeping at night, which I think is a healthy practice on Survivor and in life.
Was Jamal napping before Tribal Council?
Evidently, but I didn’t notice. Jamal worked harder than anybody else those first few days in the shelter, and constantly repairing the shelter. So I think any nap you took was more earned.
Molly, you did not appear to get along with Noura well at all. What was it like living with her out there?
I think watching the show gives you a very good idea of what living with Noura was like out there.
Okay, explain that. Because we saw the one montage of her doing a lot of complaining about the work ethic of the tribe and coming down on people, and she really was coming down on you for what she perceived as sleeping in. Was it like that all the time?
So Noura and I are obviously very different. I did not have a problem with Noura at all in the beginning. I was told on day two or three by both Jason and Jamal that she had some very strong feelings about me, and it was a surprise to me. I was like, “Oh, okay.” I didn’t know what I did at that point. And then I think being on the outs is stressful for anyone, and it’s how you respond to that.
And when Jason was on the outs, he realized he was on the outs and the next day he went and made personal connections with everyone and got himself into a better position. I think Noura found herself on the outs and then she made up a few different stories and she was running around. She was complaining a lot about people. She obviously was complaining a lot about me. And she talked a lot, which you saw. I think. But she’s a great person. We’re totally fine, but living with her was like what you saw on TV.
I can tell by the way you’re talking that she annoyed you.
Yes. At night, she would talk, and in the morning, she would talk. She would complain, she would open a lot of coconuts. I think there are not any coconuts left in Fiji because she would open them all and then pour the coconut juice into my mouth. I was like, “I don’t want coconut right now.” But she very much means well.
You said after you were voted out that you were completely blindsided and shocked and flummoxed and everything and so they must have done a good job keeping the vote against you under wraps. Did you pick up any vibes or any clues after the fact? Was there anything where you were like, “Oh, maybe I should have been more attuned to that at Tribal”?
So at Tribal, there were a few moments that raised an alarm. It made me think that I needed to have some conversations, specifically with Lauren. She said one comment that I was like, “Wow, I need to go talk to her a little bit more when I get back,” but everyone hid it extremely well. I had no idea. In hindsight, of course, I noticed two specific moments from Dan that where if my vibe was feeling paranoid, I feel like I could’ve picked up on this. But these are just some small things that you don’t think about a lot of time.
One of them was, we were playing charades the night before and he gave me Gone with the Wind. So later I was in Australia and one morning and I woke up and I was like, “Oh my God, Gone with the Wind. He did that as a joke and I was gone with the wind!” So that was one moment that I’ve noticed. And then also a Tribal, when Dan said, “We’re not voting for the most annoying person. We’re doing chess, not checkers,” I think I even made a little bit of a face at that point because I was in my head we were voting for the most annoying person. So those were two moments. But, man, Janet and Kellee had me fooled.
Listen, no one wants to be the first one voted out of their tribe, but being compared to Parvati Shallow, that’s not so bad, right? I mean, I guess that’s ultimately what got you out so it’s not so good, but at the same time you’re being compared to a legend.
Totally. I said in the very beginning that I feel like I’m playing similarly to Parvati, who is one of my favorite survivors ever, I don’t know what she did that made people not like her and consider her a villain other than being a woman who won. But I think she’s fantastic and that is the highest of Survivor compliments.
We saw Kelle come back from Island of the Idols and share this story about having to pick an urn and offering to strip down to prove she didn’t have an idol. Did you buy her story?
She actually asked me this recently and I’ll tell you what I told her: I was very confused about why she was crying. It made me very skeptical of her as a person, but I generally believed the story that she didn’t get anything. I definitely thought that she learned about the theme in a way that she didn’t express to us. I was like, “There’s no way she went to Island of the Idols and is still just as clueless about what this season is all about.” But I did not think that she had an idol.
Did you fear for your life when you were at the top of that ladder during the challenge and you felt it starting to fall?
No, not at all. I actually had the biggest bruise I’d ever had in my entire life from those falls. I think on one of them I landed on the ladder, and my entire side within the next two days was black and blue. But in the moment, it didn’t even hit me, and then obviously there was an impact. But in the moment, I was just frustrated that I couldn’t reach the top.
Why were you on that ladder? Did you volunteer, or did they say, “Molly would be good for this”?
We did not realize how heavy the ladder would be. In the pregame questions we were asking we were under the impression that the ladder would float to the top. Once we got it in, we should have definitely put more another man in the water pulling the ladder because it was just too heavy. I did not volunteer. They said, “Molly, why don’t you do the ladder?” And I was like, “Okay, sure.” I think we were deciding about how heavy the ladder would be and thinking maybe Jack would go up. But then once we realized how heavy the ladder was, I was the choice.
What did not make it into TV that you wish we had seen about your time out there?
I liked the episode. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything I wish we made it on TV, but on day 4 it did rain the entire day and we basically had to stay in the shelter and kind of huddle up under there. But we totally made the best of it and we were playing different word games and getting to know each other and talking. And I think that’s one scene — especially as it was being a little bit presented like I was this mean popular girl, which I’m not. That’s one scene that showed a lot of group bonding that I cherish as a memory. I don’t know if it needed to make TV, but it’s something that I feel very positive about.
If you could go back and change something about your game, what would it be?
I would’ve sat down and had a long conversation with Janet and Kellee and talked to them, because I think ultimately the three of us could have been really powerful together. I think we have similar approaches to the game and could have been really great and I regret not kind of solidifying that earlier. I was trying to be under the radar and go with the flow but evidently, I was not under the radar at all.
Finally, we saw you attacked by a giant clam out there. How harrowing an experience was that for you?
[Laughs] I am probably going to see that replayed a lot of times in my life. I tweeted after that squirted is better than snuffed. And I think that’s how I felt about it. I didn’t care. It was fun.
Enjoy an exclusive deleted scene at the top of the article. Also make sure to read our episode recap and weekly Q&A with host Jeff Probst. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.