By Dalton Ross
October 17, 2019 at 11:24 AM EDT
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Chelsea Walker said that blindsides are fun. But they are considerably less fun when you are on the receiving end of one. Chelsea found that out the hard way when she was ousted by her own alliance on Wednesday’s episode of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

In the end, Chelsea was undone by her close relationship with Dean, a relationship Chelsea says what not nearly as close as it seemed and was certainly not a showmance. But that’s the excuse her own alliance used to get rid of her. How does Chelsea feel about the betrayal? Did she ever come close to using her hidden immunity idol? And whom does she blame the most for her exit? The 26-year-old digital content creator called in the morning after her televised ouster and was refreshingly open and candid about the difficulty of coming to terms with her sudden exit.

Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s it going, Chelsea?
CHELSEA WALKER: Well, I applied for six years and I went pre-merge, so that part sucks. That was definitely hard to watch last night. I was thinking I’d watch it and this huge weight would be lifted off my shoulders and it wasn’t like that. Give me a couple more days and I’m sure I’ll feel better.

It’s always the interesting thing when I talk to people who play this game that if something dramatic or traumatic happens like this, you have to live through it twice. First, it happens out there. You take some time, you probably finally get over it, and then you have to relive the whole thing all over again when it airs on TV a few months later.
That’s a very good explanation. [Getting choked up] Sorry, I’m getting upset about it. Yeah, it was hard coming back and then you get over it and then you have to watch it again and it’s just… you described it perfectly.

A lot to get to here, because I don’t quite really understand why you voted out.
Me either! I feel like I was playing with a bunch of clowns. I’m not even bitter. But it’s just people have the case of big move-itis these days. And again, I don’t want to sound bitter, but that move, I knew a couple episodes you might watch and be like, “Wait, they, left out a lot of info. I don’t know how that person went home,” but they really didn’t leave anything out. Like, that happened right before Tribal. And there’s no rational explanation for that move. There really isn’t.

As I wrote in my recap, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me either. Do you think that you and Dean were too close and that made people too nervous?
Here’s the thing. This can be your headline: Me and Dean were not in a showmance whatsoever. We were close. But here’s the thing, and what you guys didn’t know based off those episodes is that I was actually in a five-person alliance. Yes, we had the girls thing, but also it was probably around day five after Aaron was blindsided with the Ronnie vote — me, Dean, Aaron, Missy and Elizabeth were all in a secret five person alliance, so that had a big play in Vince’s vote. Yes, we still have the girl thing. But ultimately, the Vince vote made everyone happy. It was a tribe unifying vote and we kind of kept everyone happy because we knew a swap would come and I wanted to get rid of the wild cards and for me, Tom was a lot more solid than Vince. I just couldn’t trust him.

I didn’t know about Vince losing his vote, and his lie about coming back from Island of the Idols was not the best. He had told me, “My punishment was sleeping out in the rain,” and that’s not a punishment. That’s called playing Survivor. So I wish he had told me he had lost his vote because that maybe would have changed things. So we had this five person alliance and the fact that all of a sudden Aaron wants to flip on Dean is mind-bonkers to me because he wasn’t doing anything. I don’t get why he wanted to do that.

So that initially rocked the vote, and then somehow it landed back on Karishma. And then last second ended up on me. And then my mindset, we all talked about the swap coming next and we could’ve gone in seven strong, including Elaine and Tom, cause we were all close. So rather than going into the swap seven strong, you lose me, you blindside Dean and potentially lose him too, and keep Karishma, who is clearly gonna flip. So instead of going in with seven you go in with five and I just don’t understand the logic whatsoever. It gets me going.

We saw Missy and Aaron seeming to be pretty tight. So are they thinking, “Well we’re a power duo and they’re another power duo, so let’s get them before they get us?”
But what’s the point of doing that right before a swap? We were all together in one alliance. And even if we were a power duo, that’s like a shield, you know? Dean cuddled with everyone. Tom and Elaine were super, super tight and that’s okay. But when me and Dean cuddle one night, it’s like, “Oh, showmance!” It wasn’t a showmance, but even if it was, why do you have to target them right before swap? I would love to hear how this was a good move from anyone. I’m a huge fan of this game. I totally know there’s totally things I could have and should have done differently.

Like what?
I guess the Dean thing, it wasn’t a thing and, that’s whatever. I know you don’t sleep next to the people, but again, I rotated! You guys are seeing one night we slept next to each other. I guess the biggest thing for me is, I thought my bonds with everyone were much stronger than they were because ultimately when my name was thrown out last second, they agreed to it. So someone should’ve came back and told me. So that’s on me because I my bonds weren’t as strong as I thought they were.

And so you never even thought of ever using your idol, I assume?
No, it did not cross my mind once, sadly. And the thing is with that, I was so focused on the swap because we all knew it was happening next and we knew we were going in numbers down and I was very much prepared to use that at the next Tribal had I gone. But sadly I was out before it.

And you don’t even get to keep it as a memento. They probably took it from you after you were voted out, right?
That is true. I took it out during my vote-out confessional because honestly, I was so shocked. The only thing that went through my mind was they must have found my idol in my bag. That’s the only thing I thought. I thought my idol is what screwed me over because again, that’s the only thing that made semi-sense to me.

You said you tried to get on this show for six years, you get out there, it’s day 11. You think you’re good. Then, out of nowhere, his happens. What is it like when you get back to Ponderosa and you have some time by yourself to work through this? Was that extremely, extremely difficult and emotional?
[Getting choked up] Yeah, that was, I’m sorry. It’s um, yeah, it sucks… I don’t want to sound like a baby here because I’m so grateful for the show and the experience, but yeah, I just remember going back to Ponderosa and the people are like, “What do you want to eat? We’ll have it ready for you.” And I was like, “I do not want anything. I’m so sick to my stomach.” And then I get back and I see Vince, Molly and Ronnie and they were shocked. All I wanted to do was just cry and I couldn’t even get tears out for that whole night because I was so shocked.

That was honestly the worst feeling also just because, you know, I felt super, super close with Missy and Elizabeth especially, and then to get voted out by essentially everyone, you’re like, damn. It just really hurt. Not even from a game level, but a personal level. I know it wasn’t personal, but when it’s that early and you’re like, “Damn, my friends are voting me out.” And it wasn’t a strategic move really. At least in my mind it wasn’t. You’re left wondering for a while. It’s torture, because the whole time at Ponderosa I’m replaying the whole day in my mind — what I missed out on, what I did different, what did I do wrong?

And then you’re just waiting for two or three days and the next person voted out may or may not be from your original tribe, so maybe you’ll get an answer, maybe you won’t. So it’s mental torture for sure. I’m a super fan. Some people are voted out and they’re like, “Okay, I got to play.” But for me this was like a lifelong dream. So I was so devastated.

Let’s talk about some happier times. Tell me about your fire-making skills because that was seriously impressive. Nobody else in the tribe could step up and do it and then you step in and BAM! You got fire.
For a super fan, that was awesome. I practiced a lot before I went out there. During casting, when I was going through the process, I said to one of the casting producers, “If I do get on, I’ll make sure I know how to make a fire.” And she was like, “Wait, why don’t you know how to make fire right now?” So that just lit a fire. That just pissed me off. And I was like, I’m going to go home right after this and learn. I practiced a lot leading up to it and I was really good at it.

So we got out there and it was early in the morning and Tom and Aaron couldn’t figure it out. And then I just stepped in, and it looks like I made it really quick and I really did. That was early in the morning and then it was actually right before sunset when I found the idol. So that was awesome. And I need to clarify with the idol. I know I read all the stuff people say and they’re like, “Oh, she accidentally found an idol.” Like, excuse me? I was out there. You might not see it, but I was looking, I wasn’t just like, “Oops, I found one.” I was looking at multiple trees.

Is there something else that you wish we had seen that didn’t make it onto TV?
We actually had so much fun out there together. Like those first 11 days, I’d never laughed harder. Elaine is just the most hysterical person ever. She and Tom had us laughing all night. I don’t know if it was ‘cause we were hungry or tired, but despite them voting me out, I loved those people. Or at least most of them.

So who don’t you love?
Obviously you saw last night’s episode, so there’s one person who is the reason I went home.

Missy.
But it’s a game. There’s game and then I can be friends with everyone outside the game. But it still hurts obviously.

Did anything surprise you watching this season play all play back on TV?
I’m just curious what I was doing when all these conversations were going down. I’m like, “Where was I?” Because I’m just like, damn, if I had just intercepted any of these conversations . Like the way my name got thrown out, had I been in that conversation with Elaine and Missy — all I needed to do was be right there and then my name wouldn’t have been thrown out. So that’s what surprised me. I was just like, “Where am I?”

I guess I was surprised about the showmance thing with Dean, because I still firmly stand by the fact that I was not in a showmance with him. I was close with him, but again, everyone is close with someone else. So it’s just because we were the two openly single people in the tribe. I should have squashed that there was a perception about that being a thing, but when two people of the opposite sex who are single talk, I don’t know, it’s whatever.

It’s an excuse is what it is. An excuse other people can use against you.
Yeah, it’s an excuse. To any future survivors out there: Just realize people are not logical out there. If you’re a girl and you’re single, just go out there and say you have a boyfriend. That’s my best advice.

Check out an exclusive deleted scene from this week’s episode above. Also make sure to read our weekly Q&A with Jeff Probst, our full episode recap, and a look at the gender disparity in terms of winners on the show. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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