By Dalton Ross
October 31, 2019 at 10:48 AM EDT
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Getting voted out of Survivor sucks. But what’s even worse than getting voted out of Survivor? Getting voted out of Survivor because you had no vote to save yourself. That terrible fate befell Jason Linden this week on Survivor: Island of the Idols after Elaine won a vote-block advantage thanks to her trip to Island of the Idols and then blocked Jason from voting — thereby giving her alliance the numbers to take out whomever they wanted. And that whomever turned out to be Jason.

How did it feel to go out in that way? Why did he blow up Aaron on his way out? And what happened out there that we did not see? We asked Jason all that and more, and he revealed that Elaine was not even Vokai’s target until she pulled out the advantage as well as tons of other stuff we never saw on TV. Read on for scoopage!

Michele Crowe/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with the big moment. Tell me your reaction at Tribal Council as Elaine takes out that advantage and announces she is blocking your vote.
JASON LINDEN: Oh my God, what wasn’t going through my mind at that point? So when she came back from Island of the Idols, we thought she had something but we just weren’t  100 percent sure what it was. We thought that she might have an idol, but as soon as she stood up and she played it before the votes were even cast, we knew it wasn’t an idol. So we knew she had something good. I knew that they were targeting me specifically and my first thought was, “Oh man, I’m done. My goose is cooked. Let me collect my things, cause my torch is about to get snuffed.” So immediately my knee jerk reaction was, “Here it is. This is how I go home.”

There was a lot of whispering going on at Tribal Council after Elaine revealed she was blocking your vote. At one point. Tommy and Dan came over and were whispering to you even though you had no vote to cast. What were they saying?
Well, the actual plan that we had in place was a very complicated plan before we went to Tribal Council. So when the swap happened, Missy and Aaron immediately wanted to flip and threw Elaine’s name out there and threw Elaine under the bus. So she was our first target. And then ultimately was our last target. But in between, our targets were actually Missy and Aaron. So going into the Tribal Council, the plan was to put four of the old Vokai votes on Aaron hoping that Aaron or Missy would flip, and send Aaron home.

So what happened was when Elaine pulled out the block a vote, it signaled to us that, “Okay, they have something, we’re gonna need four true votes. Jason doesn’t have a vote.” So our best plan at that point was to basically gather ourselves, put the votes on Elaine, and then hope Aaron actually was flipping on Elaine. So what they said to me is, “It’s going to be Elaine, it’s going to be Elaine, it’s going to be a Elaine.” And because before that it was not going to be Elaine walking into the Tribal Council and for the days leading up to the Tribal Council either.

Had you guys talked to Elaine and Elizabeth about putting votes on Aaron or Missy?
No. So, basically, and this is probably one of my faults in the game, was we had a misread on the situation beforehand. I mean, we were working with the facts that we had in front of us. We we had the Aaron and Missy potential flip, and we did not want to give Elaine or Elizabeth the opportunity to, you know, say, “Hey, they’re throwing your name out there and they’re throwing you under the bus. They’re not trustworthy either.” So we were pretty confident they were gonna flip before Elaine pulled out this advantage. So we didn’t really see a reason to speak to Elizabeth or Elaine at that time, knowing we already had not one but two potential flippers.

So Aaron was the target when you walked into Tribal. Why Aaron?
I mean, now we’re getting into real technicalities. Aaron and Missy wanted Elaine gone so badly and I just, I took a step back and I said, “Why is this? Is there another way?” And I was kind of channeling my inner James Linn from Ghost Island, and thinking: maybe it’s not as easy as this person or that person. And maybe there’s a third option. Maybe this person who they want out is actually beneficial to their game and helpful to them. So the plan was, have them put their votes on Elaine, take one of them out, leave them in the game with a very upset Elaine and Elaine would be our number and then we will have a clear next target. [Aaron and Missy] were both very strategic. We knew that they were very strategic and we didn’t want it to be their move. We wanted it to be our move and also in the process have the next move and a new ally.

You announced to everyone on your way out to not trust Aaron. Strategically do you think he made the right decision once the advantage was in play giving his side the numbers?
So, a few things. I have no hard feelings towards Aaron. Aaron and I are friends now. We’ve laughed about that comment and how it caused him some grief and I’m laughing because he didn’t even realize how close he was to going home. Let me say this: Should he have chosen to stay with his Lairo people, I probably was the correct person to take out at that time. Should he have chosen to flip, that would have been his decision and there would’ve been a lot of unknowns to go along with that flip for later in the game, so he chose what he felt was a more truer thing where at least he knew where he stood with these three other people in terms of his Lairo people. So I think Aaron did make the right decision. I think Aaron probably made the right decision by choosing me at the time. And I can’t fault him one bit for making the move.

You and the original Vokai were all ready to go to rocks. Did it shock you how unwilling the members of original Lairo were to go to rocks before they had the advantage?
Well, let me just say that it is an accomplishment in itself just to be out there and got on the show. Nobody really wants to end that experience based on a game of chance. But if you’re playing to win the game, which I was, and there were certainly other people on my Vokai tribe that were playing to win the game, sometimes you need to take a chance. There’s a lot of luck that goes into the game of Survivor. Of course there’s skill, but there’s elements of luck along the road of Survivor. So the idea of pulling rocks, it’s a scary one. And I can tell you that there were people even from my original Vokai four that weren’t willing to draw a rock right away. And I had to get them to basically come to the idea and be comfortable with the fact that we might have to draw a rock.

Is that Lauren? Are you talking about Lauren?
[Laughs] We’re throwing names out there. It was Lauren. Lauren up to that point was playing a scared game, and she was very, very hesitant to draw a rock. And I spoke to her for days leading up to this and I said, “Listen, are you here to just survive another day? Are you here to win the game? Because if you flip, you’re going to be on the bottom of a minority alliance and I’m telling you once we’re gone, you’re going to be the next to go. You can’t flip here.” And I spent a lot of time building Lauren up, and it was in an honest way, it was in a true way, and giving her the confidence that that she needed going into this Tribal Council. And I basically knew that they were targeting me, and I had to make sure that my alliance was going to step up to the plate and protect me.

Every season there is some guy —and it always seems to be a guy — who right out of the gate alienates himself by being too obvious and aggressive in searching for hidden immunity idols. This season, you were that guy. Jason, what were you thinking?
I had problems before the game even started. Like certain other players that have played the game before, I have the archetype as the nerdy gamer, and that makes you a target from the get go. Like Molly was perceived as being the Parvati type, I was perceived as being the Stephen Fishbach type to even the point where before people met me and knew my name, they were calling me Fishbach.

So I had a problem and I would say I lightly painted a target on my back from the second I stepped off of the boat wearing a jacket. Now that problem got even worse when we did our introductions. And I intended to lie about being a lawyer. And in my lie, I’ve totally flopped my occupation and everyone says immediately “You’re lying!” This is in the first like 10 or 15 seconds of the game. And immediately people think I’m a liar. So before anything happened, before I went out into the jungle by myself, I had problems to begin with.

I tell you this though, that when I was out there, I was out in the jungle for very, very short period of time. But I had this soft target on me, and then because I was gone for 10 or 15 minutes — I think I might’ve walked away twice — it allowed Dan and the rest of the crew to paint a brighter and brighter target on my back. So, it was a mistake. I wasn’t just looking for an idol. I found some shells. I was doing some really shady stuff that I absolutely shouldn’t have been doing and it was total self-inflicted gunshot wound. I made a mistake. I didn’t play a perfect game of Survivor — that’s why I’m talking to you now.

What was your phony baloney occupation?
My phony baloney occupation was my wife’s occupation, which is a licensing manager for a manufacturing company, and they manufacture umbrellas. And so when they said, “Oh, what do you do?” I said, “I’m a…uh…a licensing manager for a manufacturing company!” And everyone just looks at me. And they’re like, “What? Like that is the biggest lie ever.” It did not go over well. My first impression was horrible. Absolutely horrible. Terrible.

Tell me how you all came to the decision to make Noura sit out of the blindfolded challenge after promising her she could have the role of caller, and how she took that decision.
First of all, I’m so happy you asked this question because we haven’t had any eliminations from the original Vokai tribe [since then] so people that have not really seen that much of what was going on there. Noura comes back from Island of the Idols and let me just tell you, I love Noura. Clearly, she loves me! But her execution of whatever she was trying to do was 20 times worse than even what you saw on television. So before we even get to her story with how she has to be a certain position, she actually came back with a fake idol as well. As you saw, Dan likes to snoop through people’s things, and he found a fake idol that Noura came back from all Island of the Idols with.

This was a legitimate fake idol that she made there. And we have no idea, no reason why. So on top of all of this, she came back with this kooky fake idol and then admitted it was fake! Just total, total craziness, like bizarre. So going back to the caller position, we’re sitting there and it’s the Noura show and a lot of times out there it is the Noura show and that’s why it was fun to keep her around. It was extremely entertaining. And she just gets up there and we’re like, “What are you talking about?” And then once she told us what the actual challenge was, we’re all like, “There’s no way. Somebody’s going to be sent home because she wants to get an advantage in the game.” Specifically, me and Jamal were really against her being the caller outwardly right away.

So we said, “Okay, let’s give her a chance to be the caller.” So we gave her a chance. You saw what happened. Dan stubbed his toe. I’m sure he’s probably still nursing it at this point. And she’s not giving any instruction. She’s all over the place. And I said, okay, “Watch me do it one time. Maybe this is how you should be doing it.” And I did it one time and obviously it went very well — or a lot better than with Noura.

And so we put Noura in a role as a blindfolded person and we were practicing and I was directing her on where to go, but she wouldn’t listen to me! She was, like, purposely try to screw things up for me. Or maybe she wasn’t doing it on purpose. I don’t know. But she would not listen. So when we took a break from practicing, we came together and I said to everyone, “I think she is going to try to sabotage this entire thing. We got to sit her down.” And that conversation was between probably me, Dan, Lauren and Jamal. And we just said, we got to sit her out. And nobody really wanted to deliver the news, and you kinda see when Jeff asked us who was sitting out, we kind of all looked around because we knew that we wanted it to be Noura. And Lauren stepped up, turned around and said, “Noura, it’s you. “And immediately in my mind I’m like, Oh my gosh!!!

Enjoy an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read our weekly Q&A with host Jeff Probst as well as our episode recap. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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