SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Janet Carbin thought she had a clear path all the way to the end. Little did she realize there was a giant idol nullifier standing in her way. Janet’s dreams of a Survivor: Island of the Idols victory were dashed when Dean nullified her hidden immunity idol and she was unanimously voted out in fifth place on day 37.

How did it feel for Janet to fall just short? Does she think the game was hers if she made it to the end? And would she consider playing again? We asked the fan favorite all that and more, including what it was like having to watch some of this season’s more difficult moments.

SURVIVOR: Island of Idols
Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You’re sitting there with an idol and the best fire-making skills on the island. You thought you had your ticket punched to the final three. How crushing was that when you saw your idol had been nullified and your game was over?
JANET CARBIN: I was crushed. I was absolutely crushed, because I did not allow myself to believe I could win the game. I was taking it step by step by step. But when I found the idol, it was the first time, all the way through my heart and every cell of my being was like, “Oh my God, I could win this game.” And it was crushing, because a nullifier with five people left is ridiculous. I never expected it. Never expected it.

Do you lose to anyone if you make it to the final three?
No. I don’t think so.

And does that make it that much harder?
That’s why they needed to get me out. And having a nullifier… I knew I was the biggest threat, and I believed I was going to be given the chance to make fire, even though everybody didn’t want to make it against me. I believe then that that was my fault, you know, at that point. But having that idol in my pocket… okay, bring it on.

Let’s talk about your vote. Why did you ultimately vote for Tommy to win over Dean and Noura?
I made a statement to all three of them that my vote was open, which it was, and it was going to be based on my morals and values. Dean lied in his answer to me. Noura didn’t take responsibility for some of her actions, and Tommy did take responsibility. As much as it upset him, he took responsibility for his actions. So that made the decision for me.

You talk about how you made that vote based on a moral decision. You stepped up and made a very moral decision earlier in the game, based on issues much bigger than the game and strategy, when you put that vote on Dan a few weeks back based on some information where you were being manipulated by some people. We saw how difficult that was for you out there when it happened. How difficult was that for you to then have to watch that all play back on television?
I felt like it was very hard. Every show that I had seen for the whole season that I wasn’t a part of was brand new to me. So I had no idea that that was what was going on. I believed my truth was what my truth was. So I felt all those emotions on everything. Some of the joys and the sorrows, and everything that I had experienced, watching it brought it right back again.

Have you been able to enjoy this experience outside of that? Because you have been a fan favorite and made it so far in the game, but I know that was a very difficult situation for you. Have you been able to enjoy other aspects of your experience, even with all that?
I immensely have enjoyed being a part of this wonderful, crazy, horrific game. I have enjoyed it. I am friends with all of the people in real life. Everybody who was on cast with me is a friend of mine, and I have enjoyed it. I made a decision to enjoy it, because there was a period of time that I was not. And at some point, I made the decision to turn that around and say, “Okay, let’s look at the positives. Let’s look into what we can bring out of this and go forward with it.” And yeah, I’ve been enjoying it.

I’m glad to hear that. And you talk about being close with the cast. Do you still feel like the mom to this cast, Janet?
I do feel like I’m a mom, but not your traditional sense of mom. Being that I work with 150 young people, lifeguards, they’ve taught me so much in my life. I respect young people, so that makes it so they respect me. You know, you kind of get what you give off. And I think too many people limit themselves by age, as well as think that they are owed things because they’re older. If you don’t have that stigma… people know it. It’s like a dog that senses a person they don’t like. People can feel who you are. And my lifeguards taught me that, and that’s kind of how I live my life out there with everybody here. I was just a part of them. Yeah, I was a mom, but not your regular traditional mom, I guess.

Do you think your job and working with so many young people was the best training you could have going into this?
Absolutely. I have to be physical in my job, being physically capable is part of what we do. And dealing with the public and young people on a regular basis. They’re my family. I think every lifeguard, whether they’re at college or if they’re back in town, are having a huge party tonight. That tickles me to no end. And I feel very blessed that they’re in my life. They’re my training ground. They taught me how to deal with all kinds of people.

I don’t know how much you’re online and seeing the support that you’ve been getting, but you’ve gotten a lot of it. What was it like to hear and get some of that feedback?
Initially, it was very uncomfortable for me, because I felt like I was getting a lot of praise for just being… normal. You know what I mean? Why am I getting praise? I’m just doing what a normal person would do. I’m very honored. I’m very appreciative of it. And it made me nervous. And then when my tribemates were being hated… you know, hate is a strong word. I felt my heart broke for them. You can dislike somebody or dislike what they do or not appreciate it, but if they’re taking responsibility for it, apologizing and moving forward, nobody deserves hate now.

So it was hard for me to get all of the positiveness, with knowing that was what was going on. And then it started to change and then I was like, “Okay, let me embrace this. And what can I do with it?” And I’m hoping that I can do some work with some charities, or women’s groups, or whatever, to turn this into something positive. And I am overwhelmed and appreciative of the support.

Would you come back and do this all over again? Would you play Survivor a second time?
I would play Survivor again, as long as my husband and family are in support of it. They have to hold down the fort, as well as my lifeguards. But yeah.

Watch an exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. Also make sure to read our episode recap, finale interviews with winner Tommy Sheehan, Dean Kowalski, Noura Salman, Lauren Beck, and Kellee Kim, and scoop on next season from Jeff Probst. And for more Survivor intel, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

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