SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Warning: This article contains spoilers about Wednesday’s season finale of Survivor: Island of the Idols.

In the end, she got burned by the fire. Lauren Beck played a strong social and strategic game on Survivor: Island of the Idols, but when she was forced to make fire to get into the final 3, she couldn’t make it happen.

How would Lauren have done if she had made it to the end? How did she feel about learning that her biggest ally in Tommy helped Dean more than her? And what else about her game besides the fire would she change if she could? We asked Lauren about all that and more when we spoke after Wednesday’s finale and reunion.

SURVIVOR: Island of Idols
Lauren Beck on 'Survivor: Island of Idols'
| Credit: Michele Crowe/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So close, yet so far. Let me start with the obvious question. Let’s say you beat Dean in that fire-making competition. How do you think you do against Tommy and Noura in the final three?
LAUREN BECK: It was my game to win. Tommy was wrapped around this little finger, so there was no way that he could have separated our moves. And to think that little old me, who doesn’t like to go outside, was this major threat that everyone wanted to get out, is a huge moment and a nod to my game. And I didn’t think I was going to be able to play the game that I played. And I’m really proud of the game that I did end up playing.

One of the biggest things I was wondering as I watched the finale was, what was your reaction when Tommy tells you at final Tribal you were his number one, and then Noura immediately tells you that Tommy was helping Dean more than you with the fire?
Of course, it hurts. In that moment, it’s like this knee jerk reaction of like, “Oh my gosh, the person I trusted wholeheartedly went against me.” But I know Survivor, and it is a game. And if Tommy did not make those moves, he may not be where he is now. So, I am proud of him for making that move, for putting himself first and doing what he needed to do to win. And he did that.

And there was no possible scenario where you were not going to vote for him to win, right?
Truthfully not, no, there was no way. I always said if it wasn’t me, I wanted it to be Tommy. And I’m just so grateful. I’ll tell you, I went back to Ponderosa and I’m the best campaign manager in the world, because I wanted him to win, and that was my goal.

What I don’t get is you guys from very early on were such a power duo. So, how did you both manage to stay in the game? Because if I’m out there and I see you two out there together, I’m getting one of you out. And I know people talked about it a bit, but they couldn’t do it.
You know, I think it’s funny, and Tommy and I even asked each other this: “Why didn’t they try to get us out?” Like you said, my first reaction, if I see a power duo or twosome or whatever, just like Dean and Chelsea, it’s like, all right, we got to get them out. Even though, that wasn’t a thing, just so you guys know. I think that it’s just a nod to Tommy and I’s social game, because we had such great friends in the game, that they weren’t willing to vote us out because we were a dynamic duo.

You were pissed at Noura for making you go to fire, but you later admitted that it was the right move. So, was that just the emotion of watching your dream just come crashing down before your eyes?
Yeah, I feel like on day 38 you’re so emotionally drained. I practiced making fire like a madwoman before I left. But it’s just, in that moment, realizing like, “Oh my God, my dream can come down to making a fire, that I’ve made a million times before.” That same day, I made six fires. They were roaring, they were raring, it was ready to go. I felt good walking into Tribal, and yeah, it’s not fun. But I think for Noura to make that decision, again, it’s the same thing as Tommy — all of us lead with our hearts and I think at some point you have to lead with your head. And that’s what they did.

And Noura solidified her position within the final three with immunity. But I think she also solidified, you know, not having me win, which is fine. I love Noura, and I think that everyone had to play the game that they needed to play for themselves. We only knew each other for 39 days. Everyone was out there playing for their family, significant other, whatever, what have you. And so I’m proud of all of them for playing the best game for themselves just like I did for myself.

Obviously, this season had a lot of very serious stuff go down as well. And we know the one really tough episode where Kellee was eliminated and everything surrounding that. I saw your apology on social media, which I thought was very heartfelt and sincere. How difficult was it for you to have to sit down and watch that whole episode playback on TV? I have to imagine that was very hard.
For me, it was. Because I think just as the viewer saw some things that were going on and maybe things that I necessarily wouldn’t do in the game, my jaw dropped. It was like, I just couldn’t believe that certain things were coming into play as game-play. But, I think it’s hard, right? I think ultimately it’s a teachable moment for everyone. I think that a lot of us didn’t have a lot of the information and that made it hard. We were all trying to support each other.

Some people were still trying to play a game and that’s what happens when you put 20 strangers together and they all have different opinions and values and how they’re going to play the games. There are certain things that I wasn’t willing to do and lines that I wasn’t willing to cross. Some people had different ways of playing the game, but ultimately my job is just to support my cast. I love my cast. I will be with them forever and ever whether they’ll have me or not. And yeah, that’s where I’m at with that.

What was your favorite moment of the game? Just from a personal standpoint, not a game standpoint.
I had so many favorite moments, but of course, meeting Sandra that I idolize, having my husband see me out there on day 33, dirty and gross, something that we joked about for years. We’d sit at home on our couch with our dog and watch Survivor. And it’s so funny cause when we watched the episode back, he was like, “Why did I do the awkward Survivor run when I came out?” And I’m like, “Because we’ve been watching the show for so many years!” So, to be able to have that moment for him and for him to get his TV appearance was great. And the fact that I was able to last that long and do that and have our family cheer for us and love us — it’s just something that we will cherish and hold close to our hearts forever.

Is there anything about your game that you’ve gone back and thought, “Oh, if I just done this instead of that maybe I could have had a different result?”
Honestly, Dalton, I don’t think so. I think the path to the end for me wasn’t going to happen with this group because everyone realized my name was never written down. So, would I have done something differently? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have gotten me to final four. It might’ve gotten me seven, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten to bring my husband out there, meet Sandra and Rob, who I love and idolized her, get that idol or convince everyone to have brunch. Like, maybe I wouldn’t have gotten those moments. So, I’m proud of every single thing that I did in that game and there’s nothing that I would change. If I go back for Second Chance, though, I might change a little bit.

Okay, you just stole my next question. So, I guess you just gave it to me. If you get that call to come back again, what’s your answer?
My bags are packed.

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, Janet Carbin, 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

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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