Yase seemed to be a strong foursome headed into the merge. So what happened?

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Evvie Jagoda wanted to ride an all-women's alliance all the way to the end of Survivor 41, but in the end it was her inability to keep her former Yase tribemates together that ultimately did her in.

After the merge tribe was divided into two groups, Evvie found herself in what could have been a numbers advantage with former Yase members Xander and Liana against two former Luvus in Danny and Deshawn. Of course, Liana had long ago defected, and Xander's on-again-off-again loyalty never involved using his immunity idol on anyone else.

As a result, Evvie was the second one voted out of Wednesday's double-elimination episode, joining Naseer Muttalif on the jury.  Why did the Yase alliance fall apart? Did Evvie try to build something with other women at the merge? And what happened out there that we didn't see? We asked Evvie all that and more the morning after she watched herself get voted out, and, as always, she had plenty to say.

Survivor season 41
Evvie Jagoda on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, I'd like to apologize for breaking the hourglass and retroactively jinxing you by making you my pick to win the game. That's on me, Evvie.

EVVIE JAGODA: I mean, it clearly was all your fault. I can sleep well thinking that.

I can take the heat. You said at Tribal Council that you were 75 percent sure your plan would work. What made you so sure you could trust Danny and Deshawn to kick Liana to the curb instead of you?

Well, first of all, the reality is I was much more like 50-50, but you never want the people you're working with to think you're nervous about the plan, because you don't want them to get nervous about the plan. So I bumped it up to a cool 75, but really, especially with Deshawn, that relationship had been building and had such an interesting arc over the whole show. You saw us go on our journey together early in the game, and we really, really bonded. And when we got to the merge, we really did want to work together. And I think you saw it in that episode, that even though we came for each other, we were both saying, "Ugh, I didn't want it to go down this way. I did really want to work with this person."

And then he actually approached me — not what you saw on the show, where it was him approaching me after Tiffany got voted out, but actually right before Tribal Council. The one that Tiffany was voted out on, he pulled me aside. He was like, "Listen to me, after this vote, I really, really want to work with you. Let's do some damage together." And then we continued those conversations the next day. So I really felt like I did have a good relationship with Deshawn. I thought it made sense for him given that there was this, like, big feud forming between him and Shan — that it made perfect sense for him to get out Shan's number-one right-hand woman and keep me, who would clearly be on team Deshawn. He definitely knew I was with him.

So I thought it made sense, but obviously Danny was much less into that idea. You can see when Deshawn asked him, "What are we doing, Danny?" He's like, "What do you mean? We're obviously getting Evvie." So I think we were just playing antithetical games. So it makes sense that he didn't go with me. I think the other thing is that I felt pretty good about Deshaun, and Xander felt like he had a good relationship with Danny, but like we've seen now between what happened in this episode and what happened at the merge vote, I think Xander always thought that relationship was a bit more two-way than it was. Danny was happy to receive information from Xander and push him where he wanted to go. When Danny said to Xander, "I'll do whatever you want to do"? No, he wasn't going to do whatever Xander wanted to do.

Was there any discussion at all of Xander playing his idol for you?

So you saw Liana floated [the idea of] giving her the idol, and Xander told me about that, which was crazy — like, what an insane ask. But when it came to Xander playing an advantage for me, I felt like Charlie Brown and the football. Like, he had been saying since Yase, "Oh, I'll play an advantage for you. If it comes to a swap, I'll give you the extra vote." And then it would come time for what we thought might be a swap, and I'd be like, "Xander, are you going to give me the extra vote? I'll give it back to you if there's no swap." And then he was like, "No, I'll give you the fake idol." And then when it came to the merge and I needed that idol the most and we were most in lock step executing this excellent plan together, he didn't play the idol for me and I almost went home. So, to me, the idea that Xander was ever going to play the idol for me was kind of like… I wasn't going to put my cards in that. So I was really trying to make a different plan happen.  

Why did the Yase trio of you, Xander, and Tiffany splinter right after that Tribal where Tiffany held onto Xander's idol and advantage? Was it Deshawn sort of calling you at Tribal?

Honestly, it was very surprising to me as well that Yase totally imploded after that. Because when we got back from Tribal, it was all hugs. Tiffany gives Xander back the idol, and obviously Xander was upset that I shared the idol, but we talked about it and I was like, "Listen, that was day 4. We didn't know how close we were going to end up being." And honestly, Xander is a gamer. I don't think he took it personally, but I think he was a bit wary.

And then the next day, I think Xander decided his best strategy was to totally ditch us. And he literally did not talk to me and Tiffany at all. I think he just really wanted the perception of, "I'm a free agent. I'm not part of the Yase three." And it's a bit unfortunate because again, I did betray him by saying that, so I really don't blame him for being wary. That makes sense. That's logical. But the reality is, if we had been a threesome, we would have had so much more power. And I think we would've had a shot of bringing it to people like Erika and Heather and Naseer, who did know they were at the bottom of the larger group. But if we're not three, there's nothing for them to even flip to. But again, he's playing an individual game and he's still there.

Survivor season 41
Evvie Jagoda on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

Let's expand that Yase circle even further, because the Liana thing was surprising as well, because you all seemed to have a solid all-women's alliance thing going on, but then you get to the merge and she's gone. What was behind that?

Yeah, absolutely. And I think the show portrayed it well. From the moment we didn't vote out Xander on day 5, Liana honestly was obsessed with that, and really regretted it, and just really, really, really had tunnel vision on getting Xander out. I love her so much, and she wants play a big game. She wants a big move. She was always thinking that Xander was going to be like Joey Amazing. But the reality is Xander was with us! So it was just so frustrating because when we got to the merge, I think me and Tiffany and Xander and actually even Shan were all like, "Okay, let's do Yase and Ua — that's six. And there's six Luvu, so we've got to get one of them out."

And I think we were all on board for that, but Liana was starting right away like, "Orrrrr, what if we got out Xander? And then what if we got out Tiff?" And to me it was just like, "Well, how would we do that? These are the only people in the game that we actually have these long-term relationships with." I think if it wasn't for that hourglass that she wouldn't have wanted to come for me. It was only that artificial situation where I was the only person that larger majority group could be voting for. You saw how reluctant she was, and Liana and I really did have a close relationship the whole game.

Something they didn't show that I think was pretty impactful was that before the challenge where Erica smashed the hourglass, Liana actually came to me and told me about the Knowledge Is Power advantage. And she actually let me read the note. So when you see it in the conversation where I am telling Xander about it, I have a lot more information than Tiffany had — like how you have to ask the person who has it in your possession and all that stuff. And a lot of people were confused as to why Liana would think Xander really did have the idol when he was being so flashy, but a lot of that was I think she thought she and I were so close that I would never think she would do this big betrayal of me, you know? It was honestly surprising, but I also did see it coming.

And then there was just a lot of acting going on that day between the two of us, like the hour before Tribal. I was like, "Oh, I'm just so nervous. What if Xander doesn't play the idol on me and just wants to have a splashy moment and it could ruin my game?" And she's like, "There, there, it's okay," and doing deep breathing with me in front of everyone. Which added to why I seemed like such a big threat, because it was quite a long-term acting game going on there. But I love her. She has her own game, and it seemed like the right move for her at the time.

You really wanted to ride with an all-women's alliance at the start of the game. When you got to the merge, did you try to find a way to keep that going or were you out of options?

Oh, absolutely. And one of the first conversations I had at the merge was with Shan. Me and Shan were very much on the same page — let's do a women's thing, let's get a Luvu out. That was definitely the vibe. But the merge was crazy. You have women and men, you've got the Black alliance forming, you've got Luvu versus Yase. There were so many things going on, and it was so fluid and jumbled up. And then when that hourglass twist came in, it just made a really stark division where it was just like oh, okay, it's Yase versus everyone else. Which was kind of unfortunate, but actually on the day I got voted out in the morning, they showed Deshawn coming to me, but also Liana and Shan had a conversation with me and they were like, "Let's do the women's thing again. We don't want to go to the end with Deshawn and Danny. Let's get this back together. And I was like, "Hell yeah!" So it was definitely always floating around.

Do you buy that though? Because Shan seemed pretty obsessed with getting Erika and Heather out.

I bought that they wanted to work with me, but not necessarily that they wanted to work with all the women in the game. You see that Shan was coming for me hard the last two episodes, and she did not bring me up here. My relationship recovery tour didn't work out in the short term, but it really did work out in a longer term. Everyone knew I wanted to work with them and was available to work with them. And when I was still around, they were down for it. So if I hadn't pulled the rock…

Survivor season 41
Evvie Jagoda on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets/CBS

So let's play a game of "Survivor What If?" What do you think happens if the tribes don't get broken up? Xander wins immunity. Who goes home?

The names I was hearing floating around were Erika and Naseer. I really think it could have been a split on those two. And power to Erica for winning an immunity that I think she really needed on that side. But I really was not in the cards for that day. I firmly believe that. But yeah, that would probably be my guess, a split on Erika and Naseer, and if Naseer doesn't play the idol, maybe Naseer goes.

Give me something else you wish had made it on air but didn't.

There's the moments of human kindness and things that are not necessarily the best TV moments, but just really mean a lot. This is a wonderful group of people. Two moments in particular stand out to me. When I won the immunity and we went back to camp, the first thing I said to Tiff was, "I'm so sorry." Because it was so obvious that me winning immunity meant that she was probably going home. And she was like, "Are you crazy? What are you talking about? What are you sorry about? I'm so proud of you." It actually made her happy that I won, even though that was it for her. And that's just amazing in a million-dollar game.

And a similar moment: Right before the merge vote, I was freaking out. I was very upset, and Danny —who clearly was going to vote for me and obviously was in on the plan to get me out — taps me on the back and he's like, "Don't go into Tribal sad. Go in there with your game face on. You got this!" Even though he was totally against me. I just love that. These are really great people, and the fact that we can just recognize the humanity in each other while playing this game, that's everything.

We saw you dominate that one puzzle, which you practiced on with beads at home. Did you do that with other puzzles as well?

I did! So that was fun, because I literally made that the day I left [for the show]. My partner was going to get the vaccine and she's like, "You have to pack." And I was like, "Wait, really quick. I'm just gonna make this puzzle." I also did the fish puzzle where the fish alternate. I've got that one. And I've got the four blocks where you need to make them all a different color. But of all the puzzles, that was a perfect one because if you know it, you can solve it in two seconds. The others are not like that. And they didn't show this, but Jeff [Probst] at Tribal Council that night was like, "Just so everyone knows, we're retiring that puzzle." So sorry to you Survivor fans, practice other ones.

In your final words after being voted out you said: "Any queer kids out there: Be yourself. You're amazing. Love yourself." What does it mean to you to get that message out on the air?

That's, uh… I'm getting emotional even talking about me. To me, that's why I did the show. I think so much of the messaging around queerness when you're growing up is that either it's bad or, like, it'll be okay. You know what I mean? And what I realized when I finally came out and embraced my full self — and now I'm exploring my gender and all that — it's so much more than okay. My queerness brings me so much joy and has unleashed so much more of myself. And it's the happiest thing in my life.

And so for me to get to go out there and show my joyful self and be a threat in strategy and physical, and, most importantly, social — I was voted out because everyone likes me. You could imagine a scenario where I'm the weird, ostracized person for being queer, and that's not what it was at all. Everyone liked me! And I just really hope [queer] people saw that and know that [they] are amazing and beautiful. And I'm just really, really, really happy I said that and that it aired. Honestly, seeing that was worth a million dollars to me.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

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