Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Candice Cody drops a Cook Islands bombshell involving Billy
With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show’s past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they’ve been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
“My prize isn’t even the million dollars. My prize is I fell in love in this game, love at first sight. Her name is Candice.” Those were the words that shocked a nation. Both Jeff Probst and millions of viewers watching at home had to pick their jaws up off the floor when Billy Garcia revealed his love connection with Candice Woodcock at Tribal Council during Survivor: Cook Islands.
What made the scene so amazing is that Billy and Candice had only exchanged a few simple words at a challenge, their entire interaction amounting to the following:
CANDICE: “I feel really bad for you guys.”
BILLY: “I’m next.
CANDICE: “We love you.”
BILLY: “I love you.”
When pressed by Probst as to how this bond formed, Billy — who addressed the topic in hilarious form as part of his Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire — responded that “I just think it’s love at first sight. I think it’s just a rapport thing.” Well, it turns out that rapport did not, in fact, begin at that challenge, but rather before the game even began!
In a true bombshell of epic proportions, Candice now reveals there was indeed more said between the pair as they actually spoke in secret before the game began, and made a pact between them. “During pregame for Cook Islands, Billy and I chatted for a moment in the pregame lockdown in one of the huts,” says Candice. “We said we would look out for each other. That’s where it all started.”
There you have it: the origin story for one of reality television’s most incredibly awkward love stories ever. But Candice — who now goes by Candice Cody after marrying her Blood vs. Water partner John Cody — has plenty more to spill about her three seasons of Survivor, including regrets about her ill-fated mutiny. Read on for more insight and intel courtesy of Candice’s Quarantine Questionnaire.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you’ve been up to since appearing on Survivor.
CANDICE CODY: John and I have had 2 kids since we were on Blood vs. Water, and I have been a practicing anesthesiologist for the past 5 years. A lot has changed, but in a really awesome way. We’ve got a great little family going!
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
My two proudest moments were challenges in Cook Islands. One was standing over 2 hours on the pole challenge and the other was lasting almost the entire challenge for my part in the wrestling off the pole challenge against Rebecca and Parvati.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?
Looking back, I think that it would have probably been better if I hadn’t taken Jeff up on the mutiny offer. It was too public of a move. The same thing could have been accomplished with a better outcome if I had waited a little later and it hadn’t been such an open, emotionally shocking move to the Aitu tribe. I had plenty of life left on Aitu and plenty of time to mount an opposition to the Becky/Yul duo without losing Raro allies.
Our next move on Aitu was to get rid of Ozzy, which would have been unanimous. Becky/Yul/Jonathan and I were close. We all liked each other a lot and played well together. No problems there. Jonathan and I knew we would have to enact a long-term plan to break away if we wanted a chance to beat them in the end though. We had already discussed that long term plan with Nate when we brought him to our tribe as part of a reward.
When Jeff offered the mutiny, we all thought the merge would be soon. I wanted the opportunity to make sure that my allies on Raro stayed, and to make sure we got rid of Becky and Yul’s top options (they wanted to bring Brad in to our alliance at the merge). I jumped on the opportunity to influence that part of the middle of the game. I think all of that could and should have been done a bit later in the game, and more privately.
Being sent to Exile over and over was no picnic either, but I totally understood Becky and Yul’s feelings. Of course, it was all gameplay and nothing personal because that foursome of Becky/Yul/Jonathan and myself were friends in real life. We liked each other, and I still love all those guys. I didn’t like Yul so much that I wanted him spending my million though...
What’s something that will blow fans minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?
During pregame for Cook Islands, Billy and I chatted for a moment in the pregame lockdown in one of the huts. We said we would look out for each other. That’s where it all started.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
I didn’t love it, but I get it. The mutiny on Cook Islands was a big move. It didn’t work out. They weren’t going to tell a hero story about me out of that when I ended up losing. They would have if it had worked, but that wasn’t the story arc. I also think that the season being initially divided by race — which I thought was a terrible idea and didn’t believe Jeff and Mark when they told us it was the theme — added another layer of negative perception and assumptions about the reasons for the mutiny that just weren’t true. The Aitu 4 became the heroes, and I was their antagonist who we were all made to root against. It’s fair, it makes sense for the story that needed to be told.
Fast forward to my next season, Heroes vs. Villains, and they put me on the Heroes tribe. Everyone, including me, was scratching their heads about that one after the story that was told on Cook Islands. The rest of the Heroes didn’t have any interest in me being on their tribe and sharing their “hero” title. I never belonged and was an outcast the entire time. The. Entire. Time. It wasn’t a fun time around camp. As a result of the mutiny not working out and having that fair, but negative, edit, I never really got to play in HvV. There was no one to make a move with. Nobody to even socialize with. I was stuck trying just to stay alive another day out there, always the next planned vote out. I think that edit was neutral, but there was no material really.
Coming out for Blood vs. Water, John and I were swapped out late pregame for Hayden and Kat and didn’t travel with the rest of the cast to location. Then, at the last minute, we got swapped back in and rushed out to location in time to start filming without explanation to the rest of the cast as to what had just happened. That made the Monica/Kat/Colton crew very nervous so they jumped at the opportunity to vote me out 30 seconds in without discussion. That was a huge disappointment, mostly because it really took away John’s opportunity to have a chance to play. All the negative vibes surrounding me rubbed off on him. Maybe you can tag that onto my biggest regret. I wish the whole debacle with the duo swap out had never happened and hasn’t hamstrung John’s opportunity. He would have been great without me dragging him down!
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
It took some time to get my hunger paranoia under control after Cook Islands. I would hoard snacks and became a klepto. I would catch myself alone in a room with someone’s bag thinking, “I wonder if they have a candy bar in there, I should check and grab it before they come back.” I would also take random trips to the grocery store to get food for later and then eat most of it in the car before coming home. It was definitely weird and took a while to get under control.
I don’t remember it being quite so bad after HvV because I had been there before. I was also with John then (we postponed our wedding for filming), so he was a calming influence. He’s a really good cook and we’re also both lovers of the DC food scene so it was a more joyful experience coming back and eating through our favorite DC restaurants.
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
No. It was a dream and the adventure of a lifetime. Grateful for every minute. I feel like I’ve shared a lot of negative feelings in the rest of these answers, but that wasn’t the overall vibe of my experience. I had an amazing time. Priceless.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your seasons?
I don’t do any of the events, and I don’t keep up with the social media chatting as much as the years have gone on. I was starting my medical education right after filming Cook Islands and have been on that journey ever since. I was in the middle of my residency in anesthesiology during BvW. Now John and I have a family, we’re both practicing medicine, John’s been deployed and will again, so it’s been a bit of a beautiful whirlwind.
To get back to the original question though, I occasionally chat with Sandra. She’s always been my girl. We’re from the same hometown. She was really cool to my family afterwards when she lived there (they’re huge fans, my grandparents used to go to the drive through of her bank for a hoot and she always indulged them). So if we ever play together again, even in a fantasy league, just know, my love for Sandra is deep.
Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what’s your favorite season you were not on and why?
I do still watch. After zero review of the seasons so forgive me if I’m leaving a good one out, I would have to say Tocantins. Tyson was an absolute delight to watch on my TV. He needs his own show. In place of the COVID shutdown hiatus, I propose Jeff dig up Tyson outtakes to entertain us with.
I also loved the Stephen/JT duo. Despite being a big fan, I was pretty disappointed in dealing with JT in person in HvV. Same with Colby: dud. But we should focus on Tyson because we all need more of him on our screens.
Who’s one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I would have loved to play with Boston Rob. I thought we were going to be on the same tribe in HvV. I love his game play. I would love to have an ally like him. Ride or die. He’s the Godfather. You come into his house on the day his daughter is to be married...
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
I don’t know if I’d change it because the game has to evolve to stay interesting and fresh, but I feel like there are too many advantages and idols floating around at all times. It’s interesting to watch as a viewer, but has to be super frustrating as a player with a solid alliance and plan to be taken out in a freak twist. It cheapens the strategic play a bit for me.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
If the timing was right for my family, I think I would. My kids are old enough that they would get a huge kick out of it so I would probably go and make them proud.
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!"