By John Powell – GlobalTV.com
John Barrow once said: If you never try, you’ll never know what you are capable of.
Well, that’s all fine and good for Mr. Barrow to say. He never had to play Survivor.
Claire Rafson, the tech investor from Brooklyn, New York, gambled on a risky strategy and in the end it didn’t pay off. Claire sat out challenge after challenge to keep her tribe strong. That strategy was successful in that last night was the first time Soka had a sit-down with Jeff Probst. Still, it didn’t help Claire’s case at all when Danny had her locked in his sights. According to Claire, Danny was pretty much calling the shots at Soka.
“I kind of felt damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I don’t think that the full reason I was voted out was because I sat out. I think it was like pretty clear that there was more going on in Danny’s head when he decided to target me,” she told GlobalTV.
Claire confesses not all of those sit-outs were solely for the benefit of the tribe. She opted out of the first challenge so she could pick Matt’s brain. Claire is also quick to dispel any notion that she was intimidated by any of the challenges. As a superfan she had practiced puzzles and challenges at home but on the island she didn’t want to rock the boat or upset the team dynamic, especially Fannie and Matt who were both fantastic at puzzle-solving. Claire just wanted to keep the tribe’s winning streak going as long as possible.
She also never received any negative feedback from the tribe for sitting out. In fact, they encouraged her to do what she thought was best.
“Danny would come up to me before challenge and be like…It’s okay if you sit out this one. If he would have said that I was weak I would have shown him that I could have done any of those challenges. I took them at their word though as I didn’t want to look paranoid. I didn’t want to look stressed. I just wanted to keep the good vibes going,” she said.
The way Claire tells it Danny was a very influential force at Soka whether it was daily camp life or strategy and game. He had more sway with everyone than Claire did and she takes responsibility for that shortcoming.
“He was the strongest person in our tribe. He built us our shelter. His words carry weight. This is on me for not making stronger allies but he put his foot down. He wanted to vote me out. My allies wanted me to stay but no one was stepping up and say they weren’t voting for me. I didn’t make the relationships I needed to make to get somebody to do that for me,” she said.
The one person Claire thought might stick her neck out for her was Heidi. While they were on the island together Claire saw her as a mother figure. What Claire didn’t count on was the clout or the pull Danny had with Heidi. That trumped whatever bond Claire had with the engineering manager.
“I was really indebted to her because she saved my ass and I still wanted to work with her,” Claire sighed about what could have been.
What is really surprising about Claire’s perspective of the tribal politics at Soka though was that the showmance of Frannie and Matt wasn’t really seen as a threat even though there were so few people on each tribe right from the start.
“I think early on the showmance was such a target. They were like that Day One, as soon as we hit the beach. To be honest though, things kind of flattened out. Frannie made the right strategic move telling Matt they were a little too close at times…It just looked like two people who loved each other’s company. They absolutely loved each other’s company and wanted to be around each other. Yes, I knew they were strategizing but they were also still strategizing with me. They weren’t off in their corner isolating themselves,” said Claire.
That doesn’t mean the tribe didn’t have its awkward moments.
“It was like watching your parents kiss. It was so freaking adorable,” laughed Claire.
The one thing Claire wishes was shown of her Survivor journey was all the strategizing that was going on not only with her game but Soka’s as well. Because they keep winning immunity and didn’t have to go to tribal council Claire believes a lot of what was going on at Soka wasn’t aired as the tribal politics at the other tribes were more important, more crucial to the show.
“I looked at the stats and I had like actually very few confessionals…I feel like I had a perspective. I had things to share. The more I could have shared about my journey or my experience would have been great. For me, it was always about the game. We at Soka were goofy. We were having fun. We were having a good time. The editors have to make choices if we’re not going to tribal but being on the tribe and the show was such a joy,” Claire said of her Survivor experience.