John Powell – GlobalTV.com
Kellie Nalbandian and Bruce Perreault were tethered together in the Survivor game from the very start. Their alliance worked out well for both players until Bruce’s chaotic social and strategic games became liabilities for Kellie. We didn’t see that relationship develop but Kellie was making in-roads with the Reba alliance, especially Dee. By then, her choices were shrinking as her allies were disappearing faster than a bowl of rice on the island.
John Powell: Thank you so much, Kellie! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. How are you doing?
Kellie Nalbandian: I’m okay. I’ve had a few months to process my epic blindside. (sighs) I had to relive it but it’s okay. Here we are.
John Powell: It must have been like an out-of-body experience to be watching last night’s show. How are you feeling today?
Kellie Nalbandian: I was almost like ready for it. You know what I mean? I knew it was coming, that big moment. Everyone’s going to be like: “What the hell guys?”. So, I was ready for it to be done and sit on the jury and enjoy watching it all. Obviously, I wish I made it farther in the game and I was very stunned. But, it was like looming for a while…and I was thinking about how that was going be edited. It is a little bit of relief today to have it over with, to be honest.
John Powell: In your goodbye message you mentioned that you were “one step too slow”. Can you elaborate on that? What do you think went wrong as far as your game goes?
Kellie Nalbandian: In the exit interview what I’m sort of referencing is I had this bad feeling that as the second someone figured out what was going on in Belo I was in trouble. I was in a good position. I had been in the middle and it had been sort of worked out for me. People were wanting to play with me which is sort of like a blessing and a curse at times.
I didn’t go to tribal council before the merge. I didn’t really get to draw lines in the sand with some of my allies. That makes it really hard to move forward. If I take it out Bruce, Katurah is thrilled. Things would have moved differently. That’s sort of where I came up a little bit short and my biggest regret obviously is not targeting Drew at the six split vote. I tried a little bit. (laughs) I floated it. It did not get a lot of bites.
My priority that day was make sure Kendra didn’t go home on a Bruce idol play because I really wanted to move forward with Kendra. I wanted to keep Bruce because I knew we were probably going to lose Kaleb. So that’s where I was “one step too short”.
I was going to be a threat. I should have swung a little harder at that six split but it’s hard when you don’t have your allies. I lost Brando at a vote I wasn’t at. I lost Kaleb at a vote I wasn’t at. Those two were my real strategic partners. Sometimes things just don’t shake out.
John Powell: Did you get a sense out there that there was a shift on the island and that it was basically Belo against Reba.
Kellie Nalbandian: There was a little bit sense of that but I think the Reba group did a good job of covering things with all that smoke. Wanting to vote out J? I was like: “Damn! So there is some fracture in this group.” It felt a little bit believable because my experience and because if you look at old Survivor seasons, especially new era, coming to the merge a lot of times cross tribal alliances do form. I wanted to be in it because my group is already fractured. I could see sort of the writing on the wall that eventually this is not going to work. There’s too much animosity between certain members of my alliance. It wasn’t really going to move forward forever.
I thought there would be some cross tribal targeting at one point. Austin would be targeted at some point just for being this huge threat but I didn’t know we had another idol. There’s a lot of information that I wasn’t privy to. I think that it was a good move by Reba to hide what was going on. Also, you have an unlikely duo like Austin and Drew. It didn’t really look like they would be an alliance. So, it was a good move.
John Powell: Much was made of your relationship with Bruce. Looking back would you have changed anything?
Kellie Nalbandian: The thing was everyone on Belo wanted to work with me but when I got to the merge I definitely met with more resistance than I was used to. I did have a relationship with Emily. That’s why I’m sort of like slighted at tribal council because we had worked really hard to try to save Kaleb together. We had built some trust there and Kaleb was one of my closest allies. That was sort of our dream. “Okay, let’s get Emily. Let’s make something.” It didn’t pan out unfortunately because Kaleb had been targeted so quickly by Bruce. I’m trying here, man! You know what I mean?
I really thought that Emily was in this position where she’s one of the last Lulus. The way she had been presenting herself in the early game it seemed like she would be a self-interested player who would maybe go back and forth. I was like: “If I can get Emily logically maybe I can work with her.” I was just sort of running out of options at that point. I needed someone to let me in so I had to explore those things because at least in my mind, I didn’t think I could take this whole Belo Alliance all the way to the end. There’s too much friction already going on. That was my perspective on it at the time.
John Powell: You mentioned before that you had an idea of tricking Bruce out of his idol. Tell us a little bit about that.
Kellie Nalbandian: That was my personal dream! I was thinking about doing it! I knew Bruce needed to go at some point. It was great that he was so loyal to me and that’s why I had such a hard time cutting him. Ultimately, like there was a possibility that if I knew I was going that he would maybe play his idol on me which is why I didn’t want to flush his idol last week.
I basically was like: “If Bruce is gonna go, he has to be blindsided. He has to not play it. I may as well try to get it.” He mentioned that he was nervous about Knowledge is Power. On the island, it really isn’t on the show, but me and Dee has this friendship. I think it was sort of like a game recognizes game. People were calling us ‘The Threats’, ‘The Women Threats’, especially after the pole challenge so that was sort of a narrative that was building. I think winning the challenge skyrocketed that. So, there’s conversations between us that were really just like: “Hey, people are looking at us. Maybe we should both stay here and sort of look after each other.” I think you can get to see that in like the initial hesitation for Dee to vote me out within the group that conversation that with Reba. They make the right call to take me out but I think that’s where that bit of hesitation came from.
So, I thought it would be believable if I told Bruce: “Hey, Dee has Knowledge is Power. She wants to take your idol.” He told me that he wasn’t really willing to give it to Jake because Jake was kind of nervous that day. He would rather give it to me. So I was like: “Great! This is awesome!”. There were two roads I could go. I could let everyone dog-pile on Bruce, play the idol and take out Austin and get the amulet or let Bruce walk out without his idol. Hopefully he’s not like: “Screw you, Kelly!” on the way out.
I’m already making a big move at that point. The target will be on me but now I have an idol and maybe I can use that idol to get Austin now. That was sort of my pipe dream moving forward. That’s a big dream but I think that there was a possibility it could work.
John Powell: Is there anything that we didn’t see that you wish we did?
Kellie Nalbandian: The first thing that comes to mind is there’s so much strategizing on early Belo! It was crazy! I think we had a bunch of self-interested players on Belo. There was a lot of back and forth with me and Brando in the middle round-robining with everyone every day. I felt like I played so much Survivor in the those first six days and none of it even mattered which is crazy!
John Powell: As a jury member what were the things you were pondering when it came to picking a winner?
Kellie Nalbandian: For me on the jury there’s no doubt that I just wanted to reward the person who played the best game. So, if that’s someone who took me out, that’s totally fine. I’m literally just going to look at who do I think played the best game. Who turned it on at the right time? I want people in final tribal defending their moves, coming out swinging and being like: “This is why I played better than this person.”
I want to hear about the stuff I didn’t see. Who played the best overall game and who set themselves up at the end game to win. That was really all I was really looking for. I think everyone thinks I might be such a bitter juror but I always said in my pregame stuff, if I’m gonna go out, I want to go out with a bang! It’s kind of hard to be blindsided but I want this to be a great season. It is a great season with a bunch of really good players! It’s really dynamic and fun!
John Powell: Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us today. You were one of my picks to go really far.
Kellie Nalbandian: A lot of people’s people have come up and have been like: “I put money on you and all that good stuff.”
John Powell: It is like I always say maybe your survivor journey isn’t over just yet. You’ll never know.
Kellie Nalbandian: I will be back in a heartbeat! Are you kidding me?