Last night’s Survivor Samoa was mostly miserable, thanks to an eating challenge involving local Samoan food blended to be especially disgusting to American contestants, never mind days of rain, causing the cast to be shivering and not have any time to strategize. Ashley Trainer was voted after yet another Foa Foa loss.
When we talked a few minutes ago, Ashley took issue with my summary of her contribution: that she “didn’t help at all in the immunity challenge and single-handedly lost the reward challenge for them.” But that’s what we saw on TV: She couldn’t finish her gross smoothie to force a tiebreaker, so Foa Foa lost; later, during the immunity challenge, Probst mocked her and said, “Ashley hasn’t made a single shot yet.”
After dancing around it a bit (“I can promise you”) because she wasn’t sure about what a CBS publicist would or wouldn’t let her say, Ashley told me, “Honestly, there were other people [who] literally couldn’t get any of it down, nothing.” She did, of course, admit that she was not able to finish her smoothie: “Physically, I could not taken. I would swallow some and it would come back up,” she said, noting that the rules said if you puked, you had to “eat it or you don’t get the point.”
Ashley also said that we can “catch someone saying something that proves that I was not the only one.” I’m not quite sure what she’s talking about (any theories?), but shortly after Mick says in an interview, “she’s the one that lost it for us,” Ashley and Natalie have a conversation in which Natalie repeatedly reassures her and says she did fine.
Here’s what I think happened: challenges are often heavily edited for time, which means some things are skipped. That never effects the outcome, of course, but here it affected our perception of a player, giving the editors an easy storyline on which to hang Ashley’s elimination. Six people from each tribe participated in the challenge, but there were only five shown; we didn’t see Erik or Natalie. If Natalie participated but couldn’t do it, that’d be interesting considering the way we saw her comforting Ashley.
Probst, however, is continuing the charade/lie in his Entertainment Weekly not-a-blog: “Ashlee wasn’t able to block it out and she paid the price. The ultimate price.”
Speaking of that price, another thing that contributed to our perception of her as weak in challenges came during the immunity challenge, when Probst mocked her efforts. But Ashley told me, “I really, truly made baskets.” But she also said, “They show what they show.” She seemed both irritated by it and resigned by the editing: “It’s completely fine, that’s what they showed, and that’s what millions of people think.”
As to being voted out, Ashley said that “the girls knew it was going to be one of us” because the men said “it has to be one of your girls, because, you know, we’re weaker than the men.” She said Russell told her “beforehand that it wasn’t going to be me, that it was going to be Liz.” She, too, has praise for Russell’s game play: “He was extremely good to my face. He would sneak me an extra piece of food. He made me believe I could trust him 100 percent. He’s kind of charming in this weird way.”
Because the vote against Ashley was unanimous, it’s really interesting how the editing skipped that strategizing, and also ignored an opportunity to give Russell credit, which the editors have salivated over so far.
In our pre-game interview, Ashley was extremely enthusiastic, in part because she was an alternate put in at the last minute. She said then, “I’m so excited to prove to myself how strong I really am.”
Today, Ashley said the experience “was absolutely amazing” but “a lot harder than I thought it would be,” and the rainy days were “the worst four days I’ve ever experienced in my life so far” because she was “freezing. My body literally did not stop shaking the entire time it rained.”