Wednesday night's Survivor: Philippines saw not one, but two players leave the game. ETonline catches up with Dana and Dawson to get their take on their exits.
First up, plucky cosmetologist Dana Lambert, who proved herself to be a force to be reckoned with despite her small frame. In a dramatic and unexpected moment, the 32-year-old left the game following days of illness, not even having made it to a single Tribal Council.
ETOnline: How hard was it for you to have to leave under those circumstances?
Dana: I'm still dealing with a little bit. It was completely devastating, honestly. It took me awhile to just accept the fact of what it was, and that I would probably make the same decision again. I kinda stand by that decision. What people [saw that] day [was] me being sick, but what people don't know is that it wasn't just that day. It was twelve days, the whole time I was there. I was sick, 24 hours a day, sick. It was all downhill as far as trying to hide it from the tribe and suck it up in challenges. And I knew that those twelve hours that the doctor gave me, I knew that I was not getting better until I had some medical help. And it was a hard decision for me to make, I love Survivor, and I love the game but I wouldn't die for it.
ETOnline: It seems like when if you have a sickness out in the rain like that, you probably wouldn't get better until you got home, and that was another what -- 20, 25 days at that point?
Dana: There was no way. I knew after fighting it for so long -- hiding, nothing would stay down, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I was just running to the bathroom constantly -- I knew that there was just no way that it was gonna immediately go away without medical attention. And 12 more hours means way more to us out there in the elements. There were points when the weather was so bad, boats couldn't get through to us; boats couldn't get to our island. What happens then? I'm completely dead. Mentally, I was just like a zombie at that point. I was just like the walking dead. That was the only choice I could make honestly.
ETOnline: What did you have?
Dana: It was dehydration. I spent four days in the hospital after I got out, lots of antibiotics, tons of fluids, tests, all kinds of stuff. I don't know what happened, why I got so sick before. I don't know if it started off as nerves, or something I ate, but it just never got better. And I hate it.
ETonline: How long was it before you fully felt back to yourself?
Dana: Honestly, even after the trip, I had to go back to the doctor when I got back home, I still wasn't better for another month-and-a-half, honestly. It wasn't that bad. But I still had no energy, I was very lethargic, I had no energy and I was still not a hundred percent for a long time.
ETonline: You made an all-female alliance in your tribe. With Denise joining the tribe, did you have it in your mind that you would have Denise join you and the other ladies for a female alliance?
Dana: Most definitely. And I didn't get to spend a lot of time with Denise, but the time that I did get to spend with her under the shelter, [when she was] asking me questions, she told me I was a tough girl, competitive, and she really liked and admired that. I felt her interest in my tattoos and me as a person. I felt like maybe that was my cue to be able to draw her in. To have another really tough competitor like Denise would've really taken us far in the game, and me leaving, I feel like really ruined that chance for those girls. I feel so bad for Katie and Dawson, you know 'cause when I left, honestly that's what messed them up. ... There's that one look that you see on Katie's face like, "Oh my God, Dana screwed us." I'm not mad at her for that, 'cause it is a game, and I did screw them when I left. It was a hard decision, but I feel like at least the numbers are even again, three women, three guys, and I just couldn't physically... my mind wasn't there anymore. I just couldn't do it. So yeah, I was hoping to pull that four-girl alliance, but I never got the chance to really lock that in.
ETOnline: You have a really unique experience, because you were in the game for [almost two weeks], and you never went to Tribal Council. Can you talk about that a little bit?
Dana: Yeah, I can't believe I never even got to see. All these rumors you hear after you get off the show like, "Oh my God Tribal Council was beautiful." And of course I really wanted to be there, just [to see] how much went into Tribal Council, [even though] you know you don't wanna see it, but I never actually got to sit there, and have my torch snuffed. And that was so disheartening to not leave the game the proper way of leaving the game.
ETonline: You didn't get a chance to see the other tribes too much, but who do you think will win the game?
Dana: I would say if it gets down to the top three, and I'm not gonna just say one, but if it gets down to the top three, in this order, I would say Denise, Penner, and Skupin. And I was against Penner, and that's because Penner had experience, and was a threat. But Penner as a person was a pretty awesome man. And, you know, he's played the game. It's his third time. I believe it's his shot to win. But Denise is a woman, and she's a bad ass, so ... I hope for her [to win] too.
Next up, we talk to Dawson (Sarah Dawson technically) to find out what the 28-year-old insurance salesperson thought of her Tribal Council eviction, the downfall of the Kalabaw all-female alliance, and her aggressive embrace of Jeff Probst when she got voted out.
ETonline: Do you go by Dawson in your normal life, or was that just a Survivor nickname?
Dawson: Yes I do, it's all over my normal life.The only person who calls me by my first name is my mom, and she just can't let it go.
ETonline: How did Dawson become your nickname?
Dawson: My best friend and I growing up, we had the same first name, so it was just a matter of making things simpler, she'd go by her last name, and I went by mine. We had such a small school that, I mean -- Sarah, Sarah, Sarah -- it's annoying, so we went by last names. And then, as I got older, I got into sales, and that's a predominantly male field, so going by my last name, you know, also professionally as well as in my personal life, just really gave me an edge.
ETonline: You seemed really shocked at Tribal Council, did you have any hint that you would be going home?
Dawson: Actually I did, and I did everything I could to make Tribal Council a tie so that the women would have a shot against the men for once, so we could actually make the merge. I actually tried to keep the women together, but unfortunately, when Dana left the game, we lost our numbers, so that was a huge blow to our alliance, and it completely changed the entire season.
ETonline: That's what I was going to ask you about -- if Dana had stayed in the game, do you think you could have gotten Denise on your side versus joining the men?
Dawson: Yes, actually we made an alliance with Denise. I don't think it showed last night, but before Denise made an alliance with Jeff Kent, she came to us, and made an alliance with us. She was down to play, we were [planning on] taking out the boys. She wanted to play with us, she told us so many times, and it was a strong, strong alliance. It was just unfortunate once we lost Dana and lost a number, then we no longer had that leverage numerically, and so our alliance, you know [Denise] only being with us for a few days, she's kinda teeter-tottering saying, 'Okay, I just don't want to get voted out tonight.You know, I just want to get back with Malcolm.' ... And I [was] telling them, 'Guys, you have to get rid of Denise. She and Malcolm are going to take over this game if they get back together. They have an alliance.' But it's unfortunate, you know, nobody really wanted to listen to me. So, we'll see if that happens, but that was my argument.
ETonline: That was a very interesting hug and kiss you gave Jeff when you left.
Dawson: Oh my gosh, I had both arms around his neck, did you see that? It was like a death grip! I didn't want him to be able to pull away, so I just used all my strength, but he didn't resist if I can say that.
ETonline: Did you have a romantic [intentions] with that hug, or [was] it just friendly?
Dawson: I look up to him so much as such a huge fan of this show. And he's been the host since the beginning, he's great at hosting Survivor. He's won Emmys for hosting Survivor, the game that I love. On top of that, he's just adorable, those dimples, and he's got great hair, and you know that's pretty much all I look for in a person. So the combination of him being on Survivor and just his natural charisma, he exudes this kind of natural confidence, which is extremely attractive. So yeah, once I got close to him, I was going to take advantage in some way. The look on my face before I hugged him was just me thinking, "Okay, what should I do to him? Should I do A? Should I do B? This is my one moment to shine, I'm being voted out, I'm gonna go out happy," and kissing him, that made me pretty happy.
ETonline: Jeff Kent mentioned that he saw you as a threat since you knew his background as a baseball player, do you regret teasing him about it, because that reminded him that you knew?
Dawson: No, no I didn't do that until I knew I was already going. I was just messing with [Jeff's] head because he's such a nervous kind of paranoid individual anyway. So if I'm going home anyway, the least I can do is get in his head and scramble a little bit.And that's why he was so frustrated during Tribal, he was just on pins and needles, and that's what I wanted. I'm not a malicious person but I do love to make a little bit of trouble.
ETonline: Penner had said that you weren't giving him the puzzle pieces, can you talk about that a little bit?
Dawson: Yeah, I'm not sure what he meant by that. I think he's trying to take some of the attention off of himself, [because] what actually happened is we finished the puzzle first, and then he starts cheering, "Yay! We finished the puzzle!" and I look at it, and he had spelled "another" incorrectly. He spelled the word wrong! So that's when you saw me pushing him out of the way, and I grabbed the pieces, and started replacing them. Because the word was spelled incorrectly. So he was just trying to throw some of the attention off of him, and put it on me, because if he spelled the word right, we would've won that challenge.
ETonline: Your tribe never went to Tribal Council until almost two weeks into the game. What impact do you think that had on the game?
Dawson: Huge. It allowed Penner to find that immunity idol, he had so much time, I mean that man was looking, I think he was looking for eight days, just running around the island by himself. Poor thing. So it enabled him to find that idol, and it also enabled him to kind of weasel his way in with the guys. ... Kent was the other man on our tribe who was making moves, he wanted Penner out immediately. He wanted a newbie to win the show, and he didn't want to share any airtime. He wanted to take down these huge Survivor legends. That's what Kent wanted to do. But then we never lost a challenge so we didn't have an opportunity to vote Penner out! So the only reason Penner is in the game right now is because we didn't lose a challenge. No matter how much scheming or talking he did, he was on his way out. But we lasted four entire episodes without losing. That certainly saved his skin. It allowed the men to be able to trust him, it allowed him to find that idol, and hopefully he can use it to go far, but without us winning those challenges he wouldn't have made it.
ETonline: Who do you think is going to win the game at this point?
I really, really like Skupin, he's playing a very low-key game. He's not making any really huge moves except injuring himself at every opportunity! I really like like Denise though. And I said this since the moment I met her, she is one savvy lady. For her to have survived everything that happened at Matsing, then come to our tribe and take one of us out! She's good, and that's why I voted for her last night. 'Cause she is making an awesome, awesome game. We'll see what happens next week but as of now, I'm so impressed with her she's overcome... she's been to Tribal Council five times. If I were my tribe, I would've taken her out immediately. That's how good she is. If she's not taken out next week, she's just a train building momentum. I don't know if anyone else's game is really standing out in my head right now. Katie's playing a great game, if she has the right moves, if Kalabaw doesn't lose the immunity challenge next week, Katie has an excellent shot of going extremely deep in the game. Her social game is probably the best one that's out there in the Philippines right now. Katie is flying under the radar, if there's a challenge she needs to sit out, she can sit out, but she is strong, she's smart, and she can talk her way into anything. So I'll have to give props to her.
Survivor: Philippines airs Wednesday nights at 8/7c on CBS.