Survivor: Philippines anointed its final five on Wednesday night, but that meant someone had to go home in sixth place. Carter Williams, 24, of Shawnee, Kansas was the unlucky castaway to have his torch snuffed, as his combination of friendly personality and physical domination made him too big a threat to keep around. ETonline catches up with the track coach to get his take on his experience in the game.
ETonline: After making it so far in the game, how hard was it to not make it into the top five?
Carter: It's crazy hard. I think about it too much. Now that it's over, I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulders since everyone knows now.
ETonline: That's good and also I mean only one person can win so, everyone else...
Carter: Yeah. There's going to be 17 people thinking about how they could have played that game differently.
ETonline: Exactly. In the tribal council in last night's episode, you made a pretty strong argument to keep yourself around. Why do you think they ultimately kept Abi and sent you home?
Carter: I think it's fairly obvious and I think it's a decision that a lot of people can say [was] maybe not the decision that felt the best but ultimately, for that four alliance, was the best. I had been pretty good in almost every immunity challenge. There was a jury sitting there [that] I hadn't pissed off. ... I mean they ultimately were like, "We can let this kid stay on the path where he has a chance to be in the finals and make a pretty compelling argument or we can just ignore what we are feeling and cut him off now and keep a girl in the game who isn't as good in challenges and who's very disliked." Like Skupin said on last night's episode, as much as it hurt, he was like, "There was one argument against you and that's that you're a big threat." He's like, "There's a thousand against Abi." [In a decision between] the big threat and the thousand things you don't like about someone, it's the game of Survivor, and I think someone said, "We can handle Abi for three more days."
ETonline: And actually it's true...you hadn't alienated anyone on the jury. How did you manage to do that in this game?
Carter: It's probably not totally a good thing if you're not pissing me people off; you're probably not playing Survivor right. But we got to that merged tribe and Tandang was basically ripping themselves apart. They were thirsting for blood; they were waiting to get somebody out of the game, even if that was somebody on their own tribe. So I kind of stepped back and let everyone just tear themselves apart. I kind of let the whole alliance happen and them fall down and I kind of sat back. And I think my problem was [that] a lot of times I stopped playing the game and I started living amongst those people and becoming friends with them and wanting to make things enjoyable. I gave up my food for rice and beans for the whole tribe; ultimately, that might have been a dumb strategic move because all of a sudden I put myself in a lot of people's good graces.
ETonline: But ultimately flying under the radar has worked in the past, many Survivor winners have won that way, so it's not to say that's a bad strategy.
Carter: I know, and seriously, as everyone saw last night, there was a clear cut path to being amongst the final two with Skupin and Lisa. There was a really clear cut path; it just didn't work out. Much to my dismay, Malcolm won that individual immunity and so I think for people to say, "Why didn't you have a plan," it's like, "Well I did. It blew up." And there wasn't pieces to put together after that.
ETonline: So this season of Survivor was kind of different from other seasons in recent history because it was so tumultuous and the alliances were constantly changing, I just wanted to ask you what it was like to play the game in the middle of all that?
Carter: Yeah, I know. I joke and say that every week at tribal council somebody draws the line in the sand. And by the end of tribal council, that line has been kicked. Nobody knows where they stand. It seems like that was happening every week; it was crazy. Lisa wrote down Penner's name twice and then wanted to have a final four with him or final three with him and that's kind of crazy. It's like, how does that end up happening? ... We got to that [merged tribe] and I was really pumped about it and I'm sure viewers were too that Tandang didn't just want to take us all out...march their way to the final tribal council. So we were pretty stoked that the game has been played by so many people. ... So it was really cool to be in there. It was really chaotic. It was really fun just to have people like I said just to say, "Here's the line, where do you stand?" And then everyone to be like running around not knowing where they stand.
ETonline: You were a fan coming into the show. Did playing the game live up to your expectations?
Carter: Yeah, it was. ... Malcolm is probably more of a fan of somebody who just kind of just controlled the game all the way to the end. Well, I've been drawn to people in this game who have been down and out; Danni Boatwright, I kind of put Fabio in that group, Ozzy, just people who like there was no chance...they got no numbers, no alliance, and then they end up going all the way. I think that's so cool and after Penner went home, I was kind of telling myself, "Okay, here's my chance, I'm going to make this happen, I'm going to pull some magic." And it was close, I mean I had to watch that challenge where me and Malcolm are both trying to knock that thing over [but he ended up winning]. I had a pretty big lead; you know I was the first one out of the water...it's just the way things go.
ETonline: What life lesson will you take out of the game?
Carter: That's interesting. I think probably when you make a decision, stand by it. I think people respect someone who sticks to their word and not even necessarily to their word but just when you decide something to do it and go for it. Just being wishy washy in this game, just kind of rubs people the wrong way. It's not as much about somebody lying, because they know what they're going to do when they lie, but it's about saying something and going against that so many times to where your head is spinning.
ETonline: Which player in the game would you say did that the most in this season?
Carter: Well I think obviously Lisa had struggled with that. I love the lady. I'm crazy about her but it seems like, even when Penner went home she was telling Skupin, "I love Carter and Penner and I want to play with them but I'm going to do this." And then she kind of flipped on her alliance which was good for us, but... And it is a tough game. I don't think she expected her alliance to be so mean to her but it's really interesting; tough game.
ETonline: At this point, with the final five players, who do you hope will win?
Carter: I would like to see Lisa do good because, I'd like to see her do good. She's had a tough ride, a tough time and she seems like she really is trying in playing this game. Obviously Denise and Malcom have been playing a great game. Denise [has gone] to every tribal council [and survived] -- pretty cool. I really grew to like Lisa out there. I hope she's doing okay because that's a tough ride for anyone but I think she has been on one of the toughest.
Survivor: Philippines airs Wednesday at 8/7c on CBS.