Wednesday night's Survivor: Blood vs. Water saw two players exit the game after coming up short at their Redemption Island duel. One player, Laura Boneham, had just arrived at Redemption, while the other player, John Cody, had spent nearly two weeks surviving challenges in the hopes of re-entering the game. We catch up with the 30-year-old physician to find out how difficult it was to go home after hanging on so long, and how it compared to his West Point military training.
ETonline: How hard was it for you [to go home after being on Redemption for so long]?
John: I don't know if you could tell by my body language, but I was a touch frustrated after that challenge last night! But you know, it's all part of the game, and I felt like I gave it my all every single challenge. I wish there was a different challenge to get back in the game because [that challenge is] definitely geared toward a particular type of body style that is not me. So I did the best I could … but I think it's better to have a challenge like that, where I really had no chance of winning, than to have a challenge that I could have won, and just completely choked on.
ETonline: You said last night that Survivor was the hardest thing that you'd ever done, even compared to going to West Point. How would you compare Survivor to being in a military academy?
John: So, I said that was the hardest 19 days... When you're going through your first year and your first summer at West Point, your basic training time is pretty tough. You're always being evaluated, you're always anxious, you have people yelling at you all the time, you're never comfortable. And that's kind of how [Survivor] felt. And you're hungry all the time, you're not eating enough, you're out there doing hard things in the woods and you're exhausted, you're not getting enough sleep. So that part was very similar to the game, and actually set me up well to do well in the game. But the added element of all the emotions that Candice and I had to go through this season was definitely moreso than I had experienced going through the military academy. So I think that’s what ultimately made it at least as hard as what I had done before.
ETonline: Being a high-achieving person, in terms of what you've achieved in your life outside the game, did you find that that helped you to prepare for Survivor, or was Survivor just a totally different ball game?
John: So it is a little bit of a different ball game. You have your normal life, where you have a lot of people who have similar interests. At least in my program, everybody went to medical school, we have a lot of friends who are doctors, and people who have also achieved a lot. And you go out in the show and it doesn't really matter what somebody's achieved, because they're still a number in the game and they're somebody you have to work with. So it was tough for me, because, [like] Candice, I tend to be a very linear thinker, very logical. I try to be as logical and as rational as possible, and that's not the way everyone in the world thinks. So for me, what seemed like a very no-brainer, this is the decision we have to make as a group, other people weren't quite so convinced, because they had other motives, and other things they were thinking about, that didn't really fit with my line of logic. ... You're trying to get people, in a selfish game where everybody's thinking of themselves, and in this season, their loved one; You're trying to get them see their point of view, and if how you're doing it isn't cutting it, you're going to end up going home.
ETonline: And you mentioned you didn't want to let Candice down. Did you beat yourself up over that after you left, or did you just accept it?
John: I felt like when I let Candice down was when I got myself voted out. Making the run on Redemption Island, I know she's proud of me for that. And it's not like she was really upset at me for getting voted out, she knows the game, she's played it twice. Sometimes there are things that are outside of your control. I looked back on some things that I could have maybe done differently. You know I should have probably worked closer with Caleb once he became uncoupled, and we were both singles in the game. ... Obviously some of the other guys wanted me to be way more open with the clues than I was [but] I didn't want to share the clues with everybody and then have somebody else go off and find it and use that to vote me out, because that looks stupid too. So it's tough, it's tricky to try to navigate through very difficult strategic situations, and also, this season, emotional situations, and also doing your best to have yourself not perceived as a threat. It's a tough balancing act.
ETonline: If you could go back and do it over again, would you do any one thing differently?
John: I think I would have had a little bit clearer perception of the idea that you don't want to be a threat out there. ... It's hard, you can look back and see these individual instances where you're, Ah, I should've done that differently, and if I would have just done that one thing differently, I would have sat at that final tribal council and won a million dollars. (Laughing) But there's no way of knowing. There's such a ripple effect to this game. Every little thing that happens sends ripples out in every direction, it's such a difficult-moving game. Who knows what one thing that I would have done differently, whether that would have made a difference in my game or not. I will say, I would have been more open with the clues with my tight, tight alliance. If I would have been more open with Vytas about that. And then I would have tried to foster a strong relationship with Caleb. But I didn't see the coupled versus uncoupled players lining up that decisively at that time. It's very clear now... but at the time, very early in the game, I thought we were going to be trying to win challenges and, you know, if your loved ones are playing their game, you have to trust that they're going to be safe, and keep themselves safe, but that's not the feeling that everyone had apparently.
Visit ETonline tomorrow morning for our interview with Laura B. and tune in to Survivor: Blood vs. Water, which airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS.