'Survivor' Castaway Brendan Shapiro Says His Elimination Wasn't Really a Blindside (Exclusive)

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CBS

About that shocking blindside on Wednesday's episode of Survivor:Ghost Island -- Brendan Shaprio says it wasn't really one at all. 

After a failed attempt to get Sebastian and Chelsea on their side with a clever lie about James' idol from Survivor: China, Brendan's ally, Michael, saved Stephanie, ultimately sending Brendan home. Throughout the episode, it seemed as if Michael and Brendan had no idea the old Naviti tribe was gunning for them, but according to Brendan, Kellyn accidentally tipped him off before tribal council. 

"We were just talking about life, and kind of having a heart to heart, and I told her that the next day was my birthday. I said, 'I know I'm on the wrong side of the numbers here, but man, I would love to be playing Survivor on my birthday,'" Brendan told ET over the phone on Thursday, after watching his elimination the night before. "A tear came to her eye, and she turned away really fast so I wouldn't see it, but I caught it, and that was the confirmation I needed." 

"I went to Michael, like, 'Man, they're going to come for me. You have to play this idol for me,' he continued. "But I could tell he just wasn't buying the idea that they would go for a guy that early."

As Brendan explains, host Jeff Probst asked him during tribal if he thought he was in trouble, to which he replied, "Yes, I think that they're trying to make this look like it's Stephanie Johnson, but really, they're going to vote for me." 

"When Michael got up and did his whole bit where he talked about how the idol was good for two people, and he said, 'I'm playing it on myself and Brendan,' I think he really wanted to get a reaction out of Bradley and try to read his reaction," Brendan said. "I guess whatever he saw in Bradley, he just decided to go with his first instinct, which was Stephanie, and unfortunately for me, it wasn't the right call."

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CBS

Regardless of Michael failing to "reverse the curse," Brendan has no hard feelings -- and no regrets. 

"Strategically, I felt like I did the things that I needed to do when I needed to do them. I thought I was in a great position before the swap. I was actually in with everybody... I felt like I had it all working," he said. "The swap kind of put us in a tough spot. We just did the best we could with it, and unfortunately, we had a chance last night, and we just didn't execute." 

"Look, some of it's on me. If I had closed out that immunity challenge and won it, we wouldn't have been at tribal council," Brendan continued, praising Michael for having his back "the whole 12 days." 

"He played it in a way that he thought was going to be best for the long-term game of all four of us. He could have just played it on himself, and he didn't do that. He made the wrong call, but it wasn't because he was trying to mess my game up," he added. "I think he is an incredible player, especially finding out after the fact that he was 18 years old. I have nothing but good things to say about him and the way he's played the game." 

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CBS

And while Michael, Stephanie and Jenna are clearly now at the bottom of Malolo, Brendan wouldn't rule them out just yet. 

"I like all their chances. They're in a tough spot, but I think that they're resourceful people and they're going to keep fighting until the end," he shared. "I'm excited to see what they do in these next weeks. And I'm pulling for them hard."

Survivor:Ghost Island airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS. 

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