'Survivor' Castaways Stephanie Gonzalez & Jacob Derwin Are on a Quest for 'Redemption' (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Someone always has to be the first one out, and this season, it was probably going to be Jacob Derwin.
The Survivor super fan was good enough at annoying his fellow castaways that he was sent off to this season's twist, Ghost Island, and offered a chance at an advantage instead of heading to Malolo's first tribal council, where Stephanie Gonzalez was instead the first contestant voted out. But poor planning and gameplay on Jacob's part meant he was sent home right after her on Wednesday's two-hour season premiere of Survivor: Ghost Island.
"I probably would have been the first out. It's an easy vote," Jacob admitted while chatting with ET on Thursday. "It's not hard to look at the overweight guy who is a little bit goofy and not really fitting in with everybody and say, 'Yeah, let's get rid of him.' I wouldn't have survived that, so I'm glad I got sent out, and my crap-talking helped a little bit, and I at least got a few more days to try to figure something out."
As soon as Jacob was shipped out, Gonzalez knew it was her. "I freaking knew it was me as soon as I walked away, right before tribal council," she said. "I knew that all eight people were just going to pin it on me because I was not a part of that conversation, and they had a little bit of a question mark on me. Not because I was, like, mean or angry, but because I was there to play."
"All they wanted to do at that point was keep things happy, happy camper and peace and kumbaya," she added. "My biggest regret is that I wish I would have dumbed myself down to being not as outspoken as I really am... I should have just been quieter and not have done much. [I should have] been there, like a fly on the wall."
"Honestly, I think the biggest surprise is how difficult it is to speak to people on your tribe without it coming off as threatening," she said. "It sucks, dude."
While Gonzalez was trying to manage her relationships with Malolo, Jacob was off on Ghost Island, getting a taste of the infamous relics of Survivor past that we'll see this season. Unfortunately for him, however, the relic he received wasn't an idol he could play to save himself -- it was Sierra Dawn Thomas' misplayed Legacy Advantage from Survivor: Game Changers.
'Survivor: Ghost Island': Watch the First Four Minutes of the Season Premiere!
"[My reaction was] utter shock, disgust, followed by a wave of anger towards a person I'd never met, Sierra Dawn Thomas," he joked. "Oh boy. There's a lot of footage on the cutting room floor of me just screaming at Sierra Dawn Thomas. What makes it even more frustrating is in the same episode, you see Domenick find Andrea [Boehlke's] old idol [from Survivor: Caramoan]."
"At that point, I knew I was done, because I needed an idol. Instead of that, I got something I couldn't even use short term," Jacob explained. "I definitely think Sierra owes me lunch."
He may have been done, but Jacob kept on fighting, showing Malolo a fake idol which he insisted he would play at the next tribal to create an even playing field. But instead of "reversing the curse" like host Jeff Probst begged the castaways to do on day one, he seemed to add another one in there.
"Maybe I should have done something else entirely. Maybe I should have come up with a lie so huge, so unfathomably big, that gave me so much power that nobody would dare touch me. These are ideas you come up with later," Jacob explained. "I wanted to make sure I had my story straight, and that's all I had."
Despite their early exits, both Gonzalez and Jacob remain big fans of this season's theme.
"I had mixed emotions, and they were all really good mixed emotions, because I was super stoked... but I was scared. I was like, 'Oh my god. This is Ghost Island. Like, I don't want to be the girl that goes home with James [Clement's] idol [from Survivor: China]. Like, cannot be that person,'" Gonzalez said with a laugh. "I was really nervous about potentially not playing the idols to their expectations this time around. But overall, just so thrilled, just ecstatic about this theme and being a part of a historic Survivor season."
"I think it's a very important twist in Survivor, because you skip a tribal council [to go to Ghost Island], yeah, you're safe, but you also don't know what's going on... Later in the game, when you're getting down to 10 people left, knowing where you stand during the vote is incredibly important, and missing out from camp life is huge," Jacob reasoned. "I think it's a great twist... it's going to be interesting to see what else pops up, and how people play it and use it."
Gonzalez has high hopes for a few of her Malolo tribemates. "Michael is an attractive guy. We all know that. Like, it should be illegal to look that good and only be 18! At 18 years old, I was a horrendous wreck, but I feel like Michael, there's more than meets the eye to him. I also feel like Brendan's got a lot to offer," she insisted.
Jacob is also putting his money on Brendan, as well as Stephanie and Laurel. "These are all pretty interesting folks," he raved.
As for whether our first two out would be willing to go for a second round on Survivor, Jacob joked that he probably needs a few weeks to recuperate, but he'd "probably do it." "I need redemption! Look at this! I don't want to be known as a burnout," he shared. "I don't want to be known as the laughingstock. I mean, it's fun to be funny, but I want to be a good player. So I've learned a lot, and I'd love to do it again."
"Absa-f**king-lutely," Gonzalez agreed. "Let's just all sacrifice our livers for that to happen. Sacrifice my left arm!"