'Survivor's Joe Mena on Why Voting JP Out 'Wasn't a Blindside' and Tony Vlachos Comparisons (Exclusive)
By Jennifer Drysdale
Viewers finally saw some moves being made on Wednesday's episode of Survivor -- but don't call it a blindside.
After seemingly being on the bottom since the merge, Joe Mena and Dr. Mike were finally able to turn the vote, sending JP Hilsabeck home. It was a huge victory for the Coconuts, as they called themselves, but Mena, who was sent home in Wednesday's second episode, isn't exactly happy about it.
"It wasn't a blindside. It was JP!" he told ET on Thursday. "A blindside would have been Chrissy and Ben, and that's what I was going after. After two weeks of me yelling, [threatening that I won't vote for] any of the seven if no one makes a move... they came up with JP."
"JP is the person you actually keep in the game.... I don't think he knew what was going on," he continued. "Once JP was gone, I was really trying to flip the script and take Devon out. But they pitched me this whole Ben, idol flushing and advantage being used, so that's kind of what won me over [for the vote]."
Joe no doubt became a target for his aggressive gameplay and personality, but he wouldn't have changed anything about the experience -- Tony Vlachos comparisons and all.
"Most people who try to fly under the radar don't even make it to the merge. I stayed true to what I wanted to do, which was to play aggressive. I already knew the Tony comparison was out there, [but my gameplay] was already in motion," he said, adding that if he ever heads out to the island again, he'd "probably play even more aggressive."
"I expected to play in a season where everyone's playing. I expected voting blocks, and I get out there, and I'm just like, 'OK, I haven't lost yet. The Healers are sunbathing, they're having spas, they're scratching each other's backs, like, something is wrong.' And I think that's why I exploded at the swap, because everything was bottled in. I'm like, 'F**k it, I want to play,'" he confessed.
The 34-year-old probation officer finally got to play with the help of an unlikely ally -- Dr. Mike, who he initially tried to vote out.
"To me, it wasn't an unlikely pair, just because outside [of the game], Mike and I are very similar. He's a family man, I'm a family man, he doesn't take things seriously, he's always joking around. He's a gamer, I'm a gamer, and I think that's what we had in common," Joe said. "Initially, put a target on his back, because I identified him as a player... but once we got to the merge, I think by default, we had to work with each other, and that's where we really bonded. He's really smart. Strategically, we would really try to find angles, and so it all worked out."
While Joe admitted that Mike could use a little work executing his moves, he says the urologist is "well underestimated" at this point in the game. "I think he's a really solid player," Joe raved, praising his tribemates' "errors" throughout the season.
"This season has the biggest fools, and because it has the biggest fools, I think it's probably one of the better seasons. As a viewer, I think you can relate to all of us," he explained. "And the way it's going to end, too, I think is one of the best endings ever. It's definitely going to be maybe top 15. I think it could be up there, you'll be surprised."