The first big shock of this season of Survivor came within the first minutes of the game, when fan-favorite and four-time player Rupert Boneham heroically took the place of his wife Laura and was sent to Redemption Island, later becoming the first player to go home. Laura B. survived for 21 days in the game, almost making it to the merge, and is now reflecting back on her Blood vs. Water game with ETonline.
ETonline: You said that because of Survivor, you were the strongest you'd ever been in your life, so I just wanted to ask you to speak more about that.
Laura: It just really pulled me out of my comfort zone to be living with a bunch of strangers and to be on television, to leave my daughter for that long. You know, it was just really challenge after challenge, and I put myself through it and I feel good about how I played my game. Yeah, I would change a couple things that I did, but for the most part, I'm very proud of myself and feel good about it.
ETonline: What would you say was the hardest aspect. Would you say it was the social game or being deprived of food, hungry, not have shelter, etc.?
Laura: Oh, definitely the social game. The elements weren't even that bad out there in the Philippines. So I think we had to step up the social game, because you didn't have people whining and crying because their clothes are soaking wet and they want to go home. So it made it a little more tough, not having as many bugs in the Philippines, and not having the rain. And just being on the tribe of veterans, I had to step up my social game.
ETonline: Yeah, actually you were in a very unique position in the game, because you did, on the first day, end up on a tribe with people who all had played the game before. How jarring was that for you when you first started?
Laura: Oh, I was in complete shock at first. To be voted out the first five minutes of the game was just evil and ridiculous and I still can't believe that they went down that way. But, you know, there were some positives to being on the tribe of veterans. We were able to boil our water right away because we had fire. Everybody knew what to do. They all kind of were meshed together because some of them had even played the game together before. So it was a good tribe to be on, but it was tough because of them all playing before and being the experts. So I feel like I defied the odds, staying in the game as long as I did.
ETonline: Yeah, and even moreso than them having the experience, them all theoretically knowing of each other or knowing each other before the game, did you feel like you were an outsider that had to break through that wall?
Laura: Definitely. And then you know, the feelings of, 'Boy, I wish you were Rupert.' You know, that was awful! Them all, 'Rupert was going to build our shelter, and Rupert was going to fish for us,' so I had that pressure on my back to be like Rupert because I had to take his place. So that was pretty crazy.
ETonline: So, going back to when you were voted out, would you say that it was hard for you to separate your personal feelings from the gameplay? For example, wanting to do the kind thing and telling Vytas that he was going home?
Laura: Oh my gosh, pregame I was like, it's for a million dollars! And I'm not going to trust anybody, and I'm not going to be emotional. I'm telling my husband, why do you get close to these people? It's for a million dollars, don't trust anybody. And what I do, get out there, get emotional, make an emotional decision, and tell Vytas he's going home. It's so hard. You know, you're just at your core, and I am who I am. I'm not a mean person, I'm probably too nice for this stupid game. So it is what it is, and you can't hide who you are, whether you're a jerk or too nice, or quiet, or whatever. Survivor will bring that out in you.
ETonline: And in terms of Vytas, do you think that he was being himself and being genuine, or do you think that part of it was game play, in terms of being so friendly to all the ladies on the tribe?
Laura: A little bit of both. He is a nice guy and he's a yoga instructor and has mostly women in his class, and he's used to hanging with women, so he's good with women, but it was definitely gameplay. He played me hard. We promised each other that we would tell each other out of respect that if our names came up, hey I'll let you know if your name's being mentioned, and obviously he didn't follow through with his side of the deal, so that was my ticket out.
Related: John: How 'Survivor' Compares to West Point
ETonline: So if there was anything you would do differently if you could do it again, would that be it? Telling Vytas?
Laura: Definitely. But you know, it makes me sad, because the girls, we had such a good alliance and then they started taking out our own girls, so strategically I think that was the worst move they could have made was leaving Vytas in the game and taking me out. I mean, I wasn't a huge threat, it was ridiculous. So, I still think they made the biggest mistake ever.
ETonline: Did playing Survivor bring you closer to Rupert, now that you have that shared experience?
Laura: Oh definitely. I mean him giving up his game was the most touching gift I could ever receive. And I still can't believe that he completely gave up his game to let me play. I mean, it's amazing to me. It has definitely brought us closer, to have this experience together. I get it now. He always used to joke with me, 'Well, you don't know how hard,' you know those kinds of things, and now I know how hard it is. Although he calls this game "Survivor Light" because we didn't quite have the elements that the Pearl Islands had.
Survivor: Blood vs. Water airs Wednesdays on CBS at 8/7c.