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Gordon Holmes: I know it was probably rough watching what happened last night, so I wanted to start this off with an inspirational quote that has gotten me through some tough times.
Brendan Shapiro: OK.
Holmes: Sometimes you’ve got to go with the flow because the Malolo can go no further low low than the Malolo low.
Shapiro: (Laughs) Wiser words have never been said.
Holmes: If it makes you feel any better, it’s a Brendan love fest on social media with all of the Malolo competitors.
Shapiro: Yeah, I felt like I was making pretty good relationships out there. It’s good in the game…and it’s good period. One of the things that surprised me was how much I really like everyone out there. It’s a game built on conflict, so I thought there would be more jerks. (Laughs) It’s a nice group.
Holmes: Your alliance decided that Sebastian and Chelsea were the most likely to flip. What gave you that impression?
Shapiro: What was clear was that Bradley and Kellyn were running things. After that, it was kind of like the other three were falling in line. We didn’t pick on Des as much because she was just so locked in. We didn’t feel like we had a good shot at her getting to flip. But it was definitely the Bradley and Kellyn show and they both had the attitude that they wanted to Kim Spradlin there way through the game by keeping everybody locked down and circling the wagons.
Holmes: Did you approach Sebastian and Chelsea before Tribal?
Shapiro: We kicked the idea around. But, we decided to spring it and cause confusion and chaos in the moment. Because, the reality is; we knew that if we gave them a chance to think about it, it wouldn’t make sense to go away from their five. So, we wanted to catch them in the moment and hope to panic them.
Holmes: I think you just answered my follow-up. Watching it from the safety of my couch I’m thinking, “Why would Sebastian or Chelsea flip if they’re going to be safe no matter what?” So, the thought was to scare the crap out of them and shake someone loose?
Shapiro: Yeah, and you saw in the edit that we were really picking on Sea Bass. We were hoping that he would do something foolish. But, we knew in reality that it wasn’t going to work. Our only hope was the idol, but why not give it a shot? So, we laid it on thick for a while, you only saw a quarter of the barrage against Bradley. We really lit him up. But it didn’t happen.
Holmes: Did you just call Sebastian “Sea Bass?”
Holmes: Is that name catching on?
Shapiro: Oh yeah, we all call him “Sea Bass.”
Holmes: (Laughs) I’m so glad that’s a thing.
Holmes: Bradley seemed to be rubbing the classic Malolo members the wrong way. We heard him complaining about Malolo beach…although, in his defense, Naviti beach is much nicer. Was there anything else that was getting under everyone’s skin?
Shapiro: Bradley…I think he was bent out of shape about having to change beaches, so he was complaining about everything. The reward challenge, he complained that the current was pulling toward Naviti’s pole. If there was something to complain about, he’d complain about it. And he’s got a great sense of humor. But out there, it was kind of a dark sense of humor. I will say this about him, outside of the game, we’re friends. But inside of the game I wanted to smash him, as did my fellow Malolos. He was killing us.
Holmes: Michael made the call to play the idol for Stephanie at Tribal. But what was the feeling back at camp?
Shapiro: I saw that train coming down the tracks. They’re congratulating themselves that we aren’t going to see it coming because they’re going to take a guy out. Well, I saw it coming. They were telegraphing the move. I told Michael that they were coming for one of the two of us. Then, Kellyn and I had a heart to heart about an hour or two before Tribal. And she’s such a sweet person. She wears her emotions on her sleeve. I told her the next day was my birthday, which it was, and I wanted to be playing on my birthday. And I saw a tear come to her eye. And she tried to turn away, but I still saw it. It was all the conformation I needed. So, I told Michael they were coming for me. But he had a hard time believing that they were going to come for a guy. It’s hard out there, he did the best he could. And it was hard to live it because I saw it coming.
Holmes: Did anything specific happen at Tribal to convince Michael that Stephanie was the target?
Shapiro: He just believed that it was going to be one of the two women. At Tribal they hinted that it was going to be Stephanie and he believed it. And when he did his bluff, he was gaging Bradley’s reaction. I was looking at Michael, so I don’t know how Bradley reacted. But, he must’ve seen something in Bradley that he didn’t like.
Holmes: Alright, word association time. Let’s start with Kellyn.
Shapiro: Empathetic. She said that it’s her super power, it might also be her kryptonite.
Shapiro: Surprisingly tough and resourceful.
Shapiro: We couldn’t be in more different stations of life, yet she was as kind to me as you can imagine.
Shapiro: She’s all heart. Super courageous. Tough as they come.
Shapiro: Incredibly enthusiastic. Great guy, but his enthusiasm may have gotten the best of him.
Shapiro: Great guy. Genuine, kind, thoughtful.
Shapiro: We had an instant connection. She’s poised and loyal.
Shapiro: The coolest person out there in a New York, music-scene kind of way. I didn’t know until last night that she was the one who threw my name out, so good for her.
Shapiro: Very reserved. I couldn’t tell if she was just hanging around or if she’s a tiger lurking in the tall grass.
Shapiro: Polished…and dangerous. Gone before she could show her full game.
Shapiro: Magnetic personality.
Shapiro: He is a prodigy. “Survivor” prodigy.
Shapiro: Great guy, deeper than the edit would have you believe.
Shapiro: (Laughs) He’s funny…often in a dark and depressing kind of way. I don’t want to blow his cover, but he’s a good guy.
Holmes: What was your reaction when you learned that Michael was really eighteen?
Shapiro: I was shocked. He could have told me that he was 28 and I would have believed it. That’s why I call him “The Prodigy.” He’s got all the tools; physical, social, strategic. And he’s a ten out ten in all of those things. He’s really good. And, he’s also a great guy. He feels terrible about what went down. He’s reached out to me to tell me how sorry he is. He’s just a stand-up guy.
Holmes: Do you hold it over his head?
Shapiro: No. I was never mad, not for a second. He didn’t play it selfishly.
Holmes: You’re a better man than me. I would’ve tried to get a dinner out of him.
Shapiro: (Laughs) Maybe when we’re out in LA.
Holmes: What were the Malolo tribe dynamics before the swap? Who would’ve gone home if you’d lost another immunity?
Shapiro: Before the swap, we had a situation where I was good with everybody. There was an alliance of Libby, Michael, Jenna, Stephanie, and me. But, I was also in with Laurel, James, and Donathan. Michael and I were considering knocking Stephanie or Jenna out. We felt like they were dangerous and they might come for us next. We wanted to get them before they got us, so that’s probably what would have happened next. Then after the swap, instead of being at odds, we were as tight as could be.
Holmes: This is kind of dumb, but…my first memory of you is when I was hanging out with a CBS representative on interview day and you asked if you could borrow my sunblock. You were super polite and you applied it to the tops of your feet. And I’m thinking, “Man, I’d never think to apply sunblock to the top of my feet. This guy is polite, he’s regimented, he’s got it so together.”
Holmes: And I think they did a good job portraying that. Was there anything that happened out there that you wish we’d seen?
Shapiro: My perception was they may have undersold my strategic chops. That first vote where I got called “The lion.” That was my deal, right? What didn’t make the edit was it looked like it was going to be Donathan or Gonzalez. But really it was going to be Jenna or Gonzalez. I decided at the last minute that I didn’t want to come back from Tribal with Stephanie, who was Jenna’s best friend, to come back and go all scorched earth. I wanted everyone to come back on the same page and happy. So, I changed it at the last minute. And Gonzo figured it out, to her credit. That’s why she tried to stir things up. I wish that’d made the edit, but otherwise, I can’t complain. They did me right out there.
Holmes: I have a big presentation today. Any chance I can get a pep talk out of you?
Shapiro: (Laughs) Just try hard, you’ll kill it.
Holmes: (Laughs) Short and to the point. Just know if they ever do another “Second Chance,” that you have my full support.
Shapiro: Thank you, I appreciate that. I’d do it in a heartbeat.