Survivor’s [Spoiler] Dives Into the One Talk That Went Wrong: I Thought ‘Owning the Narrative Was Better’

The following contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Survivor.

The fan-favorite castaway doesn’t always win the game.

More from TVLine

In Wednesday’s episode of Survivor, another twist divided the tribe into two, forcing both teams to vote out a member in two separate Tribal Councils. The split unfortunately left the likable Canadian Kaleb out in the cold once again, and not even a wild plan from Jake could save his game after both men tried and failed to secure Katurah’s vote. (Read a full recap here.)

Below, Kaleb fills us in on what went wrong in those conversations with Katurah, and whether he should’ve pumped the brakes on his expert-level social game.

TVLINE | I want to ask you about this week’s episode, but first we’ve got to talk about last week’s Shot in the Dark action. How did it feel when Jeff revealed that “Safe” scroll?
KALEB GEBREWOLD | Oh, it was the highest high! Hey, anyone could play an idol, but it really was a flourish to also break history by being the first person ever to get the Shot in the Dark done successfully. [Technically, Season 44’s Jamie Lynn Ruiz didn’t need the safety.] The most ever votes canceled out at one Tribal Council. I’m sitting there, every single person at the same time, we dropped the game for a second and we were all just fans of the moment, you know? It’s cool to be a part of Survivor history. You can’t make that stuff up.

TVLINE | We saw Emily reconciling with the fact that she had to distance herself from you. How did that feel watching that on TV?
I kind of saw it [coming]. I had a read on that. I thought she had done it the vote earlier just because Emily was one of a few people who told me to play my Shot in the Dark. Jake also told me, Sifu also told me, Katurah and Kelly were also coming in and saying, “Hey, you’re getting votes. We’re trying to flip it.” Emily’s check-ins were early in the day and we didn’t exactly make it to sunset, you know what I mean?

I didn’t think that Emily had flipped on me necessarily. I think Emily was just self-interested, smart and was just trying to make sure she wasn’t going to burn any bridges trying to save me when it probably wasn’t gonna work. I really do think that if we had the numbers, Emily would’ve still worked with me because we had a lot of trust built together in the game.

TVLINE | Do you regret telling Katurah about Bruce’s idol? Do you wish you had maybe tried another approach to get her to join you guys?
At the end of the day, I actually wanted to work with Katurah. How long do you want to let something like this just sit underneath your bed, right? It could have been blown up the next vote. It could have been blown up by Austin. He ended up talking to her later that night, which obviously they didn’t show as much as Reba’s pitch to her. So I just felt like this information was coming out and owning the narrative was better. I didn’t realize that Jake had talked to her about the rings portion of it. I think that was the point that she felt fooled, as opposed to just left out of information.

Survivor 45 Kaleb
Survivor 45 Kaleb

If anything, I felt like as a salesperson, there are some times you have to close the deal and there are some times you have to let your champions or the people who can vouch for you help inspire that confidence. My concern in the moment was that if I’m the one who’s pushing Katurah, as the person who’s probably going home, it may not be received very well, versus Jake, who can go and potentially land that plane. The only problem with that is I don’t think Katurah and Jake had the closest personal relationship and if I was to do something over, I think I would have really owned trying to close the deal, getting that last yard with her, to potentially make sure that she definitely does convert. But Jake felt very good about her and Katurah also felt very good. She reassured me without having a full one-on-one.

The last thing I’ll say is I thought Julie had an idol. When everyone tells you one person has an idol, there’s no chance that person has an idol, right? And I knew J didn’t have an idol. I didn’t think that Austin did. And so I thought it was Julie, maybe Dee, maybe Drew, and I’m here like, “If we over-communicate and they realize that, Julie plays her idol, I’m gone anyways.” And it probably was almost overplaying to worry more about this additional twist as opposed to just playing for the vote. That’s probably the biggest thing I would have done differently was utilize my personal relationship more to help close it.

TVLINE | So you didn’t win immunity this week, but did you think you had a fighting chance to survive this split tribe twist?
It’s my Lulu luck! After my Shot of the Dark, it was like, “Finally we have the numbers! We could potentially swing this and actually take the power away from Red,” and we split into the 6-6 where the only two people I called out at the last Tribal Council are on my side and one of them has immunity. So already I’m like, “OK, this is pretty bad.” Austin, I felt like maybe I could have flipped if we got into that 3-3 [tied vote] situation. I knew I could get Jake, and if I told Katurah the Bruce information any earlier, I was concerned that she would just blow up Bruce’s game which would blow up on to me, which ended up happening anyway! So I thought I have to just promote that. “Listen, this is our last chance. I know it sucks.” It’s not the ideal situation, but this is our last chance to have agency together. So I just felt like we had to work with each other. I know she knows that I looked out for her, even though she was on the outs. I looked out for her every step that I could.

TVLINE | If all 12 players voted together as one big tribe, do you think your fate would’ve been any different?
One-hundred percent. I really do think that this Reba/Belo War was cusping, and my goal after the Shot in the Dark was to look as sympathetic as possible because I didn’t want people to realize the amount of personal relationships that I had. I don’t think anyone realized, regarding the Shot in the Dark, who told me or the information that was coming to me. I just felt like I had four people. I felt very good about Jake, Kellie, Emily and Katurah. And I really did feel like everyone knew that Sifu was on the bottom except for Sifu, unfortunately. And I really did feel like Kendra was very flip-able. We had our best chance ever to potentially break up the Red side of the game because you can break up Red and Blue can’t wait to go after each other! I wanted to work with Red but it’s like, how do you not work with Blue who would foam at the mouth to get a chance to kill each other. If I could take that group a little bit further into the game… it just made so much sense to me.

Survivor 45 Jeff Probst
Survivor 45 Jeff Probst

TVLINE | Your social game was just incredible out there! Looking back at your season now, would you have handled that any differently? Maybe pumped the brakes a bit?
I’m telling you, I could not have tried to tone it down more! I’m sitting here at home with my friends and my family and I’m like, “I’ve never seen myself smile less than on TV.” I’m trying to have as much of a blank expression as possible. I’m trying not to be hilarious in groups. I’m trying not to be the star and just build these one-on-one relationships. But the problem was, especially at the merge, when I would be in these groups where I would talk to people, I feel like it just looked different. The banter is more animated. It looks like you’re having this connection. But people want to talk to me and I’m not going to say no!

So I’m looking back on a lot of this stuff in hindsight. How could I have potentially let myself be brought into a lot of these things or potentially done it in even bigger group? So yeah, there are probably a few things I could have tweaked, especially at the merge, but ultimately, I really don’t think I was Red’s first target. It was only because Bruce was so steadfast against me that they were like, “We’re not going to turn away a free meal.”

TVLINE | Is there anything regarding your game that we didn’t see on TV that you wish had made the edit?
No. 1, I loved Emily literally from minute one when she was on the boat screaming at Bruce. I’ve said before, “She’s not from 2023! This is a 2003 reality star right here on my mat! This is unbelievable. She could be my Abi Maria, my shield that just takes all these bullets as I push into the game.” She just didn’t want to work with me.

One thing that you didn’t see was, Sabiyah and Sean, after the Tribal Council where there wasn’t enough votes and Emily’s like, “What happened to the votes?” Their excuse was, “You know what? Maybe Jeff miscounted.” I was like, “I don’t know why people treat Emily like she’s an idiot sometimes.” Plus, the raid and not bringing back embers. That was a strategic move to make sure that Sabiyah did not get her vote back because I just felt like I had Emily. We had the power.

TVLINE | So if Jeff calls you up and wants you to go back out, what’s your answer?
I got a bag packed by the door! I’m ready any time. He knows, everyone knows. Who’s the crazy person who says “No”? Come on!

Best of TVLine

Get more from Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Newsletter