This week’s episode of “Survivor: Ghost Island” put a twist in the game that none of the castaways saw coming. The remaining 10 players were split into two temporary tribes with five players each, and both groups attended separate Tribal Councils. Two players left the game in one shocking night.
The first victim of the twist was Jenna Bowman, a former Malolo tribe member who could never get herself on the right side of the numbers. She entered Tribal Council feigning weakness. “No cracks. The Naviti are staying strong,” Jenna said. “It’s pretty obvious that I’m the one going home tonight.”
But secretly, Jenna had pinned her hopes onto relationships made with the Naviti members, or the chance that ally Donathan would play his hidden immunity idol for her at Tribal Council. Instead, Donathan played his idol for himself, securing Jenna’s fate as the fourth member of the jury.
Jenna spoke with CBS Local’s Phil Stauskas about her unique Tribal Council experience.
You had a very unique Tribal Council. You went into it kind of playing dead a little bit, saying that it’s obvious that it’s going to be you. How did you really feel when you were walking in that night?
I honestly thought I was safe. I feel like it made me look like I was just done and giving up, and that was so not the case. So, I’m kind of bummed about that just because, you know, I was fighting for my life the whole game, and I definitely did not want that to come across as my last minutes on the show.
But the strategy behind everything was, here I am in a Tribal of five people tonight, I could potentially make a move. There’s nobody in my Tribal that is really a leader in the game right now. Everyone’s just either a floater or just, you know, somebody that I can maybe manipulate. So, here I finally thought I had a chance to approach Naviti, but they said they were still Naviti strong, so the numbers were 3-2.
The last option was, I was very close with Sebastian. He told me, “I want you to see your father tomorrow for the loved ones visit. We’re going to take out Donathan.” So, I was on board with that. I said, “You know what, I’m going to play it safe because he has an idol. I don’t want him feeling like he needs to play it. I want him to think that it’s on me. You guys have made up your mind and your just honest about it, and there’s just nothing I can do at this point.”
But then Donathan approached me with a second plan, saying that he would play the idol on me if I wrote down Sebastian. That took me off-guard because, number one, I didn’t want to vote off Sebastian, but number two, I was not close with Donathan, so it was a red flag that he was willing to play his idol on me to begin with. But, you know, I went with it and told him I would do it, because I obviously wanted just a second backup of him playing an idol on me and me being able to, obviously, stay safe.
Obviously neither of those plans ended up working out and it looked like I was just kind of throwing in the towel.
When Donathan came to you and said that he was going to play the idol, was there any teamwork behind that? Or was he just saying, “This is my strategy and I’m going to play the idol for you?”
Yes, that’s what it was, because I didn’t agree with taking out Sebastian.
He wasn’t willing to hear that out and it was only Sebastian. So it was either: vote out Sebastian, who I was really close with, or try to figure out a way to get Donathan out, who I felt like was playing both sides of the game. At that point, my target had to be for Donathan, so that was my mindset going into Tribal.
Did you have any strategies that you floated his way? Because one thing that I found interesting about Donathan’s idol is that it was actually two idols. You could have potentially both gone in wearing a necklace.
That’s true. In hindsight, there’s so many more creative things that we could have come up with. Given the timing that you have to just try to figure out what you can do… it’s pretty short. Michael and I were obviously discussing beforehand, “Are you safe? Are you safe? Yeah, we’re good, we both have this. Good luck to you on the other side.” And we both had a conversation with Donathan. You saw how Michael asked him for his idol. I was involved in that conversation as well and knew that Donathan was not willing to let go. I doubt he would have let me and him both walk in with idols. But that is a good idea.
You get voted out, and then you have to walk directly across to the jury. What were your thoughts and feelings at that point, when you’re not even given the time to really process that you’re out of the game and you’re immediately then having to join the jury?
It was a weird feeling. I feel like, honestly, blacked out from that period, because here I am, this anger of I was just betrayed by somebody that I really thought was, like, really close to me. It looked like a blindside, but it really was.
So, here I am getting my torch snuffed, and then I have to walk back and stare at everyone that just betrayed me as they exit. And then, as the new tribe comes in, it’s just like, almost somewhat humiliating. Here they are just having their Tribal and staring at me, but I immediately have to go into juror mode. So, I had to forget about my pity party and “Oh, my God, this just happened to me” into “Okay, it’s game time, I’m pissed, who do I want to win this game?”
I feel so bad just listening to you say it now.
Yeah, it was like, overwhelming. Most people get to go cry and have their time and a Snickers bar, and here I had to just get into the next phase of the game very quickly. It was almost like, “Okay, you’re not important. Sit down now, you have to watch this.” And, again, watch the next person that I care about get voted out. So, yeah, it was a double whammy that night.
Earlier in the season, we had seen you kind of playing a flirtation strategy with Sebastian. (And I’m going to stress ‘strategy.’ I don’t want to imply anything.) Did you ever see any fruits of that labor? Here, obviously Sebastian then was part of the group that voted you out. Was that pretty much a dead end?
So, Sebastian — love him dearly — but is not the most strategic player. So, me thinking that I would somehow be able to manipulate him or get an in with them or even get him to finally, you know, save me in a sense, did not work. Our conversations would be, “You go to the beach and you come back and tell me what to do.” And that was it. He didn’t really like talking strategy, so it didn’t really go anywhere. And clearly he ended up voting me out, so our relationship at that point obviously wasn’t as important as I thought it was either.
Tell me a little bit about your experience on Ghost Island.
Ghost Island was… I was extremely bummed I didn’t get a chance to play the game. It just felt like the bad luck was constantly continuing, because again, I was so itching to like, make a move and to do something and to finally have control. So, not being able to play the game… it was such a bummer.
And then, obviously, that’s the point of Ghost Island. So, just sitting there for a day by yourself, not coming back with a reward or any type of advantage. Here I am just like, “Okay, so this was for nothing.” I was away from camp for 24 hours. But the experience itself was honestly, in a weird way, just very cool. When in your life are you so alone? Obviously, when you stay home alone, you have a phone on you and a computer probably nearby or a TV. At this point, you’re literally… you have nothing and nobody. And honestly, it was a cool life lesson. It was nice to say that I can survive a night without anything besides just myself. It was a rewarding experience.
I do have to ask you, how is your hair smelling today?
(Laughs) Well, Sebastian has changed my shampoo, so I now use his TRESemmé every day or whatever it is, like this weird smelling one, so he likes to smell my hair now.
No more dead animals?
No more dead animals.
Watch “Survivor: Ghost Island” Wednesdays at 8:00 PM EST/PST on CBS.