Brendan Shapiro Tried To Guilt Trip A Tribemate Into Saving His Survivor Game The latest cast-off explains how a last-ditch effort to save his game resulted in a castaway's tears.
Posted on Mar 15, 2018 04:20pm

Sometimes a wild Tribal Council can swing things in favor of the minority alliance. Other times, it works out like it did for the fourth cast-off of Survivor: Ghost Island, Brendan Shapiro.

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After Michael played the Double Immunity Idol he found courtesy of Survivor: China's James—and changed the other protected castaway (besides himself) from Brendan to Stephanie at the last minute—the Survivor gods deemed it was Brendan's time to go home.

A strong competitor and leader, Brendan gave his perspective on what went down on the latest episode of Survivor.

You were seen as a really strong competitor right out of the gate. Do you think that put a target on your back early on?

Brendan Shapiro: You know, it's interesting. I think it could have, and I was worried about it, but in those first six days before we swapped tribes I really don't think that it was an issue. I don't think I was at risk even though I was in kind of a prominent position.

And even last night when I was voted out, I don't think I was voted out because I had been the leader. I think they voted me out because they thought it was an unexpected move and we wouldn't have guessed it.

You guys had a huge lead during that final Immunity Challenge but the chips didn't fall in your favor. What do you think went wrong during that competition?

Brendan: It's tough. I'll speak for myself; I was very depleted at that point. Like, really running on fumes. I had lost probably about 12 pounds by then, 12 days in. And I didn't have that much to lose in the first place. I was just doing what I could.

But the reality is this: I had a chance to close it out and I didn't do it. If I had done it, I wouldn't be talking to you today. So that one's on me. I had a chance to make the last shot and I couldn't get it done. Sometimes it's as simple as that. Unfortunately, not a real complicated story there. [Laughs]

After that, talking with Michael at camp, you said you felt like the vote was coming your way. What made you say that in the moment?

Brendan: I said that in that moment because I thought that the original Naviti people were really telegraphing their intention to vote Stephanie. It was just too obvious. So I thought they were gonna go for one of the two guys, and I just had the sense that it was gonna be me.

And then, after that conversation that you see Michael and me have on the beach, I had a conversation with Kellyn. We were just talking, having a nice conversation, and I told her that the next day was my birthday. That I knew the numbers were against us but I hoped that someway, somehow, I could stick around to play Survivor on birthday. It'd be a dream come true. And I saw a little tear come to her eye and she turned around quickly so I wouldn't see it, but I saw it.

So I went to Michael and was like, "Man, it's me." We had a subsequent conversation where I said "It's me, and here's how I know." But you're never sure of anything out there, you know?

Michael did the best he could with the information he had and unfortunately it didn't work out for us. But he certainly didn't play it selfishly. He played it the way he thought was going to be best for the Malolo four and it just didn't work out.

Was it actually your birthday the next day?

Brendan: It was! I woke up in Ponderosa, unfortunately, not out on the beach somewhere.

Still not so bad.

Brendan: [Laughs] Yeah, it could be worse. That's a good perspective! Not so bad at all.

So what went through your head when Michael switched the idol to Stephanie at the last minute?

Brendan: You see it on TV, he was like, "Hey, I think it's Stephanie." You see it right before hand. This is after conversations we've had where I said I was pretty sure it was me. I didn't know if he'd come into new information. Things change, you know?

Out there, things can change five minutes before the vote, before we walk into Tribal Council. I didn't know whether he had seen or heard something I didn't know about, I just hoped he was right. Because nobody ever has all the information out there, you just hope for the best.

You and Michael went hard trying to flip Sebastian and Chelsea's vote at Tribal, even calling out Bradley specifically. What made you go after their votes in particular?

Brendan: We just had the sense that they would be the easiest two to flip. It appeared to us that Bradley and Kellyn were kind of in charge of that five. Desiree, though she wasn't in charge, seemed like she was absolutely locked in to whatever they were going to do. Chelsea and Sebastian likewise but maybe not to the same extent.

So we just felt like if anyone were going to crack, it'd be those two. So we just tried hard to lobby them. I'll be honest, we didn't think it was going to work. They made the sensible play, they did what they should've done to ensure they'd stick around and stay solid.

But we hoped that we could kind of just surprise them and shock them into panicking and making a rash decision.

Looking back, do you think you would have had more success if you approached those conversations maybe at camp instead of Tribal?

Brendan: That was a calculated move, doing it at the last second. I think if we'd done it beforehand, first of all, it would've been hard to do. [The Naviti people] really did circle the wagon. It was hard to get them one-on-one.

But even if we did, with time to reflect and think about what they were going to do, they would've come to the conclusion that it was the wrong move for them to flip. So we didn't want to give them that time to think. We wanted to make it a rush-rush [situation] and hope for a panic move that unfortunately never came.

What did you learn about yourself during your time on Survivor?

Brendan: It's funny, because I was asked that question the day after. My answer at the time was, "You know what? I'm the same guy I was when I was 12 years old. I was born old. I've never changed that much, I've always felt like I was the same guy."

But from then to now, I feel like I've learned perspective. I spent a long time feeling sorry for myself for how the game went. I wanted so desperately to go deep in the game but it didn't happen. Don't get me wrong, it was profoundly disappointing and I think about it every day. But I came to my senses at one point.

A grown man can only whine and complain about this for so long. There are worse problems in the world than finishing 17th place in Survivor. If that's my biggest gripe, then I'm doing okay. So I've gained that perspective from then to now which is hopefully a healthy thing for me.

Would you do anything differently if you could do it all over again?

Brendan: The short answer is, from a strategic standpoint, no. I made the moves I had to make when I had to make them. Obviously I wish I made more plays, so to speak, by closing out that Immunity Challenge and things like that.

It sounds simple, but I think if I were to go back, I would probably come in just a little bit heavier. I was losing weight fast and I was kind of wasting away to nothing out there.

It's tough to muster the energy to even think straight when you're at whatever percent body fat I was, which wasn't much. I would've come in with just a few extra pounds, I think it would've done me a lot of good.

Watch all-new episodes of Survivor: Ghost Island on Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.