Survivor Season 37 Spoilers: A Jacket Turns Into A Target For One Castaway
The latest castoff from Survivor: David vs. Goliath talks about the hardships on the island, the miracle of Fijian weather, and being the "unicorn of the island."
The castaways of Survivor: David vs. Goliath have had their share of problematic weather throughout their journey so far, but nothing nearly as bad as the wild cyclones in the latest episode. The weather was so severe, in fact, that host Jeff Probst evacuated the Tribes from the island until the weather cleared up.
STREAM: Full Episodes Of Survivor: David Vs. Goliath On CBS All Access
Unfortunately for one castaway, the short break from the game didn't improve her standing within her new Tribe—or, for that matter, her old one.
Natalie has been a lightning rod for conversation at Tribal Councils since early in the season, and all of the conflicts between her and her tribemates finally came to a head after losing the Immunity Challenge in last night's episode.
With "Goliath strong" out the window, we caught up with Natalie to talk about her tribemates' perception of her, the natural beauty of Fiji, and why a small conversation about a jacket became one of the most memorable controversies of the season.
So we have to ask... what was the deal with the jacket stuff?! How did all of that even start?
Natalie Cole: Well, because Angelina needed a jacket! Mike and I were working on the shelter and Angelina came over and said, "Can one of you get Lyrsa's jacket?" I said, "I'm not doing that!" And Mike said the same thing.
Nick walks up from a confessional and said, "What's going on?" We laughed and I said, "Angelina wants Lyrsa's jacket!" And he left.
Well, when he circled back around, he was talking to me about how he should stay in the game. And I said that Angelina still needed a jacket, and is a jacket worth a million? Because she was asking for a jacket and I was thinking it was just that simple.
I probably should have taken more time, in retrospect, and explained to Nick what was going on because I never needed a jacket. I have a jacket. He assumed it was about me and the jacket rather than Angelina.
That seems like one of those things that you wouldn't expect to be a big deal when you're in the real world. How difficult was it to adjust to interacting with people on such an intense level that small things like that can blow up into big things?
Natalie: That was a huge adjustment and I never successfully made it in my thinking because from the very start, one comment to Natalia—which was a suggestion, I didn't say it nasty, I didn't talk down to her, I wasn't being mean—I just said, "We want to help you but we have to understand what you're trying to accomplish. What is it that you need?" And she got mad about that.
She's the only person that got mad and negative immediately. What it benefited was Jeremy, who showed me the very first part of Day 1, that he wanted no part of an alliance with me. The moment he heard Natalia go off, that was his opportunity.
Jeremy said to me, "Either you or I are going to be voted out first. We're the only two black [people] on [this Tribe] and we're the oldest. We're being voted out first and it's not going to be me."
What Jeremy didn't understand or know is, I had gotten John and Dan to already agree to back me. I appealed to those two guys first and said, "Look, I need you to help me get through the first half, and you're gonna need me to have your back during the second half." We had a discussion and I told them my thinking and my logic, and they both agreed to back me.
Then I get to Jeremy and he wants no part of me. The moment Natalia made that comment, Jeremy was on me from that day forward. Belittling me, bullying me, just horrible behavior, beyond the pale. For me, I [was] defending myself. I literally felt like an abused woman out there.
Because of that, I felt like there became this groupthink that I became a victim [of]. So most of my game was really about trying to penetrate this group of followers to show them that they could trust me and that I brought value to the game.
Alison and Alec were neutral. I had John and Dan. You'll see that, at one point when they all said "Let's get Natalie," Dan said, "Well, Mike is more of a target. Let's get Mike."
Dan was saying that because he was an ally at that point. But I really did have to work against the whole groupthink the entire time I was out there.
Watching it back, was there anything that surprised you about the way your Tribe talked about you?
Natalie: Not at all. I have great discernment. I knew that I was the hit. I would go to confessions and say, "Why am I here?! I'm the hit! I need to be doing damage control!"
So I knew from the very beginning that it was me. Jeremy made that very clear. He didn't want any part of me, I felt like I was being isolated, and I was. I could feel that. I knew I was in trouble.
I was going to confessionals thinking I was a Goliath, but that I'm on the bottom of the Goliath tribe. So what does that make me? In effect, I'm a David.
It seemed like you expected the Goliaths to remain strong despite the Tribe swap, what do you think happened?
Natalie: I did want the Goliaths to stay strong and I had committed that I would stay strong. I was really true to that. I thought that Mike would be able to get over his resentment.
He was resentful because his best bud, Jeremy, was voted out in my favor. Mike never got over that. Angelina was very crafty and I did not trust her, so what I should have done was abandon what I had committed to—being Goliath strong.
When Nick and Lyrsa came on board, if I had gone to them and tried to get them to work with me, maybe I would have stayed in the game. In retrospect, I played a very honest game. I never lied in the game. And did that come back to bite me in the butt? Probably.
READ: Jeremy's Reaction To Butting Heads With Natalie On Survivor: David Vs. Goliath
We have to talk about the crazy weather you all went through. What was the most difficult part of dealing with that?
Natalie: The best part about being on the island was the cyclones. [Laughs.] Because everybody had a meltdown! And me, I was like, "This is great!" Because I could now change the dynamics of the group.
So the cyclone didn't bother me. I was outside, looking at how glorious it was, this weather miracle! It really was. It didn't bother me in the least.
It is something you probably won't be able to experience anywhere else, might as well enjoy it.
Natalie: I was in that kind of space. At night, I went to lay down on the beach a couple of times and I looked up at the sky and for the first time in my lifetime, that I remember, I could see the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, the North Star, all in the same sky. It looked like God had just taken a handful of diamonds and just sprinkled them in the sky. It was incredible to me.
And then you had these black birds who are feeding their babies. Watching these birds, in a very synchronized motion that I found interesting because they are almost blind, hovering over the water against the black sky, it was a miracle.
I was in that space of just being very appreciative of all of nature and the beauty that surrounded me and it's like I was meditating daily in that space. I didn't have a problem with being on the island.
My issue on the island was people-related. Was it because I'm a bad communicator, as has been said? I don't think so. I think it was because I was so different. I was the unicorn out there on the beach. It took just one person, Natalia, to make a comment, and it took somebody else thinking "she's the first out, or I am," and I never really recovered from it.
How did the realities of playing Survivor match up to your expectations?
Natalie: The reality matched up to the expectations with the exception being I can usually jive with whatever group. I mentioned that I have young people who work for me. That was turned into something about how I must be barking orders and dah-dah-dah. I have great relationships [with those people] because I have to depend on them.
Let's face it, at 57 I have one foot in Old School and one foot in New School. And the foot in New School is being forced based on how fast the world is moving today because of all the technology that we use each day.
So I need these young people to help me; they're telling me sometimes what to do. I will say what needs to be the end result, but I'll sit back and watch their ingenuity with how they bring it to fruition.
The people dynamic out there—again, I think it was groupthink—people are too afraid to strike out and lead. I've never been afraid of leadership, but they were afraid to make a decision against the group.
After Natalia said something, I said to Alison, "Come on now." And she said, "Yeah, she's kind of crazy, she's psycho"—we agreed!—but then she said, "I'm just scared to be upfront about anything right now, Natalie, because you see they're all against you."
So I understood what was happening, but I thought I'd be able to win Natalia over. I did approach [her] twice, but she did not trust me whatsoever. I was saying, "Look at the beauty of if we teamed up. Nobody would suspect it." But I couldn't get her, so that bothered me.
Why do you think people are so hesitant to take leadership on Survivor?
Natalie: Leadership is taking a risk. It's scary. You don't know how it's going to turn out and at the end of the day, you're going to take ownership. Or at least you should take ownership of whatever happened under your watch. That scares people. They're not accustomed to being the one making the bottom line call where the buck stops with you.
So getting people to lead, even Dan—I felt like I had Dan really strongly—then he wavered. Why? Because Kara was in with the cool kids. Kara didn't even play the game as far as I'm concerned. She would have discussions or whatever with the girls but she was not the central player, from what I understand and from what I could see. But Dan was blinded by her charm.
I said, "Dan, I'm telling you, the girl is playing you." I found that out from Angelina. I suspected it, but I confirmed through Angelina that [Kara] was playing a game with Dan. I tried to take it to Dan without him blowing me up, but what happened? He killed the messenger.
So then I lose Dan, and I said to him at one point, "It's easy to follow, but dammit, try leading."
What did you learn about yourself during your time on Survivor?
Natalie: I would say that I learned my communication is more powerful than I thought. I do know that I have a strong presence [and] that I speak from a place of authority. Even when I try to downplay it, it doesn't work out.
So what I was saying at one point, my height, my look, the intensity of my eyes, the directness of my voice, my choice of words... everything about me speaks "power." So I try to downplay it. I've done this all my life, playing a little "less than" so other people would feel comfortable.
I said that, but what did you hear? "Everything about me speaks 'power.'" I feel like I played the best hand that I could based on what I was dealt.
I already knew that [I am powerful], and I do know that I have a presence that speaks volumes even when I'm not speaking. I knew that.
I think what I learned is that it's even bigger and more glaring than I ever thought. When I go out to speak, professionally, I realize when I'm speaking how I'm able to connect with people. It's that same thing: presence.
So I struck some emotional chords out there, but unfortunately, it wasn't the right emotions.
Watch all-new episodes of Survivor: David vs. Goliath on Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.