Key Art Banner

​Keith Was Happy To Level The Playing Field On Survivor: Edge Of Extinction

The young pre-med student doesn't regret anything about the way he played the game. And yes, he can swim!
Posted on Apr 29, 2019 | 12:30pm
Survivor: Edge of Extinction is a unique beast of a season in that once a castaway is voted off... they don't necessarily exit the game.

In fact, every single cast-off thus far has opted to extend their life in the game by going to the desolate island known as the Edge of Extinction to await a chance to fight their way back in (something fellow cast-off Rick Devens has already been able to do).

STREAM: Full Episodes Of Survivor: Edge Of Extinction On CBS All Access

Of course, once there, if the tedium becomes too much for them they can opt out at any time. Only when they raise the flag on Extinction do they make their way to Ponderosa.

At this point in the game, only two castaways have left voluntarily—Wendy Diaz and Keith Sowell—so we're talking with each of them about their big decision.

READ: Wendy Has No Regrets About Setting Those Chickens Loose On Survivor: Edge Of Extinction

Keith was the youngest castaway out there and gave the game his all even when he wasn't the strongest physical competitor (remember his swimming lessons?).

But once he got to the Edge of Extinction, all bets were off—every clue the cast-offs received, he'd be the first to ditch the group and go in search of the advantage on his own.

Initially, you chose to go back to the Edge of Extinction but opted to leave once you got there. What prompted the decision?

Keith Sowell: It's difficult to understand, but I think it's so important also. As soon as you hear "third chance" after you think you've exhausted all of your grace, of course you say, "YES!" There's really no other option, right?

It's not until you pull up on that same deserted island, with the same sand between your toes, cycling through the same motions that you really take the time to reflect on your time with the Edge of Extinction. While everyone else had started doing this and reliving what went wrong for them at the challenge as I tuned them out, I didn't start my reflection until I was resetting the fire.

It wasn't until then that I realized that the Edge and Survivor were two completely separate dimensions. It's not as simple as quitting or not quitting. That's the view we all come in with, but it's not until you've gotten what you needed from the Edge that you are enlightened.

Survivor is meant to give you everything: challenges, rewards, Tribals, and strategy to push you forward, whereas Edge is meant to be more abstract and what you need it to be as you only have what you have left to prove to push you forward.

At this point with the pieces I had, I found I got everything I needed to from Edge to complete my story that an edit will never be able to reveal!

You certainly made waves with your fellow castaways on Extinction, going out to find the clues and such without waiting for the others. What was your reasoning behind those decisions?

Keith: Made waves? By playing Survivor? Oh, you're right! The real question is what was their reasoning for wanting to casually go find something together that could be key for one person to get back in the game for all we knew?

When you're someone like me and go to a place like Duke, you know all too well that everyone is never on equal playing field no matter the illusion. Of course, someone like Chris would want us all to go up there at the same time because he would have the upper hand.

But I'm a fan of doing what you have to do, so I said, "I'm going to get water," with the full intention of using Rick's answers to my advantage. Unfortunately, it didn't work out, but I'll always make the attempt and fail than not having done so at all to level a very unequal playing field just a little bit more.

In the first episode of the season, we saw Reem and Wendy trying to teach you how to swim. How are your swimming skills holding up these days?

Keith: Something that I wish was addressed deeper than it was is factoring all of the swimming practice I had put myself through. People come up to me asking how I was just now learning on the show how to swim because they weren't there with me when I was going to our school pool 3-4 times a week in the dead heat of a sophomore semester to teach myself when the money wasn't there for lessons.

Yes, I can swim in a pool, which is why I wasn't hesitant about jumping in the water from the boat in Episode 1. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to reach down into my heritage and do so at three-years-old or use my easy access to open bodies of water and free time to master a lifelong skill in the span of weeks.

But I will always refuse to postpone my blessings out of fear. But now I traded my swim learning days in for study days, job shadowing days, and networking days because life goes on.

What was the most difficult part of being out there?

Keith: The most difficult part of being in the game is the paranoia and never being able to be sure when someone is fully on your side, or even being authentic when they are conversing with you.

The inability to be in everyone's heads and in all conversations plays with your mind always and makes you either overdo yourself or not do enough and miss chances to save yourself.

The most difficult part of Edge was finding ways to pass the time. Consistent boredom!

What did you learn about yourself on Survivor?

Keith: I learned about new limits and ceilings that I never knew I had before and burst through them! Literally every day for me out there was me doing something I had never done before! I am also such a family-oriented person and learned that I am capable of enduring without having them next to me, but still being able to use their presence as motivation to do great!

I also learned I'm craftier than I thought I was. Making my own stick advantage out of Chris' with bamboo and a messed up machete brought me so much joy because no one else was thinking of the creativity, even if it didn't help me in the challenge!

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