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​Survivor Season 39 Spoilers: The Latest Cast-Off Has No Hard Feelings About Their Blindside

The latest castaway to be voted off Island of the Idols reflects on their tough start and the secret advantage that changed the game.
Posted on Nov 1, 2019 | 10:00am
As a castaway, you can never really know what the Survivor gods have in store for you.

On Island of the Idols, the latest cast-off learned that the hard way after a surprising secret advantage turned the tide against him—not only blocking his vote, but ultimately sending him packing.

For 32-year-old Jason Linden, the game started out rough right on Day 1. After he was called out for wandering off to look for an Idol, he had a difficult time making inroads with his Tribemates. But after the Tribe Swap, things appeared to be on the up-and-up... until they weren't.

STREAM: Full Episodes Of Survivor: Island Of The Idols On CBS All Access

At a particularly raucous Tribal Council, Elaine Stott played the secret advantage she held and everything unraveled from there.

We caught up with the personable New York lawyer for his take on what went down and what he's taken away from his Survivor experience.

You seemed pretty upset with Aaron on your way out of Tribal, telling the rest of the Tribe not to trust him. Have you spoken with him since? Any hard feelings?

Jason Linden: [Laughs.] I actually did indeed just LOL. We've discussed and there is no hard feelings. I really don't blame him (or anyone else) for voting me out.

My "don't trust Aaron" comment actually made little sense in the context of the actual situation...

If everything played according to the old Vokai 4's plan, Aaron would have gone home! Had Elaine not received the "block a vote," Aaron (and/or Missy) would have flipped and written Elaine's name down.

The plan was not to vote Elaine, but to put four votes on Aaron. The votes only went to Elaine after she pulled out the vote block at Tribal Council. At that point, our only play was to hope Aaron would actually still flip and write Elaine's name down.

I said the comment to really help my loyal Vokai friends and by casting doubt on Aaron in front of his Lairo people. The comment was not a personal attack on Aaron. We've laughed about it since.

Him because he had to deal with the repercussions of the dumb little comment. Me because he had no idea how close he was to actually going home. I guess he got the last laugh though because here I am and he's still in the game.

What was your first thought when Elaine used her advantage to block your vote? Did you suspect the votes were going to be coming your way?

Jason: As soon as she stood up I thought I was going home. An Idol would be used after the vote, so I knew she had something even better.

Tommy and Lauren had told me that the old Lairo were targeting me if they did not flip. I was also told a few horrible lies—I'm looking at you, Beisel—the day of Tribal which tipped me off that I was in deep trouble.

Here is my inner dialogue as Elaine read the advantage (note, it may or may not be in my Mom's voice): "A vote block? Interesting. I know they want me gone. If it were me, I'd block someone else's vote as a misdirect and then vote for me. How do they know I don't have an Idol? Oh wait, they are blocking my vote? Hmmm. Did they think this through? I still think they want me gone though. Hmmm. This is a weird way to get voted out. WAIT! Is there any chance they would save me? Ehhh, probably not. Do I get pizza soon?"

In your bio, you said Survivor is all about relationships. Do you still feel that way, given how your game ended?

Jason: Yes. Come on. At the end of the day, it's a game based on personal relationships. With that being said, there are monkey wrenches and bumps in the road while playing the game; swaps, advantages, twists, etc. That makes luck a big factor in the game as well. You can be doing things right, and it can still go wrong.

I am not saying I played the perfect game, my game had flaws especially Day 1, and especially post-Swap. Still, I had a plan and the plan got messed up through something I really did not control. I was playing a good game, I had a great game plan for the Tribal Council and I still went out pre-Merge.

Early on in the game, your original Tribe gave you some guff about going off to look for an Idol. How did that early misstep change the way you were approaching your game?

Jason: Some guff? SOME GUFF???? SOME GUFFFFFFFF???!!!??? People don't understand how bad of a Day 1 I had. From the second I stepped off the boat I was a target.

This was partially based on the way I presented and partially because of self-inflicted gunshot wounds. When we were introducing ourselves I intended to lie about being a lawyer. When I attempted to tell the group my made-up profession the words fumbled out of my mouth.

Immediately the entire Tribe goes "YOU'RE LYING." As the introductions continued everyone worked in education or was obtaining a graduate degree (aside from Dan, who went last). With every introduction, people just kept saying you are clearly lying about what you do. I had the immediate X painted on my back, front, and side.

Believe it or not, me and Janet first went off to get tree mail together. That's when they began to reaffirm that target. The culmination of how bad it got was Night 1 when the sun went down, six of the 10 members of the Tribe were hanging out on the beach.

I took a seat next to them, said "what's up guys," and it immediately got silent. I sat there for around 10 seconds and then overheard someone say "this is awkward." It was more awkward for me then they will ever know.

This totally changed the way I was going to have to play the game. I am firmly on the bottom. How do you play Survivor from the bottom? I can give a clinic on it. As Jamal said at the first Tribal, I was "playing perfectly from the bottom."

What was the most surprising part of playing Survivor?

Jason: That a vote block would be given at a potential four-four standoff.

What did you learn about yourself on Survivor?

Jason: Survivor gave me the opportunity to strip away the stresses of my everyday life and allowed me to calibrate my own happiness. While the materialistic things in life are nice, I learned what really makes me happy are relationships and a sense of self-worth.

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