The sixteenth episode of Australian Survivor saw the elimination of astrophysicist Samuel Hinton. The 26-year-old genius used his witty humour and social charm to work his way into the majority Champions alliance and should have been set for a deep run in the game. However, after the Champs turned on Lydia, one of their own alliance members, Sam began to worry about his position within the group. When an Immunity win thwarted a plan to blindside Mat, Sam found himself backtracking and scrambling, causing him to be voted out in an 8-2 vote.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with Samuel to talk about his time on the island, who he holds responsible for his demise, why he felt pushed out of the Champions alliance, and what his plan was going forward had he survived.
1. Samuel, thanks for taking some time out to give us a bit of an insight into your game! Starting at the finish, how confident were you heading into your last Tribal? Did you think you had a chance to survive the vote or was your goose already cooked?
During the day, the vote had swung back and forth between Benji and myself. The last I had spoken to Mat, he had said it was back on Benji, and I told him that I’d put on a show then! However, Mat might have not been truthful, so I went into tribal unsure. Once Steve threw out the “a little birdie told me that you had been throwing my name around” I knew I was gone! Nice work little birdie Benji, genius last second move!
2. From the way the episode told the story, it seemed like your conversation with Mat, where you admitted to warning Lydia to ‘pull her head in’ before her blindside, was the beginning of the end for your game. How accurate was that trajectory, or was there another catalyst to your demise?
Warning Lydia was the beginning of the end. Lydia told Sharn, dropping my name, and Sharn told Mat (or so I can piece together). From that moment I was out of the alliance, and yet I only found out Mat knew I had warned Lydia the day I went home, so definitely didn’t have enough time to try and repair that relationship!
3. If you had your time again, do you think you could have done anything differently to save yourself? Was there any chance of salvaging the plan to vote out Steve?
Apart from not warning Lydia, I think I could have had Benji go home if I did what he did – tell Steve that Benji was throwing out his name. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to do it, and here I am! As to the Steve vote, that was dead in the water very shortly after conception – there was momentum for Mat, but not for Steve.
4. The plan to target Mat seemed to be gaining traction before he pulled off the Immunity win – if he’d been vulnerable, do you think the move would have gone ahead? How would it have played out if all had gone according to plan?
If Mat hadn’t won immunity, I think the plan would have worked. There was a lot of desire to remove Mat as a threat, and Brian would have definitely been on board. We would have had the numbers and everything would have been great. Alas.
5. In hindsight, do you think that you were accurate in suspecting that you had been pushed out of the Champions alliance? Did you have any concern about your position in the group before the move against Lydia?
Yes, I was definitely correct about no longer being in the alliance. From the lack of information from Mat and Steve to Sharn not revealing the advantage, I was completely cut off. The issue was, I didn’t know why until the day I went home.
6. Going all the way back to the beginning, it seemed on paper that an astrophysicist would have an uphill battle on a tribe full of muscle-bound athletes. Were you at all daunted by the make-up of the tribe, and how did you find your footing in the Champions tribe?
I was daunted from hearing the great stories and accomplishments from people in the tribe, but the positive was that – not being a sporty person – I did not recognise anyone on the tribe at all. And that definitely helped me talk to everyone easily and casually. I managed to find my way mostly through humour, making jokes and puns to get people to laugh, and a lot of the tribe appreciated that given the lack of any other form of entertainment.
7. You were a part of the core alliance at the Champions tribe where you seemed to be crucial in the strategic decision-making. How did you view your alliances on the Champions tribe, and are you proud of any particular strategic moves you made during this early phase of the game?
Monika and I deciding to abandon Russel and throw him to the wolves early on was a smart decision and left him scrambling far harder than he had planned to try and split the tribe. And he didn’t scramble enough! Apart from that, I convinced the Champions tribe to keep Brian around when the vote was on him (Tegan went home instead), and my other role was to split the votes properly to make sure no idol or advantage could ever ruin what we wanted to do. Just small things like putting the least trustworthy members onto the minority vote and similar, to make sure anyone that wanted to flip faced an uphill battle. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to pull off the big moves that I wanted to.
7. At the swap, you were adamant in wanting to stay Champions-strong. Did you ever consider trying to work with Shonee or Tegan at the time? Was there talk of throwing any of the challenges to try to protect Lydia, Sharn and Monika who were outnumbered on the New Contenders?
Yes actually, when Jackie mentions to Tegan there was talk of throwing challenges, it was from me. Mat, Shane and Steve found the idea antithetical, so I had to make sure I was sabotaging all three of the challenges as subtly as possible. I was very worried that Lydia might be targeted for being too strong with merge close to us, or that Mon (as the weaker one) might be cut away, and I was working with both of them. As to working with Tegan and Shonee after the swap, wasn’t much chance of that, I had spent ages building my relationships with Mat and Steve, I wasn’t going to throw that away.
8. So let’s play theoretical Survivor. Say Benji goes home instead of you – what would have been your gameplan moving forward through the following votes?
If Benji went home, it depends who would have won the immunity challenge. If Mat didn’t, I would have grabbed myself, Shonee, Fen, Mon, and Brian to send Mat home. If he did win, who knows!
9. Finally, would you be willing to fill in the blanks on anything we didn’t see? Are there any parts of your strategy, personality or overall experience that you wish had made it onto the show?
Hmm, I wish more of my banter with JLP made it into the show, but what can you do, hey? One thing I wish made it in was more of Benji’s scheming before I left. At the moment it seems like I put my foot in my mouth, and that’s because we don’t see Benji getting Sharn to run to Steve and tell him “Sam is throwing your name out there.” Once you know that, and the fact that Steve then flipped the vote back onto me from Benji, my frantic speech at tribal makes more sense! But it was good fun! You can see me figure out this at tribal. I tell Mat (when I think the vote is on Benji) that I’ll put on a good show, so he doesn’t suspect it, but then I realised quickly during tribal that it was in fact all on me. But I decide not to throw Benji’s name out there when I realise it’s me going home, so I don’t ruin his game – I wanted to see what chaos he would cause!