Shane Gould entered her first Australian Survivor season as a highly-respected and decorated Olympian. With the respect of her tribemates already earned, she used her solid social play and underrated wiliness to make it all the way to the end and add Sole Survivor to her many accomplishments.
This time around, Shane entered the All-Stars season not only as a celebrated Olympian but as a former Survivor winner—a target that was just too much to overcome. Her sneakiness did not go undetected this time, as Harry Hills quickly picked up on her not-so-subtle idol searching. With the support of Shane’s former rival Lydia Lassila, it didn’t take long for Dirty Harry to shore up the numbers to take out the legendary Survivor champion at the first Tribal Council of the season.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with Shane to chat about her time on the island, going from Sole Survivor to first boot, her rivalry with Lydia, her “secret friendship” with Henry, and more.
1) Shane, thanks for chatting with us about your regrettably brief return to Survivor! When you first got the call for All-Stars, what was your reaction? Did you have any reservations about coming back, and what led you to ultimately say yes?
When I got the call, I said, ‘oh no, don’t tempt me!’ It’s a great game, and I didn’t want to miss out, so I had FOMO. Yes, [I] had reservations because the game evolves from each season, so I knew the dynamic would be different, especially with experienced players and players wanting to prove themselves for redemption.
2) Did you expect to become a target so early on in the game? Do you think you could have done anything differently, being a past winner, to avoid the firing line?
Yes, I anticipated being an early target, but I tried to dare the team to play a more risky game by keeping me in and use me to advance themselves.
3) You spoke with Lydia about wanting a blank slate, but did you believe that she was willing to leave the past behind? Had the two of you resolved any of the bad blood between your time on the show, and we’re you surprised she wanted revenge?
Not surprised as [Lydia] seems to have unresolved confusion and disappointment that her physical capacities and social smarts didn’t override my lesser physical capacities and age in season 3. Most people in season 3 and season 5 knew very little about my life [or] what people skills and team skills I had gained in 45 years since I was 15 at the Olympics. Message to future players: ask questions, get players to talk about themselves (as I did in both games). My chat with Lydia was to get information from her, too, and see if I could exploit a weakness or character feature to my advantage.
4) Harry did a lot of the work to orchestrate your vote-out, but what was it about him that led you to want to target him first among such a competitive line-up?
He is a wily player whom I admire. I liken him to a vacuum cleaner salesman who gets their idea to be your idea. He ends up controlling the game by suggestion in sequential strategy chats.
5) On the other hand, you found a “secret friend” in Henry. What drew you to want to work with him, and were you at all surprised by how keen he was to blindside Harry? Did you have any inkling about his idea to save you with an Idol?
No idea he was thinking of saving me with an idol if he found one. It would have cemented our secret friendship. I chose Henry after watching him play season 2, his humour, boldness to throw a challenge, or buck the trend but be calmly cunning about it. He was also a dominant physical player in the first two [challenges], and I needed a shielding person to work with.
6) One of the players we didn’t get to see much of in the episode was your old buddy Sharn. Given your shared history, what was it like being back on the beach together? Seeing how she ultimately voted with you against Harry, were you rekindling your old alliance?
It was nice to see Sharn, and we just began a discussion about working together again without being too obvious before we had to go to Tribal Council. I think we could have aligned again but in different ways than season 3.
7) Heading into Tribal Council, how confident were you in the Harry plan? From your perspective, who was on board to make the move?
I was 50-50 in my mind about my work to get the numbers going to Tribal Council. I knew some players like Nick and Zach would be doubtful, but I hoped they would not change their mind. I thought I had 6 plus my 1 vote on Harry.
8) There’s always a lot more going on than what we get to see. What insights can you give us about the dynamics of your Mokuta tribe? Any chimpanzee politics at play?
Appeasement, reconciliation, coalitions, uncertainty, grooming to cement relationships.
9) Looking across to the Vakama tribe, is there an All-Star that you would have liked to work with?
I would have liked to play with Tarzan, Mat, and Flick.
10) In retrospect, how do you feel about going from Sole Survivor to first boot? Are you still happy to have played again, and what are your takeaways from the experience?
Yes, happy to have played and learned about the similarity between primate behaviours, specifically chimps, and to reflect on the game as more of a coming together cooperative game than an aggressive destroying humiliating game. I don’t believe in social Darwinism survival of the social fittest.
Take away: Respect everyone’s rights to a fair go at life, not discard the weak, poor, disenfranchised, or different.