A mammoth week of Australian Survivor got underway on Monday night with the elimination of ex Special Forces Commando Damien Thomlinson, who despite giving it his all, was unable to shake his tribe’s perception of him as a liability in challenges.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with the War Veteran to find out what it was like competing in those epic challenges, what his relationship was like with Russell, and whether he thinks his tribe was justified in voting him out.
1) Damien, thanks for taking the time to chat to us about your time on the Island! First of all, what drew you to playing Survivor, and how did the actual experience stack up against your expectations?
I was down for the challenge and had the goal of showing viewers that anything is possible when you are faced with adversity.
2) It was disappointing to see you go out so early – after losing the Immunity Challenge, at what point did you realise that the vote was turning against you? Do you think there was anything you could have done to save yourself?
I felt that Russell really started to form cracks and they really showed during the Tribal Council.
3) We saw a lot of your triumphs in these huge-scale challenges despite your physical limitations, but it seemed like the tribe still saw you as a liability. Do you think this was justified based on everything that happened? Were there other factors to your elimination that we didn’t get to see?
Not really, I think it was more of a “Well we need a reason to make a decision no one wants to make.” I think my relationship with Russell was misinterpreted which may have contributed. Though if not that then I think that will be interesting to see how the Champions go in the remaining Challenges.
4) You and Jackie seemed to be diametrically opposed at the two Tribals you attended – was there personal conflict between you, or was it simply a matter of “it’s either you or me”?
The conflict started when Russell placed a bit of doubt in Jackie’s mind.
5) On that note, you were the only Champion to vote against Jackie at the re-vote when Russell went home. Why was this, and was there any fallout from going against the group consensus?
I am a big believer in staying with the plan and had gone to lengths to gain Russell’s trust. Having no gap between votes, I stayed the path and was also hoping to put some doubt in her mind. Our fallback plan involved Russell being eliminated round 2, so I stuck with the original idea.
6) Speaking of Russell, you shared that late-night fireside D&M with him and then stuck with him at Tribal. What was it like living with someone so notorious for stirring up trouble, and what was your relationship really like?
I knew during our fireside chat that Russell had to unequivocally believe that I had his back. We spoke about strengths and weaknesses of ourselves and almost everyone. Spoke about Baseball, southern food, the Idol play, also theory moving forward. As a group, Steve, Matt and myself knew he had to be eliminated early or we would struggle, so the information and gameplay was to get him onside to the point we could turn.
7) With your closely aligned military history, you and Steve had a natural bond that seemed to transcend the game. Do you think that you would have stuck together to the end if all had gone your way?
It was something that I thought about if we were the last two what would we do. I mean he is such a genuine, nice guy, and we know so many of the same people that we could chat for hours or tie knots and stuff like that. The bond is instant with someone who you know has been through the same thing as you. Commandos always have each other’s back. If we reached the end together, which would have been great, I have no idea what I would have done.
8) If you had managed to survive the vote tonight, what was your gameplan moving forward? Who were you aligned with (or hoping to align with), and how did you think you might be able to manoeuvre your way to victory in the end?
I saw my main problem as the moment before the merge. Because I am an easy out. If I was to get past the merge, it’s one on one, and I would have had a pretty good chance.
9) Finally, what were your biggest highlights from your 8 days in the game? And is Survivor something you would try again, or are you well and truly done with being cold and hungry?
My favourite moment was the first immunity challenge, it felt amazing and hopefully inspired some other people with challenges in their life to step up and have a go. I would come again tomorrow if I was asked to come back on the show.