Back in June last year, while the Survivor: Winners At War cast were battling it out on the islands of Fiji, I reached out to a selection of former Survivor players to get their thoughts and predictions on the returning castaways. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting those interviews here on Inside Survivor.
Today, we’re talking to three-time player Ciera Eastin, who played with Tyson Apostol back in Survivor: Blood vs. Water. After meeting at the first tribe swap, Tyson, at that point, a two-time Survivor veteran, took Ciera under his wing, and the pair worked together for a large portion of the game. However, it was at the final six Tribal Council when Ciera realized that Tyson was unlikely to take her to the end and decided to make a bold play, forcing a rock draw for just the second time in Survivor history. Unfortunately for Ciera, the rock draw did not go in her favor; she lost her ally Katie and found herself in the minority. This allowed Tyson to steamroll to the end where he earned Ciera’s jury vote in his 7-1-0 victory.
Inside Survivor reached out to Ciera to get her thoughts on Tyson’s return to Survivor: Winners At War.
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted in June 2019 while Survivor: Winners At War was still filming in Fiji.
1) Hi Ciera, thanks for doing this! You and Tyson were part of the same alliance for the majority of Blood vs. Water. What was your initial opinion of Tyson, and how did it change throughout the season?
My initial opinion of Tyson was that he was going to be a big threat in the game. We voted Rachel [Tyson’s girlfriend] out early in hopes to weaken Tyson on the returnee tribe, and it actually did the opposite. After Rachel left, he just had a stronger fire to win the game. The first tribe swap I was the only female on the tribe, and that was my first time actually playing the game with Tyson. He really took me under his wing early on when I felt like it was all the guys vs. me and made me feel like that wasn’t the case.
He was funny, seemingly hard-working, and a big asset at the challenges. He did have the group always believing that Aras was the one calling the shots. As the game progressed, I started to realize it was always Tyson calling the shots and how strong of a player he truly was. My personal opinion of Tyson never changed throughout the game. Tyson was consistently kind, funny, quick, smart, and playing a great game.
2) Tyson has a cutting sense of humor, and sometimes it can be taken the wrong way. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on Tyson’s social game? How he interacted with others? What was he like around camp day-to-day?
You either appreciate Tyson’s sense of humor or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. But it is always that… just a joke, never personal. Around camp, he always had us laughing. Tyson was always making efforts to get to know everyone. He is extremely knowledgable in a lot of things and always seemed to find a way to connect with each person, which is what made his social game so strong. As time went by, I started to realize that Tyson was getting away with a lot just because of his sense of humor. He would get out of things like walking to get firewood by making a game that he bet Aras couldn’t get more than Gervase. And then he would sit back and watch everyone bring firewood. Just fun little things that really showed how much Tyson’s sense of humor plays into his social game.
3) There was a point in BvW where the newbies outnumbered the returnees 4 to 3, and Caleb & Hayden approached you about voting out Tyson. You ended up telling Tyson the plan and siding with him at the next vote. Can you talk about this move a little bit? What was it about Tyson that made you trust him so much at this point?
This question I get asked often. And to answer it, we actually need to go back to the vote prior to this, where my mom went home. The remaining people were Tyson, Monica, Gervase, Hayden, Caleb, Katie, Laura M, and myself. My mom and I approached Hayden and Caleb to get rid of Tyson on that vote. They both said not right now, it was too risky to get rid of Tyson at that vote, and we should get rid of Monica. That same day I was approached by Tyson, who pulled me aside to let me know Hayden and Caleb wanted my mom out!! And then I knew Caleb and Hayden were not being honest with us. Tyson won a lot of trust with me on the vote to get rid of my mom. Tyson was behind the majority of the vote outs post-merge on Blood vs. Water.
4) You did end up flipping on Tyson’s alliance at the next vote, causing the infamous rock draw. Was this a decision made in the moment at Tribal? And were you surprised by Tyson’s reaction and the fact he chose to go to rocks?
The rock draw was EPIC! Partially because, at this time, the rock draw was not a common thing to see happen. In fact, it was only the second time in 27 seasons that it had ever happened! At this point in the game, when there were 6 of us left, I felt fairly strong with Tyson, he constantly made me feel like him and I were going to the end. And come to find out he was making EVERYONE feel that same way! And we believed him!!
When I voted my mom out, the game shifted. Everyone started to see me as a big threat to win this game, and I started to realize Gervase wasn’t going to take me to the end, Monica wasn’t going to take me to the end, and Tyson had a better shot of winning at the end next to Gervase and Monica. So why would any of them take me?? I went into Tribal Council unsure on what I was going to do but really had clarity at that moment that I didn’t come for 6th place, for 4th place, I came for 1st place. And I was ready to gamble.
I was SHOCKED Tyson was ready to gamble. Just goes to show how he thinks three steps ahead. He knew that he needed Monica, and he knew that by going to rocks, it would solidify his relationship with her. And he was right; it was a huge gamble but a gamble that won him the game.
5) There are people on this season’s cast who Tyson has played with in the past, including former allies Rob & Sandra, and former enemies, like Parvati. How do you see him handling these relationships this time around?
The winners cast has so many different layers of relationships and people who have played together. Tyson has links to a bunch of players! Although he is going into the game with a huge target on his back for being such a great winner and a well-rounded player… he doesn’t have bad blood with any of these people. Tyson is genuinely liked. I know Tyson is good at separating personal vs. game, and I definitely don’t think that will impact his game or his choices.
6) Who on this season’s cast poses the biggest threat to Tyson? Is there anyone you see him butting heads with?
This is a very hard question… Because Tyson is so good at bonding with people who are extremely hard to bond with, or who most people don’t like. So I would be really surprised to find out he butts heads with anyone. There are so many big male players: Jeremy, Rob, Wendell, Tony. There’s no way all these guys get along and work together. The girls are too smart to let that happen anyway. But I would say that I am most interested to see how Tyson navigates these guys.
7) What is Tyson’s biggest flaw as a Survivor player?
Tyson’s biggest flaw is also one of his greatest assets—his sense of humor. Like I said before, you either get it or you don’t. And there are definitely those who don’t get it!! If you don’t spend time and get to know Tyson, you might consider him a little arrogant. And he needs to be careful, especially early on when people are still getting to know each other, that they don’t confuse his playfulness for assholeness.
8) What is Tyson’s secret weapon as a Survivor player—something which maybe we as viewers might not have seen on TV or something his fellow competitors might underestimate?
Tyson is such a well-rounded player; that’s what makes him one of the greats. He is a challenge beast but also knows when to lay low in a challenge and let someone else take the spotlight. One of the Tysons secret weapons is always working the underdog. The person on the bottom, the annoying person, the person everyone wants out… Tyson has a good relationship with them. GUARANTEE IT!!! Survivor changes quickly… especially on this season you know there are going to be twists and people always staying on their toes. Tyson is three steps ahead and knows that person on the bottom isn’t always on the bottom for long!
9) You’ve also played with other winners on this cast, including Jeremy and Sandra. How do all three compare as winners — not in terms of who is better, but more in terms of how they play the game and their strengths and weaknesses?
I am more excited about this season than any other!!! I get to watch all my friends and the greats going head to head. Jeremy, Sandra, Sarah, Tony, Tyson!! I’ve got to play with them all, and they are all incredible players in their own way.
Sandra is a wizard. She is my queen, and I love her. She is unlike anyone I’ve ever met or played with. She is quick, she is smart, and she is cutthroat. She has a crazy way of bonding with people quick like I’ve never seen. People trust her even though they shouldn’t, people love her because she is good for camp morale. Sandra can tell you you’re going home…and you’ll love her anyway. It’s a unique quality, and I love her!!!
Jeremy is unassuming… he is such a good guy and makes you feel at home. Second Chance was an EXTREMELY fast-paced game, with tons of tribe swaps and the voting blocs… that will be a big advantage for Jeremy because I believe Season 40 is going to be a lot like Second Chance.
Tony is my bestie!! I love his fast-paced gameplay, he is a strategist, and he is great at understanding Survivor and possible outcomes for different moves. Tony and I had a really bad run our last time out there, and I’m hoping he doesn’t let that get in his head too much.
10) Before I let you go, what is new in the world of Ciera? How has life been since we last saw you on Game Changers?
As for me, I am doing great!! Very busy these days! I had a baby in November (2018); his name is Leo, and he is the sweetest. Layla is now 12, Landon is 8 and keeping me super busy as well. Working on remodeling our home in Oregon. Got my Hair license in 2018 and working a couple of days a week doing that! Keeping up with Survivor as much as possible!!
Thanks again to Ciera for taking part. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more Playing with Champions interviews.
Survivor: Winners At War premieres February 12, 2020, on CBS.