Exclusive – Survivor: Ghost Island’s Chelsea Townsend: ‘I Played A Big Part In Strategy’

After last week’s surprise double-Tribal Council, we were left with just eight players left in the game of Survivor this season. This week there were less surprises, but nonetheless the game trimmed out one more player, a player that you may not have even known was there for much of the season.

If you missed any of the action, you can catch up with our Episode 12 Recap, as well as checking out the Podcast below.


Exclusive – Survivor: Ghost Island’s Chelsea Townsend: ‘I Played A Big Part In Strategy’

It wasn’t necessarily Chelsea Townsend‘s fault. But she received the dreaded “purple edit” this season, a name given to those players whom we rarely get to hear from during their course of the game. This, despite the fact that she was part of the majority alliance that has dominated much of the game, was seen as being a part of many of the major conversations, and who even won two individual Immunity Challenges down the stretch. It’s an odd case for sure, because typically those that receive the “purple edit” (named after Survivor: Nicaragua‘s nearly transparent Purple Kelly) don’t factor into the game…but that wasn’t really the real deal with Chelsea.

While she may have factored into the strategy – much of which wasn’t shown to us – she may have just not factored into the story that the show’s producers wished to tell. Jeff Probst has said as much in several different interviews, urging future players to make sure “they do things that make it impossible for the producers not to notice.” So while Chelsea played her quiet game, the producers this season decided to focus the show on where the noise was being made, and that left Chelsea mostly on the cutting room floor. She averaged fewer confessional interviews than anyone who has ever played the game, a record that she doesn’t quite deserve.

Exclusive – Survivor: Ghost Island’s Chelsea Townsend: ‘I Played A Big Part In Strategy’

But as far as the game went, others viewed her as a threat, clearly, because they chose to target her this week. She had won two challenges, and as Dom said on the air, he wanted to get rid of any potential physical threats left in the game that could possibly thwart his plans. Chelsea had life left in her, had Laurel and Donathan decided to try to blindside Wendell, but in the end they decided to lay low and go with the safe vote-out, sending Chelsea to the jury as its fifth member.

A scheduled flight on Thursday made Chelsea unavailable for our usual Podcast interview this week, but she was kind enough to answer some emailed questions from me. Here are those questions as well as Chelsea’s full answers:

Tom Santilli: Heading into last night’s Tribal Council, there was a plan to try to take out either Dom or Wendell and break them up…ultimately Laurel and Donathan decided not to go that route.  What were your feelings headed into Tribal Council and did you have much hope that they would be on-board with voting for Wendell?

Chelsea Townsend: Going into tribal council was scary. I knew that my plan for this blindside completely sat in the hands of someone who was a very passive player. I hoped all the reasoning I had put into her head would pull through and the part of her that was a big fan of the show would be excited to make this huge game play and start building a resume. My emotions were all over the board that tribal as I tried to play dumb and not spook Wendell, but Donathan stirred things up and I thought I was completely done for. I regained hope when Wendell shockingly did not play his idol and could see this epic blindside in reach. Unfortunately, I think Laurel was just more concerned with hanging around another vote instead of winning.

Exclusive – Survivor: Ghost Island’s Chelsea Townsend: ‘I Played A Big Part In Strategy’

Tom: You unfortunately had a very “quiet” edit this season, where we didn’t get to see much of your game, especially your strategic thought-patterns or reasoning.  What is your reaction to your portrayal on the show this season and what did you wish they would have shown more of?

Chelsea: It was the most frustrating thing to watch back. I was very proud of the game I played, and I played really hard. It was difficult to not have any of that shown. I played a big part in strategy. Nobody just happens to vote the right person out almost every time. I created good relationships and plotted strategies and was able to see a majority of them through. Unfortunately the edit portrayed me in a backseat role when that is definitely not where I was.

Exclusive – Survivor: Ghost Island’s Chelsea Townsend: ‘I Played A Big Part In Strategy’

Tom: You were part of “Naviti Strong” through most of the game.  What was your relationship like with most of them and which did you feel were going to be the biggest threats the longer the game went on?

Chelsea: I had a great relationship with the OG Naviti. I had very strong bonds and solid alliances with those people and I was taking those relationships where I needed to to ultimately set up a well timed huge blindside and then just super hard game play to the end. The biggest threats were always Dom and Wendell after the merge, this only became more so the longer they stayed.

Exclusive – Survivor: Ghost Island’s Chelsea Townsend: ‘I Played A Big Part In Strategy’

Tom: Explain your experience during your “loved ones” visit, your relationship with your sister and why she was the one that was chosen to join you.

Chelsea: I was pretty devastated I couldn’t pull out that win for her. It was definitely an emotional day. But, I promised her when I left for the show I would get her out there, and I did. I wanted her to be able to experience being on survivor as our whole family were huge fans. I felt so accomplished and proud I was able to play well enough to get her out there to be a part of it with me. My sister and I are extremely close. She has been my rock always. I love her so much and not to mention she is a bad ass. I hoped they would let the loved ones compete, because she would have torn it up out there.

Tom: What would you like to leave people with, as far as how you would want them to remember you as a Survivor player?

Chelsea: I want to be remembered as someone who played a really good game despite my edit. I’m definitely more laid back than these big personalities but that doesn’t mean my game play wasn’t well executed. Playing cool, calm, and calculated is a strategy. I played the game true to myself and exactly how I wanted to play the game. I’m proud of that.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter – @tomsantilli – and on Facebook, for all of the latest Survivor coverage, interviews, and movie reviews.


Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe