‘Survivor’ Exit Interview Season 44, Episode 5: Medical Evacuation

The following contains spoilers from Wednesday’s episode of Survivor.

you never want to see Survivor host Jeff Probst stopping at your beach in a boat…unless you’re part of the Tika tribe.

After losing her second straight immunity challenge, Tika – who had been whittled down to Carolyn, Yam Yam and Josh – was scrambling to figure out which member to oust when Probst pulled up on the beach with big news. Due to Matthew’s increasing shoulder pain, he had decided to withdraw from the match. Luckily for the three Tikas, Tribal Council was called off, guaranteeing them each two more days and a new life on the island. (Read a full recap here.)

Matthew’s initial injury occurred during the season premiere episode, where his sense of wonder and excitement for the game led to a bad fall from a large, very jagged rock formation. But at first, as Matthew details below, his shoulder wasn’t even his main concern. The day after he left the show, TVLine spoke to him about his decision to quit the game, what we didn’t see on TV, and whether he would like to return for another season.

Survivor 44 episode 5 recapTVLINE | First of all, how’s the shoulder?
The shoulder is big now! I had surgery last November. Survivor was very generous in not showing my pain. They don’t allude to the pain and damage that I actually inflicted on myself. So I dislocated him on day 2, then in the third episode I dislocated him again in the challenge. You hear me say, “Ouch, my shoulder! Ouch, my arm! I put it back in the socket in the challenge and completed the challenge with Kane, not knowing that I fractured my humerus, fractured my shoulder blade, tore my rotator cuff, tore my labrum and subscapularis muscle had to be reattached. The long list of surgeries was basically three surgeries in one. I was in a lot of pain and it was finally the decision I had to make, listen to my body and leave the game.

TVLINE | I was surprised they didn’t show any footage of you leaving or saying goodbye to your tribe, but I’m guessing what you’re saying is that was done on purpose?
There was a long conversation between me, Jeff and Dr. Will. Obviously they modify it down to the part they do. Dr. Will wasn’t going to give me the chance to stay in the game, my injuries were so bad. We did not know the extent of my injuries. He couldn’t give me an X-ray or an MRI there. All he knew was that it was bad. There was a conversation where he said, “Your injury is so bad that I’m going to take you out of the game.” So me, wanting to stay in control, I said, “This is my course, I have to do what’s right for me, and I’m going to get through this.” I have to see a doctor and I can’t heal here. So that’s the part that you don’t really see, are we coming to a joint decision. That’s what has to happen. It was heartbreaking for me, obviously, but at the time, I couldn’t lift my arm over my shoulder. I was in so much pain that sleeping was not an option. It was really difficult. I couldn’t lie down. It wasn’t the road I wanted to take, but it was the road I had to take.

TVLINE | It’s one thing to get hurt in a challenge, but you’ve been hurt by your own lust for adventure. How long did it take you to really process it all and accept that?
In fact, after I fell and you saw me going back to the water well in this pool of blood, that’s when I got scared. I wasn’t really worried about my shoulder because initially it was a pop out, I put it back in place, I was like, “OK, it’s tight, it’s painful, But it is okay.” But when I got to the water well, I had so much sand in my foot that I didn’t know I had been cut the way I had been cut. When I saw the giant gash in my toe, I thought, “That’s probably what’s going to knock me out of the game.” I thought I needed stitches, and I didn’t think the placement – being on the bottom of my foot – I thought was it for me. It was really scary to be like, “OK, you’ve spent years preparing for this and it’s Day 2 and you’ve just retired from the game.” It was like, “Oh shit. How do I deal with this? Can I save this?” That shows how adaptable I was. I had to overcome that hurdle and move on. used the best I could. The tribe saw me as hurt, which was true, but it allowed me to act in a way that they didn’t suspect things were happening. You have to deal with the cards that are dealt to you and make the most of them. I think I really did my best with this scenario, and it allowed me to take great strides in the game.

TVLINE | You go through the whole casting process, finally arrive in Fiji…and avoid a lot of challenges. How did that make you feel?
I came to compete. I spent years preparing Survivor and dissect individual parts of a challenge to say, “OK, if I can walk through something once, at least get my foot in the pool, then I’ll be better at handling it twice when Survivor actually give it to me. I can break it all down and dissect it, so that’s the route I’ve gone down, to try to set it all up.

Survivor 44So here I spend years preparing and having to sit outside of these challenges, and it wasn’t a fun place for me. One of the things I think I’m strongest at is swimming. We have the challenge where Brandon has to do one leg twice. If I hadn’t been injured, I would have said 100%, “I’m swimming twice”, because I’m a very good swimmer. I learned to swim before my memories. I swam when I was very young. Water is a place where I feel so natural. This challenge, I would have eaten it! There were so many situations where I was like, “God, I could have done that! Shooting yourself in the foot – or in the shoulder – early on? It was painful. Then I have to rely on my fellow tribesmen to get us through and not put us in this dangerous situation in Tribal. The level of confidence I had in myself knowing what my abilities were, it was very difficult not to go through a lot of those challenges.

TVLINE | Did you stay and do the merger, did you have any plans you wanted to implement? Who did you want to play the game with?
Obviously, Jamie and I had given him a fake idol to create trust between us. She and I were close personally and had a lot in common, but strategically it didn’t fit. So, I needed to create that trust. At this point, Ratu had buried the hatches. Lauren and I were very strong, so I would have been very strong for Ratu. We were trying to get Tika back to try and take out Soka. That was the plan, try to take down Soka members one by one. Tika was considered this motley bunch. They were only three out of our five, so we had the manpower to do it.

TVLINE | So we know you built this snake maze at home. What other games or puzzles did you build while preparing for Survivor?
There’s the tree puzzle, I did that one. There’s the hanging fish puzzle, I’ve got that one. The circular puzzle that we see in victors in war that Boston Rob struggled, I got that one. I bought many puzzle recreations, but there were so many things. I would break down challenges and make portions for myself just to practice. There was an obstacle course near my house, and I used it a lot, so crawling under things, going through the sand, balancing, over-under…you name it, I was going there.

Survivor Matthew comes outTVLINE | Have you ever regretted sharing with everyone that you built these things and practiced so much?
No way. Some people go out with the intention of hiding and I don’t understand that. Survivor is a game where you can hide, but I didn’t want to hide. I want to show you, “I’m here to play.” I was confident in my abilities, my social game was going well, so yes, absolutely. I want you to know that I’m a threat. It’s very good for me. There are other things you don’t even see, so in a game where there’s nowhere to hide, why hide?

TVLINE | Probst has already invited Bruce back on the show. If he gives you the same invitation, what are you going to say?
My suitcases are ready. Tell me what color to wear and I’m good to go. My Survivor journey ended in a way that it has this point point point. There is still a story to be told. This chapter of my journey is what it is and I’m glad I experienced it, but there’s so much more out there and I think I’ve shown that I’m very capable Survivor player. I have a lot of game knowledge and have tried new things. I played my Shot in the Dark differently, and I’m approaching the game in a new era in a new way, and I think that’s exciting. I like this!

I hope they will ask me to come back. If they do – or When I hope they do [Laughs] – I’ll marinate on how I can increase it next time. This second chance season is going to be epic. The people they’re going to shoot, it’s going to be a battle. I know I have to step up my game because what people have already seen of me I can’t do again. I have to do something different. I have to pull it up. I must be more. So when that call comes, know that I will be well prepared.


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