The first came quickly. Within the first few minutes of the show, viewers learned that Bi Nguyen had decided to leave due to the knee injury she sustained during last week’s challenge. Revealing she had a sprained MCL, the 28-year-old MMA fighter was faced with the difficult decision of continuing and possibly exacerbating her injury, which could risk her ring career.
Speaking with ET Canada, Bi explains that the injury was worse than viewers may have realized. “The key component is that I had torn it before, so the sprain, there was a lot more risk than people thought,” she says. “Being that it was torn before, it was going to tear again if I pushed it any further. My knee now is OK, it’s not 100 per cent, I’m still working on strengthening it. Knee injuries linger for a long time, and just as I had a risk of tearing it then, I still do now, so I’m trying to strengthen it back up.”
Naturally, she’s disappointed that she was forced to become the second castaway to be medically evacuated this season, following her David tribe mate Pat Cusack, who left the island in the first episode after suffering a back injury.
“I’m very disappointed that I didn’t get to play to my fullest potential,” she says. “I have a lot of unfinished business on that island, and I think when I left I was in a good position with my tribe and with my game, and I had a lot more game to play.”
Watching the episode and reliving her exit, she admits, “was devastating. I tried to put it aside and get on with my life, but watching it again just reminded me of how much it hurt, of how hard of a decision it was, and most of all, how hard it was to announce it to everyone.”
However, she received some important “Survivor” lessons during her brief time playing the game. “I learned that ‘Survivor’ is no joke,” she says. “I learned that I need to let people in more, and that people will surprise me. I learned how tough I am. I’m proud of myself for the game that I did play.”
If she was given the chance for a “Survivor” do-over, would she take it? “In a heartbeat. I’m waiting!” she declares. “I have an alert on my email — unfortunately every time I check it’s spam — but I am waiting by the phone. I have a lot of unfinished business, like I said. I would love to play again. I would love to see how far I go and I think I would do great. Just the what-if, you know, just the uncertainty is upsetting. I want a chance to redeem myself.”
Following Bi’s exit, host Jeff Probst had a surprise in store: a tribe switch, with the Davids and Goliaths split into three new tribes, dubbed Javena, Tiva and Vuku, with the latter tribe sent to Tribal Council.
This was bad news for Vuku’s Natalia Azoqa, who couldn’t bring herself to watch when Probst snuffed her torch after a brutal blindside courtesy of tribe mate Alec.
As Natalia tells ET Canada, the dynamics on her new tribe “were very different. On the new tribe I felt out of place, even though I had two people who I thought I was close with — Kara for sure I was very close with, Alec I was close with on a personal level, not so much game-related. When we got to the Vuku tribe, Elizabeth was just really clicking with Kara and Davie was really clicking with Alec, and I just felt out of place, and I really needed the confirmation, and that kind of was where I started to get paranoid.”
In hindsight, Natalia admits the approach she took with her new tribe was not the right one. “After we got back to camp, I wish that I just kept a low profile and I kept my feelings almost to myself. Maybe instead of just constantly talking and asking for reassurance, I wish I just took a step back and listened a bit more, and then calculated from there,” she says.
“I think the problem with me is that I act a little too quickly,” she adds. “I could sense something was off with Alec, and I wish I just thought about my options in what I could do if he was going to flip on me, and maybe I could have turned it around before getting to Tribal Council.”
Unfortunately, Alec made a big move that she didn’t see coming until it was too late. “Did I really think he was going to pull the trigger and vote me off? No, I have to be honest with you. I saw it as an option and I thought maybe down the line something was going to happen between the two of us, but it really just didn’t make sense at that time to get rid of someone who … I did have his back, and even though the trust wasn’t there between us, I was trying to build that trust. I really just found out at Tribal Council that it was really going to go down.”