We’ve seen a lot of drama go down at Tribal Council in 37 seasons of “Survivor”, but the latest episode brought us a whole other level of crazy thanks to a new advantage dubbed the Idol Nullifier.
This anti-idol weapon was deployed to devastating effect to bring down Dan Rengering, who entered Tribal feeling 100-per-cent confident he’d be remaining in the game, only to be blindsided when a mind-boggling array of advantages all came together to result in the snuffing of his torch.
A quick recap: First, five David players figured out that, collectively, they possessed a Vote Steal, a Hidden Immunity Idol and an Idol Nullifier (a new twist which had never before been used), while aware of the fact that Dan had an idol he could play to keep himself safe. They then hatched a plan to steal Alison’s vote, trick Dan into playing his idol and then cancel it out with the nullifier, sending him home in a shocking turn of events he definitely didn’t see coming.
Speaking with ET Canada after one of the wildest Tribal Councils in “Survivor” history, Dan says that if he appeared shocked to viewers, it was nothing compared to what was going on in his mind.
“I just couldn’t believe it was happening,” he admits. “I worked so hard to get there, I go into Tribal, I think I’m rock solid and then obviously I’m not. I was just really surprised. And I hated leaving — I didn’t want to go yet. I didn’t feel like I was done playing the game.”
Being the first-ever “Survivor” castaway to be knocked out by the Idol Nullifier is a double-edged sword. “It’s a combination of things. It’s an honour that it took that much to get me out, that they respected my game enough that they felt like they needed to get me out so bad that they had to use two advantages,” he explains. “But at the same time, it hurts, it sucks, it stinks. Nobody wants to go out in any way, shape or form, and much less whenever you think you’re rock solid with an idol in your pocket.”
Dan has been accused of playing with his heart, not his head, and it’s an assessment he doesn’t dispute. “I mean, that’s just who I am. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I can’t really argue with that. I did my best, I tried to play strategically, as best I could, but that obviously wasn’t my strong suit,” he says.
“One of the things I would have done differently would have been to be more social with some of the Davids,” he adds. “I was so locked in on ‘Goliath Strong’ that I was like, ‘No reason to worry about those guys.’ It was definitely bad on my part because that could have helped my game exponentially. I wish I had a better relationship with people like Karl and Davie and Nick and Gabby… I wish I had made better relationships with those guys.”
At the end of the day, what kind of an impact has his “Survivor” experience had on his life? “I don’t like this question,” he replies jokingly. “It’s made me more self-aware, for sure. Going out there, I didn’t realize how poor my social game was at the time, so it really made me reflect on myself and how I look at things that I do and decisions that I make, where I didn’t necessarily do that a whole lot before.”