Exclusive 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' 'Boston' Rob Mariano Exit Interview
Exclusive 'Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains' 'Boston' Rob Mariano Exit Interview
Most people would agree that The Godfather was a work of art, Part II was even better and the third one was a big disappointment. We loved The Robfather back in Marquesas, and he was even better in All Stars. But thankfully, he completed his trilogy in a way that even Francis Ford Coppola could not.

Boston Rob has grown from a hungry kid looking to move up the ladder to a true Don of Survivor. He can command the respect of his tribe because he speaks from experience; and his impetuousness has given way to strategic wisdom that would make Vito Corleone proud.

I asked Rob about the comparisons to be drawn between Boston Rob from Marquesas and Russell from Samoa. I picked his brain about Sandra's trustworthiness, Courtney's skills in front of a jury, keeping past winners around and starting fire without flint. We even touched on the Boston Red Sox. It was an honor to command a conversation with the Don.

I could tell you were playing full out, but you must have been happy to get back home, too.  

I wasn't happy to get voted out, but I was happy to see my daughter and my wife. Absolutely.

Congratulations, by the way! In Marquesas you said that fear is what keeps people loyal. (Editor: That's straight outta the Godfather.)  Were the Villains more afraid of Russell than they were of you?

It would seem so, in this situation. I think they chose the unknown rather than the threat they saw in front of them. It doesn't  make much sense to me but that's the way it went down.   

A lot of people were surprised by Russell's brazenness with Courtney and Sandra last night. But is it more offensive to tell someone to their face that you're voting for them than to plot behind their back?

You know what? I think that was strategy on Russell's part, to let them know that he's coming after them, but also to let me think that he wasn't coming after me, when in all actuality he was coming after me. I think he did that as a deflection. I don't really see the logic in it. But you never know ...

How did Courtney and Sandra respond to it?

They shrugged it off. They could care less. I think they realized he wasn't really gonna do that. They knew that he saw me as a bigger threat, and I think they also saw that he was scrambling to push fear and chaos in camp. But as far as we knew we still had the numbers, so he was just trying to stir things up.

How did you choose Courtney and Sandra as alliance partners?

I connected with Sandra because we have a lot in common. She's a mother. I watched her play. She's an old school player. She gets what it's about. She doesn't make any bones about it. Pretty much, with Sandra what you see is what you get.

And Courtney?

Courtney was a surprise to me because initially I didn't think that I would click with her. But she's got a great personality and we get along really good. I saw that she wasn't going to be a threat to me physically, obviously. But she's someone who would be loyal as long as I took care of her. She had a great way about her and she was someone I wanted to play the game with.

But in the Pearl Islands Sandra wasn't particularly loyal. Her whole thing was, "As long as it's not me." Was that a safe person to choose?

Well, I understood that. That's what I mean about her being an open book. I understood that she could flip at any time. But I also understood that when Sandra played in the past, as long as she had the numbers on her side, she would go with the numbers. As long as I kept the numbers with us I could keep Sandra.
Courtney is kind of a wildcard because she got several jury votes last time just by being so unassuming. You're so intense about the game. Did you ever think she could score points against you just by making people laugh?

No, because I think I played the game with a little bit more tact this time than [in All Stars.] I thought I could probably swing the jury my way.
Back in Marquesas you targeted strong players from day one, just like Russell seems to be doing. Now that you've played the game three times, what have you concluded about that strategy?

I have learned that that's not smart. I think what Russell has done is watch me play in the past, and he's adopted my old strategy. It doesn't work too good. It'll get you far but it won't get you to the end. In a way it's a compliment, but he's going to learn soon enough that it's not going to be succesful in the end, in my opinion.

All of the past winners but Tom are still around. Why haven't they been targeted this season like they were in All Stars?

I think that got put on the back burner. In the beginning people felt that we would have time to get rid of the winners later, but now we should provide a united front in the challenges. If the winners got together pretty soon they could outnumber the people that are left.

When the Hidden Immunity Idol showed up in camp, what did you hope was going to happen with that?

Initially when we found the Idol it was under less than ideal circumstances. It was in front of everybody so my hands were tied. I thought about putting the note in my pocket or reading something different but these guys are too smart. Someone would have picked it up and said, "Let me see that." And then what would I say? If I'd tried to pull a fast one the target would have been on me. I figured the best thing would be to read it aloud and see where it went from there. Sandra said we're gonna see who finds it and mark them, and that person is gonna have to play that Idol. We'll flush it out right away. I thought that was a good idea, and then in the future when another one comes up you've gotta find it a little more inconspicuously.

So you never really planned to double back and get it yourself when people were asleep?  

No, I did. We all did. We all would have gone looking for it. But at the end of the day, you get to see who has it and target them.

At the beginning of the season you managed to make fire without flint, and very few people have managed to do that. Have you learned some sort of a trick to it?

Yeah. Practice. Before I came out I practiced making fire with bamboo and I was able to do it. So yeah, it was pretty cool.

Do the Red Sox have the hitting to win it all this season? Or do they need Adrian Gonzales?

I think our pitching is going to be strong. If we can get the bats going I wouldn't count 'em out.

(Image courtesy of CBS)

-Interview by Henry Jenkins