CBS Local – We made it to the merge! The game of  ‘Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers’  has really begun now that individual immunity is on the table. But for one castoff, the euphoria of dropping her buff was quickly snuffed. We had the chance to interview the latest castoff, Jessica Johnston. Here’s his unique perspective (as told to CBS Local’s Adam Bloom and Samantha Bennet) on her game, her ‘romance’ with Cole and the moment she realized that the tribe was going after healers.

Castoff: Jessica

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AB: Did you have any idea that your name would be written down when you went to tribal? What was your initial reaction you had when your name was first said?

J: My thoughts going in – looking back I’m embarrassed to even have to admit that I was overly confident. There was an edit last night that had me say, “I’m the queen bee.” It was an awful line to use in the game. I watch the show – I knew what was coming out of my mouth but I couldn’t stop it. What do you do when you see things and you feel things – you say them. I believe that I had infiltrated Lauren and Ben. I trusted the relationships because that’s what I do in life. I build relationships – I’m great at making genuine best friends. I trusted that way too much. That’s why I said – yeah I’m the queen bee – I have nothing to worry about. So going into tribal that’s what I believed would happen. My healers would come together – I knew they would. There was no doubt in my mind. What wasn’t shown at the beginning was Joe and I had a super tight alliance – he’s someone you want to go to the end with – he’s the villain character. Of course Mike, Cole and I weren’t going anywhere because we had played this whole game together. Again, I overly trusted my relationships with Lauren and Ben. So going into tribal, Chrissy’s head is on the block – we have the numbers. If it’s not Chrissy – I’m sorry Cole – it’s going to be you or Joe. I am not in the conversation at all. I’m embarrassed to say that even during tribal – the thought “Oh God Jessica it’s you” didn’t come to my mind.

Even after Joe played his idol – he threw it around his neck – I remember thinking, “Stop it Joe. You’re causing way too much chaos way too soon. We’re putting the light on all of us.” Then when Cole made the comment, “Yeah my boys have my back.” – that should have clued me in that they’re coming after the healer but it didn’t. Had I known, I would have leaned back to Dr. Mike and I would have said, “Play the idol or I’m going to cut off your head.” You know, play the idol for me – “I’m going home” didn’t even come into my head. It was utter shock – I had no idea.

I think I screwed myself because looking at the game as a whole – I feel like I did a lot of damage control with Cole. At the merge, I made sure Joe and I were still close. I was the one who told Cole to apologize to Ben for the cinnamon sticks. I was so consumed with making sure everyone else was okay and I had my blinders on for myself which ultimately was my downfall.

SB: Speaking of the tribal with Joe taking out his idol – was it as shocking as the way we saw it on TV? Or do you think it was a smarter move on his end?

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J: It was a smart move for his game – not the game of the healers. It was total chaos. Everything that was aired was true if not more extreme than what was in the edit. It was a chaotic tribal. Joe was flipping out being the character that he is – that’s who he is and that’s how he played. Throwing the idol out helped his game but ultimately it threw the light on all of us. I don’t think that he realized how he affected the rest of his alliance.

AB: Do you think having that romantic alliance with Cole put the target on your back?

J: I like to go against the grit. I hate to admit that the relationship I had with Cole had anything to do with me leaving. Let’s be honest – it did. I got two great pieces of advice before playing this game. Don’t align with the good looking guy and don’t make best friends – and I did both on day one. So I made some huge mistakes early on and fortunately when you’re pegged – what do you do in that situation? Cole and I were on the same tribe for the whole game. Was I not supposed to talk to him the whole time? We never went to tribal – so what was I supposed to do except to support what he was doing and try to save him? Ultimately, he made some stupid moves. I think everyone in America can agree. He is innocent at heart – he has no idea. I really don’t think he was being malicious. Maybe I’m naive – I will admit that. When push came to shove – he did not write my name down at the one tribal we had to test that romance or whatever it was. Did it affect my game? Yeah, I’ll admit that. I think my judgement was clouded. I think my game was ruined because I kept doing damage control at the merge instead of wondering, “Okay Jessica, is your head out there?” I didn’t even think about that thought.

SB: We’re going to assume that you’re at least rooting for Cole. But if he were to be eliminated – who would you have aligned yourself with?

J: If he were to be eliminated at the merge – I would have continued my game with Joe and Dr. Mike. I think Joe would have been a great person to align with. He had that villain role and obviously knows how to play the game. He’s thrown multiple idols. I believe he would have played the idol for another of his alliance if it came to that. However, in that moment – I really felt like I’ve had a great relationship with Ben and Lauren. So I would have had other options had Cole been taken out of the ring which probably would have benefited my game.

AB: Looking back at the game – what was the most challenging aspect for you?

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J: I hate to brag but we never lost. So we lived like paradise for a while. It was great with the initial healer tribe. We had a blast – we just kept winning – our bond just kept growing. There wasn’t a lot of controversy in the first part of the game. I think the hardest part of the game was when we merged with Yawa – I was in the majority again. I thought – this is amazing and who doesn’t want this? I’m still with my boys. The hard part came when the “hangry” set in with Cole. Ultimately because we were connected – and that was obvious – his game now portrays on my game. What he does reflects on me. So there was a lot of turmoil inside and it was in my head, “Okay Jessica, if we lose, Cole has to go.” The problem with myself is I don’t like when people tell me what to do. To be honest – I’m not even sure if we has lost that I would have put Cole’s name down because I’m like – don’t tell me what to do – these are my boys and I’ll make the decision. That was probably the hardest point for me because I felt like I was constant damage control. The day of the merge was 100 percent chaotic, but because I didn’t feel like my name was out there – it wasn’t stressful. Again, it’s either Chrissy or my boy, Cole. I’ve been single for a long time – I can play this game by myself – I don’t need Cole to protect me. That’s where my mind was.