In recent weeks, it has become clear that there is one contestant who fans are rooting for above all others: 20-year-old Xander Hastings. As “Survivor” fans know, if Xander is lucky enough to make it to the final 3, he would need to secure at least a majority of the jury’s votes to win. In recent exit interviews, however, Danny McCray – who saw his torch get snuffed on Wednesday night’s episode – may have shed some light onto the jury’s true feelings about Xander, and it isn’t looking promising for the young fan-picked frontrunner.
Here’s what you need to know:
Danny’s Relationship With Xander Became Strained During the Game
In his Rob Has a Podcast exit interview with Rob Cesternino, Danny spoke about his relationship with Xander, who he said he became close with near the beginning of the game. However, their relationship became strained after they developed different games and started voting in different blocs, namely around the time Sydney Segal was eliminated. “I think the game just kind of ruined it for us,” he said. “And that was very unfortunate because we were really close before [the Sydney vote] but he didn’t trust me after that.”
He added that he was shocked and dismayed by Xander’s decision to stick with Ricard Foyé in the Tribal Council in episode 11, saying he was “really, really convinced” Xander would vote with him, Deshawn Radden, and Liana Wallace. “[Xander] had given me his word,” he said, “and I thought Ricard was the obvious choice.”
He added, perhaps surprisingly, that Xander probably didn’t need to keep Ricard as a “shield” (i.e. someone who other players would target before himself), because Xander wasn’t that much of a threat anyway. “I didn’t know that he was thinking about Ricard being the shield,” Danny explained, “because to be honest, I don’t think Xander needs one,” implying that players are no longer targeting Xander for elimination. This is in stark contrast to the first few merge episodes (namely episode 8), in which Xander was a prime target for elimination, mainly by those in the majority alliance.
A Lot of the Jury ‘Did Not Respect’ Xander’s Game
Danny also said some things about Xander’s chances of winning that may have some fans disheartened going into Wednesday’s finale. “I love Xander,” Danny explained,” so I’m gonna say this with all respect to [him].” He went on to reveal that he believed Xander was in fact not as big a jury threat as he might believe:
I don’t think anybody is worried about him winning the game. I actually think a lot of people are hoping to go to the end with him and sit next to him. If you look at the jury, you look at some of the people that are on there, and listen to what they say about him, they don’t think his game is authentic, and they don’t think he’s really done anything besides hold that idol, so nobody’s really paying attention.
If you watch the jury and you hear what people say about him, a lot of people did not respect the game that he was playing. A lot of people thought that when he stepped out of the challenges that it was for show and it wasn’t because he really cared. So as the game goes on, you’re like, “This guy is not an issue. Why are we worried about the idol? A lot of people want to go sit at the end with Xander so they can explain how they played a better game than he did.”
When it came to who Danny believed was the biggest threat to win, he gave a definitive answer in an interview with TVLine, and it might not surprise those who have been watching the season: “Ricard, by far…He’s killing those individual immunity challenges, and he talked Shan into doing that Naseer vote, so right now I think he’s the frontrunner.”
It seems clear that if Ricard makes the final 3 on Wednesday, he will be securing at least Danny and Shan Smith‘s votes, as well as several others. Fans are in general agreement that if the winner is not Ricard, the only other frontrunners are Xander and Erika Casupanan.
Be sure to catch the “Survivor 41” finale to see who emerges the victor on Wednesday, December 15 at 8 p.m. on CBS.