“Survivor 41” was known for its many blindsides, twists, and emotional moments. In the end, Canadian communications manager Erika Casupanan played an effective under-the-radar game and won in a nearly unanimously jury vote against runner-ups Deshawn Radden and Xander Hastings.
However, many fans have been questioning why Xander, Erika, and Erika’s top ally Heather Aldret decided to vote out Liana Wallace over Ricard Foyé at the final 7, given Ricard’s threatening status, both physically and strategically. In the end, it became clear that Ricard was indeed a massive threat, winning the final 6 immunity challenge and only getting narrowly beaten out by Erika Casupanan at the final 5. Given how clear it was that Ricard would sweep any jury vote, he was promptly eliminated.
Recently, Erika and Xander spoke out about why they made that decision to keep Ricard in episode 11. Judge for yourselves as to whether they made the right move:
Erika Says It Was ‘Humbling’ Realizing How Complicated the Game Was
Although many fans assumed that it was the wrong decision at the final 7 for Erika and Xander to vote out Liana over Ricard, who had just made his big move in voting out Shan Smith (prompting Shan to immediately say upon her exit that Ricard “[has] my vote for $1 million”), both gave reasonable explanations for their decision. Erika explained in her Rob Has a Podcast exit interview shortly after the finale that the decision was a hard one for her, and she even imagined herself watching the scene play out from home. She even imagined telling herself, “Of course you’ve gotta take out Ricard! Of course you have to make the big move and take out the target.” However, she explained that it was “a very humbling moment where I realized it’s a lot more complicated than it looks.”
However, she knew that there “wasn’t a lot of potential” moving forward with Liana as an ally, given how close she was to her own allies Deshawn and Danny McCray. As a result, by voting out Ricard, she, Heather, and Xander would have been “losing our majority…and then the three of us could have ended up on the bottom.” And although Ricard was a threat, she knew that he was at least someone they could rely on as a vote.
In addition, having Ricard in the game prevented Erika from being seen as a bigger threat. As she explained in an interview with Parade:
Even though Ricard is a bigger threat, I knew that it would set me up to have somebody who would be a bigger threat in front of me down the line. He was someone who was not really interested in targeting me. So even though at that moment, it might not have made sense to some people, for me, it was really the best decision.
Xander Strong-Armed Erika Into Going Along With the Plan
Xander, who was so committed to Ricard staying that he even played his extra vote on Liana, gave a similar explanation, emphasizing that saving Ricard could be viewed as almost as big a move as getting rid of him. In his own RHAP exit interview, he revealed that he actually told Erika he would be playing the extra vote ahead of time, which may have been what convinced her to move forward with the plan. He explained:
I actually told Erika, because she and I had a very honest conversation, she told me she’s on the fence, and I told her, “it’s gonna be Danny, Deshawn, and Liana’s move, they’re gonna flip us and it’ll be their move to get us to vote Ricard out, whereas we could save him, and we could get him out later.”
Xander also revealed that Erika was worried Ricard might go on an immunity run if they kept him, though Xander was confident that “[Ricard] is no Mike Tyson,” and would lose at least one challenge between him and Erika. “I had faith that if we kept him in then we could get him out later, and it paid off,” Xander said. “It was a good million dollar gamble.”
“Survivor” airs 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS. Be sure to catch season 42 when it premieres March 9, 2022.