Survivor’s Roark Luskin on That All Girls Alliance Threat: ‘It’s Likely What Would Have Happened’

Roark-Luskin-Survivor eliminated
Roark Luskin on Survivor Robert Voets/CBS

The threat of an all girls’ alliance. That’s one of the reasons Roark Luskin was seemingly sent packing during the Wednesday, October 25, episode of Survivor season 35 “Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers.”

While she never even uttered those words, the Santa Monica native, 27, was painted into a corner by fellow tribe member Chrissy Hofbeck, who convinced her ally JP Hilsabeck that the social worker wanted to move forward in the game with just women.

Meanwhile, turtleneck aficionado Ryan Ulrich found himself the swing vote as Luskin cozied up to his strongest ally, Ali Elliott. It seemed that, combined with his bond with Hofbeck over the day one advantage, Luskin — a self-described superfan of the game — didn’t have much of a fighting chance.

Was it all bad luck? Here, Luskin talks to Us about what went wrong:

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Us: How did you feel going into tribal council and where the votes were going to go?

RL: I thought that I was in with Ali and Ryan, and the people on the outs were JP and Chrissy, and that they would be voting Ryan because they were not happy with his challenge performances, with how much he was helping around camp, and things like that.

Us: And things like that! At what point did you realize it may be you?

RL: When we landed on the swapped beach back on day nine, Chrissy pulled Ali and Ryan aside and said, “Well, obviously Roark goes, right?” She decided and obviously never relented on that. Ali and Ryan did tell me. They told me, “Chrissy wants to get rid of you. If we go to tribal, don’t be surprised to see your name. That was not out of the realm of possibility for me to see my name, but because of where we landed before going to tribal, because of this Chrissy and Ryan plan …. once Ryan wasn’t being spoken to at all [at tribal] and it was really just about me and Chrissy, I was like, “This is not good.” And then of course when I saw my name for the first time, I was like, “This is farewell.”

Ali Elliott, Ryan Ulrich, Roark Luskin, John "JP" Hilsabeck and Chrissy Hofbeck at Tribal Council
Ali Elliott, Ryan Ulrich, Roark Luskin, John “JP” Hilsabeck and Chrissy Hofbeck at Tribal Council on the fifth episode of SURVIVOR 35. Robert Voets/CBS

Us: Chrissy told you she found you very strategic. Did you take that as a compliment or did you know that meant trouble?

RL: No, I was like, “Oh yeah, this is not good.” That had been identified quite early actually. On the healers tribe, Joe said many times — he called me Ro-Dagger — he said, “I’m pretty sure you have a computer up there. Not a human brain. You’re a robot. You’re so smart.” That actually came up at tribal. “I’ve already been accused of being a robot, Jeff.” That was out there. Whether I liked it or not. It was clear about Chrissy too. I think she’s one of the best puzzle minds Survivor has ever seen, if not the best. Obviously, she’s very well-educated and has an amazing job. She’s an incredibly smart woman and there’s absolutely no denying that. I think in a game like this, if you see that type of commonality … like I saw in Ryan some commonality with me. I was like, “Oh, this is the strategic male.” And any time you see that commonality, you need to be afraid of it. Because that’s threatening. Maybe in the real world that’s best friend commonality, but out there, it’s not good.

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Us: Talk to me about this all girls alliance thing. Did you discuss it? And why are people still so afraid of those words?

RL: What you see is Chrissy using it as an empty threat to pivot JP. What’s funny is that I definitely never set out for that to be a declared thing, but it is likely what would have happened if things had played out differently — where Ali and I return to the healers. As you can see as a viewer, Cole [Medders] and Joe [Mena] are erratic. Desi [Williams] and Jessica [Johnston] are stable. So if you’re trying to get to the final three, who are you going to choose to pull in? Jessica and Desi. So even though Chrissy was using it as an empty threat, Ryan absolutely was able to look down the line and say, “Wow, Roark and Ali bonded immensely. Roark probably bonded with the other young females on healers. They were winning everything, they seem to get along great. If the four of them get together, that’s going to be an issue.” I think he intelligently looked a couple moves ahead even though it had not been stated or necessarily intended. I would have loved to include Ryan and Devon [Pinto] in my plans. I did try to make it clear out there that healers hadn’t voted together. “We have no trust. Here are some healers I’d love to get rid of — fave me!”

Roark Luskin, John “JP” Hilsabeck and Chrissy Hofbeck at Tribal Council on the fifth episode of SURVIVOR 35. Robert Voets/CBS

Us: Did you have conversations with Ryan at all?

RL: Absolutely. I actually don’t think there was anything I could do. What really sealed it was learning about that day one advantage and the bond that Chrissy and Ryan formed without even meeting each other. And with complete Survivor God’s luck, they end up together on the swap tribe. I, of course, have regrets, but I think circumstance played a substantial role. One of my regrets is that I don’t think I spent enough time, myself, one-on-one with Ryan. I sort of trusted that Ali had been together with him since day one, and trusted that bond. You see a lot of their conversations and they’re talking about me and what I said. So I regret not sitting down with Ryan and hashing stuff out. I don’t think it would have changed anything, I really don’t, but of course, I wish I had done it just in case. I completely understand his move and I think he got no pleasure in that vote. Obviously they couldn’t show his voting confessional because he was the swing and that would have revealed the outcome. But what he said was, “I know how much this means to you. You are amazing and I’m so sorry.” He’s a complete delight. He and I were absolutely the two true genuine superfans out there. He and I have a ton in common outside the game. I absolutely adore him. It just didn’t work out in the game.

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Us: What was your relationship like with JP? We really didn’t see that either.

RL: JP liked me. That scene was probably my favorite scene where he’s like, “Well, I like Roark. She’s good in challenges. All girls alliance? Oh, no. Roark must go.” But no, JP and I got along. JP liked me. I actually don’t think it was the girls alliance that sealed that. One of the things I said to Ryan and Ali when the three of us were together was that I felt confident moving forward with JP because he seemed really manageable. He seemed very willing to go along with plans as opposed to someone who would swing like crazy or generate a lot of plans of their own. I obviously didn’t know Ryan’s connection to the heroes, and Ryan went to JP and said, “Roark thinks you’re manageable.” I think that hurt JP.

Us: Lastly, do you think there was anything you could have done at tribal council to switch the votes?

RL: The only thing I could have done was pull out a genuine hidden immunity idol. That was my only option.

Survivor airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

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