Brando Meyer reveals he received an unseen “Survivor” tribe swap advantage

It was a battle of the self-proclaimed nerds on Survivor 45 this week, and in the war for Emily Flippen's vote, Brando Meyer lost. Brando became the fifth person out after his Belo tribe lost the immunity challenge and Emily sided with original Reba tribe members Drew Basile and Austin Li Coon over original Belo players Brando and Kendra McQuarrie.

The last-minute scrambling featured an awkward back-and-forth were Brando offered Drew his Shot in the Dark, which Drew refused. Drew than told Emily how Brando had offered to vote out Kendra, which Emily immediately brought back to Brando, who denied it. After all the he-said, he-said, Emily joined Drew and Austin in voting out Brando.

How does Brando feel about his ouster? Why did he offer up his Shot in the Dark? And how does he feel about his relative lack of screen time during the season? We asked the 23-year-old software developer all that and more, and the Pokémon GO super-fan reveals he received a mystery tribe swap advantage… but didn't read it it time. (You can watch the entire interview above or read it below.)

Survivor 45
Survivor 45

Robert Voets/CBS Brando Meyer on 'Survivor 45'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Ultimately, it all came down to Emily. Why could you all not sway her to your side?

BRANDO MEYER: I think a big part of it is Emily had her mind made up early and it was an uphill battle for me. I think I could have done a better job fighting to get her on my side. We've heard about the unaired twist where Kendra went to Lulu beach. One of the things that she came back to Belo with was "I spent a lot of time with Emily. I really like Emily. We got good vibes from each other."

And so going into the swap, we were under the perception that we already kind of had her in our three. And so I think there were some missing pieces there that had I picked up on that I might've done a better job swaying Emily towards us.

Did Austin and Drew work harder and earlier to get her on their side, or did we just not see your and Kendra's efforts right after the swap?

Kendra and I definitely spent a good amount of time talking to Emily and reassuring that we had her, but there were definitely some arguments that we could have made that weren't there. I know one of the big arguments that we saw in the episode from Drew and Austin was "We want to go all the way to the end with you. We want to take you really far." We didn't make that argument. It was more of a "You can go further than one or two people," but we didn't commit to the final three agreement.

So when you went to Tribal that night, what did you think was going to happen? Kendra looked absolutely shocked. When you walked in there, what did you think was going to go down?

I was convinced I had done a good enough job with Drew to get Austin and Drew to vote for Kendra, and then I was under the assumption that Kendra, Emily, and I would be voting out Drew. So not only did I not think that I was going home, I didn't even think that my name was going to come up. And so it was a little bit shocking to say the least.

Survivor 45
Survivor 45

Robert Voets/CBS Brando Meyer and Kendra McQuarrie on 'Survivor 45'

So let's get into that. We saw you offer Drew your Shot in the Dark. What was your thinking there in offering that up?

So the idea behind that was: Look, I'm a numbers guy. A one in six chance? Not great. I was never planning on playing my Shot in the Dark, even if I needed it. On a tribe of five, your vote is so important. And so I figured that was a bargaining piece I could use. Emily did tell us at camp that she had used hers in a deal with Sabiyah previously, and so that was my inspiration. But I was hoping that by giving it to Drew — not going to play it anyways — if I vote him out with it, whatever, but it was just to sort of sway him towards voting for Kendra.

The really surprising part of that is when Drew doesn't take it because I'm struggling to find the upside of not taking it. Were you surprised when he was like, "No, it's all good?"

I think a big part of not taking it was making me feel comfortable, because in that moment I was like, "Okay, if he's not going to take it, we're already cool" — even though we had a little bit of a road bump with the whole nerd alliance talk. But actually, I offered it to him again later. He did take it. It was in his pocket for maybe 30 seconds, then he felt bad and gave it back to me. So I think part of it was that he felt bad. Part of it was that he was trying to convince me that I was safe.

Wow. So he had it in his pocket and then gave it back to you. That's amazing. So tell me what's going through your mind when Emily comes up to you and informs you that Drew just told her everything you told him about being fine to get rid of Kendra?

I think you can tell, but I was really caught off guard, and my first instinct was just to deny it. And looking back, I definitely got caught up in that lie when Emily went back and talked to Drew and Austin. So I think if I were to relive that moment, I would just tell her the truth. I didn't have a reason to lie to Emily. Emily was there when Drew shut down the nerd alliance, so I think she would've understood.

Did you ever come clean to Kendra and Emily about that, or did they find out about it by watching it on TV last night?

They found out about it by watching it on TV. So it felt a little bit bad, but they go further than me, so can't complain.

Any text messages going back and forth last night about that?

I don't know if I'm allowed to say, but I won't confirm or deny.

Survivor 45
Survivor 45

Robert Voets/CBS Brando Meyer on 'Survivor 45'

Okay, good enough. So you brought up the nerd alliance chat with Drew. How surprised were you when you floated that and he shot you down? Because that very rarely happens on Survivor. If someone offers you an alliance, you always accept it, even if you don't plan to honor it.

Oh my God, yeah. I was stunned. To be fair, when I was offering it to him, I also didn't really mean it. I was going to gun for him the whole time. So I don't totally blame him for shutting me down. But I will say that I was shocked. It wasn't a move that I would ever expect somebody to make because if anything, it gives me more reason to vote him out. We've seen how honest his game is though, so maybe it was all part of the plan.

So, the nice thing about winning challenges is that you don't have to go to Tribal Council. The not-so-nice thing is that there's a good chance you're not going to get a lot of screen time, and you did not get a lot of screen time. How was it dealing with that and waiting five months to see yourself on TV, and then not seeing a whole lot of yourself?

Coming out of the game. I was very prepared for that. I would always say I went out there, I went camping for 11 days and then I got voted out at my first Tribal. So I didn't have high expectations for my screen time. I will say I was pleasantly surprised with the first two episodes, and then three and four, I knew I didn't really do anything. So a little bit heartbreaking, but I didn't really expect much.

What's something that happened out there that didn't make it to TV that you wish we could have seen?

I think something that we didn't get to see —  and also that I didn't get to see — was at the swap when we get our buffs and we have our new fresh buffs in our hand, mine felt a little bit weird. And so I'm unwrapping it, and there's a note inside of my buff stitched into the buff. So I rip it out, I shove it in my pocket, and I'm like, "Alright, I'm going to look at this when I get back to camp."

We get back to camp, I get pulled for [an interview] and then I'm like, "Oh, is this about the note that I got? I probably have some sort of advantage. This could be an idol clue. Maybe the idols just got put into play." Lo and behold, I think I missed my window of opportunity with that one because it was taken from me. So I don't know what it said. It could have said "You may swap tribes with somebody else." Maybe I could have saved myself. Who knows? But future players, always read the note when you get it.

That is fascinating. We're guessing that it was probably some sort of advantage or thing you could do right there at the swap because it was null and void by the time you got back to the beach.

Right. I was so worried that somebody would see me reading it, so I was like, "I'm not even going to risk it. It's going in the pocket." And then I think I missed my window with that one.

The cast of 'Survivor 45'
The cast of 'Survivor 45'

Robert Voets/CBS The cast of 'Survivor 45'

How much have you been playing it in your mind in the past six months of what that might've been?

Yeah, people say that they come out of Survivor with regrets a lot of the time. My only regret from my 11 days out there is not at least reading what it said before I handed the note over and knowing at least if I had a chance to save myself. I would at least like to know that. So that's been on my mind. Also, what could it be? Maybe we could have swapped beaches. Maybe I could have swapped with somebody. Maybe I could have swapped people on the other tribes, in which case it would've been basically useless for me. I guess we'll never know.

Well, maybe we will. This is just guesswork, but if it didn't happen in 45, maybe they're going to put it into 46. So maybe you'll get your answer in a few months. Alright, if you could smash an hourglass and go back to change one thing that might then lead you down a different path in the game, what would it be?

Well, other than reading that note on the mat at the swap, I think I would maybe change the way that I handled the argument with Emily towards which way she should vote. I think that there were some components that I missed out on, maybe coming clean instead of lying to her about the whole Drew thing would've been big. So I think the way that I scrambled before Tribal is the big thing I would've changed.

And also, more time looking for the idol on Belo beach. There was a very big anti-idol hunting culture. We always had something to be doing. If someone was missing, we were wondering what they were doing, and I didn't want to be that person. So I think I should have spent more time looking for that idol.

Survivor 45
Survivor 45

Robert Voets/CBS Brando Meyer on 'Survivor 45'

If Belo had lost a challenge — and luckily you were competing against Lulu, so that wasn't going to happen — but if you had lost an immunity challenge, who would've gone home?

I've seen a lot of speculation about which way Kellie and I would've gone. We were tight in the middle. But I hate to say it: I think Bruce would've been the one headed home first from Belo. And so had we gone to that very first Tribal Council, he might've relived his fate. So maybe for the best.

So do you go by Brando in your everyday life, or was Brando just to avoid having two Brandons on the same season?

I was going by Brando for the whole casting process. A good amount of my hometown friends call me Brando. I've been called Brando for a long time. But to my boss, to my coworkers, to my doctors, I'm always going to be Brandon. So there's a little bit of a mix, but I was Brando all the way through the Survivor process.

You've been a fan of the show and the game, so what was it like now experiencing watching yourself playing it?

It was amazing. And I will say, everyone talks about, hearing your own voice on TV is so weird. And so as much as it's rough not having a lot of screen time, I do feel like I got to enjoy the show more because I wasn't thinking about myself while I was watching it, if that makes sense.

Favorite Pokémon GO character?

Oh, that's a tough one. I'm going to go with a classic. I'm going to go with Bulbasaur.

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