Survivor

Survivor's Ciera Eastin: I Was an Underdog

Originally posted 12/02/2015 12:50 PM

The last time Ciera Eastin played Survivor, she infamously voted off her own mother.

So when Eastin decided to play the game again, she knew she would be targeted early as a threat. After all, if she'll vote for her mom, she'll do just about anything.

But something funny happened on this season – everybody was a threat in some way. As a result, Eastin made it for 26 days despite being on the wrong side of the numbers after the merge.

As she scrambled to stay alive, she begged the other contestants to "just play the game." And they did: Eastin was only eliminated after PEOPLE's own Stephen Fishbach was protected by an immunity idol.

Eastin, 26, talks about her game that we didn't see – and whether she'd ever play the game again.

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We'll admit it: we're suckers for the the Survivor family visit.

Contestants are often reduced to tears when they see their family members. Survivor is a cutthroat game, and it's emotional to spend even a few minutes with someone who isn't actively plotting to stab you in the back.

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Richard Hatch doesn't care what people think of his naked body.

"I'm not an exhibitionist, but I don't care either, so I'm often naked. It's just the way it is," the Survivor winner tells PEOPLE of why he walked around in the buff during the premiere season of the CBS reality competition in 2000. "I don't give a crap about how people feel about how I look. But personally, I know that I'm fat."

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For those who weren't watching Survivor in 2000, it's hard to understand Kelly Wiglesworth's importance to the franchise – and to reality TV in general.

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It looked like the next few episodes of Survivor were going to be very predictable. Kelley Wentworth would be voted out next, followed by Ciera Eastin and Abi Maria Gomes.

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Two-Time Survivor Contestant Laura Morett Announces Run for Oregon House of Representatives

Credit: Tibrina Hobson/WireImage

There are a lot of similarities between Survivor and politics. The scheming. The backstabbing. The alliances.

So it's only natural that some contestants have entered the cutthroat world of politics after their seasons were over. Rupert Boneham was the 2012 Libertarian candidate for Indiana governor. In 2001, Mike Skupin considered a run for U.S. Senate. Jolanda Jones, the first contestant voted off of Survivor: Palau was a Houston city councilwoman.

Now another contestant is throwing her hat into the ring: Laura Morett, who competed in Survivor: Samoa and Survivor: Blood vs. Water, has announced that she is running for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives.

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For a show in its 31st season, Survivor has managed to keep things remarkably fresh and new.

A lot of the credit goes to host Jeff Probst and the producers, who throw in a liberal amount of twists and turns so that contestants never truly know what's coming. Over the years, we've seen tribal swaps, fake merges, hidden immunity idols and double eliminations. (We're going to pretend that Redemption Island and the outcast twist never happened.)

But sometimes, the twists are not masterminded by the producers. Contestants have come up with ingenious strategies to change the game.

Probst tells PEOPLE that the game isn't done evolving and that the second half of the season will mark a new era in Survivor history. Given the aggressive gameplay of this season's 20 returning contestants, nothing would surprise us.

Can PEOPLE's own Stephen Fishbach change up the game? In the exclusive preview above, he is plotting with Ciera Eastin to wrestle the game away from the alpha males. With her sneakiness and his strategy, it might just happen.

Below, Probst breaks down the season and tells us which players have impressed him – and which ones haven't learned from their mistakes.

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Kass McQuillen: 'I Lobbied Hard' to Remain on Survivor

Originally posted 11/07/2015 10:00 AM

This season of Survivor was always going to be an uphill battle for Kass McQuillen.

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Survivor's Woo Hwang: I Tried to Play an Aggressive Game

Originally posted 11/04/2015 10:35 AM

Woo Hwang came into this season of Survivor with a lot of baggage.

When the 31-year-old martial arts instructor played in Survivor: Cagayan, he made a colossal mistake in taking eventual winner Tony Vlachos to the finals even though he may have had a better chance against Kass McQuillen, who had rubbed some of the contestants the wrong way.

That choice cost him the game.

During his second chance, Hwang's game never really got off the ground. He went to nearly every tribal council and watched as his allies were voted off.

He was voted off on day 16 – partially because of his perceived closeness to contestant Andrew Savage.

Hwang tells PEOPLE what went wrong – and how he would play the game differently if he had another shot.

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Terry Deitz waited a decade to return to Survivor. In 2005's Survivor Panama, he finished the season in third place, but he always believed that he could do better.

"I always felt like I had what it takes to win the game," he told PEOPLE before competing on Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance, "and I've been waiting for ten years to go back."

But his dream came to an abrupt end the night of day 13 when host Jeff Probst came to the camp and told Deitz that his son was ill and that he needed to return home immediately.

It was very serious. Deitz's 17-year-old son, Danny, had an enlarged heart and needed an transplant. After more than two months in the hospital, he received a new heart.

Deitz, 56, tells PEOPLE about the scary experience and how his son is doing today.

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