November 10, 2016 02:16 PM


She never saw it coming.

Michelle Schubert won fans over after orchestrating one of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X ‘s first blindsides of the season. But when she was marked as a threat, the missionary recruiter from Wakima, Washington, decided to lie low when the tribes merged together and quickly became victim to a blindside herself on Wednesday’s episode.

“I believe that my downfall was my decision to go silent,” Schubert, 28, tells PEOPLE of being eliminated.

Now Schubert reflects on her gameplay, bonding with her fellow Millennials and why she was shocked to be considered one of the “cool kids” on the island.

Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty
Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty

What made you take such a passive role once the tribes merged?
I had found some cracks in the Gen X-ers and had the plan to rally the troops against Chris, but at the same time Jay and Will pulled me aside and said, “Hey, Michaela was telling Bret and Sunday that you are controlling everything and now they’re watching out for you and concerned, so chill and sit back and prove them wrong.” That sounds logical for a moment but in Survivor, if you aren’t strategizing with someone, they assume you’re strategizing with someone else. So if I had been talking to someone and then I stopped, that could breed mistrust. So when they didn’t think I had an immunity idol, I was an easy target.

A lot was made on the show of it feeling like the cool kids vs. the misfits on the Millennial tribe. Did you feel that divide?
Our whole Millennial tribe had so much fun that they didn’t show on TV. We would play charades, we had an air band, we would do pretend tribal councils. We’d spend hours having stupid fun. We bonded. So I don’t think that was as much of a line as it looked. I really don’t. I connected with pretty much everyone other than Zeke. For some reason, it was really hard to connect with him.

But you seemed really close with Figgy, Taylor and Jay. The others felt you were like the pretty, popular kids in school.
I was never a cool kid. I transferred from home school to public school with my rolling backpack, so it was kind of a shock for me to hear that’s what people thought. When everyone first started talking about getting rid of Figgy, I was okay with it. But then I heard I was being lumped in with the “cool kids,” and I realized a line in the sand had been drawn for me and anyone on my side of the line had to be protected. I realized, “If they think I’m with Figgy and she goes home, I’ll be next.” So I had to save her.

This season everyone seems to be getting rid of the women. There are only three women left now and nine men. Did you ever try to get an all-women alliance going?
I brought it up nearly every single vote. I would point out that we were getting rid of women every time. But there are these weird pairings. The women didn’t do a good job of aligning this season. Each woman had a man she was closest with — and it was a man. So when the girls were trying to rally up, all of our male alliances never would have worked together. We couldn’t have brought everyone together because of our other alliances. The women couldn’t pull it together and get on the same page, unfortunately.

Would you do Survivor again?
I would do it again if I could have a jacket. I can deal with the lack of food and high stress, but the cold kept me up at night and the lack of sleep was hard to deal with. That said, even without a jacket I’d go back out there in a heartbeat.

Survivor airs Wednesdays (8 p.m. ET) on CBS.

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