Hali Ford: There Were a Lot of 'Crazy Characters' on 'Survivor'

The booted castaway talks about her game – and who she really didn't like

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty

Let’s face it: Survivor often casts pretty young girls who seem more interested in sunning themselves on the beach than actually playing the game. They have no strategy and give clueless confessionals.

Hali Ford was definitely not one of those girls.

The 25-year-old law student proved herself to be very intelligent and articulate. (How many other contestants have compared and contrasted Survivor strategy with the Revolutionary War?)

Unfortunately for Ford, she found herself on the wrong side of the numbers and was voted out on Day 22. She tells PEOPLE what went wrong and why she was blindsided.

Hali, you were my pick to win!
[Laughs] Thank you. Not this time! It just wasn’t meant to be.

Your ouster was shown as a blindside. Did you really not have any idea you were going home?
You know, I didn’t! I really thought that the girls alliance had come together. I thought we were going to vote out Dan.

Okay, so walk me through this. You had the foursome of you, Jenn, Joe and Shirin. Who else did you think you had?
We thought we had Sierra and thought we had gotten Will back.

What about Tyler?
No, I had burned a bridge with him when he didn’t vote with us before. I didn’t think I had him.

What about Will? Why did he leave the No Collars immediately after the swap?
Well, the reason he gave on the show was that he was ready to play with some grown-ups. I don’t think that was entirely it, though. I don’t want to get into it any more than that, but there were probably some other reasons why he didn’t play with us.

Now, in fairness, if I were playing, I would have wanted to split up you, Jenn and Joe, as well. Were you planning to go to the final three together?
Listen, I was ready to cut Joe loose. Why would I take him to the end? That would be stupid. So I was on board with a girls’ alliance and get rid of all the men. I wasn’t going to get rid of Jenn; we would have gone to the end together.

I happen to like Shirin, but there’s a lot of talk her being disliked. Why?
I love her. She’s brilliant; her IQ is through the ceiling. I think the problem people had with her was how she talked – the volume of what she would say, not the content. But I thought she was intriguing and interesting. I respect her deeply as a person for how much she believes in herself.

Now to me, the Blue Collar men – Dan, Rodney and Mike – seem that they could be more challenging to get along with. Are they?
There were a lot of crazy characters out there. I think Rodney is hilarious; he tells these stories that just can’t be true. His favorite movie is The Wolf of Wall Street because that’s what he wants to be some day. I had no beef with him. He entertained me.

And I liked Mike a lot, too. He truly loves people; he just swings from the heart. What you see is what you get with him. A group of us went to Hawaii recently, including Mike. There are no hard feelings with him.

What about Dan?
You see a lot of him on TV, but I really didn’t encounter him much. To me, he was a distant enemy. But he said some horrible things, and you can watch what he said on television. That speaks for itself.

You looked like you were having fun out there. What was your favorite moment?
On the show, it was when Jenn played her idol last week, hands down. But there were some other moments that were fantastic. The night before I was voted off, Jenn and I walked down the beach. It was a beautiful night, and we talked for about an hour about life. I will never forget that conversation; it was like we weren’t playing Survivor at all.

So what was your biggest surprise about the show?
I thought we were going to be cutthroat, but we all knew we were playing a game. I went into the game to play, but I ended up making some lifelong friends along the way.

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

RELATED: PEOPLE Exclusively Previewed Survivor‘s Latest Reward Challenge

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