‘Survivor’ star Sabiyah Broderick reveals how long it took to melt idol

Sabiyah Broderick thought she was safe. She believed she had formed the perfect plan to flip on an ally and send a huge threat out of Survivor 45. And it would have worked too. But when Emily Flippen — who Sabiyah thought would just be happy to stay — went and told Kaleb Gebrewold about the plan to take him out, the two combined to take out Sabiyah instead.

However, after melting the wax off of her immunity idol at Tribal Council, Sabiyah could have used the idol to save herself. Instead, believing she was safe, she sacrificed her vote — which would extend her idol’s power all the way until all the players from the three tribes ended up on the same beach. She took the risk, and it backfired in a major way when Sabiyah was voted out of the game.

Why did she flip on Kaleb so early? Did she seriously consider using the idol? And how long did it take that wax to melt off anyway? We chatted with the 28-year-old truck driver and Marine to get the scoop on that and a whole lot more. (You can watch the entire interview above or read it below.)

Sabiyah Broderick of “Survivor 45′.
Robert Voets/CBS

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I know you weren’t sitting there with a stopwatch, but approximately how long did it take for all the wax to melt off the immunity idol at Tribal Council?

SABIYAH BRODERICK: It took the whole time we waited. At one point, Jeff was like, “Alright, we’re just going to sit and watch.” Because we kept looking out the corner of our eye and it was really a big spectacle. So I would say probably 20 minutes — 20 to 25 minutes. It was really thick.

That would’ve been tough to do at camp if you were trying to hide it from someone. That’s a long time. That’s not like a quick five minutes while someone’s off doing something.

I agree. And we talked a lot about how I was going to go about it. A lot of the fans have been saying, “Oh, she should have used her torch,” or “She should have used this or should have used that.” But, ultimately, the fire that was going to be the hottest that was going to allow the candle to be burned and retrieved the easiest was the middle of Tribal Council.

Then you see me tell Emily because, of course, if I’m going to be planning to work with her further on in the game, she can’t see my idol at that Tribal Council. So it was really a lot. Tony had an instance where he had to make a fire in the bushes way back off the trail and everything like that. So that was going to be my plan had we had flint, which we did not.

Austin Li Coon and Sabiyah Broderick on ‘Survivor 45’.
Robert Voets/CBS

How much, if at all, did you consider keeping your vote and using the immunity at that Tribal?

Honestly, watching it, it looks like it was kind of a rash decision. But again, I was up there for way too long. I should have anticipated it being a multi-step idol. I didn’t, because there had been so many steps before [where] I’m thinking I’m opening the paper, “Hey girl, you got an idol!” And I’m going back to the bench. So I didn’t anticipate having to… I mean, I didn’t vote the entire season! I don’t know if that’s an unprecedented thing or whatever, but I didn’t vote the entire season.

And so at that time, I’m like, “Okay, well, if I got this far not voting and I’ve been safe.…” And my calculations were always either correct or leading the charge. Even though Emily stayed because of Hannah’s quit, that wasn’t on us. So I did think about playing it during camp when Emily came back from the trail and it was just this weird feeling that I had. She came back and she was reporting back her talks with Kaleb to me and Sean while we were just kind of chilling in the shelter. And she mentioned something that was a little bit like, “Are these guys together?”

She walks off and I told Sean, “I think I might have to play it tonight.” He’s like, “What? No.” We were anticipating the tribe swap — which you see happens in the next episode, which we didn’t know at the time — but again, gut feelings. It’s amazing how much intuition is really your only map out there. So anticipating the swap, knowing that Sean is really my only ally at this point, I need that idol. That’s how I’m thinking.

It’s like if I can save it and I know that Kaleb is voting Emily, Emily’s voting Kaleb, and Sean is going to be with me — I don’t really need to vote. Now had I seen all of that with Kaleb and Emily from day three, of course, I play my idol and Kaleb goes home. It’s not even a question. The editing, they do such a great job of making the anticipation moment with the egg on my face, which is perfect. I loved it. I laughed. That’s why we love this show.

Did you ever consider keeping Emily’s Shot in the Dark after she gave it to you before the second Tribal, or were you always good with your word that you were going to give it back?

I was good with my word with that one because, realistically, Emily was always on the chopping block, so me keeping her Shot in the Dark would’ve eliminated that bridge completely. Even if later on in the game it’s like, “Hey, I’ll give you your Shot in the Dark back if you roll with us” — it just wouldn’t have really kept that door open. I feel like me and Kaleb were similar in that way. It’s just Emily — because we are two strong women being on the same beach — she had pitted herself a lot more heavily against me than she had against Kaleb. And Kaleb saw that opportunity earlier because even when you see us come back from Tribal Council who does she ask, “Did you vote me?” You know what I mean?

And you see my face like, “Well, daggum, I just gave you back your Shot in the Dark.” I’m not thinking that you’re going to come towards me. I’m thinking, “Okay, it could have been anybody.” And that’s why I didn’t opt to tell her initially because it’s like, well, I don’t want to burn that bridge. There’s so much going on in the game that she was not privy to. I mean, me and Brandon found the Beware Advantage on day four. There had been so much idol searching behind her back, so much strategy talking behind her back — with Kaleb, might I add? And it was just hard to find that place to talk to her where she would believe me and not have the reaction like she had last night.

The Lulu tribe on ‘Survivor 45’.
Robert Voets/CBS

Did you want her out at that second Tribal instead of Brandon? Was that Sean and Kaleb just outnumbering you on that vote? It seemed like you wanted her gone.

I knew that question was coming. So actually, yes, because I felt the target from Emily. There were a couple of times where I felt it from Kaleb. There were a couple of times where it was uneasy, even with Hannah, even with Brandon, but Emily — I knew she wanted me. I knew that there was not a road past our beach.

People have given comments about, “Oh, you’re thinking about the end too quick.” Well, if you don’t have the end in mind the whole time, you’re doing it wrong. A lot of people play day to day, which is great. In boot camp, they say chow to chow, Sunday to Sunday, and I get that, but when you have no chow and you’re going to Tribal Council every time….

And it is different when there’s a chance. We had just come off of our reward challenge and even going into the immunity challenge, we’re like, “Dang, there’s a puzzle. We suck at puzzles. If we could get a challenge without a puzzle going into the reward challenge, we win.” And it happened. We just are not puzzle players. I guess they thought Hannah being super smart with her background, Emily being a stock analyst, that there would be some puzzle ability. There were numbers and there was good banter, but there were no visualization skills, and that is bread and butter for Survivor. I mean, I never thought I would even have to attempt a puzzle. So it is what it is.

When did the idea of flipping on Kaleb start to form in your mind?

It was a combination of him going to Reba. Now he comes back, he was able to get every person with a one-on-one, you know what I’m saying? And you see him talk to Drew and he tells us about the advantage that he got and we’re just like, “You mean to tell me you went over there and got everybody alone?” Red flag. It’s like, whoa. I knew my brother was good, and me and Kaleb were friends, but that was great to have that much information and to make the decision to give it to Drew. That’s a long road, and he did it like that was nothing.

So me and Sean had a little talk on the beach thinking about Kaleb because that was crazy. Then we start seeing him spend more time with Emily, and I’m just like, “Oh, I don’t know about that.” I mean, what business does he have with Emily if he’s three with us? Realistically, it doesn’t make [any] sense, but we don’t want to Boston Rob them. We don’t want to mob boss like “Nobody leaves the camp.” We don’t want to do that because that would mean we don’t trust them.

But me and Sean definitely should have acted more on those instead of sitting and kind of letting things happen to us. I feel like that was my biggest regret playing, is playing more passively socially and allowing things to develop more naturally instead of taking the initiative like Kaleb did in creating that unspeakable relationship. Because had I put in the work with Emily before the day I went home — and there were moments — but it wasn’t anything to talk about.

Kaleb Gebrewold, Sean Edwards, Emily Flippen, and Sabiyah Broderick on ‘Survivor 45’.
Robert Voets/CBS

What’s something that happened out there that never made it to TV that you wish we had a chance to see?

Outside of the moments with Emily, outside of us talking about me playing my idol that night, I would have to say how long it actually took us to find the idoI. It took hours, hours, and hours. And even me discovering that the map was a keyhole for the tree — that took a while. We thought maybe they were talking about the flag. It was so many places that we checked until it clicked for me. And then it’s like, “Okay, the only person that knows is Brandon, so he’s coming with me. Come on, buddy!” But we were out there for a long time.

We know the tribe swap is coming up. You just missed it, which is kind of brutal, but who from the other tribes were you thinking you might want to work with if you had made it a little further in the game?

Well, you [know] Kendra got to come to our beach. That’s something that I probably should have said a second ago, but we talked, and me and Sean were the only ones that knew she had a vote at our Tribal Council. And so getting to a swap, ending up on the beach with Kendra at the time, she has the girls alliance going on over there. That’s amazing. That’s great. Having me, Katurah, Kellie, and Kendra all in the same dominatrix alliance? That’s amazing. I love it.

The cast of ‘Survivor 45’.
Robert Voets/CBS

What’s it been like anticipating your demise coming on television and then watching it play back last night?

Before I left, I said to myself, give yourself permission to fail. It’s not really something that I’m used to. And just have fun. And I feel like, I found an idol, was in a majority alliance, we won a challenge — there are so many different things that were off of the bucket list that I didn’t even know I was subconsciously creating. I knew people were going to be shocked that it was so early, knew people were going to be disappointed, but also knew that I did everything that I could with the information that I got.

And now I’m back on active duty in the Marines. So having that support where they’re just so proud of me and this amazing moment for all of us where we can experience it — it’s been really, really cool. This has been my favorite show since I was 5 years old, so my inner child is jumping on top of the bed, screaming out of the sunroof like “You did it!” And so I really don’t care what anyone else has to say. I hope to get the chance to play again, but until then, I’m happy.

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