Missy Payne sure did show that she can put up with a lot of it. On Wednesday night’s Finale Episode of “Survivor: San Juan del Sur,” Missy dealt with a lot of pain, and not just from her severely injured ankle that led to her foot being put in a cast, causing her to miss several key challenges late in the game. Missy also would have to deal with some emotional pain as well, during a Final Tribal speech by Reed that was made of the same venom as Sue Hawk’s famous “Rat vs. Snake” speech in Season 1. She is one tough cookie.
Missy has endured much in her personal life, being introduced more than once as having been married and divorced three times. Her relationship struggles with men in her life seemed to only have strengthened her bond with her daughter, Baylor, and this mother/daughter duo were the last remaining loved ones in the game.
Everything looked great for Baylor and Missy to make the Final Tribal together, that is, until Natalie blindsided Baylor ruining that hope. At that last Tribal, Missy was shown little respect by the jury, culminating in an absolute reaming from Reed, who called her a “wicked stepmother” before lashing into her parenting skills and her values.
Missy definitely took on that “motherly” role that we’ve seen other women tackle on the show. Many of Missy’s relationships seemed very genuine and she maintained that she was able to stay loyal despite all of the backstabbing going on around her.
But like Jaclyn, Missy’s game was subtle and behind closed doors, so she suffered a perception problem. She was integral in many big moves – and wasn’t afraid to make them by the way – and always found herself on the good side of the majority alliance. Perhaps her best unsung strength was her ability to reign others in – like Baylor – and to keep their emotions in check.
Her leg injury did not deter her from fighting, despite the immense pain and the medical staff telling her that she should pull herself from the game. She chose instead to fight on. Missy made it to the end, but received only one winning vote – from her daughter. Knowing Missy from the show, that vote may have been the most important to her.
I had a chance to speak to Missy today and here’s the transcript:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: So Missy! I heard it was a fun time out there in LA last night…
Missy Payne: (Laughs) We did have a pretty fun and crazy night, it was a blast.
Tom Santilli: I wanted to start off asking about your foot: How is it and what ended up being the damage?
Missy: It was a level three sprain, based on what the doctors said. Sadly, it’s taken a lot longer to heal than I really wanted it to. They said at one point that it might have actually been better if it had been just a clean break, because it would have healed faster, so I have to still rehab it a little bit. I wear an ankle brace. I’m not quite back to my running that I love to do, so that’s a bummer. But we’re just going to press on and give it more time to heal. They said six months from the time of the injury, so that would be sometime next month, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed. I know it won’t be perfect. But it was a real bummer.
Tom Santilli: Well I wish you the best in your recovery for sure. You definitely showed how tough and resilient you are. It looked even better taking place in a season that saw Julie quit, and here you are in obvious horrible pain, yet you fight to stay in the game.
Missy: Yeah I agree. God love Julie, I love her. But there was no way I was going to quit that game, especially with the finish line in sight. There was no way I was quitting, I would have crawled across the finish line.
Tom Santilli: So Reed absolutely ripped into at the Final Tribal Council, and then at the Reunion Show, it was clear that his opinion hadn’t changed any. Did you feel that your relationship with him was that bad heading into that Final Tribal? What led to him having that much venom?
Missy: It was totally uncalled for, but Reed is performer. That was his chance to shine. So when you take that moment as an actor, you want the spotlight. So you know, I’m sure he probably rehearsed that monologue umpteen times and was ready to go, but the real reason I think he targeted me was that I did play that mom role, I was mom to most people out there. People would come to me with their secrets. I had sat down and had very human conversations with Josh and Reed, and had even talked with them about how to introduce Reed to Josh’s family. So his comments just seemed out of left field, and completely uncalled for. But I think that people feel like moms are easy to attack. You love your mom the most, but you don’t really want to hear what she has to say. People who open up to their “mom” and then they get voted out, they feel like, wait a minute, you’re my mom, why are you doing this to me? It’s really hard, but that was part of the game for me.
Tom Santilli: When I interviewed Reed, he had made a comment that you and Jeremy “had fostered this environment that Reed was not trustworthy.” What’s he referring to there?
Missy: Well Reed came out of the gate pretty neurotic. Me and Jeremy were very tight right from the beginning, but Reed made himself not trustworthy because he would come to us and we’d tell him something and it would really just spread like wildfire. You couldn’t tell him anything. He just couldn’t find his place to fit, ever. And Jeremy and I had so much power at the beginning, that’s probably what he was talking about.
Tom Santilli: Did you get the feeling after that Final Tribal Council that that was just Reed who felt that way, or did you get the sense that there were more on the jury who viewed you negatively?
Missy: I feel like Ponderosa can become its own tribe. I really feel like Reed and Josh campaigned against me. They were very articulate and very manipulative in general. Their game did not stop until they landed back in New York City. They all called me mom, but it was never wicked anything. I think the mind can twist and turn things, and he’s good at it. I’ll tell you, when I got to Ponderosa after that Final Tribal, Reed came up and handed me a bowl of peanut butter, which was probably his way of saying hey, welcome to the group, because I had said that I wanted peanut butter. But it was so bizarre. I mean he had just literally open-fired. It was just totally bizarre.
Tom Santilli: Perception is huge on Survivor, and many interviews I’ve done this season commented on how they were impressed watching you on TV, because you were playing a better game than they thought while they were out there. I know you talked about being perceived in the motherly role, but why do you think you weren’t perceived as a stronger player? Anything you could have done differently to have changed that perception?
Missy: To be honest with you, I think CBS does a great job and I give kudos to the editing booth. But they can only show so much of what happens. Interestingly enough, I guess I could have been more vocal, but I was the go-to person. I was involved in every single vote. I was the center of a lot of moves. Even with Drew, people were coming to me asking can we do this? So I think that I was just more of a quiet leader, so maybe that’s it. But perception is reality.
Tom Santilli: I thought one of your greatest strengths was your ability to sort of control other people in subtle ways, like focusing Baylor or others when they would get off on a tangent. You reigned other people in. Are you glad that they at least chose to show a lot of those moments, instead of a straight-up portrayal as this mom-figure?
Missy: Yes, sure. I wish they could have shown more but, yes. Like out of the gate for instance, I started ripping that first basket apart looking for a clue to the Idol. And they never showed that. They didn’t show me as being a very aggressive player. I didn’t get that edit, and it is what it is. But I’m super happy with the game itself and how it changed my life. I don’t have any regrets with how I played the game the way I did. But next time I’d like to do it without my daughter (laughs).
Tom Santilli: Earlier in the game, there was the whole rice situation. Many pointed to you as the person responsible for over-serving the rice. Is that a fair accusation?
Missy: No that’s not fair. So here was the situation. I was sort of the cook, but I definitely wasn’t serving things out in a measuring cup. So I felt like I was a cook in a fraternity house, and everyone just was complaining that they needed to eat more and more. And they’d be like mom, please help us! So I guess I could have been the one to say no, you can’t have anymore, but why was that my decision to be made? We should have been making those decisions as a tribe, together, and that didn’t happen. But what’s interesting, back to Reed for a second, is after the tribe swap, Josh was like this is how we did things on my Coyopa tribe and this is how I’m doing things here. So he probably went to Reed and said you can’t be eating as much as you’re eating. It’s like if you’re in a restaurant and you blame the waiter. It’s really not the waiter’s fault, he’s just carrying the tray. So I feel like people just target moms because moms need to be strong. There’s no way you have time to get sick or get weak.
Tom Santilli: A lot was made on the show about your personal life, your three divorces, your failed relationships with men. Baylor had drawn parallels between all of that and your relationship in the game with Jon. Was that Baylor picking up on something accurately, or was that a bit of a reach?
Missy: I think a couple things there. That was not anything like the relationships I’ve had, I’d hope that she would remember the age difference there between me and Jon. So I was thinking to myself that it was a little bizarre. But I want to clear something up. I have made pretty bad decisions in my choices in men in relationships, but not in life. I’ve had a lot of good people in my life who have not duped me. But I feel that Baylor was just jealous, to be honest. I mean she grew up underneath a desk at a cheerleading gym, where I was mom to hundreds and hundreds of students. As a teacher, you pour a lot of your energy out on other kids. So as much as I’ve given to my children, it is hard. You stand by and you watch your mom give love and attention to someone else and it’s hard. Her concern was accurate because of what I’ve been through and she doesn’t want me to feel pain anymore, but inaccurate in that relationship with Jon.
Tom Santilli: Was there any scenario where you win Survivor?
Missy: Definitely, I came in to win. Me and Natalie were pretty neck and neck for a while there. They didn’t show a lot of Natalie in the beginning because I was carrying her too. And then Natalie just took off. Man, like on a race track when I car sees its opportunity to get in front, and she did. She played a heck of a game and kudos to her because she did it well. But once I got physically injured, I felt like I was just done. That just sucked and really was the demise for my game.
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