monicapadilla survivorsamoa 290 'Survivor: Samoa's' Monica Padilla: Russell won't win the million dollarsMonica Padilla was the 14th person to leave “Survivor: Samoa.” Find out why she thinks Russell won’t win the million dollars if he makes the finals.

What were you doing before you went on “Survivor?”
I was in the middle of — actually I just graduated law school when I left. I was planning on taking the bar this summer in July but then I got on the show.

Are you taking the February bar? Are you going to practice law?
I am going to practice law. I think I’m going to wait until July instead, kind of give myself some time to wind down from the whole “Survivor” show process.

When we spoke with Dave Ball on Friday, he said his ouster was not a surprise at all. In fact, he knew about it beforehand. Did you know you were leaving? Were you surprised?

No, I definitely was not surprised. I knew that there was a strong likelihood and I did everything in my power that day to try to stay in the game but that just didn’t come to fruition.

At Tribal Council, you had quite the cat-that-ate-the-canary look on your face. Were you trying to stir up trouble? Can you tell us what you were doing at Tribal?
You know what, I figured at that point if I was going to be voted out that I was going to go out with a bang and do something that left some sort of an influence on my way out the door. To be able to stir up trouble was definitely a sense of accomplishment. Granted, the better sense of accomplishment would’ve been to stay and have Russell voted out, but out of the people who were left, they didn’t want to make a bold move to ensure them staying in teh game. If they wanted to vote out Russell, the best time to do it would’ve been at that moment because either it flushes out the Idol or it gets him out of the game. I’m surprised they didn’t take advantage of that.

Speaking of Russell, do you think he’s playing a good game?
I definitely think Russell is playing a good game. He went in and he shifted the numbers in Foa Foa’s favor. We never saw that coming. We definitely underestimated Russell’s game. Has he played a good game to win a million dollars? No. He’s furthered his position in the game but I don’t think that he really invested in the social game, in making sure he can get those jury votes. If he makes the Final Two, Three, whatever it is, I think he’s going to have to make some strong points to sway the jury in his favor.

You don’t think he’d get votes rewarding his good game play, for playing all the Galu people?
No, I don’t. He may get some votes, but I don’t think he’ll get a majority of the votes by just playing that card.

[Ed’s note: If Russell makes the finals, we think it’d be pretty crappy of Galu to be so bitter that they don’t give Russell the money, when he’s done the lion’s share of the work to get them all out. We hate it when that happens on shows like this.]

Out of the people left, who is playing the best game?
There are two different aspects to it. The best game for getting to the finals? Definitely Russell. The best game for jury votes? I’d say a toss-up between Natalie and Brett. Looking at them, they’re the only ones who have made some strong moves to ensure their positions and they’re so likable. A combination of strong strategic moves mixed with the likability that they have.

Watching the show on TV, have you seen anything that surprised you?
Well, of course everyone was pretty shocked to see how devious Russell was at the beginning. I was also shocked to see how the boys were trying to sway Shambo’s emotions by voting her as leader. I didn’t give them much credit at that point but that was a pretty clever move. The boys were definitely outnumbered by the people against them on the Galu tribe, specifically Erik and John.

Do you have any final thoughts?
I’d say my biggest message for the overall game is that it can change at any second and we definitely underestimated the power of the Hidden Immunity Idol. I’m grateful for the experience and for all the fans out there.

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Photo credit: CBS

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."