aras baskauskas survivor blood vs water 'Survivor's' Aras Baskauskas: My relationship with Vytas 'continues to grow in leaps and bounds'Aras Baskauskas was the first member of the jury on “Survivor: Blood vs. Water.” We wondered why a former winner might go back and play again, but he tells Zap2it that he’s just a huge fan of the show.

What made you go back on “Survivor”? You won the game, so it’s not like you had anything to prove?

“My brother put a gun to my head and said, ‘Do it!’ No [laughs]. I wasn’t a fan of the show before I went on the first time but I’ve since become a huge fan of the show. Like don’t-miss-an-episode fan of the show. … As a fan of the show, I wanted to play again. You don’t ask Kobe Bryant why he plays the next season after he wins a championship — not that I”m Kobe Bryant or this is basketball. But I had so much fun playing the first time, I figured let’s try it again.”

Is your relationship with Vytas as intense as it looks on the show?

“Absolutely. Keep in mind, the game is intense, so part of what you’re seeing is the intensity of the game. Then crossing hairs with our relationship — it’s usually not that intense, but we do get competitive and there is a long, long history between us that was at best tumultuous.”

What has the relationship been like since you filmed “Survivor”?

“Our relationship is great. It continues to grow in leaps and bounds. Vytas was a heroin addict for a long time and we had no relationship. … We keep growing and getting closer and hopefully by the time we’re grandparents, we’ll be actually healthy.”

Watching the show back, has anything surprised you?

“No, nothing really surprised me. I think a function of getting voted out is I immediately wanted to know how it happened, so I pieced everything together pretty quickly after my vote out. That was a fascinating process in and of itself. Vytas joined me on Redemption Island and gave me a bunch of information. … As people started funneling into Ponderosa, hearing what they thought about the game was fascinating. It’s a fascinating social experiment.”

When you were eliminated, who did you think was in the best position in the game?

“Tyson. I think Tyson was in the strongest position in the game and that unless the new players banded together or the women banded together, he seemed to have a clear path to the end. …

He’s playing a great game, he’s playing a fantastic game. He’s smart guy, he’s had the benefit of playing three times in what, four years? Five years? So, he’s fresh and those wounds are really helping guide him. Right now there’s very little that Tyson’s doing wrong, except perhaps targeting me so early before the merge. We kept winning challenges so they couldn’t vote me out, but if they had voted me out, Tyson’s whole plan would’ve gone into the gutter, I think. He would have signaled too early. But he got fortunate in the sense that we didn’t lose and I didn’t have to go home until the merge.”

Was there anybody other than Vytas you were hoping would go far in the game?

“Yeah, after coming to Ponderosa, I’m obviously pulling for Vytas and then after that, Tina and Katie, because those were my core alliances. But as a jury member, I just wanna see good game play. There’s no place for bitterness on the jury, for me. I want to see some strategy and some effort. Are you playing for second place or are you playing to win?

For more on Aras, check out his new music project at He tells us that the band name, “Odd Us,” actually comes from the correct pronunciation of his first name.

“I started playing music after I won ‘Survivor,’ as a hobby, and it grew into something bigger. I recently opened for Edward Sharpe, we sold out the Troubadour,” says Aras. Follow him on Twitter at OddUsMusic and check out his music video below.

“Survivor” airs Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. ET/PT on 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."