The Heroes tribe continued their long painful descent into the abyss on the most recent episode of Survivor. First they lost a player to injury, then they lost two more challenges, and then they lost their freakin’ minds! Even though James hurt his leg so badly that he was basically immobile, the tribe deemed him more valuable in challenges than one of the show’s all-time dominant challenge performers, Tom Westman, voting out the fireman and Palau champ. I spoke to Tom this morning about how it all went wrong, and the ousted contestant pulled no punches in his assessment of his tribemates. [Full interview after the jump.]
How does it feel to be deemed less valuable than a dude who can’t walk?
You know what? I think if James had gotten his head cut off in that challenge they would have brought his head along in a bowling bag and had him vote against me. And that was frustrating actually having to defend myself that I was more of a physical value to the team than the guy who had been sent back into the game wearing a brace.
Did you think J.T. was with you on the vote, or were you skeptical?
It didn’t take us long to realize that J.T. was like, “which way is the wind blowing today?” I knew I had to get Rupert over, too, and I tried to appeal to him flat-out, “Is this really okay with you? Do you realize how you’re going to be portrayed? You’re just getting walked around this game by Amanda Kimmel! Is that okay with you?” And I needed him to make the move, which I think would have redeemed him in a lot of people’s eyes. You know, America loved that guy, and I think he let himself down big this time.
You and Colby were both worried before the game began about being outsiders with all these younger, newer players. Is this what got you in the end?
It is. I didn’t even think it would be as bad as it was. The fact that some of these people had played three times, and knew each other and were friends outside of the game — I think this was all preordained before we ever boarded those helicopters in Samoa. That being said, I like a good fight and it was still kind of fun to try to pick that thing apart. I think I did everything I could, but at the end of the day it was also coming to Candice and Cirie too late. If I could play this game again, instead of Cirie and I coming in with our gloves on and hitting at each other from opposite corners of the ring, we really should have just jumped into each other’s arms and said, “Okay, let’s see how far we can take this.” I should have indentified that, but knowing that Cirie had been in Micronesia and played with Amanda and these people I just lumped her in with that crowd, and she couldn’t convince me that she wasn’t part of a previous alliance. And now I believe that she wasn’t. Too many people warning me about her and too many people warning her about me, and it hurt both of us.
Rupert could have been seen as a natural alliance-mate for you and Colby in that he was also from an older season, and not as tied in with the newer, younger crowd, but it didn’t turn out that way, did it?
And we were both kind of shocked with that. I think part of Rupert’s thing is he immediately targeted Stephenie. He immediately wanted her gone with such a passion, for no apparent reason that we could see. And the only thing I believe is that Rupert wants to be the most popular person on the season and who has had that kind of popularity except Stephenie LaGrossa? I really believe that it was a selfish, get rid of anybody that might get more camera time than me situation, and that was Rupert’s motive in the beginning.
On a social level, how was it around camp with James after his big Tribal Council outburst?
Socially, it was pretty abysmal out there. Thank God Colby was out there so that you had one good guy you could talk with about something besides their previous season. Some of these people, if they weren’t talking about what they did in Pearl Islands or what somebody said in Tocantins, there really wasn’t much to talk to these people about. And they don’t want to hear from you anyway. It’s kind of like “Oh, you’re still here? We didn’t get rid of you yet?” So socially, it couldn’t have been more different that my situation in Palau, which had more of a Kumbaya summer camp feel to it.
Your tribe on Palau never lost one single immunity challenge, so what was it like being on the other side of that?
We were just so wound up and wanted it so bad, and just wanted to explode. James thought it was too many people helping. Oh, maybe we should just all sit around and just stare at the thing like you do until someone tells you what to do. You think that might get it done? I don’t think so. Listen, if you give us 100 puzzles, they’ll beat us every time. And I don’t know if they as a group are better at puzzles or they just have one person who does puzzles very well, and that’s Boston Rob. I’m loving watching him this season. It’s just been a great ride, and single-handedly he’s just thumping us out there with those puzzles. It’s like, okay, enough with the puzzles. I’m surprised with the sumo wrestling that the rule wasn’t to knock somebody in the water and then assemble the Rubik’s Cube! We just had some spatial issues I guess, or he was that much better than us.
Last question: Who do you think would win in a foot race: one-legged James or Probst’s niece?
I don’t know Probst’s niece, but I’m gonna say that even if she’s a toddler or not even walking yet — that even crawling she could beat James. Now are we talking about James with or without the brace?
With the brace.
Oh, well, he can hobble a little bit with the brace. He couldn’t step without it. I’m still going with Probst’s niece. I’ll tell you what: I’ll bet all my winnings from Palau on that footrace.
To see an exclusive deleted scene (Boston Rob kills a shark!!!) from last night’s episode, as well as a pep talk that Tom recorded for himself before the game to cheer himself up in the event that he was voted off, click on the video below. And for all the Survivor scoop, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.
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Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS