There were whispers galore during Tribal Council on Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Kaoh Rong,” but one thing was heard loud and clear: This season no one is safe. Unfortunately for Debbie Wanner, that chaotic Tribal Council would mark her last one of the game, and she’ll only participate moving forward as the third member of the jury.
For a full recap of the most recent episode, get caught up on Episode 9 here.
Deb, if nothing else, was an incredibly memorable and entertaining player. From the minute she hit the beach, Deb was “that crazy person,” and there always seems to be one of them. Her eccentric personality and quirky, outgoing nature made her a likely early target, but Deb showed that she was much more than just talk. For a while there, it seemed like she was secretly in control of the game, and definitely had some influence over her Brain camp early on. As the game progressed, she seemed like a good person to keep in the game, not only because she would be an unlikely winner, but because she was shown to be quite the loyal ally.
Neal’s medical-evacuation didn’t help Deb’s game, but she was a part of the blindside that sent Nick packing. Things were starting to look up for Deb, but her decision-making was just too sporadic – too emotional – for her other allies to handle. She also had a tendency to speak her mind maybe a little too loudly, and was shown as the one announcing her voting plans and giving her opinion. In the end, it wasn’t the opposing alliance, but her own, that did her in. Her inability to go along with Aubry’s plan to vote out Julia really was the final straw for Deb, because it showed the others that she may not be someone they could trust down the stretch. Still, an interesting Tribal Council that could have ended a million different ways ended with Deb being blindsided, right when it seemed she positioning herself a bit better in the game. Through it all, her first and closest ally, Joe, had her back to the end.
I had the chance to speak with Deb today about her time in the game, her portrayal as a “Coach-like” crazy-person, and what she might have done differently if she had it all to do over. Here’s our chat:
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: So let’s talk about last night’s Tribal Council. Looking back on it, what do you think ultimately led to the girls voting you out?
Deb Wanner: Well the shear fear of not knowing who the guys would target, or if they would play their Super Idol. I was just the safest way to go. I was a sure thing.
Tom Santilli: So what was being said during Tribal with all of the whispering that was going on after they showed their Idols?
Deb: Well between the four of them, it was vote for Debbie (laughs). Between Joe and I, you know, I had to make a decision there. As you may have noticed, I was ultra-skinny, I had an enormous patch on my right shoulder, and I said to Joe, you know you’ve been a good friend. Thanks.
Tom Santilli: So you saw the writing on the wall that you were going home?
Deb: I did. Predominantly, my plan was, there were six of us. And if we would have just gone 2-2-2, right off the bat…now, what were the odds that Tai and Jason were really going to give an Idol to Scot, especially when I had told Aubry and all the girls that I had overheard [the guys] talking, and there was just no way that Tai and Jason were going to sacrifice their Idols for a guy who bragged about being a multi-millionaire. And here is something that would be hysterical: What if Tai refuses to give Jason back his Idol? That would be really funny. [Note: I did not have time to follow-up on this strategy of 2-2-2, because it would not be enough to counter the guys’ three votes, so this didn’t make sense to me].
Tom Santilli: In your Ponderosa video on CBS.com, immediately following your exit, you really seemed betrayed by Aubry the most…
Deb: Oh absolutely.
Tom Santilli: Yes, you had said even that she had lost your vote even if she gets to the end…
Tom Santilli: Do you think it was a mistake then, to stick up for Julia and refuse to want to vote her out, and did you realize at the time that that decision would damage your relationship with Aubry?
Deb: No. And here’s why. When we had that conversation, Julia had already won Immunity. Prior to that conversation, before Julia had Immunity, I said to Aubry, give me a name to vote for. She didn’t want it to be any of the guys because she was petrified that they’d target her. What frustrated me the most with Aubry is she was caving in to the bullies. But it kept her alive. She was just this hyper-paranoid, neurotic person. She would just be like, oh my God, did you see how this person just looked at me? I was just like, don’t read so much into everything, you’re going to make yourself insane. But give me a name Aubry. If you don’t want to take out any of the guys, then who is it going to be? Now this was after Julia had Immunity. And she couldn’t come up with a name. For a wide variety of reasons, I knew it was me.
Tom Santilli: Before the season even began, Probst was comparing you to Coach, with your story-telling and just your overall eccentricities on the show. Your edit was that of the sort of cooky, crazy lady, and throughout the season others sort of made fun of you and had plenty of comments about your quirky personality. Do you take all of this as complimentary, or what is your take on how you were portrayed overall?
Deb: Well the best line of Survivor so far was when Peter said, I wonder if she has 40 cats or 50 cats? (Laughs) Now that was just good TV, Tom. At the end of the day, if you sign up for a Reality TV show, and you are so naive, or clueless, or young, or obtuse, or whatever, then you should know that you can be edited any which way. In reality, I’m not a recluse, but I’m OK to go run a marathon alone. I like animals more than I like people. I’m the person that sits back, is quiet, and watches. Now having said that, am I fun? Yeah, I’m fun. And a lot of people out there were bitching about being on Survivor from Day One. And it was hard. Not climbing Mt. Everest hard, but it was tough. I wasn’t going to just sit back and whine, and moan and complain. Jesus Christ, I made it on to Survivor. I wanted this. I’m not going to bitch. So the whimsicality – the “eccentricities” if you will – I’m a juggler in a Birch County Juggling Society. The didn’t have to show me dropping stones when I juggled, they could have shown me actually juggling well. But they were going for that crazy-older-lady angle, and I get that. So it bothers me not at all. And about what people said about me? They don’t know me. No more than I know them.
Tom Santilli: One person that you were close to out there was Joe, and he ended up being loyal to you to the end. He refused to vote for you when the others approached him. Knowing him better than anyone out there, what can you tell me about Joe as a player in the game of Survivor?
Deb: As a human being, he’s a fantastic individual. He’s been to Hell and back, like a lot of other people, and he never let it ruin him or make him become negative. As a player, whether he was 72 or 74, he carried himself with more dignity than all the other men out there combined. Joe is the only one that I would actually call a man out there. He kept the fire going, he got food. You know he couldn’t go sprint a mile, but what he could do, he did, and he did it without complaining or whining. I don’t think I ever heard the guy complain. And I certainly heard everyone else complaining.
Tom Santilli: Speaking of the other guys, Jason and Scot from the very beginning have seemed to be cut from the same cloth, and are obviously acting like bullies at this point…
Deb: No they’re not acting, sir. They ARE. They are actually beyond bullies. They were tyrants, they were dictators. I guess I can’t say “nefarious,” because that implies that they have some form of high IQ. You’re seeing the mild, toned-down version of them.
Tom Santilli: Please do tell me more then. What sides of them or actions from them are we not seeing?
Deb: Misogynist implies that someone hates women. They clearly did not hate women. But women were largely viewed by them, particularly by Scot, through a sexist lens. There were a lot of sexist jokes. You couldn’t have even aired much of it on TV even if you wanted to. You know, 10,000 years of evolution-slash-biology and testosterone, I think a lot of it was just natural. In particularly Scot, he just wanted to be the leader, the stallion. Scot has a leadership quality in him, and that just meant keeping the girls in line. I was never a part of keeping the girls in line, but the Beauty girls, they went along with being told what to do and being guided along. It’s patronizing. Sometimes their tactics got a little bit too over-the-top. Bossy, tyrannical, etc, etc. But whatever you saw with Alecia was just the tip of the iceberg. The behavior towards her was a lot more aggressive and nasty.
Tom Santilli: Concerning Tai though, he has not been portrayed in the same light as Jason and Scot, yet he is now forever linked with them by taking part personally in the camp sabotage. When all of that was going on, was Tai viewed in the same light that Jason and Scot were?
Deb: No, he wasn’t at all. He was useful, he fed people, and that’s what kept him around. But he was looked at as incapable of making his own decisions or making up his mind. He just kept flip-flopping, every hour. I almost felt bad for him. Almost. Because he just couldn’t make a decision as to who he was going to go with. Which was obvious because last week, he voted for Jason! It was hysterical though. But evil? No. But man did he love that chicken, Mark the chicken. That was great.
Tom Santilli: And Mark finally got some air-time last night…
Deb: I know! People ask me who was the best character out there, and I say Mark (laughs).
Tom Santilli: We saw Joe sort of stand up to Scot after the camp sabotage. Did anybody else stand-up to them at that point?
Deb: Oh I stole their shorts. So here were the girls, and I understand that girls are just naturally more passive. But here are those guys, they come along and they steal everything, we literally couldn’t eat. And by the way there were giant clams that were sitting there that you didn’t see that disappeared or were sabotaged, so we really had no food, nothing. And are you going to just sit back and cry and suck your thumb and beg them to bring the stuff back? Screw that! I’m declaring all-out open war. But that’s how I am in real life, you want to threaten me, you want to throw pebbles at me, well I’m going to find a boulder and roll it downhill over your head.
Tom Santilli: Their actions this episode has many wondering: Does sabotage as strategy work? Do you think their plan to do what they did worked ultimately?
Deb: Absolutely. They had the girls cowering in the corner. Absolutely. They had the girls so afraid as to what they were going to do next. It was like Hitler in World War II, let’s just appease him.
Tom Santilli: Back to Joe for a minute…did he inform you that the girls were trying to take you out after he was approached? Is this how you knew you were going home?
Deb: Yes. It was a number of things, and truthfully, physically and mentally, I think I had had it.
Tom Santilli: You were one of the stand-out personalities from this season. Any chance we see you play Survivor again and if so, anything you’d do differently?
Deb: Well I’d go in weighing more. I don’t know if I’d play again, I haven’t been asked. But I really don’t know. You know, we didn’t swim the English Channel, we didn’t cure cancer, we didn’t climb Mt. Everest, but it was tough. And at my age, you’re already in the toughest position that there is to win Survivor. I’ve discussed this with CBS, I said it’s the hardest spot. I’m not in the tits-and-ass crowd, I’m not going to be in the all-men alliance with the testosterone. They target old people, in particularly somebody portrayed as the whacky older woman. No matter what physical shape you’re in, it’s a tough spot to play from. So to answer your question, I don’t know, sir. But I’d gain more weight and start out at least at 125 this time.
Be sure to join me next Wednesday for another episode preview, full recap and instant analysis, and of course, the next exit interview next Thursday.
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