Survivor Kaoh Rong Exit Interview with Debbie Wanner
Rob Cesternino talks with the latest player to be eliminated from Survivor: Kaoh Rong in our weekly exit interview podcast. Plus, Rob talks to Jordan Kalish about the moments from This Week in Survivor History.
Rob’s Interview with Debbie:
Debbie: Hi Rob.
Rob: Debbie, what a pleasure it is to finally get a chance to talk to you. I apologize that it has taken me this long.
D: No problem, not at all. Good to hear from you too. I enjoyed you while you were on.
R: Well thank you very much Debbie. And my wife really, she had a good run telling me every day that you were going to win the season. So the only joy I got out of it was being able to tell her that she was wrong.
D: Aww. Now come on.
R: All right, well Debbie I’m very excited to be able to talk with you finally because we had so many questions about this really crazy vote. There were so many moving parts. So could you just tell us from your mind what was supposed to happen at this vote?
D: I was hoping that the girls would stick together- and when I say girls, and I mean this with all due respect, I include Joe, who is clearly not a woman he was just with us lock, stock, and barrel. And I don’t like bullies or people who intimidate or you know, men with too much testosterone and they need to keep the sheep in the herd tight. So you know, I’m just for setting the score and not appeasement. So I was hoping hat the girls would stick together, force the guys’ hand because there was no way I felt, no way in hell Jason and Tai would actually put together their idols and use it. It was a stunt I think, still, that they pulled, but I wanted the girls to take out Scot because he is very intelligent and was the mastermind.
R: But at this point that you have said that you spoke with Joe and that you knew that there were going to be votes coming your way, Aubry has that conversation with Joe, and you know that votes were going to be coming your way from the women’s alliance. Did you try to change anything up going into that vote?
D: You know, in retrospect I really didn’t. And I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that my brain did not have glucose going to it in sufficient quantity and therefore the neurons were not making that synaptic gap leap. Because I certainly could have made more of a pitch. You know Rob, what you didn’t see, that tribal council was so wild. There was accusations of racism and it was so crazy that I pretty much said goodbye to Joe there. So I think I was mentally and physically just at my end unfortunately.
R: Can you talk about where Julia was in all this? Because you were at least publicly a defender of Julia and said “hey, to me, I thought you just wanted Chinese food”. We saw people like Aubry and Cydney wanting to go after her. She does go back and tell the guys about a plan that was being hatched on your side of things. So where did you feel like Julia was when you voted?
D: Well, the reason Aubry had a problem with Julia was because she went to vote, wrote down Julia’s name, crossed it out, and wrote down Peter. She didn’t even scribble it out. You could clearly read Julia. And Aubry always felt the heat because it had appeared that Neal had given her an idol when in fact he did not. So that was her thing with Julia. I had private conversations with Julia and I knew how close she was with the girls. Look Rob, when four girls can get together to discuss the Powerpuff Girls, their crush on Justin Bieber, blah blah blah. They had a lot in common. And they were quite frankly sick of being bossed around. When Julia went over to the guys for the reward challenge, somebody had to go. Because Probst wasn’t saying somebody else can sit it out. Somebody has to go. And after 10 minutes, the girl finally stepped up to the plate and I admire that she had the balls to step up to the plate and say “okay look, I’ll go, I’ll muck it up”. And she actually did make a good effort of mucking it up. What I hate is that she was so heavily criticized for it when hey, I didn’t see you step up to the plate and try to screw it up.
R: Oh so she was trying to throw the reward challenge so you guys could win?
D: Yeah she was. And she actually had it pretty good and tangled for a while but Scot’s a really smart guy, he is. So yeah, she did make a valiant effort I felt and that she was with the girls. Here’s the irony: so Aubry, you trust Julia so little you go to her to take me out! So Aubry was just looking for a sure thing and really needed to make sure that it wasn’t her. And you know what, quite frankly, I applaud her for that. I do.
R: Okay, this is something that I hope you could help us understand because us watching the show, we don’t really know how much you guys all know about the Super Idol and how it works and how it can be played. We saw where Jason and Scot are passing it off to Tai, we don’t really understand exactly what the minutiae of how do you play it is. So in terms of that vote that we saw the other night, how much did you guys understand what the powers of the Super Idol were as you were voting? How much was that scaring people in terms of how like Aubry and Cydney are coming up with hey, let’s vote off Debbie because we don’t know what could happen.
D: And I understand that. When you look at the possibilities, it was factually a possibility that Jason and Tai combine idols and use it to save Scot. My reasoning was what are the odds that two guys who, one has been through a Vietnamese refugee camp, the other has an autistic child that’s bankrupting him, they’re really going to save a multimillionaire? You think? And I just in my heart, my intuition was no way in hell. Now the beautiful thing that I love is Jason, Tai voted for you last week. You gave him an idol. He accepted. And I wonder if he’s going to give it back. But I understand that the girls considered it a possibility, however remote, and took the sure way out by, if you will, throwing someone in their alliance under the bus. I get that.
R: You guys had this plan of hey, if we split the votes we can defuse the Super Idol. Why wasn’t there- you say that Julia wanted to stick with the women- why wasn’t here enough inertia to be able to get that plan to happen? Because it seems like that that would have been the point where you could have split that vote 3-3-3.
D: Well, Julia did stick with the women, at least the four core, so I would like to say that Julia did not flip with the guys so I guess maybe that proves a point that I had that she was loyal to the girls. Couldn’t get them to do it, because they were still, again, just so afraid of the Super Idol coming into play, which I hated quite frankly. And that could be used after the vote. That was their greatest fear and that it would be either Cydney or Aubry.
R: So if you guys did use the 3-3-3 split where it was tied three votes for Jason, three votes Scot, and then whoever they put their three votes on, then would they still be able to use the Super Idol?
D: Now that I’m not exactly sure of. But then there would have been a revote right?
R: Right. You guys still have six.
D: Right. They still have put together the Super Idol after a vote, a revote I would imagine, a 3-3-3 would have caused a revote, and I just couldn’t get the girls to do it.
R: Right, right. It comes down to lack of glucose I think on all of those things where we’re having a hard time figuring out exactly how it’s going to work when we’ve had breakfast and lunch today. I can understand people are scared. So did you guys know who the guys were putting their three votes on? Because to me, I feel like if Cydney knows where the votes are going I feel like she’s definitely on board with this plan because she doesn’t want to get voted out.
D: Correct. And Aubry had an equal strong feeling that it was still going to be here, because her name came up quite a bit in the past. So between the two of them, go for a sure thing and take out one of us.
R: Yeah. Now, you saved Aubry early on in the game. Back when Aubry was sort of having a bit of a breakdown in the first couple days of the game, you took her aside, you took her under your wing, you nursed her back to health. Did you ever think back and say boy, I wish I didn’t help her get back up on her feet?
D: No, no. I truly, I’m not that kind of person. When Aubry, and it was night one, it rained. It actually got very cold. Yes, 8 degrees above the equator people, it can get cold. It was wet, it was cold, it was total suck. So many elements hit her at once. I do not pick on weak people. I just don’t do it. When went through my head was if Aubry were my daughter, I would want somebody with some kindness to say “I’m going to grab you by the shoulders, you are going to buck up. You did not come all this way to quit. Call the doctor, call Probst, have your chat, but you are going to promise me that you’re going to come back here and you’re going to have a talk with me”. No, I don’t regret it because I’m not out to destroy somebody’s life. Can you imagine how she’d be if she would’ve really quit, going home on day 1, day 2?
D: No, I’m just not that cruel.
R: You are a good tribe mate and you helped her out there in that spot. Talk to me about Michele and Julia because that’s another pair, seemingly to us, that we have a hard time sort of wrapping our heads around of really who is the leader out of that pair. Did you guys look at Michele and Julia as a pair while you were out there?
D: Yes, absolutely. You know, you’ve played and that’s the beauty in talking with you, you understand a lot of details, you know, 99% of people listening are never going to understand. So you see who’s sitting next to who or who goes off to get the coconuts together. So clearly, it was Julia and Michele were very close. They had a Harry Potter thing to discuss, Justin Bieber, whatever. I think they were about 6 years apart, but the closest in age group there. They had similar personalities; they were both very pleasant, hard working girls. Michele would step up and try to do anything. So they were very nice, very pleasant, helpful, hardworking, you know give it a go, I’m gonna try. And I don’t think I ever heard the two of them complaining. So yeah, it was clear that they were a tight pair.
R: You were also a tight pair with Joe through all of the time that you were together with him in the game. But to us, again at home it seems like we don’t see a lot of Joe. We don’t really know what he’s doing. Do you feel like was Joe really a player out there or was he just like a loyal vote that you felt like you could trust that you had in your pocket?
D: You know, of all the opinions going on out there I probably respected Joe’s the most. The man was a workhorse. Maybe next to Cydney, I’d say Joe was in the best physical shape. He wasn’t a drag-along. He wasn’t what people derisively refer to as a, what do they call the female equivalent of a goat? I don’t know. But you know, he had years of just watching people and seeing their behavior. No, he was absolutely a player and had his own ideas you just didn’t see the discussions with him, you know, as much as I was privy to. But absolutely a player and essential when it came to maintaining fire. He built our shelter, me and him built our shelter, but it was largely Joe. The design was completely him. No, the man should not be sold short. He did better than people a third of this age.
R: Debbie, could you talk a little bit about some of the sabotage that you pulled off after what Scot and Jason and Tai were doing with the business with fire and the machete and the ax?
D: Well, I said to the girls, this was probably not that smart in the game of Survivor, but in life, bullies come along. I don’t care if you’re picking on puppies, kittens, little kids, it is just my natural tendency to go and try to help the underdog. And you know, part of the thing with Scot, he’s a very intelligent man, but he’s huge. He’s a physical goliath. And to pick on these women- look, men have testosterone, women have estrogen. It’s biology. It’s evolution. Guys tend to want to lead and when the sheep step out of the herd, they’ve got to rush them back in. It was their way of keeping the women under control and I just don’t go for that crap. So I stole their shorts. [laughs]
R: All right, well Debbie really nice to get to talk to you finally after all this time. You were so much fun to watch on the show. Would you ever be interested in doing Survivor again?
D: No, no.
D: [laughs] I’m too old, Rob.
R: You’re too old? Wow. So you’re retired? You’re officially hanging it up Debbie?
D: Yeah, I think so.
R: Okay, that’s “I think so”. That’s not “I am definitely retired”.
D: Yeah, you know maybe I’ll swim the English Channel or something a little more noble. Maybe I’ll just delve into chemistry and go for that Nobel Prize. Look, we didn’t climb Mount Everest. I didn’t do anything spectacular. I didn’t exonerate somebody on death row that was innocent. Survivor is a very, very cool game but anybody that thinks it’s a walk in the park and wants to criticize our play, go try it yourself. I’m glad I had the opportunity. It truly was a memorable experience that I’ll treasure.
R: All right Debbie, I look forward to hopefully one day getting to talk some more about the game with you. All the best and hopefully see you at the finale.
D: Okay, very good sir. Bring your wife I want to say hello to her.
R: [laughs] Okay, take care Debbie. Bye.
D: Thank you.
Special thanks to Molly Jackson for transcribing this week’s exit interview.
Survivor 2016: Exit Interview with the Latest Player Voted off of Survivor Kaoh Rong[/caption]