There’s been a lot of talk this season about the strategy of taking social train wreck NaOnka to the finals. The upside? You’re guaranteed to win if you’re facing her in front of a jury. The downside? You can’t trust her.
Brenda Lowe made that gamble…and lost.
I spoke with Brenda the morning after her elimination from ‘Survivor: Nicaragua.’ Hot topics of conversation included Sash’s immunity idol, Holly becoming a player, and the many moods of NaOnka…
Gordon Holmes: B-Lowe!
Brenda Lowe: Gordon!
Gordon: I’ve gotta ask you, how can you trust NaOnka when she’s wreaking all sorts of havoc along the Nicaraguan coastline?
Brenda: Believe it or not, there is a nice side of her. We see the crazed roller coaster ride of her, but I trusted her 100%, more than anybody else out there.
Gordon: What about when she was knocking over Kelly B. and stealing things?
Brenda: The only day that I was like, “What the hell am I doing with this girl?” was the day she stole the food and the pots and all that stuff. That’s the time I thought, “This girl could really mess up my game.” But other that, I really did trust her.
Gordon: Last night there was a brief discussion about Sash giving you his idol. Was that ever seriously considered?
Brenda: There was a little discussion about it. But this was the thing…my strategy to stay in the game was to show the people who could actually save me that they could trust me. One of the main reasons why I didn’t scramble, talk to Holly and Danny and all these people, was to say, “You guys can trust me. I’m loyal. I’m with you to the final five…Sash, Chase, NaOnka, and Kelly. I’m not going to take your idol and be like ‘Ha Ha! Vote you out!’” There was no discussion with the idol and Sash, because I knew he wouldn’t give it to me.
Gordon: Did you know Sash and Chase were going to vote against you?
Brenda: I had wishful thinking that in the end Sash would give me the idol and that my vote for NaOnka or Benry would work and I’d still be in the game. But I’m not surprised that they did that. And fine, when you have to go with the majority to stay in the game, you have to go with the majority. It’s kind of like the whole Marty vote. It didn’t feel right, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do for yourself.
Gordon: Was Purple Kelly’s vote for Benry in case you had gotten Sash’s idol and NaOnka had played her idol?
Brenda: No, the plan was to take out Benry. And I was going to vote for Benry too because he was the bigger target. But as I was holding the marker in my hand, I was like, “Why am I writing down Benry? My enemy is NaOnka!” And that’s when it changed. As you can see it didn’t matter. It was a futile attempt that didn’t work.
Gordon: I noticed you drew an impressive immunity idol on your vote. Was that freehand?
Brenda: Thank you. It was freehand, there was no stencil. It was from what I remember from getting the idol for this girl. Some people didn’t know that she had an immunity idol, and I totally could have been like, “Everybody! She has the idol! Arghhhh!” But I wanted to show her, “Look, I’m not even outing you. I’m still staying loyal to you, you crazy girl.” The immunity idol drawing was my hidden way to get back at NaOnka without losing it at Tribal Council.
Gordon: When I interviewed you before the game, I remember thinking, “Brenda’s adorable. She’s fun and full of life. This game might be too cutthroat for her.” And then you got out there and were a total badass.
Gordon: Last week everyone was like, “Oh, stay on Brenda’s good side or she’ll rough you up.” Was that part of your plan to downplay your personality.
Brenda: No, it was not intentional at all. One of things I thought was, “Wow, people really thought of me like that?” Because I was happy and the way that I am now. But there was a side of me that was really focused. When you’re focused you’re just thinking about the way to the end and all the other stuff goes away. I think that’s what people saw. “I don’t want to talk about paranoia, I know my way to the end. Stop, get out of here with your nervousness. Let’s get it done.” I wanted to win that thing and go home. That was my attitude. It bugs me that it comes across as really cocky. I never did that on purpose and I’d never want anyone to look at me that way.
Gordon: XFINITY TV is hosting the “Survivor” Hall of Fame. Who would be your picks for the five best players of all time?
Brenda: Best five Survivors…Boston Rob…Parvati…JT on his first try…Tom Westman…and…can I say Boston Rob again?
Gordon: It won’t count, but you’re welcome to.
Brenda: (Laughs) Let me think…even though Sandra won twice I’m not liking the whole under-the-radar thing. I like Russell, but he didn’t win. How about Todd? Todd from China.
Gordon: How close were you to Chase? It seemed like you were annoyed with him, but he was wrapped around your finger.
Brenda: Chase is a sweetheart. He’s a gentle giant. I’ve never met a guy who uses his heart over his head. It was weird for me. I think that was a lot of my frustration with him. I was like, “Why are you not thinking? Why are you using your heart? This is ‘Survivor!’” Be he trusted me and stood by me. He didn’t have that killer instinct. I saw that in this episode that he didn’t want to take me out when everyone else did. He’s a very sweet, genuine, innocent person.
Gordon: Last night you said that you were the king and Sash was the queen. Was that comment for Shannon’s benefit?
Brenda: No. Sash and I are the king and queen of the camp, but I feel more like I’m the king. What I meant by that is that I was more in charge. After I said it it sounded really funny considering the whole Shannon calling Sash gay thing. But that’s not what I meant.
Gordon: Did you know Holly was coming up with strategies?
Brenda: I really underestimated Holly. I didn’t know it was her. I watched the show and was like, “Wow! Holly! Ouch!” I thought it was NaOnka the whole time.
Gordon: Let’s do some word association. We’ll start with Chase.
Brenda: Gentle giant.
Brenda: BFF…and what I mean by that is “Best frenemy.” He’s like my partner, but at the same time my frenemy.
Brenda: Like a little brother.
Brenda: Roller coaster ride.
Brenda: Got me.
Gordon: Flammable campsites?
Brenda: Flammable campsites! Hilarious.
Gordon: Purple Kelly?
Brenda: Also hilarious.
Gordon: Before the game you said you wanted to be as a “Deceptive as a Decepticon.” Do you feel like you’ve accomplished that mission?
Brenda: (Laughs) I think yes and no. I think I was able to get by with some people not realizing how badly I wanted to play the game. But other people saw right through me.
Gordon: I underestimated you before the game, I thought this game would eat you up because you seemed super cheery. Is it nice to go out there and prove jerks like me wrong?
Brenda: (Laughs) Yeah, that helps a lot when I look back at everything. I never felt like I had to prove anything because I never live my life like that. I’m not a wimpy girl who gets everything in her life or like a popular cheerleader like they put me out there to be. But the way that I played the game was the way I envisioned it. If people made assumptions about me, it’s because they didn’t know me.
Follow Gordon on Twitter for “Survivor” news, semi-witty comments, and more: @gordonholmes