I didn’t expect to find myself missing Alina Wilson on “Survivor: Nicaragua,” but after talking to the show’s latest castoff, that may end up being the case.
Alina never fully recovered after finding herself on the low side of a number alliance on the original La Flor tribe, but she somehow managed to stave off elimination long enough to make the Merge and long enough to make the season’s jury. And after a season of deluded or simply confused eliminated contestants, Alina came across as smart, funny and candid about her time in the game.
I got no evidence of the “dirt squirrel” Benry ranted against while casting his final vote.
Click through Alina’s thoughts on aligning with Shannon, NaOnka’s food-stealing and what it means to be a dirt squirrel…
HitFix: Might as well just jump right into this. What the heck is a dirt squirrel?
Alina Wilson: Oh my God. Thank you for asking! I have absolutely no idea what a dirt squirrel is. And that was the first thing I thought of when I heard him say it. Like, “What is that?” And a Grade-A Dirt Squirrel, at that! I don’t know! I’m sleeping in the dirt and I kinda look like a squirrel? Who knows? If he’d said it last week, I would have had a better idea for a Halloween costume. I don’t know what it was. It’s so bizarre, such a random comment and a random choice of words.
HitFix: I suppose being a Grade-A Dirt Squirrel is better than some of the alternatives?
AW: Right. At least I’m not a Grade-D Dirt Squirrel? It could be worse, I guess?
HitFix: We saw no indication of any relationship or tension that would have led to Benry getting all dirt squirrel on you. Was there anything that we didn’t see?
AW: I was equally shocked with the deep-seated animosity which was obviously shown when he said that. We didn’t necessarily get along great, but that’s just because everybody has moments where they’re irritated with each other at camp, but it didn’t really stand out to me that we hated each other. I definitely didn’t hate him. I was very surprised that he hated me so much and that he was so aggressive about vocalizing it. I don’t know. There’s nothing that wasn’t shown. Or at least there was nothing that wasn’t shown to the audience that I would know. I’m just as baffled as everybody else. I don’t know why he hated me so much.
HitFix: So why do you think that the tribe thought it was a better play to vote you out before Marty?
AW: I think that they thought it was a better play because they were playing emotionally. That’s exactly what I think. I think that their rationalization was that they told themselves “She needs to go because she’s overstayed her welcome and that’s the only reason she needs to go and she’s an easy vote right now and we don’t want to think too hard.” I think that’s why I went. Otherwise, on a strategic level, it doesn’t really make sense for me to go. I had no numbers. Yeah, I was a strategist. I probably would have figured something out. I know that I would have. And maybe that was a good reason for them to get rid of me? But watching it, it’s like “Why me?” Why wouldn’t you try to break up some part of an alliance? I can think of so many things they could have done. Like Brenda, she totally could have taken over Sash’s power and done a girl alliance. Keep me around and that gives you six girls! To me, I just thought of so many different things they could have done with me.
HitFix: And there you were having to try to reason with Fabio and talk sense into him. What was the sensation of trying to make that guy understand any sort of logic?
AW: Oh, Fabio! Fabio, he’s a smart guy, but at the same time, he just isn’t sure of himself. So many times, he would just blow with the wind. He was blowing with Marty’s wind at the time and it was so hard to get through that head of hair and convince him otherwise. I was trying to tell him like, “Dude. Think about it! If you think about it, we have a chance to take control.” The way I saw it was that if we could get Fabio on our side, that was seven votes for Marty and we don’t have to include Brenda and Sash. Then, all of a sudden, if that had turned out, Brenda and Sash would have been sitting there stunned and shocked that everybody else made a decision without them. They would have been like, “Whoa. We aren’t the puppet-masters we thought we were.” It would have been beautiful to watch! But it was too hard to convince him. He was the one person. It’s so frustrating to look back on it and remember how close I was. I just needed one more! I just needed to convince one more person. And it’s so frustrating that that one person just wouldn’t do it for me.
HitFix: And it had to be Fabio?
AW: At that point, I’d figured out from NaOnka that Chase and Benry were together against me and with them was Dan and everybody else was a no. And Brenda was with Sash and I knew about Sash’s deal with Marty, so nobody else was available other than Fabio.
HitFix: Talk me through what was going on in your mind with the whole FoodGate thing with NaOnka. Was there any way you thought you could spin that situation to get NaOnka out? It seems like she got no blowback at all.
AW: I know. It’s so frustrating. Again, she gets away with murder. But yeah, I thought about it. I really wanted to make it work for me. But here’s the thing, and I’ve gone over it in my mind a million times: Either way, I was doomed. She confided in me this ridiculous thing that she did and I had two options: Either just go with it in the hopes that she eventually was gonna confess and everyone was going to look at her anyway, or I go and I be the tattletale. But they were already calling me a rat. Or a dirt squirrel. And nobody likes a rat. Nobody likes a tattletale. So it would have made me look worse. Now knowing especially that they wanted to protect NaOnka because she had the Idol and she was in their alliance, it really would have made me look worse.
But just on a human level and a strategic level, why not get rid of NaOnka? Not only is she crazy and she does things like steal everything, but she has an Idol and if everybody thinks that Alina’s going home, it’s a perfect way to blindside somebody and get an Idol back into the game and out of NaOnka’s hands. I mean… Really? I wanted to scream out at the top of my lungs, “Really? Is nobody thinking about these moves? Come on! Make them already.”
HitFix: But you didn’t say that to anybody…
AW: I know. It was tough, because I wanted to go crazy at Tribal, but at the same time, I had seen Shannon dig his own grave and I was listening to Marty behind me, from what I thought, digging his own grave. It was tough, because I wanted to go crazy, but at the same time I wanted to see if it was going to work out my way and watch Marty dig his grave and hope for the best. I kinda wish that I’d gone a little more crazy, but in my mind and at the time, I thought it was much better to keep calm and only say things that are really good points to try to get people keep me, rather than calling someone out and… who knows?
HitFix: You honestly thought the rational argument was the best play?
AW: [Laughs.] I really did! I thought it was going to work for me. I thought so and maybe it was naive on my part, but I thought that I had at least six people who wanted to vote for Marty and when he started going on the tirade against Jane, who was wearing Immunity and it was completely unnecessary to do that, and he was going forever and I was like, “Come on! Keep talking! Keep convincing everyone to get rid of you.” I thought it was going to work. Again, maybe it was naive, but I sat there grinning inside, hoping that he was sealing his own fate.
HitFix: You mentioned Shannon earlier. Going into the game, had you realized how instantly detrimental it could be to find yourself in the wrong alliance, right from the start?
AW: I’m a big fan of the game, so I know that right in the beginning is an important time to make a strong alliance and he fit perfectly into the alliance that I wanted. I wanted somebody just like Shannon, a snake who could do things that I didn’t have to do and let me be behind the scenes. I wanted him for that purpose exactly. And when he left, I was like, “Man, now I have to become the snake.” So I became the snake and I got the title as a schemer, but if he’d stuck around, he’d have had that title and I’d have coasted along with it. But I got back to that vote and I would have stuck with Shannon either way, but my biggest regret is that we should have voted NaOnka instead of Brenda. If Chase would have just vocalized to us, “Hey, I’m in love with Brenda and I can’t vote for her, can we vote for somebody else?” I’d have been like, “Fine, let’s all vote for NaOnka.” Then we would have at least taken out Brenda’s right-hand girl and made her lose numbers, which would have been great,
HitFix: So that was an alliance of choice that you were in, not an alliance of necessity?
AW: No. I specifically wanted that alliance. I loved Kelly B and I thought she was the perfect person to be in my alliance. Even though she was going to have a target, if we had a strong alliance, she wouldn’t become a target until later. And Shannon was a snake. Chase was an upstanding guy who was strong and who I knew would be strong in challenges. And then Benry and Fabio were perfect too, because they strong guys. I knew that I was going to go into the game and align with guys more than girls, as opposed to aligning with Kelly Purple, Brenda, NaOnka and Sash, four of — in my eyes — the weaker people on the tribe, weaker either mentally or physically. I didn’t want to have a weak alliance. I wanted an alliance of strong people.
HitFix: So how are those weaker people still there and your alliance is mostly gone?
AW: Well, that’s how it turned out. [Laughs.] Sometimes in this game, it’s not so much the people who deserve to be there or the stronger people who end up there. And I get it. I understand it that a lot of the time, weaker people and people who are not threats make it to the end. That’s just the game and I still love the game and I appreciate the game, even if it turns out that way. But I think that if that first vote had gone differently, I would still be in the game and Shannon would be in the game and Kelly B would be in the game. It could have gone either way and it went their way.
HitFix: You were in the game long enough to see everybody for a while. Who’s gameplay do you really respect and who not-so-much?
AW: Hmmm… I don’t really like him personally, but I respect Marty’s gameplay. He’s strategic. He’s very smart. But I think what gets to him is his ego. He likes to vocalize his strategy and tell everyone what a great player he is. But I do like his strategy. He’s a smart player, not emotional, and I appreciate that, just from a viewing standpoint.
At the time, while I was out there, I didn’t like Sash at all. I still don’t like Sash. And even though he’s playing very strategically and very smart, I just, for some reason, don’t respect his game. He’s so behind-the-scenes. He’s like a potted plant, even though he’s making all of these moves. It’s frustrating for me to watch. I want somebody who’s vocal about their movies. I don’t know. There’s something about his game that I don’t respect, even though he’s kinda smart about it.
HitFix: As a last question: Given how you were potentially on the chopping block from the second episode on, can you take solace in making it as far as you did after that point?
AW: Oh hell yeah. I’m so happy I made it to the Merge. Nobody at the Merge wanted to see me make it that far, because nobody wanted me to have a say in who gets to win. They all wanted to get rid of me so early that it was so great and so satisfying to make it to the Merge and say “Ha! At least I’m gonna have a say in this.” It was awesome.