A big part of how “Survivor” has remained a relatively vigorous franchise after some 23-plus seasons and over 350 episodes is that somehow, despite a formula which is only tweaked in tiny ways each installment, human beings are unpredictable and can always be counted upon to do ridiculous and unprecedented things.
Take, for example, this week’s episode of “Survivor: One World.”
After starting the season in dominant form, the Men proceeded to lose three straight challenges and even host Jeff Probst was suspecting that momentum had swung to the Women. Then, the Men routed the Women in the episode’s Immunity Challenge. It was a humiliating defeat and ended with Probst haranguing the women for their flippant attitude about defeat.
The Men had the upper hand again, right?
Evil Mastermind Colton was so fed up — fairly inexplicably so — with stand-up comic Bill Posley that he convinced the Tribe that there was sufficient cancer within their group that rather than waiting until their next Immunity defeat, they’d be better off handing Immunity to the Women and going to Tribal Council.
What followed was one of the most explosive and absurd Tribal Councils in the game’s history, an onslaught of name-calling, speechifying and derision that touched on race, class and sexuality in the oddest of ways.
You’d be better off just reading my recap to try getting a feeling for it.
Bill ended up as the victim in Colton’s maneuver, but he also came away looking like possibly the only sensible person on a Tribe of worms and lunatics.
That perception is likely to be reenforced by Bill’s exit interview, though even after asking the question multiple times, I’m still left with the burning question: Why did he go along with the Tribal Council plan in the first place?
Click through for Bill’s answer to that question and more…
HitFix: In the post-eviction interview on Wednesday, you were almost philosophical. You were like, “Well, I was either going this week or next week, whatever.” You’ve had the chance to think about this and to watch a few episodes. Do you feel any different now?
Bill Posley: No. I don’t. I feel the same way. I don’t feel any different. If there’s one thing I am surprised at, I guess I’m surprised at how much power Colton had and I didn’t know. When Leif explains to me that [Colton] has the Idol, that’s the first time I knew he has it and I’m just like, “What?!?” And then I find out that he doesn’t like me and that’s the first time I knew that either. Up until that point, Colton isn’t somebody who I was aligned with, so me and him don’t have much interaction as far as game strategy is concerned. And then when you watch it, you’re just like, “Wow. He had all of those guys wrapped around his finger and afraid of him.” I did not know that. I’m being told by those very same guys like, “We can get Colton” or “We’re in an alliance together” and “Don’t worry, don’t worry, don’t worry” and I’m taking their word as face value and everybody’s taking everybody’s word at face value, which is interesting.
HitFix: Given what you know now, was there anything you could have done to prevent what happened to you?
Bill: Well yeah. Not go to Tribal Council. Yeah. I could have spoken up and said, “Let’s not go to Tribal Council now and have this out.” However, at the time, I’m going: OK. Look. Either Leif or I am going home and nobody’s gonna vote for him. I’m trying to run around and talk to people and say, “Let’s get Colton. Let’s get Colton. Let’s try to blindside him.” I thought that my alliances were strong in that capacity, but the loyalty just wasn’t there at the end of the day. I was trying to get ahead, but it just unfortunately didn’t pan out that way and I got got. But yeah, had we not gone to Tribal Council, then this whole thing changes.
HitFix: Let’s flashback. What was your first reaction to the ridiculous “Let’s Go Vote Ourselves Out!” plan when you heard it?
Bill: My first reaction is: “Is that even legal?” Can we even do that? My second reaction: Wow. If these guys are willing to give up Immunity, they’re willing to throw a challenge. It’s the same thing. You’re willing to give up the ability to keep your numbers strong in order to get rid of somebody. So it was time to take a stand. I was sitting there going, “I have to take a stand against Colton. Nobody else is.” I didn’t even know that nobody else was, but I did and wanted to to. But yeah. My first reaction: Can we even do that?
HitFix: What were the logistics there? Did a producer have to reassure you guys that yes, this was in fact, legal?
Bill: Without talking too much behinds-the-scenes, when the idea of it came up, it… it became knowledge that in order for us to do that, everybody had to agree. And so we all sat around and talked about it. The Leif-falling-on-the-sword thing gets played out. We do it. So then I’m sitting there going, “OK. Colton thinks Leif’s going home or maybe I’m going home or whatever. He’s not going to play that Idol. Let’s send him home with it.” We didn’t. I didn’t know that he had control over those other guys like that.
HitFix: At the time, how much receptiveness did you think you were getting?
Bill: I thought I had three or four guys. I did. You look at another guy and he goes, “Yeah, man. We’re gonna do that. Let’s do it.” That’s all you get. You don’t get to follow that dude around and sneak in and listen to all of his conversations. You just go, “Alright, I’m gonna take you at face value.” Leif went out on a limb and told me that I was on the chopping block, so I thought that if there’s one person willing to be truthful and open and honest, then I can assume that other people are. So I thought the receptiveness was pretty high.
HitFix: I hate to harp on this, but it seems like such an obvious thing: So all you had to do was say, “I’m not going”? All you had to do was sit on a tree stump and say, “I’m not moving, send the damn Women.” Why did you not do that?
Bill: Like I said before… That’s under the assumption that I know I’m going home. I don’t know that, at the time. If they were like, “Yo, Bill. We’re gonna vote you out. You wanna do this?” I’d have been like, “No. No I don’t.” However, like I said, I thought one of two things: I thought that making this move was a good opportunity to blindside Colton, because he would assume that Leif or I was going home and that’s why I didn’t just say “No.” And then, if they’re willing to give up Immunity, then they’re willing to throw a challenge and I thought this would be a good place to take a stand and try and make the big move. It didn’t pan out on that front.
HitFix: We all know that what we see at home from Tribal Council has been dramatically cut down. How long did that actual Tribal Council and representative was what we saw?
Bill: It was very representative. And it was long. We have no time devices or time pieces or anything like that, so I don’t know, at the end of the day. It was long and time just all blends into one after a certain point, you know? It’s just all a long time. But yes, it was much longer than that. There were a lot of opinions being thrown out there, but it was very representative. If you guys walk away from that Tribal Council with the impression that Colton’s sheltered, inexperienced, ignorant and kinda a spoiled brat, then it’s representative of who that person is.
HitFix: Is there any chance that this is a role he has decided to play? That this is a character he’s taken on for reasons I can’t quite figure out yet?
Bill: [Laughs.] If… N… This would be… No. I’m gonna be honest with you, I don’t think anybody’s that c… Like, No. I can’t even… I was gonna play… I was gonna riff with you a little bit, but no. That’s why I’m not so angry at the dude. Sometimes people just grow up without ever really seeing the world and interacting with other people and living a sheltered life. You know? To know that it’s not OK to call Leif an “Ooompa Loompa”? Like, to know that it’s not OK? I get playing a character, but there’s a difference between being a villain, like Russell being a villain, or whatever and then there’s being mean for no reason. Tricking people into doing stuff is one thing. Lying to people about stuff? That’s playing the game. Literally making fun of and judging and belittling people based on simply who they are? Leif’s a little person. “Ooompa Loompa” is probably something that he’s been called his entire life and it’s probably hurt him. “Munchkin” is probably something that he’s been called his entire life and it’s probably hurt him. And to say those things with such passion and validity behind your voice? Who are you? Who do you think you are? If that’s the character that that guy’s playing? That’s even worse, bro. If you choose that? That’s worse.
HitFix: No argument here. Have you lost respect for the other guys you were out there with for being so totally under Colton’s thumb?
Bill: Yeah. Let me just do this: Them ultimately deciding to vote me out? Not upset about. Them not flushing out the Idol? Upset about. Them not speaking their minds and their opinions at Tribal Council after everything Colton said? Upset about. Aside from the game that we’re playing and all these other things, to sit there and let people verbally abuse and say things about others, I wouldn’t even stand for that. I spoke up because the things that were being said were malicious. They didn’t come from a good place and I’m disappointed in my teammates for just letting those things be said and not standing up. Not saying anything is as bad as believing it sometimes, you know? Because all you’re doing is saying, “It’s OK enough for me to not say anything, because I’m afraid that I’ll have a target pointed at my back.” But voting me off? No. That’s part of the game. I decided to go out there and do this and me losing is what might happen when you play. And making a bad decision or a dumb decision is what might happen when you play. That’s why it’s so fascinating, because the human element of this game can be brilliant or idiocy. And sometimes you fall on the latter half of that. But yeah, I wish those guys had a little bit more opinion on some of the negative things that were being said about Leif and me and just people altogether. How do you just sit quiet and let somebody do that?
HitFix: What was your reaction to Tarzan’s plea for a post-racial “Survivor”? If you had a reaction, we didn’t see it…
Bill: Unfortunately, I feel like Tarzan wasn’t commenting on really what I was talking about. I was trying to steer the conversation away from racism. That had already happened with Phillip [Sheppard], that whole racial thing. He was way wrong. I’m not some angry black guy who needs to be heard. That’s why I wanted to start by saying, “This isn’t a black or white thing. I think you just have a class issue with me. I think you have a general dislike just for who I am, not because I’m black, not because I’m half-white, not because of any of that stuff. I think you just don’t like me.” And then I think that Tarzan, the reason I didn’t respond to him, is because he wasn’t talking about anything that I was trying to portray. Because I’m not that guy. Again, I don’t think that Colton is a racist by any means. I just think he’s ignorant and inexperienced and that’s his truth. Again, I say that what I find so amazing about “Survivor” is that 18 people can come together from different walks of life and co-exist and play this game and be either one Tribe or two Tribes or work together and play against one another and have respect for each other. I respect him. He doesn’t respect me.
HitFix: Have you found any way yet to integrate “Survivor” into your stand-up and will you be able to do that now?
Bill: I don’t think I can do it now, but the minute that I am open and free to do that, it will be. Any part of my life that I’ve ever had controversy or that has been a big deal, I’ve turned into laughter and a joke. That’s just the nature of who I am, turning drama into comedy. It’s the best. It’s my favorite thing to do in the world.