In writing his name down on Wednesday’s (April 18) “Survivor: One World,” Chelsea faulted Leif Manson for being wishy washy.
That may confuse some viewers, because in some cases, Leif’s “Survivor” sin appeared to be staying too devoted to harmful alliances, like when he kept faith with Colton, even as the season’s primary villain was calling him a munchkin or an Ooompa Loompa either to his face or behind his back.
In truth, though, Leif’s real “Survivor” crime was just being a man in a season that started with a Men vs Women split, but has become a rout, with five consecutive men sent home for various reasons.
In his “Survivor” exit interview, the 27-year-old phlebotomist discusses being wishy washy, his relationship with Colton and how he came to find himself sleeping in a crate.
HitFix: When she wrote down your name at Tribal Council, Chelsea said that your problem was that you were wishy washy. Do you think you were wishy washy out there?
Leif Manson: I definitely feel like, at times, I can be a slightly wishy washy person, but that’s what “Survivor” is about, a lot of the time, is having to be wishy washy and having to go back and forth between different alliances. So that definitely hurt, what she said.
HitFix: Do you think that there was a more steadfast that that you could have taken? Or were you pushed into having to switch back and forth the way you did?
Leif: In the whole beginning, I was definitely seeing myself going all the way to the end, without a doubt, but then things really started started getting complicated when the whole Merge came and all the girls really started putting little hints and all that stuff in the guys’ ears. It definitely put a whole different swing on things, especially with Colton being evacuated out of the game. That definitely was a huge game-changer, too.
HitFix: It really felt as if after the Merge, you and Jonas and a few other people from your tribe really never found your footing at all. Does that seem right?
Leif: It does. It does. I know for myself, I let myself get a little too comfortable in the whole game and alliances and stuff. That was definitely one of my downfalls in not trying to do more, I suppose. I definitely still gave it my 100 percent, but that definitely had a part in it, too, just getting too comfortable.
HitFix: Did you think that you had alliances out there with people that were going to get you further than they did? Or did you know that you were always a bit on the outside?
Leif: Yeah, definitely. I know I had talked to a lot of those girls and I definitely felt very, very safe with a lot of them, especially with Alicia and Kim and Kat, but as things started to progress more and more, it definitely got a lot more technical and yeah, things just went from bad to worse. [Rueful laugh.]
HitFix: In this circumstance, why do you think the women chose to vote you out, rather than Tarzan?
Leif: It was definitely part of them just seeing me as a bigger threat, because I know they had Tarzan under their control, so that didn’t make it any easier for us.
HitFix: Did you feel like you were more independent-minded out there than Tarzan was?
Leif: Yeah. At times. At times, you feel like you have so many options, but at the same time, you really don’t. [Laughs ruefully.]
HitFix: Explain that a little…
Leif: When Tarzan and I, when he was just cleaning my face and we were talking about how it was either him or me, I would have had no idea that he would have voted for me. [Another rueful laugh.]
HitFix: And what did you make of it when you saw that he voted for you?
Leif: It definitely hurt. That’s where I really felt like what Alicia said, you’ve really got to take your heart out of the game and become a different person and start thinking a lot more with your head instead of your heart.
HitFix: A couple of times, especially in the early going, it seemed like you might just be too nice of a guy for this show. Were you prepared for all of the lying and backstabbing? Were you prepared to do it yourself?
Leif: That’s kinda what I told myself going into the game. I told myself, “Alright. Either I’m just gonna be myself and see how far it gets me or just be something totally different and who knows how far I’ll get.” So I chose to be myself. I was happy with how far I got. It definitely would have been a little bit better if I would have made it at least a couple more spots, at least to the Final Four. Things would have been different.
HitFix: Did you have opportunities, then, where you think you could have lied or backstabbed and it would have made a huge difference in your game?
Leif: That’s a hard one. That is “Survivor.” You do have to do a little bit of lying and backstabbing. I did have to do have to do a little bit of that and I didn’t really feel good about it and it didn’t really get me where I wanted to be, so it was hard.
HitFix: One of the times we saw you being honest, rather than lying, was when you talked to Bill and it incited that whole firestorm. Were you stunned by how things played out after that conversation?
Leif: Yeah. It was a total surprise to Bill. He had no idea that he was possibly going to be voted out. Definitely doing that and voting Bill out was definitely a bad choice.
HitFix: In that moment, you seemed very regretful and you seemed ready to fall on your sword. Looking back do you feel like you did anything wrong?
Leif: No, I don’t. Bill and I definitely started getting a lot closer and I definitely related a lot with Bill. He and I started becoming really close, so I really don’t regret telling him what I told him.
HitFix: And what was your relationship with Colton really like out there?
Leif: Well, things have changed a little from what he said about me, but him and I were definitely on the same page and definitely we had a solid alliance and he and I were definitely solid and I definitely saw us going to the end.
HitFix: But a lot of what he said about you, he said to your face. How hurt were you by the insults?
Leif: The munchkin thing, I didn’t know he said all of that. But I knew all of the other stuff. It definitely widened my eyes to him and it was definitely a shocker to see that, even with somebody who I have a really solid alliance with, him saying that kinda stuff was a little forthcoming and I was surprised. I was really surprised.
HitFix: When I talked to him, he talked about how a lot of the things he was saying, those were just his sense of humor. Did you think he was joking or…
Leif: Yeah, part of me, it just seemed like he started changing into somebody he wasn’t, but also, in a way, these are your true emotions coming out and… yeah. So it was definitely interesting to see different sides of people, from one side to the other, of what really comes out.
HitFix: As a last question: We saw this a couple times. Were you sleeping in a crate out there?
Leif: [His first laugh that *wasn’t* rueful.] Yeah. Yes! We had won a reward challenge of a box full of some really nice nylon ropes and I know that as soon as Jeff said, “You get to take that box home too with all the ropes inside,” I was starting to size it up as best as possible and really hoping that that was going to be my new bed.
HitFix: Was it better? Was it an improvement?
Leif: Oh my gosh! That made a world of difference, being able to have five walls around you instead of zero? And better than having your extremities going to sleep from sleeping on the bamboo? Or sleeping on the ground with the scorpions. It definitely was a very, very nice thing to have that box. I actually still miss that box. I literally do. I really do. I miss it a lot.