James "JT" Thomas may have won Survivor: Tocantins, but after Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, he will now forever be known for his strategic, but ultimately disastrous move of giving an immunity idol to a member of the other tribe. Not only did JT give an immunity idol to someone he didn't know, on the other team, but he gave the idol to Russell Hantz, a player infamous for his ability to find immunity idols without clues, and arguably one of the most powerful members of the Villains tribe. The 25-year-old Thomas spoke with TVGuide.com about his widely ridiculed game play, the lack of trust on the Heroes tribe altogether and what you didn't see on TV when it came to finding that fateful idol.
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TVGuide.com: What were your thoughts going into Tribal Council? How likely did you think it was that you would be going home?
JT Thomas: I knew the Villains were going to vote for me; I knew I was their first target. So I knew there was a good chance that if things didn't work out in my favor, I was going home. I felt like it showed that I was a little more confident going into Tribal Council than I was. I didn't even know that the Heroes would all even vote together. I thought that Candice may betray me. I felt like she was really ready to get rid of me ever since I found the idol. I knew there was a good chance, but you're always shocked when you hear your name called out.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you were the Villains' first target?
JT: I felt like I was definitely playing more aggressively than anyone else on the Heroes tribe. Russell probably knew, when I made that move [to give him the idol], he was probably surprised that I did it and that I was also willing to do whatever it took to win the game. He was probably as ready to get rid of me as much as I was ready to get rid of Parvati.
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TVGuide.com: What did think of Parvati's move giving two hidden immunity idols away?
JT: It was definitely a very complex Tribal Council. There was so much that went into that and no one had any idea who was going to vote for who. We all had our own plan. This was the first time that I realized Parvati had an idol that Russell didn't know about. I figured they both had shared that information. Also, Russell didn't really know what was going down either. He thought we were really voting for Sandra like we told him. He had no idea Parvati had an idol.
TVGuide.com: Looking back, why do you think you still didn't believe what Rupert said about the actual dynamic on the Villains tribe?
JT: It was really tough to see that last night ... Sandra was scared to talk because Russell was watching her. We just regret the fact that we didn't listen to Rupert. The stories he told before that were what made it hard for us to believe him.
TVGuide.com: How long did you, and possibly other members of the Heroes tribe, start thinking there was a female alliance on the Villains tribe?
JT: Well, I wish I had never said a word, but when Tyson went home, I knew there had to be some girls getting together over there because they're voting off all guys and voting off big competitors. I said something and then, at every challenge, Rupert says it out loud and starts announcing it to everybody. So, I should have just kept my mouth shut and kept that to myself, rather than share it with the tribe.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you trusted Russell and took that risk?
JT: I felt like, no matter what, Russell would be in the game and one of the girls would be gone, if we won [last week's] challenge. Candice and Amanda were really making me nervous because I had the idol and they didn't and I felt like I was a threat to them at that point. I knew for Candice and Amanda to save themselves, they would give me up in a heartbeat at the merge. I really tried to get the idol and the target off my back and also, take a chance on someone else. I really had no idea who Russell was, not a clue, so I thought I'd reach out and see if that play could get me further in the game.
TVGuide.com: What do you think now that you've been able to watch the episodes and see the real dynamic of the Villains tribe?
JT: It was really tough. Russell is a really good strategic player ... as soon as someone caught on to him; he got rid of them quickly. I thought, he's done really well in getting far in the game so far. I really helped him ... That's my fault. I don't feel like I would ever give that idol to Russell again if there was another opportunity like that. But you have to do whatever you can to move forward in the game and I was willing to risk it.
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TVGuide.com: Was there ever someone else on either tribe you thought about giving the idol to?
JT: Mainly, I was really hoping if I could give it to the Villains, my tribe would believe in me and stick together and then we could take them down. I never expected them to come out with two idols. I really thought, worst-case scenario, one of them goes home, I don't have the idol and we're still five-five. I never took into account for the idol coming back into play.
TVGuide.com: Where did these trust issues you had with the Heroes tribe come from?
JT: It was between everybody. It was a rough tribe. We had to vote people out that we didn't want to early. I had two people pulling me to be in their alliance, so I was going to make half the tribe mad sooner or later no matter what I did. I never really felt like I was safe, 100 percent. I knew I was never getting voted out before last night, but, given the opportunity, there would be some people turning on me. I knew Candice and Amanda would save themselves. Rupert and Colby were pretty solid allies.
TVGuide.com: Why did you decide to look for the hidden immunity idol on your own?
JT: That was tough for me to watch, because it would appear that I was the first one to look for it, but I was actually the very last person, other than Colby, to look for the idol. Rupert went that night and looked all night and dug everywhere. Candice was gone before daylight looking for it ... As soon as I got there, the first time I ever looked, like four seconds someone was up on me. So it was just bad timing on my part. I just never expected to find it, I figured they didn't have it.
TVGuide.com: When you left the game, who did you want to win?
JT: I still want Colby or Rupert, those were my guys. I knew that Rupert or Colby, no matter what, would stick by me. Even though Rupert knew something was going on and we wouldn't listen, he stuck by me.