From the start of Survivor: Nicaragua, Brenda Lowe seemed to have it all: tight alliances, great physical prowess and a talent for manipulative mind games. But after she showed her true power over the tribe in last week's vote, the target moved to Brenda's back and ally NaOnka Mixon jumped ship to save herself. "She was my main alliance," Lowe told TVGuide.com of her former partner-in-crime. "I trusted her 1,000 percent." The 27-year-old business owner talked with TVGuide.com about NaOnka's sweet side (apparently she has one!), the truth about her relationship with Chase Rice, and why Jeff Probst got to her at tribal council.
TVGuide.com: Did you have any idea that Sash wasn't going to use the hidden immunity idol to save you?
Brenda Lowe: This is the problem that they didn't show on TV. At one point on the beach at the rocks, I had told NaOnka my plan for taking out Sash. When Sash was away on the reward challenge with all the guys [last week], I started thinking, "Can I really trust Sash? What's he doing right now? What is he doing with Marty?" I told NaOnka I'm not sure if I could trust Sash. He was, in my opinion, the only other person who was more intelligent or as intelligent as me. He was a little sneaky. I started telling her we might have to take out Sash sooner rather than later and she looked at me and was like, "Hmmm." So I'm sure she told Sash that information. He believed it and it was true. I changed my mind obviously when I could trust him with the Marty vote, but by that point it was already too late. NaOnka had told him. He knows he can't trust me.
So no, I didn't expect Sash [to give me the idol]. I wanted it, I wished for it. I really, to the last second, was thinking he might do it, but it didn't happen.
TVGuide.com: What do you think pushed NaOnka to switch sides?
Brenda: It was because of that, it was because of the conversation about me wanting to take out Sash. I was like that we had to take out Sash, and if we can't take out Sash, then we got to Jane and Holly on our side and we got to vote out Benry. Then, after that, we're going to vote out Fabio. I had the path to the end. She was looking at me like, "Holy s---. This girl is serious. She will take out Chase and Sash in a heartbeat." So I think that was her clue, if she's willing to take out Sash, why isn't she willing to take me out? Unfortunately, honestly, I don't have to lie about it; I was not planning on taking NaOnka out ever. It was her, Purple Kelly and me to the end. But she didn't believe me and that's when she started to turn. It was nothing personal. People don't see the sweet side of her and our friendship, but we really did have one.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think the other alliance targeted you and not Sash?
Brenda: I guess it had to be more that I was better in challenges than Sash. Sash dropped right away in all the challenges. ... And Chase was so wishy-washy, but when it came to me, he never wanted to take me out. It was never an option for him. Chase was becoming a big alliance for Holly and Jane, so it was in Holly's benefit to get rid of me and have Chase all to herself.
TVGuide.com: Throughout the game, everyone commented on your close alliance with Chase and theorized that you even had a spell on him. Why was he so loyal to you?
Brenda: It was an extremely close friendship that we still share. I respect Chase. I laugh about the funny things I said in the game [when she called Chase "annoying"], but I kind of feel bad because he did stick by me. That says a lot for Survivor, to have someone like that by your side. I was very lucky to have someone like Chase, and I think it was because of the really natural, organic relationship that we created on Day 1. It was beautiful and I stuck by it.
The only reason he started to get on my nerves so much was because he was starting to get paranoid about my talking to Marty. I really was like, "Don't do that to me, Chase. You're over there sleeping with Holly and Jane and I'm not doubting you. I don't get paranoid about you talking to them." I would talk to Marty for five minutes and Chase would come up and say "Jane says we can't trust you with Marty." It's like, Chase, get out of my face. Quit giving me a hard time. Stop with the paranoia, it was driving me nuts.
TVGuide.com: Earlier this season, Shannon alluded that your relationship was something more than friendship. Is that true?
Brenda: I think if it was, it was definitely in the very beginning, like literally the first night. But after that, it turned into Survivor. Suddenly, you're dirty and you're hungry. We got into the game and it was just a solid friendship. And come on, he's a cute guy. If I was cuddling up to him or something, he was very cute and very easy on the eyes with his accent and his sweetness. It was like, "Aww, Chase is so cute."
TVGuide.com: Probst questioned you a lot about your decision not to scramble before tribal council. Do you regret that now?
Brenda: No, and let's get this very clear. Just because I didn't scramble like a chicken with my head cut off doesn't mean that I laid there and sunbathed the whole day. I did try. I fought until the end to get to stay in the game. My strategy and my thinking was that the people who could save me are Chase and Sash. Benry, and all these people, whatever. My miracle was that hidden immunity idol, and I wanted Sash to trust me enough to give it to me. I had to show him that he could trust me and my only way of showing Sash he could trust me was to not scramble. If I was to be going up to Benry, Dan, Fabio, Holly and Jane, Sash would look at me like, "What is she trying? She's smart enough to try something, so can I trust her? Hell no." It really got to me, and it still does, when Jeff asked if I was too proud to scramble. I'm like, "I'm still trying. Shut up!" Are you supposed to scramble just to prove you want to stay in the game? No, I had to stick by that strategy.