No season of Survivor would be complete without a few twists, and Palau has proved no different. Last Thursday, Janu Tornell was the first contestant to drop out of an immunity challenge that required the Survivors to be submerged in an underwater cage. Janu's punishment was temporary exile on another island. Surprisingly, the 39-year-old Vegas showgirl loved her solitary confinement, then voluntarily brought Jeff her torch to snuff during tribal council. Here, TVGuide.com learns why Janu called it quits.
TVGuide.com: You looked really thin toward the end. How much weight did you lose?
Janu Tornell: About 12 lbs. It took a toll. There was no water and then no food. Then [when] there was food, I would throw it up every single time. It was really rough.
TVG: How was it dealing with the rats?
Janu: At first they freaked me out. Afterward, they just became gerbils and Muppets. They are just part of the tribe. What can you do? I would sleep next to Coby and, bless his heart, he had a rat stick and he would say, "Go away, rats, and leave my sugar alone." And I would scream. They were not afraid of us.
TVG: Coby — who now sits in the jury — looked so disappointed when you quit. I think he took it harder than you did.
Janu: Possibly, or at least [equally]. He's gone, so who's going to stir it up? Now I'm gone and the only other hope is for Stephenie to stir it up. I think that is why he gave a look to Stephenie when I laid my torch down.
TVG: Any regrets about your decision?
Janu: No, none whatsoever. I got what I got out of it. I don't come from a family of wealth. If somebody were to [hold out their hands and] say to me, "Here's $1 million or here is the experience that you had," there is just no equality there. A million dollars would have been great — I'm not saying I wouldn't have liked the $1 million!
Janu: When I started to listen to how the [tribe] was answering the questions that [host] Jeff [Probst] was asking them. I realized I'm a play piece. I am a pawn and they are moving me around. [I thought,] "Eventually, I'm going to go, and I'm ready to go now. So I'm going to go when I want to go, and it is going to make them think twice about what is happening."
TVG: So you did stir up a little more trouble.
Janu: I did. Just to their faces and not behind their backs.
TVG: Being sequestered on that island alone seemed to rejuvenate you. Would more time there have changed your decision?
Janu: No, it wouldn't have changed anything. It changed me, but I just couldn't stand being [in the game] anymore. I was able to play the game and not talk bad about anybody. [I don't understand how you] are able to change your complete personality and be this "game" person and still live with yourself. If somebody can explain that one to me, then maybe I'll have a different viewpoint. I don't see how it can be done.
TVG: Were you freaked about when you had to go to the island alone?
Janu: No. I wasn't. Absolutely not. I remember being in the cage and thinking, "I almost want to go on exile." Then Jeff started talking, asking, "Are you getting cold, Janu?"
TVG: It seemed like Jeff was trying to make you quit that challenge.
Janu: No. He knows this game better than anybody. He is very good at assessing what is happening, and good [at saying] things that are going to trigger your mind. He's not just a host. He gets in your face. He got in their faces when they were in the cage and said, "Here you are, this happy Koror tribe, and one of your members gets [exiled] by her choice, but you guys are laughing. What is this, open mic session?" That shut them up.
TVG: Katie gave you the most trouble. Was she the hardest to get along with?
Janu: Yes. She was the most difficult. Do I hate her? Absolutely not. Do I have ill feelings toward her? Absolutely not. For her, I was a piece that she could do her stand-up comedy act [about] and be on camera all the time. She's not funny. To me, she's hurtful.
TVG: Are you planning to return to your Vegas show?
Janu: I don't think so. But I don't want to close the doors because I loved working the show. They have been supportive.