After two brutal immunity challenges loses and two dramatic tribal councils, the heroes of Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains are beginning to look less, well, heroic. Despite her alliance with Tom and Colby, Stephenie LaGrossa couldn't save herself from the wrath of Rupert and James. "It's a game, and you want to win, but you want to enjoy your experience out there, because it's miserable as it is," she told TVGuide.com. "And being around people like James and Rupert really did make it unbearable."
Following last night's heated tribal council and her early exit, the 29-year-old also discussed what went wrong during the immunity challenge, the deep divisions within the heroes tribe, and her and Tom's now-defunct plan to take the game.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think James pointed the finger at you, more than anyone else, after the challenge?
Stephenie LaGrossa: He was yelling the whole challenge at everyone, so the moment we lost, he was cursing and looking right at me. I got defensive. It wasn't just me talking ... He just lost his stuff ... Yes, I was talking during the challenge. We all were. There were moments when J.T. was supposed to be leading us through this challenge and nothing was being said. ... At one point Candice stepped up and she kind of was leading the challenge. It's good if there's one voice but if that one voice is wrong or stumped, you have to move on to plan B. From the beginning, we never had that challenge right.
TVGuide.com: Was there conflict between you and James before the challenge?
Stephenie: James was really in tight with Amanda and J.T., and we were trying to get J.T., at least Tom and Colby were. Rupert, from day one, didn't like me, and he was kind of in with them. I still don't know to this day why he didn't like me, but he told Colby he didn't like me. I don't know if they all stuck together and I was on the outs or what. To be honest, I'm a really outgoing person and I was really quiet this season. There were many times this season me, Tom, Colby and Cirie just kind of sat back and didn't say anything. ... It just really wasn't a fun group of people to be around.
TVGuide.com: Last week, Sugar went home because she had very few, if any, strong connections or alliances. Do you think your connections to certain players helped or hurt you?
Stephenie: I don't think it helped or hurt because I knew one person. The people that are still on there, with the exception of the person I knew — Tom — J.T., Amanda, Rupert and James were all pretty involved. We thought Cirie was in with them too. I just didn't have enough numbers. And they are really close with people on the other side so if they get to the merge, they've got that going for them. So really all I knew was Tom. I never even met Colby before, I just like him as a player.
TVGuide.com: When you and Tom were together on Palau, you had an interesting relationship because you were allies and then enemies. Were you hesitant to align with him this season?
Stephenie: I love Tom. Tom is like a brother to me, we come from very similar backgrounds. We really get along. So for me, it was really a no-brainer aligning with Tom. But at the same time, when he stabbed me in the back in Palau, it was because we had too much distance between us. This was close to the end; he had to think about the outcome. Had he kept me around, there was a good chance I could have beat him in a final tribal council. So he was smart, he did the right thing. This time around, our plan was at least to get to the merge together and at least try to go close to the end together. [We said], he takes me to the end or if I take him to the end, I'm winning — he already won. So I knew I was going to have to beat him at an individual challenge at the end for me to really take him out. That was an understanding we had.
TVGuide.com: At tribal council, Colby talked about how everyone was worried about self-preservation very early in the game. Why do you think that happened within the heroes tribe?
Stephenie: We were the first people to lose. So immediately now we're at tribal council the first two times and everyone is freaking out. When they really should have been worried about keeping the tribe strong so we don't go back there, they were worried about previous alliances or relationships. Now two people don't like somebody and they're all going to stick together. I think they'll realize it was a huge mistake getting rid of me.
TVGuide.com: After the two back-to-back losses, what does the heroes tribe need to do to get back in the game?
Stephenie: It's just a matter of morale. It's a matter of how they work together moving forward. James is turning into a huge lunatic/bully and who wants to be around that? Is he going to do that again at the challenges?
TVGuide.com: Is there someone in particular on your team you found to be more of a villain than a hero?
Stephenie: J.T. is supposed to be this really nice guy and he's promising everyone everything and cutting throats. Then James, the "gentle giant," is not so gentle and not a gentleman at all. I'm already voted out, and he still tells me to shut my mouth. Who talks to somebody like that on national television? People are definitely going to turn into villains. I can say true heroes are Tom and Colby. You can't deny that.
TVGuide.com: Do you regret coming back?
Stephenie: No, it was an awesome experience. Moving forward, I found new friendships sort of out of the game as people started coming off and it was a good time. We had a lot of fun.