As a Survivor hero, Tom Westman seemed to have it all: great physical ability, a strong social game and $1 million from winning Survivor: Palau. Unfortunately for the 46-year-old former firefighter, the last factor proved to be his undoing. After using a hidden immunity idol to save himself during last week's tribal council, Tom had his torch put out when the opposing alliance proved too big to defeat. As Tom said, "I was not going quietly into the dark night so they needed to get rid of me." The fallen hero spoke with TVGuide.com about why he was sent home, his predictions for ally Colby and the reason he almost didn't return for Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains.
TVGuide.com: What was going through your mind at tribal council?
Tom Westman: "Frustration" would be the word. I knew I was going and I knew I was going for someone that would be useless. To have somebody else in control of the game and being more interested in keeping their numbers together for a merge with the Villains and joining up with friends they might have on the other side. It's a tough way to go out of the game.
TVGuide.com: Why do you think you were voted out instead of James?
Tom: That whole alliance in the Heroes tribe wasn't playing to try to win, beat the other tribe and go in with stronger numbers; they already got people who they know they're going to be linked up with on the other side so it was less important to them. It was more important to keep James around, who would do what he was told, as opposed to me, who was going to be making some moves.
TVGuide.com: Were you surprised about J.T.'s switch? He's now switched his vote a couple of times on the Heroes tribe.
Tom: He's playing a little too cute. I didn't know him when he played the last round, but he kind of walked in with a little bit of a swagger, like it was his game to lose. He's just going around playing what he thinks is a strong social game, which just about all of us were frustrated with and saw right through. I don't think he's impressed anyone with his strategy or social-skill building.
TVGuide.com: After you narrowly escaped elimination by using the hidden immunity idol, did you feel new pressure to try to stay in the game?
Tom: I felt that pressure from the day that they said Steph was going home. We were fighting for our lives, Colby and I. In spite of that, weren't able to pull off any of those immunity challenges. It's a different desperation mindset when you know you're competing and it's probably you going home that night. Not being to able to put it together and work as a team and get it done, I'm as guilty and as big a part of that failure as anyone else.
TVGuide.com: Was it surprising to you that some of your teammates, like Cirie, felt very strongly about not keeping a winner on the tribe?
Tom: That was one of the reasons I wasn't going to even bother doing this. I knew that was a huge target. The fact that I had won it kind of decisively and had done well with the social and physical game, you knew that there was a reason for them to get rid of you. I figured I was going to be the big target after the merge, not while we were playing tribe against tribe.
TVGuide.com: Did you realize before starting the game that there was going to be such a strong alliance between the Micronesia players?
Tom: I really don't follow it enough to remember what season everyone was from and who had played together. Quickly, you start realizing some of these people had played the game three times together. It being an all-star season, you know that there's going to be friendships that are going to carry on the beach ... I didn't know it would be as bad as it was. I was hoping they would spread the invites around a little more ... It was definitely something that was a huge factor.
TVGuide.com: You and Colby had a close alliance, but now the numbers are very much against him. What will he have to do, in your opinion, to stay in the game?
Tom: I don't know if he will have the ability to integrate himself into that alliance. He's a proud guy who's not going to drink their Kool-Aid. For Colby to stick around, they've got to start winning immunities. I am still rooting for the Heroes to win the challenges to keep my friend from going home.
TVGuide.com: What do the Heroes have to do to start winning more immunity challenges?
Tom: I think they have to stop giving puzzles at the end of every challenge. [Laughs] If they give us puzzles all day, I'll guarantee we'll lose all day. Hopefully, the game is going to get a little more physical ... A lot of credit to Rob — they've got a strong puzzle player on their team. As long as they've got Rob, [the Villains will] beat us at puzzles every time. I don't know how bad we are, I think that we're just not as good as the one guy who just directs their entire puzzle.