Last week on Survivor: All-Stars, love was definitely not in the air when 40-year-old Lex van de Berghe got his torch snuffed out. After sacrificing tribemate Jerri two weeks ago — so his pal Boston Rob could keep girlfriend Amber around — it was Lex's turn to get burned. Mere moments after helping the lovebirds reunite, Lex was backstabbed by his Beantown bud at tribal council. Here, the first member of the All-Stars jury tells TV Guide Online about his intense strategy, why he voted out Ethan and his feelings toward Rob.
TV Guide Online: Are you happy with the way you played the game?
Lex van de Berghe:
I'm absolutely, 100-percent thrilled with the way that I played the game. It is the one thing that I can walk away [from] feeling totally good and at peace with. What you see is what you get with me. I only know how to play the game the way I am, which is straight and hard.
TVGO: Out of all the All-Stars, you were one of few truly focused on winning.
I went in there with the eye on the prize from day one. I knew that going out there was going to end up being a huge sacrifice that my family had to make for me. I wanted to make sure, in doing this, that it was worth all the sacrifice. And that meant trying to come back with a victory. It is surprising to me how few people there were out there playing a hard game. So many people seem to be content either cruising along on other peoples' coattails or hiding and playing this under-the-radar subtle game. I don't really have a lot of respect for that method of playing. It may get you to the winner's circle, but I wanted to play it by being in the driver's seat and making the hard decisions.
TVGO: Do you regret keeping Amber instead of Jerri?
It would have been great to be psychic and to see the fact that I couldn't trust Rob at all to be loyal to our friendship. Frankly, I really wanted to keep Jerri in the first place. The executive decision to get rid of Jerri was one that Kathy made. [Kathy and I] had an alliance, and I respected her decision and I decided to support her on that. But if it had been left completely up to me, Jerri would have stayed and Amber would have gone.
TVGO: Why did you think you could trust Boston Rob?
When we were out there playing the game, he was on the other tribe and we didn't see all this double-dealing, despicable-scoundrel behavior. Also, you need to understand that, just from an emotional standpoint, Rob and I were close friends outside of the game. We had been tight for quite a while. We saw each other. We called each other. That tends to cloud your ability to make certain kinds of decisions in a game like this. For me, it was simply a friend came to me with tears in his eyes, asking me for help. When my friends need me, I jump. That's the kind of person I am. I would throw myself into the fire for a friend, if I thought that it would help them out. When he came to me, I had to decide, "What is more important to me, friendship or money?" Friendship is always going to be more important to me than money.
TVGO: But you're friends with Ethan outside of the game too, and you voted him off.
I am friends with Ethan. I didn't do anything to betray Ethan in this game. We didn't make any sort of agreements.
TVGO: So you didn't have an alliance that you broke?
Absolutely none. The only agreement that we made in this game was that he asked me to promise him that if we were voting him out, I would tell him ahead of time. He didn't want to be blindsided. I did that; I honored my promise to him. We had no alliance. He was a threat; he was an ex-winner and he had to go.
TVGO: OK, how aware were you of Rob and Amber's romance?
I knew that there was something there. I certainly didn't know to what extent until he came to me with tears in his eyes. Then, I thought, "Oh, this is a little more significant and a little closer than I thought it was." But that wasn't really relevant to my decision, except from a strategic standpoint. [I thought] if we had Amber on our tribe and if I saved her and Rob was good on his promise to do everything he could to take care of me, then I had basically created some good, strong alliances on my side.
TVGO: But wouldn't it have been smarter to ditch Amber and break up their alliance?
It would have, but I would have felt like I wasn't helping a friend in need. Cost me a million bucks.
TVGO: You had an alliance with Kathy, but in your closing remarks, you were rooting for Big Tom. Why?
I love Kathy. She was true to me and loyal to me until the very end, no doubt about that in my mind. However, with Big Tom, outside of the game, he is my closest friend. He is like a brother to me. Kathy knows that I had her back the whole time and that I was wishing her nothing but the best as well.
TVGO: So your words were spurred on by her decision to keep the immunity necklace, instead of giving it to you like she'd promised?
Absolutely not. The editing kind of skewed and confused what was going on there. Because they made it look like when she wasn't going to give me immunity, I was reacting and was angry. That reaction was actually edited out of sequence. That reaction was to Rob saying, "I hope we can be friends after this game is over." In reality, Kathy really, really wanted to give me her immunity. I didn't think it was fair for her to win the immunity fair and square and give it to me and then for her to get voted out. If she had offered it to me at tribal council, I would have turned it down.
TVGO: If you and Tom were friends, why didn't you try to sway his vote?
Oh, I did. I tried everything. I scrambled. I talked to Tom. I talked to Rupert and Jenna. I did everything I could to try and sway them over to my side so that I could survive a few more days. And nobody would have anything to do with it. I'm still scratching my head and wondering how Rob has these people so snowed and under his spell. They all seem to be totally content to just follow and be his sheep. If somebody there doesn't get off their ass and get out from under the radar, they are going to be like lambs to the slaughter.
TVGO: Do you think you'll be friendly with Rob after this game is over?
I will always be civil with him. But we'll never be friends again.
TVGO: What about Ethan?
Oh yeah, Ethan and I are still pals. Jerri and I are still close. Rob screwed me in a way that a friend should never screw another friend. I've got such good friends around me that I know better than to keep someone like that close. Burn me once, shame on you. Burn me twice, shame on me.
TVGO: Would you ever consider doing another Survivor?
As idiotic as this sounds, yeah, I would. I don't think I could resist the allure of doing it again. How dumb is that?