Ami Cusack is undeniably the love-to-hate contestant on Survivor: Vanuatu (Thursdays, 8 pm/ET on CBS). The 31-year-old coffee barista brewed up quite a witchy plot: Vote all men off the island and ride a lasting female alliance to the winner's circle. But last week, Ami's remaining tribe mates — including Chris, the last man standing — conspired to take down the physically powerful player before she achieved total domination. Here, Ami defends her wicked ways to TV Guide Online (natch!) and dishes her fantasy of drowning rival Twila.
TV Guide Online: You seemed like the clear winner. What happened?
Ami: I got a little too confident that it was going to be me and Leann in the final two for sure.
TVGO: Before exiting, you said you'd like to hold Twila's head under water. Seriously?
Ami: It was the heat of the moment — but I wouldn't have minded just holding it under for a minute. Not enough to hurt her, just to make her suffer a little. I didn't mean that I wanted to drown her. She got me to a point where I had enough and I was really upset.
TVGO: Twila betrayed your alliance after swearing loyalty on her son.
Ami: She didn't need to swear on her son for me to believe her. I believed her anyway, and the fact that she brought [her kid] into it disgusted me. I lost a lot of respect for her after that.
TVGO: Survivor fans really seem to hate you
Ami: Oh, well. They don't like what I have been portrayed [as] on television. If they got to know me, I have a feeling that they'd think I was pretty OK.
TVGO: Did producer Mark Burnett's editing make a villainess out you?
Ami: I don't think they villainized me; they just showed me when I was having the roughest time. It makes for an interesting show. During the game, Eliza had said to me, "I wonder who the villain will be?" I said, "I wonder if it will be me." And she said, "Ami, there is no way it will be you. You are too nice."
TVGO: Where did the idea of a women's alliance come from?
Ami: It started out with Scout and Eliza talking about the fact that no women's alliance had ever made it to the end. I'm like, "That is silly. Us ladies should be supporting each other and I'm willing to stand for that. I'd love for us to make it to the final four."
TVGO: Are you a man-hater?
Ami: God, no. I really liked all the guys that we played with; it was just that my alliance was all women. I liked every one of them. In fact, I really got along with Rory. It is funny to see he was all mad at me and wasn't liking me on the show — I was shocked! He and I were buddies, and I didn't get it, until I saw the show, that he hated me so much. Call me naïve.
Ami: That challenge was horrible. I tried to knock Chris' puck off the island and I knocked myself off. It would have been especially hard to lose to Twila or Scout. Because if you watch that [episode], they were so smug and so excited about the fact that Chris had beaten me. During the swimming challenge before that, they were really being ruthless about Leann being gone. I was cheering everybody on and, in the middle of it, I hear Scout say, "Eliza, beat Ami! You can beat Ami!" I was just like, why?
TVGO: You and Scout constantly fought for control of the female alliance.
Ami: You know, I would have much rather [she'd] been in control. I kept saying Scout is the leader. But I just kept coming up with ideas on how to keep us in the game longer, and maybe that is why they deemed me the leader. I kept trying to get out of the leader role. I don't think Scout was too happy about that.
TVGO: After that tearful conversation at tribal council, did you think Eliza would keep you around?
Ami: I would have really hoped [so], but it wasn't a good move for her strategically. I don't blame her at all. I would have done the same thing in her shoes... well, maybe not. What can you do?
TVGO: When you were reunited with your significant other, Crissy, during a reward challenge, we saw a kinder, gentler Ami. Where was she the rest of the show?
Ami: I was kinder and gentler the whole time. You just got to see the times that were intense. Sitting there and seeing her walk out from that hut and just knowing that there was somebody there who loved me no matter what, it brought me back to the fact of love.