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Survivor: Debbie talks Zeke outing, Cochran visit, and Brad bashing in exclusive merge interview

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It has been a crazy season of Survivor: Game Changers, and the person that has been around the most craziness is Debbie Wanner. She went ballistic on Brad Culpepper for allegedly controlling things (even though the cameras appeared to tell a different story), she hung out with former winner John Cochran on a yacht, she got to pick an advantage option, and she was there when Jeff Varner outed Zeke Smith as transgender.

Most important for Debbie, however, is the fact that she has once again made the merge. We caught up with Debbie for an exclusive in-game email interview to discuss all these big events. Not only that, but we’ve peppered the Q&A with a few exclusive merge photos for you to feast on. Enjoy!

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with what happened at last week’s Tribal Council. What was your reaction when Jeff Varner outed Zeke as transgender?
DEBBIE WANNER: As soon as the words “Zeke is transgender” came out of Varner’s mouth, I immediately turned to Varner and said firmly, “That is NOT for you to disclose.” That was, and still is, my visceral reaction — private information and NOT for anyone but Zeke to disclose when, where, how, and with whom he chose to disclose it.

Jeffrey Neira/CBS

How helpful was your Exile Yacht meeting with John Cochran and what was the biggest thing you took away from that?
Exile, sweet exile. Not what I was expecting and I must admit it was the coolest exile in the history of ALL exiles! Napoleon on Elba didn’t have it so good! Cochran imparted his wisdom; stay hyper paranoid, alert, constant vigilance — let me tell you — this is EXHAUSTING. As soon as you have a conversation with someone you have to ask yourself, “Well, I know I just told some lies to X so now I have to figure out what lies X may, or may not, have just told me.” Then when you see X talking to Y, go talk to Y and see what X told them, and try to figure out what is true. Then Y talks to Z and repeat the fact-finding mission.

Just imagine not knowing if anything is true and life becomes Maddening!!!!  There just becomes a point where you have to trust your basic gut instinct and go with it. Cochran was a joy and what I was left with is this: the best two days arguably anyone had playing Survivor. Hey, I was on a yacht, in the South Pacific, swinging in a hammock with lemon grass soda, chicken, and cheese, watching the stars under a unobscured night sky. Not bad. Oh, there really was no flint :)

Jeffrey Neira/CBS

Let’s say the extra vote advantage option didn’t exist and you had to choose between a fake hidden immunity idol kit and a tribe advantage in the next immunity challenge. Which of those would you have picked and why?
“No good deed goes unpunished.” I don’t know who originated that phrase or why but it seems to be particularly true on Survivor.  I really cannot think of someone giving something up for the good of the tribe and not having it bite them in the buttocks. Therefore, I would have taken the fake hidden immunity idol kit and had some fun with it — probably give it to someone I really didn’t like… oh wait, but I like all of the players out there in Game Changers.

RELATED: Ranking Every Season of Survivor

You really laid intro Brad Culpepper after that one challenge, but then producers aired a flashback to show you volunteering to do the balance beam rather than him assigning it to you. What were your main issues with Brad at this point in the game and did seeing that footage change your mind at all?
There is much more here than meets the TV screen, but recall Brad asking “is she acting”? Maybe you noticed me laughing. Perhaps while starving I ingested some toxic South Pacific mushroom that caused temporary paralysis, dementia, or Mr. Spock beamed me up to another dimension of time. I will say Brad Culpepper got a bad rap the first time I saw him play and I believe I said this in my initial interview. I wanted to have an alliance with him and go far with him. My “laying into Brad Culpepper” had its reasons.

Jeffrey Neira/CBS

The merge is such a big point in the game for a lot of players. What was going through your mind when Jeff Probst told you to drop your buffs and you knew you had made it to phase two?
Made it — again! What a riveting and captivating point in the game — here comes the feast! :)

Good Grief Charlie Brown — there are still a bakers’ dozen of us — that’s a lot of tribal councils to navigate, emotional blackmail, backstabbing and jabberwocky to survive. Bon appétit.