By Dalton Ross
Updated March 05, 2010 at 07:09 PM EST

Before Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains kicked off, there were two contestants everyone was worried about. One was Parvati. The other was just voted off. In a bold move, J.T. flipped sides at Tribal Council and voted out the master manipulator, Cirie Fields. How does the self-proclaimed “gangsta in an Oprah suit” feel about her unlikely ouster? Did Jeff Probst go too far at Tribal in influencing the vote? What did she think of James’ attack on Stephenie? And would she consider coming back a — gulp! — fourth time to play? Cirie reveals all in the interview below!

I want to start where it all ended for you: Tribal Council. Were you cringing the entire time Probst went on an on about the idiocy of voting off strong players?

Oh my God! Was I?!? I try not to react when Jeff makes his comments because everyone’s watching, everyone’s listening, and I don’t want to influence any vote one way or the other. And I’m trying to not let what he says influence the votes one way or the other — but absolutely! We sit on these little tree stumps. After Tribal was over when I got up I don’t know if you saw that toothpick fall from right under, but I literally was clenching my behind the whole time, like, “Please, Jeff, just move on to something else!” He was going exactly against why I was telling them we should vote out Tom, so yeah, that was a real clencher for me.

Did Probst go too far, in your opinion?

Um, you know, no. I can’t say Jeff ever goes too far. This is what he does. This is why I love watching Survivor. Whether or not it ended up influencing people one way or another, we’ll never know. But I don’t think he went too far. You have to counteract what he’s saying, and if you can, you can, and if you can’t, you can’t.

Did you know it was J.T. that voted you off?

No, I wasn’t sure who it was. I felt like Rupert, Amanda, and James were pretty much going to stick to the plan, but you never know. I couldn’t tell. I knew Tom was talking to J.T. a lot and I never trusted J.T. I always said to Amanda, “Are you sure about J.T.?” because I could see J.T. playing. So it was hard for me to figure out which one flipped, but I wasn’t really that surprised.

Who was your closest ally out there?

See, that’s the problem, Dalton. I really didn’t have one. I was trying to make it Candice, but it was a work in progress. Candice is like a nervous Nellie, so I constantly had to reassure her. I never really had a close ally out there and that’s a problem. You can’t play the game of Survivor alone, and if everyone is threatened by you — even the people in your own alliance — it puts you in a bad spot.

You take a pretty clinical, strategic viewpoint of everything. So how did you feel about how personal James was getting with Stephenie at that Tribal?

Oh, boy. I like both of them and I even said to James after that Tribal was over, “Was it necessary?” I know this game gets your blood boiling and I know everyone is there to try to win, but I think James’ lack of ability to articulate how he feels made him come across more brutal than was necessary. James will be the first to admit he doesn’t do the social thing, and not having experience in the social aspect and being able to speak to people and get your point across without coming off like a brute, I think kind of hurt him.

When I talked to all the players before the game about whom they were worried the most about, your name was at the top of the list. Was the deck stacked against you in that sense?

I think, unbeknownst to me, I never had a chance. I didn’t realize how threatening other players saw me. I don’t think I’m an angel, and I don’t think other players shouldn’t worry about me, but the degree of threat I did not realize was that great. Had I realized that, maybe things would have been different, I don’t know. But I feel there were so many other threatening players. There are so many triple threats. I have one aspect of the game I do well and that’s the social aspect. You take a player like Tom, he’s socially good, he’s physically good, he’s mentally good: He’s a triple threat! And did I leave out that he won! How can I be more threatening than a person like Tom or J.T.? That’s one thing I’m missing — how am I more threatening than them? How can I be a threat to you if you have everything I have and more?

You’ve had some time now to sit back and replay everything. If you could jump in Mark Burnett’s magic Survivor time machine and go back and change one thing about how you played, what would it be?

I think I would have tried to spend more time with J.T. and make him feel comfortable and convince him that he wouldn’t’ have been my target later on.

Which is more frustrating, making it as close to the million dollars as you did in Micronesia, or getting voted out as early as you did here?

Oh, hands down, no question — making it that close in Micronesia. This was actually easier. I’m not saying I wanted to be voted out, but it was so much easier than having it within your grasp, and having it taken away and not having a shot at all.

You know, Cirie, some of those players in Micronesia don’t get injured or quit, and that final two becomes a final three and you’re a million dollar winner.

Gee, thanks a lot, Dalton. [laughs]

You’ve played three times now? Will you go for four?

The problem, as I’ve been made aware, is that my name is out there. People are threatened by me. I love this game and really want to have an opportunity to win this game, but it really seems like the deck is stacked against me with people’s perception of me. So I don’t know if I were offered the opportunity again that I would have a legitimate shot at winning. And as much as I love the experience, I love my family. And if I’m not going to be playing the game, I would rather be at home with my family.

Last question: Have you made it all the way down the slip-and-slide mat yet?

That’s not funny, Dalton.

To see a pep talk Cirie recorded for herself before the game began in case she got voted out, along with an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode, check out the video below. And for all the Survivor scoop sent right to you, follow me on Twitter @EWDaltonRoss.

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS