How Sandra Diaz-Twine almost cracked the code on “The Traitors”

The "Survivor" legend also reveals the moment that led to her ultimate undoing.

The queen could not quite become the queen of the castle.

Two-time Survivor winner Sandra Diaz-Twine made it all the way to the finale of The Traitors, but was unable to seal the deal when eventual winners Chris “CT “Tamburello” and Trishelle Cannatella flipped their vote at the final banishment ceremony and eliminated Sandra instead of Traitor Kate Chastain (whom they took out next at the Truth ceremony).

Even though Sandra did not take home a third reality TV crown, she may have cracked the code on a way to win the game by choosing to not target Traitors, but instead get closer to them and their allies for protection. We spoke to the Survivor queen to get her take on everything that went down, what would have happened had she made it out of that last banishment ceremony, and what we did not see on TV at the reunion.

<p>Euan Cherry/Peacock</p> Sandra Diaz-Twine on season 2 of 'The Traitors'

Euan Cherry/Peacock

Sandra Diaz-Twine on season 2 of 'The Traitors'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why was there no sit out bench on The Traitors?

SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE: That is a good question. I would've really appreciated it. But even going back to Australian Survivor, I did participate in all but one challenge. So I've decided not to make a big deal out of not wanting to do missions or challenges. I just do 'em and whatever happens, happens. And not put so much pressure on myself to perform and not stand out because then they'll be watching you. But in The Traitors on these missions, it was me, Phaedra, Kate, and MJ — we were awful a lot of the times, so I just blended in.

How bummed were you to not be chosen as a Traitor?

I was very upset, and I assumed — and I told this to Parvati too — when they didn't pick me to be a Traitor, when Alan did his roundtable, I was like, “If he didn't pick me, I know for a fact he didn't pick Parvati.” So, in a way, she was off my radar. I was still watching her because I put in my notes that I knew that she was a Traitor, but I was bummed because I was like: I'm so ready for it. I think it would be very natural for me. So yeah, I was upset.

And then throughout the series, anytime we banished someone, I always made it clear like, “Man, I hope they pick me as a Traitor” to anyone and everyone.

Wait, you were telling them that you wanted to be picked as a Traitor and get recruited?

Yeah, because you never know who the Traitors are. And we always thought from the jump that Alan had picked three and there was one recruited, so there was four running around the house — when it was really only three. But I was always saying like, “Man, I would love to be a Traitor. I think I'd be an awesome Traitor. I really did my homework, blah, blah, blah.” But it never happened.

<p>Euan Cherry/Peacock</p> Sandra Diaz-Twine, Trishelle Cannatella, and the cast of "The Traitors' season 2

Euan Cherry/Peacock

Sandra Diaz-Twine, Trishelle Cannatella, and the cast of "The Traitors' season 2

I was fascinated by what you did this season because while the name of the game seemed to be: Find the Traitors and get them out, you seemed to come up with an even more effective strategy of: Find the Traitors and get close with them so you don’t get murdered, and you also have the votes to not get banished. Is that essentially what it was?

Yes, because I had done my homework. Like I said, I had watched the New Zealand season, the UK, the Australian — that was really all that was out there for me to watch. And I couldn't watch the original Dutch one because they don't have subtitles. But essentially, as I'm watching, I'm realizing that the people that are close to the Traitors don't get murdered or banished. So I'm like, “Okay, now I know how I'm going to get to the end.”

But then, at the end, you still got to be on because you want to make sure anyone that you suspect is eliminated. If you have any sense of doubt about any person at all, don't risk it. Take 'em out. So I was like: That's what I'm going to do. I know my social game is good. I'm going to get along with the Faithfuls and the Traitors. Everyone's going to be my friend.

Why do you think CT changed his mind and banished you instead of Kate? Did he really think you were a Traitor?

So when I said to Phaedra [during the crossbow mission] “Take out Trishelle,” because I wanted CT to get the shield — I'm saying it in front of CT, who I think isn't paying attention. Phaedra didn't ask me anything. We just made eye contact and I'm like, “Yeah, go take out Trishelle way at the bottom,” and then Phaedra goes and does it, right?

I didn't think nothing of it since I'm not a Traitor. I don't assume that he's saying, “Oh, that was Traitor behavior.” Now he's in the castle telling Trishelle, “Sandra did this with Phaedra and we already know Parvati’s a Traitor, so could Sandra be that fourth Traitor we're looking for because we're looking for another Traitor.”

So when I saw that, I was like: Oh my God. That's when I finally made a mistake as a Faithful. Just an innocent mistake, and only because I wanted him to get the Shield versus Trishelle or John. He would've benefited, which he did. But still, that relationship between CT and Trishelle was bigger than anything else in that house. And we overlooked that at times. So when Kate now is throwing me under the bus — Kate told me that CT wanted to eliminate me the whole way to the mission and the whole way back — it's obvious that it was her, but I'm sure also he already felt it from the episode before. So I think there was still some doubt there.

<p>Euan Cherry/Peacock</p> Sandra Diaz-Twine on season 2 of 'The Traitors'

Euan Cherry/Peacock

Sandra Diaz-Twine on season 2 of 'The Traitors'

What would you have done if Kate got banished there and you made it through. What would your strategy have been with CT, Trishelle, and MJ at the final Truth Ceremony?

So in the last mission, MJ, Trishelle, and I, were on the same sheet of music. We're going to take out Kate. We know she's a Traitor, and Trishelle told me on more than three occasions, “I think CT is a Traitor. I know him. He's got to be a Traitor, especially since he was the last man standing. It kind of looks suspect, but don't say anything.”

And I never said anything. And come to find out, she didn't just do that to me. She did it with other people as well, and everybody kept quiet. So Trishelle genuinely believed that there might be a little bit of Traitor behavior coming from CT to where he could have possibly been a Traitor. So I believe her in that fact.

So even if Kate would've went at the banishment instead of me, I think I was still in trouble with CT. And CT was definitely in trouble with me, MJ, and Trishelle. But Kate got the upper hand with MJ because MJ started doubting me as well. So I think I was screwed either way. I wasn't going to end up at the end. For me to make it to the end, Kate, MJ, and CT have to be gone. Trishelle was the only one at the end that said Sandra is 1000% Faithful.

It seems like the Bravo folks weren’t that aware of Survivor and didn’t really know your history. Was that the case and did that help you stay off their radar as a threat?

Absolutely. I asked them a question early on when they were talking about Dan being the two-time [Big Brother] winner, I never corrected anybody. So I was like, “How much of Survivor have you guys watched?” And all of them were like, “Never, but you guys backstab, lie, cheat and steal.” And I was like, “No, it's really not like that. It's just two tribes competing. Let's say it's a tug of war. One wins. No one gets voted out, the losing one has to get rid of someone and then people are upset when they're voted out, stuff like that.”

So I was like, “It's not anything, I don't know what you've been hearing. You must have our show confused with someone else.” So I just knew that they hadn't watched and they didn't know anything other than hearsay.

<p>Euan Cherry/Peacock</p> Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello, Dan Gheesling, Sandra Diaz-Twine on season 2 of 'The Traitors'

Euan Cherry/Peacock

Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello, Dan Gheesling, Sandra Diaz-Twine on season 2 of 'The Traitors'

You were in the room at the reunion, and you’re a gamer, so what do you make of MJ being so pissed at Trishelle and CT?

Oh my God. We taped for over three hours and that was constant. You guys didn't see it all. She was upset. But here's the deal: I get it. Because she's not a gamer. She doesn't know what it's like to be voted out or get sent packing on Big Brother when they vote you out and you're evicted. So she doesn't know what it's like to get taken out of a game.

But I had no sympathy, because she had done that to me in our episode. It was essentially like 20 minutes prior, she had banished me and I had to take it. I had to deal with it knowing that all along from day one — because MJ was under fire once in the castle — I protected her. I was like, “Don't worry about it, MJ, you're not going home. I know you're Faithful.” But she didn't do that for me, so I was a little bit hurt. I didn't feel bad that they banished her at the end.

What about Phaedra hating on Dan and calling him a “piece of s---"?

I get Phaedra’s point too, because until Dan said Phaedra was a Traitor, she was not on anyone's radar. And if they say she was, that's a damn lie. I mean, maybe Tamra, because Tamra knows her better than anyone else.  People were like, “Dan, you're so shady. You don't say anything. You just listen.” People want information. Even if you are a Faithful, you are a horrible Faithful because you're not here trying to figure out who the Traitors are.

Well, he would never give anyone anything at all. And then on the last day before he went home, he just kept saying, “When I shoot, I'm not going to miss with the name I give you” — that he was a thousand percent positive that when he gives you a name, that's where we need to be looking. And that's what he did to Phaedra. He set her up. And after that, the suspicion was there, but people didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe it. I believed it, but then I said: She's my Traitor angel. She's protecting me, just like Dan and Parvati.

<p>Euan Cherry/PEACOCK</p> Alan Cumming and the cast of 'The Traitors' season 2

Euan Cherry/PEACOCK

Alan Cumming and the cast of 'The Traitors' season 2

How awkward was that first greeting between you and Parvati in the castle, or if you saw her on the way to the castle before that?

I actually saw her in the vehicle first. Peter was in the window, and I was next to Peter, and she was in the window of her car. And she's looking out of her window to the left and I'm looking to the right and she's looking and she's so happy and she sees me and I see her, and my smile was gone. And I just reach across the glass there and I just point my finger like I was touching her face.

I was just like, why? I suspected there would be another Survivor — like Cirie, and Stephenie — so Sandra, and who is the other person? Rumor was it was Boston Rob, but we know he was filming Deal or No Deal Island. Why did it have to be her? I was like, we're not going to get along. And then Peppermint was in my car and she watches everything reality. She knew me and Parvati had history. She put us together in the room and we squashed it. And I never looked back after that.

I wasn't looking over my shoulder. I was always watching, but she wasn't my priority in the castle. Not at all. And I have a strong social game and I would hear them talking about her when she walks in and walks out, and she's another one that doesn't say too much — always making the faces. So I didn't want to always be known as it's always Sandra and Parvati together. That was not the case. If there's someone that's going to throw her under the bus, it would probably be me first. But that wasn't the situation out there. We were getting along.

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