Wednesday’s episode of “Survivor 41” saw Liana Wallace, the only eligible member of the season’s “all-Black alliance,” become the fifth member of the jury. Liana was Erika Casupanan and Xander Hastings’ pick to go after Liana’s allies Danny McCray won immunity and Deshawn Radden became immune after “Living” through the controversial new “Do or Die” challenge. The night Liana left, she gave an impassioned speech about race on “Survivor,” and why she feels it necessary have these kinds of cultural conversations on the show.
Here’s what Liana had to say about her final days on the island, the relationships she made, and how race should continue to be a topic of conversation among “Survivor” fans.
Why Liana Was Nervous Her Last Two Days On the Island
In an interview with ET Canada, Liana explained that Danny and Deshawn’s decision to blindside their ally Shan Smith left her very nervous about her place in the game. “I knew going into [Wednesday’s] Tribal Council that I was on the hot seat, and it very well could be me,” she said. “I think the sequence of events that unfolded did not help at all,” referring to Danny and Deshawn both achieving immunity, leaving her the only one of her alliance vulnerable.
She added that the two men’s decision to blindside Shan “didn’t make sense” to her. “We can vote at eight together and then after that we can have WWII, let’s go at it,” she explained. “But it just didn’t make sense to me, so it’s a very strange predicament to be in.”
Knowing it was between her and Ricard, she says she tried her best to secure Erika’s vote, as she “knew the contingent point was Erika and wherever Erika voted Heather would vote, so I knew I had to pull in Erika.”
She added in an interview with EW that before the vote, she came up to Erika and looked her “dead in the eye” (as per Parade), and asked if Erika was going to vote for her. “She was like, ‘Yes’,” Liana recounted. “She had to make the best decision for her game, and that’s what she thought the best decision was, so I had to accept that. I had no cards to pull at that point.”
On what she wish would have been shown more in the edit, she explained that the downtime at Yase – her tribe before the merge – was “so fun,” noting that her closeness to tribemates Evvie Jagoda, Tiffany Seely, and Xander wasn’t shown so much. “I really wish they could’ve shown more of Yase camp life because we’re just so fun,” she said on ET Canada. “I’m really close with Evvie and Tiff, talk with Xander every now and then too. The four of us really got to bond in those weeks…they’re great people outside of the game.”
She added in an interview with TVLine that one “tradeoff” of having all the controversial new advantages is that viewers get to see less of their camp life, which is a large part of what drew viewers in back in the early seasons. “It’s something I definitely miss,” Liana said, “and I hope they’ll remedy that and find a good balance.”
Liana On the ‘Beautiful’ Scene With Shan at the Summit
It was no secret that Liana and Shan were close throughout the game, with the two of them developing an immediate bond at the summit in episode 5. Their bond was a major element of the personal dynamics in season 41 – and episode 10 specifically – which led some fans to call episode 10 one of the greatest of all time.
In an interview in Parade Magazine, Liana broke down why exactly she bonded so quickly and strongly with Shan when they met for the first time.
Referring to it as a “beautiful moment,” Liana described the almost spiritual connection she made between both her and Shan’s mothers at that moment:
One thing that my mom told me before I went out to play the game was, “When you look at the ocean, Liana, think of me.” My mom represented the ocean out there for me. And so I’m on top of this hill, and all of a sudden, Shan’s disclosing this thing about her mom. And I’m like, “Oh my God, I’m seeing my mom right now, too.” And so I really, really connected with her at that moment.
Liana went on to say it was an “amazing feeling” to make such a “genuine sense of trust and connection” with someone, especially as she spent so much time downplaying herself on Yase. It was this connection, clearly, which led to Liana’s emotional confession to Shan in episode 10, in which she revealed Deshawn and Danny’s plan of blindsiding Ricard, as well as Liana’s anger to the former two blindsiding Shan later that episode. As she said in TVLine, “Shan was someone I wanted to go to the end with. It was really hard to take in all at once, and as you saw, I wasn’t having it! I couldn’t believe that they made this move.”
You can watch Liana reunite with Shan (and the other jury members) on Survivor’s Instagram page.
Liana Stands By Her Comments In Wednesday’s Tribal
When it came to her heartfelt speech to the players and audience to consider the cultural implications of a game like “Survivor,” Liana reiterated in ET Canada that “Survivor” is a “microcosm” of the real world. “This is something that’s impacting communities that I come from, across the globe, across America,” she said. She added that she was “proud” to address these issues, “even if some people didn’t want to hear it … it was really cool to have my family [and] people that I love to be able to see that, because it represents so much and so much that is not said that needs to be said.”
When it came to this season’s “Black alliance,” she noted several times that it was not something she engineered; rather, it was Deshawn and Danny who approached her and Shan at the merge. When that happened, she told Parade, she decided to go with it because of what her Blackness meant to her. She explained:
Okay, well, this is something that’s bigger than the game. I’m going to trust that because it does mean something to me. Blackness means something to me. And I know it means something to a lot of the viewers as well. So I felt comfortable trusting that because it meant so much to me personally.”
She added in EW, however, that “values you have outside the game are hard to bring through when you’re competing and blindsiding people.”
Liana also said, per TVLine, that the conversations about race go far beyond what we saw on TV, and hence should be considered more among the audience. “All of those conversations, there’s so much to unpack there,” she said. “It’s hard to see from the edit of 24 hours of footage we have out there every day.”
Be sure to catch the final two episodes of “Survivor 41,” airing Wednesday, December 8 and 15 at 8 p.m. Eastern on CBS.