Note: The following story discusses spoilers for “The Traitors” Season 2 Episode 6.
After facing banishment on Thursday’s episode of “The Traitors,” Dan Gheesling said he wished he had thrown suspicion on fellow traitor Phaedra Parks one week earlier into the Peacock reality game show.
“At that point I still had Janelle [Pierzina], and she probably could have helped rally some folks,” Gheesling told TheWrap in an interview Friday. “I don’t know if the outcome [would have been] any different, but I think the percentage chance of that move working is a little bit greater if I didn’t wait too long.”
After weeks of suspicion mounting on Gheesling, the former “Big Brother” winner decided to throw Parks under the bus during the roundtable discussion with the cast, and crafted an argument for why she was a traitor — which was subsequently “shredded” by the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” alum.
“I severely underestimated Phaedra,” Gheesling said, adding he had seen a couple installments of “Real Housewives” but had never seen “Atlanta.” “I’d got to know Phaedra — I knew a lot of her different professions… as a Reiki healer, a funeral procession leader and she’s a lawyer — I didn’t feel that. I think in hand-to-hand combat, Phaedra did an amazing job and totally shredded my argument.”
Gheesling added that he hopes Parks understands his tactical move came out of “respect,” as he only went after people he thought were positioned to win the game.
“I think Phaedra really, truly trusted me, and I think she may be a little hurt by that, and I can understand why,” Gheesling said of his attack on Parks.
Below, Gheesling unpacks his last day in the castle, what he made of Parks’ and Parvati Shallow’s decision to invite Peter Weber to become a traitor and if Gheesling would consider coming back to reality TV again.
TheWrap: What did you first think when you saw Bergie enter the breakfast room and realized he had the shield?
Dan Gheesling: I didn’t need to see Bergie’s face — the door knocked and my heart sank. You just dug yourself a five-and-a-half foot grave, and you only got one more half foot to dig and you’re in trouble. That wasn’t the right move, but it’s still not over. I’m still trying to keep it together — I’m not doing a great job of that — but there’s an element of “OK, I’m on life support, but I’m not dead yet.”
Why go after Phaedra over Parvati at the roundtable? Why surprise everyone with it?
I was playing this as a very long game, and in reality, it’s a very short game — I’m thinking who is at that fire at the end with me, and I’m overlooking the foot in front of me. The reason I chose to go after Phaedra is because 1) she was insulated everywhere. No one suspected her, she had so many friends. And 2) I couldn’t see winning the game with her. At the end, I just thought there were too many avenues for her to get rid of me. She positioned herself very well.
In my experience playing these games, I’ve done well picking one person to put 1,000% trust in, and that person was Parvati. I envisioned a way to get us both to the end, but I couldn’t backstab her — she was the person I really trusted. It wasn’t worth it to me to do that. I didn’t see a way to not get rid of Phaedra.
What do you think of Parvati and Phaedra’s decision to recruit Peter [Weber] as a traitor?
When I was in the turret and decided to take the shot at Bergie, I was reeling from Janelle coming after me, and I think Parvati might be reeling from that a little bit. She’s like, “All right, let me take a huge shot, let me just blow this thing up.” Peter is so loyal to the faithful — he would be maybe the last person I would pick, but Peter surprised me. I really underestimated Peter, from a strategic standpoint — completely overlooked him.
Do you think Peter will say yes?
I don’t think he will accept it. But if he did, it could be a path to a genius endgame, because who’s going to suspect Peter as a traitor? No one will.
You just put a lot of eyes on Phaedra, and Parvati seems next for the picking. Did you mean to set up a domino effect for your fellow traitors?
Not at all. My goal was to get rid of Phaedra, I’m not looking to like blow up Parvati. My intention was not to get Parvati in any trouble at all. I tried to dismiss her, so people weren’t onto her. I really wanted to take Phaedra out and just missed.
We watched your Instagram Live last night and saw that you mentioned Deontay Wilder was a big ally for you. How was it learning about his elimination, and why did he leave?
I’m a huge boxing fan, and I feel like some of the other castmates didn’t know the enormity of the fact that the former world heavyweight champion of the world is playing this game with us — I’m not trying to put him on blast, but he makes like $30 million if he loses a fight. He was such a vocal leader, and really had a lot of sway over the faithfuls. So when he left, I was heartbroken, because I wanted to play with him, but also it was the first domino to fall.
You’ve said you wouldn’t return to “Big Brother” again. Do you still watch the show? What do you think about the recent winners?
Life changes a lot. I have three little kids, I’m married. Most of my TV watching time is watching “Bluey.” I don’t really watch “Big Brother” anymore, and I don’t keep up with it. I try to watch the finale every year as much as I can. I had such a great experience on “The Traitors.” I think this is the perfect swan song for me to say, “Hey, you haven’t seen me in 10 years, and you probably won’t see me again, ever.”
If “The Traitors” came calling again, would you come back for another season like Kate did?
I would always take a call from NBC and Peacock because, in 10 years of saying “no,” they made it so easy to say “yes.” What NBC is doing with their unscripted and reality stuff, it’s really exciting. … They don’t have to reinvent the wheel because they’ve got so many great wheels in the warehouse.
“The Traitors” Season 2, Episodes 1-6 are now streaming on Peacock, with new episodes dropping Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.