‘The Traitors’ Producer Breaks Down Phaedra’s Iconic Moves, Teases ‘Stressful’ Finale and Hints at Season 3 Casting Changes

SPOILER ALERT: This story contains spoilers from “The Weight of Deceit,” the tenth episode of “The Traitors” Season 2, now streaming on Peacock.

The tenth episode of “The Traitors” revealed that while the group was inching closer to identifying Phaedra Parks as a traitor — the last original one — they decided to turn against Peter Weber and banish him instead. Luckily for them, they did not make the same mistake again and sent her home at the end of the episode.

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However, when Weber, possibly the best strategic player of the season, was banished, it’s hard to believe that he wouldn’t be screaming with both frustration and joy when learning that Parks has been a traitor all along. But he wasn’t told right away. In fact, he didn’t find out for quite some time, executive producer Mike Cotton tells Variety.

“We don’t tell them. They find out after the show’s finished taping. We’re just so worried about anything coming out,” he says. That said, some traitors had been suspecting Parks for many days since Dan Gheesling, the first traitor to be banished in episode six, accused her on his way out. But, he didn’t technically break the rules.

“They do have a strict set of rules and the rules are that traitors can accuse other traitors at the round table, but only from the viewpoint of being a faithful themselves. So it’s fine for him to make an accusation about Phaedra and accuse her of being a traitor,” Cotton says. “He would have broken the rules if he started to say, ‘There’s things that you’ve seen that I haven’t seen,’ or revealed any discussions that they’d ever had within the turret. But that wasn’t a rule break. He was allowed to do that. It was just kind of, as some might say, dirty.”

Below, Cotton reveals what the casting team is working on for Season 3, which cast members surprised him and what to expect from the Season 2 finale.

THE TRAITORS -- "A Game of Death" Episode 209 -- Pictured: Peter Weber -- (Photo by: Euan Cherry/Peacock)
Peter Weber

Starting at the top of episode 10, Peter gets banished. When did you tell him that he was right, that Phaedra was the traitor?

We don’t tell them! They find out after the show’s finished taping. We’re just so worried about anything coming out. I keep thinking that we might think about it for future seasons. It’s a great extra, isn’t that, that we might show in an extra clip afterwards?

It’d be really fun to see their reactions for sure. Dan, for example, wasn’t happy when he was banished — but kind of threw the other traitors under the bus a bit. Is tipping off the faithfuls against the rules?

Dan didn’t actually [break any]. They do have a strict set of rules and the rules are that traitors can accuse other traitors at the round table, but only from the viewpoint of being a faithful themselves. So it’s fine for him to make an accusation about Phaedra and accuse her of being a traitor. He would have broken the rules if he started to say, “There’s things that you’ve seen that I haven’t seen” or revealed any discussions that they’d ever had within the turret. But that wasn’t a rule break. He was allowed to do that. It was just kind of, as some might say, dirty.

That makes sense. People are now starting to question Kate. When you decided to bring her back, did you have intentions to make her a traitor?

No, not at all. We brought her in as a faithful again and it was a dream come true for us. Phaedra had to recruit someone via ultimatum and say, “Join me or die.” But obviously, we were over the moon when she chose Kate, because we got a chance to see a new side of Kate and how she’d play it as a traitor.

So, is there a big percentage we’ll see someone from this season on Season 3?

I couldn’t give a percentage on that. There’s a chance. I will say I also kind of think we did that with Kate. We brought Kate back, let’s try something new. I’d love to surprise people in a different way with a different casting twist of some sort.

With the success of this season, are you getting a ton of reality stars reaching out with interest?

Well, a few! We’re in pre-production on the third season at the moment and I love looking at Twitter and everyone’s posting their dream casting lists. But I think getting that cast right is going to be really important for us in the third season. We got a really good cause together on Season 2, and I liked the fact that they were from different walks of life, so I think we want to do the same this time around. We are getting some people approach us, but also we want to think outside the box. The good thing about “The Traitors” is that I think we surprise people with some slightly different casting. I don’t think anyone would have expected John Bercow from the U.K. to be on Season 2, but actually, he added his own thing to it. I think we have to try and do the same in Season 3.

Would you be tapping into another politician? I know that’s that’s a hard line to walk with with the climate of the world we’re in right now, and with an election coming.

I don’t know. I feel like we did a politician in John, so I think we might do something different. I would never say never. This is a game ultimately and I wouldn’t want anyone to come in with a different agenda, or want to use as a platform for something else. We want people to come in who really want to play the game and immerse themselves in it, which I think all the cast this season did really well.

Many times with reality shows that take off, we see franchises start to film multiple seasons a year. Have you guys considered that?

Not yet. In the U.K., we do an entirely civilian version, where they’re not celebrities and I like the point of difference in the U.S. version as a celebrity version. I think that works really well. I guess there’s room to do others. You could do an All Stars where you bring people back. You could do a fully civilian version in the U.S. I think there’s opportunity for lots. I also think it’s good to leave the audience always wanting more and not to oversaturate things.

THE TRAITORS -- "The Weight of Deceit" Episdoe 210 -- Pictured: Kate Chastain, Shereé Whitfield -- (Photo by: Euan Cherry/Peacock)
Kate Chastain, Shereé Whitfield

Understood. Can we talk about format a bit? Some episodes we see a banishment and a murder, others we see one and sometimes we see none. Do you go in of planning to have a format but then when there’s twists that just works better in editing or is it always fluid?

We pre-planned our twists in advance, because we keep it quite strict that it’s a game like Monopoly. There’s a set of game rules for it. So we plan where these twists are going in advance and we don’t really change them, depending on story. Every episode is a day in the castle; every day we have a murder, we have a mission, we have a banishment and then we have the traitors meeting in the tower that night. Sometimes when there’s a twist, we might not have a roundtable, but genuinely we always follow that format. Then it’s mainly in the edit, just working out where we want to cliffhang it. We obviously hung the last episode on whether it was going to be Phaedra or Peter that left. That’s purely because we treat it like a drama — where’s the best place to end leaving viewers wanting to find out what happens next?

What can you say about the format of the finale?

I can’t wait for you to watch the finale. It’s so stressful that I had to take a break when I watched it back it edit. I had to take a breather, it gets your heart going. The format is the same as last year. The game is the game. So there’s a there’s a roundtable banishment, and then the finalists go to a firepit of truth. They choose when the game ends. If they trust everyone there and think there are no traitors left, they can end the game, or they can choose to banish again and they can keep banishing again until there’s two people left. When there’s two, it’s impossible to have a majority vote, so the game automatically ends. So we follow that same process in Season 2.

Who surprised you the most this season on the cast?

I guess it was the non-gamers. Phaedra played an amazing game. She surprised me all the time. I knew Phaedra from her TV appearances but being U.K. based, I hadn’t seen as much of her I guess. She always brought it, she played the game very cleverly. Whereas Dan and Parvati [Shallow] probably played in a more strategic way, she sort of played the popularity game and charmed everyone. She always looked perfect. We always used to say, “How does Phaedra not look tired at breakfast?” She looks absolutely perfect and probably had the least sleep of anyone. The cast used to look for who was tired when they came in in the mornings because they knew the traitors had been up later. So she surprised me.

Pilot Pete Weber also surprised me. I was like, oh, someone from “The Bachelor,” this is gonna be really interesting to see how he plays it and actually, he was far more strategic and far more tactical than I ever thought he would be. We were sort of all surprised by him and the group that he formed. That trap that he set for the shield was really, really clever.

You mentioned that the traitors are up later. How late? How long are they down there?

We let them go for as long as they feel like they need to come to a decision. That can vary. A couple of times, they have come in and they know who they want to kill straightaway and that chat can last about 20 minutes. They’ve been up there for 45 minutes up to an hour talking.

And that’s really late at night?

Yeah, everyone has to leave the castle. Everyone has to head home. And then they come back.

THE TRAITORS -- "The Weight of Deceit" Episdoe 210 -- Pictured: (l-r) Chris 'C.T.' Tamburello, Mercedes “MJ” Javid, Phaedra Parks, Shereé Whitfield -- (Photo by: Euan Cherry/Peacock)
Chris ‘C.T.’ Tamburello, Mercedes “MJ” Javid, Phaedra Parks, Shereé Whitfield

Why did you wait until this week to film the reunion?

I guess there’s a couple of reasons really. We shot the show late last year. We came back here and we wanted to get the rest of the show into the edit as well and see how it was coming together. Also, it’s a big cast. I felt like it was the right opportunity to bring them all together. What’s fascinating is a lot of the cast still don’t know the outcome.


They might know who the finalists are, but they don’t know who it is [that wins].

You don’t think they’ve told each other?

I know they haven’t. I’ve spoken to some of them and I know they haven’t — or they’re really good actors. There’s some of the cast that don’t know who won.

Some of them are really close in real life, which brings me to my next question. Multiple times, cast members mention their pasts — C.T. Tamburello and Trishelle Cannatella, Sheree Whitfield and Phaedra, etc., which seems like a good opportunity to show a clip from their past shows. Do you guys not do that simply because of rights?

What I like about this show is you discover the characters in this show, you learn things about them within this show. I personally just don’t think we need to. We cut it like it’s a drama. When they arrive at that castle, that’s when you start to follow them on their journey and you start to learn about them as characters because yes, they’re all celebrities, but this brings in quite a wide audience and not everyone necessarily knows everything about them. I like the fact that you take them at face value for who they are there. I like the fact that they have history, but I don’t feel like we need we need to watch the other shows.

Alright, heading into the finale, are you guys in the room all rooting for faithfuls or traitors?

We are split. We chop and change all the time. In many ways, the traitors are the baddies, they eliminate people at night. But they’re not bad people, so I think quite a few people end up rooting for the traitors and hope that they make it, because the odds are always sort of stacked against them. In a conventional show, they’d be considered the bad guys, I guess.

So, who do you root for?

I was rooting for the traitors — but we’re split on that! The other execs on the show might say different.

The Season 2 finale and reunion are set to drop on Peacock on Thursday, March 7.

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