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Surviving Thailand, the Reunion: Best Everby David Bloomberg -- 12/25/2002
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Brian Heidik had just won Survivor: Thailand and the rest of the contestants (those who had not been on the jury) came out. But there would be no Bryant Gumbel or Rosie O'Donnell this time - Jeff Probst did double-duty as the reunion host, and there could not have been a better choice. Having been there, he knew all the right questions to ask, all the high and low points to hit on.
He began by wondering aloud how it was that the older Chuay Gahn tribe overcame the Sook Jais and how Brian, who everybody knew was "a player," could get into the finals with Clay, who didn't do his fair share of the work and who most of his tribe didn't even like! Why, he continues, weren't Ted, Helen, and Jan able to take out this one guy?
Probst says he still can't put any rhyme or reason to what it takes to win Survivor. Hatch controlled the game, Tina won because people respected her, Ethan was likeable, Vecepia was under the radar, and Brian was anything but under the radar! (Readers might be interested in taking a look at The Top 10 Strategic Survivor Performances of All Time, an article we just posted that deals with these and other strategic moves.) With this introduction, Brian waves and stands up to acknowledge all of the others. In watching it, both at the studio live and then again at home on tape, it struck me as being very similar to a king and his court.
Probst says that Brian was one of the smartest players. He never took control but he was always in control. Brian says he enjoyed the game. He knew it was not Club Med, but he was there to play the game, and he reminded himself of that every day.
But still, Probst notes, Brian barely won over a guy who badgered three people on the jury! Brian responds that Clay is a tough competitor and likeable guy, but Probst cuts him off saying they aren't doing that anymore. Probst wants direct answers!
So he moves to Clay, saying he knows the jury is going to decide on their fate, yet he gave a tongue-lashing to Jake before he got to the jury and then when he gave Clay a chance to get out, Clay gave it to him again. Plus he talked around Ted's question and wouldn't even bother with Helen's. Why didn't he try harder with them?
Clay says he and Jake are from the same part of the country, and people there have arguments every day, and then they are forgotten. He thought it would be like that and didn't know Jake would hold it in his heart.
What about the racist comment referred to by Ted? Clay is clueless on that one. As for Helen, she was so mad it wouldn't have mattered.
Probst goes back to Brian, noting that he had alliances with Ted, Helen, and Clay. It was clear he would take whoever benefited him the most. Why Clay?
Brian responds that it was paranoia that the others could beat him. Clay had made some mistakes and had more enemies.
Moving to Ted, Probst asks where the racism accusations came from. He admits that it took even him by surprise. Ted says he was surprised to hear about them, but it came from Helen in a conversation after they were both voted off. He respected her enough to accept that. Probst asks if it was really fair to make a vote based on hearsay. Ted admits he doesn't know, but he trusted Helen.
Here is the only point where I would say there was a lapse in the questioning by Probst. He should have immediately asked Helen what it was that she said to him. But that was the only missed opportunity in the entire show.
Instead, Probst asks why Ted, Helen, and Jan couldn't break the link between Brian and Clay. Ted says he didn't trust Jake and he didn't think Jan was stable enough to work a deal. Probst asks Jan if she was aware they were trying to form a threesome. She says she thought they would approach her but they didn't. Helen says that, actually, she did (and we had just seen it on the final episode a few minutes earlier!). Jan says that she's sorry. Helen says she begged - it was their big chance. (See what else Helen has to say about this aspect of the game in our interview with her!)
Probst continues with Jan, asking why it was a good move for her to vote off Helen. Jan says she could have forced a tie, but they had agreed not to so they wouldn't have to pull out the balls for a tiebreaker. Probst adds that third place is $15,000 more than fourth and then asks Helen how frustrating it was. She says it was very frustrating - she loves Jan but that was their chance to control the game. Jan apologizes again and says she screwed up.
Probst asks if she wishes she could have made a different move. Jan does say yes, but she says she was functioning like a robot. She had nothing left and was not able to think clearly.
Moving on, Probst asks Helen why she trusted Brian. She says Brian had a similar work ethic. (Also more on this in the Helen interview!) He asks if her opinion has changed upon viewing the show. Helen answers with a very quick, "Yessir!" Would she have changed her vote? "Yessir!" Even for Clay? Well, that would have been a tough call.1 2 3 Next-->
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