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Surviving the Amazon Reunionby David Bloomberg -- 05/14/2003
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After the finale ended, we go straight into the live reunion of all 16 Survivor: The Amazon contestants. Once again, it is being hosted by Jeff Probst.
He begins by congratulating Jenna, the youngest player and obviously youngest winner yet. She won four of eight individual immunity challenges – the only person to win more was Colby. And she dominated when she needed to, specifically in the final two. She was also the only person to give away immunity and also turned down a final offer from Rob at the end.
But then it’s an immediate switch to Christy, who swore she would never vote to give her “evil stepsister” the million dollar prize (we are treated to her final words yet again). Probst asks her what the heck was going on. Christy smiles and just says she outplayed, outwitted, and outlasted her. The audience applauds. But Probst wonder if she is just giving a nice answer or she really believes it. Christy says she was with Jenna on day one and competing with her all the way. She met Matt halfway through, so she wanted to give Jenna the opportunity to win.
Moving back to Jenna, Probst says she acted like a selfish spoiled only child for the first 36 days (the audience applauds!). Jenna says the rather blunt statement is fair enough. Probst continues and says that in the last few days, something changed – she became a lot more likeable. What happened? Jenna says she’s very young and has a lot to learn. She felt like she grew a lot. Near the end, she lost her alliance and had a choice: fight or run. She decided to fight. As she got to watch herself on TV, she realized that she is sometimes both spoiled and annoying! She says she learned so much about herself and she has grown so much. It’s hard to have a learning experience in front of a national audience who doesn’t know it’s a learning experience. Probst says she took a lot of heat. (Nooo… really? From who?) Jenna replies that yes, she did, and most of it was deserved. But she’s a better person because of it and that’s what really matters at the end.
I should note that when I met Jenna after the finale, she did seem very accepting of what was said about her (after expressing mock anger at what I’d written here) and even later told me that “it’s funny.” It’s hard to say much about a person after meeting them for only a few minutes, but she does seem to understand what she did wrong and has seemed to start changing. Time will tell if that continues – hopefully it will.
Getting back to the reunion, Probst asks her about strategy. She said she was going to take the most deserving person. She took Matt. Was he really the most deserving? She says it was her strategy for the jury to believe that. Would she have beaten Rob? Well, she thinks he’d have kicked her butt. Upon asking the jury themselves, several say they would have changed their votes (Deena and Christy definitely do, the others seem more noncommittal). It’s not clear who would have won, but it definitely would have been closer, at least.
Moving on to the second place winner, Probst says Matthew didn’t know anything about the game. (I guess I still don’t understand why a person who knows nothing about the game – whether it’s JoAnna and her ridiculous tirades against the immunity idol, or Matt not knowing about strategy – would apply to be on it.) He found sort of a mentor that taught him the game so well Matt had dual alliances and would betray either at the end. Yet he still got only one vote. One question that never changed was about his sanity. Probst asks: Are you really nuts? Before he answers, we look back at the segment of him sharpening his machete and Christy saying he’s creepy.
Matt says it was all an act. He was having fun and it was strategic. He says he needed people to dismiss him. They had to think he was absolutely naïve or insane to deflect attention and dodge bullets. That was a great vehicle.
The other contestants don’t buy it, with many heads shaking “no.” Alex, in particular, is shaking it so hard it might fall off. He says he was there when Matt flipped out because he was dehydrated; he says Matt lost it. From that moment on, he was a bit out of whack. That was no acting job, he says. Matt says he did get extremely dehydrated on two occasions because he was working damn hard. Probst notes that nobody would deny he was a hard worker (Matt, the jury voted, it’s over, you don’t have to convince anybody of anything!).
Probst moves on and talks about how pitting the men against the women put the men on the defensive and gave us underdogs in the women. But it also clearly indicated how their behavior changed when the other sex wasn’t around. In the very first Tribal Council, the guys were preparing to vote off Ryan and nobody – not even Ryan himself – could stop talking about the women! Alex is asked what it is that increased the sexual tension. He says you don’t realize what you have until gone. You want it more. You desire it, whether platonic or not. Shawna? Absolutely. She says there is a reason men and women hang out together. (The audience laughs.) “I need men.”
With that, we look back at Shawna’s 180 degree turn from “I’m so sick, vote me off” to “Hi, Alex!” after the switch. Probst notes that she was ready to quit game with a million dollar prize, but then three guys come and it’s all better! She says she wasn’t feeling well – whether physical or psychological – and was on a “one-way canoe to psychosville.” She was still feeling like crap when the guys came but decided to flirt and go out in style.1 2 3 Next-->
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