Surviving the Outback, Episode 14: Better Player or Better Person?by David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
And so it begins – or should I say ends? It’s the final three, and by the end of the night there will be only one. Can Colby keep up his immunity winning streak and bring home his fifth in a row? Will Keith be brought into the final two because Tina or Colby know he is less popular? The latter was my prediction, so let’s see if it happens (I’m actually writing this on a commercial right now, so I don’t know yet if it does or not).
We begin with a lot of reflection. Keith notes that there are three players and three days left. The whole 42 days they are in the Outback come down to these last three, and everything else was just about getting to this point. Sounds like a lot of pressure, but it doesn’t seem to be affecting Colby too much. He says he had the best sleep he’s had in 39 nights. He didn’t lie there and think about everything, it wasn’t too cold, and there wasn’t any rain.
While the environment was nice to them this night, Colby says that the elements have been like the 17th player throughout. It would knock you down with heat, lack of food, flooding, rain, etc. Now, at the end of it, they’re all weaker, tired, and sick of it, but they still have to play the game and survive the people to win.
Tina says she is surprised and can’t believe she is in the final three. Even though she came to win, she never really thought she’d get this far. As it comes to the end, she says she has evolved. Who she started as is not the same as who she is ending as – along the way, she has definitely developed more strategic.
Colby looks back at the idea of trust and says that doing so – trusting anybody other than yourself – can get you in trouble and “get you gone.” He says he is honest in real life, but not here, because you’d be a fool to do so here. He’s starting to sound like Rich Hatch!
Treemail arrives and contributes to the reminiscing. They are each given a piece of wood, paint, brushes, and trinkets (feathers and beads and the like) to carve their own idols, which they will later “give back to the land.” Colby wondered how to approach something like this when the land has given so much to them, like shelter and food. He reflects as he works and realizes that, like the game (well, sort of), there are no rules and you play, or in this case carve and paint, any way you want.
Keith also reflects on the whole time he’s spent there as he takes all day to work on his idol. He thinks about the first time he crossed the river, the first fish they ate, etc., and it all kind of brings closure for him.
Tina says she is proud that she is still there with two men, and decides to make her idol feminine in recognition of this.
Continuing in the same vein, the three of them talk about how it was the first day, when nobody knew each other and they were all dumped off to walk to camp. Tina says it was a long, emotional journey here in the Outback, and Keith points out that it will be the end of that journey for one of them the next day. Colby says it’s weird that one of ‘em won’t be there, and Tina adds that the idea kills her. She wants to go back home but doesn’t want to leave. Colby says he’ll take it like a man if he loses, but he won’t like it. Tina says she won’t take it like a man – she’ll throw a hissy fit!
But overall, the immunity challenge won’t be a fun place to be. Keith says there’s no voting bloc now, just the question of who you want in the finals. It’s a tough call. Well, maybe for Keith, but it shouldn’t be for the other two.
Day 41 dawns and Tina points out that it’s the last morning for all three of them together. It’s a game, but it’s still sad. Keith makes breakfast with “love and passion” for them.
Treemail brings news of the final immunity challenge. To get to it, they will hike past the torches of those who went before them and then will offer up the idol at the end. Colby says the three of them are emotionally attached right now – not like family, but you can’t help feeling a sort of love for somebody with whom you’ve gone through so much.
So they hike along, passing torch after torch with each person’s name on them. Along the way, we are shown clips of each of those people (though there wasn’t much to show for Debb and Kel, but they even show clips of Jerri smiling!).
They finally get to host Jeff Probst and he tells them to go find a quiet place near the final waterfall of their walk, so they can reflect on their time in the Outback. Then, when they are done, they come back to give their idol back to the land (otherwise known as littering in the river, but what’s a little trash compared to taking coral from the Great Barrier Reef, right?).
As they reflect, they also talk to the cameras. Keith says the time he has spent in the Outback has been cleansing. He’s 40, has two kids, and has had his share of failures and successes. This is no longer about money – he will walk away with something far more valuable. Indeed, he doesn’t think he’ll win (join the club), and that’s fine with him because he’s been enriched already.
Tina says that in the past she has been guilty of living without being close to people and has been fiercely independent. But this experience taught her the value of family, and when she gets home, she will have to go back and nurture her family.
Colby says it made them all realize what they take for granted at home, and now he will appreciate those things more.
So into Tribal Council they go. The final immunity challenge is the same as one from the first series – “Fallen Comrades.” Probst asks 12 questions about former tribemates and the person with the most right answers gets immunity. Here they are, paraphrased somewhat:
Colby wins immunity for the fifth straight time!
So, now he has to go vote. Everybody knows that the smart thing would be to vote off Tina so he can face Keith in the finals. That would be the smart thing alright.
But Colby doesn’t do it. For the past several episodes, we’ve seen Colby talking about whether he’d rather take somebody he can easily beat to the finals, or whether he wants somebody there who deserves it. Until this point, he has continued to play strategically – voting off Rodger and Elisabeth instead of Keith. But now he changes. For the final two, he brings in Tina and votes off Keith.
There are hugs as Keith leaves and then we get to see his final words, which again talk about how much he learned to look at life differently and all of that. But, let’s face it, nobody really thought Keith would win. Most of us didn’t think he’d go off this soon, but I’ll be honest – I wrote “Why Keith Lost” before the episode even aired! I just had to rewrite a few lines when it turned out that he got booted a bit earlier. So, we didn’t turn on the TV today to worry about Keith. We want to move along!
Tina later talks about how there have been different emotions after each Tribal Council. After voting off Mad Dog, it was a sad day. It was awkward when they voted off Elisabeth. And sometimes it was happy (she didn’t say when, but let’s take a guess and point the finger at Jerri for that one). Now, it’s their last night and they feel sheer exhilaration that they are still there. Colby says it’s the best feeling he’s had in 42 days. They were the two who beat ‘em all!
So, what do they do? Burn stuff! Apparently, they didn’t learn their lesson from the first group that you can sell all sorts of stuff from Survivor on eBay! Ah well.
Both talk independently about not knowing who Keith would have picked if he’d have won immunity. And together they acknowledge that they might not have been able to make it this far without him. Similarly, he never would have made it to the final three without their alliance. They both indicate they wanted to get rid of him earlier so they could keep somebody like Rodger, but they couldn’t think of a way to do it and still win. Colby says the best part is that Keith got them to this point and didn’t win himself – he had no right to be in the final two.
The final day begins with a hug. Colby says it’s a great day and will only get better. Tina says she feels joy, peace, and closure. So both of them go out for a final look on the highest peak they can find. Separately, Tina says that Colby has always been open about the fact that he came to win, not to make friends. Colby says that you have to wear different hats. Sometimes you get to wear the white hat, but sometimes you have to put on the black hat to play the game. Hopefully, you wear the white hat more often. He says Tina played better than the others; she didn’t fly in under the radar or ruffle feathers. In other words, she is one of the people he was talking about who deserves to be there.
Still, winning is important – it means so much because he has so much invested in the game already. Tina says she had to ask herself, as she was playing, if she came there for 42 days to live in that environment and starve so she could give somebody like Elisabeth the prize? The answer, of course, is no.
Colby closes the loop on his thought process by talking about selfishness. He says it would have been selfish to bring Keith just because he could have beaten him. However, it was not selfish to bring Tina. He doesn’t know if he can beat her or not, but she deserves to be there.
They pack up whatever they haven’t destroyed and start the long walk to the final Tribal Council. Tina says they will “never walk this road again.” After another hug, Colby adds, “Don’t look back.”
Now we hear from each of the jury members talking about their thoughts before that final Tribal Council. Rodger says he just hopes whoever wins played as morally and ethically as possible; he hasn’t decided yet who he will vote for. Alicia says she has some questions lined up and wants to know who is still on their toes after going through all of this.
Amber doesn’t like the feeling that she will be giving a million dollars to somebody, because she wants it! The two people she has to choose from make it a difficult decision.
Keith talks about how Colby was obviously a strong competitor and knows how to get along with people. Tina showed that a person doesn’t have to be strong, but she never gave up and showed that believing in yourself can get you through.
Nick says Colby is more intelligent than he originally thought (I’ll second that – I didn’t have high hopes for Colby when he began with his “happy to be a Texan” statement in the first episode. He also realized that Tina was the mastermind behind it all and did it very well.
Jerri says she likes the feeling of being in a position of power (big shock there). She says she’s ready to vote, but both people stabbed her in the back and she wants them to be forced to look at who they are in the game versus who they think they are in real life. Hello? Jeez, this woman still has no clue. Not that this should be surprising.
Elisabeth says she would have thought that Colby would vote off Tina so he could go against Keith (join the club). She says that it’s up in the air whether the best person will win – especially because it’s in the hands of seven people who think they were the best person!
Now it’s time for opening comments. Tina goes first and says that strategy played a big part in everything. She says she won’t tell them why they should vote for her but she will ask that they not cast a vote for either of them based on hurt feelings. To do so only shows poor sportsmanship and doesn’t tell who the best player is.
Colby says that he knows he is supposed to talk about why he deserves the prize more than Tina, but he’s not sure he does. He doesn’t know if he was the best at anything, but he was good at a lot of things, and that’s what got him to where he is.
On to questions from the jury. Rodger asks about the times when they have had to lie due to strategy. He wants to know a couple instances where they didn’t tell the truth and also asks if they feel they played as ethically as they could have. (This whole thing about “ethical” makes me think back to Rich Hatch, who kept using that phrase.) Tina talks about having to lie when people would ask who she would be voting for, such as when Amber asked before the Tribal Council in which, well, it was going to be Amber. Obviously, she didn’t tell her the truth. But by her definition, this was strategy, and was not unethical. Colby says that the time that stands out with him is when he told Jerri that it would be her, him, and Amber in the final three. But if being dishonest for such a move makes him less ethical, then it’s something he’s had to struggle with.
Amber asks what three things got each to this point and what are the first three things they would do with the money. Colby says he refused to check out of the game, filled his stomach with water so it would be “fooled” into thinking it was full, and took time to enjoy himself. If he wins, he says he will buy a Harley Davidson, buy a building that his father had restored but then had to sell, and take care of his mom. Tina says strategy, Colby (for, among other things, not voting her off at the previous Tribal Council), and her heart/God are responsible for getting her to this point. If she wins, she says she will pay off her house, pay off her best friend’s house, and use Elisabeth’s idea of setting up a fund for families in need.Elisabeth asks each to name the two players on the jury who they would not give the prize to if they had the chance – no explanations, just names. Tina says Jerri and Rodger (my guess is that she picked Rodger because he had said he didn’t really need it). Colby says Jerri and Keith. At least they’re unanimous about Jerri!
Keith says he knows politics and manipulation have been a part of the game, and asks each to name one instance of having used manipulation to get to this point. Colby says the one that stands out for him is when he and Tina decided to vote off Mitchell instead of Keith and to break the alliance. Tina agrees and says that they knew if the had voted off Keith, they would have been weaker as a team, so they needed to manipulate the results to get a stronger team.
Alicia asks what one thing each is most proud of – and what one thing they are least proud of. Tina says she is most proud of the role she played overall, such as being extremely giving when she gave the first individual immunity challenge to Keith. She was least proud of going to Tribal Council and voting somebody off – it never felt good (oh, come on, never? Maybe just once?). Colby says he is least proud of not having realized – until today – how little respect he has showed the land; he took it for granted. He is most proud of having won the immunity challenge where he had to fill the water bucket; he had been in last place and pulled it out.
Nick says there has been a lot of talk about people “deserving” to be here, and points out that if Michael hadn’t injured himself, it’s likely that the two of them wouldn’t be there at all. So, if it hadn’t been for the accident, who do they think would be in their positions? Colby says that, actually, he thinks one would have been Nick (I rather doubt it), and the other would have been Michael himself. Tina agrees that Michael would have been there, but can’t guess at who else it might have been.
Finally, it’s Jerri’s turn. She says they both had to make and break promises and manipulate people, so she wants them to clear their consciences by bringing up any times of guilt, remorse, or regret for what they did to somebody else. (I have to wonder if she could even think about answering the same question.) Tina says her worst day was when she searched Kel’s pack after the beef jerky allegation. She wishes she hadn’t been standing near the pack when it was suggested. Colby says he feels guilty about voting off Rodger and Elisabeth and Alicia. He wishes he could have played it straight and brought them along, but strategy wouldn’t allow it. So, as such, he has no regrets about it.
Colby has no final words to offer. Tina just says that in other games – such as Backgammon, which they played frequently – you don’t go in planning to leave a position unguarded. You have to use strategy and it was never personal. (Never? C’mon. We know of one time when it was. Ah well, I guess I can’t expect her to say that when she needs every vote.)
So, it’s time for the final vote. Rodger casts his for Colby, saying that it was a very difficult decision because he likes both and both played extremely well. But Colby was the ultimate survivor and played harder.
Elisabeth's vote is hidden. It looked to me like she was making a “C,” but the CBS website says she went with Tina.
Alicia votes for Tina in what was – for me, anyway – a bit of a surprise. I would have thought she’d favor the stronger, more athletic Colby. But she says that in the game of life, she would probably gravitate to him. In the game of Survivor, though, Tina was more deserving and really played the game. It was strategy that did the job.
Keith’s vote is kept hidden from us. Not surprisingly, we later find that he voted for Tina.
Amber says that Tina hasn’t gotten a vote through the whole game, but won’t be getting the first today from her. She goes with Colby because he was more straightforward and played better.
Nick’s vote is kept from us. We later find that he went for Colby.
Jerri votes for Tina saying that Tina was obviously the mastermind behind the strategy, and that her greatest strategic victory was getting Colby to pick her instead of Keith for the final two. She can’t help but have a sense of respect for that. (Okay, I guess it was smart of Tina to keep insisting it was never personal.)
Then, Probst grabs the votes, says goodbye, and runs to a helicopter to take them away until tonight, where they will be revealed live.
And so, here we are. It’s live and we’re in a Los Angeles studio made up to look like Tribal Council. A cleaned up Tina and Colby (and jury) look much healthier – you can’t see their bones anymore. Heck, I barely recognized Tina! We see a shot of Probst flying the votes to the studio in another helicopter, and then he arrives onstage.
But can we just get to the voting? Of course not! First he has to ask a few more questions. Both finalists say it’s been very emotional watching the last episode but neither really can put in words what it all feels like. Both also say there has not been any second guessing of their strategies or anything they did or said. Colby does note that he certainly didn’t expect to get Jerri’s vote, but was a bit surprised to not get Alicia’s – he should have sucked up to her more, he says as he laughs.
The winner will get a Pontiac Aztek (yes, they mention that before the big prize) and the million dollars, plus the tribal flag, as they had agreed upon earlier. So the two of them sit arm in arm (quite a contrast from Rich and Kelly) as the votes are read. Tina. Tina. Colby. Colby. Colby. Tina. It’s tied at three a piece. And the final vote is…
Colby jumps up as if he had won, yelling, “Yeah!” and hugging her. As he had said earlier, he wanted to be able to bring somebody in who, if they won instead of him, he could at least feel good about it. And it’s obvious that he did.
And so it ends, with hugs all around and even a quick peck between Jerri and Colby. Then we’re taken to Bryant Gumbel, who brings the other contestants out and will talk to all of them.
That will be fodder for a later article, but one thing he did ask that applies here goes back to Colby bringing Tina along to the final two instead of Keith. Colby says that although everybody talks about how he came to win, the game changes. And since doing it, he says he has not lost a night of sleep because he knew that if she won, she deserved it.
Well, she did win, and she did deserve it. Was it a smart move? In the short run, no. Colby gave up $900,000 (second place gets $100,000) to bring her along instead of Keith. But in the long run, who knows? He doesn’t really have the personality of a Rich Hatch, but that could work for him if he tries. He has been perceived as a good guy – the white hat he was talking about earlier. That may help him earn back some of the money he has missed. Then again, I doubt perceptions of him would have changed much if he had brought along Keith instead. In the end, I guess he has to live with what he did, and, for now anyway, he seems content with it. Personally, I think he should have gone for the million bucks.
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