Surviving the Reunionby David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
The Survivor reunion began with another kiss on the head from second-place Colby to newly-crowned winner, Tina. Bryant Gumbel welcomed all the rest of the contestants who hadn’t even made it to the jury as they filed into the studio.
Gumbel let Tina have the first words as she said she never believed it could be true – that both she and Colby felt like they’d won just by making it to the final two. Gumbel followed up by noting there was a difference of “considerable jack” between the two positions – which Colby helpfully pointed out was $900,000, though he managed to keep a smile on his face.
Tina, though, said she would have done it for free. Well, nobody said you had to be sane to win Survivor.
Moving on to Colby, Gumbel asked the question everybody wanted to know – why the heck did he bring Tina along instead of Keith? Colby said that the game changes and when he and Tina became close, he realized that he wanted to bring her along instead of somebody who didn’t deserve it. He added that he has slept fine every night since doing it.
Gumbel moved to Keith, who was seated next to Colby, and asked how shocked he was. Keith repeated his line from the final episode that the game was no longer about the money, but about doing the best he could do. Still, Gumbel pressed on, pointing out that Colby gave up $900,000 because he didn’t want Keith to have it. Keith responded, “Call Colby a fool, then,” and laughed. He continued that he agrees with Colby and said he would have picked Tina as well, even though she’d have beaten him. Well big deal, Keith, Colby would’ve beaten you, too! Alas, Gumbel didn’t point that out.
Gumbel moved on to the people who voted for Tina, asking why they did so. Alicia said that Tina had put it all together. Even though she hadn’t won any immunity challenges, she had strategy and she must have been doing something right to make it that far. Elisabeth said it was her most difficult vote because she’d developed respect and love for both of them. But she knew Tina had already decided what to do with the money and so she voted with her heart.
He skipped asking Keith and Jerri why they voted for Tina and moved to asking why the other jury members voted for Colby. Nick said that between the final two, it wasn’t easy to say who deserved it most. So he voted for the person who he though really tried to get to know him outside the context of the game. Amber echoed earlier statements about what a hard decision it was, and said she went back and forth on who should get her vote. She said both gave great answers to her question (what three things got each to this point and what they would do with the money), so she just went with her gut. Colby, she said, played “awesome” and won so many challenges. Rodger also talked about what a difficult choice it was, and said he worried about whether he’d made the right decision even after he cast his vote. But he didn’t really say why he specifically voted for Colby.
Next, Gumbel moved on to ask Colby if something was wrong with the game overall if he could so thoroughly dominate it and yet not win. Colby responded that there was not. He said he was very fortunate, recognizing Mike’s accident as making it possible for him to be in the final two.
Speaking of fortunate, Gumbel then revealed that Tina was not originally even picked to be on the show this time! She was an alternate and didn’t know if she’d be on until a few days before they actually left. A few minutes later, we also learned that Keith was originally supposed to have been on the first show, facing Rich Hatch and company.
The next segment of the show was about hunger and hardships. Obviously, Mike suffered the most, but he showed his hands and they look good. He said that what happened to him transcended the game and provided spiritual growth. It was his greatest life experience ever and a million dollars couldn’t buy it. Um, okay – I’m wondering what kind of drugs they gave him after his accident.
Nobody disagreed with Colby’s earlier statement that the environment was the hardest part about the show. Nick said he was so weak and dizzy that he couldn’t do anything (yes, we noticed). Jerri chimed in that Kucha didn’t really have the hunger Ogakor had until after she left because they had kept winning food rewards and, of course, caught the pig. She (unsurprisingly) said she felt sweet revenge in watching them go hungry after she was gone.
Maralyn, who wasn’t around long enough to face real hunger, said that if she had been around just a couple more weeks, she’d have been wearing a thong. Okay, now I’m glad they voted her off early! Mitchell then stated the obvious: because of his height and metabolism, it hit him the hardest. Rodger closed out that part of the discussion by noting that their Thanksgiving dinner consisted of a few macadamia nuts.
Moving on, Gumbel asked Kimmi if the rumor was true that she planned to wear only her birthday suit on her birthday, in Survivor Rich Hatch tradition. She did say she would have done it, but they voted her out four days too early. Jeff chimed in that they saw it anyway and Kimmi appeared to actually get embarrassed. Remember, this is the woman who, in the very first episode, wondered aloud how she would masturbate. I didn’t think she could get embarrassed.
From there, Gumbel went to Jeff and asked about why nobody tried to have sex. Jeff said that, for the life of him, he could not imagine anybody in that environment being attracted to another. They were not eating, not bathing, getting on each others nerves, sleeping in dirt, etc. Nick said there were some attractive women there, but after 24 hours, they were pretty nasty. Of course, he admitted that he was nasty, too. Maralyn jumped in to say that, as an ex-cop, she had appointed herself the prophylactic police. There were 12 condoms in the first aid kit when she got there and there were 12 when she left. Thanks for the update, Mad Dog.
Staying with the sex topic, Gumbel then asked Amber and Elisabeth why they wore less-than-revealing bathing suits. Amber said she didn’t want her top falling off in the middle of a challenge, and Elisabeth said they really needed something that would be comfortable for the whole time they were there.
The next section was the one people were really waiting for – friends and enemies. Gumbel started with Debb, the first person voted off this time. She practically broke into tears as she said she did not really want to be part of the reunion. She said she was on such a short time that nobody got a chance to know her and then the press tore her apart when she got home (due to her relationship with her step-son). She said it hasn’t been fun and wouldn’t do it again; it was a bad trade – three days on the show for her life being ripped apart – but she can’t look back. She said she was a strong, independent person but seems to have lost her belief in herself for now. Kel gave her a hug as the audience gave some pity applause.
Let me take a moment here for an editorial comment. I think Debb needs to remember that she set herself up for this. She had to have seen how the lives of the first group of contestants were ripped apart for pubic consumption. Can anybody forget Rich’s child abuse charges? Or Kelly’s credit card fraud charges? Celebrities get torn apart in the press every day. Debb was even reported to have told her fellow Kuchans that she would be in the news long before they would. She knew what was going to happen and signed up anyway. So, exactly whose fault is that? Yes, the press was harsh, but nobody would have ever heard about it if she wouldn’t have tried to get herself into the limelight.
From that low note, Gumbel moved on to Kel, who was, of course, the victim of jerkygate. He pointed to something Kel had said previously about never forgiving Jerri and asked why not. This one has got to get the “dumbest question of the night” award. Why not? Here is a man who prides himself on his honor, and he has it questioned on international television? C’mon, Bryant, get a clue!
Anyway, Kel answered him by saying that he actually has forgiven her, but he doesn’t like her. Laughs and applause (even from Jerri) follow, and then he adds that she’ll never get a Christmas card from him.
Now for the good stuff – Gumbel moves to Jerri. She said that she never expects everyone to like her – and Gumbel interrupted to say that’s a good bet. Then Jerri went on to further dig herself into her hole of self-delusion. She said that what happened there is so separate from what happens in real life, and that it’s easier for some to see this than others. She seemed to be indicating that Kel should just get over it because it was the game. Meanwhile, some of the last words from her on that game were her talking about how Colby and Tina did things that were so terrible and it showed what kind of people they were.
But it gets worse than just hypocrisy. She also said that she feels bad that Kel harbors such resentment and hatred towards her. Excuse me? When did he say that? He specifically said he’d forgiven her but he just doesn’t like her. That’s not resentment and hatred. More delusional ranting from Jerri.
But Kel jumped in to point out that this was the first time she’d even spoken to him since booting him out. She tried to defend herself by saying that’s what today is for, but it’s obvious that he nailed her by pointing this out and the audience knows it.
Moving on to the next big fight, Gumbel asked Alicia if she’ll be sending Christmas cards to Kimmi. Alicia admitted that although Kimmi had called her and she hadn’t called back, it was because out of everything that happened, the finger-waving fight was the one really negative thing. She wasn’t ready to confront it then but now it’s all good. She said they’ll never be best buddies, but the 16 people there are all incredibly amazing and she has to hold them all close to her heart.
See, Jerri, that’s how you handle a situation like that with grace and style – two words that seem foreign to you.
Gumbel then moves to Amber, asking why she hid the fact that she was easily annoyed. Amber replied to this runner-up for “dumbest question” by stating the obvious – that people might vote you out. She might as well have just pointed to Jerri. Speaking of Jerri, she jumped in to say that she expressed her feelings to keep her sanity, and expected others to do so as well. Yeah, well, you may have kept your sanity but you threatened everybody else’s.
Now that Gumbel was done with his dumb questions, it was time to hear some hopefully better ones from the audience. The first asked Rodger how he got the nerve to jump off the cliff into the water in the second episode. Rodger said he simply wasn’t going to do anything to let the tribe down, but it was probably the most difficult thing he’d ever done in his life.
The next question asked Elisabeth about the scary wildlife. Elisabeth said the scariest part was going to the bathroom at night, when every sound would make her jump from fear of what might be there. It apparently wasn’t helped by Jeff trying to scare them at these times. Kel chimed in to say his scariest wildlife encounter was definitely Jerri. Ouch! Good one, Kel.
The next question came with its own advertisement (which shouldn’t surprise anybody – if they can put ads in the show, why not here?). It began: “On behalf of Reebok, congratulations, Tina.” Then, the question was surprisingly not about how her feet felt, but rather went to Mike about why he put the blood on his face after killing the pig. He said he didn’t want to tell the other tribe that killing a pig was even possible, but he was outvoted 6-1. So as their way of telling them, he substituted pig’s blood for his usual warpaint.
Once they made sure they had their sponsor’s question, Gumbel jumped back in to ask Mitchell if he’d do it again. He said that he wouldn’t and that all along he was wondering when he was going to leave. He was surprised when it happened, but was happy about it. Then he nobly added that he traveled with Debb and got to know her after they’d both been booted. He said she is a wonderful and amazing woman. I have to say that my opinion of Mitchell went up at that point. Until then, he’d been pretty low in my book, starting with the way he talked about keeping only the “cool” people in the Survivor II Field Guide, and then continuing with his idiotic pronouncements that there were no fish to catch and his criticism of Kel, etc. But his statement in defense of Debb brought him up a couple notches.
Gumbel moved on to discuss how Survivor is a game but so many of them had called it life-changing. Maralyn jumped in to say that she’d already gone through the change. Thanks, Mad Dog, for that info.
Gumbel continued by asking Keith how it had changed his life. Keith essentially repeated what he’d said at the end of the final episode, and also that it gave him time to just sit and think about his life and figure out how to make it better. Now he’s in a whole new game of real life.
Next, we were told one of the worst-kept secrets about the game – where Survivor III would be. As many had figured, it will be in “the heart of Africa.” Gumbel asked for Colby’s advice to future contestants, and he simply said to “expect the absolute worst.”
Some more inane questions followed, and then Mike chimed in to note that Gumbel had focused earlier on the fighting, but that some great relationships were formed on the show. Then Tina added another story about Jeff’s practical jokes – this one a bit more serious. After the tribes merged, they had apparently caught 13 fish to eat after Tribal Council. Jeff had figured out that he’d probably be the one going, so he released all the fish (which had been on a stringer in the river)! When the others got back, they figured another animal had eaten them. Jeff still seemed very happy about this stunt, and, frankly, it was kind of funny. I rather wish it had been aired as part of the show.
We couldn’t say goodbye without hearing from Maralyn again. She apparently learned to play the didgeridoo while in the Outback and played a few notes for us (well, I guess that’s the way it’s supposed to sound – it’s kind of hard to tell). Finally, Tina gets the last words by explaining – in response to a Gumbel question – that she was somewhere between the motherly figure and a ruthless one, but that lots of luck went into it.
Indeed, it did. As they noted, neither Colby nor Tina would probably have been there if Mike hadn’t hurt himself. And she certainly wouldn’t have been there if Colby had played to win instead of to be nice. But what’s done is done. She made it through and pulled it off. And now she gets to enjoy the fruits of her labor by going from interview to interview for the next few weeks. Hopefully, some of the people asking questions will be a little brighter than Bryant Gumbel.
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