Surviving the Cook Islands Reunion: Breaking Stereotypesby David Bloomberg -- 12/18/2006
As soon as the finale has ended, it’s time for the reunion to begin. All 20 players are reunited and we begin by seeing some of Yul’s greatest moments on the show – from finding the hidden immunity idol to blackmailing Jonathan with it (for which he received a Reality TV Hall of Fame Moment).
Yul looks like he can’t believe it and gives Ozzy a little hug. Probst says he has to acknowledge both of them, with all due respect to Becky, for dominating the game. They deserved to be in the final two and it’s the first time he’s ever felt bad that somebody didn’t win. That is, he’s happy Yul won, but it was so evenly matched.
Probst says Yul did so many things right to keep himself in power. How big was finding the idol? Yul says it was huge – there’s a lot of luck involved in the game and he was sent to Exile Island at the right time. The key to winning is maximizing the good luck and negating the bad. He is happy with how he used the idol to change the whole game.
What was Yul’s first reaction to the mutiny? “We’re screwed!” He didn’t realize at the time just how amazing Ozzy was and he thought the game was over.
So, Candice, why mutiny? Candice says she had a chance to change her fate in the game. It was a chance and she thought they could make it to the end. Probst notes that you do have to make big moves in the game.
What was it about the four Aitus that bonded them? Sundra says it was the luck of having four great people together who have a similar objective – playing the game with integrity. It was the right people.
Probst goes back to Yul to ask how he lured Jonathan back. He says that Yul was constantly running numbers and percentages in the game, and wonders if that’s what he used on Jonathan. Yul says he knew Jonathan was a very rational player a smart guy. So he told him that probability-wise, if Jonathan didn’t flip, they would be able to execute a strategy by which Jonathan would be out within the next two votes. He also was afraid Jonathan might lie to him and say he was going with them but not. So he told Jonathan the only reason he hadn’t been voted out of by his tribe was they thought he had the idol – so if they ever found out he didn’t have the idol, he’d be booted.
Probst says that was one turning point, but then, amazingly, Yul used the voting out of Jonathan as a way to help win the game. He says Adam was instrumental in that and Probst notes that Adam told Yul if he voted Jonathan out before him or Parvati, he would get Adam’s vote in the end. Adam agrees and says he would have voted for Ozzy otherwise, and he did keep his word.
Ozzy is like, “whoa, man.” Heh. Probst asks if he knew about that and Ozzy says Adam did mention something about that, but Adam probably didn’t realize it wasn’t solely Yul’s decision. The whole foursome had made that decision already, so he didn’t know about the deal. Ozzy shakes his head and says it’s a little too late, he guesses. Probst uses this opportunity to give Yul more credit for playing everybody in subtle ways.
Probst says when he was out on the show, he saw Becky as a tagalong. When he was watching the show and saw more of what went on at camp, he realized Becky was with Yul in a lot of the decisions. Yul says she was an incredibly strong player and even watching it you don’t realize all the subtle moves she made. She was a partner in everything they did.
He says at some point, people started calling him the puppetmaster, and he tried to argue against it because he liked to work with the group. But he realized they were going to think he was BSing them so he used it to his advantage. But she was with him every step of the way.
So is it a little frustrating, knowing how instrumental she was, that Becky will probably be remembered for not being able to start fire? Becky says they practiced and were both really nervous and competing as friends.
Probst asks if Becky and Yul were ever romantic. Becky says they were both very game-focused and their best chances were to stay aligned. They didn’t cross that line. Did it enter her mind? No.
And then there is the other side of Yul, who appeared in People magazine’s sexiest man issue. He looks embarrassed as Probst asks him if he’s getting dates (recall that Yul said in the pole hanging challenge that he’d never get a date again). Yul says when he heard about the magazine, he thought it was a practical joke. He thinks it’s a little silly but he appreciates it and thinks his mom is happy because she wants him to get married and thinks this could help.
Probst says that when Yul, Ozzy, and Parvati were naked in the hot tub, Yul was there with two uninhibited people and he couldn’t tell if Yul was thinking it was a great moment or his worst nightmare. Yul laughs and says it was more the latter – he wanted to get outta there but he didn’t want to leave them alone. He actually waited until Ozzy fell asleep first that night before turning in himself.
What’s the first thing Yul did when he got home? He got a Costco membership and went crazy buying food. Heh.
Next up, Ozzy the challenge god. Probst says those working on the show referred to him as “born to play.” Where did he come up with all those skills? Ozzy says he’s had a very eclectic background. He loves books and one of the first books he read was Robinson Crusoe. He fell in love with nature. He started swimming when he lived in San Antonio, Texas, where he did it every day. He felt more comfortable in the water than on land. So he knew how to spearfish, among other things.
What was the best part for him? “The whole damn thing,” including meeting all of them and knowing that if he were ever stranded on an island, everything he did as a kid, he could use. Did he miss it when he left? He says he fell into deep depression when he got back. Being out there was an amazing experience. Just a few thousand years ago, everybody was doing the Survivor thing for real.
Since he touched on his dad in final Tribal Council, has he been in touch with him? He says no, but his “father” is here – that is, the man he considers his father, who raised him.
Moving to Jonathan, who Probst says was memorable for other reasons. Probst asks if he was a villain or a good player. He says he wasn’t a villain, but he was antagonistic to other people and rubbed them the wrong way. But it was a game – you don’t have a villain in Monopoly. True, but Jonathan, you were a villain. Jonathan says he was playing to win – they all were, he was just more overt about it.
What was his family’s reaction? He warned them that he was going to be called “some fantastic names,” like cancer and rat and weasel. He says it sucked but it was in the context of the game and he knows the people wouldn’t do that elsewhere. He doesn’t hold it against them.
Did it change him besides losing weight? Yes, he feels much more appreciative of his life and family. And he’s very glad he did it, for that reason.
Switching subjects, was seeing that bottle talking about the double Tribal Council Jenny’s worst nightmare? Yup. She says she regrets not saying anything at Tribal Council to plead her case and convince them she would be the better choice. She wouldn’t have flipped.
Moving to Cao Boi, Probst asks where he came from. Cao Boi says all his life he has bucked trends and been told he’s been doing things wrong. He’s been living it his way and this is the culmination of his life experiences. Do people tend to not get him? He says they think he doesn’t understand English, and if he doesn’t respond right away, people talk to him louder. Heh.
In Cao Boi’s philosophy, Probst says Cao Boi doesn’t seem to think younger people are patient enough. Cao Boi says things are quicker these days. Kids look at it and process information more quickly, which creates impatience.
Another thing Probst says Cao Boi will be remembered for is his Asian jokes where people in the tent were getting offended. Probst says he always felt Cao Boi was trying to tell them not to take things so seriously. But does Yul think it was a good idea, ultimately? Yul says the first thing he thought was that he’d made a huge mistake in participating. But it didn’t play up stereotypes, instead it showed that it’s not race that determines who your friends are – they ended up with a multicultural coalition that made it to the end. The fact that they bonded so well was based on their personalities, not their ethnic backgrounds. So he’s hoping that in some small way, they might have shown that the color of your skin doesn’t determine who you are, but what’s inside does.
Cao Boi tries to add his two cents but it stopped by Probst, who is asking Nate a question. Apparently, Nate did an interview in which he said something about Rebecca and Stephannie getting into a fight with him because he didn’t represent their ethnic group. Nate says they were originally all grouped by race and he loved his Hiki tribe. But he was called a race traitor because some people felt he should have stayed with his racial background regardless. But he was playing a game where that didn’t matter and you have to do what’s best. So he had to turn on girls he loved and his racial background.
Stephannie is asked what that’s about. She says she was comfortable in the game and trusted Nate. Did she trust him because of their shared race? She says absolutely. Rebecca? She says she trusted him more so because of who he is rather than because of his race. They were close, so she expected him to look out for him.
Probst asks Brad to wrap up the issue – does he think there is pressure to represent your group in situations like this? He says yes, especially representing Asians, where men are frequently portrayed as nerdy guys. He thinks he and Yul did a fantastic job of breaking that mold.
Next up, Probst asks Candice if it was strategy or romance with her and Adam. At the beginning, it was strategy, but as things went along, they developed a bond and relationship. Adam is asked what the status is today. He says Candice is a great girl, but… they have separate lives. They’re more just like friends.
And what about Nate and Parvati? Nate says, “look at her!” Yes or no? He says yes. How about Parvati? She says he helped her get through the game and she depended on him.
By the way, Probst says, they labeled Parvati as a boxer on the show. What kind of boxing does she do? She says it’s “model boxing,” which elicits a laugh from just about all the other contestants. She says it is real boxing and they do train. “It’s legitimate boxing.” Uh huh.
What’s going on with J.P.? Shortly after being on the show, he was contacted by the Janice Dickinson modeling agency and will be appearing January 10 on Oxygen. What kind of reaction did Cristina get from her fellow cops? She says they were proud of her and it was a great time.
Does the show still resonate for Cecilia even though she wasn’t on it very long? She says definitely – even two days changes you. Jessica is asked if she is stuck with the hair because it’s such a part of her look. She says she’s not stuck at all – she loves her style and keeps on workin’ it. She’s had nothing but love since being on the show.
And Probst says he’d be remiss if he didn’t point out that Candice is now available again. Ha! Some people laugh while others give an “awwww.” Billy, to his credit, laughs. Probst says he just has to ask – he had genuine feelings for her, right? He says he did, but a lot of it had to do with the situation he was in, that he didn’t need his tribemates, he had something else. He was in the heat of the moment and how many of us haven’t stuck our feet in our mouths at some point? He says he just happened to do it on national television.
During this season, there has been an online vote to pick the contestant who played the most clever game – with the winner getting a new car. Since Yul was voted the winner due to his clever game play, I’d say he’s a likely winner. Probst says this vote was extremely close and came down again to Yul and Ozzy. The difference was less than one percent. This time the winner is Ozzy!
Time for a sneak peek at the next season of Survivor. There will be two tribes, with one living a life of luxury and the other having virtually nothing (coincidentally – or not – the next season of The Apprentice, also produced by Mark Burnett, has the winners of each challenge living in luxury and the losers getting virtually nothing). For the first time, there will be 19 Survivors in a diverse cast with lifestyles ranging from a Harvard-educated lawyer to a once-homeless street performer. Exile Island will be more treacherous than ever, crawling with deadly sea snakes. And there will be two hidden immunity idols and another twist to complicate the game. Plus, one of the most controversial decisions ever made by a Survivor will have America talking. It will be Survivor: Fiji.
And with that, this season is over. But, of course, RealityNewsOnline’s coverage is not! We expect to have interviews with all of the final five on Monday. Plus we’ll have a look at their Early Show appearances, Survivor Live, Survivor Insider, and plenty of commentary – including “Why Yul Won” and four articles about why the others lost. So keep checking back right here to keep up with all of it! And then be sure to come back again as we prepare for Survivor: Fiji!
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: Cook Islands articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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