Survivor: Cook Islands – Survivor Live, Episode 14by Brian Towers -- 12/19/2006
Following the final exciting episode of the season of Survivor: Cook Islands is the penultimate episode of CBS’s Internet interview show, Survivor Live. Co-hosted by Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly and Survivor: Amazon winner Jenna Morasca, it features interviews with recently eliminated contestants.
This episode features the four runners-up – genial doofus Adam Gentry, firewomen Sundra Oakley and Becky Lee, and challenge master Ozzy Lusth. In that order, each will be available for about a fifteen-minute conference call.
Why most of the primary players in the game get this minimalist treatment is beyond me.
Dalton starts things off by bragging a little that his pre-season choice won the game. I did OK myself, but I missed the big one at the end by a mile. Dalton says it could have been even closer if Becky had gotten a vote, and Jenna replies, “I had forgotten Becky was even in the final three.” Dalton replies, “You may not be the only one.” Nice.
Jenna says the reunion show was boring. Dalton says that may be because all three finalists were well-liked and respected, so there was no one to dump on. For me, it’s because almost every question was a repeat of something I’ve typed into one of the articles from this series!
Adam is brought up first. We hear his voice and see a stock picture of Adam. He knows Jenna has given him hell every week.
Dalton says that Adam was portrayed as “laid back and goofy, but always with a smile on his face,” yet he did well in the tough final challenge, and earlier he won the math challenge and showed well in one other puzzle. Adam jokes, “Dalton, what does smiling a lot have to do with not being able to do puzzles?” He adds, “I just like to have a good time and be happy.”
Dalton queries Adam about giving Yul his vote for eliminating Jonathan before himself. Adam says he felt Yul was indeed the ringleader and was the most deserving of winning the million. However, had that not happened, he would have voted for Ozzy. Adam kept his word to Yul.
Jenna asks Adam if Yul was really the better player, if he were so willing to switch his vote. Adam says it was a toss-up between the two, and that both were deserving winners. Then he reiterates that he wanted to keep his word. He admits that when Ozzy kept winning challenges, he would have voted for Ozzy had he not already given his word to Yul. Jenna notes Parvati didn’t keep her word, and Adam says she wasn’t really part of that promise.
The first caller is Elaine from South Carolina. She asks for a Blast game, but they don’t have them today. Her question is, what did Raro lack that they couldn’t do better in the challenges? Adam says Ozzy was by far the best competitor, and although he didn’t win them all alone, he was a big factor. He adds that Raro was overconfident when they had the numerical advantage.
Dalton asks Adam about his plan to force Yul to use the hidden idol. I thought this was very smart play on Adam’s part. He asks, if Adam was surprised they didn’t go along with it, and Adam says, “Not really.” Dalton adds that if it had happened, Ozzy probably would have won the million. Adam says that Ozzy’s mentality was just to win individual challenges. He says Ozzy didn’t want to hear a lot of strategic talk, and also the Aitu group was really tight.
Jenna asks if Becky and Sundra were playing for second place. Adam asks, what else could they have done? He likes them, but Adam is sure they weren’t going to win anyway. I must agree.
Doug from Wisconsin asks Adam what was his biggest mistake. He quickly responds, “Voting off Jenny.” Adam takes responsibility for the error; he didn’t see the possibility that Jonathan would try and flop back into a tight, loyal group like the Aitu four. He is sure Jenny would not have flopped at the merge. It’s true; she told us this in her own Survivor: Live interview.
That’s it for Adam and the first segment.
Segment two features Sundra and Becky. It begins with a “Probst’s Thoughts” feature, where a message is played that Jeff Probst previously recorded about the departing players. Jeff remembers Sundra smiles on even the darkest days.
Again, we will only see a stock photo of Sundra and hear her voice.
Dalton asks Sundra to compare the game to being in an on-screen catfight with Kim Catrall. Although “pulling Kim’s hair was up there on my life experiences,” being on Survivor “takes the cake. There’s nothing like it at all!”
Jenna says Sundra cleaned up better than any previous Survivor. I gotta agree!
Dalton calls Sundra “The True Survivor.” She was at the bottom of the pecking order on a weak tribe from the second episode onward, and she kept improving her position. In this respect I see her as similar to another city-girl from last season, Cirie.
Sundra admits she didn’t know a lot about the game beforehand, but decided she would keep her eyes open and work hard. She knows she had the opportunities to make wrong moves, but she avoided the lure. She also says, “I never put on a front for anybody,” and she is quite proud of herself.
Jenna asks, “Especially maybe for you and Becky, was there a point where you said, okay, there’s no way I’m going to win because Ozzy and Yul are such dominant forces, I just want to survive with my tribe through to the four?” Sundra says she wanted to stay loyal, even if she didn’t win. She gave it her all in every challenge. The last morning, she woke up seeing in her mind that she was going to win the final challenge. Getting back to Jenna’s comment, Sundra says that she wasn’t going to let the obvious skills of Yul and Ozzy deter her from doing her best.
Jenna asks Sundra how she voted. It was for Yul, because their bond was tighter. They had many private moments together that were not shown. She calls both “very deserving,” but Yul being a little older, they related on a different level.
Sundra says definitively, “Yul is the nicest person next to Jesus.” She is sure the million will be used to benefit a lot of people, and not just Yul himself.
Megan in Seattle asks if they were really ready to dump Ozzy. Yes, the four were tight but the three (Sundra-Becky-Yul) were tighter. They agonized about staying as the four, or advancing their own position in the game. She says, “We left homes to sleep on the ground and eat maggots, so we wanted to get as far in the game as we could with as much dignity as possible.” She is comfortable that Ozzy knew that and respected the concept.
Responding to a prompt from Jenna, she is aware that when Ozzy kept winning challenges, it helped keep the rest of the four safe.
Dalton asks Sundra’s thoughts about Adam’s plan of forcing Yul to use the hidden idol. She quickly responds that she never considered it, saying, “I’m only going to make decisions that don’t make me feel like a schmuck.”
Dalton wonders, had Becky been given/taken the hidden idol, would it have affected Sundra’s jury vote? After a pause, she says it would not. Knowing it’s a game, it would have surprised her had he not made the offer. To be caught off guard by that would be naïve of her, she says. She adds she wouldn’t have begrudged either of them, had the hidden idol changed hands.
At the fire-making tiebreaker, it wasn’t shown that when Sundra ran out of materials she said to Probst, “Jeff, just give it to Becky. It’s Becky’s I’m out, give it to her,” Becky insisted on continuing to work until she actually made a fire and completed the task. Sundra calls Becky “a class act,” and, “underrated.”
Jenna says she ought to have waited to see if Becky also ran out of matches. Dalton suggests that the next step was to give them both a blowtorch. Ha!
Sundra says she was nervous in the fire making, and it was windy. She says, “I was trying. Trust me, I was trying,” and says she did have flames at one point. She says she sat there for a few minutes before telling Jeff to give it to Becky, it was not as instantaneous as they made it look on TV.
She admits she is surprised she lasted as long as she did in the game, but was “at peace” that she went out when she did.
When she saw it on TV, she laughed at their ineptitude at fire-making. It was funny – and, in my opinion, worthy of the Reality TV Hall of Shame, and I call it a “fire-extinguishing competition!”
Barbara in Texas asks, did you tell anyone you were an actress? No, because she thought they’d use it against her. She insists she didn’t play the game to further her career, but for “Sundra the individual.” She says she had a bad year last year and needed to “shake up her world.” She didn’t want anyone to “cheapen my experience, and cheapen what it was I wanted out of it, because it’s an easy tactic.” She adds, “It’s easy to say that, because that’s what people do.’
And that’s all we get from Sundra. Next up – Becky! Becky is actually visible by remote camera. Why this starts now, I don’t know.
“Probst’s Thoughts” about Becky begin with him concerned about the ethical dilemma she would find herself in. Would her principled work in women’s rights affect her ability to lie in the game? He says he had a hard time getting to know her, and suspects that was her plan.
Becky thought Jeff was trying to goad her into responses, but during challenges she had her game face on and she wasn’t biting.
Dalton remembers meeting “Bossy Becky” pre-show, and Jenna says that side of her didn’t come out in the show. Becky says she didn’t want to scare people into thinking she was too aggressive and manipulative, so she toned it down. While initially rafting to the first island on day one, she was barking orders and saw it wasn’t being well received by Yul and Brad. A little later, she and Cao Boi got into an argument about overt cheering at a challenge, and they didn’t see eye-to-eye after that.
Dalton asks her opinion of Cao Boi. Becky says, “Cao Boi is a great guy. I respect him in so many ways.” She admires his life experiences. However, she was aware that he would not listen to her, so when it was between her and Cecilia to go home, she let Yul talk to Cao Boi while she stayed out of the way.
Jenna asks Becky about the impact of having a final three instead of a final two, saying, “Going into the final three against Ozzy and Yul, did you go, “Oh my, this is going to be a disaster for me? Or did you think maybe you could outshine them in the final questions, and have a chance?” Becky saw these two powerhouses and was just grateful to be in that position. She certainly didn’t give up.
She hoped her social skills would guide her through the game. One which did was to align correctly with right players.
Corey from New Hampshire asks how close the final measurement was in the mud challenge, because one of the promo pics shows Adam and Yul competing while the rest watch. She suspects they took part in an unaired tiebreaker. She also says Becky resembles Julie Chen!
Becky says the editing has been interesting. There was indeed a mud-challenge tiebreaker between Yul and Adam. Becky comments about another edit, when Jonathan queried her after the family visit about her sister, and it was edited so she she appeared to ignore him. She insists she did not ignore him and is disappointed it was edited that way.
Mark in Washington asks Becky’s opinions of the ethnic split. Becky says she wanted to do the show initially to show Asians in a different, more positive light in the media. Once the split was announced she was initially concerned about negative stereotypes, but was determined to show the diversity of Asians, and to discuss Asians issues in a better light.
Jenna asks what’s next for Becky. She wants to bring attention to women’s rights, especially in the areas of battered women. She is an attorney in that field in D.C. and has recently incorporated a non-profit organization. It’s called “Becky Lee Women’s Support Fund.” There is a website coming, but it’s still under development. Becky says she’s putting her winnings into the effort. Jenna asks if she and Ozzy get the same money – they don’t, Ozzy gets more.
The segment ends with the promise of Ozzy coming up next. Jenna can hardly wait.
In another “Probst’s Thoughts” segment, Jeff says he liked Ozzy early on and predicted he would do well. Jeff liked Ozzy’s story, his pride in his ethnicity and that this game seemed made for him. That said, all these factors made it difficult for Ozzy to do well. Jeff respects the way he fought to overcome these factors, and thinks kids will want to be like Ozzy.
Ozzy insists it’s not fair that he’s not there, and can’t even see the hosts. All he sees is a camera with a happy face on it. I think that’s unfair – they ought to have had a representation for Dalton as well…
Dalton congratulates him on a well-played game and asks Ozzy what he thinks it came down to when the jurors were making their decision. Ozzy thinks he spent too much time fishing and not enough time politicking. He says, “If there was anyone to lose to, I’m glad it was Yul.”
Jenna isn’t so comfortable with that and blames Adam for Ozzy’s loss. She thinks that’s a bad reason to vote someone a million dollars. In my book, standing by your word is a correct action, because a man’s word ought to mean something.
Jenna calls Adam’s vote “the swing vote.” Ozzy points out that Candice and Sundra didn’t vote for him either, so there were several swing votes. Ozzy says he tried to convince Adam that the decision to keep him over Jonathan was a group decision, and not just Yul’s. However, he wasn’t successful.
Dalton says that we know Parvati voted for Ozzy and asks him if he knows who else voted for him. Ozzy says, “I don’t know for sure, and this is all speculation, and just based off of what people have told me and when people have come up to me and said things… I got the vote from Jenny, Rebecca, Parvati, and Nate.” I suspect he is correct but we’ll probably never know for sure. For some reason, the votes are not shown on the CBS site any more, nor are they on Insider.
Jenna tells Ozzy that the tribe stayed safe because he kept winning challenges. He says he was aware of that; it was what he saw as the nest value he brought to the game. When the mutiny happened, that was the most important challenge to win.
Ozzy also showed his worth by providing ample food. He tells us Becky actually gained two pounds. Ha!
Dalton asks if Ozzy gave thought to Adam’s plan to force out Yul’s hidden idol. Ozzy doesn’t quite answer that question, but he does tell us that post-game, he wonders if he should have been more sneaky and given thought to working with Adam and Parvati. However, he was committed to seeing the Aitu four end up as the top four.
Ozzy says he’s glad it only came down to one vote. He feels if it had been a landslide, he’s have trouble living with that. Jenna says, “We haven’t had a close vote like that in quite some time, and it’s quite exciting.”
Latina Joanna from San Diego asks what homemade food he missed the most while in the game. He says he missed being able to make a taco. They had so much fish, but he wanted to be able to wrap it in something warm. He also missed bread, ice cream, and dreamed about banana splits. Jenna jumps in, “Me too! We’re soulmates!”
Young Ali from Kansas City is back again. She asks if he ever swam competitively. Ozzy says just one season as a little kid, but he was captain of his high school diving team and went in statewide competitions. He’s always liked swimming, but just not competitively.
Dalton comments on Jonathan and Ozzy not seeing eye-to-eye. Ozzy says they did connect on film, literature, art, and music, and he “almost looked up to him like a father figure sometimes.” Ozzy notes they both have strong personalities and they did rub each other the wrong way at times. He says Yul and Jonathan talked strategy alone right from the beginning.
Dalton asks Ozzy if he ever considered not trying full-out on reward challenges. Ozzy didn’t want to look back with regrets that he hadn’t always tried his best. He was surprised no one else grabbed the large chunks of mud at the bottom of the pool. Ozzy confirms that in the heat of the moment, there is no time to look around at other buckets and see how anyone else was doing.
Mary in Florida wonders if Yul got more credit for masterminding Jonathan’s ouster than was merited. She wonders if he, Becky, and Sundra considered it possible that Yul would take Jonathan to the end as someone who is easily beatable. No, they didn’t consider that. The plan was to only keep Jonathan for a couple of votes until he was no longer needed, and then he was gone.
Ozzy says he didn’t know Yul had the hidden idol until he showed it to them.
Ozzy thinks lawyer Yul is articulate and intelligent, and that Yul outperformed him at final Tribal Council. Jenna disagrees. She’s sure the votes were pre-determined (Ozzy agrees) and thinks they were equally impressive in front of the jury. I agree with Jenna this time.
Ozzy wonders if there was some animosity among jurors who were beaten by him in the challenges. He feels he didn’t play up how hard it was to be fishing successfully all the time; he now thinks he made it look too easy.
Remember in the first season the show, Richard Hatch decided that he wouldn’t provide too many fish, even skipping some days, so that when he did deliver, it would be appreciated more.
Ozzy thinks he missed a few golden opportunities to make a play for someone and gain that extra vote. He again mentions trying harder to convince Adam that Yul was not the puppetmaster in voting Jonathan out.
Dalton asks what Ozzy thought his chances were of winning. Ozzy says, “I thought my chances were pretty good.” He was pretty sure it would be close and might even be a tie, but felt Yul had won the game. He thinks he was better in the all-round game, but Yul was able to pull it out.
Jenna herself always (though not today) says, “It’s a social game,” and my own favorite phrase is, “This show is not about extreme camping.” It’s not about challenges, likeability or integrity either, though all those things can help. What it’s about convincing other people that you ought to be given a ridiculously large amount of money. That’s where Ozzy didn’t make enough inroads.
Brian from New Jersey asks, if there had been a traditional final two and Ozzy had won the extra immunity challenge, whom would he have chosen as his final-two opponent? Also, does he see himself as a victim of the final-three twist? For part one, the response is Sundra or Becky, who I think he would have beaten fairly easily. For the second part, he agrees that he was the victim of the twist, because he lost his chance to win immunity after the hidden idol was out of the game and get Yul booted. Jenna agrees. Ozzy is philosophical in saying that he had to make the best out of his situation.
Ozzy now wonders if he made a mistake sending Adam to Exile Island the last time. He thinks he might have sent one of the girls instead, to keep them separate.
Dalton mentions the luck factor. The biggest factor is not being on the wrong side of the new twists in the game. Jenna still feels it was luck that Yul was able to find the hidden idol.
John in New Jersey asks Ozzy if he’d play the game again. In a heartbeat, YES! He reiterates his thoughts from the reunion show about his post-game depression. While there, it did bug him to see all those great waves and not have his surfboard handy.
The hosts agree that Ozzy will be part of any upcoming All-Stars edition of the game. I think he’ll get to play too, but no one will allow him near the individual phase of the game and he’ll be an early-round boot.
Ozzy also retells the story from the reunion about reading Robinson Crusoe as a kid, building forts in the woods, and pretending to be stranded in the forest.
As the show ends, Jenna is overheated. I think we’re lucky she didn’t have an entire hour with Ozzy. Jenna says, “The problem with the final four is, they’re all too darn nice.”
Jenna doesn’t like the final three twist and likens it to the Outcast twist. She doesn’t care for the two hidden idols we’re promised in the next season. Jenna suggests an expiration date for the idol.
And that’s all the time there is. Jenna dances us out. Tomorrow – Yul!
Everyone is invited to share his or her opinions about all this good fun at the eAddress below. I’ll be back next time to report on the latest Survivor Live webcast.
If you haven’t already done so, make sure to check out the other Finale columns already posted:
Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at Uncle_bto@rogers.com. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!