Survivor: Cook Islands - Survivor Live, The Finale, Part 2, Sole Survivor Yul Kwonby Brian Towers -- 12/21/2006
For the last time this season, we hear the great introductory music from Trailorchoir. Next to the themes from Survivor and Idol (all versions), this simple, rocking beat is one of the best pieces of theme music in the reality world, and it excites me every time I hear it. That even includes the endless riff that fills the ten minutes or so immediately before the broadcast. Well done, gang!
But before we get started, my final trivia question: I’m going easy on you here, no tricks. I note that throughout the season, Yul picked up five votes in his way to the title. Since there was too much activity for a trivia question in the last article, let’s base an easy two-parter around that fact. Question one: Name the Survivor winners who never received a vote against them. Part two: Which winner garnered the most votes along the way? To see the answer, drag your cursor between the square brackets that follow: [ Tina, Ethan, Brian, Sandra, and Tom never got a vote against them. The winner with the most votes against them is Aras, from last season. Remember Aras? His fellow competitors remembered him, eight times. ]
Action begins with Jenna offering Dalton a Blast DVD for predicting the winner before the season started. Sorry, he already has one.
The show opens with the big moment at the reunion show, with Jeff reading Yul’s winning vote and the subsequent pandemonium.
Pre-show, Dalton asked Yul why he will win the game. His answer is very prophetic and Dalton reads it out. Yul said, “Survivor requires a combination of physical skill, mental fortitude, and the ability to socially navigate. And, there’s a lot of luck. Outside of the luck department, I think I have the different components you need in the right combination to be successful. I think I’m a pretty decent athlete. Mentally, I think I’m good at puzzle-solving. And, I can relate to different types of people… who are not part of the mainstream.” He concludes, “I think I can leverage my skills and experiences, and hopefully win with a little bit of luck.”
Jenna says that an example of his luck was finding the hidden idol. She says every winner was lucky at some point; there was a key decision that went their way.
She asks, “How lucky do you think you were you to find the idol? How long did you look for it?”
Yul says he was lucky in general and calls luck the most important factor. For example, get on the wrong alliance and you’re done. He advises, “Take advantage of the good luck you have, and try to mitigate the bad luck.”
I have to agree. In my last article I talked of the factors it takes to win, and I forgot to talk about luck. Luck is a big, big component in anyone’s victory in this game. You can’t foresee the twists that are part of every season and to not get tripped up by one is one example of the importance of luck.
Yul says, “I was sent there (Exile Island) when there were enough clues to figure it out.” He says he arrived at Exile Island too late in the day to search, but he thought about the clues overnight. “I think I kind of figured it out. Then in the morning I started out digging, and I couldn’t find it at first. Then I realized, if I was a little bit shorter, the trees would line up with the islands in a different way.” That led him about three feet over to the right spot, and he found it. Bloody brilliant, I say!
Dalton asks Yul if he were one of the other three, would he have made the play Adam suggested to force the hidden idol to be played? Yul says no, they were really that tight as a tribe. He’s proud they were able to maintain that solidarity.
Yul tells us that pre-merge, the idol was not an issue, as only Becky knew he had it. Post-merge, he never perceived any intent from the majority to force it out. He thinks everyone felt he’d use the idol for the benefit of everyone in the alliance. Therefore, they had no incentive to force it out.
Jenna asks Yul about showing the idol at the food auction. Yul blames the editing and says that everyone knew by then. Yul says, “The only person who didn’t know was Jeff Probst.”
Dalton asks about the possible flip against Ozzy. Clarifying, Yul says he didn’t want to get rid of Ozzy. “I wanted Ozzy around all through the immunity challenges. The worst-case scenario I could see was if a Raro made it to the finals, because of the Raro majority on the jury. Against anyone in my own alliance, I thought I had a pretty good shot.”
Asked if he ever thought about taking Jonathan to the final two, Yul says he did not because, “In order to do that, I would have to screw over everyone in my whole alliance.” He also saw Jonathan as a smart and potentially dangerous player, possibly the only one who could organize a move to force out the hidden idol. Jonathan would not sit passively by and wait for Yul to take him to the final two and eventually, Yul felt Jonathan would turn against him and try to go to the final with Becky or Sundra.
The first call is from Stacey in Georgia. She asks which was more uncomfortable, being naked in the hot tub with Ozzy and Parvati, or being the meat in the big native girl’s sandwich? Yul jokingly says, “Both. I liked being in between those large women, because it was cold and rainy. In there, it was really warm.”
Gerry in California liked the assessment of Yul’s skills that opened this show. He asks about Yul reacts to Sundra’s comment on this show yesterday, when she called Yul “a person second only to Jesus.” Yul says he was flattered. “I think the world of Sundra; she has a huge heart.” He hastily adds, “I don’t compare myself to Jesus.”
Jenna asks if the Aitu four were fueled by the mutiny. Yes. Ozzy was more of an outsider at that point, but confronted with such long odds, they were forced to overlook any personal differences and, “we had to work together, we had no other choice. And ultimately, it worked to our benefit.”
Dalton asks what he would have done if there were still several seconds left after Candice and Jonathan mutinied. Had there been more time, he would have had them all step off. He informs us, “We weren’t allowed to talk to each other, though.”
Dalton inquires about Adam’s promised vote. He feels that kind of statement has to be a bluff, though. I still disagree. Once Adam makes the offer, he has to stand behind it or else he’d regret it forever.
Yul says, “I was not comfortable with that situation.” Had Yul not complied, Adam told him, they were all “going to vote for Ozzy, followed by Sundra, followed by Becky, and you’re dead last. So if you want to have any chance of winning this game, you’re going to have to do what we asked you to do.” At the time, he was seeing the potential threat Jonathan represented and Yul knew Jonathan could flip again. Everyone else wanted Jonathan to go home anyway, so he took the opportunity to play “Puppetmaster.”
Yul insists he wasn’t dictatorial and didn’t tell people what to do. He tried to insure everyone had a voice, and that’s why he thought no one saw him as a threat. He tried to make it collaborative so everyone had a stake in their decisions.
Dalton asks about the one scene where Yul seemed to imply to Becky that she might not be the one going to the final two with him Yul claims it was editing, they took snippets of a longer conversation and mixed things around. Becky was always the one he intended to take to the finals. She always understood there was a standing offer that she could take the hidden idol if she felt she needed it.
Young Allie of KC is here, yet again. Doesn’t this kid ever go to school? Jenna gives her a Blast DVD. The caller asks if Yul likes the Raro people now. Yul says he holds no ill will toward anyone, they are a very likeable cast, and outside of the show he feels they are a great people.
Jenna tells Yul she read in an article where Ozzy told Yul that he wanted to use the money to build a surfer house for himself and his buddies. Jenna wonders if he was producing crocodile tears at Tribal Council to get votes.
Yul is positive Ozzy was genuinely tearing up over his dad. However, Yul had never heard the college objective before, but maybe that’s true as well. Like, the hundred grand he won won’t cover a goodly piece of that? How do people without a windfall ever get into college?
Yul confirms that pre-mutiny, Ozzy had talked about setting up a camp for his surfing buddies. In an unaired cameo, Yul questioned that and saw it as a waste of the money. Later in the game, after talking with Ozzy at greater length, Yul understood the objective better. We don’t learn a lot more now, but apparently it involves kids.
Yul thinks Ozzy would have won hands down in any other season.
The graphic that usually opens the second segment tells us that in his work as a legislative aide to Senator Joseph Lieberman, Yul helped draft sections of the Homeland Security Bill.
Dalton points out that Yul has been accused of being a politician and a diplomat. Yul says he did some things “because they were the right thing to do.” This leads to discussion of “Hat-gate.”
Yul feels, in this instance, he was being set up by the Production crew. He tried to give the hat to the crew, to return it to Jonathan. After an hour, they came back to him, refused, and suggested he give it to Jonathan at Tribal Council.
Yul left the hat sitting there on a jury seat without a note, and felt it was a dead issue. When Jeff starting making an issue of it, Yul was surprised.
Solé from California is very excited to be on the show. In fact, more excited than Yul was when he won. Good for her! She says Yul adds a positive quality to the show. After more squealing, she asks if he ever took time to enjoy the surroundings. Yes, there’s a lot of down time and they’d spend hours enjoying the area. It was a beautiful place, even Exile Island.
Dalton notes Yul was not a force in individual immunity challenges, and wonders if he was holding back and letting Ozzy take over? Yul says he didn’t throw any challenges and has doubts he could have beaten Ozzy anyway. After the merge, he knew that if he won a challenge it would cause him trouble – if he keeps the immunity, he’s greedy; if he gives it to Becky, he’s potentially alienating Sundra and Ozzy; and if he gives it to someone else that may cause hard feelings with Becky. Any of these actions might have splintered the alliance.
A clip is run of Yul offering Becky the idol at final-four time. Dalton sees it as last-minute heavy planning. Yul says that was a situation he dreaded. He had his prior commitment to give it to Becky at any time, and he didn’t want to split the alliance by seeming to turn on Sundra. All four were agreed that the tiebreaker was the only fair way to resolve the situation.
They decided that if Becky accepted the hidden idol from him, it would be a bad way to end the game. It wouldn’t help Becky, who would be seen as the ultimate coattail-rider; also it would hurt Yul, who would be seen as manipulating the game. Right after that clip, the two of them quickly decided it was a bad plan for Becky to have the hidden idol. They didn’t want to end the alliance with back-stabbing. Yul says both of them completely agreed.
Jenna tells us that before the show, Yul told her the guys were allowed to offer fire-making advice. So, maybe the guys have to shoulder some of the blame for that shocking performance?
Richard in Wisconsin likes the feel-good story of integrity and loyalty that ran through this whole season. He asks if the diverse cast ever talk about their ethnic differences? Yul says that talk seemed to stop after the (pick’em) first merge. Yul says they all felt pressure to represent their communities, but it went out the door after the pick’em. He feels Candice and Jonathan wanting to reunite was not racially motivated; it was only because they were on an original tribe together.
Jenna has always felt that original tribe divisions wouldn’t really matter. If you are focused on winning, anyone who helps you get there is an ally. She adds that it’s tough to represent any group in such an overt situation, be it an ethnic minority, a gender, or whatever.
Yul is happy the way things turned out. He says, “In some small way, I hope we prove it’s not really your cultural background that determines who you are or who your friends are. If you look at our tribe, the reason we bonded is because we had similar values and similar work ethics. Jonathan realized he wasn’t close to his Raro alliance in terms of how he thought and his personality. He wanted to come over to our side, because he thought we were more deserving and we were more aligned with (his values).”
Dalton jumps topics to run the “Probst’s Thoughts” feature, where a message is played that Jeff Probst previously recorded about the departing player. Jeff remembers he said that, like Ozzy, he initially thought Yul could win. Jeff liked the way he spoke, how smart he is, and that he challenged them about the dangers of perpetuating ethnic stereotypes.
Jeff remembers Cao Boi making Asian jokes and Yul trying to shut it down, because he felt it inappropriate that humor at the expense of an ethnic group is wrong. Probst declines to take a side in that discussion, but likes the way that Yul stood up for his beliefs, possibly risking a loss of support in the game (from Cao Boi).
Jeff ends by saying Yul was likeable, easy to root for, and surely inspires others. Yul responds, “That’s very nice of him.”
Yul tells us, “It’s my understanding that Becky reminded Cao Boi of his first wife, who he couldn’t stand. That’s why they had some personality conflicts, and why he wanted to boot her out.”
Yul reiterates, “Even within these kinds of ethnicities, there are clearly differences of personality and perspective on life. Again, it’s the individual person that determines who you want to bond with and what you want out of this game.”
Jenna points out that the tribes were all making jokes about their own group only, and not the others.
Yul says, “I understand Cao Boi’s point too. You have to have a sense of humor about this stuff. You can’t walk around with a stick up your ass or have a chip on your shoulder all the time. But, for a lot of people in Middle America, they don’t have a lot of exposure to other minorities and if all you see are these jokes on TV and assume they are true, they won’t have a broader level of experience to show them what people are really like.”
Cristine from Vancouver asks about Yul’s charity plans. He is humble about this opportunity he was given and wants to raise issues important within his community. One charity focuses on bone marrow donors for minority Leukemia patients. Apparently, marrow donations come from a small pool in America. He says, “I want to use my position as a speaker-phone to make people aware of this issue.”
Dalton notes we saw no final speeches this season. Yul says they made them, but what we saw is edited down a lot, and they must have been edited out. I wonder if questions for Becky got edited out as well, but no one ever asks.
The final segment opens with Dalton saying he’s sitting with two million-dollar winners. Dalton says to Jenna, “You squandered all that money, right?” She (jokingly, I hope) confirms, “Squandered!” He asks, “No charitable endeavors for you?” and she replies, “I’m dating a charitable endeavor. Ethan has a charity, so I’m also doing good things. And, I’m an organ donor!” Well, it may be Ethan’s impetus, but Jenna’s underplaying her role in some of those events
The opening feature of the final segment is, as usual, the “minus 10” segment, where Dalton reads ten rapid-fire categories for the guest to comment on in ten words or less. Here’s how it went:
In the break, Yul told Jenna this is the first time he’s seen the clip of him winning. He’s had so many post-game press interviews that he’s still processing it all. Jenna says she watched tapes of the show with family and friends and that’s when it fully hit her.
Dalton says Yul looks good, and Yul credits his stylist, Brad (the first juror). Did I mention Jenna looks good today? Hottest dress of the season! Yul says he’s popular with grandmas, and Ozzy gets the younger ones.
Brian from Virginia asks if Cao Boi was voted out for trying to flush out the hidden idol. Yul says it was also because he was trying to oust Becky. That stunned him, so when Cao Boi started talking about flushing out the idol, it was time for him to go. I think this is a prime example of a point when Ozzy should have been politicking instead of fishing.
Dalton notes that all unlike most guests, Yul’s answers are all well thought out and Dalton calls it, “Impressive.” Jenna agrees, and asks if he’s like that in real life. Yul is aware of the “Yul-bot” comments. He says he don’t have a big ego and can respect other opinions if they don’t hurt him.
Dalton points out that after the mutiny, the two tribes had different reactions to Jonathan. Aitu got past it and Yul took him back to improve his position in the game, whereas Raro just called him names, started fights, and were emotional about it.
Yul says he was able to see people differently within the weird, stressful, artificial environment of a game that brings out their worst. He adds, “Outside the game, I’d be friends with all these people. There’s no need to be mean, or not to treat them with respect.” That was one for the Raro kids.
Courtney from Maryland offers to date Yul despite not being a grandmother, and she wins a buff. She notes that first he rejected the Godfather moniker, but later on he accepted it. In retrospect, did he feel he acted other than he normally would have? At the end of the game, Yul felt a lot of ethical conflicts. He implied a final two ending with everyone, so they would stay true to the alliance. He didn’t feel good about that.
Yul felt he had to do a lot more manipulating (of people) than he would have outside of the game. However, he recognizes, “It’s a game, we’re not stealing candy from kids, or taking their lunch money. We all came knowing what to expect.” Well, this season with all the recruited players, maybe there were a few virgins in the mix after all.
However, he disagrees with Jonathan’s opinion that it’s just a game like poker. He says it’s not like poker, it has a real impact on people’s lives. Other contestants have been affected by the game (positively and negatively) and he didn’t feel comfortable making decisions that could impact other people’s lives. It weighed on him that he was affecting people he barely knew. He ends with, “By the end, I was sick of it.”
Jenna agrees that it’s a delicate balance, and some people are “severely scarred” from the game. Yul says he reads blogs and boards and some things are hard to read. He ought to stick to quality sites like this one, because although some posters are excellent, the boards are riddled with too many trolls.
Young Kerri of Texas asks if Yul has “feelings” for Becky. Within the game, absolutely not. He “thinks the world” of Becky and respects her non-profit work with battered women, but feels “having a dating relationship would take away from the purity of our friendship.” Dalton jokes, “Plus, she’s not a grandmother,” and Yul chips in, “She’s a little too young for me. Under fifty!”
The next clip run is what I call the “fire-extinguishing tiebreaker.” It’s going well initially, as there’s no danger of a fire breaking out. Smokey the Bear confided in me, this was his favorite part of the whole season!
Yul says it was windy, but Dalton says he doesn’t see a lot of hair flying about. Dalton has Yul confirm that it lasted about two hours.
Dalton asks Yul, were you confident in getting Sundra’s vote, or did you think maybe you were better off if Becky didn’t win and was on the jury instead? Yul says he made a lot of ethical compromises in the game but wanted to stay loyal to those loyal to him, and Becky was his first allegiance.
Dalton asks about Becky getting shut out in the vote. Becky told Yul later, “she’s glad she didn’t divert any votes.” Yul acknowledges that Becky was part of all the strategy discussions. All agree that the editing was not favorable to her, and Jenna opines that the season had many other big personalities and Becky got lost among them.
Petra of Washington asks Yul about Sundra and wonders “if she could light your fire.” He calls her stunning and a friend. He was loathe to move it to another level and jeopardize their friendship. Dalton says, “Also, again… she’s not a grandmother,” and Yul adds, “Give her another 20 years…”
Theresa in California wins a DVD before even asking her question. She asks Yul if he’d run for political office.
He’s enjoyed his background in politics, but he thinks he’s too shy for the spotlight and doesn’t crave it. He feels more comfortable working behind the scenes. He thinks he’d do okay once elected, but fundraising and campaigning, not so much. This isn’t a thing he’s made a final decision about. In the world of politics, is that a “Yes?” Hmm…
The final caller of the season is Judy in LA. She is an Ozzy fan and considers Ozzy and Yul a yin/yang scenario. I’m not sure about that, for neither is the dark side, but we’ll leave the Eastern philosophy for another time. Judy asks Yul if there was a final Tribal Council question he was dreading. Good question, she should have been given a Blast game! Yul says, “No.” He wanted to be honest and avoid “P.C. answers.” He expected to be addressed about integrity and manipulation, so he tried to deflect that up front. I guess it worked, as the expected topic didn’t really come up.
Dalton asks Yul, over the past few months, did you, think you had won, and did you expect Adam to hold up his part of the deal? Yul replies that he thought he had a good shot and that it would be close with Ozzy. He was pretty sure about Adam holding to his word because he is a “straight-up kind of guy.” He also doubted Parvati would give him her vote.
It’s time for Jenna Morasca’s “Question of the Week.” Tossing us a curveball, she asks, “Are you going to pay your taxes?” Ha! Yul jokes, “Yes. Either that, or, move to Canada where you don’t get taxed on prize winnings.” Jenna says, “Yes! I think that’s why they don’t let Canadians play Survivor.” Why, because Mark Burnett feels so warmly toward the Internal Revenue Service?
On a serious note, besides what Yul has already said, he intends to do something for his parents. They made many sacrifices for him and his brother when they came to America. I can’t think of a better answer to end the season than that!
Dalton runs the preview of the upcoming Fiji edition. Two-caste tribes (one living in luxury and the other almost destitute), nineteen new survivors ranging from a Harvard lawyer to a once-homeless street performer, fierce battles, an Exile Island more treacherous than ever, two hidden idols and a twist to complicate the game, and, “One of the more controversial decisions ever made by a Survivor will have America talking.”
Jenna anticipates the last one may mean a fistfight “because everything else has been done!” Dalton jokes that it means Ozzy will return, win every challenge, and get his million dollars. Well, nineteen certainly is a strange number of players.
That’s all the time there is. Both hosts loved the season, especially after the mutiny. Dalton says that you couldn’t go wrong with either winner, and Jenna agrees. The hosts give kudos to the crew, and Jenna and Yul dance us out.
That was a good episode of Live! There were many back-stories I hadn’t heard before. Yul’s multidimensional appeal was apparent. If you ever decide to suffer through actually watching one of these webcasts, this would be the one. It’s available in the CBS archives.
I really enjoyed the whole season too, even if many of the early boots seemed pretty obvious. Billy, Cao Boi, and Flica were all greatly entertaining. Then Jonathan started to play hard and those who responded emotionally got left behind. On the other side of the coin, I wish the tribes had stayed ethnically separated longer, the opening episodes need to be longer than an hour, and finally, Survivor: Live needs have more time allocated for the finale-night players. Bottom line, superior casting made for a very good season.
My thanks to those who have written to me throughout the season, including those of you who wrote sharing potential trivia questions. I need all the help I can get!
Everyone is invited to share his or her opinions about all this good fun at the eAddress below. I’ll be back next season to report again on the Survivor Live webcasts!
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!
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