Rounding out the top five this season were friends Jerri and Colby. Read on in this conference call interview as they both discuss how the game has changed over the years, what they think about the plethora of hidden immunity idols this season, and Colby explains what really went down during the Amanda/Danielle clue fiasco. Break out the popcorn!
Jerri, how did you and Colby get along this time out?
Jerri: Colby and I this time around had such a great time together, within the context of the insanity we were in. There was just such a sense of comfort, having him there, knowing that we had been through all these previous experiences together. We just sat and talked about how much the game had changed, and how disappointed we were in certain people, and how exciting it was to be a part of it all over again. We spent a great deal of time together, and unfortunately, you didnít get to see very much of that.
How much has the game changed since you last played?
Jerri: First of all, the whole hidden immunity idol thing, it was just out of control this season! I called this season ďIdolpaloozaĒ while we were out there. It just seemed like those things kept popping up all over the place! That was such a huge, huge difference, because I think the old school way of playing just was so much more based on your own personal strategy, and with the hidden immunity idol sometimes youíre not able to focus on whatís going on at the moment, you have to worry about this stupid idol. That may or may not pop up, and you have to flush it out. It annoyed me that there was so many of them. But I also had one save me, so, I also appreciated the power of one.
You did a lot better in challenges this time around. Did you go in prepared for that?
Jerri: I know Colby struggled quite a bit in that arena, but for me, I went into this game feeling stronger mentally and physically than I ever had before. I think the ten years of time that have spanned since the first time I played, it didnít affect my power as a physical player at all. And Iím really proud to be able to say that.
What was the story between you and Coach early on?
Jerri: [laughs] You know, I knew that Coach was someone who believes in integrity and honesty and loyalty, and those were traits that I really wanted to gravitate towards. For me, it was strategy. I find him to be an incredibly fascinating person, but I really didnít have any romantic notions whatsoever. So when he kind of came at me with that whole thing, I was a little thrown off. I felt like it put too much of a target on me. I tried to back off as politically correct as I possibly could. I have to say, Iím actually looking forward to getting to know him outside of the game. Just to see if thereís some reality behind that whole Dragonslayer character.
Your final thoughts on Russellís style of gameplay?
Jerri: Russell clearly does not play Survivor to win a million bucks. Heís very strategic, he does some very ballsy things, but...I would have voted for him to win, until he became an arrogant ass in the final tribal. He totally insulted me and everyone else by the things he said: how he controls everyone, how he didnít have to rely on luck because he made everything happen by himself. These are not things you say to people youíve ousted, that youíve betrayed, and who youíre hoping will give you a million bucks.
Would you say heís a legend in his own mind?
Jerri: [laughs] Very well put, yes. Russell is definitely a legend in his own mind, and only his.
If you had made it to the final three, what would your argument be to win?
Jerri: Oh my gosh, I had my speech prepared and everything. I was so ready to win. I was going to focus on the extreme amount of growth that I had experienced and the fact that I had made it through the entire game without making a single person mad at me. That, as well as being humble and gracious and apologetic to anyone who felt slighted by me. These, to me, were things that I was looking for from someone in the final tribal, and I think that those are important points to hit when youíre dealing with people who are a little bit bitter and jaded. I know for a fact because I've talked to people on the jury after, that if I'd made to the final three I definitely would have won.
What ultimately made you decide to flip on Boston Rob?
Jerri: For me it was a very clear strategic move to side with Russell. I looked over at Rob's alliance I was at the bottom of six people. Over at Russell's side I was the bottom of three other people. So it made total sense for me in the long run to go with Russell, as well as...Rob is a very strategic player and very likable. That's not someone I want to stick with at the end, you know? Thatís why it was so easy for me to choose.
This is for Colby. Was it a strategy to be so weak in the challenges?
Colby: [laughs] Yeah, it was all strategy that I performed pathetically throughout the game. I wish I could make that claim! Certainly, I did adopt a bit of a strategy to go under the radar, and there certainly some challenges where I sand-bagged a little bit, but no. I knew that ultimately it would come down to me performing in a challenge. And Russell, and I think Jerri even mentioned it too before my final challenge - ďLook, if you don't win this, you're going home.ĒIt was kind of the way it was. So I knew there would come a time when I would have to deliver but unfortunately I couldn't pull it off.
How would the game have changed for you had James went home before Tom?
Colby: Yeah, that was kind of where the game really changed for me, as soon as Stephenie was sent home and then Tom soon after. It just made horrible strategic sense to me. It didnít make sense. It became so obvious that the game is now truly about having the strong alliance and having the numbers, and we were on the short side of that. So it spelled trouble for us, and as a result we started losing a bunch of challenges after that.
What do you think has changed the most about 'Survivor' over the past ten years?
Colby: I kind of think that note, and this was a conversation I had with Probst after I was voted out. There's no longer credit given to those who contribute around camp or bring in the fish or they're easy to get along with, or you dominate in the challenges. It truly is a game about alliances, and having the strong alliance early on, or making the right decisions to align with the right people and how that plays out. It was that way on the Villains side of things and on the Hero beach as well. I think thatís the biggest way this game has changed. You used to get a little credit for being a contributor around camp and being pretty easy to get along with, but none of that really matters anymore.
Colby: during the fight between Danielle and Amanda over the clue, why didnít you get more involved with that?
Colby: Well, I was remaining neutral at that point. Which is a pretty good place to be. I didnít really have an interest in either one of them, but whatís unfortunate, what you really didnít see on that the way it was edited...this is one of those deals. I actually called Probst after this and he checked the footage. He made a couple of remarks in his recap based on what was shown in the final cut that were a bit disparaging to me so I called him up and said ďProbst, itís unfortunate that you didnít see what actually happened, because I think you would change your statement!Ē Sure enough, he pulled the footage, went back and actually apologized to me. Because what was shown on TV wasnít what happened. And that was the first time in three seasons of playing this game that I actually didnít agree with an edit.
What they showed was Amanda reaching down to get the clue, it was sitting on the floor, and she reached down and picked it up and thatís when Danielle reacted. Well one, that wasnít even Amandaís hand, it was Danielleís hand, and that was her reaching down to pick it up off the floor much earlier in the night to stick it underneath her and behind her. And Danielle was in full possession of that clue the entire night, and I saw that. And knew it. And was aware of her having it the entire night.
So when Amanda came around the bed and took it away from her, she had reached underneath Danielle and grabbed it and started fighting with her to pull it away from her. Well Danielle threw a fit, and then threatened production that she was gonna sue CBS and Survivor and everybody else because it was assault, and I mean it got really ugly, really bad. So I told Amanda look, as much as Iíd like to have that clue, as much as Iíd like Danielle to read it to us, she doesnít have to. Itís her clue. She found it, and itís in her possession. It wasnít on the floor like they showed it to be on TV.
Probst went back and watched it, and actually had a reaction to the editors and producers, and said ďWhy didnít we show this?Ē And they said we didnít have the right coverage, we couldnít get the right angles because it happened so fast and the camera guys are flying all around the room, we couldnít show it right. We didnít think it would have an effect on the edit. Well it didnít, other than me! Because I looked like the buffoon whoís siding with Danielle on the whole thing. So anyway, it is what it is. Canít do anything about it now.
Wow. Okay, this oneís for Jerri. It seems like you were a lot more popular this time around. Has that affected you in any way?
Jerri: Itís been amazing, are you kidding me? [laughs] Iíve really, truly, had a great time hearing such positive remarks from people. Because I know as a person, Iíve grown so much since the first time I played the game. I didnít go into this thinking ďOh, I want to make everybody like me.Ē Not at all. My attitude was actually, I donít care anymore! It doesnít matter what I do, clearly, in the All Stars, people are going to have their own idea of who I am. So I just went into it with a game plan, a strategy, and a desire to win. And what ended up happening, I realized very quickly that I was surrounded by people who were such cutthroat, strong personalities that I would be able to just be myself, kind of stand back and observe and assume a neutral position until absolutely needed.
I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling of almost helplessness when youíre surrounded by people who just cannot seem to get along or have a conversation that makes sense, you know? I was just able to relax and be more like myself, and the response Iíve gotten has been overwhelming. Iím just really, really excited to be someone who has had this major character arc over a ten year span on national television in front of millions of people. Itís pretty surreal!
It seems like youíre the only one who has had redemption. How did that change your life after the game?
Jerri: Well, itís definitely made this whole experience that weíre having right now much better! [laughs] I havenít had to defend myself every five minutes. I take great happiness knowing that had I made it to the final three, I talked to pretty much everyone who was on the jury, and they were all ďJerri, you would have totally won if youíd made it.Ē So even though I didnít, knowing that gives me a lot of pride. Iím very proud of the way Iíve played the game.
Jerri, how shocked were you when Parvati handed you that hidden immunity idol?
Jerri: [laughs] I was so shocked! Like I was telling Colby earlier, this whole hidden immunity idol thing was just out of control this season. And when she pulled out two idols, I can honestly say none of us would had ever seen that coming. I definitely did not know that I was gonna get so many votes that night. Few people realized that that was the night before my birthday, and I was like ďDang it, you Heroes trying to vote me out right before my birthday!Ē [laughing] But I understood it, I understood why. Thatís another perspective that I really feel proud that I can take with me in this game, you know, try not to take things so personally, because it is a game and people are just trying to make the best moves they can for themselves.
Why did you decide to take Parvati and Sandra on the friends and family reward?
Jerri: Basically, I had to take Parvati because we had all promised her after we all got down from that challenge and had the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and she stayed up to fight against Rupert for immunity. We promised her that if she took one for the team, that whoever got the family visit, she would definitely be coming along. And once I knew I had to take Parvati, I also knew the last person I could leave on the beach would be Sandra. And thank God I did it, because I talked to Russell about this afterwards. He was really mad I didnít take him with me, but I made him look at the situation. Had I taken him instead of Sandra, Sandra would have gone to you, Colby, and Rupert, with that idol none of us knew she had. She would have given it to Rupert, saved him, and Russell would have gone home. And I didnít know that until I watched the episode. Once again, that darned hidden immunity idol would have bit Russell in the butt, and to have him say that there was no luck involved in his game whatsoever? Thatís a perfect example of where luck played in his favor.
Did you realize just how close that final immunity challenge was?
Jerri: Oh my gosh, I knew it was close - I felt the necklace in my hand, I heard Russell and Parvati literally scrapping with each other right next to me, but watching it was painful! [laughs] I could not believe how close that was. Iíve had recurring nightmares about that moment since it happened.
Colby, did you ever try to talk JT out of giving Russell the hidden immunity idol?
Colby: No. No, and thatís not to say I thought it was a failsafe plan, by any means. But for us - us meaning at that point the girls were ready to get rid of JT, both Amanda and Candice were, and I was just remaining neutral in that tribe - but for us, if it worked, we were the benefactors. Weíd get Russell on our side. If it didnít work, it flushed out the immunity idol. We knew that JT had it, we wanted him to get rid of it, and we knew that heíd be one of the first ones the Villains would target. So for us it was sort of a win win, and thatís why I helped him facilitate it.
What convinced all of you that there was an all-girls alliance on the Villains tribe?
Colby: Well, that was actually a good play on their part, because from where we sat, watching Randy and Tyson and Rob and Coach, all the guys be eliminated - and knowing Rob was such a dominant player, he was killing us in the challenges - and they got rid of him? So from where we sat, it made sense. And we knew Parvati, or we assumed at that point, had pretty good control of the situation over there. And every time weíd show up at challenges, Russell was off by himself. And that was great acting on his part. He isolated himself and made it appear that he was the odd man out, so yeah. We just got played.
Letís talk about the challenges. Colby, you were out in fifteen seconds in one of them - what was going on?
Colby: Yeah, I just sucked! [laughing] No way to sugarcoat that, I just didnít perform well. Wasnít into it. I donít really know what else to say.
Jerri, why did you believe Russell as much as you did?
Jerri: I didnít believe a single thing that guy said, donít kid yourself! I just knew that long term, he was the best guy to sit with at the end because he made everybody mad at him. And that really is the short and small of it!
Why was Sandra so overlooked all the time?
Jerri: Well, it was kind of easy to just brush Sandra under the rug because every time we went to a challenge, she was the first one to quit. She was like ďOh, Iím not going to win this, Iím going to quit.Ē I guess in retrospect that was her strategy, but it didnít gain a lot of respect on a lot of levels from people, so...
Colby: What are you talking about? She won.
Jerri: I know! No, I know what youíre saying, but at the time, all of us were saying it, remember? We were just like, this is ridiculous. She quits.
What about you, Colby?
Colby: Hey, I loved it, I have a newfound respect for that strategy, because it was a part of mine! [laughing] It really was, though. I do have a newfound respect for the fact that sheís played this game twice, sheís made it all the way to the end by doing that, by literally being swept under the rug by every other member of her team. Because they always think ďAw, I can get rid of her later, sheís no real threat, sheís not dominant.Ē You know, that was what I did.
Certainly there were challenges where I was horrible and I didnít perform well, but there were other challenges that I intentionally stepped down from. The one where I took the donuts and coffee, I was the second one to go. I wasnít the first one, because thatís arrogant. Thatís what Russell and Sandra did. But I was the second one to step down, or the third one, I guess, in that case. Because I knew when Probst opened up that challenge and said ďBy the way, the last time this challenge was played, Parvati won it by staying up there for six hours and fifty minutes.Ē Iím not gonna do that! There is no way physically I can stand there with my hand above my shoulder for six hours and fifty minutes, okay? So that means Iím not going to win. So why would I fight my way through and come in second like Rupert did three different times, never winning? Because then you just look like the guy who truly is trying hard and wants to win, and thus you become a target. I was never a target because I was never perceived as a threat at all.
You both have been on past seasons. Did you share any information, even though you were on opposing tribes?
Colby: I donít remember sharing any information, we just shared a lot of good times.. Jerri and I had - speaking for myself - I had more fun this season with Jerri than anyone else. None of that made the air, and thatís unfortunate. But Jerri was one that I continually tried to play with, and I tried to appeal to Jerri, and she knew it wasnít a good strategic move, you know? As close as we were becoming as friends, and as much fun as we were having hanging out, it just wasnít going to work for us strategically. It wasnít going to work for her.
Jerri: Yeah, there was no way I could have beat Colby in a final tribal council, against a jury full of Heroes. That really was the only reason I knew I couldnít side with him. But it kills me, Iíd much rather have been with you than Russell! [laughs]
Colby: And that was the reason I made a plea to Russell, because he was the only one arrogant enough to believe he could beat me in that final tribal council.
Jerri: Yeah, totally! [laughs]