“Survivor: Caramoan” ended its season on Sunday (May 12) night with a satisfying winner, a loopy Final Tribal Council and surprises that started within seconds of the start of the episode.
Viewers didn’t make it through the first commercial break before Favorite Erik Reichenbach collapsed on the path leaving Tribal Council and had to be pulled from the game. It was a move that was simultaneously shocking, but not wholly surprising, given that Erik had suffered an existential crisis in the previous episode and practically wished for an injury to free him from his “Survivor” shackles and the mocking coconuts.
Erik’s abrupt departure made EMT Eddie Fox the least likely member of the Final 4, since he had been targeted almost from the beginning, when he was part of the Pretty Person’s Alliance. Instead, episode after episode passed with Eddie being targeted, but then spared in favor of alternative targets and bigger blindsides.
Eddie’s relief was short-lived and he was the last person sent home before the Final 3.
My last batch of “Survivor” exit interviews were broken into three groups. In this first interview, Erik & Eddie discuss the strategy that read as under-the-radar or passive, they discuss the pressure “Survivor” puts on Alpha Males and they also explain why they went after Sherri so hard at Final Tribal. Tomorrow I’ll have the season’s joint second/third place finishers. And then on Wednesday (or maybe Thursday, depending on scheduling) I’ll have a relatively long chat with the season’s winner.
Click through for Erik & Eddie’s exit interview…
HitFix: Erik, let’s start with you. After you got pulled, how long did it take for you to get healthy enough to regret having needed to be pulled?
Erik Reichenbach: [Chuckles.] It was probably a good, maybe, I would say 10 hours at the most after I was out. They started getting fluids back in me and I was back at the hospital and I had a nice sleep and then when I woke up, I was like, “OK. What happened?” And everybody kinda filled me in on what had happened up til that point. I have said in other interviews that I didn’t know that Brenda had gotten voted out that night. I thought Sherri had gotten voted out, even though I was at the Tribal Council. It was just a bad couple hours and it led up to, “Surprise! You’re out of the game! You’re in the hospital!”
HitFix: How strange was it for you to watch these past couple episodes and what did you actually remember from any of it?
Erik: It was really surreal. The episode in which Brenda went home was very surreal, because a lot of that Tribal Council I had trouble paying attention to what was going on. I had a lot of stuff going on and I was more listening to my heartbeat and making sure I was sitting down on a stool than actually listening to what Jeff was saying at that Tribal Council. So that one was pretty entertaining to watch, because it was almost like a new episode for me to watch at the end.” Seeing the actual MediVac and seeing, like, “Oh, we’re in the middle of a road…” And actually Eddie was super-helpful at that point, because he was like, “Hey, I know what’s going on” and he was kinda watching over me and stuff. And I remember Jeff Probst was looking at me and talking to me, but it was so surreal to see it. It’s kinda like an out-of-body thing. You’re seeing me, but I don’t remember half of it or remember it the same way. It’s kinda like putting puzzle pieces together.
HitFix: How about the laughing coconuts?
Erik: Oh, screw those coconuts. They sucked. That island was horrible. I remember the first time I was on the show, we had endless coconuts. I could literally walk out, walk five feet and pick up 100 coconuts to eat. The island we were on, because it was a back-to-back season in the same location, so it was depleted of coconuts and I had relied on those in the previous season, so I was very hungry. I was really, really hungry. I know Eddie was as well. Pretty much any big guy out there was starving.
HitFix: Eddie, how physically pushed would you say that you were out there?
Eddie Fox: I was absolutely just fatigued and exhausted the entire time I was there. In challenges, you would mentally prepare yourself and be like, “Alright. Listen. I need to go as hard as I possibly can for the next however long this challenge is gonna take and then I can go back and be miserable again after that.” But it really, really physically drains your body.
HitFix: Talk a bit about Erik going out and what the initial balance was between being terrified for him, but also realizing somewhere in your mind, “Oh my goodness, I’m about to sneak through another vote” basically.
Eddie: I felt horrible right after. Erik, he just wasn’t into it at all and you could kinda tell something was going on with him, but he was trying his best to hide it and then right after Tribal Council… Unfortunately, and Erik I mean this in the best way possible and I was extremely worried for you and glad that everything worked out, but at the same token, I’m like, “Well, if Erik gets pulled from the game, then I’ve got another just unrealistic lucky break and I’m gonna move on to the the Final 4.”
HitFix: How long had you been feeling like that, Eddie? It really did seem like you could have gone out anywhere between the second day or you could have somehow made it to the finale. What was going on as one Tribal after another passed and you kept somehow being there?
Eddie: The only real strategy or anything I could do after Week 3 was just deflect and that’s what I tried to do as best I could. I tried to be nice to everybody, tried to be friendly with everybody and then just try to deflect votes off of myself, which I think I did a really good job of. At a certain point, it became very clear and very obvious that, “Hey, listen, I’m never gonna be in a majority alliance. Nobody’s ever gonna wanna put me in their major alliance because everybody likes targeting me when they can, because I’m an easy way to go.” It was very easy to just tell everybody, “Hey, we’re gonna vote for Eddie” and then make a move from there, because Eddie’s not gonna be in a position to try to counter that in any way.
HitFix: And Erik, you also weren’t really in a majority alliance at any point, but you were kinda a swing vote at several points. How clearly were you thinking about strategy at that point? Or were you already going in and out mentally then?
Erik: I wasn’t going in and out mentally, but you just didn’t kinda see… I didn’t really talking to people about strategy. I always said, “Hey, I don’t want to talk strategy,” and a lot of that was just because I didn’t want to manage information as it showed up. There were a lot of times that I told people, “Tell me right before the vote. Tell me right before we go to Tribal Council who you’re voting for.” And I did that because I didn’t want to manage all the other information leading up to that moment. I wanted a definite answer from people that said, “Hey, this is who we’re submitting to vote for and these are the people that we have to do it.” It wasn’t so much, “Oh, I’m lazy. I don’t wanna do it.” It was, “I don’t think I can manage that amount of information. I’m gonna wait until right before the vote and then talk to people and then kinda weigh my options.” If someone comes to me and says, “We’re voting for Malcolm and these are the people that we have voting,” I can gauge from hearing what I’ve been hearing and from just knowing the person if they would be on-board for that or not, because you can kinda get a sense of that. If someone comes up to you and says, “We’re gonna vote out Malcolm and we have this person, this person, this person,” well, two or three of those people don’t get along, so there’s no way in hell that that’s gonna happen. I think my strategy actually worked pretty well, because I was able to say, “You know what? This is a threat?” or “This person needs to go” and then kind of position myself as a swing vote.
HitFix: In other exit interviews, some of the other players have talked about the two of you as playing passively or holding back strategically. Do you think that that’s almost a necessary approach for quote-unquote “Alpha Males” to take in “Survivor” the way it is now?
Erik: Seeing the season, I would say that was my best option to go, just because everybody was kinda ripping each other apart. You saw that everybody was at everybody’s throat. Corinne didn’t like Phillip and Malcolm didn’t like Phillip and other people didn’t like Phillip, so everybody kinda had these big egos. So to me, I was like, “You know what? You can’t win every Immunity Challenge to the end and you certainly aren’t going to be one of these major strategic players. Try to fit in in-between all the big egos and just try to mouse your way through it.”
Eddie: I’m pretty much in the same place as Erik. We played with so many all, “Me, me, me, me” egotistical maniacs and they were gonna ultimately do what they wanted to do no matter what and the only counter to that was people were so afraid to make a big move on Phillip… until the end. I wouldn’t say that everybody was an Alpha Male that had gone that route, but if you just fly under the radar and smile at people and laugh and just have fun out there, then everybody’s gonna be like, “Oh, we’ll get rid of him next and let’s try and make a blindside now.” So that’s kinda what worked out in my favor.
HitFix: Let’s talk a bit about the Jury. How hard was it for each of you to make your own final voting decisions?
Eddie: For me anyway, the choice was pretty much between Cochran and Dawn. Sherri was never even really a contestant that I considered any shot of winning Finals, so I was kinda having a little debate about Cochran and Dawn, but then I started thinking about it. Honestly, my vote for Cochran went right after the speeches. I didn’t know before that who I was gonna vote for.
Erik: Cochran, I think, played the best game of the Final 3. I don’t think he played a perfect game by any means, but I think Sherri didn’t do very much at all, so she didn’t really deserve to really be there, she kinda was the goat that people took, but Dawn had burned a lot of bridges and, in my eyes at least, she didn’t deserve to win money for what she had done. Really, Cochran played a better game than the people he was there with. I don’t think he played a perfect game. He played a good game. He played the best out of the people there.
HitFix: You guys seemed to go very hard after Sherri at that Tribal Council. Was that representative or was that just editing? And what was it that you were hoping to gain or prove with that?
Eddie: It got played up a little bit more. Obviously there’s no hard feelings about anything that happened now. The issue that everybody had with Sherri, especially after watching the whole season, was that she literally did nothing. There was nothing strategic about her. There was nothing… She’s just a very nice older woman and she just kinda burned a lot of bridges and rubbed people the wrong way. She was very annoying and she would do things to annoy people and she kinda just scooted into position. That’s not to say that I was a super-strategic player either, but Sherri did nothing the entire time we were there and just was even more lost and confused than I had appeared to be.
Erik: I’m gonna reiterate everything Eddie said. That’s all extremely accurate. In terms of the annoyance thing, at times it was like, “Sherri does not belong here.” We were like, “She just does not fit in here. We’re all trying to work together and do things and at times she was just having trouble living, just living out there with the elements.” She’s find. She’s nice. But the littlest things out there would just drive you nuts about Sherri.
HitFix: You guys both came close. If either one of you had made the Top 3 with Dawn and Cochran, do you think you could have won and what was the argument that you were going to make?
Erik: It depends on what Dawn would have done, because if she was still hated as much by Brenda, then she still wouldn’t have placed. It’s weird to think about “Shoulda woulda couldas” or run different kinds of scenarios because, for me, OK… Imagine: OK. Erik made it into the Final 3 with Dawn and Cochran. How did he get there? Who got burned? Who got voted off before? How did they get voted out? There are all these complications that come into play. It’s not so simple. Judging by the way that the game played, I don’t think I would have won against Cochran, just because Cochran was, I think, much more well-spoken. I’m pretty bad at trying to plead a case of, “I played a good game by not playing a good game” and I don’t think people would have understood that. People would have just said, “No. You were lazy. You just kinda rode coattails” or “You teamed up with the right people who did all the work.” So I don’t think I would have won and that’s something that worried me. I didn’t have a very good end-game. That was very concerning.
Eddie: I think if there was a Final 3 with Cochran, me and Dawn, I think I definitely would have finished second. Cochran was pretty much unbeatable. The only thing that I really had going for me was the fact that people admired my resiliency and just the fact that week in and week out, I was still there and if people wanted to reward me for that, then that would have been the reason and the only reason I would have won was if it was a popular vote. Anyone who loves the game, like most of the people there did, knows that Cochran played a much, much, much more strategic game than I did, so if people would have voted for that, I probably would have come in second. I don’t think anybody would have voted for Dawn still.