Sunday night heralded the 25th season finale of the longest running reality television show of all time, “Survivor”. This seasons edition was set in the Philippines, and after what I consider (as a long time “Survivor” fan) to be a long run of disappointing seasons the past few years, Philippines brought back the excitement and entertainment that has been recently lacking. In the end it came down to three survivors: Denise, Lisa, Skupin and Malcolm, and after all was said and done, Denise became the winner and sole survivor.
Now that a few days have passed, much talked about “Survivor” contestants Michael Skupin and Malcolm Freberg share their thoughts on the “Survivor” experience and how they felt in those final days on the island.
Michael Skupin is known best for his season two involvement on “Survivor: The Australian Outback” eleven years ago, where he had to be medically evacuated off the island after falling hands-first into the fire pit at camp. This event went down as one of the most memorable moments in “Survivor” history and Skupin says that despite the trauma, he has always dreamt of returning to the show to prove he could win. After the votes were read Sunday night, Skupin admitted that he was completely surprised that he did not win and he blames peer pressure at Ponderosa (where voted off contestants turned jury members stay between tribal councils) for his loss of a million dollars.
“The part I completely underestimated was Ponderosa.” He says. “I knew it existed and I knew that you always worked those votes. I had someone in this game look me in this face and say, “You can vote me out tonight because you’re the swing vote, Skupin, but if you do, I’m going to go back to the jury and I’m going to poison, rob, pillage, steal, and I’m going to make sure that you don’t get a single vote. I will lie. I will tell them what you said about their children and their wife. I will make stuff up and this game is not over.” I thought, could that really be that big a part of this game? And you weigh that decision out — this is like blackmail, and you have to play this game.”
Skupin went on to say that despite it all, his second chance on “Survivor” is something that he would not trade for the world. “I was resigned to the fact that I was never going to get to play again, so when I got the call and then got out there, and this time every single aspect of the game that Mark Burnett conceptualized I got to take part in this time around. Every single bit of it. The only part of this game that I didn’t get to experience — which I don’t regret — is Ponderosa. And thank God I never got there.” said Skupin.
I can honestly say that I was shocked that “Survivor: Philippines” golden boy Malcolm Freberg did not win the million dollars. After making a comeback from his seemingly doomed tribe, Malcolm was virtually unstoppable. He had the physical, mental and social strategy to take him all the way to the end and was the ultimate competitor in many ways. When he was voted off and became the final jury member he was noticeably and understandably mad. More than three months and the “Survivor” finale and reunion later, Malcolm revealed that he is still quite upset about the way he left the show.
“It’s absolutely the worst going that far and having it go south in the final hour. You know, we talked before the game started and I was out there to play the game to win the game. I was livid after I got kicked off. I was like, What the hell did I do this for? Why didn’t you just vote me off? Flip spots with me and Zane, is how I felt about it. Let me get out of here first if I’m not gonna win this damn thing. I just starved for a month for nothing in my opinion. I was not in the best of moods after that happened.” Malcolm has watched every season of “Survivor” and considers himself the ultimate fan, so losing the top prize after coming so close came as a huge blow to the 25 year old bartender.
When asked whether he agreed with Skupin’s interpretation that the only reason he lost was because of blackmail at Ponderosa, Malcolm has some interesting things to say. “There was no way that Skupin knew how he was perceived. We just saw a bumbling Skupin who might as well have been wearing a hat with bells on it, and Lisa who was crying every other day. They're making a TV show so they had to make it look like it was going to be close. It was never going to be close. That's the reason I was trying to make a deal with them, because they were just goats.”
How did you feel about how this season of “Survivor” played out? Do you agree with the jury votes, or do you think someone else should have won?