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Interview: Gervase Peterson talks 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water'
'Survivor' original and 3rd Place finisher talks about his Final Jury shutout
On the very first "Survivor," Gervase Peterson was an early favorite, but he fell victim to the Pagonging of his original tribe after the Merge, becoming the third member of the original Jury.
After spending 30 days in "Survivor: Borneo," Gervase had to wait 13 years to get another shot at "Survivor" and he mostly made it count, forming a strong core alliance and working it all the way to end and the Final 3.
Of course, getting to the Final 3 only does limited good if you face a Jury and get shut out, which is what happened to Gervase on Sunday's "Survivor: Blood vs. Water" finale. The respect of the "Blood vs. Water" Jury largely went to the season's winner, Tyson, who was credited as the architect and driving force of a powerhouse three-person alliance.
That perhaps doesn't give Gervase credit for what was the season's biggest tangible power shift, as he turned his back on outside-of-the-game friend Aras and helped lead two straight votes that swayed the season.
In his exit interview, Gervase explains why he picked Tyson over Aras, how he knew that the Jury wasn't going his way and why he perfects Old School "Survivor" to New School.
Click through for the fill Q&A...
HitFix: So, okay. Last night's vote as it was revealed, how much of that had you anticipated? Did anything surprise you?
Gervase Peterson: I think I was surprised I didn't get any votes. I didn't think I was gonna get a lot, but I figured I was definitely gonna get something. I mean after that Tribal Council was over, just the vibe, I felt like, "Man, Tyson won this thing." You know, just the way the Jury was acting with me. Some of the Jury didn't even ask me a question. You know, they kind of just talked to Tyson. They had questions for him, for Monica. So just the vibe I was like, "Wow, it's gonna be tough for me to win this game."
HitFix: Well, whose vote did you figure you were most likely to have maybe gotten?
Gervase Peterson: I figured that I had a good chance maybe to get Laura Morett's vote. Or maybe Katie's vote. When Katie won her Immunity challenge, the day before she was walking down the beach and she was just bummed out. And I went to her and I was like, "Katie, you know, pick your head up. You're still in this game. You need to get your head out your ass and play. The game's not over until you're voted out the game. You know, you're here. Fight." And it was just this little pep talk for her and she goes out and wins the challenge. And she came to me and she was like, you know, "Thank you because I was at a low moment in this game and you're the only person that just came to me and just showed me any type of love like that." So I was hoping that that would stick with Katie, you know, and maybe get a vote from her.
HitFix: Well going into that final Tribal Council, how much of your strategy in your mind sort of relied on the Jury, I guess, being actively angry with Tyson?
Gervase Peterson: A lot. My whole strategy was based on that. I mean that was one of the reasons why at Tribal Council I was arguing with Hayden. I wasn't losing my mind. It was all controlled and it was planned out for me. I knew Hayden was gonna go into Tribal Council and try to blow it up and I even said to Tyson, I'm like, "You know he's gonna do this." And he went, "Yeah, I know." I said, "Are you gonna say anything?" He said, "Nope." I was like, "Well, you know, I'm gonna say something." And he was like, "Do what you gotta do, bro." I'm like, "All right. Cool." And that was my way of telling Tyson, "I'm gonna argue with Hayden and I'm gonna throw my own dirt around so don't be mad at me for doing it." So my plan was to just keep on having Hayden get more agitated. Because the more agitated Hayden would get, the more he would say that Tyson was running show, Tyson was making all the moves and pulling all the strings which eventually was gonna make Tyson have to say something to defend himself. And then what does he do at the end when Katie gets voted out? He's like, "Katie, good job but that seat over there is for you." And everybody was pissed at Tyson for doing that. They were like, "That was uncalled for. She just got voted out. Like that was a dirty move for you to do." Katie even brought it up at the Final Tribal Council. You know what I mean? Like that's how much it hurt her. So I was like, "Yes!" That was my plan, just to have Tyson look like more of a villain than me and to me that was the only way to do it. I felt like I was gonna go to the Final 3 with them. So he's just gotta look worse than me.
HitFix: And when you got to Final Tribal how quickly were you able to tell that there was not enough anger, I guess.
Gervase Peterson: Pretty much right away. I mean, after Vytas's first speech, I knew I was in trouble. And then everybody else… like some people didn't even ask me a question. At Tribal, they didn't say anything to me. They only spoke to Tyson or Tyson and Monica. And that's just the kiss of death. If nobody's asking me a question about my game play, then you don't even think I'm playing the game. So I was like, "Wow, this is gonna be tough for me to win this game."
HitFix: Now, okay. One of the most important moments of the entire season which I felt probably didn't get enough time was the decision to go against Aras. You were at the center of that. Talk a bit about that decision and why you went Tyson over Aras.
Gervase Peterson: Well there was so much to that. You know, Aras wrote my name down the first day on the beach and that stayed with me. He wrote Candice's name down, crossed it out because he didn't want Candice to be mad at him if she stayed and didn't get voted out, because she would have came after him. So he wrote my name down but I'm like, "Aras, we're boys. I should do the same thing with you. Why are you gonna have Candice mad at me gunning for me but not you?" So I thought that was kind of a dirty move on Aras's part. And then just throughout the game, Aras was just making deals with everybody. But every time he would talk about an alliance he would tell somebody, "Hey, here's our Final 5. Me, you, you, you and Vytas. Hey, here's our final four. Me, you, you and Vytas. Hey here's our final three. Me, you and Vytas." And I'm like, "Wow, Aras doesn't care about me. He only cares about Vytas and at some point in time he's gonna try to get rid of me and keep Vytas." And I just saw the writing on the wall early so for me it was like, "I've got to get rid of this guy as soon as possible." But I just needed a way to do it and Tyson came up to me like, "Hey, what do you think about getting rid of Aras?" And I'm like, "There it is. Here's my opportunity." Because I knew Tina was tight with him and Monica. I couldn't trust Colton and Kat or Laura B. So my pickings were slim to go against Aras. I felt like they would run and tell him. So when Tyson came to me that was my opportunity and that made it easier.
And I knew we could pull it off because Aras put all of his faith and trust in me. So he knew if he was gonna go home I would tell him. And that's why he was so hurt when he went home. And when it happened I'm like, "I know I lost." It's like taking a grenade and throwing it. The grenade took out Aras, but the shrapnel took out Vytas, Tina and Katie. And I'm like, "Man, I just lost four Jury votes, just like that, if they make the jury," you know. It was like, "Wow, I'm in trouble." But to me you've gotta make Final 3. You know, people are talking about, "You have to play to win the game," but if you don't make Final 3, you can't win period. So my goal was make Final 3 and then work it from there.
HitFix: And when did you realize that there might be sort of difficulties beating Tyson. I mean at what point did you start realizing, "OK, maybe I need to do something," but it was too late I guess.
Gervase Peterson: I realized that early on on the Galang beach. Everybody loved Tyson. Because Tyson came in with this rep as a villain and nobody looked at him that way. I remember Tina saying, "You're no villain at all. You're a funny guy. You're nice." And I'm like, "Wow." On a likability factor, Tyson was high with me. We're both likeable, you know. And he was smart and he was playing the game, you know. And so was I, but sitting next to him... It's funny, you know. I know more of the things that happened because me and Tyson went through the game together, but we were both playing our asses off with this game, just in different ways. But I knew it was gonna be tough to beat him because everybody liked this guy, no matter what he did. Like Tyson was like that guy that can come up, talk about your mama, smack your daughter in the mouth and make a joke about it and you'll tell him, "Oh, that was okay." And laugh with him about it. He just has that knack for insulting you and you not getting mad about it. And that's a gift. And once I saw that, I was like, "Wow." You know, I need to stay with him and go to the end or, you know, you try to get rid of him. It was just hard to find a time to try to make a move on Tyson.
But then I couldn't trust anybody else. I couldn't trust Hayden, Caleb, Ciera, Katie because those guys were flipping and flopping so much. And I'm like I would kick myself if I flipped on Tyson and I went home fifth or sixth. Like Ciera, you know, to me? Dumb move. No matter what everybody's telling you, you're guaranteed the Final 4 spot and guess what? If you're Final 4 and you had immunity you're automatic Final 3. But if you flip someone, you might go out fifth or sixth. Is that worth it? You've got to look at your position in the game and it's kind of like saying "I want to make Final 3 for Tribal," you know, and then worry about winning after that because if you don't make Final 3, you can't win. So it was just playing in my head that way.
HitFix: Well regarding that Ciera flip and, of course, the rock drawing. I had several people claim that basically you made that happen by convincing Ciera that her position wasn't very good. Did you feel like that out there?
Gervase Peterson: It was going through my head a little bit. Again, I'm sitting at Tribal like, "How can I make a move against Tyson to not piss him off and then look like I got rid of him like I did Aras so he would give me his vote." That was kind of playing in my head, but then as it was shaking out it was just, the only way I knew I could beat Tyson at Tribal was that him bringing that more dirt on his hands than me. That's one of the reasons I was arguing with Hayden, because I knew if I argued with Hayden he would keep on telling everybody Tyson was the man running the show. And at some point Tyson had to step up and say something about it. And he did when he told Katie, you know, Katie already got voted out. Here's Tyson, "Hey Katie. Good job. Oh, by the way, your seat's over there now. Enjoy it." You know. And everybody was pissed at him for it. I mean Katie even brought it up at the final Tribal she was so mad about that. And I'm like, "Yes, my plan worked. You know, if Tyson looks dirtier than me I have a shot to win."
HitFix: Well but still there was sort of the chance that Ciera was gonna be content in that alliance and you sort of brought it up that she was indeed sort of at the bottom and that was kind of what flipped her it looked like.
Gervase Peterson: Honestly I didn't think I did. At that point, you know, Jeff is like well, you know, "Who's in your alliance?" I'm like, you know, "It's me, Monica, Tyson and Ciera." I was just calling them out. She just happened to be last on the list just because that's how I called it out. You know what I mean? It wasn't intentional to make her fourth. But, of course, Monica didn't help out. When Monica tells her, "Four is better than six." So that was the killer. Because even when Jeff said, "Hey Ciera, Gervase didn't take you to eat ice cream." She was like, "Yeah, I understand. He's been tight with them. That's cool." So Ciera knew she was, in a sense, fourth. That wasn't a shock to her, but she was okay with it for now. But it's just the more everybody kept talking, me included, it was painting a picture that, "You really are four." And I think Monica's words were worse than mine telling her four is better than six. It's like, "Take fourth and shut the hell up about it," you know. I would be pissed about that too. But if somebody's like, "Who's in your alliance?" And I'm like, "Oh yeah, Tyson, Monica and Ciera." Are you mad about that? You're like, "Cool, he said me." You want to hear your name.
HitFix: Now obviously big differences between "Survivor 1" and "Survivor 27" and you've been watching so you were sort of aware to expect certain differences. But what was the difference that surprised you the most?
Gervase Peterson: The players. Everything is fast paced now. When we first hit the beach day one, Colton came to me and he said, "Hey, here's our alliance. It's me, you, Aras, Monica and Kat." I said, "Colton, say I don't like somebody in that alliance. I've got to play with them for 39 days?" He said, "Yeah." I said, "That's the dumbest s*** I've ever heard in my life, man." And he said, "Boyfriend, you better get on board or you're going home next." And I'm like, "You little s***. I started this game. How are you gonna tell me to play the game that I started?" But that's what they do. They make an alliance right away and they don't care who's in it. But to me, your alliance is absolutely gonna break up. Somebody's gonna stab you in the back. So that's what I told everybody. I said, "Look, I'm shutting this down. I'm not talking strategy or alliances until we lose our first challenge. We figured out who to vote out day one on the beach in 30 seconds. We can figure that out in two hours." So I shut it down and we went nine days without losing a challenge. That gave me nine days to sit down and talk with every single body in my tribe and actually get to know them. So I knew I wanted to play with Tyson. I knew I wanted to play with Monica. I knew I wanted to play with Aras and I knew I wanted to play with Tina. Like those are the five people, the four people that I wanted to play with and make an alliance with. Because I had time to talk to them and get to know them well. But that's the big difference. Like Colton, he wanted to go to Tribal Council if we won. He still wanted to go, just to vote somebody out. So I'm like, "Why would you want to vote somebody out? We're winning." "It doesn't matter. We need to make moves. We need to do things here." Because these new players, all they care about are making big moves and big blindsides. And I'm like, "You don't have to do that to play the game and go far in the game." But it's just how things have changed.
HitFix: Now has the the survival aspect rather of the game, has it become sort of devalued or downplayed between 1 and 27?
Gervase Peterson: I think it has if you're watching on TV. For example, you know, we didn't get Reward challenges for food, you know, it was always pillows, blankets, fish hooks, things like that. Where now it's always for food. But they should be. People don't understand how much you starve. Like we didn't eat out there. Even though the Coconut Bandits ate a lot, drank a lot of coconuts, we ate all the food out there but the only time you're eating is if you do win that Reward challenge. So you really are starving out there. And that meal doesn't do anything for you because you burn through it so fast because you've been starving for 13 days, 21 days out there. So that's good. I think people watching it, I think they thought it was easy. Like, you know, there was like, "Your hair's not growing under your arms or on your legs. Your teeth look so white out there. You're always eating." It looks like we're having fun. But it's so boring out there. Every day there's nothing to do except look at each other. You have to make it fun. And that's what was cool about having Tyson on my team and Aras, you know. All we do is crack jokes the whole time.
HitFix: And, okay, so 13 years between seasons. Did having this experience, did it rekindle that survivor fire in you? Do you want to go back out again now or are you pretty much done at this point?
Gervase Peterson: No, I would definitely go out again. Absolutely. If they call me tomorrow I'm going back out. I mean it's the greatest game ever. I love this game.
HitFix: Well was that always the case though? I mean, has that been the case for the 13 years in between or is it rekindled?
Gervase Peterson: No, it's always been that way. I mean they called me for "All-Stars" and "Heroes Versus Villains," those two seasons but they didn't pick me for them. So I knew I was always on their radar. It just had to be the right situation, you know. So I've been waiting 13 years for the phone call and I finally got it. So I jumped at the opportunity.
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