Purple Rock Podcast’s Survivor Gabon Watch-Along: Finale and reunion

We’re wrapping up this Survivor Watch-Along, in which we watch a previous season of the show and invite you all to watch along with us. This time, we discuss the Survivor: Gabon finale and reunion in podcast form. 

Survivor: Gabon - Earth's Last Eden

Purple Rock Survivor podcast: Gabon watchalong finale”

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For the Watch-Along, the three of us that hadn’t seen Gabon– John, Mark, and Matt- watched the season and discussed the episodes here each week. In this podcast, we talk about:

  • Sugar, the kingmaker
  • Susie, the not-remotely-Sandra
  • Corinne, the attention seeker
  • Randy, the curmudgeon
  • Bob, the guy who was there
  • Kenny, the not-quite-mastermind
  • Marcus and Charlie, the smoldering sexual tension

We also answer questions and discuss topics we received from you, our beloved audience. Thanks for watching along with us!

109 thoughts on “Purple Rock Podcast’s Survivor Gabon Watch-Along: Finale and reunion

  1. I will listen to the podcast after work, but here’s my notes on watching the finale/reunion (that I mistakenly posted in the episode 10-12 recap).

    Susie: (about Bob) “I don’t know how you beat that guy.” Foreshadowing!

    Kenny tries to take Bob to school at tribal about not giving him the necklace, but he forgot that Bob is a teacher.

    Bob wins immunity. Susie is still lost in the maze.

    The Rites of Passage! So silly and cheesy but I’ve missed you.

    The house of cards challenge seems to be Bob’s kryptonite. How can he be so great at building stuff around camp but so bad at this?

    Wait, Bob doesn’t win the final immunity? So the other three vote him out, right? Right?

    I think Susie is talking more after winning this immunity than she did the rest of the game combined (and yet later we hear from multiple sources that Susie talks a lot).

    During the fire-making challenge Bob’s fire goes out so he uses his own lifeforce to breathe it back to life. Winner’s edit!

    The final three are Susie, Bob and Sugar. I can’t remember but I’m sure that my younger, naive self knew this was very disappointing.

    They burn down one of the huts before leaving. Wait, they didn’t build that hut, it was already standing when they got there! Sorry, original huts’ owner!

    Kenny is still obsessing over Bob not giving him the necklace. You tried to fool Bob, but he found out what you were planning. Just let it go.

    Susie mentions in her opening speech that Crystal is an Olympic medal athlete. No one ever mentioned this on air. Did everyone know this? Did Crystal say in the first episode that she was keeping this a secret?

    Wow, Sugar is really bad at answering these questions. It’s like she mistakenly thinks she has a chance of winning and is doing everything possible to make sure that doesn’t happen.

    Kenny decides to milk writing down his vote for all it’s worth.

    Before reading the last vote Jeff tells the cameraman to go in tight on Susie and Bob. Does Jeff usually give stage direction at the reunion?

    Even Jeff is amazed that Susie almost won, and says this to her.

    The crowd hates Corinne but loves Randy. Ok.

    Sugar was really loved by the fans? I don’t remember that at all.

    This was fun. We should do a re-watch like this every off-season.

      1. I remember Crystal saying that she was a teacher when Jeff asked everyone to introduce themselves in the premiere by saying their name and occupation (when’s the last time Jeff did that?) so that’s why I figured she was keeping the Olympics a secret.

        I’m still surprised that Marcus didn’t know, or that he didn’t say on the show that he knew, since he’s friends with Crystal’s cousin. If my friend’s cousin went to the Olympics and won (cough cough), that would be something I would know about.

          1. If that’s true and it had led to anything they would have shown it. Maybe Marcus told Susie but no one cared.

          2. I think they wouldn’t show it because Production does wants people to believe these castaways are strangers (returnee and BvW seasons excluded). There are a few notable exceptions to this policy that were not shown on air.

            Ryan and Dave were from the same city and the same age (but did not attend the same school), so they sorta knew each other. But he also liked Roger,so he threw a hinky vote at Daniel Lue.

            Laura Morett and Brett (and I assume Ciera, but that is not pertinent here) went to the same church in Oregon before Brett moved to California. They didn’t realize it until a couple days on the island. That real world relationship impacted Galu in ways that they couldn’t show. For example, according to Dave, the Galu Guys tried to get something going to get out ether Laura or Monica, but Brett went and reported it straight to Laura.

          3. But if Production wanted the viewers to believe that these people were strangers and had no pre-show connections, then they wouldn’t have shown anything with Marcus realizing that he is friends with Crystal’s cousin.

        1. Shit, my old roommate’s niece went to the Olympics and won (winter and it was silver, but she still has her medal) and I know it.

          1. Yeah, looking it up it was actually bronze, but she won it in two-woman bobsled at the Sochi games.

            She was originally in track and field, but couldn’t make the U.S. Olympic team. Someone told her that a woman of her size and speed would be a naturally as a brakeman on a bobsled team. I realize that this is very close to the plot of Cool Runnings, but I think Cool Runnings goes like that because it’s a transition that happens fairly frequently.

          2. It sucks that Lolo gets that rep, because she was a really great athlete. And really, the hype she got was mostly because she was the one they put on commercials- and she was on commercials because she was hot, not because she was a lock to win.

            But yes, the path between the track and bobsled is well-worn.

          3. I’m assuming it’s because already knowing how to sprint from a dead start is a useful thing in bobsled?

          4. I didn’t forget, I just left it out because that was the part that didn’t appeal to me. But I’m sure a decent portion of the audience found it endearing.

          5. I worked for a politician whose cousin won a gold in 4x100m and she told fucking everyone. It’s all I know about her. BUt if I met the dude I’d be like X is your cousin, I met her.

  2. I’m gonna jump the gun on listening to the podcast to ask the question that’s been on my mind this entire watch-along: Gabon and Tocantins were both filmed in the same production cycle, which means they were more or less cast in parallel, from basically the same talent pool. So how in the world did Gabon get arguably the worst newbie cast of all time, and Tocantins arguably the best? Did they deliberately load up all the good people on one season, and if so why? If not, what the hell happened? Is there just some kind of cast alchemy that nobody can predict?

    On a related note, is there any switch of cast members of the same type between Gabon and Tocantins that would improve either season? Kenny for Fishbach? Ace for Coach? Would switching Corinne and Erinn–thereby having Corinne, Tyson, and Coach on the same cast–have ended the franchise?

    1. Where were you when we recorded? Honestly, Coach and Tyson would just be different kinds of entertaining and cancel people out. Fishbach could have made this a strategic season, but not if most of these people were still here…

      1. One person does not make a season strategic when the rest of the cast is actively against reasonable strategy. For reference, see San Juan del Sur.

        1. I think there are a few more people on SJDS that had some strategy. But, I would say three (Natalie, Jon, Missy). I am not saying all 18, because let’s be real: Keith Nale and the offspring of Keith Nale is out there.

    2. We could have gotten Fishbach and Charlie fighting for Marcus’s affection! Or J.T.’s! Either way it’s awesome.

    3. As @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus said, she and I already discussed this in a previous column. I said the most likely explanation is that Lynne Spillman’s pre-teen niece was visiting her at work and spilled juice on the Gabon casting applications she had already selected for Gabon (all great choices) and ruined them. Lynn was already late for a meeting where the cast list would be made official, so she just grabbed the top 18 forms on the application list, even though she had never read any of them. And that’s how we got the Gabon cast.

        1. Disqus User Learns How To Reference Other Users! Future Comments Guaranteed To Be Better!

    4. I wouldn’t have wanted any exchanging of cast members between those two seasons, because one of the things I enjoyed about Tocantins is how the cast interacted with each other.

      Although having said that, maybe putting Sierra in this season and sending one of the random early boots from here to Tocantins instead might have been better.

      1. I have a weird feeling that Sierra would look like a strategic mastermind on Gabon. With as long as she lasted in Tocantins I bet she could have done serious damage against the Gabon cast.

  3. I just want to point out that our discussion of Randy’s loved one was done before I saw the comment on the last recap that basically confirms that we predicted it exactly correctly. I have never been prouder

    1. Without having listened to the podcast yet, I’ll assume you’re talking about Randy not having anyone lined up for the loved ones’ visit and take credit for that comment on the last recap.

  4. I paused to comment on your discussion of the house of cards challenge. Someone, I’m pretty sure it’s Sophie, says during one of these that they build houses of cards for fun. The problem is that a real house of cards is nothing like a Survivor house of cards. In real life you can broaden the base and use cards to reinforce; on Survivor you can’t do that because you have a base restricted by the size of the platform and a limited number of tiles to hit your goal.

    It’s happened to at least one Survivor who seemed to know what they were doing (pretty sure Sophie was one of them) where they build a sturdy, complicated tower and realize way before the endpoint that they don’t have enough tiles.

    From my observations, the ideal Survivor house of cards strategy appears to be this – two tiles on edge, one tabletop across them, repeat, have a steady hand, and pray there’s not a gust of wind.

    1. Matty had a good strategy, he was just very slow and careful and Susie’s riskier approach stayed up long enough for her to win

      1. But @sharculese:disqus is right, Sophie did it right by correctly building up her base and she ran out of tiles. Matty might have done the same. However, in this specific instance it wouldn’t have mattered, since nobody was able to get to 10 feet. So if you ran out of tiles at 8 1/2 feet, and nobody could catch up with you in time anyway, you still get the win.

      2. I was generalizing to the non-timed version, which I think they’ve run more frequently. Susie played it right for this version.

  5. This was a fun time, rewatching Gabon! Thanks for doing this! I think Mark hit the nail on the head for how I feel about this season, about it being an entertaining reality show without being good Survivor, exactly. And I’d probably also rank it in the early 20’s. And Corinne is the worst, and I definitely gave Sugar a “good for you!” when she flipped Corinne off.

  6. When the season first began I was mostly entertained by the train wreck I was watching. Two awful tribe picks, Jeff’s disdain for the cast, Ace’s douchiness, Dan’s exile failure, GC’s lack of effort and “leader” flameout, Randy’s comments and other examples. It helped somewhat mask that this group were mostly terrible people that quite possibly had the worst strategic season in Survivor history.

    Then the season went on and things were no longer funny, instead just grew to be annoying or sad. The awful decision making was more glaring. The people got meaner the deeper the game went especially Corrine with her horrific attempts of being the heel or villain of the season. I eventually grew tired of watching with the discussions here to be the only saving grace. I’m glad Bob won though.

    Somewhat surprisingly I’ve never sat down and ranked the seasons but Gabon is definitely bottom five. I’m ready for Heroes vs. Villains.

    1. the comedy really does get old after a while and you are just ready for this season to end. I kinda feel the season builds and peaks with the Randy boot episode and after that trudges along until its weird conclusion.

      And yeah bottom five is where I have it. Better than South Pacific, Redemption Island, and Africa I guess for me. Also I hated World’s Apart, I have to figure out where that is for me. Haven’t seen Nicaragua and Thailand.

      1. I agree with Randy’s boot being the peak. Out of the seasons I’ve seen I have Gabon in the bottom five along with Redemption Island, South Pacific, One World and Worlds Apart. Not sure in what order though.

          1. I don’t think either season are any fun to watch, but at least One World has an elite winner.

    2. I think Gabon is without question the worst strategic season in Survivor history, both in the number of thoroughly incompetent players (all of them) and the speed with which the season goes off the rails (five minutes in). i don’t want to spoil the Nicaragua hate-watch-along for you, but at least that season has two people with their heads in the game, plus one (admittedly very weak) replication of Cirie 1.0’s game.

  7. Because I’m obsessed with ranking shit: The discussion on the podcast about whether Fiji’s awful pre-merge is the worst led to me ranking the 5 worst and 5 best pre merges in Survivor history. Usual note that I have not seen Africa, Thailand and Nicaragua.

    Worst Pre Merges
    1. Fiji
    2. One World
    3. Caramoan
    4. South Pacific
    5. All Stars

    Best Pre Merges
    1. Heroes vs Villains
    2. Cook Islands
    3. Cagayan
    4. Palau*
    5. Cambodia

    * Though no official merge, I considered everything up to Stephenie going to the other island as pre merge.

      1. Every Pre Merge ranked

        1. Heroes vs Villains
        2. Cook Islands
        3. Cagayan
        4. Palau
        5. Cambodia
        6. Pearl Islands
        7. Tocantins
        8. Philippines
        9. Amazon
        10. China
        11. Australian Outback
        12. Blood vs Water
        13. Guatemala
        14. Micronesia
        15. Samoa
        16. Borneo
        17. Kaoh Rong
        18. Panama
        19. Marquesas
        20. Gabon
        21. Worlds Apart
        22. Vanuatu
        23. Redemption Island
        24. San Juan Del Sur
        25. All Stars
        26. South Pacific
        27. Caramoan
        28. One World
        29. Fiji

          1. Mostly I found the dynamics of the gender split tribes very interesting in the early going of that season. Pretty well balanced cast that filled different roles also helped.

        1. I’m curious as to why Kaoh Rong is so low. Maybe it’s recency bias, but there were a couple standout moments and fun blindsides, which is really all you can ask of a pre-merge.

          1. It is a definitely a decent pre merge and I agree with your points. I could be affected by recency though. While some entertaining moments definitely helped, I’m still pretty bothered by the treatment of Alecia

        2. The Worlds Apart pre-merge was the only redeeming part of that season. Is the rest of it dragging it down for you?

          1. The pre-merge is a ray of sunshine compared to afterwards. I found the WA pre-merge just mostly okay. Not horrendously bad but also not too interesting.

    1. Best pre-merges:
      Heroes vs Villains
      Worlds Apart
      Pearl Islands

      Redemption Island
      San Juan Del Sur

  8. I haven’t listened yet I just want to say I would agree to only watch Gabon and Redemption Island for the next 10 years if it meant the UK didn’t vote Out on the referendum yesterday.

    1. I’d make a “the tribe has spoken” joke if it wasn’t all so sad and stupid.

          1. I’ve lived inside the Beltway and I learned not to look forward to any months that don’t rhyme with Schmapril or Schemtember.

            But seriously, one of my students was planning a trip for her 18th birthday to DC, which she loves. Her birthday is in December and I was like “ask if you can hold it off a couple months. You don’t want to be in the city during that transition.”

    2. Fuck it I’d watch the post merge of World’s Apart but not be allowed to watch the finale every day for the UK to have voted in.

      1. Would you watch an alternate version of World’s Apart where Shirin lets Will have his letter?

        1. Yes, I’d watch an alternative where Dan wins. I’d watch SJDS where Missy wins, I’d watch a Cook Islands where the whites pagong the Aitu 4. I’d watch Lil win Pearl Islands so HvV never happened as it did.

          1. Well considering what drove the Brexit, that’s a real life version of an Aitu Pagonging…and Lil is now the new PM.

  9. When Randy was on RHAP during Cambodia he said his reunion guests were from a message board where applicants traded tips on getting noticed. He didn’t mention Sucks by name.

    He was also really pissed because he was embarrassed about bringing internet strangers as his guests and had specifically asked Jeff not to bring it up during the taping.


    In all seriousness, if they told me that none of my loved ones could make it, but here’s a dog I get to hang out with, my response would be “cool, dog. have fun talking to the humans, suckers.”

  11. I go with Mario Lanza’s (aka the guy who made the Funny 115) stance on Chris Daugherty, in that he sees Chris’ story in Vanuatu as a revenge story. I don’t think Bob has a revenge bone in his body (and you can see basically all of his bones, you could tell if one is a revenge bone).

    I think I would’ve liked Susie more if she answered Corinne’s question with, “Only if you did the same.”
    I wonder if people were nastier to Corinne, maybe she would’ve been less abrasive. Or the show would’ve been all but unwatchable, like Worlds Apart before Worlds Apart.

    Randy probably has one of the best voting confessionals at FTC/in Survivor.

    I always felt bad for Sugar. Yeah, she wasn’t that great at the game, but she didn’t do that terribly, and I don’t feel like she deserve as much disdain as she received. Of course, I didn’t live with her for 39 days, so maybe she would’ve been grating to me too, I don’t know.

  12. Fun fact: Susie is the first person to place 2nd out right and not appear on the season’s DVD cover. If the covers stays the same, she will soon be joined by Sabrina of One World and Monica of Blood vs Water (although Monica appears inexplicably on the One World DVD cover). There are also rumors that Skupin will be taken off the Philippines DVD, but there is no proof of that yet.

    The people that are on the Gabon DVD cover is Bob, Sugar, Matty, Kenny, Randy….and Corinne. Crystal doesn’t make the cut here folks.

  13. I’m glad I wasn’t alone with my reaction to Corinne… I had heard a lot about her and came in with big expectations (I think I thought she was gonna be Randy) but that person just never really showed up on my screen. To be honest I’m pretty sure Corinne being underwhelming was a big part of why I was so cold on this season. Still a bottom five season for me, almost certainly bottom two. I *am* willing to move it past Nicaragua if I ever get around to rewatching that mess though.

  14. Two final notes:

    -Matt, as the guy who found that edgic chart, I did also find two others. One Also had Kenny winning for most of the post-merge, the other picked Bob starting with episode 12.

    -Unrelated to this podcast, back when Micronesia was airing, Yau-Man shot a pilot for a Mythbusters-style show focused on debunking supernatural claims. One of the other hosts was Stephen Novella of the skeptical podcast The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, so they had him on to talk about it. I had never heard it, so I decided to check it out earlier this week. Most of the interview is about skepticism and the show itself (which did not get picked up) but they spend the first ten minutes talking about Survivor, and it’s an interesting look both into what it’s like being on the show and about how the race wars seasons were cast. It’s from April of 2008, if anyone is interested.

  15. Here’s my argument for why Gabon is the second worst season in the history of the show: the complete lack of anything good.

    I understand if other seasons have left you more angry and did more things to bother you. But I’m guessing if you were listing the good and the bad, you’d have something in the good column (in the case of RI, OW, or Thailand, the answer was the gameplay of the winner). There’s nothing there for Gabon. No good gameplay, no good characters, no historically interesting moments. Okay, I’ll admit that I LOVE the Randy boot TC, but even that is the result of the lack of good from everyone involved.

    It’s not like I had Gabon listed as the worst season for years. The truth is, in the years following it, I just never thought of it at all. But when it was time to do a list and when I’d discuss the season that John had never seen I realized, nothing worth a damn happens the entire fucking season.

    And that’s why it’s awful. Other seasons may have worse things in them than Gabon did. But unlike those seasons, Gabon has no redeeming features. “I didn’t hate it” isn’t enough to keep it out of the bottom if you can’t also list something you liked about it.

    1. Also, I don’t think it’s an accident that the three people they’ve brought back from this season were fucking horrible at Survivor their second time around. It’s not like playing Gabon would grant one much experience in how to play Survivor.

      1. This is another part of my argument why Marcus was bad. I can’t possibly assume that because Marcus was better than others (and I still think only marginally) doesn’t mean in a different season he’d have been good.

        1. The other thing about Marcus is that he’s the kind of blandly accomplished alpha that is usually targeted when he was targeted.

      1. I fucking hate it.

        Nicaragua features both the complete absence of good PLUS an overwhelming amount of awful. It is the only season that almost made me quit Survivor.

        1. In terms of clusterfuckness, Nicaragua or Remdemption Island takes the cake although Gabon was up there. The only good game I saw was when Crystal convinced Susie to flip. Everything else is a trainwreck.

    2. Gabon the season is Lucy and the viewer is Charlie Brown and every time we think something good and interesting will happen Gabon yanks it away from us. Watching quickly though the consistent crumminess but never excruciating crappiness plays better than I’m sure it did week to week. I think had I watched it in real time it would be last for me, or maybe a few spots lower instead of like 5th worst. But the way I watched it did improve the experience for me, albeit not by a lot

  16. I started my HvV run a little early. Even as a Gabon apologist, no one can defend Gabon after even a brief taste of HvV. It’s time to wash that bad taste out of your mouth by swapping out one of the worst casts with one of the best. (Plus Amanda.)

    1. Other bad casts seem to have at least one to a few standouts that either knew how the game of Survivor worked or at least made compelling television without coming across as a train wreck of a contestant. I would argue that other seasons had worst people than on Gabon but that the shining star(s) on the cast may elevate the average above Gabon.

        1. I haven’t seen Nicaragua yet but I’ll go ahead and assume it is worst. That seems to be the common theme of that season.

          1. Some people might like one or two of the players on Nicaragua, but I don’t. It also has some of the absolute worst people ever cast, and their awfulness isn’t even entertaining.

    2. I think so. As Black Dynamite says, there is no redeeming presence, the best the season has to offer is a comedic villain

  17. Loved hearing Mark on this. Our hosts are of course great, but having a non-snark voice in the mix was a welcome change.

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