A Survivor season has recently ended, and you know what that means! Time for me to regale you all with tales of the finale and the after party because apparently that’s just part of my life now? I live in Los Angeles, so every 5-7 months I get to go to the finale and meet contestants. And then I just…brag about it to you all? That doesn’t seem right. Shouldn’t you get to go at some point? I didn’t do anything to deserve this- not even win a few key challenges or form strong bonds with people. Well, I feel like I have strong bonds with you all, but that’s not why this happens. It’s just a combination of luck and being in the right place at the right time. What garbage.
Since I can’t have you all with me, I guess I can at least try to make you feel like you were. But if you’re like, “Fuck this, I don’t want to read about someone else’s good time,” I totally get you and hope you’ll return for our upcoming offseason content.
So once again I was a seat filler, but this time I was without a seat for all but the first five minutes of the episode.
Turns out this was the producer’s section, who of course showed up to the finale, so before long I was separated from my plus one and taken to sit on the stairs to the rest of the show. But hey, I was still there! Could have been worse.
The crowd had a field day with the fake idol, as they should have. Although there were definitely a lot of people rooting for Jay, there was plenty of laughter when he got voted out. The audience gasped when it was revealed that Ken had actually turned on David. Some of the people in the real seats next to me cheered, but it was unclear whether that was an anti-David sentiment or simply pro-Adam or Hannah. People definitely enjoyed Zeke’s “Heartiest congratulations, gang,” but I cannot recall any moment from Final Tribal hitting particularly hard until of course Adam broke down telling his story about his mom.
As a super fan who pays attention to patterns, I knew Adam won unanimously as soon as the second Adam vote was read. There was of course lots of cheering, but that’s what the audience is supposed to do. They cheered for Michele too. However, it did seem like he was the main rooting interest for the crowd… among the final three, at least. And when he shared what happened when he got home, you could feel the reaction. The mood had shifted, you could see people wiping tears from their eyes and sniffling could be heard for the next segment or so. I knew Adam’s mom had passed shortly after the game ended, but not the details of the timing, and it was devastating to watch him talk about it.
But of course, as you saw on the show, the mood then lightened as other castaways were discussed. The reunion footage isn’t shown on the monitors – you can only see the stage. So while I couldn’t see close-ups as the contestants talked, I did get to see Hannah and Ken playfully interact while the clip of them flirting was shown, which made it a little more palatable.
Once the live show ended, I contacted my super secret source to find out where the after party was. While I was walking out of the theater, I heard a woman with an accent talking to this little boy who had shown he could name all of the winners in order during one of the commercial breaks (you may have heard Rob Cesternino and Josh Wigler discuss this child on their podcast). The woman tells the kid how amazing he was and asked if he had seen Australian Survivor. “No,” he replies, “but I read about it.” (Editor’s note: So can you!)
“I won it,” says the woman. And that’s how I learned what a contestant from Australian Survivor looks like.
The current players go back to their hotel before going to the after party, so at first it didn’t seem like there was anyone to meet or talk to yet. But then… the game changed. The queen had arrived. Sandra Diaz-Twine, y’all.
Not only that, but she was hanging out with the one and only Cirie Fields. She chatted with me a little bit and I babbled about my Black Widow Brigade post. Who knows if she followed what I was talking about, but she did mime stirring the pot, which was delightful.
Unlike other after parties, they were passing appetizers around for free. Of course, most of them I couldn’t eat, but I did have a little thing of French fries and a mini slice of cheese pizza. I even dealt with the fact that there was a slice of tomato on it.
The current cast started to arrive and I saw someone I vaguely knew asking to get a picture with Zeke, so I offered to take it, thinking I could then use that opportunity to talk to him myself. Problem is, I totally chickened out. Luckily, I got my chance to talk to him later. “Is you being on season 34 a total secret or what?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he laughed.
Not long after that, I met someone who has something in common with Zeke… they were both on the Millennials tribe. After gushing to Michaela, I told her how my mom texted me during the show about the Game Changers announcement and she just said “Ozzie! [sic] Tai! Michaela!” and we bonded a bit about working hard to save and pay off our loans (although I’ll admit she was much more diligent than I was.)
Some of you may have heard Rob Cesternino talk about his run-in with Australian Kristie and his attempt to claim that Josh Wigler was actually Stephen Fishbach. I witnessed that! I even tried to save Josh! I did not talk to Kristie because I did not watch her show, but I did see an undisputed winner, the goddess of Survivor – Kim Spradlin.
Continuing on the alumni train, I also happened to run into all-star narrator, Jonathan Penner. I did not have a chance to talk to him too much, but later in the evening I did observe him spending a lot of time talking to Hannah. Then her mom gave her a coconut and some snacks, so that was interesting.
Soon it was after midnight and I did have to go to work the next day, so I started slowly making my way out of the party while still getting involved in conversations along the way. And that’s when Ken came by, and I knew I had to take my chance. I stopped him and told him all about EmandScoutinBK, including the wonderful #gaywithaKenexception hashtag and how fun that made the season for the PRP community. While I imagine he’s gotten used to his effect on the Kinsey scale, the hashtag did make him crack a smile.
I continue making my way out of the party when I finally see Jay, whom I had been hoping to talk to all night. Of course, he was surrounded by a gaggle of girls who wanted their picture taken with him, but I was willing to become one of them. I told him how entertaining and fun to watch he was and how he has to play again. “I hope so,” was his response, which should come as no surprise after reading his exit interviews. I had noticed when he was taking pictures with other people that he was always making a goofy face, so as we prepared to take a photo I asked what face we should make. “Should we just stare into each other’s eyes?” he asked when we couldn’t land on a pose.
I decided to put off leaving just a little longer because I saw Adam nearby, and I had to talk to the winner! He was having a long conversation with people who he appeared to know personally, so I waited patiently off to the side. I did hear him say that he knew people were going to say he only won because of sympathy, but that he knew it wasn’t true so it didn’t really matter.
He knew about the podcast enough to know that I must be Purple Rock Emma as I am “the girl.” He called me “like the only female podcaster” which isn’t true because I’m not really a podcaster (Editor’s note: Whatever you say, Emma) and there are other actual podcasters who are women, but I’ll take it. I mostly congratulated him for his win and told him I appreciated him making a point to introduce himself to my friend Kacie, a moderator for r/Survivor, when she was too shy to talk to him. I must say, he really does seem like an absolute sweetheart. Oh, and at one point Michaela came up behind him, placed her hand on his head, and then walked away before he turned around. That’s your mildly amusing anecdote for the day.
As I couldn’t find David anywhere (not sure if he wasn’t there or if he’s just hard to see) and it was 12:45 a.m. at this point, it was time to head home.
- I introduced myself to Jessica because I knew she knew who we are and together we bemoaned the rock being black. Didn’t take a picture because she was taking a picture with Neal and Figgy at the time and I didn’t want to deal with having no interest in Figgy.
- The cast and I believe family of the cast all had Livestrong style orange bracelets that they were passing around to everyone. They read #LiveLikeSusie and #MillennialsVsGenX. I was under the impression that Adam did not know they did this until he got there, but I may be incorrect.
- You could tell who Sunday’s daughters were because they all had the exact same hair as she did.
Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Micronesia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, China, Philippines
Favorite players: Courtney Yates, Parvati Shallow, John Cochran, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Kim Spradlin