The self-proclaimed perfect mix of old school and new school, original "Survivor" contestant Gervase Peterson showed that it is possible for an old dog to learn new tricks after all. Alongside his close ally Tyson, Gervase breezed to the end of the game and made it to Final Three. But on Sunday night's Finale Episode of "Survivor: Blood vs Water," Gervase received zero votes in the final tally. I spoke with Gervase today, a day removed from that live vote, about his time in the game and his thoughts on his third place finish.
In case you missed it, here is the full Finale Episode recap.
Gervase appeared way back on Season 1 of Survivor. 27 seasons down the road, he returned to compete alongside his niece, Marissa, and many thought that he would once again be a sitting duck in the game. Gervase though, seemed to be re-invented. Here's a guy who was famous for his inability to swim who this time around, was able to hold his own and even thrive in the water challenges. Immunity Idols and twists weren't part of the game back when he played, but Gervase seemed to be attentive and focused strategically.
Surely, his game is a bit underestimated and under-appreciated, overshadowed by the more dominant and "out there" game played by Tyson. Perception is everything though on Survivor, and Gervase was perceived as a floater, a foot soldier who answered to General Apostol. Still, Gervase took an existing out-of-game friendship with Aras and turned it into the biggest blindside of the season. Talk about in it to win it.
During the Live Reunion Show, he admitted that he thought about flipping on Tyson at some point, but the right opportunity never came to do so. So he rode out his friendship until the end, backing himself into a corner that didn't bode well for his in-game perception.
Here is my conversation with Gervase Peterson:
So any regrets in choosing to go to the end with Tyson?
Gervase Peterson: Yeah, that was the amazing thing to me that people kept on saying that. You've got to get rid of Tyson! But I'm thinking to myself, if I sit next to Ciera or Katie, I lose, because both of their moms are on the jury and they'll campaign for them. If I sit next to Laura or Tina, same thing, their daughters would be on the jury. If I sit next to Hayden, he wins because everyone liked Hayden and they thought he made a big move in the game. When I'm looking at this picture, and it may not be great odds to win but still, I'm thinking my best bet is against Tyson and Monica. I just wanted to make sure Tyson had more dirt on his hands than I did.
Why did the jury fail to realize your big move against Aras, if you say that you were so integral to that happening?
Gervase: The only person Aras trusted 100% in the game was me. He knew that if his name was going to come up, that I would come and tell him, so that he would never get blindsided. So it was like throwing a grenade. I got Aras with the grenade but the shrapnel also took out Katie, Tina and Vytas as well, who were tied to him. So that's half the jury. So I'm thinking, I should get their votes. The new players talk about big moves? That was a big move in the game. How can you not love that? But because they were on the jury and I wasn't, they were mad. And that anger and bitterness is just tough. You've got to remember too, Aras has never been voted out before and had to deal with that, he won his season. And two, it was by one of his best buds, so that hurt.
You mentioned that you were the ones pulling the strings and that Tyson was strategically placed in front of you as the bigger target. The jury didn't see it that way. Watching it back on TV, do you still agree with that and if so, do you feel like you were given an unfair edit to a degree?
Gervase: I would never complain about the edit. That's a tough job they have. They have to tell a story and that's the story they told. I could say yes, there were things out there that they definitely could have shown that would have made me look better, and in a better light, but I have no control over that. The truth is I should have done more things out on that island, or made them bigger. Or expressed it more in my solo interviews. Like Tyson was doing. Tyson was talking to the fans watching the show, explaining his every move, and that's great. I lacked at that. I'm more old school. Season 1? I never wanted to talk about my gameplay in a solo interview because I felt that if Jeff got a hold of it, he would bring it up at Tribal Council and blow up what I was trying to do. So I was always kind of leery of that. So here you have some great laid plan and here comes Jeff saying, "so Ciera! Why don't you just jump to the other side and break up that alliance!" And I'm like, Jeff, why are you saying that, man? (laughs) You're messing me up!
How was it to play Survivor after a 13 year lay-off?
Gervase: It's been fun. I was excited I got the call and to play again. I knew the game was faster-paced. These new players, they make alliances on Day 1 and they don't care who is in it. And that doesn't make any sense to me. I felt like the new players were playing the game wrong. So part of the job that I wanted to do by playing again was to show future players, why would you want to make an alliance with someone that you don't like? It's going to blow up. Make an alliance with people you like, and you're going to get where you want to get in the game. For some reason, new players only care about big moves and blindsides.
Now you pride yourself on being an "old school" Survivor player. So what are your thoughts on some of the newer twists that have been introduced in the game, like Redemption Island and also the concept of returning players?
Gervase: I love that they bring back returning players. As a fan, if you like somebody you want to see them come back and play again. Especially if they've entertained you. Now Redemption Island? You know, I'm old school, I don't really care for it that much. When you're gone you're gone. That's Survivor. You have to have people like you enough not to get voted out early in the game. But then again, in a season like this, it's the perfect time to have a Redemption Island. It gives your loved one a chance to come back in the game. There are so many layers to Redemption Island. They can talk and give you intel. It's crazy. So it's good to have Redemption Island during a loved ones season, but other than that, I wouldn't have it.
Another "old school" thing with Survivor is that there used to be a Final 2 instead of the current Final 3. Is Tyson the person you would have wanted to sit against at the end had it been a Final 2?
Gervase: Honestly, if it was a Final 2, I definitely wouldn't have picked Tyson, and Tyson probably, definitely, wouldn't have picked me (laughs). So that does make a big difference. When you only have to worry about beating one person it changes the whole way you play the game, and how you approach it, and the moves you make in it. But with three people, it brings another layer to the game. You want to bring someone you know you can beat, but you also need a person who can help you along the way.
On the two seasons you've played, you've seen Richard Hatch and now Tyson Apostol win the game. In your opinion, which win was more impressive?
Gervase: Mmm, good question. I guess I'd have to give it to Rich. Being the first season and not having rules to the game. It's like hey, let's play a game where we have a rock and we'll throw it around, but we'll have a hoop in it and a horseshoe. It's like, what do you do with this stuff? It's hard to not have rules to a game and to have to make them up as you go along. And then have them work. So I give it to Rich. But Tyson is a very close second. I mean, he played a great game and I was witness to it because I was right there every step of the way. And it's funny because I feel like I played a great game too. I never wanted to be the leader and I think it's actually smarter not to be.
Were you surprised that you didn't get a single jury vote?
Gervase: I was surprised I didn't get a vote at all. Going into it, I thought I needed to just make a great final speech and hope that people saw that Tyson had more dirt on his hands than I did. Hopefully the jury, speaking specifically about Aras, Vytas, Tina and Katie, aren't holding a grudge. Everybody forgot, I made a big move in the game. I took out Aras. After the jury gave their speeches, I knew I was dead in the water. Because certain people didn't even ask me a question. So that's a bad sign. If you're not going to ask me a question, that's not good.
Was there ever a thought to really turn on Tyson?
Gervase: Everyone is asking that and talking about winning, but in order to win the game you have to make Final 3. I wouldn't have made Final 3 if I'd turned on Tyson. Looking at it, I thought wow, I really can't beat anybody in this game, so who can I beat? It's still my best option, Tyson and Monica. My plan was that nobody would like Tyson by the end and that they'd all like me more.
Has production changed at all from Season 1?
Gervase: It's just bigger. It's just a bigger crew, helicopters on call 24/7. Multiple producers at camp 24/7. It's just bigger.
How did you end up coming back on the show?
Gervase: They had called me back for All-Stars and also Heroes vs. Villains. But I just didn't get picked. So I knew I was on their radar to come back, it just had to be the right situation. And this ended up being it.
Also, make sure you check out one of my favorite Survivor sites, Survivor Fever.