On Thursday Amanda Kimmel became the fourth member of the jury, and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains officially entered the home stretch. The Final Five is already thinking about how to spend their treasure, while some once dominant players now seem lost at sea.
Amanda was surprised that Candice switched sides because, according to her, "Candice wasn't on the bottom." It had appeared to me that Candice was in exactly that predicament, so I pushed Amanda to tell me who was the odd man out. She said it was "probably Colby."
I pointed out that Colby and Rupert seemed to have a strong alliance, but she insisted that "Rupert and I formed a much earlier alliance." I can believe that. But I still question whether Rupert's loyalty extended to Candice.
Regardless, Amanda does not regret her decision to vote out Tom earlier this season, when Candice's name was also on the block that week.
"Tom is a very strategic player. He looks out for the people he wants to look out for." In this case, Rupert and Colby, not her.
Amanda insists she was against J.T.'s decision to give Russell the Idol but, "There's only so much you can do to convice people."
I pointed out that she could have recruited Sandra a week earlier than she did, when the tribes were still tied at the merge, but she explained, "Sandra wanted to wait and see what happened. She wanted to keep her options open."
Not surprisingly, Amanda said competing against her former ally Parvati was "not good." She said that going into the game she was definitely open to reuniting with her Micronesia teammate but by the time they merged it was too late. "Parvati was in a good position with her tribe, and I was in a good position with mine, and neither of us wanted to give that up."
I got the most interesting response of the conversation when I asked Amanda how Parvati knew to protect Sandra and Jerri with the Hidden Immunity Idols . Amanda said, "There was a lot that happened that they didn't show. I can't talk about it. If they didn't show it, I'm not allowed to talk about it."
There may be more to Amanda's statement than meets the eye, but booted contestants routinely talk about moments that ended up on the editing room floor. From what I can tell, they are allowed to share whatever they want about their experiences in the game, just so long as they don't reveal spoilers or insights into the series' production (casting, travel, etc.)
If Amanda simply doesn't feel like sharing an embarassing story I think she should be congratulated for standing up for herself. (If only she'd done so when Colby told her to give Danielle the clue.) I'm still gonna stop at the store and buy her a big old package of Fib Newtons, though.
One of Amanda's most touching moments this season came when she found out that James' was not badly injured, and she ran to hug him. Since James came across as a huge bully on the show, I asked her about the James she knew.
"James was just trying to protect me. When he argued with Stephenie he was being protective of me." She added, "James is a different person now than he was the first time he played. He's much more talkative. He actually remembered people's names this time! He was really playing the game."
Amanda says that among her three seasons, China was still her favorite experience. "It was new. It was so exciting. It was definitely the hardest, and that made surviving so much more amazing. When we won a reward it was so incredible. In the later two seasons it was like, 'Oh, great. We won.' But we were starving and it meant so much [then.]"
When I asked Amanda who was the best player she'd ever gone up against, I expected her to say Parvati, but was curious if she'd say Todd, as Courtney had when I interviewed her.
"Strategically? I'd have to say Russell. Parvati is very good too. Athletically James is the greatest of all time. No one has ever dominated the challenges the way he has."
If Amanda is naming Russell as a better strategic player than Parvati, does that provide any insight into how she would vote in a potential showdown in front of the jury? We may find out when the finale airs May 16th, unless of course the villains implode before then.
(Image courtesy of CBS)
-Interview by Henry Jenkins