THIRTY-SIX DAYS AGO…
Sixteen castaways traveled deep into the Western Ghats, a mountain range along the southwest of India famed for its’ lush, dangerous, and mysterious jungles. They were divided into two tribes, Saap and Bandar, and amidst the monsoon rains, they found themselves forced to rely on their wits, skills, and each other to create a home for themselves. In an ancient land ruled by venomous cobras, massive elephants, and dangerous tigers, the players found that the biggest danger was the hunger of their competition. As the game progressed, Jill, Brock, River, Ryan, Brett, Andrew, Vanessa, Marina, Marco, Mathieu and Shelby have been voted out of the Tribe. With the final day now rapidly approaching, only four castaways remain.
Gavin, the game’s youngest player, came in feeling as though he had something to prove. At only 19, he felt that his competitors underestimated him, and he sought to show he could play just as hard as any of his older peers–and he succeeded in proving his ability to keep up with the older and wiser players. He’s won individual challenges and pulled off some of the biggest moves in the game, such as when he successfully campaigned to switch the vote at Tribal Council to Marina, taking out one of the game’s most formidable players in a jaw-dropping blindside. But for all of his highs, Gavin has also had lows when his lack of maturity and life experience has lead to him acting with his heart over his head. His crush on Jordyne lead him to fight eagerly to protect her, even when she betrayed his trust, and his occasional tears and tantrums have rubbed some of the other castaways the wrong way–especially Jamie, who Gavin has had a fierce rivalry with. On Day 36, Gavin’s parental figure and closest ally, Shelby, was voted out, leaving Gavin all by himself. With only three days left, can Gavin show that he can thrive without his Survivor Mom by his side, and that he he has grown more than he has floundered?
While Gavin wanted to prove something to the other players, Irene came into Survivor hoping to prove something to herself. The Hot Topic sales clerk was plagued by self doubt from her past as a college dropout. She began the game as a meek presence, hoping to slide under the radar by deferring to the other players when it came to critical decisions. This backfired when she trusted in Andrew, despite his attempts to sabotage his own tribe and target Irene. A narrow escape from his idol led to Irene swearing to play a more aggressive game, and as time has progressed, her self-confidence has grown. Irene found the hidden immunity idol, won the biggest reward in the game, and perhaps most importantly, used her vulnerable demeanor to build strong relationships with her tribemates. Now with the finish line in sight, can the newly confident Irene find the last bit of strength needed to go all the way?
As the game’s smallest player, Irene had an easy time blending into the background, but at a whopping 6’10”, social activist Jamie has always stood out. Despite his astonishing size, Jamie proved to be a gentle giant, letting his brightly burning passion and love lead the way for his game. While he initially tried to downplay himself, Jamie learned quickly that in Survivor, much as in life, it’s hard to fake being someone you’re not. He has since been unapologetic about using bold tactics and power plays to shift the game in his favor, never backing down from a challenge. While his boldness has earned him the respect of some, it’s caused tension with others, namely Gavin, who has spent much of the merge plotting to bring about Jamie’s demise. Gavin almost got his way, but just as his back was up against the wall, the castaways were surprised with a visit by their loved ones, and Jamie’s boyfriend became his fiancee in the process. With his spirits reinvigorated, Jamie has his eye on the prize–but is he simply too tempting a target to make it all the way?
Connecting the three other players is none other than Jordyne, the surprising power player who has served as the crux of many major decisions over the course of the last thirty-six days. Perhaps no castaway appeared more ill-equipped for the rigors of the jungle than this exotic dancer, a self-described “city mouse” with no outdoors experience. Jordyne showed everyone, however, that what she lacked in practical skill, she made up for with hustle. She charmed her way into alliance after alliance, positioning herself at the center of the action, and with ruthless hunger, proceeded to cut down any competitor she felt was untrustworthy or threatening. Jordyne has as a result managed to control much of the game, but she’s left a trail of betrayal in her wake. Will Jordyne hack and slash her way to the crown? Or will she drown beneath the sea of blood she’s left behind?
Each of these castaways has had their own path along the course of this journey, and tonight, it all ends. Two final immunity challenges and two final tribal councils will leave only two players remaining on the 39th day. The jury will then be given the chance to vote between them. One will have their torch extinguished. The other will return to civilization a million dollars richer.
Four remain. Who will outwit, outplay, and outlast the others to become the Sole Survivor?
Monkeys chatter in the trees as the morning fog begins to lift. Jamie slumbers deeply in the shelter, his massive chest rising and falling as he snores. Jordyne lies next to him, her fingers gingerly tucked beneath the gaps in the buttons of his shirt. Apart from them is Gavin, buff pulled over his face.
At the fire, Irene sits, enraptured in her book. As she turns it’s final page, she sighs, content.
Irene pockets the Bible in her bag, before grabbing one of the water jugs. As she reaches the edge of camp, she turns to observe her tribemates in the shelter before heading off into the jungle. At the well, she fills the jug.
Irene arrives back at the camp to find Gavin sitting by the fire.
“Oh, welcome back,” he greets sleepily.
“Hey. Morning,” Irene greets. “How’d you sleep?”
Gavin’s expression tightens, as if he’s tasted something sour. “As good as I could have, I guess,” he says. “How about you?”
“Fine, thanks,” Irene says, putting the jug down. “I woke up early to read, so… yeah.”
“Yeah,” Gavin responds to nothing in particular. “Uh, so…” he whispers, his volume dropping. “Can we go somewhere and talk before either of them are up?”
“Yeah, sure,” Irene whispers back, nodding.
Irene and Gavin walk together in the woods. Irene looks back towards the camp, checking to make sure they’re alone. “So what’s up?” she asks Gavin.
“I’ve been thinking since last night and uh… I really, really don’t want to go home.”
“Oh?” Irene says. “I… what makes you think you’re the next to go?”
“I mean, come on. You’ve already voted for me once before, and I’m sure you would have tried again if I didn’t win the last immunity. I’m the only one who didn’t vote for Shelby last night. The writing is kind of on the wall,” Gavin says.
“Well then I’m really glad you came to me,” Irene says, “because that’s absolutely not the case. Look, everyone knows you were never going to vote Shelby out–and that’s totally okay. I would have never voted Vanessa out, so please don’t think I’m just saying that to, like, be nice or whatever.”
“No, of course not,” Gavin confirms.
“It just… I did what I thought was best for me. At the time when I voted for you, it’s because I thought that was my best decision. Last night, I voted out Shelby because it was best for me. That doesn’t mean that right now, voting you out is my best decision, you know?”
“Yeah, I get it.”
“I think it would be an absolutely stupid move for any of us to not vote Jamie out next,” Irene says. “He’s too big of a threat. From the first day, he’s done more than his fair share around camp. He’s done well in the challenges, he’s been involved in the strategy… there’s really nothing he hasn’t done well. And people like him. There’s a lot of people on that jury who I think would give him their vote,” she continues. “I feel bad, because we have been through so much together, but… it’s just not smart.”
“Then why did you give him your idol?” Gavin asks. “If you wanted him out that badly, there were so many times we could have done it.”
“Yeah,” Irene agrees.
“And like… I know it’s not exactly a secret that I’m not the guy’s biggest fan,” Gavin continues. “There are so many times you could have come to me and Shelby and we could have gotten Jamie out of the game, if you’d really wanted it.”
“So I just… I’m trying to be upfront with you. Because obviously I’m down with him being the next out. And I want to believe you’re down with it too, but you have to see from my perspective how it’s a little hard,” Gavin says. “I… I’ve just been through a lot during this game, Irene. None of the twists and turns in this game have blindsided me as much as I’ve been blindsided by my own emotions. I really put myself out there for other people and I’ve totally humiliated myself a few times. If you’re voting me out, just tell me. I don’t want to be the butt of the joke again.”
“That’s totally fair,” Irene says, nodding empathetically. “Seriously… I mean, I don’t know. Anything you need from me so that you can feel like you trust me, just let me know what it is and I’ll do it.”
“I guess I can’t really think of anything you could do to show me,” Gavin says, “but like… that’s the risk this whole game, isn’t it? That people could be lying to you?”
“Yeah,” Irene says. “Like I was saying–it’s totally fair for you to be skeptical. I learned that the hard way.”
“Was that with Andrew?” asks Gavin.
“Mhm,” confirms Irene. “He threw a reward challenge for our tribe that we really needed for all of us, because he wanted to get to go to Exile Island and find the idol. And I was the only one willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. He was such a stand up guy. He was patient with me, he was kind… he really did a lot to make us feel more like a family than a tribe. He was our leader, you know? I wanted to believe in him. It felt good to have his respect. And uh… I was dead wrong. And on top of it, he tried to use that very idol to vote me out,” Irene laughs. “So when you said you felt like you’ve made a fool of yourself? You’re not the only one.”
“Yeah. I guess I’m not,” Gavin says with a smile. “
Down at the riverbank, birds laze in the shallows. In the deeper parts of the river, Jamie sits. The fish traps have already been pulled up into the boat. He is sitting in silence, absentmindedly twirling the ring on his finger.
Jamie, now standing on the shore, pulls the boat up onto the sand so that it doesn’t float off into the river. He takes his bucket from the boat and anxiously checks to see that nobody else is around. He takes two fish from the bucket and heads down the riverbank towards a secluded area in the woods.
Camouflaged beneath the leaves, the sound of steel against stone echoes as Jamie strikes the flint, sparks flashing into a small nest of tinder. A tiny spark catches, and Jamie smiles to himself as he nurses the growing flame, placing kindling delicately on the growing blaze.
With a small fire going, Jamie roasts his two fish over the flame, checking over his shoulder to make sure that nobody else has noticed.
“I’ve been gone a while,” Jamie says to the camera with a grin. “Hope nobody realizes what I’m up to.”
Alone up at the camp, Jordyne puts a log on the fire. Curiosity brims in her eyes as she looks around.
“Where the hell is the flint?” she wonders aloud.
Jordyne heads through the jungle, approaching Tree Mail. She reaches into the basket at the base of the statue, finding the instructions for the next challenge tethered to a statuette of Brahma, the camera focusing in on his four faces.
“Four castaways, Four elements;
Fire, Earth, Water, Air,
You can’t see it, but the end is coming,
A win today could get you there.”
“Come on in, guys!”
The final four castaways make their way into the challenge arena, where an enormous, sprawling maze awaits them.
“Holy crap,” Irene gasps.
“This should be fun,” says Jamie as they take their spots on the mat.
“Ready to get to today’s immunity challenge?” Jeff asks. All four castaways nod.
“First thing’s first,” Jeff says, “Gavin, I’m going to need immunity back.”
Gavin approaches Jeff, taking off the necklace. “I’m planning on getting it back, okay?” he says as he hands the necklace off.
“Sounds good,” Jeff acknowledges, placing the necklace back on its stand.
“Once again, immunity back up for grabs. For today’s challenge, you’ll be blindfolded in the center of this giant maze. On my go, you will race to find four medallions at each corner of the maze, one for each of the four elements–water, fire, air and earth. There are guide posts to help you navigate, but to use them, you’ll be reliant on your sense of touch. Once you collect all four medallions, you must find the immunity necklace back at the center of the maze. First person to find the all four medallions and the necklace wins the necklace. With it, you’ll be immune at Tribal Council tonight and guaranteed a one in three shot at winning the game. For the others, one of you will be voted out tonight and become the sixth member of our jury. Worth playing for?”
“Absolutely,” says Irene.
“All right then. We’ll get each of you blindfolded, then we’ll go ahead and get started.
At the center of the maze, the now blindfolded castaways wait. They stand in a circle facing outwards, the immunity idol positioned in the center on a platform. Each castaway has one hand on the platform as they wait for the challenge to begin.
“For immunity!” calls Jeff.
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
The castaways are off. Jamie bends far foward with his arms extended far outward, waving back and forth as he steadily but slowly moves.
Each of the castaways is pointed in a different direction initially. Jordyne is headed east, towards wind, when she walks into a partition, nearly knocking the wind out of herself.
“Ooph!” she groans as she takes the bar to the waist.
“Jordyne takes a hard hit!” Jeff notes. “Gavin making progress. Irene’s on the move. Jamie, finding his way through. Everyone is working on that first medallion still. Who will be the first to find one?”
After a while of exploring the maze, Irene is the first to enter a checkpoint where the water medallions wait to the west. She hasn’t yet realized that she’s almost found a medallion as she slowly explores the area, her hands blindly waving.
“Oh,” Jamie whispers quietly as he continues his method with wide sweeps, his hand colliding with the dangling medallions. Slowly, he reaches up and begins untying the earth medallion in the southern section.
“Jamie working on his first medallion,” Jeff says, just as Irene notces hers. “Irene now starting on her first medallion,” calls Jeff. Jamie finishes untying the earth medallion, and he slips it around his neck. Slowly he turns around and begins moving again, as does Irene.
“Jamie and Irene each with one medallion, Jordyne and Gavin still looking for their first!”
Irene and Jamie both arrive at the same guide post.
“Oh!” Irene gasps as she walks into Jamie.
“Irene and Jamie have a little run-in,” Jeff notes. “Gavin now at his first medallion, he’s on the board!” Gavin finishes untying the fire medallion from the northern section and heads back on the move. Jordyne continues to slowly progress through.
At the guide post, Jamie and Irene fight to feel it. Jamie moves his fingers over the sign for the water medallion, and heads off. Irene takes her time feeling, ultimately moving north towards the fire medallion. Gavin is feeling his way gently along the fence, moving towards a guide post, but not yet realizing it.
“Irene, now at her second medallion!” Jeff calls, while Irene unties the fire medallion. “This puts Irene in the lead with two; Jamie and Gavin, each with one; Jordyne, still looking to get on the board.”
“Yeah, thanks for pointing that out,” Jordyne mutters.
“Come on!” groans Jamie, who realizes he’s come to a dead end. He backtracks, finding his way into his second area. Excitedly, he catches the next medallion, water, and begins untying it.
“Jamie now with two!” Jeff calls. “Jordyne finally arrives at her first medallion!”
Jordyne sighs in relief as she feels the medallion hit her hand. She frantically moves to begin untying it.
Gavin is moving slowly and steadily towards the station where Jordyne is currently finishing. She turns to leave, and the two crash into each other.
“Ow!” she says as she stumbles backwards.
“Sorry!” Gavin cries.
“Get out of my way, Gavin,” Jordyne grumbles, moving past him as he begins collecting his second medallion.
“This isn’t right,” grumbles Irene, who seems to be feeling around a dead end. She moves back in the direction she came, deciding to try and find a guide post.
Jamie stands at one such guide post as Gavin arrives. Gavin feels around the symbol for fire.
“Damn it!” he groans. “I’m going the wrong way,” he says, turning around and heading back the way he came. Jamie feels over the symbol for fire, and heads off. Irene has corrected course, as she moves towards her third medallion.
Jamie arrives at his third medallion, fire, first.
“Jamie now in the lead with three!” Jeff called.
“Sh*t,” curses Gavin to himself.
“Irene now at her third medallion,” Jeff notes as Irene arrives at air. Gavin can be seen moving past her towards the south of the maze. Jordyne finally makes her way into the next section.
“I hate not being able to see!” she complains.
Irene is now positioned at another guide post, positoned between the east and south sections. She feels around the earth symbol and begins moving. She’s soon on Gavin’s tail. In the north, Jamie reaches another guide post.
“What the hell is this?” he mutters, feeling the different shapes as he tries to determine his position.
“Jamie, trying to decide if he knows where he is!” Jeff says. “Irene, moving in on Gavin,” he further notes.
“Oh–behind you!” Irene calls out as she reaches forward, touching Gavin’s shoulder. Together, the two of them keep pace as they head forward and reach the next table.
“Yes!” shouts Irene as she and Gavin begin untying medallions.
“Irene and Gavin, both at another medallion. This makes three for Gavin and four for Irene! Now all Irene has to do is make it back to the center of the maze!”
“No, no, no!” whispers a panicking Jamie as he collides with the fourth table.
“Jamie takes a hit, but it’s a hit in the right place!” Jeff calls. “Jamie now collecting his fourth medallion! This is going to be a race to the finish!”
Irene stands at the guide post, feeling her way around the four symbols.
“I started on water, so if I’m at earth… I go, this way?” Irene mumbles to herself as she feels along the raised images. She heads off in her chosen direction. At another guidpost, Jamie finishes examining the directions as well, and continues to head forward, swinging his arms.
“It’s going to all come down to who can make it first!” Jeff calls.
“Oh no!” mutters Irene as she hit a dead end. “This isn’t right!”
Jamie continues to sweep his arms back and forth as he moves into a new area of the maze.
Irene adjusts and begins heading towards the same section–the center.
Slowly, but steadily, Jamie approaches the idol. Irene is rapidly making her way down the pathway towards it, feeling along the side of the fence to guide herself.
“There, that’s it!” Jeff calls as someone reaches the center. “Grab the necklace, and it’s yours!”
Jamie stops when his hands hit the platform. He frantically reaches for the idol, smiling broadly as he grabs onto the statue.
“JAMIE! WINS IMMUNITY!”
“Yee-haw!” Jamie cheers as he tears off his blindfold and tosses it into the air. In his corner of the maze, Gavin throws his blindfold to the ground and kicks it. When Irene takes hers off, she realizes how close she was.
“Oh, rats,” she says as she adjusts her glasses. “I was close.”
“Good job, Jamie!” Jordyne congratulates. Gavin shoots her a dirty look and shrugs his shoulders, as if to say “what are you doing?”
With the challenge wrapped up, the castaways await Jeff at their mat.
“Jamie,” Jeff says, holding the necklace, “come on over and put this on. It was well earned.”
“Thanks, Jeff,” Jamie says as he approaches, leaning down so Jeff can reach his neck.
“Feels just as good as it did the first time,” Jamie says with a smile once Jeff has affixed the necklace.
“Congratulations, Jamie,” Jeff says. “With this, you are safe at tonight’s Tribal Council and have guaranteed yourself a spot in the Final Three. Irene, Gavin, Jordyne? As for you three, after thirty-seven days of Survivor, one of you will be voted out tonight and become the sixth member of our jury. You have the afternoon to decide who it’s going to be. Grab your stuff, head back to camp. I’ll see you tonight.”
The clouds thicken in the sky above as mist rolls through the veins of the forest. Through the fog emerges the castaways, re-entering their camp.
“Congratulations, Jamie,” Irene grants warmly. Jamie grins widely as he takes the necklace off, hanging it on a tree branch that is far out of the reach of the others.
“Thanks,” Jamie says with a smile. “Feels good to have it right now.”
“I bet,” mutter Gavin under his breath.
Gavin and Irene stand together in the woods.
“So look, I don’t want you to think that I’m like, scrambling here,” Gavin begins as the two walk. “I know we agreed on Jamie this morning and that’s off the table and–look, is it me now? Because Jamie won?”
“Uh, wow,” Irene says. “Uh. I mean, my thoughts have been just racing since he won, honestly. I haven’t made any decisions at all, so please, don’t think I’m not willing to consider outside perspectives. I’m all ears.”
“Well there’s only one person I can suggest,” Gavin says. “But I think it’s better for you and I to stick together. We have a better chance against him than she does. I mean, I don’t know what the last challenge will be, but I can’t think of *anything* it could be that Jordyne would win against Jamie in.”
“Yeah. She hasn’t exactly been great in challenges.”
“I mean, not to brag or anything, but I’ve won two, the same as Jamie,” Gavin says.
“All I have to do is convince Jamie,” Irene says. “I bet he thinks right now that you’re going tonight.”
“Well he’s in for a real rude awakening, I’ll tell you that much,” Gavin says grimly.
Jamie rummages through the reserves of firewood while Jordyne sits under the tent, watching the woods pensively.
“I don’t like this, Jamie,” Jordyne says, pursing her lips.
“Don’t like what?” Jamie asks, breaking a stick and placing it on the fire.
“Irene and Gavin have been practically on different planets this whole game, and now today of all days they’re off hanging out? I mean, you have immunity. What the hell else do you think they’re talking about right now other than voting me off?”
“Maybe their sharing cookie recipes,” Jamie guesses jokingly.
“Are you voting for me tonight?” Jordyne asks bluntly. Jamie sits down at the fire next to Jordyne.
“No, I’m not,” Jamie says.
“And you’re not lying?” Jordyne asks.
“If I was lying, why would I admit to it?” Jamie rebuffs.
“Would you be willing to vote for Irene?” Jordyne asks.
“I’d rather vote for Gavin, but I think you already knew that,” Jamie says.
“Of course you would,” Jordyne says.
“Oh come on, Jordyne, don’t even,” Jamie says. “Gavin has been nothing but jealous and bitter towards me since I met the kid. Don’t think we both don’t know who he’d get rid of between us if he won that last challenge.”
“I think you’re sleeping on Irene, Jamie. I mean, I’ve never heard anyone bring her name up as a target. Nobody has been thinking about getting her out. And while everyone else has been going after each other, she’s been just, you know, skating through. She’s going to end up in the final two and have a pretty good case for herself.”
“She ain’t gonna end up in the final two if it’s you and me there,” Jamie says.
“You mean that?”
“If you vote for Gavin tonight, sure,” Jamie says. “Besides, Jordyne… I’ve got the necklace. You need me more than I need you. You said you think they’re coming after you? If I were in your shoes, I wouldn’t wait around to find out if I was right or not.”
Behind her back, Jordyne flips Jamie off.
As Gavin rinses off in the shallows of the riverbank, Jordyne joins him.
“I was hoping I’d catch you without Irene,” Jordyne says. “You two are joined at the hip now, huh?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Gavin says.
“You do, and we really don’t have a lot of time, so please, Gav, let’s not pussyfoot around the truth right now. I can’t have Irene and Jamie colluding right now, not if we both want to make it through Tribal tonight. Are you and Irene planning on voting for me, yes or no?
“Why should I tell you?”
“I told you I was voting for Shelby, okay? I know I betrayed you Gavin, but I’ve been doing everything I can to make it up to you, and I still want us to make it together. Just like we talked about before. And we still can! We don’t have to go against each other tonight,” Jordyne says. “And that’s what is going to happen right now, don’t you realize that?”
“We’re going to be making fire against each other, Gavin,” Jordyne says.
“Not if Irene convinces Jamie to vote for you,” Gavin admits.
“Why would he do that?” Jordyne asks. “Jamie’s got immunity. He has nothing to lose tonight. If tonight’s vote isn’t wrapped up neat and tidy with a bow on top, it’s no sweat off his ass, you know what I mean? And like… Gavin. Come on. He hates you.”
“I don’t think he hates me,” Gavin says, clearly a little hurt.
“So that’s it? You’re so mad at me you’re willing to take a chance on Jamie?” Jordyne asks.
“Yeah, I’m mad at you! Of course I’m f*cking mad at you, are you insane? You used me, Jordyne! You toyed with my emotions like I’m not even a real person. You made a joke out of me on national television!”
Jordyne stands in the shallow waters, staring at Gavin. She opens her mouth to say something, but stops herself.
“I’m sorry, Gavin,” Jordyne says, thoughtfully. “You’re right. I used you, entirely for my own gain. I picked you specifically because out of everyone, I thought you were the person I could probably manipulate the easiest. You took big risks, potentially at your own expense, for the sake of the people you cared about. When you needed me to return that kindness I didn’t. As much as I can say over and over that I care, my actions haven’t matched my words. You’re absolutely in the right to be hurt by that. I’m sorry, Gavin, that I hurt you so badly.”
Gavin stands with his arms crossed, his eyes not meeting Jordyne’s. His eyes are clearly beginning to well with emotion. Jordyne says nothing.
“If you’re not ready to talk, I understand. But please, talk to me before we have to leave tonight. Just for fifteen minutes. Because if we don’t decide to work together again, one of us is absolutely leaving tonight. It doesn’t have to be either of us. So just… please, promise me you’ll think about it?”
“Yeah,” Gavin nods, his words choked. “I promise,” he says, turning away from Jordyne, using his buff to wipe his tears. Jordyne begins to leave, but instead approaches Gavin from behind, wrapping her arms around him. Gingerly, she kisses him on his shoulder, too short to reach his cheek.
“I accept your apology, Jordyne,” Gavin cries.
Irene and Jamie sit together up at the camp.
“I’m sorry, Irene,” Jamie says, “but I think we’re at an impasse here.”
“I guess we are,” Irene agrees. “I mean, it’s not going to be me. So honestly, that’s good enough.”
“You took the words out of my mouth,” Jamie agrees. Irene reaches towards his lips and mimes pulling something out of his mouth. Jamie laughs and jokingly swipes her hand away.
“Hey, Jamie?” Irene asks.
“What’s up, buttercup?”
“I know I’ve said this before, but… thanks for everything.”
“My pleasure, darlin’. Thank you for everything.”
“No, seriously,” Irene says. “Um… meeting you out here has really meant a lot to me. Like… when we got out here, I knew I liked girls. But I didn’t know if I was gay, or if I still liked guys too, or if I didn’t really fit neatly in one box or another… and out here, you’ve really got nothing but time to think, you know?”
“Believe me, I know,” Jamie says with a smile.
“And I think that now, I realize, looking back, that I always knew I was gay,” Irene continues. “But I wanted to believe maybe I wasn’t, because that meant maybe there was a chance my life would be a little more… normal, I guess. And like, it’s not like my parents would care either way, or any of my friends… but it still mattered to me, if that makes sense?”
“Irene,” Jamie says, “of course it makes sense. Don’t doubt yourself so much. You do too much of it for my liking. And believe me, from all the people I’ve had the privilege to talk to in my life, I’ve heard a lot of stories just like yours. It’s my story too. I definitely told myself, in my head, for a while, that I was ‘bisexual,’” he explains. “And it was about the same thing, holding on to that hope that maybe things didn’t have to be this way.”
“Um… This is going to be really cheesy,” Irene says, “but you’ve really helped me accept this about myself. It’s been nice having someone who can understand what it’s like… and someone who I can look up to as an example that you can be gay and still have a really beautiful, full life.”
Jamie hugs Irene closely. “I don’t think I can tell you how much that means to me, Irene. Thank you for sharing that.”
As the sun begins to set, the castaways begin to pack their things for the trek to Tribal Council. Irene sorts through the contents of her bag, making sure all her books are there. Jordyne carefully packs her massage oils. Gavin pulls his sweater on over his head.
The final four walk into Tribal Council, the hot flames beating down around them, only adding to the tense atmosphere among the tiny group. Jeff waits for them, almost like an executioner.
“We’ll now bring in the members of our jury,” Jeff announces after the castaways have settled. “Vanessa, Marina, Marco, Mathieu, and Shelby, voted out at the last Tribal Council.”
Shelby smiles and waves at the castaways. Marco sees that Jamie has the necklace on and applauds quietly.
“So let’s start with today’s immunity challenge, Jamie,” Jeff begins. “How important is it for you to have won this today?”
“Jeff, it was absolutely critical,” Jamie answers. “If you ask me, it’s a small miracle I made it through *last* Tribal Council without it! I really do believe that if one of the others had won today, I’d be seeing my name three times in a couple minutes.”
“Gavin,” Jeff asks, “anything Jamie saying ring true? Was he in danger tonight without immunity?”
“I think he was,” Gavin says, “if I can believe the things that I’ve been told, of course. Because, yeah, there are a lot of good reasons to get Jamie out, but there are good reasons to get everyone out. That’s what makes it so hard to decide if you can trust someone or not. Because even if they’ve lied before, it’s possible they’re telling the truth.”
“What are some of the reasons Jamie’s a threat?” Jeff asks.
“He’s a big threat in challenges,” Gavin says. “And everyone seems to think he’s pretty likeable.”
“I find it interesting, Gavin, that you said ‘everyone seems to think’ Jamie is likeable, not that he *is* likeable. The implication there is that you don’t think that’s true,” Jeff notes.
“Well, I mean, I don’t think it’s a secret that Jamie and I haven’t ever really had this great relationship. We don’t get along very well. Everyone always says he’s so nice, but I honestly just think he’s really uh, sanctimonious.”
“That’s a big word there, Gavin,” Jamie says. “Sure you know what it means?”
“See, Jeff?!” Gavin cries, incredulous. “That’s how Jamie always talks to me, like I’m an idiot.”
“Jeff, I’ve had Gavin nipping at my heels like a chihuahua this whole game. Now he’s sitting up here saying that nobody likes me, and he expects me to just take it and not stick up for myself?”
Jordyne sighs, and raises her hand. “Jeff? May I? I think I can shed a little light on this situation.”
“By all means,” Jeff says.
“I have a feeling I have a lot to do with this situation,” Jordyne begins. “Not that it’s what I intended, but, you know… actions have consequences. Butterflies in China, and all that. Early on in this game, I saw Gavin as someone who I thought I’d be able to manipulate, because of his age, so I did exactly that–I started being more affectionate towards him so I could manipulate him. I spent more time with him, I listened to him. I did what I needed to to get him on my side, but the thing is, the more we talked, the more I realized how genuinely I liked him. So even if it started as manipulation, I do really, truly consider Gavin to be a friend at this point, now that I’ve gotten to know him so well. But Jeff, even with that in mind, I came here for me, and I knew in the back of my head I couldn’t afford to let my heart get in the way and take pity on Gavin. Once I started using him, I had to keep going, or it would have all been for nothing. And when Jamie came to Bandar, it just made things even worse, because now here’s Jamie, who really gets me. We’ve been through some similar experiences in our life, you know? And I think seeing me connect so effortlessly with Jamie made Gavin jealous. And so I feel like all this tension is kind of my fault.”
“Wow,” Jeff says. “That’s a lot to admit to, Jordyne,” Jeff says.
Gavin is staring at the ground, his face beet red. Shelby’s face tightens as she watches from the jury.
“I think that pretty much sums it up,” Jamie says. “He’s been threatened by me this whole time’s what it’s come down to. And who knows? Maybe if things had been a little different, him and I could have worked together. Maybe we could have been best of friends. I just want it to be clear that any animosity between us started from him. I felt like I was only reacting in kind to how I was being treated.”
“Yeah, Jamie?” Jordyne says spitefully. “I think you were being really immature too. You didn’t have to fight back at all, but you did. You act like you’re so high and mighty, like you care so much about the downtrodden, but you trodded on Gavin all the time out here. You and Marco would gang up on him. Don’t act like it’s not true.”
“Jordyne, you have screwed over every single person in this game at least once, if not more! The moral highground is *not* a cute look for you,” Jamie sasses.
“Suck my d*ck, Jamie,” Jordyne replies.
“Language, Missy!” Jamie counters. “Think about how you speak to me, Jordyne. You know how easy it would be for me to send you home tonight?”
“Quit threatening her!” Gavin yells. “Why do you have to be such a jerk, Jamie? You go right to the threats the moment you feel like things aren’t going your way. What are you even worried about? You have immunity and you’ll probably have it again! This game is basically a lock for you. So just, I don’t know, cool your jets, okay?”
Jamie holds his hands up, as if to say “sorry, backing off!” as he turns away from Gavin and Jordyne to address Jeff.
“You can see why we’re so cuddly now, huh Jeff?” Jamie jokes.
“Oh, most definitely!” Jeff laughs. “Jordyne, I want to come back to you. You pretty bluntly admitted that you sought out with the specific intent to manipulate Gavin. Are you worried at all that this could have an impact on your game?”
“Oh my god, of course!” Jordyne says. “I mean, it makes me sound like a total monster, Jeff. Like I said, I felt like it was something I had to do if I wanted to stand any shot at going far in the game, let alone win. I didn’t come out here with big muscles or puzzle skills or a lot of wilderness experience. I wasn’t going to be as useful to my tribe as the people who had those things to offer. All I could do is take advantage of what I have and what I know, and how to manipulate men? That’s one of the things I know I can do really well. I hope the jury can respect that I played all the cards I had in my hand to the best of my ability. But I know that people can also be really judgmental, and I could absolutely see people thinking ‘wow, she has no morals at all. There is nothing she wouldn’t have done to get ahead for money.’ And they could think I’m a terrible person and that no matter what they don’t want me having the money.”
“So why reveal it so candidly?” Jeff asks.
“Because, Jeff, actions speak louder than words,” Jordyne says. “And I want Gavin to know that when I say I’m sorry, I mean it sincerely. Because the fact is, one of us is getting voted out tonight. So I want him to know that my apology is sincere while I still have that chance, I guess.” She shrugs, looking pained. She turns to Gavin, hopeful. Gavin just shrugs.
“I think I can forgive you, Jordyne,” he finally says. “I just… I don’t know if I can do it right now.” Jordyne can only turn away from him.
Jeff turns his attention towards a different contestant.
“Hey Irene,” Jeff says, almost mischievously.
“Hey Jeff,” Irene says with meek smile and tiny wave.
“Hope you don’t think I forgot about you,” Jeff says.
“A girl can hope, right?” Irene laughs.
“Everyone answers to their actions here at Tribal Council,” Jeff reminds her. “In all seriousness, you have been very quiet tonight. And with all the revelations and tension, I have to ask–is that just a coincidence?”
“Aw Jeff, don’t call me out!” laughs Irene. “But yeah, it is a good feeling. I mean, not a good feeling. Like, it doesn’t feel good to me to see everyone else fighting, but it makes me feel like my spot is more secure. I think I’m a pretty go-with-the-flow person in general, I’m pretty laid back, I don’t like drama at all. So I’ve just been trying to do my best at keeping out of the drama and hope that it works out for me. With everything everyone else is kind of, uh, bringing to the table right now, I kind of feel like there isn’t really much of a reason for any of them to put my name down.”
“Gavin,” Jeff says, “You and Jordyne have both said that one of you is going home tonight, which implies that, as Irene has said, her name is off the table. Earlier tonight, however,you also said there was a good reason to vote for everyone left. What would be the good reason to vote for Irene?”
“If I were to write Irene’s name down tonight,” Gavin says, “it would simply be because it’s a name that isn’t ‘Gavin.’ Sometimes in Survivor, that’s enough of a reason. Tonight, I think I have better reasons to pick a different name.”
“Which would be mine,” Jordyne says, exasperated.
“So Irene,” Jeff continues, “Jordyne and Gavin have all but admitted they’re voting for each other. You can’t vote for Jamie. How do you decide where your vote goes tonight?”
Irene gathers her thoughts before speaking. “I think with the end so close, we’re all really thinking ahead to that last day. It’s one thing to make it all the way to the end, but that doesn’t mean you’ve won. You still have to get the votes from the jury, and if you’re up against someone who is more likely than you are to get those votes… it’s effectively the same as if you got voted out on Day 3. You may have lasted a lot longer than that person, but you still lost. So for me, my vote is about how do I think I can put myself in the best position on Day 39 to win the jury vote.”
“If you get there,” Jamie interjects. “And that’s what makes it such a hard decision, Jeff. Because you have to also think about how you get there. Is the person you can beat the person who will get you to that last day? It’s a lot to consider.”
“I’ve done all the considering I need to,” Irene says.
“As have I,” Jamie agrees.
“I’m ready,” Gavin says. “Can we… can we just get to this, Jeff?”
“Unless anyone else has any final words,” Jeff says. Nobody says anything, and he nods. “Alright then. Jamie, as usual, immunity is yours to give to another castaway if you so choose.”
“Not happening,” Jamie says.
“Alright, then let’s get to the vote. Irene, you’re up.”
Jordyne votes, and returns to her seat. The jury watches intensely. “I’ll go tally the votes,” Jeff says as he disappears to the voting station. Jordyne turns to Gavin and takes his hand. He gives her a sad smile in return.
“Let’s do this,” Jordyne says.
“I’m ready,” Gavin agrees.
Jeff returns with the urn, placing it on the table. The castaways watch, eager to see the results as he opens the urn.
“Once the votes are read, the person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately. I’ll read the votes. First vote…”
“Irene. That’s one vote Jordyne, one vote Gavin, one vote Irene, one vote left.”
“The thirteenth person voted out of Survivor: India, and the sixth member of our jury…
The color drains from Irene’s face. Jamie’s mouth hangs open. Jordyne squeezes Gavin’s hand tightly, as the two share a knowing grin. Irene turns to Jordyne and Gavin, still in shock.
“It was you or me, love,” Jordyne says.
On the jury, Vanessa looks furious. Mathieu puts a reassuring hand on her shoulder. Marco shakes his head in frustration.
Irene stands, removing her glasses to wipe the tears that are forming in her eyes. Jamie grabs her in a warm, deep hug. “Oh darlin’… I’m so sorry,” he says.
“Yeah… I am too,” Irene says, still stunned. Jordyne stands as well, offering a hug. Irene nods and hugs her. She begins to cry more heavily now, sobbing into Jordyne’s shoulder. Gavin looks down, biting his lip. On the jury, Shelby rolls her eyes.
“Irene, I need you to bring me your torch,” Jeff interjects.
“Yeah, I got it,” Irene says, her face red and splotchy with sadness. She takes her torch in hand, trying to choke back her sobs. With a heavy heart, she places her torch.
“Irene, the tribe has spoken.” Jeff snuffs her torch. The plumes of smoke swirl into the rafters of the ancient temple. “It’s time for you to go.”
Irene nods, and turns to face her tribemates one more time.
“Thanks for everything, guys. Good luck.”
With her bag over her shoulder, Irene steps out of the warmth of Tribal Council, vanishing into the yawning, dark expanse of the jungle.
Jeff turns his attention to the remaining members of the tribe. “That was most certainly an emotional night, but the good news is that you three can celebrate–you’re still alive, with only one more day to go. But it’s going to be a long one, so you’ll need to leave now. Final Three, you have a train to catch.”
“A train?” Jordyne asks, stunned.
“This train is going to take you far away from these jungles to a totally different part of India. It is here where the three of you will face your final challenge. As for what it is… you’ll have to find out when you get there. Head on out. Good night.”
Still looking somewhat baffled, the final three grab their torches and head out of Tribal Council.
A train roars across the rails as the sun begins to rise in the sky. Gone are the lush jungles that have become so familiar to the castaways of Satya Yuga–in it’s place is the vast Thar desert, it’s sandy expanse yawning out as far as the eye can see.
In their bunk in the train, Jordyne stretches with a large yawn as she awakens, moving to look out the window at the landscape.
“Wow,” she mouths. “We’re a long way from Kansas, Toto.”
“Mornin,” grumbles Jamie to Jordyne as he wakes up, crumpled and hunched as he tries to fit his gargantuan frame into the bed compartment.
“Morning,” Jordyne greets back. “Sleep well?”
“No,” Jamie laughs. “They don’t make these train cars Jamie sized.”
“Aw, poor baby,” Jordyne says with an over-dramatic pout. Jamie throws a pillow at her playfully.
The train suddenly begins to slow as it comes to a stop at a desert settlement. Awaiting is none other than Jeff Probst, standing amidst a circle of nomads atop beautifully decorated camels.
The castaways stand in front of Jeff, unsure of what faces them ahead.
“Welcome,” Jeff says, “to the Thar Desert. It’s here where you’re going to face your final challenge. From here, you’re going to trek across the desert to the location of your final immunity challenge. Along the way, you’re going to find the torches of the castaways who have been voted out along the course of your journey. At each torch, take a moment to share your memories of these players, as they each, directly or indirectly, have had a part in getting you this far. At the end, you will arrive at a nomadic campsite with a large fire. As you all know, in the game of Survivor, fire represents life, and that here in India, life is eternal. You will send the torches of your fallen comrades off into their next life by burning them in the fire. Once you are done, the nomads will perform a ceremony and then take you via camel to your final immunity challenge. Sound good?”
Jamie nods in understanding.
“Sounds great, Jeff,” Jordyne says with a smile.
“I’ll see you at your final challenge,” Jeff says. A camel takes to it’s knees as Jeff mounts the beast, and the caravan heads off into the distance. With the desert stretching out ahead of them, the last few of the Satya Yuga head out into the sands.
The sun beats down on the Jamie, Jordyne and Gavin as they head out into the scrubland.
The trio arrives at the first torch. A green ribbon is wrapped around it, holding a tag reading Jill’s name.
“Jill!” Jamie coos lovingly.
“I was really interested to get to know her,” Jordyne says. “She seemed like someone who really was enamored with life.”
“She is,” Jamie says. “I would have loved to see what this game would have looked like if she hadn’t dropped the torch at that first challenge. It just makes you think… so much of everything that happens comes down to a single moment.”
“Brock,” Jamie mutters, uninterested.
“He was a hell of a competitor,” Gavin says. “I still am kind of shocked you guys got rid of him.”
“Trust me,” Jamie says. “Brock was… a lot to handle. I really hope, for his sake, that he gets himself together, because he’s not going to have a great life ahead of him if he keeps holding that anger.”
River’s torch awaits them next.
“This was a really, really hard one,” Jordyne says.
“Yeah,” Gavin agrees. “It should have been easy, because she asked us to… but the reason why is really just… terrible. It made me really think about how much my own Mom means to me. My dad, too.”
“I’m really glad that you have such a strong relationship with them,” Jordyne says, putting an arm around Gavin. “Believe me… not having it really, really sucks.”
“She seemed like a beautiful spirit,” Jamie says.
“She was,” Jordyne agrees.
“She sang to us from Carmen,” Gavin remembers.
“Ryan!” laughs Jamie as they approach the fourth torch.
“What was she like?” Gavin asks. “Because she seemed like…”
“A bitch?” Jordyne says, laughing.
“I wouldn’t say bitch!” Jamie interjects. “Intense? Absolutely.”
“Well well, my old nemesis,” Jordyne says as they approach the fifth torch, “we meet again.”
“I’ve had my head on the chopping block a few times,” Jamie says, “but this was the scariest. Thank y’all for keeping me.”
“Oh yeah,” Jordyne says. “Keeping you and getting rid of Brett was a real hardship,” she snorts.
“Hey,” Gavin interjects. “I think Brett was a… really, really hard guy to live with. But I don’t think he’s a bad person. Just… you know, really sure of himself. And not for everyone.”
“Not for everyone,” Jordyne says, “is the understatement of a lifetime. Good riddance, Chief.”
“Cap,” Jamie says warmly.
“He was a hell of a guy,” Gavin says. “I wish I could have spent more time with him.”
“Yeah, well… you would have if it weren’t for someone,” Jamie jokes, gently slapping Jordyne on the back.
“Don’t touch me! Don’t touch me!” squeals Jordyne.
Jordyne mimes reaching into her bag and pulling out a spherical object.
“Magic 8-Ball says ‘screw you, you three hundred year old pervert!’” she says with a laugh.
“MOLE PEOPLE!” shouts Gavin.
“CROW DEEEEEMON!” Jamie joins in.
“You can’t stop a storm cloud, baby!” chimes Jordyne.
“This was the first vote that I personally had to cast that I just did not want to, but felt like I had to,” Jordyne says. “I really like Vanessa a lot.”
“I think everyone really liked her,” Jamie says. “Which is a shame, because that kind of makes it a good thing she’s not here right now. I think she’d have been stiff competition in the end.”
“Reens!” cries Jordyne, running to the next torch like a widow running to the grave of her husband.
“Marina is, without a doubt, one of the toughest people I’ve ever met,” Jamie says. “And one of the coolest.”
“She’s a rock star,” Jordyne purrs. “I’m in lesbians with her.”
“I feel bad about how things ended with us,” Gavin said. “Marina was definitely a friend, and I wish things didn’t have to go how they did.”
“If it wasn’t for you, Gavin, I’d be out of this game,” Jordyne says. “I don’t think I can ever make it clear how much I appreciate that.”
“Know this guy?” Jordyne asks Jamie as they approach the next torch.
“Marco? Never heard of him,” Jamie says, a fond smile crossing his face. “Marco is going to be my brother for life. I love his work ethic, I love his sense of humor, I love how freely he speaks his mind. I love everything about him. He’s truly one of my best friends.”
“I love his butt,” Jordyne says wistfully.
“It is a good butt, ain’t it?” Jamie agrees.
“That booty brings a tear to my eye,” says Jordyne. Gavin rolls his eyes.
“Doc!” Gavin says brightly as they reach Mathieu’s torch.
“What a stand-up guy,” praises Jamie. “With the amount of stuff he’s been through in his life, the fact that he’s so accomplished and so positive is all the more impressive. I think the world would be a better place with more people like him.”
“Mhm,” Jordyne agrees. “I think he might be the nicest person I’ve ever met. And also the sexiest.”
“Wow, keep it in your pants, Jordyne,” Gavin snarks. Jamie stifles a laugh.
“I’m just being honest,” Jordyne says. “His body is a temple, and I want to worship there.”
Gavin is quiet as they approach the next torch, the nametag swirling in the breeze at the end of a gold ribbon.
“Shelby scared me sh*tless,” Jamie laughs. “But I’m so glad I met her.”
“Right?” Jordyne says. “When else do you get to meet a literal hellbeast?” She turns to Gavin before he can say anything. “I’m just kidding! Just making a joke. I think it took us a while to really understand each other. But I have a whole lot of respect for her at the end of it all. If she made it to the last day and I didn’t? I think I’d probably vote for her to win.”
“I didn’t really like her at the start either,” Gavin admits. “But for whatever reason something just clicked that made her feel like she could open up to me. Whatever it is, I’m really glad for it. I don’t think I’d have made it to this far without her.”
“I guess this is the last one,” Gavin says as the final torch comes into view in the distance.
“I’m really proud of Irene,” Jamie says. “She was so destroyed last night… I just hope she doesn’t think that because she didn’t win it means she’s a failure.”
“Me too,” Gavin says. “She grew a lot out here.”
“I feel for her, I really do,” Jordyne says. “We’re all so close now… to lose at the end must be devastating. She’s a really wonderful person. She could have won, she really could have.”
In the distance, the castaways finally spot the nomad camp, a large fire blazing while the nomads wait, some by the fire, others atop their camels.
“Ready?” asks Jamie to the the others, once they have come into the campground.
“I don’t know… should someone say something?” Gavin asks.
“Like what?” responds Jamie.
“I don’t know… it just feels like someone should say something.”
“Well then say something,” Jamie says, plainly.
“Alright,” Gavin agrees, clearing his throat. “Uh… Thank you, to the other players, for making this game everything that it was. We respect and honor that for us to stay alive in the game, it meant you all had to leave. And… thanks to India. For being our home.”
“To India,” Jamie echoes.
“To India,” Jordyne chimes.
With that, Gavin takes Shelby’s torch in his hands, and with a sigh, he pushes it into the fire. Jamie begins laying torches into the flame, as does Jordyne. The dancer smiles as she lovingly lays Marina’s torch into the fire.
“C’mere,” Jamie says, holding his arms out. He throws one arm around Jordyne’s shoulder and the other around Gavin, who is smiling despite himself.
Jamie is sat in a bathtub where two women begin pouring oils and flower petals into the water. A man scoops water into a pitches and pours it over Jamie’s head, soaking him from head to toe.
In another tent, Gavin is undergoing the same treatment. A corpulent, older woman is scrubbing him vigorously with soap and a washcloth. His face is beet red.
“I wasn’t expecting to, uh… make a new friend today,” Gavin laughs.
In her tent, a Jordyne is bathed as well. She seems totally relaxed and unfazed as the team of strangers bathes her.
One attendant wraps the sari across Jordyne’s body, while another pins up her hair. A third places golden bangles on her wrists.
In Gavin’s tent, he is being fitted in a golden yellow sherwani. Matching jewels are fastened to the collar.
Jamie has also been fitted in a sherwani, his in green. With his coat applied, one of his attendants begins to wrap his head in a turban.
The castaways exit their tents, clearly eager to see what their fellow tribemates look like.
“Jordyne, my darlin’, you look, if I may say, ssssssmokin’ hot,” Jamie compliments.
“When don’t I?” Jordyne flirts, twirling coquettishly to show off her full look. “And look at you guys! My handsome princes.”
“You guys don’t think I look ridiculous, do you?” Gavin asks, nervous. “Because… I kind of like it.”
“I think,” Jamie says, “that you look like a very, very worthy competitor.”
“I think you look hot,” Jordyne says. Gavin blushes.
“One more thing,” announces one of the nomad attendants. He approaches Jamie with the immunity necklace.
“Oh, right,” Jamie says. “Thank you,” he thanks the nomad as he takes the necklace, placing it over his neck.
“Don’t get too used to it,” Gavin jabs. “I’m coming for you, Jamie.”
“Bring it on, kid. Bring. It. On.”
“I’m guessing that means you two are ready to get going?” Jordyne asks. The guys nod and murmur in agreement.
The Satya Yugas each are approached by a camel and it’s rider, the beasts each dropping to their knees to allow their passengers to board. Gavin teeters nervously as he mounts his camel.
“Are you sure this is built for someone my size?” Jamie asks, clearly someone concerned as the animal begins to stand, causing the massive man to rocket even further into the air.
The camels begin to make their way out of the encampment. The nomads wave to the castaways as they walk past.
“Look!” Jordyne points from her camel in the lead of the procession. “There’s the city. What are we doing here, I wonder?”
The camels come to rest at a building just at the edge between the town of Deshnoke and the mighty Thar.
“It’s a temple,” Gavin notes simply.
“Come on in, guys!” Jeff greets as the castaways pass into the courtyard of the temple. The clean and fresh-garbed castaways take their position on the mat in front of Jeff.
“Welcome,” Jeff begins, “to the final challenge of Survivor: India. First things first–Jamie? I’m going to need you to give back the necklace.”
Jamie nods and unclasps the collar. He hands it to Jeff, who keeps it in his hands. The base of the idol on which the necklace normally rests is nowhere to be found.
“Immunity, for a final time, is back up for grabs. This is it. Ready to get to the challenge?”
“Yeah, but where’s the idol, Jeff?” Jordyne asks.
“I was just about to get to that,” Jeff explains. “Jamie, Jordyne, Gavin–I want to welcome you to the Temple of Karni Mata. This is an incredibly holy site, as it is a place where miracles have occurred. Karni Mata was a warrior sage who, by Hindus, is worshiped as an incarnation of the warrior goddess Durga. Legend has it that Karni Mata was devastated by the loss of her stepson, Laxman, when he drowned. Karni Mata went face to face with Yama, the god of death himself, imploring him to revive Laxman. Yama refused, but was unable to withstand Karni Mata’s unrelenting willpower, and eventually came to a compromise. All of Karni Mata’s family, would, for all eternity, be reincarnated here in this temple as holy beasts called kabba. Within this temple are housed twenty five thousand of these creatures. The kabba… are holy rats.”
“Rats!?” Jordyne gasps, her eyes going wide.
“For today’s final challenge, you will, like Karni Mata, rely on nothing more than your iron will. Each of you will stand on a platform, keeping your hand on the Immunity Idol. You will hold onto the idol as long as you can. If you step off your plaform, you’re out. If you take your hand off the idol, you’re out. And in accordance with temple rules, you will be barefoot. Which means that the holy rats of this temple will be free to crawl all over you with their little holy paws.”
Jordyne makes a face in disgust.
“The last person standing on their platform with their hand on he idol wins Immunity,” Jeff says. “And if there is ever a time in the game to want that necklace, it is this final time. As you know, it is against the rules to vote for yourself at Tribal Council. For the two of you who do not win today’s challenge, you will have no choice other than to vote against one another–therefore, at tonight’s Tribal Council, the only person who will vote is the person wearing the immunity necklace. So by winning this challenge, you not only earn your spot in the Final 2, where you will get to state your case to our jury as to why you should be crowned the Sole Survivor; but you will also get to decide who you will compete against in fron of that jury. Worth playing for?”
“Oh my goodness yes,” Jamie says emphatically.
“This is what I came for, Jeff,” puffs Gavin.
“Are you sure there isn’t a rat-free option?” Jordyne asks.
“Not today, Jordyne. Not today. If there are no further questions, I’ll give you a moment to remove your shoes, head inside the temple, and we’ll get started.”
Jordyne makes a face as she slides her shoes off. Jamie shrugs as he removes his. With all three castaways barefoot, Jeff opens the door to the temple, and the castaways head inside.
Awaiting them is a tall post with the immunity idol positioned in the center. Surrounding the pole are three broad, circular platforms, large enough to fit the castaway’s feet. Each player approaches their platform and steps atop. All around them, rats scuttle through the temple.
“Ugh,” Jordyne says with a shudder. She closes her eyes and tries not to think about it. The castaways each place a hand on the idol.
“SURVIVORS READY? GO!”
“This challenge,” Jeff says, “is officially on.”
All three castaways are managing to stay fairly still. Jamie is looking down at his toes, while Gavin is staring straight ahead.
“Gavin, not even here,” Jeff says. “He’s focusing on some place far away.”
Jordyne keeps her eyes closed as she breathes in and out.
“Well, congratulations,” Jeff says, “all three of ou have now made it half an hour. I think it’s time to step this up a little.”
Jeff approaches the platform with a pot and ladle in hand.
“Oh ho ho, nooooo,” Jordyne laughs, shaking her head.
“Whatcha got there, Jeff?” Jamie asks.
“This,” Jeff says, scooping up a large ladeful of golden yellow crumbles.
“These are sweet cake crumbs,” Jeff explains as he begins to pour the food around Jamie’s feet. “This cake is baked here at the temple for the kabba to eat, and we thought it might be nice to feed them.”
“Oh, Jeff. No,” Jordyne begs, clearly looking ill.
“Oh, Jordyne, yes,” Jeff says, pouring the cake crumbs aound her feet as well.
“Eeeehhh….” Jordyne whines.
“Here we go,” Gavin sighs as Jeff adds some of the crumbs to his platform as well.
“I’ll be adding some more food about every half an hour, from here on out,” Jeff promises, as he puts the pot down and proceeds to observe the challenge.
“Maybe they won’t notice,” Jordyne hopes.
The castaways continue to stand still. Jamie is locked in place like a statue. Gavin continues to stare directly ahead. Jordyne seems very worried about when the rats will start approaching.
“Oh, a friend,” Jamie coos, holding his breath as a rat finally approaches. From all around the temple, it appears the small creatures have begun to take notice of the new smell in the air.
“Oh noooo,” giggles Jamie as the one rat perches at the end of his platform, grabbing a bite of cake as it begins to eat. Jordyne grinds her feet back and forth, trying to push the cake away from her feet to the edges of the pan without lifting either foot.
As the time passes, more and more rats begin to appear.
“That’s better,” Jeff says as the rats start to swarm the platforms. “We wouldn’t want to make this too easy on you.”
“Ohhh,” groans Jordyne. Gavin begins tapping his fingers rythymically against the idol, trying to keep his blood flowing, his gaze continuing to be away from the rats at his feet. Over on Jamie’s platform, a rat finally makes contact, scuttering across his feet. Jamie breathes in and out slowly through his mouth, trying to avoid lifting his feet in response to the tickling sensation.
“Jamie makes a new friend,” Jeff notes. “Remember Jamie, it’s good luck to get touched by these rats.”
“I’m sure,” Jamie snarks.
“EeeewwwwwAAAGGHHHHH!” Jordyne shrieks loudly, practically leaping off the platform as a rat tail sweeps across her ankles.
“And just like that,” Jeff says, “Jordyne is out, and we’re down to two.”
“Do you have a chair I can sit in?” Jordyne asks, bouncing slightly as if to keep her feet from touching the ground. “Preferably something tall?”
“If you’d like, you can step outside for a moment–”
“Bye,” Jordyne says, cutting Jeff off as she scampers out of the temple. Gavin looks annoyed, though he’s clearly trying not to pay attention.
Outside of the temple, Jordyne sits against the wall, cowering in the shade, her knees tucked against her chest. Back inside, Jamie and Gavin’s platforms are both now swarmed with rats. Hairless tails wiggle over toes. Tiny claws pick every so slightly at the surface of the skin as the rats move gingerly over the guy’s feet.
“Mhm,” Gavin grits between closed teeth. He is continuing to stare straight ahead, not looking at anything in particular, motionless like a statue, save for his methodically taping fingers.
Jamie is continuing to look down. He watches the rats, his blue eyes darting around as he follows their movements. He breaths very slowly, puffing gently through his mouth.
Jeff comes by with the pot of bread crumbs and sprinkles more. The rats chitter in delight.
Another hour has past, and the guys are starting to show many more signs of wear and tear. Jamie’s knees are bent much deeper as he attempts to adjust his position, his long arm reaching up from his space to clutch desperately at the idol. Gavin is still relatively still, but his knees flex slightly as he lifts his heels, trying to stretch out the ache in his feet and to chase some of the rats off. The skin on both their feet has reddened after the frequent contact with the rat’s claws.
“Congratulations,” Jeff said, “you’ve now been up here for two hours.”
“Out of how many?” Jamie asks.
“That’s up to you and him,” Jeff answers.
“Care to end this?” Jamie asks Gavin.
“What, you’d take me?” Gavin says. “Yeah right. Like I’m going to do that. You’re going down Jamie, I can stand here all day.”
“You ain’t the only one.”
The rats continue to feast as the time continues to tick. Jamie swings his unoccupied arm back and forth, trying to keep the rats at bay.
“The trick to this challenge,” Jeff says, “is focus. Focusing on not reacting to the rats, not reacting to the pain. How badly do you want it?” Jeff asks.
“Badly,” Jamie answers, but not necessarily to Jeff. Gavin doesn’t respond. He seems to still be very much in the zone.
TWO AND A HALF HOURS
At just after two and a half hours, Jeff adds more cake crumbs to the platforms, keeping the rats present. Jamie is now practically crouching, his left arm reaching above, trying to take advantage of his height as he attempts to lower his center of gravity. Gavin, who has been mostly statue like, is starting to flex his knees more and more as he bounces.
For a moment, they are at equilibrium.
Then one of them falls.
Without warning, Jamie loses his balance and stumbles backwards. He steadies himself, but it’s too late–his hand briefly comes off the idol when it happens. Dropping his arms down in front of them, he sits, dejected, elbows on his knees, face in his hands.
“Oh my god!” Gavin gasps, letting go. “Oh my god! Holy cow!”
“GAVIN! WINS FINAL IMMUNITY!”
“JORDYNE!!!!” Gavin yells, running down towards the temple door. “JORDYNE!!!! I WON!!! I DID IT JORDYNE!!!!” he yells, throwing open the doors. A shocked Jordyne looks up from her resting spot.
“I won! Jordyne, I did it!” he yells.
Jordyne’s face lights up as she processes the information. With a second wind, she leaps up, grabing Gavin in a hug, shrieking with excitement. She jumps up and down almost uncontrollably as she squeezes him.
“AAAAH!!!!!” She screams enthusiastically. “GAVIN, YOU DID IT!!!!!” She exclaims.
“I did it!” he exclaims.
Inside the temple, Jamie steps down and sighs. He looks to the rats. One stares back up at him as it munches, it’s huge, dark eyes glittering in the light.
“So much for good luck,” he sighs.
Back in the temple courtyard, all three castaways stand on the mat.
“Gavin, after two and a half hours,” Jeff says, “this is a well earned victory. Come on over and put this on.”
Gavin is all but glowing as he approaches Jeff. Jordyne claps enthusiastically; Jamie ploddingly claps out of politeness. Gavin turns to face them as Jeff puts the immunity necklace over his collarbones.
“Gavin, congratulations. With this necklace, you are safe tonight at Tribal Council, which means you are also the first member of the Final Two.”
“Woo-hoo!” cheers Jordyne. Jamie looks away from her and Gavin, annoyed.
“That also means you have the only vote tonight, and you alone will decide who, between Jordyne and Jamie, will join you in the final two. As for the other? After thirty eight out of thirty nine days, they will be voted out and become the seventh and final member of our jury.”
“It’s a lot of power,” Gavin says.
“That it is. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon, Gavin, to decide what it is you are doing tonight. You guys have a long way to travel, so head on out. I’ll see you tonight.”
Jeff turns to leave, as do the castaways. Jordyne throws an arm around Gavin’s shoulder as the two of them walk ahead. Jamie glowers behind them, the purple flag of Satya Yuga waving over his
The sky is beginning to get ever so slowly darker as the sun moves beyond it’s apex in the sky. Back from their final day of excitement, Jamie, Jordyne, and Gavin walk into camp, Gavin’s sense of pride almost palpable as the necklace bounces against his gold hewed coat.
“Congrats again, Gavin,” Jamie says.
“Thanks,” Gavin replies. He holds his hand out to Jamie. “It was a hard fought challenge. You didn’t make it easy for me, that’s for sure.” Jamie takes Gavin’s hand and they shake.
“I’m so excited for you,” Jordyne says to Gavin, giving him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek. “Imagine what your mom and dad will think when they see this at home!”
“They’re going to be so excited!” Gavin says. “I feel like I made them proud.”
“Hey y’all,” Jamie says. “I’m gonna head out for a moment… just gather my thoughts.” He disappears into the woods, leaving Gavin and Jordyne alone. With Jamie out of earshot, Jordyne turns to Gavin.
“Soooo….” she says, “I think I already know what you’re going to say, but I’m still gonna ask… any idea what you’re doing tonight?”
“Oh my god, don’t worry. He’s gone, Jordyne. It’s you and me.”
“Eee!” squeals Jordyne, her hands flying up to her face. “Holy sh*t Gavin, I can’t beleive it! We’re the final two!” She slaps Gavin on the shoulder excitedly.
“I know, right!?” Gavin gushes. “I wanted to tell you earlier, but I figured we should wait to be alone.”
“Gavin,” Jordyne says, standing up, her thoughts clearly racing, “Gavin, we did it. We made it all 39 days. We did. You and me. The stripper and the teenager! Who would have ever f*cking thought?”
Jordyne lies in the shelter, her head in Gavin’s lap as she looks up at him.
“Have I ever told you what a special person you are, Gavin?” Jordyne asks.
“You’ve said it before,” Gavin says. “But you don’t need to butter me up Jordyne, I’m not changing my mind on you.”
“I’m not buttering you up!” Jordyne says defiantly. “I’m being serious Gavin. See?” She sits up and puts on a big, over dramatic frown. “This is my serious face.”
“I like it better when you’re smiling,” Gavin says. “You’re more like yourself.” He puts his fingers in the corners of her lips and pushes her mouth up into a smile.
“I mean it, though, Gavin. You’re a good man with a good heart. Thank you for showing it to me.” She takes his cheek in her palm, leans forward, and gently kisses his lips. Gavin’s eyes go wide.
“What was that?” He gasps.
“It was a kiss,” Jordyne says, “you silly.”
“I… I… I… wow,” is all Gavin can muster.
“You’re wow,” Jordyne responds.
Down in the field, Jamie sits by himself at the base of a tree. His eyes are red from crying. He holds his engagement ring between his fingers, mindlessly playing with it while lost in thought.
Jamie stands up and wipes his eyes. The sun is beginning to drop lower and lower, the the sky glowing golden as the settig sun stains it. He wipes his nose on his sleeve and begins heading back up towards the camp.
Up at the camp, Jordyne and Gavin continue to snuggle in the shelter. They’ve neglected the fire, which is starting to go out. The sun is falling faster and faster in the sky. Jordyne’s head is rested on Gavin’s chest. From the woods, Jamie emerges.
“Gavin,” Jamie barks, “we need to talk.”
“Oh,” Gavin reacts, he and Jordyne both bolting upright. “Uh, what about?”
“About where babies come from. Come on, Gavin, what do you think I want to talk about? Please, I need five minutes, that’s all.”
“Uh, god. I mean…” Gavin looks at Jordyne for reassurance. Jordyne glares at him in response, and Gavin turns back to Jamie. “Look, Jamie… like, okay. We’re not friends, you know that, right?”
Jamie’s face falls. “You’re seriously not even going to hear me out for five minutes?”
“I…,” Gavin begins. Jordyne puts a reassuring hand on his thigh. “I don’t see the point, Jamie. I’m sorry, but I’m voting you out tonight. There’s no way you can change my mind.”
Jamie’s brow furrows. He opens his mouth to speak, but stops himself. He thinks, and then begins.
“Do you remember Night… 27?” Jamie asks. Gavin starts trying to count on his fingers, but he’s clearly flustered. “Which one was that?”
“That’s the night we voted out Marina,” Jamie says. “It’s the night that I had wanted to vote out Jordyne, but Gavin, you begged me not to do it. You said you’d owe me one, and you ain’t paid that back yet. I’m coming to collect my debt, so up and at ‘em.”
Gavin pensively bites his lip. Jordyne stands up to approach Jamie.
“He’s said his peace, Jamie. Stop being a bully.”
“I… how am I being a bully?” Jamie asks, incredulous. “He owes me, Jordyne–and you do to. You realize you’d be gone if I hadn’t done as he asked of me, right? You wouldn’t even be standing here right now flapping your gums at me.”
“What makes you a bully,” Gavin says, standing up to join Jordyne, “is that this his how you always operate, Jamie! You try to pretend like you’re just this ‘aw shucks’ redneck who loves everybody but you treat other people so badly! Whenever things aren’t going your way you puff your chest out and make threats and ‘collect debts.’ You don’t intimidate me.”
Jamie’s jaw drops in absolute shock. “I’m fighting for my life here, sorry if I’m going about my self-preservation too aggressively for your liking! Like the either of you has been a perfect angel?”
“I never said I was a perfect angel,” Gavin snipes. “I’m not the one who tries to make it seem that way, always talking about bullshit like… what is it? White Privilege? Cultural Appropriation? None of that stuff exists, Jamie, all it is is your justification for making people the bad guy. You don’t get a pat on the back for it, not from me. Grow up.”
“Fine,” Jamie says. “That’s your choice, Gavin, I respect it.” Jamie turns and walks away. Jordyne and Gavin lock eyes, and Jordyne mouths ‘wow!’ to Gavin.
As the sun nears the mountains even more, the sky is now a hazy purple. Night has almost fallen. Jamie finishes folding his sherwani, packing it in his bag. He grabs his worn, faded trucker cap and puts it on. Gavin, meanwhile, has chosen to keep his Sherwani on. Jordyne adjusts his turban for him as he puts on the immunity necklace.
Jamie grabs his torch, the last resting against the tree, as he follows Gavin and Jordyne, already having grabbed theirs. As the sun makes it’s final appearance in the evening sky, the final three vanish into the dark of the forest, heading towards their destinies.
The lights of three torches appear in the inky black distance leading up to the temple that is Tribal Council. The stars are blacked out by thick, dark clouds. A strong wind causes the flames to flicker. Inside, Jeff awaits.
Jordyne, Jamie, and Gavin take their seats. Despite the rapidly cooling temperature, Jamie is glistening with sweat.
“We now bring in the members of our jury,” Jeff announces. “Vanessa, Marina, Marco, Mathieu, Shelby, and Irene, voted out at the last Tribal Council.”
Irene smiles as she takes her seat. Shelby nods knowingly towards Gavin.
“So,” Jeff said. “Final Three. As you know, tonight is going to be a little different than our other Tribal Councils. Gavin, congratulations again on winning Immunity.”
“Thanks,” Gavin says, beaming.
“To remind both you and our jury,” Jeff continues, “with Gavin immune, Jordyne and Jamie have no option but to vote for one another. Those votes will cancel each other out, therefore, no point in either of you two,” he says, pointing to Jamie and Jordyne, “casting votes tonight. That means the only one who will vote is Gavin. Which means that in addition to voting out the final player from this game, Gavin, you will also determine who you will sit next to tomorrow night at Final Tribal Council to compete for the votes of our jury.” Gavin, Jordyne, and Jamie all nod in understanding. “Gavin,” Jeff continues, “that means you have a huge decision on your shoulders tonight. How do you begin to make that decision?”
“Actually, you know, Jeff? It was a really easy choice. Almost a no-brainer, really. So it wasn’t a very hard decision.”
“Oh?” Jeff asks, somewhat surprised. “Your mind is made up?”
“Jeff,” Jamie interjects, “he didn’t even let me talk to him this afternoon. This is the end of the line for me, I’m afraid.”
“Is Jamie right, Gavin? Or rather, is there potentially some sort of miscommunication there between you?”
“Yes, he’s right, and no, there’s no miscommunication. Jamie’s the threat to win it all. So it’s kind of a done deal, it’s just the smart choice,” Gavin says.
“And Jordyne’s not a threat to win it all?” Jamie asks. Gavin shrugs his shoulders at Jamie.
“I have a better chance with her than with you,” Gavin says. “Nothing personal.” Marco rolls his eyes over on the jury.
“Of course it’s personal,” he whispers to Vanessa.
“Jeff, if you don’t mind, I don’t think that’s the case, and I’d like to take a moment to share my thoughts,” Jamie says.
“The floor is all yours, Jamie,” Jeff allows.
“I’ve been getting called the ‘big threat’ for a long time in this game… but if I’m such a big threat, why am I still here? It was always decided there are bigger fish to fry that ol’ Jamie. And uh, the two of you were kind enough to bring up a few reasons why others were always bigger targets than me. You guys called me out, and I deserved it. I think quite frankly, there’s a big part of me that I like to think I’ve left in the past. There’s a part of me that’s angry, there’s a part of me that’s a bully. There’s a part of me that wants to see the world burn, that wants to take other people down with my sinking ship. I’ve got a darkness in me, and I convince myself that darkness went away when I stopped being afraid of my letting my light shine. But I’ve just learned to hide it. I’m not without my sins in this game, none of us are. And it’s up to our jury to decide who’s sins are too heavy to forgive. There’s nothing to say that the heaviest burden isn’t mine. Jordyne betrayed people she made promises too? So did I! Gavin got angry and yelled at people? I did that too! So quite frankly, I don’t know if I’m that big of a threat. Gavin, you’ve made it clear you don’t like me. And you’ve made it clear that as much as people may say ‘oh, Jamison’s such a nice guy’… I’m not always that nice to people. So I wouldn’t be so sure you’re alone in your feelings.”
Gavin looks down, clearly deep in thought.
“Yeah, we’ve all had our dark side,” Jordyne says, “but it’s also about that light side, and Jamie has a lot of friends sitting on the jury. I mean, Marco is basically a locked vote in his pocket.”
“And Marina is a vote in yours!” Jamie rebuts. “And Gavin’s got Shelby’s vote, no matter what and you know it! We all have someone on there who’s rooting for us specifically, so that’s not an advantage for any of us!”
“It’s more than just Marco,” Jordyne says. “Irene–”
“Might vote for you, Jordyne, after your awesome date night in India, or did you forget that? Not to mention she was trying to vote you out when you got her. She ain’t gonna hold that against you. The Irene I know wouldn’t do that.”
Irene smiles at Jamie’s praise.
“Vanessa got voted out because I didn’t listen to her and vote for Gavin, and obviously I should have, considering he’s gonna vote me out,” Jamie says. “So I don’t think I have her vote. Same with Mathieu. He voted for Gavin, and I didn’t vote with him. I’m noticing a pattern here, Jeff,” he laughs.
“Jamie can say whatever he wants,” Jordyne says, “but that doesn’t make it true. This game has been full of lies from the start, why would that change now? Gavin’s not changing his mind,” she says, putting a supportive arm around Gavin’s shoulder.
“Well of course your gonna say that,” Jamie giggles. “Jordyne, the master manipulator, still spinning her spider web at the 11th hour. And you see her doing it Gavin. I know you do. I’m sure of it. You’re a smart, capable guy, Gavin. I know you’re smart. That’s why you’re still here. Not because of anyone but yourself. You got yourself here. Miss Saxby, on the other hand,” Jamie says, patting Jordyne on the shoulder. “Jordyne has made it abundantly clear that she came here having never spent longer than an hour away from air conditioning. She has been open about the fact that the only way for her to make it in this game would be by manipulating people. She set out with the intention of manipulating Gavin–everyone was there when she said so herself last night.”
“Jamie, I’m owning my game, that’s all,” Jordyne interjects. “You’re allowed to talk about your ‘inner darkness’ like a f*cking serial killer, but I’m the devil because I flirted with a guy to get him to like me? And besides, Gavin is an independent adult who can make his own decisions,” she continues. “I chose to be flirtatious with him, to be a little more, y’know, physical and affectionate, but our friendship beyond that–the things we shared about ourselves with each other, the stories we told, all the stuff we talked about–that’s all genuine. If Gavin reacted a certain way towards me, at the end of the day, that’s on him.”
“I agree completely,” Jamie says. “Gavin, it is on you. And things have been so tense between us, I didn’t know how to bring it up with you. Purely on a human to human level. When you respect someone, you can be honest with them, even if it’s a truth that can be hurtful. You sit there and blame Jordyne for embarrassing you, but you let yourself be embarrassed, Gavin. You can’t control Jordyne’s actions, but you can control your own. I am certain you know that. There’s a friend of yours who was a big, powerful proponent of that line of thinking,” he says, looking directly at Shelby on the jury. Gavin’s eyes make pleading contact with hers.
“Jordyne,” Jamie continues, “admitted that she came to you knowing that you’d be someone she could manipulate. She knew that she could take advantage of your youth and your comparative lack of life experiences. All she had to do was smile and laugh. She pegged you as the guy who would be putty in her hands, and she was right. You’ve been pushing obstacles out of her way and jumping in front of shots for her. Now you’re about to hoist her up on your shoulders and let her grab the trophy–and you’re just going to let it happen! She betrayed you over and over again! Did you know she was going to vote for Brett? Rex? Shelby? Did you know it was coming the night she voted against you? Jordyne wasn’t willing to draw rocks for you. She wasn’t willing to lay her neck on the line for you like you were for her. She’s used you, Gavin, she’s blatantly, openly used you from the very first day. Every moment in this game, for Jordyne, has been for the sake of making it to this point. And you’re going to let her get away with it?”
“I’m not trying to get away with anything–”
“BE QUIET, JORDYNE! I AM TALKING!” Jamie bellows. Jordyne recoils in shock. “You have had all afternoon to whisper sweet nothings in his ear, so let me get my words in edgewise! Damn!” He takes a deep breath and continues. “Gavin, you know that if you go to the end with Jordyne, she’s going to win. She played the best game out of all of us. Because she convinced you to throw out yours on her behalf.”
A tear begins to roll down Gavin’s cheek. Jordyne’s arms are crossed, her foot tapping impatiently.
“Are you done rambling yet?” She asks, clearly peeved. “Can I respond, Jeff?”
“I’d like to talk to Gavin,” Jeff says, holding a hand up to Jordyne as if to say ‘hold that thought.’ “Gavin, you’re having a very strong reaction to what Jamie has said.”
Gavin blinks a few times, trying to gather some semblance of language before he responds. “I, uh… Jamie was… very honest with me just now. Honesty… it’s not always nice, is it? Sometimes the truth hurts. If he were trying to butter me up, I think he’d be nicer about it.”
“That’s all you have to say?” Jordyne asks, incredulous. “If he were lying he’d be nicer?”
“What else should I say, Jordyne?” Gavin snaps.
“That he’s wrong, for starters!” Jordyne gripes.
“Well I don’t want to say that,” Gavin says, looking away. Jordyne lets out an exasperated sigh.
“I can’t believe this is happening again,” she groans. “You aren’t seriously listening to him, are you?”
“He has some good points!” Gavin yelps defensively. “You say that you always make your decisions based on what’s best for your game, so I’m just doing the same thing! I didn’t say I’m going to do anything one way or the other, I’m just thinking!”
“Well, this is certainly a change from where we started,” Jeff says, clearly reveling in the moment. “Gavin came in feeling very certain, now it seems not so much. What’s going through your head right now, Gavin?”
“Everything,” Gavin says, clearly processing a lot of information. “Nothing. I’m, uh… just trying to focus on what my gut is telling me. I… I just think…”
“What I think,” Jordyne cuts in, “is that Jamie is just trying to save himself, Gavin, that’s obvious. So just vote him out!”
“Panicking isn’t a cute look for you,” Jamie says.
“Who are you, the look police?” Jordyne bites back. “This is insane, Jamie. When we walked in here I was totally safe, and now Gavin’s waffling on voting me out. I’m going to try and save myself, obviously! Do you think I came to be voted out on Day 38?”
“Do you think anyone came here to get voted out on Day 38?” Jamie retorts.
“Here’s the thing,” Jordyne says, turning to Jeff. “Jamie called me out just now as the girl who doesn’t ever leave the air conditioning, and he’s right! I have never tried to pretend that I’m some sort of Bear Grylls Barbie, okay? I’m a f*cking stripper, what else was I supposed to do? I need this money, I wasn’t going to come to starve and get rained on and bit by bugs without a big, fat paycheck for it. This money could change my life, Jeff. I don’t think Jamie appreciates how desperately I need it. The jungle has been like my own personal hell. To make it to Day 38 would make this all a colossal waste of my time.”
“Can I ask you a question, Jordyne?” Gavin asks, perking up.
“Anything,” Jordyne says with a nod. “Whatever you need me to answer to make you feel confident in your decision.”
“You’re always talking about winning the money. Is that all this experience has been to you, a means to an end? You got learn Yoga from a real guru in the mountains. You got to ride camels across the desert, you got to sleep in a real palace, and all you can do is complain about the money? Was everything else really not worth it to you? Was your friendship with Marina not worth it? Was your friendship with me not worth it?”
“I didn’t say any of that,” Jordyne says, shaking her hands wildly as if to attempt to physically erase her prior words. “Or that’s not how I meant it okay? I’m grateful, obviously I’m grateful, but the money is my top priority, and I don’t think that’s so awful.”
“It’s not that obvious you’re grateful if he had to ask,” Jamie points out.
“Do you EVER. STOP. TALKING?” Jordyne yells, exasperated.
“Can we just get to the vote?” Gavin asks Jeff.
“It’s yours to cast tonight,” Jeff says, “so if you’re ready, we can get this show on the road.”
“I think if I was going to wait to really feel ready we’d be here until tomorrow morning,” Gavin says. “I’m as ready as I’m going to be.”
“Then, with that,” Jeff says, “for the last time, it’s time to vote. Gavin, take it away.”
Gavin stands and takes a deep breath before starting to make his way towards the booth. Jordyne grabs his hand as he passes.
“Please, Gavin,” she begs him.
“Don’t worry. You’ll be fine,” Gavin says to Jordyne.
In the voting booth, Gavin uncaps the pen. He stands, tip at the edge of the parchment, hestiant. He writes the letter “J.”
Out in the main area, Jordyne looks down, her foot tapping incessantly. Jamie picks at the dirt under his fingernails. On the jury, Marina and Marco whisper to each other. Shelby’s gaze is fixed on the voting booth, her expression clearly anxious.
After what seems to be an eternity, Gavin emerges.
“I’ll go tally the votes,” Jeff says as Gavin returns to his seat.
As the fire blazes bright, Gavin stares straight ahead into it. Jordyne puts a hand on his knee. He turns and smiles at her, taking her hand in his. They hold each other tightly as Jeff returns, placing the urn.
“Once the votes are read, the person voted out will be asked to leave the Tribal Council area immediately. I’ll read the vote.” Jeff reaches into the urn to remove the lone ballot. After a pregnant pause, he reads the result.
“The fourteenth person voted out of Survivor: India, and the seventh and final member of our jury…”
Jamie exhales heavily, almost as if he’ll collapse. Jordyne’s gaze falls, but she does not let go of Gavin’s hand. On the jury, Marco bounces up and down and pumps his fist in the air. Vanessa and Mathieu share a smile. Irene’s jaw drops.
“Well,” Jordyne says, “I guess that’s it, huh?”
“I’m sorry,” Gavin says to her.
“Don’t be,” Jordyne says with a smile.
“Jordyne, I need you to bring me your torch,” Jeff reminds.
Jordyne nods at him and stands, as do Jamie and Gavin.
“You know I love you, right?” Jamie says.
“Not as much as I love you,” she tells him. He hugs her tightly.
“No hard feelings, I promise,” she says to Gavin, hugging him as well. She kisses him on the cheek before grabbing her torch. She places it in front of Jeff.
“Well, I guess this is it, Jeffrey. Cut my head off.”
“Jordyne, the Tribe has spoken,” Jeff says. He lowers the snuffer, and in a puff of smoke, Jordyne’s flame is gone. “It’s time for you to go.”
With no more words, Jordyne heads out.
“Gavin,” Jamie whispers, putting a hand on the younger man’s shoulder to get his attention, “Thank you.”
“Thank you,” Gavin whispers in response.
With Jordyne gone, Jeff returns his focus to the surviving castaways.
“Gavin, Jamie, congratulations,” Jeff says. “The two of you have gone as far as you can go in this game. The power now shifts from you,” he says, gesturing to Jamie and Gavin, “to them,” he gestures to the jury. “And tomorrow night, our jury will decide which of you will leave India as the Sole Survivor. Enjoy your final day, you’ve earned it. Grab your stuff, and head back to camp.”
Like the low rumbling roar of a wild beast, a roll of thunder howl from the dark clouds. The sky flashes to life as lightning strikes, illuminating the forest. Rain soars in sheets down onto the earth below.
In a tiny, battered shelter huddle two remaining castaways, gaunt and tired with the wear of thirty nine days.
“Go figure it’s raining, huh?” Gavin says.
“It’s almost fitting, ain’t it?” Jamie says. “It’s like the rain has been our constant companion. She couldn’t go our last day without coming to say goodbye.”
“Do you remember what the Hindu God of rain was?” Gavin asks.
“Uh… no,” Jamie laughs. “Where’s Irene when you need her?”
“Gone. We voted her out,” Gavin says.
“We voted everyone out,” Jamie finishes.
“It’s still doesn’t feel totally real, does it?”
“I’ll say. I never in a million years thought it would be the two of us here on Day 39 together.”
“Yeah, well… can’t change it now.”
“Would you want to?”
“No,” Gavin says, curling his knees to his chest. “I feel good about tonight.”
Jamie and Gavin make their way down to treemail. They move leisurely.
“Knowing that soon, its all gonna be over? Makes the rain not so bad,” Gavin says.
“Not that we have much of a choice,” laughs Jamie.
At the statue of the water goddess, the boys find a number of covered platers waiting for them.
“Oh man!” Gavin exclaims. “Is this for us?”
“Who else would it be for?” Jamie wonders as he reaches into the mail chest, removing a scroll of paper.
“’Gavin and Jamie- Congratulations on making it to the Final Day of Survivor,” Jamie reads. “Enjoy this feast and your final day here in India. Be sure to collect your thoughts, as tonight you will fight it out to earn the votes of the jury at the Final Tribal Council.’ Girl, the only word I understood of that was ‘feast.’”
“Did you just call me ‘girl?’” Gavin asks.
“What? Oh, uh. Yeah. It’s a good thing. Like, you know. Guuuuuurl. Like, your my homie.”
“Don’t ever say ‘homie’ again,” Gavin says. “It’s cringy.”
“Whatever you say, homie,” Jamie responds in jest.
Underneath the fire shelter, Gavin pours a pancake into a pan. Jamie pops open a bottle of champagne, the release of the cork making an audible pop even through the deafening rainfall. He pours some into a flute, already filled with orange juice.
“Don’t tell your mama,” Jamie says, “but I’m giving you some grown-up drink. Shhhhh.”
“I’m running to get her right now!” Gavin jokes. “Moom, moom! A creepy old man is trying to slip me a mickey! I’ll have you know Jamie that I am a graduate of D.A.R.E.!”
The two of them bust into giggles. Jamie hands Gavin a mimosa.
“To the Final 2,” Jamie toasts.
“Cheers to us,” Gavin agrees, as they clink glasses.
When the food is ready, the two starving young men wolf it down quickly, washing it down with swigs of champagne.”
“What should we do with everything?” Gavin asks Jamie.
“Like, everything. The camp, all our stuff. The shelter? Do we just… leave it here?”
Jamie looks pensive. “I dunno. Hadn’t thought much about it.”
“Shelby and I used to talk about burning the camp down on the last day,” Gavin says. Jamie’s eyes go wide.
“You and Shelby used to talk about burning down the camp?” Jamie repeats in shock.
“Yeah, why is that such a surprise?” Gavin asks.
“Shelby don’t seem like the type,” Jamie says with a shrug. “She’s got more of a wild side than she gives off, don’t she?.”
“Yeah, she does,” Gavin agrees. “But burning it obviously won’t work now.”
“I have an idea,” Jamie says.
Jamie and Gavin carry supply crates filled with their various tools and utensils down the slopes of the forest on their way to the river bank.
Jamie holds the canoe steady while Gavin loads the crates into them.
“One last thing,” Gavin says. He leaps out of the boat and runs back up to camp, leaving Jamie waiting. When he returns, he has the tribe flag. He sets the poles in the crates so that the flag stands upright on the boat.
“Perfect,” Jamie says. Gavin scrambles out of the boat back to shore, and Jamie shoves the boat off. The two watch as it floats down the river. As it gets further and further, the boat is weighed down more and more with the coming rainwater.
“I guess it’s going to sink eventually,” Gavin says. “Does that mean we’re polluting?”
“Maybe,” Jamie says. “Should we go after it?”
“Oh, no. I wasn’t suggesting that,” Gavin says.
The guys can only laugh as the boat sinks under the water.
As the day comes to a close, the final two prepare themselves for the final challenge ahead.
Behind the clouds, the sun is setting. The wind howls angrily, and lightning strikes in the distance. Battered by the monsoon, Gavin and Jamie collect their torches, and begin to head out, one last time.
The violent storm rages onward as Gavin and Jamie approach the now-familiar temple of Tribal Council, desperate for respite from the weather. Blazing flames throughout the temple radiate warmth, but Kali’s cold gaze serves as a reminder that Tribal Council is not a place of safety–it is a place of death. The men take their seats. Jeff, as usual, awaits, ready to preside over the fates of the castaways one last time.
“We’ll now bring in the members of our jury,” Jeff announces. “Vanessa, Marina, Marco, Mathieu, Shelby, Irene, and Jordyne, voted out at the last Tribal Council.”
Gavin’s eyes light up when he sees Jordyne. She strikes a pose as she takes her seat, glaring at the finalists.
“Jamie, Gavin,” Jeff begins, “Congratulations. You’ve gone as far as you can go in the game of Survivor. For 38 days, you have come to Tribal Council to hold your tribemates accountable for their actions. Today, on Day 39, that changes. The power now shifts from you to the jury. These are seven people whose fates you held in your hands. Seven people whose fates you have impacted. Seven people who either directly or indirectly, you’ve had a hand in voting out of this game. Tonight, they hold your fate in their hands. Tonight, they will decide which of you they feel is worthy of the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollar prize that goes along with it. Here’s how it’s going to work. You’ll each have a chance to make an opening statement. This is your opportunity to plead your case, explain why you deserve to win. The jury will then get their chance to address you. They are free to say as much or as little as they choose. Some may ask questions, some may have only statements. This is the chance for them to gain any information they feel they need to decide who they will vote for. Once the jury has finished, we will vote. Understood?”
Gavin nods affirmatively. Jamie gives a thumbs up.
“Good,” Jeff says, “then let’s get started. Gavin, as the winner of the final challenge, you get to decide if you’d like to start, or if Jamie will.”
“Let’s have Jamie go first,” Gavin says.
“Alright then, Jamie, you’re up.”
“Cool,” Jamie says, turning his attention to the jury. “Uh, hey all. Good to finally talk to everyone. Some of y’all I ain’t got to talk to for a while now, so it’s something I’ve been looking forward to.
“I think that just like all of y’all, I didn’t really know what to expect when I got here. As y’all already know, I’m a bayou boy, so I wasn’t scared of the whole idea of being outside in the jungle, having to rely on myself for things like food, shelter, the stuff we can sometimes take for granted back home. That I felt like I could anticipate a little, it’s the people you can’t predict. I didn’t know who I’d be out here with or what y’all would be like. And I definitely, at the start, was really nervous about being judged for who I am. In my regular life, being open about who I am is something that’s really important to me. Once you start being true to who you are after a lifetime of hiding, to go back into hiding becomes all the more suffocating. And I ain’t just talking about in terms of being gay, I’m talking in terms of owning myself as who I am. I think that’s something everyone here can relate to. It can be scary even sharing with someone a song you like, because the personal stuff about us, having that rejected can be so, so painful. At the beginning, I actually lied to my tribe about what I do for a living. I said I still worked at Pa’s bait shack. I work for an organization with a reputation that, to some people, can be seen as political. And I didn’t want to immediately put anyone off if they were coming from a different place. And in hindsight, it was such a stupid thing to lie about. I think I really started to get a hang of playing this game when I realized that holding myself back for the sake of other people wasn’t going to get me ahead. Being true to Jamie was what would get me ahead. And Jamie is a fighter. If I believe in something, I’ll stand for it. And in Survivor, the thing I had to believe in was my own success. I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines and hope nobody noticed me. I had to stand up, grab the game by the horns, and pull it in the direction I wanted it to go. Sometimes I had to do it very, very forcefully, and I’m sure that left some people feeling hurt in the process. Stepping on other people to foster my own success isn’t something I like to do. But for my game, it was a necessity. And that really dragged me down at times, in terms of my morale and my spirit. There were times where I questioned my decisions, where I questioned if it was right for me to use other people to further my own gains. And I realized that there’s a bigger picture than just Survivor. Voting people out of this game was going to happen whether I like it or not. But there are a lot of things out in the world that happen and don’t need to. And that’s the platform I needed to focus on. The money and the visibility that comes with being the winner on a national tv show? That’s a huge opportunity for me to somehow make a difference in the world. I played Survivor with gumption, with self-truth, and with a passion for change. I played Survivor with love in my heart. So my dear friends, I ask you–if you value these things, please, please consider giving me your vote tonight. Let’s change the world together.”
Marco smiles as Jamie finishes. Vanessa looks touched. Irene and Mathieu whisper to each other.
“Thank you Jamie,” Jeff says. “Gavin, you’re up.”
“Awesome, super, here we go,” Gavin says, exhaling as he gathers his thoughts. “Uh… wow. Maybe I should have gone first, that’s a tough act to follow,” he laughs. “But uh… Wow. First of all, I just want to say it’s an honor to be sitting her in the final two, and I want to thank each of you for the role you played in getting me here, no matter how big or small. I think if any one person here was changed out with somene different, it would have effected the whole game. I mean, who knows if I still make it this far otherwise? So yeah, first I just want to say thanks.
“Uh, for me, when I heard about the show, there were a few reasons I wanted to do it. As you guys already know, I’m in college, and I still haven’t declared my major. And I was talking with my parents at the end of the last semester, and was saying how if I don’t know what I want to be doing, I don’t know if I should go back and just commit to something random. Like, I thought I should maybe take a semester off and think about what’s next, and my dad was really against that idea… but uh, I guess that’s not the point. The point is that I was hoping that having some sort of crazy adventure would give me a little direction, and I feel like Survivor really forced me to adapt and be out of my comfort zone. It ended up being exactly what I needed.
“I I think I should be the Sole Survivor tonight because I think I played all aspects of this game to the best of my ability. I learned how to help out around camp and do my part in regards to all that. I was alway willing to help with work around camp, which isn’t really true for everyone, so I think I had a really good work ethic. In challenges, you know, I was always a team player, and then I won three individual challenges, and that’s the most out of anyone. I found a Hidden Immunity Idol, and even though I ended up using it when I didn’t need to, I’m proud of myself for being brave enough to take a risk, when I could have just held onto it and never played it at all. I think I put my opinions out there, I let my voice be heard, and I had a role in determining how a lot of the votes went down. So I do think I left an impact on this game, and that’s all because of what Survivor taught me about myself. I’ve grown, I’ve improved, and I really do feel like I’m sitting here at the end as the best player here, and I think that’s why I should be the winner tonight, because I played the best game.”
“Thanks, Gavin,” Jeff smiles as the teen wraps up his speech. “Alright,” he continues. “Jury, it’s now your turn to address the finalists. Vanessa, you’re up.”
Vanessa nods and stands, walking over to stand opposite the final two.
“Hey y’all,” she greets. “Firstly, I just want to congratulate you both on making it this far. That’s a huge accomplishment, and no matter who ends up winning tonight, you’ve both managed to outlast everyone else, so I hope y’all both are proud of yourselves, because you deserve to be.
“I think all of us on the jury are here tonight with open minds. This isn’t a best friend competition. We want to hear about what you did that got you here. So while it’s been lovely hearing about how proud of y’all selves y’all are, I don’t really care. I’m not looking for who has the best platform or who grew and changed the most. I want to know what it is about how y’all played that makes you a winner. So I want to ask both of y’all the same two questions: Number one, what is the best move you made in the game? And number two, what is the one move you would change if you could go back and do it over? I don’t care who goes first, so whoever wants it, take it.”
“Uh, sure,” Gavin says. “I’ll go. I think my best move in the game was aligning with Shelby. We had a very genuine connection with each other and the trust we built was good up until the point where she went home. She always had my back and I always had hers. What was in my best interest was in her best interest, and having someone I could trust completely out here was critical. It gave me someone I could always count on to vote with me and someone who I could always count on to bounce ideas back and forth with. So yeah, defnitely my best move was the two of us connecting. My worst move that I’d want to do over would be aligning with Jordyne. I put a lot of the same trust that I put in Shelby into Jordyne, and she wasn’t reliable. When I think about basically every other bad move I made, they all come back to Jordyne. When I wasted the idol, it was because Jordyne was so cagey and was flipping back and forth on what she wanted to do, and I thought there was a real chance that Shelby was going to be voted out, so I played it. I don’t regret being willing to play the idol for Shelby. I regret doing it when I didn’t need to because of Jordyne.”
Vanessa nods. “Jamie?” she asks.
“Yeah,” Jamie says. “Sure. So I’m going to start with my worst move, which was voting for Mathieu the night that you left. I could have trusted Mat, I could’ve trusted you, and Gavin is someone who I knew I couldn’t trust. If we had all just voted together for him, you wouldn’t have gone home that night, and it would have made my game a hell of a lot easier moving forward. Without you, the rest of Saap really had to go balls out to make a comeback. And my best move… I mean, I think it was last night, convincing Gavin to keep me and not Jordyne. That was an uphill battle if there ever was one, and coming into Tribal Council, I knew my arguments, but I didn’t know if Gavin would listen to them or care, especially because Gavin and I so often found ourselves, you know, like so,” he says, butting his fists together to mime crashing rams. “I think that even without us having a super closer relationship like I had with some of the other players, like you, I still knew Gavin well enough to explain things in a way that would resonate with him. I think sometimes when people lay out their arguments, they do it thinking about what they themselves would want to hear, when they should be thinking about what the person they’re trying to convince would want to hear. So I think my ability to do that at the eleventh hour is a testament to the strength of my game.”
“Awesome,” Vanessa says. “Thanks to you both for y’alls answers. Best of luck with the rest of these fools,” she says, gesturing towards the other jurors behind her.
“Thanks Vanessa,” Jeff says as she returns to her seat. “Marina, you’re up.”
“Cool,” Marina says, standing to take her turn. “Good evening, guys. So my question tonight is for you, Gavin. The night I went home, I wasn’t supposed to get voted out. But that all changed at Tribal Council, when you threw me under the bus and everyone else piled on. And it was all to protect Jordyne, who you just admitted that you regretted working with in the first place, which makes me feel really amazing. I basically just want to ask you… like, why should I vote for you when you are responsible for me getting voted out in the first place? Why should I reward you for screwing me?”
“Uh, wow,” Gavin says. “Um, well I’m sorry for doing that, if that helps at all. I really needed to protect Jordyne, for one, because at that point Shelby and I were on the losing side of the numbers and I needed to protect someone who I knew would work with us, which was Jordyne.”
“So you don’t think I would have worked with you?” Marina asks.
“I don’t know,” Gavin admits. “We had a lot of talks but never exactly about game stuff, so I wasn’t really sure.”
“Well you could have asked,” Marina says.
“Yeah, and I’m sorry I didn’t. I don’t know. At the time it just felt like the right thing to do, and unfortunately the only other person I thought I could convince them to go after was you. And the only reason is because you were such a big threat to win that I thought there was a chance the others would feel okay getting you out then. You had already won a challenge, nobody was bringing your name up at all… you were playing a good game and flying under the radar, so I figured it was worth it at least to try to save Jordyne.”
“Jordyne, who you regret aligning with,” Marina finishes.
“Well I didn’t feel that way at the time,” Gavin says. “Jordyne hadn’t stabbed me in the back yet when you left.”
“That isn’t true, though,” Marina says. “Maybe she hadn’t written your name down yet, but she hadn’t voted with you a number of times by that point.”
“Well yeah,” Gavin says, “but you didn’t vote with me either.”
“Yeah, but then why did you decide Jordyne needed to stay but I had to go when Jordyne and I had been voting the same way anyway?”
“Because I had feelings for Jordyne, okay? It was an emotional move, Marina, and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done it.”
“Well, it’s a bit late for that, because you can’t take it back,” Marina says. “Good luck guys. I’m good, Jeff.” She turns and takes her seat. Gavin rolls his eyes when her back is turned.
“Mathieu?” Jeff asks. Mathieu stands to take his turn.
“Warmest wishes, friends, first and foremostly,” Mathieu begins once standing in front of the final two. “Congratulations on the accomplishment of reaching the final day. Tonight, you are in the position we all dreamt of being in, so I sincerely hope you enjoy and respect that honor. Jamie, I would like to begin with you.”
“Of course,” Jamie tells him.
“You have spoken at length, both tonight and prior, of your commitment to your values. We had discussions of those values many a time. Something you were adamant about was your belief in granting platforms to those who are not often afforded one on which to speak. This was supposed to bond you and I, this was supposed to be the foundation for our alliance. I would like to know if you feel you betrayed your values when you voted me out.”
“I don’t think I betrayed my values at all,” Jamie says. “I have a lot of respect for you, Mat, as a person and as a competitor. And having respect for you as an individual, to me, is treating you as an individual. And as an individual, you were a threat. You’re a hell of a competitor, you didn’t have any enemies. You’re a good guy who deserves a million dollars, so if I wanted it, I had to take you out. And I believe that you can’t help others if you don’t reach up and help yourself first. To keep you around just because of your history as a refugee, to me that would be seeing you as nothing more than that, and that would be a betrayal of my values.”
“I understand, but Jamie, do you realize that when you ask us to, as a jury, vote for your platform, you are asking us to not think of the way you played this game, but of what you represent and stand for? That, my friend, is hypocrisy.”
“Uh, yeah,” Jamie answers, blushing. “Can I respond?”
“I would appreciate it,” Mathieu says.
“What I did in the game, quite frankly, is kinda irrelevant. Because whatever I did to get me here, I’m not the only one who got here, you know? Gavin got here too playing his game. You guys gotta vote for the whole package, I think. It’s not just how we played, but I think who we are comes into that too. Who do you want to represent this experience as the Sole Survivor?”
“Are you saying you are a better person than Gavin?” Mathieu asks.
Jamie’s eyes widen at Mathieu’s question. He takes a moment to think, then answers: “Yes. Gavin’s still young, he’s got growing to do. I’m more ready than him to make something of this title and this prize.”
Mathieu nods in understanding. “Gavin,” the doctor continues. “To continue on what Jamie has said… would you agree or disagree that you are a brat?”
“Disagree,” Gavin responds almost immediately. “I know I didn’t always handle things the right way, but I don’t think I’m a brat,” Gavin says. “I think I have a lot to still learn about life, and yeah, when this game started, I thought I knew more than I really did. Having to realize that you aren’t as amazing as you thought you were, that’s humbling. And it’s not easy. And it can hurt sometimes. So if you think that makes me a brat, that’s your opinion. But to me, a brat is someone who thinks they’re owed something, and I don’t think I’m owed anything.”
“Alright,” Mathieu says. “I have what I need, Jeff. Thank you, gentlemen. Best of luck.”
“Thanks, Mathieu,” Jeff says as the doctor returns to his seat. “Next up is… Marco.”
Marco gives a huge, cheesy grin as he leaps up from his seat and saunters forward.
“Que pasa gringos?” Marco greets. “So here’s the deal–I’m not one to beat around the bush, I don’t have time for bull, so I’m going to be blunt: Gavs, congrats on making it here, bro, but I don’t need to ask you anything. Your not gonna be getting my vote. Firstly, I also won three challenges, and I won three in a row, so your thing about winning the most out of everyone? Blatantly not true. Secondly, Mathieu nailed it–you’re a brat. The fact that you wouldn’t even let Jamie talk to you before Tribal Council last night was petty. And once you let him talk you actually listened to him? That was stupid. You’re not in the final two because you’re a good player. You only made it there because you weren’t a threat to anybody.”
Gavin looks unimpressed. “That’s fine, Marco. I didn’t expect otherwise anyway.”
“I didn’t ask for a response,” Marco snarks. “I mostly just want to talk to my pal Jamison here.” He turns his attention to Jamie. “Hey cutie,” he flirts jokingly, blowing a kiss to Jamie. Jamie mimes catching the kiss in his hand and placing it in his shirt pocket over his heart.
“So I’m going to get serious for a second with you, bro, because this is a big deal. I’m so excited to see you sitting here at the end. I was kinda hoping they’d catch you, because I wanted to party with you in Ponderosa, but I made do without. Ness makes a mean whiskey sour though man, you missed out!”
“I’ll have one waiting when this is all said and done,” Vanessa offers.
“Thanks, boo,” Jamie smiles.
“Seriously though, I’m so glad that you stuck it out. Every time I saw you come in safe with that necklace, dude, I was so proud of you. You’ve kicked some serious ass, and uh… I’m really, really proud to call you my friend, Jamie. You’re a beautiful person, inside and out. And knowing you has made me a better person. We’ve been able to talk about anything and everything, and you’ve always had nothing but patience and kindness to offer. Like, for example: I told you how when Maria and Morgan are old enough to start dating, I’ll be meeting whichever boy shows up at our house with a shotgun. And you reminded me that maybe they won’t be dating boys at all. So now I know I can greet whoever shows up with a shotgun–boy, girl, tuna fish, it doesn’t matter.” He laughs, and so does Jamie. “And uh…” Marco begins to tear up. “Bro, I missed my girls so bad out here. It… it physically hurts after a while, being away from them, you know? So thank you for being a genuine friend to me. Thank you for being my family out here, and forever after. Because you’re my friend for life. I mean it.” He laughs awkwardly, trying to distract from his tears. “I’m going back to my girls a better father, and I have you to thank for a lot of that. So I’m more than happy to be giving you my vote tonight. I hope you get three more.”
Jamie has teared up as well, and nods in response to Marco. “Hey, before you sit down… I got a question for you,” Jamie says.
“Marco Jiminez, will you be the Best Man at my wedding?”
“Bro!” Marco barks. “Of course! I’d be more freaked if you didn’t ask! I’m already planning the bachelor party in my head, dude. I don’t know any male revues in Alabama, but I’ll find them brother, I’ll find them!”
“I’ll forgive you if you don’t,” Jamie says.
“No, only the best for you, bro. Alright, uh… I guess that’s all I have to say,” Marco says, throwing his hands up. “Gav, good luck, Jamie, love you man.” He waves and heads back to the jury seats.
“Shelby,” Jeff addresses, “you’re up.”
Shelby stands delicately and heads down to address the finalists. She smooths her skirt before she begins to speak.
“Good evening, Gavin, Jamison. Congratulations are in order for the both of you. You have both performed admirably in a game that we have all learned firsthand is anything but easy. Which is why I am rather perturbed by the ease in which some of my fellow jurors have written off the accomplishments one of you has achieved. I think it’s extremely disrespectful, to not only these young men, but to the sanctity of the game we’ve all agreed to play.” She shoots a dirty look at Marco and Mathieu. Marco just shrugs and grins.
“I’m entitled to an opinion, Shelby,” Marco says with a shrug and a self-satisfied grin.
“I just find it to be peculiar that you feel like a ‘better person’ than you once were. Does the better person lash out in spite?” asks Shelby.
“I said better, but I’m not perfect,” Marco tells her.
“Shelby, this is your time to address our finalists, not Marco,” Jeff says.
“Yes, of course. My apologies,” Shelby says. “To continue… my parents raised me to understand that if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And given that, I feel we owe it to this game, in which we are all willing participants, to take it seriously. For me, that means coming into this Final Tribal Council, my mind is open. Gavin, for whatever it’s worth, I’m extremely proud of you for how far you’ve come. But I do not hand out participation trophies, not to my children, nor anyone else’s. If you are to receive my vote tonight, it will be because you earned my vote. Understood?”
“Absolutely,” Gavin says. “I wouldn’t expect anything less, Shelby. What do you need from me?”
“My question for you, Gavin, is… if it had come down to the two of us and Jordyne in the Final Three, who would you have taken to the end with you–me, or Jordyne?”
Gavin’s expression is rattled. It’s clear this is not the question he was expecting from his closest ally. He taps his toes as he thinks.
“You,” Gavin eventually answers. “I think, no matter what, I’d lose to Jordyne. Maybe I’d lose to you too. But if I lost to you, I’d feel okay with that,” Gavin says. “Us making it to the end together would have been a victory for me. Like… this game strips you down, you know? I’ve never been this far outside of my comfort zone, not ever. When you have everything taken away from you, it kind of comes out of each of us who we really are. And I’ll admit, the guy who came out of me a lot wasn’t always the greatest. I learned that the person who I really am is a person with a lot to work on. But Shelby, you were patient with me. You supported me without question. When I was sad, you cheered me up. When I was angry, you’d calm me down. When I was lost, you’d give me guidance. We were both struggling with everything this game throws at you, and yet you always seemed to find a way to be strong enough for us both. I don’t think I could ever repay you for everything you’ve given me. So for me, respecting this game would mean respecting the person who helped me through it. Which is you. Maybe I am still kind of immature and emotional, but I also have a big heart, and when I care a lot about someone, I take that really seriously. For me, respecting Survivor means respecting myself. That’s why I voted Jordyne out last night, because I couldn’t respect myself if I let her use me again. But you didn’t use me, Shelby. We helped each other through this, and if I went to the end with you and lost, it’s okay, because I’d leave with my self respect. ”
Shelby smiles at Gavin, nodding her head as he finishes speaking. “Thank you, Gavin, for your ever so thoughtful reply. Best of luck to the both of you,” she concludes. “I’m finished, Jeff.”
“Thank you, Shelby,” says the host. “Jordyne, come on down.”
Jordyne steps up to the speaking area, standing with one hand on her hip as she stares down the guys across from her. She does not look happy.
“Okay, so Gavin, I’m just… I had a different question I was going to ask,” she begins, “but after hearing all your answers, I could use some clarification. Because you’re sitting here saying that you voted me out because you didn’t think you could beat me, and I just want to burst that bubble and tell you that’s probably not the case. I stabbed so many people in the back, I had a lot of people here on this jury who weren’t going to forgive me. You, on the other hand? Gavin, you played a super loyal game. You were loyal to the people you made promises to through thick and thin. You never turned on Shelby and you never turned on me. Not until last night, when Jamie bent me over his knee so you could f*ck me in the ass.”
Vanessa stifles a giggle. Shelby’s eyes widen in horror at Jordyne’s language.
“You’re sitting here saying that you voted me out because you couldn’t beat me, because you wanted to win. That’s fine, I wanted to win too. I can respect that. But if that’s the case, I don’t get why you took Jamie, because newsflash–he’s going to beat you! And now you’re telling Shelby that you would have taken her to the end because you didn’t care if you won or lost? That just doesn’t line up. So which is it? You’ll do anything to win, or you didn’t really care? Because right now, it just sounds like your saying what you think people want to hear. ”
“Yeah, I’d be glad to uh, clarify that for you,” Gavin says. “I didn’t say that I didn’t care if I won, I said I would be happy to lose if I lost to Shelby. I would have never, ever, ever been okay losing to you. I’d rather lose to Jamie than you, and that’s why I voted you out and kept him in. Because Jamie and I have been going head-to-head this whole game anyway, so what’s so different about us going head-to-head now? Plus, if he wins, I know the money is going to be donated to a good cause, not into expanding your shoe collection. You?” Gavin says, pointing. “You, on the other hand, pretended to care about me so I would do what you wanted. You manipulated me like I was a toy to get you ahead in the game. I gave you chance after chance to prove to me you would be loyal back and time and time and time again you spit it in my face. And I’m supposed to reward you for that? Maybe I would have beaten you, Jordyne, but on the chance I wouldn’t? I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror after this if I lost to you. I couldn’t respect myself for that. You know, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? I’m glad I voted you out. I’m sure that’s not the answer you wanted to hear, but it’s the truth.”
“You don’t know what I do and don’t want to hear,” Jordyne says. Jamie can only watch the exchange, his expression a mix of amusement and confusion.
“Don’t be a sore loser,” Gavin says. “It’s not a cute look on you.”
Jordyne snorts in disbelief. “Aren’t you two just the best of buddies now?” She sneers. She turns to Jeff. “You know what, Mr. Probst? I’ve heard all I need too. Congratulations, gentlemen,” she says, turning brusquely and heading back to her seat.
“Irene,” Jeff says, “how about you finish us out?”
Irene stands and takes a deep breath before heading up to stand across from Jamie and Gavin.
“Wow, uh. Hey. Congrats, guys, on getting here. I’m excited for you guys. Bummed, of course, because I wanted to be there,” she laughs, “but uh, this is really cool, to still be a part of the game and a part of the decision being made tonight. Because this game, this experience, Survivor… it has rocked my world in the best way possible. But Gavin, I’m not angry at you for voting me out. And Jamie, I’m not mad at you for not making more of an effort to save me. I could have done more too. I think that’s one of the many, many interesting parts of how this game works… every one of us who got voted off? There’s something different we could have done somewhere along the way, I’m sure, to change our fates. Maybe we failed to convince the right people we were worth keeping around. Maybe we trusted in someone who was lying, someone we shouldn’t have trusted. Maybe we should have tried harder to win a challenge that we didn’t think was a necessity to win. Maybe we said something that turned someone against us, something we shouldn’t have said.
There’s a reason I’m bringing all this up, I swear, and uh… so when I was voted out, guys, it broke my heart. I felt so upset and more than that, I felt angry with myself for letting my hopes get up. I really was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, I might actually be able to win, and that was so exciting, and then WHAM!” She slams her hands together for empahsis. “It’s over, and I was wrong. And all I could think in that moment is, wow. Good Job, Irene. You failed once again.
“But uh, I thought back to the Bible. Which, really, it’s funny, I only picked up because I was looking for something to read out here. And, you know, the Bible is all about forgiveness. Jesus forgave Judas, you know? And like… he had a lot more to lose than a game and money and pride,” Irene continues. “And the truth is, I gained so much from this experience. Even without winning, I still accomplished more than I ever thought I could. I found the idol, I won a car, I survived in the jungle in India for over a month! I thought I’d be the first one out. I’m going home with so much more confidence than I ever realized I could have, and having a renewed faith in myself? It turns out that’s worth way more than a million dollars. So my question for each of you tonight is this: if you lose the game, what do you still walk away with having won? Jamie?”
Jamie nods, and begins his response. “My prize that’s worth more than a million dollars is love,” he says. “It’s a cliche, but I think it’s cliche for a reason. Because love is rare, and it’s not always easy. But it’s irreplaceable. And uh, it’s not like I needed to come here to find love, I already had it… but I think that Survivor, it strips you down, like Gavin said earlier. It makes you realize that you can get by with so much less than you think you can, that there’s so much in our lives that we take for granted and so much we have that we don’t really need. We’ll say things like ‘ugh, I can’t function until I’ve had my coffee!’ or ‘My phone died, what am I supposed to do without my phone!’ and the thing is, out here you don’t have your phone, or coffee, or any of those ‘necessities’ your real life, and you realize just how easily you can make it without those things. But there are things that you still need out here, and for me, love was one of them. When the game felt like it was too impossible, like it wasn’t worth it, it was thinking about love that got me through. Remembering hey, there are people who believe in you, who support you unconditionally, who see the best in you when you can’t see it in yourself–that’s who you’re out here sufferin’ for, and that’s what you need to get you through the sufferin’. Survivor really reinforced for me that there’s some things that matter so much more than any material object, and I don’t think I’ll ever take love for granted again.”
“Great answer,” Irene says with a grin. “Gavin?”
“Uh, alright,” Gavin begins. “So like I said earlier, a big reason I came on Survivor was because I’m not really sure about the direction my life is going in, and I was hoping that maybe if I had this new, crazy experience I’d be able to learn more about myself, and maybe find some direction. And I did end up learning about myself, but I the things I learned weren’t the things I thought I would learn. I’ve learned that I’m a lot more emotional than I like to admit, and I’ve also learned that it’s okay to have emotions. It’s okay to feel hurt, or sad, or scared. It’s okay not to have all the answers, and it’s okay to try new things even if you don’t know how you’ll do. I’ve learned how to be better at sticking up for myself. I’ve learned how to connect with people that I didn’t think I had anything in common with. I learned that you can’t control everything about the world, and that’s okay. So yeah, I might not be going home knowing for sure what the next step is, but I’m okay with that, whereas before, I really wasn’t. Life is a journey, you know? It’s not about the destination. I need to just enjoy the drive while I’m on the road. I feel like that’s growing up. It’s not figuring out all the answers, it’s being at peace whether or not you find them.”
“Alright, thanks so much,” Irene says. “You guys did great tonight, seriously.” She heads back over to her seat.
“That’s everyone,” Jeff announces. “Gavin, Jamie? Thank you for your responses. Jury? Thank you for your questions. I’ll give you a few final moments to think through the answers you’ve heard tonight and make your final choices.”
The jury nods, taking a few moments of silence to think. Vanessa and Mathieu whisper to each other. Marco checks his watch, bored.
“Alright, if everyone is ready,” Jeff says, “let’s get to the vote. Jury, remember, tonight you are not voting someone out, you are voting for a winner. You want to write the name of the person who you want to win the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollar prize. Understood?”
The jurors nod in agreement.
“Alright, then it’s time to vote. Vanessa, you’re up.”
Vanessa stands and smiles, heading down the coridoor to the voting booth. For the final time, Vanessa casts her vote.
Irene arrives at the voting booth. She uncaps the pen, and taps it repeatedly. She exhales sharply. “What to do, what to do?” She wonders to herself. She begins writing a name, but stops, scribbles it out, and writes another name. Content, she folds her vote and puts it in the urn. She turns back and returns to her seat with the other jurors.
“For the final time,” Jeff says, “I’ll get the votes.” The host makes his way off to retrieve the ballots. Jamie turns to Gavin, arm extended for a handshake.
“Good game, Gavin.”
“Good game,” the younger man agrees. The two shake on it as Jeff returns.
“Gavin, Jamie, jury? I want to thank all of you for coming to play this game and for leaving it all out there on the playing field. I’m sure you’d all like to see the results, but you will have to wait until we are back in the United States. I’ll see you there. Goodnight,” Jeff bids, and with that, he takes the urn and heads out of Tribal Council, leaving Gavin and Jamie alone to await their fate.
… Jeff walks on stage, carrying the voting urn. The Tribal Council set has been recreated, though it is much brighter as the studio lights of Los Angeles illuminate the cast. The applause of the audience roars to life as the cameras sweep across the stage. The castaways cheer in excitement as Jeff makes his entrance, smiling knowingly, ready to reveal the results.
Jill, Brock, River, Ryan, Brett, Andrew, Rex- The Pre Jury
Vanessa, Marina, Marco, Mathieu, Shelby, Irene, Jordyne- The Jury
Gavin and Jamie- The Final Two
“Hello castaways,” Jeff greets. “Audience,” he adds, causing the crowd to once again applaud.
“I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we had the utmost pleasure watching all of you along the course of your Survivor journeys. We’ve seen you fight, we’ve seen you grow, and now, tonight, we’ll finally see either Jamie or Gavin win it all. One of you is about to be crowned our Sole Survivor, and you will walk away tonight with a check for a million dollars. Remember, tonight, you want to see your name on the parchment. A vote with your name is a vote for you to win. There are seven votes, it takes four. I’ll read the votes.”
The crowd becomes silent as Jeff opens the urn, collecting the first ballot.
“The first vote…
“Jamie. That’s two votes, Jamie, one vote Gavin.”
“Gavin, we’re now tied. Two votes each. Next vote…”
“Gavin. That’s three votes Gavin, two votes Jamie.”
“Jamie. We’re tied once again! Three votes Gavin, three votes Jamie, one vote left.”
A heavy silence falls over the room. Jamie offers Gavin his hand. Gavin takes it. Jeff opens the final vote.
“The winner of Survivor: India…”
The crowd erupts with applause. Jamie pumps his fists in the air as he jumps to his feet, estatic. The jury cheers with excitement. Gavin smiles, genuinely at peace. He stands and gives Jamie a warm, congratulatory hug.
“Why don’t you go celebrate with your family, Jamie?” suggest Jeff. Jamie turns and runs excited downstage, heading over to the front row, where his elated parents, brother, and fiancee all wait to greet him. With tears in his eyes, Jamie’s father takes his son into his arms. Jeff turns to face the audience.
“Jamie started on a tribe that couldn’t seemed to get their act together, but he never gave up,” Jeff says. “He wasn’t afraid to shake up the game and make a bold play, and his gumption payed off. Congratulations, Jamie, you are the Sole Survivor!”
One remains and claims the million dollar prize.