"Survivor" has a history of being disgusting -- what with the players eating bugs and such -- but last night's "Survivor: Kaoh Rong," aka Season 32, was particularly hard to watch, and should've come with a "finish your dessert first" warning. It was merge time, which was good news, but toward the end of the episode, Jeff Probst showed up on the beach, which is always bad news. He had the medical crew go through the cast's various injuries, from the scabs inside Tai Trang's thigh to "Mount Saint Neal" on ice cream entrepreneur Neal Gottlieb's knee, and that creepy thing on his back.
Ultimately, Neal was pulled from the game, marking Season 32's second medevac. He was not happy about it, since -- unlike Caleb Reynolds, who was totally out of it when he was pulled from this same season a few weeks ago -- Neal felt fine. But he wasn't completely surprised that he was pulled and he told Parade he feels split on the merits of the call. (He'll still be on the jury.)
However, the biggest question at the end of the episode was why he didn't give the idol he found to Aubry Bracco, his closest ally in the game. Was he allowed to do so? Yes. Here's what he told Parade about the decision he now regrets:
Pivoting away from the injury, let's talk about the idol. Why didn't you give it to Aubry, or anyone else for that matter? You said on Twitter that there's a story there. What's the story?
The night before, as you saw, there's this scene of Aubry and I sitting on the beach. I let her know that I have the idol. That conversation goes on for quite some time. At some point she says something along the lines of, "You know, I'll slit your throat if I have to." And at that point, I had a pretty good idea that I was going to be pulled from the game. So in my fragile emotional state, I just did not find any humor in that comment.
It was that, and then it was getting pulled. It's one thing to know you're going to get pulled, but when Jeff shows up and you're still in that game... when you're in the game, you always have hope that you're going to stay in it and find a way. I think I still had that hope until the doctor said, "We're pulling you from the game." Then it was just a few frantic minutes of saying goodbye. It was a crazy emotional state, where I'm just thinking, "What can I do about this? How can I fix this?" Because that's how you are in the game. There was also just a part of me thinking, "If I go home now, Aubry gets to live to see another day, and I'm going to have a family heirloom." But I instantly regretted it.
I was going to ask if you regret the decision.
I do. But also, they didn't show that as we were saying goodbyes... they edited my quote to the team. I stared them all down and said, "You guys are lucky... because I was going to beat every single one of you." And they knew it! But then Aubry and I walked around just a tiny bit, and I gave her my jacket. I put some things in the pocket of the jacket, that I pulled out of some other pockets in my pants. So [the others] didn't know whether or not I gave Aubry the idol. There's also the thought that sometimes the threat of an idol is even more powerful than the idol itself. Idols get played, but if you don't know if somebody has it or not, that threat can go on for some time.
So even though he regrets the decision, there's still the fear of the idol out there. Then again, if they assume Aubry has the idol and she doesn't, then they may try to flush it out and she's screwed. We'll see how this plays out next week.
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