John Powell – GobalTV.com
A nerdy music teacher from Brooklyn and a spitfire of a graphic salesperson originally from Puerto Rico have much more in common than you might think.
Stephanie Gonzalez and Jacob Derwin each feel they were square pegs in round holes and if they had been on the opposite tribe, their Survivor fates might have been very different.
In her case, Gonzalez says she was stuck on a tribe that wasn’t ready to make big moves.
“The group was not ready to play hard. They wanted to keep up the good vibes, keep things happy with pink rainbows and stuff as long as they could,” she said of the Malolo Tribe.
Based on what she has seen of the Naviti Tribe, Gonzalez thinks she would have had a far better chance of making it further in the game.
“There were players that were a lot more aggressive and were there to play on Day One. If I was on that tribe I would have connected immediately with a few people,” she said.
Gonzalez believes all of her troubles started before the game even began, when the players were in sequester. Some of the other players said they felt Gonzalez was standoffish in sequester.
“I didn’t want to come off as the girl who is trying to make eye contact or trying to create some pre-season alliance. I was so happy and thrilled to be there that I kept to myself so much. Much more than I obviously needed to but I was afraid of crossing any kind of line and getting into trouble. I knew I wasn’t being perceived how I truly am because I am being so standoffish. I knew it was happening but didn’t know what to do to prevent it,” she recalled.
Outside of the game Gonzalez says she is goofy, silly and never takes herself seriously which is why she connected with Jacob.
“Jacob and I connected but I feel if I was more myself I could have knocked down their walls as I already look very intimidating. To top it all off, I have an award-winning resting bitch face,” she laughed.
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Although she knew everyone had turned against her Gonzalez took her last shot at swaying the tribe at a boisterous Tribal Council.
“I just wanted to see how written in stone the decision was and if there was any wiggle room to make whatever I could happen. I was not going to go down in flames,” she said.
Gonzalez knew the two strongest pairs were Brendan and Michael and Jenna and Stephanie. When she whispered to Brendan and Michael they both gave her different names so she knew the plan to boot her was in full effect.
Knowing Brendan was basically running the show Gonzalez tried to manipulate Libby. She whispered to her that Brendan had passed along instructions and they were all going to vote out Donathan now.
“As soon as my butt hit the stump, I knew they were going to whisper to each other and confirm that it was me they were voting out,” she said.
Like Gonzalez, Jacob believes he might have had better odds if he had been on the other tribe.
“I got really good vibes from people on the other tribe. I felt really cool about Wendell and Desiree, even Chelsea. There were a lot of people over there I felt that I had a good chance of working with,” he said.
What threw a wrench into Jacob’s plans was that he wasn’t the only super fan on his tribe, something he thought he could use to his advantage on the right circumstance. Instead of drawing people in though it pushed them further away.
“I was surrounded by big fans of all shapes and sizes. I thought my wealth of knowledge about the game might actually help endear me to those other fans as an asset. Stephanie is a fan. Laurel is a fan. Even Michael knows the game really well. I thought if I started dropping knowledge it would actually bring us together but all it did was make people scared of me. The believed I had some sort of strategic master plot but I was just trying to get by,” he laughed.
As a one-time Survivor reporter and a life-long fan Jacob felt pressure to do well from both sides of the equation as a knowledgeable source and a faithful viewer.
“It is about putting your money where your mouth is. You cannot just sit on your couch and yell at the television. When you have all of those people rooting for you, you are kind of acting like their proxy out there in the game. You are kind of carrying the weight of all these other fans so all wish they had the opportunity but you got it so you better make the most of it,” he said.
In the end, super fan Stephanie decided not to accept Jacob’s deal even after he divulged all of his game secrets to her. Jacob says he wasn’t bamboozled no matter what viewers saw.
“It was presented in such a way that she came up to me on Day Five, she touched my arm and I spilled all of my secrets. The truth is we were talking on Day One. We had a pretty good relationship. I looked at her like my cool mom,” he explained.
Even though her betrayal upset him at the time, Jacob now has respect for Stephanie as a player.
“I was under the impression that Stephanie just turned around and told everyone what I told her. The truth is she didn’t. She actually kept those secrets. I see that as a better move and really respectful. It shows that she actually considered making the move that I offered. She is a gamer,” he said.
Would you like to see Gonzalez and Jacob play again? Let us know in the comments below.
While Jacob lost his bid to win the million dollars, what nobody can take away from him is being part of Survivor history and that includes being the very first person to visit and experience Ghost Island.
“It was a really cool moment. It was a crazy place to be. To see all the idols and the necklaces and especially the snuffers and be surrounded by that was special for a guy like me who has loved the show for so long. I was basking in the history for a moment, alone. I didn’t have to share that moment with anyone,” he said.