Exclusive: Cirie Fields talks about her 'Survivor: Micronesia' experience
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/12/2008
Cirie Fields felt she was a much more active as a Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites castaway than she was on Survivor: Panama, and she planned to use that as her argument for why she deserved the $1 million during the final Tribal Council.
However for the first time since Survivor: Panama, the show ended with a Final 2 instead of a Final 3, and Cirie was the eighteenth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Micronesia during last night's finale broadcast of the CBS reality series' sixteenth edition.
On Monday, Cirie talked to Reality TV World about why everyone thought Micronesia's subsequent winner Parvati Shallow was the most beatable when it came to the jury vote; how runner-up Amanda Kimmel made several blunders when addressing the jury that cost her; what caused Cirie to emerge as one of the competition's stronger power players; and how she was told that if she had made it to the final Tribal Council, she'd be $1 million richer today.
Reality TV World: Going into that Final 4 Tribal Council, how confident were you about how the vote was going to go?
Cirie: I was pretty confident in my alliance with Parvati and Amanda. It would have been kind of crazy for them -- at this point -- to turn on our alliance. We had done so well. I mean we all love [Natalie Bolton], but it was a plan for us to make it to the Final 3. So I wasn't really worried at that point.
Reality TV World: Did you ever think of trying to make a move to break-up the Amanda/Parvati duo at that point or were you just focused on making sure you got to the Final 3? Would it have made a difference if you knew it was a Final 2 and not a Final 3?
Cirie: Actually Natalie and I had a discussion and I asked her how was she at making fire -- because I felt at that point if there was a tie [at Tribal Council] there would be a fire challenge.
But then I thought, for the same reasons that I felt comfortable with them not flipping at this point, I thought it wouldn't be a good idea. Had I done something like that and went up against the jury, I don't think I would have faired to well because it wasn't really necessary.
Reality TV World: Were you surprised that Amanda tried to claim that you weren't the one on the bottom of both the couples alliance and her alliance with Parvati?
Cirie: It kind of irritated me as everyone saw. (laughing) It was fact! I think Amanda took it as I'm trying to sway the jury one way or another, and it wasn't that at all. Had I not been asked the question [by Survivor host Jeff Probst], I wouldn't have even brought it up. I was kind of insulted by her even suggesting that that wasn't so! It was obvious. It was painfully obvious to everyone. (laughing) So how dare you even suggest that that's not the case.
Reality TV World: Why were you all so surprised that there wasn't a Final 3? Weren't the facts that the Final 4 Immunity Challenge took place a day early, wasn't a classic endurance challenge, and wasn't proceeded by the usual "Fallen Comrades" march some pretty big hints that there was going to be another Immunity Challenge?
Cirie: It's just... [in] previous seasons, it was Final 3. I guess you could chalk it up to wishful thinking. I mean we all got the hints. We all knew that there was a possibility. But what really made it unbelievable to me -- like, "No, it couldn't be!" -- is the fact that it would be an even-numbered jury. I didn't think that they would risk... I mean I know it would make for great TV to have a tie. But there's never -- as far as I know -- has been an even-numbered jury.
Reality TV World: Assuming it had been a Final 3, what was your jury strategy going to be? Were you expecting that Amanda and Parvati would basically split their votes?
Cirie: I felt if I had just had the opportunity to speak to the jury, I'm pretty confident in my ability to sway people. (laughing)
I would have told them I knew from practically Day 3 that me joining that foursome alliance [with Amanda, Parvati, Ozzy Lusth and James Clement], I was talked about from the very beginning. [After the tribal swap] when [Joel Anderson] came they talked about me. When [Tracy Hughes-Wolf] was there they talked about me. I managed to work my way -- I didn't just sit around -- I actually worked my way to the end this time. That would have been the basic crux of my argument. They were there with me. They saw what I did.
Reality TV World: Did you expect Amanda to vote you out at the Final 3 Tribal Council or were you surprised?
Cirie: I knew she was going to take Parvati, but I had to give it one last shot and tell her, "Look, I've done more stuff to people out here than Parvati did." Not more. We did about the same. But most of it I initiated or I did the talking for.
I did everything I could. I knew it didn't really matter what I said because so many people talked about taking Parvati. It was almost like they wanted to take Parvati as a goat because they thought everyone hated Parvati. [Erik Reichenbach] wanted to take Parvati. Natalie wanted to take Parvati. Amanda wanted to take Parvati. I knew it was a done deal had I not won [the Final 3 Individual Immunity Challenge].
Reality TV World: So if everybody thought Parvati was beatable, what happened?
Cirie: Parvati was good with her answers [to the jury]. Amanda's answers weren't true. Even the question I asked -- "why Parvati over me" -- and [for Amanda] to say that Parvati's game was better than mine? People were there! (laughing) They saw it! They were there. So I think Parvati's answers came across more truthful and that's why she won.
Reality TV World: Did Amanda's answer to your question surprise you? What type of answer were you expecting?
Cirie: I kind of anticipated her answering it that way. I knew she would never honestly say, "Well I wanted to take Parvati because I think I can beat her." I wanted the jury to see that.
Reality TV World: Did you buy Amanda's tears and claims that it was an incredibly tough decision to vote you off?
Cirie: No. I knew that the decision was made already. She may have felt something. I'm not going to say that it was all false. We were close there from the beginning. But I knew her decision was made before the ball dropped.
Reality TV World: If you would have won the final Immunity Challenge, would you have taken Amanda or Parvati to the Final 2?
Cirie: (laughing) Honestly? I probably would have taken Parvati. Everyone would have taken Parvati, and rightfully so. (laughing)
Reality TV World: Having seen Amanda go through two final Tribal Council jury sessions now, would you agree that she doesn't seem to be very good at them?
Cirie: I think if Amanda would have been honest and came up with better answers... See that was part of the reason she didn't want to take me. We had a conversation and she was like, "I don't talk good in front of people and you can convince people to do anything. I would never win against you." She's right. She doesn't. (laughing) She should have practiced what she was going to say or prepared herself. I mean there's no preparing, you don't know the questions. I think she blew it with her answers.
Reality TV World: Did Amanda's poor answer -- and Parvati's good answer -- to your question determine your vote or had you already decided to vote for Parvati?
Cirie: You know what? Honestly speaking? If Amanda would have said, "Cirie, I took Parvati because there's no way I would have beat you. I wouldn't have been able to out-talk you with the jury. Plus everybody here knows that Parvati's done a lot and everyone hates Parvati and everybody wants to take Parvati," then maybe it might have been a slight chance. But honestly, no. I probably would have still voted for Parvati.
Reality TV World: Based on his final Tribal Council comment, James certainly seemed to think that most of the jury members had gone into the Tribal Council session planning to vote for Amanda. Was that the case? If so, what happened in your opinion? If not, what was situation?
Cirie: Well, James and Ozzy's vote was locked for Amanda from the time we hit the beach. So I don't know if he was speaking for himself, because we hadn't discussed who we were going to vote for. I think it was just because the way Parvati played the game. It was just assumed that Parvati's the goat, and anybody who sits next to Parvati will win.
Reality TV World: We didn't get to see Jeff poll the jury and see who they'd have voted for if Amanda had taken you to the Final 2 instead, but have you guys discussed it? If so, what was the result? If not, how do you think you'd have done -- do you think you'd also have beat her?
Cirie: When I arrived at Ponderosa, everyone there basically said, "You just lost $1 million by coming here. Had you not been on the jury, you would have won hands down."
Reality TV World: In both her seasons, Amanda basically seemed to expect the jury to reward her loyalty and physical competitiveness and was worried about the jury falling for an "I have kids and a family" story, but if you look over Survivor's history, that really doesn't happen and the "schemer" is often rewarded. Do you have any idea where she's been getting that strategy from? Did she ever discuss it with you?
Cirie: I can't really speak on that. Amanda schemed a little bit. She was loyal to Ozzy. At any given time, I'm sure if it wasn't helpful to her I would have been gone. (laughing) Even with Ozzy and the [Hidden Immunity Idol], he was like, "Did you tell Cirie?" She's like, "No." So I don't know why she thinks she was so loyal and non-scheming. (laughing) She just didn't initiate any of the moves, but she was there right along with it.
I don't know. I don't know if it was something from her previous season and how she figured this would work better for her. But obviously it didn't. (laughing)
Reality TV World: During the final Tribal Council, Parvati seemed to take all the credit for all the women's blindsides and Amanda probably made her look even better by saying Parvati was the "powerhouse" behind the women's strategy. Did you agree with those comments? If not, did you ever made sure the jury was aware of your own role?
Cirie: The jury knew! Most of the jury was there when it went down and Natalie -- which they didn't show, at the Tribal Council -- said, "Well Cirie came up with the plan to get rid of Erik." The whole jury looked at me shocked, but they knew. I even said to Amanda that day, "Yeah, Parvati did a lot of stuff. But so did I! Most of it, I did the talking for!"
So other than that, had I gotten a chance to talk to the jury I would have let them know, "Yeah, it was Parvati doing stuff. But I actually played the game this time. I didn't ride anybody's coattails. I didn't stir around and wait. I actually made moves on my own. Most of the moves I tried to make went through!"
Cirie: I knew Erik was younger. I knew he was a little naive. I have a good knack for reading people and what they might and might not do. Honestly speaking, I thought it was an 80/20 chance -- 80% that he probably wouldn't do it, but just on that 20% chance that whatever I saw in him that he might do it? We had to try. I was holding my breathe until the necklace hit Natalie's neck. (laughing)
Reality TV World: After he won the Final 5 Reward Challenge, were you surprised that Erik didn't just give up the reward trip and send himself to Exile Island so he could get the re-hidden Idol?
Cirie: I was really surprised. But like I said, it goes back to inexperience in this game and inexperience in life. He's a younger guy and had it been any of the other guys there besides Erik -- if it was James, Ozzy, [Jonathan Penner], any of those guys -- I think it might not have been a women's Final 4.
Reality TV World: Did the idea of getting rid of Ozzy start to formulate when you spent that night on Exile? Once you approached Parvati, Natalie, Alexis and Jason Siska about it, did you ever really doubt that they wouldn't go along with it seeing as how Ozzy was such a threat?
Cirie: When I went to Exile Island, I had a lot of time to think. (laughing) Knowing that Ozzy had the idol... Ozzy was already a big threat to me. When I started this game, Jeff asked who were my biggest threats. I told him [Yau-Man Chan] and Ozzy.
With [Ozzy] having the idol and everyone knowing it, that made his target 10-fold on his back! I played my game where if I'm in an alliance -- and I'm on the bottom of my alliance -- I'm not going to suggest outright that we vote someone out within our alliance until I feel out the other people and see what they're thinking. Once Parvati said, "I'm good with Ozzy going." As long as the other girls were cool with it -- minus Amanda of course -- I knew it could work, it would work and I was down for it. And it worked out fine.
Unless I know something is going to actually go through without hurting me, I won't step up and say, "Hey..." I wanted to get rid of Ozzy a long time ago, but I would put myself out there by bringing it up. (laughing)
Reality TV World: You were responsible for making one of the biggest decisions of the season when you sided with the couples alliance over Eliza Orlins, Jonathan, Yau-Man and Ami Cusack. What led to you making that decision?
Cirie: If Jonathan told me it was raining outside, I would have to go outside and get wet to believe it. I think Jonathan's a great person. But his game? It doesn't work with mine. (laughing)
Reality TV World: What normally happens to "fencesitters" in Survivoris that both sides team up against them. Were you ever concerned that those two alliances would have turned on you?
Cirie: At one point I thought it was a possibility -- especially when Jonathan and I got into it and everybody saw what was going on. I was a little scared at that point. But it would not have benefited either side to have gotten rid of me unless someone on their side was going to switch, and they hated each other for the most part. (laughing) So I knew it would work out in my favor.
Reality TV World: Where did your problem with Yau-Man originate? When we talked to Jonathan, he said you and Yau-Man originally had a secret alliance.
Cirie: We actually did not have a secret alliance.
What happened was, after I returned from Exile Island the very first time when I went with [Kathleen Sleckman], I thought because I didn't find [the Hidden Immunity Idol], if I can help Yau-Man find it -- seeing his previous game play with [Survivor: Fiji winner Earl Cole] -- maybe I can trust him enough to find the idol and share it with me. Then he wouldn't have to do all the work that I did to get to the last clue.
So I went to Yau-Man and I said, "Look, I've got all four clues. It was really hard, but I can tell you exactly where the fourth clue is and you can spend all day looking for the idol. If you find it, we can share it. If you give me your word, we can do that. I trust you from your season with Earl, you were honest with him and I'm just going on the fact that you'll be honest with me." He agreed. I said, "The next time one of us has to go, you have to go to Exile Island." We agreed on that.
But when it came time for one of us to go and we're trying to decide who goes, Yau-Man just blurts out, "I think Jonathan should go." That threw up a thousand red flags for me. Why would you want him to go unless you told him what I told you? With that, he had to go.
Reality TV World: How were you cast for Survivor: Micronesia?
Cirie: They called me. There were so many rumors going on that it was going to be [another] All-Stars [edition], it was going to be this it was going to be that. When they called me and said, "We're going to do this thing. Would you like to participate?" I was, "Of course!" I couldn't even believe it was a question!
Reality TV World: What was your reaction when you discovered it wasn't going to be another full All-Stars edition? Were you disappointed or happy?
Cirie: Initially I thought it was unfair. (laughing) I thought it was unfair to the Fans because like with anything with experience you get better. We never knew until we got there what it was going to be. People were saying, "It's going to be half fans." I was like, "No way. How could that be? How could that be fair to the other 10 people? We've all done it before. We all know this game. They think they know the game." But I guess it was so, so...
Reality TV World: Jeff has mentioned how some of the Favorites began talking about alliances and strategies before they even knew that they'd be coming back for sure. Had you had any of those types of talks? If so, with whom?
Cirie: I was so afraid that I would blow my opportunity to go. I didn't talk to anybody. Everyone was calling, "Did you get a call!? Did you get a call?!" One of my really good friends -- I felt so bad because he felt so bad for me that I didn't get a call. He thought for sure I would have been called. He was almost in tears on the phone consoling me for not being called. (laughing) But I didn't want to blow anything or ruin my chances of going so I didn't talk to anybody.
Reality TV World: Did Amanda or James ever tell you about what happened in China? Based on what aired last night, she apparently told Parvati she'd made it to China's Final 3 at some point.
Cirie: Amanda told me in the beginning that she made it to the finals. She never told me what happened with James until late, late, late in the game. At one point we were talking about voting James out and she was saying she couldn't vote for him and how he went home with two idols and how he was loyal to her. But no, I didn't know anything other than what I saw from [watching] their season [before Micronesia began filming] until late in the game.
Reality TV World: So you touched upon this a bit, but you altered your strategy from Panama to Micronesia right? You tried to be a little more active?
Cirie: I felt like everyone knew me from my previous season. I felt like I had to step my game up 100% in order to stay. I didn't have that comfort in my alliance that I had with [fellow former Panama castaways Aras Baskauskas and Shane Powers] and those guys. I felt so much more comfortable with them and so much more secure with them than I did this time.
Reality TV World: So what's next for you? Just going back to your work and family?
Cirie: Ozzy, Yau-Man, Eliza and myself, we're going to do a tour with the Army to support the troops. This Sunday coming we're going to Afghanistan for 10 days and then who knows from there. I'm open to anything. They have my number. (laughing)