Ami Cusack the tenth castaway eliminated from 'Survivor: Micronesia'
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/04/2008
Just as Ami Cusack felt like she was finally accepted by her fellow Favorites, her trustworthiness was questioned.
That's never a good sign, and the 35-year-old former Survivor: Vanuatu contestant became the tenth castaway eliminated from Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality show's sixteenth season.
"It kills me that [Ozzy Lusth] and [Amanda Kimmel] didn't trust me, that I'm not still there playing with them," said Ami after her ouster. "The one day I finally feel like I'm part of something is the day I get voted out. This game definitely plays tricks on you. You learn a lot about yourself, like I really need to keep my head up. I really need to stay strong. I'm blessed that I got to play this game twice."
Survivor: Micronesia's eighth episode began with the Malakal tribe returning to camp following the previous Tribal Council that saw the elimination of Tracy Hughes-Wolf. Erik Reichenbach explained he felt "really, really lucky" to still be in the competition -- but as Malakal's only remaining Fan, he was also "scared to death" and realized there was very little "leeway" for him in the game.
"I feel like I'm the next to go no matter what," he said.
Ozzy also continued to refute Tracy's Tribal Council claim that Ozzy was Malakal's leader. Still, he described Tracy's comments as an "eye opener."
"I really don't think that I'm the leader. I just think that I've got a lot of good opinions when it comes to surviving out here, and people respect that," he said. "Even though I think I'm a valuable asset, I'm going to have a giant target on my back. That's the kind of situation I wanted to avoid."
While it was still dark, Ami and Survivor: Panama'sCirie Fields went crab hunting and brought back quite a haul for the tribe to feast on. Ozzy sat next to Ami at camp and continued to complain about how he felt the leader label was "annoying." Ami reassured Ozzy not to worry about it and added she tried "everything in her power" to keep him when Tracy made a last-ditch effort to have him booted.
"I stopped anything crazy from happening," she said. "You're not in any danger. Let it go."
However Ozzy couldn't let it go and thought Ami was being a little too adamant in her denials.
"As much as [Ami] says she's on my side, I'm starting to get uneasy feelings," he said.
At the Airai camp, Jason Siska cornered and killed a rat that he hoped would impress the tribe's Favorites.
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"Nobody's eaten a rat since the first season of Survivor, so it's kind of cool I'll be able to bring that tradition back," he boasted.
"I think Jason's been trying to impress the Favorites ever since the switch-up," commented Survivor: Cook IslandsParvati Shallow. "It's not working, though. I think he's a loser."
Parvati and Survivor: China'sJames Clement pined for the Malakal camp since it was better equipped to deal with the elements and had numerous amenities. They also discussed strategy.
"The original Malakal alliance was supposed to be myself, Parvati, Amanda, Ozzy and Cirie," said James. "But over here, it's just Parvati and I... If [Alexis Jones and Natalie Bolton] get too close to the merge, Ami and [Survivor: Vanuatu'sEliza Orlins are] gonna scoop them up."
Parvati assured James that as long as they both make it to the merge they'll be "fine" -- but just to be safe, she decided to approach Natalie and suggest an alliance of four that will last to the merge and consist of herself, Natalie, Alexis and James.
"Yeah, I will work with you," readily agreed Natalie.
Felling secure, Parvati decided to look at the big picture and told Natalie she only has an alliance with James and Ozzy until the merge and after that, the "big guys" will be the ones with the big targets on their backs.
"They're probably gonna be the first to go. I wouldn't see anything wrong with it being ya'all two [Alexis and Natalie], me and Amanda -- Final 4," said Parvati to Natalie.
Natalie once again agreed to the plan as Parvati declared Ozzy and James were "dead" to her.
Both tribes then received Tree Mail that informed them the next challenge would be both for Immunity and Reward. In addition, both tribes were instructed to pick one member of the opposing team to send to Exile Island. The twist was that the two exiled members would not compete in the challenge, and would instead be granted Individual Immunity good at only the upcoming Tribal Council.
At Malakal, Erik was hoping Airai would select to send him to Exile and give him Individual Immunity.
"I'm hoping so much that I get some form of Immunity here and survive this Tribal Council tonight," he said.
The two tribes then gathered for a joint Immunity and Reward Challenge, and host Jeff Probst revealed Ozzy would be going to Exile for Malakal and Alexis would be going for Airai. He then explained the challenge's rules.
One tribe member at a time would attempt to navigate a balance-intensive obstacle course over a pit of water, while members from the opposing tribe would try to knock them off by swinging heavy canvas bags at them. Once across, they'd grab a flag and race back across the same course. If they fell off at any time, they'd have to go back to the start and the next person goes.
The first tribe to collect all five of their flags would win Immunity and a pizza party back at their camp. Jason and Eliza opt to run the course for Airai, while Erik and Amanda would run the course for Malakal.
Jason and Erik collected the majority of the flags for their respective tribes and it was a very tight race, with the canvas bags not playing much of a role at all. With Eliza giving Airai a slight 4-3 lead, Erik realized he needed to make a quick move and foolishly tried to leap across the pit only to hit the platform on the other side extremely hard.
Jason quickly collected Airai's fifth and final flag and made his way back to the start where Airai claimed Immunity for the fourth time in a row.
Malakal returned to camp and Erik said his failed leap "hurt like crazy"
"It hurts," he said, revealing a red chest. "I'm not gonna lie. It was pretty bad."
However Erik had more pressing matters on his mind -- his survival in the game.
"I tried my damndest, because that was my last real attempt I think that I could have. But it was not happening," opined Erik before Ami put the situation into perspective.
"I would have loved to see Erik stay," she said, "but I don't see any way out for him right now. I don't see any way out for him."
Airai enjoyed their pizza and beer -- the bottles of which James opened with his teeth -- while Jason basked in his "MVP" glory.
"I definitely feel scared about my position over here. Luckily I hold the Hidden Immunity Idol," said Jason, unaware that what he has is a fake planted by Ozzy. "I can't really count on any alliances. I'm just gonna have to compete at 110% in every challenge or it could be the end of the game for me."
On Exile Island, Ozzy didn't let on that he already had found the real Hidden Immunity Idol and still went with Alexis in search of it to see if someone had recovered his fake one. Sure enough, Ozzy discovered the fake idol he planted was gone.
"Someone's taken the bait!" said Ozzy with a laugh. "I don't know who -- but it's gone. It's not here. Who's it gonna be? Who is gonna be tricked by Ozzy?"
At the Malakal camp Ami and Cirie opined about constantly losing while Erik ascended a coconut tree -- a trick Ozzy taught him -- and tried to devise a plan to stay in the game, which he wanted to do "very badly."
"I've seen so many seasons of this show, it's killing me right now that I'm this close to maybe making the next level -- making the next set of alliances that can lead me to the end of this game," he said. "I feel like I'm on my last leg... I'm trying to work with what I have and I'm pretty desperate right now."
He approached Amanda and Cirie, and in a last ditch effort threw Ami under the bus, spilling the beans about how she had previously conspired with himself, Tracy and Chet Welch to vote for Ozzy. Cirie and Amanda were surprised and were confused about who they could trust more, Erik or Ami.
"The problem is I don't trust Ami, but I don't trust Erik either," said Cirie. "So my dilemma is, who do I trust the least?"
While he was unsure where they stood, Erik told the two ladies what his plan was.
"I want you guys to know that if you decide Ami, I'd be in with that," he said. "I'm trying to save my neck here."
Ami saw Erik talking to Cirie and Amanda and approached her two fellow Favorites after he had departed.
"He's gonna do whatever he can to stay in the game," correctly stated Ami. "I've stuck by you 100% and I always will."
Cirie and Amanda were still suspicious of Ami -- but also weren't certain about Erik, afraid that whichever of the two they keep would align with Eliza, Alexis, Natalie and Jason once the merge occurs. Ami countered by complaining that she's always felt like an outsider with the Favorites.
"I was the last one to even be talked to about being with you guys," she said.
Amanda pointed out they didn't approach Ami because they thought she was aligned with Eliza, which Ami admitted she was.
"Why would we [approach you] then?" correctly questioned Amanda.
"Since then you guys have never come together and said, 'Okay Ami, we want you to be a part of this and totally into this. We're watching your back no matter what,'" replied Ami. "I want to stick with you guys the whole way and feel like I'm part of you guys. But nobody has really said, 'Hey Ami, we want to fight with you.'"
"We want to fight with you," said Amanda.
That was music to Ami's ears and Amanda explained the comment.
"We don't know Erik like we know Ami," she said. "We know we can't trust Ami. It's almost better with the devil you know rather than the devil you don't know."
Ami then approached Erik and thanked him for helping her feel like she had finally been accepted by the Favorites.
"I actually feel like I'm a part of them now," she said. "Thank you. Thank you."
However Erik wasn't going to "give up" and "admit defeat" that easily.
"We'll just have to see what Ozzy has to say when he comes back from Exile," he said.
Sure enough, the boat carrying Ozzy from Exile Island arrived on the beach and Ozzy was immediately met by Erik.
"As soon as I jumped off the boat, there was Erik looking like a lost puppy dog," said Ozzy. "He came right up to me and said, 'I know it's a long shot, but I've got to tell you something about Ami.'"
Erik then explained what he had already told Cirie and Amanda about Ami's attempts to backstab Ozzy with himself, Tracy and Chet -- and Ozzy's previously stated "uneasy feeling" had come to fruition.
"Did Ami try and get me out?" Ozzy asked Erik.
"Yes," he replied.
"Okay," answered Ozzy.
"I'm going to write down Ami tonight," explained Erik. "And I want you to help me as a fellow competitor to stay."
Ozzy explained the situation he was in.
"The way I play this game, as soon as someone makes a move against me, that's it, I'm gonna do whatever I can to get them out as fast as I can," said Ozzy. "That's what Ami did. Erik on the other hand, given the opportunity I think he will prove trustworthy. I'm willing to take that chance and that risk."
Back at camp, Ozzy pulled Amanda aside and the two discussed their options -- with Amanda thinking they should stick with Ami because she's the devil they know best and Ozzy pleading they keep Erik because Ami tried to oust him.
Survivor: Micronesia's eighth Tribal Council commenced and Jeff reminded Malakal this was their fourth time there in a row and pointed out that a Fan had been booted the previous three times.
"I know. I understand that," said Erik. "The Fans have been going one after another. I understand that I could be the one tonight. I feel hopeless."
Ozzy then hinted that he was losing trust in Ami by stating "the game gets in the way" and the "Favorites that might feel like they're at the bottom of the pecking order start playing the Fans."
"Now I'm starting to realize certain things are not what they seem," he added.
Ami began to tear-up since she knew Ozzy was "obviously" talking about her.
"I know Erik has been saying all day long that I've been playing both sides and all of that," she said.
Erik then reiterated Ami's attempts to go with the Fans, and she correctly pointed out that she "could have" gone with the Fans, but didn't.
"It's just now that finally I feel like I'm part of the tribe, you're telling me that, 'I don't trust her. I don't believe her,'" said Ami.
Ozzy questioned Ami's feelings that she's not part of the tribe.
"I haven't always felt like I'm part of the tribe. You guys go off and you make decisions that you don't ask me about," said Ami, raising her voice.
"I just want to know -- were you gunning for me with Tracy and Erik? Or were you not?" asked Ozzy.
"There is no way I would have ever voted for you with Tracy and Erik. Never," stated Ami. "I was giving them hope... There is no way I would have ever voted for you. Ever Ozzy. The only way I would vote for you is to win the $1 million. Period."
Cirie gave a good analogy about the Favorites all having "mutual respect" for each other and the home team not wanting the visitors to "come in and win the game."
"I think you just have to go with your gut feeling," said Cirie.
Amanda added she thinks Ami's a "good person" and "wants to believe what she's saying."
"God I want to trust Ami. I really do," said Ozzy. "I feel like I have for the most part for the whole entire game."
Ami was surprised Ozzy still didn't trust her and Erik made his final pitch, stating he has "no other option" but to tell the truth about Ami and thus hope they see her as an untrustworthy threat.
"The biggest thing is my heart is in this," said Ami in her final plea. "I want to fight for this tribe. I want to stick together. I don't want to go out now. We have so much more that we can conquer together... I've looked you in the eyes and you know you can trust. I know you know it... I swear, I'll give you everything I have."
Ami voted for Erik but the other four Malakal members voted to boot her, thus eliminating Ami from the competition.
"You're gonna have so much fun," whispered Ami to Erik as she gave him a goodbye hug.
"You guys better start winning," she warned before Jeff snuffed out her torch.
Survivor: Micronesia -- Fans vs. Favorites next episode will air Thursday, April 10 at 8PM ET/PT, with the two tribes merging.