Crystal Cox the thirteenth castaway eliminated from 'Survivor: Gabon'
By John Bracchitta, 12/12/2008
After 36 days in Gabon, Crystal Cox, a 29-year-old 2004 Olympic gold-medalist track athlete from Durham, NC, became the thirteenth castaway to be eliminated from Survivor: Gabon during last night's broadcast of the CBS reality series.
"Wow I did not know that [Jessica "Sugar" Kiper] turned on me, I don't know what for. It kinda hurts with three days left in the game," a tear-eyed Crystal said following her elimination. "It's been a great run -- 36 days. I tried to play a fair game and hopefully I made my friends and family proud. Good luck [Ken "Kenny" Hoang], I'm rooting for you."
Survivor: Gabon's twelfth and penultimate episode began on Night 33 as the six remaining castaways returned from Tribal Council following the elimination of Corinne Kaplan. After receiving three votes at Tribal Council and narrowly avoiding elimination himself, Matty Whitmore, a 29-year-old personal trainer from Pacific Palisades, CA., took issue with Kenny -- a 22-year-old professional video gamer from Westminster, CA and his former ally -- for putting his name down for elimination.
"I believe that tonight I got a vote from Kenny and he wants me out of the game," Matty said.
Matty confronted Kenny about why he had chosen to vote for, but was not receptive when Kenny explained that he had thought Corinne and Robert "Bob" Crowley, a 47-year-old physics teacher from Portland, ME, had been planning to use a hidden Immunity Idol.
Bob had created a second fake Immunity Idol and given it to Corinne in an attempt to save her from elimination. Corinne had convinced Kenny that the idol was real and to vote for Matty instead of her.
"I thought it was the real one," Kenny told Matty.
"Don't lie bro -- that's what you're doing," Matty responded.
After the conversation ended, Matty remained skeptical of Kenny.
"I started getting an ear load of crap from Kenny, why he did what he did [and] I don't even wanna hear it," Matty said after the confrontation with Kenny. "Kenny's playing a game, he's a mastermind, and I'm on to him."
However Sugar assured Kenny that he had nothing to worry about.
"Don't worry... Matty is going next Bob wins [immunity again]," Sugar told him as Crystal looked on.
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After observing the fallout from Matty's near elimination, Crystal -- who, at Kenny's instance, had voted for Corinne instead of Matty in an attempt to flush out the fake idol -- had second thoughts about Kenny's voting strategy.
"I'm really regretting not writing Matty's name down tonight, which is probably the stupidest move I've made in this game so far," she said. "Hopefully Matty doesn't win immunity at the next challenge. Matty needs to go."
The confrontations continued when Kenny sought out Bob to ask why, if he and Corinne hadn't been lying to him, Corinne hadn't played the idol at Tribal Council.
"It's fake," Bob admitted reluctantly.
"I trusted you and Corinne and you lied to me, and now my game is messed up," Kenny told Bob angrily.
"I know, I know," Bob responded. "I've put you in a horrible position."
"I risked everything to try and save you and Corinne, and this is what I get for being a nice guy?!" Kenny shot back.
As a means to make up with Kenny, Bob told him that if was able to win immunity at the next Immunity Challenge that he would give it to Kenny. While Kenny was hesitant to believe him, Bob said that he was a man of his word and would follow through on the promise.
Afterwards, Kenny reveled in what he thought was another brilliant piece of gameplay on his part.
"I made him feel sorry for me, this is a huge power play," he said.
The following day, the castaways met Survivor: Gabon host Jeff Probst for their Reward Challenge, which required them to race through a swamp filled with obstacles to retrieve one of three balls and then run back to where they started and shoot the ball at a mini basketball hoop until they sunk their shot.
The castaways would then have to repeat their run through through swamp two more times, with the first one to make all three of their balls into the hoop winning the challenge.
The winner of the challenge would receive a helicopter ride to a nearby national park where they would visit gorilla sanctuary along with a meal, shower, laundry service, and a bed to sleep on for the night. They would also get the chance to send one castaway to Exile.
Matty jumped out to an early lead in the challenge with Kenny and Bob following behind him. However, after struggling to get his second ball into the hoop while Bob only needed one attempt, Matty's lead was cut down to only a few steps when he and Bob retrieved their third balls and began shooting at the hoop. Matty then once again struggled with his shot while Bob did not and won the challenge.
Before leaving for the gorilla sanctuary, Bob was told that he could bring two castaways with him. With little hesitation, Bob chose Crystal and Kenny.
"The way I'm playing the game right now is, I need Crystal and Kenny to work with me because I am trying to play for all the marbles in the pot," he later explained of his choices.
Bob also sent Susie Smith, a 47-year-old hairdresser and assistant teacher from Charles City, IA, to Exile. She was told that she would return in time for that round's Immunity Challenge.
Matty, who was now on the outs with his former alliance members, was angered by Bob's wining-and-dining of Kenny and Crystal, but decided to take a new approach to the game as he and Sugar returned to the Nobag camp alone.
"Crystal and Kenny drive me nuts. They've spent too long in this game," Matty said. "My goal with Sugar is to get her to align with me and vote Kenny and Crystal out."
After arriving at the sanctuary, Bob, Crystal and Kenny discussed the upcoming Tribal Council vote and both Crystal and Kenny stressing the importance of getting Matty eliminated.
"I hope the next one [eliminated] is Matty, because if it's not Matty it's gonna be one of us," Crystal said.
Kenny and Bob also worked out a new deal regarding their previous Immunity Idol agreement in which Bob would only have to give up the idol if Kenny felt he was in danger of being eliminated.
"This is the plan, at the next [Tribal Council], I'll be wearing the necklace I haven't won yet, and if Kenny feels that he needs it, and if he wants it, I will give it to him," Bob said after the discussion. "If he thinks it's better off protecting me, he'll say 'No, keep it.'"
Back at the Nobag camp, Matty tried to get Sugar on board with dumping her alliance with Crystal and Kenny, but had little success.
"I'll tell you what, you better win that thing tomorrow because you're the biggest threat now," Sugar told him.
Matty continued to stress that Crystal and Kenny couldn't be trusted, telling Sugar that they were "1,000 percent" aligned and that Kenny was just using her and would not hesitate to dump her when she was no longer useful to him. He then suggested that, because of her safety in the competition, that Sugar give her hidden Immunity Idol to him. Sugar immediately dismissed his request.
"I'm certainly not gonna give Matty the idol, screw that." she said later. "At this point I'm using my idol to make sure I'm in the Final 5."
"My status now is I'm basically on my own and I'm not getting any help from anybody, and if I don't win the next Immunity Challenge I think I'm packing up my bags and going home." Matty said after his unsuccessful grab at the idol.
However, after Bob, Crystal and Kenny returned to camp, Matty's chances of survival in the came improved drastically after he took a verbal lashing from Kenny and Crystal about confronting them after the previous Tribal Council vote.
"Right now I'm throwing the stink on Matty so everybody else can smell it and write his name down," Crystal later said of her strategy.
During the argument, Crystal accused Matty of breaking a promise to she and Kenny by aligning with Susie. Matty denied an alliance with Susie and said they just liked spending time together.
Kenny told Matty that he had no reason to be mad about the vote for him and similarly berated him, later describing him as "super paranoid."
As Sugar watched the confrontation between the threesome, her opinions of Crystal and Kenny changed drastically and later said that she felt Matty didn't deserve to be yelled at by them.
"Matty is right that Crystal and Kenny have been in this together from the beginning, and they just take out whoever they want," Sugar said. "Kenny acts like he's this weak, little, meager guy and he spins all these lies. Crystal is just a big bully."
Sugar then proceeded to seek out Matty and said that after watching Crystal and Kenny "kick [him] when [he was] down" she wanted to help him stay in the game by getting Bob and Susie on board to form a four-vote alliance to get first Crystal and then Kenny out of the game.
"It's like they're just going off on you when they know you're going... But you're not going. You're not gonna go, ok?
After meeting with Sugar, Matty held a guarded optimism that he may still have a chance to make it to the Final 5.
"If Sugar really is telling me the truth, than I have hope, I can play this game," he said. "I might have to go to the end with Bob, and Bob will dominate, but at least good will prevail."
On Day 36, the castaways met with Jeff for the Immunity Challenge. The challenge required them to first study the features of a traditional Gabonese mask with their hands while blindfolded and then grab one of three separate bags of mask pieces and make their way through an obstacle course to a station where they would have to reconstruct the mask with their blindfolds still on. The first person to correctly reconstruct the mask would receive immunity at that evening's Tribal and would be guaranteed a spot in the Final 5.
While most of the castaways quickly felt the mask before leaving with the bag of pieces for the obstacles, Bob spent a longer time studying the mask before leaving. His extra time ended up proving beneficial, as he was able to quickly assemble the mask and, after getting it wrong on his first attempt, won immunity after getting it correct on his second attempt.
The win was Bob's fourth consecutive challenge victory.
"Four challenges in a row and I'm 57-years-old, it felt real good," Bob said following his win.
After acknowledging that it was now up to Bob to see if he would follow through on his word or not, Kenny met with Crystal and -- feeling Bob was too big a threat to keep winning challenges -- devised a new plan. Instead of eliminating Matty, Kenny told Crystal that he would tell Bob that he was worried about the upcoming Tribal Council and would have Bob surrender the idol to him. After getting the idol out of Bob's hands, Kenny suggested that he and Crystal convince the other castaways to blindside him and get him out of the game
"Who woulda' thought Bob would be winning all of these challenges, but he has been," Kenny reasoned after the meeting. "We shoulda gotten rid of him when we had the chance, but we kept him in because everybody hated [Randy Bailey], and now we're paying for it."
However, Kenny's plan hit an initial snag when he encountered resistance from Bob while trying to convince him that he felt he was in danger of being voted out of the game.
"Why would they blindside you they're gonna take Matty out," Bob said suspiciously.
"Because I'm with you, they're four still," Kenny responded.
"Okay, we'll talk about it, [but] let's find out who's voting for who," Bob said.
Kenny then went met with the four remaining tribemates and told them that, in order to get Bob eliminated, they would each have to tell Bob that they planned on voting for Kenny.
However Sugar, still sour on Kenny and Crystal after their treatment of Matty, no longer felt like helping either of them out and instead decided to find Bob and tell him of their plan to blindside him.
"Something's striking me that I didn't feel before," Sugar told Bob of Kenny and Crystal. "So I think that you shouldn't do everything that they say. I think we need to take them out."
After suggesting that he vote for Crystal, Sugar reassured Bob that she would not vote for him, despite the evidence that she should do so in order to increase her chances of winning.
"I will not vote for you, I know you're the biggest threat, but I don't care, I just think the good guys should win in the end," she told Bob.
Sugar then came back to Kenny and Crystal and lied, saying that she had spoken to Bob and that he planned on giving Kenny the idol. After receiving some feedback from Matty about the upcoming vote, Sugar reassured him that everything was under control.
"Let me do the thinking," she told Matty. "I just talked to [Bob], just vote for Crystal."
At Tribal Council that evening, Bob acknowledged that he had become a power player in the competition, but added that having such a title brought with it consequence as well.
"There's a huge target on my back, and if I don't win [immunity], I could be joining the jury," he said.
"He amazes me for being as old as he is," Kenny added. "He's strong, he's smart, he's agile, he's Bob."
Kenny also revealed the promise that Bob had made to give him the Immunity Idol if he deemed it necessary.
Bob confirmed that they had spoken about exchanging the idol, but was vague on his true intentions.
"We've, since then sort of renegotiated things," Bob said. "I told him that if I feel he is going to go home tonight that I'm going to give him the necklace, and after we discuss all this I'll make that decision."
'I was at such a great position, and now I'm the outcast," Kenny responded, trying to cement his status as being in danger of being eliminated. "I turned on my alliance, Bob has the necklace, where am I."
However, Matty challenged Kenny's proclamations of fear, saying that he and Crystal had "the tightest alliance since Day 1 in this game."
"They have honestly dominated this game," he added.
"I think that everybody thinks that me and crystal are very tight, but I jumped from my really good position in the five alliance that I had, and I feel like I could be the next to go," Kenny responded.
Before Bob made his decision, Matty reiterated that he felt "very vulnerable" without immunity and could very well be eliminated as well.
Bob then made his decision:
"I told Kenny if I thought he was going home tonight that I'd give it to him, and I wanna keep it because I don't think he's going home tonight," Bob said as Crystal and Kenny both sulked.
Each castaway then cast their votes, however prior to reading them Jeff asked if anyone wished to play a hidden Immunity Idol. To Kenny and Crystal's dismay, Sugar handed her idol to Matty, who played it.
"Matty, take this cursed thing away," Sugar said as she handed the idol to Matty as a surprised Crystal and Kenny looked on.
With Bob and Matty safe, Jeff proceeded to read off the votes and confirm that, with four votes, Crystal had been eliminated.
"Well, we're down to five. The million dollars is in sight. The question is which one of the five of you will win it," Jeff said before the castaways returned to camp.
Kenny, Sugar, Bob, Matty, and Susie will all compete for the $1 million grand prize during Survivor: Gabon's live two-hour season finale, which will air on Sunday, December 14 at 8PM ET on CBS.