Earl Cole wins 'Survivor: Fiji,' Dreamz reneges on deal with Yau-Man
By Christopher Rocchio, 05/14/2007
Earl Cole never saw his name written down on a Tribal Council parchment during Survivor's entire fourteenth season -- that is until last night's season finale, when he received all nine votes from the jury, allowing him to unanimously defeat Cassandra Franklin and Andria "Dreamz" Herd and emerge as Survivor: Fiji's ultimate survivor and $1,000,000 winner.
The 35-year-old advertising executive who currently resides in Santa Monica, CA and is originally Kansas City, KS was the first castaway in Survivor history to receive every member of the jury's vote, meaning Cassandra, a 42-year-old civil engineer manager from Los Angeles, CA and Dreamz, a 25-year-old Wilmington, NC cheerleading coach who spent part of his life homeless, were both completely shut out.
Sunday night's CBS broadcast of Survivor: Fiji's finale began with the five remaining castaways -- Earl; Cassandra; Dreamz; Kenward "Boo" Bernis, a 34-year-old construction worker from Lafayette, LA; and Yau-Man Chan, a 54-year-old computer engineer who currently resides in Martinez, CA but was born in Hong Kong and raised in Borneo, Malaysia -- returning from the previous Tribal Council that saw Stacy Kimball become the seventh member of Fiji's jury.
After only surviving the previous Tribal Council session due to his last minute decision to play his hidden Immunity Idol, Yau realized he had a "big target" on his back because of the deal he made with Dreamz -- that Dreamz would give Yau the Immunity Idol if the two were both members of the season's Final 4 and Dreamz were to win Fiji's Final 4 Immunity Challenge. In exchange, Yau gave Dreamz the truck he won during Fiji's last Reward Challenge.
Meanwhile, while Earl remained tightly aligned with Yau, he also realized the stakes were high. "Obviously it's time for me to protect myself," said Earl. "It's all about cannibalism now... We'll try toe at each other up."
After the five castaways arrived at their Day 37 Immunity Challenge, Survivor host Jeff Probst explained the challenge's rules. Each of the five remaining castaways would be blindfoled and given a uniquely-shaped medallion. They then had to navigate through a five-level maze by matching the shape of their medallion at a station located in each level, which would give them a key they would use to lower a drawbridge that would take them to the next level. If lost, guide posts along the way could help direct them. The first castaway to get all their keys and get across all four drawbridges to the finish line would win individual immunity that would guarantee them an automatic berth in the game's Final 4. Yau was the first castaway into each section and across all four drawbridges, so he easily won the Immunity Challenge.
"Well I just won immunity. That guarantees my place in the Final 4. I cannot be voted out tonight," said Yau once the castaways were back at their Bula Bula camp. "Earl has the hidden Immunity Idol, so he cannot be voted out. This was a very important win for me. If everybody plays it straight, it will be Boo."
Boo quickly recognized his head was on the chopping block, so he tried to convince Earl to vote-out Dreamz instead. Earl didn't want to face Dreamz in the final Tribal Council because he felt that given his background, Dreamz would likely receive "sympathy votes" from the jury so he seemed receptive to Boo's idea. When Yau also expressed concern for Dreamz receiving the "sympathy vote," it looked like Boo's plan might have some legs. However at the Night 37 Tribal Council, Dreamz, Yau, Earl and Cassandra all voted for Boo and he became the eighth member of Fiji's jury.
"It would be funny if Dreamz still takes Immunity and keeps it," said Boo, wondering if Dreamz would keep his deal with Yau now that both were at least members of the Final 4. "I don't think he's going to break his word. But wow... there's going to be some fireworks tomorrow."
As the sun rose on Day 38, Dreamz appeared to decide his fate was somewhat sealed and proclaimed he would give the Immunity Idol to Yau if he won the Immunity Challenge because he wanted his son "to see me as a man of my word" -- something he said was "very important" to him. "My game plan is to give Yau the [Immunity] necklace tonight, and whatever happens, I'm happy," said Dreamz.
After remembering Fiji's 15 previously booted castaways via the game's traditional "Fallen Comrades" journey, the Final 4 arrived at Fiji's final Immunity Challenge and learned that the challenge would require them to lie on their backs on an angled plank with their hands outstretched above their heads holding onto a handle. Every five minutes, the angle of the plank was sharpened, making it more difficult for the castaways to hold on. In addition, water was constantly running down the plank -- and mostly on to their heads -- to make it more slippery. The last castaway hanging on would win individual immunity.
Jeff then surprised the castaways by revealing that for the second season in a row, Survivor's season finale would feature three finalists and nine jurors, a twist that was first used during last fall's Survivor: Cook Islands finale (Fiji began filming before last fall's Cook Islands finale aired in December, therefore Fiji's castaways weren't aware of the twist). Cassandra was the first to lose her grip, followed by Earl. With the challenge down to Yau and Dreamz and the plank at a 55-degree angle, Yau -- who inexplicably didn't even ask Dreamz to honor their deal by quitting the challenge once only the two of them remained -- finally lost his grip and Dreamz won, allowing him at least the opportunity to live up to the deal with Yau if he wanted to.
Once the castaways arrived back at their Bula Bula camp, Dreamz decided that the pressure he had on him to give Yau the Immunity necklace had increased with the revelation that there would be three finalists instead of two. In Dreamz' opinion -- but clearly not in the opinion of the jury members who seemed to consider Dreamz' decision to renege on his deal to be the move that guaranteed he wouldn't win Survivor's grand prize -- he'd be guaranteeing himself a shot at the $1 million if he hung onto the necklace instead of giving it to Yau.
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Meanwhile, although Cassandra and Earl appeared to remain confident Dreamz would still give Yau the necklace, Yau was not.
"Hey Dreamz, if you change your mind, could you at least not vote for me?," Yau -- once again exhibiting an unwillingness to directly tell Dreamz to hand over the Immunity necklace he'd previously agreed to give him -- sheepishly asked Dreamz.
In response, Dreamz asked Yau why he thought he would change his mind about the deal. "I know you're not, but I'm still so nervous," answered Yau.
"It's so hard to give-up $1 million," said Dreamz to Cassandra and Earl. "I want to do the right thing. If I think of my kid before I go up there, believe the right thing will happen... I'm just saying, I'm just giving you all a heads up. If I do the wrong thing, you all better vote together, or one of you'll be going home."
At their Night 38 Tribal Council, Jeff asked Yau if he had been pestering Dreamz for the Immunity necklace.
"I don't think he needs any encouragement, or discouragement, or any nudging on my part," answered Yau. "I wasn't going to do any campaigning. I've left him alone to his own volition to decide." Yau then said he had a "feeling" Dreamz would "live-up to his word." "Whatever you do, you'll have to live with it," said Yau.
However when Jeff finally told Dreamz that he had to announce what he was going to do with the Immunity necklace, Dreamz announced that despite all his previous statments, he wasn't going to live up to his previous agreement.
"I'm gonna keep [the Immunity necklace]," said Dreamz. "Sorry Yau-Man." Then, not only did Dreamz not give Yau the necklace, he also voted for Yau's elimination. Cassandra and Earl -- apparently fearing Yau would win a 2-2 vote tiebreaker and defeat him in the final jury vote -- also voted for Yau, making him the ninth and final member of Fiji's jury.
"Well sorry Dreamz, you didn't live-up to your end of the bargain. Enjoy your truck," Yau declared in his "Final Words" good-bye confessional that wasn't immediately heard by the game's three remaining castaways. "I am very surprised that Earl voted me out today. He must have his reasons for it, I don't understand why. But I can hold my own, and to make it this far is quite an accomplishment and I'm proud of it."
When the final three arrived back at the Bula Bula camp, Dreamz told Cassandra and Earl, "Sorry I had to break my word, but like I said, it is a game." While Earl anguished that his vote against Yau might be construed as turning on his buddy, Dreamz -- having apparently given no thought to the possibility that his decision not only likely cost him any chance of winning the jury's votes but may have somehow also caused Yau to renege giving Dreamz a $60,000 truck that was worth more than the difference between Survivor's fourth place and third place prizes -- declared he had no remorse for his decision.
"I have no regrets," he said. "I think I did everything the right way like I was supposed to. I planned it out step-by-step and I have no regrets. I think everything worked out perfect... I'm just going to sleep comfortable tonight knowing I have a shot at $1 million tomorrow."
During his opening, Earl said he felt he played an "honest and clean game," reminded the jury that his name was never written down at Tribal Council and noted that he had never won Individual Immunity. He also described his game as "intelligent" and explained that he hoped he'd receive the "respect vote." Cassandra explained how she "started slow," but eventually "made everyone feel they had someone to befriend." Dreamz reminded the jury that a vote for him would not only better his life, but would also help him help others.
During the jury questioning, Dreamz received harsh words from Alex, Edgardo and Mookie, the three other "Four Horsemen" alliance members that he'd turned on after Fiji's tribes merged. Edgardo got Earl to reveal it was Dreamz who informed him that the Horsemen had one of Fiji's hidden Immunity Idols, causing them to misplay it; Mookie accused Dreamz of "betraying" the alliance; and Alex proclaimed Dreamz used a "cheat, lie and backstab" approach to succeed in the game.
Dreamz then dug the hole a bit deeper for himself by -- to the apparent surprise and disbelief of most of the rest of the castaways -- attempting to convince the jury that he had actually used his truck agreement with Yau to manipulate Yau into keeping him around. After Boo gushed that Yau was the "greatest all-around player" in Fiji, Yau actually used his opportunity to speak to try and take the blame for all the criticism being heaped on Dreamz and announce that, although Dreamz had reneged on his end of the deal, Yau wouldn't renege on his part.
"Dreamz, what went down yesterday was entirely my fault," said Yau. "The truck was given to you in good faith. Enjoy it. Do not feel guilty about it." Dreamz then told Yau he was only playing the game and reinforced that by saying, "You should have never forgot we were playing the game." Yau then turned to Earl and asked why his friend wrote down his name when he needed his support the most at the previous Tribal Council.
"I would not win," answered Earl, explaining he would have had no shot if the jury could choose Yau. "You played the best game by far."
However the jury could not vote for Yau, so Earl was able to walk away as Fiji's winner.