Gervase Peterson had “early boot” written all over him when he showed up to play Survivor: Blood vs. Water. After all, he had not played in 13 years, And the one time he did play back in season 1 of Borneo, he was best known for being freaked out by the food challenge and walking through a running challenge when he was out of eyesight from the rest of his tribe. But when presented this time with an opportunity to make a big move and vote out one of his biggest alliance members in Aras, Gervase took it. And that move brought him all the way to the finals, Unfortunately for him, he left the finals without a single vote, giving him third place for the season. But for Gervase, making it all the way to the end was victory enough. (NOTE: Also make sure to check out our other exit Q&As with Blood vs. Water winner Tyson Apostol, runner-up Monica Culpepper, former champ Tina Wesson, and Big Brother champ Hayden Moss.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Well, you went from barely being able to get out of the water in the first challenge to the very, very end. So let me ask you: Did they let that fool them, Gerv?
GERVASE PETERSON: Yes, they did! They let that fool them! It was part of my strategy going in that everybody thought I couldn’t swim because I thought that if I did well on the land challenges and in the water that I’d be a big threat. So the goal was to play it up in the water like I still couldn’t swim and be as non-threatening as possible.
EW: All season long you heard people calling Tyson out as the mastermind, and nobody’s going to beat Tyson, and Tyson’s running the show. Did you think you had a shot when you showed up at that final Tribal?
GERVASE: Going into that final Tribal, I’ve got to admit I thought it was going to be tough to beat Tyson. I knew that Tyson played a great game, but the jury didn’t know the things I did to help Tyson to get through this game also. But I thought I could beat him, man. I just thought if I could give a good jury speech, that’s what it was going to come down to. I knew I lost probably Aras, Vytas, Tina, and Katie’s votes. But I had the other four to work on, and that was my goal — to work on those four and maybe sway one of the other ones.
EW: Does it hurt to get blanked with zero votes?
GERVASE: Honestly, no, After 13 years of not playing, I was just so happy they let me come back to play again. My first goal was, don’t be the first person out. My next goal was, make it to the merge. Third goal was, make the final 3, because if I don’t make the final 3, I don’t have a shot to win. And I think that’s what Hayden, Katie, and Ciera kept overlooking. They kept saying. “You’re not going to beat Tyson.” But if I’m not in the final 3, I definitely don’t beat Tyson. My goal was to get to the final 3. So looking at the game, my only option to make it to the final 3 was to stick with Tyson and Monica. No matter how much that lessened my chance of winning, it was still my best shot to get to the end.
EW: Did you give Vytas the business for screwing you out of that share of the second place winnings by casting that one vote for Monica.
GERVASE: No, that was part of the game. I knew that getting rid of Aras and orchestrating that was going to bite me in the butt. But I can’t be mad at Aras or Vytas or anyone else for not voting for me because the end game is they have to want to vote for you. And that was the tough part for me. I was sitting there going, man, this jury is not liking me! How am I going to win this game?
EW: How did you feel about Tyson telling Aras that he would vote for Monica over you in a final 2 scenario without him? Did that sting a bit?
GERVASE: I thought it was genius. Another great Tyson move. Me having to go first was bad for me. Going first, you just go with the first thing to pop into your head, while Tyson had time to think, man, if I go with Gerv, that’s the obvious. To go with Monica made him look even better. He cried, too! I was like, are you serious? The second he cried I was like, I lost. Tears? How are you not going to vote for him now?
EW: Do you think Hayden or Tina would have won had one of them made it into in the final 3?
GERVASE: Absolutely. It would have been tough for Tyson to beat them and he knew that.
EW: Anything surprise you when you watched the season play back on TV?
GERVASE: The only thing was Aras and Vytas being as arrogant and cocky as they were playing the game — those two were sitting there after the merge thinking that they owned the game at that point —yet not having a clue that we were all plotting against them. That surprised me, because they claim to be such students of the game. And they are highly intelligent and have high IQs. And they do know how to play the game. But that’s Survivor 101 — as soon as you feel confident and cocky, you’re going home. And they fell right into it.
EW: You went from the most basic season of Survivor ever, season 1, to the most twist heavy season ever. Did you feel it when you got out there, like, wow, I need to adapt?
GERVASE: Yeah, right away. As soon as we hit the beach, Colton came up to me and said, “Look, here’s our alliance. It’s me, you, Tina, Monica, and Kat.” And I was like, “Say I don’t like someone in that alliance. I have to play with them for 39 days?” That’s dumb.” And he said, “Boyfriend, you better get on board or you’re going home!” I was like, “You have to got to be kidding me. I started this game and you’re trying to tell me how to play it? Are you crazy?” So let me slow the game down. That’s what I told everybody, that I’m not talking strategies or alliances until we lose our first challenge. How about we just enjoy ourselves. And Colton hated that. That’s what drove Colton crazy. He just wanted to go to Tribal for no reason. Who does that? Who wins a challenge and then wants to go to Tribal just to vote somebody out? Just to make a move? And that was just crazy to me. So I wanted to slow the game down and let the game come to me rather than keeping pace with everybody in the game, because if I had done that I think I definitely would have gone home early.
EW: Is there some satisfaction that you could take 13 years off, come back, and make it all the way to the end?
GERVASE: Absolutely. And for me, that’s coming full circle. Don’t get we wrong, it’s all about winning and becoming the Sole Survivor. But for me, it’s more than that. The money would have been great, but I have a good life. I have my own businesses that I’m running. I took 13 years off, this game has totally changed, and I came into the game and I outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted the people out there to make it to the final 3. To me, you’ve got to respect that. How can you not respect that? And people get upset, but every one of those jury members would have done anything to be in my spot in the final 3. No matter how much they were trying to trash me at that point, they would have swapped places with me in a heartbeat.
To watch an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s finale, as well as our pre-game interviews with the final seven, simply click on the video player below. You can also check out our interview with winner Tyson Apostol, our chat with runner-up Monica Culpepper, our Q&A with former champ Tina Wesson, and our one-on-one with Hayden Moss. To read Dalton’s recap of the finale/reunion, click right here. You can also get Jeff Probst’s take on the finale/reunion right here, or click here for more intel from Probst on the next season of ‘Survivor’.
For more ‘Survivor’ scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.