Erik Reichenbach is not happy. It doesn’t have so much to do with the fact that he had to be medically evacuated from last night’s Survivor: Caramoan finale, but rather that there was no proper explanation as to the injury that led to him being pulled from the game. And he could not give one at the reunion show because he was not even allowed to speak. At least Erik got to sit on the stage. In a Survivor first, anybody voted out before the jury was forced to sit and watch from the audience. Whether this was done to mask the fact that Brandon Hantz was not invited to the reunion show remains unclear, but the rest of the cast was certainly not happy with the demotion. We spoke with Erik today and he cleared up everything regarding his evacuation and pulled no bunches with his take on the reunion, describing it as a “farce,” “disrespectful,” “ridiculous,” and “insane.” [NOTE: Read through both pages for the complete interview, and also check out our interview with winner John Cochran as well as our chat with Dawn Meehan, who talks all about her reaction to Toothgate.]
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So, Erik. How are you doing today?
ERIK REICHENBACH: All right.
EW: Just all right?
ERIK: Yeah, just all right.
ERIK: Well, I wasn’t very happy with the finale in a lot of ways.
EW: The finale or the reunion show and the fact that they didn’t even let you speak?
ERIK: I suppose the reunion. Probably more the reunion than the finale.
EW: I was going to ask you about that. You were the only Favorite on stage that didn’t even get to say a single word.
ERIK: Right, I was pretty much left out.
EW: What was that all about? I don’t understand that at all, especially because we just saw you evacuated at the start of the episode with only three days left in the game and really got no sort of update or answers as to that. Was any sort of explanation given to you as to why you weren’t asked to speak?
ERIK: Uh, no explanation was given and I remember Jeff Probst before when we were shooting the dress rehearsal, I only exchanged maybe two words with Jeff. He said “I haven’t talked to you. Where are you living now?” And that’s about it. There was no discussion of anything of any sort. And I know a lot of viewers are saying to me, “Hey, you got evacuated. What happened with that?” Everyone is confused. Nobody really knows what happened. I feel like my entire storyline was just kind of left unended. Nobody really understood what happened.
EW: So let’s try to give people some answers. Let’s back up and take it from that Brenda Tribal Council. When did you start to not feel well and notice that something was seriously amiss?
ERIK: So something was actually amiss the day before the Tribal Council when Brenda went home. I saw my older brother and he was looking me up and down and said “Dude, what’s wrong with your leg?” And I looked at my right leg and I had injured it previously in the game. I had a big scar on it. And I thought it had been healing. My brother had noticed that underneath all the dirt some kind of infection was happening and it was all over my leg. I really didn’t even notice it until that moment. So we started to talk to the Survivor doctors that day and they said just drink water, and eat as much food as you can. They can do everything but give you what you need basically. So we were playing it by ear.
We got to the Brenda Tribal Council and as I’m walking in I started to feel very dizzy and sick to my stomach. I was aware that I was at a Tribal Council and that people were answering questions, but other than that I was completely out of it. I remember thinking, if you fall off your stool now you’ll go home before whoever ends up getting voted out today.
EW: So you had to keep it together. The Tribal ends and the cameras are usually off when you guys leave Tribal to be transported back to you camp. What happened there? Did you tell a producer you weren’t doing well, so they quickly moved you guys in front of a bush, turned on the cameras and brought Probst in?
ERIK: What basically happened was, the vote went down, I was still dizzy. When the vote is being read I ended up thinking Sherri went home. It was really Brenda but I thought it was Sherri. I thought there were seven votes instead of six, so that was also off. If you go back and watch the episode you can see me waving at Brenda and smiling. At that moment I just saw Brenda and was like “Oh, it’s my friend Brenda, so I waved.” But that was the moment where she was getting her torch snuffed and I wasn’t really aware of that. So we leave Tribal Council, and immediately I go, “I need a doctor. I need some help.” And I lay down. And at that point they brought in medical. And the rest of that is what you basically saw.
EW: What happened next? Where did they take you? What did they do to you? And how soon until you felt better?
ERIK: I remember the events that happened but they’re all kind of fuzzy. We go to the medical center [at the Survivor crew’s base camp] and immediately there’s people all around putting IVs in my arms. They didn’t feed me right away which I was very angry about. Different producers starting come in to visit me. I didn’t recognize some of them. After about 10 hours, in the morning I woke up and was like “Whoa. What the hell happened last night? Did Sherri get voted off?” and they were like, no Brenda got voted off. And it confused me. And then I was like, oh, crap, Dawn just voted off Brenda.
EW: You went out in fifth place both times. Which is worse: giving away your immunity and being voted out, or being pulled from the game just three days from the end?
ERIK: Being pulled is pretty horrible in that there is no real resolution. You’re weren’t voted out and my strategy to that point had not proven invalid. It had not been proven not to work. So it’s more of a personal thing with me now because I don’t think a lot of people are going to understand this. A lot of people are going to be left like, “I don’t even know what Erik did in this game? I don’t even know where he was.” So in a way this is a pretty bad ending as well.
EW: Do either you or Eddie beat Cochran in the final 3?
ERIK: Eddie could win hands down. He was just very well liked. And the other thing with this season is that the people who would have won for big plays like a Parvati or Russell character — they all ripped each other earlier. They were all sitting on the jury. In a way, Cochran didn’t win the game so much as he made it to the end and he didn’t mess up. He didn’t make any major mistakes. But I don’t think Cochran made too many big moves out there. We never saw Cochran as a player who was making huge moves. He was just very strategic in his positioning. His timing was very good as well.
EW: You had some pretty harsh words for both Dawn and Sherri at the final Tribal Council. Now that you’ve had the distance of almost a full year since then, have your feelings towards them changed at all?
ERIK: Dawn couldn’t win because of what she did. It was a good strategic move, but she was really good friends with Brenda and Brenda took care of her and I took care of her for a while as well. And Dawn took care of me and Brenda as well. We all kind of covered for each other. And that was a very personal thing I said, that she didn’t deserve money for what she did to Brenda. I was pretty upset over that then. I forgive her now but she made her choice so I just said, “You’re not going to win because you did this.” Dawn’s great though and I have no problem with Dawn now. As for Sherri, Sherri kind of went both ways for me, and at Tribal Council I got horribly edited where Sherri told me to sit down at the end. I actually didn’t sit down. I said I have to talk to Cochran as well.
EW: What was your question for Cochran?
ERIK: My question to Cochran was basically, “You smell horrible! Are you going to take a bath?” It was kind of a fluff question but I still had a question for Cochran so when Sherri told me to sit down I did not sit down. But I wanted Sherri to know that nobody thought she did anything strategic. The shell on the beach comment was a pretty harsh comment, but she needed to know that she didn’t really do anything. She hung on to Phillip as long as she could and then just kind of went from player to player. I wanted her to know that her strategy was not what she thought it was.
EW: So the reunion last night was supposed to be the culmination and celebration of the journey that you all took together, but you didn’t get to speak and anyone voted out before the jury didn’t even get to sit on stage. What was the mood after that reunion? I’m guessing some people were pretty upset.
ERIK: Tons of people were upset. After a while it became a farce. We had to do mic checks and things and Jeff Probst was making sure everybody’s mics worked and the people in the audience were like, “We’re not even going to get to talk. This is so disrespectful.” And Allie, one of the first boots off for the Fans tribe — even though she was one of the first people off, on other reunion shows people that are off early still get to talk and give us an update as to what they’re doing. And Allie was like, “Listen, I got a dress. I invited family members. You have to be kidding me that I’m not even on the stage.” It’s just nuts! You could tell that other people were preferred to talk. And its just ridiculous to me. Seeing Boston Rob there confirmed to me that Boston Rob, who wasn’t on this season, got more air time than I did! Boston Rob was mentioned almost every episode by Phillip. He got to walk up on the stage. That’s just nuts! To me, Survivor is about 20 people who go on an adventure together. And everybody has an equal shot, but circumstances play parts. And that was just insane what we saw last night.
EW: A little girl with braces got more air time than you did last night.
ERIK: Yeah, and not to disregard the little girl with braces. She was adorable. But the point of the reunion is to find out what happened and what people think now and get all the loose ends from all the people there and see what happens.
EW: You’ve done it twice before and I know you have a bit of a bad taste in your mouth now, but would do play Survivor again if they asked you?
ERIK: I would play again, but I don’t think I will be asked to play again. After seeing the shaping of characters that’s going on, I think someone in the editing room hates me. But I would love to play again, because there was no resolution for me. It was, you had a good strategy but this random luck kind of turned and you didn’t get to see if you would make it. So there’s always going to be that.
Check out an exclusive deleted scene from last night Survivor finale below. Also make sure to read Dalton’s full finale/reunion recap, as well as his interview with winner John Cochran, and chat with Dawn Meehan about Toothgate. And for more Survivor scoop all year round, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.