Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: Jessica Lewis wants juries to get access to live feeds
With season 41 of Survivor delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.
Here's a shocking revelation: Survivor players don't always tell the truth. I know! Crazy, right? How dare they? And that misinformation is not limited to just the game, as contestants continue to offer their shall we say selective perspective once they join the jury. When someone is voted out late in the game, they bring the latest information to the rest of the jury. But can that information be trusted?
One former jury member is concerned about the way jury opinions can be formed without actually seeing what happened, and she has a pitch on how to remedy the situation.
"I'd love if the jury could see aspects of the game while at Ponderosa," says Jessica Lewis of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. "Live feeds or challenge performances. It would add more perspective to what they are hearing at Tribal Council and help avoid jury tampering. It's hard to know if something really happened in the game if unseen. When people get voted out, they report back to everyone at Ponderosa what transpired. Unfortunately, people aren't always honest and sometimes set out to sabotage people. This would certainly combat that."
The other thing Jessica wishes she could combat? ROCKS! That's because she was never actually voted out of the game, instead becoming the third person in Survivor history to be eliminated by pulling the wrong-colored rock after a tie vote. In her Quarantine Questionnaire, Jessica looks back at her fateful day 30 black rock pull, while also revealing a complete challenge do-over that took place and a big aspect of her game that never made the show. But it makes the Jessica Lewis Quarantine Questionnaire. Read on to enjoy!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.
JESSICA LEWIS: I wish I had a Jacob Derwin kind of answer to this, but I've essentially gone back to life pre-Survivor, besides becoming a podcaster for RHAP (more on that later): being a mom, wife, and attorney. I want to say that my kids appreciate me more now after being without me for 7 weeks. I often wonder how they managed to clean up after themselves in my absence, but they have always been great kids, so I can't complain.
I was promoted at work, which was a huge step for me. I seem to have gained much admiration from those in my field regarding the loyalty I showed at the rock draw, in addition to people being really upset for me. As for the podcast, you might have heard about it: Why _____ Lost with David Bloomberg on RHAP. I was thrilled, and terrified, to be asked by Rob Cesternino and David to become the Rob replacement. I had never delved into the underworld of Survivor podcasts prior to my being on the show, and now I am hooked and part of that world.
What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?
Truly, just making it. I am not a camper — still have no desire to be one — but literally nothing bothered me out there. The torrential rain, the freezing cold nights, my nasty eye infection, lack of food, the challenges… I looked at it all and just thought, "So this is what we are doing now."
In one of the early challenges, what Jeff described as a "hero" moment, I was told by Chris, "Jessica, you're going to go last in case David doesn't make it and we need someone to go twice." Now, this included a swim through the ocean, making it up a rope climb, then having to jump off a platform and grab a key that was dangling out over the deep water. Mind you, I never claimed I could do any of that well, yet I became the designated potential person to go twice.
Thankfully, David made it, I only had to go once, and I didn't falter. I quickly realized, the more that happened, the more I was okay with anything out there (except that damn snake crawl though the sand where I couldn't breathe because I sucked sand up my nose, but I digress). I came home feeling better than I ever had, physically. Mentally is another story.
What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experience?
Picking the WRONG. DAMN. ROCK. I had told myself to pick the first one I touched, which I did. Cleary, that was a mistake. My father offered some too-late advice regarding this: "You always swirl things around first before you pick one." So to future Survivor players, take my dad's advice!
What's something that will blow fans' minds that happened out there in your season but never made it to TV?
Here's one that I hope doesn't get me in trouble. Our first immunity challenge after the merge required us to stand on a narrow piece of wood, holding our arms above our heads, wrists strapped to a bar. That bar was attached to a bucket. If we moved our arms/hands even the slightest bit, the bucket would dump colored water all over us. So, Jeff gets us all set up and says his "This challenge is on." Immediately, everyone but two people were soaked with colored water. Jeff quickly realized that the challenge hadn't been set properly and needed to be reset. Now, remember, the water was various colors and I was a very bright shade of green (while others were yellow, red, blue, etc.).
So, we all had to be unstrapped and washed — literally washed — with bottles of Fijian water (we were not near the ocean) by two wardrobe crew members because we couldn't be colorful when the challenge began again and filmed. If you look closely of images from that challenge, where I did end up lasting one hour and 42 minutes, you can see green on my socks. It was actually one of the best moments because it took a long while to clean everyone and get everything reset. To pass the time, Jeff came to visit us in the tent where we were waiting and told anyone interested in being spoiled, what had happened in Kaoh Rong (but not the winner) since we'd flown out to Fiji during the airing of that season.
How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?
Most of it was spot on. I wasn't as clueless as I was portrayed in the episode where David played the idol for me. Sunday (rest in peace) was really working me over leading up the vote. Generally, throughout the game, I was quietly focused on winning, which certainly didn't impress Jeff because I wouldn't give up any info at Tribal. I had actually discussed this with Jeff at casting — how he gets people to divulge too much at Tribal. I told him he wasn't going to get anything out of me, which seemed to fascinate him. Sure enough, production remembered this and called me out on it, but I wasn't budging.
The biggest issue I have is one very big missing piece of my game: Adam. He and I were tightly aligned and incredibly close from the moment we were swapped together. We spent a lot of time strategizing, sharing info that we'd learned from other people, comparing notes and building a game plan for the end, inclusive of taking out David (sorry, buddy). Unfortunately, a rock got in the way, and I was never able to finish the game with him. I would have loved for the world to see all he and I had planned, especially since he ended up winning and viewers were perplexed as to why I didn't vote for Ken. Ken was my other ride or die, so seeing them both in the final three made me feel so proud for them. I knew their games and knew them both the best, which made the vote hard.
What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?
Not really. I adjusted pretty quickly to being back. I had a murder trial scheduled exactly one month from the day I got home, so I turned my attention immediately to work and preparing for that trial. I think the hardest part, honestly, was not being able to tell anyone where I'd been. Here I was returning to a world I'd been absent from for seven weeks, super tan and very skinny. Not to mention, someone had leaked info to the local newspaper that I was going to be on Survivor, so that certainly didn't help. I will say that I don't hate rain as much as I used to — it brings me back to the island. I sleep with a noise machine that plays the sound of ocean waves. And I love coconut now!
Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?
Every Wednesday night, right before the episode would air. Those were HARD days for my family. I had no idea what would be shown. Obviously, a lot happens out there and only so much can make air. Ken called me about 10 minutes before the first episode was aired so he could "be honest with me about a nickname he and David had given me" and I panicked. He was completely messing with me! Nothing like that had happened, but it got my head spinning.
I certainly wasn't alone out there. Other people would be part of my story; how would it fit together? What would the editors focus on? Obviously, Survivor is not just a game for a million dollars; it's also entertainment. There is no script, no provided roles. It's just you in the most raw and vulnerable form. You forget about the cameras. You forget that you never touched your hair for an entire day and it's balled up on your head in what can only be considered a nest. When your boob is out for an entire section of a challenge, you quietly exhale in relief when you see it on national television covered in sand. Even though you lived it, it is still unknown. And scary as hell.
Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your season?
If you haven't guessed, Ken and Adam more so than anyone. There have been occasional chats with others but nothing even close to Ken and Adam. Those two are truly great people and I have so much appreciation for them both.
Do you still watch Survivor, and, if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?
I haven't missed an episode! Borneo has always been my favorite season; it was what set the stage for the all who have since played the game. But I also like to imagine a different world where I don't pick the black rock and win, which then gets me on Winners at War. Epic.
Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?
I have to pick my favorite: Cirie. Socially, she is a powerhouse. Her ability to lull people into a sense of security was amazing to watch. I certainly would want to be part of her brigade and not on the receiving end of it!
If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?
Besides doing away with fire-making at four, here's a crazy thought: I'd love if the jury could see aspects of the game while at Ponderosa: live feeds or challenge performances. It would add more perspective to what they are hearing at Tribal Council and help avoid jury tampering. It's hard to know if something really happened in the game if unseen. When people get voted out, they report back to everyone at Ponderosa what transpired. Unfortunately, people aren't always honest and sometimes set out to sabotage people. This would certainly combat that.
Finally, would you play again if asked?
Did I pick a black rock??
Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"