Cirie Fields is one of the most feared players in the history of Survivor due to her dangerous social and strategic game. She reached the final four in Survivor: Panama, only to return and do one better in Survivor: Micronesia, reaching the final three (only missing out on the Final Tribal due to the last minute switch to a final two). Cirie was one of the shrewd, socially adept Favorites on Micronesia, while Erik Reichenbach was one of the enthusiastic yet naive Fans. While never the tightest of allies, Cirie and Erik did work together at various points throughout the game; Erik even licked melted chocolate from Cirie’s fingers at the food auction. The most memorable moment between the pair, though, was when Cirie hoodwinked Erik into giving up his immunity necklace to Natalie Bolton and then preceded to vote him out that same night. It’s a move that has gone down in history and perfectly demonstrates Cirie’s ability as a masterful social manipulator.
Inside Survivor reached out to Erik to get his thoughts on Cirie’s return to Survivor: Game Changers.
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted in June 2016 while Survivor: Game Changers was still filming in Fiji.
1) Hey Erik, thanks for doing this. You came into Micronesia as a “fan,” going up against ten “favorites.” What was your opinion of Cirie going into that season, and did your opinion change after playing with her? If so, how?
I thought I knew a great deal about Cirie prior to Micronesia because of what I saw of her in Panama, which I watched before playing. I was so misinformed. After actually meeting Cirie, playing alongside her, and knowing her after the show aired, I had a great deal more appreciation and respect for her gameplay and ability to read players. Regardless of how that gameplay affected my success or failure in Micronesia, Cirie is one of the nicest and funniest people I’ve had the pleasure to play with on Survivor.
2) People often say that had Cirie made it to the Final Tribal Council in Micronesia that she would have won easily. As a member of that jury, do you think that’s true? Would she have had your vote?
Yes, Cirie would have won, in my opinion. I didn’t care for Parvati’s gameplay (primarily because I wasn’t aware of the game she was playing) and Amanda had done a bad job of managing personal relationships and gameplay. Cirie really had it in the bag if it was a final three from where I was sitting.
3) You worked with Cirie on a number of votes throughout the season. What was she like as an ally? Bossy? Open-minded?
She had this fun excited energy prior to a vote, especially when it was someone getting blindsided. She was able to keep her emotions in check; something less experienced players often have trouble with. When she wanted something, you knew it, but she had a way of getting what she wanted without driving people away. All around a dangerous player, in hindsight.
4) On TV, it appeared as if Cirie came up with the idea of Natalie taking your immunity necklace. Did you know that at the time? And did watching the season back change your opinion of her from what you knew out on the island?
When fans ask me about that vote, I always tell them Cirie was the mastermind. She was the one who finally convinced me, she put in the work (spent time reasoning the pros and cons of keeping immunity), and she ultimately acted the best. Amanda and Parvati both acted very strangely at that vote, which made me uneasy. Natalie I would say has a lot of responsibility in changing my mind as well, simply because it would have been her that was voted out, had I not given up immunity, and she played that angle against me.
5) Cirie came close to making Final Tribal in her first two seasons, but in Heroes vs. Villains, she was an early boot. Will she still be seen as a big threat? And if so, how should she try and diminish that target?
I think Cirie was in her prime during Micronesia, and her skillful gameplay caught up with her in Heroes vs. Villains. Too many players knew she was too good of a player on that season.
Ideally, I would love to see Cirie make allies with another power couple or group of strategists and break into the finals this time around. Usually, on seasons with lots of returning players, the less vocal/less flashy characters do better amidst a sea of people trying to look cool on TV. Cirie is one of those players who can temper her game, and for that, I hope she does well and plays others like buffoons.
6) Cirie has history with a couple of these cast members – specifically Ozzy and JT. What the hell is going to happen between those three? Do you see them being able to put aside differences? How should Cirie handle them if she’s on the same tribe?
I don’t like to speculate too much on Survivor because if history has taught us, anything can happen. Most players are usually able to separate personal relationships from gameplay, but in Cirie’s case, those separations may be hard to keep separate. That said, she’s a big girl, and I think she can take care of herself.
7) What is Cirie’s most positive attribute? And her most negative attribute?
Cirie’s best attribute – her ability to handle her emotions and read people. Her worst attribute – her past gameplay which everyone will be aware of.
8) Who on this cast should Cirie align with, and why?
More speculation, but ideally she’ll align with less dominant players or players she hasn’t ever played with.
9) Putting you on the spot, how far do you think Cirie will make it?
I hope she does well, as she is a gift to Survivor in terms of smart gameplay and a history of fueling some incredible blindsides. That said, all bets are off in a returning player season. I’m guessing she will either be voted out just shy of the merge or close to the finals (6-4). She’s too big of a threat to win because she’s very likable.
10) Lastly, before we let you go, what is new in the world of Erik? How has life been since we last saw you in Caramoan?
Not too much has changed, just working a lot as a freelance comic artist and illustrator, and enjoying life with my wife Dana and our golden retriever, Avalo. I will be working again with Stephen Fishbach on his People.com blog creating Survivor Comics for the new season! You can take a look at my online portfolio at erikreichenbachcomics.tumblr.com. Also, I’m working on the production of the mobile app game, Islands of Chaos, at http://www.islandsofchaosapp.com.
Thanks again to Erik for taking part. For more on Cirie, you can check out her cast retrospective and official cast bio. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more Playing With Game Changers interviews. Survivor: Game Changers premieres March 8, 2017, on CBS.