Crystal gets the silent treatment from Corinne, Marcus, and Charlie at Ponderosa

There’s often a distinction made between behavior in the game of Survivor and real life; the theory is that, since it’s a game, anything goes. That always struck me as sort of disingenuous, but at the same time, I’d expect some level of civility from cast members who disliked each other or had bad blood.

Civility is certainly possible, even among those who disagree. For example, last night at a gathering of cast members from this season, previous seasons (Rupert, Frosti), and other shows (Dan, Keesha), I had a great conversation with Kelly and her boyfriend, both of whom couldn’t have been nicer, even if Kelly won’t stop giving me shit about my initial ranking of her.

On the other hand, Corinne–who was pleasant during our formal interview last week–said hi, I suppose, by throwing an ice cube at me from halfway across the room and then giving me the finger, which was actually more charming than a previous greeting. Apparently, when you’re in Africa shortly before you’re filmed for a highly-rated national television show, and you say things to a journalist who’s taping your conversation, those things may actually end up impacting your life. Who knew? I guess not people who think that everything they doesn’t go well in the universe is the fault of other people, particularly those they determine are inferior.

That brings us to the latest Life at Ponderosa episode, which isn’t surprising, at least when it comes to Corinne or misanthropic Randy. But when Crystal arrives at Ponderosa, the four jury members literally shun her. “We didn’t like her for what she did to us in the game; we’re certainly not going to pretend to like her,” Corinne says. “We’re not trying to act like we’re five years old and get into a verbal altercation with her, we’re just not interested in ever talking to her.”

Marcus offers a slightly more rational, less contradictory argument: “You kind of reap what you sow, and you can’t expect that the whole argument of it’s just a game is going to somehow make everything go away. It’s real people, real things happen, and there are real problems because of it,” he says. Charlie’s response may be the most disappointing, as he recognizes what’s happening but participates anyway–so Corinne will like him? Ugh. “My not talking to Crystal is purely out of fear that my friends will disown me. I hate it, but I feel like an immature two-year-old. I don’t like that,” Charlie says.

It’s clear that interpersonal relationships have come into play in a strange new way here. Watch how Crystal was received; below the video is Crystal’s reaction to it from our recent conversation.

Crystal told me on Friday that the show’s therapist actually said something to the four about being nice to Crystal, and Crystal said, “‘I don’t need you babying me. I thank you, but they’re going to do what they want to do.’ Hopefully, they’ll come to the realization that I’m not a bad person because I don’t fit into their group.” She said Randy’s comments about her affected Kota members’ impression of her. “I hope to develop a relationship with Marcus or anybody from Kota, since I didn’t get a chance to know them,” she said. “Every person who had something against me … I talk to them now, and they’re like, Crystal, you’re so nice.”

Meanwhile, the Olympic gold medalist has a good sense of humor about her performance in the challenges (“I sucked! Those challenges were so hard. … It’s totally different in track; in track, I train myself to run in a straight line around a circle.”), her edit (“if that’s what sells, hey”), and her future plans (she’d drop coaching to become a host because “I definitely want to go into television”).

Here’s a preview for tonight’s finale: Crystal said that “Sugar is the puppet-master. She has everybody wrapped around her finger; she knows what everybody is thinking,” calling confessing in Sugar “one of my downfalls.” And Crystal said that during the jury Q&A, “none of them gave me a straight answer.”

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.