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Survivor: China: Could This Be Scripted Any Better?by Ken Kellam III -- 10/30/2007
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Just when you think you have the show figured out, something always seems to happen to remind us that we don’t know nuthin’. The latest episode took so many weird turns I thought I was watching one of the CSIs, or Without a Trace.
It all started when Jaime, Erik, and Peih-Gee started having second thoughts about throwing another immunity challenge. This came due to the fact that Frosti didn’t seem to want to make eye contact with any of them, and Sherea didn’t respond to Peih-Gee during the reward challenge. All of a sudden, they realized trying to keep their little group together might not work out so well at all. Had the Fei Longs managed to get control of the minds of Sherea and Frosti, turning them into the Stepford Survivors?
Meanwhile, James, who had asked to be voted out after realizing the others threw the last challenge, only to be kept, decided he wanted to stay in the game after all. Instead of moping around and making life unbearable for his tribemates, which I expected of him, he tried to stay upbeat and kept working, when he easily could’ve said, “I’m going anyway, I may as well not do anything around camp.”
Later, when Fei Long won the reward challenge, it was never more obvious who was going to be kidnapped. But unlike other previous kidnap “victims,” James became the first player in the game to be kidnapped by the people in his original tribe. The difference in his personality at Zhan Hu and back at Fei Long was never more apparent, as it was like a homecoming of sorts for the gravedigger; he was all smiles at being back in his element, and with his people.
Then came Todd’s brilliant plan (or so it seemed at the time) to get James the hidden immunity idol. He enlisted the services of ally Amanda, and they had a plan, but then came another twist: original Zhan Hu Frosti insisted on helping her, completely unaware of exactly what she was doing.
It was at this point that a seemingly humdrum episode took a turn for the interesting, as Todd and Amanda were faced with a dilemma. If this were a musical, they would’ve turned to the audience and sung, “How do solve a problem like Frosti?” Of course, if it were a musical, it would’ve been Sherea who got involved instead, as “how do you solve a problem like Sherea?” rolls off the tongue so much easier.
But I digress. Where were we? Oh, yeah, Todd and the Amazing Technicolor Immunity Idol. Okay, so it wasn’t Technicolor, or even amazing (amazingly hard to find, maybe). Todd could’ve had the clues to himself, but clued in Amanda, and then had no choice but to clue in Frosti. So in another strange twist, Todd and Amanda did indeed find the idol, but had to share knowledge of it with a member of the original opposing tribe. Then, of course, they clued James in on it, which, if you ask me, was pretty smart strategy.
So now we had Zhan Hu going from wanting to throw immunity to wanting desperately to win it, while James, who previously hated the idea of throwing a challenge, was ready to do so and have the others vote for him at Tribal Council.
But he had to do his part and lose his heat of the disgusting food challenge. Alas, here came the next twist, and in James’ case, it was a rather cruel twist of fate: He drew as an opponent not only his closest ally in Denise, but the one person who could not win the challenge if it were handed to her. James found himself with a decision to make. As badly as he wanted to lose, he probably knew that if he stalled anymore, it would become obvious to his three Zhan Hu tribemates he was up to something, and reluctantly, he swallowed the food, and it was a tough pill to swallow in more ways than one.
This left it up to Frosti to keep Fei Long’s hopes alive, but in yet another ironic twist, the man who specializes in making the environment into an obstacle course couldn’t make an ancient egg get down the obstacle of his throat faster than Erik, and hence Fei Long’s plans went awry.
This time, Zhan Hu didn’t have to try and hide their reaction to the outcome of an immunity challenge, and in yet the latest twist, James, who was bummed after his tribe lost the last challenge, was now bummed because they won it. Poor guy couldn’t win for losing or for winning.
Meanwhile, over at Fei Long, the debate raged as to who should go. Sherea seemed to be the natural choice, but in an episode where it seemed as though nothing was easy, this wasn’t either. Courtney, who had laid low for an episode or two (no doubt much to the delight of many), all of a sudden decided she liked Sherea and didn’t want her out of there. In fact, it looked as if she might get her way and the tribe would finally tell poker player Jean-Robert he was out essentially out of chips.
But despite all the posturing, and Sherea’s diatribe against Jean-Robert at Tribal Council, Fei Long wisely kept one of their own and ousted an original Zhan Hu. And with this came yet another irony: The lady who was close to being ousted by her own tribe for laziness was ousted by the other tribe for reasons having nothing to do with work ethic. Even more ironic, she indirectly helped engineer her own demise by refusing to talk to Peih-Gee, thus helping set her original tribe on edge and giving them a reason not to throw the challenge after all. And in the final irony, while her original tribe feared they could no longer trust her, it was her new tribe that sent her packing.
Now it’s time to ask a few questions. First off, what odds could you have gotten before the season premiere that Courtney, Denise, Peih-Gee, and Jaime would all make the merge? Courtney and Denise in particular seemed to be early exits, but it’s merge time, and Denise doesn’t even appear to be in danger for now. With the strong now the targets, Courtney probably isn’t either.
Speaking of Denise, should she have been targeted for her inability to win her part of the challenge when James wanted to hand it to her? To be honest, I think she tried the very best she could, but if you can’t get it down, you can’t get it down. This challenge was one I would probably have the toughest time with if I were in the game. I’ve had a sensitive palate since childhood, and if I were in Denise’s position, I doubt I would’ve done any better.
As far as Courtney goes, why was it so hard for her to accept that her tribe needed to keep Jean-Robert for now, distasteful as she (and apparently they) may find him? Judging by the previews from next week, it appears as though she makes an issue of this and causes friction in a way that can’t possibly help her game. Evidently the chicken heads she couldn’t seem to get down are easier to stomach than Jean-Robert.
As for Jean-Robert, is there no end to his cluelessness regarding how the ladies feel about him? During the reward, he alluded to the tub Courtney and Amanda were in looking more comfortable, which repulsed Courtney even more. Does he think these kinds of remarks constitute good strategy? Not only do they not help his game, they don’t seem to be endearing him to either lady on a more personal level either. If that was his idea of a come-on line, it went over about as well as a screen door on a submarine.
Regarding Sherea, what exactly did she mean in her final comments when she said Fei Long was being played? The fact of the matter is, if she’d been kept over Jean-Robert, it would’ve shown she was the one playing them.
Did her diatribe again Jean-Robert at Tribal Council backfire? Frankly, I don’t think it made a hill of beans of difference. One thing we’ve learned about the show is that people usually have their minds made up before they head to Tribal Council, and I think that was the case here. We’ll have to wait until their comments in voting her out are revealed, but most likely, it dawned on the original Fei Longs (except for Courtney) that if they ousted Jean-Robert, they would most likely merge at even strength and risk getting picked off one by one. By instead getting rid of an original Zhan Hu, they avoided a potential Hall of Shame moment.
Before wrapping it up for the week, here’s a few more ironies to ponder: A few episodes back, Todd referred to James and Jean-Robert as trash and said he wanted them gone, but he was the one who ended up hatching to plot to save James. In addition, Jaime, the lady they liked so much they kidnapped her previously, was the same one they were hoping would be gone at the next Tribal Council. Finally, while their plot didn’t work, they still managed to see to it that an original Zhan Hu was ousted, just not the one they intended. Okay, talk to you after Halloween!!
Ken can’t so much as say “chicken fetuses” without gagging. He can be reached with any comments, criticisms, or culinary advice atYourNextOfKen@aol.com.
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