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Surviving China, Episode 1: Fighting Tiger, Flying Dragonby David Bloomberg -- 09/21/2007
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It’s been a long summer without Survivor, but it’s finally back! Sure, we had Big Brother to keep us occupied, but after four inductions into the Reality TV Hall of Shame just from this one season, things got a little out of hand. I’m betting we won’t have that here!
By now you’ve read about the players and even the predictions of RNO’s writers. So that means it’s time to get going!
Host Jeff Probst begins on the steps of a 16th-century Buddhist monastery in China. But our 16 contestants begin in Shanghai. They are transported back in time – whoa, now that would be a cool reality show: Survivor: Medieval England or Survivor: Renaissance. OK, so they’re not really being taken back in time, that’s just what Probst said to represent how they are leaving the modern for the land of an older culture.
Probst gives us one-line descriptions of the various contestants, which we already know by now so I’m not going to repeat it. You know how it goes: gravedigger, gay Mormon, pro wrestler, pro poker player, pro chicken farmer, former Miss Montana, etc.
They will live on the shores of the Lake of 1000 Islands, a harsh and remote land. A truck brings the contestants in what looks like their photo shoot clothing, carrying their luggage. They are walking up steps, maybe approaching Probst at that monastery.
Now for the line that defines it all: “Thirty-nine days, 16 people, one Survivor!
Indeed, it looks like we are at the monastery, with the contestants being brought out between two lines of monks. Chicken, who has never been outside of his home state, says he is like “a kid in a carnival.” He loves it.
Peih-Gee says being of Chinese heritage, it is amazing to do Survivor in China. Plus, her grandfather passed away just a couple weeks ago and he would have gotten a big kick out of seeing her there.
Before the game begins, the contestants will participate in a Buddhist ceremony inside the temple. Probst says he recognizes that everybody has different beliefs, but this is “not a worship ceremony.” The people who live there just want the players to feel welcome.
Into the temple they go, where they kneel and put something in a small bowl. Denise is so moved that she wants to cry. Courtney, on the other hand, looks annoyed – especially when a monk corrects the way she’s holding her hands. She whines to the camera that she just wanted to rest, not be bowing a bunch of times. And it went on forever, she says. Did I mention she has a voice that makes me want to rip out my eardrums?
Leslie is upset for other reasons. She’s the Christian radio host, and she complains that she believes in Jesus and is not supposed to bow down to other gods. To her, it felt like a worship ceremony. She can’t do it, so she stands up and walks out midway through.
Probst calls her out on this in front of everybody, and she says she’s not a religious person (Huh? She’s a Christian radio host!) but she has a relationship with Jesus Christ and the only time she’s going to put her face on the floor is for him. Probst says that even though he said it was a welcome— she cuts him off and says it felt like worship. Is she worried it might impact the next 39 days? Nope. She’ll play the game as herself; if the others like her, great, if not, she’ll deal with it.
Probst moves on, saying a big theme in Buddhism is the leaving behind of your worldly possessions. Leslie says that doesn’t apply to her because she’s not a Buddhist. Just kidding. Probst actually continues, saying that applies to their suitcases – they will be going in wearing the clothes on their backs.
Ashley looks down at the big boots and fishnets she’s wearing and notes they are like 20 pounds each (the boots, that is, not the fishnets). Jaime raises her hand and says she doesn’t have on a bra. Probst says that will either make her very popular (earning laughs all around) or a liability if it (they?) gets in the way during challenges.
Time to divide into tribes. The guys all want to be on Jaime’s team! OK, just kidding again – there is actually a bag with each person’s name on it. The bags contain buffs of either red or yellow. Yellow’s name is John Who. OK, that’s the way it sounds to me, though it’s actually spelled Zhan Hu and means “fighting tiger.” The tribe is made up of Frosti, Dave, Erik, Jaime, Peih-Gee, Sherea, Ashley, and Chicken.
Red is Fei Long, which means “flying dragon.” It’s made up of Jean-Robert, Leslie, Amanda, Courtney, Denise, James, Todd, and Aaron.
Probst says the single greatest document to deal with strategy was written by Sun Tzu, and is The Art of War. Each tribe gets a copy on a scroll. He encourages them to look through it, because there is wisdom about strategy that could help them win the game. Each tribe also gets a map to their new homes.
Fei Long gets into their boat and starts rowing. Aaron doesn’t think his tribe really knows what’s going on. He sees himself as a subtle leader and doesn’t want a target on his back.
They arrive at camp to find an axe, a pot, and some rice. It starts raining right away. While several of them are unhappy with this, Leslie says the “big guy upstairs is providing” – fresh water, presumably. Courtney is already getting annoyed because she is now living in a land of flight attendants and Sunday School teachers. She lives in New York, and people there don’t act like this. It’s her “own private hell” and these are exactly the types of people she doesn’t like being around.
OK, then. You can leave. Buh-bye.
No such luck. Ah well. Anyway, Jean-Robert and Todd find where they will get their treemail, but there’s nothing waiting for them yet. Jean-Robert asks if Todd is really a flight attendant – he doesn’t believe him. Todd wonders why he would lie about a job like that. I do too. But Jean-Robert is a little too honest, saying Todd seems like someone who is a little devious. He claims he likes Todd, but… Yo, Jean-Robert, not the best way to make alliances early on.
But Jean-Robert says that as a professional poker player, one of his strengths is the ability to read players. Jean-Robert continues to Todd, saying he knows that Todd is a sharp guy. Jean-Robert tells us he conversation with Todd is deliberate to let him know he’s clever, so not to try anything.1 2 3 Next-->
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