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Survivor: China – Who’s Playing the Fool?by Ken Kellam III -- 10/22/2007
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If you’ve watched Survivor for any length of time, you may get into this mode of “been here, done that,” as far as the challenges and the players. After a while, they all start to seem the same and it gets to the point where you compare the current season to past ones.
Yet each season seems to bring something new to the table, and not just in terms of locale. Whether it’s Shane going crazy from nicotine withdrawal, Cirie pulling a triple deception, or Shii-Ann having a “d’oh!” moment when she realized the tribes weren’t merging, each edition has its own particular quirks. This one is no different.
And while we’ve seen people play the fool from day one, it took a little different spin this time, partly due to the twist thrown in by the producers. We’ve seen tribal switches before, dating all the way back to Africa, but we’ve never seen the two-for-two swap that occurred this time.
So with that, it’s time to ask our first question: Did Jaime and Peih-Gee play the fool at the challenge? James would certainly say they did, but the fact is, by throwing the challenge the way they did, the ladies showed they were anything but fools. Yes, throwing a challenge is always risky, and during Pearl Islands, Jeff Probst called it “cocky.” But there was no cockiness here. But Jaime and Peih-Gee obviously thought this out, and had very strategic reasons for doing so.
If you want to blame anyone for their throwing the challenge, it should be the producers. They threw in a twist that lent itself to this kind of strategy being put in place. Jaime and Peih-Gee simply played the hand they were dealt, and who can blame them?
Now, did they make it a bit too obvious? I’d say yes, because the host even noticed that Jaime didn’t appear to care about what she was doing. Fortunately for her, however, Aaron was too wiped out to grasp this, and James didn’t seem to get it either.
Afterwards, the inability of the two Zhan Hu ladies to contain their laughter at James’ rant makes me think they’ll never give Jean-Robert a scare should they ever play poker. After all, heaven forbid they should ever draw a royal flush if they can’t hide their emotions any better than that.
Also questionable was their decision not to tell Erik of their plans. If I were in his place, I might wonder why I wasn’t let in on it, and wonder if they had a “final two” agreement. But nonetheless, Erik did the absolute right thing by sticking with them and ousting Aaron.
Speaking of which, did Aaron play the fool? Absolutely not. He was simply put in a bad position through no fault of his own by the switch, and did his best to stay in the game. In fact, he even smartly talked up the virtues of James to the original members of Zhan Hu. But obviously, it wasn’t enough, and I’m not sure Aaron could’ve done any more than he did to stay. Even his decision to vote James to go with the rest of them (he thought) was a smart one.
But was it smart to oust him instead of James, who clearly wanted to go home? Remember that Jaime mentioned in a confessional that Aaron seemed to have more allies in Fei Long than James did, and Aaron even confirmed in his RNO interview that he would’ve gone right back to those allies after the merge.
Like Leslie, he was ousted for having too many allegiances in the other tribe, but unlike the radio show host, those allies were his original tribe members. About the only thing Aaron could’ve done to prevent this was not to appear too aligned with the people in his own tribe, but how could anyone have known that at the time?
Did James play the fool? Without a doubt. The way he snapped at his tribemates during the challenge wasn’t very smart, and then his rant about Jaime not being able to handle pressure was not the brightest idea, especially right before a Tribal Council.
But that wasn’t all: Given that the ladies had thrown the challenge and James hadn’t figured it out, his rant sounded like something that would only happen in a sitcom. It was almost like Ricky blasting Lucy and Ethel for their ineptness, and being totally oblivious to the fact that it was a setup. You could almost hear the laugh track roaring in the background.
And not only did James not understand until afterwards what they did, he didn’t even seem to be able to understand why they did it. Peih-Gee said it best when she stated that it’s about winning the war, not battles. The fact is, whether James likes it or not, losing the battle may have put the original members of Zhan Hu closer to winning the war, even though Erik wasn’t in on it.
That brings this thought to mind: If James had been their position, would he have done the same thing? To be honest, I doubt it would have occurred to him to do so unless someone else had brought it up. And even then, I’m not sure he would’ve understood why it was a good idea, no matter how it was explained to him. Most likely, he would’ve kept hearing the voice in his head say, “losing is bad.”
It’s rather interesting that James asked in a fit of rage what kind of fool they took him for. I took James for quite the fool after his comments about Christians in a previous episode, and his inability to understand strategy does nothing to help his case. I originally picked James to win it all, but I’m not sure that’s possible now. He simply doesn’t seem to have the strategic foresight to pull it off. What he makes up for in brawn, he sorely lacks in brain.
Are the ladies lacking in brain for assuming the merge will take place at ten? Granted, nothing is set in stone when it comes to this game, and as Jeff Probst pointed out, their assumption is a risky one. But at this point, it’s probably their best bet, and honestly, winning the challenge only to face the possibility of Sherea or Frosti going home is probably even riskier. While Jean-Robert may have gone instead, they don’t know that, so they took matters into their own hands.
One final question: What will James be like to live with for the next three days? If he was cranky before, there’s no telling what he’ll be like now that he knows he’ll probably be going next. So by keeping him, the others know they’re risking a bit of tribal peace, but it’s definitely a risk worth taking at this point.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Survivor: China articles here on RealityNewsOnline:
Ken is wondering who would win between Jaimie and Peih-Gee in a tiebreaker that involved keeping a straight face. He can be reached atYourNextOfKen@aol.com.
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