Survivor: China
That's Love, Baby! It Makes You Strong!
By Jim Van Nest
November 1, 2007

Hello, good people, and welcome back to an extremely late edition of the Survivor: China recap. My apologies for being so sporadic with the recaps, I've been slammed. I'm hoping to get back on track with tonight's episode. But before we get to that, we need to cover last week's episode. And before that, we need to do a quick review of the episode prior to that. Previously on Survivor: Erik and Jamie have a love connection, Denise and James almost have a love connection, Zhan Hu trades Sherea and Frosti for James and Aaron, Jean-Robert alienates himself even further, PG and Jamie throw a challenge and Aaron will have to hang ten in the Loser's Lounge. This week we've been promised a Gross Food Challenge and come on...isn't that enough? Let's find out!

We begin this episode at Zhan Hu. It's early morning and while everyone sleeps, James is once again tending the fire and getting camp life ready. PG tells us that she feels real good about dumping Aaron and her hope for a ten person merge, sans James, is still alive. James tells us he's just gonna keep everyone rested so there are no excuses in the challenges, cause one more loss and he's gone.

We come back from the credits to Fei Long. OH BOY! It's another "let's focus on Jean-Robert snoring" segment. After that, Todd pulls Amanda aside and tells her about the hidden immunity idol. He tells her he was planning on telling her after he found the idol, but since he can't find it, he needs her help. Todd tells us that if Fei Long wins immunity, they'll kidnap either James or Aaron (whichever is left) and try to get the fourth clue from him so they can finally find the idol. And with that...

Probst sighting!! For today's reward challenge, both tribes will race through an abandoned village looking for puzzle boards. They'll go in one at a time and bring the boards back. Once they have all eight boards, they'll use them to decode a phrase made famous by Confucius. So you know what I'm talking about, the boards are just a random string of letters, but when entered into the puzzle board correctly, will mesh with other letters to spell out the famous phrase. Wanna know what they're playing for? The winning tribe will be taken to a tea house on a nearby island. They'll get a bath/shower, a toilet with toilet paper and some tea and a light snack. Plus they'll get to kidnap a member of the losing tribe. Fei Long gets to sit people out and they choose Denise, Amanda and Courtney to sit out. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait just a minute. There's been a rule since the very first season that players can not sit out back to back challenges. Well, Courtney sat out the immunity challenge last time. I remember this because I thought it was stupid. Anyway...if Courtney sat out the last immunity challenge, how the hell was she allowed to sit out of this one? I realize it's rather small, but it's another instance of the producers of this show toying around with or looking the other way when a tribe circumvents the rules. Courtney should not have been allowed to sit out this challenge and that's all I have to say about that.

This is a boring challenge to watch and easy challenge to describe. People run into and out of buildings. They find boards or don't find boards. The only thing of interest is when PG and Sherea end up in the same room and PG decides to talk strategy. She tells Sherea that they're all good and they're still with her and Frosti. She asks her to tell Frosti that. The interesting thing about the conversation is that Sherea completely ignores PG as if she isn't even talking. You could see the concern in PG's eyes. I swear, if you could read her thoughts, what you would have heard was, "Wow, Jim over at Box Office Prophets is really never should throw a challenge. It will always come back to bite you in the ass later." Oh yeah, back to the challenge. The tribes are tied at seven planks each. Fei Long gets their eighth first, but Zhan Hu is right behind. Once the puzzle is figured out, Fei Long discovers the phrase is, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." As promised, they bring James home. And there is much rejoicing.

When we come back from the 347,295th promo for the Amazing Race, we join Fei Long on their reward. Jean-Robert is talking about how excited they all are. Especially for the showers. He talks about how everyone was so happy there. As the tribe is greeted, they see all sorts of toiletries and are ecstatic. After some tea and Danish, they all jump into tubs and start to get clean. Courtney and Amanda end up sharing a tub, which brings about the "creepy stalker guy" moment of the week as JR makes a comment about how their tub is the most attractive tub to jump in. Courtney, of course, is completely annoyed and she tells us how he's a horrible person and she doesn't like him. As everyone bathes, James gets up to take a shower and strips down nekkid. This of course has the ladies talking about his butt. (But Jean-Robert is the pervert, right?)

We interrupt the beefcake to bring you this breaking announcement from Zhan Hu. PG passes on to the others that Frosti won't make eye contact and that she tried to talk to Sherea and got no response. With no guarantee that their former tribemates are still with them, they decide that throwing challenges might not be the best idea. What?? Throwing a challenge isn't a good idea?!?!? They make the pledge to win immunity next time around no matter what.

Back at the tea party, everyone is reveling in their cleanness and Todd tells us that it seems like he's the only one playing. He approaches James about the clue. He says that what's inside could help save him. He asks James to open it up and they see him tomorrow. So he does and sees that it's a clue to a hidden idol and he decides he may as well roll the dice and give Todd a shot, so he's gonna give him the clue and see what happens. When they get back to camp, James takes Todd aside and gives him the clue. The fourth clue tells Todd that there are several of the same things, but the one etched finer is the idol. He knows 100% what it is now, the only problem for him now is getting it. He passes the message on to Amanda who goes over to the little roof covering the sign post that holds the idol and starts poking at shingles with a stick. Just trying to seem like she's wasting time. As she's doing this, Todd comes over to help. As they're trying to figure out how to tear it down, Frosti comes over to "help" them knock off shingles. Finally, Todd pulls the idol down and drops it to the ground. As he does this, writing on the back of it becomes quite obvious and Frosti rushes over to check it out. As he does this, James (who's been watching from afar) can only shake his head.

After a well timed break, we come back to Todd and Amanda having no choice but to bring Frosti into the loop. Frosti is actually feeling bad for being there and seeing it, but at the same time, he's thrilled to have a place in the power alliance now. With Frosti in the fold, Todd makes the best move I've seen in a while. He calls James over and actually gives him the idol. He tells him all he has to do is help lose the challenge and when everyone votes for him, he'll vote for Jamie and send her home by playing the idol. James is absolutely thrilled, as anyone holding the idol should be. Besides all that, James now knows where the other idol is at the Zhan Hu camp. James is riding sky high right now. He has one idol in his pocket. A sneak attack coming for a tribe who's losing challenges on purpose and on top of it all, he has the ultimate access to a second idol. I mean, who wouldn't be feeling like the king of the world at this point? Next up, Todd brings Denise into the mix and tells her about the plan to dump Jamie. He's doing this to insure that Denise does her absolute best in the challenge (as if she doesn't already do that EVERY time out.) He also tells Courtney so she'll try extra hard. Okay, Todd is a master strategist. Giving James the idol is brilliant and Todd has been pretty much flawless from day one. I have to wonder, though, about running around and telling everyone that he found a hidden idol and all that. Seems like a risky proposition to start sharing secrets with everyone in the tribe. James tells us how bummed he was that he was just a dead man walking at Zhan Hu, but now he has the upper hand and he can't wait to play it.

Probst sighting!! And more importantly, GROSS FOOD CHALLENGE!! This is always one of my favorites and I have to acknowledge that we haven't had one for a while. The way it works is this is a one on one game, and the first tribe to score four points will win. Fei Long sits out Jean-Robert, Sherea and Todd. First up are Frosti and PG. They have to eat ten chicken hearts. On a scale of 1-10 in gross food, this one barely makes a blip. I give it a three. This isn't even close; Frosti scores the first point for Fei Long. Next up is Jamie against Courtney. Uh oh, this is a bad match up. And these two have to eat three filets of eel. Eel by itself is about a three on the scale; considering they also have to eat the heads, it moves up to a five for me. Jamie makes pretty quick work of the eel and amazingly enough, Courtney had the last piece in her mouth as Jamie wins a point for Zhan Hu. Amanda and Erik are up next. They each have to eat three baby turtles. As they pound them down, I have to mention that they looked huge from the overhead view, but when they popped them in their mouth, they were like bite sized. On my scale, due to size, they only make a five. Oh, by the way...Erik wins a second point for Zhan Hu. Denise and James come up next and have to eat Balut. For those who don't remember the name, those are the chicken fetus egg things that have you eating a partially formed chicken, including beaks and feathers. Frankly, typing that last sentence made me throw up in my mouth a little, that's how gross this is. On the scale, this is easily a ten. As James has watched his team going all out in this one, he realizes he has to throw this round to Denise so the tribes can be tied again. This is a pretty painful round as James fakes struggling to allow Denise to get a head start. After several minutes, it become obvious that Denise will not be able to eat it. James mercifully picks up the pieces, swallows them down in seconds and scores the 3rd point for Zhan Hu. Next up is Frosti and Erik. They have to eat a "thousand year old egg". First off, how do they know it's a thousand year old egg? Did Master Yoda hand it over or something? Second off, that's some nasty looking stuff, but Frosti and Erik have proven to be very good at this and this should be a close battle. They both pound this thing and as expected it's a split second decision. Erik gets his mouth empty just a moment before Frosti and Zhan Hu wins immunity. While the three Zhan Hu's celebrate, Fei Long and James are just stunned at how their best laid plans won't come to fruition.

Amazing Race promo # 347,297 brings us back to Fei Long as we begin to play "It's Anyone But", though we don't have a clear cut person. With Frosti in the mix now, one has to think Sherea is a good target, but Jean-Robert is pissing everyone off and could potentially get the vote this time around. I figure he'll definitely get Courtney's vote. Denise feels awful for not getting her point. But she just couldn't get it down. Todd is totally bummed at his perfect plan's failure. He's looking at either Frosti or Sherea as his vote. Amanda, Todd and Denise are strategizing. They figure Courtney, James and probably Frosti are on their side. They decide on Sherea. Courtney, not surprisingly, doesn't like that plan. She decides to try to sway the group to Jean-Robert. Basically, Sherea is her one true ally in the game. She tells Sherea about the vote Todd and Amanda want, but that she is voting Jean-Robert. That's two. They get two more and the worm could turn. Courtney goes to the group and suggests JR. She sells it pretty well by saying that he hates her and wants to get rid of her and that she wants him gone because of that. Amanda balks at that the most. Courtney points out that their last "great plan" didn't work out very well and this new plan may not either. We cut to Jean-Robert telling us that he has felt pretty comfortable up til this point. But he's getting a weird vibe in camp and thinks he could be the one. Right after this, Todd goes to Amanda and tells her he thinks JR is the vote tonight. And in yet another brilliant deduction, he tells her that they are set up right now to be the power players and that as the power players, they need to be cognizant of the wants of everyone else and they can't just keep shooting them down every time. Todd is convinced JR will turn on them. Amanda agrees that JR has to go, but she wants Sherea gone first. Naturally, they leave this discussion before we see who they ultimately decide on. And we're off to Tribal Council.

We start at Tribal and Jeff asks what Sherea sensed after losing the challenge. She says she noticed a lot of little whispering talks going on. He asks Jean-Robert how things have changed. He goes into a diatribe about how he's doing more work around camp and that he's a changed person. As he's going on, Sherea cuts him off to tell him he talks too much and that that wasn't the question Jeff asked. She goes off on a rant to JR that makes very little sense at all, until the part where she says that people don't like him. Jeff asks JR if he'd be surprised to learn that they don't like him. He's certain that people don't like him but that doesn't matter as he likes the way he plays the game. In there somewhere he mentions that he's a "bad boy", which is a call back to the fact that he's considered one of the "bad boys of poker." Courtney gets a really big kick out of it and goes off on a rant about how he's not a bad boy. Basically, this is like a third grade class, where JR answers a question and Sherea and Courtney make fun of him, regardless of his answer. As she rambles on, she mentions that until the Zhan Hu people came over, she felt like she was on the outside of her tribe. Finally someone else speaks as Todd chimes in that it kinda hurts because he loves her. He says that if she feels she's on the outside, that's like rubbing salt in the wound to him. JR jumps in to say that even though there's all the infighting within the tribe, that when it comes time for a challenge, they do really work well as a team and that they're in a good spot and he really likes where they're at. And with that, it's time to vote.

We see JR's vote for Sherea saying that it's unfortunate that they didn't get to know each other better. We see Sherea's vote for JR saying something about thinking he's hot and she's there to say he's not. Bottom line, Sherea lost me tonight. She's just a bitter, ugly person as far as this show is concerned and I hope Fei Long does the right thing and sends her complaining, lazy ass home. I don't like JR either, but tonight, he came off looking pretty good while Sherea and Courtney came off like the cheerleaders who got spurned by the quarterback. Nothing but venom coming from the two of them with no real substance to most of what they said. And Jeff reads the votes; the first two are for Jean-Robert and the final five make Sherea the tenth person voted out of Survivor: China. WOO HOO!!!

Next time on Survivor: James goes after the second immunity idol, but it's Erik and Jamie that make a discovery (and it looks like they discovered it by going through James' stuff...which sets me up for a major rant if/when that happens). Todd has it out with Courtney to try to hold his alliance together. We see Jean-Robert tell Todd that if he gets screwed, he's holding Todd responsible. And then the magic words from Probst "Drop your buffs." Merge time, baybee! The decent thing about my taking so long to recap is that you won't have to wait long for the next episode. So how 'bout that? So, until later tonight, take care!