Survivor: China
Just Don't Eat The Apple
By Jim Van Nest
November 19, 2007

He's a jolly, happy soul.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: China. If you're just joining us, you might want to consider going back and reading Weeks 1-8, or you'll be totally lost with all the in-jokes. Go on, we'll wait. Very good. Don't you feel better now? For those who didn't just read last week's column, Previously on Survivor: Todd focused in on James, Jean-Robert caught up with the rest of the game and learned about the hidden idols, Denise got screwed in the reward challenge, Eric spilled the beans about James' idols, JR tried to play The Godfather with James, Courtney won immunity by losing her final pound and disappearing from the "sit real still" challenge, Todd switched AGAIN and JR got his bluff called and will be playing a lot of solitaire at Loser's Lodge. Promised for this week is Todd hating everyone, James and PG getting into it and a major twist at Tribal Council. So, let's get right to it.

We begin this week's adventure the morning after the JR boot and James is the only one up. He's feeling pretty lucky after the narrow escape the night before. He says that with the two idols, he's in pretty good shape, but he will be bringing them to Tribal Council with him from now on. He then heads over to the rest of the tribe and sings a really off-key good morning song to wake everyone up. Even so, Courtney is just happy as pie to have JR gone. She tells us how mice it is for him to be gone. We join Courtney and Amanda discussing Denise being upset over the vote last night. Courtney tells us that they had to blindside Denise with the vote and that could come back to hurt them. Denise tells us that they had a plan to get rid of all Zhan Hu and that she voted PG like planned, but they changed it on her and no one told her. She's feeling on the outside, especially considering she turned down the opportunity to join Zhan Hu and vote out James. She talks to James and he tells her that everyone was worried that she was flipping. He tries to convince her that she's very safe. She tells us that with his two idols, James is probably not a bad guy to hook up with for the remainder. Cue the Great Wall...

We come back to PG talking about not getting along with anyone. James tells her she's definitely on the outs. As she tells James how to do the fire and cook, Todd tells us that they got rid of JR and PG has taken his place. As they watch James cook the meal, it becomes quite apparent that Courtney and Frosti are starting to get awfully chummy. Todd is concerned about this new development. Tree mail comes with a little drum and promises an experience of a lifetime as well as a feast. As they head to the challenge, PG tells us that she's the losing-est Survivor out there and that she REALLY wants to win this one.

Probst sighting!! The group will be divided into two teams. Using four different sized drums, the teams will need to keep a bouncing ball in the air through a series of obstacles. They'll pass through two gates along the way. If they drop the ball, they have to go back to the start, or the most recently passed gate and begin again. At the end of the course is a barrel to put the balls in. The first team to get three balls in their barrel wins reward. Wanna know what they're playing for? The winning team will be treated to a cruise on the Lee River. They'll have a nice dinner, spend the night on the boat and return to camp the next day. Teams will be determined with another school yard pick. PG and Erik are chosen as captains and PG gets to choose first. Naturally, she chooses James. Erik chooses Frosti. James then chooses Todd. Frosti chooses Amanda. (And can someone tell me what could possibly be so bad that they need to blur out Amanda as she walks over to join her team? Seriously.) Todd chooses Denise, leaving Courtney to join Erik, Frosti and Amanda.

The teams begin with Erik and Todd bouncing the balls. They carry it all the way up to the first obstacle. Erik passes off to Frosti and they continue on. Todd passes it off but it falls to the ground and they have to start all over. Erik and Frosti basically pass the ball back and forth over obstacles all the way to the end. With Amanda providing a back board to the barrel, Erik deposits the first ball in for yellow. As Todd and James can't keep control of their ball, Erik and Frosti are just cruising through this course. Skipping James this time, Todd goes to PG who sucks at this game every bit as bad as James. As the red team finally gets to the barrel, they lose control again. Oh by the way, the yellow team already has their second ball in. As red misses the barrel again, yellow brings their third ball down and Frosti deposits it for the win. Erik, Frosti, Courtney and Amanda win reward.

We come back from break to find PG scolding James saying that she can't believe he ever accused her of giving up at challenges. He tells her to go away and then she continues to blast him. He tells her to shut up and quit blaming people. That's why she loses. James won't let her finish a sentence. And frankly, why the hell should he? She's the one who orchestrated the thrown challenge that got Aaron voted out. She would have done the same to James if she thought she could get away with it. PG, if you happen to read this recap, which I'm sure you don't, but if you do, listen up. YOU. THREW. A. CHALLENGE. And you have the nerve to question how James performs in a challenge? How dare you! How dare you completely thrash the integrity of this game and have the nerve to EVER question anyone else's resolve. You gave up that right the minute you tanked that puzzle. And bravo to James for not giving her the opportunity to say even one thing back to him. 'Twas a very nice exchange. As PG goes for a walk, James complains to us about her for a while. She tells us that she's pissed about not winning any challenges and then whines about not having anyone on her side.

As James and Denise discuss the challenge, they both say that they all need to focus and get rid of her. James tells us that they have everything planned out and it's working out perfectly for them. But he understands human nature. They're worried about Courtney and Frosti and the temptations that are out there for everyone. But like James says, "Just don't eat the damn apple. Be nekkid and be happy." Todd tells us that his situation really sucks because the four people he gets along the best with are off having a good time on a boat without him.

And we join the reward winners on their cruise. They're sitting around a table drinking and snacking. Erik tells us that he's just excited to have finally won something. But more than that, it's a chance to try to develop some relationships. As talk turns to PG, Erik realizes that PG appears to be next on the list, which might give him a chance to work something out. As they continue, the show focuses on Frosti and Courtney. As he rubs her back, she tells us that she's not sure what the relationship is with Frosti, since he's so young (20 to her 26) and all. Frosti gives us his take by saying that he likes her a lot. She's attractive and smart and "she's way out of my league" but he's glad to have someone to be close to out there. As they drink more and continue on, they spot some goats on the bluffs. As Erik does a crazy accurate goat impression, he seems to making a better impression on Amanda. She tells us how adorable he is and how she wants to see him stay around as long as possible. The true test will come in a little while when she has to decide whether or not to cut him loose. At this point, Mr. Todd might just be in some trouble. As day turns to night, dinner is served. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cord and all the fixings are on the menu tonight. Frosti tells us that he's concerned that Erik is fitting in too well with Courtney and Amanda and that he might be taking his place.

We come back from break the next morning as the rewarders return to camp. Naturally, the non-rewarders want all the details. Amanda lies and tells them they had more Chinese food. They were afraid the others would be real upset if they knew they missed out on fried chicken and potatoes. They talked about how nice the cruise and scenery were though. They all get with Todd so Todd can fill them in on camp life while they were away. He tells them about the fight between PG and James and they all get a kick out of that. Especially Erik who tells us that it sounds like PG is on the outs and as long as she doesn't win immunity, he should be safe. If she DOES win, then he could be in some trouble.

Probst sighting! Today's challenge is all about the memory. Each person will have a series of Chinese zodiac symbols. Each round Jeff will call out a series of symbols and the players will have to stab them with their knife in the correct order. As long as they match his order, they stay in the game. Mess it up and they're out. Last one standing wins immunity. But wait, there's a catch: if they feel so safe that they don't need immunity, they can opt out of the challenge and eat. Cheeseburgers, fries, cold drinks and all the fixings. Each person is given a black and white chip. When Jeff counts three, they have to choose a chip. Black for food, white for challenge. 3-2-1. When the hands open; James, Todd, Courtney and Denise choose to eat. PG, Frosti, Amanda and Erik are playing to win the challenge. As soon as the challenge starts, the people can eat. When the challenge ends, they have to stop.

First round: Tiger, rabbit, rat, monkey, dog. Erik missed the second symbol and is out, just like that. Amanda, PG and Frosti get it correct and move on to Round 2.

Second round: Rat, ram, dragon, rooster, ram. Frosti is having trouble remembering. We start with Amanda and she missed the fourth symbol and is out of the challenge. PG got it right. Amazingly enough, so did Frosti.

Third round: Snake, rat, rabbit, tiger, rooster, ram. PG flies through this with no trouble at all. Once again, Frosti is struggling with the order. PG gets it right again. Frosti, on the other hand, messed up the second symbol and PG wins immunity. Sorry Erik.

After the 932nd reminder that Sara says goodbye on CSI tonight, we come back to play everyone's favorite game. It's time to play "It's Anyone But Erik." Frosti tells us that he's upset that so many people sat out the challenge and gave PG the chance to win. He tells us that Erik pretty much knows that he's gone. As they wish each other luck, they lament the fact that neither of them got a cheeseburger. Erik tells us that he expects to go, but he's not giving up. We join Todd and Frosti talking strategy. They talk about how smooth Erik is with the ladies and that they need to be careful with him because if he makes it to the end, he's guaranteed to win. Todd tells us that Frosti is every bit a threat and he isn't sure what to do yet. As Todd talks to Denise and James, he says that they need to pull Courtney in to get rid of Frosti. James is concerned she won't vote against her new boy toy. Todd says that he wants to talk to Courtney and that if she won't get on board with the Frosti vote, then maybe she needs to go. Denise then recaps for us that either Frosti or Courtney will be the vote tonight. We join Todd talking to Courtney and he tells her that everyone else is afraid she wouldn't vote against Frosti. Courtney tells us that this will be an important vote and that she's not really sure what she'll do at this point. Todd tells us again that he may just have to vote for Courtney if he can't get something more solid out of her. Before we get to Tribal, I'd like to point out that I'm absolutely amazed that it went from "It's Anyone But Erik" to "It's Either Frosti or Courtney and Erik Is Totally Safe." It makes me wonder who's controlling things in this game, Todd or Amanda.

Jeff begins Tribal by asking James about the immunity challenge. He says he was surprised that James would bag out of the challenge. James tells us that he just thought "attack" and that he ate seven cheeseburgers. He asks Todd next and Todd says as soon as he saw the burgers, the fat kid inside him said to eat. He says it was very tough to bag out, especially when he had told himself that he would never do it. Jeff asks Frosti why he stayed in. Frosti said that he knows no matter how comfortable you feel, you can always go home and he wants to know that if he does go home, it will only be after he did everything he possibly could to avoid it. Moving on to Erik, Jeff asks him if the four that sat out feel comfortable enough to know they're not going home. He says that he feels that he is at the bottom of the ladder. Jeff talks about the two types of relationships you build in this game. One is the game relationship and the other is the type of relationship that will continue after the game. He asks Amanda if those two have begun to butt heads yet. Is she having to vote off people that she would rather have an after the game relationship with, while keeping people that she doesn't. She says that it's hard to have friendships and play the game because those things may not always follow the same path. He moves to Denise and asks her that if she has a friendship, should she expect some loyalty in the game. She says that you'd like to think that would be the case, but you can't expect it in a game like this. You just hope that the friendships you make during the game will last after the game. Jeff turns to Frosti and asks him what it says about him that he's still there after switching tribes. He says it's just a testament to the relationships he made when he came over there. He then asks Erik if it ever feels personal. He says that it definitely does sometimes as he's been trying to make friends but he's on the block and that trying to find his way into the mix can also be detrimental to him. And with that, it's time to vote.

First vote we see is Frosti voting for Erik saying that one of them will be eating cheeseburgers before the other, even though neither of them deserves it. We then see Erik vote for Frosti saying that it's one of them tonight and it's nothing personal. We get to hear Amanda's comments and she says that she thinks they're an amazing person. Jeff heads to tally the votes and we're left wondering if Courtney's indecision will cost her or if it really is either Erik or Frosti. First vote: Frosti. Second vote: Erik. Rest of the votes: Frosti. And just like that Frosti becomes the ninth person voted out of Survivor: China. As much as I hate to see Frosti go, if they're not going to blindside James, Frosti is the one that has to go. He's a threat to win every challenge and he's TOO likeable to want to go up against at the final Tribal Council. After Frosti heads out toward Loser's Lodge, Jeff tells everyone, "Well, you've made it a long ways in this game, but there are still 12 days left. Now more than ever, the ability to adapt moment to moment is what's going to keep you in this game. We're gonna test that right now. Tonight you will not be heading directly back to camp. We have more business to attend to here." And with that, the episode ends.

While we wait for the previews of the next episode, I'd like to take this opportunity to tell everyone that next week's episode will be the dreaded recap show. They'll recap the season so far and maybe mix in a few seconds of footage we've never seen. I'm assuming they don't want anyone messing up their Turkey Day to catch a new episode and I appreciate that. I also appreciate that I get a week off from my recaps! So, the next NEW Survivor episode will air on Thursday November 29th. And for that show: injuries are taking their toll and we see some awful sores on Erik and PGs legs. James has had enough (and a haircut and shave, it seems) and is starting to demand that some other people step up and actually do something. Todd, also with a shave, tells us that he has a strong opinion and he'll knock you down if he has to. And they show him telling someone, "You gotta watch your mouth dude." I can only assume he was talking to James. One thing's for sure, this tribe has one sure thing vote left in PG and then it should become quite interesting, since Erik seems to have made his way in with Amanda. Well, that's it for me this week. Everyone have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and I'll be back in two weeks as we'll finally find out what other business they can possibly have at Tribal Council. Til then, take care.