Survivor: China Recap
Ready to Bite the Apple
By Jim Van Nest
December 5, 2007

He must have already forgotten how badly he miscalculated.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to the BOP Survivor recap. We've only got four of these left for this season, so you better start savoring every word. Previously on Survivor: Frosti and Courtney canoodled, Todd freaked out, the cool kids won reward, PG blamed James, PG won immunity and it was Peace Out for Frosti. And oh, by the way, there's more business to attend to at Tribal Council. Let's find out what it is...

First things first - Jeff dismisses the jury. Once they're gone, Jeff tells the group that they will participate in an immediate reward challenge. The winner of this challenge will travel by private jet a couple hundred miles for a visit to the ancient Shaolin Temple. They'll enjoy a kung-fu demonstration, have a meal, spend the night and return the next day. Without seeing a thing, I can say that this is easily the coolest reward they're ever had on this show. I'd be pulling out all the stops on this one. I haven't looked it up, but I can't imagine many Westerners have had an opportunity to check out the Temple. Mark Burnett has truly outdone himself this time. Cue the credits.

The challenge is this; Jeff will ask a series of questions based on Chinese culture. Each correct answer gets a point. First one to five wins immunity. On the first question, Todd, James, PG and Denise get it right. Second question everyone gets right. For the third question, everyone but Denise got it right. After everyone but Amanda gets question four right, the scores are like this: Todd, James and PG with four. Denise, Courtney and Erik have three and Amanda has two. Fifth question and the only person to get it right is PG. Not to say this challenge was tailor made for her or anything, but she is Chinese and this was all about Chinese culture. Hmmm... So, PG wins reward and she gets to select two people to go with her. Naturally she chooses Erik. The second choice is...drum roll...Denise. Excellent choice, since Denise is (and I bet a lot of people didn't know this) studying for her black belt. Of all the folks in the cast, Denise and PG would be the ones to appreciate this reward the most, so I have to say that even though I don't like PG, I'm glad she got this one. Now, vote her ass off!!!!

Back at camp the next morning, the boat arrives and James is the only one up. He wakes everyone up and Denise tells us she's concerned about leaving with Erik and PG because things can change so much when people leave. She's very excited about the reward, but a little freaked about leaving. After they leave, the other four begin discussing that this is nothing more than a nine-day preview of the final four. James tells us how perfect things are going here and how they're in Eden and they just need to not bite the apple.

As Todd and James are discussing their little slice of heaven, Amanda is having reservations. She tells us that she's going along with the group, but she doesn't feel right going to the final three with any of them. She thinks this might be the right time to make a change. While we go to break, let me mention that she's absolutely right. James wants to keep the status quo, and why wouldn't he? He has two get out of jail free cards and if he makes it two more votes, he's guaranteed into the finals. Why WOULD he want to change anything up? Amanda's also right about this being the right time. The best times to change things up in this game are at nine and seven. Seven is the absolute best time, because there are less people to possibly screw it up. If ever there was a time to dump James or is the time. And I applaud Amanda for realizing it. The only question now is, will she have the guts and influence to pull it off?

We come back from break (by the way, National Treasure 2 is coming out soon...I mention it because I bet we may not see any more ads for it. *rolls eyes*) to join the reward three getting onto their private jet. And it's party time. Denise has let down the mullet, the champagne is flowing and they each have their very own bowl of nuts. They get to celebrate for about 15 seconds before PG starts hitting them over the head with her "We could change the game" ramblings. To her credit, though, this time she actually has a good point. She suggests that if they could get James to join them, they could ride it all the way to the end. Denise doesn't like it but she is also not completely closing the door to the possibility. She has a nice thing going, but seems to be open to something potentially nicer.

The interesting person to me is Erik. He doesn't respond; he just sits there looking cute. It's all he's done this season and it's working like a charm. There may not ever have been a smoother player in this game. Erik has somehow remained in the game while having no alliance, no strategy and no real plan. Everyone likes him and everyone seems to be including him in their strategy. He's gonna ride the southern gentleman "Yes, ma'ams" and "No sirs" all the way to a million bucks if these people don't wake up.

Forget the strategy session - we're at the Temple. I can't even begin to imagine how frickin cool this would be. PG and Denise are in awe. Denise mentions taking karate and that she's been doing it for eight years with her black belt coming up. As she tells us how amazing this place is, the demonstration begins. This is cooler than an '80s Michael Jackson video. These guys are all over the place and in perfect sync. The highlight for me was the one who broke out on his own and finished up with the worm. Very nice. They did weapons displays punctuated by one monk breaking a sword on his forehead, blade side first. I've never seen anything like it. As they sit down to eat, a pack of kids come out to help teach the Survivors some kung fu moves. As Denise is picking up the moves quickly, one of the monks actually comes to her and asks her to put on a demonstration. Can you even imagine it? Doing a martial arts demonstration at the Shaolin Temple with all of the Shaolin monks watching. I'd poo myself! But she was brilliant. A truly wonderful job and couldn't have happened to a nicer person. Erik seemed to be pretty impressed as well. Makes me wonder if James might not have some competition there. Anyway, back to the game...

As the three eat dinner, PG is so very excited for all of this. Considering she hasn't won anything yet, she's probably the hungriest of them all. They're shown to their temple room where they get to sleep on a mat on the floor. DOH! They could have slept on the floor back at camp! Speaking of back at camp...

We come back to camp and it's pouring down rain. Everyone is huddled into a little bitty cave just praying for the rain to go away. As they wallow in their wetness, the boat brings Denise, PG and Erik back. Amanda is the only one to come out of the cave to greet them. Denise is a little taken aback by the fact that no one else comes out to welcome her back. PG goes straight to the cave to tell everyone all about the experience. As she goes on and on, Courtney tells us that she considers the cave to be her happy place and she gets really annoyed when everyone else comes in there. She was doubly annoyed listening to PG talk about the reward. We cut to Todd talking to Denise and telling her how excited they were for her to go. She tells him that PG was trying to make an alliance on the trip and that Todd is her target. This is all it takes to get Todd all riled up and consider PG public enemy #1. Erik goes to James to feel him out. He passes on PG's strategy. James says he's just trying to win the challenge and then he'll see what the "powers that be" say. Erik asks him about that and James points out the obvious. There's a group of five and a group of two. He says he's not gonna be the dummy that goes against those odds.

Day 30 dawns and James is the only one up. Surprise, surprise. As everyone slowly waits, Amanda grabs Courtney for a walk to Tree Mail. Tree Mail is stuck to the post with throwing stars. Hmm, looks like we have a ninja star contest. WOO HOO!! Amanda tells Courtney that she thinks they should get rid of James tonight. But to do it, he has to be blindsided. She explains to Courtney that they are just handing him a top three spot and basically handing him a million dollars. She tells us about him talking about not biting the apple; well she's ready to make the whole pie. What's going to be real interesting here is that Todd came up with this same idea six days ago and Amanda poo-poo'd it and they ended up voting out Jean-Robert. I'm curious to see how it goes now that Amanda is on board.

Probst sighting!! Today's challenge is a throwing star contest. Each person will get three stars to throw. There are little shadow men a few yards away. They are given point values of one, two and three points, with a tiny section worth five points. The challenge is real simple. Throw your stars, top 3three point getters move on to Round Two. Round Two is the same thing but with only one star. Survivors ready?

First up is PG. Three terrible tosses later, she sits in first place with 0 points. Todd's up next and after missing the first two shots, lands a three-pointer on the third star. Erik is up third and his first shot is a three-pointer, he narrowly misses with the second star and scores another three with his 3rd star. Courtney scores three with her first toss, two with her second and one on her 3rd. Erik and Courtney are tied with six. James is up next. His first throw was lie a baseball and misses completely. His next two tosses both hit three for a total of six. Todd and PG are both eliminated. Amanda hits a three with her first shot, bounces off the three with her second and ties it up with a three on her third shot for a total of six. Denise wraps up round one with a miss and a two. Only a five shot will do it for her and she literally bounces it off the five points, but with no stick, no points.

Erik, James, Amanda and Courtney are all moving on to Round Two with scores of six. They move the board back and Courtney is up first. She misses completely. Amanda throws second and lands a two-pointer. Erik comes up next and quickly knocks Amanda out by scoring three points. James is the final thrower. He needs a three to tie or a five point shot to win. He winds up and can't stick it, giving Erik immunity. To me, this is the optimum result. We'll get to see if they can pull the James blindsiding thing off or not. If they decide not to, then PG will likely go home and I'm a happy man.

And now it's time to play...well, I'm not totally sure. Let's just see if Amanda can rally the troops. James tells us that PG is going home tonight and Erik will be nice. Amanda goes to Todd and tells him they have to get rid of James. Todd's worried about getting Erik or PG closer to the money where they'd be seen as "the fighters." As Courtney, Amanda and Todd get together, they finally decide to do it. They have to play up PG going home and hopefully he won't play it. Todd knows that he'll likely be getting PG's vote which means his ass will be on the line as much as anyone's. He then tells us that he's gonna have to lie right to James' face and that it really hurts because he likes James so much.

PG and Erik are talking about how former Zhan Hu members keep winning immunity and how she's pretty sure she's going home tonight. As they're lying there, PG sees James' idols hidden up in the roof of the shelter. She decides to go to Amanda and out James for having the idol. PG suggests that now is a good time to blindside James or flush out the idol. Amanda strongly suggests to her that she drop this line of talk and just go about the business of being voted out tonight. Amanda knows that if PG goes running around to everyone stirring this up, it will eventually get back to James and the whole plan will be destroyed. Now the question is, will PG drop it or keep on keeping on? We cut to PG talking to Erik and discussing how it looks like James is getting the vote. She suggests that she and Erik each vote for Todd, which will send Todd home, in the event that James plays an idol (very smart thinking, by the way.) Erik tells us he's not sure what to do, because he's not ready to rock the boat while immunity is on his neck. James and Amanda are discussing how PG is trying hard to stay in the game. James tells us that he's been the main guy trying to hold everything together. And I would guess so. Let's take a tally, who stands to gain if James stays in the game? James. Anyone else? Who stand to gain if James goes home? Everyone that's not James. Amanda is right. He has to go and he has to go now. Of course, he's trying to hold everyone together. 'Cause if he does, he cake walks into the finals. And who's not gonna give him the money? This should be a REAL interesting Tribal Council.

We get to Tribal and the first question goes to Denise. He asks her about the reward. She just raves on and on. He asks PG if she's tried to penetrate the Fei Long group. She says yep, but not with a lot of luck. He asks James about PG and James says that she's doing exactly what she's supposed to do. He says that it would be dumb to turn away from the numbers, though, and take the chance to go with the underdogs. He also says something about losing to which PG interrupts to point out that Zhan Hu keeps winning immunity and that also at some point they'll want all these folks to vote FOR them. He asks Todd how important is trust in this game. Todd says it's the ultimate. Denise says that she doesn't really trust anyone because the game's constantly changing. He asks James if it's possible to trust someone. James says that only if you have the same strategy and same goal can you really trust someone. Jeff asks who there is not overly concerned about going home tonight. In a light moment, Erik is the only one to raise his hand. He asks what PG thinks her odds are. She fully expects to go home and has been for several votes. And with that, it's time to vote. We see PGs vote for Todd and James' vote for PG. We then see Todd's vote for James with the comment that "I hope this works. If not, I'm scared for my life." And now the moment we've been waiting for. Jeff, "If anyone has a hidden immunity idol, now would be the time to play it." Long drawn out pause for effect and no one plays an idol. First vote Todd. Next vote Todd. Third vote PG. And as he can't believe what's happening to him, all the rest of the votes come up James and he and his two idols head off to loser's lodge as having made one of the dumbest decisions in the history of Survivor. Hell, at least Jaime PLAYED her fake idol.

Next time on Survivor: as everyone gets teary eyed, looks like it's visitors from home week on Survivor. And Amanda might set her sights on getting rid of Todd. Finally, Denise appears to be a huge swing vote holding the fates of a couple people in her hands. I don't profess to know what will happen on upcoming episodes, but I can say that almost ANY time someone has talked about being the swing vote, that person pays the ultimate price for their indecision. Hopefully Denise would share that fate. Due to my lateness with writing this recap, we won't have to wait real long to find out.

***Before I sign off, one programming note. Looks like the season is ending very soon as Sunday, December 16th will be the three hour finale/reunion. Just thought I'd mention that so you all can adjust your calendar accordingly.***

'Til tomorrow, take care.