Survivor: China
Going For the Oscar
By Jim Van Nest
December 7, 2007

His angelic good looks and apparent virginity couldn't keep him around.

Hello, good people, and welcome to Survivor: China. We're now down to six Survivors, which means next week will officially be Survivor Week as we finish off the show with four hours of Survivor goodness: one hour on Thursday and the three-hour finale/reunion extravaganza on Sunday. Before we get to that, though, we have to get to the business of whittling the cast down to five. Previously on Survivor: the Tribal Council cliffhanger was dull, the reward was the best ever, PG won and shared with Erik and Denise, Denise did Kung Fu at the Shaolin Temple, Amanda came up with a plan, Erik mastered the ninja stars and the stupidest play (or non-play) in Survivor history put the last nail in James' coffin. This week's previews suggested a family visit and the ultimate backstab as Amanda plots against Todd and Denise ends up in the dreaded "swing vote" position. Onward to the final five.

We begin the night after Tribal and Todd is shocked that the plan to oust James worked. They all discussed how life would have been had James played the idol. Erik suggests celebrating being in the top six and getting back to it tomorrow. PG seems to think there's a huge hole in the alliance for her and Erik to still be there. She's hoping to pick up a couple people to switch the tide. (Please, Survivor not smile on this challenge thrower. Smite her the way she deserves to be smitten.)

We come back from the credits to a mother of a storm. Day 31 dawns and the tribe is soaked and huddled in the shelter. Todd is telling us how much he misses home and how miserable he is. He tells us that his alliance is the remaining Fei Longs, but you can't really trust anyone at this point. He admits it would be a really smart move for them to get rid of him now. He won't tell them that, but he knows it to be true. And he's dead on right. The way he's played the game thus far, he's been out front as the leader and mastermind. Even though Amanda has played just as good a game as he has, he's been seen more as the face of the alliance and that may hold more weight with the jury.

Probst sighting!! As foreshadowed by Todd's longing for home, as the Survivors arrive at the challenge, Jeff tells them that they will be split into teams of two and be separated at opposite ends of a huge maze. They will have to navigate from both sides to the middle. First team to get to the middle wins. To make it worse, they'll be blindfolded. As Jeff pairs them up, he starts with Erik, who will be teamed with his mom. Cue the tears! Amanda will be paired with her sister. PG is paired with her dad. Todd's hooked up with his sister. And interestingly enough, it's like Granny Fairplay all over again. He asks her about someone and you hear his sister say, "She miscarried it, Todd." Are you frickin' kidding me? This better be legit, because I've considered Todd a pretty damn good player up until now and if he has resorted to stealing someone else's bit to win points with the tribe, I just might have to go to the reunion show so I can kick him right in the peas.

He explains to the group what happened. They confirm that the sister is doing just fine. Courtney gets to pair up with her Dad. Or Peter Fonda, I'm not sure which. Finally, Denise is paired up with her husband. Jeff gets the family members up to speed on the challenge. Courtney's dad looks a little freaked out about that. The winning team will win a boat ride a meal and a cell phone with a call from the rest of their loved ones at home.

And Todd and Erik are in the center already. Denise is also there. It's actually weird how fast they've gotten there. PG is a mile away with her dad. Courtney's in the middle but her dad's not very close. Denise is helping her husband get there and he's the first one in. As they join hands and climb the steps, Denise and her husband Robert win reward. Denise gets to choose two Survivors and their family member to come with her. First off, she chooses Todd. Next up is Amanda. PG looks to be shooting arrows out of her eyeballs at Denise. I'm guessing she felt she deserved a return of the favor for the Temple reward. As the other three bid a tearful farewell, Jeff tells them that after the reward, the loved ones will get to spend the night at camp.

We come back from break to the reward winners. They get to a table with ribs, pizza and everything imaginable. And can someone please tell me why Amanda's ass is blurred? As they dig into some chocolate cake, Denise's phone rings. Her daughter is on the phone. While this is a very touching moment, there's really nothing to write about.

Back at camp, PG is going off on Denise for not taking her on the reward. And right after that Erik mentions that he doesn't believe Todd's miscarriage story. He feels really bad if it's true. Courtney goes on to say that maybe his sister won't be too thrilled to have the whole world know she had a teen pregnancy and a miscarriage. She goes on to say that he was going for the Oscar with his performance and even mentioned Jonny Fairplay. She says that the dead grandma can be forgiven because it was at least funny. The boat returns to camp and as the three at camp see the family members returning, they're not sure how to react. Everyone comes back with chocolate on their hands to share. PG let's us know that she is not feeling like being social after not being picked. As everyone goes for a swim, it must run in the family, because Amanda's sister's ass is blurred. As they talk, Todd confirms to us that the miscarriage is true. Denise fills her husband in on the alliance and just hopes that Todd and Amanda take her to the final three. Todd and Amanda are telling their sisters how they're running the show and will likely take Courtney to the final three over Denise as Denise will have a sob story to tell, whereas Courtney has pissed off as many people as they have on the jury.

As the boat approaches camp, it's time for more tearful goodbyes as Robert and the sisters head back out of camp and the game can continue. Todd tells us that you still have to be on your toes or things can get out of hand real quick. Denise talks to PG and they discuss not taking her. Denise tried to apologize, but PG isn't really buying it. She asks why she picked Amanda. She gives some story about Amanda being weak and stuff. PG says she needs to start playing the sympathy card more, if that's how it works out. She tells us that all she cares about is winning this immunity challenge.

Probst sighting!! Today's challenge is both physical and mental. They'll be attached to a rope and have to work an obstacle course. At the end of the course, they will find a series of boxes. There will be a True and False box with a trivia question. They need to answer the question and take the key that goes with it. They need to bring it back to the start and if it opens a lock, they can go back for the next key. If not, they need to go back and get the one that does. First Survivor to open all three locks wins immunity and a one in five chance at $1,000,000. Survivors ready...

Todd jumps out to a quick lead, with Amanda right behind. Todd is the first to the questions. Amanda and Todd are back with their first key. PG is making a game of it. Todd's first to the lock and his unlocks. So does Amanda. PG's first key is a winner. Todd and Amanda are pretty much neck and neck now. Denise and Erik are far enough behind that I don't see them catching up. To make matters worse, Erik's first key is a dud. Todd's second key is good. Amanda's second key doesn't work, which gives Todd a huge lead. PG's second key also works; putting her in a great spot should Todd pick the wrong key. Todd's back first with the third key and it's...a...loser. Todd has to head back onto the course. PG is now back with her third key and it's...a...winner. Flag's raised and PG wins immunity. D'OH!!!

And now it's time to play, "It's anyone but Erik." PG is very touched by having the immunity necklace. She's felt like she was going home for several votes now. Todd, Denise and Courtney are concerned about what happens tonight. Todd feels that Erik is the easiest vote of all tonight, because if he or PG get anywhere near the end, they're practically guaranteed the win. We then join Erik and Amanda out fishing and Erik's telling Amanda that he wouldn't trust Todd. Erik is a little annoyed that everyone says they don't trust Todd, but no one seems to want to vote against him. PG says that she is sticking with Erik and voting against Todd and they're hoping to pull Denise in with them. PG tells Denise she'll likely end up number four with the other folks, but if she goes with PG, she could be in the top three. Erik chimes in that third is a lot better than fourth. Todd and Courtney are watching and getting concerned that Denise might switch. Denise tells us that yeah, she might get farther with PG, but she doesn't think she really wants to go up against them at the end. She's completely torn on what to do. From my perspective, this should be an easy choice. If she goes with Erik and PG, the best she can do is force a tie. And a tie doesn't guarantee her switch will be successful. If it's not and Erik goes home as planned, well, they're gonna know Denise turned and she just moved up on the list. It's a no-brainer to me that she has to vote Erik and try to make her move at five, when a tie won't happen.

We get to Tribal Council and the first thing I notice is that James doesn't look quite so understanding, like his final words last week suggested. Jeff asks Amanda if she felt like she knew Denise better after seeing her with her husband. She says that she saw that Denise has a great life and great family. Denise could be a little worried that seeing her life people may be less likely to vote for her as she's got a good thing going. He moves on to PG and mentions that it's been her or Erik for several TCs now. He asks if it's like that again. PG, speaking to Jeff but really speaking to Denise says that the person that's fourth in the order might want to switch sides at this point. He goes back to Denise and asks her if the up in the air vote scares her. She says that she always feels like she's in the middle and she just hopes that she can trust certain people. We move to Todd and the question is whether or not he trusts anyone there. He says that he does. That he has to since he doesn't have the necklace. Erik, have you done everything you can to stay in the game? He says that he has and that right now it's four and two, but it could be three and three and possibly give someone a better shot at winning. And with that, it's time to vote.

The votes we see are Todd voting for Erik and Erik voting for Todd. We then hear Denise's comment that she hates to do it and it will probably be the biggest mistake she's made in this game. Uh oh, did she doe the unthinkable and turn on her alliance? I just don't think so. Let's go tally the votes. First vote: Todd's vote for Erik. Next vote: Erik's vote for Todd. Next up is a Todd and an Erik. Fifth vote is Erik and it's Denise time. Eleventh person voted out of Survivor: China is Erik. And Todd breathes a HUGE sigh of relief.

Next time on Survivor: Amanda targets Todd and everything gets turned upside down. As Courtney says in the promo, "An angry Todd is a bad Todd." Apparently Todd gets the target on his back and we'll just have to see if he can survive it. And as PG talks about wanting to see Todd go, I wonder how she'll feel when she learns that Amanda is and has been running the show for several days now. No matter what, Survivor Week promises to bring the fireworks. Until next Thursday, take care.