Survivor: China
A Slippery Little Sucker: Part One
By Jim Van Nest
December 17, 2007

Denise is making mullets fashionable again. Hell, Todd had one at the aftershow.

Hello, good people, and welcome to the Survivor: China finale. The finale will be split into two articles, one written tonight, and the other to be done in the next couple days. To hold you over between articles, look for a How Well Do You Know: Survivor China quiz on Tuesday, YAY!!! As they do every single finale, we get a recap of the entire season. As I do every single finale, I'm not gonna recap that much. I'm gonna recap the last episode. Previously on Survivor: Denise won immunity again, Amanda and PG were left out, reward winners boiled meat, reward losers bonded, Amanda mastered the most challenges and won immunity, PG's bid to break the alliance failed and she became the 12th person tossed out of China. The promos promised a battle between the Lunch Lady, The Long Shot, The Schemer and The Chameleon. If I was a betting man, I'd put my money on The Chameleon, Amanda. If Jeff ever finishes the intro, we'll start the show!

We begin after PG's ouster. As they pat themselves on the back for executing their plan, Courtney tells us she expected to be the first to go home. She's hoping to keep slipping through the cracks. She's really hoping for an immunity challenge she can win.

As the sun rises on Day 37, they all decide to chill out and enjoy the day. Amanda comes back with Tree Mail and it suggests a reward challenge that will take them back to the Great Well for something to eat. Amanda is VERY much wanting to win this one. She hasn't eaten in a while and she really wants the energy for the Immunity Challenge.

Probst sighting!! Today's challenge, they will tackle the Survivor version of the Great Wall of China. It's a huge obstacle course made up of a puzzle bridge and finishes off with a set of Tetris looking puzzle blocks to complete their section of the "Great Wall." This time they're playing for pizza, beer, soda and brownies. The big advantage is that this is a meal for one. Worth playing for? I think so.

The challenge starts off and Todd and Amanda jump out to huge leads. They both get to the puzzle bridge at the same time and complete it at about the same time. As they get to the end of the course, they load up their cargo holders with puzzle blocks. Denise and Courtney are still on the bridge as Todd and Amanda head back for their second set of blocks. By this time, Courtney finishes her bridge and Todd has taken a decent sized lead and is working on his puzzle. Amanda makes it back with her blocks and the race is on. It's a 12 piece puzzle that only goes together one way. Courtney gets her first set of blocks as Denise finally finishes her bridge. Courtney and Denise get back at the same time, but Denise still has one more trip to make. Amanda and Todd don't seem to be getting very far on the puzzle. Denise comes back with her blocks and everyone is working on the puzzle. Todd seems to be making some headway now. Amanda too. And just like that, Amanda fits in the last piece and wins reward. Of the three, she is the one who most needs the meal. Jeff calls her over and tells her she now has a dilemma. She can either eat everything herself. Or she can invite either one or two people to join her. Amanda is thinking that if she keeps it to herself, she doesn't treat anyone differently. But, Denise took her on a reward and she loves Todd and Courtney too. When all's said and done, she chooses Todd to join her and only Todd. While that may seem bold on her part, it's really a brilliant strategic move. For Amanda, she doesn't necessarily have to be with Todd, but Todd has to THINK that she's with Todd. By feeding him and keeping him close like this, he's ripe for the picking at the next Tribal, if he's immunity free and Amanda decides he needs to go. I LOVE the game she's playing and if anyone else wins this game, it will be the wrong person.

We come back from break and Amanda and Todd sit down to eat. She says that she wanted a chance to talk to Todd, because they haven't talked in a long time. She tells us that she wanted to get where his head was, because she doesn't trust him at all. She tells Todd that she's wanted to talk to him, because she really doesn't trust him. She tells him that she has the feeling that if she would be backstabbed, it would be by him. He tells her that there's only one person in the game that he's been honest to, and it's been her. Todd tells us that he's been planning the game with Amanda in mind the whole way and he tells her the same thing. He tells her he's in it to the end with her. He tells us that he hopes he can trust her because he needs her right now.

Back at camp, we're treated to Denise taking her clothes off for a swim. That's nice...could you guys keep blurring Amanda's ass though? Thanks. Denise tells us that she's very excited to have lasted this long as she's used to being picked last. Now, she's afraid that she's going to be left out. Denise asks Courtney about her and Todd being tight. She said it seems he's tighter with Amanda. They discuss who they want to vote off, and Denise says Todd. To which Courtney replies, "He's a slippery little sucker."

As they boat back to camp, Todd tells us that he's worried that "his girls" will turn on him. As they get back to camp, the reception is anything but warm. We join Todd telling Denise that he loves them all and that no matter whose name he writes down, it'll hurt. He also tells her that he has a feeling it's gonna go all girl power on him tomorrow and that he'll be the one to be gone. Denise asks him who he thinks has the best shot to win. He says Amanda and Courtney. Denise suggests that they should stick together. Meanwhile, Courtney is listening in. Todd also says that he has a friendship with all of them and that he's worried that whatever name he writes down will affect that friendship. Courtney then tells US that he's a slippery sucker and that he always has something going, including a spot in the final three. She says that if any of them think he cares about anything but Todd, they're mistaken.

Todd looks on as Amanda and Courtney go off to talk. Courtney tells Amanda about Denise and Todd's talk in the shelter. She says that she thinks Todd is telling different stories to everyone. Amanda admits that she chose him to eat because she wanted him to feel more comfortable. She tells Courtney all about their meal and conversation and Todd walks up behind them. He tells us that he feels very paranoid. He asks them if everything is cool with the three of them, so Denise can be the next to go. As he tells them how fantastic they'd be as a final three...Courtney can't even hide the disbelief.

We come back from break and Todd comes in with Tree Mail. The mail tells them to honor their fallen comrades and proceed on to the final immunity challenge. Ok, I'm confused now. The commercials kept telling us three Tribal Councils. After the immunity challenge will be Tribal Council #1. The Tribal that declares a winner is a second one. Where and what's the third? While this is always a nice montage to remember the other players, it gives very little material to write about. So I'll stop for a minute while you take in the fallen comrades section of Survivor: China.

Probst sighting!!!! It's time for our final immunity challenge. Everybody lines up and Jeff tells them that the winner will have a guaranteed spot in the final Tribal Council. So I guess the whole "Three Tribal Councils" thing is wrong. We come back from break and Jeff explains the challenge. This challenge will test their ability to block out all distractions and concentrate on the task at hand. They will have a stack of porcelain dishes as the end of a balancing arm. The stack is unstable and will grow. The balancing arm will keep them at a slight distance away. Looks to me to be a tough deal, especially as the stack gets taller. If you lose concentration, the stack will fall and the plates will break. Last person to have dishes still standing wins immunity.

Jeff starts instructing the stacking order. Large dish, large bowl, small plate, rice bowl. With a stack of four, everyone seems pretty solid. Next is a small dish, then a cup, then a saucer. With another cup on top, we're at 27 minutes and Todd is starting to wobble. The next item is the small bowl. Todd's stack is slightly crooked and it's not looking good for him. Everyone else seems strong. Next up is a small bowl. That's enough for Todd, his stack falls and he's done. The ladies now have to add the rice bowl to the stack. The rice bowl is considerably bigger than the other bowls. Amanda turns hers upside down, while the others are right side up. Courtney is getting wobbly while Amanda and Denise remain strong. And the weight of the dishes proves too much for Courtney and she's out. At this point, Denise wants to make a deal. Amanda isn't having it. You can't make a deal at this point. Not with two other people in play. If there are only three, you make a deal. With four, you just can't. Next item is another rice bowl. Denise is very shaky, while Amanda is very strong. And just like that, the heat gets to Denise and her stack goes down and Amanda wins the final immunity challenge and will make it to the final Tribal Council. Jeff confirms that the next person voted out will be the final member of the jury. So where's the third frickin Tribal, Probst?!?!

We get back to camp and Amanda is so excited to have a shot at the finals. She's worried, though, that she'll be blamed by whoever goes home tonight. Denise is feeling very nervous and is hoping that she can sway Amanda. Amanda tells Denise that she hasn't decided who she's voting for. She says that she really admires and respects Denise. Denise pleads her case to Amanda, but she pulls out the "I'm going back to my $7/hour job" card. I really don't like that. She has a lot more going for her; she shouldn't have to fall back on the sympathy card. Amanda doesn't know what to do.

Todd and Courtney say they're voting for Denise tonight and Amanda agrees to stick with them. Courtney tells them that she's telling Denise how she's voting and Amanda is not down with that. That could be seen as a black mark against her, according to Todd. Todd tells Courtney that he thinks Amanda might be swayed by Denise. As they talk, Todd mentions that he doesn't want to lose to Denise. In his mind, I'm sure he knows he's played a superior game and losing to an inferior game would not sit well with him. The real ignorant thing is Courtney saying that this isn't welfare. Denise shouldn't win the game because she sucks at life. She follows that up with, "I'm the biggest bitch on the planet." Ya know, Courtney, after that comment, you're absolutely right. You ARE the biggest bitch on the planet. In fact, that's the most sense you've made this entire season.

We join Amanda and Denise talking. Amanda asks who Denise is voting for. Denise doesn't know. Amanda tells her she's had an alliance with Todd from day one, and she doesn't like the idea of dumping him because it scares her. She tells Denise that she'd rather have Denise next to her in the Final Three, though. Amanda tells Denise that no matter what, she will not vote for Denise tonight. But she can't guarantee who the others will vote for. Denise plays a bit of a guilt card by reminding Amanda that she said she had her back. We then click to Amanda talking to Courtney. Amanda is telling Courtney that everyone likes Todd and that Denise has no connection with anyone on the jury. Amanda says that she thinks Todd has better connections with the jury and that he can sugarcoat everything so well, he's dangerous to take. Courtney tells her to let her know how she's voting and she's with her. Amanda tells us that Todd is her biggest competition, but ultimately, she doesn't know who to vote for.

We get to Tribal and Jeff asks Amanda right off the bat if she's giving up immunity. She says no way. He asks Todd who he's voting for. He says this is the hardest vote and he's voting for who he wants to go up against in the final three. He asks Denise and she says she's on the bottom of the totem pole and that she's voting for the person that makes the most sense for her. Jeff moves to Courtney and asks if it's true that Denise is on the bottom of the totem pole. She says that she feels like everyone's on the outside of some group. She says it's not necessarily true or false, it's all perception. Jeff asks Todd if he thinks he's safe. Todd says he's not sure and he hopes he is, but he's seen a lot of people think they're safe.

He asks Denise why it makes sense to keep her. She says that they probably think that because she has kids and stuff, it'll weigh on the jury' minds. He then asks Courtney why it makes sense to keep her. She says no one will be excited about her making it through, since there are many areas where she'll come up way short and oh yeah...there's her winning personality. Jeff asks Amanda if she was real popular today having the necklace. She says it was a crazy day. He asks Denise if Amanda's vote does mean more tonight. She says that it does and that at one point, Amanda told her she had her back and she hopes she doesn't vote against her. Amanda interrupts her to correct her and say that she made that comment a while ago, not today. This brings a huge smile to Todd's face. Noticing this, Jeff asks Todd about it. He just says that it was his reaction for Denise, because Amanda correcting her was kinda of an awkward thing. And now, it's time to vote.

We see Denise's vote for Todd. She says she's voting for him, because he's voting for her. We then see Todd's vote for Denise and he says that she's been one of the greatest competitors in this game so far. And now it's time to tally the votes. First vote, Denise. Second vote, Todd. Third vote, Denise. And the 13th person voted out of Survivor: China, Denise. Looks like Amanda stayed with her Day One alliance. And, in my opinion, there's something to be said for that.

And just like that, we're down to the final three. Amanda, Courtney and Todd. They have made it as far as they can in this game and will now have to sway the seven members of the jury to give them a million dollars. Again, look for the How Well Do You Know Survivor: China on Tuesday and the final recap, which will reveal the winner of Survivor: China later on this week. Til then, take care.