Survivor: China
A Slippery Little Sucker Part 2
By Jim Van Nest
December 19, 2007

Must not look at his package. Must not jeopardize alliance by gawking.

Hello, good people, and welcome to Part 2 of the Survivor: China finale. This column will be the finale of the BOP Survivor Recaps for this season. So you'd better soak in all the words and really savor them, because we're looking at several months before we're back in print. When we left off, Amanda had just decided to stick with her Day One alliance and sent Denise back to Lunch Lady Land. We're down to the final three with only the final Tribal Council left to determine a winner. Let's check back in and see how it all turns out.

All righty. We begin after Tribal Council. What should be a joyous time is totally brought down by Amanda's melancholy. Todd and Courtney are pumped to make it to the end. Amanda is upset because she says Todd called her out at Tribal Council. She tells us that she thinks Todd made her look bad in front of the jury. Todd tries to explain that he didn't mean it the way she took it. She tells him that she fully expects him to trash her at Tribal tomorrow, but everything will not just be ok. Again she tells us how terrible she feels about being in the finals with someone she thinks will stab her in the back at anytime. If only she knew that throughout this entire show, she is the only person Todd has been honest with and stayed true to.

The sun rises on Day 39 and everyone seems to be much happier. They head off to Tree Mail and find a celebratory basket of food, including pancake mix, bacon, eggs and fruit. Courtney tells us that she's amazed that she's made it this far. She goes on to say that she hopes that the fact that she has never wavered from her personality traits and has been herself from day one. As the final three set up the ceremonial burning, Todd tells us that he feels like he's really grown up a lot over the course of this show. He tells us he thinks he has an okay shot. He backstabbed all of them, but he's playing a game. And even if he doesn't win, he made the finals and is very proud of that. Amanda tells us that she thinks any one of them can win at this point. She plans on telling the truth about her game and how she played.

As they paddle to tribal, it's my opinion that this is a total toss-up between Todd and Amanda. Their answers tonight will go a long way to determine who wins. Courtney has no shot. She'll be seen as the non-threat that rode coattails to the end. Todd will be seen as the mastermind, but if everyone was paying attention, they should know that Amanda had quite a bit to do with the strategy of the main alliance. Unfortunately for her, she'll probably have to toot her own horn at Tribal tonight to sway enough people to her side of the fence. Todd will go in with the "I screwed you guys over, but it was all part of the game" strategy. We've seen that work for some people and we've seen it hurt others. No matter what, this should be a fun Tribal with Jean-Robert, Peih-Gee and Denise slated to provide most of the fireworks.

As always, Jeff allows the finalists the chance to make an opening statement. In order, here we go.

We begin with Amanda. She tells the jury that she had a chance to reflect and that she feels very blessed to be there. She says she came into the game with a strategy to align herself with someone right off and that person was Todd. She says as the game went on she planned to be with people she could compete against physically. Considering she won the last two immunities, she feels like she did that. She says she's not proud of everything she did in the game. She points out the James, Jean-Robert and Frosti votes as those times. She apologized for hurting any feelings and finished with the ole "I'm honored to have played this game with you."

Next up is Todd. He says he's stoked to be there. And then he thanks them for being where they are and helping him reach this point in the game. He says that he really hopes that out of tonight, everyone will be able to see the difference between the relationships he made on a personal level and the relationships in the game. He says that he lied and backstabbed a lot, but that the personal relationships he made were honest and real. But on the game level, he knew he wasn't the most physical but could be the most strategic. He concludes by saying that this has been a dream come true for him and he thanked them for being a part of a game that means the world to him.

And finally, we get to Courtney. She talks about not knowing about Survivor, having no strategy or no plan. She also says she expected to be voted out every single time. She says she survived a game that was totally physical at the beginning and as the game progressed she started to get her footing. She talked about winning an immunity challenge and that in the end whether they like her personally or not, they have to give a little credit to the little girl that no one expected to last longer than six days, yet here she is on Day 39 still in the game. Amazingly enough, as she's talking, some heads are nodding. Peih-Gee especially seem very intrigued by Courtney's words. Frosti, of course, is smiling and surprisingly even Jean-Robert is nodding as she finishes up. Maybe this is a three horse race after all.

Now, we're on to the jury and James is up first. He starts off by congratulating them. He also says he's not gonna be a Bitter Betty and his only question is asking for Courtney what was a really good time for her. She says that it was probably the first challenge when she set her pole in the slot and they were pronounced the winners and she realized she wouldn't be the first one voted off. Jeff asks James why that question and he says that he wanted it to start off fun because it might get rough in a little bit.

Jean-Robert is next up. He also congratulates everyone. He says he has a big dilemma. From day One it has bee obvious that he doesn't feel Courtney belongs there at all. But, during the course of the game, he promised both Todd and Amanda that if they voted for him, he would NOT cast his final jury vote for them, so he has a tough decision to make. So he tells them that his vote is live for any of them to win tonight. He asks Courtney why he should vote for her. She says that the game is Outwit, Outplay, Outlast and she did all those things. She points out that she won immunity and asks him if he ever did. heh heh He agrees and compliments her answer and then moves on to Amanda. He says he went to her and told her that he would not backstab her and she said she would not vote for him. He asked her this on Day 23 and then on Day 24 she voted for him. His question for her is did she outright lie to him or did she back out on her word. She says that she didn't lie to him and that she didn't want to vote for him, but her alliance was voting for him and she felt she had no choice but to go with them. He moves to Todd and brings up the Day 1 conversation where he called him out as the schemer. He mentions that they had a plan to get rid of James and that it didn't happen. He wants to know why that happened when he wasn't the biggest threat. Todd comes back with the fact that JR started to strategically put ideas into people's heads and that he wanted that to be his job. When JR approached him about getting rid of James he realized that JR had caught up on the strategy and all of a sudden the biggest threat to Todd was JR. "I had to get rid of MY biggest strategic threat...which was you." And after a long pause, JR congratulates them again and goes to sit down. Not before the entire jury cracks up and James cracks that he can't believe someone shut JR up.

Peih-Gee is up next. She says that she wants to vote for the person that deserves it the most. She starts with Todd and wants to be sure that he didn't just slide into the finals because he would be easy to beat. "First, I didn't slide anywhere." He says he started Day One and was quickly called out by Jean-Robert. Second, he gathered his numbers. He started off with Amanda and then Courtney and then he brought in Denise. He had his numbers and played them to his advantage. She moves on to Amanda and says she's tired of seeing the doe-eyes and the apologetic tone in her voice. She says she's tired of watching her play the nice guy while painting Todd as the villain. How did she play the game better than Todd? She says she orchestrated getting rid of the strong so she could compete at the end. She breaks down the decision to get rid of James, which apparently was a surprise to many, including Peih-Gee as she asks again to confirm that Amanda was the architect behind the James vote and she acknowledges that she was.

That brings us to Erik. He wants to know what was their riskiest move in the game. Amanda says the decision to get rid of James was the one. She was afraid that Todd and James had a deal behind her back and that it would backfire on her. Erik comes back with the fact that getting rid of a guy holding two immunity idols doesn't sound like much of a risk to him, but more like a no-brainer. She says that had James played an idol she would have lost her alliance partner and would have had to start all over again. He asks nothing of Courtney and Todd.

That brings us to Frosti. He starts with Todd saying that he doesn't feel like he even knows Todd, with all the lying going on. So, why does Todd think he deserves a vote from Frosti? Todd says that his personal relations were different that the game relations. He said he brought Frosti in to earn his friendship and then put him on the jury. He says again that the friendship he built with him was real, but he did "do a big huge lie to my buddy Frosti. I'm sorry." On to Courtney. He says he assumed Amanda would lie and backstab, and he KNEW Todd would lie and backstab, but he was surprised that she would do it. And even more so that she didn't tell him it was coming when she promised she would. She says that when it came down, everyone was afraid that she wouldn't vote for him and that if she was seen taking him aside to talk to him it could be misconstrued. She says she could have told him and maybe made him feel better, but it wouldn't have changed the outcome. But she didn't go out and try to gain his friendship just to betray him.

Jaime's up next. And she's the one to play the "why shouldn't the other guy win" question. She asks Courtney why they shouldn't vote for Todd. She says airing Todd's dirty laundry is redundant as everyone knows what he did. As Jaime peppers her with questions insinuating that Courtney is saying to vote for Todd, she continues to not answer the question and frankly, I love that. I always hate this question and I always get a chuckle out of the finalist that refuses to play along with it. Frustrated she's not getting the monkey show she wanted, Jaime moves on to Todd. She asks him why Courtney doesn't deserve to win. He says she just went along with him all the way. When pressed, he says that she shouldn't get a vote to win because she didn't want to be there in the first place. When asked to clarify whether or not she deserves it, Todd simply says, "I think I deserve it more."

Jaime asks Amanda to talk crap on Courtney. She says she feels like Courtney was ungrateful and that she didn't feel like Courtney put her heart into anything there. As for Todd, she feels that if Todd played such a great strategic game, he shouldn't have had to lie as much as he did. Todd, dirt on Amanda? He simply says that yes he lied more. But he was okay doing the dirty work for the nice girl. He says that both of them played their games strategically, but he played his better. And before I move on to Denise, I'd just like to say that I HATE this question and I really hate it when asked in such a bitter tone by the first member of the jury. She hardly knows any of these three and of all the people, should have nothing personal against them. She knew when the tribes merged that she was target #1, so why the bitterness? I'm SO proud of Courtney for essentially telling her to screw herself with that question.

Denise is up last and says that she's glad they can all look her in the eye. She says that she dedicates herself to being fair and honest. She says that they all said she was with them and then none of them wanted to be next to her in the finals because she would play the kid card. She says she honestly feels like if she had been in the final three, she would have won. So rather than ask a question she just takes some parting shots. She hits Amanda first by pointing out that for someone so against lying and deception, she lied to an awful lot of people. She says that Todd lied so much it was hard to know when he was telling the truth. She says that if Todd can do those things to people without even thinking about it, he needs to look inside himself to see why. To Courtney she says simply that she's an honest person and that she says what she means and means what she says and that she can respect that. And there it is the first definite Courtney vote. This could turn into quite a close vote. After the break, we're gonna get to the voting and to the winner.

As the jury votes, we see Jaime's vote for Todd. She says he did not have her vote coming into Tribal, but she was very impressed with his answers and he earned her vote. We then see Erik's vote for Amanda saying that he can relate to her struggles to play an honest game and that he thinks she played the best game. Next up is Denise's vote for Courtney saying that she always told her the truth and that she overcame the most odds to get there. We see no other votes but we do hear a snippet of Jean-Robert's comments, " just stole a million dollars. Well played." As Jeff heads off to "tally the votes" he comes back and says he knows they'd like him to read the votes tonight, "...and I'm going to, cause we are live in Hollywood for the reading of the votes." Man...What happened to the obnoxious over-the-top method of getting Jeff from Location to the Live Reunion? Oh well, let's get to the votes.

First vote: Denise's vote for Courtney. Second vote: Erik's vote for Amanda. Third vote: Jaime's vote for Todd. Next up is another Courtney vote. The final three votes all go to Todd and Todd Herzog is the winner of Survivor: China. Congratulations Todd! You most definitely deserved it. While Amanda was playing a brilliant game, the wheels completely fell off at Tribal Council. Had I been there, I'd have even voted for Courtney over Amanda. Her performance at Tribal was quite possibly the worst I've ever seen. Meanwhile, Todd had the single best performance at a Final Tribal Council I've ever seen. He nailed EVERY single question. Courtney was right up there with him as well. For someone who did very little in the game but vote with the popular kids, Courtney put on a fantastic display at Tribal and darn near stole the million from Todd. Overall, this was a pretty darn good edition of Survivor, with Todd writing another chapter in the "How to Play Survivor for Dummies" book!

Next time on Survivor: at the end of the reunion, Jeff showed a clip from next season's Survivor. In an unprecedented move, they are making Survivor 16: Fans Vs Favorites, Survivor Micronesia. We saw clips from several huge fans of the show that will be competing against favorite Survivors from the past. Rumors of contestants include James and Amanda from China, Yau Man from Fiji, Amy and Eliza from Vanuatu, Jonathan, Ozzy and Parvati from Cook Islands, Cirie from Panama and quite possibly the most despised Survivor ever, Jonny Fairplay from the Pearl Islands. Keep in mind these are all just rumors and that no previous Survivors have been confirmed. One thing that HAS been confirmed is that despite writing this stupid recap for several seasons now (both here and at another site), I was passed over for the fan section. I'm pretty sure I know why. They know I'd win this game and they want to make it more interesting to the viewers! Ha!! No matter what, it does sound like an interesting idea where a tribe of former players will square off against a tribe of huge fans of the show. Should be entertaining. As always thanks to anyone who's stuck with the recaps all these years and I look forward to getting back in the saddle again for Survivor: Micronesia Fans Vs Favorites. 'Til then, take care.