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Survivor Fodder

Survivor China: Week 1-- Survivor By Numbers

Maybe it was just me, but this first week felt a little under-enthusiastic. Maybe it was the lack of the drop-off with the boat and the race to the shore or the "one personal item" beginning as opposed to later on when Jeff informs them all that their material belongings must be left behind--but it just lacked a certain umph. Even Jeff Probst lacked his usual excitement and I was left feeling like maybe by season 15, everyone knows what to expect and the surprises are fading--that is, except for the contestants, who still inexplicably didn't see things coming.

Afer Jeff informs us that they will be staying on a shore of the Lake of 1000 Islands--which gets a laugh out of me, I mean c'mon, they're in CHINA and they still are on an ISLAND?? MOVE ON!-- they show all the contestants as they arrive at a Buddhist Temple and walk down an aisle of monks, which is kinda interesting. About half seem into it and the other half seem a little freaked out. Jeff tells them that they will now enter the temple with the monks and go through a ceremony. He emphasizes that he realizes people are of varying beliefs and this is NOT a worship ceremony, simply a ritual with the natives of the temple.

The first thing we learn here is that I was completely wrong about Courtney--she SUCKS. She can't handle standing with her hands together and gets fidgety and pissy when one of the monks shows her how to do it correctly. Maybe she doesn't like his touching her hands to show her, but he DOESN'T SPEAK ENGLISH so maybe she should get over it and realize that she is on SURVIVOR. If she can't hold her hands together now, she sure ain't gonna last in whatever focus challenge comes up later on. She justifies her actions by saying something about how this is ridiculous, she's from New York City and in New York City people don't act like this. Wow, astounding commentary from Courtney, who clearly confused Survivor with Temptation Island. I'm sure we will all be baffled by how long she lasts.

The next thing we learn is that Leslie is going to do her damnest to fulfil my dislike for her. Leslie is the Christian Talk Show Radio Host in South Carolina. Here's the quote of the night after she turns and WALKS OUT OF THE TEMPLE because she feels uncomfortable: "I'm not a religious person, but I have a relationship with Jesus Christ." ! .
! .
((whisper)) Leslie! baby! got news for you--you ARE a religious person, and it's ok to admit it.
I mean, COME ON! I'm not a religious person, I just have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Are we thinking about the same Jesus Christ or does she know another because as far as I know, Jesus Christ exists as a spiritual being and not some dude on the corner of Main St and MLK, Jr. Blvd. That's like saying, "I'm not a baseball player, I just play first base for the Dodgers and get paid for it 162 games a year." I HOPE she is a religious person, otherwise there's a propped up corpse lying around Leslie's home that she chats with and shares her popcorn with Weekend At Bernie's style. ANYWAY, she too apparently forgot that Survivor is about experiencing other lifestyles and cultures. Plus, Jeff said it wasn't worship, but she doesn't care--she knows she's right and (don't have the exact quote but) these people are wrong.

After the temple ceremony, they gather in the courtyard, find out they are leaving behind their stuff (and are shocked, somehow, as if this season they would keep EVERYTHING and laugh at previous casts), and split into two tribes. The two tribes are:

Zhan Hu ("Fighting Tiger")

Fei Long ("Flying Dragon")

The two tribes head off to their respective camps. On the way there, Aaron emerges as a "subtle leader" as he tries to get them all to paddle correctly. He says, "only on the right" and Courtney paddles on the left, because she is clearly employing a strategy beyond our comprehension.

Sherea steps up as the next baffling player as she informs us that she doesn't like the outdoors. Wow, really? I don't even wanna do anything with that--WATCH THE SHOW BEFORE YOU APPLY FOR IT.

Peih-Gee says something that makes me think she should stick around for a bit--she watches as Zhan Hu gets along and doesn't get their act together and says that they are like the really happy getting along, but with no food or shelter tribe. If she plays her cards right (and she barely did this episode), she just might stick around a bit.

Back at Fei Long, they have built a DOPE shelter, semi-lean to style and we get the second best quote of the night. James is asked "What do you do" and he responds, "Bury People," which is like, the coolest thing he could have said there. Apparently James has some social issues, which is actually interesting for the show--I can't remember if there's been a player before who just lacks social graces, not in a weird way, but in a blank way, like he's a nice guy and isn't odd, and smiles, but he also just doesn't know how to do things socially. He's also ridiculously jacked--I kept expecting him to let out a scream and start having the cinematic look of "300." And how haven't they made progress on gravedigging technology in the last 100 years? Why does James have to use a shovel (I'm assuming, on account of his ripped-ness)?

Jean-Robert feels out Todd (not like that) and uses his Poker-Sense (which I'm going to use like Spidey-Sense with Spiderman), to know that Todd is devious and sharp. Todd and Jean-Robert make a deal not to share this info and the potential for a later alliance is set. Also, Jean-Robert reveals to the world that he clearly feels ok not wearing a shirt, despite his Professional Poker Player physique. I'm waiting for him to secretly tell us that he's The Big Show from WWE wrestling. Speaking of which, Ashley is totally nice and friendly, but also really really ill. She caught something the first night when it rained (which Leslie referred to as, "Looks like the big guy upstairs is providing!"--but she's not a religious person). I think it would be ridiculous for her to be on the chopping block because she got sick--she's clearly the strongest woman and stronger than some men, and she's personable and capable, but whatever.


The challenge is for immunity and fire in the form of flint. Since nobody FOR THE FIFTEENTH TIME decided to learn how to build a fire without flint before entering the game, they are all really excited by the prospect. They also all get running shoes that they can keep regardless of the outcome.

The challenge is in four parts:
1) Carry a dragon through a twisty path. The dragon is described as "awkward and heavy" not unlike Jean-Robert without his shirt on.
2) One member will then unclip, climb over some walls, drop a drawbridge, and return to the group. James goes for Fei Long and MY NEW BOY Frosti goes for Zhan Hu. Frosti turned out to be really cool and a chill guy. He also does the free-running "parkour" and should be awesome at the challenge.
3) Once clipped back in, they all go through a swamp with the dragon to a puzzle.
4) At the puzzle, they have to fit each of the poles they are holding up the dragon with into a designed spot. It's like the game for babies, put the square peg in the square peg hole, etc.

And they're off. The two teams are even after part one. James is strong and swift in part two, but Frosti knows what he's doing and zooms over the walls--or at least he would have, if he hadn't forgotten to lower the bridge. He still manages to keep up with James by the end, but he would have given Zhan Hu a nice lead. By the end of the swamp they are even again and it's on to the puzzle. They stumble momentarily and then one tribe finishes: Fei Long! Fei Long wins immunity and fire and heads back to camp victorious. Zhan Hu is somber and head back to their camp, where Peih-Gee loses her ish and starts crying, which is NEVER a good idea. She recovers in time to bark out orders to get people moving, and while I totally agree with her, and she does some good stuff, she only pisses people off. It's the usual problem of necessary leadership vs. people not wanting to feel like followers. She puts a target on her back, when all she was doing was trying to get everyone to start working towards a goal to improve the tribe. She's on the block.

Chicken refuses to make any decisions after one of his earlier opinions was semi-scoffed at. He isn't socially gifted and so his inability to express why he won't make a decision and then subsequent lack of decision making or opinions puts him on the block too.

Ashley is no longer sick, but she hasn't had a chance to prove her worth. It's unfortunate, but she is on the block simply because of bad luck. I think it would be a waste, because she could do so much for the tribe before and during the next challenge. They head to Tribal Council.

There's some talk of leadership and a lack thereof by Jeff and the group silently, as led by Jeff, decides that Dave or Peih-Gee could be leaders. It's an awkward moment, and everyone is itching for the vote. Ashley voices her concerns about her situation, and Chicken and Peih-Gee both hint that Ashley is heading home. TIME TO VOTE:

Chicken, Peih-Gee, and Ashley all receive votes. Jeff reads the votes and SOMEHOW, the tribe seems to have gotten it right--4 votes for Chicken is enough to send him home. Ashley and Peih-Gee got 2 votes and Chicken is out. I think it will improve the tribe because while he was willing to work and strong, down the line, I think Peih-Gee will step up appropriately and do some good. I've already mentioned why I think Ashley is an asset, and Chicken, whose only fault was not being socially adept, was still doing some harm to the tribe through his interactions and lack thereof. Zhan Hu is given flint and they head back to camp. Week one of Survivor Fifteen is complete! The whole thing felt a little routine-- the challenge, the bickering, the tribal council-- but I think there's good potential for a strong season. We'll have to wait and find out.

Until Next Week, Keep Your Fire Burnin',

P.S. I don't like Dave. More on this next week or in the interim, but he's a lot scheming and a little devious. We'll see what turns up as the game progresses.

Posted by jon on September 21, 2007 2:07 PM
Permalink |

I didn't mind Courtney in the temple, but it was apparent very early on, that she's lacking, oh, I don't know... tact? I want her to stay, just so I can see if she'll be covertly irritating (irritating to the viewer) or overtly irritating (irritating to everyone). Oh, and after winning the last two Survivor pools, I picked Chicken first this year. Good Grief.

1. Posted by: John R. Shearer at September 21, 2007 10:12 PM

Maybe Leslie's meaning was "I'm not a religions fanatic but..."


DOPE shelter?


Perhaps the unpreparedness of the contestants is due to the 'dirty little secret' that Survivor producers, in seeking to work the 'mix' of contestants for more "interesting" types - their opinion, not mine - are recruiting contestants, some of whom have, indeed, never seen the show. The show likes to pretend that all the contestants are eager Survivor fans, just like you and me (thus getting us to identify with them) but it ain't necessarily so.


"This is a completely non-religious ceremony."

"Now bow down before this statue."

2. Posted by: Cecil Rose at September 22, 2007 5:23 PM

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