One of the more hardcore players of the season, Peih-Gee, finally got the boot in Survivor: China Episode 13. Now we’re down to the final four: Todd Herzog, Amanda Kimmel, Courtney Yates, and Denise Martin. At this point, we’re basically just coming down to the end of the Todd and Amanda show. I can’t imagine a scenario in which either of the other two win, and I hope the jury doesn’t get stupid all of a sudden and give them the win for doing nothing (but not for lack of opportunity). Now it’s just a question of whether Todd or Amanda can get rid of the other one to boost their own chances.
The reward challenge is for food (pizza, beer, soda, and brownies), much to everyone’s delight. It’s a mini Great Wall, a comination obstacle course and puzzle. They must climb down the wall then build a bridge. Todd and Amanda are the first to complete the bridge. The others are out of it. They’ll then grab the puzzle pieces and bring them up the wall. In this more physical part of the challenge, Todd manages to get a bit of a lead. Courtney finishes the bridge and has some prayer. Denise, well, she finally finishes her bridge… eventually. Amanda’s the first to finish the puzzle and wins reward.
Jeff gives her a choice. It’s a serving for one (it’s a whole pizza, a few beers, a pitcher of soda, and a few brownies… but okay, we’ll go with the serving for one theory). She can either keep it that way or invite one or two people to come along with her. She decides to bring Todd with her. I don’t think she really needs to have any more security than that, although Courtney certainly has the potential to be a bitter juror.
She says she picked him because she doesn’t trust him at all. This is rather an odd alliance. Nobody trusts Todd, yet they continue to work with him, up to and including doing as he tells them to do. For some reason, not only does she tell us she doesn’t trust him. She tells him, too. He swears that he’ll take her no matter what.
Denise complains about not getting picked all the time or being picked last. She’s had chances to change her fate in the game, but she’s refused and has been content to just stay on this same course.
Todd’s telling everybody what they want to hear. It’s hard to tell what’s true. What we do know is he just wants someone other than himself to be sent home. That and he’s really paranoid.
After a walk down memory lane, it’s time for the final immunity challenge (yeah, the lame final three instead of final two is still alive). The challenge is to balance dishes on the end of a wooden arm. A plate and a bowl go on first, followed by another plate. They keep adding dishes as time goes by. It’s unclear what length of time they’ve got between dishes, but it doesn’t appear like it’s a lot (about 30 seconds). Still, this is a combination of a relatively brief endurance challenge along with having to be extremely still and focused. Todd’s the first to show any sign of weakness and is the first person to be eliminated. With the next dish, Courtney and Denise are struggling. Amanda, who seems to be doing fine, thinks outside the box and places a dish in the way she thinks will give her an advantage, rather than the way everybody else is. Courtney’s out on this dish. Denise wants to make a deal. Amanda’s not interested. On the next dish, Denise is out. Amanda wins immunity.
Denise feels like she’s on the outside (still), so she approaches Amanda. With a sob story.
Todd pitches the vote out Denise plan to Amanda and Courtney. Both appear to be onboard. He reiterates that he’d be proud to lose to Amanda, whereas he’d be pissed if he lost to Denise. Amanda promises Denise she won’t vote for her tonight. She’s afraid of going up against Todd, who’s played the game quite well. Courtney’s more concerned that Denise will get sympathy votes.
At tribal council, Denise brings up the theory of sympathy votes. James laughs. Courtney tells us how she’s sucked at the game and doesn’t have the best personality. Amanda denies having told Denise she still has her back. For some reason, Todd takes the time to make a comment, one that is potentially a dangerous one, about this.
She had the chance to force a tie two weeks ago, and she had the chance to flip with Amanda and Peih-Gee last week. Denise being fourth out of this group was something everybody else saw coming a mile away.
At this point, Courtney’s only usefulness is if she can steal a vote or two (perhaps Frosti’s). Todd’s played the game well. Perhaps too well. Everybody knew what he was doing, but none of them acted on it. Has he pissed off too many people, or will they reward him for playing the game? Then there’s Amanda. She’s played just as smart as Todd, often times smarter. But her gameplay has been much stealthier. She probably doesn’t have as many enemies, but have people taken as much notice of what she’s done?
When they get back to camp, Amanda confronts Todd about what happened at tribal council. She feels awful because she helped him get to the final three. He apologizes, but she doesn’t believe it.
Amanda’s opening comments are about her strategy and an apology for voting against some people who didn’t think she was going to vote for them. Todd’s speech is about how he played the game, whether he backstabbed them or not. Courtney says she had no strategy and no idea what she was doing but plays up that she didn’t get voted out right away as she expected.
James is up first. He just asks about the good times they’ve had in the game. Courtney goes back to the first challenge, where she realized she wouldn’t be the first person voted out. He tells Jeff he asked this question because it’s going to get ugly with some of the more bitter members of the jury.
Jean-Robert’s upset he’s stuck choosing between these three. He says he hasn’t made up his mind yet. Courtney tells him she came from the worst odds. He confronts Amanda about telling him she wouldn’t put his name on a ballot. She denies that it was a lie but that she couldn’t not vote for him because everybody else was going to. He doesn’t understand why Todd got rid of him. Todd says he wanted to get rid of Jean-Robert because he was his biggest strategic threat. James is amused because this shuts Jean-Robert up.
Peih-Gee wants to know what Todd did to get to the end, and he responds that he did play strategically from day one. Peih-Gee doesn’t like that it looks like Amanda’s setting Todd up as the bad guy and wants to know what she actually did. Her response is that it was her idea to get rid of James.
Erik’s question is to Amanda about her riskiest move. She again brings up James, and that this was risky because if it backfired, she would have lost Todd.
Frosti confronts Todd about lying all the time. Todd apologizes. Then he confronts Courtney for blindsiding him, which he didn’t expect.
Courtney tells Jaime she doesn’t need to air Todd’s dirty laundry because everybody already knows. She’s unable to commit to whether Todd deserves to win more than she does. Todd says Courtney just went along with him and didn’t want to be there in the first place. Amanda feels Courtney is ungrateful and didn’t put her heart into anything. She feels Todd should have played better to where he didn’t lie too much. Todd responds that he did the dirty work for the nice girl.
Denise gives them a lecture about lying being bad. She respects Courtney for being honest, whatever that’s about. She’s making about as much sense now as she did when she was still in the game.
Jaime votes for Todd because of his jury answers. Erik votes for Amanda because he likes her at least attempting to be honest and feels she played the best game. Denise votes for Courtney because she apparently always tried to tell her the truth.
Looks like the story from last month was right. Todd wins Survivor: China. Despite some slip ups (his arrogance in booting off Jean-Robert rather than James was just playing with fire), Todd definitely played the game well and is one of the people who made sure this season didn’t suck for a change. Amanda set herself up for the loss by agreeing to take him with her. How the bloody hell did Courtney get more votes than Amanda? Pitiful. But at least for the first time since the final three twist was implemented we don’t have a person with no votes. That was starting to get really old.
Todd tells Jean-Robert he just played him by stroking his ego hoping it would work.
Denise thought her best chance was to win the final four immunity (not sure what gave her that thought) and then take Amanda and Courtney with her. The straw that broke the camel’s back was apparently that she couldn’t vote against Todd but may have considered it if Peih-Gee was willing to get rid of Courtney instead. This explains her vote for Courtney. She never felt she was in an alliance with her to begin with, whereas she felt the other two stabbed her in the back.
Courtney mostly gets recognized by tourists and kids, who she doesn’t like. She went from 93 pounds down to 86 pounds. Obviously, she’s not going to acknowledge having an eating disorder, which is still going to be a rumor regardless of what she says.
Jean-Robert loves the way he played the game. For some reason. He believes his poker playing has improved following this show.
Denise has gone from being the lunch lady to being the janitor. They claimed she was too distracting. She reveals the reason she has a mullet is because she needed short hair for work but still wanted to look like a woman.
Jaime and Erik are dating now. Obviously, Jeff wants to know if he’s still a virgin, and he says of course.
Ashley’s had support from her fans, regardless of being voted out second.
Leslie believes her mouth got her in trouble, not her religion.
Chicken’s happy he went first (so was I) because if he wasn’t going to get the money going first was the best thing.
Like back when Rupert was so popular, we’ve got another giveaway. This time it’s $100,000. The three top people are Denise, James, and Peih-Gee. Obviously, the winner of the public vote is James.
In addition, Mark Burnett has offered Denise $50,000, having heard her story earlier.
That wraps up Survivor: China. For a change, I’m not walking away from this one with a bad taste in my mouth. Yes, there are still a couple of particularly lame twists that I’d like to see die, but with improved casting and vastly improved tactical gameplay, this has been one of the better Survivors I’ve seen in a while.
Survivor 16 is a half stars edition, featuring lifelong fans (good… enough of the people who have never seen Survivor before) going against people from prior seasons, including at least one person from this season. Survivor: Micronesia will be dubbed Fans Vs. Favorites. It will premiere in its usual timeslot on February 7, the week leading up to the premieres of Big Brother 9 and Jericho Season 2. As always, stay tuned to dingoRUE for live recaps.