15 seasons ago, Survivor China debuted on our screens and almost 8 years later there’s still plenty to appreciate about the 15th season when the game was arguably at it’s toughest and the location still played a major role in the overall theme of the season. This week Kristan Knarr finds plenty to appreciate recapping her top 10 moments from Survivor China, including some moments that many have likely to forget. Will your favourite moments from the land of the Flying Dragons and Fighting Tigers make the cut? Read on to find out!
10. James Can’t Throw the Challenge
James, you had one job! You throw the immunity challenge, use your idol, and then Fei Long votes out Jaime before the merge. He may have ruined the plan, but it made for somewhat amusing viewing. Denise just couldn’t get that balut down. James acted like he was struggling for as long as he could, and when Denise admitted defeat, we saw James simply say “I got it” as epic heroic music played in the background and Todd and Amanda cringed. In hindsight, I’m glad the plan didn’t work out because we never would have witnessed some of my other favourite moments mentioned later in this top ten list.
9. Jaime and Peih-Gee Aren’t Good Actors
Jaime and Peih-Gee threw this challenge so hard that James never had a chance to win it on his own. Although probably not the most blatant challenge throwing in Survivor history, it was still a poor effort. Not only did Jaime smirk and giggle while putting all of the pieces in the wrong spot, she even threw one of the pieces on the ground behind the board when no one was looking. Plus they couldn’t stop laughing back at camp or at tribal council—and eventually straight-up admitted that they threw the challenge. They could have at least attempted to be a little bit more subtle. Poor Aaron.
8. Jean-Robert is Clueless—Figuratively, Not Literally
This is a hilarious moment that I completely forgot about until my most recent re-watch. When Todd, Amanda, James, and Jean-Robert win the final nine reward challenge, they’re given multiple clues to the whereabouts of the hidden immunity idol. Of course Jean-Robert is the one who opens the note and reads it, ecstatic and mind-blown that there are hidden immunity idols in play and completely unaware that his “alliance,” sitting right next to him, has already found them both. He even calls it an “American immunity idol,” maybe a Freudian slip about his favourite show he’s missing from back home? Honestly though, if you haven’t seen Survivor: China in awhile, at least go back and watch this clip—it’s so cringe worthy and amazing at the same time.
7. Jaime Plays a Fake Hidden Immunity Idol
Playing fake immunity idols always makes good television. Jaime’s fake idol play was particularly enjoyable because there were so many different reactions going on at once. First, we had James holding back laughter, knowing that he had both real idols. Second, we had Jean-Robert looking like he was about to die because per usual, he was completely in the dark about his “alliance” having the idols. Finally, we had Jaime’s confused look when Jeff told her the piece of wood wasn’t an actual idol. Additionally, this was all after Jaime tried to play the Fei Long alliance by using her idol as leverage and claimed in a confessional that she was “very good at playing stupid.” I guess the joke was on you, Jaime!
6. Courtney Can’t Cut the Ropes
I think Jamie Newton must have taught Courtney how to cut ropes. Actually, Courtney had a better performance than Jamie. She single-handedly lost the challenge for her tribe, but at least the edit made it out to be a fairly close race in the end. Fortunately for her, I don’t think anyone really held it against her—she destroyed her hands and shoulder from trying so hard, and it’s difficult to expect much physically from a girl who jokes about only weighing seven pounds. Regardless, I almost always find complete challenge fails to be very humorous.
5. Todd and Amanda Lack Subtlety
I understand that Todd and Amanda only had a short window of time to find the hidden immunity idol and give it to James, but they totally panicked and failed to acquire it without anyone knowing. I absolutely love this scene because it ended up being such good unintentional comedy. When Frosti innocently joined them near the archway at camp, they probably should’ve just come back later for it. Instead, Todd desperately rips the idol off the wood and drops it on the ground. When Frosti becomes interested, what does Amanda do? She stands on it. Eventually they realised they couldn’t hide it from him, but the entire situation was so sloppy and ridiculous but luckily they didn’t suffer any consequences from it.
4. Todd Wins
Todd made a strong alliance with Amanda and soon brought in Courtney to form his core alliance. Then he used James and Jean-Robert as shields and bigger threats to go home before himself. He never needed to win individual immunity and instead relied on his strategic and social games. His game may have been a bit sloppy at times, but it all came together in the end. The vote was quite close—4-2-1—which made things much more interesting for the viewers and because I truly believe that he won the game at final tribal council. He managed to own every move he made and didn’t really make any mistakes. It was also really exciting to watch a self-proclaimed super fan win. To this day, Todd remains my favourite winner due to his strategic game play and likable personality.
3. Zhan Hu Thinks Tribe Swaps Are Confusing
This was season 15—tribe swaps were already very common—but Zhan Hu didn’t understand…at all. When Fei Long received their note saying that they would acquire two Zhan Hu members they immediately understood what was happening and became worried about losing James and Aaron. On the other hand, Zhan Hu was so excited that they’d be getting Fei Long’s two strongest players and wouldn’t have to give up anything. What an awesome twist! I feel so much secondhand embarrassment for the Zhan Hu members during this scene. They literally thought they were being handed a 7-5 advantage for no reason and the look of shock on their faces when they realised what was happening was priceless.
2. Todd Shuts Up Jean-Robert
I feel like the Jean-Robert vs. Todd storyline was built up brilliantly from the first episode through the finale; throughout the entire season, these two strategic minds competed and Todd always came out on top. It all led up to final tribal council which provided us with, in my opinion, one of the best final tribal council moments in Survivor history. Todd took Jean-Robert’s huge ego and used it to his advantage. His over-the-top praise of how smart and strategic Jean-Robert was was followed up by silence. Finally, we were given one of the best jury reactions—everyone laughing combined with James’ response of “He shut him up! I ain’t never heard nobody shut him up before! Honestly, I’m in awe.” It was a perfect moment.
1. James is Blindsided with Two Idols
Who is surprised this is number 1? No one? I know it’s predictable, but I couldn’t finish out a China top ten without James’ blindside being number 1. Originally Todd’s plan two episodes prior, Amanda finally made this move happen. When someone has two idols at final seven, so many things can go wrong when attempting to vote them out. Peih-Gee could’ve spilled what was happening and we’d have a different winner. He easily could have played one idol just to be safe—there weren’t many opportunities left at this point anyway. I know this isn’t as silly as giving up individual immunity, but we’ve never seen anyone voted out with two idols (no, Val doesn’t count) and probably never will again. This is such an iconic and crazy moment in not only Survivor: China, but the entire series.
Honorable Mentions: Chicken’s exit, Denise shows off her Kung Fu on reward
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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