The Official Survivor: China Panda Count Now Stands At One
By Schoonie|Saturday, September 22, 2007 | 12:14 pm | 27 Comments
Welcome the inaugural panda!
It’s time for Survivor again, people, and I could not be more excited. Let’s get to it!
We start with B-reel shots of China, which is incidentally really, really beautiful. Very different from what we’re used to seeing from this show. This is a good thing, even though I would watch Survivor even if they did every season in Panama. Which they did, there for a while.
Probst is standing on the steps of a temple as the sixteen people (at least three of which I will detest by the end of the season, just, you know, statistically speaking) enjoy a brisk walk through Shanghai, birthplace of the animatronic panda. I don’t really know that for a fact, but I’m guessing.
Probst tells us that the Survivors are about to take a journey back in time, to a culture that goes back nearly 5,000 years. Don’t step on anything! It will completely screw up the future. Just ask Homer Simpson. Also, don’t sneeze on a t-rex.
Probst introduces us to some of the contestants as they board a train for remote Chinese outskirts, but really only the ones who are adjectivally tasty. Hey, there’s the former Miss Montana! And the middle school lunch lady! A Christian radio talk show host, and a gay Mormon flight attendant! It’s like the beginning of one of Michael Scott’s jokes up in this mug.
But we will be meeting all (or most) of these people later, so let’s skip to the part where they arrive at the Temple of Jeff, who is waiting on the steps for them. Throughout this whole segment, Jeff goes for a very David Carradine wise-mentor sort of ambiance, but comes off seeming like a know-it-all douche. It amazes me how Jeff is sometimes awesomely off the cuff and hosts this show phenomenally, and how at other times he becomes blatantly terrible at it, like when he became an Ozzy fanboy a couple of seasons ago.
Chicken (chicken farmer, and, as we will discover later, passive-aggressive stick in the mud) tells us that he was just like a kid at a carnival when he showed up. Peih-Gee (jeweler) tells us that it was really cool that she ended up in China because her grandfather passed away a couple of weeks ago and he really would have digged it. Great, now I can’t even make fun of you because you are already cultivating my sorrow. Way to go, asshole!
Jeff tells all of the contestants that before the game begins, they’ll be taking part in a ceremony inside the temple. He implicitly tells them that it is not religious, and that it is being done to make them feel welcome.
Denise (school lunch lady) tells us that she really enjoyed the ceremony because it’s something that she normally wouldn’t get to see, and it humbled her. It should be noted that Denise is the proud owner of a phenomenal mullet. It’s not your normal run of the mill mullet, like you would see at Six Flags or whatever. It’s majestic, to the point where I am in awe of it. Like, imagine if Billy Ray Cyrus mated with a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Sort of like that.
I sort of want to buy it a present. Maybe some Cheetos or something?
Courtney (waitress) messes up her meditation stance and has to be corrected by the monk, which earns the monk a Jennifer-esque eye-roll for his troubles. She tells us that she’s from New York City, and she has no idea how to do any of this. She’d rather just sit back and have a lemonade. As people in New York City are wont to do, as I’m sure you are aware. Those New Yorkers, always relaxing with their beverages, never in a hurry to get from place to place.
Leslie tells us that despite the fact that Jeff mentioned that the ceremony was not meant to be religious, it really felt like that to her, and so she just couldn’t do it. In the middle of the ceremony, she quietly gets up and leaves. She doesn’t make too big a deal out of it (Jeff will take care of that for her later), but it is still inconsiderate. Then she starts crying about how hard it was for her because she knew that she did the right thing, and right there she loses me forever. Way to feel sorry for yourself! Welcome To Our Country ceremonys can be so emotionally taxing.
The ceremony concludes and the castaways assemble on the steps outside. Jeff immediately questions Leslie about leaving the ceremony before its conclusion. Leslie tells Jeff that’s she’s not a religious person, but that she does have a relationship with Jesus Christ (so…what, does that make him your boyfriend?), and she doesn’t put her face on the floor for anyone but him. Wait, Jesus wants us to put our faces on the floor? I’ve been doing it wrong this whole time!
Jeff tells the castaways that they’ll be going into the game wearing nothing but the clothes on their backs. Last time this happened, I was subjected to pantless Lil for an entire season, so…great. Jaime (honors student) raises her hand and announces that she doesn’t have on a bra currently, so that could be a problem. I am instantly attracted to her, not because of the fact that she’s not wearing a bra (even though I’m not exactly complaining), but more because of the self-depreciating, dorky overshare. That’s like kryptonite to me, you don’t even know.
Jeff has already made some goody bags for them with their names on them (he had some downtime, you know how it goes), and their buffs are already inside. They’re divided into two tribes this time and it’s predetermined who is where, and it doesn’t seem to involve any sort of race or sex divide, so we’re going old school, which I like. You do not know many of these people yet, but the red team is Fei Long (meaning “flying dragon”), composed of Jean-Robert, Leslie, Amanda, Courtney, Denise The Mulleted, James, Todd, and Aaron. The yellow team will be called Xhan Hu (meaning “most of the annoying people”), composed of Frosti (?), Dave, Jaime the braless, Eric, Peih-Gee, Sherea, Ashley, and Chicken.
Probst explains to the castaways that they are about to engage in a battle, which is his excuse to segue into giving them all a copy of The Art of War, which I actually found to be kind of cool on one hand, but means that I will have to listen to heavy handed passages that also function as metaphors all season, which I find kind of not cool.
“Lots of stuff that can help your strategic game in here, guys. You can also use it to bludgeon the people who are pains in the ass.”
In the Fei Long boat on the way to camp, Aaron (Surfing Instructor), who I have a crazy Kevin Bacon-esque connection with that is too boring to go into here, is helping everyone learn how to paddle. Pretty soon they’re at their camp, which is replete with a Chinese walk-thru gate, just like the one you drive under to get to Chinatown here in Chicago. They soon discover that they have an axe and some rice as well. Pretty soon, it starts to rain. Leslie politely reminds everyone that they can thank the “big guy upstairs” for the rain. Way to make my sneakers wet, Jesus. Now I’m sort of pissed at you.
At this, Courtney is like: (eyeroll). And can you really blame her? She tells us that she is “marooned in a land of Sunday School teachers and flight attendants”, and she’s from “the city” where people don’t act like this. What, all teamwork-y and positive on their first day of a new situation? Yeah, nobody really acts like that, except EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER BEEN ON THIS SHOW. Don’t worry, Courtney, the misery will come. It always does.
What is with this show and its propensity for finding bitchy people named Courtney?
Out in the woods, Jean-Robert and Todd find the treemail box, which currently has nothing inside. I’d like to take a moment to congratulate the casting person who decided to go after Jean-Robert Bellande, because he is a fantastic casting choice. For those of you that don’t follow poker (I play and am moderately skilled, sort of), Jean-Robert is one of the most notoriously assholish poker players around, famous for talking endlessly at the table and pissing his opponents off to the extent that they cause themselves to lose. He’s sort of the Boston Rob of poker, I guess. Which means that this could end up being awesome.
What is not awesome is that his large gut is causing his pants to fall down, which is distracting from the scene that is taking place, in which he tells Todd that he doesn’t really believe him to be a flight attendant. Way to start off on the wrong foot there, Jean-Robert. I forgot to mention, he’s also sort of known for overanalyzing hands and fucking himself over, as we see here. He tells Todd that he does seem like he would be a little devious. Todd tells us that he is willing to do anything to win the million dollars (as he should be, because…game). So JR’s read is correct, but his conclusion is off, so he’s essentially halfway right. What’s important is that he’s accomplished his goal of letting Todd know what he thinks and making Todd scared enough to want to ally with him, which is obviously his long-term decision. Man, I’m glad this show is back.
If there’s some sort of cross cultural Asian sumo tournament, we’re covered.
Panda bear! Xhan Hu arrives at their camp, led by Ashley’s ginormous fake boobs. Sherea (elementary school teacher) tells us that when they first got to camp, she still had on heels, and she was just uncomfortable. Then she tells us that it’s pretty gross to be out here in the wild. She meant to sign up for Big Brother! Trust me, Sherea, that was a lot grosser this season than anything you’ll run into here.
Ashley and Frosti find some old discarded wood that they think can be used to build a shelter, so they begin to work together to try and extricate it from its spot in the woods. Chicken looks on in disdain. He tells the rest of the tribe in a condescending tone, all “Come on, use your heads” that once they get it set up, it’s still not going to be big enough for everyone to sleep under. Jaime asks him for a better suggestion, which he does not have, of course. He wants to build one from scratch. Better to criticize than to be constructive! Working together is for Yankees and fags!
Chicken tells us in confessional how much more experience he has than any of these other people, and then we get a montage of him asking smart-ass rhetorical questions to everybody and generally acting like a know-it-all jackass and making everyone feel small. Jaime, from off camera, cements my love for her by telling him that they have to build something, even if it’s from a bunch of stuff that is too small or too weak by itself, because…that’s sort of how building stuff works. He just looks on like they’re all dumb. Essentially, he’s Courtney, but older and more annoying, if you can believe it.
Chicken tells us in confessional that since no one wants to take his advice, he’s going to take his blanket and birthday cake and go home. He won’t be offering any suggestions at all from now on. Yeah, that’ll work out great.
Dave (former model, current tool) passes gas in the middle of camp and apologizes. Ashley tells him not to worry, because she works with a bunch of dudes and that kind of stuff doesn’t bother her. Then she tells us that the fact that she’s a WWE Diva has prepared her to win this game, because she goes out every night and competes her hardest in the ring. I don’t see what one has to do with the other, since all wrestling is predetermined. It’s kind of like saying that being a trash collector has really prepared you to play in the NFL. Well, on a team other than the Raiders.
Ashley and some of the other girls get some bonding time in, which I’m pretty sure includes learning to do the Cupid Shuffle, while Peih-Gee looks on and tells Erik (musician) that they’re definitely the tribe that is messing around and not getting anything done. Pretty soon it starts to rain, and they try to decide where to put the shelter so that they can get under something and keep from getting wet. Somebody asks Chicken what he thinks, and he tells them that he’ll do whatever they want. Because being passive-aggressive is the only thing worse than making everyone on the tribe feel small and stupid. Chicken is your ex-girlfriend who’s all “I’m fine!” when she’s really made at you for something that happened three weeks ago.
This guy, he’s come up with an impenetrable strategy. To make me hate him.
Back at Fei Long (isn’t that a Street Fighter character, by the way?), their shelter-building is coming along pretty well. James (Gravedigger) is basically rampaging through the forest, bringing back giant tree trunks and killing tigers with his bare hands and kicking ass all over the place. Leslie tells us how impressed she is with James’ work ethic, so she goes out to make friends with him because he’s been pretty quiet. She asks him what he does for a living. James, awesomely: “I bury people.” He tells us that he’s so used to working by himself that he’s not very good with people, so it’s going to be hard for him to strategize very well. Fortunately, if he makes any enemies, they’ll never be found again.
Over at Zhan Hu, the shelter building did not go well, and they’re all huddled together out in the rain. In the morning on Day 2, they all commiserate together over how terrible it was, and Chicken is like, “What do y’all want to do?” all pushy without offering anything substantive. Hate him. Just when Zhan Hu is about to get some plans together for a shelter, Ashley decides that she’s not feeling very well. She goes off into the corner and lets out a giant belch, for some reason. She tells us that she keeps dry-heaving, but there’s nothing to vomit up, and the cameraman gets an awesome shot of her, all alone in the fetal position amidst a vast field of wood chips, which I found hilarious for some reason.
Will she ever find her way out of this pine scented hell?
Dave walks over to Ashley and tells her that she shouldn’t be afraid that she’s going to get voted out just because she’s sick on the second day. His directness is disturbing, he’s asserting himself too obviously and it’s sort of gross. Then he tells us in confessional that he’s probably going to vote her out, because she’s sick. Dave does not remember grinding his feet on yo couch.
Now it’s Day 3 on Fei Long, and Todd and James return to camp with treemail. In the last three days, the castaways have apparently become familiar with each other, because now they’re all stripped down to their underwear. All the males on Fei Long seem to enjoy boxer-briefs, apparently. What a coincidence! Amanda suggests that they maybe read a couple chapters of that “Art of War thingy” before the challenge. Wow. Aaron reads out loud to the tribe (he’s like the Lavar Burton of Fei Long, I guess) and gets to a part that talks about the need for a leader in order to be productive. Todd takes this opportunity to impose leadership upon Aaron, who reluctantly takes the reins. Todd tells us in confessional that he has somehow pulled off some super strategic move, but I am not buying it. It’s a little early to be doing this kind of stuff.
Over at Zhan Hu they discover the treemail as well. Frosti tells the tribe that if there’s anything that requires scaling, he’s pretty much your man. He tries to explain to everyone at home that he is a traceur, which is actually pretty cool. If you’ve ever seen Casino Royale and seen that first scene where the dude is jumping all over the construction site, that’s pretty much what he does. I’m thinking that might come in handy. Right up until the merge. Then, VOTED OFF!
If you’ve never seen it, it’s actually pretty cool. But I’m thinking he’s not going to be able to fly under the radar.
Challenge time! Today, the teams will be carrying these giant paper dragon/tiger things which are supported by poles, kind of like you’ve maybe seen during Chinese New Year videos, that you have to carry through a bunch of obstacles until you come to a wall. Then the person in front will vault the wall and lower a bridge to retrieve a key, which will unlock a gate and allow the whole tribe to continue. Then when you get to the end of the course, each person’s pole has a puzzle piece in the bottom, and the tribe that fits the puzzle together at the end will win immunity.
The teams go, and the challenge looks well-put together and is amazingly shot. So nice to see something not involving Julie Chen and multiple-choice questions. Both teams are essentially deadlocked the whole way through the challenge, and Fei Long catches the deal with the puzzle first and Zhan Hu is unable to catch up, so Zhan Hu will be going to tribal council this evening.
Back at Zhan Hu, Peih-Gee makes it about five minutes before losing it. Dave tries to comfort her, but it’s that fake kind of comforting where he cares more about everyone seeing him making her feel better than actually making her feel better. That guy, he is creepy, I’m telling you. Then he makes a stupid speech about how “as far as he’s concerned” they’re still a complete tribe, and he’d like to see them “function as such, pretty please”. That speech would have brought him neck in neck with Chicken for the vote if I were on that tribe. In fact, I’d probably go for him first, because is Chicken going to go behind my back to win the million dollars, seriously?
Peih-Gee decides to get things going at camp, which involves a consultation with Chicken about the shelter. You will be surprised to hear that Chicken will not be offering any constructive suggestions, only eye-rolling and reluctant condescension, for it is the currency in which he traffics. Peih-Gee, flustered, just straight up goes, “give me an opinion”, which causes Chicken to waffle (mmm, chicken and waffles) all over the place about what he wants to do before finally coming out with it. The other tribemates are not happy with Peih-Gee’s sudden desire to be the leader. Ashley tells us that Peih-Gee really shouldn’t be barking orders after crying so much. For someone who just spent 48 hours dry heaving her way out of a seemingly endless desert of wood-chips, I’d maybe wait on the criticism for crying.
I have a feeling “employed by the WWE” and “self-aware” are not two descriptors that normally go together.
Ashley continues by saying that she feels a million times better, and she thinks that feeling sick for one day shouldn’t be a detriment, and so she shouldn’t be voted out. One day out of…three? Where she comes from, just because you’ve been in the fetal position for roughly a third of the time that people have known you doesn’t mean you’re weak.
Dave tells us that he thinks the people that are on the block are Chicken, Ashley, and Peih-Gee, although it is conspicuously edited together. Dave tells us that he doesn’t want to lose Chicken because that would make him the oldest person on the tribe, which is never good. He goes to Chicken and tells him that he knows who he’s writing down tonight, and it won’t be Chicken himself. Dave says everything like what he’s saying is the most important thing you will ever hear in your life, and it’s really bothersome. I dislike him severely at this point, I must say.
Tribal Council! This year, it takes place in a makeshift Shaolin temple. The set is really detailed and well-constructed. This show is so well made, you guys. Everyone gets a torch and whatnot. Jaime sits down on her stool almost takes a tumble, and spends Jeff’s first few questions laughing at herself in the background of every shot, so now I’m pretty much ready to carve her initials into a tree. Jeff asks Peih-Gee about the shelter, which causes Chicken to hold two fingers up, not that anyone even fucking asked him anything. So then he condescends all over the set about how it took them two days to put together the shelter, when they should have had it done by sundown on the first day. You will remember that he helped a lot with that process by bitching about everything that anyone did.
Jeff asks if they need a leader in order to make it work, and Chicken says yes while adamantly declaring that it will not be him. Jeff asks people to raise their hand if they’re willing to be a tribe leader, and Dave and Peih-Gee both raise their hands. Then Dave is like, “I do not want to step into this position, but I MUST!” like he is King Arthur and it is his destiny to wield Excalibur and defeat the evil forces of darkness. Hate.
After Jeff asks Peih-Gee the same thing, he’s like, “Sooo…have we made this decision, then?” like he’s monitoring the fifth-grade class officer elections (which…he kind of is), and Peih-Gee is like “YESSS!” which will not endear her to anyone. Including me.
Jeff asks Ashley how she’s fitting in. She tells him that she’s nervous because people are saying that they’re going to get rid of the person who is the least productive, and if you broke it down over the last three days, that would be her since she was sick. She does not make any argument for her own productivity, which is a mistake. Jeff asks Chicken the same question, and he’s like, “I don’t fit in at all, but I’m not the one that’s done the least!” He makes the argument that you’d rather have him as a person who does not fit in than Ashley, who doesn’t work at all. He does not take into account the fact that he’s actively subtracting from camp productivity due to his inability to fit in because he wants to be the prettiest girl at the dance. Color me shocked!
Time to vote! We see Ashley vote for Peih-Gee. Chicken votes for Ashley. Peih-Gee votes for Chicken. Jeff goes to get the votes. First vote is for “the Chicken man”. Ashley gets the next two. Then one for Peih-Gee, and the next three are for Chicken, and he is out. When he hears the news, he’s like “DAMN!” at the top of his lungs, scaring the shit out of Ashley, which is kind of cool. Jeff snuffs his torch and he is out of my life forever, thank god. Now, if we can just continue to vote out the contestants in descending order of annoying, I’ll be money.
Wow, so good to recap something that does not involve the Donatos. You don’t even know, man.
Like most people in America, Schoonie watches entirely too much reality television. Unlike most people, Schoonie gets to share his opinions with the world, which is pretty rad. Currently living in Chicago, Schoonie's been with Tvgasm since 2006. He spends his free time writing Survivor fan fiction (Letters to Penthouse, all featuring Rupert!) , playing with his cover band, and playing with his other cover band. Also, this one time, Lisi fell.