Courtneyyates_survivor_china_240The theme of Thursday (Nov. 1) night’s Survivor: China is that misplaced intellectual hubris is a funny, funny thing.

Pre-credit sequence. In Fei Long, Jean-Robert is pretending to have been blindsided by Courtney’s feelings of hostility towards him, even when Amanda tries to make it clear that it’s up to them to set things right. Todd, who claims to have mastered Survivor strategy, but seems to have no capacity for reading other people, has bought fully into Jean-Robert’s Lazy Slug Plan and says he likes the man Jean-Robert has become. For her part, Courtney keeps going on and on about how awful Jean-Robert has been to her (the editors have somehow removed his war crimes).

James 2, Everybody Else 0. Over at Zhan Hu, Peih-Gee is insisting to James that they’re loyal to him and that they basically sacrificed Sherea for him. Mazel Tov on not throwing the last challenge, Peih-Gee. She isn’t sure, though, that James isn’t a great con man and as soon as she exits to talk to Erik and Jaime, James goes in search of the camp’s Idol. He accidentally tears off both plaques, the real Idol and the blank tile, leaving the useless square on the ground. He’s sloppy, but pleased, saying, "That’s funny. I’m on Survivor with two Idols.

Taylor_kidnation_240Deal with it. Back in Fei Long, Courtney is trying to make her supposed friends feel guilty for not voting out the evil Jean-Robert. Todd shows surprising savvy by pointing out that Courtney’s consistent dissention will show weakness in their alliance. "Right now, I need my numbers and Jean-Robert is one of my numbers. Deal with it, b****," Todd explains to the camera, channeling Taylor from Kid Nation. On a side note, let me say how much I like Amanda’s glasses. They do nearly as much for her as Michelle Ryan’s British accent did for her on Bionic Woman last week.

This could be fun. It doesn’t take long for Jaime to notice that "the overhang thing" is missing a sign, or for Erik to observe that "It looks Idol-ish," though Jaime admits, "It could definitely say Immunity Idol in Chinese and I’d have no idea." Curiosity whetted, Jamie decides to go sneaking through James’ bag, while the gravedigger is off frog hunting. Tucked in his pants, she finds the two Idols. The next morning, James notices that the blank board is missing and deduces that an animal couldn’t have taken it. James loves the idea that Jamie might have picked up the blank board and interpreted it as an Idol and the though of her playing the blank square at a Tribal Council cracks him up.

How little booze must it take to get Courtney drunk? It turns out that Peih-Gee had guessed correctly. It’s time for a merge, as everybody gets a clean new black buff. They’re going to move into the Fei Long camp, but only after a merge feast to celebrate and an afternoon of Chinese cultural performances. Jeff Probst warns them before they leave, "Keep in mind, this game never stops." Rather than figuring out what those not-so-cryptic words mean, they marvel over the dipping sauces and alcohol at their gala. Courtney raves, "I was pretty pumped, because ‘Boo challenges,’ ‘Yay feasts.’" The alcohol manages to raise Courtney’s voice at least one octave, as the assortment of Chinese acrobats, contortionists and plate-spinners make her squeal.

Immunity time. The new merged tribe selected Hae Da Fung, or "Black Fighting Wind," as their new name, but only after an awkward racial joke from Jean-Robert, plus Frosti’s pointed observation that both Asian contestants began on the Yellow Tribe. As anybody paying attention would have guessed, Immunity rides on remembering details from their merge celebration. "I might as well go sit down," James says and he is, indeed, eliminated early. Although Frosti complains about his faulty memory, he and Jaime are the Final Two. The last query is a trick question and Jaime overthinks it, leaving Frosti as the first individual Immunity winner.

Circle, circle/Dot, dot/ Now I have my cootie shot. The Zhan Hu minority is worried about James’ allegiances, which they should be, since he never made any hard-and-fast alliance with them. James rushes off and tells first Todd and then Amanda that he suspects Jaime and Erik may be confusing a blank tile with "an immunization thing." James is ready to target Jaime first, though he becomes concerned when he hears about Courtney’s spotting voting record, ranting, "If I’d have know that little skinny b**** was so flaky…" People just aren’t saying nice things about Courtney this episode. Meanwhile, Jean-Robert pulls Todd aside, advocates voting Peih-Gee off first and warns, "If I get screwed, I’m going to hold you responsible, not Amanda."

Jaimedugan_survivor_china_240Survivor‘s Most Smartest Contestant. Jaime goes to Frosti and says she thinks she has an Immunity Idol and she plans to play it. The problem: If memory serves, anything in a pack is considered private property and can’t be stolen, including Immunity Idols. So has she actually decided that there are three or four Idols at play and that she has one and James has two? Although viewers are probably scratching their heads, Jaime is confident "I’ve come to realize that I’m very good at playing stupid," Jaime giggles, saying she’s fine with being compared to "Jessica Simpson in the jungle." She avows, "I’m not as dumb as I look." James wants Jaime gone, but he worries that if Jean-Robert sticks to his Peih-Gee guns and Courtney continues her grudge against Jean-Robert, the poker player may be doomed.

Tribal Council. Jean-Robert warns that as the game has shifted from group to individual, Courtney could be a dark horse, which makes her roll her eyes and James launch into a rant about how Jean-Robert would really be better off if he’d shut his mouth.

The Vote. We see Courtney write a "J," which is a bit of a tease. Before Jeff reads the votes, Jaime very tentative says she has what she thinks is an Idol. I wish she’d been more proud of her brilliance, because what she pulls out is, indeed, that blank tile (I guess she never unwrapped what she found in James’ pants [which sounds dirty, but isn’t] so she never saw the difference). Jeff explains the Idol rules, then tells Jaime that what she played isn’t an Idol. Jaime’s eyes go blank and everybody else rolls on the floor with laughter. It’s tied between Jaime and Jean-Robert at three apiece, but the remaining votes go against Jaime, who becomes the first member of the jury, telling the camera, "I learned that I’m probably too nice for the game of Survivor." Yeah. It was niceness that did you in, Jaime.

Tee-hee. Funny Jaime. My question: Obviously she couldn’t have used her knowledge in a dumber way, but was there a smarter play she could have made with James?

Posted by:Daniel Fienberg