Survivor: China: Week 2 Recap: Wrestling With the Davel

Although Dave of the Zhan Hu tribe says he really didn’t want to take on the role of a leader, he decides that embracing it is better than fighting it. And by “embracing leadership,” I mean “being patronizing.”

First off, Dave is insensitive to the tribe’s hunger as he drives them toward productivity — just like how in the Bible when the Israelites came to Pharaoh and said “Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!'”, Jaime says to Dave (paraphrased), “Your tribemates are given no food, yet we are told, ‘Make mud bricks for the fire pit!'” (OK, maybe the Survivor episode isn’t “just like” the biblical mistreatment of the Israelites, but good Exodus-Survivor parallels are hard to come by.) Jaime asks if perhaps they could build a “baby fire” to cook some rice with, but Pharaoh Dave shoots her down.

And when his tribemates voice other opinions on building the shelter and fire pit, Dave responds with, “I don’t want to start belaboring this kind of thing.” I plan to use this phrase when people disagree with me — when I assert my opinion, it’s “leadership”; when others do it, it’s “belaboring.” Get it straight, world.

Over on Fei Long, Todd and Amanda form an alliance and, wanting someone strong to lead their alliance and take the fall if there are problems, decide to pull Aaron in as a third member. Todd is this season’s first contestant to swear to a promise, telling Amanda and Aaron he swears with his “whole life” to go to the Final Three with them. I halfway expected to hear Todd mutter “insurance” after “whole life,” thereby only swearing on his insurance policy, but my review of the tape didn’t reveal that. (It did, however, reveal Aaron wincing strangely and saying “Ow” as he shakes on the deal with Todd. It looks like Todd may have found Aaron’s Achilles’ … um … hand.)

Also on Fei Long, Jean-Robert is cranking up his strategy to be unlikable. He sleeps as the tribe is working, and Courtney labels him “the D student of our tribe.” Jean-Robert assures the camera that it’s part of his plan — “I can only go up from here.” It’s kind of like how I got high marks in archery in gym class because I had shown great improvement from the first day, when all I could do was shoot arrows into the ground. (To be fair, my strategy was unintentional.)

In the huge-ball-pushing reward challenge, contestants wrestle in the mud and pull each other’s clothes off, keeping the guy who operates the CBS Blur Machine employed for another season. Fei Long wins fishing gear and a boat, and gets to kidnap one of Zhan Hu’s members to take back to camp. They choose Jaime because, as Aaron explains, she’s a spot of sunshine (hmmm … like a baby fire?) whose absence will demoralize Zhan Hu.

Jaime is given a sealed tube, containing a clue to the location of an immunity idol at the Fei Long camp, to give to the Fei Long member she chooses. She decides to give it to sick Leslie, whom Jaime believes to be the weakest player. Leslie then shares the clue with Todd, possibly the shrewdest player, who now hopes that Leslie will get kicked off for being sick, leaving him as the only one with this knowledge about the idol.

Dave physically struggles in the immunity challenge, perhaps because he’s weakened from having been deprived of his Baby Fire Jaime, or maybe because his pride over the fire pit didn’t nourish him as well as, say, food would have. Zhan Hu loses the challenge, and the tribe wants to kick off either tyrannical former model Dave or professional wrestler Ashley, who clashes with Dave the most.

At Tribal Council, Ashley calmly and smilingly makes her case against Dave (whose eye-rolling responses to his tribemates’ criticisms cause my husband to say, “There’s more rolling than on the White House lawn at Easter,” a comment that I believe conjures up the image of eyeballs instead of eggs being pursued by children across the South Lawn). But in the end the “most irritating person on the planet” (in Ashley’s words to the camera) stays, and Ashley is down for the count. Or whatever the appropriate wrestling phrase would be.