On this week’s Survivor: China, Dave learned the hard way that you can only be a leader when people want to follow you.
Winning their first Immunity Challenge hadn’t done much to change the mood at Zhan Hu’s camp. Sherea became the mouthpiece of the tribe, which was frustrated with Dave’s bossy style of leadership. After he criticized her method of separating moldy rice from the non-moldy rice in their container, she let him have it.
The feud was interrupted by a nighttime Reward Challenge. Using giant chopsticks, two teammates had to carry a flaming metal ball to a wok. Once inside the wok, the ball ignited some fireworks, which probably scared the crap out of the monkeys and pandas living in the forest.
The first team to light all three of their woks won fishing and cooking lessons from a local family the following morning. And one lucky member of the losing tribe would be kidnapped and benefit from the morning’s feast as well.
Both teams struggled to wield the awkward wooden poles, but Fei Long was victorious in the end. They kidnapped Dave — and quickly realized how annoying he was. Dave repeatedly hugged everyone, for any reason. When he found out Courtney was from New York, Dave sang, "I love that Plaaace!" and hugged Courtney, shattering her frail skeleton and killing her instantly.
Gravedigger James politely asked Dave not to hug him. But Todd gritted his teeth and palled around with Dave, who rewarded Todd’s tolerance with a clue to the hidden Immunity Idol.
The next morning, a fisherman, his wife, and kids arrived at camp. Out of nowhere, Jean-Robert began speaking Mandarin with the family. Todd gushed, "It was FANTASTIC!" Jean-Robert translated the wife’s directions while most of the tribe helped prepare the meal.
Meanwhile, Aaron and Denise were out on the lake learning fishing techniques. The fisherman tied a cord around the necks of his pet water birds and sent them into the lake to catch fish. Since the cord prevented the cormorants from swallowing the fish, the fisherman directed the birds to spit the fish out into the boat.
Now all Aaron and Denise need to do is catch and train some of their own birds. Or they could just use the net they’d already won at an earlier Reward Challenge.
They headed back to shore to chow down. The meal looked scrumptious, even to a well-fed vegetarian like me. As mulleted Boston lunchlady Denise put it, "Flavor has never tasted so good! …That was the delicate-est thing I have ever put in my mouth."
Over at the Zhan Hu camp, the atmosphere was much more relaxed without Dave around. But it also took an extraordinary amount of willpower for the tribe to get up and feed themselves.
Sherea decided she could best contribute to the team by conserving her energy for challenges (i.e., laying in the shelter and letting everyone else do all the work). "I’m gonna ride the work horse ’til the tail come off," she said, "because I’m not doing anything ’til I have to."
Sherea’s conservation efforts were put to the test at the next Immunity Challenge.
Two teammates at a time donned traditional Chinese armor and threw three sets of meteor hammers (three rocks connected by a rope) across an outdoor arena and past a pair of opponents, attempting to shatter porcelain vases. Meanwhile, the opposing pair was trying to do the same, only in the opposite direction. After three rounds of battle (two men, two women, and co-ed), the team that had broken the most vases would be declared winner.
While Sherea’s vast energy reserves allowed her to smash one of her opponents vases, Jaime was able to break two even after having helped at camp. And their efforts still couldn’t defeat Fei Long.
Peih-Gee, Frosti, Erik, and Jaime had to decide whether to eliminate pushy Dave or listless Sherea. Despite a last ditch PR effort by Dave, the tribe decided enough was enough and cut him loose. Dave tried to explain his downfall: "I gave it my all. Perhaps I gave it too much."
Next time, Erik and Jamie form a love connection, and Survivor: China has its first "big twist."