Last week, the Zhan Hu tribe hurt the Fei Long tribe by throwing a challenge. And this week, they unwittingly saved themselves by trying harder than anyone thought they would.
After Aaron’s ouster, James tried to make the best of his time with Zhan Hu, before his seemingly inevitable elimination. He tried to ingratiate himself to the tribe, hoping they might have a change of heart and decide not to throw the next challenge.
Meanwhile, at Fei Long, Todd enlisted the help of his henchwoman, Amanda, in the search for the hidden Immunity Idol. He confessed that he had several clues about its whereabouts, but hadn’t had any luck locating it.
Both teams met at the Reward Challenge, where the original members of Fei Long learned that they’d lost one of their own, Aaron, at the previous Tribal Council. For the challenge, team members had to take turns searching empty buildings for eight puzzle pieces that, when arranged properly, revealed a Chinese proverb.
For some reason Fei Long decided to sit Courtney, Amanda, and Denise in a challenge that required neither speed nor strength and was only for reward, anyway. That meant that all three women would have to perform at the Immunity Challenge, later. It was a strategic blunder that they’ve made before, and this time, it would come back to haunt them. (Seriously, I can’t understand why her teammates ever let Courtney participate in the Immunity Challenges, when they know — heck, she knows — she’s the biggest liability on the team.)
As the Survivors searched for puzzle pieces, Peih-Gee and Sherea wound up in the same room together. When Peih-Gee told her former tribemate that Zhan Hu had thrown the last Immunity Challenge in order to save Frosti and her, Sherea ignored her.
Fei Long squeaked out a victory by getting the puzzle pieces to spell out, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." Their reward was a trip to the Charmin Tea House for some snacks, a bath, and access to as much quilted bath tissue as their chafed butts desired.
Fei Long kidnapped their former tribemate, James, to whom Jeff Probst had given another Hidden Immunity idol clue, which had to then be given to a Fei Long member. Todd quickly pulled James aside and asked him for the clue. James consented, after Todd assured him that it was part of a plan designed to save James.
With the next clue to the location of the hidden Immunity Idol, Todd finally figured out where it was. He and Amanda got to work probing the tiles of the bus-stop-shelter-looking-thing that marked the location of the camp. Unfortunately, Frosti joined in out of curiosity and noticed when Todd dislodged the Immunity Idol.
Amanda and Todd brought Frosti down to the river and threatened to kill him, before deciding that it was less messy just to trust him. And Frosti was happy to have a piece of information that made him part of the "in" crowd on his new tribe.
James, having noticed the commotion, asked Todd if they’d found the Idol. Todd handed the Idol to James and explained his plan: Fei Long was going to win the next Immunity Challenge — which shouldn’t be hard since Zhan Hu was planning on throwing it anyway (now with James’ help). When Jaime, Peih-Gee, and Erik inevitably voted for James at Tribal Council, he would present the Immunity Idol and use his vote to send Jaime home.
Just to make sure that everyone who mattered understood the importance of winning the challenge, Todd pulled Denise and Courtney aside and let them in on the plan.
There was just one problem with an otherwise brilliant plan. When Zhan Hu got back to camp after the Reward Challenge, Peih-Gee told Jaime and Erik about Sherea’s cold response. They’d noticed that Frosti wouldn’t made eye contact with them. The trio decided to scrap their plan to save Frosti and Sherea by throwing the challenge, and instead they decided to try winning.
As if Zhan Hu’s sudden desire to win wasn’t bad enough for Fei Long, they arrived to find the most dreaded of all Immunity Challenges: The Gross Food Challenge. The first team to four points would win.
It’s the kind of challenge designed for the most stubborn of contestants, and Sherea and Jean-Robert are about as stubborn as they come. But since they’d participated in the Reward Challenge and had to sit out, Fei Long’s hopes rested on the frail shoulders of Amanda and Courtney.
Frosti was first up for Fei Long, facing off against Peih-Gee. Their challenge was to eat ten chicken hearts as quickly as possible. Frosti earned a point for Fei Long and did a little victory jig as Todd’s plan went into effect.
Courtney was up next, doing battle against Jaime in a contest to eat three eels, with heads attached. The race was close, but Jaime proved the faster of the blondes. The score was tied, 1-to-1.
After two relatively tame offerings, the food items up for consumption started to get really weird. Amanda and Erik had to each eat three baby turtles, shell and all. Erik narrowly won, giving Zhan Hu the lead 2-to-1.
Then, James was up against Denise, in what should’ve been an easy victory for Fei Long. Only they had to eat the single most disgusting food item in the history of the world: balut, an almost fully-developed chicken fetus boiled in its own shell.
Denise screamed and took a bite of the feathery monstrosity, as James pretended to gag on his. But Denise really was struggling and couldn’t bring herself to swallow any of the baby chicken. She looked at James and said, "I’m sorry." Out of mercy for his buddy, Denise, James gave up on his disgusted act and easily downed the balut.
Frosti had one last chance to save Fei Long, by eating a "thousand-year-old egg" faster than Erik. But Frosti was a few seconds too slow, and Zhan Hu won Immunity. James hung his head, as he watched Fei Long shuffle back to their camp.
It seemed obvious to Todd and Amanda that Sherea should be voted out, and they told Denise, Frosti, and Courtney about their plans. But Courtney wanted to get rid of Jean-Robert instead, and Todd wondered if placating Courtney might be more important than getting rid of Sherea. But Amanda argued that it was important to make sure the original Fei Long had more members than Zhan Hu at all times, since the merge could come at any point.
At Tribal Council, Sherea and Courtney took potshots at Jean-Robert. Courtney also let the rest of her tribe know that she felt like an outsider, making her point by joining Sherea in voting for Jean-Robert — even though she knew he wasn’t going home, yet.
The rest of the tribe voted for Sherea, who consoled herself by saying she was eliminated because "they knew they couldn’t beat me." Not really, Sherea, but it’s always good to have a healthy self-opinion.
Next week, Courtney continues to pout, and the tribes merge.