Aaron Reisberger the fifth castaway voted out of 'Survivor: China'
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/19/2007
Aaron Reisberger found himself in unfamiliar surroundings when he was traded from Fei Long to Zhan Hu, who then blind-sided the 32-year-old surfing instructor and bartender from Venice, CA as he became the fifth castaway eliminated from Survivor: China during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality competition series.
"I had no idea that I would be going home tonight," a stunned Aaron said after his elimination.
Survivor: China's fifth episode began at the Zhan Hu camp following the elimination of Dave Cruser. Sherea Lloyd, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher from Atlanta, GA, described the camp as "peaceful" without Dave around and added she was able to get the "best sleep ever." Michael "Frosti" Zernow, a 20-year-old parkour athlete/student from Chicago, IL, was concerned about no immediate end in sight to Fei Long's success in the challenges.
"Fei Long is well led by Aaron. They've got the strongest player [James Clement, a 30-year-old grave digger from Lafayette, LA], and some very intelligent people," said Frosti. "So they're a hard team to beat."
Sherea also noticed that she wasn't fitting in too well with the four remaining Zhan Hu members: Frosti; Jaime Dugan, a 22-year-old student from Columbia, SC; Erik Huffman, a 26-year-old musician from Nashville, TN; and Peih-Gee Law, a 29-year-old jeweler from Marina Del Rey, CA.
"I definitely feel like the outsider of the tribe because the four of them kinda clique-up sometimes," opined Sherea. "So I wanna spice things up. I want some drama or something going on. I'm really looking forward to something changing."
Jaime and Erik were getting along wonderfully at Zhan Hu and flirted in the surf, as Erik described it as a "Garden of Eden setting, without the fruit." Jaime said she was unable to find anything wrong with Erik and added she finds him "very attractive." Erik then revealed that he's a virgin to Jaime. Whether it was intended to be a strategic move or not was unclear, but that's how it seemed to play out.
"I think it does prove he's even more trustworthy than I even thought before, so I'm trying to make it with him all the way through to the end," explained Jaime, who then shared her own secret with Erik about the presence of a Hidden Immunity Idol.
"The new word on the street is that there's an Immunity Idol and Jaime wants to trust me with the information," said Erik. "I don't know what's going to happen with [our] relationship, but [Jaime] seems like a good all-around person to be aligned with now at this stage in the game."
At Fei Long's camp, James commented how he's "carrying most of the tribe's weight" at camp as well as in the challenges. He also said he's been taking a liking to Denise Martin, a 40-year-old school lunch lady from Douglas, MA, because she also "busts ass" around camp. The feeling was apparently mutual, as Denise said she felt a "little connection" with James.
"I can trust him and know that I can stick with him and ride his coattails as long as I can," said Denise.
Fei Long then received a message delivered by a local fisherman. The message instructed Fei Long's seven remaining castaways to select two Zhan Hu members they believe would be an asset to their tribe, circle those names on a parchment, and return the parchment to the fishermen, who would then retrieve their new tribe members.
Fei Long immediately expected that Zhan Hu would be receiving the same parchment. After circling Frosti and Sherea's names, Jean-Robert Bellande, a 36-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV, made a wager that if Zhan Hu did in fact receive the same message, it wasn't going to be good news for Fei Long.
"If Zhan Hu receives a similar letter," said Jean-Robert, "Zhan Hu's top picks will most likely be James and Aaron."
Zhan Hu then demonstrated one of the reasons why they've lost most of the previous challenges to Fei Long. Upon receiving the same message that was delivered to the other tribe, the five-person Zhan Hu didn't even consider the possibility that they'd have to send two members to Fei Long. Instead, they immediately began celebrating an assumption that despite their poor challenge performances, the tribal numbers were now suddenly going to be in their favor.
"Zhan Hu and Fei Long just flipped! We're now 7 to 5 instead of 5 to 7, and we have a huge advantage!" gushed Frosti. "We have all the strongest players, so it's looking really good for us."
However, despite their inability to imagine that Fei Long may have received a similar note, they weren't so stupid that they didn't circle Aaron and James' names.
The next morning Zhan Hu received the letter from Fei Long.
"Apparently that wasn't the end of the twist," said a more somber Frosti, who would be accompanying Sherea to join Fei Long. Frosti and Sherea said their goodbyes to Zhan Hu and were whisked away.
"It never crossed my mind that they were going to take two of us," said Sherea, who shed a few tears as she left Zhan Hu. "We're just like, 'Oh we get to have two strong people.' We didn't think about it at all. That was really dumb."
Fei Long's theory ended up being correct all along, as a boat came to their camp to collect Aaron and James.
"We've got a great camp, we've got great momentum and we've been such a great force on this team," said Aaron. "Now we're switching and everything's messed up."
Jean-Robert was immediately concerned because Fei Long was losing their "two strongest warriors," as Aaron and James said their goodbyes.
"I don't have any ties to Aaron going over to Zhan Hu. I'm pretty much by myself now, starting all over again," said an unhappy James. "I'm going to have to work my way into the system again."
Jean-Robert knew that with the departure of Aaron, he was losing one of his "strongest allies in the game." Denise was also a "little upset" she was losing her ally James.
Jean-Robert tried to concoct a plan with the remaining original Fei Long members -- Denise; Todd Herzog, a 22-year-old flight attendant from Pleasant Grove, UT; Amanda Kimmel, a 23-year-old hiking guide and Miss Montana USA 2005 from Los Angeles, CA; and Courtney Yates, a 26-year-old waitress from New York, NY -- that if they go to Tribal Council, Frosti and Sherea would be the first two to go.
"Todd and Courtney and Amanda, who knows? They may just decide 'Oh let's get rid of Jean-Robert,'" said a visibly concerned Jean-Robert. "Today's a terrible day for Fei Long and today's a god-awful day for Jean-Robert."
On the boat ride to Zhan Hu, Aaron said he and James would be outnumbered 3 to 2 if the tribe went to Tribal Council, which was "cause for apprehension." The two were then dropped at Zhan Hu with a basket of food to celebrate with their new tribe members.
James said it was going to be a "little harder" at Zhan Hu because things seemed "relaxed." He tried to acclimate to the situation and said he'd do work around camp the next morning so the rest of the tribe could "focus to win" the upcoming Immunity Challenge. Peih-Gee saw through what James was doing.
"Of course, James and Aaron know that they're on the chopping block, so they're trying to fire us up to win the challenges," she said. "We have control over the two strongest guys right now in the game. It's a major advantage with what we choose to do with it."
Todd saw the arrival of Frosti and Sherea at Fei Long as "kind of exciting" because it would allow him to build new bonds with different castaways. Sherea felt she was "starting the game all over again," which actually wasn't a totally bad thing because she said she was "not secure" at Zhan Hu due to her poor work ethic around camp. Frosti knew he was in a "dangerous place."
"Things are really messed up now," said Frosti. "I'm out of my comfort zone obviously because I'm outnumbered by old Fei Long members with Sherea. My first goal is to figure out what's going on around here, what kind of alliances I can sense... Just see where I can put myself that's going to keep me around."
Frosti didn't have to wait too long or look too hard. The next morning, Jean-Robert woke-up bright and early and started to prepare breakfast while the rest of Fei Long slept. Amanda commented how Jean-Robert was "trying to save his butt" and the professional poker player openly bickered with his tribe.
"Waking up to everybody bashing Jean-Robert was better than the food we got the night before," said Frosti. "To me, that just makes me so much more comfortable knowing that there's somebody here that they already have problems with. So it looks like Jean-Robert's in a bit of a pinch."
Sherea agreed with Frosti's assessment of the situation after Denise mocked Jean-Robert with the title of "tribe leader." Sherea noticed it created an "opening" for her in Fei Long and hoped she could find a way in.
Aaron gushed about his new Zhan Hu members, calling them "really awesome people" who are "really solid" and make him "feel comfortable." Trying to swing Zhan Hu to his side, Aaron described James as the "catalyst" behind Fei Long's challenge wins. Aaron warned Zhan Hu that if they allow James to get to the merge, he could be an "Immunity hog" if he keeps winning.
However Peih-Gee realized what Aaron was trying to do, and described him as "smart, athletic and good looking," as well as "a little bit crafty."
Peih-Gee and Jaime then discussed what to do moving forward and immediately pointed out there would be uneven numbers if Fei Long lost the next two Immunity Challenges and booted Sherea and Frosti. They contemplated the idea of Zhan Hu throwing the next two Immunity Challenges to instead oust James and Aaron -- that way if Fei Long got rid of Sherea and Frosti -- it would be 5-on-5 at the merge. Assuming the tribes actually merged after two more eliminations, of course.
"It's risky, I know it is," whispered Peih-Gee to Jaime. "But if my hunch is right and we do merge with 10, it could pay-off in a major way... It could really be worth it."
The castaways -- nearly all seemingly wearing new previously unseen swimsuits -- then arrived for their fifth Immunity Challenge, and host Jeff Probst explained the rules. Two members of each tribe would swim out to a platform, and alternating turns, those two would dive into the water to find a cage with twelve Chinese zodiac disks attached to the cage. They had to release those disks by removing as many bamboo sticks as possible before resurfacing.
After stacking all twelve disks in their tribe's boat, they had to swim back to shore, pulling the boat and the disks with them. Once back to shore, the three remaining tribe members had to put together a puzzle by matching each disk to its corresponding spot on the board, locking them into place. First tribe to correctly arrange all twelve disks won Immunity. Due to the uneven number, Fei Long sat Courtney and Amanda.
Erik and Aaron competed in the first leg of the challenge for Zhan Hu, while Jean-Robert and Frosti did so for Fei Long. It was incredibly even throughout the beginning of the challenge, and as Jaime joked on shore with Peih-Gee, James instructed them to formulate a plan so they were ready when the disks came back. As if on cue, Zhan Hu began to pull away and were the first tribe to begin the journey back to shore.
Fei Long encountered further problems when Jean-Robert carelessly leapt in the water and almost tipped his tribe's boat over, which would have spilled the collected puzzle pieces. Aaron and Erik gave James, Jaime and Peih-Gee a good lead to work with as they started putting the puzzle together.
However Peih-Gee and Jaime seemed disinterested -- answering Jeff's rhetorical challenge questions and purposely tossing puzzle pieces all over the place -- much to the chagrin of James as Fei Long took the lead and eventually won with Denise, Sherea and Todd putting the puzzle together (it wasn't even close).
James was baffled back at camp and wondered what was wrong with Jaime and Peih-Gee, who in their defense claimed the puzzle was difficult.
"The lunch lady figured out the puzzle!" yelled James, a reference to Denise. He then yelled at them for answering Jeff's question during the challenge instead of focusing on the task at hand.
"I'm not babysitting a bunch of children," said James. "Them girls about to go thirsty because I just can't support people that just don't try... They might as well send me home." As James went off on his rant, Peih-Gee and Jaime laughed to each other.
"We looked like complete idiots!" said Jaime, laughing like a complete idiot. "They have no idea!" chimed in Peih-Gee.
Erik was just as confused as James and Aaron, and he confronted Peih-Gee and Jaime.
"What the hell was that?" asked Erik.
"We threw the challenge," boldly answered Peih-Gee. Erik looked stunned since he was unaware of the girls' plan. He said their decision put him in a "tough position" and caused him to lose trust in them. However with nowhere else to turn, Erik decided to begrudgingly stick with Peih-Gee and Jaime.
"I don't like losing, especially on purpose," said Erik. "But I want to remain in an alliance with Jaime just because it's safe... for now at least."
Erik, Jaime and Peih-Gee then deliberated who to eliminate first, James or Aaron. Erik thought James would be the obvious choice since he was voicing his displeasure with his new tribe so vocally. However Peih-Gee harped back to her suspicions about crafty Aaron.
"For some reason, I feel like we should get rid of Aaron first," she told Erik and Jaime.
Peih-Gee then approached James and asked him if he wanted to stay. James told her he thought Aaron "deserves to stay," and added he personally didn't trust Peih-Gee, Jaime or Erik. James basically asked them to vote him out of the tribe.
"Originally we had agreed that the first one to go was going to be Aaron from the get-go, and we thought that we might be able to get James onto our side," explained Peih-Gee. "I think after what happened today, [James] doesn't trust us at all, which means tonight at Tribal Council, we probably will have to get rid of James."
Erik told Aaron "the girls said James" and he has to go "with what they say," which was music to Aaron's ears for the time being. Aaron decided to also vote for James that night at Tribal Council -- instead of Peih-Gee or Jaime -- so there would be "no hard feelings" or "vendettas."
Survivor: China's fifth Tribal Council then commenced, and Jaime told Jeff that Zhan Hu chose to take James and Aaron to "break" Fei Long. Aaron said "everything was going great" at Fei Long, and going to Zhan Hu plus losing Immunity "was a big deal" to he and James. Jeff noticed Jaime was smiling.
"I'm not happy that I'm here," she said. "But I'm not trying to be all pissed off about it either." Jeff then proved why he makes the big bucks.
"I've been around a little bit in this game," said Jeff to Jaime, "and it appeared to me as though you had no concern about winning." Jaime explained how if there was a merge and Sherea and Frosti were gone, it would mean she, Peih-Gee and Erik would be at a big disadvantage.
"So I'm judging by the lack of performance at today's challenge, that you've decided you can't trust Aaron and James and you threw the challenge," prodded Jeff, and Jaime answered in the affirmative. James couldn't bite his tongue anymore about Zhan Hu purposely losing and how they went about it.
"They're happy... They're smiling. I could never do that," said James, to which Peih-Gee quickly fired back, "But it's about winning the war not winning the battle."
"You ain't winning nothing!" exclaimed James, who then called out Peih-Gee for asking James if he wanted to stay before Tribal Council.
"What sense does that make?!" he said. "What kind of dummy do you take me for. That's why they lose... I told you how this is going to work, I can't work with you. I can't do it." Jeff than asked James if it would be him going home.
"It should be," he answered. "They know how I am about this losing thing. They know how I am about not going 100%. I can't just sit here and not lie and let these people dictate what I'm going to do. But I really don't want to go. I love being here. I love interacting and all this stuff... I just can't take another loss like that."
Seemingly in fabulous shape for at least a few more days, Aaron feebly pled his case.
"I want to be here as long as possible," said Aaron. "I want to compete in every challenge. I want to be part of a team, I want to last as long as I can." Jeff asked Aaron if he felt comfortable for the night's vote.
"I feel comfortable that I'm okay tonight," he answered. "But I brought my bag anyway."
It's a good thing too, as Peih-Gee, Jaime and Erik voted to oust Aaron from the competition (Aaron voted for James, who voted for Peih-Gee).
"I thought it was going to be James over me," said Aaron. "I just want to say James, I had a great time stepping into battle with you and I don't know what's going to happen to you buddy. But I'd rather still be there on that island, with those people, even though I don't like them anymore."
"Well Jaime, Peih-Gee, Erik, you three are making a very strategic move," said Jeff following Aaron's elimination. "If your assumptions hold true, it could be a good play. If your assumptions are wrong, could be in trouble."
Survivor: China's next episode will air Thursday, October 25 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.
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