Dave Cruser the fourth castaway eliminated from 'Survivor: China'
By Christopher Rocchio, 10/12/2007
Dave Cruser was valued as a "workaholic," but you don't get the nickname "Crazy Dave" for nothing.
After annoying every one of his fellow Zhan Hu tribe members, the 37-year-old former model and bartender from Simi Valley, CA became the fourth castaway eliminated from Survivor: China during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality competition series.
"I gave it my all. Perhaps I gave it too much," opined Dave following his elimination. "I at least did it with conviction and integrity. I thought I was humble and I thought I listened. I wish that some people perhaps listened to me a bit more and I know that there are pieces of me that are worth a lot, perhaps even priceless. You know, if they can't see that then, well, I can't force them."
Survivor: China's fourth episode began at Fei Long following the elimination of Leslie Nease, much to the delight of Jean-Robert Bellande, a 36-year-old professional poker player from Las Vegas, NV. Jean-Robert said he realized there was a "small chance" it could have been him who went home instead of Leslie, and commented how his game plan was "starting to kick in."
Even if Fei Long were to go to Tribal Council again, Jean-Robert was confident it would be Courtney Yates, a 26-year-old waitress from New York, NY, who would receive the most votes.
"At the next Tribal Council, I'm not that worried, because Courtney's always the weak link in every challenge," explained Jean-Robert. "If she survives the next Tribal Council, she's got to be the luckiest girl in Survivor history."
When Jean-Robert raised his voice at Courtney for touching what he thought was a hot pot, she took exception and corrected him for yelling at her. She described Jean-Robert as a "cocky son of a bitch."
"I don't give a crap who goes next as long as it's not me," said Courtney. "I would prefer it be Jean-Robert because he's just so unpleasant and he gets in my face no matter what I say. He's, like, just aggressive with me and I'm sick of it."
At Zhan Hu's camp, Michael "Frosti" Zernow, a 20-year-old parkour athlete/student from Chicago, IL, discovered mold in the bottom of their rice container. Peih-Gee Law, a 29-year-old jeweler from Marina Del Rey, CA, noticed it also smelled "kind of stinky," and they began the process of separating the good rice from the bad before it was all inedible.
As has been the track record at Zhan Hu, Dave barked orders about how to deal with the situation, and it caused Sherea Lloyd, a 26-year-old elementary school teacher from Atlanta, GA, to snap. She told Dave he never listens to anyone else, however he wasn't happy who the criticism was coming from.
"Sherea... She just came unglued on me," said Dave. "You have some grounds to say those kind of things if you've done more around camp."
Dave said it was "frustrating" because he's trying to be a good leader, but quickly butted heads with Sherea once again when she attempted to throw out shells he had saved for his mom. She chastised him for getting in her face. Frosti stepped in and stopped the two from arguing. Dave thought Sherea was causing people to walk on egg shells at Zhan Hu, however Frosti had a different take.
"Dave's put himself in a weird position with everybody," said Frosti. "I mean, he does help around camp, but he's also pissing people off. So Crazy Dave may have just worn out his welcome."
Both Zhan Hu and Fei Long then received Tree Mail informing them to meet at Tribal Council that night. However they realized it wasn't an elimination and could instead possibly be a Reward Challenge with food on the line.
"I need to eat something!" said Jean-Robert.
That night, the tribes met host Jeff Probst at Tribal Council for the episode's Reward Challenge. Jeff explained two tribe members at a time would work together using giant chopsticks to carry flaming balls across a course. Once across the course, they would have to drop the fireball into a wok, igniting a fireworks display. Then, the next two teams will go for a total of three rounds. Each round, the chopsticks get longer and more difficult to handle. The first tribe to get all three fireballs into the woks wins.
The reward for the challenge consisted of a visit from a fisherman and his family -- who will give the tribe a lesson in traditional Chinese fishing -- as well as spices and vegetables to prepare a meal for the tribe. In addition, the winning tribe would kidnap one person from the losing tribe until the next Immunity Challenge. Since Fei Long had an extra member, they decided to sit out Courtney.
The first round saw Peih-Gee and Sherea for Zhan Hu take on Todd Herzog, a 22-year-old flight attendant from Pleasant Grove, UT, and Denise Martin, a 40-year-old school lunch lady from Douglas, MA, for Fei Long. Fei Long was the first to deposit their ball into the wok, however Zhan Hu was right on their heels.
Amanda Kimmel, a 23-year-old hiking guide and Miss Montana USA 2005 from Los Angeles, CA, and Aaron Reisberger, a 32-year-old surfing instructor and bartender from Venice, CA, were able to maintain Fei Long's lead during the second round, edging out Frosti and Jaime Dugan, a 22-year-old student from Columbia, SC, for Zhan Hu.
Jean-Robert was teamed with James Clement, a 30-year-old grave digger from Lafayette, LA, for the third round against Dave and Erik Huffman, a 26-year-old musician from Nashville, TN, for Zhan Hu. Jean-Robert and James experienced a few minor problems, but were eventually able to defeat Dave and Erik to win the Reward Challenge.
Fei Long decided to kidnap Dave until the next Immunity Challenge and before the tribes left, Jeff gave him the third clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. The next morning at Fei Long, Dave said it felt like he was "on vacation" and described it as "absolutely wonderful."
"I couldn't have asked for a better time to be kidnapped," beamed Crazy Dave, who described being kidnapped as a "spy mission" for himself.
He quickly realized who he decided to give the Hidden Immunity Idol clue to on Fei Long was a "crucial play" in the game that could come back to help him later in the competition. Todd described Dave as a "nutcase" but added he wanted to be nice to him so the kidnapped Zhan Hu member would have a "good impression" of Fei Long's camp. The plan worked in Todd's favor, as Dave gave him the clue.
"I think Todd's a really cool guy. He wants to play the game, and I've got a pretty good hunch for whatever it's worth," said Dave. "I believe I can trust him... So, we kinda have a little bit of a loose alliance from tribe to tribe going on."
Todd told Dave if Zhan Hu were to kidnap him, he'd share the Hidden Immunity Idol clue with Dave. He then busied himself with trying to find the Hidden Immunity Idol at Fei Long's camp.
"So I've been keeping my eyes open looking for something that could be a Hidden Immunity Idol," said Todd, "because that could be the ticket to a $1 million."
If Dave thought he was on vacation at Fei Long, his fellow Zhan Hu tribe members had the same feelings at their camp without him around. Peih-Gee commented how Dave seemed "way too happy" to be kidnapped, while Sherea was just "very happy" that Zhan Hu was "more relaxed" without Dave around. However it was Frosti who noticed Dave's role as Zhan Hu's "workhorse" was being missed, as they now had to "pick-up that slack." As for Sherea, she simply slept while the others worked.
"Without Dave, we're scrounging around trying to get everything done," said Erik. "I'm getting frustrated because I'm just tired and I feel like some people are trying to get away with not helping out." Sherea explained there was a method to not working around camp, or what could be construed as Survivor suicide.
"I'm trying to conserve my energy for the challenges," she said. "So if they want to keep working, that's okay with me. I'm gonna ride the work horse till the tails fall off, because I'm not doing anything till I have to."
The family of fisherman than arrived at Fei Long, and much to everyone's surprise, Jean-Robert could speak Mandarin since he spent several years in Taiwan as a child. It helped break down the communication barrier between the Chinese family and Fei Long. Todd said Jean-Robert is "full of surprises" and thought this one in particular was "fantastic."
The lesson in fishing was as strange as Jean-Robert, as Aaron and Denise learned trained birds dive into the water and collect fish in their beaks. However they're unable to swallow the fish due to ropes loosely tied around their necks, which blocks their throats, allowing the fisherman to collect the fish from the birds' beaks. Fei Long also learned how to properly gut and cook the fish.
"Oh my god, after being out here all this time, flavor has never tasted so good. You know, a lunch lady is not an expert on food," said Denise. "But this stuff here, that was the delicatist thing that I've ever put in my mouth."
The tribes then arrived for their fourth Immunity Challenge, and Dave rejoined Zhan Hu. Jeff explained that -- dressed in traditional Chinese armor -- the tribes would face-off in a gladiator arena. Each tribe had a number of porcelain vases, and facing off two-against-two, the castaways would hurl meteor hammers in an attempt to break the other tribe's vases. The tribe that breaks the most vases in three rounds wins Immunity.
The first round saw teams of two women, with Sherea and Peih-Gee for Zhan Hu facing Denise and Courtney for Fei Long. Sherea was the only one to break a vase, giving Zhan Hu a 1-0 lead. James teamed with Todd for Fei Long in the second round, and they faced Frosti and Dave for Zhan Hu. As has been the case in most challenges, James dominated and broke three vases, giving Fei Long a 3-1 lead.
Fei Long's Amanda and Aaron squared-off against Jaime and Erik for Zhan Hu in the final round. With her first shot, Jaime took out two vases at once, tying the score at three. However Amanda was the only one to score again, giving Fei Long a 4-3 victory and their third Immunity Challenge win.
As Zhan Hu returned to their camp, Dave immediately started to make waves by arguing that well water should be used to cook rice despite the fact the pot was already full of pond water and the fire was already lit.
"It feels very strange to be back here at Zhan Hu. We lost the Immunity Challenge today and I don't want to go home, but there's very strange vibes going on," said Dave. "Maybe it's just the day-and-a-half away from me -- my slave-driving ability -- but I don't know... I'm feeling very precarious right now."
Dave realized there wasn't much eye contact with the other Zhan Hu members, as Jaime, Frosti, Erik and Peih-Gee discussed if Dave or Sherea should be sent packing. Sherea noticed the four were quietly talking in the water.
"I am concerned that me not doing as much around camp is affecting everybody else's opinion," said Sherea. "So I already know that my name might be written down tonight."
Prior to going to Tribal Council, Erik laid the decision facing Zhan Hu out nicely.
"It's a really close toss up between Sherea's not working and Dave's just kinda making everybody crazy," he said with a laugh. "It's just been back and forth in my mind. I think if it were up to me, if we could get rid of both of them it would be great."
Survivor: China's fourth Tribal Council then commenced, and Sherea told Jeff that in Dave's absence, Zhan Hu actually enjoyed some "relaxing time" but was still able to get work done. Frosti called it a "credit" to Dave's work ethic that Zhan Hu worked so hard while he was away.
"I like Dave," said Erik. "Honestly, there's been some disagreements. It frustrates me seeing other people not receiving Dave's leadership. Dave has great leadership qualities... It's just his personality."
Dave described it as "quite a burden" to be Zhan Hu's leader, adding it was something he "didn't want to begin with." Sherea argued "everybody's doing something" around camp before trying to slip in that she's "doing more." However she went back to her old guns, explaining that if they don't do well in challenges, they'll never get ahead in the competition. Dave wasn't buying it.
"Saving just for challenges is a short-term goal," said Dave. "Because if we're not fed, rested or hydrated, it will just take its toll." Peih-Gee said there needs to be a "balance" between working hard at camp and competing in the challenges.
Despite being respected for his work ethic, Dave had finally grated on Zhan Hu too much and he became the fourth castaway eliminated from Survivor: China by a unanimous 5-1 vote (he voted for Sherea).
Survivor: China's next episode will air Thursday, October 18 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.