Jean-Robert Bellande the eighth castaway cut from 'Survivor: China'
By Christopher Rocchio, 11/09/2007
Just as professional poker player Jean-Robert Bellande finally figured out what was going on in the game, the 36-year-old from Las Vegas, NV became the eighth castaway eliminated from Survivor: China during last night's broadcast of the long-running CBS reality competition series.
"I really loved the way I played this game," said Jean-Robert after his ouster was revealed. "If I were to relate what happened to the game of poker, I pushed all in and it didn't work out for me."
Survivor: China's seventh episode began at the merged Hae Da Fung camp following the previous elimination of Jaime Dugan, who managed to give Jean-Robert quite a scare at Tribal Council when he thought she was playing a Hidden Immunity Idol.
"Is this really happening? Could this possibly be that she found a [Hidden] Immunity Idol somewhere at our camp?" wondered Jean-Robert, who said he "knew 100%" he would have been sent packing had Jaime used the idol since he had the next highest number of Tribal Council votes. "I had a close call."
Needless to say, Jean-Robert was unaware that James Clement, a 30-year-old grave digger from Lafayette, LA, had both of the Hidden Immunity Idols -- the one from Fei Long's camp as well as the one from Zhan Hu's camp -- in his possession. When Jean-Robert told James he thought he was going home, James mockingly offered him a hug.
"Jean-Robert doesn't know that I have both of the Immunity Idols; we can't tell him that because he's Jean-Robert," explained James. "We just need to keep his dumb ass in line because we are stuck with him now and need his vote. So we have to deal with it."
James realized that the Hae Da Fung tribe consists of people who are "complete opposites" when it comes to personalities, however he knew they all have to "stick together." He said that was the former Fei Long's plan all along, and they currently had a 6 to 3 advantage over the original Zhan Hu tribe.
"[Zhan Hu], they're not trying to win $1 million; they're trying to win a high-school friend contest," said James.
Amanda Kimmel, a 23-year-old hiking guide and Miss Montana USA 2005 from Los Angeles, CA, commented how James is in a "very good position because he has both" of the Hidden Immunity Idols, which means he "almost guaranteed himself a Top 5 position right now."
"I am kind of afraid he could win the whole thing," she said.
The nine remaining castaways then met for Survivor: China's next Reward Challenge, and host Jeff Probst explained the rules.
Hae Da Fung was divided into two teams of four. One member of each team would sit in a boat while the opposing team tried to sink them using buckets of water. The person in the boat had to use their hands to bail out the water to stay afloat. The first team to sink the other team's boat two times would win reward -- a trip to an ancient Chinese village -- where they'd enjoy an authentic Chinese meal and also receive a bamboo tube with a note inside.
A school-yard pick 'em was used to divide the teams. The red team consisted of Peih-Gee Law, a 29-year-old jeweler from Marina Del Rey, CA; Michael "Frosti" Zernow, a 20-year-old parkour athlete/student from Chicago; Erik Huffman, a 26-year-old musician from Nashville, TN -- all former original Zhan Hu members -- as well as Courtney Yates, a 26-year-old waitress from New York, NY.
The yellow team consisted of four original Fei Long members: Jean-Robert; Amanda; James and Todd Herzog, a 22-year-old flight attendant from Pleasant Grove, UT. Since it was a four-on-four challenge, Denise Martin, a 40-year-old school lunch lady from Douglas, MA, had to watch from the sidelines and was unable to receive the reward.
Todd was the first in the boat for the yellow team, and Courtney was the first in the boat for the red team, who explained they chose Courtney because she's "light." Both boats quickly took-on water, however Todd's strategy was to try and stay in the middle so it was harder for Peih-Gee, Erik and Frosti to get water into his boat. The plan worked as Courtney sunk, giving the yellow team a 1-0 lead.
Amanda was the second in the boat for the yellow team, and not surprisingly, she followed Todd's plan and stayed in the middle. Frosti was the second in the boat for the red team and was eventually cornered by Jean-Robert, Todd and James, who sunk his ship with little trouble. The yellow team claimed reward.
The four members of the winning yellow team traveled to the ancient city and walked around the streets before sitting down for their meal. Jean-Robert appeared to be extremely eager to open the bamboo tube and learn what was inside, while Todd, Amanda and James were disinterested since they all knew James already had both Hidden Immunity Idols. Jean-Robert opened the tube, which contained the final clue to the whereabouts of the Hidden Immunity Idols.
"When I read this, I was a little bit surprised," said Jean-Robert. "As much information as there has been out there, I should have known something. I should have had some sort of clue... That shook me up a little bit."
"When Jean-Robert busted open those clues for the Hidden Immunity Idol, it was kind of funny because there's no idol out there, it's already been found," said a giddy Todd. "James has both Immunity Idols and Jean-Robert is the only one from Fei Long who doesn't know about it."
Jean-Robert described winning the challenge and receiving the clue as "big" and looked anxious about returning to camp and trying to find the Hidden Immunity Idol. He stumbled over his words when talking with Todd, Amanda and James, referring to it as the "American Immunity Idol" at one point, which gave everyone a good laugh. Jean-Robert blamed it on the wine.
Back at Hae Da Fung, Denise was "very upset" about "sitting on the bench" during the Reward Challenge. She described herself as "big and fat" and said she's always been the last one picked, wondering if it would be a similar case in her alliance with her fellow former Fei Long members.
"I don't want to be that person," opined Denise. "I want to stay in this game as long as I can."
As if on cue, Peih-Gee and Erik began discussing the option of trying to boot Jean-Robert. Peih-Gee was aware that she was the next former Zhan Hu member with a target on her back -- and using her knowledge that Courtney doesn't get along with Jean-Robert -- she tried to turn the attention to him.
"Well, there are five of us here," said Peih-Gee as she spoke with Erik, Frosti, Courtney and Denise. "If we all band together it will be four to five and guess what? Jean-Robert, James and, oh, Amanda... like bye! I kind of have nothing to lose, I will try anything at this point."
Denise agreed that it might be a good idea to "shake things up" and vote-out Jean-Robert.
"Nobody likes him, so it's kind of an easy vote," said Denise. "If I decide to go with Peih-Gee and Erik -- I can end up in a good situation with them -- but I don't want to go against the rest of [Fei Long] and have them vote against me, so I'm thinking it over and deciding what I'm going to do."
Later that night, Todd, Amanda, Jaime and Jean-Robert returned from the village and quickly went to sleep -- except Jean-Robert -- who laid awake with his eyes open. He eventually got up and started to walk around camp.
"I didn't even sleep last night I was so anxious to get that Hidden Immunity Idol," he said. "That's the difference in the game. That can protect me. That could be my $1 million right there."
As he tried to recall bits and pieces of the clues that were given to him, Jean-Robert correctly guessed that the Hidden Immunity Idol was one of the wooden plaques situated on the archway at camp. However there were three plaques left and he didn't know if any of them were the idol, so as the sun rose, he stashed them all away with the hopes of inspecting them more closely later in the day.
"If I have the Immunity Idol, it gives me a trump card," said an oblivious Jean-Robert. "I like the direction I'm going, but I'd feel more comfortable with a trump card in my pocket, knowing the general public doesn't have access to it right now."
The next morning, James caught some flack from the rest of the tribe for always eating the largest portion of food -- and still complaining he's hungry. Todd's nerves were starting to wear thin.
"These people are driving me insane," he said. "I hate hearing Jean-Robert's voice. I hate hearing James complain how he is so hungry. Plus it kind of pisses me off that James has both Hidden Immunity Idols -- being that I found it and told him where the other one was -- and he hasn't offered to give one back [to me]. That drives me insane! I would love to see some craziness happen here at camp."
Todd explained to Amanda that James has himself in a "great position" and added he was afraid the muscular grave digger would win Individual Immunity as well, making him almost unstoppable. While Amanda still wanted to stick to the plan and oust Peih-Gee, Todd saw this as a good time to "blind-side" James if he didn't win the upcoming Immunity Challenge.
"He is guaranteed the Final 4," explained Todd to Amanda. "If James doesn't win Immunity, he might have to go."
Amanda was confused and said Todd's always changing strategy made her "nervous." Todd approached Frosti about his idea to oust James next, and Frosti agreed.
"You have to take advantage of whatever happens whenever you can -- and right now -- people are starting to view me as swing vote which ends up being not so bad," said Frosti. "I'm always looking for a chance to make sure I'm safe. Right now, the plan is to not let James win Immunity and blind side him at Tribal tonight."
Hae Da Fung then gathered for Survivor: China's next Immunity Challenge and Jeff explained the rules.
Each castaway had to sit and balance on a large barrel attached to a part of a dragon body. The barrel was filled with water and had a leak in it. As the water drained, the barrel would become more and more unstable, making it increasingly more difficult to balance. Once you fell off, you were out of the challenge. The last person remaining won Individual Immunity. In addition, Jeff warned that if a castaway touched a part of the structure supporting their barrel, they were disqualified.
All nine remaining castaways made it to the 10-minute marker before Jean-Robert fell in the water, and Denise followed shortly. Past the 20-minute mark, James finally fell in after being unstable the entire challenge. He was quickly followed by Erik and Peih-Gee before Amanda touched the supporting structure as she tried to catch her balance and was disqualified.
Thirty minutes into the challenge and Todd took a nasty spill off his barrel, leaving Courtney and Frosti as the only two left. Jeff commented how Courtney barely flinched throughout the whole challenge, and she was able to win when Frosti finally fell in. Courtney claimed Individual Immunity and would be safe at the upcoming Tribal Council.
"I pretty much don't care at this point who gets voted out," commented Courtney once the tribe returned to camp. "I'm immune tonight, so you can't get me!"
Peih-Gee knew that Courtney's victory meant she was most likely "next on the chopping block" and quickly started to "scramble" to save her butt, hoping Denise and Courtney would vote for Jean-Robert with her and Erik.
As Jean-Robert and Erik floated in the surf, Jean-Robert confidently boasted to Erik that he had found one of the Hidden Immunity Idols and would be safe at Tribal Council. Erik looked amused by what Jean-Robert was telling him and called the poker player's bluff, informing him that he was "99% positive" that James had the Hidden Immunity Idol. Erik then spilled all the beans to Jean-Robert and explained how James had BOTH Hidden Immunity Idols in his possession.
"Keep this on the down-low, but we might pull a fast one on James," Jean-Robert told Erik.
However Jean-Robert couldn't even keep the information on the d-lo, as he immediately started to badger James about the Hidden Immunity Idols.
"You had to know that I was going to figure it out sooner or later," Jean-Robert told James.
Similar to the way he threatened Todd earlier in the game, Jean-Robert tried to intimidate James when he remained tight-lipped.
"Now I'm not even asking you," continued Jean-Robert to James, "I'm telling you that I already know and I am leaving it up to you to decide. You want to work with me or are we going out on our own? Best course to the end is always going to be with me not against me. It cannot work out well for you if you don't go with me."
James said he was unsure what Jean-Robert was trying to pull, and added his Survivor buddy should know he doesn't like to be cornered.
"Come on dude! You're Jean-Robert! You can't trust anything that comes out your mouth anyway!" said James. "Why would I align with you? That would be the worst move of Survivor history, to align with that guy."
Aware James was "playing dumb," Jean-Robert took his concerns to Todd about "blind-siding James" at the upcoming Tribal Council.
"I love the idea," answered Todd, who told Jean-Robert he had heard rumors that James had the idols. He told Jean-Robert he'd consider the idea -- however in reality -- Todd said he was "kind of bothered" that Jean-Robert had the same idea as him.
Todd than approached James and informed him of Jean-Robert's plan -- that along with Erik, Peih-Gee, Frosti and Todd -- he thinks they can blind-side James. Todd told James he "played up" Jean-Robert's plan, and then decided they should boot Jean-Robert. James and Todd decided not to tell Denise of their plan.
Amanda still lobbied to oust Peih-Gee and was concerned Todd was "second-guessing" himself too much. Courtney was unsure who should go that night, but was open to suggestions.
"I'm not entirely sure what happened, but all of a sudden Todd decided to vote for Jean-Robert," said a pleasantly surprised Courtney. "It's a widely known fact that Jean-Robert and I have hated each other since Day 1. So if everyone is finally willing to vote him out, then great. But he's become the Susan Lucci of Tribal Council -- his name is always up there, but he never quite gets voted out. I don't have much faith that it will actually happen."
Hae Dan Fung then left for Tribal Council.
"I knew Jean-Robert was going to try something and I'm just going to have to deal with it," said James. "Hopefully I'll make it through. I don't know if I will take the idols with me because I shouldn't have to use them. I might just roll the dice tonight. As long as I make it to the next one, I should be all right, but you never know."
Survivor: China's eighth Tribal Council commenced, and Jaime entered as the first member of the jury. James told Jeff he was "concerned" because he is one of the "biggest physical threats," but also added that the "talkers" are the "greatest threats." Peih-Gee then informed Jeff that she and Erik were the only two castaways who brought their bags to Tribal Council, meaning there was a sense of confidence with the former Fei Long tribe members.
"They are in a really bad position right now," commented Jean-Robert on Peih-Gee and Erik's situation. "They had really bad cards thrown at them... They have come into a situation that is pretty much inevitable."
Erik said while he and Peih-Gee's situation may be "tough," he recognized that eventually some members of the former Fei Long tribe will have to "split." Jeff asked Jean-Robert about how a Hidden Immunity Idol could change the game.
"When Jaime presented that last week I thought I was going home," said Jean-Robert. "When your job is being the local jerk -- as the local jerk -- I will probably have my name on a ballot or two, maybe three, every time. But if somebody happens to play that idol at the right time, that could be me going home. That's scary."
Jeff asked Courtney if she had any interest in giving the Individual Immunity necklace to somebody else.
"No... screw you guys," answered Courtney.
It was a close Tribal Council vote and was by no means unanimous. Denise voted for Peih-Gee; Jean-Robert, Erik and Peih-Gee voted for James; and Todd, Amanda, Frosti, James and Courtney all voted for Jean-Robert, as the poker player was booted by a 5-3-1 margin. Jean-Robert became the second member of Survivor: China's jury that will ultimately decide who wins the $1 million grand prize.
"I'm playing for first, and the only person who really threatened that first-place position for me was James," commented Jean-Robert. "But I think they realize I probably was the best player in the game and they would feel a lot more comfortable with me out of the game."
Survivor: China's next episode will air Thursday, November 15 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.