'Survivor' castaway Jeanine Zheng reacts to Jesse Lopez secretly having her immunity idol
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/15/2022
Survivorcastaway Jeanine Zheng has revealed what went through her mind when she realized Jesse Lopez had her immunity Idol and Dwight Moore never got voted out of the game with it.
"Oh my God. I was like, 'That's my baby!' So in a way, I think it's bittersweet because I'm so bamboozled, but also kudos to you. Nothing but props," Jeanine toldEntertainment Weekly about Jesse's move.
Earlier this season, Jeanine and Dwight believed James Jones had found a "Knowledge is Power" advantage, which would enable James to steal an idol or advantage as long as he could correctly guess the player who had one in his or her possession.
Dwight therefore orchestrated a plan for castaways to shuffle their advantages and idols around at camp in order to protect the players whom James might've suspected had power.
Jeanine gave her immunity bracelet to Dwight to hold onto before Tribal Council on Night 14, and then Dwight got voted out, leaving Jeanine to assume her idol had been flushed and it left the game with Dwight as a souvenir.
But Jesse revealed on last week's episode ofSurvivor that Dwight had actually passed off the idol to him before Tribal Council on Night 14, and so Jesse would have Jeanine's idol going forward -- and nobody knew about it.
While Jeanine wouldn't reveal when exactly she found out Jesse had her idol, Jeanine shared with EW, "I definitely did not realize."
"I mean, you saw in this episode, I thought that my idol was flushed. I was devastated," Jeanine continued.
"Everyone else on the episode also was like, 'Wow, Jeanine got her idol flushed.' And so just, it's really Jesse's secret to reveal."
But Jeanine said she is pleased and relieved to know her idol is "still alive," especially because it took a lot of effort to compile the immunity bracelet made up of her tribemates' special beads.
"I really thought that all the work that had gone into assembling it was down the drain going home with Dwight. So I think those were my reactions," Jeanine said.
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When asked why Dwight would hand the idol to Jesse instead of holding onto it, Jeanine said Dwight's "reasoning was that he was scared."
Jeanine said while she had trusted Dwight with her idol, it was "all in an effort to preserve my idol."
"So it was well intentioned," Jeanine insisted with a laugh.
"He was scared that at Tribal, he gets spooked and then plays it, and that would just kind of shatter our relationship moving forward. And he didn't want to even tempt himself to do that."
Jeanine said another reason Dwight may have given up her idol for the night was because members of their merged Gaia tribe probably assumed they were very close.
"He was almost thinking, 'Okay, wait, people could probably pick up on the fact that Jeanine and I are close. I think that the safest place to put it is Jesse's pocket,'" Jeanine said.
"And that's why he transferred it last minute and didn't even tell me. Didn't tell anyone. So that's what happened."
Jeanine joked about how men's crotches were "the pinnacle of the idol hiding places."
Before Dwight got voted out of the game, Jeanine was shown gesturing -- repeatedly -- an open hand to Dwight. Fans therefore assumed Jeanine was asking for her idol back, but Dwight denied that was the case in his recent interview with EW.
Jeanine offered a similar explanation for her gesturing at Tribal Council, which appeared desperate and anxious.
"Even watching it back, I was like, 'Was I trying to get it? Oh my God!' No, in that moment, my heart just went out to Dwight," Jeanine recalled.
"I was really just thinking of him as a friend, as a person. I could feel him behind me just shaking so much. And [Noelle Lambert] and I were kind of just like, 'You're good, you're good, you're fine' and comforting him."
"And that's what you're seeing is me just putting my hand behind and trying to pat his leg and comforting him," she added.
The 24-year-old UX designer from South Hamilton, MA, confirmed that she "was not reaching" for her idol.
"I know that as soon as the votes are read, you have that window of time to be able to transfer any sort of advantages, use them at your will," Jeanine said ofSurvivor'sidol-transfer rules, which show host Jeff Probst also recently clarified.
"And then once Jeff says the statement and gives you your time to do so, whatever's on your person is on your person. So I was not trying to physically ascertain the idol back."
Now that she's watching the Survivorseason unfold on CBS, Jeanine admitted she wished producers had shown more of her close friendship with former Vesi Tribe members Dwight and Noelle.
"I think a lot of viewers might have been confused why all of a sudden the merge happens and you're giving your idol to Dwight," Jeanine acknowledged.
"And that goes to show how close I felt with him and how much we had even pre-merge established that we wanted to work together... It felt like that was a really big part of my strategic narrative that didn't get shown on the show.
And for all those fans out there wondering what actually happened to Jeanine's chin, she said she scratched it on Day 2 while trying to crawl under a log at a challenge but it's just a cosmetic injury.
Jeanine said she has fully recovered since then but had to deal with a "huge scar" on her face for the season.
"I was basically suffocating under [the log] and could only come out the other side by scraping my face against it," Jeanine noted.