Season 15: Episode 5 - Surf's Up: Aaron Sent Packing
Posted on Jul 14, 2011 11:30am

A major twist shakes up the tribes and turns the game on its head for Aaron Reisberger, the 32-year-old surfing instructor from Venice, California. Plucked from the safety of the Fei Long tribe, Aaron's brain and brawn is held against him as the Zhan Hu tribe takes control of his fate, purposefully throwing a challenge and voting out one of the strongest players in the game. Receiving the majority of votes, a shocked and disappointed Aaron leaves us his final words: "I had no idea that I would be going home tonight. I thought it was going to be James over me. I just wanted to say to 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, than be here talking about it."

Be Careful What You Wish For
At Zhan Hu, the monotony of losing challenges takes its toll on a frustrated Frosti. "Fei Long is well led by Aaron. They've got the strongest player James, and some very intelligent people, so they're a hard team to beat." As Peih-Gee gives the tribe a pep talk, Sherea, whose name came up at the previous night's Tribal Council, begins to feel out of the loop. "I definitely feel like the outsider of the tribe because the four of them kinda clique-up sometimes. So I wanna spice things up. I want some drama or something going on. I'm really looking forward to something changing."

Follow Your Bliss
Growing closer to one another, Jaime and Erik share a tender moment in Zhan Hu's own little Garden of Eden, where Erik reveals to Jaime he likes her. When she reciprocates the sentiment, Erik lays it all on the line by revealing his personal choice to remain a virgin. Respecting Erik's beliefs, Jaime sees this intimate moment as a sign of a deeper level of trust, and she confides in Erik the secret of the 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," says 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."

Work Ethic
At Fei Long, James and Denise form a silent bond as the two begin to respect one another's hard work around camp. "Denise really does bust her ass out here. She's a strong, good woman," explains James. "[Denise] is there to complement you and work with you. That's attractive." Feeding off each other's work ethic, Denise finds a strong ally in James. "I can trust [James] and know that I can stick with him and ride his coat tails as long as I can," explains Denise.

A Switch Shakes it Up
Fei Long sits down to enjoy their morning shrimp stir-fry, courtesy of James, when a local fishing boat pulls ashore to deliver a message. Fei Long must select two Zhan Hu members whom they believe will be an asset to their tribe, circle those names on a parchment, and return the parchment to the local fishermen, who will retrieve their new tribe members. Fei Long deliberates, and quickly decides on Frosti and Sherea, whom they see as Zhan Hu's strongest members. Realizing that Zhan Hu might have to pick two members from Fei Long, Jean-Robert states, "If Zhan Hu receives a similar letter, Zhan Hu's top picks will most likely be James and Aaron."

A Misunderstanding
Back at Zhan Hu, the tribe is ecstatic. They think the message means they are gaining two members from Fei Long and not losing any members, putting the numbers in their favor. They eagerly circle James' and Aaron's names on the parchment without a second thought. "Zhan Hu and Fei Long just flipped! We're now 7-5 instead of 5-7, and we have a huge advantage!" exclaims an excited Frosti. "We have all the strongest players, so it's looking really good for us."

Later, when the local fishing boat returns to camp, Zhan Hu rushes to greet their new tribe members. But the boat is empty, save for the fishermen and a new message. Frosti unfolds the parchment, revealing their new fate: he and Sherea will depart the Zhan Hu camp immediately and join their new tribe, Fei Long. "It never crossed my mind that they were going to take two of us," Sherea says, shaking her head in disgust. "We're just like, 'Oh we get to have two strong people.' We didn't think about it at all. That was really dumb." As Sherea wipes tears from her cheek, Frosti says goodbye and reminds Peih-Gee, Jaime and Erik that by choosing James and Aaron from Fei Long, Zhan Hu will have control of the two strongest players in the game. Climbing onto the fishing boat, Frosti and Sherea wave goodbye to Zhan Hu as the familiar shoreline disappears.

A Dark Day Indeed
Yelling in anguish, Aaron reads the new message delivered by the fishermen, finding Fei Long's worst fears realized. Zhan Hu has chosen James and Aaron to join their ranks. Packing his bags and saying goodbye to his old tribe, James looks towards his future in the game. "I don't have any ties to Aaron going over to Zhan Hu. I'm pretty much by myself now, starting all over again," explains a nervous James. "I'm going to have to work my way into the system again." As the fishing boat pulls away with James and Aaron, Jean-Robert attempts to keep the tribe unified and calls an impromptu meeting to lobby against their new members, Frosti and Sherea. "Todd and Courtney and Amanda, who knows? They may just decide "˜Oh let's get rid of Jean-Robert,'" worries Jean-Robert. "Today's a terrible day for Fei Long and today's a god awful day for Jean-Robert."

The new Zhan Hu tribe enjoys a basket of food given to them upon James and Aaron's arrival. As introductions ensue, James takes the opportunity to press upon Zhan Hu the magnitude of winning in the upcoming challenge. Aaron, concerned with the numbers disadvantage he now faces, explains, "[James and I] are going in with only two people and [Zhan Hu] has three, so it is a cause for some apprehension on my part." Observing the new tribe dynamics, Peih-Gee smiles as the wheels turn in her head. "We have control over [Fei Long's] two strongest guys right now in the game," exclaims Peih-Gee. "It's a major advantage with what we choose to do with it."

Cracks at Fei Long
Gathered around the fire and enjoying their basket of food as well as each other's company, both Frosti and Sherea worry about their position in the game and are eager to find their place in the tribe. Bright and early the next morning, Jean-Robert wakes before the rest of Fei Long to start the fire and cook breakfast. But as he asks the rest of the drowsy tribe for help around camp, they scoff at him and, unbeknownst to him, attack his character to each other. Both Frosti and Sherea are overjoyed with the clear dissention in camp. "Waking up to everybody bashing Jean-Robert was better than the food we got the night before," says a relieved 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."

A Plan is Hatched
Attempting to navigate his way into the inner workings of the three original Zhan Hu members, Aaron paints James as the biggest threat in the game. "This is Zhan Hu, this is my new tribe," explains Aaron. "That was a subtle card I played just to save my butt, just in case we lose Immunity." Suspicious of Aaron's crafty ways, Peih-Gee quickly pulls Jaime aside to discuss the future of their game. Running the numbers with a possible merge in mind, Peih-Gee and Jaime toy with the possibility of throwing the next Immunity challenge in hopes of getting rid of either James or Aaron, thus saving Frosti and Sherea in the process and preserving their numbers in the game.

Immunity Challenge: Plunge, Pull, Pop
The new tribes convene for the Immunity Challenge, where Jeff Probst explains the rules. Two members of each tribe will swim out to a platform. Alternating turns, those two will dive into the water where they will find a cage with twelve Chinese zodiac disks attached to the cage. They must release those disks by removing as many bamboo sticks as possible before resurfacing. After stacking all twelve disks in the tribe boat, they must swim back to shore, pulling the boat and the disks with them. Once back to shore, the three remaining tribemates must complete 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 wins Immunity.

Fei Long's Frosti and Jean-Robert swim out to the platform, and are neck-and-neck with Zhan Hu's Erik and Aaron. Exhausted as they dive over and over again to free the disks, the tribes are dead even. Waiting at shore to work on the puzzle, James scolds Jaime and Peih-Gee for laughing and playing around instead of concentrating on the job at hand. Having collected all twelve disks, Zhan Hu gains a bit of a lead as Aaron and Erik pull their loaded boat ashore first. Jean-Robert and Frosti soon reach shore with Fei Long's disks, where the awaiting Todd, Denise and Sherea race to catch up and solve their puzzle. In the midst of the challenge, Jaime grabs a yellow Zhan Hu piece and tosses it behind the Zhan Hu puzzle board, undetected and out of sight. Barely able to hide their guilty smiles, Jaime and Peih-Gee continue to have trouble with the puzzle to James' horror and frustration. Todd, Denise and Sherea hustle to finish Fei Long's puzzle first and win Immunity.

Guilty, Party of Two
Back at camp, the performance by Jaime and Peih-Gee at the Immunity Challenge is brought into question, as James rips into Peih-Gee for her lack of concentration. Jaime and Peih-Gee hurry out of camp to burst into a fit of giggles. "I'm not babysitting a bunch of children. Them girls about to go thirsty because I just can't support people that just don't try," complains James, frustrated with his new tribe. "They might as well send me home." When the suspicious Erik confronts the girls, they confess to throwing the challenge. Caught between a rock and a hard place, Erik sees no other option but to continue to trust in his alliance with Jaime. "I don't like losing, especially on purpose," says Erik, "but I want to remain in an alliance with Jaime just because it's safe, for now at least."

With Tribal Council looming, Jaime, Erik and Peih-Gee weigh the pros and cons of voting out James versus Aaron. "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," explains 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."

Tribal Council
At Tribal Council, Jaime boldly admits to throwing the Immunity Challenge, taking Aaron and James by surprise. Peih-Gee comes to Jaime's defense, explaining that should there be a merge, Fei Long would have the numbers. So by throwing the challenge, the original Zhan Hu members have a fighting chance. Unable to see losing as a way of winning, James has had enough and tells the tribe to send him home, as he can't work with a tribe that condones losing. In the end, though, it is Aaron's possible alliances back at Fei Long that prove a greater threat, and he receives three of the five votes, becoming the fifth person voted out of Survivor China.

Before departing Tribal Council, Jeff Probst tells Zhan Hu: "Erik, Peih-Gee and Jaime, you three are making a very strategic move. If your assumptions hold true, it could be a good play. If your assumptions are wrong, could be in trouble."