Zhan Hu, Day 19. James takes a slug from a canteen while Peih-Gee sits in the shelter behind him. Peih-Gee tells James that she hopes he trusts them now, and reminds him that they told him they'd stick with him. Which I'm sure they did, particularly once they figured out that getting the old band back together to sing a few bars of "Zhan Hu Forever" was not happening. James seems skeptical, and when Peih-Gee claims that she and Erik and Jaime are "loyal," he says he thinks they're "loyal to each other." Peih-Gee urges him not to "let [her] down," which he finds fairly humorous, and she says that they all need to stick together. What I think is so weird about these discussions is that there's so much abstract talk of "loyalty" without any discussion of what that means. Like, what is Peih-Gee trying to tell James here? As we've discussed in this space before, game trust doesn't require anyone to think you feel any personal loyalty toward him. He only has to believe that you have a plan to go forward in a way that will benefit both him and you, and that that's the plan you're going to follow. I don't understand what Peih-Gee's saying the plan is in the event of a merge. If Sherea's gone, which Peih-Gee has to know is likely, what's the plan? Peih-Gee, Erik, Jaime, James, and Frosti? Because that's a tie, and nobody's signing up for a tie instead of being part of a 6-4 majority. If Peih-Gee wants this to work, she needs to be presenting a plan, not just "we're sticking with you." But she tells James that, in the event of a merge, she'd be willing to sacrifice an old Zhan Hu member for him, but that's even dumber, because in what scenario would that be helpful? Peih-Gee tells James that she likes him, and...again, don't tell him you like him. Tell him what the plan is. As James eyeballs the archway with the idol plates over it, Peih-Gee voices over that her gut is telling her to trust James at this point. Peih-Gee goes to sit with Jaime and Erik, and of course, James is eager to go after the idol.
And go after the idol he does. Jaime, Erik, and Peih-Gee chat by the water as James oh-so-casually reaches up and pulls down one of the two plaques from the arch. It's kind of an advantage here to be enormously tall. When the plaque doesn't have anything written on the back (as the other one Todd gave him did), James throws it on the ground and goes after the second one, which has the right message ("Congratulations," etc.) on the back. Rather stupidly, however, James leaves the other one -- the blank plaque he pulled down -- lying on the ground in plain sight, sort of drawing attention to what he did. He claimed that he wouldn't be impatient, but I have to think he could have gotten enough time to allow him to put the dummy one back up, which might have opened up a claim that the other one just fell off, thus not calling quite so much attention to what he'd grabbed.
Fei Long, Day 19. Frosti and Jean-Robert are out catching fish in a net, and the others are sitting around the morning fire. Todd complains about the fact that Courtney came up and was acting like she was unhappy. That darn Courtney, having non-Todd-approved feelings! She tells the team that the reason she's upset is that they had an opportunity to get rid of Jean-Robert, and they didn't take it. Todd tells Courtney that he needs J-R for his game, even if Courtney doesn't. Now, this presumably frees up Courtney to vote for whomever she thinks is best for her game, not the person Todd needs for his game, right? I'd think so. Courtney counters that she told Todd and Amanda that J-R treated her like crap, and that they didn't stick up for her at all. It's interesting -- I think that here, she's upset about the vote, but that she's more upset about the fact that she feels like she told them that Jean-Robert's really nasty to her, and they all steadily remain neutral, despite (as with Amanda) knowing that he's a dick. Obviously, Courtney can't expect people to vote the way she wants them to just because she doesn't like someone, and that they all have to play the game, but I think I get what she's saying, which is that she wishes they'd back her up on the stuff that's bothering her. Todd whines to Courtney that they can't let Jean-Robert know that they don't like him, but he manages to do it in a way that's technically right, but...sort of as unhelpful as possible. In an interview, Todd finally catches his snap and says that it could be a problem if Courtney is determined always to vote against Jean-Robert, if the other tribe comes over and learns that and starts something to get him out. Wait, you mean it would have been smarter to treat Courtney a little less like you could take for granted that she would do whatever you said? Hmm, yes, I think that would have been smarter! Todd, Todd -- don't tell me you're not a genius, because it will break my heart. In an interview in which he clearly expects to come off differently than he does (namely: put-upon instead of mean and assy), Todd imperiously lectures that he needs J-R for his game, so Courtney had better shut up and "deal with it." And then he pauses, looks into the camera, and says -- without a hint of humor, and with all the anger that every fratty asshole has ever put into the word -- "Bitch." That was an interesting and ugly flash right there. There's a sort of fun, non-angry way to say "bitch," and there's a really mean, borderline hateful way to say "bitch," and his was emphatically the second one, which surprised me. It's kind of...uncomfortable. I'd love to see how Todd would behave if he were being treated the way Courtney is being treated. I'd love to see whether he'd calmly accept that nobody would stand up for him, or whether he'd calmly accept someone referring to him with seething anger as "bitch." Furthermore, as already pointed out, he said he was going to take care of this. He told her, undoubtedly, that he was going to get rid of those guys, so I'm not sure why he's rolling his eyes all over the place at the fact that she apparently took him seriously. I don't think he has to do it, but it's not like she came up herself with the idea that he would do something to "take out the trash" (as he put it) for her.
Over at Zhan Hu, James strolls out to the water (perhaps he needs to bury a dead thing every few days, or the voices start again), leaving Jaime and Peih-Gee back at camp, where Jaime -- stupid old Jaime, dumb as a box of hair! -- notices that the plaques have been removed from the archway. Erik wanders over and finds the plaque that James left lying on the ground. In an interview, he holds it up to the camera, kind of, "Erm...soooo...," with the squinty eyes that are quite fetching, pointing out that the thing looks vaguely idol-like, and that it appears that someone removed it. He's not sure whether the remover was James, who would logically know about the hidden idol from being kidnapped. Jaime and Erik decide to take the thing, thinking it might logically be an idol. Jaime -- stupid Jaime, dumb as a bag of hammers! -- points out in an interview that the symbols on the plaque are such that it could easily read "immunity idol" in Chinese, and that it's not like she would be able to read it. It's so sad, because that's exactly the kind of corny thing the show would totally do, too, and then they'd have Jeff Probst do a big reveal where a 114-year-old monk reads it in Chinese, and then hands it to an athlete in traditional dress who runs it across a field to a group of small children who shout aloud in English: "IMMUNI-TY I-DOL!" Don't play; you know it could happen. We'd be lucky if no fortune cookie made an appearance.