Survivor: China is highly regarded as one of the best seasons in the show’s history. What were the most memorable moments from season 15?
When ranking every season of Survivor, more often than not, Survivor: China is in the top ten, if not top five on everyone’s list of favorite seasons.
There’s a lot of reasons as to why, but let’s take a look at the most memorable moments.
Top Notch Cast
When looking at the most memorable moments from Survivor: China, there really weren’t a ton of things that stood out about this season. What made it the season it was, however, was the cast. China’s cast is still to this day one of the best the show has ever assembled.
It gave us Amanda Kimmel and James Clement who both returned to play three total times, brilliant winner Todd Herzog, and witty Courtney Yates, who is one of the funniest contestants to ever appear on the show.
Todd, Courtney, and Amanda ended up as the final three and there was a case to be made for any of them to have won the season. Todd put on an incredible performance at final tribal council and that’s what helped propel him as the winner over Amanda, who made some ballsy moves during the game as well, but struggled in front of the jury.
If I were to rank every cast in the history of the show, China would probably be in the top five casts ever. Almost everyone had something to contribute in season 15, even first boot Chicken Morris gave us something to laugh about (“DAMN!”).
They don’t make casts like this anymore unfortunately, but at least we have the memories.
Whichever tribe won the reward challenge would earn the right to kidnap someone from the losing tribe. That person would live with the other tribe until the next immunity challenge (similar to how this twist was done in Pearl Islands).
Kidnapping provided us with some big moments down the road, as it was responsible for why James ended up with two idols in his pocket. Let’s dive into that, why don’t we?
When it comes to getting voted out with an idol in your pocket, James was the one who invented that. Not only did James have one idol to play with, but he left the game with TWO idols on hand. TWO!
How this came about was when Fei Long won the reward challenge after the swap, they brought James back over temporarily. Todd gave him the Hidden Immunity Idol that he and Amanda found and told him to use it at tribal council to take out Jaime Dugan.
The plan was a brilliant one, but unfortunately for Todd and the rest of Fei Long, Denise Martin couldn’t get down the balut at the immunity challenge, sending them to tribal council instead.
James wisely then found the Hidden Immunity Idol on Zhan Hu, arming himself with two idols when the two tribes merged. He was able to make it past a few votes before Amanda came up with the idea to blindside him and it was a move that needed to be made.
James never saw it coming and was sent to the jury with two idols in his bag. It’s still one of the dumbest Survivor moments ever for him not to play the idol with so few people remaining in the game.
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Red Rover Swap
One of the worst twists in Survivor history is definitely the way the tribe swap was conducted in Survivor: China.
How it worked was each tribe was asked to pick two players from the opposing tribe to join theirs. Fei Long figured out that this was a swap while Zhan Hu assumed they were getting two Fei Long members without losing any of their own (yeah, they were pretty dumb).
This led to Aaron Reisberger being unfairly voted out because his new tribe decided to throw the challenge to get him out. Otherwise, he’d have made a good run with his Fei Long friends.
Obviously a twist where one tribe gets to bring two players over immediately puts them on the bottom and that’s unfair for sure. There wasn’t much wrong with China, but this swap was the worst part of an otherwise top notch season.
Todd’s Brilliant Win
China is looked at as one of the best seasons ever because it has one of the best winners ever. Todd played an absolutely dominant game and he did it against tough competition, as Amanda could have easily won that season as well.
Todd was running the show from day one, making the decision to align with Amanda, Aaron, and James. He lost Aaron as a result of the swap, but he and Amanda stayed true to each other until the end while also bringing in Courntey.
Along the way, they blindsided Jean-Robert Bellande and James (with the two idols in toe) while also keeping themselves safe and secure. Amanda probably had the best shot at winning going into the final tribal council, but Todd put on a spectacular performance in front of the jury while Amanda crumbled under the pressure.
To this day, Todd Herzog is a top five Survivor winner and it’s unfortunate he wasn’t on Winners at War because he would have been a ton of fun to see play against 19 other winners.
Survivor: China is still looked at as one of the best seasons in the show’s history. It might have initially aired in 2008 and was in the old school era of Survivor, but it still holds up to this day.
Todd is easily one of the best winners in the show’s history, Amanda had a really good case to be named the winner that season, Courtney was hilarious, Jean-Robert was a creep, but made things entertaining, and James was – Well… James.
While the show has evolved a lot, Survivor: China still sits as a top tier season.