John Powell – GlobalTV.com
If it wasn’t for bad luck Jeanine Zheng wouldn’t have any luck at all on Survivor. Her journey was no Sunday drive. It was more like a drag race on a speedway full of potholes the size of B.C.’s Mount Robson.
Jeanine’s trials and tribulations began during the very first challenge which put her chin through a meat grinder.
“Everybody’s so concerned about what happened! It’s so sweet! I’m glad I finally get to answer this question! So, the chin scrape happened during the first challenge with the log and us digging. Honestly, I was suffocating under the log and the only way that I could breathe was scraping my face up against it and releasing myself that way. That’s what you saw. It was the abrasion from the log. It’s also healed now so we are all good!” she said with a smile.
The next bump in the road for the 24-year-old UX designer from California was the implosion of the Baka tribe. It all began with a falling out between Mike Gabler and Elisabeth “Elie” Scott. Early on in the game Mike’s health took a temporary turn for the worse and Baka thought about voting him out to keep the tribe strong. Mike took exception to that and also the fact that he thought Elie rifled through his bag when it was really Jeanine. Jeanine tried to keep the Baka threads from unraveling but there was no repairing those relationships, putting Baka back on the same page.
“Watching it back I now understand how futile that was because it wasn’t something that could be mended. There was this break and mistrust from the early Baka days. I had no idea it was so early on that Gabler felt like hurt and betrayed. So, it was really festering which as viewers we got to see culminate at the merge,” she said.
Jeanine also wanted to clear something up about why she went through Gabler’s bag in the first place. She had a very good reason for doing so.
“The context that I’ll add is that I was told that Gabler wanted me out because he felt the least closest with me. That’s why my back really was up against the wall and I felt like I needed to go through his bag,” she explained.
The feud between Elie and Gabler led to Elie being booted at the merge leaving Jeanine without her closest ally in the game. After that tribal council Jeanine felt like she was “floating alone” on the island. The only person she felt she could really trust was Ryan. Jeanine knew at the point she had to switch gears and find a path through the chaos somehow.
Jeanine’s trust led to her giving her immunity idol to Dwight. According to Jeanine herself, in wanting to keep it safe and remove the temptation of him using it at tribal council, Dwight gave the idol to a person he thought he could trust to return it in Jesse. With Dwight voted out though Jeanine’s idol stayed with Jesse. Surprisingly, Jeanine is glad that what was once her idol is still in play in the game.
“It was devastating to lose the idol but it was honestly good to know that it didn’t just die in a ditch in Dwight’s crotch considering the amount of time and energy it took for me to assemble it,” she laughed also supporting what Dwight said in our interview last week that she was checking on him at tribal council to see if he was okay. Jeanine says she was concerned about her friend and wasn’t pestering him to return the idol at any time despite what some viewers thought.
The one thing that Jeanine feels is perhaps not coming across to the viewers at home though is the odd social construct which completely smothered the game. It caused everyone to not take many risks and to play very passively. Jeanine described it as a “player paralysis”.
“You cannot stick your neck out too much. You can’t play too hard. We saw a lot of players go home for being too strategic or too paranoid, or whatever it was,” she recalled.
Jeanine holds that “player paralysis” responsible for her not fighting hard to stay.
“It made sense that the edit shows Sami being my champion because I almost couldn’t do that without putting more of a target on my back or putting people off from wanting to work with me because I was already seen as a sneaky. So, anything that I was doing would only further perpetuate that I would be the one voted out,” she said.
That “player paralysis” will play a prominent role in who she votes for to win the season as the first member of the jury.
“I was so frustrated with the social contract! For someone to get my vote they would have to be someone who is going to break outside of that and is going to make a big and obvious moves and not play within this seven majority,” she told GlobalTV.