On last week's Survivor: China (8 pm/ET, CBS), the game's first big twist was revealed when the tribes were allowed to steal two of each other's members — Zhan Hu picked muscleman James and Fei Long picked tribe leader Aaron. In a bold move designed to increase their chances post-merge, the women of Zhan Hu decided to throw the immunity challenge, and Aaron Reisberger, the 32-year-old surfing instructor (and all-around Mr. Nice Guy) was the first victim. In this TVGuide.com Q&A, he sounds off on the twist that sent him home, what camp life was like and that rumor about a romance with Amanda.
TVGuide.com: That was quite a trick they pulled on you guys. What was your reaction when you read that scroll?
Aaron: Terror and anger. We kind of were expecting it — we've seen the other seasons, and you know that there's going to be some kind of twist. And this was the one that happened, and I was very much involved in it, and it turned out pretty unfortunate for me. Zhan Hu thought they were getting two members and weren't giving up any, and that certainly wasn't the case. Amanda and Todd saw through that, though. Everyone knew that [Zhan Hu would pick] James because of the instructions on the scroll: "Pick two of the strongest and use them in the challenges to help you win immunity." But as far as the twist itself goes... I [prefer] some of the other ones. I like Exile Island and searching for the hidden immunity idol and having time to contemplate. But I really enjoyed the kidnapping — I thought that was intriguing.
TVGuide.com: So Amanda and Todd were the ones who sussed out what was going to happen?
Aaron: They're the people who have watched every episode of every show over and over and over again, and they knew something was up. The funny thing about Todd is, we would get tree-mail, and he was usually right in guessing from those clues what the challenges would be. He's a smart player. You've got to watch out for him. I thought the other tribe might have taken Amanda, actually, because she's fairly athletic and she's smart and knows how to play the game. I kind of thought it was going to be between us two.
TVGuide.com: Leslie told me that she thought there might be a love connection between you and Amanda. Was there anything to that?
Aaron: No, not really. Amanda and I definitely got along quite well. She's a great girl, really athletic, but it was not much more than that. I mean, she's an attractive woman obviously, but it wasn't like there were sparks flying.
TVGuide.com: You guys all had a pretty nice thing going at Fei Long.
Aaron: I was totally bummed — I had a really strong alliance, or so I thought, with Todd and Amanda. When the switch happened, I looked at Todd and Amanda and they just had these sick looks on their faces and I had a sick look on my face.
TVGuide.com: How did camp life at Zhan Hu compare to being at Fei Long?
Aaron: At Fei Long we had been winning and we had stuff pretty set up. We had won the reward challenge where the family came over to fish for us and give us fishing gear. The next day we caught, like, 22 fish — we were eating three meals a day. James and I both like to cook and we really love food, and over at Zhan Hu we were boiling rice, and that's all we really had to eat, along with some mussels, clams and snails. It was horrible. We had that gift package with the fruit and nuts and a little bit of alcohol and it was fun. They were totally relaxed, now that I think about it: Sherea had left, and they were disgruntled with her, and then [they had dealt with] the whole microcosm of Dave's psyche. It was a little too peaceful, in hindsight. When no one approaches you and no one looks you in the eye when you're asking important questions, you know that things aren't looking so good.
TVGuide.com: What did you think of Jaime and Peih-Gee's decision to throw the immunity competition?
Aaron: Well, it's pretty cowardly at the point of attack. How can you let yourself go into competition like that and outwardly throw something when we're all such fierce competitors? What they're doing is literally leveling the playing field: Go into the merge five Zhan Hu, five Fei Long, and then everyone has a shot. I completely respect their strategy, but how they went about doing it... it's not exactly how the game is supposed to be played, but you can't judge upon that because there are no rules, really.
TVGuide.com: I don't know who was more shocked about the outcome of tribal council, you or James.
Aaron: I thought all along that James was talking himself into being voted out. James was beside himself that they would actually [throw the competition]. He said, "Send me home rather than Aaron." But he ended up staying and I'm here.
TVGuide.com: How would you sum up being on Survivor: China?
Aaron: It was like no other experience in my life. It was really cool to see China, to be able to compete in challenges as an adult in the heat of battle, to have a team on your side that you would practically die for, and to have such a big reward at the end for the person who finally wins. It's just extraordinary. There's nothing in the world like it.
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