In a topsy-turvy episode that included the merging of the two tribes, former Zhan Hu member Jaime Dugan, 22, was voted off Survivor: China (8 pm/ET, CBS) after trying to use what she thought might be an immunity idol. The college student was the silent leader of the Zhan Hu tribe and one of the masterminds behind the controversial thrown-challenge strategy. Here, she tries to unravel some of the complex scheming and strategizing that ultimately led to her ouster.
TVGuide.com: You clearly knew that the former Fei Long members were going to vote you out. Why did they target you instead of Peih-Gee or Erik?
Jaime Dugan: Earlier in the day, Jean-Robert told me. I think they figured out that I had a lot to do with what was going on at Zhan Hu. And I did very well at physical challenges. I felt like Erik was sick right then, he was really weak, and in the challenges, I performed a little better than Peih-Gee. So I think overall they thought I was a bigger threat.
TVGuide.com: What was camp life like at the new merged tribe? Did you feel welcome there?
Jaime: I was really bummed out when I had to go there — the shelter at our tribe was amazing. We had plenty of space. Theirs was so small; it was really uncomfortable. The Fei Long members were nice to us, but you could tell that we were the outcasts. It was an eerie feeling, because we knew that one of our friends was probably going to get voted off.
TVGuide.com: I have to ask you about using the non-immunity idol.
Jaime: [Laughs] That was so funny. I actually knew it was fake. I found out right when we got there [to the Fei Long camp] — Erik and I knew we had to compare it to the one that they still had hanging on their trellis. We knew if it matched the trellis, then we had the wrong one, and if it didn't, that meant we had the right one. We saw it did match; we were bummed out. But I thought if I could still make Todd think I had an idol, they might not vote for me, because they might be scared that they're going to lose one of their members. Right before we left for [tribal council], I said, "Todd, I'm playing [the idol] tonight," and he said, "Good. Vote for Jean-Robert." I thought either Todd knows it's fake or he thinks it's real and maybe he told two people not to vote for me.
TVGuide.com: How did you feel at tribal council when Jeff threw the non-idol in the fire?
Jaime: It was funny — I knew it wasn't going to work and I pretty much knew as soon as we got there that I was going. But I... [Laughs] it's silly, but I kind of wanted to see Jean-Robert's reaction, and I felt like they might not know that James has all these idols, and I was so mad at James for going against us, because he had told us he was going to vote with us. I was like, I'm going to call him out and show everybody that there's an idol. It kind of let the cat out of the bag that there were these idols and someone on your tribe had them.
TVGuide.com: Going back to when you first picked up the non-idol: You had been suspicious of James and went through his bag... where you felt two wooden square things. Did you actually see what they looked like or what they said?
Jaime: I started pulling them out, but James and Peih-Gee were right below us, looking for frogs, and I was really worried that they were going to hear me, so I wrapped them back up. I got a quick look at them, but I didn't get to turn them over. I saw the front, but it was dark out, too, so I couldn't see if they matched. I never thought there were three. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Did you really think you could trust James after the merge, even though he was clearly unhappy when you guys said you'd thrown that one immunity challenge?
Jaime: On TV, he seemed upset at tribal council, but at that point he already knew that we threw the challenge to get rid of Aaron and that we wanted to keep him around. We knew that he was an outcast on Fei Long; Aaron had told us that they were going to try to get rid of James as soon as immunity challenges came around.
TVGuide.com: So it only seemed like you and Peih-Gee had this plan to throw the immunity challenges to get both Aaron and James out. But that wasn't the plan?
Jaime: Right when Sherea and Frosti were about to leave, we said, "We might throw the challenges if we get word that they're going to get rid of you." We knew they really didn't like Jean-Robert and we had a chance of getting James on our side, so we thought maybe we should throw the second challenge, get rid of Aaron, and let James in on our secret. And hope that they got rid of Jean-Robert instead of one of our people. But at the challenge, we overheard James and Todd conversing, and we were like, James is definitely still with Fei Long — we have no chance of getting him on our side. We're going to have to throw both challenges.
TVGuide.com: But then you didn't throw the second one.
Jaime: I had already thought that Aaron had the immunity idol — that's why we blindsided him. Once James got kidnapped, I thought, he could definitely have the idol right now. We got an uneasy feeling from Frosti at the challenge, and we thought if Frosti and Sherea aren't with us, we're in trouble anyway, so we might as well keep working on James and pray that he's going to come with us. We kept thinking if he has the idol, we're in trouble.
TVGuide.com: Because if he did use the idol at tribal council...
Jaime: He would take one of us out.
TVGuide.com: On a different topic: There seemed to be an emerging romance between you and Erik. Was that a legitimate attraction, or was it just strategy?
Jaime: We definitely had a crush on each other out there. He's an amazing guy, and he was my best friend. I felt so comfortable around him, and it was nice to have someone that I trusted. As far as romance on the show… it just wasn't possible. We were just so hungry, and we were really sick out there. We never really thought of it as a romance; we thought of it as, hey, we like each other, let's do an alliance. I definitely think we had feelings for each other. Erik and I get along great, and hopefully we'll see what happens in the future.
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