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Image: Survivor China finalists
Jeffrey R. Staab  /  CBS
Peih-Gee Law, Todd Herzog, Courtney Yates, and Amanda Kimmel may not be physically intimidating or especially cunning, but it looks like they're most likely to make the final four on "Survivor: China."
By
msnbc.com contributor
updated 12/13/2007 10:42:29 AM ET 2007-12-13T15:42:29
COMMENTARY

During "Survivor: China's" 11 weeks, the contestants who appeared stronger externally have been systematically voted out by less-obvious contenders.

Professional poker player Jean-Robert, professional wrestler Ashley, James and his two hidden immunity idols, hard-working and obnoxious Dave and Parkour athlete Frosti are all out of the competition.

Remaining are a school-lunch lady, a waitress, a flight attendant, a jeweler and a hiking guide. None of them appear to be particularly cunning or extraordinarily physically strong.

But as in life, external attributes are poor indicators of success on "Survivor," which rewards those who, as the show's logo says, "outwit, outlast and outplay." That's exactly what the final five have done.

The choices they've made have brought them to this stage of the game, and one will be rewarded with $1 million. Who has the best shot of winning? That depends largely upon what happens with the challenges during the final two episodes, but also upon how well they remain in control of the strengths that brought them this far.

Peih-Gee

Peih-Gee
Odds of winning: Strong, but only if she wins immunity challenges.

As the last remaining member of a tribe that's been decimated by the opposing, dominant tribe, Peih-Gee is in a tough position, as she's now their sole target. "Survivor" makes it possible for people in her position to remain in the game, however. All she needs to do is continue to win individual immunity.

That's not out of the question, as she's won it twice so far. And thanks to the alliance going after its own or others, she has survived all five weeks in the merged tribe. If she makes it to the final three, the jury — which right now is composed of four of her former original tribemates — could reward her for remaining in the game against those tough odds. But it's probably likely that she'll end up sitting with them.

Todd

Todd
Odds of winning: Extremely high, if his arrogance stays low.

Many seasons have a mastermind, the player who is in control of the dominant alliance, and "Survivor: China's" mastermind is Todd.

He's held his alliance together even as they wanted to turn on each other (which, in the case of Jean-Robert and James, they ultimately did), and also devised ingenious strategies, such as giving kidnapped tribe member James a hidden immunity idol so he could use it against his tribe.

However, he's also shown the capacity for arrogance. For example, he seemed to go after Jean-Robert only after Jean-Robert threatened his ego by devising a similar strategy for getting rid of James, who had both hidden immunity idols. Like those masterminds before him, whether or not Todd wins depends upon whether he can keep his arrogance from derailing him — and what he tells the jury. Juries tend to not want to hear the truth, but want apologies and compliments from the people who backstabbed and betrayed them. As a student of the game, Todd probably knows that, and thus he could easily walk away with the majority of their votes.

Amanda

Amanda
Odds of winning: Very high, if she can outwit her friend Todd.

For weeks and weeks, Amanda was one of those "Survivor" contestants who would fade away, as if she weren't even on the show. She wasn't exactly under the radar, especially when she aligned herself with the now-dominant alliance, but she managed to not make waves at all. Those kinds of stealth players tend to be the ones who stick around, as the editors focus on the people who will be leaving earlier. And Amanda's biggest moves came late in the game.

While Todd appears to be in control of the alliance's strategic moves, he has a contender in Amanda, although he might not know it. Amanda pushed for the alliance to get rid of James and his two immunity idols, and when she did, she revealed to us that she does not "feel comfortable going to the final three with any of" the members of her alliance. She's likely stuck with most of them, but the jury could reward her for being a smart player who played the game without standing out.

Courtney

Courtney
Odds of winning: Somewhat thin.

Courtney has received more attention this season from viewers not about her game play, but about her emaciated appearance — although as she's shown in recent weeks, she certainly hasn't stopped eating. At reward challenges with food, she's stuffed her face.

Courtney stands out, but for all the wrong reasons. While she's won an individual immunity challenge and been a member of challenges won by teams, she isn't exactly a physical threat nor a real contender in most challenges. She also hasn't been smart strategically. She flirted and befriended Frosti, much to her alliance's dismay, and her personality conflict with Jean-Robert led her to push for his elimination before their alliance was ready to get rid of him.

Still, she is a member of the dominant alliance, and in recent weeks has voted with them. (Earlier, she voted against them and for Jean-Robert several times.) But will the jury reward her stubbornness and poor decision-making? Probably not.

Denise

Denise
Odds of winning: As extremely low as her self-confidence.

That school-lunch lady Denise has remained in the game this long seems most surprising to Denise herself, which explains where Denise is in the game. She has a lot of power — last week, she could have forced a tie — but she also has no confidence. She seems willing to march along and be voted out fourth, which is the alliance's current plan. Her friends are terrified of Denise making it to the final there, where she could walk away with the $1 million, because they fear she'd receive the jury's sympathy — and votes.

Still, even if she pulls out an immunity challenge win or two and does make it to the final three, it's unlikely the jury would vote for her, as she hasn't really done much more than win a reward challenge. The jury has been outsmarted, and while they may be bitter, they're more likely to begrudgingly vote for the people who genuinely outplayed them, not just those who idly outlasted them.

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