This was the kind of episode we want to see just before the finale, and it’s no surprise David vs. Goliath delivered as much. Loyalties were loose and names were dropping like Natalie napalms left and right. I thought I knew who was going, but the bomb blew up in my face right when the final vote was read. I hope this high intensity free-for-all flows into the finale because this season deserves to go out with a bang like the ones it’s delivered week after week. The thought of it all being over in just a few days has me desperately wishing there was a way I could negotiate for more.
Nick was doubly dubious at the top of the hour, first having to awkwardly apologize to Christian for a failed blindside against him. The two fist-bumped and made up, and shortly after that Nick came up with a plan that would hopefully prevent his target from pulling out another idol at the next tribal council.
Creating a fake idol to throw the tribe off the scent of a real one was rather savvy, but I think Nick was a little sloppy in thinking this one through. Having a hidden immunity idol always puts a target on one’s back, and since Nick already had a real idol, staging himself to find his fake essentially told the tribe that information. True, they’ll be less likely to continue looking for one to claim themselves, giving Nick an opportunity to snag a second, but is it worth having the knowledge of his real idol out in the world?
Why didn’t he just make Mike or Angelina the one to find his fake? That would have had the same effect of calling off the hunt without giving anyone reason to hunt Nick. I think this superfan got a little caught up in making a super Big Move™ and played a little flashy rather than with finesse.
Devilish Davie knows a fellow sneak when he sees one and after news spread of Nick finding an idol near the raft on the beach, Davie suspected Nick was up to no good, calling Nick’s bluff perfectly and persisting to look for the real idol that was rehidden.
Davie also informed Christian of Nick’s dirty deeds which made sense after last week when Davie tipped off Christian to play his idol, but I still wonder about the origin story of this other nerd alliance. Have Christian and Davie been closer than we’ve seen all season, or has Davie only recently taken a liking to the idea of using Christian as a shield? Given they’re both gigantic geeks, I’d have to believe we’ve just missed out on the making of their relationship. Nonetheless, Davie let Christian know which side Nick stood on, and with that, the Mason-Dixon line alliance was effectively dissolved.
REWARD – CUT ‘EM SOME SLACK
I liked the concept of this challenge — rather than just making the Survivors untangle themselves through some obstacles, there was the added element of how much extra rope slack to drag along with them, facing the consequence of not having enough to finish the challenge if they carried too little.
Since claiming he sucked in all the challenges, Davie’s been on a bit of a hot streak. He was the first to leave the initial station in this one, but he made the most of his time there and gathered enough rope to reach the end of this and secure another reward win.
The other part about this challenge I liked was letting the winner choose others to join them on the reward — always a great political decision to watch play out on the show. I wish they’d stop waiting until just the penultimate episode to feature this. With a decision to make, Davie wanted to first repay the person who shared their last reward with them,
Angelina was, obviously, offended by this choice because both Nick and Angelina had picked Davie (and his mom) to join them on the barge barbeque. She made sure to remind him of that.
Never before has Jeff asked in these moments if anyone would like to plead their case as to why they should be chosen by the winner of the challenge, but sensing an iconic Survivor moment in the making, he opened the floor to the tribe. By the look on Angelina’s face, Jeff knew she wouldn’t let this opportunity to “negotiate” pass.
Don’t say it.
Don’t say it.
Don’t say it.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Angelina is a God-sent angel. We are supremely #blessed by her presence this season. As soon as Jeff asked if anyone wanted to make a pitch, we knew — we knew — what was going to happen, and Angelina playing the “rice card” was just absolute perfection. It was everything we wanted and more, but despite her excellent negotiation skills, Angelina again didn’t get what she wanted, and instead Davie chose Kara as his second pick. I mean … what, is Davie deaf? SHE PLAYED THE RICE CARD. That’s like throwing down Helen Keller in Apples to Apples. You just win!
Same, girl. This was all of us in that moment.
Angelina was not quick to get over Davie dismissing her at the challenge and admitted to the tribe that for the first time in the game, she was legitimately angry — pissed, actually.
Since Davie not only underappreciated Angelina taking him on her reward but also her immunity sacrifice to earn the tribe more rice, there was one reasonable response: boil the biggest pot of rice Survivor’s ever seen. This totally negated the great Rice Negotiation of 2018, but Angelina had to teach Davie a lesson somehow, and as the old saying goes, “revenge is a dish best served boiled.”
Especially not the crispy rice ....
KEEP MY FRENEMIES CLOSE
Davie’s plan with this entire reward trip was to keep his “frenemy” Nick close and his so-called friend Kara closer, another relationship of Davie’s that has been oddly unmentioned all season. Wanting to speak with Kara one-on-one, Davie took the chance to do so after Nick stuffed his face a little too much with food and had to excuse himself from the table. Davie pointed out to Kara that Nick was a big threat to win, and she agreed, so they both committed to the plan of voting him out next – a plan that had Kara drooling at the mouth (or was it just a food coma?)
The plan would also include Alison and Christian, Davie making clear that Mike and Angelina were to be told nothing. Kara relayed the plan to Alison, again emphasizing that no one but the two of them, Davie, and Christian could know. Alison understood.
This looked like a dumb decision on Alison’s part, but it spoke to how well-connected Mike is to everyone. Mike hasn’t been the flashiest player, but that never means someone wouldn’t make a solid winner. Mike would be a worthy winner indeed because aside from an early target week one, Mike’s done an incredible job of blending in and befriending both Davids and Goliaths. We’ve never seen his name come up, and he has everyone feeding him information even against their better judgment. My worry for Mike all along has been that if he makes it to the end, he’ll be unable to sell himself because so much of his game is difficult to display, but if the jury can make sense of it, Mike may end up surprising more than just himself by Day 39.
Davie was still convinced an idol was waiting to be found, so in the early hours of the morning, this explorer went looking in the spirit of his mother asking, “Where’s Davie?” His search was a success, but there were two parts to finding this idol. Davie first found only a clue and was instructed to return to the location of the merge feast to find the next set of instructions.
It was a rainy day in Fiji, so the rest of the tribe hung back at camp, letting Davie do as he pleased for a few hours. I’m not sure why no one questioned his whereabouts, but maybe he told everyone he was going off for a confessional? Would that not be the easiest excuse to give with all of these “sneak away from camp to claim the idol” excursions?
Davie arrived at a familiar place and found an idol that he learned was now his and not at risk, but it was only valid for the next tribal council. However, Davie was given the option to reach into a set of urns for a chance to extend the idol’s power but also risk losing his power to vote if he selected the wrong urn. After much mulling over, Davie asked for a sign from God telling him what he should do.
God responded to Davie’s request and shifted the direction of the nearby flames to point opposite of the urns, a signal telling Davie that he should do nothing and simply walk away with his idol. Was this divine intervention or CBS intervention, trying to market a crossover between two of their shows?
I’ll let everyone believe what they believe.
IMMUNITY – GRAB YOUR BALLS
This was a simple challenge and was more of just an excuse for Jeff to make lots of “ball” jokes that toe the line but ultimately stay safe enough for primetime television. Children watching wouldn’t have picked up on many or any, but a lot of us adult “children” were guilty of giggling at every single one. Here’s my personal list of favorites:
We all know there’s R-rated footage out there of plenty more – release the tapes CBS!
The challenge, for once, came down to Goliath vs. Goliath which robbed Jeff of another opportunity push the theme, probably leaving him with his own set of blue balls. Mike proved to be the best ball handler, or the one that could keep it together the longest without losing it over Jeff’s lewd commentary, winning his first individual immunity. As a Survivor superfan, he was, of course, ecstatic. One might say Mike had a ball that day.
THE GREATER THREAT
Lots of names were being thrown around for this vote. The episode up until this point had been focused on Davie targeting Nick, and after her second-place finish in the challenge, Nick was looking at Alison, but Mike was still set on voting out who he thought was the biggest threat of all, Christian. Wearing that immunity necklace, Mike was feeling a little ballsier than normal and felt now was the time to make the biggest push while he possessed that kind of power. Carl had only just departed, but a new Godfather was rising.
Meanwhile, Nick came clean to Davie about the idol lie, and just like that Davie was back on board with Nick and agreed to vote for Alison. Seeing the Davids buddying up again, Mike pulled Nick aside and told him about the demise Davie had been planning the last few days which had Nick questioning everything.
Thinking tit for tat, Nick considered that voting out Davie was the move to make. Heading to tribal council, we thus had the names Davie, Christian, Alison, and maybe even Nick on the table. Mike made mention of the fact that even with the fewest amount of people left in the game, the vote had more possibilities than ever before. How exciting!
Although we had more names than ever on the chopping block, this whole episode screamed an Alison boot to me. Davie and Nick had idols, Christian was too low key for it to be his swan song, and Alison’s name finally coming up at the end only seemed to support her send-off.
Tribal itself was focused on the “free-for-all” nature of modern Survivor where each day was a new one, Mike making mention that he could be voting for Christian one round and voting with him the next. Christian was then quick to ask a favor of the tribe, pointing out that he was close to hitting that “most votes against in a season” record with his 15 and begged of the tribe, “No more, please.” Sadly, it was another plea this week that feel on deaf ears ....
Davie and Nick both played their idols – Davie because he had to and Nick because he thought he read the room correctly, but he didn’t. With Mike, Davie, and Nick safe with immunity in some form, and Kara and Angelina’s names never coming up, this meant we were certainly losing Christian or Alison. I still thought it was allons-y for Alison, but the editors played a good trick on me and instead gave Christian a questionably quiet boot episode.
I too was checking my pulse to verify I was alive and this was all real.
There’s usually one every season who I do a complete 180 on from pre-season to the end of their run, and this season had easily the biggest 180 I’ve ever performed. The “type” I assumed Christian would be is one I always detest on the show, and even in the premiere I thought “ugh, here we go again.” However, Christian grew into his own amazing archetype that the show managed not to ruin by ramming him down our throats. Christian was on fire when he needed to be and fell back a little when other characters were given their moments to shine. I think that editing choice was fitting with Christian’s humble nature. While he is arguably the biggest star of the season, this wasn’t “The Christian Show” I dreaded so I ultimately land as a fan of the fun he added to David vs. Goliath. Christian’s one-of-a-kind and fits no prior Survivor mold, and for that reason, we’ll 100% be seeing this spring-loaded murder machine make the show again one day.
This shot was just cruel…
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Who will claim the title of Sole Survivor? Eh, I’ll take a stab at it.
The Jabeni alliance of Mike, Nick, and Angelina seems to hold all the power right now, and I just don’t see them breaking. As straightforward and predictable as that would be, I only support this final three because if Natalie couldn’t win, then the only eligible players should be those that pulled the biggest Big Move™ of all by voting her out.
Thy will be done.
Mike and Angelina should absolutely avoid going up against a David in the finals, but so far, we haven’t seen any sign of them wanting to vote out Nick. Thus, I’m expecting to see Alison and Davie go in some order, possibly determined by whichever wins immunity at six, with Kara then left to face someone in the fan favorite fire-making challenge. Nick is due for an immunity win, so I could see him winning at four and taking Mike, leaving Angelina to finish off Kara.
Alternatively, on Day 38, Mike and Angelina win immunity, take each other to the end, and hope that Kara beats the biggest jury threat Nick at fire, but sticking with the tradition set by the last two seasons, Nick makes it to Day 39 in spite of losing the final immunity challenge with everyone wanting him out and goes on to win it all.
No matter how it happens, I think Nick is winning, so I can only hope it’s not via the way I just described because that’d just really piss me off if for the third time in a row, the person that would have been voted out at the final four stays in the game and wins a million dollars just because they know how to make a damn fire. And I know everyone is as eager as I am to hear Jeff explode with, “THE DAVID BEAT THE GOLIATH!!!!!!”
Davie – Davie wanted to be the big dog this week by coming up with a plan and lining up all the pieces to make it happen. Davie’s played a somewhat subtle game but has proved on multiple occasions that he’s also capable of pulling off some major stunts, and he almost did again. However, while he had the right intuition, there was just one player who was a step ahead ...
Mike – That man was Mike. Mike seemed like the only person wanting to, correctly, keep the votes on Christian. Had the tribe kept the professor, this would have been the round they’d all have looked back on with the biggest set of woulda-coulda-shouldas. Mike had the hardest job of herding the cats once more, and even though everyone else had a different name in mind, Mike made sure his target was the one terminated. As I mentioned earlier, Mike deserves a lot of credit for the game he’s played and managing to keep the target off his back while always keeping it on who he’s wanted. But, if my prediction is correct, then Mike will sadly be last Goliath to fall to the eventual victorious David.
Ryan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser