I appreciate all the text messages from my Survivor friends/family that have been pouring in since Wednesday night, checking to make sure that I didn’t napalm myself after this week’s devastating departure.
I entered this episode for the first time ever a little nervous about how things could go for ol’ Nat, but it honestly ended in a shock for me, and also a little disappointment but not just because I lost my fave. I expected her swan song to be one of the loudest ever, but I think it fell victim to being a little drowned out by so much packed into the hour—the evacuation and the return of two challenges per show. I also didn’t feel like we really progressed the season’s story that much further. The three tribes didn’t have anything earth-shatteringly new to present to us, but with all that said, don’t get me wrong—this was still a good episode of Survivor and this season remains strong. I guess I just wanted a few more Natalie napalms if the night was to be her last.
THERE COME THE CLOUDS
Kara came storming back to camp Vuku wondering what the hell just happened. She had the same thoughts the rest of us did, why make such a Big Move™ when there are sixteen people left in the game? Time will tell if we were all in the dark and only Alec saw the light—speaking of, how ‘bout those dark clouds that started rolling in? Yikes … this was gonna be a wet one …
Nothing will ever top the episode “No Longer Just a Game” in the Australian Outback for me in terms of the heaviest “survival” episode of the series. I remember watching that as a kid seriously thinking someone was going to die in that rushing riverbed (and praying it wouldn’t be Elisabeth – Keith? Eh, take him or leave him). Still, this storm was bad – the kind of bad with “tornadic winds” that’ll knock the sand right into your eyes. Right, Jessica Lewis?
From the promos, the evacuation was pretty much given away, but it was Carl’s walk back to camp with a note that confirmed it. For a split second I thought he had decided to share his idol nullifer clue, but instead he was reading another letter signed “Jeffrey XOXO” announcing everyone’s temporary removal from the game. They held out as long as they could, but I think it was Natalie, self-proclaimed weather-lover, in confessional who finally gave the command that it was time to get off her island.
NO! STAY FOREVER!
About the only thing that was left standing after the 48-hour (!!!) evac was the Vuku (David) shelter, so good job Pat for putting that together! One would wonder what goes on during that time “out” of the game, but apparently the answer is not much. Players are placed in lockdown, unable to talk, so even though they were on pause for two whole days, we didn’t miss anything – especially no injury-inducing boat ride back to camp this time. That would’ve been just the Davids’ luck, an evacuation in the middle of an evacuation.
REWARD – DAVID’S SLINGSHOT
Of all the bazillion other things Probst has pushed into the David vs. Goliath theme, how the hell did he make NO reference to the GIANT FUCKING SLINGSHOT in this challenge??? It even had Davids shooting from it! COME ON!
The Davids were indeed the heroes of this one (not to confuse them with the “Heroes” of themes past) with Elizabeth and Nick scoring the last two shots for the Vuku and Jabeni tribes. Vuku won a full pen of chickens while Jabeni went home with a dozen eggs. Natalie was even excited enough over the win to give “David Tribe Member #1” a hug, most likely giddy for her chance to explain to her peasants the delicate art of how to crack an egg.
LIKE A CHICKEN WITH HER HEAD CUT OFF
Almost everyone was in high spirits back at Vuku as the tribe drooled over the pending doom for one of the chickens with, as Davie coined, Kentucky boiled chicken or “KBC” on the menu.
Scrambling in her own way, Kara was running around camp trying to save herself from being the next one chopped at the neck. Funny how the tables turned here – last week Davie and Elizabeth were in the minority, throwing each other under the bus, and this week it was Kara who was now having to sell out Alec to buy a few more days in the game. It seems, though, that since she was on the outs of the last vote, Kara’s the most obvious person to go should Vuku lose again, but at as we all know, sometimes that obvious move is never made.
Maybe Natalie was thrown by Lyrsa’s confessional label of “airline agent,” because when it came to egg handling, Natalie felt she knew more than the chef. Lyrsa had graduated Magna Cum Laude from culinary school, but as we learned, Natalie held a Master’s degree – PhD more likely – in Ungraciousness which seemed to trump that. Is that an actual field of study? I could have at least aced enough courses to pick up a minor in my university days if so.
This was really nothing new from Natalie, being in hot water like those boiling eggs, so I wasn’t totally worried for her yet. I anticipated the first Jabeni vote being between Natalie and Lyrsa, so the fact that Lyrsa hatched out from her near-invisible edit the last two weeks seemed to only support that her goose would soon be cooked. Natalie napalm ain’t going nowhere!
With Davids vs. Goliaths on Vuku (just with numbers reversed), Natalie vs. everyone on Jabeni, and Gabby vs. the bros on Tiva, like I said at the top of this, there weren’t SO many new storylines coming to life this week. I looked a little like Gabby with that unamused glance…
One new happening was Dan stumbling across an advantage in the game—oh wait, I guess that wasn’t new either, but this time it wasn’t an idol, just a clue to one.
I’ve always liked the idea of hiding idols in challenges as it adds more degree of difficulty—what I don’t like is that we’ve yet to have someone discovered mid-grab (at least on the American show). I want to see that shit go down in front of everyone, and Dan being the one exposed would have just been too perfect … sigh … nothing went my way this week.
IMMUNITY – SLOW AND STEADY
I should have known by the middle of this challenge that this episode would feature the fall of the greatest Goliath with so much focus on her fumbling:
Mike’s initial inkling of Jabeni being the tribe that would see tribal council the most was starting to come to fruition in this as Vuku and Tiva reached the final stage of the challenge first. Once Jabeni caught up, Dan was finally able to sneak back a bit and snag that idol the Wentworth way.
Note to future Survivors: never turn your back to anyone during a challenge.
John was initially chosen to bring a win home to Tiva, but it was Christian’s careful touch that ended up keeping his tribe intact and saving Gabby maybe more than he knew. It was a photo finish for second, but Alec made an aggressive Big Move™ once more and beat out Jabeni. Nick just couldn’t find that hole fast enough. “So slow … he’s not even moving,” as Jeff sadly stated. With the loss, Lyrsa feared the vote would be between her and the “adorable lady” who, believe it or not, was what she was calling Natalie.
MILLION DOLLAR JACKET
It was a simple question that Natalie posed: keep her or keep him? Focusing on challenge strength, Natalie, Angelina, and Mike came to a quick answer: keep Nick. However, with the decision made to let Lyrsa go, Angelina still wanted to keep one part of her in the game:
Ah, yes. The coveted Members Only jacket of Lyrsa. Angelina had finally had enough of the cold nights in Fiji and told Natalie she wanted Lyrsa’s jacket, since Lyrsa would no longer be needing it soon. Natalie, being the loyal, loving friend that she is, made it her mission to get that gift for Angelina.
Thus, Natalie made Nick an offer he couldn’t refuse—stealing Lyrsa’s jacket for his safety in the game. Natalie told Nick, “I want that jacket,” and told him that if he didn’t deliver, he’d be done. He didn’t feel comfortable stealing from Lyrsa, so Natalie then asked him to offer up his own jacket in exchange. If anyone was going to essentially tell someone “give me your jacket or I’m voting you out,” is anyone surprised it was Natalie?
This “bullying” didn’t sit well with Nick so he went to Mike with a pitch to commit regicide of Queen Natalie. What was perplexing here is that Mike clearly wanted Natalie gone, he had the numbers to do it with Nick and Lyrsa, but he wanted Nick to be the one to sell the plan to Angelina? Wouldn’t it have been a more secure bet for Mike himself to approach Angelina? I understand him not wanting to make a move without her, but something was a little disappointing about Mike not wanting to get his hands at all dirty when it’d hardly be a mess at all convincing Angelina to take out the tyrant.
With Angelina weighing what to do, I thought the Natalia boot would have kept her thinking Goliath-strong so I entered tribal council grossly overconfident that all this Natalie negativity was just a red herring. This just didn’t feel like the end of Natalie’s so-called “reign of terror.”
NATALIE NEEDS THE LAST WORD
“Jackets and eggs” were all the rage at this tribal council with most of that rage pointed once again at Natalie who was, 15 days in, still not used to being the center of all the drama. Embrace it, Natalie. That’s why so many of us go nuts for you.
Yes! Exactly like that!
This was yet another wild tribal council with Natalie on defense, but this time she kept her cool a bit more without any “talk to the hand” moments as she had with Jeremy. She was almost … laid back, at least for Natalie which made me even further convinced she wasn’t going anywhere. This isn’t the way Natalie was meant to go. Sure, she let out some sparks, but I was expecting Natalie’s last stand to be absolute HELLFIRE. At least she brought the heat in her final voting confessional, telling Lyrsa to take her green jacket back to Boston but also closing with a compliment on Lyrsa’s purple hair. Adorable lady indeed.
Woof at that spelling of Lyrsa’s name though. What does that even say? Lyrsy? Lindsay? In her defense, learning two David names was a task too big for even a Goliath, so I can forgive her for settling on just learning the easier name of the two—speaking of Nick, I also loved his short but to the point confessional, saying to Natalie, “you can make a preacher cuss.” I bet she can make one take a bullet for her too.
FEAR THE CHARMPOCALYPSE!
This was a true #SurvivorBlindside for me, the biggest thus far this season. Logically the vote made total sense given how Natalie’s faced a lot of criticism every episode, but the story for Natalie still just didn’t feel finished to me. I thought there were many more weeks for this star to light up and burn up. I don’t feel like we got THE biggest boot episode we could have for her, but her exit definitely was still an iconic one.
And with that, this season is over! What a weird editing choice to make the big winner reveal look like a vote-off, but hey, 37 seasons in, they’ve gotta try new things! Congrats to the winner of Survivor: David vs. Goliath – Natalie Cole!
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR …
Just kidding! If only that was the truth...
Yeah, dig that knife in deep, Angelina, right into my heart! She’d have been wise to keep Natalie around as a shield because it looks like Mike the rock star is about to move to the beat of his own drum and ditch Angelina. Alison’s finally speaking up and talking about a Dan blindside, and Kara is still waiting to be killed at Vuku—was Natalie the Goliaths’ Achilles heel? This is all proof she was truly what would have kept this game Goliath strong.
Our fallen angel…
Honorable mentions include the entire Jabeni tribe for taking out the biggest threat in the game, but this week this section will serve as the Natalie Cole tribute.
From the moment I saw her in the first David vs. Goliath promo, I knew she’d be my favorite. Tough as nails, bossy as can be, oldest woman in the cast … I said in my cast assessment that it’s like CBS hand-picked Natalie just for me and she exceeded my wildest expectations (except the one of her making the finale… ) Some would disagree, but Natalie delivered every second she was on screen for me. It’s a travesty that I’m going to have to go the next two months without her—I couldn’t even get thrown a bone with reaction shots like this from her on the jury!
Was Natalie the most impressive social/strategic/physical player ever to play this game? YES! Okay, fine, I’ll admit it—no, but that’s never what I care most to see. I want character, drama, and story and Natalie had all of that going for her. She provided more meme material than anyone which is probably more accurately what I’m here for above all else. If the show casted just a bunch of superfans who were all experts on how to technically play the best game, I’ll be the first to say how shitty of a season that would be. We need people like Natalie who plays with some fiery emotion and can cause such division among fans, bringing us memorable moments to either be cheered or chastised at the same time. We need people that can cause this kind of cringe at tribal council:
I hope I see Natalie play again. I need to see Natalie play again. Five episodes wasn’t enough! I know CBS is chomping at the bit to do another Second Chance fan vote, so they best do their job and put Natalie on that ballot. I’ll rally the votes to get her back on that island, even if they have to come from robot accounts or dead people. Not that I’d doubt her ability to be voted back on by the living, but the show could also just do me a solid and cast her on the next Heroes vs. Villains instead – as a hero, obviously.
Long may she reign.
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