“What must it be like to be him!” Survivor: Edge of Extinction March 20, 2019 recap

21 Mar

This two-hour episode begins with a reward challenge, and the Green tribe struggling again. The first part is the Survivor standby of players having to lift one teammate up to untie some knots. David, who is lightweight, is the obvious choice, but he keeps falling down. (His teammates later blame him for this, but it looked to me like they did a bad job holding him up.) They come in last, and Jeff Probst’s only comment is “wow.”

On the Yellow tribe, Julia (who we find out is a medical student) tells us Joe is the biggest threat. We see some cool shots of Joe catching fish underwater, and while he fishes the others scheme against him. But Ron is no longer so eager to vote Joe out — nobody else on the tribe has fishing skills, so if Joe is gone there will be less food.

On the Blue tribe, Aubry is itching to find someone who wants to strategize and make a move. The others want to vote Aubry out, but Victoria suggests proposing a fake girls’ alliance to Aubry as a ruse. Alas, Aubry falls for it.

On the Green tribe, David searches for an idol. He tells us his friends have families, while he’s in his forties and “all I have is a two-bedroom apartment and some DVDs on a shelf.” Soon after, Wardog talks to Kelley and Lauren about voting out Kelley, then takes a walk with Kelley and proposes voting out Lauren. Kelley tells us “Wardog is a crazy man. I think he has, like a little Tony [from Survivor: Cagayan] in him.”

At the Edge of Extinction, the players get maps which if folded correctly point to two trees. The players make a pact to all go off and look at them together, but Keith sneaks away when they aren’t looking, and Reem, Chris, and Rick are furious. They chase Keith down before he gets to the item, which is some rods that they’re supposed to practice with. What Rick finds at the other tree is more interesting: an extra vote that he can grant to any player at the upcoming Tribal Council.

The immunity challenge involves releasing some puzzle pieces that are underwater and then solving the puzzle on the dock. Once again the Green tribe struggles, though I can’t blame them because the pieces are far underwater and seem firmly stuck in place. Between Lauren and Wardog they finally do release them, and the other tribes, despite their huge lead, can’t get the puzzle. Finally Yellow does get it, but somehow Green edges out Blue to finish second! So this fifth Tribal Council of the season will be the first without David, Kelley, Wardog, and Lauren!

We are shown immediately that Aubry is in trouble. Victoria is a good liar so Aubry is none the wiser. All that has to happen, per Victoria’s cover story, is to persuade Wendy to join the girls’ alliance and vote out one of the guys. So the two make their pitch to Wendy, and just get a blank slate in return. She doesn’t say yes, no, maybe, I’ll think about it, nothing. Wendy is just not really playing the game at all, and that makes her very annoying television. I think Aubry is being pretty diplomatic when she tells us “If you can’t give an opinion when your neck is on the line … I don’t know how I can work with you for the rest of the game.”

Aubry soon gets a surprise. She reaches into her bag and finds an envelope announcing that she got an extra vote. The note says this can be used until the round of 7, and it endures to the re-vote if there’s a tie. We of course don’t hear why Rick chose Aubry, I will just guess that it’s because David was Rick’s best friend out there, and Aubry would be more likely than the others to align with David.

We are led to believe that Aubry suspects nothing of the plot against her, and in fact that she thinks she’s sitting pretty with an idol and an advantage. At Tribal Council Victoria continues to play her part well, and we find out Gavin is quite the skilled B.S. artist as well. When Probst asks about idols, Aubry doesn’t budge, and out of the game she goes, with an idol and an advantage unused in her pocket.

Afterwards Aubry tells us she had no idea this was coming and terms it “a J.T.-style embarrassment.”

On to the second half of the double episode. It’s a reward challenge that ends in some throwing. We’re reminded that Joe is very good at throwing, and we learn that Gavin is good at it, Lauren is pretty decent at it, and Wardog is terrible at it. Joe’s Yellow tribe wins once again. When the Green tribe gets back to camp, David’s comment on Joe’s prowess is “What must it be like to be him!”

Also, Wardog points out that Lauren is wasting away by not eating. But now Kelly says Wardog is scaring her with how hard he’s always playing, and David has also decided he’s better off working with Kelley than with Wardog.

At the Edge of Extinction, the players get a new map, and they all race to the same area where they found the other items. But as Rick looks closer, he realizes a point near the ship’s mast on their beach is indicated. He doesn’t find the item, and Reem and Keith also begin to look in the general area. Reem spots something and for whatever reason just points it out rather than grabbing it, and Keith gets there first. The box has some knots with the note “When the time comes, penalize your biggest threat by assigning these knots to them.” Keith basically announces he’s going to use this on Chris.

When Chris points out that Reem made a poor choice by simply pointing the item out to Keith, Reem goes on a long, annoying rant. Aubry notes, “It is a disaster here … people are legitimately losing it.”

Before the challenge, Probst announces that only one of the three tribes will win immunity this time. The Green tribe is immediately bummed. And you can see why — it took a supreme effort to eke out one second-place finish, so how can they ever hope to be first? And they’re not first this time either as Joe’s tribe wins once again. Then Probst drops the next bombshell — the two tribes will go to Tribal Council together, to vote out just one person.

Each tribe has four members, so a tie seems very possible. David has gone to a rock draw before. Will it happen again? The people on the Blue tribe seem to think returning players would be more likely to change their votes rather than go to a tie. The four of them collectively say they won’t change their votes, and then we see Gavin and Eric, who seem very tight, promise each other the same. Not Victoria, who tells us viewers she would certainly change her vote to avoid the rock draw tiebreaker, even though she told her mates otherwise. “Don’t ever trust me, man,” she confides.

Meanwhile Kelley predicts what Blue’s strategy would be, and it’s exactly what we viewers just saw the Blue team say. Wardog suggests putting all four of their votes on Wendy, and while the others are annoyed by his insistent style, they end up agreeing it’s a good idea.

Wardog is antsy and he goes to look for an idol, so the other three decide to look as well. Kelley and Wardog have a conversation and Wardog walks away, revealing the idol at eye level right next to where he was standing. He must have looked right at it several times. Kelley can’t believe it, and quickly grabs it. Kelley whispers to Lauren that she has it, and Lauren answers that she has one too.

At Tribal Council there are a lot of whispered side conversations, and David even asks to talk to Wendy from the other tribe in private, which she agrees to.

Probst asks about idols and Lauren and Kelley don’t budge (no idols have been played yet this season, though of course Aubry should have used hers!). The votes are all for Lauren or Wendy, it’s a 4-4 tie. Well, that’s if you count the votes for “Luaren” and “Lorine.”

Before the re-vote there are more whispered conversations. My favorite is when Eric goes to pitch David and Wardog on something, and they simply reply, “We just met you.”

The Green team’s instincts prove correct — the Blue group was not willing to go to a rock draw for Wendy, who wasn’t even part of their original tribe. Wendy gives a stupid giggle as she’s voted out.

Contenders: 1. David, 2. Lauren, 3. Kelley, 4. Gavin, 5. Ron, 6. Joe, 7. Wardog

Not sure: Aurora, Julie, Julia, Eric, Victoria

No chance: currently none in this category (among players in the game proper)

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Keith, Chris, Rick, Aubry, Wendy


Idol tally: Lauren and Kelley have idols.


“Played like a fiddle.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction March 13, 2019 recap

20 Mar

On night 8, Chris trudges across the Edge of Extinction, muttering that he was “played like a fiddle.”

On the Blue tribe, the flint reappears at the old spot it went missing from, which pretty much just confirms Wendy was the one who took it.

Probst tells the players they’re swapping from two tribes to three. But the random draw has other plans — somehow the new five-person Green tribe is just the old six-person Blue tribe, minus Wendy! Meanwhile Wendy remains on Blue and is joined by Aubry, Victoria, Gavin and Eric, while the new Yellow tribe is completely comprised of old Yellow players: Julie, Julia, Joe, Ron, and Aurora (my initial reaction is that this is bad for Aurora).

As soon as Yellow is back at camp, Joe aims to solidify his relationship with Ron as they take a walk. Ron says all the right things, but then he tells us viewers that he was stalling Joe so Julie/Julia (the younger one, I don’t know which is Julie and which is Julia) can search Joe’s bag!

After the break we see a very cool shot of a squid releasing its ink.

At the Blue tribe, everyone talks about chickens, and then in the night we see Wendy setting all of them free. Oh brother.

We then check in Back at Edge of Extinction, where Chris succinctly sums up his problem: “I’m stuck on an island with two people that are pissed at me.”

Back to the Blue tribe, it’s daylight and the chickens are still not far from camp, so Wendy tries her best to shoo them further into the woods. Victoria hasn’t known Wendy long, but long enough to know “That’s not someone you can trust, that’s someone you vote out.”

The immunity challenge has a pretty cool visual: the tribes have to scale walls that are at about a 45-degree angle, and the walls are slick from the rain! So for the most part they resort to forming human ladders rather than trying to run up the walls. The end is a puzzle, and for the second challenge in a row, Kelley and David are doing the puzzle portion. Unfortunately once again their tribe (now Green) comes in last, and has to go to Tribal Council. They are crushed. Kelley tells us, “We’re like the Cleveland Browns of tribes.” Well, not really since the Browns won almost half of their games this year.

After the commercial, we see that tribe back at camp. I don’t think I’ve ever seen five such glum faces. So who will be voted out, since the obvious patsy in Wendy is gone? Eric and David are tight, as are Kelley and Lauren, so that would tend to make me think Wardog is in trouble.

Earlier we were shown that Lauren hasn’t been eating anything, and Rick and David are pushing that angle as a reason to vote against her. Surprisingly, David has his Kelley plan on the back burner for now, he tells us he has a gut feeling that Kelley has an idol (though we viewers know it’s actually Lauren who has one). So the two guys want Lauren out and the two women want Rick, that makes Wardog the deciding vote.

There have been so many Tribal Councils at which Probst and the producers try really hard to generate a heartwarming moment. Well, this one is legitimately heartwarming, as the five players all genuinely like each other. But they do have to vote, and when Probst asks about idols, Lauren surprisingly stands pat. But her instincts were right, as it is Rick who is voted out.

Contenders: 1. David, 2. Ron, 3. Lauren, 4. Kelley, 5. Joe, 6. Aubry, 7. Wardog

Not sure: Aurora, Julie, Julia, Eric, Gavin, Victoria

No chance: Wendy

Edge of Extinction residents: Reem, Keith, Chris, Rick


Idol tally: Lauren and Aubry have idols.

“That would be psychotic.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction March 6 2019 recap

18 Mar

On night 6, Keith arrives at the Edge of Extinction — it’s hardly a surprise that he chose to stay in the game rather than go home. Alas, Reem informs him that she hasn’t eaten in days. Maps are awaiting them in the morning, and they point the way to a long hike that ends in some rice, though very little of it. They get the idea they might have to make the hike every day!

We don’t see the other players until the reward challenge. As it begins, Probst keeps referring to someone named Devins, who we see is none other than Rick. Presumably Devins is his last name. Maybe Probst is a regular viewer of the news show Rick anchors?

Blue falls behind, and Probst notes, “Manu [that’s the blue tribe, the yellow being Kama] continues to struggle at every stage of every challenge!” Chris leads the team to victory and Manu chooses chickens as their reward instead of blankets.

When the team gets back to camp Wendy almost has to be carried — her ankle is purple and swollen. And she can’t bear the thought of a chicken being killed, even though — as we soon find out — she eats chicken all the time at home! She advocates setting the chickens free, and quite a bit of time is spent on this topic.

On the yellow tribe, Victoria tells us that a group of six has formed, consisting of everyone except Joe, Aubry, and Aurora. And the latter three are very worried. Aubry soon races off to look for an idol, and tells us “I’ve done nearly everything in Survivor, except win and get a hidden immunity idol.” Well guess what, she finds one now, and breaks down in tears, both when she finds it and when she later tells the camera about it.

At the immunity challenge, Wendy shows up with a taped ankle. It’s a brand-new challenge, the first phase of which involves four swimmers having to pull a boat containing their tribemates. Very cool!

Blue has a bit of a lead, but the trio of David, Kelley, and Lauren struggles on the puzzle and Blue winds up losing immunity for the third time in the three episodes.

David is feeling good — given recent events, everyone is sure to be focused on Wendy and getting her out, so that frees him up to take out Kelley. The tribe decides to eat one of the chickens, but they can’t find the flint they need to make fire. Wendy is off on a walk, did she take it on purpose? “That would be psychotic,” someone says. But we viewers find out it’s true. You’d be hard-pressed to find a player with a worse social game than Wendy.

Even now David wants to press on with his Kelley plan, and he tells us, “Wendy is absolutely the best smokescreen I’ve ever worked with.” David pitches Chris on the “vote out Kelley” plan, but tells him he can’t under any circumstances mention it to Lauren or Wardog. However, Chris tells us viewers that he and Wardog are tight, and he couldn’t do anything detrimental to that relationship. So he briefs Wardog on the plan after all. But guess what, Wardog tells us he trusts Kelley much more than he trusts Chris, and in fact, he now thinks Chris should be voted out! And Wardog pitches Rick on the plan, not knowing Rick was one of the initiators of the Kelley plan! The net effect is that Rick and David can decide whether Kelley or Chris goes home. By the way everything described in the last two paragraphs happened in just eight minutes of TV time, whew!

At tribal council, David says his vote is about eliminating the biggest social threat, a comment that worries Kelley and some other players too. When the votes are read, all of them are for … Chris, except two Kelley votes, which presumably came from Chris and Wendy.

I would roll out my first contender rankings of the season, but since almost all the screen time has gone to the Blue tribe so far, I want to wait until we get to see more than brief glimpses of Yellow.

Idol tally: Lauren and Aubry have idols. Ron had an “advantage menu” but he didn’t use it this week so it lost its power.

“I know she wants to cut me soon.” Survivor: Edge of Extinction February 27 2019 recap

17 Mar

The episode begins at the Edge of Extinction site with a shot of Reem’s shoes (which appear to be  Jeff Spicoli-style Vans). There is a ship’s mast upright in the ground with a sign next to it that says, among other things, “You will have to work hard for everything.” There’s also a note that if at anytime a player decides to quit, he or she can raise the flag and a boat will pick him or her up. Reem points out that none of the players still in the game have any idea she’s there (unlike Redemption Island), which is one thing I really like already about this twist .

On the Blue tribe, Wendy tells Rick that she knew siding with Reem was a losing cause, but she just didn’t want to be on the same side with Kelley. By the way, Wendy has probably had the most camera time of anyone this season.

As for the least camera time, that would be a young black woman named Julia who I’d be willing to swear was not on the premiere for one single second. At any rate, we see her now as she and Victoria (who are on the yellow tribe) are asked by Aubry for their takes on returning players. They’re fine with them, they assure Aubry … while making no eye contact with Aubry whatsoever. We soon find out that for some reason, the newbies are annoyed than Aubry has been trying to connect with each of them.

Everyone on the blue tribe goes idol-hunting, ostensibly to keep Wendy from finding one but really more because everyone wants one for themselves! David is thinking about Kelley, and he tells us “I know she wants to cut me soon.” And he’s not that enthused about voting out Wendy since we know she’s very loyal, and loyal allies are hard to find. An idol is found by Lauren, who buries it at the beach and tells us she won’t tell anyone about it, even her (ahem) idol Kelley.

The immunity challenge is the return of the “drag a huge, heavy fake snake” challenge that we saw in a prior season with Jeff Varner being involved. Sure enough, Aubry, when prompted by Probst, confirms that it was played in Game Changers, and notes that she was on the losing side. Of course, Probst loves the challenge, since much like anything involving “balls,” he can sneak in “snake” double entendres, or at least comments that people with a kindergarten sense of humor (like me) will perceive as double entendres.

The yellow team gets to the final phase of the ring toss first, and who could ever match Joe on a ring toss? Well, for the second show in a row we see Chris match Joe’s athletic feats. However, Keith swaps in for some tosses that miss badly, and this after the first phase (swimming to the cage that contains the snake) saw Keith flounder in the water with Chris gallantly hanging back to help him. The yellow tribe wins immunity for the second week in a row.

Wardog tells us that up to now Wendy and Kelley were the only two potential oustees, but perhaps Keith now presents himself as an even better choice. And Keith is certainly worried it will be him.

Wardog advances his Keith agenda to others. Kelley doesn’t love the idea since Keith isn’t gunning for anyone whereas Wendy is gunning for someone, namely Kelley! And David is bummed by Wardog’s fervor since he was just about to try to recruit Wardog to his Kelley plan.

Keith and Chris talk, and Keith tells the jock he would be loyal to him to the bitter end for helping him in this early challenge. Chris loves this idea, so he tries to sell Rick on ousting Kelley instead, which is what Rick wants anyway! And when Rick gives this news to David, David says, “Oh my God this is great. Yes, the answer’s yes!” So the idea is that Rick, David, Chris, and Keith vote for Kelley. But to get the majority in the eight-person group they need Wardog. And Wardog thinks of Kelley the way Gavin and Eric on the other tribe think of Joe — as someone to keep around because they’re a bigger threat and will get all the attention.

For Kelley’s part, she thinks everyone is acting strangely. What worries her is: “It’s not like these people know each others’ games, but they do know mine.”

At Tribal Council there is one vote for Kelley, one for Wendy, and four for Keith. After what happened to Reem last week, we know what to expect for the rest of this season — the camera will stay with whoever was voted out instead of giving us a solemn Jeff Probst pronouncement. And by the way, that part is A-OK with me. There are only so many different ways to say “You made your choice, you’d better hope it’s the right one,” and Probst has had 30-plus seasons to say every possible variation of that.

However, seeing the person voted out go to the crossroads might get old as well — obviously nobody would make the choice to leave the game instead of opting for a second chance! Well, not so fast. Keith can’t decide which path to take. He just keeps repeating “C’mon God, c’mon Jesus,” and that brings the episode to an end.

Idol tally: Ron has the “advantage menu” (which he has to use next week or it loses its power) and Lauren has an idol.

“Crouch behind his big broad beautiful shoulders”: Survivor: Edge of Extinction Feb. 20 2019 Recap

16 Mar

Disclaimer: I know this episode aired almost a month ago. Due to some foreign travel I am catching up so please bear with me!

This season’s twist is discussed right off the bat (with us viewers, not the players): when someone is voted out, he can either go home or to the “edge of extinction.”

Once the cast is assembled on a ship, the formalities are the shortest ones I can ever recall seeing. Jeff Probst does not even get to say: “Guy in the red shirt — what differentiates healers and hustlers?” or any of that usual fluff.  Instead, after a couple of sentences by Probst he goes right to introducing the returning players Kelley, David, Joe, and Aubry (I gave you my thoughts on them when their participation was announced, so I won’t re-hash that here). Kelley and David are assigned to the blue tribe and Joe and Aubry to the yellow tribe.

Probst then says the players have two minutes to grab supplies for their tribes. Unlike in previous years, almost everything just gets thrown into the water first, and it’s kind of a mess. I wonder how many supplies didn’t float and were never seen again! In all the chaos a guy named Ron finds a secret advantage and pockets it.

And the season has begun, without even the customary “39 days … one Survivor!” from Probst, spoken while standing on some precipice. I kind of miss that already!

We go to the blue tribe’s camp, and I can’t help but notice that Kelley looks like she has been doing some serious working out in preparation for this. We meet Rick, a guy with glasses who tells us he’s a news anchor. And also Wendy, an Asian lady whose profession is swap meet vendor and who we find out has a mild case of Tourette’s syndrome which manifests itself in squeaking noises.

On the yellow tribe, we meet freckled waitress Victoria, then see Joe and Aubry make a fire. Aurora, a divorce lawyer, tells us “I’m gay and I’m still on team Joe.” Julie‘s profession is “Etsy shop owner,” she’s a New Yorker who tells us she has no outdoor skills.

As for Ron, he sneaks away to read his clue which tells him to dig three feet east of tree mail. He unearths the “advantage menu,” which gives him the choice of stealing a reward after a reward challenge, getting an extra vote, or having individual immunity. And it loses its power after the third tribal council. My first reaction is that the reward steal would be the worst choice in just about any situation, and that using the menu for immunity or the extra vote would be the move, with the exact situation dictating which of those to use.

Others on the yellow tribe are Gavin, the YMCA director from Tennessee who looks a bit like the sports announcer Joel Klatt, and firefighter Eric. Eric figures that Joe is the ideal “meat shield” for him and Gavin (he doesn’t use that term, but that strategy was invented with Joe in that role, after all!) The way Eric puts it is that in the early going, “We’ll crouch behind his big broad beautiful shoulders.” Eric is in favor of ousting Aubry immediately. by the way.

Back on the blue tribe, we meet Reem, a sales rep who is the oldest woman on the tribe, perhaps she’s 40. And we immediately are shown that she’s bossy. We also see Lauren, a cute brunette who is a college athlete, and Keith, a premed student at Duke who tells us he’s only 19. Keith, Reem, and Wendy seem to be in an alliance of sorts, or at least others on the tribe are spinning things that way.

The challenge begins with a rope climb, and we see that Chris from the blue tribe might be an athlete to rival even the great Joe. The challenge has a three-tiered balance beam that’s hard to cross, in fact Kelley falls off it and cuts her head. Later in the challenge Probst notes “The challenge has taken a toll on a few bodies!” The yellow tribe wins.

Afterward, Rick is at the well with Reem, Wendy, and Keith, and Reem says that Lauren and Kelly are a strong team that needs to be separated. Keith, who senses that being associated with Reem and Wendy is not a good thing, immediately tells the rest of the tribe. Wardog, who seems like your basic New York knucklehead but is a law student, says he’ll talk to Wendy. He tells her frankly regarding Reem, “It’s a sinking ship, she’s going home tonight.” But Wendy insists she’s voting with Reem, so Wardog tells David they should consider voting Wendy out.

The Tribal Council set for this season looks like the wreck of a spaceship. Reem speaks up very early and Probst notes, “You already seem annoyed.”

Well, to no one’s surprise, Reem is voted out with four votes, with Wendy getting three and Kelley and Lauren each one (not sure why Reem and Wendy split their votes, how could that have possibly helped?).

Probst snuffs Reem’s torch with possibly the coolest torch-snuffer in Survivor history — it looks like a dinosaur’s arm.

Reem walks out grumbling, so now it’s time for Probst to say some words of wisdom and for torches to be toted out the door, right? Not so fast. The camera lingers on Reem as she declares the developments to be “lame,” and then she walks up to a crossroads with a sign announcing she has a decision to make. Go right if she’s giving up, or if she wants a chance to stick around she can go left and get in the boat. Obviously she goes left, and we see a horror-movie like sequence. She says “Holy crap, what is it?” and the episode ends.

This is the time when I always declare an early favorite. Well, some seasons I didn’t, and sometimes I picked multiple people, but never mind that for now. My previous individual “honorees” were Alison (David vs. Goliath), Stephanie (Ghost Island), Ben (Heroes vs. Healers Vs. Hustlers), Malcolm (Game Changers), Chris (Millennials vs. Gen-X),  Josh (San Juan del Sur), and Vytas (Blood vs. Water). At least I got one winner out of seven in Ben. Alison was, I believe, the second-closest as a fifth-place finisher!

Anyway, this pick might look silly later, but it’s David Wright. He’s just so non-threatening that I could see him weaseling his way to the very end, just as he almost did the last time, plus he has only played once before whereas Kelley, Joe, and Aubry have all played twice, so that might make the newbies less resentful of having him around.

Final thoughts on Survivor: David vs. Goliath

27 Dec

Survivor is back, in a big way. The last two seasons (Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers and especially Ghost Island) were among the worst in the show’s history, but the ship has definitely been righted, as David vs. Goliath was absolutely wonderful.

Good things about the season:

Every single episode was good, and some were great.

Nobody monopolized the camera time — many different characters took center stage at different times, and every time a vote was coming we saw the perspectives of multiple different people.

Nick was definitely a worthy winner, though a few others would have been as well.

One of the most likable casts overall.

Idols and advantages were usually played effectively and/or entertainingly.

In many cases it was hard to guess who would be voted out, even halfway through Tribal Council. When the final four was set it was anyone’s guess who would win — compare that to last season where only two of the final five had any chance!

Bad things about the season:

I’m having a hard time thinking of any!

You could say there was no great alliance, but last season had a wonderful alliance in Domenick and Wendell and yet the season sucked, so suffice it to say that alliances can be overrated.

The only other nitpick that occurs to me is that there was no one single ultra-incredible, all-time top ten moment. But if it’s between one legendary moment and having every episode be consistently very good, I prefer the latter! And that’s what we got.

Rankings Update

Sorry, nobody from this season cracked my best players of all time list.

And since all of the alliances turned on each other, you won’t see any new additions to my best alliances of all time list.

Natalie was bad, maybe even terrible, and no I don’t believe her statement that there are people who would “literally take a bullet for” her. But she was nowhere near as bad as the people on my list of the worst players of all time.

You can check out my full rankings of the seasons (including this one) here.

“I’m hoping that if I lose, I lose quickly.” Survivor: David vs. Goliath December 19, 2018 Season Finale recap

20 Dec

We begin with a live shot of the whole cast in their civilian clothes, a development of the last few seasons that I hate — I want to be immersed in what’s happening on the island, and stay there!

We get a recap of the season, but it seems much shorter than what Survivor used to do. And without further ado, the current episode begins with everyone looking for idols in the dark.

Angelina finds a clue that says “You have to work fast.” It says an idol is at the top of the rock near her, and she has to use a ladder that’s buried near where she’s standing. She unearths the ladder, then, fearing discovery, she hides it again, and while she’s doing so we see the clue drop out of her shirt, unbeknownst to her.

Once she is sure no one is watching she gets the ladder out, but the clue is gone, and without the information on the clue she can’t find the right spot. We see her do some climbing, and she tells the camera that she’s stuck up on a cliff and might not be able to get down, though as much as Angelina over-dramatizes that could mean she’s four feet off the ground.

She gives up for the moment and heads back to camp, but has to pass the well where people are standing. Her excuse for being gone so long is that she fell out of a tree and hurt herself. My thought at this point is that it really doesn’t matter if she finds an idol, since any other player will want to take her to the finals anyway!

The immunity challenge involves placing steps to make a staircase and climbing that staircase to solve a puzzle — we seem to see some variation of this as one of the final challenges every year. Jeff Probst tells us that the puzzle has 63 pieces. We also hear that a reward is involved, and it’s a spaghetti dinner — will they repeat the memorable “clue under the spaghetti” from Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers?

The final puzzle phase is very close. Nick had fallen behind, but he comes back to win this one by just a hair, his first challenge win. He chooses Angelina to join him on the reward, and Probst says he can pick one more person. Davie says “you owe me nothing” as he was chosen for another reward, and Nick picks Mike who was his teammate on the old purple tribe. By the way, as the camera pulls back we see there is room for seven staircases even though there are six players — perhaps this was originally intended for the prior episode.

Also, Davie tells us he now trusts Nick again.

At the reward dinner, Angelina talks about voting out Alison, while Mike advocates Davie. Nick tells us he doesn’t like the latter plan — if he were the only one left from the David tribe the others would be sure to want to take him out.

The three of them are having their meal near the well, and Angelina reveals the idol is nearby. She urges the other two to help her look, though Mike looks like he’d prefer to just keep drinking wine. “It’s like a job, always I have to do something!” he kvetches. Mike looks around where she says she lost the clue and does find the clue, then he points to the spot where the idol must be hidden and Angelina grabs it. Again, big deal because it’s not like anyone wants to vote her out!

Also, Angelina reiterates a point made at the beginning of the season, that not that many women find idols on Survivor, so she wanted to find one for that reason.  Of course you have to define “find” a bit loosely since a man, Mike, pointed at the exact spot for her!

Once everyone’s back at camp, Alison says that as long as Davie is in the game, nobody else can win. Angelina confers with her and claims, “I’ve kind of been driving the last three-ish votes.” But Angelina tells us “She’s wronged me before, I’m eager to get some revenge on Alison.” Alison certainly hasn’t voted against her, so I’m not sure what she’s referring to.

Mike hasn’t given up the idea of voting out Davie. He pitches the plan to Kara, and she likes it. It will come down to whether Angelina joins them, and we see Mike buttering Angelina up a bit.

By the way, I am starting to find Angelina extremely entertaining and must admit she’s one of the best characters of the season!

At Tribal Council, Mike has a memorable line about Nick: “95% of the time he’s been honest with me.” On Survivor that’s the most you can hope for! Also, throughout Tribal Council there are many shots of Christian on the jury and he looks annoyed every time.

The votes come in and Davie gets four votes and Alison two. Nick was the only one who voted with Davie. Before Davie leaves, he says “The person who orchestrated this, you now have my vote for a million dollars. It’s up to someone else to make a bigger move.” Good news for Mike, right?

Back at camp, Nick demands an explanation from Angelina, and she explains, “Mike dug his heels in.” “He can’t give me one vote?!” Nick shouts regarding Mike. And indeed, Mike voted for someone different than Nick the last four votes in a row. “She will win!” Nick says of Alison, and then repeats it loudly enough so everyone on the beach can hear.

The Day 37 immunity challenge starts with pouring water down a thin chute to raise a key while standing on a thin platform. This is another end-of-season standby. When it comes to the final puzzle, Nick figures it out right away and wins by a wide margin.

Angelina tells us this time she’s set on voting Alison … yeah, we’ve heard that before. But she also has a whole plan to play her idol (which can’t be played after final five) in a dramatic fashion “and have me be the star of the show.” Mike tells us viewers that he’s not interested in such theatrics.

Then Angelina tells Mike she also wants to make a fake idol for Alison to find. But to make this work Mike would have to lie to Kara, which we find out he has no intention of doing. Instead he tells Kara and says not to tell Alison. He tells Kara that Angelina is “like a cruel psychopath: she’s evil,” and even throws out a title that sounds like a pitch for a Survivor season: “Villains vs. Villains: Angelina.”

However, Kara takes all of this in a different direction. She tells Alison about the idol and notes that Mike has a strong social game, so they should get him out! Alison looks up Nick who points out he was betrayed last night, so he’s open to anything. Kara and Nick discuss whether Mike would get more votes than Alison in the finals.

Just before Tribal Council, Alison sees a small bag at an incredibly obvious spot in camp, and grabs it. Angelina acts shocked at this “idol find,” which she admits to us is “maybe borderline evil, maybe borderline mean girl.”

At the final-five tribal council Alison says Mike is a threat and he answers, “That’s incorrect … anyway, whatever.” We see him vote and he says “Alison, in real life you may get straight As but in Survivor you get a B-plus,” and he writes B+ next to her name.

Probst asks if anyone wants to play an idol and a very skeptical Alison says, “I have a note and I have a shell with some rope around it. I’ll have you check it out ’cause what’s the harm.” Probst confirms it’s fake.

Then Angelina speaks up: “Oh … sorry we’re not done yet,” and plays her idol, launching into a speech that sounds like she practiced it for hours. Gabby on the jury notes, “She can’t stop talking about it.”

Alison is voted out, 4-1.

So who is the favorite now out of Nick, Kara, Mike, and Angelina? There is certainly no superathlete in the bunch who would be a heavy challenge favorite. Also, who would be the favorite to win a fire-making challenge? And my other impression is, I didn’t expect Mike to be in the game this long — I figured he would be out early like the Jimmy Johnsons and Cliff Robinsons of the world.

Time for the last immunity challenge on Day 38, and oh boy, it’s the “balls in a spiraling chute” challenge which has never once failed to be entertaining. This time each player has one hand tied behind his or her back, I didn’t remember that from before.

Angelina and Mike are out relatively quickly, and Kara and Nick have made it to the stage where each has three balls in the chutes. Probst announces that they have 15 seconds to add a fourth ball, and somehow Kara gets so focused on this that she completely forgets to catch her third ball! So Nick wins his third in a row, though it’s hard to make celebratory movements with one hand tied!

So per the current rules, he gets to pick one person to take to the finals, and the other two will face off in a fire-making challenge. Surely there’s no way he could pick anyone but Angelina, right? In turn each of the other three makes his or her pitch. And Nick decides to inform everyone well before Tribal Council that he’s picking Angelina (naturally, she credits her supreme rhetorical skills for the move! The woman is just too much.)

It’s time for the challenge at Tribal Council, and Mike’s comment to the jury beforehand is, “I’m hoping that if I lose, I lose quickly.” He’s a funny guy! But then the challenge takes place, and guess what, he wins. So our final three is Mike, Angelina, and Nick. On the beach, Mike notes that he and Angelina were together all season: on Goliath, the purple tribe, and the merged tribe.

At tribal council, we see the jury and it’s five Davids and five Goliaths.

We hear an interesting tidbit by Nick that his alliance’s vote for John was the first minority vote split in Survivor history.

Another interesting moment comes when Angelina brings up her rice negotiation yet again. Davie can’t take it anymore and interjects, “I do have to point out that the whole point of a selfless act is to be selfless and not bring it up.”

Mike is very impressive rhetorically at this tribal council and points out “I’d rather have threats in the game that wanted to work with me than people that didn’t,” which is an excellent point.

Angelina talks about climbing the wall to look for an idol and makes it sound like she scaled Everest. Everyone is suitably impressed but I think they’re joking. Also, Angelina denies that she made a fake idol to embarrass Alison but Nick said it was to embarrass.

Probst had mentioned earlier than eight different people won individual immunity, and Nick tells us he’s the only one who won more than one. Surely Nick has this in the bag?

We see John vote Nick, I had thought he was a possible Angelina vote. Gabby starts crying as she votes, no shock there. And Christian, whose expression was pugnacious the whole time, votes for Mike and says he played a “transformative” game.

We cut to the studio where Probst reads the votes. Before you know it Mike has three! But soon Probst reads the sixth vote for Nick, and Nick is the winner of the season!

We soon find out it was 7-3 and we’re shown everyone’s vote (for the first time ever?). The Mike votes, in addition to Christian, were Alison and Kara.

We find out Davie lost the most weight, 36 pounds in 36 days, but that the record was Big Tom from Survivor: Africa who lost 80 pounds during his season!

And then we get a preview of Season 38, Survivor: Edge of Extinction. We see some new faces and then on a boat, we see four returning players: Joe from Survivor: Worlds Apart and Second Chance, Aubry from Kaoh Rong and Game Changers, a bald guy who, when I freeze-frame and play back in slow motion, is revealed to be David from Millennials vs. Gen-X, and a blonde who we only see for a couple of frames but who I assume is two-time player Kelley Wentworth.

The choices seem curious, though I love Kelley. Joe is the guy everyone always wants to vote out, and Aubry is likable but is there more to her than we’ve seen? And I thought David was a one-note character. Well, I will give the producers the benefit of the doubt as their casting choices have been mostly winners lately, including this wonderful season we just finished!

I’ll return with final thoughts.