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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.

“Ball dangling on the edge of his disc!” Survivor: David vs. Goliath December 12, 2018 recap

12 Dec

Night 32: Christian tells us that Davie told him he should play his idol, which is kind of funny since Davie went on to vote against Christian and have that vote nullified. Also, Christian now realizes Nick must have voted against him.

Nick realizes another idol will now likely be put in the game, and he wants it, even though he already has one! It turns out Nick has made a fake idol to throw others off the scent. He hides it under a raft on the shore, the idea being someone will find it and give up searching any further. However, Nick unexpectedly  ends up in a conversation with others while sitting on that same raft, and he decides to just make the “miraculous” find himself! And he sells it extremely well: Angelina, Mike, and Christian all fall for it. So now they have no reason to look for an idol, and Nick will be the only one looking, he assumes.

But when Davie hears about it (from Mike), he doesn’t buy it. Davie does go look for an idol, and then he tells Christian that Nick has two idols!

The reward challenge has an interesting concept I don’t recall seeing before: you need to start by untangling a bunch of rope that is  attached to you. If you don’t untangle enough you can’t complete the rest of the challenge without doubling back, but if you spend too much time untangling you could fall behind. Davie emerges as the winner.

If you follow Survivor, you know this means Davie will have to make the tough decision of picking whom to take along. He chooses Nick, saying it’s to pay him back for Nick choosing him to go along on the loved-ones reward. “We both chose you, Davie,” Angelina feels the need to add.

Probst says Davie has to choose one more person and asks if anyone wants to plead his or her case. Naturally Angelina does, and brings up her recent rice negotiation and subsequent challenge sit-out. While she’s talking, Alison, who’s standing next to her, just smirks. (It’s not clear what Angelina’s “heroics” had to do with Davie specifically.)

In any case, Davie picks Kara who looked out for him back on Vuku (which was the five-person orange tribe). Davie tells us the Nick choice was to keep his “frenemy” close, but he wants to plot against Nick with Kara as soon as he gets the chance. Which he does, proposing that the two of them team with Alison and Christian to oust Nick, and he further proposes not to tell Angelina and Mike anything about it. Mike soon does hear about it anyway, from Alison, and is torn, since Nick is his buddy.

The next morning Davie does another idol search and finds a clue that says he has to go to a certain spot far from camp whenever he feels he can steal away. He goes for it during a rainstorm, which seems like the most noticeable time to be gone but he says it’s the least. He gets to the spot and there is an idol that is only good at the next upcoming Tribal Council. However, he can play a game to extend its power by additional weeks. Each time he wins a 50/50 game it adds one week, but if he loses a game he has no vote at the next Tribal Council. You’ll recall this same situation was presented to Chris last season. Davie talks through all of the different scenarios out loud and decides he’s best served to just take the idol as-is and not play the game.

The Day 35 immunity challenge: stand on a perch and balance a ball on a disc (doesn’t it seem like this is about the fifth version of this concept we’ve seen this year?).  Then after a while, more balls are added.

You can’t tell me that Jeff Probst doesn’t prepare phrases involving “balls” ahead of time just to entertain himself and any junior-high-school viewers out there. His efforts include “Which is worse, balls separating or balls clinging together?” as well as “Christian, ball dangling on the edge of his disc!”

At any rate, immunity is won by Mike White in his first win of the season.

Afterwards Davie wants to finalize his Nick plan while an unsuspecting Nick wants to target Alison. But Mike decides to campaign for a vote against Christian. After all, he’s still the biggest threat to win the game, and he currently has no immunity and no idols! Yet despite these excellent points Mike can’t seem to sway anyone.

We arrive at a very key conversation as Nick and Davie sit in the shelter. Nick reveals to Davie that his “find” from earlier is a fake and there’s no second idol. So Davie realizes that a) Nick isn’t lying to him, and b) Nick only has one idol … so now Davie doesn’t want to vote Nick out anymore! Instead, he’s on board with voting out Alison.

And then we cut back to Mike, who has decided he needs to try again to push the Christian plan. There is really a lot happening this episode! Mike finds Nick and tells him that Davie is gunning for him. However, this doesn’t have the desired effect of getting Nick to vote for Christian, it makes Nick say Davie has to go! Mike says it’s amazing how many different possibilities are in play with only seven people in the game!

At Tribal Council Christian notes that each of the six other players has voted for him at least once since the merge.

So who is going to go home? The guess I wrote down was Alison but I really had no idea just before votes were cast.

After the votes, Probst asks about idols. Davie plays his, and when he does, Nick’s face is the picture of stress. Nick gets up, walks to Probst and hands him an idol saying he found this by the raft. Davie and Probst both say Nick didn’t say who the idol was being played for and Nick answers, “Actually that’s a fake one I made.” He wanted to read everyone’s reactions when he turned it in. Angelina tells Nick he doesn’t need to play his idol. But Nick does play it.

The first two votes are for Davie and do not count. Then we see two for Christian and two for Alison. The last vote will decide, and it is for … Christian. None were for Nick, who mutters, ” I wasted it.”

The jury looks absolutely heartbroken to see Christian walk out, which of course proves that this was the right move for the other players!

At the end of the show we see that the Alison votes were by Davie and Christian; the Davie votes were by Mike (huh?) and Alison; and the Christian votes were from Kara, Nick, and Angelina. I can’t say I understand the two Davie votes at all, maybe that will be explained next week!

As we go to the finals, I see Alison as the favorite to win. I don’t think Kara could beat Alison, but if Alison were gone, Kara could inherit her Goliath votes and win. Nick or Davie would be well-served to oust both of those women and get to the finals with Mike and Angelina.

Contenders:  1. Alison, 2. Kara, 3. Nick, 4. Davie

No chance: Mike, Angelina

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Elizabeth (Nick), John (Angelina), Dan (Alison), Alec (Alison), Carl (Davie), Gabby (Alison), Christian (Davie)

Idol and advantage count: None!

“You’ve really gotta be careful about Gabby.” Survivor: David vs. Goliath December 5, 2018 recap

6 Dec

On Night 30 after Tribal Council, Nick asks Christian why he voted for Carl. We used three advantages to get the majority in the game, but now we just gave it back, Nick argues.

When Nick’s alone, he tells us viewers that he considers the Mason-Dixon alliance to be dead, and he now wants Christian out.

This is the annual “loved ones” episode. If you’re looking for a blow-by-blow of that portion, you’re on the wrong blog. However, it is notable that for once Angelina does not seem to be playing an angle of any sort — I thought when she saw her mother she might start negotiating to get the best guest room next Christmas, or something.

The challenge itself is not particularly compelling. Angelina and Nick win and choose Davie and Mike to join them, and on the reward we hear a couple of people say this is their ideal final four. But Davie, unlike the other three, is not a former purple tribe member, and he has his doubts whether this would be a good final four for him (personally I think he’s right since Nick would have the edge over him with a jury).

Before the reward, Gabby got to see Christian interact with his real-life girlfriend and that somehow seems to have broken a spell.  Gabby goes to Alison and says it’s time to get Christian out. There is a good strategic reason for this, too: Christian and Gabby have been together since the start, but Christian made all the moves, or at least that’s everyone’s impression, so for Gabby to get any credit he has to go.

For the immunity challenge, players need to hold up a stick that’s supporting an apparatus that supports a water bucket. If the stick slips, they get drenched.  Hmm, why is the camera on Nick for almost the entire challenge? It comes down to Davie, Kara, and Christian, and Kara wins.

Afterwards, Christian tells Gabby that they need to get rid of Alison. But Gabby is setting her other plan in motion. She pitches Nick and Davie on ousting Christian. Nick tells us this is perfect because “I was trying to think of a way that I could get the numbers for [a vote against] Christian!” Nick is still cheesed off at the Carl vote since Nick had saved Christian twice (and to recap, that was by getting Davie to use his idol at the tribal council that eliminated John, and also at the Dan ouster that featured many votes against Christian). Nick talks to Angelina and Mike about joining this vote against Christian, and Mike contributes the idea that someone could vote for Gabby, so in case Christian plays an idol Gabby goes home!

But Davie doesn’t like this. He tells us that Christian blindsided him twice (that would be last episode’s Carl vote, plus waaay back in the second episode when Davie thought the vote was for Lyrsa but Christian helped vote out teenage Jessica. )   But Davie says first of all, he doesn’t take those blindsides personally, and secondly “who’s gonna be my shield if I get Christian out?” So Davie goes to Christian and tells him “You’ve really gotta be careful about Gabby.” Christian tells us he could use his idol tonight, but he’d rather pursue the strategy of patching things up with Nick.

At Tribal Council, we hear so  much talk that could be interpreted as anti-Christian that I think surely he’s going to use his idol. The votes are cast, and Probst says this would be the time to play an idol. No one does anything so Probst begins to move on, but then Christian says “A second Jeff … not quite sure yet …. [he looks at the others’ faces, particularly Gabby’s] …. I’ll play it.” Over on the jury, Alec remarks, “That’s friggin’ smart, bro.”

We see a bunch of Christian votes, that all do not count. Then there’s an Alison vote, prompting Gabby to say, “I’m so sorry, Alison.” Not so fast: the last two votes are for Gabby and now she’s the one out of the game!

We soon see that Mike and Angelina were the two Gabby votes, and the Alison vote was by Christian. It’s not really clear what Christian’s main plan was — he must have thought his apology had brought not only Nick back around, but Davie and others too.

I had to really ponder my contender rankings this week. I’ve had Kara in the number one spot for a while and she didn’t do anything wrong this week, but it bothers me that she’s seemingly no juror’s first choice to win the game. I think Christian could win at the finals against any other player, but he seems to be the person the others are most determined not to allow to reach the finals!

Contenders:  1. Alison, 2. Kara, 3. Nick, 4. Christian, 5. Davie

No chance: Mike, Angelina

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Elizabeth (Nick), John (Angelina), Dan (Alison), Alec (Alison), Carl (Davie), Gabby (Christian)

Idol and advantage count: Nick has an immunity idol.

“I have to get on my lifeboat.” Survivor: David vs. Goliath November 28 2018 recap

28 Nov

This double episode begins at night after Tribal Council, as Angelina wants to know why she got two votes. It was a contingency plan, she is told. And of course she’s furious.

You’ll recall that last week the Davids got up at dawn to search for an idol, figuring that since one had just been played, another one must now be in the game. They make the same calculation this time, and Nick does indeed find a clue. The clue says that to get the idol he must steal away from camp that next night and look for a torch on the other side of the island — similar to what Chris had to do last season. When night rolls around, Nick does sneak off with Davie staying awake in case he needs to cover for him. The idol is waiting for Nick when he reaches the fire.

Early in the episode Carl, who was not one of the winners of the reward challenge, announces that he wants to get Alec out. Word gets around, so Alec is determined to win the immunity challenge.

The challenge involves standing on a narrow perch (that only part of the players’ feet fits on) and holding onto a bar behind the players’ shoulders. It was previously seen in Survivor: San Juan Del Sur, in the infamous “stick to the plan episode.” And once again, Probst offers that anyone who feels safe can forego the challenge to enjoy some food, in this case nachos and beer. I thought perhaps nobody would want to do it, but Angelina, Carl, and Nick all choose to eat.

After an hour and 35 minutes it is down to Alec, Alison, Christian, and Gabby. I’m impressed that Gabby has made it this far. After two hours it’s just Alec, Gabby, and Christian. And Alec keeps repeating he won’t step off until he wins.

Christian asks if he can tell a story to kill time, and he tells story after story while Alec remains mostly silent. At the 3 hour 50 minute mark the challenge is still going! 4 hours and 20 minutes, still going. 4 hours and 45 minutes, still going. This is reaching Tom-and-Ian (from Survivor: Palau) territory!

At the 5 hour mark, Alec tells Christian “You’re safe, I’m not.” Finally, after 5 1/2 hours Alec is feeling faint. He steps off and Christian wins.

After the challenge Carl wants to finalize the Alec vote with everyone and Gabby is annoyed that Carl is calling the shots. She’s soon in tears for what seems like the 20th time this season.

Alec tells Alison that Carl is running the show for the Davids, so why note vote him out? And Mike agrees. Can they get Christian and Gabby to join them?  Alec talks to Christian, who acknowledges that it would be good for Alec to stay so people don’t focus on Christian as the biggest threat.

The only notable thing about Tribal Council is that Angelina makes some lengthy point and Alison notes, “I don’t buy a lot of what Angelina’s selling anymore.”

The vote is unanimous, and Alec is out. He gives a good-natured “hang loose” sign. So now the Davids have a numerical advantage, 5-4.

As everyone lines up for the Day 29 reward challenge, it’s striking to see that none of the big, athletic guys are left in the game. Carl’s team wins the reward, and Carl and Davie are quickly drunk. Carl announces Alison should be the next out, even though the people he’s talking to are Kara and Mike. Mike soon tells us “I have to get on my lifeboat and, like, swim away from the Alison ship.”

Meanwhile, Gabby wants Carl out, and she’s hoping Christian, Alison and Mike join her in the vote. It’s pretty clear Mike will be the deciding vote in this round.

Rice is running low at camp, and Angelina wants to negotiate with Probst to get more rice. At the challenge she runs down a list of things they would exchange for rice. Probst laughs that off but he says if one person will agree to sit out the challenge, i.e. have no chance at immunity, he’ll approve the rice. Angelina raises her hand to volunteer.

The final phase of the challenge involves arranging blocks to make a word. Carl thinks he has it in Perceptions, but Probst says that’s not the answer they’re looking for. Davie and Alison realize at the same time that it must be Perspective. They race to put the blocks in place, but Davie is a little but quicker and wins.

The aftermath is mostly Mike making firm assurances to both sides. In the end he votes against Carl, who goes out by a vote of 5-4. Nick looks very worried at the result.

Contenders:  1. Kara, 2. Nick, 3. Alison, 4. Christian, 5. Davie

No chance: Mike, Gabby, Angelina

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Elizabeth (Nick), John (Angelina), Dan (Alison), Alec (Alison), Carl (Davie)

Idol and advantage count: Christian and Nick have immunity idols.

“…and this is the idol nullifier.” Survivor: David vs. Goliath November 21 2018 recap

25 Nov

Now that a Goliath has gone home there is much deliberation among the remaining Goliaths. Alison knows that she told Christian and Gabby twice in a row that she would vote with them and didn’t either time, so they probably don’t have much trust in her. Does that mean Alison is sticking with the other Goliaths from here on out?

And Kara tells us that Dan is “the anchor that’s bringing me down.”

It’s time for the reward challenge, and Probst can somehow keep a straight face as he announces, “Prepare yourself … for the Boola Burger Bar.” That’s what two randomly drawn teams are competing to partake from. One stage of the challenge involves a number combination, and Mike competes against Christian. Probst loudly announces that both locks have the same combination but that there’s a cover which one can use to block the correct answer from the other team. Mike is obviously caught up in the moment because he fails to use the cover — this supposed superfan seems to have forgotten that failing to use one of these covers may well have cost Jay from Millennials vs. Gen-X a million dollars!

Mike’s blunder lets the opposing team draw even, but Alec and Kara are impressively able to (barely) out-puzzle superbrains Christian and Alison to win.

At camp, Gabby tells Alison that voting out Dan would be a game-changing move. But simultaneously, on the reward, Mike pleads to other Goliaths to stay together even though “I know we all hate each other.” And he still thinks they should vote Christian. We soon see that Kara, Alec, and Alison are their own bloc within the six Goliaths, and they discuss aligning with the Davids before the other Goliaths can do so. At this point Kara reveals to Alec and Alison that Dan has a second idol.

That night we see Davie arising while it’s still dark, and the other Davids are all up at the break of dawn to look for an idol. Since Davie just played one last week they figure that a new one must be in the game. Everyone is back to the camp by breakfast except for Christian, and lo and behold he finds an idol.

The immunity challenge is won by Alec who impresses with his athletic ability and his steady hand. Probst points out that all three individual immunities have been won by Goliaths.

Kara really wants to get Dan out of the game, and she suggests a vote split between Angelina and Dan. She pitches it to the Davids who understandably love the idea, but Alison gets bad vibes from that conversation. She is now leaning toward sticking with Goliath after all, and Alec agrees. They put it to Kara who understandably worries that her plan could blow up in her face. And by the way, why is Kara in such a rush to get rid of Dan? I certainly understand why she doesn’t want to stay with him until the end, but it seems too early to push her aggressive plan.

Nick looks around and sees Goliath and David segregated on the beach, so he figures that is a clear sign that no Goliaths will be voting with the Davids. Nick gets together with the rest of the David tribe and tells them about his vote-steal advantage. Christian responds, “Do you like surprises? I found the idol.” And Carl immediately tells about his idol nullifier. It seems that of these three things, the vote-stealer would be the best one to use, in my opinion.

Nothing significant is said at Tribal Council until it’s time to vote, and then Nick politely speaks up and reads out the text of his vote-steal advantage! Probst says Nick has to say whose vote he’s stealing and Nick says Alison’s. I think this was the best choice except maybe for Dan: Alec, Kara, and Mike all seemed to have some small chance of voting along with the Davids, and since there was talk of Kara’s group putting some votes against Angelina, Angelina might be out of the loop on whatever the Goliath vote was going to be. I’ll come back to this topic below, but let me also note for now that this proves Alison is not under the radar in this game.

The votes are cast, and when it’s time to play an idol Dan does so. Probst asks for clarification whether he’s playing it on himself this time, and Dan says he is. Probst says “This is a hidden immunity idol ….” and then he reaches into the urn and takes out a medallion sitting on top of the votes, saying, ” … and this is the idol nullifier. Dan, your idol has no power. Any votes cast against Dan will still count.” As you can imagine, there are some shocked faces.

We see a bunch of votes for Christian to start, then votes for both Dan and Angelina. The person voted out and the third member of the jury is … Dan. Probst snuffs his torch. “Bing!” Carl exclaims, holding up the note that came with the idol nullifier.

As we hear Dan’s final words, we see that the two votes for Angelina were by Alec and Kara.

A dramatic tribal council indeed, with three of the four idols/advantages in the game being played at once! Though Dan not winning the game is no surprise — you’ll notice I have had him on my no-chance list for a while. I just figured he would do something to shoot himself in the foot sooner or later, though he actually didn’t make any major blunder in this episode.

Now that I see the result of the vote, I think the reason Nick stole Alison’s vote and not Dan’s is that the Davids either were told or at least assumed that a vote steal would also continue to be in effect in the case of a re-vote. In other words, if Dan and Christian had tied, there would have been a re-vote without Dan participating, so the Davids wanted to do a vote theft that would also have an effect in the second round. At any rate, the David tribe has made a clever play at Tribal Council two weeks in a row now, and suddenly the David and Goliath numbers are even at 5-5.

Contenders:  1. Kara, 2. Nick, 3. Alec, 4. Alison, 5. Davie, 6. Christian, 7. Angelina, 8. Carl

No chance: Mike, Gabby

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Elizabeth (Nick), John (Angelina), Dan (Alison)

Idol and advantage count: Christian has an immunity idol.

“We got nothing for you either.” Survivor: David vs. Goliath November 14 2018 recap

14 Nov

Not just a good episode, this one was positively great. Let’s get right to it.

On Night 20, Angelina admits to us that she “got caught red-handed” at attempting some jury management in her conversation with Elizabeth. She makes up a different version of the Elizabeth conversation, but you can tell by their expressions that Kara and Dan aren’t buying it. As for Alec, his comment to the camera is “Angelina, you slimeball.” Nor does anyone else buy her story. Dan tells us he will get her out the first chance he gets.

Mike and Christian discuss the “strike force,” the secret alliance of those two with Gabby, Nick, Alison, and Alec. Mike feels that Gabby isn’t fully on board based on her comments at the last Tribal Council.

Nick and Davie go looking for an idol. They find a clue and unfurl the piece of paper to see a symbol that looks like something on a surfer’s T-shirt, in fact it’s the same symbol that was on the sign at the merge feast last episode (now it makes sense that the sign got some camera time without any apparent payoff). Carl joins the two of them and they go looking for a tree that looks like the one on the symbol, and they find it. However, some other people are on that same beach, so Davie creates a diversion, heading for the shoreline to do some goofy tai chi-type moves. The others are amused by his ridiculous routine, so much so that no one sees Nick and Carl heading for the base of the tree. They find an advantage that turns out to be a vote-stealer! They roll around hugging on the ground, and Carl also tells Nick about his idol nullifier.

The reward challenge is for two randomly chosen groups. The players need to hold a bunch of 10-pound sandbags above their heads, all of which are attached to a long trough of water overhead. If anyone lets a sandbag drop, the group gets dowsed with water and loses. It’s a group version of the memorable “Shii Ann” challenge that I coincidentally mentioned in my last post. To round out the rules, each player must hold up at least one sandbag, though there are more sandbags than people, and every 15 minutes one person must leave each group, handing his bag or bags to the others.

After 30 minutes, four people on each tribe are holding up a total of 80 pounds per tribe. They switch off continuously for brief rests, and sometimes one person has two bags on top of each other. Dan holds up three bags in a stack and taunts the other team about none of them taking on three. You can probably guess what happens next: amid the showboating, one of Dan’s bags falls, and his team loses. His tribemates are clearly furious. The winning team gets to eat two whole pizzas each, and as for Dan’s group, Probst as always says “I got nothin’ for ya.” To which Mike White replies, “We got nothin for you either.” Probst says he’s been waiting a long time for someone to finally make that joke.

Mike is doing more than joking today. He goes off by himself to ponder his strategy. He worries about the “strike force” because he thinks Christian is the most dangerous threat to win the game.  He talks it over with Alec, who is loath to go the route of breaking up the strike force because that would leave him with only one alliance, the Goliaths.

Mike makes his anti-Christian pitch to the assembled Goliaths. Of course Angelina is miffed because in her mind she has the sole copyright on the “Christian is the biggest threat” theory, patent pending. The Goliaths want to move forward with the plan, but what cover story will they give Christian as to whom they’re supposedly voting for? The answer is Angelina, to her chagrin, though she admits it’s the most plausible story.

Somewhat surprisingly, the immunity challenge is the second endurance challenge in a row: players have to hold up a ball with holes in either side (Probst calls it a buoy) using two short poles. Probst advises us that this challenge was done once before, in Survivor: Game Changers, and won by Brad Culpepper. It’s certainly not easy, as seven of the twelve players are out almost immediately. It comes down to Angelina versus Dan, and Dan wins.

Back at camp, John and Dan tell Christian the lie that the vote will be Angelina. “Hashtag brochacho blindside,” John tells us, referring to Christian, his former Green-tribe mate. Angelina is still freaking out about being the “fake” target but Dan tells her that if Christian unexpectedly has an idol, Dan will play his idol on her. But then he tells other Goliaths that he has no such intention.

Christian seems to be totally unsuspecting. But Alec worries that if the Goliaths pull off this move he will lose the trust of fellow “strike force” member Nick. So he alerts Nick to what’s going on. Uh-oh, is Alex making the exact same mistake that Angelina did?

Nick doesn’t reveal everything about the Alec conversation to Christian (or we don’t see him do so at any rate) but he does tell Christian he thinks the Goliaths are lying to him. Then Nick goes to Davie and wonders if they should use the advantage they just found to help Christian. Davie tells us he knows that his idol would be more effective than the advantage, but of course Nick doesn’t know that Davie has the idol. Since he, Davie, is not in danger, is he better off lying low?

And Nick is conflicted too. He’s totally under the radar now, does he want to put himself back on it by pulling out an advantage? This episode really does a great job of showing us everyone’s personal deliberations about what to do.

At Tribal Council, one thing I wrote down was that we see John talking about the game much more than usual, and he sounds good doing it — he certainly pulled off his lie nicely earlier.

During the whole discussion and the votes, we see Davie nervously chomping on a toothpick. After votes are cast, Probst says this would be the time to play an idol, and Davie clears his throat. He walks up to Probst and asks if he can say a few words. He apologizes to his alliance for not mentioning the idol, then he announces he’s playing it on Christian. No sooner does he do so than Angelina urgently looks at Dan and says he needs to play his idol on her. He has sort of a deer-in-the-headlights look but does nothing. She repeats it … and finally he does get up and tell Probst he’s playing itr for her. Of course, the ever-micromanaging Angelina asks “Did you say who it was for?”

Editorial comment: Why Dan, why Dan, why?

Anyway, Probst starts reading votes, and the votes for Christian seem neverending, and none of them count. Then Probst starts reading the votes for Angelina. So we are heading for a re-vote with numbers favoring the Goliaths unless someone had the idea to cast a stray vote for whatever reason, and then that vote would rule the day! Angelina’s name is read twice, and then we hear a vote for … John! And then another, and John is out! “That’s off the top rope, brother,” someone says to someone … I think it was John the wrestler saying it to Christian.

So we lose a great character and can only hope we see him on Survivor again some future season. The Davids were foiled by Dan’s idol play, but oddly enough this result is actually better for them, as John was a much bigger threat to win the game than Angelina, and though he was not great in challenges he was certainly better than Angelina.

Also, when we see the votes, we learn that there were actually three John votes: Christian, Davie, and Nick, while Carl and Gabby voted Angelina. So it was a planned vote split, but if the others didn’t know about Davie’s idol it’s not clear what they hoped to accomplish by doing this. It certainly worked out, however.

Contenders:  1. Kara, 2. Alison, 3. Nick, 4. Davie, 5. Alec, 6. Christian, 7. Carl, 8. Angelina

No chance: Mike, Dan, Gabby

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Elizabeth (Nick), John (Dan)

Idol and advantage count: Dan has an immunity idol, Carl has an idol nullifier, and Nick has a vote stealer.