So last season I began my recap of the penultimate episode of Survivor with a diatribe about how awful the season felt and where I would have placed it any ranking (near the bottom). What a breath of fresh air it is to start this recap differently.
I mean, taking a look at the great Dalton Ross’ updated season rankings, he’s got David vs. Goliath up at No. 5. That’s pretty impressive. He only ranks the season behind Borneo, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains and Cagayan. I might quibble with that list a bit, since I have a soft spot for China and am not as overly in love with Micronesia as most. However, I honestly believe it would be hard to argue against this being a top-5 season. Honestly, on a purely week-to-week basis, it might be the best season ever.
What do I mean? Well, I think Heroes vs. Villains and Cagayan are great examples of seasons better than this one … overall. But, for example, in Heroes vs. Villains we had both early (i.e., Sugar, Randy) and late (i.e., Candace, Jerri) boots that were relatively boring. Or Cagayan had some castaways who weren’t exactly playing hard and went home unspectacularly. This season, though, each and every episode was relatively amazing. I mean, the premiere was probably the worst, and premieres are always pretty good. It just didn’t have its Tony. No season has Tony, though.
Anyway, as anybody who’s been reading this column over the last few years knows, I don’t write about theory heading into the finale. Instead, I just do a kind of updated power rankings based on who I think can win. Typically, I have categories such as “frontrunner,” “could win the game” and “no way in hell.” Last season, I didn’t put anyone in the middle category. This season, I think we have someone for everywhere. But, heck, it was tough not to put everyone in the middle category.
With all that said, let’s get to it. Remember, even within category, this list is ranked from least likely to most likely to win:
No Way in Hell
Angelina: I know people will disagree with me on this, but I just don’t see any scenario where Angelina can sit next to two people she can beat. I think she’s a definite goat at this point, someone who will more than likely make the final three and get eviscerated at final tribal. I’m not sure if that’s totally fair, but, from what we’ve been shown, her tribemates don’t really respect her and her one noteworthy move was sitting out a challenge she had no chance to win anyway.
Could Win the Game
Alison: The edit really tells us what to think about Alison. I was actually tempted to put her in the no way in hell category, but I didn’t because people seem to see her as a physical threat (with very little evidence to back that up). Even this week, the way she immediately went against Kara’s plea just looked bad … even if the end result was probably better. Overall, I just don’t think she can beat anyone but Angelina … with the possibility of Mike, but even that I don’t believe anymore.
Mike: Speaking of Mike, anyone who’s read me this season knows I don’t think Mike can win because he’s already rich. I’m wavering a bit on that primarily because he now owns the signature move of the game: People have been trying to ditch Christian for what seems like a decade and Mike put into the place the vote that finally did it. Also, everyone gets along with Mike and sees him as an ally. That’s good for him. He’s also a writer who could definitely make his case to a jury. But, I think his only shot to win is really an all-Goliath final tribal with Kara on the outs. I think he beats Angelina and Alison. And that’s it.
Kara: I really wanted to put Kara in the frontrunner category, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I think Kara’s played a good game … and a potentially winning game … but to put her in the same category as Davie and Nick would be wrong. Those two have made really large moves, while Kara is basically on the periphery of everything. She’s done well in challenges and I believe is the frontrunner to win future immunities, but I don’t think she can sit next to a David and win this game. Honestly, what’s her jury pitch against Davie or Nick? “I did what they told me to do after I had a different plan”?
Nick: I think, really, you could make a case for either Davie or Nick at the top of this list. And, overall, I think Nick’s played the best game of anyone this season, but I put him below Davie for one very specific reason. I think playing his idol incorrectly could really hurt him in the eyes of the jury, at least if he’s sitting next to Davie. The other potential issue with Nick, which I think he can clearly overcome, is that most of his moves have been of the subtle variety. He’s going to need to articulate, clearly and convincingly, what he did this season. It’s doable, but tough.
Davie: Why Davie over Nick? First, he used his idol correctly this week … and he has a good story to tell about it in terms of not risking his vote and needing to use it at that particular tribal. But, more importantly, I think Davie’s saving of Christian is still the biggest visible Big Move™ of the season, and it will carry a lot of weight with the jury.
So that’s where we stand. OK, well that’s it from me. Enjoy the finale and let’s hope this season is not bookended by its worst episodes. I’m hoping for a killer ending that cements David vs. Goliath as a clear top-five season of all time.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @PatFerrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.