THIS. SEASON. IS. SO. GOOD. I worried what it’d be like going back to just an hour after such a strong, extended premiere, but maybe the show hired a new editing team because they’re doing a phenomenal job. Not only are we getting new stories, but they’re built on stories from the past. A lot of what happened in week two related to week one but not in a repetitive way and rather an expansive one. It’s like…they’re trying to construct a cohesive narrative this season? I hate to jinx it by offering up so much praise, but everything about David vs. Goliath so far has delivered.
Or “Fuckingrayne” as the Survivor: Philippines merged tribe would have preferred to name themselves…
The cyclone spiraled on with such intensity that we were whipped back and forth between the David and Goliath tribes to see both suffer through the storm. While an entire episode with the tribes stuck shivering in their shelters wouldn’t be the best hour of television, it was refreshing again to see “the elements” play their role in the show again. They’re what make Survivor unique and can be especially compelling when they manage to take down even the strongest of Goliaths…
THE MASON-DIXON LINE
When the rain finally let up, Christian was eager to pop out of the shelter to take a walk, and Nick was evidently just as eager to follow. Nick admitted to Christian that he knew he was “the one” if Pat hadn’t been evacuated which was made obvious by the fact that no one gave Nick any other name for the vote. That’s a pretty telltale sign—if you don’t know the name, then it’s your own…
Picking up where they left off during a brief exchange last week, Nick solidified an alliance with Christian, comparing the duo to the likes of JT and Stephen, which… we’ll see about that. I don’t recall JT being an immediate target of everyone’s, coming out of the gates, and if anyone is so far the “golden boy” this season, it’s Christian. Nick may want to rethink whether the country boy would win so easily over the nerd this time around. Still, making early connections isn’t a bad thing—I only wish Nick didn’t insist on going the Big Brother route and picking out a name for every time he makes eye contact someone… even if Mason-Dixon is actually clever.
Nick’s most proven ally in the game thus far has been Mother Nature. As Christian confirmed, had the storm not produced the waves that broke Pat’s back, Nick would have been voted out at the David tribe’s first tribal council. Depending on Nick’s impact on the game and story of the season, which seems above average at this point, it’ll be interesting to wonder how the game would have played out had the Davids voted on Day 3.
The fastest name that comes to mind in a similar scenario is Queen Sandra herself who, according to sources, would have been first out instead of first place had her Drake tribe cast the first vote in Pearl Islands. I don’t see Nick pulling off what Sandra did (not sure he has it in him to GET LOUD TOO WHAT THE FUCK?) but he’s been given a second life, and he knows it, so I do expect him to be a GAME CHANGER like Sandra and play a little more intelligently. Maybe Christian can lend him a few brain cells. He has more than enough.
WHO RUN THE WORLD? GOLIATH GIRLS
As the rain went away and the Goliath tribe came out to play, they and the Davids received some surprising treemail which included a fire-making kit and a tarp. Was Production babying them a little? Sure, but they were also babying us viewers— people cold, wet, and huddled together in a shelter for days isn’t the drama we most tune in for, so we needed their fire to be lit in order to ignite some other events at camp.
Dan’s entire story continues to evolve around his kryptonite Kara, but as this episode further supported, I think Dan’s going to be more of his own kryptonite than she is. Kara was proven right to warn Dan about being careless with where he kept his “hidden” immunity idol and wise man Alec himself said it was a bad move for Dan to be involved in an obvious showmance. Jeremy also credited Kara for being in a “strategy” instead of a “showmance” so it’s being made apparent to us that the brains remain to be seen behind Dan’s brawn and beauty.
I don’t know why people hate on Natalie so much—look at how much she cared to try and help a girl out here!
Kara was also shown to be tight with Angelina and Natalia who realized that with the boys they had bewildered (Dan, John, and Alec respectively) they made up a majority alliance within the tribe. Could it be the early formation of another black widow brigade? Actually, I think not. These three may think they’re running the show but I think they have another thing coming.
John’s not the type to be kept wrapped around anyone’s finger. Kara and Dan will bury themselves with his idol and their showmance, and I still see Natalia losing her war with Natalie—Natalia’s confessional about holding the power because she was one of only three people to know about Dan’s idol was immediately contradicted as Jeremy found the idol in Dan’s sock just moments after that remark was made. That’s pretty telling that Natalia’s not as in much control as she thinks. I don’t see Angelina’s game blowing up at this point, but I think she’ll end up playing it without her other two Goliath girls in the nearish future.
DELIVERY FOR DAVIE
As showcased by the octopus last week and the lizard this week, Davie’s a proven provider for his tribe. With his eyes on the hunt for food (which included flowers, apparently) he stumbled across a mysterious orange string which Davie knew meant one thing:
more food an idol!
It pays to look out for the tribe as this provider ended up providing for himself. I’m really excited that Davie has this idol (even if it widens the gap between men and women that find idols as was brought up last week). Dan’s inevitably going to waste his which I suppose will be gloriously epic in its own way, but I suspect Davie will know how to play his idol in a more wild and spectacular fashion, fitting with his personality. The look on his face says it all – he can’t wait to whip out “one of THESE!”
Not the exact same line of thought as “Naviti Strong” but at least several members of the David tribe were already talking about their next vote being one that would need to keep their tribe physically strong given the competition they faced from the Goliaths. While Nick’s social game sucked, his physical one was the best the Davids had, so the group of Carl, Jessica, and Bi approached Elizabeth to make sure she was on board to vote out Lyrsa who they perceived to be the weakest link.
I’d probably have an equally censored reaction to being called the weakest person on my tribe (…even if I could totally see it being true). I loved the sparks that came out of Elizabeth telling Lyrsa she was on the chopping block and I applauded Elizabeth’s boldness in doing so. As far as I could tell, Elizabeth was the only one with loyalty to Lyrsa, so by initiating a turn of the tables, she was sticking her neck out alone for the sake of one person.
This speaks majorly to Elizabeth’s character. It takes a lot of guts to go to Lyrsa like she did and I could see many in Elizabeth’s shoes simply zipping their lips and letting Lyrsa go to save their own skin. Yet, without any hesitation, Elizabeth got into gear to save her “best buddy” and flip the David tribe upside down. I didn’t expect Elizabeth to be a big mover and shaker in this, at least from a strategic standpoint, but hot damn, she’s got some spicy Sandra in her like she said after all! Maybe that’s why she and Lyrsa secretly work so well.
We were promised a big storm from Natalie this week, and… hold on, I have to compose myself first… she fucking delivered.
The entire Goliath segment that was devoted to Natalie showcased 100% of the reason why she was one of the best casting decisions across reality TV history. Is she the smoothest, savviest, most suave-ay person to ever play the game? No, but has she in just two episodes made herself one of the most interesting and entertaining people to ever strut across our TV screens? I think so. Sadly, this has put her in danger, and as far as her strategy to “lay low and get along with everybody…” oh, Nat… I don’t think it means what you think it means. I love Natalie, but just look at everyone’s faces as she talks to them and see if they read “getting along.”
Natalie had so many gold moments this week, and if you aren’t a Natalie fan or didn’t enjoy any of them, then you are sorely missing out. To point out a few of my favorites, she literally laughed in Dan’s face and walked away after hearing his ideas about the shelter, she aggressively demanded Angelina to let her know where she stood before threatening her with some “tricks,” called her tribe a bunch of amateurs/Davids (low blow), and one of the few that was trying to help her (Jeremy) she cut off with an “is that all?” My favorite line though was Jeremy’s question and Natalie’s answer to it:
I can’t even handle her greatness. I think she’s self-aware… I just don’t think she gives any shit about whether or not others are receptive to the way she operates. Jeremy’s line about her being married for 24 years to someone who loves her as she is, thus she’s not changing… was perfectly spot-on. Natalie is Natalie. That’s the way it is and that’s why she’s on Survivor.
One person who gets it, probably because they’re also confident if a little headstrong, is John. Among all the chaos Natalie was stirring up, there was a brief interaction between Natalie and John which is a relationship I would love to see develop in this game. John said he’d like to work with Natalie because no one would suspect it… as in, no one would suspect anyone working with Natalie? Ouch, bro. I hope this turns into a real alliance, though, and I realize I’m breaking my own code here, but I’d be all in for “Natty Mundo” or our “Wednesday Night Delight.”
Natalie still looks like the go-to Goliath first boot, but with all this content and all signs pointing to her departure… I think that’d be too obvious. On the surface it may look like she’s toast, but we’ve been given enough of the Goliaths to see where other cracks have formed. Whether she drops a napalm or not, Natalie’s got a shot.
IMMUNITY – DISASTER FOR THE DAVIDS
Yikes, this was bad. Well, not all bad I guess, but that ending...
The Goliaths took off with a massive lead thanks to Alec being able to build and climb a ladder faster than Bi, but the Davids managed to catch up to the Goliaths as they struggled early to get their grip on the puzzle. I thought this may have been the comeback story the Davids were building toward, but Christian couldn’t carry the tribe through this one, and the Goliaths ended up pulling off a massive victory once they found their balance and rhythm.
My favorite Jeffism during this challenge was when he said that the Goliaths had such a lead, “they can literally take their time and look at these puzzle pieces.” They can literally take their time and look at the puzzle, Jeff? What?
The Goliaths’ victory was likely in part due to Natalie sitting on the sideline – not because she’d have been a hindrance, but they just feared what she’d have to say if the tribe sat her out and went on to lose. She may have broken everyone’s backs on that boat ride back to camp. On the contrary, we actually got a glimpse of what a happy Natalie looks and sounds like.
While she may have screamed “woohoohoo!” I’m sure at the same time she was planning exactly how to kill all the Goliaths if they lost.
SIMPLE AND EASY
Whenever someone says the word “easy” in Survivor, what’s to come is anything but that.
Bi took a tip from Butch Lockley and encouraged her tribe to Bi-lieve in themselves after another loss to the seemingly-invincible Goliaths. What was ironic in her pep talk was that she was preaching that the challenges weren’t about size or strength, yet the people she was closest too were advocating for a vote based most on precisely that.
The plan seemed so set that when Gabby approached Bi and Jessica, they hardly made any effort at all to talk about it in further detail, giving Gabby some “weird vibes.” Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Lyrsa were still figuring out a way to save Lyrsa, initially throwing out Carl’s name as the boot since he was the one to first suggest Lyrsa. Elizabeth then suggested they could do Jessica, and immediately the light bulbs went off in her and Lyrsa’s heads with this beautiful little exchange of looks:
With a tribe of nine, they needed five votes to keep Lyrsa. Gabby was rather emotional about the vote and suddenly paranoid it was somehow going to be her, but Elizabeth and Lyrsa quickly assured her she was fine and asked if she’d vote for Jessica. After Gabby’s earlier conversation, or lack thereof, she was in. With the three girls on board, they needed two more, and with Jessica’s connections to Bi and Carl, and Carl’s to Davie, that only left Christian and Nick as the two other viable votes.
I’m not sure if Gabby was intentionally manipulating Christian here, but if she was, it was very well done. Whether she meant to or not, she was using that emotional intelligence she mentioned in pre-game interviews and appealed to Christian in such a way that made him feel compelled to protect her, even though she still needed little protecting at this point.
After talking with Gabby, it was now Christian’s job to seal the deal and bring his Mason-Dixon alliance partner up to speed. Nick sounded resistant and was focused like the “other side” on keeping the tribe “strong.” One surefire way to weaken a tribe is to create division, but as he alluded to earlier in the episode, Christian was correct about the first vote establishing just that, and unfortunately for Christian he sat in the middle and was responsible for picking which side would get what they wanted. He said this was the exact position he wanted to be in, but it was still clearly causing him some mental anguish:
It took us two episodes to make it here, but man did the editing team make up for that by giving us one of the greatest entrances into tribal council ever. The music, the fire, the set – everything about it sent chills down my spine and had me hopeful this vote would live up to the hype. (I was not disappointed.)
The talk of tribal council, as it can sometimes be, wasn’t total fireworks, but at Lyrsa pointed out, the tension could be cut with a knife. On the surface the Davids looked like a family, but as was also pointed out, the game had not just begun. There was tension rising and some boiling going on beneath that surface.
Nerves were high but so was the exhilaration surrounding the first vote. Christian made reference to a similar feeling of being on a rollercoaster, which has probably been made before, but his analogy actually made perfect sense (take note, Ryan Ulrich). It was a bit of a mic drop moment before the vote and explained why that sense of imminent doom can make something like a rollercoaster, or tribal council, such an adrenaline rush.
Talk is always hard to judge at tribal because rarely is anyone 100% direct. It felt like Jessica could go, but enough of the key players in this vote, mainly Nick and Christian, were making comments about “strength” that had me a little worried still for Lyrsa. The initial vote count of 4 for Lyrsa and 3 for Jessica left me with no surprise, knowing the last two likely came from Mason-Dixon. Thus, when the next vote read Jessica, the blindside hit me, and the tribe’s reaction shots were just as juicy:
WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT LOOK, CHRISTIAN? Out of nowhere I thought Nicholas Cage had entered the game.
The first vote being a 5-4 split was absolutely wild. Elizabeth starting it all by going against the grain and getting Gabby, Christian, and Nick on board made this one so much fun to watch. I sat in awe going, “wow… they actually did it.” The Davids are here to play and they’re not afraid to make it known. If this first vote is to set the stage, the tribal councils to come are sure to be fire!
My feelings on Jessica were like a rollercoaster too, although not as “exhilarating” as Christian would say. Pre-game I didn’t expect much from her, did a total 180 after liking what I saw of her sweetheart side in the premiere, and then another 180 this week when she came off a little… bratty? I wasn’t a big fan of her during Tribal, especially sassing Lyrsa and implying that she hadn’t been playing the game already. This was a bizarrely abrupt end to Jessica’s game after seeing her seemingly strong social prowess last week, but between her and Lyrsa this week, I’m glad Lyrsa’s fight to stay alive was a success. For what it’s worth, Jessica delivered more than I thought she would, perhaps just making her game a little more obvious than she’d have liked.
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
Carl crying over losing Jessica? More nerd love, and Jeremy getting into it with Natalie again? Emotions are continuing to run high this season and I love it! They bring out the best and worst in people which is what I tune in to see. Better yet, it doesn’t look like we’re getting a swap into three tribes at 18, so we’ll get to see these current tribal dynamics play out for a change. Davids will have to put their pieces back together as the Goliaths try to keep from bursting. There’s drama happening on both tribes and I’m glad we’re not going to lose it all by intermingling of tribes with an early swap.
Elizabeth – Watching Elizabeth take the David tribe by storm to save Lyrsa was extraordinary. Like I already said, few have the balls to actually pull off such a move, but I think it’s Elizabeth’s can-do, never-give-up attitude that made her do it. I wasn’t sure if I saw Elizabeth winning this game before, but now she’s a legitimate contender. On top of that, she’s just entertaining as hell. That smirk of hers when the last two votes for Jessica were read…
Lyrsa – I saw how this vote could have easily ended up with Lyrsa’s torch snuffed, but I’m pleased that it did not. I had no doubt Lyrsa would be a colorful character and I’m glad she was scrappy enough to escape this vote. It seems she’s at least safe on the David tribe now, so as long as she doesn’t get swapfucked, Lyrsa could be this season’s first-boot-turned-finalist for me.
Christian – A little toned down this week but we still got to see his quirky side. I can handle him in doses like this where his involvement in the story fits appropriately. Aside from Elizabeth, Christian was probably the David to make the biggest decision in having the vote play out the way it did. I think he’s being set up as the “David Wright” David, though, because him winning would be almost too much of a fairytale for the show at this point.
Natalie – Still the main Goliath to watch. Love her or hate her, she’s casting gold. Natalie’s edit is probably far too negative for her to be a winner, but she’s still on pace to be a legend if she isn’t already. Others can still call me crazy, but I’m confident Natalie’s not going anywhere very soon which is great. Every moment she’s on screen is memorable, and her “if looks could kill” reaction shots are undeniably killing me.
Jeremy – Stepping out of the shadows the most this week for me was Jeremy. He showed game savvy and guts by uncovering Dan’s idol and trying to calm down Natalie, but with the latter being an epic fail, he’s going turbo to take her out. WHY, JEREMY, WHY?
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