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On Survivor, ‘poor awareness and poor communication skills’ lead to an epic showdown

On Survivor, ‘poor awareness and poor communication skills’ lead to an epic showdown

Survivor David vs. Goliath’s third episode was as pure and pleasurable an episode of Survivor as one can hope for: an epic showdown between two allies turned enemies, clearly edited conflicts on each tribe, and an immunity challenge in rain so thick some players couldn’t even open their eyes to look at a soaking wet Jeff Probst and his bounty of pillows, which means they missed his delightful smile when thunder cracked exactly when he was about to introduce their reward. Wonderful!

At the Goliath Tribe’s camp, John took a break from smashing a coconut with a rock the size of Rhode Island—which is perhaps how he’d become 350 times larger in the confessional, with his muscles and veins bulging so much some of them ended up in my living room—to foreshadow the Goliath tribe’s first major conflict.

John said that he’s “getting better at old-school human skills,” and said “Survivor is about growing as a person and connecting with people.”

Cue the showdown between Jeremy and Natalie, two people who were convinced about the strength of their human skills while repeatedly demonstrating the opposite, at least in what was included in the edit.

I didn’t know who to root for because I like both of them, as people and players.

The editing set this up by giving extra attention to Jeremy, fleshing him out more as a character, especially as he shared with Mike and in a tearful confessional about his relationship with his dad, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s.

That emotional disclosure was followed by the editors including an interview with Mike, who said, “I don’t want to be taken down with Jeremy.” In retrospect, that was helping to explain the unanimous Tribal Council vote, but in the moment, it felt cold—on Mike’s part, but also the editors and producers’ part.

Natalie set herself up as an early target, following in the footsteps of so many people before her. In one of Jeremy’s more searing lines, he told her, “I’m sorry, I thought you said you watched Survivor. I realize now: you have never seen Survivor.”

But Jeremy followed in the footsteps of so many players before him and let paranoia take over. Well, paranoia and ego, a potent mix. He told us, “I’m the biggest threat right now because they know I think things out.”

So he did the rational thing and called a tribe meeting and insist that their “side conversations” were “not appropriate.”

He may as well have sat them down and said, Look, the first vote’s going to be too easy, so I’m offering myself as an even easier target. You’re welcome.

Jeremy Crawford, Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 3

Jeremy Crawford during Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 3, in which he got himself into deep water. (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment)

“Natalie has poor awareness and poor communication skills,” said the person whose Survivor edit gave a lot of attention to his poor awareness and poor communication skills.

The tribe picked up on this, of course, and Angelina said that Jeremy was nervous because any kind of strategizing might upset the status quo—“the status quo being Natalie,” she said.

The Goliath tribe’s first immunity challenge loss didn’t seem to alter the plan to vote out Natalie, at least not until Jeremy started pointing fingers at himself. For example, he told others that he’d searched Dan’s pockets and found a hidden immunity idol.

When Natalie approached Jeremy, she asked him, “Where is my support from my brother?” Jeremy basically responded by offering to drive her to Ponderosa: “I don’t think you have the support.”

That led to an interaction that spilled over into Tribal Council and needs to be re-watched, not typed into words.

Jeremy refused to let Natalie have conversations with others, and then kept following her around—perhaps a smart move, but also such a conspicuous one it’s hard to see how that plays out in any way other than making him look bad.

The tribe probably decided to flip before Tribal Council, judging by the unanimous vote (I assume the vote was unanimous even though Alec voted for “Jermey”).

There was also Natalie’s absolutely spectacular moment in the voting confessional (“Get off my island. By the way, your skin is gorgeous, darling”).

But even if she was confident, Natalie did an excellent job of reassuring everyone at Tribal: that she was with the tribe, and that she’d heard their feedback—a change from just a few Survivor days ago.

“If there is a tribe swap, I am Goliath strong,” she told the tribe, and gave the episode its title. “Are there some learning lessons in here for me? Absolutely,” she said, citing John’s critique of her “delivery of the content.”

In an episode full of wonderful lines, she added another: “I don’t have all of the answers. I have many of them.”

Natalie Cole, Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 3

Natalie Cole during Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 3 (Photo by Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment )

While the Natalie/Jeremy drama consumed the back part of the episode, the David camp got some early attention that set up possible future conflicts.

Davie was not thrilled that his “number ones” blindsided him, and Bi said the blindside of Jessica “woke me up.”

Nick, meanwhile, insisted that”Mason-Dixon’s gonna decide” the outcome of future votes. That’s his name for his alliance with Christian, and also something he should have Googled first; it’s not just the line between the North and South during the Civil War, but the boundary indicated where slavery was legal and where it was not, and hearing him say it again and again with such cheerfulness is a bit awkward.

The two tribes were pretty evenly matched during the immunity challenge, and it came down—as it has so, so many times in previous seasons—to the puzzle. I was as thrilled as the David tribe, if only because I like the balance of power to shift.

During that challenge, Bi—who’d previously torn her MCL—hurt her knee, and said she “felt something unstable.”

Instability is what’s ahead: the preview showed a tribe swap.

I really wish we weren’t doing a tribe swap just as things have gotten interesting on both tribes, but such is the nature of the production’s insecurity at this stage in Survivor. Right now, though, I’m going to savor this episode.

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  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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