The merge arrived on Survivor David vs. Goliath with boats carrying two of the three tribes to their new camp, and leading into an epic battle that may or may not ultimately end with someone getting a slingshotted stone in the forehead.
While there was far more merge uncertainty and intrigue than usual, this episode was somewhat the inverse of others this season.
Previously, what seemed like misdirection actually did end with a surprise vote, such as a Goliath betraying their own.
This episode—which uncovered what appeared to be genuine fractures and the possibility that the vote could go any way, complete with a pre-Tribal scramble like no other and then a wild Tribal Council—instead ended with a unanimous vote. Unanimous!
The original Davids are the minority on this newly formed tribe—which is somehow not named Slamtown but instead named after something Elizabeth Googled before arriving on the beach—but they didn’t even bother to vote for a Goliath.
Instead, they turned on their own, Elizabeth.
Although Alec is ready to turn on his Goliath original tribe (“It’s my time to shine right now,” he said, before deciding to keep his light switch off), and although Alec’s blindside of Natalia freaked out Angelina (“a careless and emotional move,” she scolded), the Goliath tribe was standing together in a way that the David tribe was not.
Perhaps the Davids felt immediately defeated by having less power than the Goliaths, so they just resigned themselves to defeat and voted with the Goliaths? Which is pretty similar to the Biblical story, right?
The internal rift was exposed early. The merge feast was preceded by Carl:
- Telling us he wanted to get rid of Elizabeth.
- Delaying that a moment for a beer.
- Drunkenly telling Dan how much he’s annoyed by Elizabeth.
Nick and Christian reunited, with Nick sharing information about the 50 percent of Dan’s idols he knows about, and Christian looking so weathered that I thought he was auditioning for Castaway part 2.
Christian is the king of Survivor asides, whether they’re non-sequiturs or pieces of useful information, like his brief lecture about factorials at Tribal.
In an interview talking about his new knowledge of Dan’s idol, he started a sentence with “That is…” and then the log he was leaning against shifted, and so did he: “…a piece of wood.” He adjusted the wood and continued: “That’s a huge piece of information.”
The interesting alliance to watch is Alec, Christian, Nick, plus Mike, Alison, and Gabby. But for now, they’re dormant.
Angelina takes the Goliaths to war, but Dan objects
The Survivor David vs. Goliath cast continues to be one of the best casts ever for me.
One reason, besides the theories I wrote about last week, occurred to me during this episode: While some of them sometimes do or say annoying things—Kara giggling to Dan about how she was just going to step aside for him, “I would love to see you win—none of them are annoying people.
Survivor, like other reality shows, has often confused character for explosive personalities. It’s the difference between a glass of wine (yes, please) and ethanol (which may get you drunk but will also probably kill you).
This season has rich, well-rounded characters, none of whom are crazy-pants personalities who shouldn’t have been on an island nor on TV.
And this cast is also much more complex, perhaps because of who they are or perhaps because the editing is showing us more. After Dan freaked out that Elizabeth was targeting him and ran away (“Dan! Dan!”), Kara said in an interview, “Get yourself together, slap yourself into shape. It could be so much worse.”
Dan got a lot of attention this episode, including during the immunity challenge, which I was thinking was pretty amazing and such a great example of a Survivor challenge, and then I realized I’d done too much thinking because Jeff Probst was there to tell us what we were watching and what to think about it: “Another unique challenge on Survivor.”
As Dan swung his pendulum around—which sounds like an even more exciting challenge—Dan said quietly to himself, “Keep telling yourself how awesome you are. You are the man.” The editors subtitled that in case we couldn’t hear.
Angelina was also at the center of the action, leading her tribe into battle metaphors that annoyed Dan. Although they ended up sticking together, I wonder what the outcome will be of this Dan/Angelina conflict.
“You never want your enemy to know where you’re going to hit,” she told the Goliaths, and seemed to win them over with her argument that they should target Christian instead.
Then the Goliaths talked when she wasn’t around and decided they were annoyed by her bossiness and went back to their original plan.
They told her, and that’s when things got interesting. Angelina told John and Alison that she doesn’t feel safe with her original tribe as a result of their disagreement? change of plans? talking behind her back?
So she forgot all of her war plans and called Elizabeth over for a secret hidden meeting with a camera crew filming them.
Once Elizabeth reported that she was the target, that gave Gabby an idea: blow this shit up at Tribal and expose Angelina as a mole. This, Gabby said, was preferable to the David strategy of “just sit there in the shelter and hope that it’s not you.”
But both things ended up happening: The Davids sat so passively by that they even participated in the vote against Elizabeth, and Elizabeth exposed Angelina.
Angelina had to do damage control: “This is just bad strategy.” “This is what they want.” “They’re just trying to fracture us.”
I’m surprised this revelation didn’t have more of an effect, and was surprised not just that the Goliaths stuck together, but that the vote was unanimous.
Perhaps everyone is wanting to play it safe since they’re just getting used to the newly merged tribe. But that’s not how anyone has played so far; they’ve played rather recklessly—to our great entertainment.
Earlier in the episode, I appreciated the first half of Alec’s metaphor: “This is the party. This is what everyone RSVPed for,” he said.
Then he added, “You can pick up the girls, you can bro out with the dudes.” I don’t think you can do bro jobs on network TV at 8 p.m., dudeman, but it certainly does seem like a fun party is just getting started.