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Survivors support each other during a wild Tribal Council

Survivors support each other during a wild Tribal Council
Half of the Survivor David vs. Goliath tribe during the episode 8 reward challenge, which involved them holding sandbags over their heads. (Image by CBS)

“I’m nervous, Jeff,” Davie told Survivor host Jeff Probst before the votes were read and the decision was final. “But I’m more nervous for Christian. This is for him.”

With that, Davie played an immunity idol—and set off a chain of events that itself had been set off by a chain of events earlier in the episode. It was a remarkable outcome not just because of the actual result, but because the editing managed to both conceal what was happening and yet set it up so that the results made sense.

Davie playing an idol for Christian meant that the Goliaths not-so-secret plan to blindside him were in trouble; the Goliaths were cocky enough to have not even split the votes. And Angelina was the Davids’ target.

That’s why Angelina told her BFF, “Dan, we have to do it!” She was asking Dan, who you may recall has approximately 252 hidden immunity idols, to play one for her.

“Dan, please. Please,” Angelina pleaded to Dan. For a moment, I thought he would refuse. After all, she was on everyone’s shit list, as evidenced by this brief montage of reactions to her claiming that telling Elizabeth about the vote was just “a moment of weakness” and not at all strategy:

  • Dan: “Like, really?”
  • Alec: “Angelina, you slime ball.”
  • Alison: “I am not for one minute buying that line.”

But Dan has idols to spare for this season and next, so he played one for Angelina.

That meant all votes for Angelina and Christian were all nullified. While I thought we might be headed for a zero-vote situation, the Davids actually split their votes between Angelina and John.

Whether that was planned by the whole group or not remains to be seen; Davie did precede his idol play by an apology to his group, and Carl seemed defeated when Probst asked him a question, so I wonder if those who voted for Angelina just didn’t know about the plan.

That meant the Mayor of Slamtown went home. To Slamtown?

There was some fun dramatic irony—at least in retrospect. Earlier in the episode, John demoted Christian to a mere “honorary Brochacho,” which I suppose helped him justify his forthcoming vote against Christian.

Even better, as John recalled in his exit interview, is what he said during an interview: “Ironically, I predicted tonight a a Brochacho blindside. I was talking about Christian, though, and it ended up being me. Son of a bitch.”

This kind of wild Tribal Council wouldn’t have been possible without all the idols floating around, and there are also now advantages—including a vote nullifier discovered during this episode and Carl’s idol nullifier.

Nick and Davie found a clue that was so obviously placed that it might as well have been a banner plane flying overhead: Hey dummies! None of you paid any attention to the merge feast sign. There is an advantage!

Actually, I’m the dummy, because when Nick and Davie fixated on the image (a “cool 80s design to put on a t-shirt,” as Nick described the striped sunset with a palm tree silhouette) and started looking for that palm tree, I was like, No, it’s actually on the sign itself. C’mon! 

But they were right: the advantage was underneath a curved palm tree, just like the one on the sign. The best part was that, as Nick retrieved it, Davie created a diversion by standing on a rock and spinning a stick around like he was on Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team.

This was the sort of episode that justified having so many advantages in the game at once; played at the right time in the right ways, they can create interesting outcomes.

Of course, so can good old-fashioned paranoia, second-guessing, and giving up your alliance’s plans to a member of the opposite alliance who’s your buddy.

Mike’s paranoia sends an Goliath home

Mike White, Survivor David vs. Goliath

Mike White during the Survivor David vs. Goliath episode 8. (Image by CBS)

Perhaps the most interesting thing to emerge from tribe swaps in recent seasons was the alliance of six Goliaths and Davids: Alec, Alison, Christian, Gabby, Mike, and Nick. They’re unassuming and could have been so powerful.

I use the past tense because it seems like that alliance was torpedoed this episode by Mike White. Oh, Mike! He decided that Christian was a bigger threat that had to go now.

I appreciated Mike’s focus on the game (“They forget what the real drama here is”) and also his caution (“I have a Goliath alliance, and I have a new alliance of six.”)

I also appreciated Mike’s fourth-wall-breaking comment that viewers might be judging the tribe’s reactions and behavior: “Anybody watching this season, either they’re rooting for Christian, or they’re like, why aren’t they taking out that guy?”

We’re all rooting for Christian, but I’m not sure the latter part is as universally true.

While it probably was too early for the six to show their strength, it certainly would have been similar to the reckless abandon that the game has been played with during its first half.

A vote against Christian meant betraying David allies and, as Alec pointed out, meant aligning himself permanently with the Goliaths, potentially creating a permanent post-merge David vs. Goliath battle.

That’d make sense, though again, this season has—refreshingly! thankfully! awesomely!—not followed that predictable pattern so far.

The predictable, but still wonderfully delicious, pattern that followed Mike and Alec’s conversation was that Alec told his friend Nick, so Nick wouldn’t be blindsided by the Christian blindside.

Alec even said, “You could very easily go fuck things up—if you wanted to.”

Guess what Nick did?

A reward of limp pizza, and a ghost of a former Survivor

The immunity challenge was a repeat of one that Fuck You Brad Culpepper won. This group, however, dropped out super-fast, unable to hold on to their volleyballs.

Probst taunted them with the ghost of a player who was sued by an insurance company for fraud because his physical performance on Survivor didn’t match his disability claims.

That was about the most interesting thing that happened; it was over quickly, and Dan won, rehabilitating his challenge ego after screwing up the reward challenge for his team.

Challenges often require groups to work together, but rare are the challenges that perfectly illustrate both a tribe’s strategizing and who’s doing the work. The reward challenge was like that.

I hope this challenge shows up again during the pre-merge, when actual tribes have to work together, because it was played this week with random teams of six.

The players had to hold sand bags over their heads; if a single bag dropped low enough, its rope would become taught and bring down a deluge of water.

The team could pass sand bags around to each other, literally sharing the weight.

In order to make sure the challenge didn’t last forever, one person had to drop out every 15 minutes, which the teams tried to use strategically.

Ultimately, one of the three bags Dan was holding together slid off his pile, and Probst screamed at him about how overconfident he was. At least he looked hot drenched in water, leaning on the railing in defeat?

The reward was a deluge of pizza: 12 pizzas for six people.

Probst offered them each a taste of a single slice of pizza.

Question I posed on Twitter: Was that Survivor pizza slice out in the sun so long it grew a pineapple on it? Because why else would you do that to a pizza. (I kid you crazy pineapple pizza lovers, with your desire for sweet liquid on top of your pizza.)

Question that occurs to me while thinking of them sharing that limp piece of pineapple and bacon pizza: Are they really that hungry to each take a bite out of the same slice? When they have egg-laying hens and a rooster and rice back at camp? Hard pass.

The winning team returned to camp to find that Production left their dozen pizzas—with some of the boxes open. On an island. With bugs and sun and sand and humidity! Thanks, Production!

But seriously: Thanks, Production, for a season of Survivor that just keeps on giving us warm, fresh, tasty episodes of Survivor. After several seasons that got stuck to the box or arrived limp and cold, this one is still perfectly hot after eight weeks.

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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.


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