Survivor: David vs. Goliath recap: Hope is not a strategy
Are you sick yet? Have you hit the stage of regret after eating so much Halloween candy that you’re ready to vomit up Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Cream and Milky Way Simply Caramel bars? Has the remorse of the sugar junkie finally taken hold? If so, let me assure you: I’ve been there for a week already. I always insist on buying Three Musketeers to give out to costumed kids because it is the best candy in the history of candy. The only problem is my wife insists on buying freakin’ Almond Joy because, apparently, she enjoys ruining young children’s Halloween by contaminating their bags with the most disgusting chocolate treat imaginable.
We do this so that when we are inevitably stuck with leftover candy, we have our favorite one on hand, but because we have such disparate tastes when it comes to chocolate — and, well, pretty much everything — the whole situation has escalated into some sort of Halloween Cold War with each of us amassing as much ammunition as possible as early as possible to drown out the other. Then we just start eating it all before Halloween even arrives. So I’ve felt pretty gross since, like, Monday. (Not as gross as any of the kids who came to my house this evening and got stuck with the Almond Joy. Seriously, they’d probably prefer the dreaded box of raisins.)
But I’ve got just the medicine for you over-indulgers out there. A special Halloween recap of this week’s Survivor episode! And in the spirit of said holiday, we shall divide each section into Tricks & Treats. Allow the super spooky recapping to begin!
In the ultimate Halloween trick of all, editors included a bit in the “Previously on…” segment that was not, in fact, previously on! That’s right: In the recap segment, we saw Angelina saying while voting for Lyrsa that “This is just a phony vote so I can try and get Natalie’s jacket before she leaves” — which cleared up any confusion as to why she voted the way she did. I can’t recall whether the show has ever done that before. I can’t recall because usually, I am only paying half attention to that part of the show. But if it’s not new to the show it’s at least new to me.
I actually kind of love this. Producers are always bemoaning that they don’t have enough time every week to cram in everything they want, so why not sneak in some previously unseen footage into the “Previously on…”? Regardless, this is just the latest example of a production that has been trying out a lot of new things this season and taking more risks in terms of the way they present their storytelling, and so far, it’s paid off big time.
Angelina then later informed Lyrsa that she only voted for her in an attempt to trick Natalie into giving her the jacket. I guess she hoped this would bring them closer, but it actually had the opposite effect. “A jacket? Like, that’s very petty,” said Lyrsa. “And that’s really mean and says a lot about Angelina’s character. For her, the jacket is more important than me. So I don’t trust her.”
I wouldn’t either. Here’s the thing about Angelina, she is super sneaky and playing the game super hard, which I LOVE. (She reminds me a bit of Eliza and R.C.) But the problem is, she is not very good at hiding that she is super sneaky and playing the game super hard. Angelina’s poker face is just not strong enough. The best players are the ones you think you can trust, but nobody seems to think they can trust Angelina.
“Natalie going home was bittersweet. She was bitter, and for the tribe, it was sweet.” That’s a great line from Angelina. In fact, tonight’s episode was filled with fantastic sound bites.
I could watch an entire hour of Christian spearfishing. CORRECTION: I could watch an entire hour of Christian walking down the beach in flippers to go spearfishing. Why was he putting the flippers on at the top of beach to walk all the way down in? That was super awkward! Just put them on in the water! Incredible. (Note: I watched Parvati and Courtney do this exact same thing when I was out there for Heroes vs. Villains.) And just to hear him describing his “spring-loaded murder machine” was fantastic as well.
We haven’t had a ton of big challenge comebacks this season, but we had one here in the reward contest as the teams pulled a big trick on us during the final stage. The challenge itself involved one person being attached to a heavy bag of coconuts while the team had to get the bag to the beach and lift the bag to enable the attached person to climb over an obstacle and retrieve four rings. Then the team had to land those rings on a target. First place got cooking utensils, herbs, spices, and four kebabs. Second place got two kebabs.
Anyway, Jabeni was getting their collective ass kicked. Like, it was kind of embarrassing. Don’t take my word for it. Take Probst’s! “This is a disaster for Jabeni! Absolute disaster!” (See, told you.) Meanwhile, Vuku was dominating, going into the ring toss with a massive lead. Only then something funny happened. Vuku ended up getting last place after they could not land the rings, and Jabeni came back to take second and win some food for their trouble. No doubt that food would serve as fuel for the upcoming immunity challenge that they would surely dominate!
Ugh… I can’t believe I am having to put the “Brochachos” under the Treat category. Someone kill me right now. But it’s not so much the concept or existence of the Brochachos meriting the Treat designation, rather the reaction to said Brochachos. Obviously, we had Christian talking about how much he loved fitting in with the fellas and how “I always wanted to be that guy. I always wanted to be someone that people wanted to talk to. One of my biggest fears is being ostracized, being left out of the loop… I’m becoming this Goliath-like figure from these David-like origins.”
That was nice, I suppose, but you all know I have no heart and that the oft-repeated “I was such a nerd in high school and never fit in and now I’m finding myself and proving to myself that I am more than I thought I was” narrative doesn’t do a whole lot for me because I’ve heard it repeated so many times before. (Doesn’t mean that what the folks are saying is not true and moving; I’ve just become a bit numb to it after the first 5,000 I heard it on this show. I am also an emotionless monster.)
No, the reaction to the Brochachos that I absolutely loved came from Gabby. She saw Christian forming a strong bond with the bros. She knew Alison was safe because she was part of the Goliath majority. That meant she was vulnerable if they lost the immunity challenge. Sure, Gabby could hope that it all turned out okay, but then she said one of my favorite lines in the history of this show: “Hope is not a strategy.”
YES! EXACTLY! I pray every single future Survivor player heard these words of wisdom and has them tattooed on their face before they head out to the island. You can’t sit in this game passively and just hope it all works out. You can’t just lean on hope and hope for hope. That makes you a bystander and not a player. You need to be an active participant and start charting the course of the game as opposed to following.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you need to make a bunch of Big Movez™. You don’t have to go out and do something crazy. But you can’t sit idly and let the game pass you by either. And that is exactly why Gabby went about trying to build bonds with Alison — turning on the tears and saying she felt connected to her. And it worked! “I am an enormously empathetic person,” Alison then told us. Alison also was rightfully concerned about the Brochachos and the fact that Dan had an idol (actually, two). Will Gabby’s play pay dividends at some point? Who knows. But it’s certainly better than sitting back and doing nothing. “Hope is not a strategy.” I love it.
John Morrison just moonwalked on national television. That is all.
There certainly were some tricky social dynamics going down at the Vuku camp. Apparently, Elizabeth came into the game with a bad back injury and hadn’t been sleeping well on the uneven bamboo. So she came up with a plan to split the bamboo to make it more comfortable and flat. Only one problem: She neglected to run it by the rest of the tribe.
This led to the one time Thoroughbred practically knocking Carl into the fire with what appeared to be the world’s longest bamboo ever (seriously, it was like the clown car of bamboo; it just kept going and going and going) and then complaining that it was not a “group decision” to put the bed back even though she did not allow for a group decision before taking it apart in the first place. “There’s two things in life I don’t like,” Elizabeth informed us. “It’s lazy people. And it’s STUPID people.” None of the people on this tribe appear particularly lazy or stupid (especially Carl, who was Mr. Work Ethic earlier in the season), so I’m not sure what she’s getting at there, but it confirmed what we first suspected when this Vuku tribe was put together — that Elizabeth was not close with her fellow Davids.
I’m gonna just say it: I loved the design of this immunity challenge in which teams had to fill up a large saucer with water and go through obstacles and empty whatever water they had left into a well which would release a bag pf puzzle pieces for the inevitable puzzle. And I loved it for a few reasons.
I loved it because it played out like a horror movie. Every time a tribe bumped into something, causing water to spill over the edges, my hands were instinctively drawn to my face in shock. We’ve seen many different variations of fill-this-with-water-before-you-can-move-on before, and with the sole exception of “Spit it Out” from Survivor: Nicaragua (in which players were strapped to a giant wheel, spun so that they were momentarily submerged upside down under water and then had to spit the water they collected at the top into a tube) this may have been the best yet.
I also loved it because it disproved my argument that you all have heard a million times before that any challenge with a puzzle is all about the puzzle, and that the rest is merely window dressing. Not so this time. Jabeni didn’t even GET to the puzzle. They struggled mightily to even hold their saucer up, much less carry any water in it. They simply didn’t have the strength for this one.
Which brings us to another thing I loved: The fact that we had a blow-out. Not every single challenge has to go down to the wire. Sometimes there is something to be said for watching one tribe completely get annihilated. How do they react? Do they give up? Do they power through it? Survivor is a brutal game and as someone who has competed in over 20 of them, I can tell you, these are brutal challenges. It’s good to feel that brutality sometimes — or at least feel others feeling it. When Jabeni’s water kept falling out of their saucer, I cringed. When Nick began cramping and Angelina’s hands started bleeding, I winced. And when Mike dropped the saucer on the balance beam and they all stood there looking at it, silently acknowledging that they weren’t going to bother picking it up, I semi-gasped. A good portion of Survivor is miserable, and it was nice to see that misery reflected.
Did I mention I loved this challenge?
The following four seconds:
Was there a trick played on viewers in terms of information being left out of the last episode? Perhaps. After Jabeni was pulverized in the challenge, they headed back to the beach and it quickly became a question as to whether Angelina or Lyrsa would get voted out. In another example of the effective cross-cutting approach that started with the Domenick–Chris Noble showdown of last season, cameras here cut back and forth between Lyrsa trying to convince Mike to vote out Angelina, and Angelina trying to convince Nick to take out Lyrsa. Both said okay, but neither seemed convinced.
Eventually, it came down to a conversation between the Rock Stars (I hate myself for using that nickname) as the decision was essentially in their air-guitar-strumming hands. But what was really interesting is what happened at Tribal Council. It was something Angelina said. And it didn’t, for once, involve jackets. You may have even missed it. “We wouldn’t have made the move last Tribal Council on Natalie if we didn’t have a plan,” said Angelina. “And I am really hoping that is what we stick to tonight.”
Interesting. Verrrrrry interesting. Okay, maybe not that interesting, but if I am reading this correctly — and chances are I am not — then Angelina is implying that she and Mike made a deal with Nick that they would agree to get rid of Natalie only if he agreed to get Lyrsa out next. Quid pro quo, if you will. Now, Nick could have made like my main man Dreamz and reneged on that deal, but probably not without bringing Mike along for the ride, which also might explain their conversation where they decided which way to vote, with Nick appearing to defer to Mike on the decision.
And the decision was Lyrsa, who probably survived for longer than a lot of people thought she would. And, of course, she wasn’t happy about it, but not for the reason you may think, which brings us to…
So, here were Lyrsa’s final words after being voted out: “Of course it sucks to lose, but if you want me to be honest, I’m really, really upset that I will have to sit next to Miss Natalie at the reunion and I have to go with her right now to Ponderosa.”
The fact that Lyrsa is already thinking — and being bummed out — about who she would be sitting next to at a live reunion show nine months later for a total of about 40 minutes makes me love Lyrsa in a way I did not know was possible. And if producers don’t play that back at the reunion and then cut to a close-up on the two of them, then they are doing it wrong.
That was a great parting shot by Lyrsa, but before we part so you can move on to the next house to score some Rolos and Krackels we have a few more treats for you. Treats like an exclusive deleted scene from last night’s episode. Treats like our weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst. And treats like our exit interview with Lyrsa, who will be calling into EW Morning Live (SiriusXM, channel 105) Thursday at 9:40 a.m. ET. Simply too many treats! Once again, we are going to send your stomach into an ache of epic proportions. Of course, you can also follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss — not that it will make your stomach feel any better, but you can still do it.
And now it’s your turn. Were you rooting for Lyrsa or Angelina to go? Did you love the water saucer challenge? And what is the ultimate Halloween candy? Weigh in on the message boards below and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!