The season premiere of Survivor: David vs. Goliath ended its fun night on a somber note. For the first time in Survivor history, the first castaway booted was eliminated not by a Tribal Council vote, but with a medical evacuation instead. We wouldn’t wish that tragedy on anyone. Pat came ready to play and kept fighting to stay, even going so far as to beg to not be removed. However, there was nothing he could do with bad luck on his side. His emotional, tearful goodbye capped an uneven yet enjoyable premiere episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.
Firstly, let’s discuss the season’s theme for a moment because it’s a bit of a stretch. Having big players in life vs. underdogs is generic enough as a concept that both categories could apply to most people depending on the case made. If you need to explain your theme in detail, provide examples, and do a demonstration before leaving the starting ship, the reality is that the theme isn’t too clear. Even Survivor: Ghost Island had a more compelling twist and theme. Still, kudos to Jeff Probst for sticking with the explanations. He kept pushing the narrative and reinforced the mentality into the castaways. By the end of Survivor: David vs. Goliath’s premiere, the castaways seemed on board and embracing their stereotypes.
On the other hand, it was a shame that the editing/narrative pushed us to root for the underdog Davids and root against the Goliaths. Many of the scenes showcased the off-beat, struggling qualities of the Davids while highlighting the egotistical sides of the Goliaths. The editing served the theme, but it skewed the perception. While many of the castaways no doubt have these qualities, we should be able to make our own judgments for the tribes/castaways before they’re split up in the tribe swap twist.
It’s still too early to tell who has the best shot to win Survivor: David vs. Goliath. Although a few of the castaways showed some promise as potential early boots based on their gameplay. On the Davids tribe, Nick didn’t help his case by ignoring camp responsibilities. In the early days of a season, tasks like building the shelter and tending to the camp are very important towards building connections and highlighting value. Nick would’ve been the one to go home if his tribe had been sent to Tribal Council. He needs to show initiative and start contributing to win over the naysayers. If not, he’ll be voted out next.
Lyrsa is also a potential early boot based on the camp discussions. Her name was thrown out, and once your name is a topic of discussion, it can be hard to avoid being an easy vote.
At the Goliath tribe, Natalie and Mike need to do damage control before they’re sent packing. Early discussions about Mike were that he “didn’t need the money” and that he might have an idol. Mike should spend time building relationships with his fellow castaways to squash any rumors. Natalie, on the other hand, faltered from negatively rubbing the tribe the wrong way. To avoid being voted out, she needs to play it cool, calm, and move to the background a bit so that the bigger personalities take each other down first. All of their chances are slim, but the little things could help them get to the jury.
The two challenges stayed true to Survivor standard. A combination of obstacle challenges that culminated in a group puzzle made up the reward and immunity competitions. The games were pretty fun to watch, and even though the opening game involved an imbalanced twist, keeping it to duos made it fresh and new. Will future challenges feature the David vs. Goliath twist? The twist could make things more challenging for the castaways, so we’re open to seeing how things go. The only caveat, however, is that it can’t skew too heavily into an unfair territory.
Rain in Survivor is a consistent and familiar enemy against the castaways. Whenever the weather turned and the rain poured, past castaways were pushed to their limits and it brought out all the tension. Several of the previous Survivor seasons only had perfect sunny weather. Seeing the return of the harsh rain brought on all the nostalgic feelings. The castaways hated it, but the weather looked perfect in the scenes.
Pat’s medical evacuation hit the emotions hard because he had no control over his injury or place in Survivor: David vs. Goliath. An accident took the Survivor opportunity away from him, and nothing he could say or do would be able to fix it once the doctors made the call. For any die-hard fan who dreamed of being on Survivor (or any reality TV show), being forced out of the game is never the way anyone wishes to go. Pat wanted to play the game, make the moves, and eventually win or get voted out at Tribal Council. Hopefully, he gets a second chance someday to find out his true potential.
The season premiere of Survivor: David vs. Goliath introduced us to all the movers and shakers competing for the million-dollar prize. The group seemed to be a good mix of competitive threats, early boots, and TV-ready characters. Judgment hasn’t been officially set for the season twist, but so far it doesn’t look like one that will become a long-time favorite. However, the season is just getting started and there is a lot of game left to play. Maybe someone will prove us wrong?