Paranoia is the name of the game for the second episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath. Castaways are typically on edge the closer they get to a Tribal Council, especially when dealing with the fear of potentially being voted out. Gabby’s paranoia, in particular, erupted and went to a whole new level. While her actions might be a warning sign for her inevitable downfall, her decision led to a smart move. We can thank Jessica’s and Bi’s dismissive tones for triggering the first epic blindside of Survivor: David vs. Goliath.
Flipping the vote on Jessica was the perfect example of Survivor’s ever-changing gameplay. After the David tribe lost the immunity challenge, the odds looked like Lyrsa would be the one to go. Everyone had naturally planned to vote her out since they deemed her the “weakest.” All it took was for Gabby to feel unsure about Bi/Jessica, and Elizabeth wanting to keep Lyrsa around, to shake up the entire voting path. A move of this magnitude wouldn’t be enough with only one motivation and the change would require a domino effect. In this case, Gabby felt paranoid and went to Elizabeth/Lyrsa to get out Jessica, Gabby was close to Christian and got his vote, and he was in an alliance with Nick. All the pieces fell into place to blindside Jessica.
This new voting bloc made the right call in breaking up the emerging power trio of Bi/Jessica/Carl. Not all alliances formed in the early weeks made it to the end together, but those strong relationships do affect vote decisions. Castaways tend to keep their friends and acquaintances around–and those relationships form blocs, like what happened in Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. If the David tribe had voted out Lyrsa, castaways like Elizabeth and Gabby would’ve ended up at the bottom of the totem pole while Nick and Christian played the middle until they were voted out themselves. By flipping it around, the entire power structure switched. The flip was an inadvertent masterful move made solely because of paranoia. You can’t help but be impressed by the switch.
Lyrsa being deemed the weakest of the David tribe was a shaky argument. Her tribe judged her based on physical appearance alone instead of challenge performance and potential. If they had, Bi would’ve been labeled the weakest since she fumbled during the immunity challenge. Lyrsa had already proven her strength by winning the launch challenge during the season premiere while the others either had short memories or they didn’t care. Lyrsa should use this reprieve to cement some alliances and guarantee herself safety, similar to how Nick bounced back from being the early target.
Over at the Goliath tribe, Natalie’s game is essentially DOA. Her direct personality rubbed her tribe the wrong way every time she confronted someone about not voting her out. Strong personalities have won Survivor in the past, like Tony on Survivor: Cagayan or Boston Rob on Survivor: Redemption Island, but you need the awareness to know when to pull back. Natalie showed her stubbornness to change when she rejected Jeremy’s advice, and on top of that, her denial exposed her terrible gameplay.
Instead of taking Jeremy’s words to heart, she rebuffed him and turned him into an enemy. A smart Survivor player would have used his advice to make the change and build a bond with Jeremy, which would then help guarantee her safety. Natalie’s odds to win Survivor are essentially non-existent.
Jeremy, on the other hand, is a castaway we should keep our eyes on. During “The Chicken Has Flown the Coop,” he showed his cunning determination when he discovered Dan’s secret hidden immunity idol. Knowing that someone has an idol is valuable information that could be worth a million dollars. Information is power and he and Mike can use that power to break up the potential showmance of Dan and Kara. Jeremy has all the potential to make it far on Survivor, so we’ll have to wait and see if he doesn’t get blindsided.
Natalia, Kara, and Angelina’s emerging power trio is another alliance with all the potential. The structure is very reminiscent of The Brigade alliance, which dominated and won Big Brother 12, as they each had a close ally in the Goliath tribe to control votes. If the ladies can keep their alliance a secret, and they don’t turn on each other, they could find themselves easily controlling the pre- and post-merge game. And it could prove a problem now that Kara is cooling down her showmance, and Jeremy/Mike knowing about Dan’s idol.
Jessica’s blindside was a satisfying disaster we couldn’t look away from. Her words at Tribal Council confirmed the assumption that she had no clue at all her name had been brought up as a target. You could see the realization dawn on her face as the votes were being read. Her biggest gameplay problem in Survivor: David vs. Goliath was that she got too comfortable. She assumed that she was safe enough, based on her relationships and her physical capabilities, so much so that she didn’t need to reaffirm plans. If she hadn’t been smug or dismissed people, the trouble wouldn’t have happened. It’s a shame she did leave because she could’ve been a good villain to have around based on her confessionals.
“The Chicken Has Flown the Coop” brought Survivor: David vs. Goliath back to form after the average season premiere. The castaways adjusted to Survivor life and they overcame the trials of the heavy rainstorm. (Seriously, they were in a cyclone?!) With the sunshine in tow, their reinvigorated energy provided entertaining gameplay that delivered a satisfying follow-up episode. Players played the game… and one castaway got played.