Matt Liguori analyzes the Survivor: David vs Goliath cast each week to pick out his top three players, his bottom two, and one player we should be keeping an eye on. This week, Matt is joined by special guest Austin Trupp!
Survivor 3•2•1 — David vs Goliath Week 9
Another incredible episode of an incredible season with an incredible cast. David vs Goliath has yet to let me down and I don’t even care if I’m jinxing it, they deserve every bit of recognition that comes their way. Everybody is playing! It’s so damn good.
Last week’s blog featured our newest jury member Dan in the bottom 2. Dan had been lingering down there since the merge and it finally caught up with him. He invested too much of his game into his relationship with Kara. He filled her in on his second idol and it totally blew up in his face. As Jeremy pointed out back in week 3, Dan thought he was in a showmance.. but Kara was in a strategy. A lack of willingness to connect with the Davids combined with strong challenge performances meant Dan was always going to be a target as soon as the shot was available.
As you’ll notice, things look a little double-sized this week! With an upcoming double episode, I thought this would be a great time to bring in a guest for the first (and likely only) time this season. Help me welcome in the host and creator of Survivor Maryland, Austin Trupp! This certainly has been a long time coming; while unfortunately I had never brought Austin into the Power Rankings, I’m very happy to have him here now. Make sure you follow Austin on Twitter @austintaciouss, and if you have yet to check out his wildly impressive work with Survivor: Maryland, remember that the CBS Survivor off-season is around the corner! You won’t regret it.
Thoughts? Comments? Agreements? Disagreements? Reach out on twitter @mattliguori or leave a comment below!
Austin: “Oh hey guys! I’m so excited to finally be here on the blog. Just like Alison, I’ve really needed a resume booster. It’s an honor to be here with Matt Lig..ooree? Ligohri? Ligally Blonde? However you spell it, props to the man who actually invented the Sector approach (to blogging, at least).”
REMINDER, since it’s been a while: If reading on a mobile device, rotate your screen for the maximum side-by-side reading enjoyment!
As far as I’m concerned, nobody had a better week than Kara. From the very beginning of the episode, Kara told us that although Dan was once her closest ally in the game, she felt like he was holding her back and keeping her from being able to play a game she could win. She was ready to cut ties and take him out, but needed avoid causing too big of a scene. Things got hairy with Alec and Alison changing their minds, but in the end Kara kept her word to the Davids with her plan to split the vote and took out the anchor holding her down.
Looking ahead, Kara has plenty of room to hide; Christian and Angelina are both big targets. The Davids have been killing it with their advantages, increasing the target on their backs each week. Additionally, Kara hasn’t been performing very well in immunity challenges, while her allies Alec and Alison have both won one apiece.
I’m very high on Kara right now, based on not only her game, but also Stephen Fischbach’s two favorite words: Winner’s Edit.
Speaking of sectors, let’s start off with the person who I’d easily put at #1 in the power rankings: Christian Hubicki. (Side note: I haven’t been able to get that Hubicki Wandoff out of my head all week. Huuu-bicki you so fiiiiiine.) It’s been a wild few rounds for our favorite robot scientist, but he’s made it safely through having his name written down twice – and not only that, like the Sword of Gryffindor he’s actually imbibed more powers along the way. Christian is now the only person with an advantage/idol in the game; while his David crew knows about that, there’s zero risk of them turning on him with the current numbers. Plus, I think there’s this psychological phenomenon on Survivor where players feel compelled to shift the target after it fails multiple times in a row (unless you’re Stephen Fishbach vs. Joe Anglim). The Goliaths are primed to switch their target, but even if they do go after Christian…. Bing!
Like I said last week, Carl keeps finding a way to get it done. Holding onto the idol nullifier and playing it perfectly makes Carl a lock for this week’s top 3. But here’s the thing… going forward, does he have any cards left or was this his one shining moment?
It’s troubling to see that he’s going to have a blow up with Gabby next week. The Goliaths are on the rocks and it shouldn’t be hard to ensure the next boot is one of their numbers, but dissension among the group certainly won’t help the Davids’ cause.
Either way, Carl’s riding high right now after three Tribals in a row of getting exactly what he wanted and having an influence in making it all happen.
This was a tough decision for me, because all five of the Davids have to be near the top after evening the numbers and proving to be a much more cohesive unit than the Goliaths. Ultimately I settled on Nick being in the top remaining position — he’s clearly demonstrated having the best mix of cross-alliance relationships (Mike, Alec, and Angelina at the very least) and his name has never come up as a target.
I almost swapped Nick with Gabby, but to me Gabby’s one deep connection (Alison) doesn’t quite outweigh Nick’s broad swath of relationships and we’ve seen Mike be concerned about her in the game. There seems to be plenty to come with her storyline this week – more of a player to watch than a solid top 3. If things go well, we’ll see her jump into the top next week (I won’t be here so…. Matt, make that happen please).
Gabby re-enters the top 3 this week with a little bit of luck on her side. By sticking strong with the Davids, Gabby has had two great weeks in a row by sitting back and watching her allies play idols and advantages that have put the Davids back even in the numbers with the Goliaths. The downside there.. these moves won’t be on Gabby’s resume. But the upside.. the target will be on her allies backs and not hers.
I still see no reason why anybody would be coming after Gabby. She’s not out in front of her alliance at Tribals, she’s not an obvious threat in challenges, and she has connections to Alec and Alison over on the Goliath side. Things could change next week given the preview of what looks like a blowup between her and Carl.. but the dynamics of this final 10 are so up in the air and she’s probably one of the least likely people I think are currently in danger.
All of us are feeling the David momentum and thinking that it seems inevitable they’ll take control of the game this week, but… what if they don’t? Of the Goliaths, Kara is absolutely in the best spot. She kept her options open with last vote, she’s a charmer, she’s an underrated challenge threat, and I’m confident she can establish herself in whatever new dynamics form beyond David vs Goliath.
The reason she’s here over Alec is that Alec’s threat level has to catch up to him eventually, whereas I don’t think anyone will be rushing to go after Kara yet. Plus, this kind of reminds me of the (shameless plug) Survivor Maryland partner twist: with her partner/anchor cut loose, Kara basically gets a honeymoon two weeks of people letting her stick around as long as she does nothing super offensive – she’ll be living without a Kara in the world!
Strange occurrence here, placing a guy who just found an idol in the bottom 2. I guess it’s just my thing. Dan (he-who-once-had-idols) had been in the bottom 2 for a few weeks, so I suppose now that he’s out I need to replace him with our latest idol finder. The problem is that just like Dan, Christian made the mistake of telling others about finding the idol. There seems to be a theme this season (which Alec restated in this episode)… don’t tell anyone you have an idol! Dan was screwed this episode because he told one person, but Christian just went and told four people.
Christian’s name has been coming up far too often. The entire Goliath tribe sees him as a threat. Although the Davids still need him for a number right now, I’d imagine they too wouldn’t mind seeing him go sooner rather than later. There’s just been too many votes coming Christian’s way lately for me to feel comfortable with his spot in the game.
I just don’t think Mike is in a great spot and I feel it could blow up in his face really soon. Back at the merge, Mike was in Matt’s top 3 for legitimate reasons – look at him creating the Strike Force! Look at all his options! He’s not a threat!
Three weeks later and Mike just kind of punted all of that away? His only shred of hope is the Rockstars alliance (puke emoji), or the Goliaths somehow taking back the numbers – which seems qWhite unlikely. Nick might keep Mike safe for a few weeks, but I doubt Alison is super compelled to keep him around; if he starts to target Gabby, I don’t love his chances. In the slightly-modified words of the great Omar Little (shouts to The Wire fans), “IF YOU COME AT THE QUEEN, YOU BEST NOT MISS.” Don’t be shocked if Gabby takes Ned back to School this episode.
Imagine this were Survivor: Cagayan and instead of Sarah Lacina being voted out as the merge boot, one side of that vote was able to take her vote away, removing the power in her hands. That’s what it felt like happened from the Davids this round. Alison started out the episode telling Kara and Alec “I keep telling the Davids I’m going to make a move with them… and then I don’t.” She spends the first half of the episode on board with the plan to go after Dan. Next thing you know, we have Alison telling us “I feel like the Davids are pulling one over on us and I need to stay Goliath strong.” This kind of wishy-washy back and forth play is not often respected by a jury, let alone useful in maintaining alliances to get you to the end. I said last week that Alison was looking like she’s in a great spot, but she’s doing a less than ideal job in maintaining that.
This might be a controversial take, but if anything I think I’m just an episode too early. Alec has been an unexpected star this season; he’s really good at Survivor! But how long can he keep this up? With an immunity win last week, a tightrope-walk of alliances across the tribes, and plenty of buzz about him being strategic since the Natalia vote, people can’t be feeling too great about taking Alec deep into the game. It just takes one person to call that out and get the Dave Ball rolling.
Along with that, Alec’s move to essentially vote with the Davids last week was a smart one. Actions speak louder than words, and votes speak WAY louder than words. But they have to feel uncertain about his motives and whether he would have done it pre-vote steal. Most of all, he might have a certain someone coming after him particularly hard…
1 TO WATCH
Another week of votes being piled onto Angelina but Angelina doesn’t go home? You don’t say! Angelina hasn’t been in a great position for a while, but she consistently stays alive. Going forward, Angelina is the biggest free agent in the game. The Goliaths just placed votes on her, meaning she’s totally justified in jumping to the Davids. But is that her best move? She would end up #6 in their group, just like was talked about at this week’s Tribal.
Everybody should be trying next week to get Angelina’s vote, but she needs to tread lightly. It’s another swing spot where if she doesn’t call her shot before Tribal, there’s a chance everybody could unanimously agree “ok, let’s just take her out now.”
A quiet week for Angelina, UTR legend! But here’s the thing: lightning doesn’t strike twice, and that is now FOUR straight weeks of her name getting written down. There is no way Angelina takes that lightly, and I think we’re in for a wild ride with her this week. Angelina is the antithesis of a passive player (we call that an aggressive player, Austin), and with all the uncertainty in the numbers right now, there’s no chance she sits back and waits for the game to come to her.
I am a Stangelina, but I know how deeply polarizing she is across the fanbase (especially with casuals). That’s just further proof that she’s incredible casting and the kind of player that every season needs. As a character, she’s a true female villain. I tried to think of the last person who has completely fit that role… is it Chaos Kass? We were way overdue, and I’m so thankful for Angelina delivering on so many levels and in so many moments this season.