Survivor: David vs. Goliath
|Survivor: David vs. Goliath|
|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||20|
|Production location(s)||Mamanuca Islands, Fiji|
|Filming dates||March 29– May 6, 2018|
|Original release||September 26– December 19, 2018|
|Preceded by||Survivor: Ghost Island|
Survivor: David vs. Goliath is the 37th season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. The season features 20 new contestants divided into two tribes embodied by two biblical figures: "David", composed of ten underdogs who constantly have to overcome obstacles, and "Goliath", composed of ten overachievers who have used their advantages in life to excel in their fields. The season premiered on September 26, 2018, with an extended 90-minute episode.
This season was the sixth to be filmed in Fiji. Due to Severe Tropical Cyclone Keni striking during the season's filming, the castaways and crew were evacuated for two days, the second such occurrence on Survivor following Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, which had also been filmed in Fiji two years earlier.
David vs. Goliath introduced a new game advantage called the idol nullifier, which allows its owner to void an immunity idol if they correctly predict during the tribal council vote on whom it will be played.
According to Jeff Probst, the idea for David vs. Goliath came from when the crew was casting contestants, in particular from the auditions of Pat Cusack and professional wrestler and Tough Enough III co-winner John Hennigan, remembering: "I was really taken by [Hennigan's] outlook on life and on himself. He's a very humble and deep-thinking person. Later in the casting process, we met another player, Pat Cusack, and the idea of David vs. Goliath started to present itself. John would represent the physical embodiment of Goliath, and Pat would represent the emotional embodiment of David."
|Contestant||Original tribe||Switched tribe||Merged tribe||Finish|
40, Watervliet, New York
19, Lakeland, Florida
|David||1st voted out|
40, New York City, New York
|Goliath||2nd voted out|
28, Houston, Texas
|David||Quit due to injury|
25, Irvine, California
|Goliath||Vuku||3rd voted out|
57, Los Angeles, California
|Goliath||Jabeni||4th voted out|
36, Boston, Massachusetts
|David||Jabeni||5th voted out|
31, Longview, Texas
|David||Vuku||Kalokalo||6th voted out|
1st jury member
38, Los Angeles, California
|Goliath||Tiva||7th voted out|
2nd jury member
27, Gainesville, Florida
|Goliath||Tiva||8th voted out|
3rd jury member
24, San Clemente, California
|Goliath||Vuku||9th voted out|
4th jury member
41, Houston, Texas
|David||Vuku[a]||10th voted out|
5th jury member
25, Denver, Colorado
|David||Tiva||11th voted out|
6th jury member
32, Tallahassee, Florida
30, San Diego, California
28, San Clemente, California
28, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
30, Atlanta, Georgia
47, Los Angeles, California
27, Williamsburg, Kentucky
- Carl was initially exiled after not drawing a buff during the tribe swap. He joined the tribe that lost the next Immunity Challenge, Vuku, directly after their Tribal Council.
|Episode title||Original air date||Challenge winner(s)||Eliminated||Finish|
|"Appearances are Deceiving"||September 26, 2018||David||Pat||Medically evacuated|
|"The Chicken Has Flown the Coop"||October 3, 2018||Goliath||Jessica||1st voted out|
|"I Am Goliath Strong"||October 10, 2018||David||Jeremy||2nd voted out|
|"Time to Bring About the Charmpocalypse"||October 17, 2018||None[a]||Bi||Quit due to injury|
|Carl[b]||Natalia||3rd voted out|
|"Jackets and Eggs"||October 24, 2018||Vuku||Vuku||Natalie||4th voted out|
|"Aren’t Brochachos Just Adorable?"||October 31, 2018||Tiva||Tiva||Lyrsa||5th voted out|
|"There's Gonna Be Tears Shed"||November 7, 2018||None[c]||Alison||Elizabeth||6th voted out|
1st jury member
|"You Get What You Give"||November 14, 2018||Alec,
|Dan||John||7th voted out|
2nd jury member
|"Breadth-First Search"||November 21, 2018||Alec,
|Alec||Dan[d]||8th voted out|
3rd jury member
|"Tribal Lines Are Blurred"||November 28, 2018||Alec,
|Christian||Alec||9th voted out|
4th jury member
|Davie||Carl||10th voted out|
5th jury member
|"So Smart They're Dumb"||December 5, 2018||Angelina,
|Kara||Gabby||11th voted out|
6th jury member
|"Are You Feeling Lucky?"||December 12, 2018||12th voted out|
7th jury member
|"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility"||December 19, 2018||13th voted out|
8th jury member
|14th voted out|
9th jury member
10th jury member
|"Reunion Special"||Jury vote|
- Bi quit the game before any challenges were conducted.
- Carl drew a package without a buff during the tribe swap. As a result, he was exiled and joined the tribe that lost the next Immunity Challenge, Vuku, directly after their Tribal Council.
- There was no reward challenge due to the merge.
- Dan played a hidden immunity idol on himself, but it was nullified by Carl, and he received enough votes to be voted out.
|Original air date||US viewers|
|541||1||"Appearances are Deceiving"||1.7/7||N/A||September 26, 2018||7.83|
Host Jeff Probst explained the theme of the season before asking the Goliath tribe to choose who they perceived to be the weakest man and weakest woman on the David tribe, and to choose their own strongest man and strongest woman. They picked Christian and Lyrsa from the Davids and John and Alison from their tribe to run a reward challenge. The Davids got to choose which tribe completed which task in the challenge.
Christian's quick solving of the slide puzzle led him and Lyrsa to win the kit for the Davids. At their camp, Pat took charge of building the shelter, but his bossy nature got on some of his tribemates' nerves. Nick spent more time making alliances rather than helping at camp, which frustrated Carl. Bonds formed between Christian & Gabby, Elizabeth & Lyrsa, and Carl & Davie. On Goliath, Dan and Kara formed an attraction, while Natalia was put off by Natalie's orders to build the shelter despite not working herself. Everyone searched for an idol, which Dan, Kara, and Natalia eventually found, and Dan kept. Throughout the first few days, heavy rain pounded both tribes.
Goliath held off David's comeback to win immunity. The boat ride back to the David camp encountered rough waters, and Pat sustained a back injury that required the medical team's attention. Medical decided that Pat's injury was too severe for him to continue, and they evacuated him from the game. Jeff then cancelled Tribal Council and gave David flint. The epilogue at the end of Pat's final words revealed that he received treatment after production for this season concluded, and has since made a full recovery.
|542||2||"The Chicken Has Flown the Coop"||1.5/7||N/A||October 3, 2018||7.27|
The cyclone continued through the night, and Jeff provided a firemaking kit and tarp to each tribe. At the David camp, Christian and Nick aligned, and Davie found an idol. Carl, wanting to keep the tribe strong, targeted Lyrsa. Elizabeth warned Lyrsa that she was in danger, and she targeted Carl in retaliation. At the Goliath camp, Dan and Kara's connection raised red flags with their tribemates. Jeremy found Dan's idol hidden in his coat and told Mike about it. Still, most of the tribe affirmed their desire to vote out Natalie, but John told her that she was a target, in an attempt to align with her. Jeremy then tried to convince Natalie to change her ways, to no avail. In fact, this only made Jeremy want to target Natalie more.
Goliath won the grueling challenge. Bi and Jessica told Gabby that Lyrsa would go home, but Gabby was paranoid over the lack of further information. Elizabeth suggested targeting Jessica for her social connections to Carl, Bi, and Davie. Christian and Nick were the swing votes; at Tribal Council, they voted against Jessica, sending her out of the game.
|543||3||"I Am Goliath Strong"||1.6/7||19||October 10, 2018||7.65|
After returning from Tribal Council, Bi blamed Gabby for Jessica’s blindside, and Nick played off of that to keep the heat off him. Christian and Gabby continued to bond. At the Goliath camp, a paranoid Jeremy held a tribal meeting to put an end to the side conversations happening within the tribe, and his feud with Natalie continued. Mike became wary of Jeremy's behavior, and considered turning against him.
David won the challenge. Bi sprained her MCL, but was cleared by medical to continue. Most of the Goliaths were set to vote out Natalie, but Angelina vehemently campaigned for Jeremy’s elimination, arguing that he would become a bigger threat in the future. At Tribal Council, Angelina got her way, and Jeremy was unanimously voted out.
|544||4||"Time to Bring About the Charmpocalypse"||1.4/6||22||October 17, 2018||7.21|
When the tribes congregated on day 10, Bi announced her withdrawal from the game due to her MCL sprain, not wanting to risk further damage as an athlete. After Bi left, a tribe swap took place. The David and Goliath tribes were respectively renamed Vuku and Jabeni, while a third tribe, Tiva, was introduced. Vuku consisted of Alec, Davie, Elizabeth, Kara, and Natalia. Jabeni consisted of Angelina, Lyrsa, Mike, Natalie, and Nick. Tiva consisted of Alison, Christian, Dan, Gabby, and John. Carl was exiled after drawing an empty package, and the Goliaths held a 3-2 majority on all three tribes.
On Exile Island, Carl followed a clue to a new advantage called an idol nullifier. He would play it against a person he believed would play an idol at any given Tribal Council, and if he was correct, the idol would be voided. If he was wrong, the advantage would be wasted and remain anonymous. At Vuku, Davie tried to get Alec on his side, while Elizabeth bonded with Kara, to Natalia’s chagrin. At Jabeni, Natalie’s bossiness persisted, while Nick and Mike aligned. At Tiva, Christian befriended Dan and John, and Gabby felt like she was on the outs.
Tiva placed first and Jabeni placed second. Elizabeth immediately had Davie help her look for an idol, but unbeknownst to her, he had already found it at that campsite. The Goliaths initially decided to stick together, which prompted Davie to tell them that Elizabeth targeted Natalia, in an effort to save himself. However, this increased Natalia’s paranoia, and Alec considered siding with the Davids to blindside her. At Tribal Council, Alec began whispering to Elizabeth, much to his Goliath allies' surprise. He decided to betray the Goliath alliance, voting with Davie and Elizabeth to eliminate a bitter Natalia. Carl then joined the Vuku tribe, giving the Davids a 3-2 advantage.
|545||5||"Jackets and Eggs"||1.5/6||23||October 24, 2018||7.37|
The morning after Natalia’s blindside, Kara questioned her place in the game and felt like an outcast. Another cyclone rocked the camps; all the castaways were evacuated to a safe location, putting the game on hold. After the storm subsided, all three camps were completely demolished.
Vuku placed first and Jabeni placed second. At Jabeni, Natalie and Lyrsa argued over when to boil the eggs. At Vuku, Kara threw Alec under the bus to the former Davids, causing Elizabeth to mistrust Kara. At Tiva, Dan, John, and Christian formed an alliance they dubbed the “Brochachos.” Dan searched for an idol at the new camp and found a clue saying the idol was hidden at the challenge.
Vuku placed first and Tiva placed second, and Dan was able to snatch the idol without being caught. The Goliaths initially agreed on voting out Lyrsa, but Nick was offended when Angelina and Natalie asked for his or Lyrsa’s jacket in exchange for sparing them; he and Lyrsa then tried to convince Mike to turn against Natalie. At Tribal Council, Mike cast the deciding vote against Natalie, sending her out of the game.
|546||6||"Aren’t Brochachos Just Adorable?"||1.3/6||24||October 31, 2018||7.06|
The following morning, Angelina revealed her vote against Lyrsa was just a ruse to try and get Natalie’s jacket, turning the tribe against her. At Tiva, Christian tried to catch some fish but came up empty-handed.
Tiva placed first and Jabeni came from way behind to place second after Vuku blew their massive lead during the tossing stage. At Tiva, Gabby confided in Alison about her fears of being on the bottom, and they bonded. At Vuku, the bamboo on the shelter bed was a strain on Elizabeth’s already sore back, and her attempts to resolve the situation put her at odds with Carl and Davie.
Tiva and Vuku blew out Jabeni. Lyrsa showed hesitance to work with Angelina when asked, making Angelina target her in retaliation. Lyrsa tried to turn Mike against Angelina, while Angelina tried to turn Nick against Lyrsa. Mike and Nick weighed their options; at Tribal Council, they voted to eliminate Lyrsa from the game, giving the Goliaths the overall majority.
|547||7||"There's Gonna Be Tears Shed"||1.6/7||15||November 7, 2018||7.69|
On day 18, the three tribes merged on Tiva’s beach. Carl told Angelina about Alec flipping on Natalia before beginning to rally votes against Elizabeth. Some of the Goliaths (especially Angelina and Dan) wanted to stick to original tribal lines, and Angelina campaigned against Christian as the perceived leader of the Davids. However, Alec had other ideas and established a cross-tribe alliance between himself, Alison and Mike from the Goliaths and Christian, Gabby and Nick from the Davids, which Christian dubbed the "Strike Force". Elizabeth was annoyed by Dan and Kara whispering late into the night and told Alec that she was considering blindsiding Dan, but Alec told Dan, which set him against Elizabeth.
Alison outlasted Elizabeth to win immunity. Dan convinced the Goliath alliance to change their target back to Elizabeth; though Angelina continued to rally against Christian, her Goliath tribemates were unwilling to change their minds. Upset about not getting her way and feeling like her allies were undermining her, Angelina told Elizabeth about the other Goliaths targeting her. An angry Elizabeth then went to Gabby, who pitched an idea to blindside Angelina. At Tribal Council, Angelina was accused of jury management when asked about her conversation with Elizabeth, but ultimately, Elizabeth was unanimously sent to the jury.
|548||8||"You Get What You Give"||1.4/6||25||November 14, 2018||7.20|
After Tribal Council, Angelina lied to her tribemates saying Elizabeth went to her about who the target was, but everyone saw through her ruse. The next morning, Mike questioned Gabby's commitment to the Strike Force due to her comments at the previous Tribal Council, and considered betraying the alliance. Davie and Nick found a clue to an advantage, which Nick found with Carl's help; the advantage gave Nick the ability to steal another player's vote at an upcoming Tribal Council, prohibiting them from voting and allowing him to vote twice. Carl also told Davie and Nick about his idol nullifier, but Davie stayed quiet about his hidden immunity idol.
Alec, Alison, Christian, Gabby, John, and Nick won reward. Mike pulled aside the rest of the Goliaths and suggested targeting Christian for his strong gameplay, which Angelina took as sexism due to a man suggesting the same idea she did and getting more people on board with it.
Dan won immunity. Angelina was paranoid over the possibility of Christian having an idol, and Alec told Nick that Christian was in danger. Nick and Davie debated playing their advantages to save Christian, but were hesitant to use them so early in the game. At Tribal Council, Nick chose not to use his vote stealer, but Davie played his idol on Christian. Angelina begged Dan to do the same for her, which he did. The Goliaths' seven votes against Christian were nullified. The Davids split their votes between John and Angelina; Carl and Gabby's votes against Angelina were negated, but Christian, Davie and Nick's votes against John sent him to the jury.
|549||9||"Breadth-First Search"||1.3/6||18||November 21, 2018||7.09|
After John's blindside, Alec, Alison, and Kara held a discussion on the beach to regroup, making Dan feel left out. After a disagreement, Kara distanced herself from Dan.
Alec, Dan, Davie, Kara, and Mike won reward. Gabby tried to turn Alison against Dan, while Mike affirmed his desire to stay loyal to the Goliaths. The Davids woke up early to search for a new idol, which Christian found.
Alec won immunity. Kara worked on convincing the Davids to join in a split-vote scenario between Angelina and Dan, but Alison decided to stick with the Goliaths' original plan to eliminate Christian. While the Goliaths planned their strategy, the Davids debated which of their advantages to play: Nick's vote stealer, Christian's idol, and Carl's idol nullifier. At Tribal Council, Nick used his advantage to steal Alison's vote, prompting Alec and Kara to vote against Angelina. Dan played his idol for himself, but Carl had used his idol nullifier against Dan, sending him to the jury with the Davids' six votes.
|550||10||"Tribal Lines Are Blurred"||1.6/7||18||November 28, 2018||7.60|
After another big blindside, Angelina accused the rest of the Goliaths for voting against her, and vowed revenge. Nick and Davie woke up early the next morning to search for a new idol, and Nick found a clue saying the idol was on the other side of the island and that he’d have to wait until dark to find it.
Alec, Alison, Christian, Gabby, and Mike won and discovered letters from home while on reward. At camp, Carl began to rally votes against Alec for being a physical threat, but Kara and Gabby disliked how Carl suggested it openly in front of other Goliaths. Nick snuck off that night and retrieved the idol with only Davie knowing.
Before the challenge, Jeff tempted the castaways with food, which Angelina, Carl, and Nick took. Christian outlasted Alec after more than 5 hours for immunity. Carl continued to campaign against Alec, but Gabby and Christian considered turning against Carl. However, at Tribal Council, Alec was unanimously sent to the jury.
Carl, Davie, Kara, and Mike won reward. At camp, Gabby plotted with Christian and Alison to vote Carl out. That night, Carl suggested to Kara that they vote out Alison next, but Kara secretly was not on board; Carl also prepared to tell Gabby that Angelina would be the target so that Gabby wouldn’t be paranoid. The next day, since the tribe’s rice supply was running low, Angelina prepared to negotiate a trade with Jeff, proposing all the fishing gear, most of the cookware, and most of the comfort items for more rice, to which the tribe agreed despite not liking her approach.
Angelina’s offer was immediately refused, and Jeff asked one castaway to forfeit their shot at immunity to get the rice, which Angelina did. Carl got the word "perceptions," but was wrong, and Davie edged out Alison to get the correct word, "perspective," and won immunity. Mike was the swing vote to decide whether Carl or Alison would be eliminated; at Tribal Council, he voted to send Carl to the jury.
|551||11||"So Smart They're Dumb"||1.5/7||18||December 5, 2018||7.51|
Upon returning from Tribal Council, Nick was upset with Christian over Carl’s elimination. The following morning, the castaways were reunited with their loved ones: Davie’s mother Hazel, Alison’s mother Willa, Kara’s brother Eric, Nick’s father Jim, Gabby’s mother Encarnita, Angelina’s mother Anna, Mike’s boyfriend Josh, and Christian’s girlfriend Emily.
Angelina and Nick won reward, choosing Davie and Mike to join them. They voiced their intentions to reach the final 4 together, but Davie was concerned over his place in the alliance. At camp, Gabby told Alison and Kara she wanted to blindside Christian and play a more independent game.
Kara outlasted Davie for immunity. Christian targeted Alison, while Gabby tried to sway Nick and Davie into blindsiding Christian. While Nick was on board, Davie told Christian he was in danger. Mike suggested to Nick and Angelina that they target Gabby in case Christian had an idol, and Nick confirmed that Christian did. At Tribal Council, Christian played the idol on himself after some consideration, negating 5 votes, and Gabby was sent to the jury with Mike and Angelina’s votes.
|552||12||"Are You Feeling Lucky?"||TBA||TBA||December 12, 2018||TBD|
|One castaway earns a one-in-six chance at the title of Sole Survivor after winning a crucial immunity challenge|
|553||13||"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility"||TBA||TBA||December 19, 2018||TBD|
|Original tribes||Switched tribes||Merged tribe|
- No vote; Pat was medically evacuated from the game.
- No vote; Bi chose to quit the game due to an injury.
- Davie played a hidden immunity idol on Christian, therefore seven votes against him were not counted. Dan played a hidden immunity idol on Angelina, therefore two votes against her were not counted.
- Dan played a hidden immunity idol on himself, but Carl played an idol nullifier on him, therefore the effects of his idol were negated and the 6 votes against him were still counted.
- Christian played a hidden immunity idol on himself, therefore five votes against him were not counted.
- Nick used his vote stealer on Alison, therefore Alison was ineligible to vote whereas Nick cast two ballots.
- Carl was exiled after drawing a package containing no buff during the tribe switch. He joined the tribe that lost the next Immunity Challenge, Vuku, after their Tribal Council.
Survivor: David vs. Goliath has received universal acclaim, with many considering it one of the best seasons mainly due to its strategic play, unpredictability, and memorable contestants. The tribal councils also received praise for being entertaining and unpredictable, with the councils in the eighth and ninth episodes, during which the former Davids used game advantages to vote out former Goliaths John and Dan despite not having the numbers on their side, earning particular attention as impressive and smartly-executed blindsides, and have been hailed by several media outlets as two of the best tribal councils in Survivor history.
Josh Wigler of The Hollywood Reporter called it "one of the most consistently exhilarating seasons in recent memory" and "one of the most exciting iterations of the CBS reality franchise", adding "Years from now, when Survivor fans look back on the events of David vs. Goliath, a slew of memories are likely to come to mind: the season-opening medical evacuation, Natalie Napalm and 'Jacketgate,' just to name a few." In an article published two thirds into the season, Dalton Ross of Entertainment Weekly claimed that while "[not] every episode this season has been A+++", "every episode has had something. Every episode has earned its keep. Every episode has felt like it is moving the story forward. Yes, the cast is better, but the editing and the storytelling have been better as well." After the ninth episode, FanSided stated "Let’s be thankful for just how great the season has gone".
Entertainment Weekly called episode eight's council "an awesome game of cat and mouse", noting that John himself was "laughing at the absurdity of what had just happened as he had his torch snuffed". The Hollywood Reporter stated that the council was "iconic", "the biggest move of the season thus far, marking a huge power shift in the game", and "nothing short of the fulfillment of the season's promise, [...] beautifully executed both strategically and thematically [...] it's simply a testament to the riveting roller coaster ride of Survivor". Chris Chase of USA Today suggested that it might be the best tribal council in the history of the show, calling it "a glorious Tribal moment, as brash as it was unpredictable" and stating "I’ve been watching Survivor for years and don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked. There have been big surprises and stupid moves and head-shaking moments of unpredictability, but I can’t remember anything as out-of-nowhere as this". He also praised John for being "true to everything we’ve seen from him this season, [and] a class act after his shock defeat". Writing for People, former Survivor contestant Stephen Fishbach highlighted that "in a tribal council that was meant to take out the Davidest David, it was really the Goliath of the Goliaths who fell. How perfectly Biblical."
About the tribal council in the ninth episode, Entertainment Weekly stated that it was "glorious to watch. Observing the transformation on Dan’s face from supreme satisfaction and confidence after playing his idol to learning about the Idol Nullifer played against him was [priceless]." The Mercury News stated "All those special advantages the Survivor producers have been adding to the game in recent seasons finally pay off big time." The Hollywood Reporter called the tribal council in episode nine a "savage" blindside.
In an interview in November 2018, Jeff Probst acknowledged the cast of David vs. Goliath as "one of the best groups we’ve ever had." He also highly praised the tribal councils in episodes eight and nine, calling the first "a total shocker and a brilliant move" and the second "a historic Survivor moment" and "all we could have ever dared dream when we put the Nullifier into this season."
Just a week after filming ended for the season, Alec Merlino posted a picture with fellow contestant Kara Kay onto his Instagram account with the caption "F*** it". While Inside Survivor had already reported that both Kay and Merlino had been highly speculated to have been contestants on the show, many fans saw Merlino's actions as a flagrant violation to the non-disclosure agreement that cast members must sign prior to the official reveal. TMZ reported that Merlino had been banned from the reunion episode due to his actions. Jessica Peet also came under fire prior to the premiere after fans found racially-insensitive tweets she posted when she was between the ages of 14 and 16. Peet has since apologized for her actions, saying she was "immature" back then and had "done a lot of growing up since then."
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