Survivor: David vs. Goliath episode 1 recap: Untold advantages

Photo: David M. Russell/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: David M. Russell/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Pitting those with advantages against those who fought hard to progress in life, Survivor: David vs. Goliath episode 1 put everyone in a tough position.

Welcome back, Survivor fans! David vs. Goliath episode 1, “Appearances Are Deceiving,” showed us 20 castaways put in some of the worst starting conditions in recent memory, and emotions ran high early. CBS made a good decision in going with a 90-minute episode, as it captured the spirit of its players through a tumultuous time and set up the season at large.

Christian Hubicki is your first confessional of the season, with him and Elizabeth Olson setting up the David tribe’s hard knock routes. Natalie Cole revealed her strength as a leader, while Angelina Keeley talked about her standing as Stanford grad to set up the seemingly successful Goliath tribe.

Right from the start, the Goliaths and Davids are given vastly different edits. As Jeff Probst reveals the season’s theme, you should note that it’s not who’s at an advantage, it’s what the advantage will be at any point in the game.

It’s clear that we might be getting a Heroes vs. Villains kind of edit from the get-go, as we heard sob story after sob story from the David tribe. Meanwhile, the Goliath tribe picked Lyrsa Torres and Christian Hubicki as the weakest woman and weakest man, while picking Alison Raybould and John Hennigan as the strongest woman and man. They even called Christian “Big Bang Theory.”

It set up the very first challenge, with the David representatives picking the course each tribe ran. The Goliaths had to complete a plank bridge, run through an agile net and solve a complex puzzle. The Davids chose to climb on the outside of a bridge, climb underneath the net and solve an eight-piece slide puzzle before sliding onto a bow and retrieve a shelter-building kit.

While both tribes roughly took the same time to get through the first two parts, Christian slew his eight-piece puzzle in five seconds, completely decimating the Goliaths and taking home the shelter. It showed the hidden strengths of a tribe that was yet to find their footing but might in the long-term plan.

Mike White was uncovered as a Hollywood writer immediately, but it was the spark between Dan Rengering and Kara Kay that will have some Survivor: David vs. Goliath fans feeling a bit awkward. Infamously, Alec Merlino outted his relationship with Kara after filming, so that connection might prove to be problematic going forward.

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Back at the David camp, Pat Cusack’s strengths as a property manager might be a hinderance long-term, as he seems to boss others around. That puts him at odds with Christian early on, putting both of them at risk of being the first one out of the game.

Speaking of other battles, Natalie Cole and Natalia Azoqa are kind of butting heads at the Goliath tribe, coming to differences when it comes to building the shelter. That has the biggest ramifications going on early, as the Goliaths are behind the 8-ball when it comes to getting ready to survive.

The Davids came ready to play, and everyone seems to be pairing up. Christian and Gabby seem to be the nerd pair, Jessica and Bi are looking for outlet partnerships, but Carl Boudreaux working alliances with Davie, Jessica and anyone who’ll talk to him was surprising. The conservative Elizabeth and the lesbian punk rocker Lyrsa was a fun partnership to see blossom, too.

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The oldest and the least to provide became the Goliath tribe’s overwhelming targets, as Mike White, who had just seen Jacob Derwin make an utter ass of himself in Ghost Island, couldn’t help himself and searched for an idol. In doing so, the entire tribe pointed to him or Natalie as the easy first boots, and now Mike seemingly had to find an idol to stay in the game.

Day 2 has arrived, and the rain has become a big issue. The Davids are trying to keep upbeat, with Nick Wilson doing his best to look busy and make alliances with Big Borhter-like naming conventions instead of working. It might be a good long-term plan, but you need to get past the short-term first.

The Goliaths were taking a more self-interested route, with everyone seemingly looking for an idol. Angelina dropped some hard Survivor stats mentioning that 15% of women find idols. Everyone seems to drop work because of it, but it was Dan Rengering searching with Angelina and Kara that finds it (and tells them), giving him a huge leg up early on.

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From a survival standpoint, the Davids are strong early on. Davie Rickenbacker caught an octopus early, and everyone ate on Day 2, which will be a huge boost to a tribe going through intense hardships. It boiled over to a truly raw, emotional bonding session, with Bi, Jessica, and Nick sharing personal stories about losing people in their life or going through dark moments in their past.

One thing that’s certain ahead of the Immunity Challenge is that while both tribes have players who are on the outs, the Davids at large received wholesome, heartwarming editing while the Goliaths seemed to show an “every person for themselves” mentality. Much like Millennials vs. Gen X, we’ll have to see if it holds strong through the entire season or fade out early.

Day 3 brings the Immunity Challenge, and rain is pounding before we even figure out what’s happening. The tribes must race through a series of obstacles, leading to a station where players must chop ropes to drop rope ladders for the next station. The second tribe to reach needed to untie knots instead.

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Carl took a while to get to that part of the challenge, putting the Davids back early. As the tribe needed to pole vault each member across a gap, the Goliaths were already working on pushing a series of 25 blocks to solve a block puzzle. The Goliaths, despite yelling at each other and having egos compete for dominance, got the job done, and the heart of the Davids was set to lose an artery.

Having to strategize with just a few hours and torrential rain bringing everyone together was a big challenge for the David tribe, especially for the voting targets. Unfortunately, real life took precedence immediately, with Pat Cusack apparently slamming his back into the boat traveling back to camp, putting him in an immediate health risk.

Players have been taken out of the game in the first episode before. Kourtney Moon of One World got injured during a challenge, but I can’t recall anyone getting a major injury just getting transported to and from camp. Unfortunately, Doctor Joe had to clear Pat for his own safety, medically evacuating him out of the game.

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Survivor: David vs. Goliath returns for episode 2 next Wednesday, October 3 for its regularly scheduled hour-long runtime.