Survivor: David vs. Goliath episode 12 recap: Love and hate

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

The line between love and hate is thin in both life and Survivor, as David vs. Goliath episode 12 brought us a revenge plot while courting loved ones.

Early on in Survivor: David vs. Goliath, Christian pivoted towards Nick to create the Mason-Dixon Line alliance while trying to save Lyrsa and support Gabby. However, Christian was quick to pivot blame to Gabby and Nick saw this as an opportunity to split favor towards her and more towards him. When Carl was voted out, and Christian blindsided Carl, though, it brought an underlying conflict full circle, leading towards tonight’s fallout.

Nick got the episode title right out of the way immediately with the “they’re so smart, they’re dumb” line, effectively saying that the Mason-Dixon alliance is dead, even if he’s going to play it up. He got hurt that they used three advantages to get the numbers advantage only for them to throw it away on Carl.

On Day 31, the Loved Ones visit came quickly, bringing out the waterworks early. Hazel came to see her son, Davie, Willa cried with her daughter, Alison, Eric was quick to hug and cry with his sister, Kara, Jim gave a big hug to his son, Nick, Encarnita brought out even more tears out of her daughter, Gabby, Anna didn’t negotiate with Angelina, but reinforced her will in the game, Josh came to support his long-term boyfriend, Mike, and Emily was every bit as Christian’s better half.

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Of course, love doesn’t come for free on Survivor. Instead of players individually competing for the Reward Challenge, four teams of two (Christian/Gabby, Angelina/Nick, Alison/Kara, Davie/Mike) are tied to each other to race under an obstacle, dig for keys, unlock a ball each and throw it onto a perch for the Reward Challenge.

Despite coming to the digging station last, Angelina and Nick reached the ball station early. Even then, they couldn’t get their balls out of their bags, evening the playing field as it all came down to the final portion of the challenge once again. It’s been a common theme in Survivor: David vs. Goliath, as it all seems to even out here.

Still, that didn’t stop Angelina and Nick from winning the challenge; Angelina’s first win of the post-merge phase. Nick chose Davie and Angelina chose Mike to bring to the Loved Ones reward, leaving Gabby, Kara, Alison and Christian missing out. At least Emily can watch some movies on the trip home! (seriously, these two are the best)

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There was a lot of strategic talk coming out of this Loved Ones reward, as each of the players seemed to be okay with this being a Final Four group. We didn’t get to see any crazy Aunt Patty antics or significant others making deals on the players’ behalf, but it was interesting to see that Davie knew he was the outsider on this Final Four group.

So much of this game has been David vs. Goliath, but Davie is rightfully looking at the Jabeni dynamics of Nick, Mike and Angelina. With just eight players in the game, that expansion tribe dynamic could have an impact down the line, so it’s great to see the strategic Davie balance out the wacky Davie.

Meanwhile, in a move that will certainly make Facebook parents and fan fiction writers angry, Gabby saw Christian’s “supportive shoulder” role for what it was, putting two and two together and figuring that’s what she meant to him. That put forth in motion a plan to get Christian out between Alison and Kara, with some really ominous Predator-like scoring making it feel like an ultimate betrayal.

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The Immunity Challenge saw players balance on a narrow beam and hold up a pole attached to a bucket of water. Yes, it’s another drawn-out balance challenge, even if the statuesque nature made it a different kind of a burn for the players. Kara, Davie, Christian and Nick all made it to the 15-minute mark, where they moved one foot behind another away from the pole.

That distance away from the pole actually made the balance aspect an interesting mind game, as players started to slip away and shake their arms. The balance factor took out Nick, then Christian (who was the only to fall off the beam first), but it was a fly that kept bothering Nick that dropped his hand low enough to take him out and give Kara her first Immunity Challenge win of the season and the first win for a woman since Alison won the merge challenge.

It was clear when Angelina and Gabby were giving Nick Wilson suggestions to raise his hand during the challenge that they were supporting anybody but Christian from winning. Yet, Gabby was keeping Christian’s mind in check by placing Alison as the target, even as she pitched to Nick, Davie and Mike to take out her number one ally.

This didn’t sit well with Davie, as he saw the benefit of keeping a big threat in the game ahead of him. He already said he didn’t feel like he was sitting well with the Loved Ones Final Four, and by telling Christian that Gabby and Nick are planning to blindside him, he can hitch a ride with someone that serves as a strategy shield (not a meat shield) ahead of him.

Christian wasn’t totally believing Davie, but he tried to make amends with Nick on the Carl vote anyways in order to stay safe and pitch Alison as the vote target. Nick played along, but much like Abi-Maria Gomes stated in seasons before, Christian f—ed with him, so now he’s dead to him in the game.

Ahead of Tribal Council, it wasn’t 100% sure whether or not Christian was going to use the Hidden Immunity Idol on himself. At least he knows to bring it to tribal, as he’s hoping that he can either nullify votes for himself and get out Alison with what little equity he has left in Survivor. After all, he’s been right on everything leading up to this vote; what could go wrong?

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Christian wasn’t his jovial self at Tribal Council, as he was much more guarded with his words and deeds. He also talked with Nick about coming back from blindsiding a friend, using the opportunity to reacclimate themselves and get back on track. Meanwhile, Gabby was talking about how she was going to stop pleading to others for support and start taking ownership of the game.

All these puppet shows shadowed the real plan; to take out Christian with a majority vote, with votes for Alison in case of an idol play. With everyone getting antsy and not looking Christian in the eyes, he was successful in reading the room and playing an idol on himself. Gabby was so sorry and so apologetic to Alison for receiving votes, only for Mike and Angelina to come up with a plan on their own.

Instead of taking out one of their own numbers in Alison, Mike and Angelina voted for Gabby, securing her elimination by a final count of 2-1, with five votes for Christian voided by the idol. The script was flipped again, and the Goliaths enter the Final Seven with a 4-3 lead. The game is completely wide open!

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Gabby’s game has been tied to Christian’s throughout Survivor: David vs. Goliath, and it seemed like she was playing second-fiddle to his machinations. It was when she tried to come at the king that she was voted out, and you best not miss when trying to take out the king. It was an epic collapse similar to Greek theatre, and now it’s a scramble for all the remaining threats to take each other out.