Nick’s Vote Steal in Survivor: David vs. Goliath marks the third time in seven seasons that production has used this advantage. Is it overkill?
One production twist stole the show in Survivor: David vs. Goliath and that was the Idol Nullifier. I think most viewers agree that the Nullifier was a brilliant idea and that it should be brought back in seasons to come. But what about the Vote Steal Advantage that really enabled the Nullifier plan to work in the first place?
We can’t consider the Vote Steal without talking about its cousin, the Extra Vote. It was back in season 30: Worlds Apart, when production first inserted the Extra Vote advantage into the game. Other than Millennials vs. Gen X, every season since has featured either an Extra Vote or a Vote Steal advantage.
While the words “Idol Nullifier” seems to light up our minds with awe and excitement, I can’t say the same thing about the Vote Steal or Extra Vote advantages. That might be because we have watched a regular flow of them over the past four years. Or simply, these advantages don’t really conjure up memories of any iconic Survivor moments. However, these production twists have proven their ability to vastly impact important Tribal Councils.
The Vote Steal has the power to change minds before the vote. The great part about the Vote Steal is that it creates extra confusion at Tribal Council. The fact that it has to be played before anyone goes to write their vote makes the castaways second-guess their plans. We saw this happen in David vs. Goliath, as Nick announcing to Jeff that he was going to steal Alison’s vote, is probably what convinced Kara and Alec to vote for a fellow Goliath in order to save face with the Davids.
While the impact of an Extra Vote typically only comes across as the votes are read, a Vote Steal advantage can change the course of an entire Tribal Council. Once castaways realize that this advantage creates a two-vote swing, plans can change fast. The Vote Steal also adds in the element of blocking an individual’s ability to vote, which can create even more drama once the Tribal Council is over.
Is a two-vote swing too powerful? The argument can be made that a Vote Steal has way too much influence on a vote, but I think it depends on when in the game it is brought in. In Second Chance and Game Changers, production revealed it during the Final 11 Reward Challenge. In David vs. Goliath, Nick discovered his Vote Steal the first episode after the merge, with 12 people still in the game. In all three cases, the Vote Steal was found early in the merge, when a two-vote swing might not even be enough.
That proved to be true for Stephen Fishbach in Second Chance, as he went to the jury the night he stole a vote. If someone finds it around the early post-merge phase and is able to hold onto it all the way until the Final Six or Five, then they deserve to have this crucial two-vote swing that deep into the game. However, if production introduced the Vote Steal with eight or fewer castaways left, whoever finds it has an unfair advantage going into the final phase of the game.
The Vote Steal is a game-changing advantage that should be used sparingly. This production twist is a solid idea and has led to an interesting scenario in each season it has been featured in. That being said, this is an advantage that shouldn’t be an every season thing. Inserting a Vote Steal once every three to five seasons will keep this advantage fresh and prevent it from becoming over analyzed and anticipated.