Survivor Contestant Ranking: David vs Goliath Edition

Hey everyone!

Due to a bad hard drive, I was forced to push back the release of my Survivor contestant rankings.  So, when I originally wanted to have the posts completed by the David vs Goliath finale, it ended up being pushed to… well, after the following season with a brand new cast.  Because of this, my list looks incomplete. Once again, I kept it to only the contestants that made the merge.  The number that is listed is where they would end up in the overall list of other contestants.

Also, David vs. Goliath is one of the best seasons of the series.  Since it’s recent, you should be able to find it pretty easy on a streaming service. Seriously, the first five episodes of this season are one of the best runs I’ve seen from any TV Show!  Do yourself a favor and go check it out, unspoiled. Seriously, I think it’s the best way to show people why I love this show so much, and why it has maintained a massive fan base after so many seasons!

SPOILERS for Survivor: David vs Goliath. Do Not Read Unless You Have Watched the Season. (Or Just Don’t Care)

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  1. Dan Rengering (David vs. Goliath)

Dan is a frustrating contestant because the edit doesn’t know how to portray him. I get the feeling production didn’t want viewers to get too attached to Dan because he gets eliminated by a new twist. Because of that they make Dan this arrogant, and ignorant guy.  He tries really hard to be in a showmance with Kara, even when she’s clearly not interested. Dan takes his ally getting voted out really personal, even when everyone else has moved on. But what really did it for me was when Dan tried to show off by holding too much weight in a challenge and taunted the other team… only to be responsible for his team losing the reward.

At the same time, producers want you to like Dan, so they give him personal content about how he lost weight and is now trying to be a good father for his daughters. That’s nice on paper, but I just remember all the reasons I didn’t like Dan.

The ‘Hot Cop’ really didn’t do it for me. Fortunately, he’s the only real dud on this season, and you don’t have to deal with him too much.

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  1. Mike White (David vs. Goliath)

If I were to describe Mr. Ned Schneebly it would be ‘fine’.  He is a ‘fine’ character. Mike is a decent narrator, and manages to move the plot of each episode forward in a satisfactory manner.

I never really connected with Mike, and he has a lot of screen time.  He’s not bad by any means, but I’d be lying if I said he was a favorite from this season.  The only time I ever enjoyed him was his idol search, which to be fair is hilarious.

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  1. Alison Raybould (David vs. Goliath)

If I were to describe Alison’s character based on the opening scene on the boat, it would be ‘White Privilege’.

Just kidding, Alison is a solid character.  She has a storyline where she realizes she can’t be empathetic in the game, even though she is in the real world. It’s a nice little arc.  

However it gets annoying because everyone talks about how Alison is a huge threat to win, and she spends a lot of the game… not doing anything.

Solid character, just not the most exciting.

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  1. Gabby Pascuzzi (David vs. Goliath)

Gabby was the neurotic woman of the season.  She has some nice moments, and she cries a lot.

Alright, here’s where I’m a hypocrite.  I know I’ve said I don’t like when contestants are robots with no emotions, and now I’m hating on Gabby for being too emotional. Here’s where I’ll try to justify myself. There’s nothing wrong with a contestant crying, you’re thrown into the wilderness with minimal help for survival, I expect some tears.  However, a good edit for this type of character will eventually have them stop crying. It shows how far the contestant has come. They cried in the beginning of the game, but now they’re amazing at Survivor.

The editors forgot to do that with Gabby, so she has around one tear-filled confessional an episode, with no real payoff.  The result is that Gabby feels like an over-emotional basket case. Which is a shame, because if you look at actual gameplay this is nowhere near the truth.  Gabby was a cutthroat player that knew when to turn on her allies. It’s just a shame that she didn’t get an edit to match how far she had come.

Still, Gabby feels a little low, and when I get to rewatch this season, she’ll probably move up.

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213 Carl Boudreaux (David vs. Goliath)

A lot of Carl’s edit is circumstantial.  He gets confessionals when he has an advantage, or is blindsided by a vote.

However, they do give him a little depth as the season goes on.  He is upset when Jessica gets voted out because she reminded him of his daughter, and the game is taking more out of him than expected.

Carl also has a brilliant downfall, where he becomes drunk with power, both figuratively and literally.

Entertaining character that makes the season better.

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  1. Elizabeth Olson (David vs. Goliath)

Elizabeth is only around for a little bit, but she’s really entertaining. She’s shown to be loyal to her friends, but is also a cutthroat player that will make huge moves. Every single Tribal Council she attends is incredible.  But most importantly, she gives us the line, “I don’t like stupid people”.

Elizabeth is a solid addition to the ‘Smart Blue-Collar Woman’ archetype, and helps make the early part of the season good to watch.

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  1. Kara Kay (David vs. Goliath)

Kara gives consistently good confessionals and is a part of some great gameplay moments.  She even has some solid lines, like, “This is Survivor, you can’t just sit on the beach alone!”

I think an argument can be made that Kara played one of the greatest under-the-radar games of all time.  Because of this, she doesn’t have any major ‘in-your-face’ moments. But she doesn’t need to, she’s just really charismatic in her screen time, to the point where you root for her.

Kara is an excellent background character that every season needs.  

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  1. Alec Merlinio (David vs. Goliath)

Due to real world politics, it was pretty much confirmed before the season that Alec wouldn’t win. With that information, I had a pretty clear expectation for how Alec’s story would go, he would be a bland alpha male that gets blindsided because of his own arrogance. (See the entry on Dan Rengering above) After all, Survivor is filled with bland ‘alpha-dudes’ in their 20’s. There’s no way this guy could be anything else. Boy, did Alec prove me wrong!

Alec had one of the more polished games I’ve seen from a first time player.  When he was in a majority alliance, Alec always looked for a way to shake up the power.  Seriously, Alec single-handedly creates one of the most entertaining and saltiest eliminations in the series run!  Because he played such a frenetic game, he became one of the most entertaining contestants to watch.

That’s probably why Alec’s elimination is so upsetting.  Alec becomes a target because he’s the strongest physical player left.  This creates one of the best Immunity Challenges ever, where Alec is in a must-win endurance challenge.  Alec is pushed to his absolute limit, and the audience sees every facet of his personality.  He could be over-confident when he was telling himself he was “going to win”. But when he begins losing his strength, you could see how important the game meant to him.  When he pleads with Christian to let him win, you can tell how badly he wants to be there.

His final confessional stuck with me.  In tears Alec explains that he didn’t come out to the game just to be a ‘unanimous’ vote for his physical strength.  He wants to show that he’s smart and caring, there’s more to him than just being an athletic guy. But in the end his worst fear comes true, his tribe still only sees him as a physical threat, and he goes home unanimously.  It’s actually pretty heartbreaking

I doubt Alec will ever be allowed to compete again,which is a shame because he made David vs. Goliath such an incredible season.

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  1. Nick Wilson(David vs. Goliath)

Nick is kind of a mixed bag for me.  On one hand, he’s the lazy guy on the David tribe that didn’t do work.  Also, he took blindsides way too personal, and came off as a baby sometimes.

Because of this, I don’t think I appreciated how entertaining Nick could be. I mean, he was the first guy to introduce nicknames to his alliances.  That’s pretty cool. I really liked him in jacket-gate, where he became the hero. He even had a great voting confessional, “You could make a preacher cuss!”.  Also, I always appreciated how nice he was to Angelina, especially when everyone was done putting up with her.

But if Nick should be known for anything, it should be the storyline of how he lost his mother, and how he wanted to win the game to help his family.  When the family visit rolls around, you can tell how important it was for Nick to be there with his dad.

Right now Nick’s just a laundry list of things I like.  I think a re-watch of this season would help me appreciate him a lot more.

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  1. John Hennigan (David vs. Goliath)

One of the bigger celebrities on the show. As a professional wrestler you’d expect John to be a huge personality trying to ham it up for the cameras.  However, this just isn’t John’s style. Instead, he’s a more subdued guy. John is just really nice and gets along with everyone. His whole story is about how he doesn’t want to be a character, he just wants to be himself. It’s a nice little story in the early part of the season.  It’s also just funny to see a guy this massive just be a huge goofball.

John’s downfall is so shocking that it’s really the only way to rightfully honor a character this big and likeable.

Someone in John’s position normally wouldn’t get much screentime.  But, I think they made an exception considering he is famous. And honestly, I appreciate all that we got to see of John on this season.

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  1. Angelina Keeley (David vs. Goliath)

Look, Angelina is polarizing and I get why someone would find her annoying and unbearable to watch.  She starts off incredibly arrogant, and is positive that her being a Goliath means she will win. However, there are few characters that have made me laugh as hard as Angelina has.

What makes Angelina work as a character is that right at the merge she loses everyone’s respect.  After that, it’s clear that Angelina has no chance to win the game. And with that frame of reference, Angelina becomes one of the most entertaining characters ever! You can just sit back and appreciate the lack of self-awareness she has.  

What makes Angelina so brilliant is how clearly defined her personality is.  For example, one time Jeff asks if anyone wants to ask to be brought on a Reward.  Obviously, most people wouldn’t want to ask because they don’t want to seem greedy.  However, Angelina is not most people, and like clockwork interrupts Jeff to plead her case of why she deserves the Reward..

Some of Angelina’s highlights include: voting someone out to ask for their jacket, begging Dan for an Idol, bargaining with Jeff for extra rice, bringing up how she selflessly sat out a challenge for extra rice, and scaling a ‘100 ft.’ cliff to find an idol.

Honestly, she still may be way too low on this list. There are few contestants that have given me as much joy that Angelina has. On a personal note, I had a very difficult period in my life shortly after this season aired, and during that time there was always a clip of Angelina I could find online to put a smile on my face. Even though she may not have been given the best edit, I really want to thank her for getting me through a rough period in my life.  I have nothing but respect for the ‘Rice Queen’.

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  1. Christian Hubecki (David vs. Goliath)

Ever since John Cochran became a fan-favorite in Caramoan, production has tried their damndest to find a similar contestant.  It took them 11 seasons, and several failures (Sorry Ryan Ulrich), to finally recapture that magic.

Christian was definitely the breakout star of David vs. Goliath, becoming one of the most entertaining characters in recent years.  What made Christian work so well was that unlike Cochran and his several imitators, Christian didn’t have to hide behind layers of self-deprecation. He was just this nerdy guy that was completely comfortable in his own skin, and confident enough to be himself.  It made all of Christian’s jokes/insight feel more genuine. Moments like Christian trying to understand the local government of ‘Slamtown’ are funny, because it’s just a goofy joke that Christian would make in the real world. Or the time Gabby asked if Christian wanted to “Play with her”, and Christian responded “In the sand?” and started drawing a Tic-Tac-Toe board.  It’s just a realistic/embarrassing misunderstanding.

I think that genuine quality made people relate to Christian so well.  He wasn’t trying to be this production favorite with pre-written jokes, he was just this authentic funny guy that people loved to root for.

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  1. Davie Rickenbacker (David vs. Goliath)

My favorite character from this season, I honestly don’t think Davie got the credit he deserved for being so entertaining.

Davie was underrated in how funny he was. For example, when he’s on the bottom of his new tribe, he explains that he doesn’t have a lot of ‘Caucasian friends’ but isn’t too nervous because he drives a PT Cruiser.  That’s a line that is so bizarre, but so sincere that it could only work on Survivor. Or there was the time Davie had to make a distraction so his ally could find an advantage, so he starts twirling a log around on the beach.  What’s crazy is that, it worked! Davie was always optimistic and nice, that every scene with him is just enjoyable to watch

On top of that, Davie was an incredible player! As far as I’m concerned, his Idol play is in the Top 3  of the series. Plus, he pulled a Godfather move by inviting his target on a reward so he could make sure he wasn’t planning anything.

But there’s more to Davie than just being funny or a good player.  As the season goes on, you find out about Davie as a person. Davie explains that he’s a ‘Blerd’ (Black Nerd). Because of that, he feels like he doesn’t fit into what people typically think of as a young black man, and he wants to change stereotypes people have. That little piece of information makes it so satisfying to watch Davie win a sports challenge.  Because in real life, he’s mocked for not being good at sports. However when it mattered most, he managed to win. It’s just great to watch a simple Reward win mean so much to a competitor.

I think I can justify putting Davie up this high for one reason.  At the end of each episode, I always felt that I had enough content from Nick, Christian, or Angelina, but I always craved more Davie!  For me, that more than justifies putting him this high up on the list.

I hope that the King of the Blerds returns to our screen soon!

 

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