It’s been a resurgent season of Survivor. In fact, according to my latest season rankings, David vs. Goliath is one of Survivor’s top five seasons ever. But all good things must come to end, and the Survivor: David vs. Goliath three-hour finale/reunion extravaganza will take place this Wednesday, Dec. 19, on CBS.
With that in mind, we asked host Jeff Probst to look back at some of the best players and moves of the season. Who’s the early boot he wished had made it past the merge? If he could only bring one player back to play again, whom would it be? (Hint: Not whom you think!) And what was the biggest move of the season? Jeff answers all that and more.
Plus, we asked the Hostmaster General to size up the final six with his take on the strength, weakness, and wild-card factor for each of the remaining players. Read on for opinion and intel from Probst!
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We’ve talked a lot about how great this cast is. Give me the one person that went out before the merge you would have liked to have seen make it further in the game. (And yes, I know there are more than one, but no cheating!)
JEFF PROBST: Natalia. We had really high hopes for her. She’s athletic, opinionated, determined, and as we saw in her limited time, she is a pot-stirrer. To her credit, she took being voted out with a lot of grace. She didn’t complain, she understood that is how the game is played. But from a player standpoint, I think there was a lot more fuel in the tank. In fact, I don’t think she really ever got her feet wet. Natalia is an example of the do-or-die nature of Survivor. When you make a move and it works, you’re a hero; when you make a move and it fails, you’re out. It doesn’t mean that players who went further than Natalia are better players. It only means her move didn’t work. Most don’t.
I have a feeling we will be seeing several of these contestants again on future seasons, but if you could only bring one back, whom would it be? (Again, no cheating!)
Okay, I’ll answer an extremely difficult question as long as you don’t edit my answer! Yes, you are right, we have a lot of players from this season that would be fun to have back in future seasons. But if I could choose only one, it would come down to Christian or Angelina, and I would probably choose Angelina. (Just waiting for the gasps to subside.)
The truth about Survivor is that we want our casting to mirror what is happening in our culture. And as a dad to a daughter, what excites me more than anything is the rise we are seeing in the power of women. For years, strong women have been judged differently than men — in life and on Survivor. And, strangely, for years it has been hard for us to find women who were as “memorable” as men. But what has been happening is the female voice is growing stronger with every passing day, and we want that voice represented on our show.
Angelina is polarizing. Some people criticize her for being “too much,” but she is playing a strong game and making big moves and not backing down from anyone. I like that. We need that. When a man does it, he is rewarded. It shouldn’t be any different when a woman does it. So, as much as I love Christian, and make no mistake, I adore him, we have a lot of memorable men. Angelina would get my vote.
A lot of big moves this season. Give me your favorite one that we have seen so far.
I think the three Davids coming together to use all their power to change the game has been the biggest move of the season. It broke all the “rules” of Survivor in terms of sharing information, and yet even as you watched it playing out, you could feel that it was the right move. It was just one of those moments when everything lined up. They had the weapons, they were desperate, and they realized we are stronger together than as individuals. And then, the minute it’s over, the game resets and it’s once again an individual game. For everybody. That’s a great dramatic situation. The people I just went into war alongside are, once again, my enemies.
We’ll get your individual cast assessment in a minute, but what can we expect in general from the finale?
The finale is always fun because it is jam-packed. This one is no different. Great gameplay still to come, and you can really tell that at this point with only six players left, it truly is up in the air. There is no clear favorite. There are lots of ways this could play out. We rarely get such an evenly dealt hand, and it makes for a very fun finish.
What do you have on tap for the reunion show this season? Any new wrinkles or surprises?
Nope! Just trying our best to make it fun and stay out of the way!
Okay, let’s get your take on the final six. Give me the strength, weakness, and wild-card factor for each of the six remaining players.
Strength: Resilient. Lasting this long from the bottom makes for a great final-three story.
Weakness: She’s on the bottom and she’s running on fumes. These last days will be tough.
Wild card: Luck. She needs a break. A winning streak or a new alliance opportunity.
Strength: She does not back down. She will make moves. She will battle until she’s voted out.
Weakness: Lack of self-awareness. She hasn’t yet realized just how much she is annoying the other players.
Wild card: Wake-up call. She’s capable of making a big move, but what she needs is a moment of insight as to the awareness of how she is perceived so she can show personal growth to the jury.
Strength: Likability. His smile and enthusiasm alone could earn him the title of Sole Survivor and the million dollars.
Weakness: Trying to think of one. I actually can’t. If he gets to the end, he could easily win.
Wild card: His loyalty. We’ve seen how he relies on his spiritual faith. He is just as loyal to his alliances. It will either be his ticket to the end or his ticket to Ponderosa.
Strength: Her ability to blend. She hasn’t ruffled any feathers, people tell her information on a daily basis and then forget she’s there. It’s an amazing skill.
Weakness: Lack of a visible resume. The downside to playing a stealth game is you don’t get credit for your moves.
Wild card: Her likability. If she gets to the end, it will be her charm that she will have to rely on to get her votes.
Strength: His ability to bond with people in a way that makes them believe he is loyal only to them. It looks easy, but it’s very sophisticated and not many people can pull it off.
Weakness: He can be a bit spiteful in his comments regarding other players. If he’s not careful, it could come back to haunt him.
Wild card: Charm. When Mike is on point, he can be extremely charming. He has the ability to make others feel they are the smart one, when secretly he knows it’s him. Even though he has had past success, it’s totally possible he could still get the votes to win this game.
Strength: He’s extremely shrewd. A very clever and calculated player who never takes his eyes off the prize. He wants this.
Weakness: He’s relentless. That can be a jury turn-on or total turn-off. He has to be mindful of how others are viewing him and not always have his foot on the pedal.
Wild card: His ability to stay loose. If he gets too tight, he could explode. These last days can be brutal, and Nick is wound tight. If he can get to the end, his story is pretty strong. He’s made big moves in front of the jury and overcame a tough start.
For more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.
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