Family visits blow the game wide open on Survivor: David vs. Goliath

SURVIVOR -- Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment -- Acquired via CBS Press Express
SURVIVOR -- Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment -- Acquired via CBS Press Express /

On Survivor: David vs. Goliath, So Smart They’re Dumb, visitors from home reveal a lot about the remaining castaways, and how they’re playing the game.

Every season on Survivor, there comes a time close to the end when the castaways reunite with loved ones. This always results in a ton of tears which — for some of us watching — can appear to be a bit of an overreaction.

Leave it to Christian to adeptly dissect the importance of these visits from family, friends and significant others.

Sitting comfortably on the couch at home, it’s difficult for fans to truly relate to the deprivation the players on Survivor endure. We can enjoy sipping our lattes while thinking “It would really suck to only eat rice for a month,” but there’s a definite disconnect.

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The castaways aren’t only emaciated physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. They’re deprived of every creature comfort we all take for granted every day.

Even though Christian’s interaction with Emily (his partner) makes viewers wonder if Christian even fully grasps some of the perks of actually having a girlfriend, it does put the importance of these visits. And how much they reveal about not only the players but the game.

When Christian gets emotional during his and Emily’s goodbye, Jeff basically questions Christian about the delayed reaction. After years of watching the show (with varying degrees of conviction), Christian puts everything into perspective (for me anyway):

"It’s easy to take your loved one for granted. You see them every day. And for once a day, I can look at her and remember that moment where she walked away and use that as a reminder of appreciating what you have. And I think that’s what a lot of us want to come away from this with is … that some kernel you can take away from the game that changes who we are."

But like everything else on Survivor, there’s a strategic component to these visits as well. Not only do they infuse the remaining players with some much-need motivation to keep their eyes on the prize, they provide an excellent opportunity for some manipulation.

Angelina’s reaction to seeing her mother comes across as  … manufactured. She seizes on the opportunity to remind everyone about the monumental sacrifice she made by sitting out the last Immunity Challenge.

Angelina’s attempts to score emotional points comes up flat, particularly compared to Nick. There isn’t one heartstring that isn’t tugged while listening to Nick praise his father and the sacrifices he made for his five children.

For those who win the reward, there’s the chance to shore up goodwill with alliance and would-be alliance members which is exactly what Mike, Angelina and Nick do. This confirms Angelina and Mike will stay Goliath strong, and Nick would rather take his chances with former foes than stick with the Davids.

While seeing other players with their nearest and dearest may soften some like Mike who feels actual guilt over his game play (yes, these are actually people with lives outside Survivor). It has the opposite effect on Gabby.

After seeing Christian with his girlfriend, Gabby has the epiphany she needs to break up with her fellow “nerdmancer,” Christian (sadly, she ends up becoming the dumpee). Is there some jealousy at work here? The timing sure feels like it, but it could also just be Gabby sees how others view Christian outside the game.

So much changes in the wake of the surprise visitors from home, it’s impossible not to examine how important this Survivor tradition is. Not only are the strong emotional responses more understandable, but the strategic implications are amplified as well.

Next. Gabby whacks the Godfather on Survivor: David vs. Goliath. dark

Survivor: David vs. Goliath airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS. Tune in to see if Christian can survive another Tribal Council. 

Did Gabby make a huge mistake turning on Christian or was it smart game play? Let us know what you think in the comments section.