Best Episode Rankings – No. 60 – “Breadth-First Search”

The 100 Best Episodes countdown continues.

Photo: CBS

Over the coming months, Inside Survivor is undertaking its biggest list ranking yet, as we count down the 100 best episodes of Survivor ever. As always with these kinds of lists, it’s entirely subjective, and we’re sure many fans will have different opinions. This is simply Inside Survivor’s ranking. Join us each weekday for a new entry.

Season: David vs. Goliath
Episode: “Breadth-First Search” (Episode 9)
Originally Aired: November 21, 2018


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“Breadth-First Search” is probably the episode that the Survivor producers dreamed of when they first scribbled the theme of David vs. Goliath on the ideas whiteboard. You couldn’t have written a better underdog comeback story if you tried. In a season built around the biblical battle of the arrogant Goliath and the clever David, this is the episode that best exemplifies that fable. Here, the Survivor Davids load their slingshot and deliver the killer shot.

Before we get into the main part of this episode, though, let’s not forgot that this is the one with Christian Hubicki’s humorous idol search, where the episode gains its delightfully nerdy title. In a prime example of this season’s playful editing, the Robotics Scientist’s analytical search for the idol is complemented with on-screen graphics mapping his movements.

Yes, idols and advantages have become a frustrating crutch in modern Survivor, but it’s a testament to David vs. Goliath that it manages to inject some fun back into them. This is partly because of the editing but mostly due to this amazing cast’s willingness to share information and take risks.

As I’ve said before, the scene where the five Davids gather on the beach and begin revealing their secret powers is pure, unadulterated joy. Gabby Pascuzzi’s reactions get increasingly more giddy as each advantage is revealed, and the scene is capped off with Davie Rickenbacker‘s fantastic line, “What is going on with us?” What makes this moment so enjoyable is that, even though it’s about idols and advantages, we feel connected to these characters and their excitement because of how they’ve been developed throughout the season.

This scene is the beginning of the underdogs’ hopeful comeback after an episode that initially looks bleak for them. Alec Merlino and Alison Raybould continue to go back and forth on whether to flip to the Davids, ultimately deciding to play it safe for at least one more vote. Kara Kay offers momentary hope after deciding Dan Rengering is too much of an emotional drain on her game. She opens up about Dan having a second idol and pitches a smart contingency plan of splitting votes on Angelina Keeley. However, with Alec and Alison unwilling to commit to the flip, Kara can’t afford to take the risk alone.

Thankfully, the Davids realize they can no longer rely on the word of the Goliaths. The group had been burned previously and know that now is the time to take matters into their own hands. So, the rootable underdogs load up their slingshot as they head into Tribal Council.

Tired of waiting for Alison to choose between the Davids and her Goliaths, Nick Wilson makes the decision for her when he steals her vote. This gives the Davids the numbers advantage, and the ensuing panic leads to Alec and Kara following through on the contingency plan, throwing two votes on Angelina. But it’s the Goliath kingpin, Dan, who the Davids are after, as Carl Boudreaux correctly uses the Idol Nullifier, followed by a satisfying, “Bing!”

Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 59. You can check out the previous entries here.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

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