Back in June last year, while the Survivor: Winners At War cast were battling it out on the islands of Fiji, I reached out to a selection of former Survivor players to get their thoughts and predictions on the returning castaways. Over the next few weeks, I will be posting those interviews here on Inside Survivor.
Today, we’re talking to Davie Rickenbacker, who played with Nick Wilson in Survivor: David vs Goliath. As members of the David tribe, Nick and Davie made a bond early, with Nick reassuring Davie after he was left out of the first vote. They were split up at the swap, but come the merge, the pair found themselves reuniting with their fellow Davids to pull off a huge blindside on the dominant Goliath alliance. Even though the David uprising eventually fell apart, Nick and Davie remained loyal to each other throughout, with Davie rewarding Nick with his vote at the Final Tribal Council.
Inside Survivor reached out to Davie to get his thoughts on Nick’s return to Survivor: Winners At War.
Disclaimer: This interview was conducted in June 2019 while Survivor: Winners At War was still filming in Fiji.
1) Hey Davie, thanks for doing this! You and Nick started the game together on the David tribe and eventually met back up at the merge, what was your initial opinion of Nick and how did it change throughout the season?
Immediately Nick and I clicked, we were both frat boys that were down to Earth, knew how to take a joke, and knew what game we were playing. I knew that aligning with someone like him would be in my best interest. Yes, he got in a little trouble early on for not being as useful around camp, but I think that was an age issue where old school Survivor is all “let’s get this shelter done,” and fanboy Survivor is “I’M ON FREAKING SURVIVOR, I want to explore!” My opinion changed for the better as we continued to play the game. I saw Nick as someone I could trust but also was aware of his threat level moving forward. In the end, me being voted out and realizing he had no part in the decision secured him as my ride or die for life.
2) It’s been suggested that Nick would have been the first person voted out had Pat not being medically evacuated. Is that accurate? What is your recollection of those first few days on the David beach, and why was Nick finding it so hard to fit in?
It’s not accurate at all. It simply made for a better story to showcase Nick having trouble in the beginning and winning in the end, when the truth is we all struggled to make bonds those first few days—that’s Survivor. Nick was able to recover fast because of the allies he had already made in people like myself, Gabby, and Elizabeth, that told him he needed to put in more effort around camp, which he immediately did.
3) You always took the game in your stride, while Nick would sometimes take it personally and lash out back at camp (particularly after the Christian betrayal). Why do you think it was hard for Nick to keep his emotions in check?
Nick is a very logical thinker, so I think he struggled in understanding why people would ruin a good thing. That good thing, in this particular case, being the Davids having the majority and one of his closest allies Christian being a part of one of his other closest allies’, in Carl, blindside (a blindside that resulted in David after David after Davie being sent home). It’s like the saying “only the ones you love can hurt you,” but I think it was that emotion that worked in Nick’s favor in the end. If he can just manage to channel it a little more, he’ll be in much better standing this go around.
4) One of the best moves of the season was when yourself and the other Davids blindsided John. It seemed like Nick was a big part of that move when it came to sharing info and plotting the target. Can you talk us through how that move came about and what role Nick played in it?
The John blindside was made possible because of the relationships Nick had already made with members of the Goliath tribe. He was able to use his charm to get key players to trust him the way that his day one allies already did. They trusted him enough to where they were blinded in the relationships he had with his original tribemates. Nick knew that I was as close to Christian as he was, and we went through every scenario to find a way to keep him. We narrowed our decision down to using my idol to get rid of Alec or John; in the end, we decided on John because we felt it might weaken Dan, and we could use Alec to feed us more info if needed.
5) At the Final Tribal Council, Nick described himself as a people person, with his strength being his ability to connect to others. I’m interested to hear more about Nick’s social game. What was he like around camp day-to-day? How did he connect with people?
Nick really was a guy that could connect with anyone; I envied him in that sense, much like Gabby envied Christian for the same. He could talk Kentucky with Elizabeth, wrestling with John, Spanish with Angelina, movies with Mike, sports with Carl, travel with Alec… whatever the topic was he knew how to contribute to the conversation. He knew how to play up his “Good ole boy” character in the early days, telling jokes at night, offering to do things no one else wanted to. I think at one point he even gave out a massage or two, but it never came off as him doing these things to win but only that he was a down-to-earth, decent human being, which is something we don’t get enough of in our every day lives, so it’s a breath of fresh air on Survivor.
6) What do you think Nick’s mindset will be coming into this all-winners season? Will he adapt to a new style of play, or should we expect more of the same, the secret alliance names, etc.?
I don’t think he’ll go the alliance name route this time, at least not immediately. Keep in mind Nick is a superfan of this game, and I think he’ll plan to use that to his advantage in admiration for every winner before him. He is the newest winner of this group, these are the people he grew up watching, he will be genuinely amazed that he’s given this opportunity, and I think he can play off of that with each of them. Maybe making them think that he’s such a fan, so much so, that it’s his dream to be in an alliance with the heroes and villains he knows and “loves”.
7) Who on this cast do you see Nick gravitating towards? Who do you think would make a good ally for him?
While I know he’ll be fighting the urge to have a chance at 19 new alliance names, I think he might not have a choice but to align with the characters that have played most recently. I was a fan of MTV’s The Challenge before Survivor, and one thing I noticed is they always come after the newbies early. I think he’ll make solid bonds with the Wendells, the Micheles, the Adams but also get in bed with the sometimes erratic power players like Tony and Tyson that might be willing to make the game shift if and when Nick ends up being in trouble.
8) Who on this cast poses the biggest threat to Nick? Is there anyone you see him butting heads with?
I think that the biggest threats this go-around might be the players with the largest legacies because, as a fan, if you make that jury, I think you’d be more willing to vote for your Survivor hero than a newbie that helped get you out of the game. I don’t really see him butting heads with anyone, mainly because if the casting rumors are true, the Survivor OGs, the louder personalities, might do most of the butting heads between themselves.
9) What is Nick’s biggest strength? And his biggest weakness?
His biggest strength is his adaptability. That adaptability allows him to have options—when one alliance fails, he’s got another on stand-by. His biggest weakness will be that he isn’t as experienced as his opponents; he still has sand behind his ears, but who knows, that could end up benefitting him in the long haul.
10) Before I let you go, what is new in the world of Davie? How has life been since we last saw you on David vs. Goliath?
Life has been spectacular, I am blessed! I’m still advocating for equity with African Americans while promoting health and wellness for all with my role at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I’ve taken a break from the dog breeding and am now pursuing Voice Acting on the side. I am perfecting my craft via all social media channels (IG: iAmDavie | Twitter: iTweetDavie | Youtube: uTubeDavie) and speaking engagements, and I plan to bring this new dream to life soon. I’m still single, but keeping God first so that when I meet that lucky lady, I can be the best me for her and my family to come.
Thanks again to Davie for taking part. Stay tuned to Inside Survivor for more Playing with Champions interviews.
Survivor: Winners At War premieres February 12, 2020, on CBS.