Samson on Survivor: Review and Recap

Samson vs. Garrett

I had hoped we could spend many weeks together, dissecting the Survivor journey of generally despicable Miami Marlins president David Samson. Unlike my previous trip through terrible baseball-related television, I actually enjoy Survivor. At least the people acting terribly to each other in this show are doing it with a greater purpose in mind.

Alas, (spoiler alert) despite professing to have watched the show from the very beginning, David Samson’s season was about as effective as the Marlins’ in 2012: A lot of big moves that backfire and eliminate him early. At least now we know this is an organization-wide problem.

I would like to embed the video for you, but CBS’s video player doesn’t seem to allow that. So, instead, I’ll direct you to their site, which none of you will go to. I mean, you might have watched it if it was right in front of you, but since it’s not, you’re probably just going to keep reading to enjoy all the terrible decision Samson makes, the ridiculous things he says, and the hilarious things people say about him. That’s how the Internet works. Sucks for you, CBS.

This season, as we discussed last Friday, has split the “tribes” up into three groups based on what the contestants supposedly use most in their everyday lives: Brains, Brawn, or Beauty. Obviously, that’s often not a clean distinction, as the beauty team has a student from Northwestern and the brain squad has a professional poker player who is absolutely ripped, but whatever. The brains (average IQ of 130, including Samson, arrive via helicopter to meet their opponents, who arrived by speed boat (beauty) and in the back of a truck (brawn). Super subtle, Survivor.

Right off the bat, host Jeff Probst asks each team to pick a leader, and the brains pick Samson because he’s wearing a blazer (seriously). This leads to our first great exchange with Samson tonight as Probst addresses him: “David, because of your jacket, evidently, you were selected as the leader of this group.”

“Just for the record,” Samson responds, “the jacket doesn’t match the pants, so it’s not a suit. Heh, heh.” I can’t imagine why no one likes you, David.

Then Probst makes each team leader choose the weakest member to be singled out. Samson doesn’t hesitate in making his first crucial mistake of the game, choosing Garrett, the absolutely ripped poker player because he perceives him as the biggest threat and assumes this “weakest person” will be immediately eliminated, as they occasionally have been on past seasons.

But come on, David Samson. You’re supposed to be a brain (who brags in his bio about suckering the city of Miami into paying $350 million for a new stadium during a recession). You can presumably count to 18 (the number of contestants this season). Do you really think that the producers are going to burn three weeks worth of potential shows in the first 10 minutes? Indeed, these “weakest” players are actually sent ahead and given the opportunity to find a hidden immunity idol that can protect them from being voted out, and Garrett is clued into the fact that Samson is gunning for him. Garrett finds the idol relatively easily, gaining a huge potential advantage.

When the rest of the brains arrive, David gets a potential out when J’Tia, a nuclear engineer, proceeds to botch the creation of a shelter while bossing everyone around. This is a classic Survivor blunder, as people who try to take charge on the first day consistently get perceived as “bossy” (especially if those people are African-American) and are smacked down by their tribes.

Then, during the first immunity challenge, Samson’s brain tribe gets absolutely smoked by the other groups in large part thanks to the incompetence of J’Tia. They struggle to get through the obstacle courses set up. Probst calls it “an absolute falling apart by one tribe three days into Survivor,… Whatever brains they had clearly have evaporated 72 hours into this game” and “one of the worst performances out of the gate in the history of Survivor.”

Back at camp, despite J’Tia’s terrible play, David advocates getting rid of Garrett, saying he’s “thinking about Day 39.” His ally, Kass, talks him down, calling that strategy “ridiculous.” But David has made a bad choice of ally, as Cassie has a big mouth and is exceptionally straightforward, telling J’Tia that she’s voting for her. J’Tia takes this information to Garrett, who then uses it to form a four person voting bloc to take out David, who he calls a “schemer” and “a strategic threat.”

David leaves, the first person voted out of the season, saying “I have no regrets. I played the way I thought I needed to play to get forward in the game. But the tribe just doesn’t have it together, or they have it together just against me. But no hard feelings to any of them. I consider myself pretty much the luckiest person in the world.” And in having a prestigious job from which he can take a leave of absence during the regular season because his step-father is the owner, he may be right. For, literally, the first and only time in the episode. Instead of Day 39, clearly he should have been focusing on Day 3.

Samson voted out

Horrible and/or Pretentious things David Samson says:

“In baseball, there’s only one winner at the end. Survivor is the same. So I’ve been playing this game for a long time, just not on a beach.” – in the helicopter at the start of the episode

On his decision to try and eliminate Garrett:

Probst: “Are you used to making decisions like this, David?”

Samson: “I make decisions like this often, and I’m going with him [grabs Garrett by the shoulder].

Probst: “Wow, you didn’t even think about it…. Standing here that is a surprising choice. What did you base it on?”

Samson: “Focusing on, I’d say, the last two-thirds of the game.”

Probst: “So you’re already looking to the end.”

Samson: “Well, you asked me to make a decision for now, but every decision you make is based on what’s good for now and what’s good for later.”

“J’Tia has taken charge of doing stuff. But she doesn’t do anything, she just barks orders at everybody. In my career, I have a lot of experience working with people who look like they can get things done, but you put a bat in their hands, and they look like Bugs Bunny. And that’s J’Tia.” – David Samson considering himself a fine judge of baseball players

“I’m thinking about Day 39. My biggest concern is I’m not sure what put him on the brain tribe. He hasn’t told us, and that scares me to my very core.” – again trying to justify why he’s so focused on getting rid of Garrett

“I realize it was not a perfect position to be in, and I decided to act with haste and not dither around. And that’s what you have to do, you have to step up. Because, listen, this is a game.” – still more about his decision to try and pick off Garrett in the first 10 minutes of the show.

“In the real world, I may hire you. But in this world, not tonight.” – about J’Tia, as he votes for her to be sent home.

Hilarious and accurate things people say about David Samson:

“I personally never trust a person in a suit, but I like David, so we’ll go with that.” – Kass, on her decision to pick David as the tribe’s leader

“At least both of the other two leaders pretended like they were so sad to pick the other person. But David doesn’t hesitate. He immediately pats me on the back and says “Garrett, you’re the weakest. Which is B.S. I’m stronger than any of them.” – Garrett, after Samson tries to send him home.

“Without question, David making the asinine decision he did works to my advantage, but he’s clearly a threat to me and I want him out of the game. – Another gem from Garrett

“I don’t know what the hell David was thinking, but I promise you I’m going to do everything in my power to get rid of him.” – Samson’s new arch-enemy, Garrett

“When David came out and said that he was going to pick Garrett, I thought ‘’You’re an idiot. You’re taking the one person who can help us in challenges and you ostracize him already.’” – Spencer, chess champion

“David wants Garrett to go first ,but that’s ridiculous.” – Kass, on the person she chose to ally with, strategically

“He’s pretty shifty, and I don’t know what he has in his back pocket.” – Spencer, accurately pegging David’s personality. Also, David’s from Florida: what’s in his pocket is probably a gun.

More evidence David Samson is incompetent:

Garrett is the next person eliminated despite being the tribe’s strongest physical player, J’Tia tanking another challenge and then petulantly throwing almost all of the tribe’s rice into the fire when she is targeted for elimination. That’s how weak Garrett’s game is. Some big threat, indeed. I’d love to play poker against this idiot.

Quote that sums up the episode:

“We’re not very smart for the brain tribe.” -Kass, as the shelter’s foundation collapses under the weight of one normal-sized person.


Mike Bates co-founded The Platoon Advantage, and has written for many other baseball websites, including NotGraphs (rest in peace) and The Score. Currently, he writes for Baseball Prospectus and co-hosts the podcast This Week In Baseball History. His favorite word is paradigm. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBatesSBN.

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
AC of DC
9 years ago

Granted, I did not (and will not) watch the program, but I see in the inclusion of a big-mouth business-type more of this pervasive belief that business types — and folks in other walks who believe in Leadership with a capital L — are necessarily intelligent (or at least are perceived as so by the business types that determine network lineups). I have yet to discover any evidence of a correlation between financial/employment success and intellect. Anecdotally: I have the misfortune of residing in a metro region that is heavily peopled, and entirely run, by this type. They’re fucking morons. They’ve spent 6-8 years in college, but remain wholly uneducated; each has just got a title and the conviction that s/he is the smartest person in the world.

At the same time, I expect that this was not contrary to the intent. The producers know they’ve got an anti-intellectual audience who will be only too happy to see that “smart” people are stupid. I expect that they were picked not precisely to fail, but to provide material that could be edited to make them appear like failures. After all, it’s probably not easy to convince someone defined by his high intelligence to appear on a silly gameshow.

Also: Samson is a twit. Bugs Bunny was very good at baseball.

Eric Gagne
9 years ago
Reply to  AC of DC

Taught me that killer changeup