For all of you watching Australian Survivor: All Stars right now, it’s a truly blessed time. We all have the absolute privilege of being able to watch one of, if not the, greatest players in the history of the game operate at heretofore unseen levels. It’s like watching Michael Jordan in his prime. And while, from last year’s season, we already knew he was a very, very good player, last night’s truly masterful tribal council cements it. Not only is David Genat comfortably the greatest player Australian Survivor has ever produced, he’s one of the best Survivor players in any format of the game, of any country, ever. More to that, given the Rube Goldberg-like ruse he constructed and executed in last night’s episode, I’m ready to stand here before all of y’all and say with confidence that he’s a better player than series icon and clear Hall of Famer, Boston Rob Mariano.

But before we get to that part of this TED Talk, we have to address last night.

What transpired at Tribal Council in last night’s episode of Australian Survivor: All Stars was as masterful a piece of human manipulation as you’re ever likely to see in any form of Survivor ever.

The way David weaved his way through two factions of his own tribe, putting pieces in play that all flowed upwards in greatest benefit of himself, was art. It was like watching Herbert von Karajan lead the Berlin Philharmonic.

For those of you who missed it (why), here’s a quick play-by-play:

  • David, leading the majority alliance on Vakama, nonetheless harbours a desire to excise alliance member Daisy from the game, exacting revenge for her role in blindsiding him during Champions vs Contenders II, and removing his only tribemate who played with him previously – and knows his ways – in the process.
  • Covertly, David enlists Mat, the leader of the minority alliance on Vakama. Together, they align and resolve to divert heat from one another whenever voting plans are discussed in their respective alliances.
  • Mat reveals he’s convinced Henry, across at Mokuta, to pass him an Immunity Idol at the conclusion of the Immunity Challenge.
  • Mat tells David of his intentions to use it at Tribal and eject someone from the majority alliance. David agrees to tell Mat who to use the Idol for, on the condition that the minority alliance votes for Daisy.
  • Meanwhile, Brooke finds and Idol and, presumably feeling safe within her alliance, tells everyone about it.
  • David informs Mat that while everyone else in the majority is telling him the votes are going to Moana, in reality they’re going to Jacqui.
  • Additionally, he instructs Mat to put heat on him in a bid to flush out Brooke’s Idol as well.
  • At Tribal Council, the entire plan unfolds flawlessly, with David giving a performance worth of an AACTA.
  • Mat plays his Idol for Jacqui, David’s efforts are so convincing that it’s A.K., not David himself, who implores Brooke to play her Idol for David, which she does.
  • Daisy, as planned, is blindsided and voted out.

At every step of that journey, David is benefitting. And at every step of that journey no one, not even Mat, is fully across the entire plan. Key players in the ruse are only told enough to keep them in line. Some people know a little, but never enough to fully grasp the extent of what David just pulled off.

Meanwhile, those bulldozed by the plan were left totally in the dark. Daisy, who spoke to PEDESTRIAN.TV this morning, had no idea what was coming.

“We knew something was wrong,” she said, “but we didn’t know what. Lockie and I were cagey all day. We were sure something was happening.”

“I knew to be wary of David [from last season],” Daisy continued, “I went into [All Stars] with a clean slate. I wanted Brooke to play her Idol for me, maybe I should’ve tried harder.”

It’s an isolated event, but it’s exemplary of David as a Survivor savant. At all times he is pulling strings. All in such a way that he is the one that benefits most, and all in such a way that the blowback is directed elsewhere. He is a Big Moment maker, and it’s this that makes him better than Boston Rob.

This is, obviously, subjective. It’s like comparing Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Brady has more championship rings, but Rodgers is the more pure talent.

Similarly, Rob has the runs on the board, so to speak, having won a US season once and made it to the final Tribal Council one other time. David doesn’t. At least not yet.

But Boston Rob plays his best games in lockdown. In both his most successful runs, Rob’s benefitted most from unsure tribemates revering him as a hero, and he’s used goats as insulation to run through the field. In chaos, as Survivor so often embraces, Rob has failed.

David, conversely, thrives when neck deep in shit. He is agile, mobile, in constant motion. He realises that every piece of the game, even your own alliance, is live. He doesn’t just orchestrate Tribal Council hit jobs on people, he builds them from the ground up; carefully mapping out each and every step to maximise benefit while minimising blowback. By the time anyone realises what he’s done, he’s already several steps further down the track.

In all challenges and votes, there’s a line of best fit, and it’s one David, last night especially, has shown that he’s willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Even if that line has to zig zag several times to get to the destination.

Survivor is a game of big moments, and David Genat is its Monet. And if ever put in direct competition with each other (a thing that absolutely should happen), I have no doubt in my mind that he would run through Boston Rob like a hot knife through butter.