It’s the penultimate episode in this three-day finale week. The end is in sight, and we are just one night away from crowning our winner. But before we get there, grab some tissues because tonight we have the Australian Survivor loved ones visit.
A Crazy Little Thing Called Love
We begin the episode at what appears to be a reward challenge. Jonathan LaPaglia starts by reminding the contestants what they have accomplished thus far. “For 51 days, you have pushed yourselves to your limits,” he says. They have outlasted “cyclonic weather” and “daily hunger,” but most significantly they have been deprived of the love and support from the people they care about the most. The contestants immediately begin to break down in tears and speak incomprehensible words in piercingly high pitches.
The lovefest begins with Peter when Jonathan lets him know that both his parents, Francis and Michael, are waiting to see him. Peter’s parents tell him that they love him before his mom steps back and says the most motherly thing she could say in that moment – “Look at your tan! You look beautiful!” Despite Peter being malnourished and covered with cuts and bruises, a mother will always find their child to be the most beautiful person in the world.
Next, we get to see Michelle’s sister, Sam, who prances her way over to hug her sister. “Can you believe I made it this far?” Michelle says to her sister as they cry, laugh and speak at the same time during one embrace. Afterwards, we have Jericho’s brother Paul, who could definitely pass for his twin. They share the same mannerisms, voice and slight American accent that is so charming. As Paul is running towards his brother, Jericho screams out, “Hurry up! Why are you so slow?!” A heartwarming display of brotherly banter.
Finally, Tara is left standing alone as the only person who has yet to receive their loved ones visit, but the long wait proved to be worth it when her husband and three kids all arrive to see her. Afterwards, Jonathan lets them all know that they can bring their shiny, squeaky clean loved ones back to camp for a few hours.
I’m Not a Regular Mom, I’m a Cool Mom
When we get back, we see the contestants each have a very different interaction with their loved ones. Tara’s time with her family revolves around sharing her experience with her children. First off, we see Tara with her family wandering around the beach while her young kids ask her adorable kid questions. These questions are filled with the innocence and naivety that only children possess such as “Mom, what happens when it rains?” and “Mommy, why do you get all muddy?” Tara says in a confessional that she feels like she is the “coolest mom” now that she gets to experience camp life with her family. She says that seeing her family will give her the drive she needs to make it through the next four days of the competition.
Jericho’s time with his brother revolves around the pair of them living a dream of being on the show together and bonding over their mutual love of the game. Jericho takes his brother through a Survivor rite of passage – opening a coconut with a machete. We see the close relationship between Jericho and Paul as they discuss fake strategy together and make fun of each other through a back and forth of brotherly banter.
Michelle’s interaction with her loved one is the only one that revolved around the strategy of the game. Michelle sits down on the beach with her sister Sam and immediately lets her know that everyone in the game thinks they are working with her. After questioning Michelle about who the biggest threat left is, Sam then tells her that she should vote Jericho out if she wins the immunity challenge. Sam leaves her sister with some comforting words of encouragement and Michelle lets us know that she is now going to step up all aspects of her game to ensure that she takes out the win.
Finally, Peter’s interaction with his family revolves around the strained relationship that he has had with his father. After showing his parents where he has been living for the past 51 days, Peter tells them stories about the different camps he has been living on, including one about how the Samatau tribe ended up naming two rats Jemima and Sally because they kept on returning to camp. Peter lets us know in a confessional that he believes the experience will earn him some new-found respect from his Dad and he is excited to return home and embrace their new relationship.
It’s a penultimate immunity challenge of extravagant proportions! Before the challenge begins, Tara and Peter express the joy they felt after being able to see their family members and say that they are refreshed and energized to compete. In order to win immunity, the contestants have to get into a canoe and pull themselves to a tower where they need to throw a bucket into the ocean and collect water so they can fill a tank up to reach a key. After that is complete, they need to jump off the tower and swim to shore and unlock a rope that is wrapped around a balance beam. After they make their way across the beam, they need to use their rope to pull down a bridge that leads them to a puzzle. Whoever finishes the puzzle first win’s immunity.
Since we all know by now that the puzzle is the great equalizer, the rest of the challenge before it is rendered useless. The challenge comes down to Peter and Michelle (who almost stages a large comeback), but in the end, Peter finally wins his first immunity challenge and guarantees himself a place in the Final 3.
Nothing Is What It Seems
When the contestants come back from the challenge, Peter lets everyone know that he is happy to do one on one conversations with everyone to figure out who should go home. He begins with Michelle, where he lets her know that he doesn’t intend on targeting her and that his main target tonight is Jericho due to the “sure-fire” number of votes he has on the jury. Michelle says that despite the fact that she has been working with Jericho for the majority of the game, “nobody goes to the Olympics and considers what their competitors’ feelings are going to be like after the race.”
Afterwards, we see Peter tell Tara that he wants to vote out Jericho and he has Michelle’s vote to do so. Tara is compliant and says that she will vote with Peter, even going as far as allowing him to use her as a decoy target to Jericho. They solidify their trust with a fist bump, and Peter tells us that with the three votes he has, the vote should be pretty straightforward. But as we will see, this vote is as straightforward as a cooked piece of spaghetti.
Jericho is “spewing” that Peter won the challenge as he now fears that he will be the next target to go home. He says that even though he wants Peter gone, he needs him to be in the majority of the numbers. However, he senses that Peter might be conspiring to get him out due to the unholy and unnatural number of conversations he has had with Michelle. According to Jericho’s logic, if Peter, Michelle and himself were all in accordance with voting out Tara, then there should be no need for Peter and Michelle to be having conversations alone without him. The music turns menacing and twisted as we see Jericho crouched on the floor with a machete in his hands and a devilish smile on his face.
Jericho decides to confront Michelle about the amount of times she has been talking to Peter, which not surprisingly ends in Michelle erupting on him. Jericho argues that if she keeps on going off and having conversations with Peter, he will feel paranoid enough to take matters into his own hands and go to fire-making contest at tribal council. Michelle is stunned that someone would tell her who she can and can’t speak to and says that she will do what she wants and encourages him to do the same. Afterwards, Tara and Jericho have a conversation in which Tara spills all the beans to him and lets him know that he is the target. Tara lets us know in a confessional that she is considering causing a tie vote so that she can show the jury that she is playing her own game by not voting out the biggest threat and taking only the strongest to the end. I know it sounds crazy, I don’t understand it either.
At tribal council, the feud between Michelle and Jericho is reprised with Michelle saying that she feels confident and secure enough in the conversations that she has had that there won’t be a need to go to a fire-making challenge tonight. In the middle of all of this is Peter, the person’s whose vote was meant to be crucial after winning the immunity challenge, and he says that going to a fire-making challenge is pointless as there is someone they can all vote for who will be of a mutual benefit to the three of them. Funnily enough, even after Peter wins some sort of power and security the game is still played around him.
Finally, Tara says that her vote won’t be for the biggest threat necessarily, but will be about what’s best for getting to the top three. She isn’t even thinking about voting for keeping someone who she could beat in the end. Ultimately, we do go to a fire-making challenge between Jericho and Michelle. Unsurprisingly, Jericho manages to beat Michelle with relative ease and books himself a spot in the final three thus eliminating Michelle.
Michelle was by far one of the standout contestants this season. She proved to be someone who was constantly thinking several steps ahead and managed to blend her strong social game with her strategic game. Her move to get Ben voted out after she was sent to the Samatau tribe was a brilliant strategic and TV moment that was a lesson to all about how information and words can be used as a weapon. Michelle was always thinking about what move would provide her with as many options to work with moving forward. A few episodes ago we saw that when Locky was voted out. Michelle threw a vote Peter’s way despite knowing that Locky was going home just so she could be in Locky’s good graces in the event that he had an immunity idol. We also saw that during her loved one’s segment where she was the only contestant (that we saw at least) that was actively using her sister as someone who could help her decide what move to make next. Nevertheless, Michelle was the prissy and sassy blonde bombshell that came out of nowhere to almost take out the season.
I would like to briefly just give a few comments on the final three contestants ahead of tomorrow’s exciting finale and reunion.
Peter: Peter has to be one of the most ‘up in the air’ contestants we have seen this season. Not because of the game that he has played, but more so because of the lack of airtime he has had that has stopped us from seeing what kind of game he has played. Peter has been a solid physical competitor. He was a part of the first Australian Survivor mutiny, a decision that arguably saved his game. Peter has played a brand of strategic game that gets people to the end and wins Survivor. It may not be the bold and flashy strategic game that Henry and AK play but… those people always get voted out. He might be seen as a goat, but he has a lot of Samatau friends on the jury who would be happy to vote for him – especially if he is sitting next to Tara. Peter played a game to win a 55-day marathon and not a 39-day sprint; the only question is whether or not he can cross the finish line.
Jericho: His game has been very underwhelming in regards to his strategic gameplay. His strategy has predominately consisted of attaching himself to larger alpha male type players and becoming a little brother towards them. Like Peter, it’s not the most fascinating game to watch, but it is a good way to take you far. He understood the way people perceived him and that established close social bonds which allowed him to never become the outright target. In many ways, his game is comparable to Peter’s so far as that they both heavily relied on their social games. The main difference between Peter and Jericho is that Jericho is a much more entertaining and compelling character than Peter. Jericho knows how to give the producers what they want in his confessionals which makes for good soundbites to use in the episodes. Jericho comes to life at tribal council, where his ability to come up with outlandish analogies out of thin air makes him enthralling and compelling to listen to. Jericho’s ability to be a storyteller makes him a strong threat when it comes to final speeches and answering questions. If he can make it to the Final 2, there is no doubt that Jericho will be the hero of the narrative this season.
Tara: What is there to say besides she is nothing but a goat-sheep at this point. Whoever wins the final immunity challenge, and let’s be honest it won’t be Tara, will be stupid not to take Tara to the end. It has been well documented at this point that her game is not respected by the jury which makes it very difficult to see her winning.