A new week of Australian Survivor wakes up to day 19 on the swapped tribes. There’s a rainbow in the sky over the Champions beach. The pot of gold for Luke and David is that somehow they’ve gone from rock bottom to a dominant position. David’s path through the game relies on his new awesome foursome: himself, Luke, Daisy, and John. The main sticking point is his adversary from the other tribe. Shaun stands in the way of his challenge wins and being Daisy’s number one ally.
The (new) Contenders tribe is going from strength to strength but is clearly divided along former tribal lines. A powerful sisterhood bonds Janine, Pia, and Abbey. Pia explains the three as having various strengths required for the game of Survivor and hopes to go to the end with them. Harry is using his darling (and non-existent) son to make relationships with the new members of the Contenders tribe. It really makes me wonder why Shaun, Casey, and Matt don’t ask him why he never mentioned Oscar before? Maybe Oscar has been a lie Harry has told since the first day on the beach.
The tribe swap has prompted both deeper division and strong inter-tribe bonds. For some former tribemates, a bit of space seems to have painted a clearer picture of certain castaways’ intentions. Janine leads the war against David: she calls him a rattlesnake and feeds fuel to the emerging firey rivalry between Shaun and David. Janine tells Shaun about the fake idol he got from his swap with David. Checking his ‘idol’ and finding it inauthentic, Shaun begins to plot revenge. Janine is not only building resentment towards David–with the hopeful outcome of him being sent home sooner rather than later–but is endearing herself to Shaun. Even as the bearer of bad news, passing on useful information is more helpful than leaving him unaware of his powerless idol.
So far, the season has been setting up inevitable showdowns. The most obvious is Champions vs. Contenders. In the initial days, we saw the Sporty Seven vs. the outsiders on the Champions tribe. Matt is always dueling with Luke. But this episode highlights two showdowns in particular. The first is David vs. Shaun. They both prize the same person (Daisy) as an ally. They’re both the big and beautiful men on their respective tribe. David even claims he can be the ‘new’ Shaun. Where David has been sneaky throughout the game, Shaun has been quietly confident. He has been likable at every turn and an asset to his tribe for challenges. David and Shaun face off in the Reward Challenge, which Jonathan LaPaglia calls it “Adonis vs. Adonis.” I initially believed he said “Adonis vs. Dishonest” as this is what the show has presented.
Another conflict has been Harry vs. the Champion girls. Harry’s best effort to wiggle into an alliance with the former Champions has only created a larger target on himself, and it’s only set to grow as the episode goes on.
So much of the drama in this episode is fuelled by cross-tribal whispers. The time spent celebrating a challenge win is an opportunity to whisper information or instructions to the other tribe members. The whisperers conveniently frame the strategic aims of various players. Shaun wants David gone for the fake idol scandal, so he tells Daisy to put his exit in effect. David wants Shaun to go, so he asks Janine to use her idol to make it happen. Harry provides a warning to Daisy about the Champions ongoing strategy. Turns out the Champions tribe will get more than just immunity and more than these whispered clues–they’re going to get front row seats to the Contenders Tribal Council. Cue an incoming twist!
Unable to get into a majority position, Harry takes every opportunity to get further in the game. His first move is to tell Shaun, Matt, and Casey about his Immunity Idol. He wants to use it to vote out Janine. He tells the other Contenders that if the former Champs find out about his idol, they will split their votes. He gets Casey to go and ‘leak’ his idol to the girls. Instead of the desired effect of a vote split being formed, the target shifts to Casey. The former Champs now perceive Casey as playing both sides and someone who could cause a lot of damage in the future. Casey tries to check in with the Champs later in the day but is brushed off with nothing answers. Harry and Casey think the vote is now either of them. Harry wants to draw the votes to him so that he can negate them with his idol. His plan for this is to be a jerk at Tribal.
For a self-proclaimed fan of the game, Harry is using some interesting tactics. With every remaining castaway present at Tribal, Harry tries to poke the proverbial bear by claiming most people in the game aren’t even trying. He tells everybody that Janine is in control. The cherry on the cake is revealing that his son doesn’t even exist. As several castaways point out, Harry is trying so hard to be a jerk that he seems to be a totally different person. Harry’s target might be growing by the second, but my prediction is that the former Champs intend to vote off Casey. Being annoying is not as valuable as being a social threat. We will never find out as JLP announces the newest twist on the Australian Survivor menu: the Champions tribe will vote to steal a member from the Contenders.
Without discussion, the Champions cast their votes. Before Daisy even jumps gleefully to her feet, it seems obvious who their choice will be: Shaun. A challenge beast and nice guy to boot, he would be a solid asset for the tribe. JLP doesn’t even need to read all the votes – the big guy is sent over to the blue tribe.
The twist is not a new concept for Australian Survivor. The 2016 season saw two tribes swap members who they had voted out. The 2017 season took two castaways booted in a Tribal Council and sent them to the other tribe. The benefit of this twist is that numbers-wise, the tribes are now equal. But the downside is the Champions tribe seems to now hold a hefty advantage challenge wise. They have throwing ace Andy, John (who is good at everything), puzzle enthusiast Baden and now the Stallion himself, Shaun. Janine and Abbey are both strong females, but their remaining tribemates have been good without being great.
Whether this makes the competition one-sided once more remains to be seen, but I can only hope for another tribe swap sooner rather than later. The obvious effect of Shaun’s kidnapping is bringing the tension between David, Shaun, and the fake idol to a head. Shaun is aware of his idol’s inauthenticity, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. Where will Daisy fall when both her allies try to pull her to their side? And for that matter, where does that leave Luke and David if Shaun scoops up their strongest allies?
It’s only Day 19–the season isn’t even half-way through yet. There are still sixteen people left. Four idols are in the game along with one newly discovered fake. The sands of the game are constantly shifting. Andy was previously well-positioned within his tribe, while he’s now being led along by a Champion. Daisy was cruising through the game with meat shields to spare, but it seems like her loyalty is about to be tested. David is trying to comb his hair with a fork! Hannah even got to speak this episode! There may not have been a boot this episode, but the truth about Oscar has been revealed so at least somebody left this episode.