Gather around! Televisions across Australia have been flashing warning signs of red and blue cautioning viewers who don’t deal well with tension and anxiety to kindly pass on tonight’s episode as the drama would exceed human comprehension. I must admit that tonight my nails have been meticulously chewed to the nub of my fingers. However, this was merely out of habit as opposed to any tension.
Tonight, we are introduced to another game-changing twist for the second night in a row – the ability for the opposing tribe to save the person who is voted at tribal council. But before we delve into this new twist, let’s have a look at the events that led up to tonight’s elimination.
New Contenders Tribe
The new Contenders Tribe (consisting of Sharn, Monika, Lydia, Robbie, Benji, Fenella and Heath) are riding a wave of positivity by winning both challenges tonight. It’s safe to say that the tribe dynamic at Contenders 2.0 is a lot more fluid than in the new Champions tribe. As it stands, the original Contenders (Benji, Robbie, Heath and Fenella) outnumber the Champions leaving Monika, Sharn and Lydia feeling vulnerable and on the outs.
As we saw in the last episode, Lydia has decided to team up with Robbie and Benji in an attempt to get rid of the dead weight (by which she means the physically weaker women in the game). This episode we see how successfully Lydia has been able to wrap Robbie around her finger through the relentless pandering of his ego. At the roast dinner reward, Lydia tells stories of her Olympic accomplishments. During this, Robbie hangs on every word and stares at Lydia with a wide-eyed infatuation reminiscent of a starving puppy dog who has a delicious treat waved in front of it. Not for nothing, but Robbie totally seems like the type of guy who likes a woman who is capable of beating him up. He has certainly met his match.
Meanwhile, Sharn is having concerns about her position in the game and tells us that she doesn’t like the idea of not being in power and having her fate in somebody else’s hands. As such, she decides to approach Benji and extend a strategic branch of opportunity in an attempt to gain control of the new Contenders tribe. Benji admits to her that he wants to shake things up and they let each other know that they would be happy to work with each other in the future.
Later that night, under the 3 am moonlight, Benji decides that it’s the perfect time to cross the ocean to a nearby island where he has to somehow direct himself to find the immunity idol which he received the clue for during the nacho reward. In the pitch-black darkness, Benji navigates the rigid coral walls with his hands until he finds what he covets – the hidden immunity idol.
New Champions Tribe
Over at the new Champions tribe, the dominating alliance appears to be between Steve, Mat, Sam and Shane with Brian being tenuously strung along. Mat and Steve discuss their desire to vote out Brian. Apart from a few goofy scenes here and there, Brian has been a quiet character in the game so it can be confusing for many to understand why he is suddenly a big threat. Easiest way put, Brian was seen to be working with Jackie and therefore had no prior knowledge of her elimination. The remaining Champions don’t believe that they can trust Brian and worry that he would be out for revenge and seek to make a move against those who voted out someone in his alliance.
Brian’s strategy primarily consists of being the class clown of the tribe and hopes that if he can make everyone laugh that people will enjoy his company enough to want to keep him around. In order to do this, Brian decides to put on Jackie’s clothes that she left at camp before being eliminated – a pink singlet and a “skort.” It’s a good sign for someone’s longevity in the game when someone deals with a blindside with comedy rather than anger.
After their loss in the immunity challenge, Brian begins to let the paranoia get to him and decides to approach Tegan with a plan to vote out Mat alongside Shonee and Shane. However, what Brian doesn’t realise is that Mat has recruited Shane to become a double agent whose mission is to have conversations with Tegan, Shonee and Brian and report back to him with information. After Shane approaches them with this information, Mat and Steve seriously consider whether or not it’s worth keeping Brian in the game anymore.
Tonight, tribal council has some special guests in attendance – the new Contenders tribe who earned the right to sit in when they won the immunity challenge. The victorious tribe is waiting, having already perched themselves on the wooden gallery as if they are aristocrats viewing a performance at the Glove Theatre. With maniacal expressions on their faces, the immune tribe looked on as Tegan makes a passionate plea for her safety which sees her expose the deal that Brian made with herself, Shonee and Shane. Unfortunately for her, it is all for nothing as she is voted out of the game. The vote is split with Brian and Sam voting for Shonee with the remainder going Tegan’s way.
However, tonight there is a twist. The new Contenders tribe is allowed to save Tegan if they so desire. Each contestant must approach the voting urn and write whether they want to “Save” or “Send”. Heath and Fenella try to convince Robbie and Benji to save Tegan by arguing that they will be picked off one by one by the Champions if they don’t keep her. Although this proves to be pointless as Heath and Fenella are the only two who vote to save their former tribemate.
In the end, Tegan blamed her game on choosing the wrong coloured buff at the tribe swap, which seems like an overly simplistic way of summarising her game. To be fair, if you count the votes Tegan received from the new Contenders tribe, Tegan was voted out by three different tribes. Lucky for her, there must be some kind of solace in knowing that nobody from either tribe wanted you in the game and there was nothing you could’ve done to save yourself. Also, she was already protected by the Exile Beach twist, so it’s really hard for anyone to justify keeping someone who keeps getting that much luck in the game. Either way, she was playing on borrowed time and she certainly came back with a fire in her belly that was evident in the show.
Shane the Spy
A lot is being made this episode about Shane being a double agent who will make a big move that will disrupt the game for everyone. However, I believe that Mat’s contribution to this is being grossly underestimated. Mat openly acknowledges in a confessional that he knows that Shane will never go against their alliance despite most players in the game believing that Shane is a loose cannon who is easily manipulated.
This is only reinforced by the fact that Shane voted with her alliance in the end by voting out Tegan. She did everything that Mat said that she would – she gained information from Brian, Shonee and Tegan which she then relayed back to Mat. If you ask me, Shane’s big move and strategic autonomy is about as real as Sue’s big move from Season 1. I’m confident that this is just clever editing on the show’s part to stir up drama and intrigue.
Now let’s talk about this twist. In trying to decide whether or not I thought it was good or not, I began to think if this twist would have been more effective if it happened pre-swap. Theoretically, there would be a higher chance of either tribe saving someone if they had very little knowledge of the dynamics of the other tribe. However, since the tribes were swapped there was no way Robbie or Benji (or any of the Champion girls for that matter) would want to save Tegan as it could potentially hurt their games. Not to mention the fact that tonight the Champions have made it completely clear that they have ZERO intention of wanting to work with anyone from the original Contenders tribe.
If I’m honest, the future is looking very bleak for the Contenders as the insurmountable force that is the original Champions continue to gain the momentum of a runaway freight train.
OTHER #SURVIVORAU COVERAGE on INSIDE SURVIVOR
Australian Survivor will be back Monday September 3 at 7.30pm AEST, and Austin Smith will be on hand to recap everything that goes down, down under.
Also be sure to check out our Power Rankings with AU Season 2 legends Luke Toki, Sarah Tilleke and Tessa O’Halloran, and keep an eye out for exit interviews with the Champions and Contenders after their torches are snuffed!