As the game gets to the pointy end, and fewer people are left, Australian Survivor has less material to work with and so each strategic move is snatched up by the producers like a morsel of good, tasty entertainment to feed to the audience. And no matter what the morsels are made up of, if Australian Survivor is serving them, then I am eating them up.
The final stage of the game sees a shift from “how do I get to the end” to “how do I get to the end and win.” This has become a reoccurring theme first posed by Commando Steve, who reminded the castaways and jury alike that “the title of Sole Survivor is awarded.” The past weeks have seen the elimination of many power players, most of whom were playing to win instead of just worrying about getting to the end in the first place. Mat and Benji both met their demise as soon as they got a hint of confidence.
King Grub, the esteemed Brian Lake, got a sniff of that confidence at the previous tribal council when he ‘accidentally’ voted for Sharn and saw Fenella become the first female member of the jury. Now he sees a clear path to the end with the hope of dragging Monika as his goat. Ironically, Monika is on the same page, but only because she believes that nobody would give “lying, two-faced, know-it-all” Brian the win.
Brian and Monika toast to their prospective victory over pizza, chocolate, champagne and Brian’s brand new car. Brian’s willingness to move away from the plan of his alliance to serve himself could be viewed two ways. Either it was a genius move that split up a power duo and took him a step closer to his ideal final two or the blow that has severed his relationships with everyone bar Monika and totally ruined any chance of winning.
While Brian and Monika enjoy a night away, Sharn & Shane take the chance to sway Shonee over to her side. Shane explains the plan to exploit Shonee while she is missing her bestie. While Brian wasn’t able to convince Shonee they are still as tight as before; Sharn is able to convince her that no grudges are being held and that Brian planned to save Shane all along. Not only are Sharn (and Shane) able to gain some traction in building a bond with Shonee but they also get her to reveal that she is willing to vote Brian off. The Sssh alliance is formed. A plan is hatched. Brian’s days are numbered as Shonee is only too delighted to share with the camera.
With Fenella out of the picture, it seems Brian has begun to lose his grip on Shonee. It’s hard to work out exactly which way it flows – if Brian was using Shonella to get forward in the game or if Shonella was using Brian. But in any case, the bond is broken, and only Shonee seems to have gotten the message. Brian went out on his own limb and clipped Shonella into just Shonee without any forewarning or emotional care for Shonee afterwards. Brian tries to convince Shonee that Fenella’s ousting was a mistake but follows it up by saying that his move has probably left Shonee in a better position. Regardless of what position Shonee has been left in, she is livid that Fenella is gone and she is ready to raise hell.
The final five reunite at the immunity challenge. The assumption by all is that Brian will win again. The challenge is a Survivor classic: two buckets are affixed to a see-saw. In one bucket you build and light a fire, the other is filled with water delivered bucket by bucket from the ocean. This challenge was first used in The Australian Outback which aired in 2001 and featured a come from behind victory. Anyone can win this challenge with determination and some well-tuned fire making skills.
In the freakish way that can really only been seen in a carefully edited piece of entertainment, a minor storyline comes full circle. The season has revisited certain tribe members having a total lack of work ethic and unwillingness to help out with camp chores, and now these same people will need those camp skills to win a challenge. To be fair, building a fire isn’t the final block between Brian going home and Brian staying, but it’s certainly a hindrance to his plan to get Sharn out. Sharn and Shane are the only two who are able even to get a fire going let alone build one big enough to burn the rope. It isn’t long before Sharn has snatched up immunity and the crew is back at camp.
There are two plans in operation: Brian wants Shane out, and Sharn wants Brian out. With Shonee ostensibly a member of both alliances, Sssh quickly becomes aware of the intended target. Brian makes a display of going to look for an idol but soon retires back to the beach. Shonee tells Sharn who tells Shane that she needs to look a little more worried. Meanwhile, sun baking is setting off sirens in the back of Sharn’s mind of Brian not being quite concerned enough. Bringing this matter to the cause of Shane and Shonee, they moot the possibility of Brian having an idol and whether they should take out his right-hand woman instead.
Tribal council comes around. The usual questions are answered. Lies are told about people’s loyalty. Lies are told about how secure everyone is feeling. Lies are told about how likely it is that somebody has an idol. And like the tribal councils that came before, the truth comes out with the scraps of paper that Jonathan pulls out of the urn.
There’s nothing like a good blindside on Survivor, and this was a beauty… seems reasonable since it was for a beauty queen. Monika has played a good, but probably not a great game, particularly as she was expected to bring little to the season. In her final words, she hopes she is remembered for her social game rather than her face plants, and I think she will actually be remembered for exceeding expectations.
Who is left in the running to be awarded the title of Sole Survivor?
Sharn: one of the current front-runners and a threat from the very beginning. She has played a stellar game through the swap and the merge, surviving where bigger targets were eliminated and snatched three immunity wins. Although she is part of a tight pair with Shane, she has gotten the lion’s share of responsibility for what has happened to help them both survive.
Shane: the darling Olympian who has survived further than anyone dared believe. Shane’s competitive nature has fuelled her ability to take part in every aspect of the game: she has been a double agent, a spy and used her wiles to sway votes away from her in times of need. Shane has embraced the chance to play the game, even describing herself as ‘revelling’ in deceptive gameplay and could be a dark horse to take the title.
Shonee: the only remaining Contender in the game. Shonee has surprised both the audience and herself going through the game on the strength of her social skills and ability to leverage bonds into serious alliances. Recently split from power partner Fenella, Shonee is on the warpath to take out both Brian and the title.
Brian: a late entrant into the race, Brian has gone on a run of not only immunity challenge wins but strategic moves to rise to the top of a majority alliance and a position of power in the game. The biggest challenge threat remaining, Brian will need to not only win his way to the end but come up with a redeeming argument after making enemies of many jury members.
Who will win? We are in the final straight, and it is only a matter of days before we find out who will win (sorry, who will be awarded) the title of Sole Survivor at the conclusion of a fantastic season.