Sitting through this episode was like waiting for a stick of butter to melt in a saucepan. The end result is inevitable and there is no way to speed up the process as the butter can only melt as fast as the temperature of the saucepan will let it. That’s exactly how this episode felt. We were gently simmering our way to a fate that was completely obvious from the first five minutes of the episode with there only being one real question that needed answering. Will Heath play the idol? If so, who will he vote to send home?
Alas, in this episode, the Champions tribe continue their devastating challenge domination meaning Exile Beach will get a little less lonely for Tegan with the elimination of yet another member of the Contender tribe.
We begin the episode on Exile Beach with Tegan who has broken down crying after being blindsided by Benji’s brilliant betrayal. Being labelled as the Queen of the Contenders tribe, Tegan was caught playing in the middle of the various factions making up her tribe. Although the question of whether or not it was the right decision to vote her out remains to be seen.
Ultimately, there is no real way to tell if it was the right decision until the redemption challenge has been completed, however, as it currently stands Tegan has made her strategy perfectly clear if she were to return to the game. She is hungry for revenge and is determined to play a harder more cutthroat game where she is a free agent who is loyal to nobody. In the event of a tribe swap – which should be upon us sooner rather than later – Tegan is a dangerous floater who, I imagine, won’t hesitate to flip on her former Contenders if she believes it’s the best move for her game.
The King Stays King
After the last episode, Benji arose as the power player who was calling the shots on the Contenders tribe. Up until that point, he had been doing well hiding behind Robbie and Zach who are much larger threats on the surface. He has also come up as an unexpected narrator of the tribe with many likening him to Luke from Season 2 due to his quest to become the king and queen of the tribe.
This episode, Benji makes Heath public enemy number one with his former “bro” alliance with Zach, Robbie and Benji seemingly bursting at the seams after Benji planted seeds of doubt. Robbie decides he will be honest with Heath by telling him that he would most likely (definitely) be the next person voted out so that he could go to Exile with Tegan and ensure that the power duo would be split up.
We are able to see the full extent in which Benji is able to control and influence all aspects of the tribe. Not only does he have complete control over his alliance with Zach and Robbie, who seem to trust him implicitly and are more than happy to take orders from him, but he has also pulled the wool over Anita and Shonee’s eyes by making them believe that Heath and Tegan are targeting them. However, unbeknownst to everyone, Heath still has a hidden immunity idol that he fully intends to play, leaving him with the sole vote to eliminate anyone that he chooses.
An Unlikely Voice of Reason
Much like Benji, Fenella is one of the few people in the game who has not been given much airtime or been introduced formally by a video package – aside from a few brilliant sassy comments directed at Jonathan LaPaglia. However, this episode she shows us that even though we may not be hearing a lot from her, it doesn’t mean that she hasn’t got her finger on the pulse. In fact, what we have seen from her seems to be quite poignant as she looks to be the only person in her alliance thinking logically.
In her conversation with Anita and Shonee before tribal, Fenella tries to convince the girls that it doesn’t make sense to vote Heath out since they have already split up the power duo and they don’t want to risk pissing off two people in a situation where one of them is guaranteed to come back. Instead, she suggests voting Zach, who theoretically has a better chance at beating Tegan in the challenge – and instead swoop up Heath as an additional number in their alliance.
I personally think Fenella’s plan would have been the best move for their alliance mainly due to the fact that Zach has made it clear that he has no intention with working with the women long-term – whereas Heath is more amenable to working with the women in the game. However, Shonee and Anita have eaten up the lies that Benji has fed them, meaning that Fenella has no choice but to follow her alliance and vote for Heath at tribal council, who turned around and played his idol, negating all the votes against him, and sending Fenella’s ally Anita to Exile.
The Champions Tribe
Even though this episode is 30 minutes longer than last night’s, we get nothing in the form of strategy from the Champions tribe. What we do get is a myriad of sentimental confessionals that came from the Champions winning yet another reward challenge. The Champions tribe continue to steamroll through the challenges with an intensity that can only be described as a runaway freight train. Their strength and determination remain unmatched, winning them every single reward challenge thus far and only losing three immunity challenges.
Although, we are getting many character moments from each of the Champions, showcasing a few of their quirks as they grow accustomed to life on the island. Sam has risen to be one of the funniest contestants in the game with his nerdy brand of dorky wit, charming and always the key to laughter. Mat showed us that small, concentrated flames on a stick are the perfect trick to burning off those small stubbly hairs on your face, and Commando Steve has shown us that he loves his children and isn’t afraid to cry over them.
In the next episode, we will finally discover who will be returning to the game, Tegan or Anita. The preview shows the pair exchanging notes and potentially reaching the realisation that they might have been played.
I think that this entire situation between Anita, Shonee, Heath, and Tegan could have been avoided entirely if they would have just exchanged notes as soon as Benji told them that the ‘King and Queen’ were coming after them. This didn’t need to be anything dramatic, but a simple conversation would have been all that was necessary, especially considering that Anita and Shonee had a working relationship with Heath and Tegan after they voted Steve K out of the game. At the very least, a few pointed words headed Tegan and Heath’s way could have stirred up some drama leading to Benji’s lies being exposed.
A lot can be forgiven when the theatrics of tribal council heightens emotions. In the end, Shonee and Anita aren’t strategic powerhouses and clearly play the game with emotion, something that was recognised and exploited brilliantly by Benji.
Even though tonight’s episode wasn’t the most thrilling, that doesn’t mean that the cast we have been given isn’t bloody entertaining. I think this season is in desperate need of a tribe swap so that we can finally see how the dynamics of the game changes when the tribes are forced to interact with each other. I personally cannot wait!
OTHER #SURVIVORAU COVERAGE on INSIDE SURVIVOR
Australian Survivor will be back Monday 20 August at 7.30pm AEST, and Alice Barelli 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!