Australian Survivor Episode 12 Recap – Devil Finds Work for Idol Hands

Alice Barelli is back to talk Australian Survivor episode twelve and it’s the GUTSIEST RECAP EVER!

Another week, another trio of Australian Survivor episodes, another chance for #bigmovez and another chance for Australian Survivor to redeem itself after calling a tribe swap a merge. Last week saw the master of metaphors and strategically inclined Andrew booted from the game to improve the challenge prowess of the Vavau tribe. Interestingly, the “Previously on Survivor” clip states that it was Kate who engineered the move to get Andrew out even though Craig flipped his vote also.

I’m not sure why we even see Saanapu anymore since it’s a becoming less and less surprising when they pull out a challenge win. This episode all we see from Saanapu is who is causing distention in the ranks.

To begin with, Kylie is refusing to roll over and give Matt more room to sleep. Kylie describes how she has always been relegated to sleep on the edge of the group or by the fire, so she took a plum sleeping space tonight and is refusing to budge. The whole tribe is complaining that something is wrong with the sleeping arrangements, and Kylie doesn’t move a muscle. I’m a stubborn person but by that point, I would move just so that everybody would shut up. Surprisingly Jennah-Louise speaks up saying it’s Kylie causing the trouble.

In the morning, Kylie makes a kinda-sorta-apology which sounds mainly like Kylie giving her daughters a life lesson. In her confessional Kylie says everybody is tired and hungry, things are getting blown out of proportion and that people are making mountains out of molehills.

Later on, while the girls enjoy the “scenery” (read: Lee catching fish), Matt makes a dig at Brooke. To be honest, if somebody said what he said (“you’re shotgunning everyone, aren’t you?”) in just about any situation I’m not sure he can brush it off as a tasteful joke. Say it in a situation where everybody is emotionally fraught, and it’s going to go over like a lead balloon. The girls decide that Matt is suffering from jealousy now he is no longer Charlie to Brooke and Flick’s Angels. Moving on!


Source: Nigel Wright for EndemolShine Australia and Network Ten.

When did Vavau get chickens? Did Saanapu just give them up when they wanted to trade them? In any case, Chester and his mates are walking around Vavau camp like they own it. We flip straight to Conner who is feeling disappointed that his alliance had a member voted off. Conner perceives the move as one to save the Aganoa girls, but Sue quickly reassures him that it was only to get Andy out. Kate very quickly wins Conner back by getting teary over losing Conner’s trust.

Conner is becoming an ideal ally- he is absolutely loyal and easy to win back after being crossed. Conner and Kate agree that they don’t trust Phoebe.

We take a brief moment to see Kristie making her usual comments that are convincing me she may be losing her mind. This time, it’s that sometimes she has to put down the machete before she gets a little too loco. Craig gives his usual commentary about looking for but not finding the idol. (Here’s a hint – Phoebe has it. It’s in her bag). Seriously Craig – I know these idols aren’t easy to find, but if you’ve been searching and can’t find it, it’d be wise to at least suspect somebody else may have beat you to the punch.

Phoebe pulls off a subtle but nifty piece of strategizing when she gets Conner to promise he’ll give her a heads up when they’re voting her off. This is the part of my notes where I wrote in very big letters NEVER GIVE UP INFORMATION FOR FREE. I thought you were a fan, Conner? You’re too good for this game. It’s going to break your soul.

On to the challenge!

Source: Nigel Wright for EndemolShine Australia and Network Ten.

All in all the concept of this challenge is a good one. I like challenges where the weak link in a chain can bring down the whole tribe; particularly when Saanapu is marching all over Vavau. I like the version where they throw buckets of water at each other aiming to fill a barrel at the end. Sometimes simple is best. (Survivor Maryland handily recreated it too, so I know it can work for any situation).

Momentum could swing. The game could change. Triumphant orchestral music will rise in the background. Tears will be shed. But who am I kidding? I know this won’t happen – the promos have been talking up Phoebe’s gutsy move so much that I am aware there is zero chance Vavau will not be going to tribal council. It could be close, though. Or not.

I think the downfall of the challenge is the sandbags – they don’t make a big difference and the extra legs the ball has to get through could’ve added drama and difficulty. Saanapu had won this challenge sometime before Kylie put in the final coconut – they had four in a row diagonally. Vavau would’ve needed to get two coconuts to the grid before Saanapu got one more there. Conner made some ripper catches, though – I bet Lee is wishing he’d been fielding for him. I’m also charmed that Nick and Flick seem to be paired together on challenges more and more. Nick and Flick played a trick that made Conner slip. That’s pretty slick.


Source: Nigel Wright for EndemolShine Australia and Network Ten.

Back to Vavau and the blame game begins. The self-blame game that is. Everyone is quick to offer apologies. Conner thinks Vavau will go extinct, just like the dinosaurs. Craig and Kate are getting crankier and crankier about each loss. Craig says the challenge was a trainwreck. He then screams at a chicken: “WILL YOU QUIT WALKING ON ME!?” Oh, Craig. Never change.

Phoebe and Kristie commence masterminding the widely promoted GUTSIEST MOVE. Priority number one is to find out who semi-original Vavau plan to vote out. They’re going to play an idol on that person so they can vote out a person of their choice. Sneaky sneaky.

I’m just going to take a moment here to say that playing an idol to vote out a person of your choice is fairly average on the gusty moves totem pole. It takes some wit to pull it off without tipping off the opposing alliance but it’s no gutsier than any idol play.

Vavau quickly decides Phoebe has to go. I can tell they’re pretty comfortable with this plan because instead of running numbers and thinking up scenarios they are discussing how much they need to exfoliate. They discuss the spelling of Phoebe’s name. Conner fulfils his promise and lets Phoebe know that his alliance is voting for her. He aptly finishes their conversation with foreshadowing of what’s to come – “There could be another twist. You might be surprised!”

Conner lets his alliance know that he told her too – because he is sure she and Kristie don’t have an idol. Craig and Conner let Kristie know she isn’t their target tonight. Kristie goes to ‘check’ on Phoebe, and the two sit together and grin like maniacs. They list their options and the reasons why. Sue has good emotional connections with others. Conner has options in the game once they get to the merge. Craig is the strategic mastermind behind original Vavau, but they need his strength in challenges. Notably, Kate isn’t even listed as an option – I’m not sure if this is because she voted with them before or if her social game is holding her up.


Source: Nigel Wright for EndemolShine Australia and Network Ten.

On to tribal council!

As a group, Vavau laments their losing streak. Kristie and Phoebe know they don’t fit into the to-be-five person tribe. Phoebe says the tribal council decision will be about getting the main alliance further ahead and not about ‘betterment of the team.’ She doesn’t think there’s any space for her and Kristie to get higher up on the tribal ladder.

Sue and Kate are pretty sure they know how the vote will go. Twitter is so wound up with tension about the massive move Phoebe is about to make. I get totally distracted by an idea proposed by a fellow Inside Survivor writer. Imagine if Phoebe and Kristie voted a different person each. Assuming the original four alliance all place votes on Phoebe (which are nullified by her idol) there is a tie. The remaining Vavau members would have to vote one of their own out, and their apparently non-existent pecking order would have to be revealed. Drama ensues! How beautiful it would be! Then I would agree Phoebe made a gutsy move.

Back to what actually happened. The only votes I care about are who Kristie and Phoebe vote for. My money at that point was on Sue. Craig was too important for challenges and Phoebe managed to work over Conner earlier so there is potential she could do it again.

Phoebe doesn’t mince words when she pulls out her idol: “The tribe decided who was going home tonight, but I didn’t really get to weigh in on that decision. So I’m going to weigh in on it now.”

Sue immediately thinks she’s done for. Craig responds that it could be him. Conner looks stupefied. The first four votes are for Phoebe. After all their conversations about spelling, two votes are spelt incorrectly, one is her nickname, and one is correct – perhaps strategizing further could’ve been a better use of time then? Then the big reveal – what I am waiting for – two votes for Craig.


Source: Nigel Wright for EndemolShine Australia and Network Ten.

My heart breaks. I am a team Craig tragic. After his quote about beating the alpha male in the first episode, I hoped we might have seen him go far into the game. Craig takes being voted out in his stride. He seems tickled pink that he was blindsided – he compliments Phoebe (“Good work babe!”), kisses cheeks, salutes JLP and takes his leave.

His confessional is cheery – “They got me and good on ‘em!” He is even charmed that Phoebe stole his idol then used it to get him out. Now that’s good sportsmanship. I’ve never wished for an exiled tribe ever before, but I do now just to get a few more gif-able moments out of Craig.

Au Revoir, Craig. You deserve to go on a talk show, and I hope to see you on ‘Have You Been Paying Attention?’ one day.

Alice is a 28-year-old living in rural Victoria, Australia. Working as a nurse and midwife catching babies by day, she spends her evenings catching Survivor and other reality TV shows. After being a fan of Survivor since its premiere in 2000, she is excited to see the return of a local version.

  • yeltra

    Thank you Alice, I am really enjoying this season of Aussie Survivor and your recaps. Here in Canada we have to jump through hoops to see it. I fear that one of these times I won’t be able to find it. One advantage is that I don’t see any ads for the show, sounds like your network ten is as bad as CBS for revealing too much in the ads for the next episode. I remember one season where you could clearly see who was wearing the immunity necklace at tribal sheeeesh.

  • q10

    thanks for the review Alice
    I really really want to see Vavau win a challenge. I don’t like seeing one team Matsinging another. I wonder if the producers could mix up the immunity challenges i.e. creating a new one which gives Vavau a better chance at winning (e.g. not physical and no puzzle)? And surely they will bring have an eating challenge in the near future? There were hints of it earlier in the season I think