Alice Barelli fills in for Austin Smith to bring you another Hungry Jack’s filled recap of Australian Survivor episode fourteen.
Saanapu is steamrolling through this game. I love it when there’s a good strong tribe, and they work together to achieve and live out their dreams but how long can you watch Godzilla Saanapu trample over poor little Vavau?
Vavau’s story has been an interesting one. They were the oddball tribe who unexpectedly dominated early challenges. They were full of loveable and quotable characters. Nick was a confessional king; Craig made every exchange gif-able, and Sue was the kick-ass grandma we all loved. Then the “merge” happened.
Calling it a merge has cast a curse on Australia’s favourite tribe, and we’ve watched them dwindle from a healthy nine down to four. Actually, it wasn’t a curse – it was a stupid twist that handicapped one tribe beyond reasonable and made these past few episodes a bit of a drag. Australia loves to see an underdog comeback, but it’s getting beyond a joke, and I’m sick of the Saanapu rampage that has graced our screens since the tribe swap.
Brooke brings her ‘friend’ Sue back to camp following last night’s tribal council and confesses that she chose Sue because she is the least threatening and has the least connection to the existing Saanapu members. Maybe Brooke forgets that Sue and JL were tight before they recruited JL as a sacrificial lamb. It doesn’t matter. Nick has risen from the ashes (well from the sand) to tell us he plans to exact revenge on Sue by voting her out.
Sue wasn’t born yesterday; she knows that she was chosen as ‘a soft target’ but hopes to dig her claws in and crawl further through the game. On ya Suzi Q. Nick makes what is a smart move by addressing Sue about voting for him in front of several other tribe members. It does plant a target on Sue but it sits uneasily with me – it’s just making Nick look a bit like a bully. There is only so many times people can say how much Nick lied and manipulated before the rest of Saanapu begins to take it seriously, and Nick will have to start fighting against his former allies. Alienating them as soon as they arrive is probably not the best social game Nick could employ.
Over at Vavau, the strategic recoil from the non-vote is beginning to unleash. Phoebe lets Kate and Conner know Kristie still believes the Aganoa girls were going to vote out Sue. Talking to the camera, Phoebe is a little too confident of her position in the game: “At this point the power player in the game is me.”
Phoebe makes a good metaphor for playing in the game when she and Kristie witness some palm fronds catching on fire. Kristie immediately jumps up and starts moving them away from the flames. Phoebe eventually moves one or two but is mainly concerned with holding onto her beans. It’s important to guard your own interests in Survivor but if you don’t work with the team and move a palm frond now and then others are going to catch on that you’re only thinking about number one.
Looking at the challenge you can probably guess they thought the 15 remaining castaways might be a little more evenly distributed. Nobody is individually allocated to the puzzle as we’ve seen in most previous challenges. More people are sitting out for Saanapu than there are playing. But I loved this challenge. It wasn’t complicated in concept, and it combined light-hearted elements with being competitive. Lots of the castaways look genuinely happy running it. I even nearly began to think there was a slight possibility that Vavau could win!
Those few minutes when Vavau were ahead my heart soared and began to imagine tetchy comments and snappy bickering between Saanapu members. But JL manages to catch up to and then overtake Phoebe, and then Matt, one of two puzzle masters, puts together the dolphin puzzle with steely determination quicker than one could say ‘whopper with cheese.’
Saanapu wins. They visit waterfalls. Sue looks visibly better after getting some Hungry Jack’s into her. I never thought I would say that about HJs. Maybe it’s the immunity bringing some colour to her cheeks.
The way Conner describes the situation between Phoebe and Kristie is putting it mildly: “I think they’re willing to cannibalise.” Of course they’re willing to cannibalise. Phoebe practically wrote the recipe book.
Conner and Kate have a touching moment physically acting out giving each other their trust. Conner even puts Kate’s trust in his pocket so that he avoids giving it back to her accidentally. Cute.
Phoebe locks in with Conner and then sketches a plan to keep Kristie out of the loop. Clearly, Phoebe has the skills to talk Kristie into a calm state, so I’m not sure why she admits to Kristie she was the target at the previous tribal council. Phoebe discourages Kristie from approaching Kate. This sets off a switch in Kristie’s mind and before we know it Kate is spilling the chickpeas about Phoebe’s plan to send Kristie packing.
The tenuous fibres connecting Phoebe and Kristie snap and already Kristie is declaring she believes Kate over her former ally. Conner’s concern about Kristie being unpredictable are justified but I think what is outwardly erratic is actually Kristie’s response to worming her way out of being voted out. What looks like being wishy-washy is Kristie playing any card she can.
Kristie and Phoebe have the most awkward strategy meeting ever. Phoebe wants to reassure Kristie, so she doesn’t get paranoid. Kristie wants to convince Phoebe that they’re still working together. I can only imagine Kate has her metaphorical popcorn out watching this go down. When Conner told Phoebe he wouldn’t vote for her earlier, I think he believed it when he said it. What changed was Kristie wising up to the situation and getting the black widow of Australian Survivor out is too valuable of an opportunity to miss.
Tribal Council time again. Poor JLP. He is trying so hard to get something – anything – out of the remaining four Vavau members. Kristie flat out declines answering his questions. Phoebe speaks in circles about relationships and working with other people. Conner’s only contribution is that they want the tribe to be strong for challenges. That ship has sailed, my friend. Nobody on that tribe is a clear weak link when challenges roll around.
The tribe votes. Nobody gets a voting confessional. Four votes are read out, and three of them are for Phoebe. Two of them spell her name incorrectly. (I’m not an English major but every time a name is spelt wrong on a vote, I want to reach into the rulebook and nullify it).
It’s a shame Phoebe is gone – she was ready to play a strategic game and pulled some punches when she was at the bottom of the tribe. If she scraped through and reunited with El and Lee, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Phoebe propelled herself through to the late stages of this game. Like all games, you win some, you lose some. It’s just a shame that she lost it now.