Alice Barelli recaps the truths and lies in the third episode of Australian Survivor.
Survivor works from the Outwit, Outplay, Outlast values and the opening week of Australian Survivor certainly put lots of emphasis on the outlast component – literally, the importance of survival in the Samoan outback was central to the game. Challenges (“Outplay”) certainly had their moment, particularly with the opening battle for supplies and/or fire. Sadly, Outwit was coming a distant third.
The main piece of strategizing we saw earned Bianca a quick trip to Ponderosa and apart from that alliances have come together based on a sort of who doesn’t suck in challenges and who you get along with approach. More than ever, the social game is key. Social game, social game, social game. Australian Survivor is being won and lost on the quality of the social game. Watching Survivor US, I don’t think about the social game so much because it’s a basic – you need a social game or you won’t get far, and most players have good social game in their deck of cards.
The opening shots are the castaways making their way back to camp. After a hilarious reminder from Sam to keep OH&S in mind (I mean I know that’s what I’d be concerned about at that moment in the game, but to each, their own) the Mystic Gryffindor Blue Saanapu camp experiences the worst storm of their time on Survivor. Kylie reveals she knew Peter was voting for her (that has to be the most comfortable I’ve ever seen someone being voted for) and is upset that she wasn’t let in on the vote for Bianca. Peter is using the universal angry reaction of teenagers everywhere and sending himself to bed and not talking to anyone.
I think Kylie’s on the right track here – the issue for her is that she was out of the loop, not the vote itself and it’s an early warning for her to be on her toes. Sam shows social prowess by addressing Peter with the group the next morning saying he was too much of an asset and positive force for the tribe to let him go. Peter seems to take Sam’s reasoning to heart and utters a piece of survivor Probstism any fan will recognise – that he will dig deep and keep trying. All problems solved (or at least I assume in Sam’s mind they are), the sun comes out, and triumphant music plays in the background.
It’s time for the BIG MORAL DILEMMA. Australian Survivor has a great opportunity here to borrow the best parts of other Survivor seasons and use them to make the season incredible. They have a veritable buffet of things they could use, and they have a knowledge of what worked before to tweak things too. This week we get a flashback to Survivor: Worlds Apart. Tribes choose two representatives who need to make a choice between a big bag of beans (Honesty) or a small bag of beans PLUS an immunity idol clue (Deceit). This dilemma led to the first castaway voted out of Worlds Apart (and deprived the survivor public of So puns for a whole season) so it could be interesting to see if and how it will stir up this season.
Instead of the tribe choosing a representative to make a decision as the US version, tribes were asked to choose the wisest person. Peter objects to being selected as wise since his strengths include stopping aircraft from crashing into one another (which seems a pretty wise thing to me particularly when you remember that Will from Worlds Apart was chosen because he promised his tribe sandwiches). Peter takes Kylie which the key alliance realises was a terrible, terrible mistake once they had left. I would hope Survivor Super Fans Matt and Conner thought of this before they left but never spoke up so what’s done is done.
Peter chooses Kylie who seizes the opportunity to show her tribe that she can be an asset. Seriously, that’s the plus of going along for this decision? Not strategy? Kylie is getting an amazing edit here, and it only improves when we get the impression that Peter essentially decides to choose Deceit so that Kylie can get a leg up on the rest of the tribe. It doesn’t matter because we never see the Saanapu reaction to Kylie and Peter’s return. We do get shots of crashing waves and water flying everywhere so rest assured chaos is coming in other ways.
The Vavau and Aganoa tribe choose Deceit too. The interesting part of the decision is how they think they can cover it back at camp. Phoebe and Rohan come up with an entirely different scenario which Evan almost immediately sniffs out as fake. Evan goes and finds the clue because Rohan’s idea of swimsuit safekeeping is not as good as he thought. Evan’s first thoughts suggest he has good instincts: it’s insanely good to have the idol clue but what he does next is what can determine how good of a Survivor player he is. He could have a lot of leverage here with members of the tribe!
What he actually does though ends up falling flat, and I think it’s partly because of his social game. He hasn’t endeared himself to the tribe and forged strong bonds. Here’s where the social game begins playing a huge part. Evan first approaches El about Rohan and Phoebe’s lie because she is all about friendship. Instead of El being devastated that her ally Phoebe has lied to her, El says that Phoebe will fill her in eventually. On a side note about El, I’m a little concerned about how relaxed she is about the ‘eventually’ in that situation. In an alliance, you need to be filled in pronto! This idol clue is not helpful in a few weeks; it is useful now. El runs to Phoebe and Rohan to tell them what Evan said, so Rohan interrupts Evan spilling the chickpeas to Lee.
The trust this alliance has built in such a short time is impressive and instead of being threatened by the lie, Lee is disappointed about the boys arguing. Good instincts: Evan targets El since she’s all about friendship. A strong alliance trumps his move. You need an excellent social game to make this move – come across in a way that isn’t threatening and that is subtle enough to plant a seed of doubt in an otherwise strong group. Evan went from a position of potential power to shooting himself in the foot (and isolating himself from any relationship with Rohan) very quickly.
Vavau run a similar scenario when Nick fails to use his poetry skills for evil, and Teagan (making her first appearance since she grabbed a chicken off the boat in the opening challenge) pipes up to say she wish she never offered to help make the decision and then sits the rest of the episode out. Don’t strain yourself Teagan. The tribe doesn’t even bother to pretend they believe what Nick says; he pretty quickly admits it was a lie and looks despairingly at the camera.
Onto the Challenge! I thought JLP (Jonathan LaPaglia) had a great opportunity here to show his skills as a host and examine the castaways about the dilemma back at camp, but he skips this and discusses the fall out of tribal at Saanapu. The challenge was a good one to watch, I’ve never seen so much suspense stacking blocks, and I babysat toddlers for many years. Vavau wins. Aganoa loses. Not surprised.
Red is sick of losing and thinks the best thing is to have a leader direct everyone during a challenge. We get a short interlude consisting of Chester the Chicken and Brooke spitting out sea cucumber, then straight into another challenge. Again the challenge comes down to a puzzle – Kat was allocated to the puzzle (Lee says “we back you, babe”) again and the challenge is lost on the puzzle again. Vavau wins again! They may have been called Hufflepuff over Twitter in that first episode, but they are smashing it.
The further this episode goes, the less likeable Evan is getting. I never felt that Evan love when he found the idol clue (unlike the whole of Twitter proclaiming he was the next Johnny Fairplay). When he wore his hair in tiny pigtails for the challenge, it came across as silly. Barry, on the other hand, had his hair in pigtails, and I thought it was adorable. The most likeable thing Evan has done this episode was his impression of Rohan. Again – good instincts – he needs to suck up to Rohan, but it’s just too little, too late. This game is ten times harder if you’re getting over the obstacle of your tribemates not getting along with you. Social game!
The guys are discussing Kat as their option because she’s a challenge weakness. Phoebe goes out to campaign for Evan to go. Evan thinks the tribe will be swayed by their leader (Lee), and Kat will go home. There were good points for each but given the ads this week were all PHOEBE’S BIG MOVE/ MISTAKE she may get her way and oust Evan. Goodness knows her role in the moral dilemma was neither a big move or mistake.
Kat uses the tribal council to blow up the “key alliance”. Evan gives a ‘whatever’ face like he thinks he’s in that key alliance and Kat just doesn’t realise. Sorry Evan, but no. Rohan says the tribe needs to be strong for challenges. Even though Kat is running herself into the ground during this tribal council, she manages to scrape through – Evan is voted out 5-2. I’m not sure if Evan is trying to paste a target to Rohan or is genuinely giving him advice when he tells him to use the idol but I don’t think anyone believes him anyway.
Interestingly, Lee is the one on the wrong side of this vote, and I wonder how that will shake out back at camp. Well done Phoebe. I didn’t think you had it in you to flip the votes, but I’m glad you did. I’m still not sure anything you did constitutes a “big move” but I’ll let it go for now. Was this a result of the moral dilemma? Was Evan’s reaction too much for the tribe? Let’s see where we go from here and if the dilemma comes back to haunt any castaways.
Next time! The idol hunting begins.