The fourth episode of Australian Survivor saw the elimination of delivery driver Steve Khouw, whose Chinese military tactics weren’t enough to counter a blindside by the women on the Contenders tribe who worried about him getting too close with the bro-alliance.
Inside Survivor’s Austin Smith caught up with Steve to talk about idol hunting, what drew him to the boys’ alliance, and who he saw as the biggest threats in the game.
1) Steve, thank you for taking a minute to answer some of our burning questions! It was a blast watching you play with so much eagerness and personality, but we have to go back to Day One and your feverish Idol-hunting! What drove you to start searching for Idols so quickly, and when did you discover that it wasn’t as sneaky as you’d hoped?
Hey, I had a blast, so much fun and made new friends. It was truly awesome! Well if you are not looking for idols from day one what are you doing in Survivor? I searched high and low for idols, indeed – guilty, but I did it by stealth, no one really saw me. It was Matt, for self-preservation, that spread the notion I was an avid idol hunter (which is true), but it was based on an incident during the first challenge whereby he was overtly possessive of the pillow he just won and I wanted to know why, so I inspected the pillow and found a rock in it, probably Matty thought it was an idol, but he twist the situation to make it sound like that it was I who was fishing for an idol.
2) You narrowly escaped the first Tribal Council – how much do you attribute that to any moves you made to save yourself compared to Matt’s implosion at Tribal?
I sensed Matt’s failure at the puzzle in the immunity challenge would put him first up to be voted out. Certainly Matt’s anxiety was self-revealing when he flit from contenders to contenders seeking reassurance. Speaking to some of the boys, it is obvious he was diverting attention onto me, accusing me of idol hunting. In reality, Matt then managed to convince the tribe to vote me, 11 to 1. Matt and the boys confronted me; I decided to neutralise his manoeuvring with one-on-one pleading to every tribe-mate willing to listen to me. My sincerity resulted in the tribe deciding to split the vote between Matt and I, essentially to flush out the idol between us, if any. So from 11 to 1, then 6 to 6 my recovery is good. The battleplan then is to take out Matt at the Tribal Council direct, trusting my argument will convince others that Matt is truly dodgy and he is a much bigger immediate threat. As it turned out, that night Matt dug his own grave, it takes just one person to flip his vote; Matt go out 7 to 5.
3) We saw you gravitate towards Zach – someone who, on paper, did not seem like a natural ally. What drew you to wanting to work with Zach and the apparent boys’ alliance with Robbie and Benji?
I identified the growing bond between Benji and Robbie. I dubbed them the Dynamic Duo, but don’t ask me which one is Batman and which one is Robin. My gut instinct said this could be the start of a strong alliance. So I decided to cut in, convincing them I could contribute hence the Three Amigos established. We were looking for a 4th member, but with too much testosterone she has to be a girl. We targeted Paige. But Paige held her options close to her heart, so I reach out to Zach for purposes to recruit. To my surprise, we bonded well, with much common interests and background. Once Zach is on board, we became the Fantastic Four.
4) On the other hand, we didn’t see much of your connections to the female Contenders. What were your relationships with the women like?
I found the girls were busy forging their unique relationships. It was difficult to cut in, so I put that aspect of the game on the backburner, instead focusing on the growing bromance. Of course I socialise with the women, essentially to suss their value and potential contribution. At the appropriate moment I intend to connect with them starting with Anita (if she is still in the game), well that was the battleplan.
5) You seemed to sense that your name was in the conversation in the lead-up to last Tribal, but did you believe you were in real danger? At what point did you realise you were going home?
I was already convinced the women alliance were gunning for me, but that is cool. I can neutralise it using the 4 votes of the Fantastic Four boys and contingent on roping in Heath and Tegan. It was a high-risk strategy, but hey this is Survivor, some of the biggest moves involve high risks. Benji was tasked to get the extra two votes. Not long after he reported back to the alliance in the affirmative. I was not totally convinced, so I cornered Heath just before we marched off to Tribal Council. In the hut, I point-blank asked him whether we are good with the plan. And he confirmed, which of course is a big lie. So I was quietly confident we got the number, despite the girls’ 4 to 5 votes. I only realised the plan failed when 5 votes against me were called out, I knew then that I am destined to go home.
6) The plan to vote out Paige appeared to be instigated by your allies and you followed suit to stay in the majority. If you had had full control of the chessboard, so to speak, who would you have wanted to target?
I wasn’t in agreement about Paige. She was not that strategic and can be a useful ally later. But for harmony and solidarity, I went along. Actually I suggested Anita, but that was voted down. Anita to me is an immediate threat. She is able to garner the other girls to her side; she is a fanatical superfan profoundly knowledgeable about gameplays far superior than any of her tribemates. If not a threat now, she will be an even bigger threat, difficult to eliminate.
7) If Paige had gone home at this vote as planned, what was next for Stevie? What were your long-term plans if you made it to a swap or the merge?
Cut off the head of the girls’ alliance, Anita. Then systematically eliminate the rest of this alliance before we turn against the big boys, by that time their usefulness in terms of physical prowess will not be required as Survivor challenges morph more into endurance and mental exercises. Must execute this battleplan before the merge. Then a new stratagem will be in place.
8) What did you think of the Champions vs Contenders theme, and how do you think it impacted your game?
Makes no difference. Still two tribes, still 12 contestants per tribe. Probably an Australian Survivor publicity stunt for enticing more viewers for enhancing rating. When playing the game, I find the Champs are much more mature and strategic. They might not be so well versed with gameplay, but they learnt fast. Teamwork cannot reach optimum because as the top in each of their fields, they are collectively people with Alpha personalities, everyone there wants to be top dog. So if our tribe is smart, we would focus on improving our teamwork, tactics and communication before the Champs get the wise of us.
9) You came out wanting to play with Chinese military strategy and outsmart your opponents – which element of your gameplay are you most proud of, and what would you do differently if you had your time again?
- All warfare is based on deception: I hunt for idols by stealth, I lied (only lie in the game) about my age, I didn’t reveal my engineering/building background (just a Deliveroo rider)…
- The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting: I facilitate the elimination of Matt D without firing a single shot.
- Opportunities multiply as they are seized: I was the driving force that multiply the bromance alliance, the ladies didn’t know, and the guys were oblivious to my intent.
10) Finally, what was your most memorable moment out on the Island that didn’t make it to the show?
I memorised a repertoire of 50 jokes to share nightly with my tribe usually before bed time. The laughter and camaraderie should have been edited into the final cut. Another scene is when I lost it with much emotion as I shared my dedication to mum during Mother’s Day.
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