Throughout this season of Australian Survivor, we have had the pleasure of witnessing the crafty and masterful gameplay from Champions such as Janine, Pia, Luke, and David. However, in the midst of this complete domination is the story of how the Contenders have committed an act of numerical implosion. It was only four episodes ago that the Contenders led the Champions 11-7, and now we end Episode 11 with a satisfying 7 Champions and 7 Contenders. In this episode, we see more evidence of the Contenders imploding and fighting amongst each other resulting in the numbers of each tribe reaching equilibrium.
As Baden says this episode, get the fire going and let’s share some stories!
STICKING WITH THE NUMBERS
The Charlie’s Angels alliance, consisting of Pia, Abbey, and Janine, is firmly in control of the new Contenders tribe and has no desire to work with the former Contenders. The ex-Champions have a 5-3 advantage over the old Contenders, with Harry and Casey the next two targets to go. Up until this point, Casey has been trying to play both sides of the tribe by remaining faithful to her old Contender tribe members while simultaneously trying to infiltrate the Charlie’s Angels alliance. However, she is doing so quite unsuccessfully as the trio of women caught onto her strategy the moment she started having conversations with them.
To Casey’s credit, she really has no other choice. Even though it’s common knowledge that Harry is a target in front of her, she knows that he has an idol and that if he plays it, she’d be the likely person going home. She has no other option but to try to join the dominant alliance because, as we see later on this episode, the remaining Contenders will take every opportunity to throw each other under the bus. The Contenders are a lost cause. Casey is absolutely hammered from all ends this episode with Ross saying in a confessional that she’s is incredibly annoying because she won’t stop talking. This perception of her being a chatterbox appears to be her biggest obstacle in working with the Champions, as it makes her seem untrustworthy and unable to keep a secret. Due to this, Janine, Pia, and Abbey talk down about Casey by saying that she is feeding them false information and is foolish to think that she can get away with playing the middle.
I feel very sympathetic for Casey throughout this episode because I believe that she has good game instincts and could do some real damage in the game if Janine, Abbey, and Pia would bring her into their alliance. Casey has shown that she would be more than happy to work with the women and abandon her former Contenders if given a chance but definitely has lacked the tact and finesse to pull it off effectively. The Champions just don’t seem interested in working with the Contenders at all. After all, the theme of this season is “retribution” and encourages the two tribes to remain separate factions fighting against each other. Aside from Matt, the majority of the Contenders seem more than happy to align with the Champions long term. However, the Champions are way more transactional and short-term in their interactions with the Contenders.
I digress, we leave the new Contenders tribe with Janine, Pia and Abbey recognising that Luke and David are on the bottom over on the Champions tribe with seemingly no way to save themselves. The power trio wants to try and preserve the number of Champions heading into the merge. In order to do this, they decide they want to throw the Immunity Challenge so that they can vote out Harry. Spoiler alert, they’re successful in throwing the challenge. Although this plan isn’t kept secret for very long as Casey hears the Champions during this conversation and later tells Harry of their intentions to get rid of him.
On the new Champions tribe, there is a lot of angry people for a lot of different reasons. Luke is mad that he played his hidden immunity idol despite receiving no votes at the last Tribal Council. And Andy is angry that he is playing the game with “a freaking clown show” as David and Luke refused to heed his advice leaving him as the only vote for Daisy. After fighting hard to expose the cracks in the old Contenders, Luke and David are now firmly on the bottom, up against a 5-2 numerical disadvantage. The show credits this in large part to the introduction of Shaun into the tribe.
The next morning, Shaun begins to horse around by nonchalantly revealing to the tribe that David gave him a fake idol, before playing a friendly game of show and tell with everyone. At this point, David’s cover has been well and truly blown. Might I remind you that before this, David believed he still had a chance at working with Shaun. With the news of the fake idol now being common knowledge, David now knows that his relationship with Shaun has gone to a place beyond repair. This idea of a one-sided rivalry or a one-sided alliance/friendship is an interesting dynamic that Shaun has seemingly unknowingly thrown away. David had been completely snowed by Shaun up until this point because he was unaware that Shaun knew his idol was fake.
Now that all this dirty laundry is hanging out in the open, David recognises his relationship with Shaun is too fractured to put back together. On that note, one must question why Shaun had to show everyone the idol in the first place? Even though a few idols have already come and gone, there is no reason why he couldn’t have used his fake hidden immunity idol to strategically undermine somebody else’s game–someone who is more idiotic and naïve than he is. Alas, Shaun “The Horse” has proven to be more emotional than logical in the decisions that he makes in this game.
A KERNEL OF POWER
It is an Australian Survivor classic reward challenge dilemma. The new Champions tribe win a trip to the Survivor cinema where they get to watch videos sent from their loved ones while stuffing their face with all the popcorn and ice-cream cones they can eat. There’s one catch: only one person can go at a time. As David notes, there is an almost certain chance that there is either an idol or a clue hidden at this reward, thus making it imperative that he or Luke be one of the first people into the outdoor cinema.Without even batting an eyelash, John and Daisy suggest that David goes first so that he can see his kids, and with that, an order is set. No “if” or “buts” from any bystanders and no “please” or begging from Luke or David necessary. It is simply handed to them on a silver platter.
Upon David’s arrival to the cinema, he’s met with a video playing from his wife and kids, something he watches for a few moments before tearing the place to shreds in search for the idol. After looking in every nook and cranny, the idol appears inside the popcorn machine. Despite making a mess, nobody (from what we saw) is suspicious of David and the giant pile of popcorn that formed on the ground. The remainder of the tribe walks into the outdoor cinema and cry their eyes out while stuffing their face with food. It made for a really fun experience to watch.
Walking away from this reward, I do believe that the rest of the contestants will catch on to David finding the idol when they all realise that nobody else could find it. But honestly, I’m in awe of David’s game because everything just seems to go right for him. It’s like watching a masterful sports player, Serena Williams for example; whenever she is behind in the scoreline, and match points down, she always finds a way to dig deep and hit a return winner or find an ace down the line. David (and Luke to a lesser extent) have shown similar tendencies of having things go their way whenever they need it, which has been captivating to watch thus far, and I can’t wait to see how long they can keep this going for.
The scenario going into Tribal is fascinating. The ex-Champions aren’t entirely sold on Harry’s immunity idol being real, but they obviously aren’t going to take any chances in case Casey is telling the truth. As such, the five Champions (Janine, Abbey, Pia, Ross, and Simon) plan on splitting the votes 3-2 in Harry’s favour with Casey being the backup option. If the Contenders stick together, they can then take control of the numbers and vote Abbey out–as Harry initially suggests. However, the Champions try to cover all their bases by speaking to Casey and Matt and convincing them to vote for Harry. Thereby negating any chance of a flip from happening.
At Tribal, it all comes to a head as Casey is firmly thrown under the bus by Harry and Matt as her lies come back to bite her. Casey continues to play the middle, which is reflected through her answers to Jonathan’s questions. She says she believes the women when they say they tried their best and didn’t throw the challenge and also defends Janine by saying that she isn’t the leader. However, Matt is not having any of this two-faced deception whatsoever and decides to call Casey out for being “fake innocent.” The wrestler tells everyone that Casey was the one who told them about the Champion’s plans to throw the challenge. Casey denies this profusely and puts the blame on Harry–who then joins everyone in throwing Casey under the bus.
At this point, it is really Casey against the world as nobody seems to believe her and, even worse, nobody seems to respect her as a player for being such a chatterbox. In the end, Harry plays his idol, and Casey is sent home as the backup option. The Contenders were not able to stick together with Abbey receiving no votes to be voted out.
We end the episode with the Champions blowing an 11-7 lead in their favour. It could’ve been so easy to remain solid together by voting out all the Champions until the merge and then use the remaining Champions to make the big moves in the late-game. With that said, we have an even playing field heading into next week, which makes this season even more exciting than it’s been already!