For the last two episodes of Australian Survivor, there seem to be two main storylines going on. The first is the regular story of the person going home and the dynamics/strategy relating to that and the second being anything related to David and his idol buffoonery. It was the storytelling that set-up the dynamics for the rest of the game that made this episode so exciting to watch. The vote to take out ET instead of David was an interesting one and will be fun to break down! David has as many lives in this game as he does pectoral muscles. Let’s get into it!
ADAPTATION IS KEY
We begin the episode with the theme of adaptation, something that ultimately resonates with a few players on the Champions tribe for different reasons. Ross says that he’s proud of himself for adapting to the game—both the living conditions and the strategic element. He likens himself to a pig in mud, which is probably an accurate depiction of how everyone sees him. Ross is the light-hearted grub of the tribe with a charm that is very reminiscent of Brian Lake (aka Grubby) from last season. He’s shown that he has no issue adapting to the flow of Survivor—evident when he flipped against his Sporty Seven alliance in the second episode.
In contrast, ET is still banging the same drum of keeping the tribe strong and has his sights on Pia target for being the weakest. The problem with ET’s game is that he has failed to recognise where the dynamics of the tribe stand. It should be clear at this point that voting based off of tribe strength is a lost cause and won’t aid the Champions in winning more (or any) Immunity Challenges. ET, along with Simon, who has been so non-existent and inconsequential that he might as well be a piece of Fijian shrubbery, reinforce to the men of the tribe that the challenges have been the most physical they’ve ever been and must vote accordingly.
ET is an elite athlete who prides himself on never giving up and being persistent. However, in Survivor, persistence doesn’t do you any favours. If you decide to drive in your own lane or take your own route, then you’re going to be left behind. ET needs to carpool with the majority, but instead is choosing to Uber with Simon down the road to nowhere.
On the flip side, we have Pia, who outlines the dynamics of the Champions tribe. As it currently stands, there is a Strong 6 consisting of Luke, David, Abbey, Pia, Janine and Ross, which has stuck strong ever since the vote to get rid of Susie. Within that is a sub-alliance of the three women. These confessionals serve as a great reminder of how well insulated Pia has become in the game, given how close she was to being the first person voted off. Pia has adatped to her circumstance of being on the bottom and has been able to work her way into a formidable position.
These two scenes were beautiful given how diametrically opposed they were to one another. ET has had his alpha male ego bruised by having the tribe not value the physical strength he possesses in the challenges and is scrambling to find any footing within the tribe. He seemingly can’t offer anything besides kindness as his strong fishing ability (something he is renowned for in Australia) hasn’t even paid dividends. Whereas ET wants to target Pia, her confessional shows the viewer how many strong relationships she has formed and how well insulated she is because of it. The edit laughs at ET for wanting to target someone so protected in the game and shows the viewer every reason why Pia won’t go home. She might seem understated and meek, but the show is making a point of showing us that, despite not being a flashy player like David, she is constantly thinking about the game and forming relationships that will take her far.
DOUBLE DOWN DAVID
The Champions win a delicious barbecue reward filled with burgers and ice-cold beers. Upon arriving back to camp from the Reward Challenge, the Champions are joined by Baden (who was chosen by the Champions) and Shaun (who was chosen by Baden) for some cross-tribal celebration. There didn’t seem to be much thought behind who was chosen other than the Champions not wanting to feed the strongest Contenders (a plan ruined when Baden picked “The Clydesdale” Shaun).
Unbeknownst to the reward attendees, this barbecue is served with a heaping pile of paranoia–mostly being consumed by David. Knowing that Shaun could call David out at any given moment for giving him a fake idol, David decides that his best call to action is to double down on his lies by creating a convoluted web of straight-up fabrication. What is David’s Plan B if Shaun doesn’t buy it and gets called out by for lying? Deny profusely.
Shaun opens up the conversation by asking David when he found his idol. David replies by saying that Nova originally found it and gave it to David before she was voted out. Then, David PLAYED the idol for Pia, which resulted in Steven getting voted out at the most recent tribal council. Jeez, talk about a case of overcompensation. A simple question by Shaun provoked one of the most farcical coverup stories ever and answers to questions that weren’t even asked to begin with. Lucky for David, Shaun is as naïve and gullible as he is tall and handsome.
It goes without saying that David’s gameplay is incredibly short-sighted and misguided in many ways. It’s almost as if David either forgot (or doesn’t realise) that there will be a very high chance that he will continue to interact with Shaun in the game by way of a tribe swap or merge. Not only was his conversation with Shaun immediately picked up by Abbey, Pia, and Janine as suspicious and untrustworthy, referring to him as going on a “power trip,” his actions are also almost guaranteed to come back to bite him eventually. It just so happens that David’s shenanigans come back to bite him sooner than he (and I’m sure the audience) anticipated.
During the Immunity Challenge, Caseuu Pia, and Simon are the last three members standing on a plank suspended high over the ocean. During this time, Casey takes the opportunity to confirm whether or not David’s outlandish stories were actually accurate or not. The two Champions quickly deny the fact that any idol had been played. As much as Pia was freaking out having to stand on a plank suspended high over the ocean, the cogs and gears in her brain were definitely turning as yet another nail was jammed in David’s game.
This conversation isn’t brought up directly with David in this episode, something that initially surprised me. I was even more surprised that Simon, the walking tree stump who knew he was on the bottom, didn’t think to use that information to save ET and himself! I was confident that this was David’s downfall, and that would be the final lie that pushed the Strong 6 to flip on David. Even later on in the episode when David tells Abbey one-on-one that he thinks they should vote out Pia once ET and Simon are gone, the women still remain calm and choose not to expose David’s lies. With all his buffoonery, the Strong 6 alliance have more than enough ammunition to take David out. So why didn’t the Strong 6 vote out the “Golden God” despite clearly not being thrilled with his antics?
The women don’t like David or feel safe around him, and they have an abundance of information to use against him. I believe it ultimately comes down to trust. The alliance doesn’t want to splinter and fracture just yet. As Pia says in confessional, making a big move is all about timing. Even though David is coming after her, Pia knows that she has the numbers to keep herself safe and knows that David is a glaring target in front of her. Thus, ET is voted out, keeping the alliance of six strong but with some clear fractures.
Abbey was ET’s closest shot at somehow getting the vote to flip, but his pitch to vote Pia out instead of looking for cracks within the majority was his downfall. Failing to adapt to the social dynamics was a massive oversight by ET and not wanting to exploit Abbey’s emotions didn’t help his cause. Abbey went as far as to compare ET to her own father! That is a huge emotional bond that can be manipulated and exploited! Obviously, that’s lot to ask of ET but is nevertheless a missed opportunity and a path that could’ve been taken.
Next episode we’re getting an Australian Survivor tribe swap! We will learn whether or not this swap will be enough of a shakeup to give David some new life in this game or if his lies will inevitably come back to haunt him. It feels great to know that Australian Survivor is learning from its previous season, giving us the tribe swap earlier than ever before. At the very least, we’re guaranteed to learn more about the Contenders which should promise to be a refreshing change of pace from what we’ve been getting from the Champions.