Australian Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Episode 18 – In The Shadows

What went down in Episode 18?

Photo: Network 10

In the wake of Shonee’s massive blindside, the name of the game for George is damage control with Liz. He just cut her bestie’s throat and left her on the bottom, but with eight people left, he can’t afford to leave loose ends untied. His excuse? Liz and Shonee were a power couple, and power couples need to be broken up. Simple as that.

But what’s not simple is Liz’s emotional state. She can understand the move, but she certainly doesn’t like it. Feeling totally used, she wakes up in tears and takes time away from camp to control her emotions and hide her momentary weakness. George might have gotten the upper hand in last night’s battle, but Liz swears she’ll win the war even if she has to bide her time and accept the king’s tyranny for the time being.

While George’s move may have earned him an enemy he’s not aware of, it also made him an ally he doesn’t even want. Believing his lone vote against Shaun fulfills his deal with George, Simon’s ready to work with George all the way to the final two and makes the pitch on the hammock. A final two with one of the biggest goats of the season should be music to George’s ears, but all George hears is blathering. The deal was off the minute he switched the plan to Shonee; Simon doesn’t fit into George’s plans anymore, and so Simon can bow out at the next Tribal Council.

But if this is Simon’s swan song episode, he’ll be going out in style… in the driver’s seat of a brand new Isuzu D-Max! That’s right; it’s time for the car reward (and the car curse) to return. Simon takes out the win and brings Hayley, Matt, and Nina for a picnic lunch on the beach. Queen Hayley figures Simon’s got some aces up his sleeve with these reward picks, a big move perhaps, but Simon throws her for a loop when he reveals there was no strategy to it whatsoever. He just chose people he wanted to hang out with.

So Hayley takes matters into her own hands to direct the strategy talk, choosing to throw George under the bus by revealing his $60,000 reward to the group. From her point of view, George is playing an unbeatable game, and multiple people seem unwilling to turn on him, so why not stir the pot and plant some seeds before it’s too late? And the best part is George is completely unaware of Hayley’s schemes because she’s working from the shadows. It’s been her go-to strategy this season, and while it won’t be enough to guarantee a win against more flashy players, it’s gotten her to a point in the game where the unthinkable, a returning winner reaching the final two again, is finally within reach.

At a grueling endurance challenge, Nina out-squats the competition and takes home the first immunity necklace for the Twine family, hoping this temporary safety buys her time to get in good with the Vigilantes. But as much as it’s all smiles for Nina, it’s all nerves for Shaun as he’s on the bottom without an idol as the visibly biggest guy out there. His game might not be done, though, because George’s crusade against Simon has resumed. With Simon’s vote against Shaun acting as a wedge, George pries the boys apart and aims to recruit Shaun as his own loyal soldier heading into the endgame.

The initial plan, at least for George, is just to dump all the votes on Simon and take it easy. But like George, Hayley’s got her own soldier in Simon, and she can’t just let her agency slip so easily. Pitching a split vote between Shaun and Simon just in case the latter has an idol, all seems well and good with a fool-proof plan. But Hayley’s true intentions are much more nefarious. If she can land on the side voting for Simon, it gives her a chance to flip her vote to Shaun, weaken George’s web of alliances, make him look like a buffoon in front of the jury, and retain her own ally in one move.

And to make things even juicer, George is vocal about not trusting Nina to stick to the plan. She swears she’ll vote out Simon, which is obviously in her best interest given her other major ally Shaun is the other option, but George will remain paranoid heading into Tribal and provide Hayley with near-perfect cover.

Meanwhile, Simon feels something is off in camp. Paranoia sets in soon after, and off he goes to form a last-second scheme to oust Matt. The way he sees it, George is insulated with Matt and Gerry as his loyal goats. They won’t turn on him, they won’t throw his name out, and they’ll do whatever he asks like good little servants. But if Simon can knock out one of the boys, it gives him room to take their place and keep his dead deal with George alive. But he needs numbers, and Shaun, Liz, and Hayley are who he’s banking on.

And to nobody’s surprise, Simon flops yet again when he’s the only person to vote for Matt. George and Hayley’s split vote pays off as it comes down to one last vote between the big boys. But when that last vote comes up Shaun, the tribe is shaken to its core as jaws hit the floor. Hayley whips out her acting chops and feigns surprise, leaving George to immediately blame Nina and spend the entire walkout bragging about how great his instincts were, how he’ll get Nina out for crossing him, and how Hayley foolishly ruined his master plan with her split vote. Hilarious.

But that’s the end of Shaun, one of the season’s bigger stars. His attempts to play a more villainous game never panned out beyond the pre-merge, and once George’s alliance took control, he had to play from the bottom yet again as history repeated itself. He did improve his game and made it somewhat deeper than before, and if he played that idol of his for Sam at that crucial final ten vote, there’s a good chance he’d be able to grab power and reach the endgame without George around to cause trouble. But one wrong read at the wrong time can sink a person’s game, and down with the OG Heroes’ ship he went.

With just seven players left, we’re due for a crazy endgame. Hayley is ready to gun for George as his overconfidence swells. Nina is working her way into the majority little by little, hoping to repeat history in Samoa like her mother before her. Simon’s doing his best to stay afloat as a free agent, but he’s a puppy playing with starving wolves. Liz is gearing up to end George’s reign in the ultimate revenge story. And Matt and Gerry, despite seeming like George’s goats, still have their final two deal on the back burner. It’s rare that an Australian Survivor season can truly be anyone’s game in the final days, but it’s only fitting that a season this good gives us a final seven this open. Let’s hope they don’t drop the ball.

Written by

Cory Gage

Cory is a writer and student from Texas. He's a die-hard Survivor fanatic who's seen over 50 seasons worldwide, hosted his own season in high school from scratch, and hopes to one day compete on the show himself.

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