Australian Survivor: Titans vs. Rebels

Episode 23 Recap – The Emotional Toll

What went down in Episode 23?

The length of Australian Survivor takes a significant toll on players, physically, mentally, and, most crucially as it pertains to this episode, emotionally. Through all the backstabbing and blindsides, genuine bonds and relationships are formed after spending over 40 days sleeping butt to butt in a rickety shelter. Those human relationships make the final days of the game so tricky to navigate.

Take Feras, who began this season talking of his plans to be the second coming of George Mladenov; he was ready and willing to cut throats and take out the competition with no care or remorse. Fast-forward 44 days later, and Feras is feeling the emotional weight of the game and the relationships he’s made along the way.

The decision not to use the idol on Kirby at the previous tribal council still weighs heavy on Feras as he returns to camp. Not only did he have to cut someone who became like a sibling, but he arguably made his path to the end that much tougher. Yes, he made final three deals with Mark and Caroline, but surely, on paper, Feras is the number one target if he doesn’t win immunity?

That’s certainly what Feras thinks, and he walks into the final four immunity challenge determined to win and cement his spot in the final three. But, as has been the case so often this season, Feras comes up just short, once again pipped at the post by Mark, the one person he really didn’t want to see win.

With Mark no longer on the table, Feras is forced to vote between Caroline, whom he just made a final three pact with, or Ray, his long-term ally and friend since pretty much day one. Again, Feras’ emotions come into play as he struggles with the idea of sending Ray home, someone he’d promised to go to the end with.

But voting for Ray is his best option to stay, as, surprisingly, Caroline and Mark are willing to uphold their end of the deal. Both agree separately to vote for Ray, despite Feras’ worries that they’ll come together and vote him out while making him and Ray split their votes.

It’s a valid worry as far as Feras is concerned. He’s a considerably bigger threat than Ray, someone who will probably stand a strong chance in front of the jury. So why wouldn’t Caroline and Mark take this shot to get him out? But, even after the OG Titans find out Feras made secret deals with each of them, they’re still on board to boot Ray.

So why is this? The episode doesn’t fully explain the decision. But it becomes clear, given what ends up happening. You see, with the show bringing back the final two (thank you!), it means that a tied vote at the final four will result in a fire-making tie-breaker. And Ray has proven himself not to be exactly a natural when it comes to fire building.

With Feras unable to hide his stress and paranoia, Mark recognizes that he may back out of the deal and vote with Ray, therefore tying the vote. This would mean Caroline is forced to make fire. At this point, with Mark determined to sit next to Caroline in the end, he needs to ensure she makes it there. If he expects a tie, Caroline has a better chance of beating Ray in fire than Feras.

I think Mark knew the possibility of this happening was high. That’s why he throws Feras under the bus at tribal. Showing his more ruthless side, Mark airs all of Feras’ double-dealing to the jury, which Ray calls an attempt to shame and undermine his long-time ally. Mark doesn’t see it that way; he’s just holding Feras accountable.

In the end, Mark’s read on the situation is proven right. Feras votes with Ray against Caroline, while Mark and Caroline put their votes on Ray. Caroline and Ray take to their respective seats for a fire showdown, but despite Feras’ coaching, it’s not much of a showdown at all. Caroline smokes Ray, setting her rope ablaze while Ray is left clanging his machete against the flint.

And so we’re down to three, the smiling assassin Feras and friends turned enemies turned friends again, Caroline and Mark. After losing Kirby and Ray, Feras is in a win-or-go-home situation, heading into what will surely be a brutal final challenge. I don’t see a world where Mark or Caroline decide to take Feras to the end, but as this season has proven time and time again, nothing is predictable in this game.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

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