Finale week is here! 50 days and 19 contestants down I feel like I have been waiting for this day FOREVER. Not really forever but actually 63 days going between two to three episodes a week, and although my joy watching the show has (at times) waned, my commitment has been unwavering.
To be succinct, I have watched Kristie have a game-changing opportunity more times than I care to count only to throw her odds of winning in the bin. Kristie’s game, albeit under the radar and fairly dull, has been a good one so far. Although mostly living on the bottom of every alliance she has been part of; Kristie used it as a strategy to get to the end. I admire Kristie’s tenacity to continue with such an approach but time is slowly running out to get herself off the bottom of the totem pole and into the final two.
The episode opens up describing how 50 days ago 24 Survivors began ‘the adventure of a lifetime.’ The intro hits on how the survival aspect of the show was amped up. Heroes and villains alike found themselves voted out. Way back when I was writing about the first episode I noted that Aussie’s love to see an Aussie Battler win and that the three opening confessionals were typical Aussie hero types. Two of those people were El and Lee – El thought Survivor could make her a hero and Lee wanted to win without playing dirty.
As the days dwindle down, I’m beginning to worry if I predicted an outcome that I don’t actually want – where the winner isn’t the best game player but the most liked player with the strongest trust amongst their allies. Nothing against that but I love to see a game thick with strategy. Australian Survivor had these moments, but strategy certainly didn’t dominate the game. It’s not too late though, and perhaps we will see strategy rule for these final five days of play.
A good sign of this is that money is finally on Lee’s radar. Now we’re at ‘the pointy end of the game’ Lee has the money on his mind. Matt is feeling down knowing that not only has his best ally been booted out of the game, but his other hope of an alliance with Flick and Kristie at the last vote also did not go to plan. Still, the game isn’t over until it’s over and he’s willing to try and get them to work with him again.
Flick takes a moment to check in with El. El has played a quiet game. She’s seemed almost like an accessory to the game – always talked about, rarely in the spotlight. That being said, from early on she’s been a prized ally. Way back before the merge which was not a merge (the swap) Phoebe thought of El as her number one. Now, even though she has been explicitly tied to Lee as a twosome since the actual merge, Flick still thinks of her as her in-game best friend and lets us know that she didn’t flip at the previous tribal council because of her relationship with El. Flick gets a rude awakening when El is vague talking about who she would take to final two, although she does say going to final two with Lee would be ‘the perfect ending.’ Flick is horrified and knows it might be time to change tracks.
Back at the tent Flick apologises to Matt for not flipping at the last vote. Matt is gracious accepting her apology and doesn’t miss the opportunity to point out that nobody could beat El and Lee in challenges which means they’re likely to get to the final three together. Kristie can see that she’s in the middle of two pairs and that she holds a degree of control. This could essentially be the moment that Kristie has worked towards for the whole game, and this vote could set up Kristie’s journey to the final three. On a side note, Matt mangles his first saying of the evening when he confesses ‘My how the turn tables.’
Challenge time! This is another challenge we’ve seen plenty of occasions on the original Survivor series and which notably began the downfall of Malcolm 1.0 back in Survivor: Philippines. There’s no obvious advantage to any particular contestant with this challenge where each player must balance balls on a wooden disc. JLP makes a billion little references to Lee getting a hat trick of immunity if he wins this one. Yes, we get it. Lee was a professional cricketer. JLP also wants to know if winning will put a target on Lee – he’s already got a nice juicy target on his back and I’m not sure winning another immunity will make a huge difference.
Lee looks like he could be struggling early but recovers. The girls are the first three out. It comes down to both boys balancing three balls each. Matt uses his magical powers to stop the balls rolling off the sides more than once. Every time JLP mentions Lee having trouble, Matt takes his eyes off his disc to look over at Lee! Clearly, Matt missed sports class 101 where the first rule is to keep your eye on the ball(s)! Matt battles ferociously, but Lee snatches immunity from him. (Or in his second time mangling a common saying, Lee “pinched” him at the post). Lee gets his hat trick, and Matt gets a measly ‘well done’ from JLP.
Back at camp ominous music swells, trees are being blown over by the wind and waves crash onto the beach. A storm is coming, and not just the meteorological kind. Even though he didn’t get immunity, Matt is feeling optimistic about his chances. Flick and Kristie agree that El has to go but because El is such a good person, friend, and ally they also want to tell her they’re voting for her. “She deserves that at the least,” says Flick. Personally, I’d settle for whispering sorry as you hug her goodbye or even waiting until after the game to explain but Flick wants to tell her now.
It’s really a comment on how well El is playing socially if the girls feel as if they need to tell her before the vote. The three girls sit down on the beach and El receives the news. Kristie breaks her streak of being neutral and tells El she was part of the decision to vote her out. El doesn’t even blink before she flips the script on Flick. One minute Flick and Kristie are trying to let El down easy, next thing you know Kristie is getting a lesson on Flick being deceptive from El. No wonder Kristie looks confused. El does make a good point when she says that Flick has promised both of them final two deals. El deals the final blow to Flick saying she thinks their friendship is fake.
After the girls have stormed back to camp, El lets Lee in on the plan to get her out. El whisks Lee and Kristie off down the beach in a series of scenes that remind me of two parents lecturing their child. After Lee gives her a lesson in trusting her allies, Kristie asks them why they trusted Flick. El is wishy-washy in her answer. Kristie tells the camera she will be herself and back herself just like her father told her to.
Back in the shelter, Flick wants to chat with Kristie, but Dad (Lee) won’t let this happen. He needs to protect her from the nasty manipulating that Flick and Matt might do to win her vote back. Never mind that Lee manipulated Kristie first in his own way. We also get insight into how Lee genuinely thinks the final two is formed – not through relationships that have been formed and built since day one – but “one person has a day out on a challenge that suits them, and then they choose.” As the closest thing to a challenge beast this season, OF COURSE this makes the most sense to Lee. For those who cannot rely on challenge skills to get to the final two (that is everyone else except El), there is a moment of disbelief – Kristie sums up what the rest of us all know that “strategy is holistic.”
Lee and El say they haven’t discussed going to final two together! COME ON, EVERYBODY KNOWS YOU WOULD TAKE EACH OTHER IF YOU ARE GIVEN THE CHANCE. Lee says he wants Flick out for going after El but that Matt is a bigger challenge threat. As they wander off to tribal council Lee deals his final opinion on the chaos that has gone down – “It’s like Armageddon.”
During this ad break, I tried to make up a series of flow charts to work out what could happen depending on who goes tonight in my own little way of trying to prove to Kristie that she needs to vote El out. In the case of Matt or Flick leaving, the remaining of the two would be the next target. If the remaining castaway won individual immunity, however (and it’s not impossible) then does Kristie really think Lee and El will turn on each other instead of her? It’d likely go to a draw Kristie + Flick/Matt versus Lee and El then to a fire making challenge. Is Kristie willing to risk her game on a fire making challenge? She must be really confident that Lee will smash out the final four challenge.
If El goes home, then there would probably be a three versus Lee scenario back at camp. If Lee wins immunity, then Kristie has the choice of either buddying up to Lee and voting with him or hoping Matt and Flick will turn on one another and vote one of them out. I don’t think Matt and Flick would target Kristie at final four because in their eyes she’s a swing vote who has been lying low throughout the game. With this in mind heading into tribal council, I hope Kristie votes out El, so we get some more dynamic strategy in the final two episodes.
Tribal Council! Did anybody notice that while the other jury members seem to glam up between being voted out and their first jury appearance Sam seemed exactly the same except just a little cleaner? JLP asks how important it is to control emotions during the game of Survivor. El says it’s her first priority (which seems fair given she seems pretty stoic at all times though I can’t tell if this is her or being 50 days dehydrated and malnourished). Kristie takes her turn mangling English when she says El’s approach is something “I should take a leaf out of her book on.”
JLP asks Matt if he knows what’s going to happen and he replies saying it’s going to be him or Flick. When discussing how the afternoon’s events played out, El throws out that she makes promises and keeps her alliances. Matt immediately throws back that she didn’t keep the alliance with him. El stutters for a few moments before saying she didn’t think the Saanapu alliance was an alliance. They were just friends who make decisions together. Right. Kristie finishes off the chatter saying that as long as you feel like what you’re doing is ‘sitting well’ with you then it’s the right thing.
Sitting well. If it sits well, it’s the right thing.
I know that after 63 days of watching this show I should’ve let go of my expectations that this will be like the original version but I still hold onto hope that it will be. Making a strategic move doesn’t always SIT WELL, but that doesn’t mean it was the wrong thing to do.
Time to vote. As the castaways are voting, I wonder if Kristie voting out El here means she would never get her or Lee’s jury vote. El says something clever about Flick being rubbish and Matt votes for El. The votes come down, three to Matt, one of El and one to Fli(p)ck. At first, I was confused where the votes all came from then it dawned on me that Flick voted for Matt. That girl is all about saving her own skin! It’s a smart move to protect her own behind, that’s for sure, but it also ruled out a possibility of El going home even if Kristie voted for her. Why didn’t El vote for Matt? Were they concerned about an idol? I’m beginning to wonder if Kristie has Stockholm Syndrome because she clearly understands that she won’t get to final two against Lee and El but she keeps voting with them!
Next time on Survivor is a manifesto on what to do about Flick. There’s no surprise if she goes home next. The gruesome twosome’s march to final tribal council is becoming eerily similar to the slow Pagong-ing of Vavau. Two more nights, two more episodes and we’ll have our winner. To make things even more cheery, it was announced that Australian Survivor will run a second season which has only served to convince me that I’m the one with Stockholm Syndrome because even though this season has frustrated me to tears, I am still ecstatic there’ll be another one next year. As Kristie says, “go figure.”