Alice Barelli is back to recap the challenge mud-baths and idol bloodbaths of Australian Survivor episode nine.
Watching Survivor thus far in my life had led me to believe that most episodes progress in a fairly linear fashion. Castaways return from the previous episode’s tribal council, challenges are played, strategizing is completed, and at least one castaway goes home. And if a castaway doesn’t go home there better be a damn good explanation why. So when the last episode’s “merge” ended abruptly, I was about as happy as I was when Aubry didn’t win her season (spoiler: that is, very unhappy).
To get some perspective, in Survivor: Kaoh Rong the castaways had merged by Day 20 and had endured a tribe swap before that too. In Survivor: Cambodia, they had gone through two tribe shuffles and already voted the first juror out after the merge. Australian Survivor is a long game, and it’ll be interesting to see how the social dynamics continue to play out over a longer period. I think the longer time-frame means the approach to strategy is a slow burn rather than a series of big moves so often seen in modern Survivor seasons. There’s a huge focus on the social game if you want to get even vaguely close to the merge.
When advertisements came on promoting THE BIGGEST BLUNDER EVER I first thought production was apologising for their error calling that ‘tribal shuffle’ a merge. Even though I knew this was probably unlikely, I was enthused that whatever this blunder was would at least lead to the elimination of at least one castaway.
The central theme amongst both tribes is where the divide within their tribe lies. Over on Saanapu, Nick is gleeful that Jennah-Louise is all alone on the other side of the chasm situated within the blue tribe. Jennah-Louise is well aware of this fact but thinks that she can make her way out of this predicament. I think she has a point– despite his best intentions Nick cannot help but enlarge the target on his back, and given the crazy handpicked method that brought the tribe together, I think they are clearly the dominant challenge threats and will most likely avoid tribal council for a while. JL (not to be mistaken as JLP) thinks she has found an ally in Kylie when Kylie tells her not to give up.
Over on Vavau, the eclectic box of crayons has made a concerted effort to say that all stationary is welcome in their pencil case despite the clear separation between original Vavau (that’s including Conner) and the old Aganoans. Phoebe, accompanied by ominous music, signalling clear villainous traits, thinks that Kristie is trying “too hard” to make nice with the OG Vavaus. Phoebe has done some intelligent things so far, so why is she so upset that Kristie is trying to make relationships with people who are most likely going to be voting them out? Kat is throwing Rohan and Phoebe under the bus to anyone who will listen. She’s also claiming Kristie to be on her side. Rohan and Phoebe discuss “their” idol and Rohan completely floors me when he says that playing the idol would be ‘deceptive to people who are so nice.’
Rohan has been increasingly worrying me– in challenges he jumps around like a lunatic; he smiles like a maniac during his confessionals, and now he is worried about upsetting nice people.
It’s interesting that twice now outsiders on the tribe have approached Kate to see if there’s any way the five strong alliance on Vavau can be infiltrated (Sam and Conner approached her before the Barry vote too). I’m not sure what that says about Kate– either she’s perceived as the least valued member of her alliance by others or her social game has been good enough that these people think their relationship with Kate is strong enough that she may feed them information.
There’s also some focus on Craig commencing his quest to acquire the idol. I swear every time Craig is on the screen I think “I’d love to have a GIF of that.” Take note here Rohan– keeping your idol clue in your shoe is a better bet than your swimming trunks. It turns out Craig doesn’t get very far because A) Apparently the yellow tribe never explored their little slice of island beyond their shelter. B) Iif he was to leave the main camp area it is highly likely he will be followed. C) He has to go at a very specific time according to the tides.
On a side note, last week a teacher friend of mine commented that the castaways are confusing their idioms. Last week they were shooting ducks (not fish) in a barrel and this week the storm is making them wetter (not madder) than a cut snake. You can learn some English from watching Survivor. Who knew? (You see what I did there? I added a mainly irrelevant piece of information, just like the producers add mostly irrelevant clips of castaways complaining about how it is raining).
This episode has the dirtiest challenges ever. And it’s not just the muddy reward challenge- the immunity challenge is all about taking down the other tribe and hindering their progress. I’m enjoying JLP’s mat chats more and more as the season progresses. Before the mud pit extravaganza, JLP asking Sam about his return to Saanapu gives us a shot of Conner looking disappointed when Sam says Saanapu is stronger than ever. There’s also a classic moment when Rohan agrees with a statement JLP makes and the look on his face reads ‘what you just said sounds better than what I actually meant.’
Both tribes (but mainly Nick and Flick) lose their minds when JLP explains they’ll have access to hot showers, toothpaste, champagne and (what I would personally interpret as the most incredible reward ever) cheese. In what is a hilarious compilation of moments where Lee flings himself through the air into the mud and Phoebe resists getting her hair muddy, the castaways become unrecognisable, and Saanapu wins. JLP aptly calls out “this is a reward that gets you very close to your tribemates!”. Sometimes when JLP talks I think he is laughing at how ridiculous some of the stuff he yells out is (half swimming, half running, like dolphins).
The jungle spa looks nice but to be honest, but probably not what I expected most of the castaways to go ga-ga over. There’s far too much talk of manscaping, a very odd shot of JL having both ears cleaned simultaneously and not enough talk of what sort of cheese they are eating.
The immunity challenge was a water-based 3-on-3 match of basketball. I actually clapped when Kate scored that goal in the second to last round. Kate is getting a lot of compliments during the challenge, and I’m beginning to think she will play a more substantial part of the show as time goes on. Did anyone notice that every time a girl was playing in a round they were the ones to score the goal? Girl power is rocking the island. Saanapu wins thanks to a handy goal from Matt.
Back at the Vavau shelter, Rohan blurts out what most of the original Vavau already knew, that “someone” (aka him or Phoebe) have an idol. Sue’s reaction is priceless at this moment when she just calmly confirms what Rohan said. She can really keep her cool, and I think it’s a winning quality going forward. Rohan says he doesn’t lie well when he’s caught off guard. I yelled at the TV screen that he is playing Survivor and that he should never be off guard unless he is asleep. Rohan tries to fix what he said by saying the idol won’t be played tonight and that he is going to vote off Kat. Craig explains that knowing about the idol is a directory to attack.
Kat is flitting around camp with glee because she thinks she’ll finally be writing down Rohan’s name and getting rid of him. Phoebe is scurrying around trying any option she can think of which is virtually begging Rohan to play the idol on her at tribal council. Phoebe and Rohan are hoping Kat and Kristie will vote Sue and using the idol can help them get someone from original Vavua out.
Violins of doom play as castaways enter tribal council. Phoebe gets scared after Andrew says he is addressing certain Aganoa members which Phoebe knows she isn’t included. Rohan, Phoebe, and Kat have a mini mid-tribal conference, and Kat says she is with Phoebe. The castaways are voting. We see Rohan cast a vote for Kat because he’s a man of his word, and he said he would vote for Kat. Andrew votes for Phoebe. Phoebe votes for Sue.
All throughout this episode I’ve been watching eagerly for the BIGGEST BLUNDER EVER and I’m compiling quite a list of contenders. Rohan doesn’t want to play the idol to deceive the nice people who are trying to vote him out. Rohan spills all of Aganoa’s secrets to Andrew. Rohan blurts out that “someone” has the idol. Rohan insults Kat while she is in earshot. Rohan votes out Kat even though he needs all the votes he can get to send home Sue. And finally, Rohan has done something that echoes the original Survivor’s dumbest move ever (Erik Reichenbach’s gave up immunity only to be sent home). Rohan gives Phoebe the idol.
I know they agreed it was theirs to share, but I think most people would agree that if you have an idol, you don’t give it up unless you are sure it will lead to the outcome you desire. Earlier tonight on Twitter I said that unless Rohan gave up his immunity and got voted out I wouldn’t accept this as the biggest blunder ever. I have to eat my words!
The first four votes are all for different people. Phoebe wants to know why there are votes for Rohan. The votes come down to 4 (nullified)-2-1-1. Old Vavau voted Phoebe, Kat and Kristie voted Rohan; Phoebe voted Sue and Rohan voted Kat. If you’d voted for Sue, Rohan, we’d be on a tie break right now; you’d probably still be going home, but at least you’d have a chance to appeal for votes. Phoebe suggested there could’ve been a 4-4 split, but I’m not sure who she is not counting from Craig, Andrew, Sue, Kate, and Conner. Even on a revote, the majority would outnumber them.
Nevertheless, Rohan is going home, and Kat fulfils her wish of being the one to send him packing. Kat is going to revel in glee for the rest of the season I’m sure. We’re also setting up for an Andrew vs. Phoebe super villain smackdown, so I can’t wait to see what will be next.