Hello & welcome to a new series I’ve decided to start, looking at & analyzing the week that was in Australian Survivor. This year, All Stars has seen some of the most spectacular moments ever seen in Australian Survivor history, & arguably in the game of Survivor itself. And this week has been no different. So, let’s get down to it.
This week began with a tribe of 10, & viewers likely expected to see that whittled down to 7 by the end of Wednesday night’s episode. Yet this show is entirely unpredictable, & a new, never-before-seen twist would change the trajectory of the game. More on that in a moment though.
Monday night’s episode was a heart-wrenching one. As 5 of the tribe members read letters from their families back home, we saw a great mateship between Lee & Tarzan. However, just moments later, Lee received a devastating phone call, & when we all found out what had happened, our hearts all broke for him. It was truly amazing to see the camaraderie between this group of players when they were told what had happened. They all rallied around Lee, this tragic event bringing them all so much closer. And I think it was a blessing that Tarzan was there with him. Tarzan is probably one of the nicest & most genuine guys I’ve seen play this game, & whilst that may not guarantee him the win, it makes him a winner in the hearts of all who have watched this play out. It was unfortunate that Lee had to leave the game when he did, considering he was doing so well this season, however, family always comes first. I think we can all agree that no one ever wants to see someone go out that way, but Lee will always have a place in this game & in the Survivor world. I’d also just like to point out that Lee did not have a single vote cast against him the entire time he was in the game, a true testament to the player that he is. We’ll all miss him & his character in the remainder of the season.
Despite Lee’s departure, the game continued on, with Shonee taking out a second individual immunity win. After deliberations back at camp, with David once again targeting the remaining Vakamas, it appeared AK & Brooke were on the chopping block, & that one of them would be leaving for the Jury Villa that night. Yet nothing is ever a given in the game of Survivor, & JLP still had a twist up his sleeve. And so, after the usual conversations at tribal council, the twist was revealed to all. The three castaways who received the highest numbers of votes at tribal would be sent to exile, awaiting another three the next night. Five would return, one would exit & become the third member of the jury. Personally, I was expecting exile to make a return at some point, but I sure wasn’t expecting this twist. With that on the table, it was clear that AK & Brooke would be going to exile, & so it was just a matter of who the remaining Vakama three would put their votes on to send to exile. As it turned out, that would be Moana. An unsurprising choice given she had put herself in a position of power, & appeared to be heading up the Mokuta alliance. And so ended a tumultuous night.
Tuesday’s episode brought with it a different kind of vibe. With the knowledge that three more tribe members would have to go to exile, the thought of who should go was clearly playing on people’s minds. Shonee was an obvious choice provided she didn’t win immunity again. In the end, Sharn would take out the next immunity challenge, guaranteeing her safety from the clutches of exile, & ultimately putting her in a fairly powerful position of deciding who to send over to exile beach. With Shonee being agreed upon, & Zach volunteering to go thanks to some clever manipulation by David, there was a decision that had to be made as to who should be the third to go. After making a personal appeal to Sharn citing an illness, Dave threw Jacqui’s name out there, putting it to his alliance that she would be the best option considering her range of strengths. But Jacqui didn’t want to go. With that on her mind, Sharn decided to make a play for Dave, yet it didn’t go as planned when Tarzan, being the loyal man that he is, relayed this information to Dave, leaving him with the knowledge that Sharn was trying to blindside him. At this point, one thing was clear: If you come at the king, you best not miss. And so was the case for Sharn. At tribal that night, the twist was revealed in full. Once six people were on exile, there would be two challenges, two chances for players to win their way back into the game. Those who didn’t would be susceptible to a tribal council, in which only they could receive votes. Shonee & Jacqui received enough votes in the first round of voting to go to exile. However, a tie on Zach & Dave with one vote apiece resulted in a second round in which only Sharn & Tarzan could vote. It was uncertain as to whether Sharn would change her vote, yet she did, & Zach was sent to exile as per his wishes, with Dave left knowing he could no longer trust Sharn.
And so, we came to Wednesday night. Within this episode we saw Jacqui beginning to align herself more closely with the Vakama 3, having had enough of being told what to do. Moana also seemed to be tempted by new alliances, so as to have a backup in case things went awry with Dave. The Vakama 3, particularly Shonee, were just doing their best to turn some of the Mokuta people so as to ensure their own safety & progression in the game. Back at camp, Dave knew he had Tarzan on his side, but was questioning Sharn’s loyalties & wondering if he could bring her back in. Come challenge time, the Exile 6 were ready to win back their places in the game. The first challenge brought with it the element of fire making, a key part of this game, with fire representing life. The first two to get their fire to break the string would re-enter the game. It was a true test for these players, who should all have developed this essential skill by now. Moana was first out the gate with her fire, winning her spot back in the game. It ended up being a race between Zach & Brooke in the end, with Brooke ultimately edging Zach by a few seconds. With Moana & Brooke returned, it was now down to a battle of strength, with AK, Shonee, Jacqui & Zach all fighting it out for the one remaining guaranteed spot in the game. After AK & Shonee dropped out, Zach began to struggle, the rope clearly straining against his hands causing a fair bit of pain. In the end, Jacqui won out, earning her spot back in the game, with AK, Shonee, & Zach all susceptible to the tribal council that was to follow.
Back at camp, Shonee & AK were the obvious names brought up for the vote. Dave & his right hand man Zach were fairly confident in their continued alliance & Zach’s safety in the game, with Dave willing to play one of his two idols if they suspected something was up. Jacqui, on the other hand, was done with her alliance, instead opting to play with the Vakama alliance & gun for Zach. Bringing Moana in on the plan, they kept it on the down low, ensuring Dave nor Zach would suspect a thing. And so, at tribal council, Jacqui put her plan into action, successfully blindsiding Zach & sending him to the Jury Villa as the third member of the Jury. It was clear Dave could tell someone had flipped, something we’ll likely see more of in the next episode.
So, let’s do a little bit of analysis. This week’s twist was obviously a major turning point in the game. Up until this point, we had just been seeing the Mokuta 7 picking off the Vakama 5. But with Lee’s departure having already reduced the Mokuta 7 to 6, the twist was the final nail in the coffin for this alliance. What is clear is that Shonee, AK & Brooke are all still tight, & they’ve done a great job of surviving considering they were in a minority. Now, they may have a bit more power, having brought over Jacqui, and having Moana as a possible swing vote. Sharn also may vote with them, considering she’s still playing both sides. That in itself is a dangerous game to play, considering you could end up turning both sets of people against you & having no one else to turn to in such a dire situation. Yet if Sharn is able to effectively continue in this way, it may just get her to the final two. Whether or not it will be enough to outdo David if he should make it to the end however is questionable. Currently, Dave has put together a pretty amazing resume for a jury vote, & going off who is on the jury, he should be able to get the votes to win provided he can play his way to the end. Considering he still possesses two idols, he should at the very least make the 5, but there’s no doubt in my mind he’ll make it to the end.
Endgame is always a crazy yet crucial time in Survivor. Alliances that have endured for lengthy periods are broken, & new, short term alliances form. Everyone’s mind is on getting through the next tribal, progressing in the game, & ultimately, reaching the end. Obviously, this is the key time to win immunity if you’re seen as an immediate threat. There are clearly some big players in this game, the major one being the golden god, Dave himself. In some sense, it’s odd that Dave hasn’t had many votes cast against him considering how good he is at playing the game, & the big moves he’s made. In fact, he’s only received one vote to date, that being the one from Sharn this week. Yet at the same time, this shows just how well he’s thought this whole thing out. Dave is always three steps ahead of the rest. He thinks about the game on all levels. He considers the relationships between other players, as well as the relationships he has with them. He thinks about the numbers. He considers how other people are thinking, & how their way of thinking could impact his game. He positions other people in front of himself as shields, & as we’ve borne witness to thus far, it’s worked out well for him, as they have been targeted ahead of him. And this week, we saw him contemplating the impact of the exile twist & thinking about how alliances could change due to relationships formed on Exile Beach. Sure, he didn’t get the drop on the Zach vote (which, you’d have to admit, there was a sweet irony to given he had voluntarily gone to exile, confident that he’d return), but Dave can easily work out who turned on the alliance, & oust them the first opportunity he gets.
You also have to give it to Shonee, she’s playing a brilliant social game. Her ability to adapt to the situation at hand & keep it from ending her game has been great to watch. She’s managed to play from the bottom for much of this game, & as a result, has now gained power after turning Jacqui on her alliance. She’s also won herself two of the four individual immunity challenges thus far, which is no mean feat. It would be interesting to see her at the end with Dave.
Since the tribal after Lydia & Phoebe went to the fire challenge, I’ve been predicting who would go at each tribal. I’ve been right every time thus far, correctly predicting every boot since & including John’s. That’s John, Mat, Phoebe, Flick, Nick, Locky, Harry, & Zach, for a total of 8 from 8 since then. I also had figured Lee would be the one pulled from the game, considering I saw his social media post about his Mum’s tragic passing after he returned from the game. And so, if you were to ask me, I’d say Jacqui’s game is about to end. I’d also say Dave, Brooke & Shonee are pretty much guaranteed to make the 5. Dave has shown he can play his way there, & Shonee’s social game will no doubt get her there. Brooke will also be able to position herself away from the vote, as the Mokuta alliance will be too busy fighting each other, & when it comes to eliminating any former Vakamas, AK will likely be the first to be targeted. I’m also fairly confident Sharn will make the 5 considering her ability to play both sides effectively. As to the 5th tribemate to make it, I’m not certain, but I’m thinking it’ll either be Tarzan or Moana. It really comes down to whether Tarzan’s time as being a number comes to an end, or if Moana is targeted before that.
I think we can all agree this has been a hell of a week in Australian Survivor, & while we look forward to another week to come, our hearts are still with Lee & his family. And so, as an end to this edition of Survivor Strategiser (not sure if I’m happy with that name yet), I’d like to link Lee’s fundraising page for the Stroke Foundation so that you can get behind Lee & make a donation if you’d like to (he’s giving away 5 buffs to the top 5 donations as a bit of an incentive):
It’s truly inspirational to see the Survivor community, the Survivor family, rallying around Lee & his family. Lee, you were one of the greats in this game, & I reckon you could’ve gone all the way. Well done mate, & all the very best to you & your family. God Bless you all.