Survivor Strategiser – 2nd Edition

Hello & welcome back to Survivor Strategiser, the series where we look at the week’s events in the world of Australian Survivor, & analyse the gameplay & strategy that went down. This week, All Stars continued to impress with some major moves, & an Australian Survivor first. We’ve got a fair bit to get through, so let’s get right into it.

On Monday night, we bore witness to one hell of an episode, more so once we got to tribal. After last week’s blindside of Zach, Jacqui was celebrating & flaunting it like there was no tomorrow. After nicknaming herself the ‘Golden Goddess’, Jacqui began to plot her next blindside, this time on David. Meanwhile, Dave was back on the warpath with Jacqui in his sights & revenge on his mind. And after the reward challenge came to its completion, it was clear where the lines had been drawn, after Dave chose to take Tarzan, Moana & Sharn to the reward with him. Dave knew he had Tarzan & Moana on his side, but Sharn’s loyalties were still in question, and he knew he had to get her on side. Taking Sharn to the reward was his chance to do so. Sharn, however, was wary of Dave, & still had a blindside on her mind. Back at camp, Jacqui, AK, Brooke & Shonee began discussing their next move, one on Dave. They thought Dave had made a mistake leaving Jacqui at camp rather than attempting to get her back onside at the reward, but it didn’t appear to be, as Jacqui seemed to be gunning for Dave regardless. Come immunity challenge time, Dave, Tarzan, Sharn & Moana were looking clean & fresh, ready to take out the immunity necklace. A staggered immunity challenge saw 3 knocked out in Sharn, Shonee & Moana knocked out in the first stage, & Jacqui & AK knocked out in the second, leaving Dave, Tarzan & Brooke to puzzle it out. And while it came down to the last few pieces, Dave just managed to edge Brooke to win out & take the all-important immunity necklace.

After the immunity challenge, we saw a flurry back at camp. With Dave now immune from the vote, the Vakama 3 & Jacqui changed tack, deciding to put their votes on Moana. Meanwhile, the Mokuta 4 came to a decision to put their votes on Jacqui. The problem: it would be a 4-4 split, likely tying again in the second round of voting. With this in mind, Brooke, AK & Shonee were all too happy to take the risk & go to rocks. Yet AK knew that Sharn would be nervous about going to rocks, something that he could use to his advantage. After a conversation between AK & Sharn about the situation at hand, Sharn began to ponder once again flipping, ensuring her safety in the game. Tribal that night was one of the best we’ve seen this season. With conversations occurring between both alliances during the tribal, it was bound to be explosive. Dave, knowing something was up, decided to play one of his idols for Tarzan. After the first round of voting, the votes were split evenly on Jacqui & Moana. In the second round, Sharn told Tarzan to vote for Moana, something the most loyal player in the game refused to do. This ensured another even split on Jacqui & Moana, with no one changing their votes. And thus, Australian Survivor history was made, with the tribe being told they must either come to a unanimous decision or go to rocks. It was now that Dave’s idol wasn’t wasted on Tarzan, saving him from a potential rock draw. Dave & Tarzan were unwilling to budge. AK, Brooke & Shonee were willing to go to rocks. However, Sharn was not, & was willing to do practically anything to save herself. And so, Sharn pleaded with the Vakama 3, telling them she would work with them if they all unanimously decided to send Jacqui to the Jury Villa. And once JLP called time on discussion, the Vakama 3 agreed, & Jacqui was sent packing, with a rock draw narrowly avoided.

Tuesday night’s episode saw Dave attempting to bring Sharn back onside yet again. Sharn was still trying to figure out who she was going to move forward with, even though she had promised the Vakama 3 her loyalty. Meanwhile, Tarzan alerted Dave & Moana to the fact that Sharn had told him to switch his vote to Moana at the previous night’s tribal, something that Moana did not believe, putting blind faith in Sharn. After an appearance from a rogue cow, & conversations ensuing about a blindside on Dave, the immunity challenge was upon us. Again, the challenge, one of endurance, came down to Brooke & Dave, this time Brooke taking out the challenge. Back at camp, The Vakama 3, alongside Sharn, were seriously discussing a blindside on Dave. Yet Dave had an insurance policy, his second idol. Presenting the idol to Tarzan & Moana, they were enthralled. After discussing whether or not he should show it to Sharn, they left it up to him. Dave, knowing it would likely sow seeds of doubt in Sharn’s mind, pulled her aside, showing her the idol, & telling her he wasn’t going home at the upcoming tribal. Sharn began thinking about how amazing it would be to blindside Dave with an idol in his pocket. And so, tribal was upon us. With Sharn being the deciding vote, both sides were doing all they could to ensure she would vote with them. The Vakama 3 checked in with her during the tribal, & she guaranteed them her vote. After the vote, it seemed like Dave would have to play his idol. Yet he took a major risk, & decided not to. With 3 votes on Dave & 3 votes on Shonee, it all came down to Sharn’s vote. And just like that, Shonee was sent to the Jury Villa, Dave’s risk having paid off, leaving everyone wondering what Sharn was thinking.

Wednesday night saw AK & Brooke reeling from Shonee’s elimination, knowing they were next. Knowing Sharn had turned against them & couldn’t be trusted, they knew winning immunity was a must. The Mokuta 4 were fairly solid, knowing their next moves were simple ones, setting their sights on Brooke & AK. Going into the immunity challenge, Brooke & AK were ready to win, with immunity being their only guaranteed method of moving forward in the game. Dave had an early lead, however, Brooke managed to catch up. With the puzzle proving a challenge for everyone to hook with the monkey fist, it was anyone’s game. Yet AK had come to a halt, feeling nervous about jumping from a high point into the water. With encouragement from Brooke, he overcame his fear, putting him back in the challenge. Yet those minutes were costly. With almost everyone on the puzzle, Tarzan & Dave were piecing together the word puzzle, attempting to make sense of it. However, Brooke managed to come from behind yet again, figuring out the puzzle & winning immunity. After returning to camp, the Mokuta 4 were in agreeance that they’d vote for AK. But AK wasn’t going down without a fight. Searching for an idol, Moana tailed him just in case he was lucky. In order to lose the tail, he pushed over the well. Despite his best efforts, no idol was found, but after Dave followed him & Brooke into the jungle, it seemed that he might have another shot, with Dave seemingly agreeing to vote for Sharn. Although to me at least, it didn’t seem likely that Dave would vote for Sharn (something I’ll discuss in the analysis section). At tribal, AK was practically in tears, knowing it was likely he would be leaving for the Jury Villa. But the game of Survivor is never that simple, & after the vote was complete, JLP pulled another twist from his sleeves. This time, the tribe had a choice. If one of them knew they were on the chopping block, they could stop the votes from being read, & instead go to a fire making challenge which they would have to win to stay in the game. AK, knowing his game was almost up, jumped at the chance to save himself, putting his hand up to go to fire. The remainder of the tribe had to come to a unanimous decision as to who to put up against him or go to rocks to decide. Whoever competed against him would remain safe no matter what happened. After talking it over, it was decided Moana would compete. And so, after an intense fire-making challenge, Moana came through victorious, ending AK’s game, leaving Brooke on the outer as the last remaining member of the Vakama alliance.

Analysis

Now to the analysis of this week’s episodes of Australian Survivor. There’s a fair bit to unpack, but it’s worth it, so please bear with me. First, let’s look at Monday night’s explosive tribal council. Some would say that Dave’s idol play on Tarzan was a waste of an idol considering he didn’t receive a single vote. As I’ve said before though, Dave thinks about this game on multiple levels. He knows Tarzan is the only player there that’s completely loyal to him, & he didn’t want to risk having him taken out like Zach. Playing the idol for Tarzan ultimately saved him from a potential rock draw. Had Tarzan still been vulnerable, things may have gone differently after the second round of voting. But sticking to what actually happened, it’s questionable as to whether or not AK made the right decision in trusting Sharn, something which did come back to haunt him. However, if they had gone to rocks, there was a 75% chance one of the Vakama 3 would be evicted, the odds in Sharn’s favour.

Tuesday’s tribal was more of a pivotal one. First & foremost, Tarzan’s warning to Moana should have alerted her to be cautious of Sharn. However, she put blind faith in Sharn, & whilst it paid off this time, it may just be her downfall. But Sharn’s decision at tribal council that night was the pivotal moment of her game. This was the choice which would decide the remainder of her game. Ultimately, she turned on the Vakama 3, voting for Shonee, rather than blindsiding Dave, the biggest player in this game. It left everyone scratching their heads, wondering what she was thinking. Her reasoning: she was using Dave as a shield. But that can’t be right, because Dave is actually using her as a shield. Yet one thing was clear: That vote ended her game. Here’s why.

Sharn had been talking up a blindside on David. She was ready to send him packing. And when he showed her the idol, she was presented with the opportunity to send him to the Jury Villa with an idol in his pocket once again. Yet when the perfect opportunity for a blindside on the Golden god presented itself, Sharn backed down from the chance, opting instead to vote for Shonee. Sharn had promised the Vakama 3 her loyalty & vote at the previous tribal. This in effect forced her into a position where she had to vote with them, or lose their votes should she make it to Final 2. In voting for Shonee, Sharn has now lost a minimum of three votes should she make F2: Shonee, AK, & Brooke (likely to be the next eliminated). She has also likely lost the votes of Harry, Jacqui & Locky, who were supportive of the Vakama alliance & friends with the Vakama 3 that Sharn betrayed immediately. Whether Sharn gets to F2 is questionable, given even if she makes Final 4, she’ll be sitting at the bottom of the Mokuta 4 alliance. But if you ask me, she’s Dave’s best bet of winning this whole thing.

On the other side of the tribal was Dave. Dave played it brilliantly. Dave knew Sharn questions everything, & that she herself is never really all that certain of where she’s going to land. Some would say showing Sharn the idol was a terrible move. I’d say it worked out perfectly. Knowing Sharn could flip after heeding Tarzan’s warning, Dave knew showing Sharn the idol would make her doubt the move she was about to make & the people she was going to make it with. Reaffirming that he would use the idol if he had to, & that he wasn’t going home at the tribal to follow, Dave affirmed his place in the game. So once they came to the point at tribal where the votes were to be read, Dave figured Sharn would be unwilling to risk voting him out that night, & thus took the risk of not playing his idol, knowing he would catch votes. It paid off, & added another major move to Dave’s resume. If he makes it to F2, & mentions that he had the idol in his pocket & didn’t play it, knowing full well he was catching votes & at risk of going home, that’s sure to gain respect from the jury.

As to the twist that presented itself on Wednesday night’s episode, it was an odd one. At best, AK would remain in the game for one more day, likely to leave at the next tribal council. Otherwise, AK would go home as was going to happen anyway on the votes. What it did put on display, however, was Moana’s fire making ability. Moana was the best choice to ensure AK was eliminated, given she had just made fire recently at the exile challenge. Which made Brooke’s decision to support the unanimous agreement all the stranger. If Brooke had disagreed, it would have forced a rock draw, whereby AK’s competitor may have been easier to beat. Or, Brooke may have been drawn as his competitor, allowing AK to win out. Either way, it seemed AK’s time in the game was coming to a close no matter the outcome.

And just a final point of analysis from this week on Dave. By now, most would have noticed that Dave keeps going back to Sharn, trying to pull her back in every time she flips or tries to flip on his alliance. To any other Survivor fan or viewer, this may seem futile. It would make much more sense to burn someone after they’ve proven disloyal on more than one occasion. Dave was already wary of Sharn after the tribal where the votes fell between Phoebe & Moana. But even when she flipped again, & then made a deal with the Vakama 3 right in front of him, he still went to pull her back in. And even when Dave was presented with the chance to blindside Sharn on Wednesday night, he still didn’t flip on her. After Tuesday night’s episode, it became clear to me as to why Dave, who has been fairly unforgiving to others who have turned on him, would keep Sharn around. And it went back to something he said at Tuesday’s tribal council. He knew who he wanted to take to the end with him, to the Final 2. That person he wants to be sitting next to at the end is Sharn.

 

There are three reasons Dave would want to take Sharn to the end:

  1. Brooke could beat Dave. She has many friends on the jury who would be rooting for her to get to the end & beat Dave. She would garner votes from AK, Shonee, Harry, Locky & Jacqui, enough to win a majority & thereby win the game.
  2. Tarzan & Moana are unpredictable in terms of a final tribal. Moana has made some decent moves throughout the game, & if she could convince the jury she’s been manipulating everyone from the shadows, it could get her the votes. Although, it would be tricky to substantiate that quiet game unless she actually gets her hands dirty. Tarzan also seems easy to beat, however he still has the unique claim of being the only player not to receive a single vote to date, & has played a loyal game with Dave, helping take out some of the other big players. He could play the final tribal like Shane Gould, the quiet achiever way.
  3. Sharn has fallen out of favour with the majority of the Jury. In voting for Shonee, she has guaranteed a loss of votes from Shonee, AK & Brooke. Harry & Locky have also said they want to see big moves & were aligned with the Vakama alliance, & would likely vote for Dave over Sharn. Jacqui was eliminated because of Sharn’s broken promise to the Vakama 3, so would be unlikely to vote for her. And Zach & Tarzan are loyal to Dave. In a Final 2 consisting of David & Sharn, Moana may be the only vote that Sharn gets, leaving Dave with an 8-1 majority & the win.

And just back to that move Dave made in showing Sharn the idol. Putting Sharn off voting for him ensured she would vote for Shonee, & by extension fall completely out of favour with the Jury, making her his ticket to winning this whole game. It just shows again how Dave thinks about this game on all levels, right to the end, & is always three steps ahead of the rest.

Going into what is likely to be the final week, we are left with 5 survivors battling it out for the title of Sole Survivor & the $500,000 prize that goes with it. Here’s a quick rundown of the remaining players & their chances:

Brooke: There’s no doubt Brooke is in the worst position in the tribe. She’s on her own, with no alliance, & a very easy target for the Mokuta 4 to take out. However, if she can win individual immunity, or flip Sharn & Moana, she might be able to find a new path to the end. Personally, I think she’ll be next out.

Moana: One of the quiet players. Moana has the potential to flip on her alliance, particularly Dave, knowing he has the best resume out of the entire alliance by far. But it may prove too late to do so, with Dave still possessing an idol. Her only shot to get rid of him may come from a fire making challenge or at the final immunity challenge.

Tarzan: The loyal quiet achiever. Tarzan’s been loyal to Dave for a long time, & there’s no indication of that changing. If Tarzan wants to win, his best move would be to blindside Dave. Dave wouldn’t expect it coming from him, & it would likely be a game winning move for Tarz. He could yet make the Final 2.

Sharn: The indecisive one. Sharn could really go either way. She claims to be using Dave as a shield, but it’s quite the opposite. Sharn could be an easy flip vote for Brooke, but she could just as easily stick with the Mokuta alliance. Either way, it’s hard to see how she wins it from here. In my analysis, her game is over no matter what happens.

David: The big player. Dave has made the greatest moves this season. He has pulled off some amazing feats, & has only 4 votes to his name. With an idol still in his pocket, he is practically guaranteed Final 4. If he can somehow hold on to that idol (which is rendered powerless after the next tribal), then he has something he can show to the Jury at the Final Tribal which would just add to his already incredible resume. Taking Sharn to the end is his best bet, however he would likely beat Tarzan & Moana as well. Brooke is the only one who can beat him. Taking her out would practically win him the game. Additionally, Dave must win the final immunity challenge. If he doesn’t, he will likely be the final member of the Jury. The only player who may take him to the end is Tarzan.

 

And so, we await the final week. Unfortunately, the Finale will have no live audience due to the coronavirus, something which is disappointing. I would have loved to have attended & seen it play out live for myself, but alas, it’s cannot be. There will also be a change in the hosting, given JLP is still in LA & so will be joining via Skype, while Osher Gunsberg guest MCs from the studio. From what I’ve seen on social media, many of the All Stars castaways are already in Sydney for the Finale, along with a few others from previous seasons, like the King of the Jungle himself, Luke Toki. I’m sure it’ll be an amazing Finale.

And that’s it for another edition of Survivor Strategiser. As the final episodes are upon us, I’ll be doing one of these for each episode next week, to be released the following day. So Monday night’s episode’s analysis will come out on Tuesday, Tuesday night’s on Wednesday & so on & so forth.

Looking forward to next week. If I had to pick a winner, I’d put my money on Dave to take this thing out. One of the greatest players the game has ever seen.

See y’all next week.

 

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