Well, here we are, the final edition of Survivor Strategiser for this year. All Stars has been one hell of a season. We’ve seen some of the greatest moves of all time & some truly amazing moments. On Monday night, we witnessed the epic finale, with David, Moana & Sharn battling it out to take out the title of Sole Survivor & the half million-dollar prize that goes with it.
The episode began with the Final 3 setting out from camp for one final challenge, each of their stories being shown to us as they progressed. After arriving at the challenge, each of the three were treated to visits from their families, an emotional part of the journey for all of them. It was after their reunions that the challenge began, with their families cheering on from the benches. As is typically the case with Survivor, the final challenge is always the toughest. With everything riding on success in gaining that final individual immunity, everyone has their eyes on the prize & no-one wants to bow out early. The challenge consisted of two pegs on which the contestants would have to stand, with one hand placed on an idol in front of them, & the other holding on to a rope attached to a rock behind them. If your hand came off the idol, or you let go of the rope, or you took a foot off the pegs, you were out of the challenge.
After some time, Moana was the first out, leaving Dave & Sharn to battle it out for final immunity. Both were doing their best to endure the pain, with a number of adjustments along the way. Dave, being the cunning individual that he is, began conversing with Sharn, promising her he would take her to Final 2, & confirming with her that she would do the same. Around two hours in, the rain came in, causing trouble for the remaining castaways, & it was not too long after this that Sharn dropped out, leaving Dave to take back the all important immunity necklace for a third & final time, guaranteeing him a spot in the Final 2, & giving him the all-important decision of who would go with him to that Final Tribal Council.
At the penultimate tribal council, both Sharn & Moana made their final pitches to Dave, who possessed the single vote that would decide who gets to make their pitch to the Jury & who becomes the last member of it. Both pitched that Dave had made them a promise to take them to Final 2. Moana made a slightly stronger pitch in that she would likely be his toughest opponent, & so it would make more sense to take her to put on a show of strength to the Jury. In the end, it was Sharn who would progress, with Moana voted out, becoming the final member of the Jury.
Day 50, & after a reward feast for making it to the end, & a day to construct their pitches & arguments as to why they should be Sole Survivor, David & Sharn headed to the Final Tribal Council. This being Sharn’s second time at the end, she claimed to have learned from her last experience & was ready to take on the Jury all over again. Once the Jury had been brought in, it was time for the show to begin. Sharn was up first, pitching that she was the only player in Survivor history to reach 100 days in the game, & the only player in Australian Survivor history to make it to the end twice. Her pitch consisted of this, & her making moves from the shadows, playing both sides, being a part of both alliances at any one time, & being the swing vote at tribals. The central theme to her whole argument as to why she should win was her so-termed ‘aggressively covert’ game. It wasn’t a particularly strong pitch compared to what Dave served up.
Once Sharn had completed her pitch, it was David’s turn to shine. Dave went through all the moves he made & spoke directly to specific members of the Jury. He revealed himself to be the mole. He spoke about how he obtained two hidden immunity idols & possessed them simultaneously, mentioning how he put Phoebe off the scent of the idol she was looking for in order to obtain it for himself. He brought up how he flushed Brooke’s idol, aligned himself with the two major alliances in the game, had a hand in the eliminations of each of the members of the Jury, his blindsides of Locky, Phoebe & Daisy, & his correct plays of his own idols, going on to add that he never needed an idol to protect himself. Dave revealed his entire game & all the ways he had thought & schemed in order to get to where he was, at the very end. It was one hell of a pitch.
It was then over to the Jury to pose questions. There were a few questions for each of the Final 2, but there were two key moments which blew the Final Tribal up. The first came courtesy of AK. AK’s question was for Sharn, & went back to the tribal that almost went to rocks. AK spoke to how he never wanted to have any regrets in playing this game, however he regretted the decision he made to trust Sharn at that tribal instead of going to rocks. And so, he pulled out a bag containing four rocks; three black, one white. He told Sharn she could either back her game & potentially get his vote, or she could go to rocks & if she pulled the white rock, she would have his vote. After some consideration, Sharn decided to back her own game, not taking a chance on a guaranteed vote.
The second pivotal question came, lo & behold, from Tarzan. Tarzan had not talked much strategy this season, being more of the loyal gentleman type, but it seemed that he was saving it for this moment. Tarzan’s question was directed to Sharn: why did she tell him to vote Moana on the revote at that same tribal council AK had just brought up? Sharn’s answer: it was a strategic move to test his loyalty. Moana, however was not satisfied with that response, knowing that Tarzan had more than proven his loyalty by then. She went on to tell Sharn that she had done nothing on one of the biggest moves she was claiming she made. And with that, the tribal was shaken up.
But it was Dave’s final conversation with the Jury that really hit home. Dave, being the smart, clear thinking player that he is, addressed each member of the Jury personally, thanking them for the game, & appealing to their styles of play & thinking. He went to Brooke’s strength, Shonee’s social game, AK’s numbers game, Tarzan’s loyalty, & so on & so forth, & to the overall friendship he had with each member of the Jury. It was this that really showed Dave to be one of the greatest Survivor players of all time.
And so, the Jury voted, this time for a winner. Once the votes were counted & collected by JLP, he continued tradition, thanking everyone, & taking the votes with him to read back in Sydney. As fate would have it, he would end up reading them via satellite from LA thanks to coronavirus. After Osher Gunsberg did the introductions in Sydney & with most of the players, & David & Sharn & their families in attendance (Sharn via satellite as well), it was over to JLP to read the votes. A couple votes for David, then a vote for Sharn. Another two for Dave, making it four to one. And with a fifth, David was crowned the winner of All Stars, taking his rightful place as Sole Survivor. The final vote count, 8-1 for David, a clear & convincing winner.
In my analysis of the final episode of All Stars, I want to begin by looking at Dave’s decision in the penultimate tribal. For a few weeks now, I’ve been saying Dave would take Sharn to the Final 2. Even though he knew Sharn wasn’t trustworthy, & wanted to blindside him, he also knew her goal was to get to the end, & so she wasn’t considering the impact her playing of both sides would have. By extension, he’d figured Sharn couldn’t manage the Jury. Thereby, adversely to how he’d taken out revenge on all others who had betrayed him, he wanted to keep Sharn in the game because he knew she was his ticket to win. Dave was always three steps ahead.
Sharn had clearly only ever really thought about getting to the end again, so that she could redeem herself & win the All Stars season. The problem for Sharn was a simple one, Jury Management. When it comes to Survivor, sure you can employ the strategy of playing the middle ground & switching sides, not tying yourself down to one alliance. But there’s a major problem with playing that way. You can never afford to be detected. Sharn was detected back on the Phoebe vote, where she switched her vote at the second round. Dave picked up on it straight away, questioning her about it back at camp. From that point forward, she was detected multiple times, to the point where she basically put it all out there in front of everyone when she begged the Vakama 3 not to go to rocks. The key point is this: you can only play both sides for so long until it blows up in your face. Usually, you’ll end up becoming a mutual target of both sides, & thus an easy vote. In Sharn’s case, she was lucky she wasn’t voted out. However, the fate in store for her could likely be considered much worse. Dave kept her in the game to take her to Final 2, & put her in the unenviable position of placing 2nd again.
Ultimately, the Jury vote was always going to go in David’s favour. He had made major moves, moves which were well-respected by those sitting on the Jury. Those on the Jury, when voted out by Dave’s hand, respected the move. This was what it was all about. This was an All Stars season, so big moves were a must in your resume. Dave was the biggest player in the game, with major moves to his name, & so was bound to win provided he got to the end. In fact, so long as his opponent at Final 2 wasn’t part of the Vakama 5, Dave was guaranteed to win. And it was highly unlikely that a combination of Dave & a Vakama 5 member would be sitting next to each other at Final Tribal, given they each knew the other had a good chance of taking votes from them. So, it was always either going to be Dave or Brooke. There was no scenario in which both of them would sit next to each other at the end. Sharn’s choice to vote Shonee out over Dave did not go down well with the Jury at all. It wasn’t a respected move, likely for two reasons. First, it was a straight up betrayal of her promise to the Vakama 3 at the previous tribal. Second, when she had the chance to blindside Dave with an idol in his pocket, she backed down. That alone would have sealed her fate.
Falling out of favour with the Jury due to that choice, Sharn had already lost. In fact, after Shonee’s elimination, Dave already had enough Jury votes to win the entire game. Going to the Final 9-person Jury however, it was clear where people’s votes were going before the Final Tribal even took place. Zach & Tarzan, being David’s right-hand men, were always going to have his back at the end. AK, Shonee & Brooke had made up their minds from the night Sharn chose to betray them & eliminate Shonee over Dave. By extension, Locky, Harry & Jacqui were always likely to side with the Vakama 3 & David on this vote. Personally, I always thought Moana might be a wild card in the final vote, & that she might vote for Sharn. As it so happened, I was proven right again, with the one vote that Sharn received being Moana’s.
Unfortunately for Sharn, she is now the first player in Australian Survivor history to place 2nd twice, an unenviable position. But she is also the first to last 100 days, which is no mean feat. So all credit to her for using her skills to get to the end twice.
What I really loved about this Season is that a big player in the game, arguably the biggest player, won. Typically, the biggest players are eliminated along the way, being major targets in the game. However, Dave managed to get by, winning individual immunity when he absolutely needed to, & working his magic to just get into people’s heads & use their ways of thinking to his advantage. David managed to make some of the biggest moves this season without becoming the target himself. He engineered alliances & votes that no one saw coming. He became the first player in Australian Survivor history & the seventh player in Survivor history to possess two hidden immunity idols simultaneously. He used players as shields, his alliance members always being targeted before him. And it worked, with only 5 votes counting against him the entire season. His clever manipulation, opportunistic strength, & multiple level forward thinking was a true testament to the ultimate Survivor player that David is. David played this game better than many ever have & ever will. He was the Golden god, & the Idol King. He lived up to the motto of the game: Outwit, Outplay, & Outlast. And in doing so, Dave earned a new title to add to his collection, the ultimate title that any Survivor player plays to earn: Sole Survivor.
Congratulations to David on a stellar season, a game well & truly played, & a well-deserved title.
And so, that’s a wrap on Survivor Strategiser for this year. We were supposed to get another season of Australian Survivor in the second half of this year, however, with the outbreak of the coronavirus, that season has been postponed for now. So stay safe, stay healthy, & here’s to All Stars & its Sole Survivor, David Genat.