Australian Survivor All Stars: Finale and Reunion Show

50 days, 30 hours, 25 episodes, 24 people, eight weeks, three recappers, ONE. SURVIVOR. Welcome to the Australian All-Stars Finale!

The Episode (kemperboyd)

We are finally here at the finale of All Stars, something that simultaneously feels like it has only been on for 3 weeks and started in a different lifetime. I feel that this season has been under served by the editors. I could have been going into this finale about the watch one of the strongest final threes the game has ever seen. We could have had a nail biter where anyone could win it, instead I come into it feeling that David is the obvious winner and there is no chance Mo or Sharn can beat him. David has undoubtedly played a great game, he’s a bit like Tony, he craves a big move but he found 2 idols, he has won immunities and he has somehow formed an alliance close enough they wouldn’t get rid of him at 6 when he didn’t have immunity and wasn’t playing his idol for himself. Moana has come from being in the pre-swap minority, to the minority on her swap tribe and taken control of her alliances throughout and Sharn has been seen as sneaky and conniving throughout the game, has been labelled the best player to never win Australian Survivor and has got herself to the end as an older woman on her social and strategic play alone. Either woman could be a worthy winner but the feeling from the editing is that David is the winner and if he somehow loses the final immunity and goes at 3 we will be left with a “who her?” winner and the season doesn’t deserve that.

Ok let’s crack on. David again gets the first heroic confessional after the credits, we then see Sharn’s story, of losing by 1 vote and her pride in her resiliency, it just doesn’t strike as much of a winning chord as David’s did. Moana is third, shown as the final three do a stunningly beautiful walk to the final immunity challenge. Mo’s story of finishing what she started and was in good position for in her first game. The issue with Mo’s theory of wanting to play a quiet game is that if she sits at the end with David the loudest player she will not being able explain why her alliance building and strategy is more worthy than his big wild moves game.

David calls the final immunity challenge do or die and it really is. The challenge is standing out on a the pointy pedestals Australian Survivor loves for final immunity, they must have their hand on a hard idol and their other arm has to pull on a rubber band that will be pulling them away from the idol. It’s a clever way to try and make this challenge shorter than 8 hours.
We then get the Australian Survivor final immunity challenge family visit, we meet Sharn’s kids and husband, Moana’s wife and disabled sister  visit. It’s remarkable that Mo did this 4 days after getting married. We also get an actual same sex kiss unlike American Survivor. David’s wife and daughter come out and it is nice to see him humanised.

It’s game time. I won’t blow by blow as it’s always a long one but this looks like a bloody hard one, I can’t tell if it’s set up by height which you think it should be as Sharn is 5ft and David over 6 ft and reach matters in this one. All three are still there after an hour and it looks like the kids except Sharn’s oldest son have been taken off because I imagine it’s boring as shit to watch. Mo falls first after an hour and 10 minutes and David is genuinely concerned for her which is sweet. A bit more of this David and I wouldn’t have been quite as sick of him as I am at this point. David talks to Sharn about how he wants it to be the two of them. He’s an amazing player and could easily talk her into taking him if she wins. It gets rainy and windy and the tide comes in, Australian Survivor knows how to do a final immunity challenge. Sharn falls and David wins Survivor, I’m sorry, final immunity.

David gets to choose who to take but really it doesn’t matter, he should take Moana, that way he can talk about loyalty too. He had the secret alliance with her through Mat from early on. Both Mo and Sharn plead their case, oddly trying to position themselves as the most loyal to David. Sharn brings up David’s challenge promise. Mo points out it’s just playing the game, David promised them both and the promises mean nothing. Sharn also points out she failed at the final tribal before. I loved Moana’s pitch that David should take her because she wants him to prove how good he is and beat her. I loved her saying “I’m not holding him to his promise”. I don’t think it matters who he takes but the easy road is Sharn, she played both sides and those people are on the jury and bitter, I don’t think she will win Shonee’s vote 2 years after she failed to gain it at FTC.

David votes for Moana, this is the right decision.

Now over to the Assistant Dragon Slayer to recap FTC.

Final Tribal Council (Assistant Dragon Slayer)

Before I start let me say that I co-sign everything Kemper Boyd said about the editing this season, and I’ll add that it’s even a disservice to David. The non-stop deluge of over-the-top cackling confessionals distracted from the fact that he played an absolutely masterful game on every level, including socially (note that he never did his preening egomaniac schtick at camp, only in confessionals).

The jury arrives and Jonathan lays out the ground rules: Opening statement, jury questions, then an open forum. I like this better than just an open forum shoehorned into the “outwit, outplay, outlast” framework.

Suddenly, the Tribal Council set had to be cleared because of a smokeshow

Sharn the barrister makes her case: She’s the only person to play 100 days of Australian Survivor and she’s never had her torch snuffed. She frames her strategy as “aggressively covert”, foregoing Big Movez™ to instead build bonds to maximize her options. She explains how she went about joining multiple alliances, allowing her to in effect dictate the vote at multiple points because she knew where all the votes were going. She takes sole credit for getting rid of Jacqui, and then says she duped AK, Shonee, and Brooke not to go to rocks in order to take David to the end as a shield.

I don’t know if there’s any good approach available to Sharn, but this one is potentially disastrous, since she’s highlighting exactly what the jury is probably already primed to roast her for. Once again, I wonder if Sharn learned the wrong lessons from her first game, because her “I was the real puppet-master” opening statement reminds me a lot of Shane Gould’s.

David immediately connects with the jury, singling out the jury members he was working with from the beginning (AK, Locky, and Brooke). He then admits to being the mole in the post-swap Vakama, and describes how he used his social game to get Phoebe to share her cake shop clue, and then sent her on a wild goose chase to get the termite idol (his second idol) for himself. Crucially, as David talks about how he got rid of the now-jury members, he does so semi-apologetically and while highlighting their strengths, which Sharn did not.

Locky says that David played big in the pre-merge then went conservative after the merge, blending in with the boring majority. David says that continuing with the Golden God act and not shifting into another gear is what got him 10thplace last time.

Once again, smoke filled the set

Shonee notes that Sharn didn’t get her jury vote last time, and asks Sharn why she should vote for her this time. Sharn ack-ack-acks like a Martian in Mars Attacks about her game moves and does not apologize or tell Shonee that she obviously would have won, the way Shonee is clearly signaling she ought to.

AK goes back to the rock draw, saying that not forcing rocks was his biggest regret in the game. He notes that Sharn wasn’t willing to gamble her game that time, so now he’s going to force her to. He whips out a bag containing three black rocks and one white rock, and says she can continue to try and win his vote the normal way, or go to rocks and if AK pulls out the write rock she gets his vote. Sharn squirms for a while, then declines. This is simple Sharn! It’s a 25% chance vs a 0% chance!

Brooke asks the “why shouldn’t the other person win” question (I prefer the less common “why should the other person win” variant). David ignores the question and pumps up his own game. We don’t hear from Sharn.

Harry ask Sharn about constructive vs. destructive gameplay, framing the way she joined and pulled out of alliances as a destructive way to play the game. Sharn once again talks about keeping her options open, and Brooke interrupts her and gets to the point. She asks Sharn if she thinks that that was a smart strategy, considering that she lied the very people who are about to vote for a winner. She’s basically coaching Sharn on what she needs to say, but Sharn isn’t picking up what she’s laying down. Brooke cuts right through it and says that Sharn was so focused on getting to the top 2 that she overlooked all the damage she was doing along the way.

Tarzan talks how Sharn told him to vote for Mo at the rock-draw vote then denied it when they got back to camp. Sharn says she was testing Tarzan to see where his loyalties were. This gets a big reaction from Mo. Tarzan counters that if he had listened to her Mo would have gone home. Wow, Sharn is stepping on the Mat Rogers rake all over again.

Moana continues to press Sharn on this and Sharn can’t reconcile her stated purpose of getting rid of Jacqui with the fact that telling Tarzan to vote for Moana would have sent her home instead. In the process of tying herself up in knots, Sharn says that she effectively blindsided Jacqui when Jacqui was targeting Zach by neither warning Zach nor telling Jacqui that David had an idol that he could have played on Zach. Moana really pounces on this, saying that what Sharn was claiming as her biggest move in the game was an instance of her doing nothing.

Moana is obviously bitter about David voting her out, and asks him if he did so because he was worried that she played a bigger game. Whether Mo realizes this or not, this a trap question, because the only credible answer is “no”. David dances around it, saying that he had to make the decision that would maximize his chances of winning, but that he feels terrible about it.

Somehow, David gets to filibuster at the end without Jonathan (or Sharn!) intervening, and he hits all the right notes about how everybody on the jury deserves to be sitting where he’s sitting and they were all instrumental in his game, but also he put every single one of them on the jury and Sharn didn’t talk him into taking her to the end.

Evidently, the editors decided that Jacqui and Zach’s questions were too boring or irrelevant to include in a finale that ran 130 minutes not including commercials.

It’s time to vote for a winner. We see no votes or voting confessionals. Jonathan says he’ll see them all back in Australia (he won’t, but these were the Before Times).

Blurry Denzel will have more to say about the strange circumstances of the reunion show, but via satellite from LA, Jonathan reads the votes: Dave, Dave, Sharn, David, Golden God, DAVID!

The Reunion (Blurry Denzel)

Before we get to the content in the reunion, we have to start with all the weirdness around the event. With COVID-19 causing a global pandemic, travel is highly dangerous as is a large gathering of people. JLP is stuck in LA. Some of the contestants, including the runner up of the season, did not attend the reunion taping. There was no audience at the taping at all. The obvious question is whether the reunion should’ve happened at all? Would it have better to just have David and Sharn both be available for the reading of the votes via satellite and just ditch everything else? The next 40 minutes sure didn’t feel worth the risk.

We get a montage of David’s winning game. I’m very impressed by how David played this season. I was convinced that you couldn’t be so out in front, with crazy plays and blindsides and make it to the end of Australian Survivor. There is too much time in the game. Players will catch on to you, momentum will build to get you out and there are so many tribals to get through. David proved me wrong. He soared thanks in big part to the relationships he made in the game. A lot of people wanted to work with and not against David.

We also hear from Sharn with a lot of the coversation being about how she is the only player to hit 100 days in the game of Australian Survivor, never having her torch snuffed. It is the accomplishment that the show should push because it is really impressive. While I think Sharn bungled some key moves  during the season, she did have bright spots in her game and has proven savvy at the game. Unfortunately she lost twice but she should still hold her head high.

We get a challenge montage I couldn’t muster the energy to care about but it was a jumping off point to hear about Lee’s nickname, Harry’s lack of redemption and Brooke crushing everyone else at these games. Locky also said something. killing some time in this must have reunion.

We do get a Shonee segment. One of the few to still shine during the heavily David centric season. We see her thirst for revenge on those who wanted her out of the game. There is also talk of her challenge prowess. God this show loves challenges. A nice exchange with Shonee and Not JLP about how his daughter should do better at swimming. Shonee is a natural on TV and I’m so glad she was on this season.

There is a segment on idols found and played during the season. Phoebe is asked about her ouster and whether she is good with David now. Incredibly awkward moment. David answers that they are great and Phoebe echoes that sentiment not so convincingly. She is still burned by what happened and mentions that she dreaded watching that episode. I don’t blame her. I thought David was fine most of the season, no problem with the confessionals either. His behavior during the Phoebe vote out was dickish.

David’s unlikely partnership with Mat, who had the good sense to not show up to the reunion, was highlighted. More talk of revenge plays. We hear from Daisy about her getting betrayed by David and Flick about Brooke cutting her in a move 4 years in the making. They were the lucky ones who got to speak. Reunion tradition mandates that not everyone gets called on.

The family segment is saved for near the end of the hour. We hear from Lee about the death of his mother. My heart goes out to Lee and his family. I can’t imagine dealing with such a loss. I’m very happy that him and David have been putting in work with an organization dealing with strokes. It is very devastating.

Not JLP closes the show thanking for the contestants for another great season of Australian Survivor. Despite the issues the season had, I am going to miss it now that is gone. Hopefully everyone is staying safe, staying home. I can’t wait until we are back into a sense of normalcy and the one of the only things I’m worrying about is finishing recaps at a decent hour. Looking forward to whenever the next season is. The JV Squad will have you covered. Thanks for reading, everyone.