Australian Survivor All Stars: Week 4, Episodes 10-12

Head’s up folks: As some noted in the comments section for last week’s coverage, there are spoilers on Instagram and Reddit. Please be careful out there and be cool if you are spoiled.

Episode 10 (Assistant Dragon Slayer)

The Previously On emphasizes how isolated Mat is, with John voted out and his idol flushed. It surely doesn’t help that the post-swap has been a complete Pagonging of Vakama (and Mat was swap-screwed to begin with).

We check in with Lee and Tarzan, who have been sidelined recently because of the aforementioned Pagonging. Naked Tarzan doesn’t have the same effect as Naked Locky and Nacked Zach.

In confessional, Mat blasts Harry, Flick, and Shonee for not flipping to blindside Locky. Mat’s definition of playing with guts is apparently to hand him power over the tribe for little to no gain. As Kemper Boyd noted last episode, Flick in particular had no reason to flip. Mat pitches Harry and Locky, searching for cracks. But all he can really sell is challenge strength, a coin that is rapid decreasing in value as the merge approaches.

Phoebe notes that she’s on the bottom, having been voted out earlier and only remaining in the game because of the fire challenge, so for the time being she’s working the social game, including flirting if necessary. It seems like all of the strategists of the season are all standing pat for now.

All of the strategists except David, that is–he doesn’t do standing pat. David gives an extended confessional that seems stitched together, as he goes from “I need to keep her (Phoebe) tight” to “Priority no. 1 is to burn Phoebe”.

At the reward challenge mat, the Mokuta tribe members infer from John’s elimination that the original Mokutas who switched over to Vakuma are getting systematically picked off. That’s a good guess but incorrect. The challenge is the return of the swim upstream challenge. There are a couple modifications this time. There’s a rope pull to a buoy at which you can rest, and to gain a point you have to swim to a second buoy rather than simply outlast your opponent. I speculated last time that the lane closest to the dock had an advantage, as the dock itself blunts the force of the current. Sure enough, Mokuta gets the inside lane and wins 3-1 (with Nick and Phoebe notably staying close to the dock). Phoebe and Nick both note that showing that they can be challenge assets is good for their standing in the tribe.

At the cake shop, only one person can enter at a time. Unlike last season, everybody knows what this means. They arrive at a weird solution where Tarzan gets to go first, then they draw straws to determine the order after him. Everyone seems to be on a time limit of sorts. Phoebe, who went third, was the first to start cutting up all the cakes with abandon, and she finds an idol clue. She doesn’t have time to dispose of the clue properly, though. Nevertheless, nobody else finds it.

Vakama get off to a huge lead in the immunity challenge, mostly because Locky can work his pole and David can’t, holding Mokuta back. But Sharn and Nick destroy the puzzle, and Vakuma goes once again to tribal council.

And now once again I have to ding the Australian Survivor team, as much as I love the show overall. The AU Survivor Twitter account hyped up this episode, saying that one of five big characters will go home: Shonee, Harry, David, Phoebe, or Mat. Well, three of them are now safe, and there’s been absolutely no hint of Harry being in trouble. Not only is he not catching any flack for blowing the puzzle, but he says in confessional his move is to stick with the majority to build trust and set himself up to make a move later down the line.

Harry goes so far as to volunteer to be the decoy vote in a Mat blindside. OK, now this puts him at risk if Mat re-finds the idol or everybody else turns on him.

When he’s not idol-hunting, Mat is telling anybody who’ll listen that Harry can’t be trusted and Shonee is a next-level social threat, and that without him Locky is the only difference-maker in terms of strength. This is the best of very bad options for Mat in terms of getting the vote off him, since Harry and Shonee are tag-alongs to the main alliance.



Flick notes that she blindsided her BFF Brooke in Season 1, and that she wants to get to getting before she gets got. She approaches Mat, raising suspicions with Locky, Shonee, and of course Brooke. If Flick rats out the vote split to Mat and they both vote Harry, then Harry goes home 4-3. Surely the solution, though, is to switch the two decoy votes on Harry to Flick.

At tribal council, Mat makes his pitch, Harry weighs the pros and cons of keeping Mat, coming down on the con side, obviously, despite Jonathan’s very weak argument that saving Mat could make him loyal to you. In fact, Harry is the first to note that Mat has a lot of allies waiting on the other side should he make it to the merge. Flick says she’s still deciding what the best move to make is, and later steps in it a little bit (if in fact her alliance-mates are getting suspicious of her) by drawing a distinction between what’s best for the tribe, best for the alliance, and best for her.

As with the last episode I covered (episode 7, the Abbey boot), this all seems a bit perfunctory, even without the Twitter framing, and its goodbye Godfather. He was put in an impossible situation by the swap, with the idol staving off elimination temporarily. The stuff about Flick came to nothing—she voted for Mat, Mat voted for Shonee, and the majority didn’t feel it necessary to guard against Flick flipping.

The more I think about Harry volunteering to be the decoy vote, the less I like it. If I were one of the other people on Vakuma, I would be asking myself why he would be so reckless, and the conclusion I would come to is that Harry himself must have the idol.

Episode 11 (Blurry Denzel)

I’m finally able to move pass the loss of Michelle earlier this season and am back on Australia coverage. We start the episode with a talent show by the Mokuta tribe. I like the cold opens but resent the idea of making Zach likable. I’m fueled by the hate.

We check in on the Vakama tribe after their vote out of Mat. The six working together have no one else to target outside of their own group. They remain in good spirits looking towards the merge. Harry, who may have his missed his window to make a move and not be on the bottom, talks with AK about post merge strategy. He comes off impressed by AK’s smarts but weary of  such a possible strategic force. Something to look forward in the future. I’ve been impressed by AK’s discipline so far. I was worried he wouldn’t be able to be low key. This game is such a marathon and he is chugging along at a better speed this time around but with the losing streak there aren’t many people to hide behind. Eyes will be on him.

Good news for Vakama though as they finally win a challenge as they claim a packed lunch with personalized mementos from home for being better at tug of war than their opponents. We see them bond over their loved ones back at camp and we get a lot of personal content. It’s an effective tool in getting the audience to relate to the cast as more than game pieces but it’s been down a million other times. Cook Islands is still the best version of this type of scene. Shonee and the sandwich though is gold. I also would tear up for a really good sandwich.

Over at Mokuta, we get to actually to hear from Sharn. She talks about the tribe dynamics from her perspective. This is going to loom large for her later but I do want to talk about the storytelling of the season. I think too many people are getting sidelined for too long. There is more time on this show to use for getting insight from players that is getting mismanaged. Even if they aren’t the driving force of the game, they are part of the game and thus matter. I want more from the lesser heard from people.

Phoebe is out looking for the idol but is struggling to find it. She enlists David to help her. He knows exactly where the termite mound the clue is referencing is and sends Phoebe off on a wild goose chase. He eventually finds the goods himself and becomes David Two Idols. He’ll do great with all that power. I wish Phoebe had communicated with David before the chaotic vote a few episodes back that she didn’t vote out Nick. Even if she didn’t mean to, it comes across as her choosing Nick over David. I think it’s a bad read that David is the type to take that slight and just move on. It’s not even that she is doing damage control wrongly. Phoebe is a savvy social type. The mistake is focusing on damage control in the first place. David isn’t the one. 113

More good news for Vakama as they win immunity with Flick and Harry being better at holding each other up than everyone else. This is a result I wanted as the game has been in a holding pattern for awhile with Pretty Cookies in firm control over at Vakama. Mokuta is where we’ve been teased with fireworks the past couple episodes and now it’s finally going to go off.

Moana is ready to get Phoebe out again. She has now become the “Godfather” of the game. She has Jacqui, Tarzan and now Zach talk to others to get her plan to work. She likes the dynamic of her moving in silence  while having minions do her dirty work. It’s more transparent than she thinks it is and Phoebe would later eviscerate her game at Tribal as too socially inept. I think Moana can recover now that she knows she was this close to going home herself  but she needs to bolster relationships for more than just getting worker bees. 137

Sharn sees this vote as an opportunity to play both sides. She tells both sides she is with them in this crucial vote. On the surface I don’t mind this play for Sharn. Being a moving swing in a tribe with some big personalities and big reputations is not a bad way to go if the thinking is that there are going to be bigger targets ahead of you that get cut first or their alliance would if the target is protected. The downside is this is an extremely hard thing to pull off. It won’t always be a Sarah Lacina in Game Changers situation. You cross the wrong person, you can go from safe to next one out.

At tribal it is pretty clear it is Moana or Phoebe. Nick uses his extra vote here. I like the move as I think this vote is a big one that can ripple effects deep into the post merge. Unfortunately for Nick, this was worst case scenario. His vote forced a tie making it obvious an advantage was used. This can easily be traced back to him and he didn’t get the person he wanted to go out of the game. He is going to have to pull a trick out of the hat to get out of this bad situation.

Also at tribal, David reveals one of his idols in an unnecessary move that freaks Sharn out and I think causes her to switch her vote to Mo. David was on no one’s radar at the moment but the Golden God can’t help but be in the spotlight. This also comes off as him twisting the knife in Phoebe’s back on her way out. Phoebe’s reaction the idol reveal confirms as much. This just makes David look like a dick. He now has a target on his back and while he does have protection, it will blow up on him eventually.

After an initial tie, Phoebe is voted out on the revote. We lose quite the fun character and a root able social force. While she survived fire one time, her game never recovered. I think trying to salvage a broken relationship with David was her biggest downfall.  Looking to the future. Nick and Sharn are in trouble and could be next out. On the other side, Dirty Harry looks to return after some fake outs.  Hopefully the status quo will be twisted upside down.

Episode 12: (Kemper Boyd)

From the moment the episode starts Sharn is scrambling, she voted with Nick and Phoebe for Mo right after making a pinky swear with Mo and David about being a 3. Her scramble explaining she was always planning to vote Phoebe on the revote to stop Nick and Lee wouldn’t know she was with Mo and Dave. Mo isn’t concerned. David says a thing that shows the weakness in his style of play “we are going to strong arm them to merge”. His way of playing is his way or the highway.

Nick says the previous night was the low of his Survivor career and he wasted his extra vote. He also doesn’t know Sharn is playing both sides. We see David, Sharn and Mo having a chat as they wash some clothes. David doesn’t know if Sharn can be trusted. He wants the next vote to be Nick and he thinks he needs Sharn for that. He doesn’t, it’s 5-3 if Mo, David, Jacqui and Tarzan vote for Nick. Sharn could be in a bad way here, because as shown twice this season, if David wants you out and you are a woman (not sure if that’s part of his issue) he will be vindictive and do it whether it is good for him.

At Vakama on day 25 the 6 go out to the shallows and enjoy each other’s company but it can’t last unless they win every immunity to til merge.
Flick and Brooke talk about the fact they have got closer. Brooke talks about her mission to take out Flick. She is also using Locky as a shield and she doesn’t trust Harry, which is the right thing to think. Brooke goes idol hunting to try and stop Harry getting it but fails. But what he finds isn’t an idol, it’s power to stop the votes at one tribal, it cancels out a tribal result before one of the next two tribals.

We go straight to immunity, no reward. Dig, obstacle course and coconut slingshot. Brooke gets stuck very early and Makuta get a very massive early lead. But it only means two targets lead when Vakama get to the slingshot. But Makuta win immunity. The Vakama 6 will have to vote someone out, or as Harry has an advantage they won’t.

Flick frames the decision being about old Makuta v old Vakama. Brooke has to decide between Flick and Harry, thinking now is the time for Flick. Brooke gets it together with the tribe minus Flick to get rid of Flick. Harry is all for it. AK wants to get rid of Harry because he’s a bigger threat. I know it was a big wound for Brooke that she was blindsided last time but Flick has no one else in the game, she has been with that 4 since the beginning and who is she flipping to? Nick? Sharn? Mo? of course not. But Harry has the Rascals and other connections. AK is completely right to not want to remove Flick. AK decides to tell Shonee  that Harry is getting votes so she will trust her back at camp afterwards. Shonee obviously tells Harry but he doesn’t let her know about the advantage.

Harry goes and puts the cat among the pigeons by talking to Locky about the fact they have said his name but doesn’t get much back from Locky.

Tribal is pretty much as you would expect, question of trust, what you do when an alliance gets to tribal with nothing to do but vote for themselves. The only interesting answer is Harry saying that the 4 Vakama have played the exact same game and voted the exact same way and the thing that is needed is diversity. They vote, we don’t see any of them except Harry’s and then Harry goes to play his advantage but AK stands up and tells him he promises him they voted for Flick, he can go to merge 5 strong. Harry doesn’t play it. Is it super dumb? Let’s see. Votes come down Shonee, Flick, Flick, Flick, and Flick is voted out. Flick throws the old “I hope one of you wins” jinx.

I am not wild about this move, not because the thirst rankings have taken a beating the last 2 weeks but because I think Flick was a sure thing for the people who voted her out. The argument that Harry and Shonee are valuable for their connections is there but that also means if they need to they can just flip away.

Now the question is who is going to play Harry’s advantage, will it be played at all?