Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn Week 7: Episodes 19-21

This was almost some emus, but close enough.

Last week on Survivor there was some automobile advertising, and a “perfect blindside” left the tribe divided… for now. And probably for this week too.

Episode 19 (Something Quirky)

  • Wai speaks first!
    She won’t confirm to Andrew she’s in an alliance, just that she’s “playing forwards”. She was undecided until the way to Tribal, but realised that if she had voted for Cara or George she would be on unsure footing with everyone else.
  • Andrew’s mad. Especially because Hayley turned on him again. Hayley explains that they didn’t want to be part of a six person alliance, whereas Andrew’s part of a four person alliance.
  • George tells Cara not to tell anyone about her idol.
  • Reward Challenge time:
    JLP discusses George having friends and Andrew being surprised.
    Two teams of three will remove poles that they will use to get over a balance beam, retrieve sandbags, and go across a mudpit. They have to then attach a basket to each pole and land the sandbags into them.
    The reward is an Italian feast away from camp.
    (When they mentioned the tiramisu, Cara said “that’s my one”, which I thought was an odd turn of phrase to use. Unless she enjoys tiramisu that’s been sitting out in the outback sun.)
    One person has to sit out, but can bet on the result and join the winners for the reward if they bet correctly.
    They draw rocks. Green rocks, white rocks, and one red rock.
    (Did I start to write in all caps about the red rock before clocking that it’s the Italian flag, or did I just make that up for no reason? Who’s to say.)
    Cara peeks at her theme coloured rock early and has the red rock.
    Green team is Andrew, George, and Hayley. White team is Dani, Wai, and Flick.
    Cara bets on White.
    Again we have Andrew’s team lifting Andrew to get the poles off a high shelf, and the opposing team lifting a light female. Wai gets the poles off first.
    Both teams are pretty evenly matched and trade the lead throughout the challenge.
    Dani lands two sandbags. Andrew lands one, and then a second.
    Dani gets her third and the White team wins.
    (“Girls rule!”)
  • At the reward, Dani and Flick propose a women’s alliance.
    Dani tells Wai that George told her he overheard her and Hayley talking at the well and saying they would vote out Dani next.
    Wai denies this.
    Cara has a face as the others discuss George. She chimes in to say that he does like chaos.
    Dani says to Cara that she needs to start playing her own game and not George’s.
    Cara says she has played her own game, and they’ve just had each other’s backs. Apparently sometimes she has said to George that she doesn’t want to be a part of one of his plans and he shouldn’t tell her about it. That’s not a great defense. She also says that George is the only person who has consistently told her the truth. That is a good point to make.
  • We get an extended shot of birds doing stuff. (I couldn’t tell what they were doing other than flying around.)
  • At camp Hayley reassures George and Cara she’s 100% solid.
    Those three have a discussion about Wai and how she makes decisions, and how to manage talking strategy with her.
    They want to vote out Andrew.
    Wai comes over and they ask her what she thinks. George immediately starts to leap in, but Cara tells him to shush and let Wai talk.
    Wai’s preference is to vote out Flick; she’s protective of Andrew over Dani and Flick.
  • Dani, Andrew, and Flick chat at the water well and Andrew’s still hell-bent on voting George out. Apparently the only thing stopping George from winning would be Andrew winning every immunity challenge.
  • Immunity challenge time:

    They must stand on planks while holding a ring-shaped handle above their head that keeps the planks in place. Let go of the handle and you’ll fall into the water and out of the challenge.
    (“That necklace will not lie to you.”)
    Flick jokes about the pasta making her heavier, and Hayley not being at the reward means she’s still light.
    Between two and fifteen minutes into the challenge, Cara drops. Then Wai drops.
    After 45 minutes, JLP is surprised George is still hanging on when there’s no food reward.
    George says he’s still in danger, but soon after that insult/conversation he drops. Then Dani drops.
    After an hour and a half, they have to only use one hand to hold the handle.
    After trying her best, Flick drops. Shortly afterwards, Andrew drops.
    This means Hayley wins her second individual immunity.
  • George is okay with this. Andrew makes excuses for not winning.
  • Andrew, Dani, and Flick decide to vote for George and to try to bring Wai in with them.
  • George wants to convince Wai to vote for Andrew.
    So George lies to Cara, Hayley, and Wai, and says that Andrew wants to get Wai out and is freely talking about it.
    Cara isn’t convinced at first, but it seems like they believe him.
  • There’s an odd change in filming style for some sexy slow shots of Flick emerging from the water and Hayley carrying a large branch.
  • Wai ponders what to do.
  • Andrew, Dani, and Flick talk at the water well while George listens in. He discovers they don’t have an idol, and Andrew says they probably won’t find one.
  • Wai isn’t sure George is telling the truth about Andrew. She weighs up the reasons to vote for, and to not vote for, each of them.
  • Tribal Council time:
    There’s something weird, of course.
    It’s cylinders with animal skulls on them. Sorry, urns.
    There’s four urns, and one has a “Saved” scroll inside it. Whoever is voted out gets to choose one to smash. If it’s empty, they go home, if they get the scroll, they’re saved.
    (Honestly, that’s surprisingly simple. When JLP was emphasising “luck”, I was thinking it was going to mess with the votes.)
    Two of the seven people sitting there have already been voted out and come back, and no-one’s really that fussed by the new twist.
    Dani makes a pitch that the four in the majority should think about their individual game, the end game, and the numbers. She pitches herself as a number.
    She says to Wai that they haven’t written each other’s names down because they respect each other and could work together.
    Wai’s been quite clear that she’s open to the best options to help her future game.
    It’s kind of funny watching Flick talk to the four about how they’re staying strong but will have to eventually pick each other off considering how Brawn strong she was post-merge.
    She points out herself and Andrew are also numbers.
    JLP says to Andrew that if he is voted out George will be the last man standing. Andrew says George has been open about playing his own game, and that sometimes in the wild it’s the unpredictable animal in the herd that survives. I’d like some sources on this, but I am pleasantly surprised that Andrew didn’t address that comment (even if it might have been because that would be a sore point for him).
    Dani says that if Andrew is voted out it just means that the girls alliance has come together and George is next, which is a great comment.
    George emphasises often coming fifth in challenges.
    Before the vote, Dani reminds us that you should test your ship out at sea instead of just in the harbour.
    The votes come out and Cara doesn’t play her idol.
    A vote for Flick appears, along with two votes for George, and four votes for Andrew.
    This means Andrew (who voted for Flick to try to save himself) gets to smash an urn.
    He is not saved.

Episode 20 (Assistant Dragon Slayer)

  • On a personal note, my heart’s not 100% into recapping right now. I vacationed in Lake Tahoe just a few weeks ago (that’s why I didn’t recap any of Week 1), getting there and back via Highway 50 (which is itself beautiful), and all of this is just heartbreaking.
  • Well, we’re certainly making up for lost time in terms of getting Wai’s perspective on things. George manipulating Wai into voting for Andrew (although it may have made sense for her anyway) seems to be the last straw for her.
  • Nope, back to business as usual with George and his boastful confessionals, although I have to admit this “Now I’m the alpha male!” stuff is pretty funny.
  • Dani is still looking to go Girl Power to the end with Flick, Hayley, and Wai.
  • Immunity Challenge: Race across a water-based obstacle course collecting balls, land two balls in a net at the end. Flick should have a big advantage. Wai gives up immediately and George gives up at the first obstacle, which involves jumping off a tower that looks about five meters high. Of all the recurring Survivor challenges, this would be the most intimidating to me. On the other hand, it’s not as high as the Tower of Terror, and if you’re going on Australian Survivor you should expect to have to do a terrifying dive. Flick gets to the final pontoon first, but Dani is the first to land two balls in the net. George is disappoint.
  • I imagine people will pile on Wai and George for giving up, and it a particularly bad look for George given that he’s perennially on the chopping block. And it compares very unfavorably to Monika and Sarah at least trying in previous seasons. All that said, though, 1) I don’t know what production could do to force them to continue since they technically they didn’t refuse to participate, and 2) I’m surprised this doesn’t way more often on Survivor when you have absolutely no chance of winning the challenge. The optics are worse in this case, but it’s basically the same as a beefy guy whose usually a challenge threat immediately climbing down in a pole challenge.
  • With Dani immune and the four brains having stuck together the previous vote, Flick is the obvious target, but Dani intends to protect her. George notes that the urns (which now give the person booted a 1:3 chance of returning) don’t really affect strategy. I know production had to improvise something after Chelsea’s medevac, but this solution doesn’t create any new complications or options, and whoever is saved seems certain to just go the next episode unless they win immunity. Even bringing back Redemption Rock seems like a better way to go.
  • George: “SURVIVOR IS A GAME OF LOYALTY AND TRUST” ????????????????????????????????????
  • There’s a great deal of back-and-forth, but the situation is pretty simple: will Hayley and Wai side with George and Cara or with Dani and Flick? George/Cara and Dani/Flick uniting temporarily to eliminate Hayley or Wai (who I’ve heard is getting a lot of respect at Jury Villa) doesn’t seem to be on the table at all.
  • Hayley again explains her strategic options. It’s really only notable for the fact that we see her wearing three different sets of clothing in what is supposedly one confessional. Do it voice-over, editors!
  • Tribal Council: With so few players left and the lines drawn so strongly, there’s really nothing anybody can say at this point to drastically change things. Flick of course says the Brains need to turn on each other eventually. George of course is preaching unity. Dani tries to rattle George by saying that Hayley and Wai approached her, not the other way around. Wai says that conversations don’t mean anything, only votes, and that having a conversation can also be a misdirect. Both Wai and Hayley say that the possibility of someone returning changes the calculus, but I don’t see how. Just take your shot, and if your target comes back, you have the votes already lined up (assuming they don’t win immunity).
  • Cara plays her idol for herself. The votes come in George, George, Felicity, Flick, Flic, and Flick. Her urn contains the save scroll. She’s back in the game.

Episode 21 (Barbara Anderson)

  • Before the proper recap, I want to apologize on the delay. I had a headache and just could not concentrate on writing a recap, so I had to wait until today. Sorry!
  • It’s a rainy Day 42, which is a first this season. The tribe seems to be enjoying the peace and smells of the rain, until Dani mentions that it adds a new element to the game and ruins the mood. This rain also becomes the start of the running theme of “the literal storm matches the metaphorical storm of our game” for the first half of the episode.
  • After the rain, Dani and Flick head to the well to scheme how to get back into power. Flick is just happy to be here after voted out. They theorize that their scheme last episode didn’t work because they didn’t want to deal with a cross George if he got back in (which I could see as a highly likely possibility). Dani still wants George out, so their only shot is go back after Hayley and Wai now that those stupid Big Brother reject urns are gone. They also say that Cara playing her idol was stupid.
  • George also agrees with that sentiment. That idol play along with Flick not going home were the hitches in his plan from last episode. He is worried that the idol will break up the majority, so a meeting is had. Cara fully admits that she was scared and paranoid by the urns. Everyone seems to get it and move along, but George is worried that this will be the crack to break them up.
  • Time for Reward Challenge. The mat talk is of the storm and Flick’s second chance. The challenge is for the castaways to race out and collect bags. Inside the bags are sticks and strings. You must then make a long pole to grab a key to unlock a net to swing (think the Jailbreak challenge but vertical). The first person to land 5 balls while the net is swinging wins a trip to the Tylenol Outbreak Retreat (note: Tylenol helped some with my headache, so I will try to view this reward objectively). The winners get the chance to eat chocolate and cheese, take a shower, get in the Jacuzzi, and sleep in a bed. Really, it becomes Dani vs Flick vs Hayley with George eventually giving up to Dani’s annoyance. I did not like the end of this challenge because what counted as a spin seemed nebulous at best. It might have worked better if the net could be swung instead of spun. Anyway, Dani wins and gets to pick two others. She picks Flick and Hayley (which are the two correct picks), which causes George to say at the mat “what a blunder” and worry some more about his alliance.
  • Let’s go to the reward! It is very odd to see something that seems to be a spa reward without other people to give massages, but I guess those are the times we live in. Dani notes that she is the Queen of Rewards, but wants to make sure that Hayley feels like a Queen with her. Flick and Dani start to work on Hayley to go with them and target George. Flick mentions that she does not want George and Cara at the ned. Hayley admits that is a problem that will need to be taken care of. The next morning, Hayley says that she is in. Dani is happy that despite all of their issues (including saying that they voted each other out, which is not correct unless she is including Flick in that), she is able to play with Hayley, who she respects. I will say that I appreciate the restraint by Production to not give George a confessional during this segment about how he is stuck at camp and hates Cara’s idol play.
  • Back at camp, George says that he is relying on his strategy to get ahead, not food, but acknowledges Hayley might flip because you know, the reward is not just about food. I learned that from Survivor: Cambodia.
  • Everyone is reunited at the mat for the Immunity Challenge. Dani does her best Stefon impression to describe the reward, while George ruins the mood by bragging about his camp experience. The immunity challenge is an obstacle course that ends in a word puzzle, so I will spare the details of the actual challenge and just say that Wai wins because it ends in a puzzle. That being said, Wai destroyed the word puzzle because apparently she could hear everybody else figuring out the bottom half while she was stuck at the shuffleboard portion (why was this challenge this long?).  Despite that, she figured out “guaranteed” apparently fairly quickly
  • The end of the immunity segment along with the beginning of the post-immunity scramble is focused on Wai, so I just want to say that she just seems like a lovely person. She also has to be one of the best puzzlers on all versions of Survivor . Admittedly half of this cast thought that Survivor was spelled Surviver, but still, she is strong there. Because of this as well as her personality, I hate that she felt like she did not deserve to be there. You do deserve to be there, Wai, and I am glad that you have found someone you want to work with in Hayley.
  • Flick and Dani noticed Wai’s newfound confidence and want to use that to take out George. They are proposing a 2-2-2 split between George, Cara, and their target. They are worried about Hayley, who Dani calls the Flipper. They discuss their vote split idea with Hayley and Wai. Hayley is perhaps a bit too excited to write George’s name down. Dani is excited.
  • The Brains meet up to see where Hayley is. Hayley says that she is with them. The Brains decide to split their vote, but George is worried about Hayley. Everyone decides to idol hunt except for Wai and Hayley. Hayley is happy because she is in the middle and in control, which is her desired position. Meanwhile, Flick finds the idol in a spot close where George was minutes before. Dani is stoked. This idol is only good for two tribals.
  • Hayley wants control and is stuck between going after George or Dani. She talks with Wai and they don’t know. George is nervous about Hayley. Flick is nervous about playing the idol, but she plans on holding onto it. Hayley promises a fun tribal.
  • It’s time for tribal. Wai is just ecstatic about winning immunity. Laura and Emmett appeared to be excited for her as well, which has to be an indicator that she liked on that jury. Dani is worried because she has no protection. According to George, both Flick and Dani are threatening solely because of their challenge abilities and not because of Flick’s heartbreaking story or Dani’s predilection for trying to create chaos. Cara is worried that Hayley has flipped again. George talks about how he is worried about Hayley. Flick mentions that George gave up on the Reward Challenge, which an unsubtle but strong move to this particular jury made up of professionally active people who will probably value challenge abilities highly.  George doesn’t care about this because he feels like his strategy will be his saving grace. Dani mentions that you need to be adaptable out here and not just rely on one thing. Both George and Hayley say that their votes are about their future, but Hayley brings up that she does flip sometimes.
  • Time to vote. Flick does not play her idol. We get a vote for Cara, a vote for Dani, a vote for Cara, a vote vote for Dani (thanks to CatskillSurvivor for catching this!) and then two votes for Flick. On revote, there are only two votes shown for Dani. Dani mentions that she will have her eyes peeled for Hayley because while she will not forgive what she did, she does respect her game.
  • As we enter the last week of the season, taking out Dani makes a lot of sense. She is not only a challenge threat, but she is more apt to create chaos than Flick. I will say that Dani added some fun chaos to this season, even if she was a bit too focused on taking out the alphas, who could have been good for her. I think it was particularly a great move for Hayley, because Dani was arguably the biggest threat left on her potential path to victory. She can see that George and Cara aren’t going to be much challenge competition for her. I don’t know if she wins or not, but I think she is positioned well. She just has to outplay Flick’s inevitable idol play on Sunday’s episode and hope that Flick doesn’t win Immunity at 4, because if Flick gets to the end,  then she probably wins. I cannot wait to find out.