Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders Episodes 1-2 “Time to Start Playing, Ladies”

“We just did.”

This season of Australian Survivor is going to be tougher than a $2 steak to cover properly. If you haven’t heard already, next week Network Ten will be airing four, count ‘em, four episodes over four nights (August 6-9). Now that CBS is more directly involved in the making of Australian Survivor, I wonder if the Aussies are under orders to wrap up Champions vs. Contenders before David vs. Goliath premieres on September 26.

Last season I found that when it comes to recapping Australian Survivor, it’s far more important to be timely than to be thorough. With that in mind, I’m changing my approach this season. I’ll be posting my show notes bullet-point style (kind of the way AV Club now covers US Survivor) as quickly as I can (2-3 episodes at a time so I don’t clog the front page) and letting you lovely people have at it in the comments section.

The flip side of this is that I’d ask you to be careful about spoiling future episodes and use the spoiler tag liberally (and really, you should probably just wait until the recap of the episode you want to talk about goes up). This is particularly important in situations like next week when my recap of episodes 3-4 might not go up until after episode 5 airs.

Episode 1

  • It’s understandable that the show would focus on the Champions at the very start of the season, but I hope the Challengers don’t get purpled in the very first episode.
  • Ten minutes in and I already want Anita to go all the way.
  • Lol. Jonathan is busting Russell’s chops right from the jump. “Oh really? What makes you a champion?” GOOD QUESTION!
  • The Locky’s Bum memorial challenge, but for supplies. This is genius.
  • Did you literally stand up and applaud when Shane demolished someone well less than half her age? If not, why are you an unfeeling monster?
  • ”I’m going to (hunt for the idol) in a very subtle and stealthy way” says the oddball in white eyeglasses and a purple Hawaiian shirt.
  • Matt the cop looks just like Ricky Gervais as David Brent in The Office.
  • So we have three athletic alpha males per tribe (Mat, Brian, and Commando Steve on Champions; Zach, Robbie, and Heath on Contenders). What’s the over/under on the number of days until they’re dying of starvation and/or at each other’s throats? Seven?
  • Sam and Monika are going to have such beautiful, brilliant babies.
  • This reward challenge is also cool: obstacle course, battering ram, puzzle, throwing things at things. In contrast, the tribal immunity idol looks like production plucked a fire-damaged vase from a dumpster and decorated it with Jolly Ranchers.
  • Steve K called Jonathan “Jeff” at tribal council!
  • Good Lord, I haven’t seen anyone dig their own grave like this since The Sopranos.
  • For all the talk of “stick to the plan”, there’s no way to know whether Matt was really the primary target going into tribal, or whether he managed to flip votes onto himself. But it’s worth noting that Zach, Heath, and Paige all indicated before tribal that they were voting Steve K (Zach emphatically so), but in fact voted Matt.

Episode 2

  • I wish I had a funny joke about the Contenders men getting naked for no reason, but I just don’t. It’s interesting that Heath the Giant doesn’t participate. He probably doesn’t want to humiliate the others.
  • Shane has a pretty good touch as a social player, bonding with the others by getting them to talk about their accomplishments. Shane’s are the most impressive of all, but also the furthest in the past of course, and good for her for not launching into back-in-my-day stories.
  • I think it’s a mistake for Russell to reveal his idol. What purpose does this serve other than to let him rub their faces in it? He’s already the obvious target. If he had kept the idol under wraps, the other Contenders might have been sloppy in attempting to vote him out, now they know to be super-sneaky about it.
  • The reward challenge is sumo at sea. The Contenders jump out to an early lead, then get smoked. They just have no answer for the professional athletes on the other tribe (except Shane).
  • Moana spy-shacks Russell!
  • The immunity challenge is a water obstacle course but on a much larger scale than on US Survivor. The dive off the tower is genuinely terrifying.
  • I wonder if Sam deliberately slow-rolled the buoy untying. If Moana put together a challenge throw, he would be a logical person to conspire with. Gentle giant Heath finds the right touch to sink free throws from what seems like an impossible angle.
  • Wow, none of the Champions are buying what Russell’s selling.
  • Sam the genius astrophysicist doesn’t seem to understand how idol flushes work.
  • Tribal council does not seem to be going Russell’s way. I wonder if his hubris will prevent him from playing his idol.
  • “You’ve played the game and never won, mate. Maybe go home and review it and try again.”