Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders Episodes 11-12 “Save or Send”

On the Canberra tribe, Malcolm was voted off the island, blindsided by his ally Scott. Meanwhile, back on Fiji, things are about to get switched up….

Episode 11

  • Pre-credits, we’re reminded of how the alliances break down on each tribe. This can only mean….
  • …a tribe swap! There’s actually not a ton of mixing–Sharn, Monika, and Lydia go to nü-Contenders; Shonee and Tegan go to nü-Champions. Tegan is upset about switching; Jackie is upset about NOT switching.
  • It’s a bit weird to swap at 15, and to disadvantage nü-Contenders by making it the smaller tribe (although I guess production had no way of knowing that both tribes would stay mostly intact). I think they were planning to swap at 14 but decided they couldn’t let original Contenders shrink further.
  • Having lost two of his closest allies, Mat knows he’s now in a more precarious position numbers-wise. Meanwhile, Jackie realizes she has a new lease on life in the game if she can pull in the newcomers.
  • Lydia bonds with Robbie and Benji (and again it’s strange how Heath is always left out of this sort of thing) because she wants the physically strong players to unite after the merge and Pagong the “mediocre people”. It’s a weird combination of one-dimensional thinking and long-term planning.
  • The immunity challenge is pairs of tribemates holding up a block with their feet (more evidence that swapping at an odd number was an audible). I guess we’ll find out who’s been doing Pilates on the beach.
  • Both tribes pair up their two strongest players, and once Commando Steve drops out a Lydia/Robbie win for the Contenders seems inevitable, although the Shonee/Shane pair puts up an impressive fight.
  • After the challenge, Robbie whispers to Mat he’s “on board”. This must mean that Mat and Lydia had concocted a plan earlier to unite all of the physically strong players on both tribes.
  • Mat assumes it’s a simple matter of the original Champions picking one of Tegan or Shonee to send home. Meanwhile, Jackie tells Shonee that the original Champions plan to split the vote between the two newcomers, so she should vote Tegan to save herself. This is not in line with what Jackie was saying before about getting the newcomers on side, but she did notice Mat and Tegan bonding earlier, so maybe she doesn’t trust Tegan.
  • Nor should she. Tegan tells Mat that Jackie was trying to pull her and Shonee in and was talking about throwing the challenge. This pisses Mat off. I’m not exactly sure what Tegan is trying to accomplish by playing both sides when she herself is in so much trouble, but if she’s trying to sow chaos by leveraging the original Champions’ mateship against them, good for her.
  • And it seems to work! Mat confers with Commando Steve and they decide the top priority is to break up Jackie and Brian, and deal with Tegan and Shonee later. But for some reason, Mat thinks he needs to get Shane on side. Isn’t Mat/Steve/Sam plus Tegan/Shonee a majority?
  • Ah, I get it. By bringing in Shane (which is a good thing in and of itself), he has four original-Champions votes for Jackie and can, therefore, tell Shonee and Tegan to vote Brian just in case they go running to the other side.
  • “Jackie, if you were a betting woman….” Jonathan is getting good at this!
  • Ironically, it was ultimately Jackie, and not Mat, who paid the price for simply assuming that original-Champions would just stick together.

Episode 12

  • Sharn, presumably the most vulnerable of the ex-Champions, wants to seize the initiative. She bonds with Benji, but not for protection, or even to form a Denise/Malcolm-esque stealth pair, but to knock him off and take over the tribe. I like it.
  • It’s spelled “clique” not “click”, Australian Survivor subtitle writer.
  • Now that Shane is in the Champions sub-alliance she’s tasked with playing double agent, Ben Driebergen-style. And Shane’s no dummy: she knows that being in an alliance of four within a tribe of seven, with carte blanche to bond with the other side, gives her tons of options.  
  • Brian wears Jackie’s clothing to the reward challenge. I just so happen to be re-watching Survivor Fiji, and this is something Rocky did once. He is just about the last player you should emulate.
  • The reward challenge is the one where you hold onto a rope and angle your body back, but this time it’s head-to-head. Tall people with lots of mass are at a severe disadvantage in this, regardless of grip strength. A woman, and usually the oldest woman in the game, has won this challenge every single time on US Survivor. Neither tribe plays this intelligently, but nevertheless, you don’t need Heath, for example, to last very long, you just need him to last longer than Brian. It’s worth noting that Fenella was by far the best at this. Contenders win although they should have been automatically disqualified for sidelining Lydia.
  • Benji finds the idol in the dead of night, with an assist from low tide and a three-quarters moon. Sharn got up and tended the fire, but it’s not clear if she saw him.
  • The immunity challenge is a standard Survivor obstacle course+puzzle. The winning tribe gets to observe tribal council. A gear puzzle doesn’t seem all that hard if the “gears” are all the same diameter, and one tribe getting to watch the other’s tribal council doesn’t seem like that big a deal this close to the merge.
  • Sam is no match for Heath in either cart-dragging (understandable) or puzzle-solving (not so understandable). Was I wrong to assume the Champions would never throw an immunity challenge?
  • When Tegan and Shonee “go on a water run,” Sam reiterates that the plan is to split the vote between them–three on Tegan, two on Shonee. Mat doubts if Brian can be trusted. Brian does in fact offer to join up with Tegan and Shonee. Now if the OG Champions are really splitting votes, then his, Tegan, and Shonee’s votes should be enough for a 3-2-2 plurality. But he gets greedy and tries to pull Shane in to get a simple 4-3 majority. Too bad she’s a double agent.
  • Tegan and Shonee feel out Mat but get nowhere. They then approach Shane and propose throwing Brian under the bus by having Shane drop a dime on Brian with Mat. This is a win-win for Shane since she’s supposed to be reporting back to Mat anyway.
  • Sadly for my rooting interests, I think this is all episode-filler. For Mat, ultimately there’s more post-merge risk with Tegan still in the game than with Brian still in the game.
  • At tribal council, Tegan tries to both throw Brian under the bus and urge him to flip. It’s possible that neither of these moves would have worked, but attempting at the same time is definitely a non-starter. Brian sticks with the plan, and Tegan is voted out 3-2-2.
  • But wait, there’s a twist! I was wondering why Jonathan was reading the votes with eight minutes left.
  • Ah, this is why the Contenders get to watch tribal. They have the option of saving Tegan. They’re still majority original Contenders, they should do it, but I think Robbie and Benji are going to be stupid.
  • Well, Shonee, Heath and Fenella better hope for a merge at 13.