Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders Episodes 13-14 “Workout Ethi-fick-kissie”

The merge, finally. I think one of the structural weaknesses of Australian Survivor is that the merge happens with roughly the same number of people and days remaining as in US Survivor, meaning that it’s really only the pre-merge that’s super-sized. Maybe it would be a little awkward to merge at 14 or 16, but I don’t see why it isn’t worth trying.

Episode 13

The show spends a lot of early going reinforcing the status quo. Shonee appears to be doomed on the Champions tribe, as do Heath and Fenella on the Contenders. Benji is of course chuffed at having gotten rid of the “queen.”

  • Heath hatches a plan to talk the ex-Champions women into turning on Robbie, arguing that Robbie could go on an immunity run post-merge. Fenella pitches a women’s alliance plus Heath. Wow, all of this is so desperate.
  • Fenella gives what sounds like one continuous confessional, but is shown in two entirely different outfits and hairstyles. Rare sloppy work by the AU Survivor editors.
  • At the end of that franken-confessional, Fenella strangely says “game on, moles!” Apparently that’s a well-known reality-show trope in Australia, as familiar as “I didn’t come here to make friends” in the US. The more you know.
  • The immunity challenge is way early this episode. That must mean lots of pre-tribal scrambling. Maybe this won’t be a rote boot of a Contender after all.
  • Dragging, throwing things at things, puzzle. I’m going to be watching Sam closely for signs that he’s throwing the challenge.
  • Looked like it for a while, but guess not. Fenella and Sharn couldn’t find the “WAS” because they mistook the W for an M.
  • Benji and Sharn promise to work together, but both seem transparently insincere. Then the Champions women lament that they’re in the minority, but Heath tells them he’s not allied with Benji and Robbie and would be happy to join with them. Why is this news to them? Heath had been allied with Tegan, and Fenella previously told them Heath was a “sweetheart” whose vote was up for grabs.
  • Much to my surprise, this appears to be working. Sharn and Monika are suddenly keen to topple Robbie, and they all realize that they can’t count on Lydia’s vote. This is, unbeknownst to them, a very good move given the whole “unite the strong” post-merge alliance plan that they aren’t part of. Working around Lydia will be tough, though.
  • If they shift the target from Heath to Robbie, it would parallel how the post-swap Champions spared Tegan for one round in order to get rid of Jackie.
  • And it was Heath after all. A lot of sound and fury (and rain) just to wind up with what was one of the most likely outcomes to this episode going in.
  • So the ex-Champions were just stringing Heath along then. But why bother? The three ex-Champions plus Robbie and Benji had an unbreakable majority.
  • For some reason everyone gets a kick out of Jonathan’s “Amateurs play the game; experts play the players” line. I think Jonathan had that in the chamber expecting a Robbie blindside.

Episode 14

  • Mat seems stunned that Heath, rather than one of the ex-Champions women, was voted out. I’m not sure why, since as Sam implies, the save-or-send vote made it clear that Robbie and Benji switched sides and joined with the ex-Champion women.
  • And we’re merged, and it’s the Survivor Auction straight away. This seems very early for the auction, but (checks Wikipedia) they did it right after the merge in Season 1 too.
  • I just thought of this, but having the auction at the merge means there’s no merge feast. This discourages waiting for the covered items and bidding everything on them, which is what broke the auction in US Survivor.
  • In theory, making people decide whether to share with Shane or not should be more interesting than simply giving Luke one of everything. In practice, though, there’s really no upside to not sharing. Maybe there would be if someone like Brian or Robbie were in that chair.
  • I had a feeling there would be a clue in the lollies, and there was. It’s almost as if production heard our complaints about Tara’s jar of lollies last season.
  • It’s interesting that we’re hearing so much from Shane. She has arguably the most options of anybody at this point, but also a seemingly safe path to losing finalist, so it’s great that she’s not settling for that.
  • Oh snap! Mat says the plan all along was to simply Pagong any remaining Contenders after the merge, and that he questions Lydia’s loyalty for promising to bring Robbie and Benji on board. This puts everything Lydia was saying on Contenders beach in a new and somewhat better light, and reveals Mat as the one-dimensional thinker.
  • Mat reiterates that his alliance is with Steve, Sam, Lydia, Sharn, and Shane, but that he doesn’t trust Brian, so he needs to hold him close. A better player would use Robbie and Benji temporarily as numbers to get rid of Shonella and Brian in some order, then cut them loose.
  • Shonee’s advantage is the vote steal. But according to the fine print she has to announce that she’s going to use it before the vote and specify who’s vote she’s stealing. I don’t think this is how it’s worked in the past.
  • The pole challenge. Maybe this will be a lifeline for Fenella, but you’d really have to bet heavily on Lydia.
  • Shane, Monika, and Brian bail out almost immediately on a challenge that typically takes hours and they almost certainly can’t win. Then they conspire on the bench. I don’t know why both those things don’t happen more often on Survivor.
  • Uh-oh, now Shane’s proposing a Lydia blindside to Mat and Steve. This is an overreach, both because those two are absolutely loyal to Lydia and because it sure looks like Lydia will be immune this round. Big target on Shane now.
  • Now even the other contestants are making Terminator jokes about Lydia.
  • Holy shit: Mat really does want to blindside Lydia! And it’s Sam that’s arguing for Champions Strong!
  • Holy shit!!!
  • At tribal council, judging by Lydia’s facial expressions, I don’t think she was listening closely to what Mat was saying, but once Shane started talking Big Movez she realized her goose might be cooked.
  • Getting rid of Lydia is the right idea at the wrong time. Sam and Sharn have a point that there are still too many Contenders left (even if Robbie and Benji are under control for now), Lydia isn’t going to win nine immunity challenges in a row, and I think Mat is going to regret not having Lydia as a meat shield. Not to mention that Lydia: Challenge Beast was glorious to watch. But it leaves the Champions in chaos and the game wide open, which is fantastic.