Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders Episodes 19-20 “Dead Man Walking”

Shane gets salty, Monika’s swing-vote maneuvering is sweet, Steve’s game turns sour, and the jury becomes increasingly bitter.

Episode 19

  • Sharn is gobsmacked that she’s still in the game (so say we all). Brian tells Shonella that the Ducks are in position to get rid of a Champion no matter who wins immunity. This sounds like he’s trying to Jedi mind trick them into forgetting that he and Monika flipped on them not an hour earlier, but in confessional it seems like Brian’s being sincere.
  • Massive OTTP for Shane early on: Is this her boot episode, or is she about to lay the smack down on some fools?
  • Shane wants to get rid of one of Shonella to undermine Brian, and then get rid of Brian himself. Brian wants to get rid of Steve. Monika is clearly the swing vote.
  • The immunity challenge is another balance and endurance test. Who has a solid Tree Pose, basically. This presumably favors Monika a lot and maybe Steve a little. But in fact Shonee outlasts Monika.
  • It’s a brand-new twist: Dead Man Walking. The top vote-getter stays in the game but can’t vote in the next two tribals. It’s not immediately clear to me what the point of this is other than to add an episode to the season (which may be the point). I don’t see why either side would switch their target this round, or why it would affect Monika’s decision-making. And it likely removes all the suspense from the next round if the Dead Man loses the immunity challenge.
  • Monika’s crying-without-tears game is STRONG.
  • The female Ducks want to target Shane instead of Steve. This annoys the hell out of Brian, but he knows he can only push so far or risk losing Monika.
  • At tribal council, Sharn says the Dead Man Walking twist is huge because it’s an opportunity to neutralize a threat. You know what another way to neutralize a threat is? Voting them out!
  • I’m delighted that “Shonella” is now canon.
  • Steve makes it abundantly clear that he’s simply offended that Shonella are still in the game. Shonee whispers to Brian that maybe they should get rid of Steve after all, but I don’t see how they could signal a switch to Monika with Steve and Shane in between them them.
  • And yet somehow they did it seems. I wonder if that was really a live vote, or just editing trickery.
  • Monika’s gameplay was flat-out great this episode. Too bad the edit is still leaning on the “pageant girl in over her head” stuff (in fairness, Shane’s line about “I can’t believe my future in the game of Survivor is in the hands of Miss Universe” was too good to cut).

Episode 20

  • With nobody getting eliminated in the previous episode, Monika remains the swing vote. The Champions have basically no option but to try to get Monika back, although as Steve noted, why would she willingly swing into a 3-3 tie?
  • Hot take: Is Monika the Australian, conventionally beautiful Hannah Shapiro? Like Hannah, she’s making all the right moves on paper, but her tearful wishy-washiness could end up turning off the very people who will soon be handing out the half-mil. The way she immediately and enthusiastically says yes to every pitch, and then does the completely self-interested thing regardless, could result in all the blame for “backstabbing” sticking to her and all the credit for “strategy” going to someone else, as happened with Hannah.
  • Dead Man Walking Steve is sent to Exile Beach. Remember back when some of us thought production was rigging the game in favor of the Champions?
  • Mmmm… Indian food must be mind-blowing on Day 40. Monika conspicuously screwed up in the challenge, but it wouldn’t have mattered, since Shonee neglected to set the second number.
  • Shane has a point about the threat Shonella are starting to pose as, in essence, a double vote, but Brian is being completely rational here: His top priority is getting out Steve, and if Steve wins immunity and makes that impossible, he should get rid of one of Sharn or Shane. I’m not sure why that’s such a revelation to Shane.
  • It’s incredibly annoying how Steve, for now completely powerless and banished to Exile Beach, gets the hero music/edit, while Monika, for now the most powerful person in the game (albeit awful in the challenge), gets the dodo music/edit.
  • JLP has a lot to learn from Probst about calling a balls-and-poles challenge. Steve is in the lead for virtually the entire challenge, but Brian cleverly watches where Steve’s ball lands on his first attempt and repositions his own bucket accordingly. Brian wins immunity.
  • The Ducks sensibly plan to split the vote between Steve and Sharn in case there was an idol at Exile Beach. But it does mean that if Monika defects, it results in someone getting booted rather than a 3-3 tie. Sharn works Monika and Steve works Brian. They’re not wrong to bring up the looming threat of Shonella and the fact that Brian becomes the big target it Steve goes, but I just think the logic of the situation is too much to overcome.
  • Shane I love you, but Day 42 is long past time to stop complaining about people being lazy around camp and not having any real survival skills.
  • Yup, the Dead Man Walking twist merely delayed the inevitable, and Steve joins a jury that could very well be one of the most bitter in Survivor history no matter who makes it to the end.