Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders Episodes 9-10 “Left-Wing Women Just Don’t Get On With Me”

(Editor’s note: ADS didn’t include patter to fill this space this week, so…how’s it going, guys? What Netflix show are you most excited about right now?)

Episode 9

  • On Exile Beach, Anita and Tegan compare notes (like maybe they should have before) and figure out that Benji lied to the girls to get them to vote Tegan out.
  • I love the Exile Beach challenge. It has the split-focus, time-management aspects of the combination puzzle/pinball challenge, but it’s more kinetic, with the added element of players interfering with each other directly. Tegan is in trouble briefly when her nearly complete tower collapses spontaneously, but she manages to just barely win.
  • When watching challenges, I habitually start thinking of ways to game the system: Can you scoop up an armload of blocks at a time? Can you just keep the ball and turn it into a simple race to build the tower?
  • Back at camp, Tegan is understandably salty about getting voted out. I don’t think immediately confronting the entire tribe while she’s still emotional is a great idea, but she smartly leaves to “get water” and let the pot boil.
  • The immunity challenge is a mash-up of familiar challenge elements, but ultimately it comes down to the vertical maze on a Swiss-cheese like board, used as recently as Survivor Triple-H. But this time, two people have to maneuver the ropes, making it way more difficult. Zach and Robbie are no match for Sam and Jackie, even though Jackie blew it right at the end one time.
  • So I guess it comes down to whether the Contenders go down the path of least resistance and vote out Tegan again, or whether Tegan can leverage the girls’ resentment at being lied to to send one of the douchebags out (Benji probably but maybe Zach).
  • Benji is spewing BS in all directions now. None of the individual lies seem very plausible, but simply muddying the waters so thoroughly that people can’t trust Tegan’s story may be enough to save his skin. What relevance this may or may not have to the real world in 2018 is left as an exercise for the reader.
  • At tribal council, Benji is drowning and nobody, least of all Jonathan, throws him a rope. But he pulls Zach into the muck and it works! Zach goes full Giuliani and says hey everybody lies, who cares? Truth isn’t truth! Tegan absolutely dunks on him (and Fenella sinks three-pointers from downtown).
  • This is Zach in a nutshell. He’s smart enough to realize he and not Benji is probably the target. He then makes the challenge-strength argument for keeping him, which is his best and only argument. But in the process he manages to call the girls stupid. And then he directly blames their lack of physical strength relative to the Champions’ girls for the challenge losses. He’s not wrong, exactly, but damn, dude, you’re trying to get them not to vote you out, remember?
  • For the last time until the reunion: Urgh, Zach.

Episode 10

  • At the Champions camp (when was the last time we were here?), Commando Steve meditates and monologues on Eastern philosophy, alienating his tribemates, especially salt-of-the-earth-type Brian. Which is weird, given that I was still having a hard time telling them apart.
  • The Champions have apparently split into a faction led by Jackie (she’s been busy!) and one led by Mat. Jackie claims to have Brian and Shane, and she seems to be in a tug of war with Mat for Monika. But even with Monika, wouldn’t the Jackie side still be down 4-5?
  • Over at the Contenders, the girls are gleefully dancing on Zach’s grave. Benji and Robbie are smart to pile on. They get treemail saying that production doesn’t expect them to ever win a reward challenge. No, actually it says that this episode is 10 minutes short and they need more material. OK, fine: there’s a treasure chest hidden at camp (the other two things are just implied). They get their mementos from home.
  • Reward is nachos and margaritas, and the challenge is a variation on jumping off a platform in the water and grabbing or smashing a suspended object. This is daunting enough from the maybe 3 meter platform in US Survivor, let alone from the terrifying Australian Survivor platform, which must be 10 meters. And it’s not only hard psychologically–it you stretch out to grab the rope you’re likely to belly-flop into the water. Nachos aren’t that good, people!
  • It’s great to see Shane just crush this. It takes Monika three very painful-looking tries. Reminiscent of Donathan, she gets a glowing edit for essentially costing her tribe the win.
  • The Contenders win their first reward in 23 days, and it involves tequila. This could go badly.
  • There’s a twist: They have to eat and drink one at a time, in private. This season filmed well after Survivor Triple-H aired, so they get quite meta about deciding what order to go in. Tegan talks everybody into letting her go first because she can’t possibly eat more than her fair share. Benji knows full well that this is an excuse to get first shot at any idol or clue, but his standing in the tribe is too precarious for him to object.
  • Tegan looks everywhere but where the clue was in Triple-H: the surface of the platter. Benji finds it. Heath and Robbie go in after Benji, but they both miss it despite having a cameraperson right on their shoulder zooming in tight on the middle of the platter.
  • You guys, Jackie has a Rubik’s Cube necklace!
  • The immunity challenge is the old standby of filling your opponents’ baskets with coconuts. I’ve never understood the strategy of wearing down the man first. Surely the optimal strategy is to put coconuts in both baskets to fatigue the man and woman simultaneously, rather than sequentially (particularly if the woman is Lydia).
  • Paige thinks she, Fenella, and Shonee are the swing votes between the pairs of Tegan/Heath and Benji/Robbie, but I think there are three strong pairs and she’s the odd one out. She’s an easy fallback boot if no two pairs can agree on somebody else.
  • Benji is scrambling and wants to ensure that Paige goes home by joining forces with with Shonee/Fenella. He tries to win Shonee’s trust by confiding that he’s already rich and would be happy going out at six. This backfires massively, in part because you need to have a certain amount of trust already before confessing to an ongoing deception, and because Shonee is offended by the idea that someone isn’t really playing to win. The look on Fenella’s face as Shonee fills her in is fantastic.
  • How is “Haych” a nickname for “Heath”? It’s no shorter and it’s more difficult to say.
  • Huh, it’s Paige, in a unanimous vote. Benji escapes again That seems odd, but maybe they think the merge is immanent and they don’t want Paige around to flip to the Champions side. Or maybe they think it will be easier to Pagong Benji and Robbie without Paige around as a wild card.