Australian Survivor, Champions vs Contenders II: Episode 23 & 24 Recap and Season Wrap Up


This is it, gang. The pointy end of arguably the finest season of International Survivor yet, regardless of who wins (but let’s get real, we’re all rooting for one outcome in particular).

Episode 23

  • Back at the beach following “the greatest blindside of all” (according to JLP), Luke is exultant, but much of the focus is on Pia’s point of view. Being the last non-Luke Champion in the game is enough to explain the “Pia edit”, but does it mean more?
  • Uh-oh. It’s the first scene of the episode proper and Luke is recapping all of his accomplishments in the game so far.
  • “Smiling assassin”: Everybody drink!
  • Weird. The reward challenge is Touchy Subjects, but a) it’s much too late in the game for this to yield interesting results, b) the show yadda-yaddas the challenge in about five seconds, and c) JLP isn’t even there. Is it arms day? Baden wins burgers and takes Luke. 
  • The immunity challenge is balls in a chute, but with running up and down stairs instead of the hamster maze contraption (which has been the final 4 immunity challenge surprisingly often in Survivor history). 
  • This has got to be physically and mentally exhausting on day 48.
  • Luke gets flustered and drops his fourth ball too soon and dives but can’t catch it when it reaches the bottom.
  • Harry wins immunity. This has to be the end of the line for Luke, right? On the other hand, last time he bamboozled three people, and this time he only needs one.
  • Luke appeals to first Baden and then Pia. This all looks pretty hopeless, although a) still not as hopeless as Laetitia on Survivor South Africa, who apparently couldn’t even have these conversations with Nicole and Durao; and b) shouldn’t Baden and Pia practice making fire, just in case?
  • There’s a bit of an asymmetry here between Baden and Pia. Baden will probably be in the final 2 no matter what, while Pia would probably have to win final immunity challenge to make it to the end if she’s up against Harry and Baden. Is she better off improving her chances at F3 by keeping Luke in the game, even if it means a nearly impossible task at FTC?
  • It’s an editing choice rather than what actually happened on the island, I’m sure, but we’re not shown Harry making any attempt to keep Baden and Pia in line. 
  • As the jury walks in I realize Luke would win this jury’s votes overwhelmingly. I think Pia knows what she has to do. Plus the final immunity challenge is almost certainly a straightforward endurance challenge, favoring Pia. 
  • Luke lays all the cards on the table. He’s voting Baden and hoping Pia does the same, and he’ll take Pia to the end if he wins immunity at F3. 
  • What did Janine mouth to Pia?
  • Captain Obvious here to note that none of this drama is possible on US Survivor so long as it has built-in F4 fire-making.
  • Wow. Interesting editing decision to show Pia writing down Luke’s name. Discuss.
  • As a Survivor viewer, I suppose I’m a bit of a heartless game-bot, and I’m even further removed emotionally from this episode because I’m recapping on the fly, but I’m in tears now.

Episode 24

Hey guys, due to circumstances beyond his control ADS needed me (kemperboyd) to sub in today. Let’s do this

  • We get a nice little bit with each of the Final 3 about what this means to them.
  • Harry says he is in pole position to win. I disagree, I think Harry could not beat Pia and Baden is so well liked he would struggle. Harry could buy an ice cream van and marry his girlfriend which is sweet.
  • WAIT! Harry Hills?
  • Image result for harry hill gif
  • Pia talks about playing the right game, being social and being the one who was quietly influencing.
  • Baden talks about being the shy student. He went from social anxiety to a social threat.
  • At the final immunity challenge we get the family visit. I quite like it being here, having them watch the final challenge. Harry’s mum and girlfriend are there, Baden’s brother and parents and Pia’s husband and her two kids. They get a bit of time before the challenge starts.
  • The challenge is an insane endurance challenge. They must stand on two tiny pedestals holding up an idol with each arm, the idols are balanced and held up by ropes. At times it looks like they are being crucified.
  • This challenge isn’t really a fair one, sure the weight is 10% of their body weight. But Pia is short and the pedestals were not adjusted for that, nor are the starting point of the ropes.
  • The editors give us a lovely montage of all Baden’s talking during the challenge, including him asking his dad if Brighton got relegated, why does his South African dad support Brighton & Hove Albion? Also spoiler alert, Brighton did get relegated.
  • The challenge goes long it’s the longest in Australian Survivor history, it’s intense, Pia dug in just to make sure she outlasted Harry. Having her husband there really helped her, his speech was perfect at a point she looked like she was going to crack. Harry cracks at 6 hours and 40 minutes, having to ask JLP to help him down. JLP then has to help Pia down a few moments later. Baden wins final immunity.
  • Tribal. Harry and Pia work hard on Baden. Pia says that Harry and Baden’s games are the same, that Baden will have to try and take credit for it vs someone who is seen as better. Harry pitches that the jury is majority Champions and Pia will get the votes. Pia counters saying Baden worked well with Luke and Abbey, both of whom Pia blindsided. The argument that really sticks is Pia telling Baden that taking out Harry would be his biggest move. He votes out Harry.
  • Final Tribal: Oh god Harry’s 80’s tache look is a lot.
  • Pia gave a masterful final tribal performance and Baden didn’t have an answer for her. Pia talked about being in on every move she made, never being carried. She talks about saving herself in the very first vote and then turning Abbey and Ross to give her a clear path to merge and beyond. Baden talks about his personal growth socially, about how he used his social game to know every single vote and play from the middle.
    The jury questions that stood out were Shaun asking the “why shouldn’t the other person wins?” a question I like because you see who is in it to win it and Pia really goes in on Baden, he played a passive game, he was kept by people who are better.
  • David calls them both goats and asks them how their goat game got them to the end. Pia tells him that it was her who blindsided him, she was the one who brought it up to Janine and Abbey and she worked on John and Harry to get them on board. She straight up tells David he doesn’t know how to play, that his front runner game is why he’s sitting on the jury. “I am not a goat, I am a hardplaying Survivor and I deserve to be here”. It is a perfect answer.
  •  Baden then stumbles badly. He talks about looking at the final 5 and seeing who he could sit with, he says Abbey and Luke were too strong and Pia shuts him down, reminding him when Abbey was voted out he was going to vote Pia out until he was banished back to camp.
  • Janine just goes Full Murphy and stumps for Pia, tells the jury how afraid she was of Pia, she says Pia is why Janine and Abbey got so far and then tees Pia up to talk about her social game lulling them into a sense of security.
  • Luke asks Pia about him helping to save her twice and about her not repaying. She gives another beautiful answer. She talks with real emotion about how she felt having to take his dream away from Luke. She didn’t want voting him out to be futile. She needed to sit at the end to make it worthwhile.
  • The votes are counted there and Pia is Australian Sole Survivor. She swept Baden 9-0 in a dominating performance. As good as any we’ve seen. I do think she won votes on the day and voting confessionals from the jurors. Daisy said “Your pitch has definitely won it for me tonight, I think you played a great understated game”, Shaun said “ You surprised me big time tonight, I think you played a very subtle game. Um- I don’t think you’re a goat”.

Season Wrap Up


This season really delivered.  I felt the final week was a trip to the inevitable as we all here felt Pia had such a good edit, when she was with Baden at final 2, someone who was under edited made it obvious who was winning but then we got to watch her dominate Final Tribal Council and it was all worth while.
Overall though I loved this season, there were a few casting duds but the cast was great. There were so many storylines that works well. Andy ‘s opinion of himself vs everyone else’s opinion of Andy, David vs Shaun, Janine vs Harry. Daisy’s inability to play an idol properly or hide one properly. Luke being a continued star. It was all great.
I enjoyed it thoroughly and I am deeply satisfied and I really enjoyed watching with all of you.

Assistant Dragon Slayer:

Ditto to what KB said. This season was aces. I never thought a season would top 2017, and I’m not quite sure this season did (although 2019 clearly had the stronger endgame), but at this high a level of achievement, who cares about ranking them? It was amazing to see the Champions get decimated early, only to have the Contenders squander their numbers advantage. I do hope they retire the Champions/Contenders format now, though. I get the appeal of having familiar faces (at least to Aussies) in the game as a way of drawing in fans, but the ratings for this season have been strong, so hopefully the show can stand on its own going forward. I feel like with Champions/Contenders seasons, the tribal lines last longer into the post-merge than is ideal. I of course am stoked for All-Stars. The announcement said “early 2020” so hopefully it will premiere right on the heels of Winners at War, the way Survivor South Africa began literally hours after the Edge of Extinction finale.

Big Announcement

Guys, it has been a blast spending this season with you. See you in the comments.