Wait, is this thing finally over?!
Australian Survivor, Season 2: Finale/Reunion
A roller-coaster season full of huge characters and Big Movez™ switches it up one last time by being the one thing it wasn’t all season: thoroughly predictable.
In an effort to get this post up quickly and turn things over to the commenters, Australian Survivor coverage will end the way it began, with a lightly edited online chat in lieu of a full recap. Joining me is Kemper Boyd.
Finale and Reunion
Note: Here’s a link to an incredibly well done infographic that charts the entire season. It may come in handy if KB and I end up discussing the season as a whole.
Kemper Boyd: So where shall we start?
Assistant Dragon Slayer: I’m a bit at a loss, TBH. Everything in the finale played out exactly as I expected.
KB: I think we should do a player by player review then. Where they went wrong or who bested them.
ASD: Before we do that, I do want to note how hard the show tried to make the finale suspenseful. I think it peaked when Jericho gave his opening statement, and he was overselling the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing bit. They used as many negative jury reaction shots as possible and pumped up the doom music. And that was following what I have to admit was as good an opening statement as Tara could have made.
KB: He talked about the cookies way too much.
ASD: And I think the revelation that he used the cookies to form a meat shield army without them knowing about each other, offended Sarah and lost Jericho her vote. Jarrad obviously was considering voting against Jericho, and Henry agonized over his vote. That would have tipped the vote to Tara 5-4. So I think Tara came closer to winning than we realize.
KB: To me the cookie thing didn’t seem to win any votes. It put Sarah off and Luke was always voting for him, at most it swapped Henry and Sarah. I did find it interesting that he took the wrong jury member off, Tessa would have voted for him over Tara. It’s interesting it’s pre-final 4 so your decision can go wrong.
ASD: The vote-a-jury-member-off advantage is very problematic, but if they’re going to do it at all, doing it before the finalists are set is the way to do it. Tessa was the right choice if Jericho had been sitting with Peter or Michelle. I guess he could have voted out Locky given that Jericho obviously intended to sit with Tara, but Locky is just one vote and I doubt he has much influence with the jury.
Generally speaking, “I lulled you into not realizing I was a threat” was the right approach for Jericho to take at FTC, but tying it so much to the cookie thing wasn’t effective.
KB: Don’t forget that the cookie thing happened in the pre-merge, so it doesn’t have any bearing on the original-Samatau jury members. The majority of the jury was Samatau–only Sarah, Luke, Michelle, and Henry were Asaga and he should have been able to rely on Luke, Michelle, and Sarah’s votes.
ASD: Oh that’s right! I didn’t realize that. Do you really want to go through all 23 non-winners or just a selection?
KB: How about the post-merge? Or memorable boots?
ASD: Memorable boots, otherwise we overlook AK (a subject I want to come back to).
KB: AK played too hard at the beginning, which made him enemies, and then he got screwed by the swap. How about Annaliese?
ASD: There was really nothing she could do. The various swaps left her without strong social ties and vulnerable to nonsense like being suspected of stealing the jam, and she had no way of defending against the super-idol.
Even if she had made it to the end, the fact that she got voted out by her tribe is pretty damning. I’m surprised Jericho didn’t use that fact against Tara, but I guess he didn’t need to.
KB: Anneliese was twist screwed.
ASD: Actually I’d rather talk about the post-merge boots in a holistic way. We entered the merge with 5-6 big-time players, a couple of challenge beasts, and a pack of mice. We ended up with an all-mice endgame. Was that just a coincidence or a consequence of the length of the game?
KB: I truly believe the main takeaway from Australian Survivor is that if you want to survive deep you have to go to sleep. Not Odette levels but you need to be the jovial best buddy, not the main event. The final 4 were all someone bigger’s best pal: Michelle/Sarah, Jericho/Luke, Tara/Locky, and Peter/Tessa.
ASD: I agree. Henry said as much at the reunion, which must have made the producers cringe and would surely have been edited out if he said it at FTC. But on the other hand, the worst fate on Survivor is to try to be UTR and get clipped anyway. I’m sure there’s no shortage of AKs and Lukes out there to cast in future seasons.
KB: It’s timing, isn’t it? Jericho and Michelle were both good players but they knew to hide for a while. Henry and AK blew their loads way too early. Like Nick in season 1. And our beloved Phoebe got trapped into playing big too soon.
ASD: Yeah, that push and pull between making a move to remove a big threat, only to make yourself the next big threat, is one of the central tensions of Survivor, and even more so in the 55-day version. It’s a miracle that Luke lasted as long as he did with that King of the Jungle act.
KB: Absolutely, but until Henry went people saw him as an idiot. That got Luke a long way into the game. The Tessa move killed him, though. Had he kept her I could see him closer to final 5 with a strong shot at beasting the final immunities.
ASD: That’s a very good point. One of the advantages of having Survivor on 2-3 nights in a row is that you can see someone make what seems like a great move in the moment immediately come back to bite them in the butt the next round, in a way that’s hard to see if there’s a whole week between episodes.
KB: Is there anything else we need to discuss? It’s gotten late here.
ASD: I want to talk about twists for a bit. They were more judicious with the twists than last year, but do you think any were failures in a way that they should have foreseen?
KB: I think the twists all worked how production wanted, that just doesn’t necessarily line up with what the audience wants. I think for drama they probably wanted the super idol to take out Henry not Annaliese.
ASD: Agreed, but it may be a problem when the preferred outcome is to take out the strongest player.
KB: The only other option is for someone on the bottom to have an advantage but the super-idol just doesn’t work that way.
ASD: Did you notice that they stacked the votes in the idol-out order for both Anneliese’s boot and Henry’s? That means they didn’t expect Ziggy to play the super-idol on Anneliese, and they did expect Henry to play his own idol.
KB: I didn’t notice that but it does make sense. I bet in US Survivor someone from production would take the urn and disappear for 10 minutes and come back with the votes stacked better.
ASD: There’s universal agreement that this season was a vast improvement over last. In fact, I’d put it in my top 10 even with the somewhat lackluster ending. I attribute it 70% to hitting the jackpot with the cast, 10% to JLP being more comfortable with the hosting gig, 10% to taking it easy on the twists, and 10% to banishing the word “mateship” until the last 5 minutes of the reunion show. Where is there room for improvement next season?
KB: I think in casting they could still improve–the balance wasn’t necessarily quite right yet, but was much better than last year. I could do with maybe 5 fewer days and two fewer non-eliminations. They have a lot of time so I’d like fewer purple players, Pete got to the final 3 and it was clear from the moment Tara fell in the final immunity that Jericho was winning the season because Pete just wasn’t featured enough until the last week or so.
ASD: Five fewer days with the same number of players and you wouldn’t need two non-eliminations.
ASD: I think it’s inexcusable to purple anybody who makes the finale. Same problem with Aubry in Game Changers. It removes suspense. My suggestion for an improvement is to merge at 16. It would be unwieldy for the audience (starting tribes of 12 are already hard to keep track of), but as it is now, the merge portion of the season is the same length as in US Survivor (around 20 days), which means that all of the extra days and tribals are added to the pre-merge, the boring part of the season. And maybe I’m being results oriented, but a merge at 16 would have saved Phoebe and AK.
KB: I think they need fewer days or more people, but more people isn’t the answer.
ASD: OK, final thoughts.
KB: I really enjoyed this season. I’d like to sign off with the idea that it was Ziggy who messed it up for some of the bigger female players. If Ziggy had held her super-idol and Locky went instead of Annaliese, then she could have used it on Henry. That would give us 11 fewer days of Locky, Henry going out at the exact same spot, and Annaliese, Tessa and Sarah with more ability to do their thing. Ziggy would have won way more immunities and possibly played her idol correctly. But that’s my “ZIggy ruined everything” theory.
ASD: Anneliese, Tessa, and Sarah doesn’t seem like a particularly stable alliance, but I’ll support a theory that gets Tessa closer to the end. Ziggy and Luke ruined everything.
KB: Not as an alliance, as interesting players. Maybe they would have eaten each other but there would have been no Locky, and Tara doesn’t make it to the end.
ASD: Thanks for participating in this chat, and for recapping.
KB: You are welcome. I’ll do it next year maybe but not Survivor New Zealand.
ASD: Lol yeah. How about Survivor Greece then? 148 days, 25 people, one survivor. In Greek.
OK, that’s it from me and KB. The power now shifts to the commenters….
Assistant Dragon Slayer began watching Survivor in 2013 with Survivor: Caramoan, but continued to watch the show anyway. He is up to 59 seasons and counting (43 US, seven Australia, five South Africa, two New Zealand, two Japan). So there.
Favorite player from each country: Cirie Fields (US), Luke Toki (Australia), Santoni Engelbrecht (South Africa), Lisa Stanger (New Zealand), Sakiko Sekiguchi (Japan) [and Maryanne Oketch (Canada)]