Sharculese and Assistant Dragon Slayer have formed some kind of mateship(?) alliance to provide you with coverage of the new season of Australian Survivor.
Read on for their conversation about the premiere episode.
Sharculese: Hey, ASD, welcome to coverage of the second season of Australian Survivor (Nick is calling it season 2 on the podcast, so we’re using his convention.)
Assistant Dragon Slayer: G’day, sharc!
Sharc: So this started off in the Australian Survivor fashion we’ve come to expect: pretty to look at but an incomprehensible dumpster fire of voting strategy.
ASD: We’ll get to Luke, but I’m not sure you’re right about that.
Sharc: Sure. Can we talk about that marooning? Were you as scared as I was that they were actually gonna try to maroon them at night?
ASD: That didn’t occur to me. I was just in the moment marveling at that whole sequence. Cinematography and B-roll is not what any of us primarily watch Survivor for, but that was amazing, particularly after watching Survivor New Zealand try to do it on the cheap. It was like outtakes from Dunkirk.
Remember last season how you said Probst probably hit the gym after seeing Jonathan LaPaglia? I think the US Survivor camera crew is like “holy shit, guys, we gotta step it up.”
Sharc: I skipped NZ Survivor and it sounds like I made the right choice. It was a beautiful scene and it led to that great shot of them coming in with the dawn. Which is the thing I loved most about this episode.
It took things we knew from Survivor and twisted them juuuuuust a little.
We had the new twist on the marooning race and then that fire making challenge.
ASD: I thought making fire to win fire was clever, but the marooning race was another ill-considered AU Survivor twist. It’s far from the worst one ever, but five minutes consideration should have made them realize that tribes would either dump the supplies to go for the rice or load up on supplies and not even try for the rice.
Oh wait strike that. I forgot about the losers not getting anything.
Sharc: Yeah, that last part is what made it work. It’s not far off from the twist American Survivor started with Cambodia, but they layered in a new bit of strategy.
ASD: it’s baffling that anybody ever goes for the bamboo.
Sharc: I know. Isn’t that stuff just everywhere?
ASD: Before we discuss the tribes specifically, can we talk about the cast generally? There are some that look like they’ll flame out early, and about a quarter of the cast was invisible in the first episode, but I think they did a spectacular job of casting. I don’t think the words “mate” or “mateship” were spoken the entire episode.
Sharc: Oh, absolutely, that was something I wanted to get into. I feel like have a good read on the two Marks, Sam, Luke, AK, and Kent, but most of the cast is a mystery to me. In that scene around the well where Odette was pushing to vote out Joan, there was a kid in a purple shirt who I looked at and said, “who… exactly are you?”
But you’re right about the potential, and the lack of mateship. Nick said in his preview podcast that the advertising has been notably lacking in talk of mateship, and it looks like that’s playing out.
ASD: I’m surprised that Ziggy was nowhere to be found, given that she has something of a public profile in Australia.
Sharc: I don’t even know which one Ziggy is.
ASD: I have to ask: Is Mark H a better Paul than Paul?
Sharc: I’m already calling him Australian Paul. It goes without saying that I love him.
ASD: He looks like he prepared for Survivor by living alone on a desert island for a year.
Sharc: Lol. How do you feel about Mark W? It felt like we were being told to love him, and then as soon as Asaga lost he disappeared and it became all about Sam. Is he new Lee?
ASD: He’s already shown more strategic chops than Lee. He’s keenly aware of the danger he’ll be in eventually. To a fault, actually. He’s like a central casting version of an ex-special forces guy. I don’t know how successful he can be running away from it. The same thing could be said about Locky over on Samatau.
Sharc: I forgot about Locky. He also looked like he was gonna be a big presence, early on, but then vanished, too. Although I think that may have been more because Samatau was safe this episode. He did have that moment where he tried to break the immunity challenge. It didn’t really work, but I always like creativity.
ASD: I don’t think it really means anything that they disappeared. They had 100 minutes to introduce 24 people, set up the premise, run three challenges, and have tribal. It’s kind of amazing that we have as much of a picture of maybe 16 people as we do.
It was interesting to me how many people said variations of “they’ll think I’m X, but I’m really Y” in confessionals. We’ve seen over and over that pretending to be what your not is extremely hard to pull off on Survivor. The “fake yoga instructor” strategy already seems like a disaster.
Sharc: That’s a good point. Which one is the fake yoga instructor, again? I feel like that was his only line of the episode, but it’s got to be one of the most bizarre lies since Kass pretended to be a llama farmer.
ASD: Henry. The one with the man bun (not a ponytail).
Sharc: Oh, yeah. Can we talk about AK, now? Because I really want to talk about whatever it is AK thinks he’s doing.
ASD: What the hell, AK?
Sharc: It’s like every worst version of how to make an alliance with everyone crammed into a single strategy. It’s gonna be fun seeing him go home fourth, though.
ASD: It’s partly editing, but he’s being completely obvious about it, too. I also laughed when he said he’ll take advantage of people when they’re starving and not thinking straight, without in any way acknowledging that he’ll be suffering too.
Sharc: He’s basically a bargain version of Russell Hantz.
That whole sequence made me sad Australian Survivor doesn’t have episode titles,though, because AK asked the guy with glasses whose name I don’t know if he was gay and he responded “totes, homo,” which would be the best episode title ever.
ASD: No no no! “Find the Dickhead” is the episode title.
What are we going to use for the picture at the top of the post? Because Kent in his Adelaide Speedo should not be that picture.
Sharc: I think it’ll just be the Aussie Survivor logo. I’m not sure John has forgiven me for finding that picture of Tarzan in his banana hammock. But Kent in his Adelaide Speedo absolutely should be the picture.
ASD: Do you have anything to say about the tribes? They seem quite balanced to me. The majority of the invisible people seem to be on Samatau, although that’s probably just because they didn’t go to tribal.
Sharc: Yeah, I think there’s more meat to Samatau than just Mark H, they just wanted to show us the dynamics on Asaga. You’re right that they seem physically balanced, so I’m sure we’ll see more of Samatau.
Do you have anything you want to say about the immunity challenge? I already mentioned Locky trying, and failing, to game it, but I’ll add that that puzzle looked fiendish, and I can understand getting flustered by it.
ASD: What are you talking about specifically? Holding down the cargo net? Acting as the first step of the staircase?
Sharc: Yep, the thing where he was like, “don’t build the staircase, I’ll just hoist you all up.” It didn’t seem to work, but it showed creativity.
ASD: I thought it was clever to make the obstacle course hackable (and on a similar note, I like that it wasn’t obvious how to get the bag of rice in the initial scramble), but as usual the puzzle made everything before it irrelevant.
Do you think Joan was actively off-putting to the rest of the tribe, or is it just a matter of Kent putting in the work the previous two days to get in everybody’s good graces, knowing he’s a likely early target? I think the latter.
Sharc: I would agree it’s the latter. They made a big deal about Joan talking about how well she slept, but I think that was just a symptom of her not realizing to the same degree Ken did that that someone in her position needed a strong social game. Although, of course, this is that same phenomenon of “the older woman of color goes home first, and sure, there’s always a rational explanation, but isn’t it funny how that happened again?”
*Kent. Ken realizing you need a social game is not something that would happen.
ASD: Do you have any thoughts on two tribes of 12 rather than three tribes of eight? As I said, I’m worried about a coalition of seven plowing through the game, but maybe seven people are harder to wrangle than five.
Sharc: This is still Australian Survivor. I’m sure there will be seven tribe swaps in the first 15 days
ASD: Oh right. Does anybody stand out to you as a potential winner? Anybody you’re ready to zero-percent?
Sharc: We’ll do winner picks at the end. As for losers: Mark W. seems like he’s a good candidate on paper, and you’re right, I think he’s the savvier version of Lee, but that’s problem: people are going to figure it out and he’s gonna get mowed down in the post merge. , Luke, AK, and Kent are also drawing dead. Kent for the obvious reason that he goes home the next time Asaga goes to tribal council, and AK and Luke because they’re just aggressively awful.
ASD: I asked because really nobody jumped out at me either way. It’s either good casting, or good editing, or both. I think Locky is going to run into the same trouble at Mark W (he already has Tara and Annaliese stalking him). Kent and Luke both have good social games in very different ways that may get them by for a while (and Luke has plausible deniability on the rogue vote). Maybe AK calms down. I feel like the “fake yoga instructor” lie is being highlighted because it pays off big later.
I’m tempted to zero-percent the invisible people.
Sharc: That’s a good lead in to an important question: what was Luke doing at tribal council? It’s vote 1. Forcing a tie when the choice is between Joan and Kent seems like a risk with very little reward.
ASD: I’m not so sure about that. Luke is no Mensa candidate, but he (possibly inadvertently) averted something I thought might be a problem. The two tribe game is basically broken on US Survivor because of Day 1 5-person alliance, and when they announced that this season would be two tribes of 12 (we should circle back around to this), I was worried we’d just get a coalition of 7 plowing through the game. Now it’s quite possible that Luke tied the vote for shits n giggles, but he also may have planted a bomb.
Sharc: I question whether Luke was thinking. I think he was just reacting against the idea of Sam taking a leadership position he thought should be his. Maybe it pays off for him, maybe it doesn’t, but this felt very much like playing a post-merge game pre-merge. There was clearly a strong reaction against Joan around camp, so why go against that on day three?
It’s probably time to wrap this up, anything else you want to get in before we finish?
ASD: I should at least note in passing that in addition to casting people who are there to play Survivor and not to go on an Outward Bound excursion, they managed to assemble a much more diverse cast than last time. Good on ya, Australian Survivor.
Oh and Adam (the 40ish guy who said he runs a small business) is apparently a professional poker player. So maybe zero-percent club for him.
Sharc: Hey you know who else applied Survivor because he wanted to go on an Outward Bound excursion? Tyson. Just saying. Good call on Adam, though.
Assistant Dragon Slayer:
Male: Mark H. Partly because nobody jumps out at me as Obvious Winner material , so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but partly because he’s got that farmer strength, won’t be targeted until it’s too late, and has really good reads in confessionals
Female: OK, I’m making Sarah my official pick among the women. Again, kind of a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯, but maybe she has transferable skills from being on The Face (which I have never watched).
Male: AK. Nah, just kidding, it’s still Locky. I think the difference between him and Mark W. is that Mark W. just exudes that ‘he’s too awesome to let to the end’ vibe, whereas Locky is, seriously, no pun intended, more low-key and can sort of ride a current of ‘we should get rid of him, but I like having him around too much,’ all the way to FTC. He’s like the Ozzy who can actually win.
Female: El, wait, no, that’s Sam. I think she has some work to do tamping down her worst instincts in terms of telling people what to do, but if she can accomplish that I think she has the potential to shine in front of the jury.
Sharculese first saw Survivor when his roommate wanted to watch Cagayan. He has now seen every season because he has a skewed sense of priorities.