Australian Survivor, Season 2: Week 10, Episodes 22-23

A delightfully unpredictable season has given us a Final 6 that… how do I put this… nobody predicted. So the show is still on brand, I guess?

Episode 22 (by Assistant Dragon Slayer)

On the one hand, the final 6 vote in Survivor is fascinating. It’s fiendishly complex and almost by necessity results in a high-level betrayal, with a very slight chance of a rock draw if everyone is equally stubborn. On the other hand, it’s boring. Assuming that a challenge threat wins immunity, there’s a relentless logic to the vote that usually locks all but one person in place, and that person almost always relents rather than go to rocks. Thus, in the absence of idols or other advantages, the outcome is almost completely predictable once the immunity challenge winner is determined. There are other votes that are somewhat predictable for structural reasons (the first boot, the merge boot), but the F6 vote is different because it’s so close to the end, the variables are far fewer, and there’s nowhere for anybody to hide.

I think the predictable nature of the F6 vote (with rare, mind-blowing exceptions such as Cirie’s 3-2-1 move in Panama) is why US Survivor has consistently tried to disrupt it in recent seasons (through multiple idols in Cambodia, the extra vote in Kaoh Rong, the Legacy Advantage in MvGX, that mess I still don’t want to talk about in Game Changers). It would be a structural flaw in the game to have, in season after season, a pivotal vote where the only real suspense comes from finding out which of the big threats isn’t immune.

(Digression: The predictability of the F6 vote is a good reason to incorporate it into the finale, but if they’re going to interfere with the vote to make it more interesting, then make it a standalone episode. Otherwise they risk both underserving the F6 vote and making the whole finale feel rushed. The most egregious example of this was the Cambodia finale.)

For someone new to Survivor, seeing the F6 vote play out in its pure, unadulterated form can be quite interesting, since as I noted, there is a certain complexity to it. Even if it rarely goes to rocks, that possibility is ever-present and seeing everyone think through the various decision trees is interesting. Even for seasoned Survivor viewers (which I assume includes anybody reading this), it’s nice to see a pure F6 vote once in a while, if only to remember what the extra vote and so on are supposed to disrupt. But since we’re all veteran Survivor watchers, there’s really no need to even recap this episode blow by blow. It was either Locky or Ziggy, and it was always going to be either Locky or Ziggy no matter how much they showed us Jericho vowing chaos or Tara waffling. Locky won immunity, so Ziggy went home. Onward!

I guess maybe I should mention the immunity challenge. I love it, and I hope it gets reverse-imported to US Survivor someday. It really is perfect for this stage of the game–it’s weirdly hypnotic to watch, it’s physically taxing without relying on sheer strength, and it’s mentally taxing without being a puzzle.

A note via DM from Kemper Boyd: “Ziggy blew it the moment she used her super-idol on Anneliese. That was someone loyal to her side. She then used her idol at a bad moment on the wrong person (herself). How useful would that idol have been here? massive. Had Anneliese still been in the game Locky would have been gone and she had a super-idol to use on Henry. She was never winning, her physical attributes would always paint a target on her around here but she’d at least have made a much bigger splash.”

This is an excellent point. The problem with misplaying an idol/advantage is not just that you let it go to waste, but that you don’t have it later when you really need it. (Update: According to Ziggy’s exit interview, she and Anneliese in fact weren’t allied and Ziggy didn’t trust her. But the point still stands: Ziggy needed to use the super-idol on Henry’s idol).

Episode 23 (by Head Architect Sylvia)

Episode 23 begins with Locky sulking because his number one ally Ziggy went home last night. This then transitions into a conversation with Locky and Tara that is pretty unexciting. It’s clear that they’ve become pretty good friends throughout this journey, and so Locky is placing all of his faith in this friendship, but we know Tara won’t think twice about voting him out today if today is the day his immunity run comes to an end.

We cut to Jericho, Michelle and Peter who seem to be a pretty solid three at this point, and we get the same talk about needing to get rid of Locky. For the third episode in a row.

Locky proceeds to bait Tara into making her think he has an idol by revealing to her a piece of paper with text on it which appears to be a clue. We quickly find out that Locky doesn’t have one, but he very cleverly pocketed the idol clue which Anneliese dropped as she was leaving tribal council. Could this be a game changer?

Naturally Tara eats this up and immediately goes into meltdown. Thankfully Peter and Jericho aren’t swept up in the paranoia, as they were probably anticipating a desperate move like this from him. They justify that if Tara hasn’t seen it then there is nothing to worry about, but Tara is still paranoid, and when she relays this to Michelle, Michelle is equally uneasy. Peter is still adamant he doesn’t have one but he’s not really doing the best job reassuring anyone. Locky’s plan is working.

The next day is a complete change of pace and begins with Jericho telling Tara a heartfelt story about almost drowning as a child, and his fear about going back into the water. Because of this experience Jericho has a huge respect for surfers and in a cut scene which almost definitely did happen, he goes on for hours defending Ozzy Lusth as the best Survivor player of all time.

Quite hilariously after this heartfelt conversation Locky asks Jericho if he wants to go “out deep” for a snorkel and Jericho is super keen. Classic. There’s a nice scene of the two bonding as they explore the ocean together. Locky assures us that he’s just trying to sway Jericho with his slick adventure guide charm. Locky is an adventure guide so of course he does this sort of stuff every day back at home. Apparently.

Meanwhile this is paralleled with heaps of super positive confessionals from Jericho proclaiming to be conquering his fears, and things like that. The entire sequence is a nice moment and we get some pretty cool underwater diving shots. Is this Jericho’s winner’s edit?

We are getting a lot of characterization and a HUGE growth editing that veers away from the usual comedy routine Jericho provides.

Generic confessionals from Michelle and Locky transition us into today’s immunity challenge. JLP is standing next to something hidden by a mysterious green curtain. Everyone is trying to guess what it could be, meanwhile I’m just hoping he’s prepping for a sick magic tric- ILLUSION.

It’s a car! Wow did somebody say Holden? Yes it’s a Holden! The official sponsor of Australian Survivor! Locky pretends to be Oprah! Everybody is pumped!

The immunity challenge involves spacing planks of wood in a line and then tipping them over to create a domino effect with the goal of getting the final block of wood to fall into a fancy pot or something. All the while the competitors have to maneuver through foot holes in order to make sure they don’t knock any over. It’s not an original challenge but it’s usually a fairly entertaining one.

The challenge goes on for a while. First Peter goes for the win… nope! Jericho gets agonizingly close as all the planks fall down bar the last one. Locky gives it a go and has no luck either. Tara gives it a crack – nope! She can’t do it either. Slow and steady, challenge goddess Michelle is making sure her spacing is perfect before she makes her attempt because she probably can’t be bothered to do this more than once. She’s racing Locky! It’s neck a neck! Michelle goes for it AND SHE WINS! She beats Locky by a couple of seconds. Did Michelle really just win a challenge AND a car, beating out Locky who was on a three challenge immunity streak?

Locky is pretty salty and this is hilarious. I can’t believe this happened, I’m losing it, Michelle has consistently been the worst at challenges throughout the entire season. So clutch. So poetic.

Anyway Michelle is beaming and she gets the chance to take two people on a picnic and a ride in her sick new car. She picks Jericho and Tara. Smart move to keep Tara on side, but I can’t help but feel sorry for Peter who has been Michelle’s number one ally for a while now. He has been looking pretty miserable lately so it would have been nice to see him get a reward. He takes it graciously.

We get some hi-tech drone footage of Michelle driving her new Holden down the back alleys of some Samoan forest and Michelle is ecstatic that she’ll “never hit a garbage bin again” thanks to her new car’s swish reverse camera. The trio have a lovely picnic and make the classic “this is the final three” statement. This always happens on these late game rewards. A Locky vote out seems imminent but Tara and Michelle are still uneasy about the possibility of an idol.

Meanwhile Peter and Locky are having a hilariously awkward time back at camp. These two don’t really like each other much. Peter very candidly confronts Locky about having an idol. Locky makes weak excuses as to why he can’t show Peter his idol and thankfully Peter still doesn’t buy it at all.

The trio arrive back at camp and Locky and Jericho have a conversation. Locky does his best to persuade Jericho to vote for Peter instead and Jericho is apparently considering all of his options but I don’t see him voting for anyone other than Locky. I think if anything Jericho is just entertaining the idea of voting for Peter so that if Locky actually does have an idol, Jericho won’t be his target.

Once again we cut to Michelle and Tara who are still super paranoid. Michelle goes to spy on Locky, possibly hoping to catch him with an idol. OH NO what are you doing Michelle!?! Michelle is definitely buying into Locky’s story about having an idol and she wants to vote with Locky. NO MICHELLE DON’T DO IT. Hilariously Locky is pandering to Michelle by telling her that she’s one of the best players left in the game, despite calling her a goat to Jericho just moments ago.

NO! Locky has apparently swayed her and Michelle is set on voting for Peter, who has been her number one ally for the past few notes. Her reasoning is that if Locky does have an idol, she’ll be sitting pretty when he comes back to camp from tribal council, and Locky won’t turn on her at the final three vote even if he wins immunity. That’s what I can make out if it. She’s definitely overthinking this and is trying to plan too far ahead. If Locky does have an idol then Michelle is immune this tribal council anyway, and she’ll be on even footing with everyone else for the next vote even if Locky is still in the game, because no one else seems to be voting with him. I understand the logic behind it but it definitely does not seem like a good plan and watching this sequence is breaking my heart a bit.

We go into tribal with Locky apparently thinking he has Tara, Jericho and Michelle on his side, but surely he can’t be that naïve. Even with Michelle, it’s got to be him tonight. Once we get to tribal JLP reveals to the jury that Michelle won immunity and a car, and the jury’s reaction is priceless. It’s nice to see Michelle getting a bit of respect from the jury – they are seriously impressed. Go Michelle! Michelle is trying to be humble but she can’t help being a bit chuffed, and rightly so.

We get into the nitty gritty and it looks pretty obvious that Michelle has bought into Locky’s notion that she has to be sitting at the end with the best (Ugh Michelle, why!). Locky proceeds to claim that everyone should take him to the end because he’s a super cool likable guy and that he has not once made any personal remarks about someone in the game. Thankfully Peter calls him out on this and instead of apologising to Peter for calling him a goat, Locky condescendingly reaffirms his stance that Peter is a goat. Wow! What a great guy. Way to sell yourself, Locky.

Anyway, Peter claims not be a goat, things take an odd turn as Tara seems to imply that she’s offended by the use of the term “goat” because apparently goats are very independent. She would much prefer to refer to these people as “sheep” because they followed a shepherd. Hopefully Jeff Probst hears this so he can let everybody know this important change in Survivor terminology. It’s quite an amusing moment and after this little tangent Tara rightfully says that it’s good for most people sitting there if a goat sticks around and a threat goes. Tara has been slowly growing on me. Very slowly.

We’re about to vote and Locky indicates he has an idol, but thankfully Peter is there again to shoot holes in Locky’s story. We then get a moment from Michelle about how a move at this tribal could seal someone’s fate in this game and I hope this isn’t foreshadowing Michelle’s future after voting with Locky tonight.

It’s time to vote! The votes are counted, and I get a minor scare, but Locky goes home on a 3-2 vote and everyone lets out a sigh of relief except for Michelle who looks pretty uncomfortable. This was not a good episode for Michelle and I hope this doesn’t cost her. I’m relieved Locky is finally gone – this makes the remaining challenges more unpredictable and I was really sick of his attitude. He really impressed me with his gameplay after Henry was voted out, and tonight in particular, but unfortunately his unsavory personality never changed.

See you next week for the finale! Hope it’s a good one.

Discussion Points

  • That Jericho characterisation wasn’t just a coincidence right? Does the EDGIC point to him being the winner? What do you think?
  • Will the car curse strike again?
  • Does anyone think Michelle voting with Locky was the right move? I think the positives outweigh the negatives.
  • If Michelle makes final tribal council is there anyway for her to spin this vote into something positive?
  • Is Tara growing on anyone else? I’ve hated her for a while but I’m slowly warming up to her, I think she’s a much better player than she was just a few episodes ago.
  • Peter was on fire this episode. He’s clearly not having a great time, but he seems to be quite switched on. What argument could he make for winning if he makes it to the final tribal council?
  • Episode 24 will be a non-elimination, ending on a challenge for the right to eliminate a juror. Who should each of the final four get rid of?
  • How does Michelle’s challenge win rank for you in terms of incredible challenge wins? We’ve seen underdogs beat amazing competitors before, but I feel like none of those underdogs have been quite as hopeless as Michelle, and the car adds a whole ‘nother layer to the hilariousness of her win (note from ADS: The previous winners of this challenge are Julia Sokolowski and Andrea Boehlke, so it plays to Michelle’s strengths, such as they are).