Australian Survivor, Season 2: Week 8, Episodes 16-17

After 35 days and 15 episodes, it’s time to drop your buffs: The tribes are merged!

Episode 16 (recap by Kemper Boyd)

We are living in the aftermath of the greatest blindside in Survivor history now. Obviously I’m joking, although I enjoyed the two sides at Asaga coming together to get rid of a floater who could easily have made it to top 5 maybe even been the perfect goat if she had made the merge.

At the challenge JLP tells everyone they have merged and will all make the jury, the individual reward challenge is a cool one of swinging a thingy around a thingy that has a bottle on it, if the thingy hits the thingy the bottle will fall and you are out. It’s a good battle but after ages Tessa beats Jericho because Tessa is a doctor and clearly has very good concentration. Her reward is a shower, massage, feast and new clothes plus a letter but there is a twist, she can forgo it all to let everyone have their letters. You might as well have sat down immediately Tess because the only decision you can make is to give up the reward for everyone else.

Blah, blah everyone cries. We find out Peter is gay which his father isn’t ok with and that everyone else has people who love them.

The meat of the episode is that Jarrad has decided to go after Henry and enlists his alliance to make the move. At the same time Henry has decided to clip Ziggy, she and Jarrad are too close and her power and idol make her too powerful. She should never have told Henry and Locky about it and this whole episode is a consequence of that slip up.

After a gruelling challenge where Ziggy shows that she needs to be clipped as soon as possible due to her physical gifts the Jarrad and his crew decide to target Luke as the easy consensus vote out but it doesn’t really go as planned.

There are numerous mistakes by the Samatau group:

  • Jarrad decides they need Locky onboard to vote out Henry, causing Locky to consider his options when his best buddy is the target.
  • They don’t talk to Michelle
  • When Michelle voices that this upsets her Tessa just says “well, last in”. which is the worst people management.
  • Ziggy and Jarrad got very close and Ziggy told Locky and Henry about her idol.

The combination of this led to Locky, Henry and Michelle all flipping and voting out Jarrad. It reminds me of line from a Radiohead song, “you do it to yourself, you do and that’s what really hurts”. Jarrad did it to himself. There was no need to rush to a big move here. Get rid of Luke and Sarah before you start looking internally, cripple the ability for Henry to find 5 people to vote with him and Jarrad could have ridden with Tessa, Ziggy, Annaliese and Peter deep into the game but as is he screwed it up but at least he got to see his name underlined by Jericho.

Episode 17 (recap by Assistant Dragon Slayer)

Post-tribal, the remnants of former Samatau is trying to figure out who defected. They have no doubt that Henry and Michelle flipped, but they can’t figure out who the third defector was. They suspect it was Locky, but he denies it and says it was Anneliese. She smartly doesn’t get bogged down in a he-said she-said, but instead starts assembling an anti-Locky coalition that would add Anna and Michelle to the existing foursome of herself, Ziggy, Tessa, and Peter.

Now that the tribes are merged, Henry closes the loop on the clue to the idol (that he had already found) that he passed to Jericho at a challenge. They go hunting for it together, and Henry miraculously “finds” the idol (and keeps it for himself since finder’s keepers). Now on the one hand, the fact that Henry somehow found the idol in a spot Jericho had already gone over with a fine-toothed comb really ought to raise red flags, but on the other hand, the con that Henry is attempting is so high-risk low-reward, and kind of pointless, that I can’t really fault Jericho for not seeing through it.

The next night, it’s Cookie Alliance 2.0 as Jericho, Luke, and Henry help themselves to the leftover jam from the merge feast. Predictably, this ratchets up tensions the next morning, and how Luke isn’t immediately the prime suspect is beyond me.

The show pulls some narrative sleight-of-hand at this point, because while Anneliese feels blindsided by the three Samataus flipping at the last vote, her meat shield alliance partners Henry and Locky are upset with her for not staying loyal. And once again, Sarah is just sitting there quietly, stoking the paranoia of everybody around her. She even gets everybody within earshot to believe that Anneliese stole the jam.

Going into the immunity challenge, the battle lines are clear and it’s Anneliese versus Locky. Rings, ropes, balls, yada yada, Locky’s ally Henry wins immunity. Henry rounds up votes against Anneliese. Locky, paranoid as always, knows both that votes are coming his way and that Anneliese has an idol. He tries to talk Anneliese into giving him her idol, citing their meat shield alliance agreement, and Anneliese plays dumb and pretends she doesn’t know Locky’s side is gunning for her. It would all just be a fun bit of theater except this prompts Anneliese to check in with Tessa and Peter. They tell Anneliese that they just don’t have the votes to get rid of Locky, only they don’t know if the other side is going to pile all their votes on Anneliese or split them 4-3 between Anneliese and one of Tessa or Peter. Anneliese finally reveals to Tessa and Peter that she has an idol, meaning that there’s hope as long as they lock down Ziggy as a fourth vote against Locky.

Tessa and Peter quickly fill in Ziggy, who realizes she can dictate the outcome if Anneliese plays her idol, either by playing her super-idol and sending Anneliese home, or by doing nothing and allowing Locky to be sent home. Normally the obvious thing to do would be to get rid of the physical threat like Locky (which would have the added benefit of allowing Ziggy to hang on to the super idol), but Ziggy herself is a physical threat, so it may be in her interest to keep Locky as a shield (she apparently doesn’t realize that Locky and Henry no longer trust her). Ziggy goes back to Locky and Henry and says that she will use her secret advantage to protect Locky. Ziggy’s constant flipping earlier in the game finally comes back to haunt her as once she’s gone, Henry’s alliance wonders if they can trust her. It’s kind of mystifying why, if they don’t trust her very much, they didn’t split the vote (in fact, now that I’ve watched the episode again I’m surprised they didn’t consider splitting the vote with four votes on Ziggy).

At tribal, they waste time talking about the Great Jam Caper, and JLP brings up the topic of idols but the players evade, evade, evade (if there’s one thing he needs to learn from Probst, it’s how to turn off the cameras and yell at people).

Everybody votes, JLP counts. Anneliese plays her idol, but Ziggy plays the super-idol. Eight still-valid but mostly misspelled votes for Anneliese, three votes for Locky, and Anneliese’s torch is snuffed.

As Henry hoped for in his voting booth confessional, someone he no longer trusted is gone, her idol is gone, Ziggy’s secret power is gone, and it all tastes sweeter than the jam he stole the previous night. Henry’s in total control of the game, you guys—he’s unstoppable!

Nobody would blame Anneliese if she were a Bitter Betty about getting knocked out of the game by a twist she didn’t have full knowledge of, but instead she’s as amazed/amused as anybody else, even though she’s the victim. Among the many things to love about this cast is that they’re all such good sportsmanships.

Discussion question:

  • To me, there’s really only one question: Did Ziggy make a huge mistake? I see compelling arguments on both sides.

Programming note: As much as possible, could we confine the discussion here to these two episodes for the time being? There’s so much to say about Episode 18 that I’m gonna give it a completely separate post.

Help wanted: Now that we’re back to three episodes a week, it’s become very difficult to post recaps in a timely manner, not to mention that starting next week any Australian Survivor posts that go up later in the week are likely to get buried. So if any commenters want to take a crack at recapping let me know, either here or in a DM on Twitter (@AssistantDS).