Australian Survivor premiered this week and there’s a LOT to unpack so let’s get started!
SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers on this week’s episodes of Australian Survivor!
EPISODE 1 RECAP
Season 4, Champions vs Contenders, kicked off just as we expected. A long, cinematic, and epic opening which saw the Champions and Contenders track through a swamp to meet Jonathan, where he officially opened the game.
After some introductory comments, Jonathan puts the contestants to the test already to establish which side has an early edge by winning a survival start-up kit in a one-on-one Survivor face-off classic. AFL player Simon Black and former Survivor player Luke Toki represent for the Champions in the first two rounds, as do the mullet-sporting John and wrestler Matty for the Contenders. Both match-ups result in a win for the Contenders, putting them at 2-0, only needing one more to take the early win.
AFLW Champion Abbey Holmes takes on flight attendant Daisy in the third round, where the former manages to put the Champions on the board. Memory champion Anastasia Woolmer follows suit when she defeats marketing manager Laura, levelling the score 2-2. NRL legend ET plays in the decider for the Champions against Andy, a marketing executive on the Contenders tribe. It’s the most intense battle yet, but ET ultimately prevails to give the Champions the early reward and an incredible comeback.
The Champions then head to their beach where Luke establishes that the Champions tribe is full of many…um…older tribe members. But not to worry, Luke is sure to have a plan to break through it all. On the Contenders however, Andy reveals to the audience that his strategy revolves around playing the most dominant game Survivor has ever seen. Even going as far to say he plans to win the all-winner season of American Survivor (sorry Andy, but that ship has already sailed)!
Back on the Champions, gold-winning Olympian Steven Bradbury has his sights set on forming an alliance, or ‘team’, of sporting-people. Thoughts on Steven diving into the strategic game? Love it! Thoughts on an alliance of sporting-people? No thank you! The game isn’t entirely about physical prowess and there’s no chance the seven stick together based on this one shared attribute. It’s only a matter of time before it self-destructs. Back on the Contenders, a windy night gets even worse when the Contenders’ 6-feet high shelter almost comes crashing down. Building a shelter so high from the ground was only going to be cause for disaster.
It’s Immunity Challenge time, and there’s no question that it is physical! Champion Susie takes a few falls but this time it’s the Contenders in trouble as the Champions manage to pull out ahead throughout the challenge. Mullet machine John works hard to keep the Contenders in it and they reach the final stage of the challenge some time after the Champions. Quickly though, Contenders Shaun and Andy pull ahead past the Champions and the Contenders win immunity. Meaning one of the Champions will become the first person voted out of Australian Survivor.
As they return to camp, Steven’s sporting alliance versus Luke’s non-sporting leftovers are going to battle. Both sides wanting to strengthen the tribe, the sporting greats target award-winning actress Pia Miranda and marathon swimmer Susie is on the hit list for those that can’t win a gold medal. Former politician and Olympian Nova Peris disagrees with both targets however, claiming control of the vote to go elsewhere. She comes out of the gates HARD strategically and rallies to target Anastasia for being a threat.
Anastasia is visibly frustrated with the thought of her going home, arguing she had proven herself physically in both challenges. Pia on the other hand is ready to do whatever it takes, and latches onto the plan to eliminate Anastasia after a conversation with Nova and Susie.
The three girls agree that ET is the central vote, saying wherever he goes the others will follow. Pia, still paranoid, tells the audience that playing Survivor has long been a dream but she had always known she would either go first or win. Nova talks to Steven and ET about switching the target to Anastasia, and we head to Tribal Council torn between two targets.
At Tribal Council, Pia asserts that she is the one to go home and (desperately) asks for the Champions to vote elsewhere. Anastasia feels the heat too, some frustration continuing to come through in her answers to Jonathan’s questions. It’s time to vote, Anastasia and Pia vote for each other, as expected. But Luke also throws his vote to Pia. It’s not looking good for the screen and stage star.
Jonathan reads the votes and it’s tied, three votes Pia and Anastasia. But the next four are for Anastasia, sparing Pia, and the memory champion takes home a once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing the world’s greatest game.
EPISODE 2 RECAP
The next episode begins with former contestant Luke up to his old tricks from his previous season. Finding a spot near the well, he prepares to ‘build’ a Spy Shack 2.0 to listen in on his tribe mates future conversations. Focusing on the future, Luke and international model David plan to swing Abbey and Ross to their side (also consisting of Pia and Janine) for a six person majority. On the Contenders, Baden opens up about his lack of connections to his tribe mates and Andy reaffirms that he intends on playing a dominant strategic game as soon as possible.
At the Reward Challenge, both tribes once again battle in a face-off, but this time two-on-two for a tarp and fishing kit. Laura sits out for the Contenders, assumed to be a weaker link to the tribe. In the final round, Janine and Abbey strategically win the deciding point for the Champions giving the tribe a 2-0 score in Reward Challenges.
The Champions, now with fishing supplies, look at fishing expert ET to provide some much needed fuel for the tribe. It’s Luke who brings home the bacon however, albeit a small fish the size of a hand. Later on at night, while Ross’ snoring overwhelms the night’s ambience, Luke manages to find an idol clue within the logs given during the reward. Something’s better than nothing right? At the Contenders beach, Laura attempts to form a ‘not-wanting-to-go’ alliance with some of the other women to ensure she isn’t one of the first to go. Ice-cream maker Harry however expresses his mistrust with Laura, seeing her as the biggest threat to his game.
In what is hyped up to be the toughest Immunity Challenge in Australian Survivor history, contestants must get down and dirty to push severely heavy carts in the mud, forming a giant puzzle with the pieces inside at the end. The Champions manage to reach the final stage after using every muscle available whereas the Contenders reach a stalemate and literally become stuck in the mud. Pia leads the tribe to complete the puzzle and the Champions win immunity sending the Contenders to their first Tribal Council.
After the loss, the tribe manages to come to the consensus that Baden is the weakest tribe member, and therefore must go home first. Andy, the super fan we all needed, can’t sit quietly with the easy vote, and he and Harry work to flip the script and send Laura home for being weak and a strategic threat. Tribal Council looms and it’s another weakest player showdown between Baden and Laura.
Baden gives a heart-felt story at Tribal Council about why he is playing the game, whereas Laura aims to convince the tribe that her size doesn’t amount to her overall strength. The contestants vote, but not before Matty describes the ultimate decision as being “simple”.
When Jonathan returns with the votes, the first four are revealed to be for Laura. But the following four fall on Baden, levelling it 4-4 between them. It’s all over red-rover for Australian Survivor‘s shortest contestant ever as Laura is sent home 8-4, keeping Baden alive for at least another day.
Australian Survivor definitely started the way many of us were hoping it to. Two blindsides, alliances, Luke being crafty as always, and strategy being erupt throughout both camps. This week, it was very much about cutting out the weak from the tribe, to Daisy’s quote of the week, “sing out if you’re weak”.
I love that the Champions are in this game knowing that strategy is imminent and to work out what is best to position the tribe most favourably. While the sporting alliance may come under scrutiny, I do applaud the seven for finding a group and sticking with it. Luke seems to carry the tribe in editing, most segments are about him and I’m not surprised. He’s entertaining and strategic. Whether this means that everyone isn’t on par with him, I’m unsure, but I wouldn’t argue that he’s the most strategic after the impressive showing of Nova, Pia, David and Steven this week, but definitely the most visible.
The vibe is much the same as the Champions from last year. Everyone is having fun and enjoying each other’s company until it comes to Tribal Council. That’s not necessarily bad but you can always bet on drama with the Contenders, Tribal Council looming or not. I’m excited to see the Champions move forward, but even more excited to watch them visit Tribal Council again. I really want Luke to either flip the majority in his favour or play an idol to send out a big threat. It’s just more fun that way.
The Contenders on the other hand I’m fairly impressed with. There are still some faces we haven’t really seen like Sam, Casey, Hannah and Shaun. But it is still early and there are a lot of faces. Some less Andy and more of them would be appreciated though. Speaking of Andy, I love the guy! I know he will eventually be targeted for being a threat and I don’t believe he can win but he’s definitely a great strategist and character. I expected Laura to go home first on the tribe, not necessarily for her strength but for her inability to talk less, which did play somewhat of a role in her elimination.
Harry and Andy managing to pull that off without even voting for her is also impressive. Those two are a great strategic duo that I’m very excited to watch further. I like Baden, but it’s clear that his place on the Contenders is limited. He MUST form a connection with someone to stay until the end. For now, he might be an easy number for Andy to keep around but unless he manages to be a central figure in an alliance it doesn’t look good for him. Especially with Matty breathing down his neck.
Overall, the season is off to a great start and next week proves promising with the upcoming promo of various exciting challenges. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for both tribes.
MATTHEW’S TOP FIVE
In no particular order, each review I will reveal my top five players of the week, considering all factors like physicality, strategy, social game, likeability and visibility.
NOVA PERIS surprised me completely this week! I did not expect her to be the strategic threat right out of the gate like she was for Anastasia’s blindside. I love that because she wasn’t satisfied with either Susie or Pia going home, Nova just started her own movement to take out her primary target. That takes HUGE guts so early on in the game and I applaud her so much for being able to flip the script so easily and not come across as too threatening. I can’t wait to see what else Nova has to offer. I’m here for it.
ANDY MELDRUM is a true super fan. In all reality, there was no need for him to flip the vote from Baden to Laura but he did! He wants to be the strategic king and here he is, managing to sit on the throne by pulling off an incredible blindside almost too easily. I think he’s likeable enough to form a majority alliance and not get targeted for it. But he’s also got Baden as an easy number for him no matter what he does. He may be a little over edited, but I’ll accept it if he continues this impressive showing.
PIA MIRANDA is my personal favourite this season. Pre-season I was excited to watch her and that hasn’t changed since it’s started. And perhaps we got some awesome foreshadowing by her when she said she would either go home first or win the game. She didn’t go home, so I’m pulling for her to take the whole thing out and convince a jury of nine she deserves to win because she survived by the skin of her teeth Day 2, all the way to the end. I can’t wait to see more from Pia, and hopefully she becomes a pivotal strategic player.
JOHN EASTOE is a machine! He has a giant heart and even bigger muscles. He works hard and there’s clearly a brain behind his rug. I admire someone who works hard in all aspects of the game. John has got the physical side down pat and I hope he manages to work his way into the social and strategic game. He’s very likeable as a viewer and I love what he is bringing to the Contenders tribe. There’s definitely more to be revealed about this Aussie battler and I hope he comes out with a massive blindside soon. It’d just be amazing to see.
LUKE TOKI is no surprise on this list. The guy is entertainment gold and I loved him on Season 2, it’s no different this time. He works hard strategically but is also a great social and physical player. I know why he was brought back. He’s perfect for the game. Do I think he can win? I doubt it. I think he’s going to have a very tough time once he steps foot on the same beach as a Contender. But while he’s on the Champions, I don’t think he’s going anywhere at all! Go Luke!
I love this entire cast! And there are some players I want to see so much more from to make a good judgement on like: Hannah, Sam, Shaun, Abbey and Simon. There’s also some awesome players that I really enjoy but just missed out of the top five spot like: Ross, Harry, Janine, David and Daisy.
Australian Survivor continues Sunday through Tuesday on Channel 10 at 7:30pm!
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