After nine weeks, Australian Survivor closes with an impactful finish, emotional farewells, and future excitements.
SPOILER ALERT! This review contains spoilers on this week’s episodes of Australian Survivor, as well as who became the Sole Survivor!
EPISODE 23 RECAP
With Abbey’s shocking blindside a piece of Survivor history, Baden is shocked to learn Pia has stayed and Abbey went out the door. Luke reiterates the importance of sending her home, considering her to be the biggest endurance threat. Pia also credits her ability to turn to Luke in the darkest hour of her game, earning his trust to eliminate the AFLW player. Harry, who may have lost a trusted ally, is still in the warpath to take out Luke because of his masterful gameplay.
In the morning, the four celebrate making to the top four, especially Luke who’s extending his personal best. Surviving 18 Tribal Councils, Luke recognises that he’s so close to the end he just needs to make it to the end. He’s up for the challenge, and he certainly has a long road ahead of him. Harry believes Luke holds a significant power over the jury, and that he’s liked in all aspects of the game, socially, physically, and strategically. He has one last attempt to shake things up, beating Luke at an Immunity Challenge. Alternatively, Harry also knows Pia is a large social and strategic threat, hiding behind the curtain almost the entire game, pulling the strings almost single handedly. Unfortunately for Baden, Harry sees him as the perfect number two who doesn’t stand much of a chance at the end because he has nothing to show for his game. At camp, Pia brings to the tribe a large box with a ‘game’ to play, where the winners get to enjoy a little treat.
As Baden and Luke trek out to eat burgers (won through the box game), Baden mentions to the viewers that he has been underestimated all game but still played quietly and socially enough to continue through right up until this stage. Afterwards, they had out to the Immunity Challenge, where everyone is seeking the win.
Jonathan calls in the final four to the Immunity Challenge, where he describes Harry as ‘Harry Houdini’ and comments on his ability to escape a snuffed torch. In a giant expansion on a Survivor classic, the players must roll a ball down a path, at intervals dropping more to the sequence. Drop a ball, and you’re out. Win, and you’re in the final three. Off to a slow and easy start, the players get a feel for how quick it takes for the ball to travel through the maze and reach the bottom. Jonathan reminds everyone that timing is everything, setting up the imminent showdown of ball-mania. The pace picks up quickly as everyone adds their second ball, but it’s still cool, calm and collected across the board. Placement of the third ball is critical, and it’s costly for Pia who can’t make the transition. A nice save from Baden and Harry, and a slip on the stairs from Luke show how hard the Challenge has quickly become. Jonathan makes the call to add a fourth, and not long after Luke does so, he slips up and drops a ball. Leaving the Contenders battling for their first Immunity win. Baden drops his not long after, granting Harry individual Immunity and a spot on finale night. Contrastly, it points all signs to the end of the game for Luke, who’s devastated he couldn’t take a fifth win. Wow.
It’s got to be all over red rover for Luke. Surely. Pia and Baden would be CRAZY to let the other go instead, no matter how nice Luke is or their bond with him. It’s got to be the best move to take him out. Of course, Luke knows that, and will work hard to infiltrate the plan. So what has he got to pull out?
Harry confirms with Baden that Luke has got to go if anyone has a chance of winning the game. Both the boys agree Luke’s threat level is at a max…NOT. Baden’s even CONSIDERING keeping Luke and taking out Pia, he even says it would be difficult to beat him at the end. But he’s wavering! WHAT ARE YOU DOING BADEN? DO NOT THROW YOU’RE GAME AWAY! Luke tells us his family’s future is slipping through his fingers, and it’s heartbreaking I know, but this is a game and these guys all sacrificed something to be there. It’s a terrible, terrible situation for Luke. But SURELY Baden and Pia take him out.
Luke pitches to Baden tieing the vote up 2 on Pia, with Pia and Harry putting 2 on Luke. Luke’s ready to make fire to earn his spot, but I don’t know if Baden’s giving him hope and if he’s genuinely considering taking this vote to a tie. He puts the same pitch on Pia, asking her to tie it up and take on Baden at the fire-making challenge (the tiebreaker at the final four). Pia’s also genuinely considering it. It’s heart versus head for her, sitting in the swing position to send Luke out or giving him the likely chance of winning the tiebreaker. And look I know you need to genuinely consider it, and much of this is probably an edited portion to give the viewer hope Luke might stay. But there’s got to be no way Luke survives this episode. Heartbreakingly so.
At Tribal Council, the jury’s both surprised and a little pissed Harry managed to pick up the Immunity win. Harry reminds Jonathan he’s playing to win, and that includes taking out Luke. An emotional Luke openly admits he’s voting Baden out, hoping Pia sides with him and grant them an opportunity to win the fire-making challenge, and promises to take Pia to the end if he wins the last Immunity Challenge. Saying there’s no pressure to the decision, Jonathan tells Pia there’s a lot to digest, and she breaks down telling him that it rests on her shoulders significantly. Baden is worried about going to the tiebreaker, believing Luke possibly has an edge on him in terms of former practice with the flint.
Pia pauses at the voting booth, and is shown writing Luke’s name down (Why give it away?). As Jonathan returns with the votes, the somber music begins to play. The first vote goes to Baden, and the rest land on Luke, one of, if not the greatest player of Australian Survivor, finally taken out of the incredible roller coaster that has been his Survivor journey. Tomorrow night, the grand finale. Baden? Harry? Pia? Who will outwit, outlast and outplay them all to be the Sole Survivor…
EPISODE 24 (FINALE) RECAP
With a montage for each remaining player showing how far they’ve come, the finale is officially on, and tonight, someone’s crowned Sole Survivor! Harry talks about playing hard to the bitter end all season, trying to ensure he is sitting in this position. With his various nicknames (Dirty Harry and the Cockroach) behind him, he’s ready to win this game. Pia, who’s still reeling from taking out the biggest threat Luke, she says she owes it to him and herself to win the game. She’s the last woman and original Champion standing, she’s been an active social and sly gameplayer, and hopes she can win if she gets to face the jury. Baden talks about being underestimated for so long and wants to claim his first individual Immunity, and prove to people at home that they can win too no matter what shape or size you are.
They enter the Final Immunity Challenge, and it’s do or die for all of them. Jonathan reminds them that they outlasted 21 other players to get to the penultimate day in the game. Immunity is back up for grabs for the final time, and the three must stand on narrow pedestals while holding onto ropes attached to two heavy idols. If they drop an idol or take their foot off a pedestal, it’s all over for that guaranteed spot at the Final Tribal Council.
There’s some extra motivation on offer, everyone’s immediate family is out to cheer their loved one on. Harry’s Mum and girlfriend, Jordan, join and embrace him. Jordan tells Jonathan she knew Harry would get so far, and they’re excited for him. Baden’s next, and his parents and brother take him in and celebrate him being able to unexpectedly make it to Day 49. Pia’s husband and two kids come running to hug the missing family member. Luke, Pia’s husband, says he isn’t surprised Pia came on the show nor managed to get so far. The touching moments are heartwarming for all, but there’s a task to do, win that Final Immunity necklace.
They take their places, and the challenge is on. Simple in theory, Jonathan tells the three the that simple can often be the most difficult. Saying discomfort will slowly turn into pain, and pain management will become the key to outlasting. Baden’s the first one to show signs of slipping out, as he stills finds his footing to how he wants to stand in the endurance test. He continues to make small little slips, as the night darkens quickly, elapsing from one hour, to two hours. Baden’s tactic to talk it out to distract him (and everyone else) from the challenge returns from a few episodes prior. At least it’s exciting, haha, Baden you’re so precious. Four hours and fifteen minutes go by, and everyone’s showing signs of pain, especially Pia who’s breathing deeply through it. Harry almost over balances, but manages to save himself from falling completely. At five hours, and a massive effort from everyone, Pia buckles over in pain, yet still in it for the big prize.
Agony is on her face, as Luke (her husband) tells her to hang in there and breath through it, as well as how proud he is of her for playing so hard this entire time and within the challenge. The pep talk might be everything she needs, as she regains a bit of control over herself and dips deeper and deeper to maintain her balance. At six hours and thirty minutes, the three surpass the Australian Survivor record for longest challenge ever. Harry’s got a major case of the shakes, as his pain turns into agony, matching Pia’s now returned painstaking face. All of a sudden, Harry asks Jonathan to help him down, surrendering from the pain and torment, after an unbelievable effort. Pia then asks to surrender as well with Jonathan’s help, giving Baden his first individual Immunity win, and a spot at the Final Tribal Council. He’s in the power spot, he’s got another thing to add to his resume, the decision comes down to him and it’s a true toss up to who he will take. Winners of the Final Immunity, after never winning an Immunity Challenge, have gone on to win the game. Both Kristie and Jericho managed to pull the entire game out, so will Baden join the winner’s circle, or will it not be enough to award him the victory over whoever he chooses to join him at the FTC.
Baden’s all smiles with the newfound power, and potentially a half-a-million dollar choice. It’s straight to Tribal Council, where the jury enters shocked and impressed with Baden managing to take out the Immunity win. He’s got the sole power, something he says, “you can only dream of having”. There’s two factors, the strengths of Harry and Pia’s games, and how the jury will perceive them up against Baden’s. Pia openly admits that Harry’s more strategic than Baden, and it’s therefore harder for him to own some of the moves as Harry can take credit for them. Harry’s rebuttal: Pia’s equally played a subtle yet social game, and that Baden would be up against the 5-4 jury full of Champions. Pia says original tribes aren’t much to her, since she voted out them all (except Janine), and may not earn all the respect Harry says. Harry argues Pia has been deceptive all season about her gameplay, saying she’s stronger than she’s made out to be tonight and every day before that. Baden knows they’re both going to say whatever it takes to win him over, and the back and forth between Pia and Harry denying their gameplay, and boosting the opposite’s game. Eventually, Baden must make his decision. And he heads to the voting booth to cast that all-important decision.
Jonathan returns with the vote, and the final member of the jury is……..Harry! It’s a Contender versus Champion showdown, and while Harry’s journey comes to an end, it’s a giant question mark for what awaits for both Pia and Baden.
What’s super exciting about this final two, is that both Pia and Baden were almost voted out first from their respective tribes. That’s incredible! To come so far since then, and stay safe after that and still get to the end. Just. Incredible.
On Day 50, the final day, Pia talks about managing to make it here after so long. She says her industry is small, and that she’s just a normal Aussie family, and that the money would be life changing for her. She’s ready to plead her case, and if she can nail it, she’s changing her family’s life. As they enjoy the Day 50 breakfast, Baden talks about his socially mismanaged life before Survivor, but that the game has pushed himself to high limits and that’s transformed into a new person, socially and physically. He worries he might be seen as a goat to the jury, but he wants to sell the fact he’s always been playing and has fought extremely hard to stay in the game. There’s a jury of nine waiting to make their decision, and the two finalists head out to Tribal Council awaiting the final fight before them.
They arrive at the Final Tribal Council, and Jonathan tells them they’ll be able to make an opening statement to the jury and then an open forum will commence so everyone gains solid insight into who should be the Sole Survivor. Baden’s first to speak, he says he didn’t want to be the orchestrater of big moves but play the middle of the alliances and pull enough information to make sound decisions and build accurate bonds to keep himself off the chopping block as the Contenders fall. He says he knew he would go the Final Tribal Council no matter who won, but he himself wanted the control to decide who joined him, and not be taken himself. Pia says she came into the season wanting to be fiercely social and strategic, yet underestimated. Everyone wanted her gone, but she wanted to play hard and it began with getting Nova to flip the vote to Anastasia, and then building the six alliance. She talks about organising David’s blindside with Janine, while holding a buffer to keep herself safe and ensure she went further than her allies. She thanks them for playing with her, and then Jonathan opens it up to the jury to kick off the questions.
Shaun begins, asking why a finalist doesn’t deserve to win against other. Pia says Baden shouldn’t win if the jury’s voting for strategic gameplay, but Baden argues that she was blindsided twice in a row, BUT NOT, Pia rebuts by saying she did in fact know Janine was going home. David openly admits he thinks both players are goats, and asks how their goat gameplay got them to the end over everyone else. Pia says the girls had planned to blindside David back since the swap, saying she had a big hand in getting him out. Arguing being at the forefront of the moves gets you a spot on the jury, and that staying low gets you a spot at the end. Baden tells the jury he’s not a goat, and that he analysed the tribe to decide who his best option would be to sit at the end with anyone. Pia reminds him that he never chose to keep her, as he intended to vote her out instead of Abbey at the final five Tribal Council, before he was sent back to camp of course.
As we cut to commercial, Pia is pretty aggressive in her approach, trying to undermine Baden’s game and keep hers above water. It’s not disastrous, but it may just borderline on the jury’s perception as disrespectful if she turns it up anymore. Baden’s trying to compose his game over top of that, but isn’t giving enough ammo to himself to shoot what Pia’s saying down. It’s looking like Pia’s Tribal to lose, and that a vote for Baden *may* be just a vote against Pia. Anyway, as we return to the show, let’s see if it turns somewhere else.
Janine asks Pia to give the jury some examples of when she was able to convince people they were safe, before actually blindsiding them. As she does, David vouches for her, as he says she did exactly that before he was blindsided many Tribals ago. Harry’s next, saying the analogy of drivers and passengers doesn’t apply to either of them, and that they may both qualify to be navigators in the car. He asks them both to articulate this notion, and Baden says he controlled what people did by convincing them to do something other than what they intended, like putting David as a target instead of Luke, as he was working closely with Luke once the merge began. He was never blindsided despite never being in the driver’s seat, and believes Pia can’t say that. He mentions her inability to win the Final Immunity Challenge, but Pia says that while she may not have, she was able to play hard and ensure she stayed longer in the game by fighting to save herself and form alliances.
Baden tells the jury he worked with everyone at some point, managing to always be a part of their plans in some way. Pia says she rallied alliances that dominated, also willing to vote anyone if it meant she was going to get further. John asks Baden how he was able to adapt. Baden says he evolved from being awkward and shy to someone that everyone wanted to keep around. He’s setting an example for people like him, playing an ultimate game of sitting in the middle. Luke closes the discussion by asking Pia why he should vote for her after she didn’t save him two Tribals earlier despite him saving her twice beforehand. Pia tells him that the decision was one of the hardest within the game, saying she stayed in the Final Immunity Challenge for so long to make eliminating him worthwhile, and not futile. She said she always pushed herself in every challenge and played an excellent social and strategic game, worthy of winning the season.
Jonathan asks the jury to cast their final vote, as they vote for a winner, with five being the magic number to secure the title of Sole Survivor and $500,000 prize money. After each juror submits the life-changing ballot, Jonathan brings in Baden and Pia’s families again, so they can witness the moment that will become a piece of Australian Survivor history. It’s a warm and comforting moment, but it is time to read the votes.
First vote: Pia.
Second vote: Pia.
That’s two votes for Pia, zero for Baden.
Third vote: Pia.
Fourth vote: Pia.
It only takes one more to win.
The winner of Australian Survivor…….
In a unanimous vote, 9-0, Pia takes out the title of Sole Survivor and the $500,000 prize after a massive social and strategic game, and truly impressive performance at the Final Tribal Council. It’s a dream come true for Pia, and I am so happy she’s managed to take this out.
And after the season closes, a preview for next season reveals…Australian Survivor: All-Stars, wow. While I’m not shocked with the reveal (as it’s been long spoiled), I am excited to see some great favourites from the last four seasons return for another shot. It’s still filming, and we’re expecting it early next year. I hope this is a common trend for the series, as two seasons per year is AWESOME. This also means for those playing at home, that next year, at around the same time, we’ll have BOTH All-Stars and U.S. Winners airing! That’s 44 exceptional Survivor players on our screens! 2020 is looking promising.
Congratulations to Pia! After 50 Days, managing to win the game can only be so worthwhile and exhilarating.
After Harry won Immunity it had to be game over for Luke, keeping in a massive threat, no matter how good of a back story, not the ideal final three situation you want. Pia, Baden and Harry made the right move, taking him out. And Pia copping all the flak on social media for it, disheartening. Clearly, some people don’t understand that it isn’t a game to give the title and money to the person with the best back story, it’s about getting to the end for YOU and making sure YOU do what’s best for YOUR game. Nevertheless, Baden and Harry were also a part of the move, and attacking Pia for playing to win and not playing for 2nd place is terrible, and only a true Survivor fan would understand the decision. Is it because she’s a woman? Maybe. Survivor: David vs Goliath 2nd Runner-Up, Angelina Keeley, copped a lot of heat for playing hard to be the Sole Survivor during her season, yet male players Tony Vlachos and Rick Devens were celebrated (for the most part), for also playing hard to win. Perhaps it’s an argument needed for a separate article itself, and maybe bringing in various parties about social media hate is necessary. My main opinion: spread love, not hate. Go and comment on Luke’s social media saying you’re upset he’s gone and played a great game, rather than the snake emojis on Pia’s.
At the final three, it’s everyone’s best guess that Pia or Harry claim the win against Baden, given both have played a likely better overall game than the young student. Although, I didn’t discount Baden. But I thought for sure Immunity was paramount for Harry and Pia. As Harry drops out, Pia follows in quick succession sensing Baden’s likely going to take her over him. It’s a risk she’s willing to take. Watching the two battle it out at Tribal for Baden’s decision, it’s clear they are both so passionate about it. It’d certainly be interesting to see if Baden could scrape a vote against Harry, closing the 9-0 margin he eventually lost to. But I still think he made the right decision, Harry played a flashy strategic game. I think it’s certain he wins. But with Pia, Baden probably had a greater chance, albeit not being able to close it out against her in the end.
There’s a lot of criticism, as always with Australian Survivor winners. Really Jericho is the only one I can remember that’s been pretty well received as a winner, not to say that Kristie, Shane or Pia aren’t. There’s a lot of support for Pia (myself included obviously). She did indeed play an exceptional social and strategic game, clearly. I mean I find it hard to understand the people who continue to say she was a bad player when she managed to convince ALL jurors to vote for her to win! Like even the Contenders, who argued staying Contender strong the ENTIRE game voted her. Don’t tell me she was a passenger. Neither was Baden, I don’t think. But I certainly think he may have been a quieter navigator, much quieter. The difference between Pia and Baden (who both managed to survive after almost going home first, and played well socially and to a point, strategically), it’s that Pia played great with everyone despite being in a majority alliance with her input in moves, as opposed to Baden who was swinging to both sides not being able to have a loud enough voice to make an impact. Call whatever gameplay you think deserves the win as your jury vote, but for the right nine people, it was Pia’s approach that was favoured.
Overall, a really great season. It certainly delivered drama, blindsides, shocks, twists, turns, impressive strategy, and emotional moments. It’s a top-tier season, and for me, a top-tier winner. Great job to the entire cast and production for being able to deliver.
MATTHEW’S FINAL TOP FIVE
I’ve been ranking a top five all season, and lately in their final positions of first to fifth. It’s time for the final ranking of the top five, in order, for all 24 players!
FIRST, PIA MIRANDA. Who’s shocked? I backed Pia the day she was revealed as a cast member. From her pre-show interview, to Episode 1, to Episode 24, to now as I write. I’ve only ever correctly picked the winner twice, and adding Pia to the list is incredibly exciting! She was an incredible gameplayer, knowing when to strike, how to strike, who to strike, and why to strike. She truly deserved to take out the title and prize money. It’s all worth it. She managed to flip herself from going first, and she made it to the top spot. Amazing. Congratulations again Pia!
SECOND, LUKE TOKI. This guy just knows how to play this game so well. He manipulated, lied, found an idol, won four immunities (tying the record). He covered every aspect of the game and bounced back to be even better next time. Blindsiding Abbey, while maybe a mistake in hindsight, was still an incredibly massive and amazing move that can’t go unnoticed. He did so well for a returnee, and I have no doubt his performance is 75% of the reason All-Stars is coming. No, he will not be on. But let’s protect his legacy for now. He’s just incredible. And the Go Fund Me set up for him has already surpassed the money awarded to each person for going out there COMBINED, ALL OF THEM. That’s insane. Go Australia. Go Luke.
THIRD, HARRY HILLS. The cockroach may not have been able to close out the final mission but damn did he fight to get as far as possible. Two idols, successful saves. And then being big enough in the merge to not be a safe vote, but low enough to not be the first vote, Harry just snuck through each and every Tribal Council. He’s a massive fan and I really do hope we see him return (maybe sooner than expected). I am really impressed with his entire performance all season and there’s no doubt in my mind he played an unbelievably fantastic game all the way through. He fought hard. And he was keeping his eye on the end goal the whole time. Being able survive like he has is so rare in Survivor. Great game!
FOURTH, JANINE ALLIS. I really loved watching Janine this season. For someone with a relatively big target on her back, and a way to speak so eloquently and still not be taken out nearly as soon as she should’ve, impressive. Could she have shaken off her threat level and be third-in-line behind Pia? Maybe not. Perhaps that’s attributed to Pia’s great positioning of putting her in front, or it’s Janine inadvertently putting herself there. Either way, it’s clear Janine had a relatively good idea about how to play the game, but not a complete clear one. And that’s okay. You don’t need one to play well. Attributing everything she did to running a business, while it may have annoyed some, only proved she was playing well because she can make the associations between the game and her life. You’ve got to find the common ground, and she did.
FIFTH, DAVID GENAT. Another extremely entertaining player who impressed all of Australia with his bold tactics, flashy moves, idol finds, and showdown with Shaun. He played so well. That pre-merge was all David’s as he manipulated on the Champions tribe, and then continued to do so without the numbers at the swap. He really knows how to engage with people and bring them in and sell them anything. The only unfortunate thing, people noticed. Once his own alliance realised what he’s doing, there’s no going back. As Pia said at the Final Tribal, you need to do it in a way that doesn’t put yourself out there and she was able to make the moves and still hide whereas David was loud and proud about it, wearing it around his neck to show everyone he did it. Great TV, yes! Great player, just. If he returns (;D), he’s got to simmer down just a little and leave his ego at the door. I know he can do it. A first run is a great place to learn.
Missing out on the top five, we had great characters in Ross, John, Andy and Casey (in order), who I personally enjoyed this season despite a few flaws. Daisy, Simon and Baden really grew on me when their games finished, although at times I wasn’t too fond of them (except Simon, who I was still just trying to figure out). The rest, hard to rank but either they went out too early, or became just not too likable outright. Still a pretty great cast anyhow.
That’s it! The review is over on the first season for this blog! Wow. I really enjoyed sharing my two passions together and can’t wait to join for Survivor: Island of the Idols in a week’s time! With only one episode a week, hopefully less of a work load. See you soon!
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