Australian Survivor: All-Stars – “The Battle Lines Are Drawn”

For the first time in Australian Survivor history, an entire cast was made up of returning players, battling for another shot at becoming the ultimate Sole Survivor.

The fifth season of Australian Survivor, titled All-Stars, began this week and saw some of the biggest names, faces, and players start their second journey to winning the world’s ultimate social and physical competition. Let’s look back on the journey of Week 1, and what it means for the 21 players who survived and move on to next week.

WEEK 1 RECAP

EPISODE ONE:

24 returning All-Stars began the 50-Day adventure in Fiji to be crowned Sole Survivor yet again. With many names withheld from being announced before the premiere, it was the first chance we got to see the entire cast of Australian Survivor‘s fifth season. Among the 14 names already revealed, the following 10 people will also compete for another chance to win the show. They are:

  • Lee Carseldine, Runner-Up, Season 1
  • Michelle Dougan, 4th, Season 2
  • Jacqui Patterson, 17th, Season 2
  • Sharn Coombes, Runner-Up, Season 3
  • Shonee Fairfax, 4th, Season 3
  • Zach Kozyrski, 17th, Season 3
  • Moana Hope, 19th, Season 3
  • Abbey Holmes, 5th, Season 4
  • Daisy Richardson, 8th, Season 4
  • John Eastoe, 9th, Season 4

The players are then separated into two tribes Vakama & Mokuta, and while some friends are separated, old foes must face their enemies from the start. Jonathan welcomes the tribe back to play again, and announce that their first Reward Challenge will begin instantly, where the winners get to enjoy an already completely built shelter (very Haves vs Have Nots). In a very physical test from the get go, the Mokuta tribe maintains an early lead to eventually win the first challenge of the season. During the challenge, Mokuta’s Henry finds an idol clue that he lets Vakama’s Mat know is in the same place for his tribe. Already, the game has well and truly begun.

The players hit the game running, especially on Vakama because they’re forced to work together and develop some great tribe morale after losing the challenge and having to build a shelter. Mokuta on the other hand already has a ‘kumbaya’, because the Day 1 activities are removed and they can just socialise and have fun as the game begins. Or so it appears anyway. The sheer advantage of having fire on the first night proves perfect for Mokuta, because Vakama is shivering in the cold wind, questioning why they even returned, and who’d they eat first…

Henry and Mat are competing to be the first visitor to Tribal Council to gain the idol they received a clue for, but meanwhile, the tribes really want to take out the first Immunity Challenge of the season. Mokuta has a slight lead early in the challenge but Vakama quickly catches up and even surpasses Mokuta toward the latter stages of the challenge. AK’s incredible ball shooting ability wins the challenge for Vakama, sending Mokuta to Tribal Council first for the season.

After losing the first challenge, Lydia makes it clear to us that she’s out to get Shane for blindsiding her in 2018, and begins to rally the troops to make sure the score is settled. Except, it’s not Lydia doing the dirty work, the cockroach Harry is out to get the numbers after confirming with Lydia the plan to get her out. Shane senses trouble though, and even Henry starts to gather the numbers to get Harry out instead. Henry wants to go big early, and even considers playing his eventual idol for her to take Harry out. Will last season’s cockroach be able to survive again, or can we see a winner achieve both placement book ends of a Survivor season?

John and Shane talking with others at the Mokuta camp.
IMAGE: NETWORK 10/10 DAILY

At Tribal Council, discussion revolves around the scramble of deciding on a first boot so soon in the game. Lydia says to keep the vote simple, but Shane reminds the tribe that simplicity doesn’t exist in the game and voting out the winner would be a boring move. Shane’s idol hunting strategy is exposed, and in the end, she is the first All-Star (and Sole Survivor) voted out of the game in an 8-3-1 vote, with Henry and Sharn voting with Shane against Jericho, and Lee casting a surprise vote against Michelle. As Mokuta returns to their camp, Henry snatches the idol from Tribal Council, staying discreet the entire time.

EPISODE TWO:

With Shane’s elimination in the history books, Henry is concerned about his position in the game after failing to rally the votes to save her and vote out Harry. In contrast, Harry’s on the warpath to come after Henry now, and forms an alliance with Nick and Shonee, solidifying the three to create as much chaos as possible. Over on Vakama, AK identifies two core alliances, the older people (Tarzan, Jacqui, Moana, Jericho, Mat), and the younger people (Brooke, Flick, Locky, Phoebe, Daisy, AK, David), with David the charmer at the top. In fact, David’s likeability sky rockets even more when he and Locky start a fire using a spindle in the night, to the cheers of the tribe.

At the Reward Challenge, a chance to visit the ‘Survivor shop’ to make camp life easier sees the tribes pitted against each other in an immensely physical battle. With some very physical match-ups going down, Vakama ends up winning the challenge, with Phoebe and Locky selected to visit the shop and make the best choices necessary for the tribe.

Vakama suspects Locky and Phoebe will face a Survivor dilemma, and sure enough, they got to choose five items either for themselves or the tribe. They do take a jar of cookies for themselves, but their story doesn’t convince Jericho that they’re entirely truthful. Phoebe and Locky tell their alliance about their extra reward, and it only solidifies the group going further.

At the second Immunity Challenge, Mokuta is hunting for their first win since the first challenge, while Vakama is hoping to keep the streak alive. Mokuta’s slight early lead keeps them in front for much of the challenge, and when Moana falls off the course, Mokuta gets even further out in front. But a sudden last minute comeback sees Vakama close to taking over Mokuta. In the end, Mokuta manages to win their first Immunity Challenge seeing Vakama pay their first Tribal visit.

After the loss, Mat and his alliance also identify the younger versus older tribe division, especially when the seven in the majority separate from the tribe. That alliance wants to target Moana for her weaker challenge performance and close relationship with Mat, but David wants to take a shot at Jericho first and foremost. Jericho hopes to flip the script (believing that alliance is targeting Moana), and tries to swing AK and Phoebe to his side, which is targeting Daisy. These two now have to decide between eliminating the only Sole Survivor left, and the self declared ‘challenge beast’, Daisy.

At Vakama’s first Tribal Council, the question of which ‘us’ is proposed when it becomes clear there’s a division of two groups. Testing that trust within each group is paramount however, as loyalty is only bought when it is proven. AK asserts he’s in the middle (although I don’t buy it), and Jericho gets emotional over the potential of seeing one of his new friends be voted out. Despite the talk of a blurred line on where the division lies, the younger alliance stick together and Jericho is voted out in a 7-5 vote, thus eliminating both former winners from the game.

Jericho is the second player voted out of Australian Survivor: All-Stars.
IMAGE: NETWORK 10/10 DAILY

EPISODE THREE:

With both winners out of the game, the younger alliance On Vakama is feeling powerful holding their majority. But perhaps there’s something to worry about, as Locky plays bachelor for Daisy, Brooke, and Phoebe, the three single ladies on the tribe. Elsewhere, on Mokuta, Lee is starting to remember the misfortunes of his first season as the days wear on this time, but he’s in luck as his bond with Sharn over being previous Runners-Up might keep them both around for a while. Back at Vakama, the alliance of Mat, Jacqui, Moana, and Tarzan, is on dire straights, sitting at the bottom of the tribe. David is also targeting Daisy after the ill experience of playing with her last season, and rallies Mat to join forces with him.

At the Reward Challenge, a stunned Mokuta expresses shock at Jericho’s elimination from the game. But with coffee on the line, it’s nailing the three rounds of All-Star challenges. After the first two rounds are won by Mokuta, they win the Reward Challenge and get to enjoy coffee, and magazine articles of Australian Survivor history. But not before Mat asks Henry to throw him the idol if they lose Immunity, because it is the last opportunity to play it at the next Tribal Council.

After winning the Reward Challenge, Harry can’t shake his history, as his assassination of the godmother last season got everyone questioning what happened (as the cast didn’t see the final moments of the fourth season). Nick’s sneaky ways, Sharn’s unfortunate idol drop, Henry’s yoga faux, Lydia’s epic blindside, and Zach’s misogyny are also all brought up, reminding everyone of some of the most memorable moments this series has given us. During the night on Vakama, Mat reveals the plan to David to get the idol from Henry if the tribe loses the challenge, and David’s planning to use it to his best advantage if necessary.

Arriving at the Immunity Challenge, it’s game on to see which tribe will progress further as a tribe of 11. With a 3v3 Immunity Challenge seeing some intense physical battles go down, Mokuta end up winning their second Immunity Challenge, taking it out in an extremely close 2-1 score. And like clock work, Henry follows through with the idol handover, and Mat now has an idol to potentially protect his alliance and take out one of the majority members. But uh-oh, the exchange didn’t go unnoticed as AK catches them, so how will this Tribal play out now?

With another loss and trip to Tribal Council, Mat’s alliance is once again targeting Daisy, but the messiness of how to play the idol correctly keeps Jacqui concerned. With the majority alliance aware of Mat’s idol, they want to split the votes 5-2 on Jacqui and Moana, believing the idol won’t be played on her. Mat, not convinced the votes are on Moana, gets confirmation from David that the votes are actually on Jacqui. With the entire tribe searching for idols, Brooke ends up finding Vakama’s hidden immunity idol and informs her alliance about it too. Just before Tribal Council, David tells Mat to plant seeds that he’s in trouble, hoping to flush Brooke’s new idol out of the game.

With a massive Tribal Council imminent, David plays paranoid up heavily, convincing his alliance he feels as if he’s on the bottom. Mat helps his story too, but whispering to Locky and Phoebe to vote David out too. Idol chatter is certainly on too, with both sides secretly hiding their idols in their bags. Talk about the long game and loyalty is rife, with both sides arguing with each other. In the end, Mat correctly plays his idol on Jacqui, saving her from going, but Brooke’s incorrect idol play on David (albeit perfect for Dave) sends Daisy out of the game in a 4-2-5 vote. And David just pulled off one of the biggest moves…ever.

Daisy is voted out after a massive blindside orchestrated by former adversary, David.
IMAGE: NETWORK 10/10 DAILY

REVIEW

Wow. What a monster week for not only Australian Survivor, but Reality TV in general. This show is captivating television, some massive players carry the show in its’ entirety, so to bring a very large chunk back for All-Stars, that’s mind blowing. We’ve really hit the big time this season.

It’s great to welcome a full cast of 24 that is really here to win the game, while some strategies may differ, it’s refreshing to have such a great group of players from all areas of the game. Losing both winners, back to back, and first, it’s unfortunate yet warranted. I don’t think Shane or Jericho ever had much chance of winning again, but I do find it interesting no one wanted to use this as a tool to keep them around because it’s one person they could have on their side yet string far into the game, hoping they can beat them. I guess it’s just easier taking out the winners first, it’s the best argument. And Nick really highlighted that very situation well at the first Tribal Council, there’s no reason to start playing hard on Day 2. There’s plenty of time. So neither Shane nor Jericho fit the formula to the game that would play out. Losing Daisy isn’t terrible to the show either. Her personality was somewhat likeable for me, I wasn’t the biggest fan last season, however I did enjoy her presence this season. Labelling herself as a challenge beast just for beating Lydia in one instance was peculiar, it’s one victory. And everyone knows Survivor‘s a war not a battle. Either way, Daisy fell victim to being blind to David’s mission for revenge. Given how Australians operate and how the game is built with a fifth Australian seeing being credited as All-Stars, I think everyone should expect that their enemies from their original season are out for vengeance this time. Lydia-Shane, David-Daisy, Brooke-Flick, Sharn-Mat; all of them. They should all expect a showdown eventually, and Daisy was a fool to align with David. She was the best one to know what he was capable of.

Diving into Mokuta, we’ve got a very interesting group of players and bonds that have begun to form. Evidently, Henry’s on the outs. He’s got no idol, he’s got no clear allies. I’m extremely worried for him going into this game. He wants to play bold and as a viewer I’m all for it, but in the game, it’s going to be hard for him. One thing worth noting I think is that I believe Henry was probably one of the biggest names amongst the cast, so his hand might just be forced to go big at the start, otherwise they’d just vote him out anyway. If he can really make a move and find some allies, he might be okay, but I am worried his vote against Harry spoils the party. Speaking of Harry, the guy is sneaky and clearly ‘Dirty Harry’ is alive and well, but his alliance with Shonee and Nick will do wonders for now. Nick’s doing well at keeping his gameplay under the radar for now. He knows his reputation so fingers crossed he keeps it quiet and doesn’t start showing what he’s really capable of. That was his downfall last time, and he knows that. Shonee on the other hand probably doesn’t have to change much. She’s just a social legend. If she can continue to build strong relationships, she’s gonna be fine. I doubt it’s the only alliance running, so given that it’s edited into the show, it’s gotta be powerful. If these three can stick together, we’re in for a treat. All three are deceptive and impressive players, so it might be a winning formula for them all.

Lee, Shonee, and Sharn, in the shelter, discussing Shonee’s personal work life.
IMAGE: NETWORK 10/10 DAILY

We also got some insight into Lee and his journey back into the game. Yeah, his throwing ability wasn’t the best in the first challenge, but it’s a minor setback. I think Lee’s gonna be here for a while, he’s a good personality and holds clear challenge strength. Whether Lee will actually find some footing in the strategic side of the game (something he only somewhat lacked the first time), it remains to be seen. I have faith that he’ll make some waves, just not for now. In a similar position to Lee, it’s the LEGEND Sharn. I am 100% Sharn’s biggest fan this season. Watching her intro package was heart breaking as a fan, because Sharn really owned the game last time she played. I’m so glad she decided to return, and I think she shouldn’t be slept on. She’s an impressive player, and has shown an incredible capability of playing from both the bottom and the top, so I’m not worried about her for voting Harry and not Shane. She’ll bounce back. And she deserves credit for a great season last time, so it was refreshing to see her in Episode 3, finally. Go Sharn!

Then there’s Abbey and John, 2019 representatives, and their connection to Harry might either make or break them. We haven’t seen much of them or gained much insight into their gameplay this season, but if they side with Harry, and form an alliance of five, it just takes one more to form a majority. The big question is, which of the remaining three players flips to make that majority? Zach, Lydia, or Michelle? I can see Lydia and Zach valuing challenge strength, given it was important to them the first time they played, so they likely team up with the better physical players in Henry, Lee, and Sharn. That’s given these three team up anyway. Michelle, she’s the swing or the next vote. She’s played with Henry previously, so it might be easy for her to swing that way and link back with the devil she knows and not the devil she doesn’t. In turn, maybe Henry targets her for playing a role in his blindside in 2017. Tough to call. But given Lee voted for Michelle in an original split vote plan, her days might be numbered and she’s sitting at the bottom. I don’t know at all right now. We’ll have to wait and see.

Now there’s Vakama, which we’ve seen much more from and can analyse the allegiance divisions better. The young versus old alliance is hilarious, especially given Moana and Jericho aren’t even ‘old’ at all, and David’s 39. It’s not surprising Moana and Mat are back working together again, that familiarity is there, and given their sporting backgrounds, it makes sense to stick together too. Tarzan and Jacqui fit the puzzle too. But individually, I’m not sure if anyone holds much value going further. I think Jacqui is underestimated. She’s very smart, very strategic, she led an entire tribe with Henry in 2017, I think at face value it’s quick to call out Jacqui as weaker than some, and probably next to Tarzan and Mat there’s a case for that, but she’s incredibly strong, particularly upstairs. If this four is doomed, I’d put money that Jacqui will be the one to survive the downfall. She’ll form alliances with the other side if necessary. Moana hasn’t given us much in the first week, and the first impression is that she’s out of it and the weakest player. But, I don’t think it’s the case. Is she having a hard time? Maybe. I can’t get a good read. I like her though. Tarzan gave us good content in the premiere episode, expressing desire to emerge as the alpha male over the typical choices on his tribe. I hope he is. He’s a great guy. And maybe can even earn the trust of some members of the other alliance. Then there’s Mat. And I’m not a fan. Good on him for pulling off the move to get Henry’s idol and taking out Daisy thanks to the advice from David. But I certainly think Mat will fail in keeping David aligned with him. I’m sure David chose him as a good pawn to his plan, because Mat’s message of loyalty will mean he’ll feel as if he owes David his allegiance. Anyone else would probably see David as the biggest threat thanks to his move, but Mat won’t. And I still think he fails to understand the game and what is needed to win. So I’m ready for Mat to go.

Vakama’s ‘younger’ alliance of Locky, Phoebe, David, Daisy, Flick. AK, and Brooke, enjoy eating cookies thanks to Locky and Phoebe.
IMAGE: NETWORK 10/10 DAILY

Loving the ‘young’ alliance, even some surprised me. Locky wasn’t one of my favourites the first time but I think he’s playing well now. He’s in a tough spot, he’s always going to be seen as a physical beast so he’s probably gonna struggle to shake off that threat status. But he’s gotta ease into it. So he’s just gotta keep forming bonds, staying strong in challenges, and he’ll survive for a while. AK is in a good spot too, and considering how quickly he was on the bottom last time, it’s great to see him sit in a good spot that isn’t seeing any attention drawn to him either. He’s very perceptive, and probably a future threat down the road. I can see him going far, he’s one of the better strategists on the season. Flick, why have you been purpled? If I don’t get any Flick content soon, I riot. She’s an incredible character to the show, we deserve to hear what she’s thinking. Episode 4 please. Phoebe showed that she’s learnt a lot from last time and is still a strong social player like her previous run too. I think we’ve got much more to see from her, and given she was a swing vote, there’s clearly something she’s doing better with the other side than those that were firmly against working with the alliance. I do worry that this position might get her targeted. So maybe she can stick to one side and run with it. I’m also really liking Brooke this season. She played extremely well in these stages the first time, and she’s showing those same qualities this season, and she even found an idol to go along with it. I don’t see her idoling David a bad move, it’s just David’s manipulation. She’s otherwise a strong player, and actually playing it showed that she’s loyal and with her alliance. Had she of decided to keep it to herself, the alliance would have been super suspicious, and David would probably be after her too. It meant she was willing to sacrifice someone, so her best move was to play it on someone in the alliance.

Now we’ve got David, and wow, he brought EVERYTHING and more in the last Tribal Council. Here’s what David SINGLE HANDEDLY accomplished in move move:

  • Blindsided his personal target and someone he didn’t trust, that also could explain his game in detail to the tribe. Now, there’s no witnesses.
  • He formed some allegiance with the other alliance, ensuring he’s not going to go because he kept them safe.
  • Flushed out two idols from the game.
  • Remained undetected within his alliance, not voting against them, and tricking them into thinking he was not in on the plan.

That’s one seriously impressive strategist and player for the franchise. And he picked Mat, he knew. Anyone else might see David shady but he’s got the right people on his side when he needs them. Then there’s the fact he’s just in a ‘younger’ alliance. The guy is so charming, and so sociable. I also wondered why David and Daisy were all fine in Episode 2 and screamed, “I knew it,” when he started targeting her! Why wouldn’t he? It’s Shaun’s right-hand woman! It wouldn’t surprise me if he lasts a while. I love watching him, Australia loves watching him, we’re all in on the David train, let’s be honest.

It’s been a strong start to a strong season, an epic Tribal Council, two massive blindsides, three big names going home. We’ve also had some great small moments, like Phoebe’s first reward win celebration, the entire cookie jar scene, Locky playing bachelor, David making fire. We’re in for a treat this season! Once again, some equal share on the editing and screen time isn’t perfect yet wished for, but Episode 3 was really good to fix this, and thus keeps me hopeful for the future. I definitely love the idol surprises and twists, like the reward trip in Episode 2. Australian Survivor has gone all out again and this show is delivering as the best edition of the franchise, worldwide. I’m loving this season, great job to all involved! And thank you to the cast for coming back and putting on a potentially incredible season!

THE TOP FIVE

Each week, I will pick a top five for the week, based on what we’ve seen currently and previously.

The All-Stars in the Top Five this week include:
David Genat, Phoebe Timmins, Henry Nicholson, Brooke Jowett, and Sharn Coombes.
IMAGES: NETWORK 10

DAVID GENAT: I mean, how could you not? He pulled off an incredible blindside this week, and is sitting in a great spot. If he can stay under the radar for his massive move, he’s going to survive to see Week 3. No doubt.

PHOEBE TIMMINS: Phoebe had a seriously strong performance in Episode 2 where we saw her evolution as a player from 2016, and furthermore see her make a strategic decision to eliminate an ally to gain a whole lot more.

HENRY NICHOLSON: Idol king, move maestro, Henry was a star player this week. A small hiccup at Tribal Council, but his efforts didn’t go unnoticed. His strategic ability is impressive, and I have faith he’ll wiggle out of it.

BROOKE JOWETT: She’s doing everything right, and she found and played an idol. With a strong alliance, Brooke just needs to keep her perception on high and maintain a strong standing on the tribe both physically and socially.

SHARN COOMBES: This space is a Sharn fan space. While she may have stayed quiet this week, we saw that Sharn has the hunger to fight for the win again, and equally the capability to get there. Her time to shine will be soon.

That’s it for this week’s review, I’ll continue writing for Australian Survivor: All-Stars and review the American Survivor: Winners at War as they go to air.

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Australian Survivor: All-Stars begins Week 2 at 7:30pm on Monday, only on Channel 10!


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