Twists were the theme of the week for Australian Survivor: All-Stars, and while some were more effective than others, it still rocked everyone left in the game to their core.
Four eliminations, three episodes, two new tribes, one idol play. A lot went down this week, with twists galore impacting the season like never before. But were the sudden shocks and surprises worth it? And how has editing impacted this Australian Survivor edition? I take a good look at how this season is playing out, and the moves that rocked the game, once again.
WEEK 3 RECAP
After being voted out and sent to Exile, Shonee vows she’s out for revenge against those that eliminated her, but it’s the unlikely duo of her and Zach that really takes her by surprise. On Mokuta, Nick hopes to soon reunite with Shonee after losing his best ally. Abbey on the other hand takes pride in controlling the tribe, as she has ran every vote thus far. Over on Vakama, the division of alliances is still a prevalent theme, even if Mat and David are secretly working together.
When the tribes head out to compete in a Reward Challenge, Jonathan reveals that there is a tribe swap beforehand. Drop your buffs! Even Shonee and Zach split onto separate tribes (albeit decided by production), back into the game after a temporary stay on Exile. The new tribes are as follows, with Vakama having a 5-5 split, and Mokuta with OG Vakama holding a 5-4 majority:
Original Vakama on Vakama – AK, Brooke, Flick, Locky, Mat.
Original Mokuta on Vakama – Abbey, Harry, John, Lydia, Shonee.
Original Mokuta on Mokuta – Lee, Nick, Sharn, Zach.
Original Vakama on Mokuta – David, Jacqui, Moana, Phoebe, Tarzan.
The new tribes then compete in the physical battle of a Reward Challenge, which the prize is a mystery Pandora’s box that poses an advantage in the game. After some gruelling match ups, Mokuta manages to win with a 3-1 victory over Vakama.
After losing the challenge, Vakama welcomes its’ new members and the 5-5 split worries Abbey because Mokuta isn’t tight, after voting out Shonee only one Tribal before. Shonee also wants to start fresh, bonding with her new tribe mates because she doesn’t want to be near her old ones. Over on the victorious Mokuta, David enjoys holding a majority over the original Mokuta members, and notes that Zach might be a worthy ally. Pandora’s box is revealed, and the individual advantage can only be claimed in a massive hunt for the key that opens the box. Nick’s the first to find a key, and hopes telling Phoebe means they can form an alliance. Jacqui also finds a key, but Nick is in and out first, and no one knows he found the extra vote inside.
At the Immunity Challenge, the battle between new tribes once again favours physical strength, but at least there’s a cube puzzle in the end. Vakama gets out to an early lead after Jacqui and Moana are selected to anchor in a significant physical position. Both tribes work simultaneously on the puzzle, and any lead Vakama had is thwarted when Nick leads Mokuta to victory, sending Vakama to Tribal Council.
Over losing challenges, Abbey is intent on sending Shonee home, again, because she is the weakest Vakama tribe member. Wanting to join forces with the alliance of AK, Brooke, Flick, and Locky, Abbey and Lydia approach the four to align together and vote out Shonee. Instead, Shonee is working on a plan of her own to eliminate Abbey for leading the Mokuta alliance, pledging allegiance to original Vakama. Brooke weighs up the two options of strength versus loyalty, and the decision made at Tribal might set the course for the rest of the game.
At Tribal Council, new beginnings and old foes are discussed in reference to the tribe swap and the numbers split. Shonee’s exile after being voted out is mentioned, where it’s damage control by Abbey to mend the wound sewn in (despite targeting her, again, at this Tribal). After some slightly heated discussion, the vote turned out to be relatively chaotic, although Shonee and her new allies stuck together to blindside Abbey 5-2-2-1.
On the new Mokuta beach, David is going insane trying to figure out who opened Pandora’s box. Nick, who did open the box, is feeling uneasy about the makeup of the new tribe and his future in the game. The remnants of Mat’s alliance see Moana rise to the top, and she is targeting David and Phoebe for being a pivotal alliance. On Vakama, Shonee is proud she was able to blindside Abbey with the OG Vakama tribe alliance. Mat on the other hand isn’t pleased to be with the numbers, but is also weary of Lydia seeking revenge for blindsiding her back in 2018. His fears are right when Lydia realises her and John are in trouble, and hopes to use this grudge against Mat to her advantage.
Both tribes arrive at the Immunity Challenge expecting to play for Tribal Immunity, but instead, both tribes will visit Tribal Council and play for Individual Immunity. The shock sees the All-Stars fight in an intense and painful endurance challenge, John and Locky are the first couple to drop on Vakama, while Moana and Lee are first for Mokuta. Eventually, it’s between Brooke and Flick for Vakama, and Jacqui and Sharn for Mokuta; but it’s Brooke and Jacqui that prevail and win Individual Immunity.
Vakama returns to camp and the majority alliance is looking to target Lydia, forming a split vote between John and her. Lydia isn’t going to go out without fighting, and instead wants to blindside Mat, with an idol, seeing the opportunity as perfect. Pitching to AK and Harry about making a big move, she vows that, as it is All-Stars, the time is now. Elsewhere, Mat despises working with Locky but is left to do so as it’s his only option. Safe versus blindside, what will the majority do?
Simultaneously on Mokuta, David recognises that the vote will set up the tribe’s future heading into the merge. He rallies to get the numbers to blindside Nick, pitching to the entire tribe to make the move. But Moana who is heading her alliance decides to blindside the blindside by voting out Phoebe, weakening David and drawing him to her. Meanwhile, Phoebe isn’t entirely loyal to David as she hopes to keep Nick safe by telling him he’s on the chopping block, Nick then retaliates by targeting Moana. And yet I ask, why is no one targeting David directly?
Both tribes sit at a clumped Tribal Council, where Lydia is questioned over whether she can infiltrate the majority alliance on Vakama, and it’s echoed by those in the alliance who agree that uncertainty on loyalty is still a major factor in the vote. As Jonathan turns to Mokuta, testing alliances are a major factor into the outcome of the vote; although harmony within the tribe is mentioned by Moana, despite Phoebe disagreeing with the statement. Some are nervous, others are confident in their plan, but it really could be anyone.
Before the tribes vote, another twist must be unleashed on the All-Stars, as Jonathan informs them that the two players voted out will compete in a fire-making challenge to decide who goes home and who returns to their tribe. Lydia is voted out in a 5-4 vote against John, clearly showing that the Mat plan never came to fruition. Phoebe is also voted out in a shocking 4-3-2 vote, with Moana’s plan succeeding. As Lydia and Phoebe battle to make fire, it’s the small 2016 strategic powerhouse that dominates the challenge beast of 2018, as Phoebe wins and returns to Mokuta, sending Lydia even earlier than last time.
After last night’s vote, John is left on the bottom, looking for any in-road possible. He hopes to align with Mat, seeing that an alliance with him will work wonders. Mat’s still after Locky, and believes he can blindside him with John. Over on Mokuta, Phoebe feels isolated by her tribe and has to do damage control with David because she needs him moving forward. David himself is feeling vulnerable, but Moana believes David can be useful, separate from Phoebe.
The tribes enter the Reward Challenge, where it’s the Survivor Auction, with a twist (because we needed another one of those). Instead of the usual separate bidding with a maximum money given of $500, but each tribe has a kitty of $2000, still with individuals playing with a maximum bid of $500. Phoebe spends all $500 on a mystery note (since found out to be because Moana jumped to $500 as well, yet withdrawn – edited out). It allows her to enjoy each future item up for bid, albeit decreasing the tribe kitty to $1500. Messages from home and various food items are up for bid, but perhaps tribe politics are even more interesting as the fairness of who gets what is debated between tribes.
On Vakama, AK, who enjoyed every item up for auction with Phoebe, reveals all the information Phoebe gave him to Brooke and Locky, which prompts the alliance to target Mat because of Moana’s strong position on Mokuta. Speaking of which, Moana hopes to take out Phoebe once again, gaining allies in the process. Meanwhile, as Moana delivers a confessional about David not having any power, David successfully finds a hidden immunity idol, much to his elation.
An endurance testing Immunity Challenge sees the tribes play in pairs to maintain a disk up high in the air. Vakama struggles early when they lose two pairs early on, while Mokuta still has four. Eventually, it’s left to David and Zach versus Shonee and Brooke to win. In the end, the boys are victorious after two hours for Mokuta, sending Vakama to Tribal Council.
With John and Mat on the bottom, Locky and AK hatch a plan to split between them, with boys voting Mat, and girls voting John. Mat pitches to Shonee and Harry to blindside Locky, but he also tries to pull in Flick. Telling some porkies, Mat inflicts some paranoia into her. Despite a perfect opportunity to give Flick a confessional, the editors decide to ignore her, still. Instead, we see Harry weigh up the decision to make or break this big move.
At Tribal Council, the hierarchy (or lack thereof) is discussed as many dispute whether the majority alliance has a power couple on top. John calls out Brooke and Locky as those in charge of the alliance, and whether sticking to the status quo is beneficial to those on the outs. When Jonathan calls for idols, Mat decides to finally play his, successfully negating three votes against him, but the tight six person alliance was prepared as they split the votes between Mat and John, sending John home 3-2-
There’s a lot to cover, and I want to really knock out the players first before I discuss some of the decisions made by those not playing, as they impacted the season quite highly this week. There were a lot of great moments, but equally, some poor ones. It’s important they’re discussed thoroughly.
Systemically, we saw Abbey, Lydia, and John just get snuffed one by one. And sure, their alliance preached strength which isn’t necessarily a bad road considering who ends up usually winning a season (social players). But the fact they were voted out isn’t really their fault considering the twist that was introduced last week, Exile Beach. We’ll get to that. But I really liked Abbey’s improved gameplay this season. She showed much more self awareness and strategic capability than last season, and it’s a shame this Abbey couldn’t go further. Lydia was always fun to watch, and John, but given how little screen time they received up until their boot episodes, it’s a shame we didn’t see their character more. Another thing we’ll touch on.
The tribe swap was good, although why it happened at 19, I have no idea, such a strange decision to put it on an odd number that forces a sit-out. Anyway, it’s funny the tribes were pretty even at the swap, even if Mokuta was just screwed numbers wise, on both sides. Lucky for the new Mokuta tribe, Vakama was dysfunctional. David getting the idol, awesome! David not convincing the tribe to work with him, unfortunate. He’s still gonna have to work to break those connections between the majority of Lee/Sharn/Moana/Jacqui/Tarzan. Moana, a player, and a big one, yes. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why David isn’t her target, or anyone’s for that matter! I understand what she’s saying, and maybe she doesn’t understand the scale of David’s gameplay and how damaging it may be. He can go deep, and he’s got that charm about him. Why not just target the big dog? She already doesn’t trust him, I don’t know why she just doesn’t eliminate the threat. It’s a huge move, much bigger than I think Phoebe is because Phoebe is so vulnerable. But, points to her for managing to rally the numbers for Phoebe’s blindside, she’s playing well to her standards, even if I question them. We need more of Tarzan, Lee and Jacqui, I can’t gather if they’re making any moves or calling any shots, and it’s disappointing. Sharn, at least, I can see is in the middle and working the numbers because we are constantly seeing her socialise with others, yet never hear from her directly. She’s a great player, connected on all fronts. Nick and Phoebe are in big trouble, but Nick probably gets a better wrap this week for getting the extra vote and being connected enough with the Sharn/Moana faction that he wasn’t targeted by them with David. But why he wanted to target Moana after hearing it’s David after him… WHAT? I don’t understand. Phoebe, thank god she won the fire, and she’s going for broke right now. It sucks. I hope she can bounce back, but I don’t like her chances.
On Vakama, that tight three of AK/Locky/Brooke is working wonders, but if Flick is genuinely worried about them, they might be in trouble. Really, the next opportunity to make a move is with Mat, Shonee, and Harry. And even I’m not convinced they will given what Flick has said on Twitter about Harry backing out of the plan to blindside Locky at the previous Tribal, and that it’s too close for comfort. We need Flick’s opinion, I’m so disappointed there was an opportunity to give her a confessional in Ep. 9, yet it was wasted. Shonee and Harry are interesting, I don’t know how intertwined they are with the majority three, and whether they’re willing to make a move. Mat is in TROUBLE. Big time. No idol, no allies. It would not surprise me if he’s the one to go next based on the promos for this week. And while I’ll admit he’s playing much better than last time, I don’t think he’ll see an out unless he can flip three people. I’m not liking his chances. Are there any cracks with Brooke, Locky, and AK? I don’t know, probably, AK is a smart player and is just lumped with them for now. But I have no idea if any of them will turn on the other, they’re too comfortable.
Let’s talk twists and editing. Firstly, twists. There were four episodes in a row that featured twists, and some with more than one. And each of them had one big mistake in them that kind of killed the vibe and my own excitement for what was to come. Shonee and Zach’s exile seemed pointless, and there are so many other ways it could have been executed. Maybe only one is exiled, and rejoins the tribe that loses Immunity and sends someone home. In this case, it’s Shonee, who rejoins Vakama after they send someone home. It seemed so odd that the tribe swap had a tribe of 10 and 9, and yet, Shonee and Zach were TOLD which tribes to go to. That’s a production choice, and it seemed very, un-Survivor. You would never see Jeff Probst tell Boston Rob to go on this tribe because it’ll either be most beneficial, or create the most drama, which it no doubt did by having Shonee go on Vakama. Yeah, even gender split, whatever. It just had a bad taste. But it’s not terrible. What really ruined the split was that Abbey/Lydia/John never had a damn chance because of the exile twist that forced them to vote out Shonee. Vakama didn’t have those circumstances. They were therefore more inclined to stick together, whereas Mokuta just got a bad hand that had to just be dealt with. I love Shonee. She’s great. But her getting voted out made it much easier for her to then work with the Vakama alliance. The whole twist just seemed kind of pointless, and thus set up Abbey and friends to fail. And it sucks for them, and sucked for some watching too. Then the next episode, immedaitley after, there’s a double Tribal, and once again, I just think things could have been executed better. It seemed too soon after the swap, too clumped at Tribal, and fire-making was bizarre to be the decider. Why? Because it once again, it brought back someone who was voted out and thus pissed at those that voted against her, in Phoebe. Instead, I wish JLP told them they all had to vote one person out across tribes, a twist initiated in Survivor: Game Changers. It’s epic, will people stick with their tribes? Old alliances, swaps. It would have been crazy! But no. It couldn’t be done. Now Phoebe’s in an awkward spot and everyone wants to get her out again, and while the twist isn’t massively bad, it just has bad taste for what would be polished in the American Survivor.
The most successful twist, in my opinion, was the Auction in tribes. That was really fun to watch, had a great back and forth between tribes on how much money needed to be spent. I think the idea was great! But it was let down by poor editing, which portrayed Phoebe as a villain by bidding $500, yet we never saw the original Moana bid of $500. This, revealed by Phoebe on Twitter. That’s a massive moment, that a large chunk of the audience will never know, and while in the game it doesn’t mean much has changed (since they’re all obviously privy to the real situation), it just has a bit of a bad taste for players and viewers who know the truth and can’t get past the injustice of leaving the big moment out. Australian Survivor isn’t a trashy show. It doesn’t need trick editing to portray participants one way or another like other shows (we can all name a few).
Yes, it’s Reality TV. They can edit whatever they want, however they want. That’s extremely valid. But considering this brand and format isn’t known to manipulate something so extraordinary, it doesn’t sit well. The format is one of the best on the planet, ruled by what the players can pull off at different times. Painting someone innocent and another as a villain, natural in Reality TV but not necessary to be so obvious and blatant. Another editing blunder is just the continuous editing of the show since it began a few weeks ago. Many, many, MANY faces are still left without a say in what goes on, and instead, we’re left to the same five people telling us what’s happening, when thoughts could equally be shared by others. The fact Lydia and John were obvious boots to me was because we barely saw them say anything up until their own boot episode. Even John didn’t get a confessional in Lydia’s boot. Jacqui, Lee, Sharn, Tarzan, Brooke, Zach, all severely underedited, only popping up once when it’s only partially relevant, and really being left out of the bulk of the show.
Yes, the argument is that some people tell the story of the season more than others, but when there’s opportunities to give screen time to these ‘non story-tellers’ they should be used. Don’t just give another confessional to David. And I love you Dave, I do, but half the things you say could be said by someone else too. A perfect example is Mat trying to flip Flick, and rather than even getting a soundbite of what she might be thinking, we see Mat once again talk about being on the bottom and making a move. Flick has just been completely ignored, and it’s tiresome to watch. Everyone else has had decent screen time, but they all could drop a confessional or two in favour of others. This is All-Stars, the best of the bets, so show us them all. The fact some people still have less confessionals than Shane, the first boot, is maddening. We’re nine two-hour episodes into the show, I think a lot of viewers can agree the editing hasn’t been great and frankly, disappointing. Especially watching the similar All-Star edition of the American Survivor: Winners at War, which gave all 20 participants one confessional in it’s two-hour premiere episode, and then 17 of 20 in it’s second episode that only lasted for one hour.
Don’t get me wrong, I love Australian Survivor. The gameplay is clearly top notch and we’ve got so many great characters that I love seeing. But that’s why it’s also become, at times, not fun to watch. Because a lot of these characters are being left out. A lot of great things can be said about this week too, a spectacular Pandroa’s box scene with Nick snagging the extra vote, David’s incredible reaction to his idol find, fun challenges that are a step up from sheer physical brutality like last week, “drop your buffs”, and more. But these glaring negatives impact my (and others) viewing experience of the show. Unfortunately some choices made by those in power work out negatively, it happens, and it’s ok.
Let’s not forget or look past this incredible cast. Big thanks to them coming back out and playing so well this season. There hasn’t been a boring episode of gameplay all season long. Well done. Thank you. Thank you to the production team for assembling this season and making it a very good one.
THE TOP FIVE
Each week, I will pick a top five for the week, based on what we’ve seen currently and previously.
DAVID GENAT: He couldn’t assemble the numbers, he was left on the outs. There’s a few negatives for Dave. But he found an idol and went beast mode with it. He’s entertaining TV. He remains in the top five.
MOANA HOPE: Although I’m weary of her gameplay intentions, she’s cunning and capable of making things happen. A successful Phoebe blindside sees her really making waves this season, and a spot at the top.
NICK IADANZA: Pandora’s box, tick. Survived an oncoming blindside, tick. Nick’s getting into hot water, but he’s not in deep. With such an impressive run so far, he just might make his way out of it.
SHARN COOMBES: She is perfectly in the middle, undetected, and helping pull off what needs to be done. She may be underedited, but her constant screen time in strategic conversations prove she’s well connected.
SHONEE FAIRFAX: If anyone can jump to get a new tribe to blindside her old foes, it’s Shonee. She turned her vote out into an advantage, and has a lot of power going forward, I see big moves arising. She’s not done yet.
That’s my extremely long Australian Survivor Review, stay tuned for more content soon!
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Australian Survivor: All-Stars continues on Monday at 7:30pm on Channel 10!
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