Australian Survivor 2021 – “I’ve Cooked This”

Six versus three and still couldn’t get it done. Well Australian Survivor certainly brought some laughs when one of the game’s biggest blunders sent a major player home. That’s not forgetting the fact a double Tribal sent both Brawn and Brains into a strategic frenzy. Week 3 was not to miss!

With Cara spectacularly saved after idoling herself out of the game, the Brawn celebrated taking her in, while Brains split into a fight against those in power. But before the week was up, a tribe swap, voting mistake, and all-in Tribal Council shook the remaining players into Week 4.

WEEK 3 RECAP

Episode 7

When Cara awakens the sleeping Brawn tribe and reveals to them she is their latest addition, the tribe celebrates gaining another member, seeing opportunity in both challenges and strategy. The tribe’s cohesion and daily activities delights Cara, who welcomes her second lease on Survivor life. On her old stomping ground, George has hell to pay for watching Cara’s exit unfold right before his eyes. Particularly annoyed with Wai’s betrayal, George lets her know just how furious he is with her decision to flip to the majority. Surprisingly however, Wai holds her own and diplomatically explains to George why she left his alliance, and the disharmony he was creating at camp.

At the Reward Challenge, the Brains are shocked to learn Cara has remained in the game and swapped over to the Brawn tribe. But a challenge which tests mind over matter sees the Brawn’s reward dominance run out, as the Brains manage to finally secure a reward win, while Brawn is sent back to camp empty handed. Still getting to know Cara and work out how she fits into the tribe, both Shannon and Simon work to secure her as part of their sides of the tribe. Meanwhile on the Brains, Hayley recognises her lowly position within her alliance and plots to dismantle the top of the tribe’s alliance, and create a power shift amongst the tribe.

At the Immunity Challenge, Jonathan announces that an immunity idol is hidden on the challenge course, up for grabs for anyone who can claim it. While Brawn takes out the win, Hayley manages to snag the idol and keep it out of the Brawn and Brains target George’s hands. Now with some power, Hayley prepares to take a shot against the tribe’s top of the totem pole: Joey. While Joey’s alliance plans to split the votes between George and their one-time helper Wai, Hayley lines up Baden and Rachel to instead vote for Joey. Using the split vote plan as fuel to convince Wai to flip, Hayley only needs George to create a majority five – but she isn’t able to get to him in time before Tribal Council.

At Tribal Council, George’s demise looks to be certain, but in a pocket moment, Hayley is able to whisper to George to vote for Joey. With all five now enlisted to vote him out, Joey is sent home in a stunning 5-3-1 blindside.

Episode 8

With Joey the kingpin taken out, George is elated he went from zero to hero. But the target from George hasn’t quite wavered, with Joey’s alliance remnants still after his head on a stick. While talking about their future plans, Rachel and Laura happen to stumble upon a hidden immunity idol, which Laura claims for safekeeping. But George keeps a watchful eye, noticing the find and prepared to use the information moving forward.

When the tribes meet Jonathan for an expected Reward Challenge, Jonathan instead tells them to drop their buffs for the 18 players are instead switching tribes. The new tribes are as follows:
On the new Brawn tribe: Chelsea, Dani, Flick, Shannon, Simon, and newcomers, Andrew, Baden, Hayley and Wai.
On the new Brains tribe: George, Laura, Georgia, Rachel, original member Cara, and newcomers, Daini, Emmett, Kez and Gerald.
The 5-4 split of original (and swapped) Brains and Brawn on both tribes certainly look to make for some interesting Tribal Councils.

At Brawn, the original five members agree to stick together and hold their majority while they still can against the four Brains, with Simon and Shannon agreeing to put aside their differences for the betterment of holding forward with a strong alliance. On Brawn, the newly created faction of five Brawn (Brawn + Cara) also agree to maintain their numbers over their tribe mates, except Cara’s relationship with George brings him into the fold, creating a 6-3 divide against Laura, Georgia and Rachel.

Rachel struggles in the Immunity Challenge for Brains, which leads the new Brawn tribe to coast to an easy Immunity victory. Needing to flush out the supposed idol Laura holds amongst the three Brains faction, George convinces the Brawn alliance to split their votes 3-3 on two of the ladies. But some of the Brawn tribe members aren’t so happy with the idea. No not because it’s risky. Not because they are worried someone might flip. No it’s the simple math they have the most trouble with. Trying to explain how a 3-3 split, with a 5-1 revote will be a fool proof plan proves tough for George, with Brawn consistently unable to agree on a target, secondary target, or who will be voting for who. Laura on the other hand is left to make a stab in the dark decision at Tribal Council, hoping her one-in-three chance to play the idol correctly will somehow save all three of her, Rachel and Georgia.

At Tribal Council, the tribe swap and shift in dynamic is discussed as it becomes telling Laura and her small band of three are on the chopping block. As expected, Laura decides to play her idol and after playing roulette to work out who will take the safety, Laura hopes the Brawn’s votes went to Rachel, and plays it on her. After Rachel receives three negated votes, Georgia then receives two… and Laura one. Confused and befuddled, the next three votes are for Daini, who is subsequently voted out 3-2-1-3. Overcomplicating simple math and changing the target made Cara accidentally deviate from the agreed upon plan.

Episode 9

When Cara comes clean as to making a voting blunder at the previous Tribal Council, the alliance agrees to just roll on kicking as a five, while the three Brains celebrate their impossible escape from being voted out.

At the Immunity Challenge, Jonathan reveals that both tribes would be headed to Tribal Council, and four people will walk away with Reward and Immunity up their sleeves. Brawn sees two original Brains – Andrew and Wai – take out the win, while Rachel and Emmett snag immunity for themselves on the Brains tribe. The four enjoy a feast, where Rachel offers Emmett a chance to right the wrong of Daini’s vote and blindside Cara for her fumble.

At Brains camp, Georgia is taken away for medical reasons but is given 24 hours of immunity to recover before she is removed from the game entirely. With Georgia away, and Rachel safe, Laura realises she is the only sitting duck from her faction left to vote for, and thus swings for whatever she can scramble up between her and the Brawn tribe. Appealing to the Brawn alliance, Laura sets up a plan to blindside Cara. Cara and George however offer the more simplistic option of voting out Laura. With the Brawn three in the middle, it’s their choice as to where they vote, favouring their own numbers most of all before any Brains affiliates.

Over on the Brawn camp, it’s a lot more hectic to decide who is going home. Hayley comes up with a plan to ensure all four of her Brains tribe members make it out alive. With two already safe, she decides to tell the five Brawn majority that she will play her very public immunity idol on either herself or Baden, with a 50/50 chance she shoots correctly on their target and potentially can send one of them home. She hopes this will create a crack in the majority, and sees them scramble against each other and she won’t have to play her idol after all. Right on cue, Shannon appeals to Simon and Flick in targeting Chelsea, also imploring Simon to play his idol for safety, and expressing this plan to Hayley. Not happy that Shannon is quick to turn on one of Simon’s closest allies, and trying to flush out his idol, Simon reports back to Dani and Chelsea Shannon’s plan. It’s enough for the girls to write off Shannon completely, with Dani leading a charge to just blindside Shannon with the four Brains members. With her plan going ahead, Hayley diplomatically leaves it up to the remaining three Brains members to decide whether Chelsea or Shannon will go.

At Tribal Council, the various nuances of power shifts and idol possibilities are discussed on both tribes, with everyone hoping the plan they’ve got in place is the one that’s sticking for the night. For Brains’ vote reveal, Laura and Rachel’s efforts fail when Laura is voted out 5-2. And on Brawn, Hayley keeps her idol in her bag as the Brains side against Shannon, blindsiding her 7-2-1. Jonathan then reveals only one of them will go home however, with the four Immunity winners needing to unanimously decide who gets snuffed, or else they will be sent to a fire-making challenge. Andrew and Rachel immediately choose to vote for Shannon, but Wai and Emmett are hesitant to do so. When Simon interjects with news of Shannon’s disloyalty to Brawn, they both flip their vote and reach a consensus to vote out Shannon, seeing her become the 8th person voted out of Brains vs Brawn.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

WEEK 3 REVIEW

This was a monumental week in Australian Survivor. Sunday saw the impact of Cara’s swap on Brawn, and Hayley’s takeover and ultimate blindside on Joey (not to mention epic challenge idol find). Monday saw the tribe swap occur and what seemed to be a rather predictable episode turned into absolute hilarity with Cara’s blunder. And then a special double Tribal really tested both the tribes, and the game. A strong showing all around.

The editing has improved this week, something I wasn’t quite expecting but was pleasantly surprised with. We’re seeing a lot more personalities given some screen time and taking a deeper look into their thoughts and processes. We still need to see more from the more silenced characters: Georgia, Kez, Gerald, Flick, Dani and Chelsea. And while I appreciate what Simon and George bring to the game, there is certainly an overload of both of them on either tribe. I mean we didn’t even hear from Chelsea when her name was brought up as a potential boot. More even editing can hide the eventual winner more securely and of course, gives us a better picture on the full narrative (from what you can get from a 1.5 hour episode). But, there’s been improvement and I’ll take what I can get at this stage. There’s a lot of players here and it’s fun to see.

I wasn’t too sure about the challenge idol, but was surprised how it turned out to be quite fun and different to what we usually see. Had a Brawn picked that up, it would have been three idols on the one tribe – a big no, no. And then we see Laura’s idol get added in the next episode, and there’s a big risk to adding a FOURTH idol into the game. Given the last round to play a hidden immunity idol is usually final five, this could have resulted in a Tribal Council where everyone was immune, with four idols played and a fifth person holding immunity. This can BREAK THE GAME! And it’s something that is really unlikely to occur, but for the producers to bank on a gamble that at least one gets played before the final few – it’s risky. Imagine if somehow Hayley, Simon and Laura all made it to the final five with their idols, what’s the solution then? I am glad this gamble paid off when Laura played her idol at the subsequent Tribal Council, but I sure as hell don’t want to see another one until either Hayley or Simon play one of theirs.

Let’s talk about the voting blunder. I mean, what the hell happened? To be honest, I think had the Brawn tribe just understood the simple math of the vote easily and A: Didn’t keep trying to clarify how the vote was being broken down, and B: Didn’t keep swapping around who was voting who, and who the main target was, I think Cara could have worked out exactly what the plan was and gone with it. She’s since revealed that she was given a sign that the alliance was going for Plan B which meant her vote was for Laura, but it was always Plan A. And that’s why the constant switches and inability to grasp a basic 6 versus 3 split cost Daini his game. But aside from Cara making a mistake, as hilarious as it was, the alliance completely screwed up their plan anyway, and it actually saved Cara from being voted out next. I’ll break down why.

The alliance decided to split their votes, three on Georgia, three on Rachel – despite suspicion on Laura being the one with the idol and attempting the split vote to flush out the idol.
If Laura decides NOT to play the idol, then the split is pointless because they are not voting out Laura. Laura would remain in the game, with an idol.
The point of a split vote is to ensure the idol holder plays it, and thus the secondary target goes home, or if they don’t play it, they vote the idol holder out so they exit the game with it.
The Brawn alliance had no intention to do this, they were risking the idol staying in the game because they weren’t aiming at Laura at all.
I think this is a complex blunder that we didn’t really get to see unfold entirely on screen. That Tribal could have ended much differently if Laura doesn’t play that idol. We would have seen her and Georgia make it to the double Tribal, and with Georgia earning 24hr medical immunity, and Laura able to play her idol – the Brawn alliance would have been forced to turn on their own (probably Cara based on her perceived weakness compared to George). So really, if we think about it, Cara ACTUALLY saved herself by voting incorrectly. She sent Daini home because Laura played her idol on Rachel and thus didn’t have it at the next Tribal Council. So major props to Cara for unknowingly keeping herself in the game a day or two later. Her goose would have been cooked, not Daini’s.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

Let’s look at the double Tribal Council twist. I mean, has an Australian double Tribal EVER ended up with two people voted out? No. There’s too many episodes for them cut two off in on episode. So it was obvious only one of the voted out players were going home. The double itself isn’t really a problem. I like it, it’s different yet expected once every season. What I didn’t like was how much power the four immunity winners had. What the hell? Just send them to fire like you did last year. I’m surprised it even went to an actual consensus, I really thought it would go to fire anyway just because it’s more suited to the situation. Emmett just kind of double backed on his decision to vote someone out of the tribe – you don’t want someone coming back after you voted them out (heck, ask Laura herself what that feels like). I don’t think ANYONE would want to keep someone around that they had a hand in voting out. Luckily, Emmett kind of has an ego and probably doesn’t see any harm in it. For Wai, there’s a chance she was genuine and actually trying to keep tribe harmony on Brawn by initially wanting to send Laura out instead of Shannon, I see that. It’s risky though. What I am more into diving into though is that maybe Wai had a master plan. If she gives Shannon a chance to stay, she’s got a better chance to gain favour with Shannon and ensure she isn’t targeted if Shannon somehow remains in the game. Who will Shannon target if she were to stay and managed to flip the tribe on her side? It’s either gonna be the Brawns who betrayed her, Hayley for her idol stunt, or Andrew for jumping on the chance to vote her out completely. Maybe, just maybe, Wai assessed the situation strategically and saw a chance to better her place on the tribe, no matter if Shannon goes or not. I’ll sit on that for now.

I think the only other major events to talk about are all about the strategic goddess that is Hayley. This is a Hayley dedicated paragraph for three massive moves in the span of a few days. Firstly, snagging that idol in front of everyone took some balls. She knew it would put herself in a risky position because EVERYONE knows about it, but she’s not just saying, “I’ve got an idol, let me play it to avoid suspicion on me,” she’s using it as a tool for power for as long as she can. Epic. Then managing a flip on kingpin Joey. So often we see these kind of moves come about, except they don’t shoot for the top of the totem pole, they go for someone lower down (possibly a Georgia or Laura in this case). Nah, Hayley said to hell with playing scared we’re going to shoot for the mastermind if we’re going to pull the trigger. I mentioned this last week when I was talking about Wai flipping over to the majority, she copped a lot of flak for siding over to an alliance where she sits 7th. But without it, Hayley doesn’t have the fuel to turn around to Wai and tell her she’s getting some votes from the very people she thought she could trust. Wai also doesn’t set up this opportunity to bond with her fellow bottom-of-the-alliance associates, Rachel and Hayley. With these three making the flip against the tight core four, grabbing Baden seals the deal. George isn’t even technically needed, but Hayley expertly made sure he was kept on side, covering her own ass in case George has an opportunity to keep her safe. He owes her one, even if his involvement with the plan isn’t necessary. Hayley had the four votes she needed, but making it five just hits harder. But we’re not even at the biggest move she pulled off this week. Convincing Brawn to self destruct by playing the odds was just genius. I don’t even think I could have come up with that one! I mean, WHAT?! Like it’s almost hard to fathom just how strategic this move turned out to be, gain some allies, keep your idol, keep your Brains four, what really goes wrong with it? Yet Hayley made it look like a masterclass in 101 Survivor. And it’s not like she had plenty of time to come up with it, Andrew and Wai won the challenge and she pretty much announced her fake idol plan right when Brawn returned to camp, so she had the drive back and a few minutes either side to walk in so confidently, so easily, and watch it all go down. I am seriously impressed, and I think we’re looking at the makings of a future Sole Survivor. The edit is certainly positive for it, and she’s got the game to back it up. Personally, I can’t recall the last time I was so enamoured with how strategic someone has played this early into a season. I seriously think Hayley can become one of the greatest players the game has seen worldwide. Golden God who? The Idol Trickster here!

Remaining on Brawn, I’ve touched on my perception on Wai and how I think she’s playing a much more strategic game than it appears on TV. She’s not afraid to hold her ground against George and she’s also working her social relationships well on her tribe to stick around. Did you see how happy Simon was to see her win immunity? Yeah, that’s a well connected player over there. I’m loving what we’re seeing and I think she’s in it for the long haul. I’m also loving Simon‘s unforgiving gameplay. You wanna flush out his idol? Think again. He’s moving amongst the tribe well, making it Brawn strong when it looked favourable, but then immediately ready to crack away from Shannon the moment she shows an ounce of disloyalty. What scared me a little bit was his intentions to originally not blindside Shannon and still target a Brains member? Perhaps Simon saw what Brains could have been cooking and that the idol WOULDN’T be played, if so, then this is a great strategic assessment. As the episode appears though, it’s Dani who made the call to cut ties with Shannon and take her out. Now I’m seeing Dani really working behind the scenes here and for her to just take control of what those three were doing and call the shot, bold, and I like it. It was the perfect ammo and opportunity to take out a foe, and that gives me a feeling Dani is the real assassin hiding in the trees, and I don’t think anyone expects it. We do need to see more from the other four Brawn members. Flick is on her own now, and that puts her into a dangerous position, although I am excited to see how she shifts the obvious target off her now, and from what we did see in Week 1, I think there’s a chance she can sway the Brains over. We didn’t hear from Chelsea even though her name was on the chopping block this week, so there definitely needs to be a page opened there. Baden is fun to watch, I like that he just ebbs and flows with whatever is kind of happening and works out to his favour to the extent where it matters. But that’s not gonna win the game. I hope he’s lying and waiting for an opportunity to dig his toes deep into the strategy, otherwise he won’t have enough agency in the game to warrant a win. And we barely heard from Andrew this week either. Despite ally Joey departing, he didn’t have any ill will to his Brains friends that swapped on over to Brawn with him. Either he’s forgiving and forgetting or he’s realised he’s gonna need them to get further. Either way, it’s smart to stick with them for now.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

Looking at Brains, damn Cara sure made a fool of herself by accidentally sending Daini home. But I don’t think she’s quite covered her tracks as well as she could have. Just owning up to the other tribe about her blunder before questions could even be asked is quite, telling. She’s showing her cards, that she’s willing to give up info quite easily. I think that makes her vulnerable moving forward, so I’ll be watching closely to see if she can wiggle her out of it in Week 4. George was certainly delightful this week. Watching him try to explain the split vote plan was pretty hilarious and it’s clear he’s struggling amongst an alliance of Brawn. But he also sees the value in them and how their loyalty can extend his life in the game. I like George when he’s in power, the George in trouble goes after those who betray him. Which to me, is a move which gets you voted out eventually. George may be emotional, but he’s great to watch and has expertly snuck his way into a majority alliance. I appreciate the cunning play. It’s great that we saw a lot more from Laura and Rachel. Laura’s idol play was a bit wonky, she really could have idoled herself out for a moment there, and I think she really got lucky Rachel and Andrew, both allies, were two of the four immunity winners, that at least gave her a chance at fire. She seems a little lost in the game, not able to grasp a hold of something to really sink her teeth into and try and find some longevity with. But she’s been dealt a bad hand on the new Brains, so I’ll excuse it and look forward to seeing how she can work with her two Brains allies to survive the week. Rachel’s pretty funny and provides some great entertainment to the season. I love that she picked up immunity and was able to ensure a spot into Week 4. She’s great to watch, but I think she’s the first of the three to go purely because the Brawn alliance seems to see her as the most threatening to their game, both in challenges but also strategically. We didn’t see as much from Georgia, but she was sick so it’s expected. It’s good to see she’s coming back in full health and hopefully can make a bigger impact on the game in the days to come. She also could have painted a target on her back with the tribe fearing she may be ill again and can’t help in challenges. So it’ll be interesting to see where her story goes.

Our clump of Brawn haven’t really been shown all too much. We did see a fair bit from Emmett, who’s just so abrasive in the game and really a blunt personality that brings an appreciated quality to the season. I like his character and how it measures up against the more game-focused players. A split vote is too hard, he doesn’t care which Brain goes home. I mean the guy is funny in confessionals. But I don’t think he stands a chance at winning if he’s not going to pick up the nuances of strategy that are required to skip past blindsides. I have enjoyed Kez and Gerald a lot this season, we just need more from both of them. I don’t know the depth to their strategy and how much it may differ to that of Emmett’s and the ‘Brawn strong’ mentality. I hope they are open to other ideas, but there’s not really any way of knowing.

Some great character development for a lot of people this week, let’s hope Week 4 continues the trend. And now for our Week 3 Top Five…

THE TOP FIVE

Hayley Leake, Simon Mee, Wai Chim, George Mladenov, Dani Beale.
IMAGES: NETWORK 10

Hayley’s sheer strategic dominance this week rightfully sees her take a spot in the Top Five. Simon’s impressive use of information and efforts to keep the Brawn strong before masterfully ensuring Shannon goes at Tribal Council keeps him here too. Wai standing up to George, winning immunity, and keeping herself locked socially and strategically also sees her stay in for two weeks in a row. For the first time, George’s handling of power and attempt to control the Brawn alliance as the sole split vote mathematician also sees him take a spot up here. And Dani’s swift action to take a shot against a disloyal ally proving she isn’t one to mess with is a subtle yet impactful move that makes her a future threat, and earns her a Top Five commendation.

I did seriously consider Rachel, and loosely Laura and Emmett for the top this week, but ultimately favoured power over scramble (or bad math).

If you missed out on viewing the Fantasy League update, make sure you check that out today. We’ll be back next week for another weekly review when Australian Survivor returns.

Featured Image: Network 10

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Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn continues 7:30pm, Sunday-Tuesday, on Channel 10!


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