In a week that began with straight forward votes and sticking to the plan, a double idol blindside threatened one of the biggest players of the season. Australian Survivor promises to keep viewers on its toes.
After Shannon’s exit, the Brawn tribe handed the Brains all the power while the Brains on the actual Brains tribe were left without a leg to stand on.
WEEK 4 RECAP
With Shannon finally out of the game, Simon relishes in taking down one of his biggest adversaries. And with Flick seemingly on the bottom, Hayley approaches her to join forces with the four Brains and create a new alliance. On the Brains tribe, Laura’s thankful she escaped possible elimination the night prior, and hopes Kez might be the key to her surviving one more day.
At the Reward Challenge, two different strategic approaches to an endurance test sees the Brains reign supreme and steal away a victory from the dominating Brawn tribe. While enjoying the reward, Georgia makes a return to the tribe after being medically cleared to continue. This worries Emmett, who now finds who ability to bounce back a worthy reason to send her home.
At the Immunity Challenge, another Brawn win sends the Brains to Tribal Council. Hoping to pull Brawn over to their side and blindside Cara, Rachel, Georgia and Laura pitch to kingpin Emmett how they can benefit his alliance moving forward. But after showing disinterest in swapping over and wanting to retain Cara and George’s loyalty, the girls are left pitching to Kez to make it a 4-4 split. She ponders the move greatly, seeing benefits to both outcomes.
When the tribe visits Tribal Council, all eyes are on Kez to see if she will throw the Brains girls a lifeline. But Kez chooses to stick with her alliance and Georgia is voted out 5-3.
Now that the Brains three is down to two, Rachel and Laura are feeling deflated about their chances of staying around for much longer. Seeing an opportunity to keep original Brawn alive on the other tribe, Emmett and his fellow Brawn allies are set on throwing the next Immunity Challenge to ensure Rachel or Laura is sent home. On Brawn, Hayley talks with Dani about potentially blindsiding big threat Simon in the near future, which Dani is quite receptive of and ready to pull the trigger on.
When the Brawn tribe manages to pick up yet another Immunity win, forcing Brains to attend their fourth straight Tribal Council, Rachel can feel the heat and potential elimination looming. Knowing the Brawn half of the alliance won’t flip, Rachel instead appeals to George to flip over and vote with her and Laura against Emmett, seeing his arrogance as an alliance leader as worthy enough to take out before the upcoming merge. George is left with all the power when he coordinates his majority to split the votes on the remaining two minority, but worries how voting against Cara will impact his future game.
At Tribal Council, George is left in the swing position to dictate whether Emmett or Rachel will finally see their torch snuffed, and despite a valiant effort, Rachel is voted out in a 3-2-2 vote.
With her two main allies voted out back to back, Laura is isolated and cast on her own island against a formidable five person alliance. On the other tribe, things are getting spicy when Simon chooses to reveal to his core alliance, Dani and Chelsea, that he possesses not one, but two hidden immunity idols. Shocking both of them, Dani immediately recognises this as super threatening to her individual game and informs Hayley of his powerful potential. The two then put the plan to blindside Simon in motion.
At the Reward Challenge, the Brains manage to win a visit to the candy shop and indulge in some sweet treats. Visiting the shop individually and drawing straws to determine who visits when, first visitor Cara finds a VIP Tribal ticket, where she and a friend can attend the next Tribal and vote for someone from the opposing side.
Targeting Simon for holding two idols, everyone but Simon collectively agrees to throw the Immunity Challenge, giving Brains their first Immunity win as a new tribe. Cara then elects her and George to visit the next Tribal and vote with the Brawn tribe, while remaining safe.
Simon is convinced the tribe is putting all their votes on ‘outsider’ Flick, and spends the afternoon before Tribal watching her every move to prevent her from finding an idol. But with his eyes laser focused, the rest of the tribe is hellbent on sending him home with two hidden immunity idols. With Flick considered the secondary option if Simon happens to find an idol, Hayley isn’t too keen on letting go of one of her allies, and instead wants to shift the secondary target on Dani for taking large credit for Simon’s potential blindside. Her, Baden and Andrew agree to put their votes on Dani, but it requires Baden to tell Cara and George at Tribal Council to vote for Simon.
With Tribal Council appearing to be straight forward on Flick, Baden manages to get the message across to Cara and George to put their votes on Simon. While it seems like the plan might unravel with Cara and Baden’s communication not being as secretive as probably intended, everyone sticks to their intended vote and the result will be dictated by Simon’s decision to play an idol. But a perfectly executed blindside means Simon doesn’t even catch wind of any vote against him, and is thus eliminated in a 6-3-1 vote.
WEEK 4 REVIEW
What a week. Not much really happened that made the game monumental in anyway, sometimes straight forward and easy votes are necessary and can actually make for good television in its simplistic way. And thus, there isn’t heaps to discuss production-wise.
Now that we’re finished with the pre-merge portion of the game, I think it’s important to note just how good the challenges were this season. Australian Survivor has always been riddled with extremely physical, tough challenges, usually finishing with a puzzle to top it off. But this season had a nice variety, which I think can be improved upon in future seasons. I liked the few endurance tests we saw, integrated into the tribal format, but also thought there wasn’t an abundance of 1v1 match-ups in Reward Challenges that made the segment feel stale. Of course, Brawn dominated this season, and I think that was to be expected. But I like that the Brains had a fighting chance and weren’t just decimated. So I’m pretty happy with the pre-merge half in that sense, pretty well done.
I also thought we weren’t thrown a heap of advantages early on which was nice. I do think we had one too many idols enter the game (at least Simon takes out a couple on his way, resetting the scene of idols for a bit – but then again, will production overdo this now?). So I’m pretty impressed with how the pre-merge was managed. One person saved by a twist, a double Tribal. We weren’t thrown too much to inject strategy and keep the players on their toes, it seemed like the cast was left to their own devices, for the most part, and I think that made for a pretty entertaining first half.
Editing has been okay, better than previous seasons, but not great or to, I think, a fair standard for players. George, Hayley and Simon clearly dominated the screen time, and they’re characters worthy of great content. But I can’t help but feel players like Gerald, Andrew and Chelsea actually have a lot more to give than it seems. In fact, the worst part about the uneven editing situation is that we can almost certainly write these players off. A lack of content isn’t what a winner generally exhibits. The most under edited Sole Survivor so far is Shane, who received 16 confessionals during the pre-merge stage of the game. In contrast, Gerald has 9, and Andrew and Chelsea have received 3 for the same half of the game. That’s disappointing, and immediately I look at a cast of 13 and can see only 10 likely winners. Even then, players like Laura, Dani, Flick, Kez and Baden have had scattered content. Not a clear cut sign they won’t win, by any means, but they certainly will need to ramp it up in screen time in this merge half to solidify their game and likelihood of winning. Right now, my bet is on Hayley – edit wise – but there’s still room for a lot of people to go deep and win. So I’m hoping for a fairer edited season, but I say this every week.
Let’s dive into the players. Dani made a really big move this week, and one that I don’t think was entirely necessary for her to make. Sure, it’s great on her resume, but as we already can see with Hayley, she’s being targeted for the big move. That kind of credit is enough fuel for someone else to take a shot at you, and when there’s a clearly loyal ally who would likely play the idol for you at a Tribal Council, perhaps it’s stronger to keep the big guy around and keep the idol on your side. Dani effectively voted out someone loyal to her, and kept around Brains who aren’t interested in sticking with her long term. That’s very dangerous. But, credit where credit is due, Dani made a big move and became a pretty big player because of it, I’m excited to see how it goes for her and hope it’ll pay off in the long run. Seeing Hayley try and flip the script and vote out Dani as a secondary option was another masterclass in some strategic thinking, I didn’t even expect or think of that, so I appreciated seeing someone give me a run for my money in just trying to plan out how each episode will turn out. My only stumble here is, she’s made an enemy of Dani by letting her know that Hayley and friends will be willing to sacrifice her. This could be some major trouble at the merge. Had Hayley have turned to Simon, tipped him off about the blindside last minute, forcing an idol play and Dani to go home, then maybe she could have created a loyal ally in Simon who effectively owed her one for saving his life in the game. Simon was a pretty loyal player, so he probably would have stuck with her for a good while. Then no enemies are made except for probably Chelsea, and to a lesser degree, Flick. I don’t know. I’m worried it’ll bite back for her.
Baden was pretty great in the episode too. Him very loudly telling Cara and George that their votes mattered and causing a bit of a disruption at Tribal was funny. But I like that he pulled it off and took the initiative to get it done. Baden sees where his allies are and how he can make himself useful when he needs to. He’s not baring the front of a blindside like Hayley is, and instead is a right hand man in getting something done. Great for Baden, bad for Hayley. And I think this is some excellent strategic thinking in Baden to NOT call the shots, especially this early in the game. So I think Baden could be a bit of a dark horse to take the game over and make a good run for the half million. It sucks we didn’t see how Andrew was factored into this plan, and I’m worried he’s becoming a follower more than a dictator, or at least an active contributor. If he’s told to vote Dani did he have a say in it, or go with it? Interesting to find out and something we need to see more from. We also don’t know if Wai was included on the plan. If so, she clearly was fine being the one to vote Simon out of the four, if not, it could be danger for Wai as she sees herself, again, on the outside of an alliance. So I’d like to see how she navigates herself at the merge and tries to work herself into the top core of an alliance, rather than sitting somewhere near the bottom. I thought Flick was pretty great in the last episode, keeping her cool and letting Simon believe she was to go. I wonder what she would have thought about Dani becoming the secondary vote. This plan could have easily included her as a vote for Dani, because otherwise, she would go home if Simon plays an idol. But she was left out. Again, kind of coming in as a lone soldier into the merge will make it interesting for her moving forward. And we need more from Chelsea, enough said.
On the Brains, George is keeping the fun alive and I am very surprised he’s managed to make it to the merge. A lucky hand dealt at the tribe swap and he navigated it perfectly. I think it was a good idea to take out Rachel and keep Emmett, there’s some avenues opening up for him now at the merge with the Brawn and some of the old Brains. And given Cara has shown no interest in defecting back to Brains, George is going to be quite the valuable asset at the merge for quite a few votes. I won’t be surprised if we see him head up to the final eight. I like what Cara is doing right now, but she does need to do something big soon. I think she’s been a bit trapped since her vote out because she doesn’t have the Brains to trust going forward, but isn’t really well connected with Brawn. I do think she’s a solid Brawn player now, and it would take some serious convincing from George and Baden to bring her back over to the dark side. I’m interested in how she goes further. I am very curious as to who Cara sides with at the merge if she’s willing to jump back over. Having Baden pretty tight with Hayley means she might flip back over which could be a great game move for her. I wanna see how her strategy develops further. Laura will be another to watch at the merge. I think she’s gonna sit back for a bit and let some waves get flown in other directions so she can gain some footing with some of her relationships. For sure she’ll head straight to Hayley/Andrew/Baden/Wai, and from there, I think she’ll float for a bit before trying to make something happen when it counts. I think Kez is pretty strong from here on out, a great player and maybe even better social asset, so I can see her being one of the last of the Brawn to go out. We need more from Gerald, who was such a strong personality before the tribe swap before going dead in airtime. I think he’s got great potential to be a huge threat to win, so I’m shocked he was neglected so quickly in the past two weeks. And for Emmett, I think it’s a matter of time before he’s taken out. The guy’s a big strategic threat, bigger physical threat, and has this full mantra of staying Brawn strong. It won’t take long for the Brains to wanna team up and take him out. I expect him to see his exit this upcoming week, unless he can change something dramatically. For the past week though, he’s been great at being the leader of the new Brains tribe, and really keeping that five faction tight. So I’m impressed with that.
And I have to make a note for my winner pick taking a trip home this week. Simon was a joy to watch this season, and really made the season interesting and exciting a way I didn’t expect at all, but very much appreciated on a Brawn tribe that didn’t have as many flowing personalities than the Brains. He was a fantastic edition to the season, and I was convinced he was going to go all the way. It’s sad to see him go (and a lose a winner pick), but what a bloody run he had this season. Two idols, played or not, pretty spectacular and I’m sure a great feeling for a huge fan like him. Well bloody done mate, you did the game proud.
THE TOP FIVE
With his first entry into the top five, I was impressed with how Baden has managed himself in his Brains alliance. I’m starting to think he’s a lot more dangerous than originally believed. Hayley’s excellent strategic thinking and execution of strategy and social play makes her a phenomenal player who could become one of the greatest of all time. Emmett’s first appearance in the top five as well, because of his dominant leadership of his alliance on the Brains tribe. Dani’s wonderful execution of a Simon blindside, and forward thinking sees her remain her as well. And George’s ability to weigh up options and keep himself as a player NEEDED for others makes him important moving forward.
I strongly considered Kez this week, and also Cara and Flick. With 13 left, soon there won’t be many to choose from.
It’s merge time this week, and with 13, I think we might see out first ever final three at the end (a move originally intended for All-Stars). With so many relationships made across original and new tribes, I truly have no idea where people are going to land and who will fall short this week, so I am VERY excited for Week 5!
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.
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Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn continues 7:30pm, Sunday-Tuesday, on Channel 10!
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