Australian Survivor 2021 – “My Integrity Is Really Important To Me”

KFC feasts, luxurious cars and a secret immunity idol, Australian Survivor promised a whole lot, and delivered some killer blindsides. It was one of the best weeks yet, and only one cockroach can take all the credit.

If you thought Week 5 was bad, this week was a delightful change of pace with better strategy, better twists, and some even better editing. With some of the game’s biggest characters still scurrying around and well-alive, the tail end of Brains vs Brawn is looking to be a fierce, strategic battle.

WEEK 6 RECAP

Episode 16

With Hayley back in the game, her apology tour is in full force as she tries to right her wrongs and link back up with the Brains. It seemingly goes well, with George particularly enjoying the fact the Brains have a 6-4 majority over the Brawn, with him and Cara planted firmly in the middle between the two groups.

At the Reward Challenge, the final ten are split in two teams where Dani, Flick and Gerald (all Brawn except Emmett) join Laura and Wai on the winning team for a KFC-pub feast. While there, Dani takes the opportunity to form a new alliance and eliminate one common threat – Immunity beast Emmett. While the Brains twosome are on board, Flick isn’t certain about the move, and worries about Dani’s willingness and brash approach to turn on the Brawn alliance.

After Andrew manages to defeat Emmett and Flick at the Immunity Challenge, Emmett is finally vulnerable and operation take out Emmett is in force when Dani recruits George to join the five and vote him out. But with Flick and Gerald tipping Emmett off about Dani’s plan, the three instead agree to blindside Dani with George and Cara to make an alliance of five that will be majority after Tribal, while also playing Flick’s immunity idol on Emmett. With Brawn aiming their guns at each other, George wants to throw a third plan in the mix by convincing the six Brains to instead vote out Gerald, keeping Emmett and Dani aiming their guns at each other, and still flushing out Flick’s idol. But the last minute idea may not hold up with some of the Brains, who aren’t all too worried about which Brawn will go home.

With attention on Emmett for his Immunity Challenge loss, and everyone trying to convince each other the real target is an obvious Hayley vote, the vote reveal proves quite a shock to all of the Brawn. Flick plays her idol on Emmett, negating Dani’s vote against him, but five of the Brains unite and take out Gerald 5-4-1. Unfortunate for someone who didn’t get a confessional since Episode 7.

Episode 17

With the Brawn faction both firing but missing at each other, it’s time to rebuild as Dani and Flick reunite and agree to go to the end of the game together. The journey so far has been particularly difficult for Flick, so far fighting for her family and mother at home, battling dementia. However, Flick is sadly informed on Day 34 that her mother has passed away. Knowing her mother would have wanted her to keep going and continue in the game, Flick decides to fight on and stay in the running for the $500k. A very brave and courageous decision. If you would like to support Flick’s GoFundMe into dementia and FTD research, a link can be found here.

At the Immunity Challenge, Jonathan reveals to the final nine that five will walk away with Individual Immunity, while four will stay in the hot seat and are eligible for votes at Tribal Council. Winning comes at the cost of sheer physical strength and endurance (and sure, a puzzle well after you run up and down a hill six times), and ultimately Andrew, Hayley, Emmett, Flick and George secure safety, leaving Wai, Cara, Laura and Dani vulnerable.

Given the limited options, the tribe seems to unanimously agree to vote out Cara, with both Brawn and Brains not overly interested in aligning with her any longer. But Cara’s confidant George has a trick up his sleeve, when he finds a key to a secret immunity idol, hidden at the voting booth and able to be played without credit. His dilemma on whether to play it on her or not weighs heavily, worried it may mean he goes home next anyway.

At Tribal Council, the vote seems to be straight forward for everyone but Cara, who is shocked to learn votes are coming her way when Jonathan reveals the votes. The biggest shock of all however was the secret idol played on Cara, negating all nine of the votes against her, and leaving her one, sole vote for Laura, the only one that counts. Laura is voted out 1-9, and George and Cara head back to camp with a tribe not nearly convinced George wasn’t a part of the double cross.

Episode 18

With neither Cara nor George selling their shock and awe at Tribal Council, the Brains three and Brawn three (led by previously quiet now revenge seeker Andrew) band together to take down the two flip-floppers, who have successfully managed their way between both alliances since the beginning of the merge. Smelling trouble, George and Cara are suspicious of just where they sit on the tribe, and after a confrontation between George and Andrew, they’re just about ready to call themselves as officially on the bottom.

At the Reward Challenge, a car is on offer for anyone who dares to prove they have zero chance at winning the game. Yes, if you’re a Survivor historian, the winner of the car Reward Challenge has never ended up becoming Sole Survivor, in neither the U.S. nor Australian history of the show. So while the challenge sees players go back and forth in stacking a tall tower of blocks to claim victory, I’m not so sure everyone was exactly playing to win. Nevertheless, Dani wins the challenge (so cross her off your winner list now), and take three friends along with her in a test drive and picnic feast. She chooses her two fellow Brawn companions, Emmett and Flick, as well as OG Brains Andrew. Confirming Cara and George’s doubts about where loyalties lie. Knowing Andrew has basically joined in full force with the Brawn, George appeals to Hayley and Wai in taking out the next big physical threat: Emmett. He and Cara need the pair to align with them and create a four-person majority (after Tribal Council), to ensure they aren’t steamrolled by challenge beasts until the end of the game.

When the players are put in another endurance test Immunity Challenge, Flick, Andrew and Emmett scheme at one end of the course to outlast only George and Cara before they can periodically drop out. George drops first, and then Dani and Wai. But the other five all manage to make it over an hour before Cara calls time. Andrew steps out soon after, and then the final three adapt the rules to see who can win soonest. Emmett and Flick lose their balance, making Hayley the Individual Immunity winner, and giving her all of the glory and power that comes with the necklace.

The six decide to split their votes 4-2 on George and Cara, primarily targeting George for his duplicity. But George and Cara again appeal to Hayley and Wai to take out Emmett for his physical ability. Hayley and Wai are torn, and have a long discussion over what their best move is, one that is overheard by George. Believing they are unlikely to survive, Cara and George go idol hunting where Cara manages to find yet another idol, and is left with the decision to save either her or her buddy George… again.

At Tribal Council, George declares that a secret deal has been made and takes shots at his Brawn and Brawny-Brain Andrew adversaries. When Jonathan calls for idols, Cara surprisingly chooses to keep hers under wraps this time. While four votes split between George and Cara, Wai and Hayley have turned the game on its head again by voting with George and Cara to eliminate Emmett, 4-3-1.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

WEEK 6 REVIEW

I really enjoyed the Week 6 crop of episodes, we got to see a lot more of some other players that were pretty much forgotten last week, but also were treated to some key strategy that kept the game interesting and fresh. Now that we’re at the final seven, I’m pretty excited to see how it all shakes out with some great personalities still in the game.

Let’s address the twists we had this week, which didn’t seem to detrimental than some others we’ve had this season. The five-way Immunity Challenge was, pretty bold, and kind of unnecessary. I didn’t really think all too much of it actually. While some twists can be quite poorly executed for how much they influence the game, this twist seemed to be a little lacklustre entirely and really just take away a few voting options. None of your physical threats were up for elimination, so I guess it forced the tribe to target someone for their strategic or social prowess. I mean, was Wai ever really going to win a monster run up a mountain? Really it just punished you if you’re weak, and not in the sense that you weren’t safe, but because you’re now a one in four option to go home. And I don’t know if a challenge should do that, take away a full voting criteria – physical ability. I guess I sympathise because it’s almost a 98% certainty I’d be right in the bottom four too, but nevertheless, it just seemed like an average twist that didn’t do much. But given how big others have been, I’m gonna take it as a win out of fear if the production team spiced up even a little bit, it would have been too much.

A better twist was the secret immunity idol, which I’ve read has had quite a mixed reaction online. But honestly, this is so much better than an idol nullifier (another secret advantage that is played at the voting urn at Tribal Council from the US Survivor). It’s a shame that it was played pretty obviously by George for Cara, but at least the move pulled off well in that everyone voted for Cara. A secret idol can grant so many opportunities, it really gives someone the power to keep someone in the game that benefits them but not the alliance they are working with. Evident in how George played it. But imagine a scenario where it’s not someone’s closest ally that is getting voted out, and instead a challenge beast like Emmett. And let’s say someone like Andrew won the challenge. If the tribe is voting out Emmett for being a physical threat, all eyes are on Andrew next time we’re voting out a challenge beast. Andrew finds the secret idol, and suddenly, he can save Andrew and keep that threat around, knowing the tribe will come for him next. This is actually a really great twist that can open more doors than it closes, and make for some interesting game moments given they’re played in a non-obvious way. I’d like to see this return again. But NOT all the time. Just keep it to once per season, ok production? Don’t get any ideas and make all idols like this!

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

And poor Dani just lost 500k! THE CAR CURSE! I’d love to see Dani defy the odds and it turns out she’s the first person ever to break the car curse, but alas, I also hope the curse sticks around just for history’s sake. You can bet any superfan ain’t going for the car knowing that it’s a curse which lasted since 2001, when Colby Donaldson looked to be a favourite to win the 2nd season of Survivor, only to lose in a 4-3 jury vote. Colby won the car, Colby lost. And so did several others that came after him, including in Australian Survivor. Quick history lesson, three players have won a car in our version of the show:
Michelle Dougan – Australian Survivor 2017 – 4th place
Brian Lake – Australian Survivor 2018 – 3rd place
Abbey Holmes – Australian Survivor 2019 – 5th place
The car curse is probably half the reason why the American version has stopped giving out a car reward every season, because you know whoever wins ain’t becoming Sole Survivor. But the way I see it, so what if you don’t win the game… you still get a freaking brand new car. I’m sure Dani’s going to be happy with that consolation prize.

A note on editing, I’m glad we got to see a lot more of other people and it’s not the same four people talking about what’s happening in each episode. But oh my god GIVE US SOME WAI CONTENT! She was one of the key votes in Tuesday’s episode yet we didn’t even get an ounce of her strategy or why she believed Emmett or George should go over the other. I love Hayley, but that was a 50% decision and Wai deserved to have her voice heard. Especially since everyone in Jury Villa seems to be saying some pretty great things about her, yet the audience isn’t seeing a bar of it (and writing mean comments online for her ‘lack of strategy’). Come on editors share the love, I just wanna have a few more options for who might win instead of like three.

Looking at our players this week, quite a few mistakes coming out of our final few. Most notable to me was Dani targeting Emmett, someone from her own Brawn faction. That seemed like such a quick move that didn’t need to be done at the final ten. Emmett was NOT going to win 11 challenges. I mean we saw that all week. And while I understand if someone like George or Hayley want to take the shot at him, Dani was really taking out one of her biggest allies for no strategic reason. I think she’s enjoyed making moves and calling the shots, but when you’re only down to four Brawn, it’s not smart to take out someone from your core. If anything, this exposes just how good Cara and George were playing the middle, because clearly Dani didn’t think the Brains would stay together. But alas, hindsight is 20/20. And I think Dani fell a few steps down her totem pole with that move. Someone who’s done the opposite this week and really impressed me is Cara. Two idols?! She finds two idols this season! That’s pretty incredible and some great sleuthing skills. Sure, flood the comment with it being rigged or whatever but I’m not gonna waste time trying to defend why that’s a poor argument. So many more factors are going into what we see in an idol find. So I have no doubt Cara found that one legitimately. And even better yet, she’s still got it. She’s bought herself (or George) a ticket to the final six at least. And I really hope Cara plays this one for herself (if it’s a Cara vs George play like last time). She’s a great character, a really underrated one in my opinion. She has a lot of heart and I think has been a lot more critical to her and George’s success than it might seem. If Cara ended up winning it would be such a WTF choice if you were looking at the cast pre-season. But I’d love to see her case to the jury. I’m intrigued just how influential she has been. So I’m looking forward to what we see from her this incoming week, and I hope she survives it.

George is in a spot of trouble this week isn’t he. I know I say it every week, and don’t get me wrong I question it every week whether I’m wrong. But I just don’t see a path for George to win the game. And it’s not that I don’t think he’d have a case to the jury, I do think if he sits at the Final Tribal Council, George wins. But I don’t think he’ll get there. Even if it is just now, the tribe has finally figured out he’s a big threat, and bigger than Cara. They want him out and for good reason. He’s duped everyone more than once or twice. But with no idol in his own possession, and an unlikely chance to win one of these Immunity Challenges, I don’t quite know how George survives the week. Now I am fully prepared to be schooled by George and really get a lesson in what playing like a cockroach is all about. Because he truly hasn’t ever found a way to die and really George should have gone home back when we were on original Brains. But the guy just keeps going. And it’s incredible and fun to watch. George’s best path forward is convincing whoever he needs to that there’s a bigger fish to fry than him. He ain’t gonna win a challenge so you can take care of George whenever you want, but take out a Dani, Andrew or Hayley now. That’s my guess anyway, George will probably reverse it and show me something more clever. I can’t wait to see it happen. Saving George was also a great decision by Hayley. I mean, fifth place in an alliance with challenge beasts? No thanks. Siding with George and Cara was 100% the best decision and I think Hayley’s got herself in a nice core four for the moment. She’s also still got a connection with Flick, and interesting love-hate connection with Dani, and I’m sure dropping Andrew ain’t the worst thing in the world. Hayley is still my pick to win at this stage and it’s because she’s just fought and fought everyday to make something happen for herself. Being voted out really has given her a new opportunity, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her Immunity wins, so for sure Hayley is riding a good position for now, and she just needs to keep her threat level low right now to ensure she makes it to the next week.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

It’s a shame we aren’t seeing more of Wai, because like Hayley, she 100% made the best move in taking out Emmett and keeping George around, as dangerous at it may seem. But I feel for Wai because it feels like she’s been waiting for the opportunity to strike on George literally all game but every time she realises it’s just not the right move, there’s someone else better to strike against. Based on the promos, Wai might be in trouble with king George on Sunday so maybe she’ll finally get the battle she’s been wanting. But I think Wai has a few more episodes in her. A win? Edit says no but I think game-wise Wai has a great opportunity to sell her case. Right now, my pre-season prediction as final juror might actually be the most accurate I’ve made so far. I still can see her going down on that last day. So let’s see if I’m right. What a brave decision from Flick this week. Seriously I’m amazed she decided to fight on and keep her game alive after receiving such devastating news from home. With only two Brawn left, I do think her path to victory is shrinking, but I actually thought if Flick does manage to make the final two and does a pretty impressive run from now will make her a strong contender to win. I can Flick making top five at least, Andrew/Dani/George need to be taken care of before Flick, strategically. Flick’s biggest problem will be working with some Brains and convincing them she’s a good person to sit next to. Maybe when George goes she can swing something Cara? That’d be an interesting final match up. I’m not too sure how Flick will see these final few days out, but I think she might be a new dark horse to win it all. Her edit has been decent, and was very positive in the beginning of the game which is pretty common with Australian Survivor winners. So I can see Flick winning IF she’s at the end, it’s just that path to victory I’m uncertain about. But I love her game so far! And finally we’ve got Andrew. I enjoyed his confrontation with George this week, that was fun to watch. But I don’t think Andrew has much agency in the game at all. It almost feels like he tries to make a move and pull something off, but someone like Hayley just says, “Nah, not today.” He’s a bit of a flipper and now that he’s in with the Brawn I don’t think he’s gonna survive for much longer. He is the next physical threat and I don’t think anyone really trusts him that much to want him with them at the end. I actually think George, Flick, Dani, Hayley and Wai all have a very good chance on paper at beating Andrew at the Final Tribal Council, so maybe he is a great person to drag to the end. Yeah, we’re probably missing a lot of what he’s doing behind the scenes. But from what I can tell, he’s not ever making the decisions. Or when he does (like with this George vote), it doesn’t pan out anyway. I say Andrew’s lucky to survive the week.

THE TOP FIVE

Flick Palmateer, Wai Chim, George Mladenov, Hayley Leake, Cara Atchison.
IMAGES: NETWORK 10

A pretty easy top five when we’ve only got seven left. With Andrew’s poor game overall and lack of bringing much to the table in Week 6, and Dani’s (in my opinion) poor decision to target Emmett this week, this is where we land.
Flick’s been a great player all season and to see her not quit and play on after such a sad time in her life that any other person very easily would leave for, that shows dedication and a huge will to win, I truly respect that.
Wai was an instrumental part in taking out one of the biggest threats of the season, and while we haven’t seen much of Wai talk about her strategy, being a part of key strategic decisions and constantly inclusion for these interesting plans means she’s got a great presence in everyone’s game. I can see Wai continuing to do very well.
George has always found a way to stay alive and his epic ability to put someone else in front of him and kick them under the bus, it’s fantastic to watch and makes him a solid player this season. He’s a national Survivor treasure.
Hayley tops off the week with a great strategic decision, Immunity win, and found her footing back in the game after being voted out a week prior. With such a clever mind and insightful path to victory, she’s a great bet to take the whole game out.
Cara may have been a unanimous vote but maintaining such a strong ally in George to get him to play an idol on her, and then finding one herself to guarantee another day in the game. How can you not find Cara one of the most delightful personalities this season? Really loving how much of a surprise Cara has been this season.

If you missed out on viewing the Fantasy League update, make sure you check that out now. We’ll be back next week for another weekly review, and if the current schedule is right, the last one before the finale!

Featured Image: Network 10

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Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn continues 7:30pm, Sunday-Tuesday as our final seven battle it out in the final few days of the season, only on Channel 10!


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