Australian Survivor 2021 – “Trust Is The Only Thing That Matters”

You didn’t think the end game of Australian Survivor wouldn’t have a twist in the works did you? In a series first, the final seven was given a luck-based chance to re-enter the game. But the twist might not have worked just as well as you would have hoped.

With seven remaining, Week 7 was all about building the right group of people around you to ensure you have the best odds at victory. But there was one last non-elimination episode to come, which prevented striking gameplay, fearing past actions would come back to haunt them.

WEEK 7 RECAP

Episode 19

After Hayley and Wai firmly draw a line in the sand by working with George and Cara instead of Andrew, Dani and Flick, King George is feeling mighty and confident with his foursome majority. But Wai still expresses doubts into her trust with George, admitting it was a last minute decision to side with him and vote out Emmett.

At the Reward Challenge, the tribe is divided into two teams with Cara left sitting out, able to choose one team to support and potentially win with. The all-female trio of Dani, Flick and Wai win, along with Cara who correctly backed them. While enjoying the reward, Dani and Flick attempt to flip the others to their side, with Wai quite receptive to joining forces, but Cara expressing some doubt about betraying George.

Another endurance Immunity Challenge sees Hayley pick up another win, putting Andrew firmly on the chopping block for being a physical threat. The three hope to flip both Wai and Hayley over, while George and Cara hope they stay loyal and vote out their former Brains tribemate.

When the tribe arrives at Tribal Council, JLP reveals that there are four urns, with each to be smashed by the person voted out where they hope to find a ‘Save’ scroll which will immediately return them to the game. The twist adds another layer to the vote, and thus Hayley and Wai stick with their original plan and vote out Andrew 4-2-1. He smashes a scroll, but it is empty, and he officially joins the jury.

Episode 20

It’s Brains vs Brawn as Dani and Flick are playing do or die when it comes to flipping another pair over to their side. They stick with trying to flip Hayley and Wai, citing George and Cara’s powerful loyalty as too threatening beyond the final six.

At the Immunity Challenge, champion thrower Dani is rewarded with the victory, securing safety and putting Flick up as the obvious and only option for the Brains alliance. The girls hold heavy conversations about the future of the game with both Hayley and Wai, and at one point, Cara notices these conversations and worries there may be a plan to vote her out in the works.

With the urns still in play, Hayley and Wai do worry that betraying their alliance may mean George, the intended target, will find the ‘Save’ scroll and thus re-enter the game, vengeful and hoping to blindside them. This leads them to stick to the script and vote for Flick, 4-2, but not before Cara plays her idol out of fear for an incoming blindside. Luckily for her however, Flick manages to smash the urn with the ‘Save’ scroll and re-enters the game, ending the bizarre urn twist and giving both her and Dani another day to fight and stay alive.

Episode 21

With Flick back in the game, Dani hopes Hayley and Wai may be more inclined to work with them and blindside George because it is certain he will go home. George meanwhile worries Cara’s idol play will promote too much mistrust in Hayley and Wai, and fears they may indeed flip over to the Brawn twosome.

At the Reward Challenge, a spa night away is on offer for the individual who manages to win. With another throwing aspect incorporated, Dani cruises to victory and selects her ally Flick, and hopeful flipper Hayley, to join her. The two make a strong pitch to Hayley, who puts up the front of working with the girls to finally betray George.

At the Immunity Challenge, the more physical players Dani, Flick and Hayley make it to the puzzle early, but their failure to decipher it grants Cara, George, and finally Wai a chance to catch up. Almost immediately after she reaches the puzzle table, Wai cracks the code and successfully solves it, winning her an incredible come-from-behind Immunity Challenge. Unaware about the whereabouts of the rehidden immunity idol, both factions decide to split the vote between George/Cara or Flick/Dani. Hayley and Wai, still in the middle for the fourth episode running, are forced to make a very tough and potentially game-winning decision. Before Tribal, Flick manages to find the immunity idol, but Dani tells her to leave it in her pocket just in case they are blindsided, and the remaining person will need it at the final five.

With nothing to lose, Dani makes a strong pitch to the tribe, and also indirectly to the jury, to vote out George for giving up in challenges and not giving the game the respect it deserves. In what may be more of a case of reasons to keep George in case of a battle against him at the Final Tribal, Hayley and Wai stick with their Brains alliance and cause a 2-2-2 split between Dani, Flick and Cara. On the revote, everyone votes for Dani 3-0, sending her to the jury, and Flick back to camp with a key ticket to the final four.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

WEEK 7 REVIEW

We’re so close to the end, you can really taste that finale now! But still so much game had to be played in these previous three episodes, and the introduction of a luck-based twist seemed to be a last ditch effort to fill the episode schedule. Let’s review Week 7.

Let’s talk about that urn twist first, I mean, it wasn’t terrible but just seemed so obviously shoved in it lost its impact. While I am glad we didn’t just see someone voted out and then watch them immediately re-enter the game, the urns promoted a few things I don’t think was really the intention. It promoted passive gameplay, sticking with your alliance and voting out your foes. Andrew and Flick (the two victims of the twist) were never going to buy Hayley or Wai’s trust because pissing off George and watching him come back into the game would have been disastrous. Don’t tell me George doesn’t go straight to the Brawn side and flip with them to take out Hayley and Wai. Way too dangerous to side against King George and Duchess Cara. Now, I’ll explain more on why flipping made no sense strategically as well. But focusing on the urns, I think we’re missing a pretty glaring problem, so I think it’s worth explaining why the twist exists in the first place.

The production team schedules 24 episodes of Australian Survivor each season. In theory, with one person voted out every episode, and a final three featured in the final. It means there are 22 episodes filled with an elimination, and two that aren’t. The first non-elimination episode was when Cara was voted out in Episode 6, immediately switching over to the Brawn side with what really was a very lucky second chance. The second was when Baden and Hayley were sent to Redemption Rock. With two Tribals held, and only one exiting the game after the duel, then one of these episodes became a non-elimination. Now that would have been fine all by itself, but unfortunately, Chelsea had to exit the game for medical reasons, and thus created a gap in the schedule. There needed to be another non-elimination round (makes you wonder just what would have been concocted if Georgia left when she took a sick day, or if Flick decided to go home after finding out about her mother’s passing).

And thus, the urn twist was born at the final seven. But here’s the problem. We know there HAS to be someone who returns to the game. But JLP says only one urn contains a scroll. I call bull. There was always two urns with a ‘Save’ scroll. We know Andrew didn’t get a scroll, so we have three left and a fake “33%” chance. Let’s say Flick also smashes the urn, and it came out with nothing. Suddenly, we’re in the final five – Dani replaces Flick – and two urns remain, now a 50% chance to immediately re-enter, so let’s play with what we’re led to believe first. What if Dani gets voted out at five, hypothetically, and then smashes another urn with nothing in it? The final four becomes Cara, George, Hayley and Wai. We also have one urn left with a 100% chance the scroll is in it. So what’s the point of voting someone out? Why have a challenge or discuss strategy at all? You KNOW the person voted out will come back into the game! That would be a boring episode for the cast, but most importantly, the viewing audience. There’s no suspense in finding out if an urn with a 100% of saving the smasher will do what it’s intended. That’s why there HAD to be two scrolls in those four urns. To prevent this boring final four episode. If Flick had smashed the other urn with nothing in it, I would have been sitting pretty at final five and not worrying about a damn thing. If you could work out that production needs a non-elimination episode (and pulling out a twist like this isn’t something just to do for fun), then you could ask everyone to vote you and be sure that both urns will save you because, frankly, there’s no other choice.

Controversial take? Maybe. But I’m always trying to look at the game in the eyes of three things. The audience, the cast, and the production team. Was the urns a pretty lacklustre twist that really just forced the majority alliance to stay together? Yes. Was it also a twist necessary to ensure we have 24 episodes and somebody would stay no matter what? You bet.

IMAGE: NETWORK 10

Enough about last minute ideas, let’s talk the strategic theme of the week – do Hayley and Wai flip to Brawn and vote out George? Absolutely not. Never. Don’t ever think it. That’s a dumb move! Yes, it would have been exciting to watch Hayley and Wai flip and cause chaos and see King George’s reign fall to the floor. But it would have been the dumbest move for our middle Brains players. Survivor has produced many reasons to vote someone out in its over 20-year history. But one of those core reasons, right from the beginning is to vote someone out for being a physical challenge threat. Now I acknowledge that the George and Cara twosome has been formidable this season, they are extremely strong together. But they’re also terrible in challenges when we compare them to Andrew/Dani/Flick. All three have shown they are much more capable of winning, and are thus bigger threats to the end. If Hayley and Wai want to get to the end together, then they need to keep people that they can beat in the final few challenges. It made no sense to vote out George when you can literally take care of him at the final five.

It is a risk assessment. We never thought Wai could clutch a win, and she did. Of course George holds that capability as well. But I certainly would want to try my luck against George than I would Andrew or Dani. Regardless of how the urns are incorporated, voting out Andrew and Dani/Flick was necessary to make it to the final five. But here’s where it gets tricky. Whether it was Dani or Flick in the five, suddenly, they buy a spot in the final four. Not because they would play the idol they now have, and not necessarily because they win the Immunity Challenge. But Hayley and Wai suddenly need to work with the lone outsider, whoever that was going to be, because they can’t take on Cara and George at the final four and cause a 2-2 split. I bet that this was always the intention of Hayley and Wai, and the urn twist is merely a lucky cover up for never flipping over. They wanted to get to the final five with one outsider, and then use them to take out George. At final four, you flip back over and work with Cara to take out the outsider, in this case Flick, and then boom you’re in the final three together, and with Cara who may not be a sure loss in the final Immunity Challenge, but someone more probable to lose than the history of Andrew/Dani/Flick.

So unlucky for Andrew and Dani, very lucky for Flick (urns especially). But y’all were never going to get those girls to flip, it made NO sense to them to work with physical beasts. Weaken the strength of your peers, and you’ve got a better chance at winning Immunity – the only sure way to make it to the next day.

Now Flick’s idol does add another layer to this. While I am confident Hayley and Wai would now try to work with Flick to take out George, Flick can still idol save herself and take him out with the help of the girls or not. So let’s make some predictions for how Week 8 is going to go.

Final Five Round:
Hayley wins Immunity.
Hayley and Wai flip to Flick and tell her now is the time to vote out George.
Flick is safe regardless and saves herself.
George is voted out 3-2, with his and Cara’s votes against Flick negated.

Final Four Round:
Wai wins Immunity (I’m gonna say there’s a puzzle here).
Hayley and Wai flip back over to Cara and convince her to vote against Flick.
Flick still thinks the three-person alliance is intact.
Flick is voted out 3-1.

With the finale now moved in schedule to next Sunday, there’s still room to discuss and predict what will happen at the final three. But if you want my current take, Hayley wins Immunity and votes out Wai, believing Cara to be easier to beat. Hayley wins in a 7-2 vote. But that’s just now, it’s still hard to say. And it’s all given I’m right about everything else.

There are only two spanners in the works for my Week 8 predictions.
A: George wins Immunity, and suddenly Cara is the new target, now putting George dangerously close to the finale.
B: Flick, still burnt by Hayley and Wai not flipping with her, decides instead to work with George and Cara (believing she can beat them in the final Immunity Challenge), and idols out Hayley/Wai.

Does Flick seek revenge and work with George and Cara to take out the big threats that are Hayley and Wai? I don’t think so. But it’s very possible!

No doubt we’ll review just how Week 8 will play out right before the Sunday finale. I’m very excited to watch it all go down.

THE FINAL FIVE

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

Who would’ve thought my Top Five from last week would end up being the Final Five? I even reused the same picture, lol!

Flick: All by herself and with nothing to lose, Flick is the most dangerous threat if she makes it to the Final Tribal Council. She’s got a ticket to the final four with her idol, and a strong underdog story if she can win her way there. With a Brawn solid jury looking for any Brawn to take it all the way, I can easily see Flick pulling out something special and making a delightful race to the finish. But I think the rest all know this, and will strike against her the moment they’re able to. It’s up to Flick to outlast them all.

Wai: What a beauty it was watching Wai win that Immunity Challenge, and I think she’s got what it takes to clutch another one! Wai has been a very well liked, well spoken and great player all season long. She might have been hidden by the edit, but she’s contributed much more to the strategic climate around camp that has put her in the middle of two strong alliances. I think her late game has become phenomenal, and she’d be tough to plead a case next to at the Final Tribal Council. She’s needed by everyone now, but once we get to Day 47, are all bets off?

George: One of the most exciting players to watch in Australian Survivor history, George has been surviving Tribal after Tribal by the skin of his teeth. Challenge ability has worked out for him, buying him time throughout the endgame. But I think it’s borrowed time without an idol to save himself, and George will have to pull off something truly incredible, and like never before, to find a spot somewhere in that Final Tribal Council. All the signs tell me he’s out at the very next opportunity, but if anyone can prove me wrong, it’s gonna be freaking King George.

Hayley: It’s been a rollercoaster journey for Hayley, coming in with some big ideas and executing some perfect blindsides very early in the game. But her strategic thinking got her torch snuffed once, it can still happen again. While she’s in a decent spot right now, I don’t see the next few days being easy for Hayley. She’s going to have to ensure she stays in the middle of the two alliances, cutting them off one by one with precision to be in the most ideal final three spot. From there, she can win the final Immunity Challenge, but I think she’s got her toughest battle against a jury that I think aren’t too happy with Hayley, and she’ll have to prove she’s truly deserving of being crowned the Sole Survivor.

Cara: From sacrificing herself to save her partner in crime, to making it to the final five with him by her side, Cara’s biggest threat might just be her most trusted ally himself. Tied to George, Cara plays a huge risk in being seen as a follower and not taking charge of her individual game. But if she can sever the tie and prove she’s playing for herself, I think Cara’s got one of the most underrated jury arguments you might ever see. If she can prove George was a shield that could catapult her to the end, then she just might have fooled everyone and can steal away the $500,000 check. These final few days could be make or break for the Duchess of Double Bay. I wouldn’t count her out.

If you missed out on viewing the Fantasy League update, make sure you check that out now. Don’t forget there is no Tuesday episode, and the finale airs on Sunday the 12th of September! I’ll see you in between now and then for the pre-finale Review!

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Featured Image: Network 10

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Australian Survivor: Brains vs Brawn goes from five to three, 7:30pm, today and tomorrow only on Channel 10!


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