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Australian Survivor Report Card - Brain vs Brawn - Week 1
Featuring challenges, Phil, AFL legends, Janelle and Gavin
In US Survivor season 2, filmed in Australia, there was a scandal about a player smuggling beef jerky into the game. Now, two decades later, in the Australian Survivor season filmed in Australia, the producers are overtly introducing multiple beefy jerks into the game.
Yes, it’s Brains v Brawn. Let’s get rating, shall we?
After the two tribes get together in an introduction sequence directed by George Miller, JLP introduces them to their first challenge. As with all challenges this season, it will test both brawn and brains, making it perfectly fair.
And so it proves. Yes, the Brawn tribe has an advantage in the first part of the challenge which features wood-chopping, especially since they have a world champion axeman in their midst. But the back portion of the challenge requires them to spell ‘Brawn’ a mind-bending five (5) times in a row. So it evens out.
Similarly, later in the immunity challenge, Brawn falls behind when a cart they’re supposed to ride in (classic nerd activity) comes off its tracks.
“You need to pick it up, Brawn!” yells JLP.
“We pick up our cart?” reply the Brawn tribe.
“No, it’s an expression. It means… Fine. Pick it up.”
Back at camp, while the rest of the Brains tribe look to cobble together a 5G network so they can order a shelter online, George stumbles onto an advantage. A wildly overpowered advantage that allows George and five others to peace out from the first tribal council.
Yes, George, a politician, has received an advantage that allows him to completely subvert the wishes of the majority of voters. An advantage very much of our times. Hopefully, the next one he finds will permit him to violently storm JLP and refuse to have the votes read.
Further keeping with the modern zeitgeist, it also turns out that George the politician is frustrated with the opinions of medical experts. In this case, the leadership of Dr Mitch. So as soon as Tribal Council rolls around, George chooses five others to accompany him back to camp, including Dr Mitch’s original target, Wai.
“No Wai,” says Dr Mitch, under his breath. Then there’s a bit of a panic from everybody left behind until the good doctor suggests, as a random way of choosing who goes home that he just came up with off the top of his head, that they instead vote out the player wearing, say, the most crocheted hats. Bad news for Phil (1).
The next reward challenge is yet another perfect blend of braininess vs brawniness. This time, you get to scurry through a series of obstacles (brawn), dig up a bag (brawn), then wrestle one another to get the bag to the target area (brawn), but only if you’re stupid enough to compete (brains).
You know who is stupid enough to compete? That’s right, George. Sadly, he doesn’t get a chance to do so, with Baden (a man who seemingly has his own name tattooed on his back) getting to face off against Gavin instead.
When George complains later about his lack of opportunity, there is much derision. “You think you could beat Gavin?” they snort. “He’s an AFL legend.”
“I didn’t know that,” says George. And fair enough too. George is from Sydney. He doesn’t know who AFL legends are.
As far as George is concerned literally anybody could be an AFL legend. Maybe Shannon is an AFL legend. Maybe JLP is an AFL legend. Maybe Phil’s crocheted hat is an AFL legend. Who knows? You can’t make decisions based on that. You’ll drive yourself crazy. And what is he supposed to do? Watch AFL? Get real.
After three challenge defeats in a row, however, the Brains finally win immunity, when a water obstacle course that features a barrel designed to cripple at least a third of the people who go over it, mysteriously fails to do so.
Instead, the Brains survive intact and reach the puzzle. Turns out there’s a very specific Wai to do the puzzle. And she’s on their side. So they win.
For the sake of branding consistency, the Brawn tribe decide that they will vote out the player least likely to be able to deadlift Dr Mitch. After a brief debate at Tribal Council, they decide that person is Janelle, despite Simon’s insistence that Shannon’s upper torso is easily the least shredded. (“But what about her technique?” is the counterargument from a dude with a beard making his debut appearance.)
After Brawn win the next reward challenge, they get a reminder of loved ones. Sadly, that reminder is not in the form of their loved ones’ severed pinky fingers. On day six, that’s probably the only acceptable way in which loved ones could motivate the kind of ruthless play we viewers want to see.
More importantly, at that reward, Kez finds a clue to an immunity idol. Unfortunately, that clue is near a rock that looks like a gravestone. Worse, it’s in full view of the camp. How to dig for it?
The obvious excuse for digging near a tombstone is to murder Emmett, a man whose initial piece to camera prominently featured the phrase ‘this is the ultimate tool’. But, alas, the producers refuse to permit him to be killed. So instead, Kez elicits help from, oh, let’s say, Flick, and procures the idol that way.
A good thing too. Because Brains win the immunity challenge. The key element of the challenge was to remove a ring off a pole and George goes full Bizarro-Beyonce, whipping it off in a snap.
Brawn therefore heads to Tribal Council, where Kez plays her idol, just prior to JLP reading the illiterate votes.
“Keren — does not count
Kieran — does not count
Kerryn — does not count
Qaryn — does not count
K%rmn — does not count.”
And then the votes for Gavin come in. Most of them have ‘AFL legend’ in brackets after his name (the other one reminds us that M Night Shyamalan’s Old is out, July 22). Mad respect.