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Australian Survivor Report Card - Brains vs Brawn - Week 5
Featuring the merge, Kez, Baden, Redemption Rock and Chelsea
Previously on Australian Survivor:
Sudokus were insulted, loved ones wrote letters at gunpoint and Cara and George went on a Tribal Council date.
Here’s my report card for the fifth week of Australian Survivor
The week begins with JLP announcing to the tribes that they’ve merged. It’s an exciting time for everybody and they celebrate wildly before being hosed down and ordered to do their first individual reward challenge.
The challenge is some kind of obstacle course/auction hybrid where players get to choose their rewards from a table of goodies based on the order in which they finish.
It’s a great idea for a reward challenge and pretty much everybody gets the chance to choose an item that satisfies them.
Heck, even last-placed Gerald is happy. The wily axeman cunningly threw the challenge because he knew nobody else would take his beloved milk. Excellent threat level management.
The players head back to their merged camp.
“Let’s brainstorm some merge tribe names,” suggests Wai.
“No, let’s brawnstorm some,” replies Dani. She punches a buff to accentuate the point.
And this is a perfect encapsulation of the tribal split. The original Brawn tribe have somehow congealed back together despite all the treachery and betrayal of previous weeks. Emmett takes control of the alliance, declaring that he has no use for Brains. And I, for one, believe him.
The Brains, meanwhile, would still have the numbers, except for the fact that George and Cara have flipped to the Brawn side.
Or have they? Turns out that George is willing to play double agent. Cleverly leaving Cara out of the plan, he sneaks off to tell Hayley who the Brawn alliance is voting for and therefore who Hayley should play her idol on. Also, that Kez has found an idol and should be the target of the Brains alliance votes.
“Now, Hayley,” he mansplains. “This vote will require absolute precision.”
“Bitch, please,” replies Hayley.
And so amid all the Tribal Council talk of everybody sticking to their guns (Emmett pipes up with “who wants to stick to these guns?”, everybody ignores him), Hayley leads a split minority vote idol play and flush. It is a thing of beauty that makes this easily one of the finest merge episodes of Survivor in the history of the game.
Which is why it’s such a shame that it’s immediately ruined by Kez handing off her idol to Flick after being voted off, negating the entire point of it. Will production nip this bullshit in the bud?
(Does bullshit even have buds?)
It turns out that, no. The producers have no interest in preventing players from passing around idols after being voted out. In fact, they’ve specifically added such game-breaking behaviour to the official rules.
To be fair, we should have suspected something was up when we saw in the title credits that this season had now been renamed to Brains vs Brawn vs Bullshit.
Duly warned, fans begin to speculate on what game-breaking piece of nonsense the producers will pull out of their butts next.
Would a player be allowed to write down somebody’s name on the parchment ten times in tiny letters and get ten votes? Maybe somebody would ‘forget’ to bring their torch to Tribal Council and therefore not have it snuffed.
Or perhaps a dog would be permitted to compete in the challenges. Anything was now possible in this Air Bud of a season.
Including the idea that, despite the game being perfectly set up with double agents, betrayal, uneasy alliances and somebody wielding the power of empathy, they would abandon all that in favour of arguably the most ludicrous twist in Survivor history.
Namely, that three people would win immunity at the challenge. And that furthermore, those three people would be the only ones who’d get to vote.
It’s a great call from the producers. I’ve always said that the worst thing about Survivor is how important votes are never decided by a tiny minority of the tribe who happen to be good at winning challenges.
Or, more precisely, the person in that tiny minority who is best at making fire. Because they throw that into the mix as well.
Anyway, Dani wins and votes out Baden.
Crazy to think that Australian Survivor threw every past season of the game into an artificial intelligence reality show generator and this episode came out.
(They also vomited into the machine.)
But Baden’s not actually gone. Instead, he’s been sent to Redemption Rock to wait for a chance to come back into the game.
Fortunately, somebody at Australian Survivor headquarters then finds a giant bottle of calamine lotion and pours it over the next episode. It’s enough to get the producers to stop picking at it. For now, anyway.
Instead, we have pretty straightforward gameplay. Emmett wins immunity for the third time in a row. We all exhilarate in the moment. Another Emmett win to savour. Fantastic. Really great. Couldn’t be happier for him. Magnificent to see one of the good guys succeed. Etcetera.
Hayley, meanwhile, tries to throw George under the bus, but Dani’s not having it. After that Kez blindside a couple of episodes ago, Dani’s gone off the Sandra Bullock faster than a 1997 test audience for Speed 2: Cruise Control.
So Hayley’s also voted out to Redemption Rock, where she vows to return to the game and eliminate everybody else one by one. Dunno why she’s so insistent on the ‘one by one’ bit. Knowing this season she’ll probably win, I dunno, the Grenade Advantage that lets her vote out six of them in a single Tribal Council.
What a lot of people probably didn’t notice at the previous Tribal Council was that Chelsea wasn’t actually there. Sigh. Fine. I don’t even have the energy to be annoyed by Tribal Council sick leave any more. That feels so two weeks ago at this stage.
Especially since Chelsea’s sufficiently unwell to return to the game. JLP shows up at camp to tell everybody that she’s lost her sense of balance and while she’ll recover, she’s been ruled out of the game.
“Chelsea really wanted to tell you herself,” he goes on to add. “But, as you can see, I’m standing on a slope.”
JLP then pretends to lose his balance, laughs and leaves.
Then it’s time for Baden and Hayley to fight their way back into the game by hanging onto a pole. Hayley does so, outlasting Baden easily, and is reintegrated into the tribe, comfortable in the knowledge that she’ll now be perceived as a dangerous physical threat as well as a lethal strategic one.
Annoyed viewers, meanwhile, head over to 10Play, hoping that we’d all been Punk’d and that the streaming service might have the real episodes for this week.
Alas, no such luck.