Australian Survivor

Australian Survivor: So That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbled

 

Logan Saunders recaps the twenty-sixth episode of Australian Survivor. It’s a finale and a reunion to remember.

Australian Survivor: So That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbled

EPISODE 26

Previously on Survivor: 55 days ago, twenty-four Australians began the adventure of a lifetime–playing the world’s greatest game. Now just three remain and one will be crowned Sole Survivor: advertising producer Peter, quietly playing his game under the radar; rodeo riding mother Tara went from outsider to the finale thanks to her strong social game; while Flight Attendant Jericho playing hard beneath a smiling exterior.

Last time, Peter won immunity and had Jericho in his sights. Tara used her vote to split the numbers. Jericho and Michelle fought for their lives in a race to make fire. Tonight, the challenge to end them all–the ultimate test of exhausted bodies and minds. Who will outwit, outplay, and outlast the others to win the half million dollars and the title of Sole Survivor?

Once again, we don’t play around as we go straight to another Insta-Intro. Unlike the American version, every episode always has a full intro.

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peter

     Peter         

jerichotara

  Jericho           Tara

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DAY 53

Slow motion walking through the water. Jericho remarks how close they are to the finish line.

Yep, it is time for the Rite of Passage. Again, unlike the American version, this has been stripped from their finales too since Survivor: Caramoan, I believe.

(JOAN)

TARA: I didn’t meet Joan.

JERICHO: I did. She put her hand up for the first puzzle.

(ADAM)

PETEY: He gave away his cards a little too early.

Get it? ‘Cause Adam was a professional poker player.

(KATE)

TARA: Good at challenges.

(TARZAN)

TARA: Mr. Character.

PETEY: Soul of the tribe.

Tarzan gets a twenty-second clip dedicated to him.

(AIMEE)

TARA: My favourite. She looked like a hairdresser but she was a plumber.

*SPEWING!*

(SAM)

JERICHO: Sam was a pocket rocket in our challenges. Her downfall was Mark.

(MARK)

JERICHO: It was just like a power pair. We had to send Mark and Sam home.

I distinctly remember Jericho not voting against Mark, but whatever.

(JACQUI)

TARA: Jacqui!

JERICHO: Oh Jacqui!

(KENT)

TARA: Kent!

(AK)

TARA: Ah. Here is one. AK! I will say he played a great game but look at where it got him.

Screwed over by a lousy twist?

I should note each person is shown their most memorable quote except Sam and Mark. Otherwise, I am transcribing this word for word.

(BEN)

JERICHO: Benton! He was the youngest contestant!

(ODETTE)

TARA: She’d say what she wanted to say and she would move on.

Which according to her edit was. . . nothing? Then the audience moved on.

(JARRAD)

JERICHO: Our first jury member!

PETEY: Jarrad! An incredible guy. One of my closest allies in this game.

We see Jarrad’s wicked hair flip.

(ANNELIESE)

PETEY: I really liked Anneliese.

TARA: We went to Exile together so we shared this moment that nobody else can experience.

And hopefully never again.

(HENRY)

JERICHO: Master Hen Zen!

TARA: Henry!

JERICHO: He had the charisma, the charm; people fell under his Henry spell.

(TESSA)

PETEY: She was logical. She was smart. I felt like I not only lost a player in this game but also lost a true friend when Tessa went home.

(SARAH)

JERICHO: Ah! Sarah!

TARA: The model that can start a fire and doesn’t mind to get dirty.

(LUKE)

PETEY: Luke!

TARA: Oh! Lukey! Yeah, boi!

JERICHO: I couldn’t have had another brother in this game other than Luke.

(ZIGGY)

PETEY: Ziggy was a fierce competitor. Powerhouse in the challenges.

(LOCKY)

TARA: Oh! My Locky. I don’t think I could have gotten this far really without him.

JERICHO: You know, the guy won three immunity challenges in a row.

TARA: Oh, I love you Locky.

LOCKY’S TORCH (faded voice): I love you too, Tara.

(TARA raises her eyebrows.)

(MICHELLE)

TARA: Mich. On the barge, she had this beautiful dress on and she was freezing. We were all thinking she wouldn’t last long.

JERICHO: She wanted to come out of this game with fireworks and she did.

Nice pun, Jericho.

See? Twenty-one contestants summarized in four minutes and twenty-nine seconds. Impressive.

Tara is more confident after not seeing her torch on the trail. She views it as the most important immunity challenge of the game.

TARA: It’s like the Golden Buckle in Barrel Racing.

I’ll take your word for it.

Petey sees this as a do-or-die challenge.

PETEY: I need to do cause I don’t want to die.

If you’re Zoidberg from Futurama, doing is dying.

JLP takes back the talisman for the last time.

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FINAL IMMUNITY CHALLENGE

The same final immunity challenge as last time. Instead of doing it in the morning like last year, they are going to wait until very late afternoon. The sun won’t be able to keep them warm.

JLP: You’ll hear the waves but you won’t see the waves coming. This is where Kristie made her mark on Survivor. Now it’s time to make yours.

Oh my.

Do I need to explain the challenge? Feet are on pedestals. One hand is on the idol. If any point of contact comes off, they’re out of the challenge. If a fourth point of contact occurs, they’re out of the challenge. Last person left standing wins immunity.

The challenge has begun. Tara is facing her body away from the water. Jericho is the only one without resting his free hand on his knee. Petey’s idol hand is resting on top of the idol.

JLP: You gotta dig deep if you want it.

Thanks, Probst.

The first wave hits them. Tara shivers.

JLP: It’s not even mid-tide yet. It’ll be the first of many. . .I’m guessing.

ELAPSED TIME: 30 MINUTES

JLP informs Tara the sun is about to set. Tara says it is easier to duck when she can see the wave coming–at night it’s gonna come full power.

Darkness approaches. JLP starts lighting torches around them.

JLP: This is the last of the light.

So no group of four from Final Fantasy to save them?

JLP: I hope you’re prepared for the cold, the wind, and the dark. This is when the real challenge begins.

They get hit by the first wave.

PETEY: Oh my god.

Petey no likey.

ELAPSED TIME: 1 HOUR

JLP: How is everyone feeling?

JERICHO: Good.

PETEY: Good.

TARA: Sh**.

JLP: Thank you, Tara. Everyone is lying to me, right?

The waves are huge.

JLP: It is jet black out here. You can’t see what’s going on with the surf.

It’s like an invisible Lapras or Gyrados when it attacks.

JLP notes that Jericho’s feet are moving a lot and asks if they are sore.

JERICHO: They’re good, actually. I’m fine. . . or am I lying???? You’ll never know.

ELAPSED TIME: 90 MINUTES

Tara is really hunched over. Petey is shivering. JLP asks Petey how it would feel to make it to the Final Two. It’s a dream come true for him.

Tara is now extremely crouched down. I am amazed her hand is able to hang onto the idol in that position. She’s like a back catcher in baseball.

ELAPSED TIME: 2 HOURS

Tara is the only one moving around a lot. She starts wincing and winking.

JLP: Muscles must be cramping now.

No kidding.

JLP asks Tara what has gotten her this far. Tara immediately launches in a stay-at-home-mom role while everyone else has crazy professions. She doesn’t want to disappoint anyone, including herself. Tara starts crying on the idol.

JLP then quizzes Tara about her emotions.

TARA: It’s starting to hurt. I don’t want to feel like I’m not meant to be here.

There is a really long pause.

JLP: You’re Final Three. You totally deserve to be here.

Jericho and Petey both compliment the woman they intend to go to the Final Two with them.

Tara crouches even lower. She has really good balance in her legs.

JLP encourages her to keep going and not to give up.

Tara looks like she is ready to choke somebody as the challenge continues. I’ve never seen that expression on her face before. She moans.

ELAPSED TIME: 2 HOURS 50 MINUTES

JERICHO: Talk.

TARA: I don’t know if I can talk.

Petey gets her to start talking about horses. They keep getting her to talk about horses. I am learning some new stuff today. Another wave comes and she is preparing to vomit.

Tara is wobbling a lot and keeps wiping her face. I have never seen someone with such a look of disgust on their face before. She can’t stop moving.

Tara steps off at two hours and fifty-five minutes. She is in pure agony as she is in a frog-like position. Everyone commends her on a job well done. JLP helps her away from the challenge. She is hobbling like an eighty-year-old. That challenge wrecked her.

Only two remain in the challenge. It’s not just a talisman up for grabs–it’s the championship belt of the season.

A couple of ENORMOUS waves soaks everyone. Tara is like thirty feet away from the challenge and is soaked too.

JLP asks if both are worried about being voted out by the other. Both pretty much say that’s what is going to happen.

ELAPSED TIME: 3 HOURS 30 MINUTES

Both say they can last until the morning. Yikes.

ELAPSED TIME: 4 HOURS

Silence. The waves are relentless.

JLP: You guys are just getting smashed now.

So is Tarzan in Ponderosa.

JLP notes the wet clothes are going to really make them suffer.

Both dudes are absolutely drenched. Petey is on the verge of tears. He is soaking wet so you can’t tell the difference between the tears and the drips of water.

The camera fades in and out of the challenge.

ELAPSED TIME: 5 HOURS

When there is no question as to what the other will do, there is no room for bargaining. No rationale to quit. This is all-out war.

JLP: There is no way to get your body temperature up when you are stuck in the same position.

Waves keep coming. Petey is visibly suffering more than Jericho. Petey’s free hand is shivering. Even JLP is suffering and he has the freedom to do whatever the hell he wants.

It looks like Petey is about to fall, but he survives some waves.

PETEY: Jonathan. . . I need a hand getting down, please.

After five hours and fifteen minutes, JLP and Tara help him down. He is all smiles. I think Jericho really was going to last until morning.

Petey is taking this loss really hard. Jericho gives him the biggest Samoa-soaked hug possible. Petey hobbles like an old man too. Jericho removes his clothes for him as all three huddle together around the fire.

JERICHO: We proved to everyone we deserve to be in the Final Three. Nobody can devalue what we achieved.

As soon as Jericho says that, a HUGE wave soaks them and puts out the fire. What a great piece of comedic editing.

Jericho’s shirt is gone as JLP puts the talisman on him. It’s Jericho’s first and only individual win of the season. He has less than twenty-four hours to decide who will be going home. Although I think his decision was made about two or three days ago.

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NIGHT 54

We skip twenty-four hours and go straight to Tribal Council. Yeah, this is all a foregone conclusion.

JERICHO: It’s like deciding apples and oranges.

Except one apple is much tastier to have with you than one of the oranges.

The jury is summoned. Jarrad puts on an outfit that makes him look like Larry The Cable Guy’s cousin.

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TRIBAL COUNCIL #25

(JOAN)-(ADAM)-(KATE)-(MARK H)-(AIMEE)-(SAMANTHA)-(MARK W)-(tara)-(anneliese)-(JACQUI)-(KENT)-(AK)-(BEN)-(ODETTE)-(JARRAD)-(ANNELIESE)-(HENRY)-(TESSA)-(SARAH)-(LUKE)-(ZIGGY)-(LOCKY)-(tessa)-(MICHELLE)

X

(*JERICHO*)-(PETEY)-(TARA)

JLP explains the challenge to the jury. Everyone applauds their performance. Jericho says the Survivor gods told him patience to earn his first individual talisman win.

He says it is more about who is the most deserving person to be with him in the Final Two rather than the easy victory. Bullcrap, Jeri.

JLP naturally pits Tara against Petey.

Tara says Petey is the “easy ride out”.

Petey disagrees. He thinks he is the bigger player and had to fight his way through. Supposedly the consensus is that Tara is the weaker player and that Jericho is undermining his own game.

Tara mocks Petey for going after Jericho and labeling it as a big risk but didn’t have the balls to make it a 2-2 tie. She says she didn’t let go of those balls.

Petey defends he was thinking about what the jury was thinking. His smartest option was to eliminate Jericho.

JLP wants to let them have a final pitch.

Petey believes he has played a really good game and that the jury wants two strong people in the final. Not taking him will undermine his #bigmovez game.

PETEY: You spent a lot of time in Locky’s shadow, and that all of your moves were not logical.

TARA: I could be classed as an underdog or weak player. If you want a fight then bring me. You take Petey and it would be a disrespect to the game.

PETEY: Wow. Disagree. I disagree entirely.

TARA: Well, of course you disagree. It’s my time to pitch. You just had a pitch now it’s my time to pitch.

PETEY: I thought you were finished.

She is finished.

Petey glares at Jericho one last time.

JLP has to explain something we have known for 17 years–Petey and Tara won’t vote since there is only one option. Jericho is the only one who will vote. He stumbles and takes his sweet little time to the podium. Jericho is loving this too much.

Jericho very very very slowly writes down the name of the person he is voting out. He very very slowly walks back. This is just insulting.

We see JLP grabbing the urn. Maybe he’ll cast the vote and make it a tie.

All three huddle together.

THE VOTE: Twenty-second person voted out of this game and the ninth and final member of the jury. . .

.

.

.

PETER

That is that. Poor Petey. He tells the jury to stay up late tonight because he wants to hang out with them.

PETEY (to JLP): Can I have a hug? Bring it in.

Petey congratulates the Final Two again and exits.

JERICHO: Holy crap.

(TARA starts slapping JERICHO.)

They’re the Final Two. Jericho starts playing with his own face.

As they walk into the jungle, Jericho has parting words for Tara.

JERICHO: I took you because you deserve it more than he does.

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DAY 55

The final day of our epic.

JERICHO: Goooood morning, Vietnam!

Who does he think he is? Ian from The Amazing Race 3?

Jericho is shrieking in his first confessional of the day. He nearly hurts himself in the shelter as one of the bamboo sticks props up.

Jericho and Tara stroll on the beach together.

They are provided with a big ass breakfast in tree mail. Jericho says his family in the Philippines grew up in a shelter that barely covered them from the rain. That was it.

They cook sizzling bacon. Jericho wants to provide for his family as much as they provided for him. No ice cream for breakfast, sadly. Or cookies.

JERICHO: I deserve it. More than anyone else in this game.

Don’t tell the jurors that.

Jericho thinks he was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He says he and Luke conquered Asaga together, and his Cookie Army. He put people in the front line to act as shields. His name was never written down until day 52. Jericho wants that crown.

Tara and Jericho go swimming together. Tara thinks she will have a good relationship with Jericho outside of the game. She is balancing on his shoulders before he throws her off. Sole Survivor!

Jericho notes he has been stuck in the same camp for fifty-five days. OK, Rodney. Tara wants Jericho to regret taking her to the end.

Tara says she built new relationships and trust on multiple tribes and survived twenty-one Tribal Councils and Jericho had it easy.

TARA: He only had his name written down once. He had it easy.

Because he made it easy.

Jericho packs his bear; Tara puts on her golden buckle. Tara tears up over leaving her home for the past two months. She wants to win the money so she can put her own mother in a home.

JERICHO: What a journey.

Indeed.

Jericho lets Tara walk ahead of her.

JERICHO: There is a big possibility that Tara could run away with the money, and I may regret not taking Peter. If Tara wins it, the only person I have to blame is me.

At least you won’t go ranting about this “bitter jury” nonsense.

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FINAL TRIBAL COUNCIL

(JOAN)-(ADAM)-(KATE)-(MARK H)-(AIMEE)-(SAMANTHA)-(MARK W)-(tara)-(anneliese)-(JACQUI)-(KENT)-(AK)-(BEN)-(ODETTE)-(JARRAD)-(ANNELIESE)-(HENRY)-(TESSA)-(SARAH)-(LUKE)-(ZIGGY)-(LOCKY)-(tessa)-(MICHELLE)-(PETEY)

X

(JERICHO)-(TARA)

Petey shaved. His chin must be even colder than it was yesterday. Tara plays with her chin to point out Petey shaved.

JLP says it is now the jury’s turn to speak.

JLP: For the most part, they have been quiet.

Who has been loud? Probably Luke?

Tara’s opening statement.

TARA: It was so hard going against you guys. It was scary. Sitting on that barge was looking around, I was petrified. Locky’s arms were bigger than my legs. . . I knew I had to be a social player and drew everyone in. . . Yes, this is a game, but I am a human being and I have emotions. . . I went from Samatau to Asaga. The highest high to the lowest low of feeling rejected. I wasn’t going to go to two or three people. I wanted an alliance with everybody on Asaga. . . when we hit the merge, I knew I was always going to stick with Locky. I’ll be the first to admit that Locky was my shield, and I was happy to tag along. . . then there had to come a time to take out Locky. It was my chance to prove that the shield had to go and use my armour. Day 51 came, I could have gone the easy way out with Petey and Michelle. . . Jeri deserved to fight it out for the Final Three. I feel tonight that this is the spot I deserve. I hope I played a big enough game that the jury will respect.

JERICHO: Thank you to have been a part of this game, I feel like all of you played an amazing game. . . Now, to open the Book of Jericho that needs to be revealed. I had one goal and that was if I could convince and make anyone believe that I was this saint, kind-hearted Jericho that would never hurt anybody then I was already winning. At some stage, everyone thought I was this lovable guy and you could find a friend in me. Friendship was there but I was willing to blindside every single one of you when it was most important and useful to me. . . I knew I needed to have people to use as shields so I had this jar of cookies. With this jar, I told Luke then I told Henry then I told Sarah. I told every single one of those three different stories to make them feel special and make them feel loyalty in me. All I needed was that they could get to merge. One thing I could tell you that at the merge they were my moves and I’m not going to try to hide that away. . .I feel every player here sees the big moves as the thing we respect the thing we call Survivor. I won three individual challenges and won the most important individual immunity challenge to get me here. . . They were game-changing moves and that’s why I am sitting here and came out on top.

Not yet, Jericho. I think Tara’s opening statement was just a tad bit better.

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JUROR #1 – MICHELLE

MICHELLE: Congratulations. . . Tell me the biggest move you made in the game. I want one you yourself orchestrated.

TARA: Trying to get Locky out on day 40. . . I wanted fifteen days to prove to myself that I was on my own.  . . We didn’t expect him winning immunity, and couldn’t get him out until day 49.

Well, this is repetitive.

JERICHO: I wanted to make the jar of cookies as powerful as an idol. . . I wanted to take this group of people as shields. . . I didn’t float ’cause I made this coalition on my own and they didn’t know that.

Really repetitive.

TARA: I need a drink.

Hard liquor, preferably.

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JUROR #2 – ANNELIESE

ANNELIESE: Jeri, you were working closely with Luke and riding his coattails. But I want to give you a right of reply to counteract things that I have been thinking.

JERICHO: I look at it as Santa Claus. You ride the sleigh but I am the one with the whip. There was times where he tried to tell me what to do, and I say no that’s not happening. That’s not logical. I had the whip and he was the reindeer.

First time Santa Claus has been referenced at a Final Tribal.

ANNELIESE: If I had to put you on a pedestal, Jericho would be a little higher at this time. How is sitting next to Jericho benefiting your personal game?

TARA: I wanted to go up against someone out of the four of us who deserved to battle it out for the top three. I knew he was good at challenges. And I was hoping it was going to be Jericho that won the immunity necklace. Once I knew the necklace was his, I was hoping he would take me cause I took him into the fire challenge.

Anneliese admits her mind is not made up.

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JUROR #3 – LOCKY

LOCKY: Tara, I’m super proud of you of planning to get me out. I knew it was coming. Jericho, my question is we went out swimming that was a pure genuine moment. Was that genuine to you or just gameplay?

JERICHO: That was one of the biggest highlights for the entire game. . . I saw the Locky that was playing the game.

Locky wanted to take it easy on them. How nice.

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JUROR #4 – ZIGGY

ZIGGY: We are all super jealous. My question is to both of you. Jericho, why do you think Tara deserves to be the Sole Survivor?

JERICHO: That’s a good one.

TARA: That’s a good one.

Suck-ups.

JERICHO: Tara has evolved. Originally she acted on emotions then the second half of this game she started to change it up. She realized she had to make risky, big, and controversial moves. Mad respect. That’s why she deserves to be here.

TARA: The fella is 15 centimetres and drags logs twice his size, and makes sure the fire is always going and makes sure we’ve got food, comfort. When there was twelve of us, he was the one sitting at the bottom of our feet like a dog because there was no room. Jericho’s heart is what got him here today and that’s why he deserves to be here today.

Ziggy is done.

TARA: I’m sweating.

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JUROR #5 – JARRAD

JARRAD: I’m sure you guys know I’ve been on the jury. . . for a long time. I have had to sit there listening to everybody how great everybody’s game and how everything was everybody else’s fault and all the amazing players are sitting here.

Self-deprecating. I love it.

JARRAD: Let’s say, Jericho, you walk away with nothing. You lose tonight. Where did it go wrong?

JERICHO: My mistake that could cost me the game was to send home Tessa off the jury. I don’t know exactly what she would have done, but Tessa could have been the person to vouch me. The thing is I won’t know ’cause I have taken her out.

JARRAD: I have some final words for you, Jericho. . . I came to you after the merge. We discussed who we would vote for that night. We would send our message to each other with an underline to show our trust was there. You voted me that night, and to add salt to the wound, you underlined my line. Now Jericho, what goes around comes around. And when I go up there tonight, I’ll be sending a message to you with an underline as well.

Hahahaha. Jarrad just trolled him. Luke is amused.

TARA: Holy s-itballs that was good.

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JUROR #6 – SARAH

TARA: Oh gosh.

SARAH: I’m a little bit nervous. . . Jericho, the thing is your game seems to be panic and convenient. You talked about playing a fearless game and talked about being fearlessly by your core alliance members. When I was sent home, you said, “When a cat is drowning, you don’t save it.” So you let me go home. In your opening pitch, you said the one thing you could do was convince people that you were nice when you were a villainous character. You have contradicted that saying you are actually nice. Clarify that.

JERICHO: I came into this game with real raw meat and that is this person that finds passion in finding to do selfless things for others. The prime goal is to make sure you lie to people and manipulate just for your selfish game. I feel like I couldn’t and do the raw me and selflessly do things for others. If I did then I’d be acting on emotions. . . When you do that you end up doing wrong moves. I had to be capable of lying and capable of manipulating others. That is how I am explaining my story.

JLP looks up as the sky opens up with huge thunder, lightning, and buckets of rain.

TARA: I can’t believe it’s raining on the final day.

JLP: You started the game in the rain and you’re gonna finish it in the rain.

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JUROR #7 – LUKE

Henry slaps Luke’s legs as Luke does a spin move to get to his spot.

LUKE: Tara. . . congratulations. Massive task to get here. I think you played a good game. You’re a good person. I’ll just move on to Jeri. Jericho. My boy. I had the most memorable moments in this game with you, brother. As much as people say about riding coattails, we were always talking about divide and conquer and creating conflict. Our discussions were quite even. Obviously, we’d go off and bring about conversations about who to get out, maybe more. But I feel you deserve a lot of credit for those moves. Alright, sweet.

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JUROR #8 PETEY

TARA: Oh. No. He’s gonna hammer me.

PETEY: I’m not gonna blast you. Chill.

Petey’s shirt has a donkey on it that says “Geometric Figures” on it.

PETEY: Tara. . . for a lot of this game you were under Locky’s wing. I want to know a move you made while under Locky’s wing that you personally contributed to or influenced.

TARA: We got AK out. It goes back to when I went up to you, and Ziggy, and Jarrad at Samatau and said let’s bring in Tessa and let’s bring in Tessa and get rid of Tessa. . . Locky didn’t want to do it. Then the twist happened with the tribe swap. I think I gave you guys enough info about AK to say we got to get him out. That was me coming out with -a- move.

PETEY: Jericho, I want you to tell me in three keywords what was your game.

JERICHO: Adaptable. Flexible.

PETEY: Adaptable. Flexible. Too similar.

(JLP gives a priceless expression.)

TARA: I love Petey.

JERICHO: Adaptable. Under-the-radar. And deadly.

I assume under-the-radar is one because of the hyphens.

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JUROR #9 – HENRY

HENRY: Namaste, y’all. Let’s finish with a bang here. Tara, saddle up because the barrels coming. Jericho, put your seatbelts cause there is turbulence.

Oh, Jesus. This is going to be insufferable.

HENRY: Tara, you ready?

TARA: Saddled up.

HENRY: Best part about Australian Survivor is it goes on for fifty-five days. I came in as a fake yoga instructor from day one and build a game around that all the way until I got kicked out. What day did you start playing the game and how did you start playing the game?

TARA: Honestly, I started playing when Locky went home and I was on my own two feet.

(LOCKY cringes.)

TARA: I used only six days to make some pretty big moves. That may have been too late or not enough for some people but that is my answer.

HENRY: I’m going to do a little pitch for you because you’re not the best at speaking.

TARA: I’m not the speaking?

HENRY: You survived on your social game to get to the end. You are sitting there, not only you were deciding if people like Jericho were deciding to get to the end. You chose to keep him alive and get him there. You basically stated that you didn’t have any moves on the jury or all I hear is how our big moves put us here. Maybe she is the smart one saying I am not gonna make my big moves until the final seconds and that is how I am gonna win this game.

Yikes.

HENRY: I have seen some moves which have been inconsistent, confusing, and detrimental to your gameplay. . . you talking about shields. My understanding is you use a shield to protect yourself. You shot Sarah and you shot me. You had one of the biggest most powerful moves in the game to send a juror home. You sent Tessa home. It was a bad move. Tessa said she thought Tara was the weaker player. You vote her out and yet you bring Tara to the end. Do you think you had good moves that outweigh what the bad moves were in the end?

JERICHO: I have to own all of the decisions I make. . . I knew that when it comes to the merge you were working with all of these people who were quality players, and all of these dangerous players were gonna be knocked out regardless. It could have been me. When I realized it could be me, I knew I needed an escape goat. I needed to make sure there was conflict between two parties. I felt like I was eating an invisible bag of popcorn watching two people battling it out. I maneuvered through a lot of Tribal Councils when my name was never written down. . . You need to make lies in order to cover yourself. You need to think outside of the box. . . I needed to see I could blindside, lie, and deceive that I don’t normally do. I can confidently say I have my blood on your hands and I am fine with that. And that’s why I am still sitting here and that’s why you’re sitting there.

HENRY: Great answer. You smashed us. Love you all.

Namaste, bitches.

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It’s time to vote. JLP reminds the jury and Topaz that they are voting for a winner.

SARAH (voting TARA): I am surprised where my vote has ended up. I hope you win and I hope my vote gets you there.

LUKE (voting JERICHO): I have seen your game for 55 days. We did do good moves. So goddamn.

Henry stalls as much possible when he votes. Then he holds the pen. Then he holds the pen some more. Then he votes and rubs his head before walking away from the urn.

JLP counts the votes. Henry and Locky do not feel good about their decisions.

JLP: Whoever wins this game definitely deserves that. All that’s left to do is read the votes, but. . . I’m gonna do that back in Australia.

Everyone is stunned. They read it on the island last year, but not this time. Everyone is flabbergasted. It is the most unexpected turn of events. All that was missing was Ziggy going “ARE YOU KIDDING MEEEEEE” followed by her weird horse screech sound effect.

We see JLP ride into Sydney Harbour on a boat with urn in hand. He looks different.

The private reunion show audience applauds JLP’s entrance. I wish the reunion was a bit more open to the public.

Luke’s shirt has a crown with the word king on it. Jericho is wearing a bowtie like Bill Nye.

JLP: It was Survivor at its absolute best and it is all thanks to you guys.

We see Kent sitting out in the audience. Poor lonely Kent.

JLP comments on Tara being nervous. Tara says she doesn’t speak when she’s nervous. He repeats the votes are for a winner. He pretends to exhale. Way to draw it out, big man.

FIRST VOTE: JERICHO

SECOND VOTE: JERICHO

Well, we know it isn’t a shutout.

THIRD VOTE: TARA (heart in between horseshoe)

JLP: Hmmmm.

FOURTH VOTE: TARA

Two votes apiece. More votes than Lee.

FIFTH VOTE: TARA (horseshoe)

SIXTH VOTE: Jericho

Tied again. 3-3. Lee is in agony.

SEVENTH VOTE: Jericho

Over-the-top music plays with each vote. It’s like the $64, 000 question in Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

WINNER OF AUSTRALIAN SURVIVOR: JERI =)

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The pre-jurors and Tessa storm the stage. Jericho is at the centre of the biggest group hug in his life. Pyrotechnics flare up. JLP searches for all 145 centimetres of Jericho to hand him the cheque. You can’t see him. Cameras are trying, but it’s hopeless.

The deranged Cookie and Machete Monster is going to win this game. He is an equally unique winner to Kristie.

If Kristie hadn’t won last year, Jericho would be my favourite winner in fifteen years, but Kristie spoiled that. Therefore Jericho will go down as just another very good Survivor winner. He can live with that, right?

Unlike Survivor: New Zealand, all of the contestants are here for the reunion show. JLP doesn’t have an inch of stubble.

JLP asks Jericho about when the rain was pissing down on the barge on the first day. I have never heard Jeff Probst say “rain is pissing down”.

Jericho comments on the height difference between him and the others. He says it was all about savouring every single day.

JLP admits to loving the cookie saga. Particularly when he ate the cookies behind the tribe. He goes to Jacqui about the Cookie Monster moment.

JLP: There was one person you formed a pretty special bond with–

(JERICHO reaches for TARA.)

LUKE: Ahhhh!

Tara starts slapping Jericho and Luke.

JLP: Can you guys behave for just a little bit?!

Asaga was a fun camp.

Jericho aligned with Luke because he likes Luke’s ability to laugh it off and cause chaos. He does a great Luke impression.

JERICHO: It was love at first sight.

This is the bro’iest reunion show moment ever.

Jericho will go see his kids and Luke in Perth, and Luke intends to charge him rent for room because of the winnings.

JLP: . . .Nice.

Luke and Jericho are taking this over completely.

JLP compliments Tara’s runner-up spot.

TARA: I am not shattered. I’m not GUTTED.

Take a drink.

JLP asks Tara how surprised she was playing right from the get go.

TARA: Right from AK, yes.

Tara admits to not knowing how to approach the gameplay. She was asking everyone about the huts like in the American version and surprised she had to build them.

JLP: I always say go big or go home.

And sure enough, we lead into an AK montage. It’s a long montage too.

AK’s problem was going alone with everyone rather than doing more group work.

JLP: I gotta ask. Chicken Idol, really? Who bought it? Hands up?

Ben pretends to raise his hand. Nobody else does.

BEN: Just kidding. I wasn’t on the same tribe as AK.

MICHELLE: Ben definitely would’ve bought it.

JLP: That was harsh.

Wow. Ben can’t stop getting burned by the nanny, eh?

More AK gamebot criticisms.

TARA: He’s like the godfather of my children. Locky, I’m kidding!

This is such a goofy group.

Oh, more AK time. They talk about the switch.

JLP: Luke, how is your wall looking with AK’s head stuffed on it?

LUKE: The only one I didn’t get was Lock. He escaped it. It was all about trophies for me. The room is full at home.

This is such a disturbing image.

JLP compliments AK’s game.

Now it’s a Tarzan montage. The guy who finished this game in 21st place. Yes, he would have gone before So in Survivor: San Juan Del Sur or Melissa McNulty in Survivor: Fiji.

I must say there is a lot of applause for Tarzan. I really really like Tarzan too, but we’ve gone from AK to Tarzan–two pre-merge Samatau boots.

They talk Tarzan telling AK about his plan to blindside Locky. He praises Tessa for making a deep run.

JLP: Tarzan, people may have viewed you as you giving Tessa the idol a bad decision. In a game that’s fifty-five days long, everyone is bound to make a bad decision or two. Right, Ziggy?

Blindsiiiiide, JLP.

JLP grills Ziggy about using her Super Idol to cancel out Anneliese’s idol to eliminate Locky.

Ziggy says there was no trust between her and Anneliese compared to Locky who she trusted. She also wanted to keep Locky because then she’d be the next target if she lost an immunity challenge.

ZIGGY: I stand by it.

JLP: Alright. Good.

JLP stays away from being a complete dick to Ziggy.

JLP asks Tessa if Jericho made the right right decision to vote her out. Tessa says it was true that she was going to pitch for Petey to win the game and it would have been for dangerous if anyone was up against him at FTC.

JLP goes to Jacqui again to talk about Henry not sharing the idol with her.

JACQUI: I’m not finished with Henry yet.

Oooooooooooooooo. Everyone starts whistling.

JLP: We’re going to talk to the guy who made the worst decision of the whole game–Henry and the idol he took home?

HENRY: What?

(HENRY looks around with a ‘wtf’ expression on his face.)

Henry gets his fake yoga montage and him throwing multiple challenges, pretending to play an idol, and going wild in challenges.

JLP mocks Henry for holding longer than he normally does at Tribal Council that night because he expected him to play it. Why didn’t he play it?

HENRY: I don’t know. I couldn’t hear Locky. He wasn’t speaking long enough.

Henry praises them because there was no time to scramble and had two little groups come together within thirty seconds to set up the blindside.

HENRY: It was one of the best episodes I had ever seen. It took six of them.

All six come together to celebrate the blindside.

JLP: There is no dispute you were a dope in that moment, but you played a hell of a game. Well done.

Typical Aussie back-handed compliment.

JLP asks Henry about yoga. One class with his brother-in-law and sister, and bought a yoga book on the flight to Samoa.

Nearly everyone admits to buying Henry’s yoga deception. Now to ask about Henry’s deceased mother. A tough topic, but a touching moment for the reunion show. Tarzan starts crying.

JLP: You teamed up with Jacqui to become a power couple. Was that intentional?

POWER COUPLE! POWER COUPLE! Dammit. I hate hearing that term.

Henry reveals his idol. Jacqui snags it from him and puts it on him.

From one “power couple” to a real couple as we see a montage of Mark W. and Samantha. They cut to Lee and El in the audience.

Mark W and Samantha are still together. JLP drops the forbidden term and asks if they are a power couple.

SAMANTHA: If you were a man or woman in the cold, you’d snuggle up to Mark too.

JLP asks Samantha if she knew Henry was throwing challenges to get her out.

SAMANTHA: I remember on that rafting one and I do quite a bit of kayaking, and I knew something was wrong on the left side and thought “What is Ben doing?”

Henry loses it. Ben shakes his head. Poor Ben.

Samantha says on Henry’s successful throw that she went up to other players that Henry’s effort was lackluster. She later found out that was true. There is awkward silence as Samantha rambles about Henry throwing the challenge.

Now a montage for the King of the Jungle. He fires up the crowd at the end of the montage.

JLP: Would you prefer King of the Jungle or the Boss?

LUKE: The President or The Man.

How about all of the above?

JLP describes him as Captain Chaos and impulsive. He asks if Luke had a plan coming into it.

LUKE: Not really.

Luke wanted a ladder. He wanted to split everybody up and create drama while staying out of it. He says he did a little bit of research on YouTube, applied, then got on the show.

Henry admits to underestimating Luke and says Luke is one of the best players because he didn’t have to do a fake yoga instructor.

Sarah says she made friends with everyone on Asaga except Luke because she thought he was crazy. Then ended up having no choice but to align with him and impressed by Luke’s street smarts.

JLP: At the start of the game, you’re allowed five pieces of clothing but your wardrobe seemed to keep growing. After each person was eliminated, you turned up wearing an item of their clothing. What was going on there?

LUKE: Day one I lost my hat, my shirt, and got a hole in my pants. I found Sam’s hat after she left. I just still wish Sarah left her bikini because I was going to rock it to Tribal, I swear to god.

JLP: Alright, I’m gonna leave that alone.

Now we get spy shack footage of Luke and the conversation between Tessa and Ziggy.

JLP asks if anybody knew about the spy shack. Nobody knew except Jericho.

JLP: Of course you knew. You guys are practically one person.

JLP loves mocking everyone at the reunion show.

Luke says part of his strategy was to pick people up throughout the game when they were emotionally down, including Tara who burned him.

Now it’s time for a challenge montage. Including Aimee’s early concussion or Kent getting hit in the head with blocks. Jesus, this season had a lot of really good unique challenges. It ends with everyone slapping Locky’s butt at the end.

JLP asks Mark about deliberately pulling down Locky’s pants. Mark was later disturbed about it.

JLP: You seemed proud to let your freak flag fly.

LOCKY: No. . . fishing gear was the one I wanted to win.

JLP talks to Mark AGAIN. Mark said he lost every head-to-head battle with Locky along the way. He wanted a crack at Locky in sumo but got Jarrad instead.

JLP asks Locky about losing that last immunity challenge by two seconds. Then talks to Michelle about the talisman and the car.

Michelle plugs how much she likes the sponsour. She keeps praising it and JLP plays along. Stephenie LaGrossa’s pizza is next.

JLP cuts to Aimee.

JLP: You had the hardest or biggest fall I had ever seen in Survivor. Every time I see it I cringe.

AIMEE: My mom dropped me on the head a lot as a child so I’m used to it.

Classic Aimee.

JLP: Aussie Mateship was still at its core.

Isn’t that the thing people hated last year?

A montage of lots of hugging plays out.

TARA (talking to her mom during the auction): My best friend is hot. You’ll love him.

!!!

JLP asks Locky about the friendship with Tara.

LOCKY: She’s a really good friend.

TARA: And he’s really hot.

Oh my.

Tara talks about the struggle of voting out Locky. Locky voted for Tara to win despite the blindside.

We cut to JLP in the audience. He is sitting with Kristie and gamebot Phoebe. Kristie said everyone played really well and that everything was taken to the next level. Phoebe says it is one of her favourite seasons of all time.

Now for the secrets montage. Mark W hides his Spec Ops background. I forgot about that. Then we see the post-merge jam and sugar snackfest for Henry, Luke, and Jericho. Ziggy’s initial Super Idol deception. And that’s it.

Locky, Henry, and a couple others bought Ziggy’s Super Idol story.

Mark W said it was tough not going into full military mode. Jacqui loves Mark’s jacket. She wanted more spooning.

JLP: We’ll leave that one alone.

JLP talks about the jam and sugar. Henry brags about pinning it on Anneliese.

JLP: Why do you think you were framed as the jam thief?

ANNELIESE: I could be because I stare at people when they have food left when they were eating. . . I was carrying the empty jam jar as well.

That makes sense.

Sarah does a literal round of applause as well as everyone else as they congratulate themselves on a really good season.

HENRY: It’s the best game ever. I had the best fun ever. If they go around for season three, apply for it. Anybody can do it.

JLP: And play your idol, right?

Burn.

JLP asks Luke if he would do it again. Luke will do it if his wife lets him do it again.

JERICHO: Have fun. Scheme. Lie. Do everything with a smile.

Jericho’s dad is shown holding the teddy bear in the audience.

THOSE WHO DIDN’T GET TO SAY ANYTHING: Joan, Adam, Kate, Odette.

Poor Odette.

***

As of this writing, the first four episodes of Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers has now aired. I know I waited a while before releasing my final recap and my overall thoughts on the season. It was a mixture of wanting everything to sit as well as a bit of my trademark procrastination.

1) Jericho – Fun winner. Not as legendary as Kristie, but still a great combination of hilarious, intelligent, and unique.

2) Michelle – Very strong speaker with a no-nonsense attitude.

3) Luke – King of the Jungle. The Boss. The Chief. The Boss. Luke is the author of “How To Boast About Yourself on Survivor Without Coming Off As a D-Bag”.

4) Tessa – Heavily underrated. Very good instincts in terms of how to rally from the bottom.  An overall pleasant person to be around.

5) Jacqui – A strong all-around character who could not have predicted a move made by her biggest ally.

6) Tarzan – I miss Robin Williams.

7) Jarrad – Underedited, but shined when on-screen. A very easy person for the audience to relate to as they watch each episode.

8) Anneliese – Dynamite puzzle solver. Dammit, Ziggy.

9) Sarah – The double agent who became a triple agent who became a quadruple agent. Not just a model.

10) Ziggy – Would have been much lower, but the YOU KIDDING MEEEEEE expression from the Survivor Auction catapults her to the top ten.

11) Ben – There hasn’t been another twenty-year-old Survivor contestant remotely like him. The biggest vocabulary combined with a Garfield attitude.

12) Henry – A bit of overkill with the fake yoga lie, but made so many ridiculous unprecedented moves that I can’t deny occupied much of the discussion throughout the season. You held onto that idol for 36 days, bro.

13) Kent – BUZZ LIGHTYEAR: Dickheads. Dickheads everywhere. P.S. Why couldn’t he compete in that one immunity challenge by production? No explanation was ever given.

14) Aimee – Fun. Nearly had a concussion. I was surprised that fall didn’t make her spewin’!

15) AK – Rollercoaster. Started off playing too hard. Didn’t need to play a Chicken Idol nor the Real Idol. Rebounded from the bottom and into a position of control, and then eliminated by a disappointing twist. Simultaneously screwed over by bad luck but also a little bit overrated. This year’s Phoebe, I suppose.

16) Tara – It took me over twenty episodes before I started empathizing with Tara. You felt like she gained perspective out there. How much does it cancel out the double standard of her comments throughout the season about some of the other players? I don’t know. She was still an enjoyable character, though. I think people forget about how awful she was towards Tessa and some of the other Samatau players very early on in the game.

17) Petey – The toughest person to rank on this list. I think editors didn’t exactly know what storyline to create for Petey. He comes REALLY close to winning this game as the underdog towards the end but gets eliminated on day 54 in a very quiet manner. I like that he was able to fulfill his dream, but there really aren’t any Petey moments I can point to for the whole season. Well, other than dancing with Tessa like a couple of bunny rabbits as they try to shake off the cold Samoan rain right before the Henry blindside.

18) Samantha – Some props have to be awarded to the lone individual that motivated Henry to try to throw TWO immunity challenges just to get rid of her.

19) Locky – His downfall of losing immunity AND  a car by two seconds was satisfying. I was a bit disappointed that Locky never really owned up to his actions most of the time, and was the only guy in the cast who occasionally behaved like a poor sport. I am sure he is over everything now and isn’t taking himself so seriously, but Locky wasn’t the funnest character to watch on TV.

20) Joan – She designs puzzles. . . gets voted off first because she was stumped by the first puzzle of the game. You can’t write this stuff. Luke nearly saved her.

21) Mark W – Henry’s professional lie was more fun. At least Mark H got a nickname–what did you get?

22) Adam – His fingers were touching the idol. Why did he give up then? He completely blew his early stranglehold on the tribe.

23) Odette – No refunds for you on Sportsbet.

24) Kate – Who? Kooky for two seconds then poof.

This was a near perfect cast. I think expecting producers to find a better cast for production would be expecting divine-like powers amongst a group of regular people who just make reality television for a living.

I mean, did we really have any truly dreadful characters or people who just couldn’t be stars because of the people that surrounded them?

Even Kate would have received a bit of attention for being a kooky forty-year-old woman with a six-pack on any contemporary season of Survivor in the US.

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I think what this season of Australian Survivor will be remembered for is that production and the cast itself performed so well in nearly every aspect of this season.

No, we didn’t have a 10 vs. 1 scenario where the lone person defeated all ten in a row to become the champion in the most epic way possible.

But we did see twenty-four strangers come together, create bonds, interact, embrace the experience, constantly play for that number one spot (Ludacris™), and production designed an environment that gave them room to play.

All idols were out of play for the last six rounds of the game. I love that Aussie Survivor doesn’t constantly re-hide hidden immunity idols post-merge. Once it’s used/blindsided out of the game, that’s it.

Australian Survivor‘s concept of The Super Idol compared to the US version is really good. Instead of having an overpowered item that can be used as a shield and paralyzes the game, we have an item that cancels out somebody else’s power. That Captain Falcon-esque punch to Anneliese’s gut to make her sound like E-40 by Ziggy was a really fun Tribal Council moment.

Also, back when AK was viewed as a lunatic, seeing him pull out a real idol as opposed to a Chicken Idol at the second Tribal Council -and- use it on Jarrad was something nobody saw coming early on in the season.

Then there’s Henry refusing to play his idol while his buddies are insisting that he do so. Even Jon in San Juan Del Sur listened to a former Amazing Race contestant and played his to save himself.

And of course, Tarzan finding the idol just to save his friend and essentially remove himself from the game showed that finding an idol can be more about being a selfless person rather than any gamebotting or strategizing. Yes, I know the intent was to flip AK against Locky, but Tarzan knew there was a good chance AK wasn’t gonna go for it.

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Australian Survivor tried a few new twists. The initial swap of voting two people out from one tribe while the other does a forced mutiny triggered one of the most memorable moments of the season–Henry taking a huge gamble as Asaga completely flips the script on the dynamic in their own tribe.

There was an early 2-vs.-2 reward challenge which saw many early boots all square off. It was a great way to give them precious airtime before their quick exit (Adam, Tarzan, and Mark W were all in the fire-making challenge from the season premiere).

The second swap of just randomly switching the tribes was lame. Luckily it only lasted for two eliminations. I think AK for a couple rounds at the merge is something many people wanted to see. That AK vs. Henry showdown needed to happen.

The tradition of moral dilemmas continued. Seeing Tarzan pick firewood while Jericho picked up a jar of cookies and a pamphlet for a mental institution was another big highlight from the early episodes. In fact, Jericho’s jar of cookies was the only storyline that Asaga had for nearly two full episodes. That’s insane.

There were almost no twists post-merge. It’s not liked we ever needed it. The shock of the rarely used ‘vote out a juror’ twist was fine here as the Final Two format was still preserved for the endgame. I do love Tessa, though.

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The strategic component of this season was indeed full of blindsides–but unlike the American version where it is just #blindside #wow or something like that, here we understand why people are voting the way they are. I think Tribal Councils like when Samatau votes out Ben over Michelle isn’t as powerful unless you saw the whole setup with Michelle completely outclassing Ben in the manipulation department and Jarrad pointing out how dangerous Michelle is.

Or during the numerous flips of alliances when you understand why somebody chose to flip. Look at the Henry blindside. We saw it all play out at the Champagne Alliance formation and in the torrential downpour scramble back at camp as Tessa and Locky play a game of chicken without the use of tractors.

Or that vote at the start of the merge where Michelle goes with Asaga because Samatau refuses her entry into the inner loop of the alliance.

Then we get footage of why Ziggy never had a true ally in the game after AK was voted out, and we understand why nobody viewed Ziggy as somebody they could trust in the game.

I know it is a very Darrah Johnson way of putting it, but editors could provide you with enough mysteries but also full explanations for everyone’s actions and motivations throughout the course of the game.

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And I haven’t even mentioned the challenges for this season. Sure, the mid-merge challenges were lazy. After the charades game where everyone acted like Dr. Zoidberg from Futurama, we had log rolling, items hidden under lids, domino pieces, and ball spinning all in a row which wasn’t very inspired.

Thankfully most of the challenges in the first half were quite unique and brutal, and the last couple of challenges pushed players to their limits.

The final immunity challenge should ever be changed. They need to bring back Tom Westman and Ian Rosenberger from Survivor: Palau to see if they could break the record on it.

We had some real kickass challenges. I thought somebody was going to die while rolling on that gigantic ball across the field. It was like something out of one of the battleship levels in Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES.

That challenge where everyone stood in a line while holding up discs with their palms was very creative. Pre-merge endurance challenges are typically just strength based in Survivor, but that was a rare one where teamwork, balance, and willpower was a huge part of it.

Then there was the challenge where Asaga lost because Jericho was too short, and Anneliese’s idol retrieval plan with Sarah failed so badly that Anneliese had to pick up the idol on her own. How different would the ending to this game have been if Sarah retrieved the idol as planned? Her, Luke, and Jericho could have gone all the way.

***

I was happy for Survivor: Game Changers to be over and done with a few months ago. I never want to revisit that again.

I was satisfied with Millennials vs. Gen X being played through to completion.

Survivor: New Zealand wore down my patience and fatigued me. It had its share of good moments, but it was a season that possessed great viscosity. I was exhausted.

But for the second year of Australian Survivor, I am very sad that we are waiting until next year at minimum for a new season. Australian Survivor is the great epic that everybody dreams of wanting Survivor to be, and for the second year, we get a very different but yet an absolute top-of-the-line fantastic season.

Unless you are somebody who works two jobs as a single parent, these two seasons of Australian Survivor is what needs to be appreciated in our community. Grant Bowler must be so depressed that he never got to host this gem.

I know season five–er, three, of Australian Survivor has not yet been made official, but I think it is safe to say every Survivor fan out there will be in mourning if we are deprived of it next year.

In the meantime, just chill. . . until the next episode. Logan Saunders is out.

P.S. Jericho’s game was truly killer. Both figuratively and literally.

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