Australian Survivor

Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders — “Spooked My Pants”

Logan Saunders recaps the premiere of Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders in part one of a two-part blog series about the first week of episodes.


We get an intro of the islands of Fiji–not Samoa. And no, these are not the Mama Nuka Islands or whatever they’re called that Survivor US.

For some reason, we answering an age old question of Champions vs. Contenders. If the recent Henry Cejudo vs. Demetrious Johnson fight is any indication, the advantage may be on the Contenders side and totally doesn’t sound like a repackaged version of Survivor 37’s theme.

It is time for the greatest game not named Belgian Mole to take place–Australian Survivor.

50 Days

24 People

1 Survivor

What about the other five days? There goes the Non-Elimination episodes.

Physical, mental, and social champions who consist of mostly recruits are about to battle against twelve fans who have knowledge of Survivor’s greatest version on the planet.

We get introduced to an unnamed cricket champion (later named Mat R) and an unnamed swimming Olympian champion lady (later named Shane). Oh, and then some troll in a fedora who has lost Survivor three times and quotes himself as “the greatest contestant the world has ever seen”. This is gonna be fun for his fans on social media.

  1. a) He makes it to the end again and say the players are “stupid” for letting him go so far
  2. b) He goes home early like in Redemption Island and say the players are “stupid” for voting him out so early.

Those will be one of the two fan reactions for what happens to Russell this season. Guaranteed.

We get a double leg amputee Afghanistan war veteran. His name is Damien. He doesn’t think the Contenders doesn’t stand a chance because the “Champions have all proven themselves” minus the guy who hasn’t won Survivor.

The Asian dude in glasses is going to employ Chinese military strategy. He’s got some Sun Tzu coming out the Wa-Zoo. His name is Steve.

We have a woman named Anita who is like Sherri from Caramoan and can sell anything in a supermarket. She has an amusing mixed hiccup and laugh at the end of her confessional.

The other Steve, Commando Steve, is shown working out in a gym. He loves hitting hammers against tires. I’d rather eat ice cream or go for a swim.


Anita is super duper excited to see JLP in the jungle–more excited than Martina was to see Sam & Paul in TARC 6 after their millionth dancing challenge.

The Contenders enter the jungle first. They are not intimidated by the Champions whatsoever. No one admits to intimidation, anyway.

The Champions enter as Anita flips out over Russell Hantz’s entrance.

ZAK: It’s good seeing Russell.

Now your chances are 1-in-23.

RUSSELL: We’re champions for a reason. They should be worried.

JLP: What makes you a champion?

RUSSELL: I’m just a good ol’ guy. . .I’ve played the game before.

By that logic, Jolanda Jones is also a champion.

Commando Steve talks for a while after JLP asks why the hell he is on Survivor.



One person on each tribe will go down a waterslide. At the end of the slide is an item. They must put the item into their tribe’s square. First person to do so wins that item.


MOANA (One of fourteen kids who kicked over 100 field goals in Aussie Rules Football)


MATT (Contender)

It is a vicious wrestling match as she tries pulling Matt as he hugs the pillow. Moana expends her energy due to Matt hugging the pillow and then plants it in his box.






JLP: It’s a Battle of the Biceps.

I hear Steve’s biceps are an 8 and Zak’s biceps aare a 6.

Steve loses track of the bag of rice as Zak quickly snags it and sprints to the box before Steve can react.


JLP: Contenders are giving the Champions a good ol’ fashioned ass whooping.

Two items, JLP. Chill, buddy.





They tussle over the bag. It’s a big tug o’ war until Jenna uses pure strength to outmuscle Lydia. They’ve won all three items.

Steve is blatantly looking through the bags for a hidden immunity idol clue.

JLP: Admiring. . .Admiring. . .

STEVE: Checking out our winnings.

EVERYONE ELSE: Join the team, man.

Steve eventually joins his team.





Paige tries to grab Shane but Shane is sitting on the oranges. It is down and dirty on the ground. Shane is going for a rear naked choke. Shane has Paige’s back taken and drags her inch by inch to the blue box. She has it.

Champions wins a bag of oranges!



Mat tries to challenge Zak but to no avail.

MAT R (Cricketeer)



Robbie lands on top of Mat while sliding. Robbie has the bag and looks to be in the box but Robbie takes ahold of him and does a somersault headlock into the Champions box. Holy hell that was physical.





Brian pushes Heath before he even goes down the slide. The head-start leads to him grabbing the box of flint and puts it into his square.


After six items, they win three apiece. Flint, obviously, was the biggest score of the challenge.




No real tribe names, sadly.

We get some absurd landscape shots.

MONIKA: I am so excited to not have to do makeup or shave my legs for up to two months.

Monika was a Miss Universe contestant that Steve Harvey hosted. He mistook her for Miss Lesotho. I dunno how, but Steve Harvey did that.

I wonder if one of Russell’s parents was born in Australia and has dual citizenship.

Commando Steve says it’s time to prepare their camp. We cut to more weightlifting footage of him and also being in the Australian Special Forces. He is also a Champion of Staring Contests with the camera operator.

RUSSELL: My first impressions of my tribe are they didn’t come here to play Survivor. They came here to be a kumbaya family. They want to be the good ol’ boys. They just want to get along.

Yeah, it’s like they’re making friends and want to have a good time, or something.

RUSSELL: Monika is just a pretty face. . .poor thing. But I’m going to use it for my advantage.

Russell talks to Monika about how his alliance was the best alliance ever and said the Catholic girl Natalie White won at the end.

RUSSELL: I’m King Russell, and I’m the only King here baby.

Wow. He hasn’t changed in ten years. As Colby Donaldson would say, he has not changed one iota.




Anita is still crazy.

Jenna is from Perth.

Zach is from Perth. 39.  A personal trainer. On a scale of 1 to 10, his personal training is a 6 or a 7, possibly.

Contenders evaluate where to sleep. We cut to Heath, Benji, and Zak showing off their muscles as much as possible. It’s an overload of HGH.

Steve enters the jungle.

STEVE: Best way to subdue your enemy is without firing a single shot.

Steve is on a lone search for an idol.

STEVE: Everyone is looking for it. . .I am doing it in a stealthy way.

Steve is opening up the water

STEVE: I am Dr. Evil’s worst nightmare.

Remind us not to have a reward on liquid hot magma.

Everyone watches him shake through all of their possessions.

Matt The Contender is a police officer. We see him pull over somebody for speeding. He is a massive Survivor superfan and wonders if Steve assumes they are all stupid.

Matt and Benji watch Steve sift through the rocks at camp in plain sight of them.

Zach attempts to start a fire. It ain’t working.

ZACH: I’ve only had fruit and some coconut. By now at home I’d have seventeen meals. I am fading fast.

It’s never a good idea to be uber-muscled on Survivor. It’s amazing how susceptible they are to injury and fatigue over the years.




Mat R is loving the fire and building bonds with the other eleven contestants. Everyone goes over their accomplishments.

Damien shares jumping onto an IED. It is almost as tragic as Russell getting stuck in Hurricane Katrina and losing his dog.

DAMIEN: I survived because of heroes.

You survived because of Leanne & Mar from TAR Canada 6?

Damien says he wants to bring the little fire he has left as all twelve sit around the fire.




Their tribal banner is lying sideways. Cartoonish Disney bumbling music plays as they all huddle. The one woman is wearing a cow shirt. Only Steve is asleep. They all envy him.




Fiji is gorgeous.

Zach tries to make a fire once more.

SHONEE: If I was at home, I could be going out for breakfast or going to the beach.

Shonee’s graphic is “Married to Famous Pro-Skater”.

Wow, editors. She must do something herself.

Shonee, Anita, and Fenella eat termites from a termite mound Guatemala style. Rafe would be proud.

Steve is digging several holes. Paige and another female player ask why he is digging so many holes.

STEVE: I’m just trying to act normal and help the construction team so nobody knows I am looking for a hidden immunity idol.

Paige asks about Steve’s life. He married an Argentine woman. Whoa. More in common with him than I thought. He was born in Indonesia, lived in Korea, worked in Shanghai, and a bunch of other places.

He has a daughter named Victoria. Little Pumpkin. Named after Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong. They play music together.

SOMEBODY: You’re an engineer, mate.

STEVE: No, just Chinese.

Hahahaha. Mildly offensive, but it’s worthy of an uncomfortable chuckle.




Samuel is an astrophysicist and a cosmologist. He studies how the universe will ultimately end. He tries to explain his job to everyone. We’re all so lost.

Samuel thinks the social challenge will be his biggest.

SAMUEL: Monika was in Miss Universe; I study the Universe.

Oh, so much material right there.

Russell mocks Monika in front of Samuel.

RUSSELL: Miss Universe and a nerd. Wonder if I can work with that.

Russell  is with the two of them.

RUSSELL (confessional): They’re going to be like my slaves.

RUSSELL (to MONIKA): This guy is hilarious. Did you know this guy is hilarious?

Russell goes into the jungle alone.

RUSSELL: I was the first person to find an idol without a clue in Survivor history.

Gary Hogeboom disagrees.

Russell finds an ‘X’ shaped tree.

RUSSELL: ‘X’ marks the spot.

Uh oh.

Russell reaches into the tree. Boo Yah. Keep Hope Alive. Russell has his seventh hidden immunity idol. He says it is Christmas every year with

RUSSELL: These idiots don’t know any better. Buckle your belt cause I’m coming.

Two days. Two days and he has another idol. Let the conspiracy theories fly.




All of Survivor NZ’s budget is before us in this challenge build.

For today’s challenge, ten players will work together to get up and over a high wall then down a cargo net. They’ll carry a heavy battering ram over and under obstacles before shattering a wall. The last two players will use the pieces inside of the ram to build a hanging puzzle then use sandbags to knock down the puzzle.

First tribe to win this super multi-stage challenge wins immunity.

They are playing for the tribal immunity cup! The Triwizard Cup!

Jackie and Damien are on the puzzle for Champions versus Paige and Matt for the Contenders. FYI.

Survivors Ready. . .Go!

It’s a four meter high wall.

Russell is really struggling to get up the wall as Contenders are pulling several players up thanks to Seven foot Heath.

Champions start throwing over numerous players.

Zach is having a tough time but not as bad as Russell. Heath is the only one at the bottom  for Contenders but it is taking him forever.

Mat R Cricketeer is the last at the bottom for Champions as he gets a really good running start and is easily pulled up. Champions are barely ahead. Contenders take a while but eventually get Heath over.

It’s close as Robbie and Jenna undo knots for Contenders while Monika and Hantz untie knots for Champions. Champions have the lead as they carry the battering ram.

Contenders have their battering ram.

This is a physically fit group. Contenders are first to the wall but the wall is ridiculously thick. Champions are battering the wall down too. It is brutal. Contenders get through. Jenna trips hard. Ouch. She is limping. It’s a bizzle.

Champions are through shortly thereafter.

JENNA: It’s hurting, but it’s OK.

As she grimaces in pain.

Champions can’t figure out how to get the pices out. Contenders are doing better as pieces are already out. Russell takes over on undoing the lock but it’s not budging.

Contenders’ lead is growing. Paige and Matt start hanging puzzle pieces. The lock is open for the Champions. Their deficit is probably only a couple of minutes.

I feel like JLP is a second away from saying “puzzles are the great equalizer” but refrains from doing so.

Matt and Paige are blowing it on the puzzle. Champions have it set up correctly. Matt is very confused. Champions prepare to throw sandbags. Damien is tossing. One down. Two down.

Matt is panicking. Paige has to do all of the work. Steve’s teeth are bleeding. Maybe he should brush his teeth more.

Damien keeps knocking down tiles with ridiculous accuracy. Two down. One down.

After eight pieces are already down, Contenders have their puzzle as Matt goes rapid fire. Damien is taking his time and winding up with his southpaw throws.

Matt is rapidly catching up to Damien. Damien has just three pieces left. They are at opposite ends.

I don’t know how but all three pieces fall at once. How the hell does that work?

Contenders comfort Matt but we need a freakin’ medic for Jenna. I thought her foot was OK? They pour water on it and bandage it. Doc diagnoses it as a soft tissue injury and is twisted and/or sprained.

Unlucky break. She must feel gutted.

These tribes are evenly matched. Champions take tribal immunity. JLP hands it to Damien as he encourages Jenna hoping her ankle will be fine. Champions walk away.

DAMIEN: When that last board fell, I felt like a champion again.

I bet.

Could’ve been a champ, but instead the Contenders feel like chumps. Jenna feels she is under a major microscope just two days into the game.




They huddle and encourage each other. No blame game as Steve holds up his purple shoes during the huddle. I dunno why.

Steve is secretly disappointed by the puzzle performance and feels he is on the block.

STEVE: They are probably talking about me behind my back.

Unlike you not being able to search for an idol behind their backs–instead doing so in front of their backs.

Steve pulls Zach aside as to who they should vote for. Zach puts the pressure on Steve to say a name. Steve nominates Jenna.

We cut to a bunch of people agreeing on Steve to go home.

ZACH: Little Mr. Miyagi.

There is no personality resemblance between Steve and Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid.

Miyagi is wise, peaceful, and observant.

Steve is erratic, unreliable, and nervous.

C’mon Zach. Get your analogies straight. I haven’t seen anybody mess up a Mr. Miyagi analogy since Marianna & Julia described Ron Hsu in TAR 12.

Paige thinks it is a done deal against “Stevie”. They comment on him not getting to know anybody on the tribe.

Matt throws out the idea of “What if?” regarding Steve holding an idol. No one thinks he has it. Matt highly recommends a Plan B to split the votes.

MATT (confessional): I’m not getting a good vibe, to be honest. This is Survivor. You only get one chance.

Uh oh. Paranoia is sky high only two days in. Oh, and Redemption Island you get two chances. Or three.

MATT: Be honest. How are you guys feeling about me?

BENJI: I feel like you’re the only one who thinks you’re not.

MATT: Obviously not because I’m not the builder or you guys with traveling.

Matt freaks out because nobody gives him an alternative name and assumes it’s him.

Zach tells Matt that Anita is the secondary name.

ZACH: Give me a second. I’ll talk to Anita.

Zach pulls away.

MATT: Zach couldn’t have a straight conversation with me. My gut is telling me right then I am in big trouble. They’re extremely bad liars. I’m not going home. I’ve never copped a sweep. I’m not copping a sweep tonight. . .I should’ve been on the Champions tribe. I shouldn’t even be on this tribe.

He joins the Holly Hoffman Club of having a huge paranoid meltdown when he is perfectly safe. Now it’s up to the other eleven if they’ll give him a bye and get himself settled in the game.

Everyone realizes Matt has been gone for hours looking for an idol. Two of them go into the jungle to confirm it for themselves. Robbie and Paige watch him. I think that’s Paige. No. Wait. Tegan. It’s like National Geographic observing an animal.

TEGAN Shall we get everyone?

Yes, Matt needs an audience. And do Tegans ever get airtime in Aussie Survivor?

Steve goes for a happy jog along the beach. It’s so out-of-character for him.

Everyone solidifes it is Steve that shall go home.




I love the flame ignition sound effect. And Steve’s white glasses.

Anita says nobody slept for half an hour except Steve. Steve attributes it to Chinese meditation.

JLP: Steve, would you agree that the things you do on in the early game can carry you through or follow you through?

STEVE: Specifically what are you talking about, Jeff?

At least he didn’t call him Nico.

MATT: Do you want me to tell you what I saw at the start of the game?

Matt points out Steve going through the bags at the reward challenge. Steve says he was a bit hard of hearing and needed to be closer to JLP. Matt grills Steve for rifling through the cookie jar and the reward items. Then at camp where he goes through the pillow and the rice.

MATT: At least own it.

Robbie asks Matt to own it too.

ROBBIE: Don’t say own it when you’re not owning it.

MATT: I’m owning it, especially when you got the Bromance Alliance back here. . .if people can’t see it I must be the only one with my eyes open.

STEVE: With one day, what can you tell?

MATT: You can’t see it, Stevie? You’re a game player.

STEVE: I don’t see anything wrong with that.

MATT: It’s one major group forming. You’ve got Rob, the Lieutenant Heath, the guy who thinks he is the Kingpin–Zach. Benji–The loyal soldier. Two days in you can’t get a straight answer out of them. It’s called a clue. . .if they think I was gonna wait for my torch to be snuffed then it wasn’t gonna happen.

BENJI: No one is coming for ya, brother.

JLP: Wow! That was a lot. That was great because you did all of the talking for me.

Robbie openly disagrees with Matt and the tribe needs to work together with everyone.

Matt complains that nobody wants to have a basic conversation. Tegan says there wasn’t a single strategic conversation until the afternoon.

MATT: You serious, Tegan?

TEGAN: I think we’ve got a classic case of someone getting spooked.

MATT: I don’t spook. . .what the girls don’t understand is that you’ve got three guys–

PAIGE: All the girls?

MATT: There’s six guys and six girls. There hasn’t been a female that has come out that has played any sort of strategic game or voice their opinion as far as that goes.

TEGAN: So we’re quiet little females doing what we’re told.

JENNA: Apparently.

JLP asks Fenella if the girls are asleep at the wheel.

FENELLA: I wouldn’t. It’s day two. I don’t know half of the people on this tribe. We do a challenge then make stuff then do another challenge.

MATT: When are you going to play? Forty days in?

Paige is rolling her eyes.

PAIGE: How do you know what everyone is doing two days in? . . .That’s ridiculous.

JLP asks if Zach is pointed out as the ringleader. Matt said the last straw was that Zach wouldn’t tell him who the alternative vote was, and assumed it must mean it’s him.

JENNA: So you think we’re eleven puppets and do what Zach says?

BENJI: I do think Matt has spooked his pants a little bit.

Russell Hantz spooked his pants during the second immunity challenge of Survivor: Samoa. It isn’t a pretty sight.

Benji points out to Matt he has called out all eleven people tonight.

Matt says everyone was voting Steve.

ZACH: I was hoping to come together as a unified tribe tonight. . .I wasn’t expecting any of that.

PAIGE: I think we should stick to the plan.

JLP: Heath, you know what the plan is?

HEATH: I’m gonna stick to the plan.

Stick to the plan! Wise words for our favourite San Juan Del Sur contestant.

MATT: I am sticking to the plan.

It’s time to vote.

STEVE votes MATT. “You’re not a team player. You don’t belong here.”


No one plays an idol.







SEVENTH VOTE: Sorry Stevie


4-4. It’s a tie.




6-5. one vote remains.


Wow. Complete last minute self-destruction.

MATT: Time to star playing ladies.

SHONEE: We just did.


Matt slinks away into the jungle.

Tonight they earn flint. The tribe is ecstatic. Anita is the most enthusiastic and therefore gets flint.

Matt is the epitome of the first boot you expect from Survivor.

Next Time on Australian Survivor: Contenders fight to keep their heads above water in two epic challenges and American Survivor super player makes his move.


Matt is disappointed. No regrets miraculously.

MATT: I hope to be the guy who went out first and went out with a bang.

Well, then you accomplished your goal, good sir.


Not much to comment on.

Hantz hasn’t changed after ten years and still doesn’t understand Survivor.

Production ensured the two tribes are evenly matched.

I couldn’t give less of a damn about the Champions and Contenders labels.

Anita’s enthusiasm is either going to be infectious or annoying quickly.

Steve needs to recover from here. Easily our best character from round one.

They did their best trying to introduce all twenty-four players. I wish we had an intro.

Neat minor twist with implementing one item at a time during the reward challenge. I like minor twists like this that don’t break down the structure of the game.

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