Logan Saunders recaps the sixteenth episode of Week 8 of Australian Survivor, the merge episode.
Australian Survivor: Walk the Plank
Previously on Australian Survivor: Reduced to just five members, Asaga was a tribe divided. While at Samatau, Petey was back with his old tribe and back in the majority alliance, but in a tribe of eight that pushed others further down the pecking order. When Asaga lost yet another immunity challenge, it was Sarah and Tara versus Luke and Jericho–with Odette in the middle. At Tribal, Asaga finally found something to agree on: Both sides joining forces against Odette.
Twelve are left; who will be voted out tonight?
Sarah says Odette was completely blindsided thinking she was the power vote.
SARAH: That was simple but still crazy.
The motto of this season.
JERICHO: People will assume the dominating team will ruin the world.
Unless your name is Kristie–then you don’t give a s-it about who is dominating. You take ’em all down, anyway.
LUKE: Four killers.
JERICHO: Four killers.
Some people on Asaga are bigger killers than others.
Ziggy Locky Jarrad Tessa
Michelle Henry Peter
Jericho Tara Anneliese
Birds are chirping.
TARA: I had a dream there was only four of us; oh wait, there is only four of us.
Some people dream about the past or the present…Tara only dreams about the present.
This pre-merge has lasted for nearly a full American Survivor season. In fact, if they merge today it will be the same day number that a typical contemporary US Survivor finale starts at (day 35).
Sarah wants to put her warpaint on and start fighting. That would be an interesting photo shoot.
JARRAD: We’re over the hump. There is a pathway to the end. On Samatau, I feel great. I have an alliance with Petey, Ziggy, Tessa, and Anneliese. On the bottom, Henry, Michelle, and Locky. Henry? I don’t trust him. It’s a good strategy to keep Locky on my side.
Jarrad chats with Tessa about Locky being a bit cagey. He wants her to get in good with Locky.
TESSA: Locky is someone who thrives on attention, and someone who likes to be in charge. He is somebody with an ego that needs to be watered.
Yes, Locky is a plant. That is not an analogy I was expecting.
????? – DAY 35
Michelle is shocked Odette is voted out when the two tribes meet. I wonder who could have been voted out that wouldn’t produce a shocked reaction?
Jericho says a tribe of four is pretty much unrepairable.
Everyone’s eyes widen as JLP summarizes the events of the past thirty-five days. They start jumping around.
JLP: Asaga and Samatau are no more. . . .
EVERYONE ELSE: . . .
JLP: We are merging!
This couldn’t come at a better time. I truly believe all twelve players were being absolutely drained by this marathon pre-merge phase.
Locky goes up to Tara.
LOCKY: You look absolutely incredible.
Tara is a married woman, Locky!
Once again, the merge bluff is black.
MICHELLE: I am super excited!
You mean accepting your inevitable doom on Samatau wasn’t an exciting prospect?
Tessa can’t stop bouncing while JLP keeps talking. So cute.
INDIVIDUAL REWARD #1
Swing a long pendulum around a bottle and through a frame. If you touch the frame, the bottle will fall about 99% of the time and you are out. Last bottle left standing wins reward.
JLP: Winner of today’s challenge gets a Merge Rejuvenation Package.
Now in your local supermarket!
Clean clothes, a massage, and a three-course meal for the winner. And also win what’s inside the bottle–letters from home.
TARA: Just one person? Just one person?
HENRY: That’s torture.
Didn’t they just get letters ten days ago?
This is the point where my parents and my sister get bored as everyone starts crying and talks about what the letter would mean as they shout at the TV: “It’s only been 35 days!”
Alright, so let’s get to this challenge.
I really wish All-American Rejects’ “Swing Swing” would play during this challenge.
Michelle’s bottle goes down. Jericho touches the frame but the bottle stays alive. Henry is second out. Tara is out and swears. Ziggy is gone. Something tells me this challenge is going by quickly.
ELAPSED TIME: 10 MINUTES
JLP and the others comment on the heat.
LOCKY: I could use a jumper!
One that is knitted by Mrs. Weasley, no less?
LUKE: I know a song that will get on your nerves, get on your nerves, get on your nerves! Everyone stop!
Oh yeah, Luke knocks his bottle off two seconds later.
LUKE: Damn! Spewin’!
ELAPSED TIME: 25 MINUTES
Petey casually itches his now-bearded face.
ELAPSED TIME: 30 MINUTES
This reminds me of the ball swing from The Mole 2: US. Where is Bill to hit the ball out of turn for an exemption?
JLP comments on the hypnosis aspect of this movement. Locky is gone. Petey and Anneliese tap but both bottles remain.
Sarah is gone. Jarrad is shaking out his leg before knocking the bottle too.
JLP asks Sarah about being emotional regarding the message in a bottle.
ELAPSED TIME: 50 MINUTES
It’s like a witch stirring a cauldron with the back end of a broom.
ELAPSED TIME: 1 HOUR
Locky is gone.
Even JLP comments on the stirring motion.
Anneliese is out.
Now it’s just Tessa and Jericho.
JLP: They’re battling it out for the best reward in the game thus far.
JLP: No word from home yet. Not much sleep. Not much food. That reward could take care of all of those things.
They’ve heard from home, Joan slept a lot, and they have had numerous food rewards.
JLP: Is Tessa just going to give it to him? I don’t think so.
Tee-hee. JLP wants the two tribes to merge in more ways than one!
ELAPSED TIME: 90 MINUTES
Now they must switch hands. It is a live transition.
Jericho messes up the transition. Tessa of all people wins the first individual challenge of the game.
By the way, this reward has a twist.
She can give up the clothes, meal, and massage in exchange for everyone else to receive their letter.
JARRAD: No pressure, Tess.
Worst. Reward. Ever.
Everyone encourages her to take the reward for herself because of her incredible performance.
Tessa does the sensible thing and gives up the food.
LUKE: We’ll give you a massage and have all of the rice.
No merge feast? Not even sponsoured by KFC or Pizza Hut?
TESSA: The letters are all super cute and different.
Yes, some of them even have Hello Kitty stickers.
Petey cries and offers to take Tessa’s bag.
DAY 35 – UNKNOWN MERGE BEACH
There is a black flag to welcome them. Apparently, they go to the Asaga camp because it is much nicer than the Samatau camp. Yet it should be noted that Samatau has kicked their ass over the past several rounds.
TESSA: Jonathan did an excellent dog move on me. I would call it exceptional blackmail.
Indeed. That was the lousiest reward twist ever.
Michelle notes it was in Tessa’s best interest to do that or else she would have been voted out.
They receive a food reward regardless with muffins, cookies, and as Michelle said, “Another cup of tea!”
Everyone reads their letters aloud. Tara’s mom has been left with all three of Tara’s kids.
Michelle, Tara, Petey’s colourful letter from dad with a butterfly sticker like Crazy Town, Henry’s letter from dad who is absolutely trembling while reading it (Note: Henry’s mom passed away three weeks prior to flying out to Samoa), Locky’s letter from his girlfriend, Anneliese’s letter from her cat, Tessa’s letter from her hubby, Jericho’s letter from his older brother who might be sleeping with one eye open at night once Jericho returns, Sarah’s letter who had a family member use #killinit which made me cringe, and Jarrad’s letter is barely read as well as Ziggy’s.
Tessa twirls Ziggy’s hair. Luke’s family writes to him. Sarah pushes her hand against Luke’s shoulder. I presume it is comfort and not an act of aggression out of instinct.
DAY 35 – MERGE BEACH
Tears are vanquished.
TESSA: This beach is full of dangerous people. This is piranha beach.
You already have a guy named “Petey” on your tribe!
Tara introduces herself to Henry in front of everyone. Too much giggling. Tessa has her eye on Tara. Ah, I forgot about that rivalry. She sees Tara and Locky whispering frequently.
TESSA: Tara just idolizes him and a guy like Locky loves to be idolized.
That could be trouble.
TESSA: For the moment I am willing to put my trust in him–keep my friends close and my Taras closer.
I love that Tara is synonymous with the word “enemy”.
Jericho, Petey, Tara, and Sarah sit together. Jericho’s goal is to sway Henry, Locky, and Michelle to gain majority.
LUKE: We welcome everyone into our house then they will kick us out…squatters.
Luke and Jericho joke about this in the shelter in front of everyone.
Sarah contemplates how to swing Michelle over onto her side. Michelle’s position is unknown.
Sarah insists the fighting with Luke at Tribal Council was all fake.
MICHELLE: Why would I walk away from Samatau where the majority lies? I’m not that dumb.
. . .Because you might be at the very bottom of the Samatau majority?
Henry and Jericho play with fire. Henry wants to go for Ziggy first. His goal is to join Asaga with Locky once more.
Jarrad says Michelle, Ziggy, Tessa, himself, Petey, and Anneliese will vote together. He wants to go after Henry.
Jarrad and Ziggy discuss taking out Henry with Henry in the shot just thirty feet behind them. Ziggy finds it to be an unexpected target. Jarrad feels extremely threatened by Henry and thinks it will be the perfect time to blindside him.
JARRAD: Tonight is all about me taking him out.
After spending the majority of the episodes without a single confessional, it’s nice to see Jarrad has created a narrative for himself.
The new tribe name is Asatoa. It sounds like a trigonometry term.
Tribal immunity is no more unless we get an unmerge twist down the road.
There is a ghoul green individual talisman up for grabs. Very snake-like.
In today’s challenge, they must balance in a plank position between two rails. Last person in the plank position wins this game.
JLP reveals the person voted out tonight will become the first jury member. Seeing how we had a Final Two last season, I worry with a potentially even-numbered jury.
Anneliese is first out. Luke and Jericho both have one arm off of the plank. So do Ziggy and Henry.
Tara is second out. It has only been three minutes.
Michelle is third out. I don’t think she’ll be winning many challenges.
ELAPSED TIME: 10 MINUTES
JLP: This should be a piece of cake for Henry–the yoga master.
I love inside jokes.
JLP: Tessa is starting to shake.
Luke is fourth out. Locky starts doing push-ups on the plank.
Sarah and Petey out. Everyone is going with one arm at a time.
ELAPSED TIME: 15 MINUTES
ELAPSED TIME: 24 MINUTES
Locky isn’t even in a position that would qualify as a plank position. He is turned 180 degrees. Jericho is doing a crouch.
Locky drops. Lots and lots of sweat.
TESSA: A hundred bloody kilos. Don’t know how you did it.
That’s one way to inflate his ego.
Jericho is using his fists rather than palms to balance on the rail. He shakes. Down he goes.
Jarrad has an extremely wiry frame. He appears to be in a huge amount of pain. I think he has lost a lot of weight on top of already being a thin guy.
Jarrad collapses onto the ground. At least he has an incredible manbun.
Everyone applauds Tessa’s efforts. She hasn’t even dropped against a yoga master and an Olympian.
ELAPSED TIME: 40 MINUTES
Tessa is gone.
ELAPSED TIME: 51 MINUTES
I am amazed anybody bothers to compete against Ziggy in challenges that involve core strength. The A-frame challenge wasn’t even close. Henry is out and punches the rail.
Ziggy wins individual immunity.
There is a twist. Ziggy can keep individual immunity or let everyone else have a meal and a second letter from home. Nah, just kidding.
Jericho refers to everyone as the royal knights and warriors of the game.
JERICHO: Everybody is out to kill each other.
Some more than others.
DAY 36 – ASATOA
For the one millionth time this game, everyone applauds Ziggy’s efforts in an endurance challenge. Tessa is probably pissed the challenge cycle was not switched for this round.
Tessa does not think voting Henry is the safest move because of an idol. She fears an idol would bounce back onto her or Petey. She just wants to go for the safest vote.
TESSA: Luke. Vote Luke.
Samatau + Michelle agree to vote Luke. Man, Michelle might be in the best position of everyone.
Tara and Henry sit together. Tara looks like she has a migraine.
TARA: I need a drink. I need a f—ing drink.
Henry is bummed he can’t vote for Ziggy. Now he wants Jarrad to go because he is Ziggy’s second-in-command. Their goal is to pull over Locky and Michelle. Considering Henry and Tara’s relationship with Locky, a minimum of 6-6 won’t be too hard.
Locky initially rejects the idea of voting Jarrad. I have never seen Locky so stressed in this game. He fears being exposed to Samatau if he flips.
Locky tells Henry that the target is Luke and they need to vote Luke. I can’t believe we are in a scenario where Henry is refusing to go for Luke and vice versa.
JARRAD: I feel quite safe tonight. I don’t think there’s much danger for me. The Samatau alliance is all voting Luke. One possible scenario is getting Jericho as well.
Jarrad and Jericho collect wood.
JARRAD: I want the little guys to stick together.
Jarrad admits this is a facade.
JARRAD: Just so we know we got each other’s backs, can you underline your vote so I know it’s you?
Jarrad tells him he will do the same.
JARRAD: Underline your vote. It’s just a code.
Jarrad admits this is all for gaining intel from tonight’s vote.
TESSA: My core alliance is with Ziggy, Jarrad, and Petey. Anneliese is on board. Funnily enough, I trust Locky. The last layer of the alliance is Michelle and has been adamant she is voting with us.
And that is seven. I thought Sarah was flipping too?
Michelle is annoyed that Samatau has not been included in the strategic conversations. She even goes to Tessa and Petey to voice her concern.
TESSA: It is a bit of a like, last on. It’s ’cause you were last in.
MICHELLE: I spent twenty-eight days on Asaga. They do something silly like not include me. It makes me not trust them.
For the first time in 36 days, Locky and Michelle have a private conversation. I never thought these two would be bonding.
LOCKY: S-it, I’m going to have to come up with that decision at Tribal.
Michelle has no idea what to do. This divide is very unexpected.
TRIBAL COUNCIL #17
(JOAN)-(ADAM)-(KATE)-(MARK H)-(AIMEE)-(SAMANTHA)-(MARK W)-(JACQUI)-(KENT)-(AK)-(BEN)-(ODETTE)
It is a lengthy discussion about uncertainty, tribal lines, and getting down to the pointy end of the game.
Jericho looks like he is ready to eat his own fingers.
JLP asks Michelle if she knows how tonight will play out.
MICHELLE: Yesterday I would’ve said “for sure, look at how many Samataus there are. Easy.” This afternoon, I couldn’t tell you. I’d like to think I know but in all honesty I don’t think I do.
JLP asks Jarrad the same question. He starts giggline and becomes confused.
JARRAD: [The plan] hasn’t changed for me.
Michelle mouths to Tara “What is Locky doing?” She keeps staring at Tara.
Everyone else is talking. Sarah jumps in to get Michelle’s attention. Tessa sees this as JLP asks her the same question.
TESSA: If there is a decision to be made by some people…there’s something big going on that I don’t know about.
Michelle and Sarah keep whispering.
TESSA: Old Asaga may be doing something.
JLP: Jericho, should Tessa be worried?
JERICHO: Everyone should be worried…We’re heading into a war right now. You should be on the right side.
Ziggy is glad she has the necklace and feels like anyone could go home.
Michelle proclaims that this vote will determine the future of the game rather than it be a temporary alliance.
It’s time to vote.
Jericho underlines his vote.
TESSA (to JARRAD): What are they doing?
MICHELLE (to TESSA): I’m with you. I’m with you.
TARA (voting JARRAD): I guess you could say payback is a bitch.
TESSA (voting LUKE): I just wanted to do the safe thing tonight and now I have no idea.
Will Ziggy play an idol? Will Henry? Will Anneliese? Nope.
FIRST VOTE: LUKE
SECOND VOTE: LUKE
THIRD VOTE: Luke
FOURTH VOTE: JARROD
FIFTH VOTE: J-RAD
SIXTH VOTE: JARAD
SEVENTH VOTE: JARAD
EIGHTH VOTE: LUKE
NINTH VOTE: Jarrad
Jarrad shoots a dagger at Jericho. Jericho grins.
TENTH VOTE: Luke
ELEVENTH VOTE: JarryD
Petey’s hands cover his ears.
FINAL VOTE: Jarrad
Jarrad sits there stunned for a while before exhaling. Tara covers one eye.
TESSA (whispering): Had to be Michelle.
Jarrad’s torch is smuffed.
Now to see whether tonight’s majority will be long-term or if it will continue being as confusing as it has ever been.
Next Time: A broken Samatau looks for answers.
Jarrad thinks he was voted out because Locky and Tara ran the charge because the cuts ran deep.
LOCKY: Why did you have to go after Henry?
Jarrad thinks his bond with Ziggy did him in and completely misread the situation as he got caught up in his grand plans.
After a delayed merge in the 24-person format (if you go by the parallel format established in Survivor: Borneo, the merge would have happened with fourteen people in the game), the need to adapt hit some players harder than others.
I for one don’t blame for Jarrad being shocked. If you knew the relationships of everyone in the old Asaga tribe from day one, you knew there was a ton of baggage distrust to prevent them from sticking together. However, not only did they stick together, but they pulled in Locky too to create a majority of seven.
And since many people in the new majority know both Anneliese and Ziggy carry an idol, this current 7-4 advantage isn’t big enough to press pause and eliminate the most distrustful ally within their seven.
I can already hear Tessa screaming at her TV as she listens to herself talking to Michelle.
“You’re last one in…so you don’t get access to the Platinum VIP Fly-On-The-Wall Pass in our alliance. You are ineligible to purchase the subscription fee. Sorry.”
That’s the last thing you want to tell an ally. Michelle is not exactly the bottom of your alliance when her vote alone is enough to create a 6-6 tie even if Locky is with you. Think about that for a moment. As Cirie would say, you should put her on top of one of those chariot type things to solidify her vote.
When you have a bunch of old Asagans who are willing to pull her aside and Allan Wu her as much as possible, you should really be doing the same. Guess where she is going to feel more valued?
Literally, anything else would have made Michelle comfortable. “Oh, we’re constantly talking because Petey gets paranoid and he needs to be constantly reassured” or “Oh, Jarrad got stung by a sea urchin and needed somebody to pee on his hand. Then he got stung by another sea urchin…then another…then another.”
That would have been better than “Oh, YOU are the sixth or seventh rung in this alliance. Your input doesn’t mean s-it.”
Yeah, that ain’t going to make Michelle feel good. Especially when the Asagan people, however untrustworthy, are people she has spent way more time in the game with than you sans Henry.
Now to Jarrad. After Ben and Odette’s eliminations, I guess it is only fitting that either himself or Petey had to be the next to go in the streak of players who went largely invisible in this season.
I am curious if Jarrad viewed himself as a smaller guy than everybody else did on the island. His strategy was to never be seen as the ringleader and to be in the middle of whatever alliance he is in. He probably thought people like AK, Ziggy, and Locky would always dwarf him on Samatau.
In challenges, Jarrad often referred to himself as “the little guy”. Hell, he just had a conversation hours before Tribal Council with Jericho about how the petite dudes need to unite.
But by this point in the game, everyone viewed Jarrad as the strongest person on Samatau other than the Olympian. I don’t expect Jarrad to read this and start thinking “LOGAN IS RIGHT! I AM THE BEST!” and start beating his chest as he goes into Ultra-Macho Mode telling everyone how great he is and punching through walls.
I do see this competition and the way he was voted out as a confidence booster for Jarrad and realize just how much people respect him and think of how strong of a person he really is.
You know, he has more to his future than being an #AokiClone.
And yes, #killinit made me cringe. Don’t hashtag written letters, folks. Even if you’re trying to be hilarious.
The day 55 alliance between Anneliese and Sarah wasn’t mentioned once this episode. Nor Anneliese’s bond with Tara. During the episode it was just “Anneliese is sticking with Samatau” and that was it for the explanation. Did Anneliese even have a confessional this episode explaining why she aligned with the tribe that voted her out less than two weeks ago?
It was also interesting to see that Tara lured Henry and Locky over to her new tribe rather than it being the other way around to eliminate Luke. The dichotomy between Tara and Anneliese in this merge couldn’t be more of a contrast. Anneliese returned to her original tribe quietly, while Tara invested a huge amount of time to get revenge on one of the central people who voted her out of the game.
Luke was laid back in this round. No mention of being the kingpin or the mastermind or “Daddy gets what he wants ’cause I’m King Luke”. None of that. It is more surprising because the dude was a Michelle or Locky away from going home. It’s like he knew that being chill for the first time in thirty-six freakin’ days was his best move.
And how the hell did he gain everyone’s trust back? Sarah, Tara, and Henry all protected him this round. Even his cross-tribal Locky is perhaps the biggest reason why his ass was saved.
What Luke was doing in these two days really needed to be showcased more.
Tessa won a concentration-based endurance challenge and did very well against Henry and Ziggy in the planking competition. Given where Tessa was at on day one, her evolution continues to amaze me. And I doubt she is remotely discouraged that a vote did not go her way this round. She knows what to do.
Two of the four people in the minority have an idol and so does their primary target in the majority. This is going to get messy fast.
Petey appears to be the least flexible person in this game. He appears to be a very definitive hierarchy in terms of who he aligns with in the game. I don’t think he’ll be lasting too much longer.
How many more endurance challenges are we going to get in a row? Will they be as unique as pendulum swinging or planking? We shall see.
The individual reward twist might be my least favourite twist that Aussie Survivor has done. Winning reward should mean, you know, winning a reward.
P.S. Luke was not the safe vote. :/