Australian Survivor episode 2 recap: Baden down the Hatches

Athletes holding onto former glory for dear life, a merry band of misfits, another Spy Shack; Australian Survivor 2019 episode 2 had a lot going on.

Despite being in a minority alliance after the premiere, Luke Toki got right back into the rhythm right off the bat in Australian Survivor 2019 episode 2. After stretching out his core with a group session of senior citizen yoga, he started creeping back into old habits by building another spy shack just outside the well. He’s harnassing Big Tony Energy early on.

After watching the intro theme take over (a sight for sore eyes to those who have missed its charm on the US show), the Contenders finally got a fire going after winning the first Immunity Challenge. As Baden monologued about how being he’s playing for introverts aka the socially awkward (correlation does not equal causation, here), Andy kept tabs on him as he posited his amazing gameplay we’ve yet to see.

As long as the seven athletes stay the powerhouse alliance of the Champions tribe, we are destined to have some dry narrative. Outside of learning about Susie’s harrowing approach to marathon swimming in international waters, hearing about their status as elite athletes despite being well past their prime in six out of seven cases is going to get real boring real fast.

When your hopes of a dominant (and so far, boring) alliance hinges on a supermodel working his charm and hitting on others like Abbey to break through the seams, you know things are looking grim. It could all just be pleasantries for now, but it would be weird if David’s looks and cheesy one-liners work on Australian-class athletes.

Australian Survivor 2019 full cast circles

Ten Network

It catches me off every time a new season of Australian Survivor comes on, but the 90-minute runtime truly stretches out everything, including the mundane Champions vs. Contenders banter before the Reward Challenge. A tarp, fishing kit, and raft material were up for grabs as pairs of players pushed a beam against each other, essentially doing a “Push of War” to cross a line and win the round. The first tribe to three points wins.

Matt and Shaun are the true workhorses of the Contenders tribe early on, making quick work of Luke and ET and taking a point in the first round. The early incompetence of Ross on the Champions seems to be almost like shade from the editors, however, Bradbury’s continued “strike at the right moment” edit helped them push back against John and Andy to even out things 1-1.

Baden’s lack of challenge strength was immensely exposed once Juicy Janine (bad nickname, Luke) and ET started Round 3, as Hannah’s shouts to amp him up were all for not. The Champions led 2-1 rather quickly as Casey and Sarah lined up against Pia and Susie. They didn’t need Matt’s shovesplaining commands to tie things up at 2-2.

Janine and Abbey faced off against Sam and Daisy, and it turns out, having the youngest athlete compete on your tribe is a huge leg up. Abbey was a deciding factor as Janine’s instructions helped pushed them towards victory, setting up the Champions for a 3-2 victory.

ET having a 30-second cutaway feature spotlighting his post-athlete career as an extreme fisherman host compared to 60 or 90-second features for others shows just how straightforward and mundane he’s been. Luke seems to be the only one who knows how Australian Survivor operates, as he’s still thinking about searching for a clue as he’s fishing for the world’s tiniest fish to feed his tribe.

Laura reminding the audience that she’s annoyed about sitting out the Reward Challenge and how they think lesser of her because of her 4’9″ frame (leading to her “Business! Numbers! Projections!” feature) screamed early voting target, which is disappointing. Harry immediately being seen calling her out for it in his confessional before diving into his love of ice cream set up problems down the road.

Luke took his time searching for that clue, waiting before everyone went to sleep (including the continuously shaded Ross and his seemingly sleep apnea-affected snoring) to hunt for an advantage. Eventually, he found a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol, although the king of the jungle will have to find his protective crown at a later date.

After some more mundane banter and some weird staredowns from John the Mullet, we finally got to the Immunity Challenge. One by one, tribe members slid down a water slide down towards a pool, with four players per tribe later climbing over a pair of walls and pulling them down with rope. That created a path for tribes to carry 400kg of puzzle pieces in a box to the end, then solving the puzzle to win immunity.

The Champions and Contenders tribes were neck and neck right through to the puzzle-carrying section. It looked downright exhausting, as both groups (including the athletes) found the mud serving as an incredibly unforgiving substance. The Champions, however, kicked into that extra gear crossing the second wall, giving them a huge leg up.

While Pia remarked about either being the winner of Australian Survivor 2019 or being the first boot, we started to see her redemption arc. Pia’s voice shone through on the puzzle section, helping Bradbury and Ross slot the pieces in and securing their first tribal immunity. Jonathan LaPaglia seemed none too pleased to get a muddy hug, but still reminded the Contenders they were sending somebody home.

Matty summoned up his inner professional wrestler in demanding strength out of his Contenders tribe, pointing out Baden as the weak link. However, selling the idea that there haven’t been alliances on the tribe until Harry whipped the vote against Laura (with Andy being a secret puppetmaster) is very weird.

The first two episodes of Australian Survivor 2019 have seen both tribes going with the same voting strategy; having a larger authority deciding who among the people on the bottom should be voted out. Additionally, both tribes beat around the bush at Tribal Council, but it did come down to tribal strength being the biggest concern.

As Harry tried to look cool while biting on a twig while saying nothing of importance, Andy gave his best effort to say a bunch of comments without saying anything of substance. He got called out by Jonathan for looking hard at Laura, then basically spat out an adage thrown at him in the first place. We also saw a soap opera-esque plea from Baden (backed with sob music), talking about fighting for his chance to come out of his shell and prove himself.

While we’re still waiting to find out who Shaun, Sam, and Sarah are as players, we now know that Laura’s aggressive strategy and social skills were deemed too much of a threat to Andy. She was voted out 8-4 as Daisy really stuck her neck out for an ally that only she supported against the tribe splitting a vote in the case of an idol play.