Australian Survivor 2019 episode 4 recap: Leap of faith

One player faced a traumatic recreation of a life-or-death scenario in a harrowing Australian Survivor 2019 episode 4, even if it didn’t need to happen.

There’s something exhausting about being in the middle of the second week of Australian Survivor 2019 episodes and hearing “21 are left” from Jonathan LaPaglia during the “Previously On…” recap. What keeps us going is the fact that the game is so dynamic with these Champions and Contenders, as one day you’re a nobody and the next you’re conquering fear like a legend.

Luke is reveling in his spot as leader of the “fun alliance,” telling a bunch of decades-old jokes with his new six-person majority. However, the true beauty was found over at the Contenders beach, as a double rainbow (all the way), the natural foliage of the camp and the general morale of the players helped illustrate the majesty of Fiji.

I had to go back to the Australian Survivor 2019 premiere recap just to make sure we hadn’t seen it on the show before, as this was the first time in an episode we learned the full extent of Sarah’s harrowing experience getting caught under the Boxing Day tsunami in Sri Lanka. Losing a friend and thousands of others losing their lives is unbelievable. She is a true survivor at the core.

Going through that kind of hardship must make the banalities of arguing who makes the rice seem trivial, so thankfully, Sarah isn’t over at the Champions tribe. Nova took the fact that people lie in Australian Survivor hard, pretty much turning vengeful in retaliation. It just goes to show you that athletes in this game really don’t like that people play the game.

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What I cannot stand in the early going is doubling down of highlight packages for players who have already received them. We already know that Steven Bradbury is the fearsome Gold medalist who knew the “right time to strike” to secure victory. Using that same footage to pin him as the leader of underdogs after that same footage made him the leader of a majority alliance is silly.

At least it wasn’t the most egregious decision of Australian Survivor 2019 episode 4. That goes to the Contenders for entering the Towers of Terror Reward Challenge without sitting Sarah, as each player needed to jump off the tower 20 feet below while grabbing a flag in mid-air. Once all flags were retrieved, players on each tribe would dive to retrieve buoys, using them to spell out a word.

With hot chocolate and marshmallows on the line, it wasn’t a must-win reward for the Contenders, but Casey planting her foot down out the gate in wanting to sit out as Sarah had her hands covering her mouth was remarkably self-interested. It did not dawn on her that perhaps her fear of heights may be less traumatic than someone who jumped to her potential death recreating it in a challenge.

The Champions and Contenders alike were evenly matched in the early leap of faith portion, but it was a tough experience for both tribes. Daisy bellyflopped, Nova and Abbey had severe hesitations, and a few players outright missed their flags. This led to a downright uncomfortable series of events, with the Contenders trying to talk Sarah into conquering her fears.

No matter how hard you try to force the feel-good moment, sometimes it doesn’t come. The Champions’ victory (followed by poaching John the Mullet for some hot chocolate) felt more like the destructive exploitation of someone’s trauma and just how rootable the Contenders are as a group, which may secretly be legwork for a Contender ultimately winning the game later this season.

Back at the Champions camp, after one last pity party for Sarah, we saw the infinitely oozing charm of John the Mullet as he worked over the tribe. Janine, however, studied the game of Australian Survivor well before arriving in Fiji, finding a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol placed near their well. A drawback; it could only be played by a Contender at their own Tribal Council.

Janine got down to business by planning her business transactions, using her business skills to plan a future business deal with a Contender. She didn’t give John her Contender idol yet, hoping to eye an opportunity in the future to work with a greater field. However, John did return to offer Sarah a marshmallow as the tribe’s hero, and I was finally worn down by the show’s saccharine approach to her hardships.

We’re starting to get less and less pre-challenge banter this season, as the Immunity Challenge laid out required some complex detailing. Six tribe members are tethered to each other as, two at a time, they maneuvered through a series of obstacles. Rope management was the most crucial element, as they needed enough slack to progress through the obstacles.

Once each group of duos made their way through, two other members of each tribe threw balls down an inverting skee ball loop, trying to land four balls on a bucket. The first tribe to get all their balls into the bucket won immunity.

Abbey and David encountered a few hangups on the challenge while Hannah and Shaun’s size difference allowed them to whip through the challenge once after another. Luke helped prop up his ally Pia in an attempt to catch up to the Contenders, but in his attempt to push off her back they got tangled. They effectively let the Contenders gain a one-group lead.

The early struggles of the Champions could not be reversed by ET and Steven as the anchors making up lost time, as Andy has proven himself to be a Contenders leader at dextrous challenges. He and Harry made quick work of the skee ball section, sending the Champions to the third of four total Tribal Councils so far in Australian Survivor 2019.

Despite Pia and Luke really setting the tribe back in this challenge, all eyes were focused on Abbey and Ross for being the ones to flip within the athletes alliance. We even saw Simon provide a whole sentence, later mentioned as a “nice chat” by Steven Bradbury.

Speaking of chatting, Steven Bradbury is a weak-minded individual in the game, as he called Abbey’s excuse for flipping “weak.” He pretty much scorned her for not telling him that she was going to flip, essentially judging her character for saying she’ll vote one way then later voting another in a game for a massive paycheck. He felt so insecure that he wanted a head’s up before being betrayed.

Abbey did hold her ground but did succumb to emotions later down the beach, which anyone in a tough survival situation like Australian Survivor would do. This led to a milquetoast war of words between David, Abbey, Steven and Nova, the latter two of which said Abbey was sporting crocodile tears. Man, do the athletes have no idea that outwit, outplay, and outlast are equal portions in this game.

Heading into Tribal Council, though, Luke offered up a hint that while Bradbury’s game may be on the outs, it may be worth it to go after a bigger target. Steven seemed ready to pack his bags, but they pretty much telegraphed Nova going home after arriving back from the challenge. They pretty much led her down the path of no redemption, staunchly sticking her neck out for someone who has a Mount Olympus-sized target on her back.

Most of the tribal talk was focused on how the tribe would get weaker without Steven, seeming like a foregone conclusion as Nova basically played “fake news” duty on the Abbey versus Bradbury conversation. However, Jonathan knowingly teased Luke about a spanner could always be thrown into the plans at the last second. Little did Nova know that it would result in her going home fourth, as she received six votes to Abbey and Steven’s two each.

One underrated factor of Survivor lost with the Edge of Extinction was Jeff Probst’s words of wisdom after being voted out. However, Jonathan LaPaglia has been killing it with his one-liners, as Steven Bradbury skated past defeat once again by surviving this round. His storyline of striking at the right time continues unabated.