Australian Survivor 2019 episode 9 recap: And the Oscar goes to…

Photo: Nigel Wright / Ten Network
Photo: Nigel Wright / Ten Network /

David vs. Shaun. Champions vs. Contenders. Oscars vs. knowing how to tell a lie. Australian Survivor 2019 episode 9 propels a rollercoaster season forward.

What I love about Australian Survivor’s editing (to contrast what it does horribly) is that it knows how to set up a story. Even though they start editing a season in the middle of filming, they do know how to plant the seeds of a story that will blossom much later down the line. However, they’re also not afraid to dive deep into an arc within the frame of a few episodes.

This brings us to the story of Oscar


Nathan Hills; Harry’s supposed son that is a creation of his mind. You start the episode with Harry convincingly telling people about his three-year-old, and even Abbey buys into his story. However, the slight undercuts of his credibility in the process (hasn’t been loud yet, eats bread and pasta mostly, can’t remember his middle name) sets up a brilliant downfall.

Speaking of trying to convince yourself everything is fine, Andy seems to think he’s in the majority on the Champions tribe. He even thinks David is his closest ally despite all signs pointing to the contrary. David will continue to string him along, as David considers himself, Luke, John, and Daisy as the core four of the tribe. He does find himself jealous of what Shaun provides Daisy, though, which will come into play later on.

Meanwhile, at the Contenders camp, the power trio of strength (Abbey), smarts (Janine), and social play (Pia) started to compare notes about David, talking about outing the numbers to take him down. One direct way of doing so is to tell Shaun that he’s swapped a real Champions idol for a fake Contenders idol, as Shaun finally (finally) looked at his idol to realize he’s been duped.

The Reward Challenge was the grounds for Shaun’s revenge, as the Australian Survivor tribes squared off one on one while tethered to an idol on the opposite sides of a round arena. The first player to knock the other player’s idol off its stand wins a point, with the first tribe to five points winning a cooked sandwich kit.

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As the rain poured down, we kicked off this challenge with a familiar Matt vs. Luke matchup, but this time Luke outsmarted Matt by pulling his rope to snatch the idol off, taking a 1-0 lead. After Matt’s accusation that a smart Champions move was to vote off former tribemate Hannah bit him in the butt as Hannah outplayed Pia to tie things up. John knocked his own idol off while tackling Simon to give the Champions a 2-1 lead.

As the cold rain poured down heavier than ever, Andy out-squirreled an MMA-like half guard from Ross to balance things at 3-1. Baden vs. Harry was like a father play-fighting with his fake son, chipping back to make things 3-2.

Daisy vs. Abbey brought a bit of a freight to the proceedings as Abbey tackled into Daisy, Daisy pulled Abbey’s rope on top of her as Abbey crumpled in pain, suffering a soft tissue injury near her knee as the Champions grew their 4-2 lead. Thankfully, Abbey would be okay (for now).

It was here that we saw the fated matchup of Adonis vs. Adonis; David vs. Shaun. They both sized each up and played it a bit silly before Shaun pushed forward and bowled over David, inching closer with a 4-3 score. John was a tougher matchup than Baden for Harry, as he got nutmegged en route to the Champions victory.

As the tribes came together to give each other props, Shaun whispered into Daisy’s ear that David swapped a fake idol and to get him out. Daisy mentioned she couldn’t, but he was insistent that she get it done. That should have been telling enough to Shaun that perhaps he doesn’t have as much sway with Daisy as he once thought.

Though the toasties proved to be a stomach-filling reward for the Champions, souvenir plates with pictures and messages from back home filled the heart. I was surprised that we entered week 4 and are still employing packages from back home, as all I could think about is, “What would have happened if Harry received a plate from home without his fake kid Oscar on it?”

While I contemplated whether or not he prepared for that just like Jackie sent herself a picture holding a Rubik’s cube in last year’s Australian Survivor, we finally saw Daisy catch Baden up. They’re both going to pretend to be tight with David for now, so hopefully, it leads to an epic blindside down the road. Maybe at the merge? David’s too busy combing his hair with a fork to know what’s coming, either way.

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As Rossco sized up Harry’s socks, Janine started sizing up Harry’s game. Despite him trying to integrate within the tribe, it looks like they’re stonewalling him and his attempts to come up from the bottom. That led to desperate measures, as Harry revealed his idol and his attempt to take out Janine and remove the leader of the old Champions on their tribe.

The Immunity Challenge combined strength, dexterity, smarts and teamwork. The first part saw a tribe member chop through a log to release a series of blocks. The second part saw the tribe carry those blocks through a series of obstacles suspended by ropes on a disc, usually one at a time. The third portion saw two players per tribe push nine blocks through a suspended net bridge high in the air onto the other side. Finally, the tribes would race to stack their blocks into a tall tower.

John beasted through the log, although Ross gave a stronger, slower, measured approach. Both tribes tried to carry more than one block at the start of the balancing portion, but that proved to be impossible. The Champions took a large lead into the rope bridge portion and looked solid as they built their tower, but the Contenders came racing back as the Champions struggled in the final blocks.

As wobbly as it looked, the Champions came out on top to win the challenge, with David whispering to Janine to play the idol and take Shaun out while Harry whispered that Shaun would be next if he is voted out. Of course, all that happens before Jonathan reveals the Champions will attend the Contenders’ Tribal Council, adding another wrinkle to Australian Survivor 2019.

Despite being strategic masterminds, Janine and the Champions leaders on the Contenders tribe led by throwing all their votes on Harry and making it obvious to him that he’s the target. However, Harry’s approach was lacking subtlety, telling Casey to leak Harry’s idol in an attempt to get them to split the votes, effectively letting their four votes dictate the majority and get Janine out.

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The problem with that is Casey is she wasn’t convincing, as she told Janine, Pia and Abbey about Harry’s idol within earshot of the others. This led to those women sussing Casey out, telling her half-truths and full lies. Their real plan shifted to voting out Casey, as they perceived her to be one of the biggest Contenders threat. It would be amazing if we saw that reflected in her edit!

Someone tell Harry that you don’t get to have a piece of straw in your mouth at Tribal Council when you’re a potential target to going home, even if you’re trying to be an ass and draw votes. It made the attempts to hoodwink the majority alliance more nakedly transparent, calling out Janine for being the Godfather and suggesting only six people in the game are playing while the rest are coasting.

However, perhaps the strongest player from a game-reading perspective was surprisingly Rossco, who outright asked Harry if he actually had a son. To his credit, Harry admitted Oscar was fake, which showed everyone in the game (with the Champions tribe looking on) that he couldn’t be trusted. Meanwhile, Matt is on his one-track “STRONG! STRONG!” mind and Shaun hopes he’s safe because of it.

Ahead of the vote, we got confirmation the Contenders were not sending someone home. Instead, a crazy twist saw the Champions in attendance voting for who they wanted to steal from the Contenders tribe permanently (well, until the merge). This is a great way to get around the fact that Australian Survivor has way too many days and has to include non-elimination episodes.

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Of course, it made sense for the Champions to vote to steal Shaun, the largest of the Contenders, to join their tribe. It may be the most unbalanced twist so far, as the Contenders laid out their tribal dynamics and the other tribe takes away their strongest. Perhaps it’s just the state of the tribes that brings us here, but at least we have the David vs. Shaun matchup accelerated!