Australian Survivor 2019 episode 12 recap: Brutal, savage, rekt

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Throwing challenge season has quickly come to Australian Survivor 2019, as we’ve seen the second instance in as many episodes.

Many, many people do not like the idea of throwing a challenge. Australian Survivor 2019 has already seen once such instance heading into the Sunday episode, and it worked out brilliantly for the former Champions on the Contenders tribe. They got out a double agent in Casey while flushing Harry’s idol. What was an 11-7 Contenders advantage at the swap has slid down to 7-7.

We’re now in the stage of Australian Survivor where gameplay differences are cast aside as John sexily regales everyone of the ingredients to make a succulent Mexican parma. That’s what 24 days before the merge will do to you, as you’re either passing the time with stories at the top of your tribe’s hierarchy or hunting for a new idol like Harry did at the bottom of his tribe.

Even with Ross tailing him, just like we’ve seen (in frustration) in the US version of Survivor, the former Champions let up on following Harry around. This gave him the opportunity to seek out a clue unmitigated, which led to him finding out the whereabouts of the Hidden Immunity Idol sitting at the top of the shelter. Since it’s in plain sight, it was possible we had a Rick Devens in Edge of Extinction situation on our hands.

Speaking of people with idols using them and then finding a second one almost immediately, David did a terrible job of looking uncomfortable as everyone else around him searched for the Hidden Immunity Idol. He did try to broker a deal with Shaun to keep each other safe at the merge as challenge threats, but Shaun still doesn’t trust him one bit.

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Speaking of challenges, it was before the Reward Challenge that we saw where the idol was hidden; in a reachable crack within the palm fronds of the shelter. This made it super easy for Harry to make a speech, pick up the tribe flag and hide his body as he secured his second idol of the game, resorting to trinket treasure hunting instead of, you know, social dynamics that created Survivor.

The Towers of Terror made their return at the Reward Challenge, with players going one on one with another tribe to cross a narrow beam blindfolded to retrieve a ring suspended below the beam. Once recovered, players jumped into the water to swim near a platform to throw the ring on a hook. The first player to score wins a point for their tribe, with the first tribe to three points winning a trip to the Australian Survivor pub that serves (you guessed it) chicken parma, fries, and beer.

Luke didn’t face off against Matty Wahlberg this time, as he got the better of Harry who inched slowly across his beam. It was Luke’s lanky frame that made tossing the ring an easy task to take his tribe to a 1-0 lead. Baden has been nothing but a speed demon in challenges, as his matchup with Janine was hampered only by a lousy jump into the water.

He caught up in the swimming portion to give the Champions a 2-0 lead as the women Contenders not named Janine were concerned about a blind jump into the water. Still, Ross looked to be a preferable matchup to Andy when it came to aquatic prowess. However, he couldn’t throw the ring to save his life, only securing a point to make it 2-1 after getting the ring stuck atop the target.

While the edit continued to dog Ross as it has all season long, Pia conquered her nerves to take on John the Mullet. Her nervousness would not be enough to overcome John’s insatiable hunger for chicken parmas, as he eventually knocked the target to make his Australian Survivor food dream come true. Also, Matt continues to think he’s tough s— and everyone else is lesser than.

Though there was no advantage hidden at the pub reward (the food was more than enough), Harry took the rare opportunity he had to both explain the impenetrability of the five OG Champions on the Contenders tribe while throwing Janine under the bus as The Godmother. Unfortunately, this did start to kick the game back into linear terms, with “Contenders strong” and “Champions strong” lingo coming to the forefront.

It’s here we saw the foundation of a challenge throw building, with Andy revealing he will misplay a puzzle or miss some throws if it means playing “the most strategically dominant game the show has ever seen.” Much like literally everything else Andy has done this game, however, his plan quickly backfired on him.

As the tribe sludged their way into the Immunity Challenge, we saw tribes slip down a slide one by one to collect numbers as part of a combination lock required to unlock a sledgehammer. Tribe mates would then use that to nail targets necessary to drop a bag of puzzle pieces, which would be then taken to two puzzle-solvers at the end to solve a circular puzzle.

Andy and Baden solving the puzzle for the Champions would be a vital part of the challenge throw, as the Contenders were leading through the hammer-swinging phase due to Daisy’s slow start. However, a puzzle-based challenge doesn’t really start until the puzzle starts, and with Andy actively throwing the challenge, things would become interesting quick.

As Baden navigated his way through the puzzle, Andy looked on in astonishment and befuddlement in his attempts at deception. Luke and David knew he was throwing it, but it seems as though nobody told Baden throwing the challenge was the strategy going in. Even JLP called Andy another piece of the puzzle Baden needed to solve, and no amount of Andy’s meddling could stop the Champions from winning safety.

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So there it is; the Contenders continued to eat themselves alive, facing the genuine possibility of giving up their strong numbers advantage with the merge looming. The only thing Matt and Harry could do we to throw a Hail Mary pass (or whatever the Aussie Rules Football or rugby equivalent is) in trying to convince Simon and Ross to flip.

Though Matt worked on Simon and Harry worked on Ross, it seemed like they weren’t getting anywhere. That’s when Dirty Harry pulled out another trick; fake crying to Ross in an attempt to make the surfer feel bad for him. Though Harry felt convinced that it would work, with the women going into Tribal Council throwing all their votes on him, Harry could just play an idol and get Pia out, protecting himself against a possible Janine idol play.

Harry’s approach at Tribal Council continued to be one-dimensional; label Janine as The Godmother mastermind. Janine’s defense was one-dimensional, as well; spin a web about a group dynamic with no leader whatsoever. It all seemingly didn’t matter, as the trio of Pia, Abbey, and Janine kept telegraphing the idea that Harry is going home.

That’s when Harry made the desperation pitch out in the open; he suggested a Contenders men alliance of four intending to vote out one of the trio of women. That way, the men would be split evenly between starting tribes, he would help Rossco find an idol, and he offered a cherry on the top; all of his socks. It seemed like Ross was more concerned about warmth than anything!

A subtle thing that Ross picked up right before the voting began was that Harry and Matt were voting for Pia. With so much uncertainty and Harry playing an idol for himself, the fact Ross kept the voting target to himself as Janine played her idol for herself is quite telling. It meant that he could have voted for Pia to dodge the eventual 2-2-0 (Harry’s three votes nullified) tie.

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Instead, we saw the slowly building reality of the situation; Matty Wahlberg, semi-pro wrestling extraordinaire, would go home on the revote, as Harry was the only dissenting vote. At the least, Harry was able to burn an idol in the process! Plus, we got another epic Jonathan one-liner, as his quote about waiting out the wave could apply to the Contenders at this time. They are now at a numbers disadvantage after losing five-straight original tribe members in a row.