Australian Survivor 2019 episode 13 recap: Swing and a miss

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

The pendulum of fate swings back and forward, unstopping until it reaches its end. For one Australian Survivor 2019 player, it came way too early.

There was once a challenge in Survivor that has never appeared again simply because it was too unfair. “Thai 21” saw tribes retrieve one, two, or three flags from a group of 21, with the winning tribe picking the last flag. However, producers did not know that mathematically speaking, the first team to grab flags could guarantee victory if they left a multiple of four.

In Australian Survivor, unfairness lies in production, putting their players at risk by not properly guaranteeing their safety.

Though Ross had a hard time catching the perfect wave at the Contenders camp, he’s still living his best life. Same goes for the Champions, who took a break from the gameplay to go out as a tribe and catch some fish. Finally, we returned to the character-driven moments that defined the early parts of the season!

Of course, that didn’t last for too long, as Luke had to employ his creepin’ maneuvers to keep an eye on Andy. Based on his spy shack 2.0 intel, he saw that Baden wanted no part of a plan to throw a challenge, nor possibly even knew about such a plan. That got him kicking into high gear, trying to recruit Baden for the coming merge.

With Dirty Harry being the only former Contender left on the Contenders tribe, he employed what looked to be his standard tactic of running through the jungle in search of an idol. While he edged Ross on to follow him (with the rest of the tribe searching for an idol), it set the stage for him to approach Janine in proposing a truce going forward.

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What’s fascinating about that scene is that Janine is true to her Godmotherly ways. She doesn’t go searching for an idol; she doesn’t go off running after Harry. Everyone else but her chases after, showing the power dynamics of the tribe as clear as day. That level of confidence and strategy was enough to potentially give Janine a second thought about keeping Dirty Harry around.

Australian Survivor 2019 episode 13 ran for just an hour, and with the tribes going into the Immunity Challenge not knowing about Harry’s fate in the game, it was intended to be a short one regardless. That still didn’t bode well knowing the previews teased a medical emergency, as this challenge had plenty of opportunities to be disavowed by OSHA.

To start, players raced across a series of daring dextrous obstacles, including jumping between standing stepping poles and swinging from a rope to another platform. Each player needed to cross each portion before the tribe could progress to the next stage, with two players throwing monkey’s paw balls to pull a lever forward and create a rope bridge to guide players across a narrow beam. At the end was a box of puzzle pieces, with two players unscrewing the box containing wooden planks to be placed on a ramp, carrying the tribe to immunity.

The first part of the challenge was definitely geared towards men, as their longer legs let the men stride forward easier. The women were more cautious with their jumps, as their shorter frames made it more difficult to reach the end stages. As the Champions progressed through the monkey’s paw rope bridge, Ross overcame his adrenaline and Pia defeated her cautiousness to begin catching up.

Harry soared over the gap, then followed Simon with ease. The Champions reached the box-opening phase as Abbey lept over the gap. Once Ross began his swing, the rope shattered mid-flight as Ross fell to the ground, yelling in pain. Jonathan LaPaglia sprung into action given his medical training as a doctor to carry Ross off as the challenge came to a pause.

With Ross removed from the challenge, the players picked it up from there, with Baden and David rushing to open their puzzle box and Simon hoping to use the monkey’s paws to create rope bridges. Once again, it all came down to a puzzle, as the Champions slowed down in finding ramp pieces. This gave the Contenders a window to catch up, but once David and Baden established their teamwork system, the Champions ran away with the challenge.

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The excitement and momentum of the challenge (and the episode) came to a wave-like crash once Ross’ injury status started to sink in. It was kind of cute that Abbey suggested a player can’t find three-straight idols for three-straight Tribal Councils, showing the differences between a Ben Driebergen path in Survivor versus good social, strategic gameplay in Australian Survivor.

It also allowed for Janine to put on her business jumpsuit and do a business, talking about making deals at the right time as if there are no other analogies a businesswoman could bring to the table. She proposed working with Harry to Pia since he’s destined for the endgame (I guess?), while Abbey was apprehensive on voting out one of “the good guys.”

Abbey’s hesitance to vote out Simon is rooted in her AFL storyline so far in Australian Survivor, as voting out ET was her toughest challenge so far. She also said that he’s one of “the good guys” because he’s in her voting alliance, suggesting anyone outside of it is the “bad guys” (a terrible personality trait). However, the OG Champions did their best to erase an 11-7 swap disadvantage into a 7-6 advantage. If Ross goes home and Simon following, the power would swing back to the Contenders at the merge.

With Harry, Janine, and Pia agreeing to a temporary truce and a working agreement to get Simon out and power through the merge, reality set in. Ross came back to camp in crutches alongside JLP, who informed the tribe that medical insisted his broken ankle be treated outside of the game. We then saw both the Contenders and the Champions come by to give him his one last hurrah before leaving.

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If that blindside had gone into effect, we would be looking at one of the greater merge groups in any version of the show, let alone Australian Survivor. It’s a testament to cheating out on the edits of so many pre-merge women that preceded this moment, as Ross’ bumbling edit served to showcase the humble, goodhearted nature of a child at heart. I hope that the show brings him back in the near future, as he was truly robbed of a shot at winning the title of Sole Survivor.