Australian Survivor 2019 episode 15 recap: Horse vs. God

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A torturous Immunity Challenge and a Goliath vs. Goliath matchup highlight Australian Survivor 2019 episode 15, as the Contenders implosion continues.

We’ve approached the sixth week of Australian Survivor 2019, and I’m still stuck in a fifth-week mentality. Even though I may still be reeling from Andy’s blatant disrespect for the game by accusing David of having an idol after being voted out (a lie in his own eyes), David knows that the tribe doesn’t believe Andy. That may be a one-sided perspective, but it goes to show that the model knows how to look cool in the face of adversity.

Luke’s admiration for Janine is heartwarming, appreciative of her ability to tough it out despite how easily she could relax on her laurels with her obscenely wealthy lifestyle. It’s clear that the show wants to telegraph the two potentially partnering up down the line, seeing how David is a clear cut threat and Luke needs elsewhere to go, but it does bring up an interesting meta-narrative.

Should Janine make it to the end of Australian Survivor 2019, had her game been kept in a time capsule from this point on, she has one of the more compelling games to share with the jury. However, she has an eight-digit net worth; a fact that will be hard for the jury to ignore. The same conversations floated around Mike White’s game in David vs. Goliath in comparison to Nick.

Speaking of the proverbial biblical matchup, Baden’s perspective into the Champions group runs through Luke, who continues his display of solid social gameplay. He gathers the Champions want Shaun out, and even midst an eavesdrop from said player, Baden is going to try to push to get Simon out, knowing that to play the game in the middle there have to be two sides in the first place.

Shaun is such a perplexing character. His main task in this game is to get out David before David gets him out, but he laments that the Champions won at the previous Tribal Council. The only reason for that is everyone voted for Andy, giving the Contenders a minority in the first place! Still, he thinks regardless if he wins immunity, he will be able to convince a Champion to vote out one of their own.

Perhaps a big reason why international viewers such as myself love Australian Survivor is that they continue traditions long forgotten in the US version. The “stand on narrow footpegs between two beams” reward challenge made an appearance, but with the stakes revved up to the prize of a brand new MG ZS, the familiar challenge doubled down with a Car Curse potential!

For those who may have forgotten (or have been unaware previously), nobody who has won the car prize in any US or modern Australian Survivor season has gone on to win that game. Still, that didn’t stop everyone from trying their darndest, with all making it to the second stage before challenge beast Shaun dropped out first at the 20-minute mark.

Where Shaun goes, Daisy follows, as she and Baden dropped down shortly after. Everyone else survived through to the final 1-inch footpeg stage 40 minutes in, with John slipping quickly during the endgame. Luke tried his hardest for 45 minutes before giving up the dream of owning a brand new car. Pia slipped out of nowhere, and Harry couldn’t withstand the pain any further.

It was at the one-hour mark that Janine realized, “Maybe I shouldn’t be winning a car as a multi-millionaire.” She dropped out then, but nobody among the supermodel and two AFL athletes budged until the 80-minute mark when Simon silently dropped out (true to character).

They had to add another challenge 100 minutes in, forcing the players to drop stop using their arms to brace themselves. That’s when David’s lanky body knocked him out of balance, leading to Abbey winning the car and a picnic alongside David and John.

After a length car commercial and some bread and chicken liver pâté, we got to the core of the reward; David taking over and playing the game way too hard. When David makes Abbey’s reward about himself and tries to make an endgame deal with everyone, it’s hard to take him seriously from Abbey’s perspective. Both Abbs and John are not the kinds of people to spend all their time playing the game hard like that, and it made David look really skeevy.

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It’s better to be playing from the shadows rather than being upfront and direct, and that’s why Shaun approached Janine in trying to put the target on David. She spun a predictable yarn, yet gave Shaun hope. It’s a great little scene to show you the difference between two players playing the game hard, but only one being outwardly noticeable worthy of attracting attention.

There are few things on television that make me squirm quite like seeing the “literally down yourself under a set of monkey bars amid a rising tide” Immunity Challenge. Pair the claustrophobia with one of the coldest nights in Fiji making the water freezing cold, and the challenge ending in the dark; you have a certifiable nightmare on your hands.

The Immunity Challenge was decidedly focused on the current merge narrative; David vs. Shaun. Many popular players slipped to the wayside in Australian Survivor 2019 episode 15, much like Daisy did as she suddenly slipped away from her bars. Abbey quickly dropped afterward, while people started to break down just 15 minutes in.

As the tide started to slip water over the players’ eyes, Baden slipped out, and Harry followed him after. Everyone standing off to the side still in the water looked as miserable as the players dropping out one by one like Pia did. With six players remaining, people started to make mouth funnels to secure an airway. John couldn’t hang, and as darkness started to creep in, Janine was the last woman to drop out.

It’s moments like Luke dropping down and trying to re-emerge that really concern me as a viewer, as Luke looked like he was drowning on television. Simon ducked out but didn’t come back, and we saw the real culmination of Shaun vs. David as the final two. David’s blowhole technique eventually won out over Shaun’s snorkel setup, sealing Shaun’s inevitable fate.

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That was a horrifyingly entertaining, hard-fought matchup, and because the challenge finished at night, we got a few pre-Tribal Council bonfires for the players to scramble and come up with a strategy. Unfortunately for Shaun, he couldn’t pivot the target onto David, so he had to pick the next best target in Luke.

The problem with that strategy is that everyone is still damp from the challenge, and there are just minutes to play. When I saw Harry lined up with the original Champions as they detailed their vote split plan, you could tell that Luke wasn’t going anywhere. However, that doesn’t mean that Shaun wasn’t going to damage his social capital on his way out, as it did get people talking. Luke creepin’ into the scene didn’t help Shaun out.

Pre-tribal gaming was intense, chaotic, and unpredictable in its portrayal, but because of that chaos, it makes it easier for the players to get on the same page and stick to plan A. The whispers from Luke gave Shaun an opportunity to pin him as the biggest threat in the game, as Shaun wasn’t going to win ten immunities in a row necessary to win, while Luke could create a team that could.

Janine used her masterful knowledge of business, spitting mad knowledge that could be summed up with a grade 5 acronym; Keep It Simple, Stupid! She did manage to throw her own ally, Luke, under the bus a great deal, and Shaun did the rare feat in being open about throwing someone’s good story at Final Tribal Council against them … at an earlier Tribal Council meeting.

I’ve been beating the drum that the Contenders have been eating themselves alive in Australian Survivor, and nobody should be doubting me after this vote. Outside of Harry, who was either splitting an idol vote or earnestly voting Luke, nobody else wanted to go against David and the Champions.

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Shaun went home in a 7-2-2 vote split, with Daisy and Luke receiving two votes apiece. Simon voted for Daisy in case Shaun played an idol, but Baden also voting against Daisy and both John and Daisy voting for Shaun showed that the Contenders have effectively laid down their shields and hope to hide in the cracks of the Champions targeting each other down the road.