Australian Survivor 2019 episode 18 recap: Exed on the beach

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With a numbers disadvantage looming, Australian Survivor 2019 saw the Contenders on the ropes. Could a blindside shift the power?

I love everything about the 90-minute runtime in Australian Survivor. Sure, maybe three episodes a week resulting in 180+ minutes of non-advertised content is a bit too much, but with eight players left in the game, the show is afforded more time to observe the small moments at camp life.

Nothing quite says coming out of your shell and sharing with others like making yourself look like a fool to break open a coconut after 15 swings, and I doubt we would have seen that long of a moment from a Baden equivalent in the US version. The wry smiles from Abbey, the bobbing heads following the chops, the sheer laughter from others; it was a wholesome moment in a grueling game.

If you didn’t know by now, Janine is a businesswoman who plays this game like a business, as she fought through her fondness of John to get rid of him. It’s with that mindset that she continues to fight against the Contenders as Harry and Daisy do only what they could; hunt for another idol. I was hoping the roots of US Survivor wouldn’t take in Australia, but Ben and Devens’ game plans got them far enough!

To be fair, Daisy did have a trick up her sleeve; she told Luke that she knew Luke told everyone that she had an idol at the last Tribal Council. This stoked paranoia and dissent among the Champions, with Luke and Simon agreeing it could only be Pia to pull it off. Way to make me feel like my power rankings for the week was wrong immediately!

Australian Survivor loves its classic challenges as the Reward Challenge saw pairs stand on pegs laid into a board panel. Jonathan then asked players to remove their pegs, requiring them to balance awkwardly as long as possible. The last pair to remain standing won a trip to a spa, complete with refreshing amenities and a bed to sleep on overnight, as well as breakfast in the morning.

With the exception of Luke, who checked the rock he drew immediately, the others drew rocks and revealed together to find their pairs. Those teams were Luke and Baden, Harry and Abbey, Simon and Janine, and Pia and Daisy. A wrinkle I hadn’t thought of was that the player to the audience’s left was responsible for removing odd-numbered pegs, while the one on the right had the evens.

The very first peg was an even number underneath the odd player’s body, which quickly set in motion that we were going to see pairs get quite uncomfortably close with one another. As 15 saw the player on the left grab across the other far and to the right, Harry struggled to grab over Abbey while maintaining decency, falling off and knocking them out of the competition.

As everyone else talked about the potential greatness of a spa trip, Luke and Baden got down to business. Luke asked Baden’s perspective on the game, with the Champions likely taking out one more Contender before a script flip to vote out one of the Champions at the Final Seven. Challenges this season have been ripe for brief snippets of strategic dialogue, and I would love to see it more in the US version.

Much like other showcases of this challenge, we saw a montage of other peg removals before one that saw Luke climb over Baden to swap places entirely. That didn’t last too long, as Baden fell grabbing for a loose, lower peg. Maneuvering around seemed to be a given for Pia and Daisy, but the peg Pia had been holding onto for support pulled straight out, sending her out of the challenge.

It didn’t matter too much, as Pia and Daisy were chosen by Janine and Simon, the challenge victors, to rejoice in a Fijian spa retreat. Though the dips, sandwiches, vegetables and the jacuzzi were nice, the greatest thing to blossom out of the reward for Daisy (at the time) was her seed of dissent within the Champions sprouting buds.

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Simon approached Janine and Pia as the four discussed the players back at camp, talking about Daisy saying she was tipped off about Luke telling the others about her idol. That is certainly a tongue-twister that doubles as a threat to Pia, as Daisy had to squirm as Pia reckoned with the potential of going against Luke.

The fact that the Reward Challenge group had to stay overnight and Pia couldn’t converse with the remaining four of Australian Survivor 2019 to patch things up played into the magic of the white lie. It gave Luke the opportunity to let that paranoia fester, and Harry and Baden teamed up to back Daisy up in supporting Pia being the one to run her mouth.

At that moment, Dirty Harry continued to apply the pressure against Janine and Pia, talking about that conversation as the moment that changed the game. However, it’s easy to make a plan for a blindside when the target themselves are not present. Sticking to that plan is another thing entirely, as the Immunity Challenge can change everything in a second.

It was the “hold up 8% of your weight on a pulley bar holding a ball in place as long as possible” challenge, and just like we’ve seen on Ghost Island, players’ balls can slip in just a second. Baden thought he was good, but he just slipped out. As the players talked about curls getting the girls, Harry’s ball slipped to the edge as Daisy’s ball fell as she turned her head to look on.

With Harry teetering on the edge, Pia’s ball slipped out of her control, with Harry falling shortly after. Abbey’s previous wrist injuries kept her out of pushing much longer beyond 30 minutes, as she gave in to the pain. It was Janine, Simon, and Luke who held out for longer than an hour. The amount of pressure that Luke puts on himself to perform in these challenges is insane, as he pushed himself to the limit before falling to the ground.

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After 80 minutes into the challenge, we started to see the cracks in the Champions bared to the entire tribe, as Harry prodded into Simon for not trusting Janine nor his group. That’s when he made a pact with Janine that he be taken on a reward by her within the next two challenges if he dropped.

With Janine winning her first immunity in Australian Survivor, it was the worst-case scenario for Harry and the Contenders. However, he moved the backup plan of Pia to Luke after hearing Simon, Janine, and Pia so agreeable to it on reward, ditching Luke if it meant getting out a Champion. Janine was just spinning a yarn on the reward, though, as she re-pivoted back to Daisy to keep the numbers intact and play with players that don’t leap about the game based on emotions.

As Daisy approached and Janine and Simon spun a lie that Harry was the target, Daisy read through the lines; she was the real target! Knowing her back is against the wall, that’s when she told Luke that Simon, Janine, and Pia were plotting to vote him out tonight, hence the need to vote out Pia.

Luke had been playing the middle for the majority of Australian Survivor 2019, and his trust with two groups proved to finally be to his detriment. With Pia, Daisy, Simon, Baden (virtually everyone) going off to talk to Luke, this had Janine worried that he’s playing the middle too hard, getting her nervous.

At Tribal Council, Daisy spilled the tea about Luke being the target, while Janine spun it as misdirection for an audience. Daisy had gone in expecting to receive votes considering Janine lied about Harry being targeted, and she was hoping that causing enough chaos that it would fracture the group.

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The one thing she couldn’t prepare for was Jonathan revealing that the person voted out would not go to the Jury Villa, but to Exile Beach. That set the stage for the second person in a row to be voted out to join them in a duel for redemption, which will hopefully be a lot more entertaining than the 7-1 vote of Daisy tonight. We didn’t even see who she voted for; it seems it’s Janine’s world and everyone else is living in it in Australian Survivor 2019.