Australian Survivor 2019 episode 19 recap: Dos Equis

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

Is it worth it to make a big move with Exile Beach looming, or do you stick with the plan? Australian Survivor 2019 episode 19 answers that question.

The later a twist is introduced into a season of Survivor, the more unfair it is for most of the players. Much like introducing a forced Final Four fire-making test instead of having the option to vote Ben Driebergen out, Australian Survivor’s Exile Beach twist is a bit fairer when players know about it ahead of time and it doesn’t take place in the endgame.

However, it was the previous episode’s Tribal Council that brought back the Exile Beach twist at the Final Eight, effectively turning two eliminations into an eventual one later down the line. I’ve talked about it with Big Brother 21’s Camp Comeback forcing rigid, straightforward play, as it makes no sense to betray trust with someone who can fight their way back into the game early on.

With a 5-3 Champions over Contenders numbers advantage at the Final Eight, smart gameplay would dictate taking out two Contenders in a row to guarantee one going home, as blindsiding a fellow Champion and having them come back from exile would be the worst-case scenario. Smart, wise, boring gameplay has been lacking in Australian Survivor 2019, which is good for us viewers!

Any moment in any version of Survivor when you’re on your own island is a personal nightmare. Seeing Daisy shiver in the damp rain and struggle with the elements after bracing to become a member of the jury reminds you just how hard this game is for the remaining eight, each of which has played the game longer than any winner in any one US season (save for Tina Wesson).

Pia, Abbey, and Janine have started to embrace their mafia trio demeanor, as Pia continues to relish in her role as the smiling assassin. Alongside Abbey, who stays bubbly at camp to counter her aggressive challenge demeanor, and Janine, who keeps Simon and Luke complacent by talking business, they are doing their best to keep the men in line and not targeting them.

Harry and Baden, the only Champions left in the non-exile game, have to pivot from being aggressively against the Champions, seeing how that didn’t work. Dirty Harry suggested not to complain about the Champions individually, but to heap doubt with others individually in hopes of facilitating a blindside of their own.

Harry did major work in Australian Survivor 2019 episode 19, as he worked on both Luke and Abbey, separately, to orchestrate a flip on Janine. Luke’s been ready to fire for some rounds, wanting to blindside Janine since he knows he’s on the bottom of the Champions. Both he and Baden prying at Abbey was a lot more difficult to crack, as she has been solid with that trio since the Athletes’ alliance back in the Nova blindside days.

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However, the seed of doubt that she can win over either Janine or Pia proved to be fruitful in blossoming into a web of deceit. She seriously pondered flipping on the two people who’ve had her back the entire game, which is a testament to Abbey’s want to make a big game move worthy of disrupting the power balance and getting her closer to victory at the end.

One thing that Australian Survivor seems to over-rely on are tests of physical endurance or pain, as the Immunity Challenge of this shortened episode involved a simple “hold onto a bar while lying on a platform with a 45° angle for as long as possible” test. Despite Simon and Baden being the plank masters, Baden dropped out in less than a minute.

Janine won the previous Immunity Challenge but lost her grip fairly quickly to come in sixth place this challenge. I thought at that pace, it would finish a lot quicker than what we saw, but it was only 30 minutes in that Harry started to struggle, falling in fifth as two men and women Champions basically tested their mettle to build their resume.

Jonathan was a stand-in for the audience at the 45-minute mark, forcing the players to go to one arm only to move things along. That was enough to knock Abbey out of her comfort spot, as she couldn’t find her grip. Everyone else saw that Pia wasn’t going anywhere after 90 minutes of competition, as Simon, then Luke, fell microseconds apart to give Pia her first immunity win of the season.

For the Champions at camp, the discussions of the “smart move” focused on who could beat Daisy among Harry or Baden. Once again, Janine told the others what to do, and the rest seemingly prepared to follow her instructions. Abbey, of all the players at that meeting at the well, was the one who thought to go on her own path, as she approached Harry and Baden with a blindside plan of her own.

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She wanted to take out Simon opposed to Janine on the chance that The Godmother returned to the game with a grudge to take revenge. Harry pushed back against that mentality at the start, saying that the jury will respect taking out Janine when she had a shot. However, he was more agreeable to go against Simon as it would create the chaos within the Champions that he so desired anyways.

This is where Daisy’s white lie about someone telling her that Luke revealed her idol possession comes back to bite Simon. Before, Luke would have been more hesitant to go after Simon, as the AFL athlete was likely going to be Luke’s goat down the line. However, with Simon pitching to get Luke out and Daisy following up to tell Luke, he’s onboard to target with no hesitations.

With another “shorter” episode of Australian Survivor 2019 on the books, it felt like we could have had an even shorter runtime had ad requirements not had to be met. The women trio stretching and doing yoga, as well as Harry being hesitant about Abbey’s mindset while talking to her Janine, were unnecessary scenes that seemed to be there to pad the runtime before the end.

Tribal Council did bring us Harry pitching one Champion and their best friend to hop to his and Baden’s side so they can flip the game, but Janine (backed up primarily by Simon) pushed to vote out a Contender that could beat Daisy in a challenge. We even had Jonathan asking players how confident they were in being on the right side of the vote tonight, with Abbey’s answer of “the numbers speak for themselves” giving Baden worry about going home.

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Of course, it was a ploy to act like Baden’s elimination was a given, as an ordinary night led to an extraordinary conclusion. Harry spoke for the audience by saying he should have listened to him the first 50 times that he needed to play the game, as a 4-3 vote sent Simon to Exile Island. So much for Abbey finding it impossible to vote out her AFL idols!