Previously on Australian Survivor a Samoan sea witch took out the third-but-first-on-Ten crown, followed by Jericho butchering metaphors until he bamboozled his competitors into submission and Shane Gould emphatically proved that she is not one to be fucked with. I mean, just ask Lydia how swiftly she will turn the game against you! But none of that matters because this is a new season and the memory of Locky, Steve, the washed up Gladiator, Benji, Robbie and Grubby’s buns, Shonella’s majesty and Monika’s brutal belly flops are all that remains.
Deep in the swamp of the foggy, Fijian jungle we first meet this year’s batch of Contenders featuring thirst traps Matty and Shaun – sorry Megan Gale, I ship them – and Andy, Laura, Casey, Sam, Hannah and Harry who have channeled the fearless style choices of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and the Vanderpump Rule’s kids by working on their hat game. While without an in-game hat, farm girl Daisy seems like an early icon – I may be biased, but curly hair is never anything but an asset in life. As they continued to trudge through the swamplands, we met gold miner John who looks like Chopper Reed, but in a way that I kinda find hot. Side note: maybe I am just a thirsty man? He was followed by Sri Lanken tsunami surviving cleaner Sarah and TBH, I am questioning the decision making abilities of whoever thought it was a good idea to kick off the game with this poor woman trudging through a mass of land that is inundated with water.
In a more rapidly flowing body of cleaner water we met the Champions – who have thus far only been ambiguously shaded by their fellow competitors, none moreso than Matt who I am praying is a fellow gay going through something based on his bleached hair – led by big wave surfer Ross who seems super cute, if not simply washed up. (Pause here to laugh at my killer pun). He is joined by E.T. who I assume just thinks he wandered on to the set of a reboot of Escape with E.T., Janine “Ma’ Fuckin’” Allis who is a bloody icon and I already stan, despite not enjoying Boost nor wheatgrass shots – oh the noughties, what a bloody time – and Luke Toki who is back to cause havoc and drama for a second time, this time unhampered by Jericho’s afformentioned metaphor challenges.
Side note: what do you think happened to that drowning cat he spoke about?
The Contenders were the first to be welcomed to Jonathan’s swoon worthy gunshow on a windy, grassy knoll by the sea. He quickly got in on the shade game, pointing out that when Shane Gould proved not to be fucked with last year, it also ruined the predestined narrative arc of the Champions vs. Contenders theme – lucky Nick defeated Mike in the USA, I guess – and as such they all need to take a long hard look at themselves, pull their fingers out and snatch the crown in honour of Robbed Goddess Shonee. They all assured him that they have what it takes and believe that they can do her proud before the Champions were wheeled out. Almost literally if you ask Sam and Casey, who noted they were old as shit and as such, they will be destroyed in all and sundry challenges. Daisy jumped on the ageist ribbing to point out that their tribe was young and diverse, with Jonathan left to fill in the blanks. As she was left to ponder who the nine Champions she doesn’t recognise are, Queen Janine admitted that she was happy to face off against their arrogance, knowing that pride comes before the fall and again, I stan.
More importantly, I’m still Looking for Alibrandi to get a bloody line. Show me Pia Miranda for I smash a book on my TV’s nose!
With the requisite shade out of the way Jonathan announced that the season will be kicking off with a reward challenge for a huge welcome pack, featuring food, pots and flint, with the losers going home with nothing. He explained that each tribe would send one person to battle it out in the ring to gain control of a sack, which they were to drag to their goal. While I was left confused about whether the ring or the sack was the one true goal, the Contenders sent John in to face off against Simon Black. They ran at each other as John and his magically mullet grabbed at the sack, as Brownlow Medalist Simon held on to his rugged torso. Try as he might, John pulled Simon harder and harder until Simon and the sack reached John’s goal and secured the first point for the Contenders.
Luke and Zaddy Matt were next to face off, with Luke almost snatching victory before Matt fought back and used his brains to snatch victory. Nearly killing Luke in the process. Abbey and her epic guns kept things alive for the Champions, making quick work of Daisy despite the icon’s best efforts. Champion Roxette impersonator slash memory champion slash ballerina Anastasia made even quicker work of Laura, even though the latter straight up kneed her in the head. The final battle between E.T. and Andy proved far closer than I was expecting – soz Andy, but I was expecting to hate you and giddily enjoy your flame-out – with the first round ending in the sack being taken out of the ring, leaving the exhausted oldies to battle it out again with E.T. just snatching victory and handing the Champions a massive advantage as things kicked off.
We followed the victors back to camp where my search efforts paid off and Pia Miranda finally arrived on screen and proved why she is a star, vowing to game everyone despite arguably being the weakest on her tribe. Luke was feeling deja vu being back in the game, though noted that his tribe comes across more like an aged care facility and as such, he needs to prove his worth and blindside them all.
Meanwhile over at the Contenders the plebs were still feeling upbeat despite their loss, introducing themselves and sharing stories. Well except for Andy who was coming across more closely to my expectations than his star turn in the challenge, spinning lies about his life and being super arrogant, which you know will come back to bite him, rather than lay low like he is intending. That being said Casey does appear to be making quick work of putting a target on her back, forcing people into focusing on the shelter and not listening to everyone’s pleas to get a fire going ASAP.
Speaking of fire, Olympian slash former senator was making quick work of getting fire going for the Champions while also becoming my new favourite cast member. However she was super confident about her standing because of that, which immediately makes me want to scream – YOU IN DANGER GIRL. We then checked in with Steven Bradbury who acknowledged that yes he got lucky winning his gold medal, but that still doesn’t mean he worked his arse off to get to the finals in the first place, which is true but ruins the iconic joke we as a country have turned him into. That being said, he is planning to use his smarts to snatch victory this time, lining up an alliance of seven with the rest of the athletes to get rid of the five non-sporties. So sorry Steven, I hate you, as I need David to get shirtless for many more episodes and Pia to slay, hopeful get a book and break someone’s nose with it.
Unwittingly fighting against the athlete alliance, Luke was charming Nova, Ross and Simon, with the latter working his way into my heart with a speedo scene. I mean, between Simon, Commando last years and the Survivor SA boys, I really think speedos need to be mandatory for the men. Anyway Luke’s instincts tipped him off to Steven’s athlete alliance and his general shiftiness, so decided to find his Jericho, settling on Zaddy David, before pulling in Anastasia, Janine and Pia to round out his group of close allies. We then checked in with Anastasia who was thrilled to discover that everyone was getting along and nobody was annoying people, except for Nova who was annoying Anastasia – and only Anastasia – for taking control of the kitchen, leaving the memory champ to only be heard by dogs as the pitch of her voice grew higher and higher.
That night we checked in with the Contenders who were still without fire in their elevated shelter … which slowly started to collapse, almost crushing half of the tribe who were sleeping beneath it. Needless to say, Andy was pissed and was thrilled to tell us about it. Things were looking slightly better the next morning as they smashed a breakfast of beans, much to the delight of John whose thing, apparently, is four bean mix. Which still makes him so inappropriately sexy to me. Baden however was not loving it, blowing chunks from his beanie brekkie and annoying Andy in the process.
My boy Jonathan returned for the first immunity challenge of the season where the tribes were required to race over a series of walls, followed by a giant netted A-frame, before pushing a deck along a track, before flipping it over to enter a tower, pull up a frame and then throw clubs and the tiles embedded within it. Zaddy David got the Champions out to a slight lead at the walls, however the Contenders closed the gap over the second obstacle. Things were neck and neck by the time it came to push the deck, with the Champions slowly opening up a gap as they climbed the tower until John finally pulled Shaun into the tower and they once again, slowly closed the gap. David and Steven struggled to knock out the tiles, while Andy and Shaun snatched the lead for the Contenders, and ultimately, snatched immunity. Thanks to Andy’s killer aim, which I really hate to admit. Maybe I should like Andy, I don’t know?
Back at camp the two factions split up to lock in their respective targets, with the athletes locking in Pia – well not Steven, he was just following their lead despite organising the alliance – while the outsiders decided on Susie, as she seemed to be relying on the men. Meanwhile Nova stumbled upon the outsiders, making things super awkward until Queen Pia asked her what she was thinking. While Nova obviously stayed silent and just listened to their thoughts, she immediately took said information back to Susie. Nova continued to be my personal hero, deciding that she was not keen on voting out Pia or Susie, and that they should target Anastasia instead. She then got to work, trying to pull in Susie and Luke, and while the former was more than receptive Luke approached Anastasia to fill her in, leading to her completely unravelling. Pia tried her best to calm her down, given she was sure that the athletes would be targeting her instead. Given Anastasia continued to panic, Pia gave up and walked away … leaving David, Luke and Anastasia locking in their votes for Pia in a bid to save her. Speaking of Pia, she then approached Susie and Nova to continue turning the vote against Anastasia instead, with Nova trying to pull in E.T. after identifying him as the key to getting everyone on side. Sadly they were interrupted by a seemingly paranoid Steven, leaving things confused and undecided as they headed off to tribal council.
Though Pia gave a confessional talking about being the first boot or the winner, and hot damn, I need her to survive the vote and follow in Shane Gould’s footsteps.
Anywho at tribal council Janine spoke about the importance of forming bonds and being friends, while David pointed out their camp was a mess despite them all trying their best before Luke spoke about the bedlam of the post challenge scrambling. Nova likened it to her time in parliament, before Pia went on the charm offensive, acknowledging the fact that she heard her name and completely lost her mind, laughing about not being cool about it and winning fans in the process if the warm smiles are anything to go by. Jonathan asked who else heard their name, with Anastasia and Susie admitting that they too had heard their names. Anastasia continued to solidify the votes against her, trying to back away from throwing out Susie’s name, sounding flakey and paranoid in the process.
E.T. spoke about the need to focus on strength, which only made Pia more nervous given she is physical in real life however next to athletes, she appears like a hot mess. Luke agreed strength is important, though loyalty is too. Nova then pointed out everyone has their strengths and it is sad to have to send someone home, while Anastasia still felt uneasy and manic and just wished they all had more time to get to know each other. Which is so true and the saddest thing for the first boots, as even an extra day could give them time to win people over or to prove themselves. But anyway, Pia then gave a killer pitch to keep herself, pointing out her easygoing, fun nature and that she doesn’t want to be pushy with alliances or how to vote, easily deflecting her superfan status. With that the tribe voted and poor Anastasia found herself becoming the first boot, with the game becoming a distant memory.
Despite how the show made her appear as she spoke about her scratched up knees proved how much harder she fought in challenges than others, Anastasia took her crushing defeat with humility and kindness. As soon as I saw her descend from the tribal treehouse stairs, I swept her up in my arms and cursed out Bradbury for making her become the first to slip on his way to victory. You see Anastasia and I have been friends for years, after meeting at a ballet company – I am truly the lightest one could be in my loafers – then forming a Roxette cover band and ultimately becoming memory champs together. Well, trying to – apparently the judges feel like calling people either old mate or old love doesn’t qualify as memory.
But enough about me. My dear Anastasia truly could have been a strong asset to her tribe, but was dealt a sucky hand and didn’t have enough time to work her way through the athlete shield. Thankfully for that sort of tragedy, there is liquor and there is no liquor sweeter than a Pinastasia Colamer.
Fresh and vibrant like its namesake, this little piña colada fills you with joy and dulls the pain of being brutally cut from the game. Plus, how better do you toast your last day in Fiji?
1 cup white rum
⅔ cup coconut cream
1 ½ cups fresh pineapple juice
crushed ice, to taste
Place everything in a blender. Blitz. Pour into a cup. Down, with or without a garnish.