Previously on Survivor the final five faced off in an epic, multi-level immunity challenge which briefly reminded me of the majesty of Vanuatu. Knowing it was likely him or Lauren going home without immunity, Carson secured victory – thanks 3D printing! While he and Yam Yam were off enjoying the reward, Lauren tried to get under Carolyn’s skin and told her that Yam Yam was considering taking her out at the previous tribal council. After everyone came together, Carson desperately tried to keep his island parents together while the girls tried to woo Carolyn to their side. Thankfully though, sweet Carson proved all the more convincing, keeping Tika strong as the tribe banded together to eliminate the final Ratu, Lauren.
Forgoing any tribal council fallout, the final four arrived at the top of a mountain for their final immunity challenge, with Carolyn already in tears, shocked to have made it all the way to the end (basically). But to immunity, the also iconic simmotion challenge where, as Probst explained, with a hand tied behind their backs, they will drop balls into a shoot and catch them at the end with the last person without dropping snatching victory. Taking out immunity and the power to select one person to join them in the final three, because that, sadly, is still a thing.
The challenge got underway with everyone still in play by the time they added their second ball. This got Carolyn screaming, as Yam Yam stayed stoic and focused. Tragically Carolyn dropped her ball after a very close near miss, leaving the trio to power ahead as they added their third balls. And then a fourth, which quickly cost Yam Yam his place and then Carson, handing Heidi her first individual immunity and guaranteed her spot in the final three. Well, unless she elects to go to fire. Which she admitted she is seriously considering doing.
Back at camp the group praised each other for fighting so hard, while Heidi was thrilled to be solo but holding all the power. She asked everyone if they particularly wanted to make fire, reiterating that she is seriously considering going herself to build her resume. But first, they split up to practise. Carson knew that as the biggest threat it was highly likely he would be one of the people making fire and while he could do it at home, he was worried that his insecurities would make it hard for him to win the challenge. Yam Yam meanwhile was methodical as he practised, admitting that winning the challenge is just another notch on his belt and would almost be a hero moment.
Carolyn caught up with Yam Yam, asking if he truly thinks Heidi sees Carson as the biggest threat and as such would even send him into fire. Carolyn admitted that while she has been practising fire for years at home, she has tried to keep it secret. The duo then hilariously built fires, critiquing why theirs was superior. Yam Yam pointed out that the one guarantee they have is that Carson sucked making fire on day one and as such, pulled him aside to give him tips so he didn’t embarrass himself in front of the jury. Carson then broke down in tears over his kindness as Yam Yam continued to coach him, assuring us that even if Carson were to beat him in the challenge, it wouldn’t bother him. And ugh, give each of the Tikas a million. The tribe came together back at camp with Heidi super confident in her fire making skills, still debating whether it is a good give up immunity. Knowing that both Yam Yam and Carolyn are good, but Carson is a wildcard and as such, didn’t know whether it was a risk worth taking.
At tribal council the jury were gagged to see Heidi had immunity, though I think it had more to do with them likely about to see a Tika showdown. Heidi opened up about considering it being the best idea for her game to make fire, with her still unsure which way she is actually going to go. Yam Yam shared that he is a pyromaniac, so assured Heidi he would gladly make fire though he also would love safety. Carolyn agreed that when Heidi checked in, everyone was pretty comfortable with making fire, with Carson speaking up to share that he doesn’t feel comfortable. And as such, his pitch was for Heidi to put herself in fire and prove herself. But first, she sent Carolyn through to the final three, who was shocked to have made it to the end, given throughout school she was always called the weird outsider and now she has proven that she is enough, just as she is. And ugh, I love her.
Heidi then pivoted and told Carson that he would be making fire before admitting that she would be giving immunity to Yam Yam and facing off against him, given she knows he is the biggest competitor. And as such, wants to be the person to eliminate him. She and Carson took their places at the fire making tables and quickly got to work, with Heidi getting a flame within seconds. She tried to build it bigger and bigger before it went out, as Carolyn and Yam Yam encouraged Carson to stick at it. He finally got a flame, slowly adding kindling to keep it alight as Heidi’s began to roar and lick at the rope, burning through and booking her place in the final three. And sending Carson out of the game as a robbed goddess.
As Jeff confirmed that Heidi broke the record for the quickest fire making challenge, Carson sweetly held his head high. He opened up about spending most of the day in tears, though was grateful to have proven he can make fire and essentially, do anything he puts his mind to. As he made it back to Ponderosa, I gave him a massive hug – strongly holding back my own tears – telling him that being a fourth place robbed goddess, at least in Australia, is the highest honour. And as such, he should be very proud, as he smashed his Bacon & Cheddar Cornsonbread Garrett.
On their own, each bacon, cheddar and cornbread are perfection, but when they triumphantly come together, it is like an Avengers level majestic dish. Absolutely hulking with flavour, to continue the Marvel theme.
Bacon & Cheddar Cornsonbread Garrett
1 ½ cups coarse polenta
300g bacon streaky bacon, diced
4 shallots, thinly sliced
2 ½ cups vintage cheddar, grated
400g canned corn kernels, drained
¾ cup flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
150g unsalted butter, melted
kosher salt and pepper, to taste
Place the polenta and buttermilk in a large bowl, stirring until well combined. Cover and leave to soak for a few hours – stirring each hour – to soften.
When the polenta is almost squishy and glorious, preheat the oven to 160C.
Pop a skillet over medium heat and fry the bacon until golden and crisp. Spoon ¾ of the bacon into the polenta, along with the shallots and 2 cups of the cheese. Stir to combine before stirring through the corn, flour, baking powder, butter and eggs with a good whack of salt and pepper.
Transfer the batter to a lined 20cm cake tin, sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bacon, and pop in the oven to bake for 40 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for five minutes before transferring to a plate and devouring, with a generously slathering of butter.
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