Previously on Australian Survivor, while Blood and Water were still battling it out, Jonathan switched things up and offered an individual immunity for each tribe. As both of them were attending tribal council, meaning hijinks were guaranteed to ensue. On the Water Tribe, things came down to Khanh and Sam, with the former promising his necklace to Sam, who quickly fainted when stepping out of the challenge. On Blood meanwhile, Shay completely dominated her tribe while Jordie tried valiantly to bring her down. With their main target immune, the sausage fest opted to take out Mel over on Blood, while Sam and Jesse were owning Water and ready to finally get rid of Ben. Sadly for them, he had one last shot at redemption as Mel and Ben were able to battle in a fire challenge to return to the game. With Mel ultimately smoking the competition and sending Ben home. For realsies, this time.
The next day the Blood tribe were thrilled to be waking up on Day 26, particularly Mel since she had suceesfully won her way back into the game. Jordie spoke about how great the last 26 days have been, exhausted and overwhelmed but so happy to have made it this far. He encouraged everyone to celebrate their successes given everything could change in a minute and oh God, my newly minted villain king is going, isn’t he? Shay meanwhile was missing Ben though thrilled he is getting some breakfast sausage – OMG, swoon – while Jordie was more focused than ever to get to the end with his brother.
And again, Jordie is toast, isn’t he?
Both tribes joined Jonathan in the middle of the bush where he quickly announced that their tribes are no longer as they have officially merged. Which is convenient as Sam literally brought all her belongings, including a fishing rod like it was 6 year-old me taking my maths book in a fire drill. But I’ve digressed. After everyone hugged and traded out their rancid buffs for fresh, clean numbers, Shay shared she was ready to kick things into overdrive, while Jordie was thrilled to actually be hanging with his bro and Sam was just grateful that she and Mark finally made it to the merge. I assume because it means they can stay together.
With that out of the way, they were tasked with competing in their first individual reward challenge where they would each have to balance a table using a rope and then walk back and forth to collect blocks which they would use to build a pyramid on the balancing board. Oh and the winner would score $60k. Like, what?! That is more than Sharn won over two seasons as the runner-up. Madness!
Madness, but also lols.
In any event, this sort of challenge is never exciting to read about, so I will spare you the they dropped, they dropped commentary and instead will tell you that while Mark got out to an early lead, Shay was playing it fast and loose while Chrissy was surprisingly dominant. Though none of them were competition for Khanh and his steady chef hands, who defied everyone dropping around him and jagged the mega-jackpot reward without dropping once. And sadly made that target on his back just that little bit bigger.
The newly merged tribe arrived at a sandbank in the middle of the river – which TBH, is a bit triggering in Brisbane ATM – for a celebratory feast where they quickly congratulated Khanh on taking out his massive prize, which he was thrilled about despite now being the foremost challenge beast of the season. He was thrilled to be a single in the newly merged tribe, given he doesn’t have to worry about anyone else when playing his game. While everyone was thrilled to be smashing their food, Jordie pulled his brother aside to focus on the game, looping him in on Mark’s idol and catching him up on his sausage fest alliance.
The tribe ventured back to the camp formerly home to the Water Tribe where we finally met Mel and Michelle, who are iconic identical twins who are ready to come and dominate the game. By putting their twin powers to good use, obvi. Sam and Mark too were thrilled to finally redeem their first runs, ready to get some idols and take some names. While Mark oddly stayed quiet about his idol, despite the fact they are straight up married. Sadly for him, Jordie and Sam then caught up by the shelter with Jordie telling Sam about her husband’s idol and well, let’s just say she was pissed. And while Survivor may have brought them together, it may also be the reason for their divorce.
Sam eventually confronted her husband, who thought it was absolutely hilarious she found out from someone else. Giving his mate a smirk on the way out of camp to fight about it. While Sam was happy that Mark’s little snafu had proven himself loyal to Jordie, I can’t help but feel like it makes him look like he has some hardcore trust issues. But whatever.
The tribe reconvened at the shelter to come up with the merge tribe name with both Glitter and Bin Chicken thrown around before they settled on the even worse option of Lava. Which, yuck! Thankfully though Chrissy was well and truly ready to fight for her place in the game, which makes the shit name feel better. Mark caught up with his alliance of five men – the four J names and him – thrilled that with the addition of his wife as their sixth member, they can take control. And with Sam, comes Khanh meaning they should be unstoppable. But you best believe that while Mark was willing to use Khanh, he was still focused on getting him out ASAP. Meaning, maybe not?
The Lava tribe joined Jonathan by a dam for the first individual immunity challenge of the season, the iconic ‘When it Rains it Pours’, most famously won by Shi Ann in All Stars as she briefly blocked Romber’s dominance. You know they one, they hold on to a rope tethered to a bucket of water with the last one standing, dry, winning immunity. Out of nowhere Chrissy was the first to drop out of the challenge, quickly followed by Michelle while Jordie was talking shit at everyone before he and Khanh dropped together, followed by Mark.
After ten minutes, Mel and Josh dropped back-to-back, leaving the rest to battle it out. Five minutes later, KJ fishing for compliments led to Shay dropping out of the challenge, followed by Jordan, while Mark and Jordie grew bored as they waited around and started strategising, debating the merits of voting either Khanh or Shay out. Sam and Dave were next to drop, leaving Jesse and KJ to fight for immunity. Despite putting up a strong effort, poor KJ couldn’t hold on any longer, dropping her rope after 50 minutes and handing immunity to Jesse.
Back at camp Jesse was well and truly feeling his oats, thrilled to be immune though definitely concerned about how exactly he would be taking control of the tribe. He caught up with his former tribemates, with Sam, Mel and Michelle thrilled to band together as the couples to take out the singles. Sam’s husband Mark meanwhile was still solely focused on blindsiding Khanh. He and the boys were thrilled to lock in the vote split between him and Mel, given they can eliminate another pair at worst case. Meanwhile Sam and Jesse were focused on getting rid of Shay instead, locking in their plans and ready to dominate the tribe. After Khanh was looped in, he pulled KJ aside to lock her in as a number against Shay before moving on to Mel and Michelle.
The latter then approached Sam back at camp, with Sam assuring her the plan is still to get rid of Shay though she did think she should check in with Mark. Who then straight up shat all over her plan when they caught up. Mark then went in on Sam’s loyalty to Khanh, ignoring the fact Mark and his alphas are all the more threatening than Khanh and leaving him as a target could help their longevity. Their bickering was interrupted by the arrival of Khanh, who quickly pointed out they were having a domestic and offered to help counsel them. Sadly unaware that Sam was fighting to protect him, while Mark was stubbornly wanting to get him out.
Sam moved on to Jordie to question why nobody is considering Shay as a viable boot option, with Jordie admitting that turning the tribe off voting out Khanh simply seems near impossible. But boy did Sam continue to fight, bless her. Jesse meanwhile had given up fighting Khanh, approaching his brother with each agreeing to stay loyal to their alliances to get the maximum amount of information for them as a pair. And maybe they will be a formidable duo after all?
At tribal council Shay spoke about how difficult it already is to navigate the merged tribe given she hasn’t even had a chance to talk to everyone before firmly calling all the pairs out as threats. KJ agreed that being outnumbered by the pairs is scary, particularly since they’re all so strong. Jesse tried to downplay their advantage, talking about the fact there are so many ways the tribe could split things. Mark spoke about how he and Sam have not seen eye to eye so far, but out of the spirited discussions, the best ideas have risen to the top. Aka his, in his mind. While Sam tried to downplay the fact they were having a domestic and assured everyone she will stick to who she is loyal to. Mark agreed that tonight is a big vote for everyone to prove their loyalty.
Khanh fully accepted the fact he is a massive target, particularly since he just won $60k in a challenge. While he wasn’t sure he could truly trust anyone in his tribe, he opened up to Jonathan about how trust is always a risk in life and sometimes you just have to take the risks to build something great. Shay meanwhile wasn’t having much faith in the tryibe though reminded everyone that she is a safe single vote that can be added to any alliance. Which led to Mark continuing to gloat about how much better his alliance and plans are than Sam’s and ugh, yuck. Khanh meanwhile was just hoping his trust wasn’t blind.
With that the tribe voted and Khanh held on to his idol while Sam tragically sided with her husband’s alliance and booted him from the game. Thankfully to become the King of Jury, which honestly is the only worthy finish for him if he couldn’t take out the win.
As he arrived at the fresh, clean and very empty Jury Villa, Khanh was still taking his shocking blindside in his stride but given he will be the person taking home the second biggest prize of the season, how could you not be happy? Given we’re both highly respected members of the queer cooking community, Khanh and I have long been the best of friends so he was thrilled to see me waiting for him. While normally my meals are a step down from what he makes for himself, after a month in the bush, he was thrilled to see me whipping up something other than rice and beans. This time in the form of my – Diana Chan inspired – Thai Chickhanh Dumplongs.
As you’ve probably noticed (or definitely will have by the end of the season), I am almost as obsessed with dumplings as I am about burgers. I don’t know if it is the fact they are essentially little mouthfuls packed with flavour, but these babies are so good you’ll forget you just got booted and are now responsible for the entire jury.
Thai Chickhanh Dumplongs
Serves: 2 dear friends.
500g chicken mince
7 garlic cloves, minced
2 shallots, finely sliced
2 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp ground coriander seeds
6 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
2 tsp cornflour
2 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp ground chilli
½ tsp ground white pepper
½ tsp muscovado sugar
40 gow gee wrappers
vegetable oil, for frying
Combine the chicken mince through muscovado sugar in a bowl and stir until well combined. Cover and pop in the fridge for an hour to rest.
Once things are nice and chill, place the wrappers on a clean board and cover with a damp cloth. Working one-by-one, spoon a teaspoon of mixture into the centre of your dumpling wrappers and crimp and fold as desired. Given my lack of skills, I try and hide behind a pleat to cover my bad joins.
Once they’re all done, heat a lug of oil in a large frying pan with a lid over medium heat. Cooking 6-8 at a time, pop the dumplings in the hot oil to fry on the bottom and cook for a few minutes. Add about ½ a cup of water and immediately pop on the lid, cooking for a further five minutes or until cooked through.
Repeat the process until they are all done – they can be frozen uncooked, but I am greedy – before devouring. Ideally with some Nam Jimbo Dressing.
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