Every bit of news this week has been beyond depressing and infuriating. Every bit of Australian Survivor gameplay this week has been beyond depressing and infuriating. There’s not enough coffee in the world for this, here we bloody go.
WINNER: HAYLEY, ONCE AGAIN
Hayley is quickly becoming one of the most universally admired and respected contestants to ever take on Australian Survivor. She’s likeable, she’s endearing and, perhaps most importantly, SHE UNDERSTANDS WHAT SHOW SHE SIGNED UP FOR.
Having been a consistent strategic juggernaut for weeks now, she entered week 5 on a little bit of a treacherous foot – kicking off with a tribal merge. Yep, making merge is a huge milestone for any player and a huge milestone for any viewer because it’s when things get real spicy.
Or rather, it’s when things should get real spicy, but Hayley appears to be the only one making any sort of moves at all. There has been far, far, far too much talk about keeping “brains strong” or “brawn strong” in the episodes post merge, when mere DAYS ago these tribes were tearing each other apart. Hayley, however, skulked around from person to person, kept her options open and proved herself to be both a trustworthy(ish) and skilled player at one time. Alas, those two things are death sentences in Australian Survivor and week 5 was all about one thing: Get Hayley Out.
Thanks to some shady tea spilling from George, Hayley saved herself and members of her alliance on Sunday night. And, also in part due to George, Hayley somehow avoided elimination on Monday night when Dani – Hayley’s biggest rival – voted for Baden instead. But Tuesday, after one of the most explosive tribal council back and forths I’ve ever seen, Hayley – after telling her tribemates nothing but the truth – was voted off, with every single person on the tribe voting against her.
However, a show without Hayley isn’t a show worth watching, and thankfully she was instead sent to the fucking gorgeous Redemption Rock, which could honestly be a contiki destination once we’re allowed to travel in 2034.
There, she found previously eliminated Baden, and the two would later go head-to-head hanging from a log and Baden – the overwhelming brawny member of the Brains tribe whose placement still baffles me – couldn’t cut it against Hayley and her toe ring, her one unforgiving feature.
Baden was sent to jury villa as member #1 of the god forsaken jury – something only Hayley has talked about because, again, she knows what show she signed up for – and Hayley was placed back in the competition... much to the dismay of the nine people that voted her out, and much to the delight of Australia.
HMMMMM, I’LL GIVE YOU A SILVER: GEORGE FROM BANKSTOWN
George from Bankstown is impressive. He placed a target on his back in the very first episode of the season, and with a mix of luck, skill and political savvy, he worked his way up to being one of the most powerful players in the game. He knows it, and will frequently remind you of it.
Come merge, George from Bankstown decided to spice things up by leaking information to the minority Brains alliance, such as:
- Telling Hayley to play her idol for Laura who Brawn was voting for.
- Telling Brains to vote out Kez because she had an idol
- Telling Hayley that Kez passed her idol to Flick before she had her fire snuffed.
So, when Hayley eventually told Dani what was happening because why wouldn’t she (???) Dani told Emmett and Emmett told George from Bankstown. George from Bankstown, pissed, went around to every single member of the tribe and told them to vote for Hayley. Every last one of them. He told the majority alliance that he never leaked info to Hayley (a lie), and he told the minority alliance that Hayley had turned against them (a half-lie). He was doing very obvious damage control, and it is ASTOUNDING to me that every single member of that tribe bought it.
Cut to tribal, and GFB is doing so much spin you’d think he was Simone Biles. When I want to watch a politician avoid tough questions by speaking in infuriatingly vague terms, I turn on the NSW press conference at 11am. I DO NOT want to see it at my tribal council. Not now, not ever!
Gerald, the messy king, brought up Hayley’s (true) accusations at tribal, and asked George if it was true. George not once said he was lying, and not once confirmed that Hayley told the truth. And, Hayley (and Wai kind of) were the only ones who saw it for what it was: political spin, and it had me ready to punch my television.
George got what he wanted for about five minutes before Hayley waltzed her way back into the competition, but it’s hard to say if it's because of his own skill, his teammates’ obliviousness to the truth or the fact that he is just an extra number in the majority alliance.
LOSER: LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE
Now we’ve got Hayley and George from Bankstown out of the way, let’s get into the most infuriating part of this week: everyone else is making it so easy for Hayley or George to take out the entire competition. Winning Australian Survivor is all about your long-term end game: making it to the final two and then explaining to the jury how masterfully you did it. Hayley and George have great resumes. The rest of the contestants: NOT SO MUCH.
Let’s go down the line, shall we?
Dani: The least loser out of all the losers because at least she has shown the ability to orchestrate big moves. However, her strange devotion to keeping ‘Brawn strong’ is holding her back. Getting Big Bad Simmo out was impressive, but it won’t win you the game.
Cara: Cara had set herself up to make some big moves as soon as she was ping pong-ed from tribe to tribe, laying the foundation for strong alliances on both sides. Instead, she’s seemingly just followed George’s beck-and-call and is even getting partial credit for the idea to leak information between alliances despite having nothing to do with it.
Emmett: Emmett wins three of three individual immunity challenges, and no one – not one person – has so much as whispered the idea of getting him out when they get the chance. Emmett, aware of his dominance over the tribe and my nightmares, is pushing for Andrew out because Andrew is the only person in the minority who threatens his winning streak. A really disappointing and weak game for someone who calls himself superman every 10 seconds.
Flick: I like Flick, Flick seems like a good person. Do I understand why – after the Brawn alliance tried repeatedly to get her out – she didn’t link up with Hayley after Hayley single-handedly steered the votes away from her when Big Bad Simmo went home? NO. I CERTAINLY DO NOT.
Gerald: Gerald’s a goat. He’s a lovable, charming, funny, wholesome, lactose-dependent goat. He doesn’t have it in him to make a big move.
Chelsea: It is actually very upsetting that the most a storyline has ever centred around Chelsea was because of her having to withdraw from the competition due to medical concerns. She’s fine now, but had to take a way out that no one ever really wants to. A shame.
Kez: Took her elimination very well, despite finding an idol – and shouting incessantly about it – mere hours beforehand. It was some truly Gollum-level mania. Ultimately, Kez was just another cog in the Brawn machine.
Baden: He had a bloody good crack at it, but Baden played a game where he was happy to be 2IC no matter who he was aligned with. If you’re not first, you’re last.
Andrew: Twice, the pressure has been on self-proclaimed survival expert Andrew to make fire. And twice, he’s been the last person to be able to do so??? Have we checked this man’s credentials?
In addition, Andrew spent WEEKS under Joey’s orders trying to vote George out because he couldn’t be trusted. George speaks to him for the first time in days, tells him a lie and Andrew doesn’t even question it? What on EARTH?!
Wai: At this point, I think Wai has been too vulnerable to give up any security she has in this game, and no one is keeping her around because she’s a puzzle master anymore due to the merge. She’s by far the most likeable player sans Hayley, but she needs to really step up her game.
Laura: Not a play under her belt. Not a single one. There is nothing remarkable about Laura’s gameplay this season, despite the fact that she’s still here after being on the bottom for so long. And, even then, that was a numbers game – no one kept her around for any good reason besides the fact you can’t vote two people out at once. If Laura makes it to final two, she should just bow out gracefully.
Hopefully week 6 brings us some better news and some better gameplay because I am reaching my limit.
Survivor Australia airs on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays at 7.30pm on 10 and 10 play. Catch up on the episodes you missed here.
Editor’s note: Network 10 and MTV are both subsidiaries of ViacomCBS.