Australian Survivor Recap: An Irresistible Merge

Previously on Survivor, Peter was back with his old tribe. Who is Peter? Nobody knows. Meanwhile, Odette was sent home. Who is Odette? It’s a mystery?

Tonight on Survivor, Jericho thinks people will assume the dominating team will rule the world. What is Jericho talking about? He is dangerously dehydrated and seeing lurid visions in the night.

In the morning, Asaga awakes to find there are only four of them left, none of whom like each other. Meanwhile on Samatau, Jarrad observes that 35 days in, they’re “over the hump” — only sixteen more years to go! Jarrad is feeling good about his alliance, but doesn’t trust Henry. Nobody trusts Henry, because there’s something disturbing about a man who thinks pretending to know yoga provides a strategic advantage.

“I’m always worried about Locky,” says Tessa, and so am I. He seems sad. Cheer up Locky. Show me that smile. What happened to that smile I used to know? Don’t you know your grin has always been my sunshine? Let that sunshine show.

Anyway.

Time for a challenge, with a side dish of Jonathan talking crap. But first…a merge! Everyone is overjoyed that the tribes have merged, because they’re under the impression that they’ve achieved something — hunger can make a person delusional. They all seem so happy to be one big tribe now, as if this is a moment of harmony, rather than the moment the show ticked over to “every man for himself”. Also, Asaga is now going to get picked off one by one, so God knows what they’re giggling about.

It’s a reward challenge. Everyone has to swing a thing around a thing and not knock a bottle over. And if they do they’re out. It’s weird. They should refuse to do it in protest.

The winner of the challenge wins a “Rejuvenation package”, and a letter from home. This means Jonathan gets to ask everyone questions about “what it means” to get a letter from home and eat up a bit more airtime that Ten would otherwise have to fill with another program.

The contestants begin to swing their things around the things. Two seconds in, Michelle knocks her bottle off. I’d say this was typical Michelle, if I knew anything about Michelle. Next Henry knocks off his bottle, in contradiction of the principles of fake yoga. Tara knocks off her bottle, and Ziggy knocks off her bottle, proving that barrel racing and Olympic selection are no substitute for good solid circular rope-swinging training.

As Jonathan wanders around like a cloud of methane, Tessa tells him to piss off and leave her alone. Luke starts singing like a douche and karma knocks his bottle down. The contestants have now been swinging their ropes for more than half an hour and surely some existential doubt has begun to creep in. What if they don’t really exist? What if they are simply the dream of a madman?

Then Locky knocks his bottle off.

Jonathan notes that Sarah’s frame is “precariously angled”. Upset by this gratuitous body-shaming, she knocks her bottle off. Then Jarrad knocks his off. After 50 minutes, Tessa, Anneliese, Peter and Jericho are the only ones left, and Peter doesn’t actually exist, so he doesn’t even count. Which makes it unsurprising when he knocks his bottle off. Then Anneliese falls asleep and knocks her off.

It’s between Tessa and Jericho. Who will be first to crack and leap upon Jonathan and stuff his own shorts down his throat to make him shut up? Ninety minutes have elapsed, and Jonathan makes Tessa and Jericho switch hands just for shits and giggles. This causes Jericho to knock his bottle down, an event that may in future retellings be known as “the fall of the walls of Jericho”, but let’s hope not.

Tessa has won, so Jonathan immediately ruins it for her by making her choose between taking the whole reward, and letting everyone have their letters from home. Tessa, helpless in the face of such shitheeled guilt-tripping, chooses to let everyone have their letters, and everyone is very grateful to her, which will last right up until they decide to vote her out. They’ll probably do it at the very next tribal, to teach her a lesson for being such a suck-up.

When they get to the beach as a brand new tribe, muffins and biscuits are waiting for them, and they sit around stuffing their faces and reading their letters, which are as you’d expect incredibly tedious. You’d hope there’d be some kind of juicy tidbit, like that Tara’s husband had run off with a younger barrel racer, but nah, nothing. It’s just all “hi, we love you, make sure you cry like a baby while reading this aloud”, times a dozen. Overall, the letter-reading sequence feels twice as long as the entire series has been so far.

Why do they have to read the letters aloud anyway? I wouldn’t want to read a personal letter aloud. Did they have to sign a contract saying they’d read everything aloud before they arrived?

After several eons, the letter-reading is over, and we’re back to hatred. Tessa notes that after the merge, it’s a “whole new ball game”, which is silly — it’s not actually a ball game at all. She goes on: “the beach is full of dangerous people, it’s like piranha beach”, but actually piranhas on a beach wouldn’t be very dangerous at all, as they would simply lie on the sand gasping vainly for breath. Tessa then says some other stuff but it’s not interesting enough to listen to.

Jericho says he looks at the game like a David and Goliath story, which presumably means he intends to murder the other contestants by hurling rocks at their heads. Meanwhile Michelle and Sarah go for a walk along the beach so Sarah can try to convince Michelle to join her pathetic feeble alliance. She doesn’t put it exactly like that, but Michelle is smart enough to read between the lines, and bitchy enough to hate Sarah.

Everyone’s talking about alliances and it’s so dull. This show would be so much better if nobody was allowed to talk to each other between challenges. Or if everyone was armed. Or if there were, like, rhinos or something. Look, there are lots of ways to improve this show, and not all of them involve halving the running time, but most of them do.

Anyway Jarrad and Ziggy are plotting to take out Henry, but I bet it doesn’t work. Nobody is ever good at doing stuff on Survivor.

Off to immunity challenge, where it is revealed that the new tribe’s name is “Asatoa”. Anneliese explains that this is a combination of “Asaga” and “Samatau”, but it’s…not, is it? Should be “Asatau”, surely? Do they know what their tribe names were?

Anyway, the immunity challenge is to lie across a gap, feet on a platform and hands on a rail. Whoever stays up longest wins. Anneliese falls off before I’m finished typing the description of the challenge. Then Tara goes. We’re three minutes in and already everything is exactly as you’d expect.

Michelle drops out. Women, huh: they just can’t handle extreme planking. Jonathan makes a crack about how Henry “should be good at this” because of his yoga, which is pretty snide: he knows how sensitive Henry is about his fake life.

Luke drops out. Sarah drops out. Peter drops out. It’s only fifteen minutes in, which doesn’t seem like long, but see how you go after fifteen minutes of listening to Jonathan LaPaglia subtly hint at the disappointment of his failed career. Good luck maintaining your will to live, let alone a consistent plank shape. Locky drops out after 25. Five are left: Tessa, Henry, Jarrad, Ziggy and Jericho. Then Jericho falls, which you could call “the fall of the” oh I already did that one.

Bye Jarrad.

Tessa, Henry and Ziggy are all still up, doing an amazing job considering none of them have any training in yoga. Jonathan asks them what’s keeping them up. Tessa says, “I can’t drop”: it’s a simple matter of the glue she applied to her extremities. Henry says his “family” is keeping him up there — he just can’t face the thought of seeing them again. Of course he should have said, “yoga”, but the mask is beginning to slip. Ziggy agrees with Henry: she also hates her family.

Tessa falls down, the sun melting the glue. And then…Henry drops, proving that he loves his family just a little bit less than Ziggy loves hers. While watching at home, Henry’s family turn as one to look at him with hurt and betrayal in their eyes.

Jericho now says something bizarre about royal knights and warriors and murder and I honestly think he needs medical attention. In fact I’m pretty sure he’s wearing his pants on his head.

There now follows a bunch of slow-moving talk about who to vote for, and even more slow-moving talk about food. Basically some people want to vote for Luke, and Henry wants to vote for Jarrad because he wanted to vote for Ziggy but Ziggy won immunity and Jarrad thinks it’s going to be Luke but he doesn’t know Henry wants to vote for him and he’s trying to trick Jericho into thinking he’s his friend and he asks Jericho to underline his vote so he can use it against him and Jericho is stupid enough to agree to this and something about Locky and also Henry’s hair looks way too luxuriant and I think he’s sourcing contraband conditioner from the camera crew.

Meanwhile Tessa is…nah, don’t care.

Time for tribal council. Henry notes that they’ve had 35 days to learn who they can trust and who they can’t. That is: they can trust nobody, and they can’t trust everybody. But WE can always trust Jonathan…to ask stupid questions for about six hours every night.

“Jarrad, how do you think the game is different post-merge? Is it one big melting pot of possibilities?”

“It’s hard to tell.”

Geez, that gave us some wicked insight, that exchange did.

Goddamn, Peter is still there. Come on, let’s kick out Peter, who wants him there, honestly? For 95% of every episode, nobody remembers he’s even there, so getting rid of him would spare us the unpleasant jolt of seeing his face every now and then.

Time to vote. Will it be Jarrad, or Luke, or…someone?

One vote Luke. Two votes Luke. Three votes Luke. One vote Jarrad. Two votes Jarrad. Three votes Jarrad. Four votes Jarrad. Four votes Luke. Five votes Jarrad. Five votes Luke. Six votes Jarrad. Seven votes Jarrad!

Jarrad is gone! And we hardly even got to know him. And we hardly even wanted to. Ah, so many emotions that we are not feeling at this moment. Now Jonathan is going to say something like, “If this tribal council proves anything, it’s that anything can happen in Survivor”.

Actually he says, “It’s clear a line has been drawn in the sand.” Might as well have said, “It’s clear a seagull falls at midsummer.”

Anyway, tune in next time when the emptiness at the heart of human existence is thrown into sharp relief.

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