Controversy plaguing Aussie Survivor
Fans who tuned in to Australian Survivor on Sunday night watched in shock as, for the second time in as many episodes, a contestant attempted to deliberately lose an immunity challenge for their tribe.
It's a controversial new development for the Aussie iteration of the franchise, with some contestants this season ignoring short-term reward in favour of long-term gameplay - namely, deliberately forcing their way to tribal council to try to vote out their fiercest competitors.
Last night, it was the hapless Andy Meldrum who tried to lose the immunity challenge for his tribe. Tasked with putting together a difficult puzzle, Meldrum dithered so obviously his tribemates soon speculated about what his real motives were:
Thankfully for them, Meldrum's tribemate Baden Gilbert was a puzzle whiz, winning the challenge for them even without Meldrum's help.
Contenders tribe member Matt Farrelly, who was eliminated from the competition last night, made no secret of not respecting efforts to throw challenges.
I may be arrogant, I may be cocky, I may talk way too much shit. You may hate me, but I would never throw a challenge. The disappointment I have in the ‘champions’ on my team is immense #SurvivorAU— ‘Actual Idiot’ Matty Wahlberg (@MattyWahlberg21) August 13, 2019
Farrelly revealed, in scenes that never made it to air earlier this season, his Contenders tribe had devised a secret plan to throw challenges once the tribes had swapped so they could easily pick off the Champions.
"We knew the tribe swap was coming, and the Contenders - mostly Shaun and Daisy - got everyone together and said, 'Let's agree to all throw the challenges and get rid of all the champions because we have a numbers advantage'," he confessed.
"I told them straight up, 'I don't think I can throw a challenge'. It's not my mindset or how I play. It turned out in that first challenge that was going to be thrown, Daisy and Shaun ended up being in a squat position for over an hour. So when push comes to shove, and you're the one who has to actually throw it and go to council, things change pretty quickly."
The Champions had similar ideas - and in incredible scenes during last Tuesday's episode, Champions contestants including Boost Juice CEO Janine Allis and Pia Miranda deliberately crashed out of an immunity challenge, all while maintaining it had been accidental.
"Seeing it happen on the show … some of those Champions I really have a lot of respect for, and I didn't expect it from them. But sometimes when you're off playing Survivor you do things you wouldn't do in your normal life," said Farrelly.
And besides, Farrelly pointed out, deliberately losing a challenge might help you eliminate a competitor but it'll still "put a target on your back".
"Maybe you survive that night, but if things change, you'll be next to go," he said.
Viewers have been divided about challenge throwing this season:
Doesn’t anyone know how to throw a challenge without making it obvious? #SurvivorAU— Kathy (@kathy_in_oz) August 18, 2019
he made it so damn obvious he was trying to throw the challenge. not a good look. #SurvivorAU— 🇦🇺 Ms Dingo ♛🐶🐶 (@incredingo) August 18, 2019
none of these champions deserve to be champions, not only for their piss ass performance earlier but for wanting to throw a challenge #SurvivorAU— abby 🐲 (@lowkeyabby) August 13, 2019
dumb idea to throw this challenge -- you have NO guarantee you have the numbers and andy just made himself an easy target. #SurvivorAU— taryn ʕง•ᴥ•ʔง (@thereafter) August 18, 2019
Tonight i rekon boost lady needs to go for telling sporting athletes to throw a challenge! An ex champ deserves to go home for throwing a challenge!! Except Blacky #SurvivorAU— Emily Lonsdale (@Emily_Lonsdale) August 13, 2019
I don't think I could ever be convinced to throw a challenge #SurvivorAU— Shaun Mancini (@ShaunMancini) August 13, 2019
Don't throw a God DAMN challenge. Haven't past games of this show proven a'thing to you people!?#SurvivorAU— JD (@JDSloane) August 13, 2019
Farrelly had been one of this season's more divisive contestants thanks to his cocky displays during challenges - outbursts that saw him memorably dubbed an "actual idiot" by Champions tribe member Abbey Holmes. Farrelly, a high school teacher and competitive wrestler, has since embraced the epithet, selling T-shirts at his wrestling matches:
He said his gung-ho approach to challenges was simply "part of me - I'm very competitive. I don't mean to be mean or ruthless, and I think they learned to embrace it rather than hate it like some other people have."
His Contenders tribemate Sam Schoers told news.com.au after her eviction Farrelly was misunderstood, and he was "down-to-earth and softly spoken" around camp. Was he disappointed that aspect of his personality never made it to air?
"Survivor's about really intense challenges and strategic gameplay, and that's really all you see," he reasoned. "You don't see us sitting around the campfire talking about our lives. I had a feeling that most of my airtime was probably going to be me yelling and screaming, and I'm OK with that."
And in a Survivor season full of sneaky lies and gameplay, one brazen furphy has stood out: Contender Harry Hills' invention of a young son back at home. Young Oscar Nathan Hills had never actually existed, something Hills finally confessed at tribal council last week.
"He told us day one that he had a baby, and I knew by day three that he didn't," said Farrelly, echoing what tribemate Shaun Hampson told news.com.au in an interview last week.
"I didn't want to blow up his game. He loves Survivor, and doing something like a fake family member is probably on his bucket list, so I was like, 'You know what, I'm not going to call you out'. I'd just see him squirm when people asked him questions."
Farrelly chuckled as he revealed how easy it had been to catch Hills out.
"We were talking about what we'd do on a day off, and he was telling me how he'd wake up late, go shopping, play video games … I thought, 'Don't you have a baby to look after?'"
Australian Survivor airs 7.30pm Sundays to Tuesdays on Ten.