In the last two months we’ve all been sleeping, eating and breathing Australian Survivor: Heroes V Villains, and that journey has led us to the final four.
At this point, the season has cemented itself as globally significant, rapidly finding fans around the world and doing justice to its namesake, the original US Heroes vs Villains season, widely considered the best season of all time. With unparalleled humour, satisfying and thrilling long term story arcs and poetic allusions to its US counterpart, the season has artfully told the story of what has largely been King George’s reign, and now the ending will be anchored in his victory or demise.
Heading into a final week that pits George against allies Matt, Gerry and Liz for the crown, we look back at how far we’ve come, and try to guess at how it’s going to stick the landing. Here are the major winners, losers and highlights from another huge three weeks of Heroes V Villains.
We have to talk about the four players who’ve made it to this point, traversing possibly the most chaotic Australian Survivor season to date to comprise the final four.
George is the biggest winner of this stretch and the season at large. After creating the merge majority Vigilante alliance, he deftly cut off in-house threats before they could come for him in the form of the game’s two most talented players and Queens, day one alliance Shonee and real-life friend Hayley, while also picking off the minority to get to this point. While the audience and all logic may be screaming to take George out at any point, the loyalty he’s procured, paired with killer reads, has taken him this far, despite the delicate final few days looming.
Matt and Gerry were the benefactors as two vital soldiers in George’s army. Their numbers, loyalty and information have been crucial to his run and, while their positions as pawns, rooks or bishops can be debated, it’s carried them this far, where a final two would give them both ample chance at the title.
Liz has had a rocky few weeks, losing her sister in Shonee and, more recently, Nina, to George’s whims and decisions. Shockingly, despite a promised revenge arc, Liz reunited quickly with George, resuming her place as his confidant and joining him on the major moves to take down his other threats. For Liz, as much as anyone, victory would come in the hands of defeating George physically and taking him out at the final hurdle but leaving him in this long means contending with his connections and enormous agency, something no one’s been able to defeat thus far.
In these enormous seven episodes, there are plenty of legends to eulogise. Where we often discuss parabolic women, who fall victim to the early game but survive through the long middle game to prove victorious at the end, this season has introduced the concept of parabolic newbies. The newbies made up the first eight votes of the season, with their inexperience and lack of connections proving too lofty a barrier for almost the entire contingent. Since then, 11 of 13 votes (including two non-elimination rounds) have targeted the returnees, leaving George as the only returning player left, and it’s made for some massive exits.
Shonee’s blindside was acutely felt around the world, with calls for days of mourning and bona fide protests in the (Twitter) streets. Her third outing may have very well been her best. She found three idols, ran the game with the Spice Girls alliance and showed her social skills perhaps at their sharpest, as set to her own theme music that acted as the soundtrack to her iconic moments and untimely demise.
Another monarch also fell victim in battle with George. Hayley had been making subtle moves, first feeding information to the idol-wielding Heroes in what became a double-idol blunder that was also George’s closest call in the game, and then flipping on a split vote to save Simon for a future uprising. However, the threads of information started unravelling with Nina exposing Hayley as the appropriately named leak, and the numbers turned against her. Her survival to that point as the season’s only returning winner is just one of the reasons I consider her the most capable player global Survivor’s ever seen.
While this season has been George’s game, it’s simultaneously been Simon’s story. His rollercoaster expedition of highs and lows (mostly lows) has been one of the most enthralling narratives I’ve ever witnessed. From a cookie idol, which somehow, even in its complete lack of power, carried him through to a merge, several stunning immunity wins and an entire car, to his 40+ day battle with George, there’s been no other arc like it. The season was elevated by his passion and enthusiasm in the face of every difficulty.
The Heroes stronghold was dissipated in these last three weeks, first losing Sam, then Shaun, between a historic failed idol play and Hayley’s rogue vote, then Princess Nina. Nina’s place on a Samoan Heroes V Villains-themed season put something in the water for reverence and references to the original season from its inception. While she and all her allies never fully recovered from losing at the merge, Nina’s inroads, chaos and survivalism were reminiscent of her mother and speak to Twine longevity. Both Twines hold the record for most days played before having a vote cast against them in the US and Australian franchises.
While the end game has been tangled in a circular web of failed shots at George, highlights have still abounded. Shonee’s boot episode was a modern tragedy, in the vein of some of Survivor lore’s most devastating betrayals and downfalls. The royal showdown between King George and Queen Hayley, promised from the pre-season, was a battle of titans beautifully rooted in their real-life friendship. Finally, the Heroes’ double idol gambit, where they played an idol on everyone but Sam, despite Hayley giving information that he was the target, will go down in infamy. Logically, it made sense that the Heroes were tripped up by a complete lack of trust in Hayley and Simon’s contradictory information as he made an adjacent flip. From a TV perspective, it was exhilarating and hilarious all at once, much like this entire season.
The intricacies of the end game aren’t lost on me or George. It’s his game to win or lose and, no matter the outcome, that’s what this season will be remembered for.
If it’s a final three, I think he’s done enough to win, with optimistically loyal allies in Matt and Gerry as his ticket to a final tribal council I strongly believe he’ll actually dominate this time. If it’s a final two, that final three challenge makes for a tricky final run. In that case, I foresee Matt and Gerry as a fairly evenly matched final two, with Liz’s Olympic level challenge abilities and Shonee’s social prowess as her advocate on the jury making it foolish to count her out for both a final three or two.
I’m sitting squarely on the fence and saying everyone still truly has at least a shot to be crowned the winner of this fantastic season. There’ll be no breathing easy until the final jury votes are read.
Australian Survivor: Heroes V Villains airs Sunday - Monday at 7.30 on Network 10 and 10 Play on demand