Is “Titans Vs. Rebels” the Best Season of “Australian Survivor” Yet?


Credit: Network 10

At this point, “Australian Survivor” has found its footing as a cornerstone of Australian reality television. It might be our biting sense of humour. Perhaps it could be some collective ruthlessness. Maybe it’s because we, apparently, really love a blindside. Whatever the case, “Australian Survivor” has the country, and the world, watching.

But this latest season — “Titans vs. Rebels” — might just be the strongest season of “Australian Survivor” we’ve ever had.

From the beginning, this crop of contestants made it clear that playing it safe wasn’t on the agenda. No alliance guaranteed, no vote assured, and no one was going to leave Nathan’s jacket unworn. But as we put the torch out on the season that was, let’s look back on what was an absolute masterclass of “Australian Survivor” and of reality television.

‘Physical Threats’ Where?

Historically, the first few episodes of “Australian Survivor” follow a pretty strict formula. The Castaways don’t know each other yet, so the tribe that loses the Immunity Challenge votes based on challenge performance. Call it the rebellious nature of half of this season’s cohort, but “Titans vs. Rebels” truly bucked that trend.

Frankie, Peta, Tobias, Nathan, Viola and Sarah — they were all picked off in the first two-and-a-half weeks.

These early eliminations made space for really interesting gameplay early on. No one was willing to fall back on keeping someone in the game just because they were strong. Suddenly, the players who might typically rely on strength had to throw themselves into strategy as well.

Alex, Rianna, Kitty, Kirby and even Jaden stayed around as long as they did not just because of their fitness, but because they were ready to play all aspects of “Australian Survivor” — even if they did so poorly.

No Goats Allowed

Something that has plagued recent seasons of “Australian Survivor” is the success of the goat, in which a weaker player rides the coattails of a stronger player to the end. The classic “Survivor” goat makes no moves of their own, and they’re content with being a number for their alliance.

Every season of “Australian Survivor” has players that are stronger than others, and “Titans vs. Rebels” is no exception. To say this season had goats, however, would be false.

Even if we exclude the biggest players, everyone who made it to the endgame also earned their spot. Rianna could be seen as Kirby’s goat, except she was such an unbelievable challenge beast that the target on her back grew bigger with every episode after merge. Rianna survived as long as she did because she was hyperaware of the moves being made around her.

Kitty could be seen as Caroline’s goat, except she was often engaging in conversations that would see her vote away from Caroline, just to ensure she was playing her own game.

Raymond could be seen as Feras’ goat, but no goat would even dare to pull off what was arguably the biggest move of the season — deceiving everyone into thinking you wanted to go home to ensure a pity vote, only to play an advantage right back in their face and single-handedly send out one of the biggest threats in Valeria.

Alliances were flippant this season, to say the least. However, we did see a lot of really strong, seemingly unbreakable duos. But these duos had balance. Sure, some played better games than their counterpart, but they worked so harmoniously. That’s why they made it as far as they did, and why it feels like they deserved to be there.

The Greatest Rivalry “Australian Survivor” Has Ever Produced

Yes, that’s right… Alex and Kelli.

I’m kidding, I’m obviously talking about Feras and Kirby. This season could’ve ended in any way, but one thing’s for sure: Feras and Kirby have both cemented themselves as two of the greatest players “Australian Survivor” has ever seen, right up there with David, Hayley and George.

Right from the get-go, both Feras and Kirby were playing big games. The very first time went to tribal, it was Feras who suspected the ‘Cuddle Crew’ *vomits* threw the challenge to get rid of Raymond or Kelli, and it was Kirby who put Peta’s name out there as an alternative. However, Kirby still voting for Kelli to save face caused Feras to swear vengeance, and the two spent the rest of the game butting heads.

Queen of the Rebels

They were both incredibly strong social and strategic players. But Kirby proved herself to be a challenge beast, taking out a “Survivor” trifecta. Kirby executed her strategies by throwing stones and hiding her hands.

She’d sprinkle seeds, making people feel empowered in their decisions, while the cameras showed us that it was always her pulling the strings. That is, until Alex (rightly) called her out at Tribal. Alex pointed out that Kirby was the biggest threat in the game, leaving her with nothing left to lose. She started playing with her whole chest, aggressively mowing down whoever stood against her until that final hurdle and, even when she was safe with individual immunity, never sat idly by and watched strategy done for her. She’s competitive, has a bit of an ego, and, for someone who claims to have never seen the show, has become an “Australian Survivor” icon.

The Smiling Assassin

And then there’s Feras, the smiling assassin. He might be easy to pick as a threat, if weren’t for his goddamn charm. Tightly bound with Raymond, Garrick and Aileen from the beginning, Feras was a loyal player. He lurked in the shadows, but still led most of the key decisions that sent his competitors home.

His involvement with Raymond’s advantage, pulling off the Peta vote, pulling off the Winna vote are the moves that eventually helped him take out the win. People were suspicious of him, sure, but never able to take him out. Even down at the final 4, standing there as the biggest threat in the game with nothing to save him, not a single person wrote his name down.

The “Australian Survivor” Idol That Kept on Giving

And then, of course, we have Feras’ second immunity idol, which he held onto for over a month. Feras became the master of implicit immunity; the idea that simply saying you have an idol is enough to make people not bother to vote for you. Not only that, but when it came time to play his idol, he threw Raymond a lifeline, letting people see him finding Feras’ “planted” idol, and sparing Raymond some votes too. An idol working for two.

Until very late in the game, Feras and Kirby sought to break apart the alliances of others, while also actively dodging other threats. In fact, except for the votes that sent Kelli and Eden packing, the two were never aligned with one another until it came time to send home Alex. Then, miraculously, the two put their animosity aside and formed one of the most dignified and respectable alliances the show has ever seen.

Perfectly matched in strategy, intuition, and their remarkable ability to play two steps ahead. We might not have received the Ferby final two that plenty of us wanted, but having them on our screens was worth every second.

It’s hard to say whether it was rebelliousness, titan strength or Kelli’s unhinged gameplay that made “Titans vs. Rebels” what it is. But, what is for certain, is that seasons of “Australian Survivor” to come have very, very big shoes to fill.

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