Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E09: The Finale

Might as well watch the reunion show, just in case there was anything I didn’t pick up.

This is done a bit differently- they film the entire cast reuniting a week before the finale, and the final three having to swear to secrecy, not to tell anybody.

Grant asks around, to the group, who everyone (who hasn’t seen episode 8) thinks is the winner and the mole.

Patrick: “I’d say, loser would be Abby…”
Abby: “Is that because I said you were annoying?”

Patrick: Abby loses, Alan wins, Jan’s the mole. 1 out of 3.
Bev thinks the exact same as Patrick.
Ben also thinks that exact same thing. Nobody thought it was Alan. Wow.
Rocky, THE MOST UNLIKELY VOICE OF REASON, says that Alan’s the mole and Jan’s the winner. More evidence that Rocky is absolutely amazing.
Jo thinks Abby’s the mole and Jan won, which…brings the circle of Jo’s buffoonery to its end.

We do eventually get the shot of the whole room watching the finale, which is nice. Although, instead of going absolutely apeshit like a US room, they give her a polite round of applause. Ah, good old Australia.

After the Alan reveal:
Grant: “Rocky…”
Rocky: “….Rocky what?”
Grant: “What do you think about Alan?”
Rocky: “Well, I’ve got some children at home, and I wouldn’t want them to hear me swear on television…”

They go in depth about the contestants, and the intrigue. Yes, the replay the clip of James saying the mole might be Alan, “but I like him, which is probably a bad move.”

Grant VO: “Josephine was the most sensitive of all the contestants.”

There’s a lot of the usual finale clip packages, like how Jan won, or how Alan was the mole, but it’s kind of boring because it’s not a finale in front of everybody, like they’d do in the US version.

Alan does admit that Bev “was a godsend for a mole”, and tried to team up with her as often as possible, knowing of just how pathetic she was at the game. That’s genius.

Not a ton to write about, but still a nice little bow on the season.

Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E08, or 10,000 Dollars for Vic

Onto the Final 3 episode, since I’m making so much headway. The suspense is killing me.

The first challenge of the day? Bike to the top of a mountain, between the three of them, in 3 hours. Oh, fun.

Jan goes first, and the other two follow them, with help from a police escort, which is a nice touch, as back in Episode 1 they were the enemy.

Eventually Jan has some problems with hills, and doesn’t think to switch gears in order to make it easier. The editors punish her by turning this episode into a clip show, putting in a package of Jan reminiscing about the game in order to fill time.

Abby eventually takes over. The plan is to change every couple of kilometers, but that’s not going to help the stamina, according to the worried VO from Grant.

Alan has his go on the bike, and I can’t help thinking that blonde, tired Alan looks a bit like Boris Johnson. I’m sorry, but it’s there. It won’t leave.

Now, as the recaps have taken out some runtime, they have an hour left to do 8 kilometers. Exhilerating stuff in this episode so far.

And then, after the umpteenth change-off, Alan’s continuing to bike when it begins to snow.
Alan: “…this is genuine bloody snow. I don’t believe it.”
Abby: “HOLY CRAP…”

This is a very boring challenge, but at least everybody’s into it, and at least the last bit plays like a Rocky-esque training montage (no, sadly not OUR Rocky).

Yes, eventually they do make it to the summit and win the challenge. I just wish it was a bit more interesting of a use of 10 minutes of screen time.

For the second challenge, each player is given a car to drive, instructions in the glove box, and the warning to not talk to, or have any contact with, one another until they meet Grant in two hours.

This challenge is a good old fashioned treasure/scavenger hunt, which reminds me of the one that finished off Mole US 5 (LIBERTAD? PLAZA LIBERTAD?)

This is great. Alan and Jan get their lists easily, but Abby drives straight past hers, which is wedged between the gates. We don’t see it, but Abby talks of being stopped by security by the time she grabs her envelope.

This is actually a pretty nice challenge, as you get to see all three interacting with people and taking their own pictures, while still determined as all hell.

Alan takes the bold direction of looking for Grant’s phone, by going 20 kilos off road and grabbing it on a tree stump. He still looks like Boris Johnson.

Jan’s going for #1, a 16th century newsreader. Try Bruce Forsyth.
(I know, I know, that was a low blow, but I’ve been on a Mock the Week spree lately)

There’s a great moment. Jan finds this newsreader, an old-timer town crier who’s got to be in his 90’s, and over the course of the scene with him, ends up kissing him 5 times (I counted). Great moments in randomness.

Jan comes in and manages to nab three- the newsreader, dinosaur and tasmanian devil (all ways of describing Brucey. I know, I know.) Although Grant doesn’t count the picture of the newsreader…he wanted the real thing. So…two, then.

Eventually, Abby finds the town crier.
Abby: “I’ve got to….kidnap this man and take him somewhere..”
Town Crier: “Oh, well then…”

Yes, Abby manages to get Vic the Town Crier to the Botannical Gardens, scoring a third point. But, her other three are either dupes or the incorrect rope on a yacht.

Alan comes in with the phone and it looks like another victory…but Grant reveals that Alan broke the law in illegally crossing a median, and he can’t count any of the money. So…once again, Australian law wins.

Vic: “May I make a suggestion? I’ll have the money m’self?”
Grant, somber: “…looks like Vic goes home with the 10,000 dollars.”

For the last challenge, they’ve got to take this ancient replica boat across the sea to the next place. Seems quiet, but something might pop up.

The challenge will be to set the sail at the tallest mast, and they’d do this by watching the crew. Not exactly an ‘escape from the hotel room’ kind of final challenge, but still interesting enough.

Alan, as he’s climbing the incredibly high mast: “hoooooooooly shit, Batman!”

This is another very boring challenge. This saddens me, because last episode was so damned entertaining.

Yeah, to save you a lot of time- Alan does some bungling but they end up winning anyway. Yaaaaaay.

Afterwards, there’s celebration, wine, the final video confessionals, and a ton of reflection. On the series, not the episode.

In these confessionals, you can see how it’s gonna go. Jan says that Alan’s the mole, and it’s really just a 50/50 between her and Abby. Abby says Jan’s the mole. I think we may have our winner.

This finale, I believe, is taking a hint from the US finale, and having the result be revealed in a massive formation, in some sort of cathedral. I hope.

PREQUIZ- How do I think this series is going to end?
Abby is eliminated, Jan wins, Alan is the mole. Simple as that. I’m not saying I predicted it episode 1, but from the looks of what this episode has been telling me…that’s what’s about to happen.

The result, which is surprisingly being revealed in this episode and not the finale, is done through placing keys in the cell. The winner gets their key, the mole gets theirs, yadda yadda.


No, no, our winner is Jan, and she cannot believe it. Grant’s very happy, and Jan’s still in absolute shock.

Jan’s very emotional, crying even, and Grant has to give her the key to the mole’s cell.

The mole enters, and, just as I suspected, it’s Boris Johnson.


Yeah, Alan’s the mole. He may not have made it horribly subtle, but he was still pretty great, and definitely had the right idea in his sabotage.

The episode ends on a shot of Abby and Jan hugging it out, perfectly content. Very nice.

Overall: While very boring, the center challenge, as well as the big finish, elevate this one for me. A very emotional ending to a rather good series.

I’ll knock out the reunion next.

Mole Australia Watchdown S01E07, or You All Owe Me 5 Grand, Big Time!

(Grant Bowler voice) Three episodes remain in the show. Two of them feature challenges, and will do their best to make me like this season. But ONE OF THEM…IS THE FINALE. (DUN-DUN-DUN)

In all seriousness, while this hasn’t been a bad season, like US1, it focuses a lot on the mystery and not a lot on its characters. While people like Jan and Rocky have been fun, we don’t get a lot of time to see them out of character.

Still, Jan, Abby, Alan and Linda remain. I’ve got my suspicious and I’m torn between Abby and Alan over who is the mole. Jan could blow it this episode, but it’d be interesting to see Linda, who’s been on point from episode 1, lose her footing here.


Grant: “Who among you is most comfortable in the glamour world of photography?”
Jan: “Do you mean…taking…or BEING TAKEN…”

Abby decides she’s gonna do it, and she…well, she gets on a plane to Melbourne. PLOT TWIST, ABBY WINS…no, I wish.

Abby’s actual task is to find a celebrity and photograph them, with their permission. Now, will this be a celebrity I’ve HEARD OF…or someone that only Australian audiences will have known?

In order to win, this celebrity will have to be recognized and named by the other 3. Thank god Bev’s gone, or else they’d be calling him “this fellow…oh, you know, he was in that film with the chimpanzee…you know the one…”

Alan, Jan and Linda all choose sports, between archery, go-karting and lawn balls (?), and have to choose between three opponents, all three being experts in one of those fields. And they have to go against them and win, although just one win will garner a win for the team.

Of course, the three are following them, and they don’t know which is which.
Alan, to the competitors, bluntly: “What are you good at?”
Jan: “Saying nothing, apparently.”

There’s a nice bundle of clips involving Abby trying, and failing, to look for celebrities in Melbourne, eventually ending up at a tennis tournament, and nearly seducing a security guard. Thankfully, this guard laughs it off and winds up getting her to center court.

Alan’s first up, and he’s already really nice at go-karting. Lin, his opponent, is a little shakier on her practice round.

Jan has to go up against Cory in Archery. Cory’s practice shots are promising and close to the target. Jan’s go on the blue, and towards the dirt.

After Roger gives his bowles effort:
Linda: “I reckon you’ve done this before, eh, Roger?”
Trainer: “I tell you what, you both had steak for breakfast…”

Meanwhile, Abby does get a very nice shot of a celebrity…but she realizes she didn’t have her permission when she took it, so she has to get another one.

Alan’s initially doing pretty well on the go-karts, but Lynn overtakes him in an instant and he ends up spinning out, or getting himself stuck on the course.

Lynn eventually reveals that she is the go-karting champion, which actually relieves Alan a bit, because it would have been worse if he were beat by someone who was an amateur.

AS IF BY SHEER LUCK, Abby runs into James Herd, Jim Wilson and a slew of others sitting at a table in South Melbourne, and snaps their photos willingly.

Jan ends up losing hers as well, by 10 points thanks to some nice 8 pointers.

Linda, however, wins via pure luck, as a ricochet takes most of Roger’s out of the equation and sets hers closest, SOMEHOW reeling in a win.

Linda: “So you’ve gotta tell me what you do…”
Roger: “Well…I’m the archer.”

Linda eventually arrives at the bar with Alan and Jan, and initially plays it as cold, saying “I’d like to say [my day was] sensational…throwing balls was just a hoot…”

Alan reveals he’s lost his.
Linda, mocking: “GO KART RACING’S FUUUNN!”
Alan: “I’m gonna slap you in a second…”

Linda’s enthusiasm upon telling the others that she’s won is wonderful, and gives a ton of character stuff. “You guys owe me 5 grant, big time!”

Abby shows her photo, and within 2 seconds Linda tells them, point blank, that it’s James Herd from Essendon.

Grant, setting up the infamous roulette challenge: “Welcome to Roulette.”
Jan: “…Russian?”

This one’s a carry-over from US. They each grab an envelope and play a roulette wheel for tasks. Black is more attractive than red, according to Grant. They’re all sort of unsavory (acupuncture or piercing, hair dye or head shave, paint someone nude or be painted nude, ALL THREE). It’s a 3/4 challenge though, so 3 have to be completed.

Obviously they’re all horrified, and Jan sort of reluctantly has to go first. Jan gets the dye or shave envelope, and is already looking pretty uncomfortable. She thankfully lands on black, hair-dyed, and heaves this HUGE sigh of relief.

Abby gets the acupuncture or piercing card, which…to be honest is the easiest of the bunch. She also lands on black. Everybody’s coming out easy.

Linda takes one look at hers and just laughs out loud, nervously.
Grant: “May I see-”
Linda: “Grant…we leave now…”
Linda’s is the paint a nude/be painted nude one. Always a classic. Sad part is that means Alan gets the ‘all three’ one.

The moment it lands on red, Linda just has this deep heave and laughs even harder, leaving poor Grant to have to comfort her.

Grant: “It’s…in Salamanca square”
Linda: (still laughing)

Linda: “Okay…Salamanca markets, it’s not like that many people are there.”
Grant: “…Hobart.”
Linda: “What, is that the biggest market in…”
Linda doubles over laughing again. You can tell this is killing her.

Jan’s new look is revealed, and it’s a very red, platinum red sort of thing, that she’s still having trouble believing.

For Alan’s mega-ultra-horrible-rolls, he has to paint a nude, have his hair dyed, and have an acupuncture session- all three easier rolls. So…Alan has a very easy go of it, which isn’t bad. I don’t think they’re gonna have any trouble with this task, as only Linda rolled a red.

Linda: “I feel…absolutely SICK!”

Grant: “Do you like the look?”
Jan: “It washes out, so I’m told…”
Grant: “Oh, is that what they told you…”

As Linda arrives.
Grant: “Would you like a drink, Linda?”
Linda: “…I’d love a bottle of scotch now…”

The three women rejoice, having won the challenge, and the episode.
Jan: “All we need now is Alan to come in…”

QUIZ TIME! At the same time, I’m figuring out who know the least AND who’d make a great finale. i’m pretty sure that Alan’s the mole, so it’ll probably be him. Linda had a fantastic episode, but I’m not sure if she’s gonna make it to the finale or not. Abby’s probably going on.

Who do I think is going home? Linda, sadly. Or Jan. I’m hoping for a Jan-Abby-Alan Final 3. That’d just be fun.

The Exemption Results:
JAN: GREEN. Even Jan is shocked. She’s made it to the finale. The kook bag has made it to the finale. Which means…now I want her to win.
ALAN: GREEN. Firstly, his new hair still cracks me up. Secondly, yeah, I didn’t think he was going home anyway.

This one saddens me, because Linda was a smart player who also became a very fun player over the course of the game, and it flat-out blows that she’s leaving before the end. It makes sense, as it’d be too obvious if she went all the way, but still sad.

Overall: Fantastic episode, which was not only high-tension but also a ton of fun, and gave us equal distribution on all of our really nice characters, and a fitting sendoff for Linda.

Best Gameplayer: Abby, for nailing her challenges and playing pretty damn well.
Best Character: Jan, especially on her reaction to the hair dye.
Who do I think is the mole? Alan. Definitely.


Mole Australia Watchdown: S1E06, or James Bond Eat Your Heart Out!

Onto the homestretch, as only five remain, and only one of them is a guy. At least two of the remaining women, Jan and Bev, are wackos.

Grant breaks into the cozy lodge the final five are staying at, and asks for one player who exemplifies endurance and tenacity- all five chuckle nervously- already, the game’s broken them.

After some confusing deliberation from Alan, Linda’s eventually chosen, and sequestered.

The other four arrive at this…huge, over-the-top gorge, which looks like the one Pierce Brosnan jumped down at the beginning of Goldeneye. And the nervous chuckling continues- they all think they’ll have to jump that.

And yes, the challenge is swooping down the gorge and grabbing flags.
Jan: “…shit, I’m scared, mate…”

Alan says it’ll be easier to get the closer flags than the one at the bottom of the gorge, even if Grant’s VO has just said the opposite. Yeah…might be him.

Jan goes first, and she gets level with the first flag, but is definitely struggling to actually swing across to grab it. Grant eventually intervenes and says if she’s too tired, she can drop, and eventually she does. The others are at least supportive of her.

Alan goes next, and he’s not especially confident as he hasn’t done this type of lappeling before.

Grant, VO: “Getting to the target isn’t a problem, but in his haste, Alan misjudges the height.”

A lot of Alan’s reaches come within inches of actually nabbing the flag, but he does eventually grab it successfully.

Grant: “Alright, who’s next?”
Bev: “Abby’s next.”
Abby: “…..Apparently I’m next…”

Abby’s a pro at this, and she nails the height and the swinging, but it’s actually getting the flag when in reach. Eventually, she comes down too far right when she’s in the exact right range. Annnnd…the mole suspicion from Abby returns…

Bev is nervous as all hell scaling in preparation, but by the time she’s ready to scale the dam, she smiles and goes “…James Bond, eat your heart out!”

It does look like they’re setting this up for a huge, redemption arc, but Bev gets extremely tired and has to come down. It’s sad, but it’s characteristic.

For Linda’s challenge, she’s being briefed by an interrogator in order to shake down the other four about events in the game. The other four don’t know it, and if she gets proper information, she gets an exemption. If she fails, the group wins 10,000.

AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER…The other four have a challenge to predict LINDA’s behavior, in three separate situations, which is worth 5,000 dollars. So…they’re working against each other.

The first one involves a car-driver throwing a bottle at Linda’s feet. The group predicts she’ll pick it up. She doesn’t, and as it rolls toward the street, Bev and Jan start screaming, through the TV, for her to pick it up.

Next, they’re at a famous solitary confinement wing of a prison, and have to predict whether or not Linda will step into a cell when prompted to. They predict she’ll go in. And…after some well-edited suspense, she goes in.

The last one- she goes into a bar with the interrogation expert, and they have to predict whether or not she’ll have an alcoholic beverage. This one’s pretty well contested, but they agree that she won’t be drinking alcohol. But, sadly, she grabs a Strongbow (Patrick Stewart would be proud.) Still, Abby’s going “SHE DOESN’T *DRINK* STRONGBOW!!!”

Grant, as he explains they’ve lost: “Bad luck…let’s hope Linda doesn’t have any more surprises in store for you.”

Grant, after he wakes up the four in the middle of the night: “…we have a challenge for you.”

Grant places the four in solitary confinement after explaining Linda’s challenge to interrogate them about the day’s events. He says anytime they want, they can give her the information she needs, and go back to sleep.

The four are pretty good at staying silent- Bev even is whispering, coughing, and just playing completely sick so she won’t have to reveal anything.

This is actually a fantastic challenge, because it hinges on none of them wanting to be there, Linda determined to get information, and the others determined to stay put- it’s just fascinating to watch.

Abby does eventually squeal about some of the ‘predicting Linda’s decisions’ challenge. And…essentially everything else. The challenge is blown, and Linda gets the exemption, on a night where she probably would have gone home.

Yeah, pre-quiz, this was…an insanely brain-breaking episode. Now nobody trusts anybody and it’s all just a clusterfuck. Linda’s exempt, so it could be any of the other ones.

Who do I think is going home? Bev. Definitely Bev. Either Bev or Jan. Everyone else is either exempt, or my two mole suspects.

Execution Results:

Not that Bev was a bad player, because she was pretty triumphant at times, but like Josephine, there was no way that she was the mole, and she took…FOREVER to leave. She wasn’t one of my favorite characters, save for some indirectly funny lines, and she was kind of pathetic in most aspects of gameplay, in a way where she COULDN’T be the mole. Also, that leaves us with a final 4 of four likable characters who I could all see winning.

Overall, that wasn’t a…fun episode, but it was really good, with a lot of stuff designed to mentally assault the competitors. Linda probably had her best episode since the initial trials, while Abby…kind of broke this show. Bev’s demise was sad, but necessary.

Best Gameplayer: Linda, absolutely dominating her challenge.
Best Character: Probably Jan, even though she was breaking this episode.
Who do I think is the mole? Alan. Still could be Abby, but Alan’s giving me a lot.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E05, or Can You Correctly Identify That as the Lens Cap?

Halfway through, and somehow Beverly is still in the game. Miracles never cease. Nevertheless, onto another one.

The team makes it to their challenge in their car, as they can all fit in there now. Linda’s already going “okay, who’s bungee jumping and who’s not?” They’ve already gotten into a routine, which is great.

Okay, this is a really fun challenge, I believe taken from US S1- the team has to make it to a red flag on top of a hall, through a grassy plane with snakes and everything, and everyone will be equipped with paintball-guns in order to stop a series of snipers. Yeah, very similar to the US challenge, only this takes place out in the open, rather than in the middle of a city.

There’s a nice sequence of the team putting on excessive padding before they head out. Ben just takes off his shirt. Jan ends up putting on a padded bra, as someone (Alan, I presume), hums Shania Twain’s ‘Man! I Feel like a Woman’ in the background. Abby deadpans “gives you boobs you never knew ya had, eh Jan?”

Ben, to the camera: “…split up, get down on your knees, crawl, go bezerk? That’s the game plan.”

Grant, of course, throws a snag into the challenge: Firstly, the last person standing at the top of the hill, only if there aren’t any people left, will get an exemption. Annd….you can shoot each other. So, the malicious sides of some of the players can act out.

Bev, kind of obviously, is the first person eliminated, by the barrage of sniper fire coming from the overhead helicopter.

Also, some irony in the only person left with army experience getting shot while using actual army tactics. Poor Jan.

Ben, Abby and Alan make it towards the trees, at which point Ben is caught from behind during some big-time firepower. This challenge is a lot less fun without the walkie-talkie back-and-forths

Eventually it’s down to Alan, Abby and Linda, and Linda eventually gets ambushed by a sniper from behind, leaving Abby to gun down one herself. I’ll give Abby some credit- she’s gone from a serious mole suspect to one of the more refreshing characters in the game.

Abby’s literally about to grab the flag, and Alan literally stands up, ready to fire at her- and Abby sees this. I mean, a second later, the sniper gets her, but…still suspicious from Alan.

Of course, then Alan nabs both snipers and waltzes his way to the flag…and the exemption. I’m a little hesitant to call this a victory, because Abby was almost there and Alan almost sabotaged it himself, but…still.

For Challenge #2, which is preceded by some footage of the gang in the car pondering existential questions about the game, they have to divide into 2 groups of 3- Alan, Bev and Jan, and Ben, Linda and Abby.

Challenge #2 is fairly simple- both groups have to answer three brainteasers in an allotted amount of time- wrong answers equal deductions.

It’s weird- Alan, Jan and Bev are a bit more unfocused and take more time, and Ben, Linda and Abby are more into it…but Ben’s team gets the first wrong answer, and Alan’s team advances.

Bev, Alan and Jan end up completing all three of theirs, but they have to wait for Ben’s team, who are still on the ‘how many triangles’ question, and a bit unfocused (Ben’s cracking up a bit). They only get the correct answer to that one by…random guessing.

Ben’s team ends up running out the clock, and losing it for everybody, bringing my suspicions back up on him (because it can’t possibly be Linda the way she’s been ruling this game.)

The second Abby and Linda realize that the answer to question #2 was that the tide wasn’t change, because it’s a boat…they both start cracking up completely.

The third challenge of the day involves photographing wildlife- I mean, with the exception of the first one of the episode, not a lot of huge, thrilling stuff so far this episode.

Ben and Jan have to take theirs via boat.
Alan and Bev have the green LandRover.
Abby and Linda have the Orange LandRover

The second that Alan realizes he doesn’t have to take a boat, he cheers…and Ben groans.

This is actually an interesting idea- they have to photograph wildlife, and submit four photos to experts on Australian wildlife- if they get six out of everybody’s, they win money.

This is great- Abby and Linda will travel on quad bikes through the beaches- the instructor emphasizes that fifth gear is a traveling gear, not to be used often….and cut to both of them on fifth gear, scaring away all the wildlife they’re supposed to shoot. Classy stuff.

Even better- Abby and Linda walk over to the dunes, and all of the sudden, Abby trips on a lizard and shrieks. Both women just double over laughing as Abby tries taking the photo.
Linda: “…if it crawls up my leg, I swear to God…”

And when Linda and Abby go to look at the lizard photo…Abby forgot to take the lens cap off. At least this show isn’t short on genuine characters.

Not a lot of other stuff in this challenge other than Abby and Linda’s patheticness.

Eventually they do get it back to the expert, and Abby and Linda’s group is first.
Grant: “Those first two are the lens cap. Leslie, can you correctly identify that as the lens cap-”
Abby: ‘Oh, we don’t need to dwell on this…”

Grant: “Now, this is the only one with an image….that’s YOU, Abby.”
Abby’s completely cracking up. I doubt she’s the mole, because that’s some human stuff and I believe her over it.

Grant: “Moving onto four…”
Leslie: “Very good shot of alto-cumulus clouds, I’d say…”
Grant: “Annnnd five?”
Leslie: “Ah. Very good shot of Ocean Beach with a blob in it.”
Linda and Abby are laughing it off, but that was a pretty pathetic challenge display.

None of Alan and Bev’s show any animals, and Alan’s disagreeing with Bev over which ones were actually the choices.

Ben and Jan’s photos do get a few much-needed points, but they don’t get the full 6 due to some repeats. So…a failure, but at least the Linda and Abby stuff was hysterical to watch.

Pre-quiz, it’s a bit more divided- there are people, like Alan, Ben and Abby who I don’t think are going home for a while, and then there’s the rest…which is hard to tell. Look, this episode may have been Linda’s first slip-ups since she’s been here, and Bev in her confessionals was acting like this may be the end. Jan also might slip out.

Still, I think Bev finally goes home tonight- Linda and Jan following.

ABBY: GREEN. Yeah, this was the one where her gameplay SERIOUSLY amped it up, even more than the last few. She’ll be fine.
BEVERLY: GREEN. wow…I honestly thought she’d be going home. Maybe she’s a lot more focused on the quizzes than I give her credit for.
LINDA: GREEN. And Linda hangs in by the skin of her teeth.
BEN: RED. Whoa.

Honestly was not expecting him to go, even if he had a lower-key episode. This guy grew on me more than anybody else, and became a pretty suave, fun player to watch. A shame he’s fled the coop now, as have most of the good characters on the show.

Overall: A strong episode that took its time to find footing. A lot more emotional moments, the game’s first exemption, and a nice shift for one or two big characters going ahead.

Best Gameplayer: Abby, second week in a row, for proving herself and her intuition, while…still shooting with the lens cap on.
Best Character: This week, probably Alan, for a few nice lines throughout the episode.
Who do I think is the mole? It’s getting tough because there are people who could in no way be the mole, like Beverly and Linda, and people who I don’t think are the mole anymore, like Abby. And then there’s someone like Alan who sprung onto my radar this episode. It might be him.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E04, or Whoever Invented This One was a Sadistic Fuck

Well, Rocky’s gone, so there went my will to live. Still, further down the stretch we go, toward another episode. Hopefully there’ll be more than one man left by the end of it.

The beginning of this episode is just Grant restating the extent of the sabotage/suspicion on each cast member’s head.

Grant, for Alan, says “he lingers in the background, and is rarely noticed.” I blame the editors for that.

Grant: “Jan…army trained and completely determined to succeed.”
(Cut to Jan completely fouling up the tire in E2)

After this…sort of unnecessary bit, Grant asks for two female guides, who are…almost unanimously chosen as Linda and Jan.

Also, the phrase “could you two please go see Snowy at the timber yard’ was supposed to be taken seriously…but I can’t stop laughing.

The task for the other two, which is odd, is to catch 8 kilograms of fish on the water. The whole ‘eight kilograms’ bit confuses the hell out of Ben.

Bev and Jo just go and use fishing rods, while the other three legitimately have to fill out a fishing license. You don’t see this much stationery law work on the US version.

Jan and Linda, meanwhile, have to construct a raft capable of holding up to five people, only using rope and wood.
Colby Donaldson, from three continents over: ‘So not only does it have to carry Bev, and Alan, and Ben, and any NORMAL PERSON….but it’s gotta carry 260 pounds of MOLE!”

Even worse, Jo is having difficulties fishing, as she’s a strict vegetarian. I’m sorry, but Josephine has had more moral quandaries in four episodes than most people do in a lifetime. She can’t skydive, she can’t golf, and now she can’t even catch a fish? This is reaching Crystal Cox levels of ineptitude (and yes, this is the 2nd Survivor reference I’ve made this post.)

Bev, explaining to the driver: “We’re gonna catch fish, but keep them alive!”
The incredibly amused driver: “…catch fish ‘n keep ’em alive, eh?’

MORE WITH CONTINENTAL LAWS! The players have to ask Mario, the driver, if they’re actually allowed to catch fish in this trout farm, and we get camera footage of the guy making a phone call. They wouldn’t show this on the US version, making it pretty amusing here.

Eventually, Mario reveals that they’re allowed to go in, but they’re not allowed to use rods. Sort of like this series now that Rocky’s been eliminated.

Mario, explaining how they can do this: “and you CAN use…”, and he pulls out a big net.
Josephine: “…..that thing.”
Bev: “….aw, shit, can we REALLY?”
Bev, as inept as she can be, is a great loose-cannon, natural quote provider.

Jan, as she’s building the raft: “What’s this got to do with girl guiding, that’s what I’d like to know…”
Linda: “I’m not used to being a girl guide…”
Jan: “Me either.”
Linda: “…I was kissing the boys at the back of the shed.”
Jan’s great at just pointing out how ridiculous this show can get. She has this very Moby-on-NMTB-esque way of just adding levity and logic to this…highly illogical situation.

Alan, after he’s forced to throw horribly-smelling fish guts onto a bait thing in massive heat: “This sucks…who ever invented this one was a sadistic fuck…”
Alan’s probably gonna replace Rocky as the makeshift quote provider now.

The image of Josephine trying to net fish inside a trout farm is…true to form, absolutely ridiculous, and Jo is just absolutely struggling. She’s screaming and bobbing around as the fish are all around her, while Grant explains that just 4 of the fish would give them the eight kilos, but they’ve been out their for 30 minutes. Gotta love Josephine.

Linda, seeing Jan’s test run of the raft: “…holy shit, how are we gonna fit five people on that?”

They cut back to Jan and Bev, and they’re already out of bait. Just then do fish actually start swimming into the net, which Grant points out, suspiciously. The cutback to the other three features Alan just exhaustedly falling off of the boat. Great moments in patheticness so far.

This isn’t the greatest challenge, as a lot of it just footage of people fishing, but it’s nice to see Abby, Alan and Ben absolutely failing at this challenge.

I love the shot where Mario is praising the girls for catching two large fish, and we zoom in on Josephine’s horrified expression. Man, she’s not having the best game, is she?

Alan ends up taking a huge hit by getting incredibly seasick in his multiple boat trips back and forth, and he ends up not being able to grab the craypot in the end.

Even worse, right as Alan, Ben and Abby are about to get back to the harbor with their (minuscule) fish, the boat’s engine stops entirely. Jesus, these guys have had horrible luck this round. Luckily, Jo and Bev show up to just take their cargo to the harbor.

The cumulative grab is 8.5, so they win the challenge, but I think the real winner of that one was that adorable little beagle who kept trying to eat all the fish.

After this challenge, Jan and Linda put their raft on the side and all 7 go on a sailing trip, which is a pretty nice touch. Also, because of the raft subplot, Jan and Linda don’t have to take part in the next challenge.

The challenge, which Grant says is ‘very simple’, is for the five to swim out to Sara Island and stay there, on the beaches, until 6 AM. If at any point someone wants out, they can use a phone and get the game’s FIRST EXEMPTION, as well as a nice stay at a nearby hotel, but they rid the group of the 10,000.

Grant: “And dinner tonight will be the fish you caught today.”
Cut to Josephine wanting to die.

Jan: “So, if the mole calls in, that the way of the mole going straight through…”
Abby: “…the mole’s already gonna go straight through…”

They do come up with a nice plan- Alan will keep the phone, and Ben will keep the battery, so if somebody calls, they’ll ALL know.

Great little moment. Alan, Jo and Bev are by the beach, and Bev takes off her sweater for warmth. At that exact moment, Josephine follows Alan down the beach. There is no way this wasn’t strategic of Jo.

Grant: “They’re allowed a stove, but no open fires.”
Cut to Alan accidentally starting a huge, blazing fire.

This isn’t the greatest challenge, and there’s a lot of squabbling and suffering, so it sort of drags the pace of what was already a pretty nice episode.

I’m guessing that this is Bev’s last stand, as she’s coughing and wheezing during her on-island confessional.

There’s eventually a quandary over whether Bev should get the exemption or not, as Bev immediately wants to stay when she hears it’s risking money, but there’s still some question over it.

Ben’s questioning whether Bev is actually sick. Dude…Beverly was the only one who had the fish, and is now suffering from extreme food poisoning. Screw the fact that she was ‘fit as a fiddle before’. Food poisoning happens.

6:00 eventually comes around, and even though they’re all miserable, they all make it through and 10,000 goes into the kitty. Then…they have to use that aforementioned raft to make it back.

Jan and Linda get to watch from the raft. Linda, with binoculars, looks at the other 5 from the island. After a few beats, she looks back toward Jan. “Bev’s in her undies!”

Linda: “It’s floating…”
Jan, apathetically: “…yay team.”
Linda: “…so far.”

The object is to make sure that none of the players get wet above the chest. So…when Josephine pushes Bev into the water as they head into deeper waters…maybe that’s a TIIIIINY BIT SUSPICIOUS. Josephine’s been piling up a LOT lately, to be honest.

As the gang is shuttled back to shore.
Grant: “Little trouble with the raft there, eh?”
Alan: “…LITTLE BIT?”

Pre-quiz. This one was slightly more even, as we got a lot of Alan stuff, a lot of Abby and Josephine, but people like Jan and Linda were given the shaft thanks to their role in the day. Still, I’ll say that people like Ben, Abby and Linda deserve to stick around.

Who do I think is going home? Once again, I think Beverly’s going home. She’s completely exhausted. If not her, Jan?

Josephine: RED. WHOA.

I…honestly thought she was either sticking around, or, the Mole. This episode gave her a lot more balanced material, and I didn’t see her boot coming. Still, this was a long time coming, and she was one of the clumsier, harder to deal with players here, but part of me will miss her a bit.

Overall: Strong start, but a whopper of a final challenge brings this one down a few pegs. A lot of good character stuff, and this one actually made me sad for Josephine when she left, because there were so many silly character moments of hers.

Best Gameplayer: Abby. She’s actually beginning to impress me.
Best Character: This episode, Jan. She was cracking a lot of jokes back with Linda.
Who do I think is the mole? This is tough. My main suspect for this ep. just went home. Abby I don’t think is the mole anymore. Bev it can’t be. I’m beginning to think it could be Ben.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E03, or This Was Almost Like a Practice Run

Onto another one. Hopefully this one will have more time for character than the last one did.

Right on the heels of the last episode, where the entire cast is exhausted and needs rest…Grant presents another challenge right then and there. The Mole is one relentless SOB.

Josephine and a clearly exhausted Lina are chosen by the other 6 to have a ‘nice time’, so they exit to a nearby car.

The rest of the gang are taken to another location where they’ll take part in a giant maze…a challenge we may have seen on the original Mole once or twice. They’ll have to get out via radio and communication.

They have to divide themselves into pairs- one leads the other through the maze via a TV screen. Yeah, this is the old standard from the US series. And each player needs to get through the maze without being captured by one of two hunters. Fun stuff.

Rocky and Jan, Abby and Ben, Alan and Bev are the teams. This should be fun. Alan’ll probably start throwing things at the TV rather quickly.

Actually, I take that back- Alan’s gonna be the runner, Bev’s gonna be the person tracking him. And seeing as Bev is WONDERFUL with directions (see, last episode), this is gonna go swimmingly.

So, Bev’s wonderful directions, which include telling Alan to go straight until he rams into a wall, and sending him to go right just when a hunter’s rounding the corner, go absolutely without a hitch.

Bev defends herself by saying “you know, this was almost like a practice run” to a room of disinterested, tired, disappointed teammates. Poor, poor Bev.

I’ll give Rocky credit- while they’re waiting for Ben to go on, Rocky begins strategizing with the team a way to make the exit quicker, and to avoid the trackers. The guy’s finally playing the game well, aside from just cracking jokes.

Unfortunately, Abby kind of ruins it by leading Ben down the wrong paths, and her over-strategizing by having Ben turn around and go back leads to Ben being caught in a rundown.

Now, the success of the group is in the hands of Rocky and Jan. Which…is kinda scary.

Now I’m laughing at the ridiculousness of the editing, how they’re making this so serious. “IT’S ALL UP TO ROCKY AND JAN”. Jeez, I’m expecting the Fugitive Alien theme song to kick in at any minute (“HE TRIIIIIIED TO KILL ME WITH A FORKLIFT! OLE!”).

Jan’s tactics are a lot better, in leading him towards the middle, thereby away from the hunters. However, her echoes of ‘RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT RIGHT’ or ‘LIFT LIFT LIFT LIFT LIFT’ had to have been pretty grating.

Eventually, this tactic of keeping Rocky weaving in and out along the far side of the maze get the team the win, and gives Jan some much needed leverage to stick around.Rocky does eventually admit that he didn’t have any sound, though.

The next day takes place among a series of wineries. Alan, Jan and Rocky get to spend the day tasting wines, and Linda and Josephine get to taste various cheeses. Ben, Abby and Bev get to sample beers. This is probably going to be a challenge.

Best part of this is they all know a challenge is coming, and they’re all sort of waiting around the corner for something to happen.

The highlight is having everyone show up at a fancy dinner, and seeing Rocky have to wear a tux. That’s…kind of odd to me.

They’re all eating dinner, and just…waiting for something to happen.
Jan: “Don’t tell me we’re all gonna be bungee jumping after this…”
Rocky: “I knew a bloke who was so paranoid, he thought the fella in front of him was following him…”

This challenge is pretty nice, actually- the teams have to pick out which of the items they became experts on are from Tasmania (the cheeses, beer or wine), and which is an impostor from the mainland.

Linda has the one cheese that the cheese maker said ‘lifts the roof off of the mouth’ back in the tasting portion, and she cracks up, saying ‘…that one’s bringing back memories…’

Josephine is so torn up that she can’t choose the right one, leaving a confused Linda down to the last few seconds to pick A as the impostor.

It is actually pretty amusing to see Rocky and Jan gritting their teeth and trying to get everyone to finish, while Bev, Ben and Abby are going for the beers. It’s the most passive aggressive support.

Grant, VO: “Abby and Beverly are not beer drinkers.”
What, you’re joking. Abby’s a college student, she’s got to have had at least one or two beers.

Another great moment- the second Grant tells the wine team they can start, Rocky just all-out grabs the wine and goes for it. Doesn’t hold a damned thing back. Also, a lot of the shots of Rocky just sifting the wine around the glass are great, to which a lot of the others think the problem is the glass.

All three groups end up getting them all correct, even with the wine glass fiasco in Rocky’s group (that…I have a feeling Rocky started).

Ah, but as this was already looking like a short episode, there’s one more challenge. Grant asks for two people who enjoy the sound of their own voices. After my initial thought of Donald Trump and Phillip Sheppard, Rocky and Ben are elected. I’ll say the choice does crack Grant up a bit- perhaps this makes more sense than he would have thought.

This is actually a very different sort of challenge- Ben and Rocky have 8 hours to raise 1,000 dollars to a charity, by holding a karaoke bar. They couldn’t have picked two better guys to do it.

The first people Rocky and Ben tell about this, because they can do that, is a guy with long hair, which is not, as I previously suspected, James trying to fight his way back into the competition.

There’s a nice montage of Ben and Rocky devising the plan, and it’s great, because there are two incredibly different personalities- Rocky’s very Type A and ambitious, and Ben is very lackadaisical and movable. And having these two interact is pretty great, especially when they start getting along.

As they’re walking to hawk people, Rocky says, offhandedly to Ben, “let’s go do what we do best, mate…bullshit!”

Eventually Rocky and Ben get into arguments about how the door prize is going to work, and this challenge is turning into an episode of the Apprentice before our eyes.

Eventually they go back to the hotel (to shower), and Rocky has to inform Beverly that they’ve been touting her as the star of the show (The Amazing Bev), and she’s just cracking up the whole way.
Rocky: “We’ve told them…how easy you are on the eye.”

This is a pretty great challenge, because they’re able to tell everyone else so they can all help out/hawk/get people to join in. We’re also treated to a 3 second clip of Josephine absolutely butchering Olivia Newton-John’s Physical, which…I’ll say I may have laughed at for longer than 3 seconds.

Although Alan, Jan and Abby do a trio of Billy Idol’s White Wedding, which is actually pretty great, and Alan’s having a hell of a time. Ben and Linda also duet on The Righteous Brothers’ ‘You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feelin’, which is also pretty good. I wish they could have done a challenge like this in the US version, because everybody’s so loose and out of their serious characters.

Ben’s giving a confessional about how much time they’ve got left when he’s distracted by someone leaving the bar with a prize, and starts congratulating him- very similar to something Rod Blagojavich would do on Celebrity Apprentice.

The end of the challenge is pretty bittersweet- they win $934 for the charity, but fall short of the overall $1000…still, they had some of the most fun in a while and it at least is worth something for people, so it’s not a complete loss.

Josephine has a confessional about not being able to sleep (thinking about the mole) while sitting on a rather crappy hotel bed…I wonder if these two are connected.

Pre-quiz, this was another show where all the characters were fully formed and I saw a lot from people, and I’d rather not see any of them go. Ben’s pretty likable now, and people like Bev and Josephine, while clumsy, are still fun to watch.

Who do I think’s going home? Actually, I think that it’s Beverly tonight, but it honestly could be Alan- they’re editing him a certain way lately.

Execution Results:
Linda: Green. Yeah, she’s one of the best players in the game- she’s far from finished.
Jan: Green. Again, some suspense there, as she’s become one of the better characters recently, but I don’t think she’s all finished yet either.
Rocky: RED. Dammit…

Heck of a way to go out- Rocky was one of the best characters on the program, and gave every single episode a lot more to go with. he even had a pretty nice episode here, improving his game as well as getting some mole suspicion, but apparently this was the end for him. Damn.

What I’m hoping is that this doesn’t destroy the game dynamic, and that now the edit will be a little bit more balanced, and more people will step up and give fun confessionals. But it’s just kinda sad, is all.

Overall: Much better episode, though still a notch below 1- three great challenges, a lot of great character moments, and a lot more wrinkles to the Mole plot.

Best Game Player- This week it was Jan, guiding Rocky through the maze like a pro.
Best Character- In the absence of Rocky, I have to say Ben. He’s growing on me rather quickly, though Josephine had a nice character week.
Who do I think is the mole? This week had a few more wrinkles, but I still think it’s Abby- the detail about her not being a beer drinker tells me she may not be who she says she is. Still, Josephine would be just behind her on my list.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S01E02, or …what’s a hole?

Onto Episode 2, fresh off the departure of Long Hair James. More shenanigans should be afoot thanks to the soothing, yet still mysterious, voice of Grant Bowler.

The first challenge, which the show takes NO DELAY IN GETTING TO, is a race around this new town, where the roads have been closed off specifically for them. Maybe this was in response to the police not especially getting the show last week.

The group needs to divide themselves into 3, with a driver and two mechanics in each, like it’s the Grand Prix, only with two 60’s racers and a 3-year old buggy built from scratch.

Linda, Patrick and Bev will be the navigators. Linda and Patrick, yes, I can see that, from their last episode performance. Bev??? Alright then.

The other six will be pit crews to the three cars, and will swap out rear wheels. The first three I mentioned will be telling the drivers what to do. Already, though, Josephine is questioned for not knowing a thing about putting wheels in, and should be navigating. Two for two on troubling starts for Jo.

This is a pretty technical challenge, as the course needs to be run exactly one way, and the tires need to be replaced exactly one way, so it’s very technical and relies on everyone doing their jobs properly. As this is The Mole, everyone won’t.

Of course, watching Jan and Josephine try to be the pit crew is pretty amusing, as they’re both kind of pathetic, even while Rocky’s trying to stay optimistic.

The whole time, Patrick and the driver are just sitting there, waiting patiently. After a beat, Patrick goes to the driver ‘what else do you do on a Tuesday?’

Patrick’s direction giving is very straightforward, very concrete, i.e. ‘left in about a kilometer, fork up ahead’, etc. Bev is very flowery and she meanders before the actual direction. Not good when you’re low on time.

Grant, VO: “Above all, the navigator must ensure that they don’t get lost.”
CUT TO: Bev: “Turn left…right…where are we?”

Bev slows the team down a lot, but a really nice drive by Linda is helping them pick up the pace and stay within 35.

Of course, Ben and Abby struggle with the tires, to add another on the pile of ‘Abby is the mole evidence’.

Great moment. As Ben and Abby pull out with an astronomical miracle left to go, Linda sits in the passenger seat, and goes “…no pressure’. She smirks, knowing it’s impossible.

Of course, Linda takes the driver past the course’s all time record, to the money. She even says to the driver “if you have to, run over the cameraman.”

Grant actually gives some eerie foreshadowing, that the group’s luck would change after winning 3/4 challenges (and…having the fourth taken out of their hands by the law.)

What convinces me that it’s not Beverly is, in her confessional, she says that she’s going to have a horrible time over the next week, and of course they’re all going to think it’s her, and she says it so remorsefully that you can’t help but feel bad for her. True, this could be strategic by the editors to throw us off, but she seems like a very genuine person with some bad luck so far.

Great moment at the top of the second challenge. Grant asks if anyone in the group hasn’t played golf before. Josephine raises her hand…and Grant tells her to go back to the hotel. She shrugs and leaves.

The rest of the group have to capture, on camera, footage of people in town laughing and being happy, which is going to be important later in a way we, or they, aren’t told how.

I’ll say that people like Rocky and Jan excel at this one. Even Rocky says that “I can make people laugh just by having them look at me.”

Josephine’s challenge will be to play the 18th hole at the Launceston Golf Club, and she’ll have to do it in 15 strokes.

Teacher: “The object here is for me to teach you enough about golf for you to play a hole.”
Josephine: “….what’s a hole?”

It is pretty fun to see Bill the Instructor’s frustration towards Josephine, especially when she tries putting the club in the caddy with the wrong end facing inwards.

Now, the big group has to do the entire first part again, only the people they’re filming cannot know they’re being filmed- it has to be completely candid. That’s a nice little wrinkle there.

This is actually really nice stuff- Rocky, Ben and Abby stage a huge argument in the middle of an open area, with Bev secretly filming, complete with an angry shirtless Ben. Alan, Jan and Linda start making monkey noises in the middle of the Launceston Zoo.

Linda does have to give Alan a talking to because the camera’s not getting anything while the mice are, as the laughter has to be seen AND heard to count fully.

This part eventually does get harder as the entire team gets tired. Patrick eventually stoops to the level of just telling people about the camera, which Alan gets on camera…which is ironic, because Alan barely got any laughter. Rocky ends up trying the same thing himself, but it’s caught by the camera crew.

Now, back to Josephine, whose fifteen strokes will be earned by the others answering a series of questions about very thin topics. Josephine decides who answers what question, and how much each question is worth.

Josephine’s first question is a tennis question for Ben, which, thankfully he answers easily…only the stroke doesn’t even touch the ball.

Alan’s question about the Environment is one he gets wrong, one he’s absolutely flabbergasted by- I mean, it’s technically more about weather patterns than the actual environment.

Abby’s Psychology question is one about the inventor of the Id, Ego and Superego, which she has no idea about, and just guesses Freud at the last second…thankfully that’s right, and every 18 year old who’s taken Psych should know that.

Josephine weighs a question about sex at 5 points…to Rocky, which he certainly gets a kick out of.
Jan: “Josie, you know your stuff!”

Of course, Rocky’s question is about which gender is able to bear children, which warrants a QI-esque pause from him, wondering if it’s a trick question.

Jan gets the hardest question, a fitness question about naming the largest back muscle…in Latin, which she thankfully squeaks past.

Josephine’s down to her final shot, on the green…and she drives it way too far off the green, costing the team the 10,000, and cementing her status as either the mole, or one of the clumsiest people to ever be on reality TV.

Grant also reveals that the laughter challenge was a failure as well, as two people tried to cheat and the two camera people were atrocious.

So, pre-quiz, and it’s a lot tougher to tell who was on their way out, as the editing was a bit more even this episode. I’ll say that Ben was a lot more likable here, and Josephine eventually got the whole team behind her, but people like Patrick, Alan, Abby and Josephine still had pretty poor displays today.

Who do I think goes home tonight? Josephine. Followed by either Patrick or Bev.

Execution Results:
Ben: Green. Yeah, judging by the edit he’s far from finished.
Abby: Green. I still think she’s the mole, so I doubt she’s leaving either.
Patrick: RED. Wow. Even though I listed him, I didn’t actually think he’d be headed home so soon.

Yeah, if it wasn’t already evident from last week, Patrick was a great character and game player, but this week his game took a gut punch, especially in the laughter challenge- he was just getting tired and out of it, and this week’s execution makes sense in that context. Sad, but warranted.

Overall: A much quieter episode, with a pair of challenges that didn’t exactly give the players a lot of room to talk, though a lot was done to bolster the characters of Josephine, Linda, Rocky and Alan. Not as good as E1, but still important, and with a rather sad boot at that.

Best Game Player- Linda again, as her drive saved the asses of everyone on the one task that they won.
Best Character- Josephine, whose patheticness was both alarming and at the same time charming- if anything, the episode was hers.
Who do I think is the mole? Abby still.

The Mole Australia Watchdown: S1E01, or “….WHAT BLUE ENVELOPE?”

So I figured I’d take up another binge-watching challenge. I’ve always been a fan of the reality series The Mole, as it aired stateside as I was growing up. I always knew there was an Australian version, that sort of outdid the original in quality and in quantity.

So, today I’m cracking into season one of the Australian version, featuring Grant Bowler, future star of Defiance and future Lost recurring mate, as the host. I know absolutely nothing about this series going in. I have no idea who the mole is, and I have no idea who any of the characters are. I’m just ready to have a nice time. Also, no pictures for this one- it’s not like a panel show where it’s occasionally visual friendly.

The opening is true to the form of the original US season- mysterious, well-lit clip of Grant Bowler explaining the game in his ultra-suave manner. He really has the chops for this, though time will tell if he’s better than Anderson Cooper.

They cut right to all our contestants on a bus. Grant mentions that all but the Mole answered a newspaper article asking for people to go on an adventure, probably mentioning the whole ‘reality show’ part. So…they’re all going in blind. That’ll be fun.

Rocky, 39, Marketing. A balding, larger set guy.
Linda, 28, Merchant. Younger, with a red bob.
Beverly, 55, Homestay Interviewer, the requisite little old lady.
Jan, 40, school services- bubbly blonde bob, not exactly showing her age.
James, 37, computer programmer- longer brown hair, reminding me a ton of Jim from US1.
Patrick, 48, winery manager- older with brown hair and a brown mustache.
Alan, 37, environmental officer- larger with brown hair, very smiley.
Abby, 18, student- our requisite blonde and beautiful kid.
Josephine, 35, aromatherapy consultant- dyed sandy blonde hair and lipstick.
Ben, 27, Hotel Manager- spiked brown hair.

Grant Bowler appears on an incredibly old TV screen in their van, explaining the game to everybody, and they’re all relaxed, going ‘OOOH’, ‘AAAHH’, you know, because they’re polite Australians that don’t know true terror (yet).

Funny moment- the second the taped bit ends, Rocky stands up and just flat out goes “WHO’S THE MOLE???” That’s…one way to get it out there.

First task takes place at the airport, worth 10,000 dollars, and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s just the ‘Jump out of a Moving Airplane’ challenge that headed off US1.

Sure enough: “You are to fly to Tasmania, and you are to land before the plane does.” Solid way to start the adventure, by throwing everyone out of their comfort zones.

As Grant explains via VO, all ten contestants have to jump in order for the full money to be earned- It’s a bit weird that we haven’t seen any confessionals yet, but maybe they didn’t get to them until they landed in Tasmania.

Plane One: Abby, Linda, Patrick.
Plane Two: James, Alan, Beverly.
Plane Three: Josephine, who’s incredibly nervous and needs her own plane (DUN DUN DUNNNNN)
Plane Four: Jan, Ben, Rocky.

There’s a lot of emphasis on how scared these guys are, and as Grant explains, almost none of them have ever jumped out of a plane before. I think it’s gotta be less accessible to do that in Australia.

Everyone from Plane 1 is on the ground and they all notice that James is looking kind of nervous, a bit queasy, even though Bev and Alan are at the ready.

Patrick’s already making small talk and asking Abby who she thinks jumped first- she thinks it’s Beverly, and sure enough, Bev’s the first out of the plane. James and Alan do eventually make it.

Alan, as he parachutes towards the group, is acting like it’s nothing- just gives a ‘howdy folks’ as he reaches the ground. Patrick’s already screwing with Beverly, asking her how the adrenaline rush is. Bev’s cracking up. This is a very loose group so far (then again, they’re Australians.)

Josephine basically goes through a nervous breakdown up in the plane, but asks if the instructor is sure they’re attached, and musters the strength to go through with it. Josephine is already going on my radar, but if she’s not, this is a great character moment for her.

Although…it is pretty funny to see the guy getting Josephine to take her hands off the bar and go already. He even goes “you SAID yes…”, as she’s struggling.

Eventually the rest of the group lands and the money is earned- the shots of the folks down below watching them down is good bonding stuff, and they’re all pretty affable.

Like with the US version, they’d split up the group and have some take part in a secret challenge. However, probably the best shit is Jan just ranting to the camera.
Jan: “How do you explain to people when they ask you ‘where are you going?’ ‘I don’t know where I’m going.’ ‘What are you gonna do when you get there?’ ‘I dunno what I’m gonna be doing when I get there?’ ‘What do you mean you don’t know WHERE YOU’RE GOING or What you’re doing?”
Abby, absolutely deadpan: “I just want a coffee…”

The other five- Bev, James, Alan, Linda and Josephine, have to do a 5,000 dollar challenge, involving taking apart their luggage in favor of backpacks, and then taking apart the other five’s luggage. Back at the hotel, Ben starts grilling Jan about if she’s really telling the truth about where she works.

The challenge is that the home front crew, which would be Ben, Jan, Patrick, Rocky and Abby, have to guess which personal items of theirs the other five took out of their luggage.

Ben: “When you say bags, I have two of them, I have a main bag and a little day bag-”
Grant, ever the smartass: “No, you have one bag. It’s black, this size…”

Jan: ‘So what are they gonna rip off us next?”
Rocky: “…they’ve taken our dignity…”
Rocky, so far, has been the biggest source of levity on the show, with one-liners back and forth. He’s easily the most relaxed guy out there.

Linda’s taking, like, 10 or 12 food bars out of a blue backpack, saying “this guy’s like a food junkie.” Of course, they cut right back to Ben, as if they’re setting him up to fail.

Ben: “How, uh, how bad could it be?”
Jan: “…How bad could it be?? LOTS BAD?”
Ben: “How?”
Ben’s obviously being set up as an oblivious buffoon, and Jan’s just a bit too extroverted.

Rocky: “All my undies were in the back compartment.”

Patrick, who guessed a black backpack was taken out, is deemed correct. Patrick seems to be one of the more serious, stern people in the cast so far, especially during tasks.
Ben’s guess of ‘tan boat shoes’ is also correct, though Ben’s edit so far is giving me some signs that he’s not the mole and he’s not long for this game.
Rocky guessed the EAS protein shakes, and those were correct as well, as we even saw Linda counting them out to Alan as she took them out.
Abby’s guess of black, slip-on platforms are also correct.
Jan’s is also right, but Grant has a nice way of screwing with her to make her think it’s wrong. He’s actually pretty damn charming here.

As the other five filter in, you can hear Rocky going “I bet we know each other a bit more closely now, don’t we?” Obviously referring to the thongs.

Oh, that makes sense- traditional reality show confessionals are ditched in favor of a video-diary, which acts as a block of confessionals, here pasted mid-episode.

Abby’s early guesses include Jan, James, Beverly and Patrick.
Bev actually guesses Abby. I’ll say that both tropes, the college student and the little old lady, would be prime for an actual mole revelation.

At dinner, it’s revealed that Bev didn’t pack Patrick any other shirts other than the one he’s wearing, a white shirt, which according to Patrick, ‘might change to a dull gray after a while.’

Before going to bed, all ten are supposed to choose who gets to be woken up incredibly early the following morning. What surprises me is that a lot of people, including James and Patrick, choose themselves. Abby gets a few votes. However, Patrick gets the most, for some reason.

I was expecting a loud alarm clock, but actually Grant comes over to Patrick’s room and wakes him the hell up at 3 AM. I guess more is less, so I’m happy it went the way it did.

Patrick, actually, is being taken hostage, and if I had money on this i’d guess that this is the infamous Hostage challenge from S1E2 of the US version, where poor Steven ended up stuck in an iron mask for the entire episode.

Best part of this is after being dropped off in the new place, fitted with a bedroom and everything, Patrick just goes right back to sleep.

Immediately, at the next breakfast:
Ben: “Has anyone noticed that Patrick isn’t here?”
Rocky: “Patrick who?…Oh OUR Patrick…”

Of course, it’s the Hostage challenge. They’ve got to split up and find where Patrick’s being held before noon, or else no dough. Always a favorite.

Car Group: Ben, Josephine, James.
Helicopter Group: Alan, Jan, Linda
Speedboat Group: Abby, Rocky, Beverly

Patrick’s actually pretty good at this, as he’s giving the helicopter group clues about which roads he came in on, and he’s got a nice attitude about the whole thing.

Patrick: “I’m in a….one, two three story house, I think-”
Linda: “…and you want us to SAVE you?”
Patrick: “…get off your ass, girl!”

More proof that Patrick’s the right sort for this task.
Grant, via phone: “Have you found the blue envelope yet?”
Patrick, stone faced: “…WHAT BLUE ENVELOPE?”

Rocky, Abby and Bev are stranded on the boat without a signal. After a beat, Bev goes “…anyone want any sunscreen for their arms?” Perfect little moment.

Patrick’s just cracking up whenever he finds something that dramatizes the situation- for instance, according to the “BLUE ENVELOPE”, only one of the keys the groups have opens the place.

Eventually everyone figures out that Patrick’s being held in Georgetown, though the shot of Josephine shifting through a gigantic map is great, especially by 2016 standards.

Good bit of suspense- Rocky, Abby and Bev’s phone has no way of working through most of the task, though Rocky eventually finds an extra battery sticking out of Abby’s back pocket. The suspicion continues. Still, eventually the speedboat catches up to the helicopter, somehow.

Great moment. Linda gets an idea to drop the speedboat group a bottle which contains everything they know…only when they drop the bottle the boat just speeds right past it, and doesn’t realize it until later- they have to go back in a few and grab it.

Another great moment-Ben’s car is tailed by the police, but he doesn’t stop- the cop car ends up pulling over the camera car following them, and the cameraman has to explain himself to the cop, who’s stern. It’s like something out of an Edgar Wright movie.

Eventually the car group makes it and everyone starts looking for their keys.

Note- the boat crew’s key is the one that ends up working. On the radar Abby goes.

Patrick is saved, and the money is raised. Grant stops the crew by saying “the good news is, you’ve won.” And the group goes wild, but the camera footage fades out before he could get to the bad news. I imagine it was “the bad news is one of our camera guys will be spending the night in a Tasmanian prison.”

Linda thinks Bev isn’t as dumb as they all think- this is superimposed on a clip of Bev saying that one person says they hated her because she’s too cheerful in the mornings. Wonder if these two are connected in any way.
Also, Patrick is beginning to suspect Bev as well. I honestly don’t think it’s her, but more power to ’em all.

James says that Alan might be a prime suspect at this stage, “but I like him…which is probably a bad move.”

Ah yes, in the end the police eventually come and take Ben to the station, which is a funny little ending to that storyline- that sort of thing couldn’t have happened in the US version.

Even worse, Grant can’t award the 10,000 dollars for the task while the crime is still open, so Ben has to explain himself to the team. For a second I thought they were gonna expel him from the game…which I’d still not mind happening, as he’s not the most likable character out there, but still.

I will say that Ben’s explanation goes well, and the group doesn’t hate him too much for it, though he does go “please feel free to throw something at me” as the commercial break begins.

Onto the quiz. To be honest, I don’t wanna see any of these guys go quite yet. Everyone’s been edited pretty well- other than confessionals we haven’t seen a ton out of James, and Alan has been laying low so far, but Ben, Jan, Abby, Patrick and Rocky had some pretty well edited shows.

As to who I think is toast…probably Ben, but it could potentially be Beverly or Josephine.

Note that Jan, James and Josephine get pre-execution confessionals. Not sure if these are noteworthy in any way.

Execution results:
Alan: Green
Rocky: Green. There was a second’s hesitation there and I got very worried, but he’s still here.
Josephine: Green. They were editing it so that it could have been her, so her survival’s a bit surprising.
Patrick: Green. He responds with a quiet “…well…”
Jan: Green. More long suspense. Like the editors knew we’d sort of be rooting for her.
James: Red. Wow. Wasn’t exactly expecting that.

James was pretty under-edited, did a solid job on the task and wasn’t very vocal- however, maybe if he was more vocal the boot would have come as more of a shock. Still, the Tommy Wiseau lookalike is toast after one week, leaving him pretty shocked.

Overall, that’s a pretty solid group, and a pretty nice way to start the season. The challenges are borrowed from US1, but they’re integrated well with this group, and Ben’s speeding ticket was a nice little wrinkle to it all. There are some great characters, and it’s kind of a relief that the one I wasn’t especially tied to got the boot first.

Best Gameplayer: Linda, for engineering the helicopter crew, and most of the other groups as well.
Best Character: Rocky, by far. He’s having a hell of a time.
Who do I think is the mole? Abby. She did the most sabotage this week.