While Shane Gould may have been the first person summarily heaved out of Australian Survivor: All Stars last night, with the first tribal council choosing to swing the axe on the legendary swimmer rather than take the opportunity to excise strategic wunderkind Harry Hills at the first possible opportunity, it’s worth remembering that Gould isn’t just a Survivor All Star, she’s a former Survivor winner, and formidable competitor in her own right.

Not only that, Gould’s Survivor strategy is deeply rooted in philosophical and zoological theory, and her insight into philosophy – which she revealed she earned a doctorate of last year – is a screaming bloody marvel, frankly.

Speaking to PEDESTRIAN.TV this morning, Gould revealed that the use of Chimpazee Politics, which was briefly touched on in last night’s episode, was a lot deeper than you might think at first.

Gould revealed she’d been studying for her doctorate for quite some time now – her first, ultimately successful, tilt at Survivor temporarily paused her studies. And when the All Stars invite came – one she took on because, she says, “I don’t like to miss it out, [trying to avoid] FOMO really” – the philosophy of humble apes in captivity formed a surprisingly insightful basis for her game strategy.

“When he saw Survivor for the first time, my husband recommended I read Chimpanzee Politics by Frans de Waal, about the social lives of captive chimps. People in the study observed the behaviour of chimps in captivity. There’s some comparisons to [the work of] Jane Goodall in that there was a lot of fighting, but there’s more cooperation in captivity. The captive chimps show signs of reconciliation, they develop coalitions,” she said.

And while all that sounds ridiculous in the context of a reality TV show, the parallels Gould draws between that and people locked in the Survivor game are remarkably on the money. Gould stated “[The chimps] are methodical. They use grooming. There’s a lot of pant grunting going on, as if they’re saying ‘do you like me, are we gonna be ok?’ And there’s a lot of physical grooming in Survivor as well; braiding hair, brushing sand off bodies, even splashing water. It’s all a form of saying ‘will you accept me?’ or ‘can we work together?'”

As for last night’s early exit – one that capped off a fall from first to last for Gould in the game – the former Olympic champion stated her tribemates “took the logical, easy vote” for their first vote, despite her best efforts to eject Harry from the game.

“He’s got patience,” Gould said of Harry. “He has a way, a bit like a vacuum cleaner salesman. He’ll give you suggestions and then go away and leave you to think about it. And slowly his ideas become your ideas.”

Remarkably enough, Gould is actually going back to Fiji this week. Although under decidedly less Survivor circumstances. Much like she did with Australia for her PhD, Gould will be studying the culture of swimming in Fiji and doing case studies on instances of drowning.

And they voted this national treasure out FIRST? Christ alive, what a season it’s gonna be.

Image: Supplied