Pop CultureSeptember 5, 2023

The Traitors NZ power rankings, week five: A disgustingly satisfying finale


Alex Casey power ranks the final week of The Traitors NZ, in which eyeballs are eaten, heads are shaved and backs are stabbed. 

Faithfuls, traitors, fedora-wearers, we have made it to the end of the first season of The Traitors NZ and my nerves are well and truly shot. Although we didn’t quite ever reach the dizzying highs of The Traitors UK (available on ThreeNow, run don’t walk) you can always rely on that final banishment ceremony to get you on the edge of your seat. Just a girl, standing in front of her TV, yelling at Anna Reeve to choose the red ceremonial pouch to toss into the fire. Normal show!

Sorry for yelling Anna

I’ve truly had as much fun as Colin tucking into a plate of offal watching this season, but my one wish for next time is that we get a few less celebrities and a few more true blue Robbie-the-hairdresser characters around the roundtable. Give me a real estate agent, give me a dairy farmer, give me a baker, a butcher, a candlestick maker. Brooke Howard-Smith is all fine and good, but I want to know how Brooke’s humble maggot-wrangler Brian would play this game.

A star is born

PS: If you want to hear more analysis of The Traitors NZ, head over to The Real Pod Substack for weekly reality recap podcasts and more pop culture curios. Onto the finale!

BANISHED: Kings (faithful) 

A stunning feat ft. stunning feet

He wowed crowds (me) with his acrobatic double-leg jump during the Paul Henry antiquities heist challenge, but Kings was not quite nimble enough to wriggle out of his own banishment at the roundtable. Even if he was chaotic, he was a good player – the only one to sniff out Colin early on, the one who made everyone tear up when he talked about wanting to take his kids to Japan with the prize money and, in the words of Sam Smith, the one who everyone wanted to be his best friend. Run free Kings, run free. 

BANISHED: Colin Mathura-Jeffree (traitor)

I will be the first to admit that I have been entirely under Colin’s spell for the last few episodes (read: decade), but how could you not?! The man is a celestial being and an utter quote machine. “It’s the scorpion and the frog,” he said of Brooke Howard-Smith. “It’s in his nature – he will sting everyone.” OK Laurence Olivier!!!!! “All of these people deserve to win, but I’m dressed for their funerals,” he later cooed, donning a blue velour blazer and stunning silky turban. 

He’s got his eye on you

He also let his guard down during Monday night’s episode after revealing the loss of mother during the pandemic, and how all he wants is to create memories with his family. There was not a dry eyeball in the house, which is probably why his next wickedly talented move was to eat an eyeball (and other assorted horrors). “I’ve broken a heart but I haven’t eaten one,” he japed. He may have been swiftly banished, but the Emmy award for Outstanding Writing goes to one man and one man only. 

BANISHED: Julia Vahry (faithful)

What a glamorous final week for former police officer Julia Vahry. First of all she donned the world’s most impractical aquamarine cocktail dress to jump over laserbeams with in the art heist challenge, announcing it was going to be “dinner and a show” for the audience. As Yves Saint Laurent once said: fashion fades, but hiking your dress up to jump over a laser beam to try and steal Paul Henry’s $200 buzzy bee is eternal. 

The real fashion week

If that wasn’t enough opulence for you, Julia’s final Fear Factor-inspired challenge was to stand in a cryotherapy chamber for three minutes. People such as Art Green pay at least $75 a pop for that sort of luxury spa day?! Alas, her plummeting temperature led to a chilly reception at the final banishment ceremony, where Anna, Sam and Brooke all voted to banish her for being a suspected traitor. Cold as ice to our girl in blue. 

BANISHED: Brooke Howard-Smith (traitor)

I was genuinely crying with laughter when Brian the maggot wrangler doused Brooke Howard-Smith in creepy crawlies for his final solo mission. “Brian, take it easy!” he shrieked. “Brian! Oh my god they are so big, why are they so big? Why are they so big, Brian?” Perhaps Brian had a bout of cryotherapy himself, because he was extremely chill with ignoring Brooke’s yelps and even started adding cockroaches when the going got tough. 

Absolutely maggoted

“Brian, do to they bite?? They are feeling really itchy!!” Brooke pleaded as the cascade of cockroaches rained down on him. “Why would they be, why would they beeee??” he squealed, as his earplugs fell out and the cockroaches made a beeeeeline for every available orifice. “You forget about the maggots because the cockroaches are so active,” Brooke heaved. “Argh! Argh! I just want to live- argh! Now they are right up in my pants.” 

Please welcome to the stage: Papa Roach

Before he could even shake the final roach from his shorts, Brooke was back under the pump at Paul Henry’s fire pit, where the numbers were stacked against him and he was voted out at final three. “What a game,” he reflected. “I do not want to do it again”.

WINNER: Anna Reeve (faithful)

A true faithful from the very moment she whipped off her wig in episode one for fear of being branded deceitful, Anna Reeve was always going to last a while in this game. She showed unparalleled counting prowess, was unflappable in the face of confusing intruders (Zuggaballantyne) and made a few new “Pals” along the way. 

WINNER: Sam Smith (faithful) 

Also sharing in Paul Henry’s $59,000 pot o’ silver is comedian Sam Smith, who quite literally offered up his own scalp to the game in the form of a monk’s hair cut. “I did not get this haircut for some asshole to walk away with the money,” he told the camera, as his newly shaved head gleamed like one of Paul Henry’s forbidden tchotchkes. 

Sam also stepped into his potency in the finale by calling out Colin for spinning yarns and reminding us all that he is playing to show his two kids that “you have a disabled dad but that doesn’t mean anything.” How you can extract that much meaning from a challenge involving laser pointers and Paul Henry is beyond me, but things only got more emotional when Sam eventually took out the whole damn show. 

“People with MS, people with low vision, they can do anything,” he beamed. “Even win a random as murder mystery game show.”

Keep going!