Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers Final Thoughts

27 Dec

This will not go down in history as one of the great Survivor seasons, though it had its moments in the latter portion. Ben was certainly a worthy winner, but it’s a shame that his keys to victory and most memorable moments all involved idols or twists. He was neither a great challenge competitor nor did he have a great social game, but he outworked anyone else and was the only one able to keep a secret.

Good things about the season:

1) Some of the new twists livened up the game, like the clue hidden under the spaghetti or the ability to save a vote for a later tribal council.

2) Everyone who got close to the end was there to play hard and try to win the game. Nobody was riding anyone else’s coattails this season.

Bad things about the season:

1) Most of the idols and advantages were misplayed, and a couple of players misplayed more than one! Lauren managed to get herself voted out despite having an idol and an extra vote. Mike squandered a secret idol he could have used to deadly effect late in the game, and threw a half-idol in the fire for no other reason than to try to create a memorable TV moment.

2) Four of the first five episodes were pretty dull.

Feel free to follow this link to see if Ben cracked my best players of all time list.

Sorry, this year’s most successful alliance, Chrissy and Ryan, did not make my best alliances of all time list.

And while Alan was crazy and Mike made horrendous moves, those two were superstars compared to the players who made my list of the worst of all time.

You can check out my full rankings of the seasons here.


“To give you something to sleep on, there’s a twist.” Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers December 20 2017 Season Finale recap

26 Dec

Immediately after everyone gets back from tribal council, Ben heads off into the night to look for another hidden immunity idol. Since idols can be played until the final five, he’s banking that one is being put back in the game. Everyone else goes  to bed shortly, but not Ben, who tells us, “This is a mission … this is a job.” At daybreak he can’t stay awake anymore, but just when he starts to lie down to sleep, he sees a sign that says “dig,” and within moments he has found his third idol of the season.

In the morning Chrissy asks Ben “can we be friends again?” I figure this is a calculated move to try and get his jury vote, since she no doubt assumes Ben will be voted out next. I was right about the calculated move part, but Chrissy tells us it’s to get Ben to take her to the final four in case he wins immunity. But Ben tells us “it ain’t gonna work at all.”

At the challenge Jeff Probst hypes a brand-new puzzle, involving up lining balls with matching colors, as if it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, but there’s little drama in what turns into a Chrissy win, and we’re reminded that Ben, Devon, Mike, and Ryan have zero individual immunity wins between them (Chrissy won two previous ones, and the others were won by now-jury members Desi, Cole, and Lauren).

The challenge also comes with a reward, and Chrissy chooses Mike and Devon to join her on the feast. Mike gets the idea that an idol could be hidden at the feast (good thought) but then insists that the three of them jointly search for it (bad thought).

Chrissy has an idea: they can take her necklace from way back in the first episode, which lost its power after that episode, and tell Ben it’s an idol that they’ve just found. Ryan still has the instruction sheet from the idol he used to have in his pants, lending credence to the story.

Back at camp this is shown to Ben and he checks the necklace and the instructions. He plays along, but as he walks away he has a good chuckle — he knows the idol can’t be real since he just found the real one (and of course, any idol Chrissy would have had in prior weeks would have been played by now). Also, this has done Ben a favor — now he doesn’t have to put up a pretense of going out to search for an idol. By the way, Ben does a hilarious Chrissy impersonation as he recounts their conversation to us viewers.

So whom is Ben going to target? Chrissy is immune, and Ben dismisses Ryan as a threat. So is it Devon or Mike? Mike has been decent at challenges and puzzles so far.

Speaking of Devon, he’s suspicious that Ben isn’t trying harder at the moment for someone who is doomed to be voted out. Surely Ben can’t have an idol, but Devon contemplates casting his vote for Mike just in case. The downside could be that Mike could become mad at Devon and not  want to take him to the final three.

Tribal council is pretty straightforward, but we do see a shot of Devon with a suspicious look in his eye.

The votes are cast, and Jeff asks if anyone wants to play an immunity idol. Chrissy arrogantly asks if anyone wants the one she’s holding. And then Ben pulls out his boot and whips out the real idol, making the same “explosion” noise he made last episode. And for good measure, he pulls out the fake idol he made previously and puts it around his neck, just to match Chrissy as it were.

The votes are read, and we see the expected votes for Ben that now do not count. There is a vote for Devon … and a vote for Mike! So we have a 1-1 tie. Mike asks Devon if he wrote his name down, and Devon says yes.

There’s a re-vote and Devon and Mike cannot vote. Surprisingly, the vote is 2-1 for Mike, who leaves the game. Before the remaining players file out, Probst tells them “Just to give you something to sleep on, there’s a twist.”

In Mike’s parting words he tells us he would have won if he’d been at the finals. Chrissy and Ryan, the two who voted for him, obviously agree. I will take their word for that obviously since they’re the ones playing the game, but I will say that a Mike win would have been a complete travesty. He’s a likeable fellow but he made some horrible game decisions.

We then cut to the CBS studio where Probst interviews Mike in front of a live audience. I hate it when they this cut back and forth to live content, but won’t belabor the point here!

When the remaining four players return to camp, Devon tells Ben that Ben’s vote was the first one Devon has received all game, which is impressive.

Time for the climactic final immunity challenge. Probst announces that whoever wins the challenge will also get the final secret advantage of the game.

The challenge is to set up blocks spelling out HEROES HEALERS HUSTLERS on a very wobbly platform. The platform can be locked in place using a foot pedal when it’s time to run back to get more puzzle pieces, but even the act of locking can make the platform wobble a tiny bit.

By the way, I find that all of a sudden I’m cheering for Ben to win the game. Up to now I haven’t been a fan at all, mainly because the producers are such obvious fans and can’t lay on his “American hero” storyline thick enough. I guess my sudden rooting interest comes from Ben having been everyone’s prime target for weeks on end, combined with Devon showing  a somewhat more villainous side over the last couple of weeks.

Ben has all three of the puzzle words in place. Can he lock the platform without them falling over? Yes! But as we viewers were shown a few moments previously in a closeup, the U in HUSTLERS is upside-down. Probst takes a look and says the challenge isn’t over. Ben just has to unlock and flip one letter, but he panics a bit and almost all of his letters come crashing to the ground!

Then the other three players lose all or almost all of their respective blocks. Then Ben has all three words again and drops them. Finally Chrissy gets them right and wins her fourth individual immunity.

In private, Chrissy reads the secret advantage. It says she will be casting the only vote at tribal council, and that will be a vote to choose which of the other three joins her in the final three. Then the other two players have to compete in a fire-making challenge, with the winner getting the third and last spot in the finals.

Of course Chrissy wants someone to beat Ben, and she quickly tells us she doesn’t think Ryan has ever made a fire in his life. That means Devon is the obvious choice to compete against Ben. She tells Devon about the twist so he can practice before tribal council, and she also tells Ryan. Devon goes off to practice but soon his flint breaks, so much for that!

When we get to the actual challenge, alas Devon never gets any kind of flame going and Ben has a raging fire before too long, keeping him in the game (which he certainly would have left without this twist).

So the final three has Ben going against Chrissy and Ryan, whom I identified in my last post at the two biggest goats. Surely this is going to be a blowout win for Ben?

Before the players leave for the final council, Ryan lets us know he wants to persuade everyone that he was controlling the whole game, though he admits “that’s a complete lie.”

The final episode is a two-hour show as usual, and final tribal council starts at the 1:51 mark, then after Probst’s preamble and a commercial we’re at the 1:57 mark! So anyone who set the DVR to only record the episode and not the one-hour reunion show was in for an unpleasant surprise.

Tribal council has the same roundtable-type format as the prior season did. One interesting result of this comes when Ryan makes some claims that involve him and Devon and the jury asks fellow juror Devon if he can confirm them, which he does.

Early on, Joe says Ryan is the only one of the three who had a social game. Ryan is surprisingly impressive at tribal council. He points out that he was at 13 of the 15 tribal councils, yet was never on the chopping block. I think if he steals a vote it will be from Chrissy rather than Ben.

Meanwhile, Ashley is heaping praise on Chrissy. Desi not so much, she asks the same question we viewers have been asking for weeks: why did nobody shadow Ben when he went off to search for idols?

20 minutes into the “reunion show,” we get to the vote. Lauren votes for Ben. Devon votes for Ryan. Ashley votes for Chrissy. Surely the latter two are the only votes for Ryan and Chrissy?

At the 24 minute mark of the reunion show, the votes are read. The winner is … Ben! He got five votes from the eight-person jury. Ryan got Devon’s vote as noted above, and Chrissy got two (in addition to Ashley’s, it’s later revealed that her second vote came from Mike).

Ben hugs his family as you’d expect, but there’s another emotional moment soon after as a few of Ben’s old Marine buddies take the stage. They haven’t seen Ben in twelve years.

Probst jokes that this was intended to be the “season of secrets” with all the many idols and advantages strewn in, but in the actual game everyone kept blabbing out the secrets, except for Ben!

We see a preview of the next season,”Survivor: Ghost Island,” that will have new players somehow reliving bad decisions made in past seasons.

And not too much else happens since the reunion is half the usual length, with hardly anyone outside of the final five heard from at all.  Not that I’m bemoaning that development, as not much of substance ever happens at these reunions anyway. Jeff Probst somehow even resisted the temptation to ask if Cole and Jessica were still a couple.

That end my recap, but I’ll be back with final thoughts on the season.









“Secret, secret, secret!” Survivor Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers December 13, 2017 recap

16 Dec

After everyone gets back from Tribal Council, Ben goes to fetch water, and the other five players are quick to say Ben has to go next. Come daybreak, Ben is up before anyone and goes looking for a hidden immunity idol, to no avail.

The reward challenge is played by teams of two, randomly chosen. The team of Devon and Chrissy wins, and they are allowed to choose one person to join them. They choose Ryan, and Chrissy is quite outraged, and when the others get back to camp we see Mike’s outraged too. And Ben tells us that Mike is his next target, which is strange since Mike seems like a good person to go to the finals with. And Mike is not worried about Ben finding an idol, since Mike has scoured both the beach and the woods and not found it.

At the reward, an overnight stay at a resort, Chrissy proposes a final three alliance between the three of them (herself, Ryan, and Devon) and Devon says he would love it. And why wouldn’t he, since sitting next to those two at the finals seems a best case scenario? More discussion on that at the end of this recap.

Time for the immunity challenge (this is day 36 by the way). The final stage of the puzzle is fitting cogs together to form a machine that will unfurl a flag. Chrissy is the winner.

When everyone gets back to camp, Ben goes to “get water.” The obvious move for the others is to shadow him everywhere to prevent his finding an idol, but oddly nobody does that. Ben tells us “these people are crazy for not followin’ me.”

Ashley suggests the vote be split between Ben and Mike. But when Ashley is gone (but Mike is around), Chrissy tells everyone else to vote Ashley, and says they can take out Ben at a later time. Mike warns that Ben “has a ferocity that transcends this game.” Surprisingly, Devon is one of the people Chrissy is talking to when she proposes ousting Ashley. Chrissy must be really confident in that final three deal they made earlier.

Ben continues to look for the idol, and finally he does find a clue. It says the idol is tied to the underside of the tribe’s shelter! So Ben has to find a way too grab it discreetly while pretty much in plain sight. While everyone else chats about their favorite kinds of bagels, Ben lies on the shelter floor and discreetly gropes around underneath. And all of this very shortly before Tribal Council. We don’t find out whether he has found it.

At tribal council, Devon antagonizes Ben a bit for the second time this episode. Devon has come across as pretty villainous lately!

Then well before it’s time to vote, Ben pulls out his newfound idol and hangs it around his neck. “Secret, secret, secret!” he says in a singsong voice, then makes an “explosion” sound and accompanying hand gesture. Devon expresses doubt that Ben will play the idol, so Ben hands it to Jeff Probst then and there, before the vote. That may be a first in Survivor history!

Ben tells everyone they should vote Mike, but when the votes are read, there is just one vote for Mike and all the rest are for … Ashley. She accepts a hug from Ben on her way out, but declines one from Devon.

Frankly I think this was a good move by everyone — see my last post where I ranked Ashley as the player with the best chance to win the game!

Normally I would say Ben’s early idol hand-in was a bad move since there is no downside to playing the idol after the vote, with the potential upside of getting a vibe that all the votes are going elsewhere in which case one can hold onto one’s idol. But in this case it probably wasn’t a bad move since Ben was the #1 target no matter what. But unanswered is the question of why Ben voted for Ashley after telling everyone he was voting for Mike.

So who should each player be trying to go to the final three with? I would think Devon, Ben, and Mike should all want to go with Chrissy and Ryan. I just can’t envision any of the six already-seated jury members with the exception of J.P. voting for Chrissy — she sparred with Joe and Ashley, she voted to oust Desi, was on the other side of the votes from Lauren, and just doesn’t seem like the type Cole would favor. And I can’t see anyone on the jury being a Ryan fan. Not that Mike has made any effective moves, but he does have three of his former Healers mates on the jury at least. Chrissy‘s path to winning is tough to find — perhaps if she does something amazing between now and the final council and then goes to the end with Ben and Ryan? She could argue that Ryan did the same things as she did but fewer of them, and hope that enough people are mad at Ben. I know I’m reaching a bit here. I guess Ryan‘s best shot would be that same trio and hoping that enough people dislike Chrissy and are mad at Ben. Very long odds.

Contenders: 1. Devon, 2. Ben, 3. Mike, 4. Chrissy, 5. Ryan

No chance: All remaining players have a chance this time.

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Desi (Mike), Cole (Devon), J.P. (Chrissy), Joe (Mike), Lauren (Devon), Ashley (Ben)

“We don’t want idols, we don’t want advantages.” Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers December 6, 2017 recap

6 Dec

Ryan now knows Ben is not really with him and Chrissy, by virtue of how the votes turned out. Chrissy tells her former ally Ben he’s “extremely dishonorable … you’re such a jerk, Ben.”

The players’ loved ones are introduced, including Lauren’s sister who — before running over to hug Lauren — runs over to hug Jeff Probst! The loved ones’ introductions go on for so long I figured this must be a slow episode. Boy, was I wrong about that!

Determining who gets to spend time with their loved ones is done by drawing rocks, not particularly exciting. I wonder if they had a whole challenge set up that fell through for some reason?

Since Ryan played an idol last Tribal Council, Ben figures a new one must have been placed in the game. He makes a fake idol to plant somewhere, figuring Chrissy or Ryan will find it and stop looking for the real one. But not long thereafter, Lauren finds an idol clue and alerts Ben. The clue actually has a strap that’s half of an idol, with a note that the shell making up the other half of that idol is going to be at the next immunity challenge!

The challenge is one we’ve seen before, involving pressing two discs at arm’s length against some blocks. Each player has a custom-made station to fit his or her maximum wingspan. “This will hurt,” Probst announces more than once. The shell that’s half of an immunity idol is half-buried in the sand in front of Lauren’s station.

A couple of players’ discs fall to the ground, knocking them out, then Lauren gingerly places her discs on the ground, withdrawing from the competition. “My shoulders are done,” she lies, unable to suppress a smile that nobody seems to see. Then she just picks up the shell. The producers missed an opportunity here, that was way too easy!

It comes down to Devon and Ashley, and Devon negotiates a neck massage in return for dropping out of the challenge.

Ashley has immunity, but she continues to worry about not having big moves to her credit, so she revives the plan to oust Ben that was discussed but not implemented last time. Devon isn’t totally against it but says Chrissy should go before Ben. The two of them and Lauren carelessly discuss it by the well, not noticing that Ben is coming. I have decided I need to tally the dumb moves in this episode so I will call this Ashley, Lauren, and Devon Dumb Move #1. They also compound it by falling completely silent when Ben comes around the corner. Sloppy!

Ben is very suspicious. Soon, he asks Mike if he’d like to make a big move, and he tells Mike about Lauren’s idol. The problem is, to get enough votes against Lauren they need Chrissy, who hates Ben right now. Ben tells Chrissy about both Lauren’s idol and Lauren’s extra vote advantage, saying Lauren has too much power. “We’re back in this together,” he tells Chrissy.

However, Chrissy tells Mike she is still leaning toward voting for Ben. So Mike says he needs a Plan B. So Mike tells Ashley that Ben told Chrissy everything.

Ashley: “What did he tell her?”

Mike: “Things you haven’t told me! Idols, advantages …”

Mike goes on to tell Ashley and Devon that Lauren is the target. Then Lauren gives Mike half of her idol as a sign of trust. Yes, you read that right. I am going to call this Lauren Dumb Move #2. Mike immediately tells us it’s the stupidest move in Survivor history.

At Tribal Council, Devon lists his allies without mentioning Ben, and Ashley and Lauren waste no time attacking Ben. Wow, this went sour quick!

And then, for whatever reason, Lauren reveals that she needs to have the extra vote advantage with her to use it, and she intentionally left it back at camp (Lauren Dumb Move #3)! “Do whatever y’all feel the need to do,” she says. And she tells about Ben’s fake idol plan. Ben takes the fake idol out of his pocket and hangs it around his neck.

The Mike says, “I’ve wanted to do this for, like, 15 years,” and throws the half-idol shell Lauren gave him into the fire (Mike Dumb Move #1, at least). He has a dopey grin on his face afterwards. Mike isn’t reluctant to make splashy moves but all of them are horrible splashy moves!

Probst observes, “It’s interesting that you guys have decided ‘I don’t want idols, I don’t want advantages.'”

Regarding the extra vote advantage, Lauren tells Chrissy “Do you want it? You can have it.” Oo-kay. Looks like everyone except Chrissy and Ryan is flat-out self-destructing today.

The conversation comes around to Ben who has revealed everyone else’s secrets consistently. “Who trusts you? No one.” Devon says. Meanwhile Ryan whispers to Mike “We have to keep the vote Lauren.”

More conversations ensue. Some of them are: Devon tells Mike they should get rid of Ben and don’t need the votes of Ryan or Chrissy to do it. And Mike tells Chrissy she should vote Ben, and she says no.

After the votes, Probst says this would be the time to play an idol. Ben says that in addition to his fake one he has a real one, and he plays it.

As it turns out, every vote was for Ben, except of course for Ben’s vote, and he votes Lauren. So none of the Ben votes count, and Lauren is out of the game on the strength of just one vote. Lauren giggles and wears an insipid smile.

I’ve had Lauren on my “no chance to win” list since very early on since I figured she was just too unsophisticated to win. There were times in between when she looked like a mastermind, but ultimately I seem to have been proven right. This episode is one of the worst cases of Survivor self-destruction ever.

And not only did she torpedo her own chances, she could have torpedoed those of Ashley and Devon too. There seems to be a pretty good chance that the other four will now turn against the two of them.

Contenders: 1. Ashley, 2. Devon, 3. Chrissy, 4. Ryan, 5. Ben, 6. Mike

No chance: none

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Desi (Mike), Cole (Devon), J.P. (Ashley), Joe (Mike), Lauren (Ashley)

“I see the power blinding them.” Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers November 29 2017 recap

6 Dec

This episode had as much gameplay as the rest of the season combined, so we have a lot to get to!

After Tribal Council, Joe tells Mike “that was a stupid reason to play your idol,” and I couldn’t agree more. Mike tells us he did all this to ensure Joe stuck around, because Cole wouldn’t ever form a duo with Mike but Joe would. I’m not sure how Mike using an idol on himself was supposed to help Joe, though. And Joe points out it might have been advisable to talk through such a big move with one’s “teammate” first.

The reward challenge is one we’ve seen before, involving stacking blocks using only one’s feet. Lauren, who is emerging as quite the challenge threat, wins it. Her choice of person to bring along is surprisingly not Ben, but Devon. Her second and third choices are Ben and Ashley, and Lauren tells us she had strategic reasons for choosing them.

Mike and Joe aren’t on the reward, but Mike says they might as well “bust a few jokes … like Siskel and Ebert.” They dub themselves the Coconuts and start up a nonstop comedy routine. Their jokes are less like Siskel and Ebert and more like a 1920s vaudeville act.

Chrissy and Ryan, also not on the reward, discuss whom to get rid of after Joe and Mike. Ryan says Ben first and then Lauren, and Chrissy agrees. They let us know that they are thinking a step ahead of anyone else in the game.

Well, they’re wrong about that. On the reward, information is shared. Devon tells everyone that Ryan has an idol, and Lauren tells everyone about her advantage. They (Devon, Lauren, Ashley, and Ben) make a final four pact and resolve to use the next vote to eliminate Chrissy, Ryan, or J.P.. Then they all get letters from their loved ones, which is something I always fast-forward through on my trusty Tivo.

Then we cut to … Jeff Probst on his couch at home? He reminds us that this us a two-hour episode. Weird! After the commercial, Ben finds an idol that he vows not to tell anyone about.

The immunity challenge is the “balance on top of a floating doghouse” game that’s been done a couple of times before, memorably in Fans vs. Favorites II. Probst says if anyone feels safe they can forgo the challenge and eat chocolate and peanut butter. Devon, Ben, and Lauren take the offer. Ben even offers Probst some of the food, which I don’t believe has ever happened before. Ashley outlasts Dr. Mike to win the challenge.

The group of seven gets together and decides to target Mike since he would be a less expected vote than Joe. But then we hear Devon’s thoughts.

Devon tells us viewers, “I look at Chrissy and Ryan and I see the power blinding them. I see the cluelessness in how confident they’re acting. It’s mind-blowing. That needs to be changed, and myself [sic] along with the alliance is going to be the one to change that.”

Devon then has an additional idea. Not only does he want to vote for Chrissy, Ryan, or J.P. but he suggests that Ben vote for Mike to make Chrissy and co. think that Ben is still with them! Of course, without Ben’s vote they only have three votes, so to make this work they need Joe and Mike to vote with them. The Coconuts are easily recruited. Mike exults, “All of a sudden the court jester has become Merlin, and I’m going to make them disappear one by one.”

To explain the prior reference: in the last episode Joe mockingly dubbed the group of seven the Knights of the Round Table, with Ben as King Arthur. I think this might be only the fourth alliance name ever on Survivor, after the Black Widow Brigade (Parvati, Amanda, Cirie, Alexis, and Natalie from Fans vs. Favorites), the Four Horsemen (Alex, Mookie, Edgardo, and Dreamz from Survivor: Fiji), and the Three Amigos (Malcolm, Eddie, and Reynold from Fans vs. Favorites II). And if I’m wrong, I will say those are the only memorable prior alliance names. And who knows if The Knights of the Round Table and/or the Coconuts will have staying power. Probably not.

At Tribal Council, we see votes for Joe and Mike, then two votes for J.P., then a third for J.P…. and that’s when we see the reaction shots. Ryan is agape, Devon smiles, and Ben has to suppress a smile. As the tribe walks out, the Coconuts proudly raise up their torches.

The question is: why J.P? Seems like he was by far the least threatening of the three, why not vote Ryan and also get his idol out?

As the second half of the double episode begins, Ben plays his role well by bashing Joe, which doesn’t take too much acting since he hates Joe! Meanwhile catty Chrissy is outraged that others are being a bit catty for a change. And Devon declines to answer a few questions on the grounds of the answers being confidential information.

Later, Devon tells Ryan that his annoyance about not being the only one to know about Ryan’s idol was what caused him to distrust Ryan. Ryan says he saw the two of them and Lauren as the final three.

Then we see a confessional from Devon telling us that he’s in full control, calling the shots, etc. This is not 15 minutes of show time after we saw him bash Ryan and Chrissy for being too overconfident!

The reward challenge is a generic affair, won by the team of Joe, Devon, Ben, and Ashley. On the reward Ben continues his playacting, for Joe’s benefit alone.

Back at camp, Ryan decides to try and bring Dr. Mike over to his side so he will have the numbers once again (since he thinks Ben is still with him). Ryan tells Mike he still wants to work with him. But Mike counters by pointing out he made proposals to Ryan every day for a week and they were all turned down. Plus, he says Ryan told him right before Tribal Council that he wasn’t voting for him, and yet he still did.

More or less simultaneously, Chrissy puts on a fake smile and tells Lauren that she (Chrissy) and Ryan had Lauren in their final three plans all along. Lauren isn’t buying it. Chrissy moans to us that unlike here, “in the real world I’m always in control of everything.”

The immunity challenge involves driving a one-wheeled wheelbarrow with a pot balanced on it, then solving an anagram puzzle. And it’s won by …. Chrissy, which is terrible for Devon’s alliance because she’s immune now and Ryan has an idol. So that alliance decides to target Joe, and spins the Coconuts a fake story that they fall for.

And meanwhile Chrissy and Ryan tell their “ally” Ben that they want to target Ashley and Devon.

Lauren isn’t done scheming. She tells Ashley that it would be crazy to take Ben to the final four. Ashley agrees. They put it to Devon who says “Wow!” (which is his reaction to everything.

At Tribal Council, Mike and Joe talk about how safe they feel now that they finally have an alliance. Ashley looks so stressed that I figure the Ben plan must have been greenlit. The votes are cast, and Ryan plays his idol. There are two votes for Ryan (by Joe and Mike), two for Ashley (Ryan and Chrissy) and the rest are for … Joe.

Contenders: 1. Devon, 2. Ashley, 3. Ben, 4. Chrissy, 5. Ryan, 6. Mike

No chance: Lauren

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Desi (Mike), Cole (Devon), J.P. (Ashley), Joe (Mike)

“Squatting is never fun.” Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers November 22 2017 recap

26 Nov

Ten people are left in the game.

Mike tells us his strategy will now be to protect himself by bringing up the names of the other Healers (Joe and Cole) as candidates to be voted out. Ben says he hasn’t told anyone about Lauren’s advantage. Incredibly, as far as we viewers know, not one player noticed that there was one vote too few cast at the last Tribal Council.

Also, Ryan reveals to Devon that he has an idol. Their conversation includes this dialogue which will be important later:

Devon: “No one knows.”

Ryan: “Yeah.”

Devon: “No one, that’s never leaking.”

Ryan: “I know.”

The reward challenge is a water challenge at which we are reminded that Ashley is a lifeguard and a great swimmer. But the most impressive swimming is actually by J.P.

The reward-winning team has the three healers Mike, Joe, and Cole, as well as Chrissy and J.P. enjoying a feast on the deck of a yacht. Cole chows down on the reward feast, pointing out to us viewers that he has only lost one challenge so far this entire season, so if he’s well-fed, watch out. Part of the feast is a big chocolate cake that Joe slices every which way in case there’s an idol clue in there. He’s clearly on the chopping block so it doesn’t matter if everyone sees him. The yacht then sails past the other tribe’s beach. The other players race out to the beach to moon them as they sail by.

Back at camp, Ryan takes Ben aside and … tells him about the idol! Ben says he won’t mention it to anyone.

Later, Ben says he and Lauren are going to need a third person to align with, which I find fascinating because he doesn’t count Chrissy, who he’s supposedly in a tight alliance with! The person Ben wants to talk to is Devon. He tells Devon that Ryan has an idol. “Really? Wow,” Devon says.

Devon is blown away, because Ryan told Devon that he was he only person who knew. Though that’s not exactly what happened in the part of the conversation we saw: see the quotation above. And in any case Chrissy definitely knows about Ryan’s idol as well, as we saw last week. But the facts aside, Devon takes this development, or perceived development, to mean he can’t trust Ryan now. He tells us, “I’m going to move on [from Ryan]. I’m going to play this game with Ben, and I’m gonna have to make some big moves comin’ up.”

The challenge is a new one in which the players have to maintain a squatting position with bars on their shoulders (this is like something a physical therapist would come up with). The key is that they can’t raise up too high or squat down too low. “Squatting is never fun,” Probst observes. The challenge comes down to Cole and Lauren, but Lauren wins.

So now Cole’s only hope is that everyone is so mad at Joe they’ll vote him out instead. I’m not buying the suggestion that this has any chance of happening.

Ben quickly gets word out to his alliance that they have to split votes between Cole and Mike. Huh? It seems odd that they would worry about an immunity idol after none was played last week. Ashley asks why not Cole and Joe, since Joe has been doing his best to provoke her and others for days. Ben won’t hear of it. And it turns out Devon and Chrissy would both rather vote out Joe as well. All agree that Ben is being too domineering here.

Ben tells Mike that the vote will be for Cole. Mike tells us, “Every person that I’ve trusted has betrayed my trust. So I’m not playing their game. I gotta do something to send one of these threats home. I’m gonna make the world implode by playing my idol.”

At the start of Tribal Council, Mike tells Joe to follow his lead, but Mike’s lead is to grandstand and say that it’s unethical for the others to think Joe shouldn’t be there and then not vote out Joe.

The vote takes place, Probst asks about idols, and Mike stands up to play his … on himself.  All of the votes are for Cole except one vote for Ben, so Cole becomes the second jury member.

Yes, I said there was one vote for Ben, meaning Mike and Joe both voted Cole. So why in the world did Mike just play his idol on himself? It makes no sense whatsoever.

Contenders: 1. Devon, 2. Ashley, 3. Ryan, 4. Chrissy, 5. Ben 6. Mike

No chance: Lauren, Joe, J.P.

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Desi (Joe), Cole (Joe)

Spaghetti Alla Probst: Survivor Heroes vs. Healer vs. Hustlers November 15, 2017 recap

17 Nov

Lauren finds the advantage that’s hidden among the construction nails, which Cole had his fingers inches away from last episode but didn’t notice. The advantage is the opportunity to save a vote for a later tribal council rather than using it immediately. To have it take effect, you don’t write down a name at Tribal Council and instead take the parchment with you. Lauren immediately starts worrying about whether she could pull this off without the others noticing that something is amiss.

It’s Day 20. Jeff Probst announces that the reward challenge is a spaghetti meal. There’s an odd number of players, so one person won’t be chosen for a team (by random draw) and that person will join the winners for the meal.

After the reward has been won by a team of Ryan, Chrissy, Devon, J.P., and Cole, Probst announces a twist: only one person will eat at a time, in private, with Joe deciding the order.

Joe puts himself last in line and Devon first. Devon eats his share of the big plate (or perhaps more) and as he leaves we see that the letter B has been exposed, printed on the plate with the rest still hidden under the spaghetti. J.P. eats next and doesn’t notice the writing. But Cole does, and he exposes the rest of the message to find out that there’s an immunity idol hidden under the tribe flag back at camp.

Obviously as more spaghetti gets eaten it’s impossible to hide the clue. So Cole takes the cheesecloth that’s under the plate and puts it on top of the plate with the spaghetti on top of that. Amusingly, Chrissy seems to think nothing of the spaghetti being served on cloth! She does suspect a clue must be there somewhere, though, and quickly finds it, figuring she is the first to do so. Ryan comes next and finds the clue also. And just to leave nothing to chance, he buries the plate in the forest.

While Joe finishes off the food unaware of any of this, Chrissy whispers to Ryan about the clue, and it’s not very subtle since Cole is lying right next to her.

Once they’re back at camp, Ryan sees Cole head off to use the bathroom and he sees his chance (Couldn’t Cole have held it in until taking care of more important things?). Ryan digs under the flag, quickly finds the idol, and sticks it in his pants and walks away. Chrissy goes to cover up the sand and Cole plunges in and starts to dig as Chrissy yells for reinforcements. Ben tells everyone Cole stuck the idol in his pants and Cole doesn’t deny it, figuring a bluff is better than nothing.

The immunity challenge involves holding up a statuette by bracing the end of a long pole against it. There’s an odd sight as Probst says you can see Ryan’s heart beating, and by golly he is so skinny that you actually can! It comes down to Desi, Cole, and JP, then just the two men. Cole, who is clearly the one on the chopping block, does manage to win and gets a round of applause.

With Cole immune, that means Desi, Joe, and Mike are possible targets. There is a plan to split votes 4-4 between Desi and Joe since Joe might have an idol. But how would Lauren avoid using her vote in a split? That would leave just 3 votes on one side, and the four healers could either force a tie, or worse, pull in another person.

Joe tells Devon and Ryan that they are foolish to let Ben run the show, because they can’t beat him. Both have terrified looks on their faces because they know Ben is nearby eavesdropping. Ryan tells us Joe is right, but now isn’t the time to make a move.

Joe tells Ben he heard he swore on the Marines to three different people. His aim is to get under Ben’s skin, and he succeeds.

Lauren tells Ben about her advantage and says there’s no way they can split the votes now. Ben wants to split them anyway and recruit one of the Healers to make up the missing vote, that person being Mike, who listens because he figures this might be his way to get up from the bottom.

Jeff Probst thinks this Tribal Council is fascinating and wonderful, I found it quite boring with just the obvious being belabored. However, we do have the drama of what Lauren will do, and her face is the picture of stress every time we see it. As she goes to vote, I have to applaud the producers for taking two straightforward and pretty dull parts of the game (a reward feast and the voting process) and adding interesting twists to both this episode. Sure enough, she rolls up a blank parchment and sticks it in her shirt, and pops the “advantage rules “parchment into the voting urn instead.

The vote is: 4 for Joe, 4 for Desi, and one each for Ben and Lauren. Nobody seems to notice in the moment that that only totals 10. Time for a revote, in which only Joe and Desi can be voted for. Presumably this situation was covered in Lauren’s advantage rules – she knocks her parchment off the opposite edge of the table and pantomimes putting a vote in the urn.

Desi is voted out, and Probst tells us she becomes the first member of the jury. Presumably she was voted for over Joe because she did so well in the last couple of challenges.

An odd note: not only did Dr. Mike vote for Joe, Cole did as well for whatever reason, and Joe and Desi voted Ben and Lauren respectively.

Contenders: 1. Devon, 2. Ashley, 3. Ben, 4. Ryan, 5. Chrissy, 6. Mike

No chance: Lauren, Joe, J.P., Cole

Jury and who I think they’ll vote for: Desi (Joe)