Hello good people and a Merry Christmas to all you Survivor crazies out there! Thanks for coming back to join me for the final episode of the 35th season of our favorite reality show, Survivor. Tonight's the night we've been waiting for. Finale night. Someone will take home the crown of Sole Survivor of season 35 and the million dollar check that goes with it.
Survivor: HHH - Episode 13 Recap - Part 1
Million Dollar Night
By Jim Van Nest
December 26, 2017
This season has gone from a downright drag in the pre-merge, to a predictable Pagonging in the immediate post-merge to a pretty darn entertaining end game. This has been a very likable cast with no real villains to speak of and several people that fans would be ok with as a winner. There is, however, 1 overwhelming favorite of the majority of fans and that's former Marine Ben Driebergen. Ben was picked out as "the biggest threat in the game" as far back as during casting (by Dr. Mike) and as early as the first episode by both the Healer and Hustler tribes. Ben has an amazing story as he suffers from PTSD and is very open about it as well as the love affair with his wife. He's stolen the hearts of Survivor fans and has also thrilled the crowd with a Ben-bomb or two - as back to back idols have taken out Lauren and Ashley.
Sparring with Ben for most of the game is Chrissy. An older (by Survivor standards) woman in the game - at 47 years old, she is the oldest player of the season. She has proven to be an immunity threat, with 2 wins already as well as a strategic threat, putting together alliances and tearing others down. She struggles in the social game a bit, but with a great showing in the finale she could easily take home the million. Her partner in crime is Ryan, a bellhop from New Jersey. They formed an early bond based on a Day 1 immunity idol Ryan found and gifted to Chrissy. They have worked hand in hand from the first moment of the tribe swap and have stuck together through everything. Ryan has been touted for his social game, but he has NO physical game, no camp life game and there's a concern that he's just an onlooker to Chrissy's strategic game. His goal tonight is to do something to set himself apart from his immunity wearing partner in crime and give the jurors a reason to vote for him.
I can't exactly pinpoint what has gotten Dr. Mike to the final 5, if I'm being honest. He definitely has the season record for "times blindsided" and "most votes for the wrong person". And yet, here he is with an actual shot to win this season. His uphill battle, though, will be the fact that he has been left out of several votes, has been used as a pawn for other votes and has no real strategic move to call his own - short of throwing Lauren's idol in the fire, which he then negated by voting WITH Lauren against Ben. Mike has been a lot of fun at camp and it would seem that everyone in the cast loves him, but he hasn't shown too much of a physical or strategic game and I worry that if he makes the end, that will come back to haunt him. I'm not saying he doesn't have a strategic game, just that his game has not had the chance to emerge due to the play going on around him.
And finally, there's Devon. The surfer bro from Cali has quietly put together the single best game this season. His pre-game strategy was to really up his "Spicoli factor" to get the other players to both love him and underestimate him. It has worked to a tee. Everyone loves Devon and it's only AFTER they get voted out that they realize the smart, cut-throat, strategic game he's playing. He has been in on every decision since the merge, save Ben's decision to vote out Lauren 2 Tribals ago. He turned on his ride or die partner last week, Ashley. He has done everything he needs to do to win this game except make it to the end and prepare a speech for the jury to outline what moves he made and how he really has been the one running the show. The problem with Devon is that I'm sure he's #2 on the hit list after Ben - so my prediction of Devon being voted out at Final 4 might be the only end game prediction I get right. If Ben and Devon make the finals - I think Ben wins in a squeaker. If Devon makes it with any combination of the remaining players, I think he wins. And I think he wins big.
Alrighty - with the table set, let's get to the episode, shall we? We begin tonight's episode with Jeff doing a 3 minute walk-through of the live finale audience and all the fun activities they have going on there followed by a 5-minute recap and setting up of the finale. So, at the 8 minute mark of the episode, we finally begin. We come back to camp after Tribal and Mike thanks everyone for keeping him and sending home Ashley. No sooner do they hit the beach and Ben heads off into the woods - apparently idol hunting. The group of four determines 2 things here. The first is that Ben has to go. Chrissy tells them to not even entertain any kind of discussion with him. The second thing is that there is NO WAY he'll find a third idol in a row. After fistbumping in their final four pact, they start to wonder where Ben went off to in the dark. Well, let's just see where Ben went.
We see him at the well getting water. He tells us that he knows they're coming for him and the idol is the only thing that can save him now. We see him digging all around the well, pretty much in the dark, hoping to find something. He tells us that while everyone is tucked away and sleeping, he's out looking for the idol. He has one hope in this and for him; this is much more than a game. It's a job. He's doing this to provide a better life for his family and he simply will not quit. We get a series of shots of Ben searching all over the place for an idol, still in the dark. When he finally comes out of the woods, it's starting to get light as the picture has changed from dark to that sepia tone that can only mean morning light. Completely exhausted and a bit downtrodden with his inability to find the only thing that will save him, he finally comes out to get some sleep by the raft. As he goes to lie down, there it is. X marks the spot on the back of the raft with the work "Dig". So he digs under the raft and comes up with what is his 3rd idol in a row. This will be the 3rd Tribal in a row that Ben will save himself with a hidden idol. WOW! As he heads off to sleep and we head to break, he tells us that he can't wait to land another Ben Bomb at the next Tribal. Everything's coming up Ben so far tonight.
We're back from the break, but I have to give a shout out to whoever decided that they should play the entire opening song and credits for this episode. I get that they want to give us as much show as possible every week, but once or twice, I do like to get the tingles that come along with that opening note of the theme song and then the full list of players and tribes through the entire opening credit sequence. So, that was nice, I liked it. Back to the show. Devon gets up and gets the camp fire going for everyone. Chrissy tells us that she and Ben have had such a bad split during the game and she wants to make up with him. So, she tries to see if they can be friends again. He says that they definitely can. He didn't really have a problem with her to begin with. She tells us that she's really doing this more as a game move than anything else. She wants to try to get some assurances that if she doesn't win immunity and Ben does, that someone else will be his target. So, she asks him that if he wins immunity, would he rather play the game by having the best 3 players at the end and would he consider taking her. He looks at her and just says, "I don't know." He tells us that it will never happen. We go back to the conversation and he asks her if she's willing to make the deal that if she wins immunity, she'll take HIM to the final 3. She just sits there, open-mouthed having no idea what to say. What this look said to me, and this is one of my biggest problems with Chrissy in this game, is that she was dumbfounded that the hillbilly with his big beard and big cowboy hat could possibly be smart enough to see through her fake little peace offering. This whole line of discussion is just so condescending to me. Let me throw you a rope that you can use to pull me along, just in case you win. If I win, been nice knowing ya, get the hell out. UGH! Thankfully, Ben knows what she's all about and vows that she's gone at the next Tribal.
And with that, it's time for a Probst sighting! Today's challenge has then diving into the water, climbing up some crates, jumping off and grabbing some keys. They'll swim on and collect another set of keys as they cross a balance beam. Once they have all the keys, they'll use them to unlock a puzzle. First one to complete the puzzle wins immunity and reward. Today's reward will enjoy some chicken, mashed potatoes, veggies and cheesecake back at camp. Let's get to it. Since all of these challenges end up the same, with everyone working on the puzzle, I'll skip the beginning and explain the puzzle. It's a color wheel with 5 spokes and some mixed up colored balls in them. The puzzle is to maneuver the balls, by using an empty 6th spoke, so that all the spokes are the same and match a pre-chosen pattern. This is basically a twist on one of the old slide puzzles. As I said earlier, everyone ends up working on the puzzle at the same time and it becomes a race to the end. As they struggle with it, I have to say that I'm starting to get over these types of challenges. Why even have the obstacle courses at all? They don't matter anymore. The only thing that matters is the puzzle. So, as horrible as you might be in the physical game, the swimming game, the balance game, the knot untying game, the endurance game or any other kind of game - as long as you're good at puzzles, you have nothing to worry about because you'll all end up on the puzzle at the same time. It's a horrible rut they've found themselves in with these types of challenges and I really hope that eventually they'll change it. And oh yeah, Chrissy wins her 3rd individual immunity challenge and guarantees herself a shot in the final 4. She gets to bring 2 people with her for her reward and she chooses Dr. Mike and Devon. Ben and Ryan head back to camp with no food in the future. As we head to break, Ben is bummed that Chrissy won't go home now and he'll have to use the afternoon to decide who he wants to be his next target.
We come back from break and the reward winners head off to their feast. First things first - they search everything looking for any kind of immunity idol clue. They could find nothing. Chrissy proposes a toast to them (and Ryan) being the Final 4. The discussion turns to Ben possibly pulling out a 3rd idol. Devon says that if he goes home because Ben has another idol, so be it. He really doesn't think there's a chance of it. Chrissy tells them she's glad to have Ryan back at camp keeping an eye on Ben. Speaking of, we come back to Ben kind of chuckling at Ryan for getting babysitting duty while the rest of them all eat. We head back to the eaters and Chrissy has this plan for finding the new idol, then using it, her necklace and the fake super idol to really put the pressure on Ben. Mike is taken aback by this. He didn't know she had a necklace for her super idol. He suggests they could either plant it so Ben finds it and will stop looking. Or, they can just wear the necklace and tell Ben that there was a clue at the reward and they found the idol using it. Again - this is in an attempt to stop him from looking and to try to contain him. Chrissy tells us that since Ben is so good at finding idols, she hopes her dead super idol can be enough to get him to stop looking. "It's so brilliant."
Once everyone's back in camp, Ben gets up and tells them he's going to go get some water and start looking. Chrissy tells him to not waste too much energy and she pulls out the necklace she's wearing. This whole scene both pisses me off and has me literally laughing out loud. The gloating and the air of superiority emanating from Chrissy right here had to be palpable. She is obviously the smartest person in the room and if you don't believe it, just ask her. She talks about 2 in one day and how she doesn't know which one she'll wear tonight. And you know what, if she actually DID find an idol and pulled this, it would be one of the shittiest displays of confidence and power ever show on a show that is chock full of shitty displays of confidence and power. The only think that makes this scene even watchable is knowing that Ben knows how full of shit she is. He heads out to get water and Ryan is sure he bought it hook, line and sinker. Which let them all know that he doesn't have an idol. We check in with Ben laughing at them saying that he knows the idol is a fake because he has the real one in his boot. He says she didn't get a two-fer; she got a one-fer. He also says that now he doesn't have to fake look for idols anymore. His job just got easier.
Ben tells us that now is the time for the big decision though. Who to get rid of. He wants to keep people he might be able to beat in the final 4 immunity, so Ryan is safe. He can't win anything. He's debating between Devon and Dr. Mike. He says that Devon is good at everything, but Mike is really good at the puzzles. Is he? Is he really though? We join an innocent conversation with Devon asking Ben is he's bummed about tonight. He says that he's really not, it is what it is and he'll be getting a good meal tonight. The conversation just seems to go a little wonky and Devon tells us that he's not so sure it was a good thing. He tells us that it seems like Ben has just given up and there's no way he would give up. Maybe he does have another idol. Devon is sitting with Ryan asking who he thinks Ben is voting for. He tells Ryan that he got a weird vibe and is thinking of throwing a vote on Doc tonight, just in case. He's worried that everyone will vote Ben and then Ben will play and idol and knock him out of the game. If he votes Doc, at least there will be a tie. He's worried that if he votes Mike and Mike stays, that he might not take him to the final 3. He just has a bad feeling about things tonight and tells Ryan that he might make a change at Tribal tonight if thinks seem off.
We get to Tribal and Jeff asks about what happens after Tribal. Ryan says that everyone was just happy to still be in the game. Devon confirms that Ben is definitely the target for the entire group tonight. Jeff asks the burning question that everyone wants to know, how Ben is ever left alone to keep finding idols. Chrissy says that it's just too much to keep up with him and that he gets up in the middle of the night and that everyone is just tired and exhausted. And yet, Ben keeps finding idols. Hmmmm. Dr. Mike says that he spent his share of time babysitting Ben AND looking for the idol and he just couldn't find anything. As he's talking, Chrissy gets into her bag to pull out her super idol and smugly puts it on over her immunity necklace. She tells Jeff and everyone that while she was at the reward and got a clue and then found an idol. She talks about how she'll just give it out before the end of Tribal. Ben plays this off very well by seeming like he's just done and says that he had 2 options to stay in the game and Chrissy had a helluva day. Devon suggests that Chrissy wasn't gloating and Ben says she 100% was gloating all day. He goes on to say that this just sucks to have his dreams ruined like this. Ryan also says that it's a shame it happened like it did but Ben is just outside the numbers.
With that, it's time to vote. It's a pretty calm vote but we do see Devon take some time. He's obviously still mulling over the vote for Mike. He takes some time and finally writes a name and heads back. Hopefully, he followed his gut because I know for 100% I would be taking out Devon here, not the Doc. Jeff is tallying votes and he comes back with the comment we've been waiting for - now is the time to play an idol if you have one. Chrissy takes off her necklace and asks if anyone wants it. Ryan says know and Mike takes it from her. Then from the back row comes the whistle as Ben reaches into his boot, where he produces the explosion. Another Ben Bomb has just gone off. The group is shocked, to say the least. He gets up, sings a little and tells them that while they were all sleeping, apparently the early bird gets the worm. He gives Jeff the idol, Jeff confirms the idol and the just (especially Joe) goes crazy! Ben pulls out the fake idol he made a few episodes back and says that since we're playing fake idols, he may as well pull his out too. The first 3 votes come up Ben - they do not count. Next up, Dr. Mike. And the 5th vote - well, that one is Ben's vote for Devon. We're tied. And dammit, Devon did it. He judged the room and made the ballsy play. I already said he was playing the best game, but this move cements it. He felt things were off and he took matters into his own hands and forced a tie. Oh yeah, we have to break this tie, don't we. Mike asks Devon if he wrote down his name and Devon says, "I did. Sorry Mike." Now, we'll revote. You can only vote for Devon or Mike and they will not vote.
As Ben heads up to vote, he laughs at Devon and says; "Now you're fate's with those 2". "Yeah it is." Jeff is tallying votes again. First vote: Devon. Second vote: Mike. 14th person voted out and the 7th member of our jury - Dr. Mike. And holy shit, Devon just had the biggest non-idol play of the season for all of the jury to see. As they head out, Jeff tells them that tomorrow they will have their final immunity challenge and for something to sleep on, they'll also get their final twist of the season. Ooooooh!! Ok, this was pretty fantastic all the way around. There was only 1 way it could have been better. I SO badly wanted Ben to challenge Chrissy at Tribal about her immunity idol. My play would have been to play to her ego, "Hey Chrissy - don't give away your immunity idol that you worked so hard to find. Give away the immunity necklace instead. Really give the jury a show by giving someone your immunity necklace." She would have had 2 choices. Actually go through with it and then get voted out by Ben...or not go through with it and be shown as a fraud to the jury. I guess the concern would be that this play would give away that Ben has an idol, but at this point, who cares? There's no way he's not playing it, so why not torpedo her game in front of the jury while you're at it. Call her out for a terrible play and even worse sportsmanship and let the chips fall where they may.
At any rate, we're now down to the final 4. There is one challenge left, no idols left to save Ben and a group of 3 that are as determined as ever to get him out of the game. Bottom line, I think Devon just won a million dollars with his play tonight. As long as Ben doesn't win immunity, they vote him out and Devon goes on to easily beat Chrissy and Ryan in the final 3. One thing's for sure, though, you'll all have to wait til tomorrow to find out (as if you haven't all watched the episode) when I come back with Part 2 of my Survivor: HHH Finale Recap. Til then, Take Care!