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MrsGryn

Survivor 35 - 12/20/2017 - A Truffle Pig for Idols

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MrsGryn   

Let it be known that unless something totally insane happens, like a Hantz storms the CBS Television City studio and takes Probst hostage, I will not be recapping his inane attempts to relate to the average viewer during the live filler segments of tonight’s show. On the other hand, why couldn’t Ali find something besides marigold colored ace bandages to wear?

A long introduction and review of the resumes of the final five Survivors fills in a good 10 minutes of the episode, so yay! There are arguments to be made for all of them as winners, even DrMike who has been on the wrong side of pretty much every vote since Richard Nixon, but the two real contenders are Chrissy and Ben. Thus it has been ordained since the opening episode of the show where we learned Ben is a Marine and Chrissy throws up under pressure.

Post-tribal that same night is the fall-out from Ben’s pre-emptive use of the only hidden immunity idol that was actually kept secret during the season. Chrissy simply can’t believe he did it again! DrMike, Ryan the Turtleneck, and HellooooooDevon all agree that it was amazing that he found another idol. And then Chrissy looks around and wonders where Ben could possibly be. So what happens? They all go to sleep and Ben spends the whole night out searching for another idol. IDIOTS!

Ben is confused as to why they aren’t doing the same thing, but that does not deter him. However, despite looking all night he has no luck. It is only in the light of the dawn on the beach by a derelict something (Homemade catamaran bottom? Cargo cult boxes?) does he find the last hidden immunity idol. I mean, come on. How did he find it when the cameras weren’t even pointed at it and why does it have my initials stamped on it? I’d try to figure it out but that requires effort and your faithful recapper is a lazy shit. Thus when Tsylyst messages me the question, “Is Ben a truffle pig for idols?” my first thought is to steal it for the recap title. Thanks, buddy!

Solewa, Day 37. Devon starts the fire at camp and makes short work of it. Let’s keep that in mind for later in the episode. Chrissy sits on the beach with Ben and she decides to try and make up with him and make him think that they can work together again. She actually suggests to him that if he wins immunity to take her to the final. Yeah, because a marine who has seen combat is such a pushover for your insta-apology and convenient friendliness. True to form, Ben does not buy what Chrissy is selling.

Immunity challenge! Probst is wearing a Valspar Blue Coal shirt, for those keeping score at home. Survivors will swim to a platform, climb up a set of crates, leap off the crates and grab a set of keys on the way down. Once that is completed, Survivors will have to cross a balance beam, untie another set of keys in the middle of the beam without falling off, and get to the end of the beam. Then they will use the keys to try and find the one that unlocks a set of balls to an unusual puzzle. It is designed as spokes on a wheel. Survivors will have to move colored balls around in order for them to be in the correct color order as painted on the spokes. They can only be moved through the center hub. Fun! Oh and also there will be a reward attached to this win as well. Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, wine, and cheesecake. Sounds like Thursday to me.

Survivors ready? GO! The crates are pretty easy but the beam proves to be a bit more difficult. Ryan keeps falling off and is the last to get to his puzzle. DrMike has trouble finding the correct key to unlock the puzzle, which probably screwed him on this challenge. We know HellooooDevon is not going to win a puzzle challenge, and neither is Ben likely to be a puzzle master as well. It looks like if DrMike had found his key early he would have beaten the eventual winner, who is of course Chrissy because I can’t have nice things. She is allowed to pick two people to join her on the reward and she picks DrMike and Devon. Ryan looks disappointed but he’s no Ashley and doesn’t mouth off so he does not make a mortal enemy of Chrissy.

One of the things I love about watching Survivor is some of the “Nature is Metal” editing we often get. Before seeing the reward meal, there is an amazing overhead shot of a shark feeding frenzy. The blue waters are choppy and thrashing with fins and whitecaps. Seagulls wheel overhead and screech and I’m very sorry this didn’t happen at the challenge beach. Missed opportunities, people! Anyway, prior to digging in to their chicken and mashed taters, DrMike smartly suggests looking for an idol or advantage clue. The three lift up plates, food, anything they can think of but no parchment is found. I would also like to note that Chrissy and DrMike are drinking a (likely) chardonnay while Devon drinks a red. Red wine with chicken! Dude! During the meal, talk turns to the super immunity idol that Chrissy has from Ryan during that first tribal council. DrMike perks up but she explains the idol is dead. He says no….consider planting it for Ben to find OR possibly pretending there was a clue at the reward and they found a hidden immunity idol, so there is no point for Ben to even bother going to look for one. On the surface, this is kind of brilliant from DrMike. On the other hand, Ben already found the idol. They just don’t know it. This should be fun!

Back at the camp, Ben announces he is going to fill his water and go look for an idol. Chrissy tells him not to waste too much energy and shows him her dead idol and the parchment that came with it. He proclaims it fancy and Chrissy declares she will give it to someone else at tribal council. Ben says, with a little hint of a giggle in his voice, “To me?” and of course her response is a snotty refusal. Ben pretends to be sad and practically runs out of camp but not for the reasons Chrissy and Ryan think, which is sadness and defeat. No, Ben runs out of camp so he can burst out laughing at their foolishness. It’s pretty comical. Interestingly, however, is the vibe Ben puts out later when Devon is around. It somehow alerts Devon’s spidey senses and he suspects something is up. Devon tells Ryan that he may very well put down DrMike’s name at tribal just in case Ben has something up his sleeve and votes out Devon. Then at least it will be a tie and Devon would have a chance, though the risk is pissing off DrMike with the extra vote. I love this kid. He is so young but has shown he has good game smarts and can read a room.

Tribal Council. Probst is wearing a Valspar Lime Twist shirt, for those keeping score at home. The talk turns to Ben’s idol that he used pre-emptively and everyone admires it and hates it at the same time. Probst asks the question we have all been screaming at our TV: why don’t you all babysit Ben so he can’t find another idol? Chrissy declares that they cannot be with him 24 hours a day. I mean, he gets up in the middle of the night, for heaven’s sake! Yeah, you’re just lazy, sister. Admit it. And while DrMike is talking and thus getting some attention, Chrissy cannot let that stand and she takes out her fake immunity idol and puts it around her neck over the immunity necklace. Nothing makes a statement like necklace layering. Ben admits his only chance in the game was finding the immunity idol or winning the immunity challenge, but Chrissy was gloating. She denies gloating. It was just pride in having a good day. Yeah, okay. Time to vote. We do see Devon struggling at the voting booth, kind of like a lot of people in 2016. Eventually he writes something down.

Post-voting, Probst asks if anyone has a hidden immunity idol, now would be the time to play it. Chrissy keeps up her pretense with the dead immunity idol and asks if anyone wants it. DrMike takes it when she hands it to him, but from behind them Ben starts whistling like a bomb is being dropped from a B-25 over Tokyo in 1942. He once again acts out the explosion and the expression on Chrissy’s face can only be described as furious shock. The jury? They LOVE it. Probst confirms that it is a hidden immunity idol and Ben grins and says that as long as they are pulling fake immunity idols out, he might as well put his fake one on. It is nothing short of a brilliant gotcha move and so funny. But let’s tally the votes, shall we, Probst?

Big Ben. Does not count. Ben. Does not count. Ben. Does not count. DrMike. That counts. And finally…Devon. So we are tied: Devon and DrMike, because HellooooDevon listened to his spidey senses. There is a revote with only Ben, Chrissy and Ryan voting. It goes Devon, Mike, Mike. Thus our unlikely sex doctor has left the game and joined the jury. Please, someone, burn that disgusting no-longer-yellow shirt as soon as possible. Probst leaves them with a final surprise: there is going to be a twist at the final immunity challenge.

Day 38, Solewa beach. Devon is glad he went with his gut. I’m grateful for having seen Devon’s gut…abs…whatever…all season. Ben wisely says the only way he is going to get to the end is to earn his way there with immunity. Let’s see how that works out for him, shall we?

Immunity Challenge! Probst is wearing a Valspar Baritone Blues shirt for those keeping score at home. This is an interesting challenge. It seems simple on the surface: balance blocks that spell out “Heroes, Healers, Hustlers.” The trick is that the blocks have to be balanced on a rickety contraption that has to be locked in place via a foot pedal before the Survivor can run back to the starting point to get more blocks. If any of the blocks fall over, they will have to be carried back to the start and replaced in their spots. Probst lets them in on the twist: the winner gets a final secret advantage of the game. Intriguing!

Survivors ready? GO! Ryan seems to take a turtle(neck) approach early and goes slow and steady. It works better than Devon’s hare approach. Unfortunately at some point Ryan’s blocks drop and it gives Ben a chance to get Hustlers spelled out and lock the contraption in place. He does it, but when Jeff looks at it there is a mistake! Ben put the U in Hustlers upside down! He is so shaken that when he unlocks the contraption, his blocks all go flying. Frankly, all of them have blocks fall and fall and fall. The challenge goes on for quite a while. Probst starts to get hoarse toward the end with his relentless chatter as he recounts the action of the challenge. The editors have so much material that they even put together a cut of blocks falling and contraptions locking to the beat of the Survivor music. Pretty clever! In the end, however, it is Chrissy who finally manages to get all her blocks on the contraption in the correct order and get it locked in place to win. She, rightfully so, cannot stop smiling. Ben, on the other hand, is devastated. Probst hands her the advantage and sends them back to camp. Chrissy declares the icing on the cake will be sending Ben home tonight. Yeah, because that is going to happen. As soon as Chrissy says it, I know it will not happen.

Post challenge, Sad Ben is Sad. He talks to us about losing his dream, he talks to us about losing his kid’s college fund, which okay, welcome to the lives of several millions of parents. He loses retirement and I have to caution anyone who thinks going on a TV game show is the way to create a retirement fund as a bad, very bad, idea. Ryan, in yet another display of the hubris shown by the anti-Ben island crowd, declares that they could all be a millionaire, but he knows for sure that Ben will not be one. Chrissy goes off to read her advantage. As it turns out, she will be able to pick one person to sit next to her and the two not chosen will have to have a “fire-off.” She logically decides that Ryan stands zero chance of making fire before Ben does so decides that she will take Ryan and Devon will go against Marine One to make fire. Devon goes off to practice making fire and he does for a little while but when his flint breaks he takes it as a sign that he should just lay down in the sand and work on his tan rather than practice starting that fire. Dude, I love you and all but breaking the flint means you need to practice more, not less.

Tribal council time. Probst is wearing a Valspar Lament Blue shirt, for those keeping score at home. Probst starts off pointing out that Chrissy is pretty good at winning immunity, for a woman. He does like to qualify when a woman does something on this show. Ben tells Probst he knows putting that “U” upside down was a million dollar mistake and he is pretty resigned to going home. So then it is time to turn to the secret advantage and Chrissy confesses she shared it. Ben seems nonplussed, but both Devon and Ryan say she shared it with them. Probst invites Chrissy to share the advantage with the jury and she reads the advantage out loud. The jury LOVES it. Even Lauren changes her expression from angry-neutral to slight smile (though it was possibly gas). JP the fireman is especially excited at the prospect of the fire-off, which leads me to believe the producers told him he could stomp out the fires once tribal was over. No one is shocked when Chrissy announces she is taking Ryan with her to the final two, leaving Devon and Ben to battle it out flame-o-a-flame-o. Let’s burn this mother down! Both guys set up their copra and get to sparking with the magnesium they have scraped off their flint. Devon gets a little spark going but it flames out quickly. A shot of JP watching shows him silently judging their techniques. Even Cole shakes his head at Devon’s obvious failure. Ben, meanwhile, keeps his head down and works and works and works and finally gets a spark to catch. The dried coconut flames up and Ben hurriedly adds sticks to keep it alive, then works to build the Barbie-sized campfire into something large enough to burn the rope that will raise the flag. The look of shock and horror on Chrissy’s face is pretty priceless and as Ben’s flame rises higher, she just puts her head in her hands. When Ben’s rope is burned and Ben’s flag is raised, Devon is shocked and sad, but true to his character, he congratulates his opponent with a sincerity that Chrissy could never achieve if she tried for a thousand years. Even his closing remarks give kudos to Ben and appreciation for how blessed he is as a person. I love this kid, truly. I know I’ve joked about how cute he is all season, but thinking back I cannot come up with an instance where he was curt, unkind, or rude to anyone, no matter if the person was in power or on the lowest rung of the ladder. He’s made from high grade awesome and, along with Desi, I hope he is a repeat player in the future.

Solewa beach, day 39. Now we have our final three: Chrissy, Ben, and the Turtleneck. The segment takes the usual course of reflection by the final Survivors. There is a lot of filler, a lot of stuff we’ve already heard from these three (Ryan is a superfan, Chrissy is a mom, Ben has a family and PTSD). Luckily it doesn’t last too long and suddenly we are at…

Tribal Council! Probst is wearing a Valspar Lost Atlantis shirt, for those keeping score at home. Jeff does his usual spiel about how the power is now in the hands of the jury, but the format for questions is a little different this season, and even though there is a bit of chaos, I like it. Questions will be centered around the three central aspects of the game: Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.

There are a shit-ton of commercials for this finale. Seriously, producers, wrap up the regular show at an hour and a half without the cringe-worthy Probst audience engagements, then maybe fill up the rest of the night with the reunion stuff. I feel strongly enough about this to think about writing a letter to CBS.

Jury question time! Let me say at the outset of this section that while I enjoyed the format as a viewer, as a recapper it is a lot harder to wrap up neatly. One question, one answer is simplified. This season the jury is interrupting the Survivors, interrupting each other, or asking each other to confirm what a Survivor says about their game play. In short, this part is not going to be written out word-for-word.

Desi, always dressed for a pop-up beauty pageant, starts us off on the Outwit portion of our evening. She is complimentary to all…well, except Ryan whom she says appears to be there just because everyone thinks they can beat him. His response is based in his strong social gameplay. Ashley butts in and demands to know why he didn’t have a strategic conversation with her because as you know it’s all about her. Ashley learned at the feet of Chrissy, so it makes sense. Ryan brings up his supersecret alliance with Devon and how he used Devon as the front man to his puppet master string puller. Joe likes this response and gives Ryan credit. Joe then pivots to Ben and calls him out on his shitty social aspect game play. Ben acknowledges that he did yell at Joe when the marine corps was brought up, and Ben even is cognizant that his social game play sucked like a Hoover. He brings up his PTSD and how far he has come from where he was, in that he wasn’t even able to sit at a Christmas dinner table with his family to relearning how to interact with friends and sit with strangers on a beach again. He’s being very real here and the halting way he is explaining himself shows how unpracticed he is at this sort of thing. But let’s have a counterpoint to the sincerity. Chrissy interrupts Ben to start talking about herself and her social self and her loyalty to her alliances, including JP and Ryan. She also brings up how she made sure she learned something about each and every person sitting on that jury. And of course it was because she truly likes them, not because she knew, as a long time Survivor watcher, that it would be something that is usable at the end of the game. She spouts off that Joe doesn’t want to get married because his parents…blah blah I don’t care. It doesn’t come off as genuine at all. It comes off as a random fact she accessed from her memory data banks. Very calculated, which seems about right for an actuary.

Cole’s turn is targeted at Ben for painting Cole as a food thief/hog. He wants Ben to admit he purposely destroyed Cole’s reputation and clear the young man’s name. Ben admits that he painted a target on Cole because of his skill in challenges but that it was nothing personal. Ryan, speaking for everyone who watched the show, immediately jumps on that and says, no, Ben had a personal grudge against Cole and went out of his way to make Cole a villain. We saw Ben gripe and complain about Cole over and over again, well beyond the normal Survivor bitching that goes on every season. It was so totally personal with Cole and denying it makes Ben appear unaware of his own game. Kudos to Ryan for not letting Ben’s delusion stand. Ben claims he made connections with some people and told some stories of his life to Lauren, to Devon. He claims he opened up to Mike about a lot of stuff. His choices make sense on a personal level, but Ashley is all in game mode and compares Ben “telling stories” with Chrissy’s fact finding missions to get to know people. Chrissy zeroes in on Cole and lets everyone know he got a 34 on his A.C.T college admissions (top score: 36). Once again, Ryan speaks for us all when he says that Chrissy is just spouting random facts. Cole, too, is having none of it. He is not impressed with her memory, nor is he impressed with how she treated people along the way in the game. The way he sneers at both Ben and Chrissy trying to explain their gameplay makes him seem like a sure vote for the Turtleneck.

Probst finally wakes up from his nap and moves the game on to Outplay. Cole gives props to Chrissy for winning so many immunities and to Ben for playing his idols perfectly, but gives Ryan crap for not doing anything around camp. Ryan totally owns up to it, claiming that he didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes or burn the rice (thus creating enemies). Cole and Desi are having none of it, particular Desi as she never did any of that stuff either. I think they are being a bit hard on the Turtleneck. I mean…did you see his HEART beating out of his chest? I’d be terrified if he had a machete in his hands and tried opening a coconut. It might turn out like a scene from the original Alien. This is probably the moment in which Ryan loses the game because literally everyone other than Probst and Devon are talking at Ryan about his lack of effort around camp. Ben says he just talked about iced coffees all day, Chrissy complains he never went to get water, and the jury all talks at once, some with hand gestures. Ryan’s mouth hangs open as he tries to counter a thousand voices at once, but it is impossible. Close your mouth, Turtleneck. We are not a fish. Moving on, Chrissy lets us know she was not allowed to play sports as a child which waa waa waa shaddup. As she says, she is almost fifty years old. I think we can leave your childhood trauma behind by now, lady. There is a lot of talk about how the women won eight of the nine immunity challenges, though in fairness Devon gave one to Ashley. Chrissy is rightly proud of her four wins and even Joe calls her a queen. He does ask Ben how hard he looked for the idols, if it was easy or did he have to take a lot of time finding them. Ben gets in a nice dig by saying he couldn’t just sit on the beach and watch the sunset because he had to search for the idols, even staying up all night while everyone else slept. Desi immediately puts the others to task for allowing Ben all that time alone to search for his idols and get the best of them. I am particularly fond of the moment when she schools Chrissy the Actuary on how numbers work by holding up four fingers on one hand and a single digit on the other. Chrissy says in retrospect it was a game flaw for all four of them, but not before trying to claim they followed Ben around. Does not compute.

And we are on the last part of the jury question, the Outlast portion of our show. Now is the time, he tells the Survivors, to justify why you should be awarded one million dollars. Ryan reverts to his earlier argument about his strong social aspect and relationships. Ben claims he had a hand in putting everyone on the jury, but the Coconuts (Mike and Joe) don’t really like that answer. Joe demands Ben explain why he deserves the money. Ben slightly hesitates getting to the actual meat of his argument, which is the PTSD that drove him to search for help and how he hopes to inspire and help other veterans with the same issue. You know it is a meaningful moment because there is tinkly piano music underscoring his words. There is silence until Probst prompts Chrissy to answer the question. Kind of a letdown to hear that all moms are heroes after Ben’s words, but she declares herself awesome and who are we to argue with that definitive statement?

And with that, it’s time to vote. We see Devon cast a vote for Ryan, we see Ashley cast a vote for Chrissy, and we see Lauren cast a vote for Ben before Probst takes the urn and runs off down the path. Sadly, there is no waiting Jet Ski or helicopter to ferry him off to the CBS studio, but we do get the action of him carrying the urn through a path of greenery to the live action set. But first! Probst wants to talk about the game. Nooo! Read the damn votes already! We’ve already seen and heard this stuff. On the other hand, Ryan is now wearing a gray turtleneck and still has a mouth full of shark teeth.

Finally the votes are read. Ben. Ryan. Chrissy. Chrissy. Ben. Ben. Ben. And with that, Ben wins Survivor 35. Having boarded the Anyone-But-Chrissy train a while ago, I’m okay with Ben winning. He certainly earned it by never giving up, and that is game play I can respect.

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MrsGryn   
On 12/25/2017 at 3:17 AM, uaintjak said:

Do we know who the other Chrissy vote was?

It took me awhile to find but as it turns out, DrMike voted for Chrissy. Discovered during an interview with Rob Cesternino.

So it was:

Ryan - 1 vote - Devon

Chrissy - 2 votes - Ashley, DrMike

Ben - 5 votes - JP, Desi, Joe, Cole, Lauren

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