Edgic is a weekly feature analyzing each player’s edit, mapping characters to their story-arc. Note that our focus is not solely to determine the winner, as is typical of other Edgic sites. For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
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Under The Radar
Desi left the season just like she entered it, UTR and insignificant to the wider narrative. There was never any attempt to create a compelling story out of Desi’s edit, and we could tell she wasn’t a key character based on her lack of connections to the other players. The only person she had a connection with was Joe. As I posited last week in regards to where Desi would go next: “Perhaps she chooses to cut ties with Joe now that he isn’t “beneficial” to her or she chooses to stick by him at her own cost.” The latter was what we got in this episode, Desi chose to trust Joe’s instincts, but ultimately she got the boot.
The episode as a whole though wasn’t really about Desi. The action primarily revolved around Ben and Joe. Desi didn’t feature in the episode until towards the end when it came time to decide who to vote out. She had just the one confessional, and it was mainly about Joe. “Joe just caused another blow up at camp. It’s certainly unsettling. I hope he knows what he’s doing because I realize there is a target on my back,” she said. “But Joe’s instincts have worked well up to this point, so this could either work out really well for me or really badly for me.” That was it. No talk of what she was doing to save herself or what her strategy was for the vote or beyond that. It wasn’t even enough for MOR because all the urgency was given to Joe, not Desi.
We did get reasons for why the group targeted Desi. Ben told us she is physically and mentally strong and “can compete with the best us.” Other players like Chrissy and Ryan backed this thought up. I considered P-tone for Desi here, but I’m not sure it was enough nor whether that was the intent. It seemed to me like the edit was attempting to give us the bare minimum of why she would be voted out over Joe, rather than purposely shining P-tone on Desi. The way you can tell that is because she went home this episode – if she stayed then that positive SPV (second person visibility) could have had a larger narrative purpose. But nope.
Desi leaves the season UTR overall. There is a possible argument for INV because it’s unlikely a casual viewer would remember Desi in a year’s time, as the edit all but ignored her most the season (she only stepped above a 2 visibility once). But I’m trying to ease up on the INVs this time around, and seeing as I gave Roark an overall UTR, it only seems fair to give Desi the same.
Ashley‘s edit has taken a real downturn since the merge. Not to say that it was fantastic before that, but at least she received confessionals and gave us her thoughts on the game. Now she is hiding in the background, we don’t hear her perspective on the game, and we barely see her in camp scenes. There has been a lot of talk about Ken/Brad edits – people becoming less significant post-merge compared to their strong CP pre-merge – and currently, Ashley is following that trajectory (not that her pre-merge edit was ever as strong as Ken’s or Brad’s).
There were three moments for Ashley this week that are worth highlighting. The first two relate to Cole. After the scramble in the sand, Ben accused Cole of finding the idol and tucking it down his pants. Cole denied this, and Ashley was heard (and subtitled) saying: “I would not lie after creating that scene.” As we know, Cole wasn’t lying. Ashley’s read of Cole continued to be wrong when at the challenge she was again subtitled saying “Cole’s done,” after his feet started to wobble. Of course, Cole ended up winning the challenge. That’s not a good look for Ashley to be shown as being incorrect twice… especially when she doesn’t have any other solid content to help counter her negatives. The last moment from Ashley was at tribal council when she said about Joe: “It’s really hard to tell if Joe is really good at playing this game or just really good at being annoying.” Joe answered with: “I think it’s both.” It was a funny little moment, but I think it was telling us more about Joe as a player and a person than it was Ashley.
What’s next for Ashley? My thoughts haven’t changed from last week. I could see Ashley sticking around a while longer but not as a lead character. I’m sure she’ll get a bump in air-time/complexity at some point, perhaps before her boot or if she is essential to that particular episode’s narrative but other than that it’s hard to see much upside. None of her pre-merge relationships have been focused on since the merge, and we have no idea what her long-term strategy is. Plus she has no personal content. Ashley is just kind of… there.
It’s hard to keep finding new things to talk about with JP. His edit is almost non-existent. He got one perfunctory confessional this episode about the spaghetti reward, which is one more confessional than he received last week. Apart from that, what is there to say? He walked by Ryan finding the idol and didn’t seem to notice. That continues his “clueless” theme. He also missed the clue on the plate. He’s never involved in game-talk at camp. There is no sign of what his strategy is or who he considers his closest allies. JP is just floating along until his inevitable boot.
Middle of the Road
Devon’s edit was less impactful this episode than it was last week. He has this weird thing where he bounces back and forth between MOR and CP, and so it can be hard to place his edit. Last week looked really good between the impressive drone shot and how involved in the strategizing he was post-merge, even getting credit from other players for formulating the Hero-Hustler alliance. But this week things slowed down for Devon a lot.
His main content here was to do with the spaghetti reward. It was mostly narration and then a bit about how he tried to be fair but perhaps ate a little bit more than his share. It showed us that Devon was trying to be considerate of others but owned up to eating a little more than he should have. Compare to Cole who openly said he planned to eat as much as he wanted. But that was all we really heard from Devon before tribal council. Also, where last week players such as Ben and Lauren credited Devon with the Hero-Hustler plan, there was no talk of Devon’s involvement in last week’s vote here. The recap credited Chrissy for pulling off the vote, and the players, such as Joe, gave the props to Ben. I’m not sure if the edit is intentionally playing down Devon’s role in the narrative here or if it’s simply that he’s unimportant.
Now, there were two interesting moments for Devon. The first was what Joe said about him before the reward. “Right now, who has the power is the Hustlers, and I have a decent relationship with Devon, so I gave him first dibs on eating,” Joe said. “I feel if I, you know, keep developing a relationship with Devon that’s going to benefit me definitely in the long-run.” It was a little bit out of nowhere considering Devon and Joe were set up as opposition on the swapped Levu tribe. Not only did this offer a complex look at Joe’s plans, but it placed Devon in a power position and someone of importance. Joe told us the Hustlers have the power, and as a Hustler, that means Devon has power. Joe said Devon would benefit him in the long-run, implying that both will make it far in the game. Of course, Joe hasn’t always been a reliable narrator, and it could be that Devon ends up cutting Joe, but either way, this was a good thing for Devon.
The other point of interest, and the reason I rated Devon MOR rather than UTR, was his speech at tribal council. It contained both a wider look at the game of Survivor and offered some personal content for Devon, which has been severely lacking. “I think this game just strips us down and we really are exposed. Like, today at camp, we got back from the immunity challenge and I was laying in the shelter just dead, just like, duhh. And I don’t wanna be like that. I mean, I feel like I’m always positive, high-energy person, just loving to smile and laugh, just have a good time all the time. I don’t wanna be a zombie; I like being a bright and beautiful light.” It felt so extraneous to what else was going on at that tribal council that its inclusion really stood out. Especially backed by that uplifting music. When Devon kind of got shy about what he was talking about, he received positive encouragement from the rest of the tribe. This is the reason for his P-tone.
Now, what can we make of that whole speech? Does it continue to build up Devon as a winner contender? It definitely gave him some personal content which he very much needed, so that’s a good thing. Or is there something more ominous about this continued focus on Devon feeling “dead” and like a “zombie”? Remember last week he had the big focus at Levu where he said he felt brain dead and was shown almost passed out on the beach. It suddenly made me worry that Devon may be heading for a medevac at some point. I don’t THINK that is where his story is going, but it certainly crossed my mind as a possibility. But if Devon is the eventual winner of this season, scenes like this might be there to explain why he ultimately wins. He isn’t getting the strategic mastermind edit, so it might be that he wins simply because he is more well-liked than those he’s against in the end. I’m very interested to see what kind of edit Devon gets next week and if this weirdly placed positivity continues.
A quieter episode for Mike this week as he took a backseat to the strategizing and planning. Other than a little bit of post-tribal talk, Mike wasn’t really in this episode until after the immunity challenge when we saw him with Cole & Joe and then with Ben & Ryan. He was mainly a listener in these conversations.
Mike had one confessional, and it was that which scraped him his MOR rating, although I could see an argument for UTR. Ben approached Mike to try and get him to vote with him. “For some reason, Ben feels that he needs me to vote out Joe. It doesn’t make sense,” Mike said. “I don’t know what’s going on, but if I show my allegiance to Ben, this could be my moment to get off the bottom. At the same time, this could be a perfect opportunity to take out the biggest threat in this game, and that’s Ben.” As with last week, we got to hear Mike weighing up his options, and he told us the benefit of each potential decision. He was also aware that Ben needing his vote didn’t make sense. We then saw him discussing this decision with Cole, pondering whether Ben was just lying to him or not. Ultimately, Mike decided to vote with Ben, and that could be a good sign moving forward if it does indeed get Mike off the bottom, as he said.
I find it very hard to work out Mike’s edit. He had that massive premiere with the boat intro and all those winner-like confessionals, then disappeared until the swap. Later he found an idol, but the edit hasn’t reminded us of it since. Last week he jumped back up in visibility and complexity but hitched himself to the wrong wagon. Then this week he is back to low-vis MOR. Where is his story going? At times he seems like he’s relevant to the narrative and then at others times an after-thought. Something I find interesting is that when Mike is on the bottom, he doesn’t feature that much – he was apparently on the outs on the original Healers tribe and we hardly heard from him in Episode 2 and 3. Then when he gained some power after the swap, we started to hear from him a little more. Last week, when it looked like the Healers had control, Mike was all over the episode. Now, this week, he’s back on the bottom and out of sight. That could be the edit protecting Mike somewhat. I think there is potential in Mike’s edit for him to make a comeback.
Chrissy had a mixed bag of an episode. There were some major plus points but also some causes for alarm which could be foreshadowing a potential downfall. Negative signs that we brushed off last week as intentional tension building might actually be more important than they initially seemed.
Let’s start with the positives. Firstly, Chrissy had a bit of a cooldown here after four straight CP ratings. That’s a good thing for longevity because you don’t want your edit to be so obvious and out in the open. Nor do you want it to be completely in the background like Ashley or JP. Chrissy is in that sweet spot of visible but not too in-your-face like a Ben or a Ryan. Secondly, the recap gave her credit for last week’s Jessica vote-off by showing her talking about a “Plan B.” When Joe was complimenting the move back at camp, the camera focused on Chrissy when he said: “Ya’ll, that was genius (subtitled).” The fact that Joe was actually giving the credit to Ben is even better for Chrissy because it means it’s more likely that Ben is targeted because of it. Whereas Chrissy got the more important recap credit. Lastly, after Cole won the immunity challenge, Chrissy said the Heroes and Hustlers just need to figure out which Healer they’d like to see go next, and that’s what happened.
Now, the negatives. Of course, the big one was during the reward. When it comes to Survivor winners, they are very rarely, if ever, shown to be wrong – unless it can’t be helped. The edit doesn’t like to show their eventual winner as making outright incorrect statements. When Chrissy said, “I actually think that I am the first one to see this clue,” after Cole had already seen it, that was a major red flag. She later qualified this after Ryan asked if Cole saw it when she said: “He’s not that smart.” It was the first real time Chrissy was shown to be unaware, and while you could argue that she is right about Cole not being smart (the edit has certainly portrayed him that way), there is no way to hide she was wrong about him not seeing the clue. That is the first bad sign. The other one is her whispering with Ryan which Cole overheard. Last week we had the scene where Chrissy and Ben were talking at the feast and Ben was worried that others could hear them. Chrissy said it was fine because of the wind. At the time I wondered if that was just to add some tension over whether Chrissy and Ben were still together, but now it seems like a running theme. Is Chrissy becoming overconfident and slipping up?
Other than the big idol scramble in the sand, Chrissy wasn’t really in the rest of the episode. We saw her briefly talking with Ben and Ryan after the immunity challenge, which showed us she was still a key decision maker, but we didn’t see her moving and shaking and leading strategy talks. It’s why I rated her MOR rather than CP. She did snap at Joe at tribal council and told him to shut up, so that continues the beef between that pair moving forward. Ryan also talked about not wanting to betray Chrissy by voting out Ben, so that relationship is still very much intact too. Chrissy is still set up very well in the game and the edit, and I expect her to continue in a central role. But creeping doubts are entering her edit to suggest she might become overconfident and underestimate her opponents, which could lead to a downfall before or even at Final Tribal Council.
Cole‘s edit continues to hit the same beats. He’s become less OTT since the merge hit – now that he gets to comment on the game and his position in it – but there is still a lot of negativity to do with food, his selfishness, and his lack of smarts. But could these story beats be enough to take Cole far in the game?
The first bit of negativity came at the reward when Cole said: “I know I’m on the bottom, so I’m gonna get back at all these people who stabbed me in the back and eat as much as I want.” It continued his arc of being selfish, especially when it comes to food. But then he looked a little better for being the first to find the clue and correctly call it as so: “So I’m thinking I may be the first person to see this clue.” Then the edit flipped on him again, and he looked foolish for not hiding the clue efficiently. “I decided to use an apron that was wrapped around the bread and cover it up and make it try to look as natural as possible,” he said, only for Chrissy to immediately remark on the lack of plate. Both Chrissy and Ryan quickly found the clue under the apron. Then, again, the edit flipped, with Cole correctly calling Ryan and Chrissy out for whispering. “Chrissy and Ryan were definitely talking about the clue,” he said. It was a back-and-forth of right and wrong/smart and foolish. Also, Chrissy saying that Cole “isn’t that smart” added to his negative SPV.
Cole told us that he wouldn’t “feel bad about going all out for the idol, ” and that’s exactly what we saw back at camp. Although, before he started shoving and pushing, he stupidly left camp to take a pee, which Ryan used as his opportunity to go and retrieve the idol. The scene perhaps cemented Chrissy’s “not that smart” statement. When he came back, he dived into the hole and did battle with Chrissy, Ben, and others all for an idol which had already gone. Ben then called him out for tucking the idol down his pants, which was incorrect, but Cole went back and forth on pretending to have it and then denying it. “It’s a complete disaster at this point,” Cole said. “Everyone thinks I have an idol, but I don’t have an idol. I feel like I’m in big trouble, so bluffing that I have the idol is the only move that I have left at this point unless I can go win immunity. That would be a game changer for me.” He did indeed go on to win immunity and it did change the game in terms of the vote.
“I have new life. I am so stoked to be here again. I was getting pretty bummed out. I was thinking I was leaving tonight, so to win that challenge put me on top of the world,” Cole said after returning to camp. The talk of new life combined with the earlier “game changer” mention got me thinking Cole might have a while left in this game. If Jessica’s claim that Cole can’t make it to the end without her is a goal rather than a curse, then perhaps Cole will make a decent run and either get to the end (as in the finale episode) or be cut just before. I think if he survives the upcoming episode then that has an excellent chance of happening – if he goes next week, then Jessica’s claim was still right, as he only survived once without her due to having immunity.
Cole also had a slight involvement in the strategy before tribal council. “However, I definitely feel like the Healers are a sinking ship at this point, and if we don’t do something soon, we’re going to be in a bad, bad place,” he said. We then saw Cole discussing the vote with Joe and Mike. It was Cole who suggested a plan on the basis of the Hero-Hustler alliance believing he had an idol. “If they split the votes, then we just need one person’s vote, and we can send someone home.” Not the most complex strategy ever, and so MOR felt right. We again saw him talking to Mike later in the episode as the pair discussed what the best option for them was going forward. They both ultimately voted with the Hero-Hustler alliance. It’s near impossible for Cole to win this season based on his edit, but him sticking around a while shouldn’t be ruled out just yet.
Lauren, oh, Lauren, how you continue to intrigue me. Last week Lauren sided with the Hero-Hustler alliance despite previously pledging herself to Mike and the Healers. I said that if she didn’t explain her move this week, then that would be a strike against her edit. Well, Lauren didn’t justify her decision, but was it a strike against her? It’s tough to say because upon returning to camp she got credit for the move.
“Lauren and I put a plan in play, and executed it, and got our target out,” Ben said after the tribe returned from tribal council. It was a weird retelling of what we saw last week where Ben and Lauren seemed like swing votes between two plans. Not to mention the recap giving Chrissy credit for the Jessica vote – although Ben’s voice could be heard (and was subtitled) saying “We need to get a Healer out.” So Ben taking credit for the plan makes a bit of sense, but Lauren was firmly with the Healers up until her conversation with Ben later in the episode, where we left her undecided. Here, Ben places Lauren as having just as prominent a role in the plan as himself. I’m not sure if that entirely washes away Lauren not explaining herself, but it certainly makes me feel less negative towards her edit than I might have done otherwise.
Now, the rest of Lauren’s edit was mainly tied to her advantage, but she got some decent CP content mixed in. Her first two confessionals where basically narrating how she found the advantage, and then explaining the rules of said advantage, and how she would try and get it at tribal council. But it’s her later conversation with Ben, and the confessional that followed that gave her her CP for the episode. She told Ben they couldn’t split the vote how he wanted because of her advantage. She also mentioned that they could use the extra vote down the line when it gets to the “nitty gritty” – which shows she was thinking about the future. Then, in confessional, she gave it a personal spin: “I’m solid with Ben. However, I’m playing this game for myself and for my daughter, and having that extra vote it could get me to the final three, so I’ve got to make a big decision.” It’s always a good thing to talk about your own game, and Lauren also mentioned her daughter, which was a lovely bit of personal info. Then on top of that, she talked about getting to the Final Three. Now, Final Three isn’t winning necessarily, but it gives her a long-term goal.
Lauren remains one of the hardest edits to read. There are definitely some ominous signs, but then something always happens to change previous perceptions of her edit. We always hear from Lauren even if she isn’t one of the central characters of the season. I still think she could be around a while.
Ryan was back to his CP ways this week. He was involved in a lot of the action, especially at the reward and the subsequent idol search. But he was also involved in the pre-tribal strategizing, and we got to hear his thoughts on specific plans being pitched.
At the reward, Ryan was the only one smart enough to hide the plate, and that was contrasted nicely with the others who either missed the clue entirely or failed to conceal it adequately. He showed that he was game-focused by telling us he was looking for a clue. “I have searched for the idol for 20+ days now and got nothing. Now I know exactly where one is. So if I don’t find it, I would never be able to swallow that,” he said. It would have been a bad look had Ryan said that and not delivered, but he did indeed find the idol. Not only that, but he found it without the others realizing and looked like the only sane person amongst all the craziness. One thing at the reward that might not be so good is the whispering, which Cole overheard. However, I think that looks worse for Chrissy than Ryan, given that it’s come up twice in Chrissy’s edit now. And at least Ryan was shown saying that he thought Cole might have seen the clue.
After the immunity challenge, Ryan was seen discussing the vote with Ben and Chrissy, again, placing him in a power position. He was also the person (along with Devon) that Joe approached to pitch voting out Ben. Ryan listened to what Joe had to say and then told us: “What Joe is pitching is true. If Ben gets to the final three, he very well could win. He’s got a great story, he’s a former marine, and he’s just a good guy. So I don’t want to take Ben to the final three. However, if I vote off Ben, that’d be betraying Chrissy, who really trusts me, so now is not the right time.” It gave us some insight into where Ryan’s head is at and what his future aims might be. We now know he doesn’t want to take Ben to Final Three. But he also reconfirmed his relationship with Chrissy. Interestingly, he said “Chrissy really trusts ME,” rather than “I really trust Chrissy.” That’s similar to how Chrissy talked about Ryan in the past – as if their relationship is only temporary and eventually one, or both, will turn when the other is no longer needed.
Ryan’s visibility has lowered a bit since the merge, but he’s still very much an essential character and player within the narrative. I haven’t really talked about Ryan as a winner contender, mainly because his three-episode streak of CP5 ratings to start the season seemed too blatant. That’s not to say he can’t win, but I would have liked to have seen more subtly crafted into his edit if that is the case.
The interesting thing about Joe‘s edit is that, despite the negative tone, he always gets to explain himself. He could very easily be an OTTN villain if the show wanted to portray him that way, but he isn’t. We always hear his thoughts on the strategy, what he thinks of other people, and he’s even had personal content along the way. Trying to understand the reason for that is what is most fascinating about Joe and his story this season.
In this episode, Joe started by praising the move by the Hero-Hustler alliance. “That was an amazing play. As a fan, you just gotta appreciate that,” he said. It showed us that he wasn’t bitter about being outplayed. He gave Ben credit for the move, and Ben also took partial credit (also name-checking Lauren), which seems to be setting up Ben as the big target to be taken out soon. At the reward, Joe won the “lottery” and got to pick the eating order. He used this opportunity to talk about his position in the game and how he hoped to improve it. “Right now, I do have a target on my back, so I need to make adjustments to my game, and this is a great opportunity to establish better relationships and stronger alliances,” he said. He focused on building his bond with Devon. “I have a decent relationship with Devon, so I gave him first dibs on eating. I feel that if I continue, you know, developing a relationship with-with Devon, that’s gonna benefit me, definitely in the long run.” I talked previously about how this reflected positively on Devon, but it is also the kind of CP content that really helps Joe. Talking about the “long run” gives him the potential to go further in the game.
If that were it for Joe in this episode, he’d probably end up with a neutral tone. However, after the immunity challenge, Joe came back into the spotlight, and it’s here where he received his N-tone. Firstly, he restated his position and once again talked about the Hustlers having the power. “With Cole off the chopping block, they’re probably gonna try to vote me out, but I still have angles to play, because at this point it’s four Healers, four Heroes, and it’s a matter of who can sway the Hustlers,” he said. We then saw him approaching Devon and Ryan and pitching them a plan to take out Ben. Ryan confirmed that “what Joe is pitching is true.” Unfortunately for Joe, Ben was listening in and the scene that followed is where the N-tone started.
Joe made up a lie about Ben swearing on the Marines, and it kickstarted a confrontation on the beach. “Ben came up to me real cocky and confident. I didn’t like it,” Joe said. “So I’m thinking he’s always saying, “I’m a marine,” you know, this and that, you know, so I told him, I said, you know, “You’re going around swearing on your marine,” and he’s like, “I have never done that.” Maybe he didn’t directly say, “I swear on my marines,” but it doesn’t really matter. I know I’m in trouble, so I got to do what I can to try to blow up his game.” Now, while this lie definitely had negative tone to it, based on Ben’s reaction, plus the fallout at tribal council with how Chrissy and Ashley reacted to Joe, notice he still got to explain himself. He didn’t just tell a lie and leave it at that. The edit made sure to give us a Joe confessional where he admitted he made it up in an attempt to blow up Ben’s game. When talking about the blow-up, Desi even said: “Joe’s instincts have worked well up to this point.” And while it might not have worked out well for Desi, it kind of did for Joe, in so much that he survived the vote.
So where is Joe’s story going? Why does the edit keep giving him these rounded CP edits rather than going full-on OTTN villain? I certainly wouldn’t rule out a win in a post-Tony world, although I think it’s unlikely, especially with using the Marine lie – that might not go down well with a casual audience. I think it’s more likely that Joe is sticking around a while and maybe even outlasts some of the more positively toned characters. That would explain why he gets to explain himself and show us a personal side alongside his N-tone.
Ben was once again all over this episode. He had the most confessionals in a single episode than any other player this season. But things still worry me for Ben. He has now gone eight straight episodes with a CP rating. I can’t remember the last time someone had CP for this long. Even Jeremy in SJDS and Tony in Cagayan had had a MOR by now. Ben just seems too exposed. But his high ratings aren’t the only reasons to worry.
He began the episode by getting the credit for the Jessica vote-off. Joe said “That was magic, Ben,” while also telling the others players they are now “playing with the devil.” Ben himself took partial credit for the move in confessional. “Lauren and I put a plan in play, and executed it, and got our target out.” All of this positioned Ben as the biggest threat in the game, even if beneath the surface we can see that players like Chrissy and the Hustlers perhaps have the real power. Ben then discussed how he hoped to move forward. “If I can keep the reins on this Hero-Hustler group and get us to a seven, I will,” he said. “But I’m worried about the individual part because an individual can mess this whole thing up.” When Ben said this the camera panned to Lauren and then Joe. I assume Lauren was shown due to her finding the advantage and how that later threw a wrench into the split vote plans. As for Joe, perhaps this was foreshadowing that he will somehow ruin Ben’s game, he obviously attempted to do that this episode.
Later in the episode, Ben was part of the mad idol scramble and afterwards was the most vocal in accusing Cole of having the idol. I initially thought this scene was terrible for Ben because of how adamant he was that Cole had the idol. As I mentioned in Chrissy’s section, winners are rarely shown to be wrong quite so blatantly. However, I think Ben hedged his bets in confessional. In the camp scenes, he said he saw Cole tuck the idol down his pants, and made it known that he saw Cole take it. But in his final confessional on the matter, he said: “I don’t like Cole. He’s rubbed me the wrong way, and if Cole’s got the idol, everybody needs to know because he’s one of the main targets. I don’t care, I’ll blow his game out.” Notice how he said, “IF Cole’s got the idol.” He didn’t outright say he believed Cole had it, and so it kind of made it look like Ben was just using his accusations as a strategy to “blow [Cole’s] game out.” I still don’t think it was the greatest look for Ben, but it wasn’t as bad on rewatching as I first thought.
After Cole won the immunity challenge, Ben was again the lead voice in the strategy talks. “Cole winning immunity changes everything, so the plan right now is to split the vote between Joe and Desi,” he told us. He then gave us a reason why those two should be the targets. “Joe is a gamer, and the longer Joe stays in the game, the more chance he has to find another [idol]. And Desi, she’s physically strong, she’s mentally strong, and she can compete with the best of us.” We then saw him discussing the vote with Chrissy and Ryan, where both agreed with Ben that Desi was a strong physical player. Later, after Lauren told Ben about the advantage, the ex-Marine again took charge by formulating a new plan. “It’s a blessing and a curse that she found this, but right now I’m worried that Joe’s got another idol, so we have to split the vote. But to get the numbers, I’ve got to convince a Healer to come with us.” We then saw Ben approaching Mike to try and convince him to vote with the Hero-Hustler alliance. All of this adds to Ben’s CP rating. He always gets to lay out his plans in a thoughtful way. Now, it’s the scene with Joe where Ben takes a dip into negativity.
When Joe approached Devon and Ryan to pitch his “vote out Ben” plan, Ben was behind the trees listening in. “Just like I thought, Joe is trying to put a target on my back. You know, I just really don’t like that guy,” Ben said. He then confronted Joe on the beach, in a “real cocky and confident” way as Joe described it. When Joe lied about Ben swearing on the Marines, Ben snapped and began raising his voice. Even though Ben was justifiably upset, it felt like he played himself in a way. Upon seeing the argument, Desi said that Ben was the more “demonstrative” one, while Joe was just sitting there. That again painted the picture of Ben losing his cool. But Ben got to explain why he was so angry. “I take what I did in the Marine Corps very serious. And I’m still dealing with it. There’s things that I have to live with every day, and thoughts that I have every single day, and for some putz like him to sit there and telling people that I swore on it, it pisses me off.” All of this accounts for Ben’s mixed tone. It was a scene that felt partly negative in the way it was framed, but there was also just enough justification to explain Ben’s anger.
What is next for Ben? While I wouldn’t completely rule out his winner chances, it seems more likely to me that Ben will be taken out within the next three or so episodes. He is too visible and set up too perfectly as a big threat. At one point Mike even referred to Ben as “the biggest threat in this game.” Combine that with Joe seeing him as the man in control, and how Ryan doesn’t want Ben in the finals, it all seems to be leading to a downfall for the former Marine. The question is whether Ben’s ties to Chrissy and Lauren offer him enough story potential to move further. It’s possible, but for that to be the case, I would need to see Ben have a cool down episode next week. Another strong CP and I think his time in this story could be coming to an end.