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CASE FILE: 3510/3511
OPERATION CODE NAME: Secret Spy Ben
OPERATIVE: Ben “The Burger” Driebergen
COMMAND CHIEF: Devon “Ford” Pinto
TARGETS: Ryan “The Bellhop” Ulrich; Chrissy “The Calculator” Hofbeck; Joe “The Mena Event” Mena; Mike “The Sex Doctor” Zahalsky
MISSION: Spy on the enemy in plain sight by pretending to be blindsided while actually being part of the blindsiding.
MISSION REPORT: Clandestine Operation Secret Spy Ben was initiated as planned at Tribal Council at 20:54 hours with former Marine Ben “The Burger” Driebergen successfully engaging tactics of confusion and counterintelligence to dupe the enemy — specifically Ryan Ulrich (Code Name: The Bellhop) and Chrissy Hofbeck (Code Name: The Calculator) — into sharing classified intel. The Burger employed both befuddled head nodding and perplexed open-mouth staring measures to infiltrate named targets and curry favor and trust moving forward. Operation Command Chief Devon “Ford” Pinto — who also initiated the plan — expressed satisfaction at a job well done, praising the team for all its hard work and commenting, “Dude, that was awesome.” He then treated the group to a performance from local comedy troupe “The Coconuts,” who likewise received rave reviews. Please destroy this message after reading by throwing into the Tribal Council fire like a Bob Crowley fake idol.
END OF MESSAGE
Look, we can talk more about what a great acting job Ben did in convincing the others he had been blindsided, but instead let’s talk about the person who orchestrated the maneuver. And let’s begin with the following question:
“How did we get tricked by two 25-year-old surfers?” —Ryan
I think that’s a query a lot of viewers are asking themselves after watching this latest double-shot of Survivor episodes. To be honest, the bulk of the credit goes to only one of those surfers. We haven’t actually seen Ashley do anything, and she even said herself that everyone seemed to know stuff except for her. Ashley just kind of seems to have been in the right place at the right time. She hasn’t done anything wrong, but we haven’t seen her do anything right either.
But then there’s Devon. Mr. Jeff Spicoli No Shirt No Shoes No Dice himself. I liked Devon the first time we met him back in episode 1. Looked like a good dude. Fun. Funny. About a million times better looking than I have ever been or will ever be. But never did I think he had the strategic chops to come up with the plan he orchestrated this week on Survivor. Honestly, I wasn’t sure he had the strategic chops to even spell strategic. I’m not saying I had him pegged as another Fabio, but there was nothing to suggest he would put into a motion a plan players should have been putting into motion years ago. I 100 percent stereotyped him and figured he would be the brawn (and perhaps even the yawn, although that turned out to be JP) to alliance-partner Ryan’s brain.
Now, I went on record last week that I thought Devon was too quick to flip on Ryan just because he learned Ryan had also told Ben about his idol. I’m not saying he shouldn’t have flipped, but I would have at least done a bit more digging and felt out the situation before accepting Ben’s word as gospel. I still stand by that assertion. So I’m not super impressed by Devon diving into his new fearsome foursome with Ben, Lauren, and Ashley — but I am impressed with what he did after that.
After the new power alliance decided to vote out JP, Devon had a stroke of genius, telling Ben to still vote with Chrissy and Ryan for Mike, and pretend to be similarly blindsided by the vote. That way Ben could stay on the inside with them and feed intel back to the new majority in terms of how they planned to vote and if Ryan was going to use his idol. Brilliant.
We’ve had plenty of people pretend to be on one side while actually aligning with others before, but to come up with a group plan to have a player out on secret spy mission of purposely voting against his alliance while acting betrayed and pissed for three days just to have access to the inner workings of the opposition is truly next-level stuff.
To make it even better, they didn’t even tell Joe and Mike — whom they brought in for the vote — about it. Joe was walking around like it was a Fijian Christmas, thinking his arch-nemesis Ben had been blindsided. He looked so happy you probably could have gotten him to even eat some food that was not overcooked to a crisp. The genius of that decision bore fruit three days later when Joe — thinking he was completely comfortable — was blindsided himself by King Arthur and company.
By the way, how exhausting are all the Knights of the Round Table references on this show? I guess because they filmed this back in the spring, maybe they thought the Charlie Hunnam-Guy Ritchie movie was going to be a huge summer hit so they wanted to look really timely and topical by referencing it as much as possible. I guess it could have been worse. They could have been all, “Sometimes playing Survivor is kind like sitting in the eye of a storm — a Geostorm, if you will.” Or, “It’s really hard being out here alone on Survivor. It’s the type of thing that really makes you miss your mommy — or The Mummy, a new Universal blockbuster starring Tom Cruise in the role he was born to play!” In any event, I would like to hereby apologize for taking part in it myself with the above King Arthur reference — and any and all Entertainment Weekly King Arthur covers that preceded it. (Seriously, sorry about that.)
So big props to Devon — do people even say “props” anymore? — for a strategic masterstroke. It’s one that may help pave the way to a million dollar check. (Unfortunately, not an oversized novelty check, since they sadly stopped giving those away years ago, but I suppose you could always buy one with all that money.) “I don’t think anybody knows that I’m as good at this game as I am,” Devon said at one point. I certainly didn’t.
Okay, let’s take a look at what else went down in this two-hour, double episode and double elimination extravaganza. But before we do, make sure to make your voice heard! Go vote in our fan survey ranking all 34 Survivor winners. Who are the best and worst winners ever? You tell me! Go vote here and we will reveal the results before the finale.
A True Challenge Feet: Part 1
I’m neither one who is turned on by feet (sorry, no freaky fetishes here), nor one who is disgusted by them. Feet are just kinda there. They get the job done. Hurt sometimes. No big deal. But I always think it looks weird when Survivor players have to move stuff around in a challenge using only their feet. It kind of reminds me of Sebulba from The Phantom Menace — an alien “Dug” creature that walked around with his hands and grabbed everything with his toes. You probably forgot about him because like any normal person you tried to block out anything and everything from that movie because it was too painful watching Jar Jar Binks and a future Sith Lord yelling “Yippie!” at the top of his lungs. (Go back and give that final lightsaber battle between Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan vs. Darth Maul another look though. It’s the best lightsaber fight scene in any Star Wars movie. Not saying it redeems the whole film, just saying there is indeed a silver lining to that cloud of a movie.)
Anyway, Lauren moved all of her blocks over and then planted the flag first, so she won a bunch of food that Jeff Probst described orgasmically (“cheeeeeeeeeseburgers, frenchhhhhhhhh fries, ice cold beeeeeeeeeeeer”). “It feels good,” announced Lauren with all the emotion of someone reading an online bus schedule. Of course, she got to bring folks with her — those folks being her new final four alliance of Devon, Ben, and Ashley.
Naturally the editors juxtaposed the formation of this alliance with a clueless Ryan and Chrissy back at camp plotting how and when to get rid of the others. “Me and Chrissy are playing a little more of a strategic game than everyone else,” Ryan proclaimed in a quote that I’m sure made him wince as he watched it play back on TV. (Recap continues on page 2)