S35 E10
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S35 E10
November 29, 2017 at 10:00 PM EST

The challenge is cool enough. Unfortunately, however, Chrissy figured out the answer too quickly, depriving us of the opportunity of watching Jeff Probst providing unsubtle clues through his play-by-play. Had she just held off for a few more minutes, we no doubt would have been treated to commentary along the lines of “Everyone digging deep to win this! If you don’t win you will be at risk. Some might say you would be helpless, or powerless, or even defenseless. Of course, if you win, you would be the opposite of that. The opposite of a word that would be synonymous with those other words I just happened to mention for no particular reason whatsoever. Hmmm, I wonder what that word could be? It sure would be INVALUABLE if I could figure that out. In fact, I bet that mystery word might even sound a little like invaluable now that I think about it.… Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?”

For a player, these mystery word or phrase puzzles are pretty much the only time you ever want to actually listen to Probst during a challenge, especially the longer it goes. I guess we should also make note of the open cheating once again happening on a puzzle. Not even open, but encouraged! “Devon stepping back to look at Chrissy’s puzzle,” said Probst. “All is fair in Survivor.” We actually should call it copying and not cheating, because cheating implies doing something that is against the rules, but Survivor producers a long time ago made the decision to let people copy from each other, and the reason is simple: They want close finishes and they want dramatic comebacks.

Think about all those times when one person or one tribe was way behind after the physical portion of a challenge and then somehow miraculously won on the puzzle anyway. Keep in mind that said last-place person or tribe can easily look over at what other people or teams have already done, and there are times — not always, but sometimes — when they can copy that work already done and it enables them to catch up.

Survivor producers won’t set up partitions so players cannot copy off of each other because they want as many close finishes as possible. And guess what? That totally makes sense. I don’t necessarily like it, but I get it. Let’s not forget: They’re making a TV show, ladies and gentlemen. And it certainly does not qualify as “unfair” since the same rules apply to everyone. It may work against you in one challenge, but then help you in the next. So it all basically evens out.

And while I don’t like the fact that players can shortcut by copying off each other, it is in the rules, so if you don’t do it, then you’re a fool. (Unless you don’t need to do it, in which case, you’re a genius!) I may hate it, but I would TOTALLY copy off someone else if I were out there. I would just have to hope I was copying off of someone smart…like Chrissy.

Devon Does It Again
Apparently not satisfied with one master deception, Devon was back at it with a brand new plan. This time he came up with the idea to tell Mike and Joe about Lauren’s extra vote and how they would use it to split the votes on Ryan and Ben and ensure one of them went home. This made Joe feel safe — giddy actually — heading into Tribal Council, because he was so happy to get rid of his nemesis Ben.

And maybe he would. Lauren had brought up to Ashley — who then brought up to Devon — the possibility of cutting the former Marine now. Would they do it, though? The first part of the plan played out as expected as Ryan indeed played his idol…after some encouragement from Ben the spy. The first two votes went on him, and the next two on Ashley as we waited to see which alpha male would be cut loose.

In the end, it was deuces for Joe, who had to walk out while Ben celebrated and Chrissy snarked it up by commenting, “That was an incredibly tight alliance.” But Joe didn’t scream or holler (or holla, for that matter). He took his lumps in stride. “They definitely got me,” he said in his final words. “Kudos to them and I’m looking forward to seeing who’s in the final three.” Good for him for leaving game animosity in the game. It’s not personal, just business.

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Look, I have no idea what living on the island with Joe was like. My best guess is that it may have been something of a nightmare. But from a viewer’s perspective, Joe played 100 miles per hour, and that is something I always love to see. He wasn’t just there to give kooky sound bites; the dude actually wanted to play and play all out. Just imagine a tribe with Joe Mena and Tony Vlachos together. (Survivor Gods, please make this happen.) So kudos to Joe. He delivered the goods, even if he could not deliver himself a victory.

Speaking of delivery, we have a few more goodies for you this week, starting with our exclusive deleted scene from the episode above. We also have our weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst, where I ask him why he insists on staring at his feet when he tells players to “Come on in, guys!” And the first place you can hear from the eliminated Joe and JP is Thursday morning at 9:30 a.m. ET on EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105). Plus, for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Now it’s your turn. Were you as impressed with Devon’s gameplay as I was? Are you psyched or sad to see Joe go? And who’s your pick to win from everyone left? Hit the message boards to weigh in and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy.

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