You know, while this season will never be considered one of the best in the storied history of Survivor, these last few episodes all basically killed. There is no doubt this is a pretty middle-of-the-road season now. If I were to rank them all, this one would probably settle in somewhere around 20, maybe 19.
And after 35 seasons, if you get a mediocre one and not a horrid one, we viewers should be pretty happy.
With that happiness in my heart, let’s get to the penultimate Well, In Theory … column of the season. As is always the case heading into the finale, we’re going to do away with the theory and take a look at where I see the castaways at this very moment.
I mentioned it a couple weeks ago, but one of the major pros of this season is really how we got rid of much of the dead weight early. And, honestly, Ashley was the worst player remaining, so her ouster leaves us with what could be the strongest final five in the show’s history. Now, I’m not saying all five are great or anything, but I think they’ve all played good games.
With all of that said, here’s how I see the remaining players. I’ve ranked them in three categories: No Way in Hell; Could Win the Game; and The Frontrunner. I kept those categories from previous seasons, but it was really hard to figure out the frontrunner and the one person who can’t win. Anyway, let’s get down to it.
No Way in Hell
- Ryan – When I was compiling my predictions for this season’s Jury Jeopardy, I kind of decided Ryan should be in this slot. As of right now, I can’t see a way for Ryan to win this game. There is just no way he gets to the end sitting next to people who played worse games. Ashley going home really hurt Ryan. If he went to the end with Ashley and, maybe, Mike or Chrissy, he could have made a decent case (based on how people don’t like Chrissy much, apparently). His best bet now is sitting with Chrissy and Mike, but I think Chrissy or Mike both get more votes; Chrissy because she’s played a better game and Mike because of all the allies on the jury. I just don’t know how Ryan can win. Even his best moves ended up being under the radar. Really, Ryan’s downfall came when he voted Ali out. That’s the point where he became a follower (of Chrissy, really) and lost control of his own game.
Could Win the Game
- Mike – Of the three people in this category, I think Mike owns the worst chance of winning. He’s in this category, though, because Healers make up a significant portion of the jury and he could (and should) get some credit for maneuvering his way to the end despite most Healers being targeted. Mike really needs to get to the end with Ryan and, maybe, Chrissy to win. Ryan doesn’t have much a jury argument and many people, Healers in particular, didn’t care for Chrissy. That could get Mike the million and the title of Sole Survivor™. But even that scenario is completely predicated on a jury not wanting to award the person remaining who clearly played the best game (Chrissy). If Mike sits at the end with either Ben or Devon, I don’t know how he could win.
- Chrissy – Of the five people remaining, I think Chrissy is squarely in the middle in terms of Best Game Played™. And I don’t think it’s even close to debatable. She’s, without a doubt, played better than Ryan and Mike. Yet, without a doubt, both Ben and Devon outplayed her. But Chrissy is still around and I’m pretty sure she’s not the main target at the first tribal of the upcoming episode. Also, of the remaining players, Chrissy probably should be called the biggest immunity threat. In fact, if a puzzle is involved, Chrissy becomes a heavy favorite to win immunity. I think, like the previous people on this list, Chrissy’s best bet is sitting with Mike and Ryan. But I think she wants to sit with Ryan and Devon. I have a good feeling that Chrissy and Ryan both don’t realize how many Big Moves™ were Devon’s call. I think they are both underestimating his game… and, really, underestimating people has been Chrissy and Ryan’s biggest problem all game.
- Ben – Let’s be clear: If Ben makes it to final Tribal, he deserves to beat everyone. While I think one could argue Devon’s played the best game, Ben’s game is the most visible and he’s shown that he wants it more than anyone. I think Mike said it best when he described Ben as having a drive like nobody else. Ben’s also got the best narrative for the jury. Besides being an actual hero; he’s been a huge target in this game and survived; he’s found idols; he’s been part of many huge moves; and while some people didn’t like him much in the game, unlike Chrissy, Ben’s made relationships with literally everyone on the jury except, I think, Desi. Really, the only reason I don’t have Ben as the frontrunner is because he hasn’t been great in challenges and I think if he doesn’t win immunity, he goes home immediately.
- Devon – OK, OK, OK, I know what you’re thinking: “Pat, you’re only putting Devon in this slot to prove the amazingness of your fantasy team.” And, yes, you’re right about one thing: I do have an amazing fantasy team. Heck, if Jessica didn’t have a blindspot for abdominal muscles, all of my team would be on the jury. But the real reason I have Devon here is because he might just be in everyone’s ideal final three. That obviously gives him a leg up. I think he’s played the absolute best game. Everyone on the jury likes him … especially if you give Ashley some time to cool off. I have a feeling he’s going to be really articulate but also unthreatening and pleasant when he lays out his case. All in all, I just don’t see anyone who can beat him at final tribal besides Ben. And, again, I don’t see Ben making it that far. Therefore, Devon is the chosen one.
Well, take all these predictions with a grain of salt because, as we all know, predictions aren’t my thing. But let’s all enjoy another season finale of an amazing television show. We’ll talk next week.
Pat Ferrucci started watching Survivor when episode two of Borneo first aired. He's seen every episode since. Besides recapping here, he'll be live-tweeting this season from the Mountain Time Zone. Why? Because nobody cares about the Mountain Time Zone except when they want to ski. Follow him @PatFerrucci for Survivor stuff and tweets about anything and everything that enters his feeble mind.