The Golden Ticket - Ben Martell's recaps

Have we found the final two?


Hi all


It’s been a very full week, so sorry for the late entry this week!  Given I’m so late, this one’s short – just a handful of quick hits, hot takes and predictions for what is coming next.  So, this week there’s not so much a ticket, as a stub.  Here goes!


My prediction for Simone wasn’t as far off as her finish would indicate. 

My concern for Simone was that she would end up heading too far down the Courtney Yates road, and would irritate people through negativity.  She has said in some exit interviews that people didn’t get her sense of humour (eg, Ali didn’t understand that Simone ‘hating’ her was a compliment).  But, overall, I get the sense that Simone was more Michelle Yi – sweet and genuinely likable out there.  In the end, her biggest problem seems to have been insecurity – she was telling people the only challenge things she might be able to do were puzzles and balance (and she wasn’t great at puzzles), and she was also outwardly demonstrating very basic things as big achievements.


If Simone had been able to navigate the early waters of the game and find her feet, I think she did have qualities that could have helped her to a win.  I came out the other side feeling like both she and Katrina Radke could have been better fits on each other’s tribe (and their roles as Diversity Advocate and Olympian could easily fit those opposite definitions too).  I could see Simone fitting better particularly with Chrissy and also with Ben, while Katrina would just have been another personality to manage over in the Hustler tribe.


I still wish I’d taken Chrissy with that first overall pick, but in the end I feel like Simone was exactly what I expected – she just had a bit of bad luck in that Lauren and Ryan both fit in far better than I expected and weren’t early targets at all.


Chrissy and Ben will make final three together 

Ben and Chrissy


How’s that for a take? 


You can never take foreshadowing too seriously on Survivor, but when Chrissy told Ben they could take it all the way to the end together, and given the way the entire thing was presented, I immediately got the sense that this pair is going to hold for a very long time – if not the whole way to the end, then at least very close.


Jeff Probst has been hinting at a meaningful final tribal council, which I can only assume means that there are at least two deserving candidates sitting at the end.  Jeff also hinted that some minds could be swayed at FTC.


So, how is this for a scenario – Ben is the archetypical presumptive favourite going in to a final tribal council, while Chrissy as the older mum figure is the person who usually loses at the end.  But Chrissy has the ability to provide rational arguments and present her gameplay honestly and fairly.


It hasn’t passed me by that we saw the creation of that partnership primarily from Chrissy’s point of view.  So if I’m right about them getting to the end together, I’m picking Chrissy beats Ben – perhaps by a single vote cast by the third of the final three? 


Joe is even worse at Survivor than he seems. 



Look, there’s a chance that Joe is going to take out Cole this week.  It’s hard to know how this is going to go for Joe in the short term – it really depends on how well he can use his idol, and whether he is able to recognise the Cole/Jessica showmance and use it against them.


However, Joe was unable to look at the idol clue and figure out that it was by the well.  The first time I saw the image it seemed immediately apparent that it was the well (or at least, that the well was one probable option).  He needed Cole to be able to interpret a relatively basic clue for him.  This doesn’t bode well for Joe’s ability to play any kind of a sly game.  In comparison to Tony, he has all of Tony’s paranoia and hyperactivity, but he just isn’t as smart.


I do like Joe’s potential Hantzian turn here, just from a TV perspective.  Russell voted out John Fincher after admitting to John that he held an idol, noting that he saw it as his own mistake, but that John would have to pay for it.  Similarly, Joe could remove Cole here simply because he made the mistake of letting Cole know he had an idol.  But Russell is a character archetype doomed to lose Survivor, and unfortunately Joe isn’t even in Russell’s calibre within that archetype.  There’s no chance of this plan being clean.  We’ve already seen that Cole is going to tell Jessica, and Jessica won’t keep it secret if Cole is voted out by Joe.  This is blowing back on Joe no matter how it goes down.  Sooner or later, he’s going to be in a lot of trouble.


My bet is on sooner.  Joe has already confronted both Mike and Cole about having the idol, and in neither case did he really leave the kind of impression that would make those people want to come on board with a voting plan that he came up with.  With Mike, Cole and Jessica potentially all going to be hard for Joe to get on board, he’s 3-3 at best, and I’m not convinced he’d get Desi or Roark onside either.  Joe’s ability to make it to the swap will rely on the Healers never losing or on seeing the target on his back coming and playing the idol fast.


The Heroes and Hustlers tribes are full of good players



JP is as bad as predicted (although, I can’t give Pat too much ribbing, since he went further than my own winner pick).  I also think that the jury is still out on Lauren’s ability to play the game, but at least she can clearly fit in easily enough.  And Patrick has no chance of winning the game, but he’s great TV.


Everyone else in those tribes, though, seems capable of pulling off a big game move in the right circumstances.  Yes, I’m including Alan Ball, who might well be crazy and intense, but he still understands the game.  After all, even Debbie was able to pull off a big game move.  I’m also including Ashley, who I think did an admirable job getting herself back in with the Heroes (and who I think that Ben and Chrissy may legitimately see as their best choice for a third at this point).

I’m looking forward to seeing more of the Healers, who at the moment feel like the most boring tribe, although this is probably simply a product of us seeing less of them.


The main point I’m making, though, is that the first two episodes have between them now given us a good insight into each individual on those two tribes.  I feel like we have been given the chance to understand who each of the people is.  This is a good thing.


I was originally intending to point out a little of Patrick’s goofiness in this episode, as I thought I was observing little things that could easily have gone missed.  But this ended up being well covered by Mike Bloom and Liana Boraas in the RHAP B&B (if you’re skipping this one – you shouldn’t be.  It’s good stuff!)  But if you watch the episode again, just note the first establishing shot of the Hustlers in the episode – a helicopter shot where Patrick runs down the beach and backflips into the ocean.  It’s a thing of beauty, a very subtle character moment and a credit to the editing of the episode.


In fact, I was a little critical of the editing in the 33/34 cycle.  I felt like storylines vanished and characters weren’t established well.  This episode felt to me like a return to the 31/32 cycle, which are for me the best edited seasons in Survivor history.  Long may it continue.




Thanks for stopping by and reading so late in the week.  Please don’t forget to comment and tweet at me once you’ve read it.  I always appreciate it.





Ben Martell - The Golden TicketBy day, Ben Martell is a public commercial lawyer from New Zealand.

By night, he moonlights as a self-described Survivor 'expert'.

By day or night, find him on twitter at: @golden8284