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Why is Ben Suddenly So Unpopular on 'Survivor'?

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 23, 2020 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | April 23, 2020 |


Spoilers for last night’s episode

The thing I love about Survivor right now is that, for an hour each week, life feels normal. My family is doing the exact same thing we would otherwise be doing on a Wednesday night: Crowding together on a couch, fighting for space, and watching most of the best Survivor players ever compete to become the second-ever two-time winner behind Sandra, technically the only player on Survivor: Winners at War who has been completely eliminated.

After Jeremy abandoned his alliance last week and basically let Ben’s alliance vote out Tyson, I had the sense early on in this episode that Ben’s alliance would stick together and do what happens in so many seasons: Start picking off the other side one-by-one in an almost predictable fashion. They’d take out Jeremy, Kim, and then Denise before their alliance finally splintered.

What I didn’t predict — nor do I ever — is how savvy a player the goofy, personality-driven Tony can be. Nobody else did, either. Sarah, for instance, criticized Tony early on in the episode for having a lousy social game, which was before Tony somehow convinced players from both alliances to give him fire tokens, which he used to pay off an extortion attempt from Parvati and Natalie on Extinction Island, win the Immunity Challenge, and then convince players from both alliances to turn on arguably the biggest threat remaining, Sophie.

Sophie didn’t see it coming. And there were more than 2 votes on 3 people, which we just don’t see that much, anymore, at least not this late in the game. It was crazy AND Sophie went home with an idol in her pocket. However, in getting voted out, Sophie came to realize — deservedly so — that she’s a much better player than even she gave herself credit for, having entered this season as what she considered a “bottom-tier player.”

Sophie — who, among other things, orchestrated Rob’s ouster — was probably too good for this game, and people began to notice, which is exactly why Tony was able to muster four votes to get rid of her.

The episode, however, belonged to Tony, who dominated the Immunity Challenge, Tribal Council, and the confessionals:

He is probably the most entertaining player this season, but the way he played a great social game last night in collecting fire tokens, and a great strategic game in voting out Sophie will probably end up raising Tony’s profile too much. He’s put a target on his back, and Kim is the most likely to take aim.

In the meantime, not a lot went on at Extinction this week (aside from Natalie and Parvati finding the Extortion Advantage), but Tyson’s ominous warning about Adam was both truthful and kind of depressing: “Some mentalities can handle it, and some can’t. It can ruin people’s lives to lose the game. There are a lot of people that go home and struggle with it for years.” Ouch.

Meanwhile, this was the best shot of the whole game:

I am also beginning to notice on social media that Ben has become a weirdly unpopular player, and I’m not sure why.

He’s a very savvy, knowledgeable player, but he’s also very good at playing dumb when need be, which has allowed him to lower his own threat level with everyone else except, apparently, Jeremy. He’s still my favorite among the 30-39 season winners, not that it takes a lot when Adam and Nick are his competition.

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Dustin is the founder and co-owner of Pajiba. You may email him here, follow him on Twitter, or listen to his weekly TV podcast, Podjiba.

Header Image Source: CBS