As the game winds down on Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
, one castaway seems head and shoulders above his competition. Ben is being recognized by the audience and his Survivor
cast as the strongest player in the game but he's far from flawless. Ben's game has a serious Achilles' heel. Ben's not doing much, if anything, to manage the jury, ruffling feathers and getting all manner of blood on his hands. While Ben's strongest critic, Chrissy, might still be in the game, he could very well being playing too personally and dirty to win Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
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How Far Is Too Far?
The concept of how far is too far in Survivor is always a tricky one. There's no universal standard for it either, as it mostly comes down to the jury and the opinions of each cast. (Infamous Jonny Fairplay wasn't well liked but even his antics pale in comparison to the blowback the Hantz family got on the show.) Ben isn't the most likable Survivor castaway, being supremely smug and hyper-aggressive at times, but in the grand scheme of the game he hasn't crossed many lines. Ben's petty and occasionally very mean, but he doesn't done anything that's been humiliating for others without some basis in the game, at least from an outsider's perspective.
Ben's biggest sin, probably, has been targeting people based on how he feels about them personally. Joe and Cole were in Ben's crosshairs for a very long time. While there were some game reasons to get rid of them, Ben's primary focus seems to have been how he felt about the two on a personal level. Ben was quite open, both in confessionals and with the other castaways, about how much he hated Cole and Joe, particularly the latter. The reasons for that dislike had little to nothing to do with the game.
Ben is mean and he has done little to do endear himself to the audience. That doesn't keep him from playing one of the most dominant and impressive games in Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. Yet the only people who can really determine if Ben played the best game (or crossed too many lines) is the jury and that's where the former Marine is in trouble.
The Dangers of Jury Mismanagement
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers is looking at potentially a very bitter jury. There have been so many blindsides already and there'll doubtless be a couple more before the season concludes. While blindsides are great for the viewers, they can blow up in the castaways' face when comes to the jury. People do not like being made to look like fools. Since Ben has orchestrated or been at the center of many of these blindsides, he's going to get a lot of heat. The most damaging thing that Joe probably did in the game was call Ben "King Arthur." It just highlighted what everyone, playing or watching the game either from the jury or at home, knew was true. Ben was the ringleader of his alliance and all the aggressive game moves came from him, even if it was indirectly.
The way Ben has treated those castaways he didn't like or wasn't aligned with likely will come back to bite him. If Chrissy ends up in the jury and Ben is at the end, there's no way she's voting for him. Ben's petty but Chrissy makes pettiness look like an art form and will stop at nothing to prove Ben doesn't deserve the win, if she's in jury or she's arguing against him at Final Tribal. That's just hypothetical, but looking at the current and confirmed make-up of the jury currently, there's not many Ben fans to be found.
Lauren was incredibly angry at Ben, before and during her shocking elimination from the game. While Lauren has always been relatively level-headed about the game, it's not a huge leap to think that she'll feel Ben like crossed the line and vote for someone else in the end. It's likely that one of Ben's arch-enemies, Cole, will feel similarly. Cole will pay Ben's dislike back by not voting for him. Then there's JP, who seems like the quintessential and stereotypical jury member who votes for the person who played the most "honorable" game and that's not Ben. It's a mystery where Desi will fall because she never got to play long enough to really show off her strategic mind but she looks to be in the minority if she does vote for Ben.
The only one who looks like they might vote for Ben at the end is Joe. Joe will admire the backstabbing and scheming because it's how he wanted to play the game. However, an endorsement by Joe is probably the worst thing Ben could hope for as there's no player in Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers who proved to be more unpopular than the bald probation officer.
There's a lot of factors riding against Ben as Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers reaches it close. The biggest and most damaging one might be Ben himself. Ben might make to the end but unless he can prove someone played a nastier game than himself, he could very well still lose.
What do you think of Ben's chances to win Survivor? Do you think he's crossed a line or just playing the game? How do you think the jury will feel about Ben at the end?
(Image courtesy of CBS)