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Ben in Survivor HHH

There are long running reality TV shows, and then there's Survivor. CBS' competition series helped change the landscape of television with its first season, heralding in a wave of reality shows that hasn't slowed, despite the show's 17 years on the air. Part of the reason for the show's longevity is how it is constantly evolving and changing, and Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers was no exception. While the season started off slow, it eventually built to a thrilling crescendo, which will have lasting affects on future seasons. But first thing's first, the 35th winner of survivor is none other than veteran and hero tribe member Ben Driebergen.

The two and a half hour finale panned out a bit more exciting than originally anticipated, and much of this has to do with Ben's journey. While he was a strong player in a power position in the first 3/4 of the game, he quickly became public enemy #1 in the final days on the island. His challenge abilities and strategic moves were top notch, and he had the emotional story to really tug at potential juror's (and America's) heart strings. We heard episode after episode about how Ben could win in the end, and the season finale proved just that. Ben made it to Final Tribal council, and seemed a sure thing from the moment he sat on that uncomfortable looking stoop in front of Jeff Probst.

The reason Ben was able to survive for so long after becoming the main target is presumably left up to luck. Ben found three separate hidden immunity idols, two of which were in the final few days in the game. In particular, Ben's idol find during the cold open of the finale left fans gobsmacked, and even had some critics crying producer interference. It seemed all too convenient that the underdog with an inspirational story just kept happening upon hidden immunity idols, and some Survivor fans took to social media to share their conspiracy theories.

The luck went into high gear with Survivor's newest twist revolving around Final Tribal. Chrissy won the final immunity challenge, and won a secret advantage that was a true game changer. She would be able to guarantee one of her fellow tribemates' safety, allowing the other two castaways to battle for survival with a fire making challenge. This was Ben's final saving grace, as the other three weren't able to unite and vote him out after Chrissy won Immunity.

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And during the live aftershow, host and producer Jeff Probst revealed that this twist was here to stay. In addition to the recent change in the format of Final Tribal, it appears that the winner of Final Immunity will continue being given this power, and the fire making duel will be a new tradition. While this will no doubt make future finales even more exciting as viewer, it takes a certain part of the strategical game out. Final 3 alliances certainly matter far less, as luck and skill will decide who actually get to plea their case to the jury.

Survivor will come back for a 36th season this spring. In the meantime, check out our midseason premiere list to plan your next binge watch, and our cancellation list to see if your favorite show got its torch snuffed out this year.

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