WooooHooooo, michel! Thanks for posting!
Here's my take on the past episode and predictions for the finale...
Ben: We have seen Ben since day one, he's been a significant character the entire way. We saw him go with Alan, then abandon him and hook up with Chrissy. We saw his mentality, to keep their relationship hidden, which was underlined at the merge. Ben adapted at the swap and formulated relationships with Lauren and Mike, while opposing Cole and Jessica. In a season where they all expose everything, Ben knows what to keep close to the vest, and he wields it when needed. Jiffy has underlined this in his post TC comments.
Post merge he had options, Chrissy/Ryan, or Lauren/Mike. He played both sides, per Devon. Then, he identified his path to the end with Devon and Lauren, but due to his skills he sniffed out their discontent with him and turned the game upside down, on Lauren. He alienated them all along the way. But time and again we've heard about his demons, and his commitment and respect for the service he believed in, and his motivation for the game. He is the only player that has NOT been complacent in this game. He's a huge underdog at this point, and he has made huge moves. I think he will win it all, as they have ALL foreshadowed, "If he gets the F3, he'll win!" The huge spike in confessionals underlines this final story arc for him.
Chrissy: As Jiffy reminded us in the IC, she's come a long way from day 1, when she was vomiting on the platform. The thing I have most enjoyed about Chrissy is her vengeful nature. Good TV in my opinion and there is nothing more entertaining than to watch a woman who thinks she's been scorned seek out her just desserts. And, Chrissy for me is extremely vengeful and focused. But, she keeps thinking that it will be okay to put Ben off one more TC, that because everyone hates him and he hasn't won an IC, that he'll be okay to eliminate later. I fear that she's underestimated her competition, and her vengeful streak got the better of her.
Joe called Ashley a goat a long time ago. Every one tries to keep Chrissy focused on the real threat, Ben, yet she constantly wants something else, and this week it was Ashley. I do think this will be her achilles heal. She's an alpha with a capital A. A great character. Her confessional story arc is in full swing as we approach the end, and I think she will indeed be there.
She has been a great strategist but she's been saved by the people surrounding her as well. Her interesting targeting of all the women hasn't gone unnoticed either, and I don't know if the women on the jury will vote for her in the end. In fact I could add that Chrissy's jury management as been seriously lacking.
Devon: Devon has been surprising. He was seriously underestimated by Ryan from day one who judged him on his demeanor and appearance. But, we often saw how Ryan was torn and undecided, where Devon was solid. And, what Devon wanted, he got. He trusted Ryan explicitly until Ryan betrayed his trust, which was pointed out by Ben. Ben played that beautifully and successfully. We saw Devon try to keep the rest of his alliance on track, he talked them out of voting Ben at least once, and then tried again, when Ben over heard his name and flipped. But, so far, Devon has navigated that ugly transition better than his other alliance mates, Lauren and Ashley.
He does probably have the best social game. He's been receptive to alternate ways to the end, and that is serving him well so far, unlike Ashley, or Ryan. His confessionals have been present in every single episode, and he's starting an uptick at the end of the game, which is positive. However, the content of his confessionals has been weak, narrative and reactionary, more than dynamic and reflective. I think it could possibly be Devon who is the last component to the F3.
Ryan: Ryan took charge in the beginning of the game and he's noted to be a serious fan. He found the first advantage and played it as best as he possibly could. He got Devon bound to him, as well as Chrissy. He seriously judged Devon by his looks and demeanor, underestimating him. But, since pre-merge, he's been extremely disappointing. He was extremely arrogant post merge and after he found the HII, his game crashed and burned when he poorly navigated the HII with telling too many people about it.
It seems that he's blindly been with Chrissy since they connected. His game is her game. Ryan is a goat/weasel at this point for me. He's never won anything, he seems to be the beta to Chrissy's alpha. So, I do not see him as a contender to win. In fact, at this point I would be surprised to see him make it beyond F4. I think he is the one most likely to be burned by the fire making challenge that has been hinted at for the F4.
Dr. Mike We felt for Mike from day one when Joe attacked him regarding finding an idol. But, Mike navigated that well. He found an idol, and really didn't play it well. He was loyal to his fellow Healers. Being the last healer has served him well as from that point on he's served as a number. But, at this point in the game, I feel his number is up. It appears that Chrissy/Ryan/Devon are together, and if Ben wins immunity or finds another HI, Mike is the easy vote. His kids will be proud of him. He got to play out a real fantasy. As Lauren noted he's a great guy! But, he's not strategic enough, nor has he been seen to talk anyone else in to anything. He has been right about one thing ALL along....he's the one that has been screaming to them all for a very long time that the biggest threat in the game is Ben. He will vote for Ben to win.