'Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers' recap -- JP Hilsabeck and Joe Mena voted out at separate Tribal Councils
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/30/2017
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers' merged Solewa tribe voted out JP Hilsabeck and then Joe Mena during Wednesday night's special two-hour episode on CBS.
JP Hilsabeck, a 28-year-old firefighter from Los Angeles, CA, became the tenth person voted out of Survivor's 35th season and the third member of the jury on Night 27 of the game through a 5-3-1 vote at Tribal Council.
Mike "Dr. Mike" Zahalsky, a 43-year-old urologist from Parkland, FL, received three votes, while Joe, a 34-year-old probation officer from Bronx, NY who currently resides in Tolland, CT, earned himself one vote.
Although Joe and Mike were outsiders and the original targets -- dubbed "dead men walking" by Chrissy Hofbeck following Cole Medders' ouster -- JP was blindsided and voted out of the game after Lauren Rimmer devised a plan during a Reward feast of cheeseburgers and fries with Ben Driebergen, Devon Pinto, and Ashley Nolan on Day 25 to target the threesome that was appearing too close for comfort.
The dangerous threesome was comprised of JP, Ryan Ulrich, and Chrissy Hofbeck. Mike believed this trio was playing a comfortable and safe game, adding that they were "blinded by deception."
Lauren was afraid that if the majority alliance of seven voted off Joe or Mike, who would be the easy votes, the group of seven would then have to turn on each other and Lauren probably wouldn't have the numbers.
At the Reward feast, Lauren, Ben, Devon and Ashley therefore decided to work together, and they promised each other a Final 4 deal. They also discussed utilizing Joe in order to make a big move because no one would ever suspect that Joe and Ben would be working together, or at least voting together.
Lauren, Ben, Devon and Ashley also shared information with each other to solidify their pact. Lauren revealed that she had a secret advantage in which she could cast an extra vote at a future Tribal Council, and Devon leaked to the group that Ryan had an idol.
Ryan, however, never played his hidden Immunity Idol at Tribal because he was totally unsuspecting that anyone in the majority alliance would be a target. Ryan assumed to was too early for the seven alliance to scramble and go after each other.
Ben had also found a hidden Immunity Idol after enjoying Reward. He wasn't sure if he needed it because he seemed to be in a good spot, but the tribe had been calling him "King Arthur," and people who emerge as leaders in Survivor typically end up being big targets.
The person who was absolutely safe at Tribal Council was Ashley, who had won the Individual Immunity Challenge all about balance and endurance.
In a sneaky plan created by Devon before Tribal Council, Ben played a "secret agent" in which he was really working with Devon, Lauren and Ashley but pretended to be on the outs of the tribe with Ryan, Chrissy and JP.
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Ben faked a pout around Joe and acted as if he was on the chopping block because the guys didn't get along and Devon, Lauren and Ashley really needed Joe to team up with them to take out JP, Ryan or Chrissy. Joe seemed to find comfort in the idea Ben was in trouble and a member of the opposing alliance.
In addition, Ben's elaborate ruse allowed for him to collect "intel" from Chrissy, Ryan and JP. He would plant seeds in their minds and retrive information for his alliance with Devon to use. Ben's chosen loyalty came as a bit of a surprise since he had been tight with Chrissy since the start of the game.
Joe, however, didn't have much of a choice either way since Mike had played his idol at the previous Tribal Council when Cole went home and Joe didn't have an idol for himself to play.
Meanwhile, Devon started the game of Survivor in a solid friendship and alliance with Ryan, but Devon chose to turn his back on his pal because Ryan had lied about Devon being the only castaway with knowledge of his hidden Immunity Idol. Devon previously discovered Ryan had also shared the idol information with Ben, so Devon felt betrayed and lost trust in Ryan.
After JP got voted out at Tribal Council, Ben planned to convince Ryan to play his idol at the next Tribal, and Ryan was reeling from the blindside and Devon betrayal.
On Day 28, Devon and Ben plotted together and said Chrissy or Joe needed to go next, with Chrissy being the likely first target since she was a gamer and challenge threat. Devon was proud to be calling the shots without anyone really knowing of his power in the tribe.
Following a swimming and puzzle-solving Reward Challenge, Ben, Ashley, Joe and Devon got to enjoy a Survivor spa complete with a hot shower, chicken and vegetable wraps, fruit and pie.
Joe felt the tables had turned and he finally has a true alliance, especially because he watched Ben complain and vent about being an outsider, which obviously wasn't the case in reality. Ben was having a great time messing around with Joe.
However, Ashley realized that Ben was playing such a great game and becoming more and more dangerous.
Back on the beach, Ryan tried to team up with Mike to come up with a plan, but Mike just wasn't having it. Mike said he had tried to work with Ryan for days without much of a response so he was no longer interested. Lauren was also disinterested in talking any strategy with Chrissy, so Chrissy was convinced that Ryan, Ben or herself was the next person to go.
But on Day 30, Chrissy won the Individual Immunity Challenge in which she had to spell a 12-letter word using puzzle pieces that turned out to be "invulnerable."
Devon's alliance of four therefore decided to take out Joe, and Devon devised a plan to tell Joe and Mike that they would vote for Ryan, while Lauren was going to use her extra vote and vote for Ben along with Ashley.
Devon explained to Joe and Mike that the votes would influence Ryan to play his idol and result in a 3-3 tie. Devon said on the revote, they could vote out Ben. Both Mike and Joe were excited at the thought of taking out such a big threat.
Meanwhile, Chrissy and Ryan talked to Ben about needing to take Devon or Ashley out because the pair was smart and tricky. But Ben's loyalty lied with Devon and Ashley, and so he advised Ryan to play his idol.
Although Joe seemed to be the target, Lauren and Ashley briefly considered taking out Ben now because they'd be "crazy" to take him to the Final 4. Since Ashley seemed to have a Final 2 or 3 deal with Devon, she voiced her concerns to him about Ben, and Devon agreed Ben might need to go sooner rather than later.
Devon was ready and willing to play a "ruthless" game, but at the same time, he knew he needed to be smart and take his time with things.
At Tribal Council, Ryan pointed out that the new alliance of five had previously criticized and placed mistrust in the majority alliance of seven. Ryan insisted they had put themselves in the same position, but no one seemed worry.
Before votes were read, Ryan played his hidden Immunity Idol.
Joe was then ousted fromSurvivor through a 4-2-2 vote instead of Ryan and Ashley. Joe became the eleventh person voted out of the game and the fourth jury member, and he congratulated his tribe on a "good play" after host Jeff Probst read the votes.
"That was an incredibly tight alliance," Chrissy said sarcastically.
The episode's closing credits later showed that Mike and Joe voted for Ryan, Ryan and Chrissy voted for Ashley, and then Lauren, Ben, Ashley, and Devon voted for Joe.
"They definitely got me. It was a good call on their part. We had an alliance of five, and obviously they really didn't want me in that alliance. They just needed numbers. But I played like I said I was going to play; I gave them 120 percent and I played aggressive," Joe said in his final words.
"I found a couple idols and I played my game. I didn't play no one else's game. Kudos to them, and I'm looking forward to seeing who's the Final 3."