Survivor Winners at War: Why _____ was voted out in 5th place

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Survivor: Winners at War’s finale was packed with Tribal Councils as the Final Six were trimmed down to the Final Four, right before the jury decided on a winner.

The sequence of events leading to the second Tribal Council of the Survivor: Winners at War finale was certainly unexpected. Following the first Tribal Council, where Sarah Lacina explained her firsthand experience with gender bias in the game of Survivor (where her contributions in a male-female duo were seen as less significant than the male’s), Ben had an emotional reaction and offered himself up as a resume point for her.

Yes. At the Final Five in a season of all winners, Ben invited Lacina to vote him out.

The scene is quite moving, actually. Lacina and Ben are deciding on a voting plan for Tribal, and Ben tells her that her words about gender inequality moved him. He says that if she goes with Michele and Natalie to vote him out, she needs to do it for herself – to beat everyone else (including Tony) and win the game.

Ben shares that, after his first season, he won the million dollars but desperately needed real friendships. As close as he was to Final Tribal Council in Winners at War, none of it would have improved his psyche, which was starved for genuine human trust and companionship. In offering himself up as a pawn for Lacina, he gives up everything to prove his loyalty to a friend.

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Within the last two episodes, we have seen a new side to Survivor. We have seen some of the most cherished winners admit to returning home paranoid that their loved ones are lying to them. It’s a chilling revelation that playing and winning such a glorious contest – something many others and I have dreamed about countless times – is not a surefire way to fulfillment or lasting satisfaction.

Never, in 20 years of Survivor, have we had the opportunity to hear a group of winners discuss this effect.

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It makes Ben’s departure much more meaningful than just “he gave up.” He may not have been the most beloved Survivor winner, but this was such a heartfelt human moment that it’s hard to knock him for offering himself up to be voted out.

Our 18th Tribal Council of the season is framed as a toss-up between Michele and Ben: Ben and Tony will be voting for Michele; Michele and Natalie will be voting for Ben.

Lacina takes the opportunity to vote out Ben. While he wasn’t necessarily a big threat in the endgame of this season, he represents Lacina’s autonomy to decide her own fate in the game, and make decisions that benefit her alone, even with a close ally expecting her to follow his lead. Ben becomes the 18th winner voted out in Winners at War, in about the last way we would have expected.

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“Ben, the tribe has spoken.”