Oh my God, I am soooooo old. I never realized just how old I was until I watched episode 3 of Survivor’s Millennials vs. Gen X season. How do I know how old I am? Well, I mean, I guess I could look at my birth certificate, but that would involve first finding my birth certificate, which is not so easy when you’re talking about a guy who still has two Mr. T coloring books, 13 packs of Vanilla Ice gum, and a closet full of VHS tapes.
I guess all of that should give me a clue as to how old I am, but the point I was trying to make is that I am a pack rat and have no idea where the actual proof of my birth resides. But now, thanks to Survivor, I know I am old as dirt. How do I know? Because I type the word “you” instead of “u.” And I do believe there’s something poetic about language, and language is beautiful, and if we lose that foundation of language then we have we lost something that is really beautiful. I believe that because I am a writer and writers should believe such things.
You know what else I believe? I believe that vinyl is the only way to listen to music. So take that, Probst, and your fancy iPhone gizmo! True story: The first thing I did when I moved into my house is have a record closet built to house all my 7” singles, 10” EPs, and 12” albums. Because that’s what old people do! And I am an old person! Just like Ken. Only less handsome. And less proficient at fishing. And less irrationally angry at Barbie dolls. But other than that, totally the same guy.
Does it make me super old that I have found myself rooting for Ken these past two weeks? I thought I would despise that guy. First off, he’s a model, so that automatically lends itself to an initial hatred born out of jealousy. Then, the first thing we heard from him all season seemed to be bragging about living in Maui. But turns out that was just Ken trying to use his experience to help the tribe.
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Helping his tribe is all Ken has been doing since he stepped foot on the island, and seemingly with a very modest approach. Because that’s the Gen X way! Do your work, keep your head down, and don’t expect any special treatment. Why, it’s enough to make an old language-and-vinyl-loving fogey like myself cry — CRY FOR THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY DUE TO THESE GOOD FOR NOTHING WHIPPERSNAPPERS! Sorry, just practicing my grizzled, bitter old guy banter. Now let’s crank up the vintage Victrola and recap the latest episode of Survivor!
We begin over at the Millennials beach where Adam and Zeke say hats off to Taylor and Figgy for flipping the vote, even though they deserve no credit for that whatsoever because they were too busy snuggling under a palm tree arguing about which one was more “Schmoopie” than the other while Michelle and Jay did all the heavy lifting. Still, Figgy has no problem displaying ultimate confidence. “People who write down Figgy’s name go home,” says Figgy, who apparently has taken to now referring to herself in the third person, which sounds about right for her. Meanwhile, the following conversation is happening just down the beach.
HANNAH: “Zeke, can I talk to you for a second?”
ZEKE: “I’d rather not right now, thanks.”
HANNAH: “Please don’t hate me!”
ZEKE: “I don’t hate you, Hannah. But can we talk later, please. I just need a moment to myself.”
HANNAH: “Sure. Toooooootally get that. But can I just explain one thing real quick?”
ZEKE: “Actually, if I could just have a little time to decompress first, that would be super swell. Thanks so much for understanding.”
HANNAH: “Right. Of course. I just totally betrayed you at Tribal Council so the last thing I would want to do is make it even worse by needlessly pestering you right after the vote, but if I could just say one eensy teensy thing it would make me feel a whole lot better. So what I would like to do is…”
ZEKE: “I’m gonna cut you off right there. I’m starting to get the sense that you are talking and not listening. So, to recap, I sure would be pleased as punch if we could have this conversation a bit later. I’m sure you understand.”
HANNAH: “Oh, yes. Absolutely. I hear where you are coming from. Loud and clear. Crystal clear. Like, crystal meth clear, that’s how clear it is. Before I go, though, could we just have a long drawn-out conversation highlighting all the things I did and why I did them? I’ve actually prepared a PowerPoint presentation I’d love for you take a look at if you don’t mind. Okay, this first graph shows all the…”
ZEKE: “FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, WOMAN, CAN YOU NOT TAKE THE HINT?!? FOR ALL THAT IS GOOD AND HOLY AND IN THE NAME OF TATA THE BUSHMAN LEAVE ME ALONE!!! GO BEGIN PLEDGE WEEK OR RUSH WEEK OR WHATEVER IT IS CALLED TO GAIN ADMISSION TO KAPPA KAPPA SURVIVOR!”
HANNAH: [long pause] “So, I’m getting the sense you’d like to wait a bit before talking…”
So Zeke and Adam finally — finally! — are left alone to have their two-man pity party. Adam says they are currently residing on “Dumbass Island,” which totally sounds like a show that I season passed once on the Fox Reality Channel back in 2007. But Adam has not lost his confidence. “I wouldn’t count me out,” he says. “I think I can get back to the top again.” Oooooooh… foreshadowing, anyone?
NEXT: David attempts to fit his entire foot in his mouth[pagebreak]
But forget about all of that for a second. Let’s go bridge the generational divide and toss a few of these Millennials and Gen Xers into a blender and see what happens. It’s time for a Survivor summit as four members from each tribe meet for PB&J sandwiches (PB&Js? What, were there also baby carrots, and Danimals hidden in that basket, too? And, by the way, I just described an actual lunch I eat on a regular basis. Yes, I eat like a five-year-old. And no, I do not make my mommy cut the crusts off my sandwich.) For the Millennials, Will, Jay, Taylor, and Figgy pull the orange rocks… which I can only assume they then save and later use for some sort of makeshift game of beer pong, while Chris, CeCe, Dave, and Paul go from Gen X.
You may have watched this meeting of the mindless and said to yourself, “What’s the point? There was no twist, no hidden idol clue, no tribe shake-up. Why even bother?” That’s because producers are hoping for a long play — something that will happen now that will pay dramatic dividends later. And they may have gotten it courtesy of this season’s resident Nervous Nellie. Before departing the summit, David reaches out to Taylor and says, “Hey, if I end up on a swap or merge, let’s work together.”
Certainly nothing wrong with that. Just laying the groundwork for if and when the two end up on the same beach. Well done. But then David keeps talking. “I will kick someone off my tribe if you want me to. I swear to God.” UGH! Why would you say that? You have no idea what the numbers will be at that point and what your own intra-tribe dynamics may be then, especially after you vote Paul out at the next Tribal Council.
Now, again, there’s nothing binding about that comment, but why risk pissing Taylor off later for no reason? That’s the key. David had already dropped the nugget about working together; there was nothing to be gained by promising to also vote out his own tribe members, and only things to be lost. That’s because now he has given Taylor some insight as to the current tribe dynamics on the Old Fogeys tribe. Plus, he made a promise he may not feel like keeping later, especially if the newly constructed Gen Xers have the numbers. This wasn’t a game-killing mistake by David, and everything may work out just fine, and Taylor and David may run an odd couple alliance all the way to the end — but it was just another example of a poorly thought-out approach. Pump the breaks, David. Sometimes less is more.
So the Gen Xers return back to their own beach and… Wait a minute. Who the hell is that? I swear there is some Asian woman walking around on the Gen X beach I have never seen before in my life. Is she supposed to be there? Is that a production assistant who mistakenly walked into frame and they forgot to edit out? Did the Fijian cyclone pick this mystery lady up from some other island and drop her off here? Or am I merely seeing things after too many years of Milwaukee’s Best consumption? WHERE DID THIS WOMAN COME FROM?!?!
Let me go look up the Survivor cast list… Seriously? There’s somebody named Lucy on this season? Is this list accurate? Can I get another pair of eyes on this to make sure what I am seeing is correct? Hold on, let me text Probst for confirmation on this…. Waiting…. Still Waiting…. Okay, I can see the blinking dots like he is typing something.… Now the dots stopped blinking…. Wait, now they’re blinking again…. Any second now.… Oh. He told me to stop being a jackass. Fair enough.
Moving on! Elsewhere at the Gen X beach, Ken is starting to make his mark. He has totally shown Paul up in the fishing department, coming back with another catch of the day. But the mild-mannered hottie cringes when the ladies start referring to him as Ken Doll. Why does he object? Apparently, he was called that for half of his childhood and “When you are a boy, the last thing you want to be referred to is the plastic Barbie with no penis.”
I’m honestly not sure what to make of that. Is Ken telling us people were mocking the size of his genitalia? Or is he suggesting there should be a Barbie doll with a penis? Or is he bummed out that nobody called him Blaine, the boogie-boarding Australian that Barbie dumped Ken for in 2004 (only to return to a hipper, updated Ken in 2006)? All of the above? In any event, he doesn’t like it. Of course, I didn’t like being called “Dolphin” when I was a kid either, but what are you gonna do?
NEXT: The Millennials uses brain over brawn[pagebreak]
Over at Kappa Kappa Survivor, the bros are doing backflips while Adam contemplates a true conundrum. “Figgy sucks at Survivor,” notes Adam. So how lame does that make the rest of the tribe that chose to keep her and her showmance around? He goes and tells Michaela and Hannah that KKS will be the final four and they need to vote one of them out, and he may have found some receptive ears. “I still don’t like Figgy,” explains Michaela. “But I’m not making any decisions right now.” (Oooooh, more potential foreshadowing!)
Whether she is forced into a decision sooner rather than later depends on the immunity challenge, so let’s head there now as Jeff Probst does that whole weird thing were he acts as if the approaching tribes are the living, breathing reincarnation of Medusa and he will turn to stone if he even gazes in their general vicinity and therefore stares at his feet as he instructs them to “Come on in, guys!”
So like good little Survivor contestants they do what they are told and indeed come on in. In this challenge five players from each team must carry 40-pound bags over and under obstacles and then over a balance beam. Once they do that, the bags are emptied and the sand bags are separated from the coconuts by two other players, and then the final two players use the sand bags to knock down large puzzle pieces, which must then be reassembled for victory.
The competition starts out very close, but then those wily free-thinking Millennials make like Bill Belichick and cagily exploit a loophole in the rules. All five members per team and all five bags must go across the balance beam, but not necessarily together. What that means is that Taylor keeps going back and basically ends up bringing almost all of the bags over himself while other Millennials cross the beam without the heavy bags. Smart! Check out the Millennials being Millennials and thinking outside the box!
While all that is happening, CeCe is taking FOREVER on her beam. Like, imagine that student driver in the lane in front of you constantly breaking for no reason and intermittently alternating his turn signal from left to right while making no turns whatsoever. Not even that pimply teenager was as slow as CeCe. CeCe is so slow she makes the tortoise look like the hare. She’s so slow they measure her 100-yard dash time with a calendar. She’s so slow she came in third place — in a two person race. She’s so slow, she… oh, never mind. All you need to know is that the Gen Xers basically lose because of it.
As for the Millennials, they not only win immunity but the reward of comfort items like chairs, pillow, candles, and a hammock. Only they don’t want them. Jay walks over to the assorted items, yells, “We don’t need no stupid comfort, bro!” and then tosses one of the chairs into the ocean before thinking better of what he has just done and proceeding to swim out to the chair and use it as a surfboard to “ride some tasty waves.”
Okay, so that’s not exactly what happens. Instead, Jay asks if they can get fishing gear instead of the comfort items. Probst loves this. He loves when players try to wheel and deal. He may agree to it, he may not, but it always opens the door for the possibility of something interesting to happen. In this case, he says it can only go down if Gen X agrees to it, and just for good measure, Jeff throws in that he’s not sure that’s an equal trade. (He’s right. It’s not.)
This leads to a semi-comical moment when Zeke attempts to also give away the tribe’s beans before being rudely shushed by the rest of his tribe. The Gen Xers either don’t hear this offer or choose to ignore it. Eventually, after awkwardly working in lots of mentions about how amazing he is at catching fish, Ken refuses the trade on behalf of the Old Fogeys.
NEXT: Survivor’s not-so-subtle clues revealed![pagebreak]
As we head to commercial, Chris tells us how “I’m not sure how CeCe does not go home tonight.” RED HERRING ALERT! Survivor has to be very careful here. Look, I get it: When you have a quote of one player talking about what a forgone conclusion it is for a person to go home, and then that person does not go home, it is almost too delicious not to use. It makes that person look silly and makes the vote that follows it appear that much more shocking. It’s a money quote!
The problem is that Survivor does this all the time. In fact, they did it just last week in the exact same fashion! Last week after the Millennials lost the challenge, the quote that took us to commercial was Mari talking about how they were going to blindside Figgy. Then when we came back from commercial, Zeke was saying how tickled he was to go to Tribal Council because “I came to vote people out and I want to get started.” How exactly did that work out for them?
Now let’s fast forward to this week. We have Chris going into commercial saying CeCe is a goner, and then we return right after with Paul telling us that, “I think everybody is on board on voting out CeCe unanimously.” And how did that work out for them? The problem is the show used the exact same structure and hit the exact same beats with then the exact same result two weeks ago. Like I said, I don’t necessarily fault the show. When you seem to have a forgone conclusion, and then everything changes, you want to show it.
The problem is, Survivor viewers are savvy. That’s what happens when they’ve watched over 400 episodes of their favorite program. You do this too much and as soon as they hear that first quote about how someone is definitely going to go, they know that person is now automatically safe. Like I said, producers and editors have to be careful here. So if someone going into the commercial break after the next challenge says, “Taylor is a totally gone,” then Taylor better be going, going, gone. (And if this leads to Figgy tears, that would be a bonus.)
We know, of course, what happened this week. As much as we’d like to give Ken, David, and CeCe credit for flipping the script, the mortal game-injury Paul suffers appears to be self-inflicted. After being questioned by Jessica about the possibility of there being an all-male alliance he denies it and then says if there was one he would be sure to tell them, “Ladies, you’re on your own.”
Wow, what a terrible answer. Evidently, Paul is as bad at lying as he is at fishing. First off, why in the world would someone go up to someone else and say “Hey, Jessica. I know we were in an alliance of six, but I’m just here to tell you that the fellas and I have decided to go and form an all-male alliance, so you all may want to do the same. Just letting you know. May the best alliance win!” Nobody. Nobody would do that. And nobody would be dumb enough to believe someone would do that.
But here’s why Paul’s answer is even worse, if you can believe that. Because the right answer is not to say, “Hey, we’ll tell you if we form a dude’s alliance.” No, the right answer is to say “Male alliance? Definitely not. If I’m being honest, I trust you all more than I do them.” Now, of course, that is not being honest, but who cares? The point is, that is how you calm nerves and deflect unwanted attention.
I’ve given Paul a bit of grief. I don’t think he’s a bad guy, but he did appear to talk a big game while not backing it up. And I dig the fact that he has never texted. And I dig the fact that he was totally a good sport about everything after being blindsided, saying “Good luck, guys” to the rest of his tribe and noting that even though he was voted out by his peers that the experience rates up at there as his number one ever. That’s a great attitude, even if he didn’t necessarily play a great game.
Speaking of great, we have some goodies for you. Like my weekly Q&A with the Hostmatser General himself, Jeff Probst. And the exclusive deleted scene below. And our interview with the ousted Paul on EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM — channel 105) at 9:40 a.m. on Thursday. Plus, make sure to follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss for all the latest updates. So enjoy all of that, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!