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Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X recap: Season 33, Episode 4

Did David make the right move? Let’s debate.

Posted on

Monty Brinton/CBS


TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Jeff Probst
Current Status:
In Season

Tis the season of debates! Debates that very well could shape the future of our country. Debates that show democracy — not to mention creepy stage pacing — in action. So, in the spirit of the season, I thought we could start off this week by debating the highly controversial game move that closed episode 4 of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.

To recap, David used his hidden immunity idol to save Jessica and kick self-proclaimed tiger mom and despised family member Lucy off the island. But was it the right strategic move? Time to look at the pros and cons. But first, a list of things you will not find in this debate. There will be no mentions of pussy (cats). Email server discussion will be hereby deleted from this particular debate. Nobody will be called the devil. You will find no split-screens, nor people flooding the stage after the debate carrying disposable cameras brought in courtesy of a time machine from the year 1993. Ken Bone will not be making an appearance. No one will be forced to awkwardly say anything nice about each other after smashing each other to bits for 90 minutes. And, above all, you will not under any circumstances at any time hear the phrase “How about a little hug for the Bushy?”

Okay, let’s get to the Pros and Cons of the move before submitting a verdict.


If David does not play the idol, he’s still sitting near the bottom of the alliance, and you can only play from the bottom for so long. It’s time for a game-changing move that can redraw the tribe alliance map and David saw an opportunity to use the idol to do just that. He gained an appreciative ally in Jessica and can now form a majority Gen X alliance with Ken, Jessica, and CeCe to put them in control as opposed to sitting back and waiting to be picked off.

Plus, the move has the added benefit of early game résumé-building. Using an idol not to save yourself, but rather another player, in a big picture move is bound to be respected by the jury should you make it to the end. It’s an aggressive play that puts David more in control of his own fate rather than just being passive and letting the game pass you by.


There are definitely times to play idols for other people — namely, when you need to control the numbers or need to save an alliance partner that will ultimately help you get further in the game. This was not one of those times. Here’s why. First off, David did not save a rock-solid ally. Jessica has already shown a penchant for flipping on alliance partners, tossing aside Paul once she did not like his answer about a possible male alliance. So loyalty here to anyone is, at best, a question mark. David did not necessarily buy her allegiance with this move.

That’s okay, however, if the move at the very least took David from the minority alliance to the majority one. But did it even do that? Is there a majority alliance on this tribe? I suppose the thought is that Ken, Jessica, CeCe, and David form the new foursome with power over Chris, Bret, and Sunday. But look closer: Jessica just squealed on Ken, Ken just tried to vote Jessica out, and Jessica just tried to vote CeCe out even though CeCe was voting to keep Jessica around. So at best this would be an alliance with people already gunning for one another, and at worst it would not be an alliance at all because nobody can seem to get on the same page. Is that really worth using your get-out-of-jail-free card for?

But here’s another damning argument against using the idol. We are at prime tribe-swap time. We’re four episodes in and look like we could be experiencing the second coming of Survivor: Nicaragua (when the younger tribe mopped the floor with the old fogeys). This has tribe swap written all over it. So by using that idol now, you run the risk of burning it to maintain tribe numbers that do not matter in the least, and now potentially go into a new tribe without the security blanket of a safety net in the form of a hidden immunity idol.


You can probably tell by the way I wrote much more on the topic of why it was a bad move over a good one as to how I feel about what David did. Look, David may very well go on to win this season, but that still does not necessarily mean he did the right thing here. Playing idols is a tricky thing. You have to play the mathematical percentages in terms of timing and likely events to occur, while also feeling out your tribemates to see how the ramifications will play out as a result of the move.

With very unstable tribe dynamics (even within the hoped-for alliance of people that just screwed each other) and a high likelihood of a tribe swap just around the corner, David’s move was a bad strategic play.

All that said, from a viewer’s standpoint, HOW AWESOME WAS THAT?!?!? It was like when Malcolm used two immunities to save the Three Amigos and send the Specialist home. Was that a smart strategic move? Of course not! Malcolm went home three days later because he had no more immunities to play. But it was glorious to watch. So thank you, David, for putting viewers’ interests above your own. Now good luck getting Ken, Jessica, and CeCe to kiss and make-up (if they are even all on your tribe a day from now). Okay, let’s go recap the rest of this bad boy from the very top.

NEXT: The hunt — for animals and idols — begins!