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'Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X' recap: 'The Truth Works Well'

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Monty Brinton/CBS

Survivor

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
32
run date:
05/31/00
performer:
Jeff Probst
broadcaster:
CBS
genre:
Reality TV

It’s been one of those weeks. Not a bad week, mind you, but a very busy week. So busy, in fact, my first instinct was to pass off this week’s Survivor recap to someone else. Just take a breather, watch from the sidelines while I drink from my canteen, and let someone else do the work. But SCREW THAT!!! Who am I, Courtney Yates sitting out a challenge? Homie don’t play that. (Homie do, however, solemnly swear to never use the phrase “Homie don’t play that” ever again. That was truly unfortunate and I do apologize.)

So even though I’m half passing out due to pulling massive overtime putting out a Walking Dead cover story and getting everything ready for EW’s PopFest (where, if you haven’t heard, you can compete in FIVE actual Survivor challenges against actual former contestants like Ozzy, Woo, Tai, Rob Cesternino, and Mari from this current season, and also get an exclusive sneak peek at the next episode — get tickets right here), I am going to soldier through. We should probably put Dr. Joe on standby just in case my face starts tingling and my hands start shaking, but let’s give it a shot, shall we?

The good news for you is that because of my overloaded schedule and half-lucid nature, this recap will (hopefully) be shorter and less rambling than usual. Now I know what you’re thinking: What are you talking about? You’re rambling already! Even talking about the state of your rambling constitutes rambling! And when you try to put in imaginary reactions to your rambling, that is the HEIGHT of rambling!

Fine! I get it! With that in mind, let’s break down the things I want to touch on from this week’s episode before sleep-induced drool falls on my keyboard and shorts out my entire laptop. But first — sorry, channeling my inner Julie Chen there — let’s have some non-recap-related fun. Somewhere in this recap, I’m going to tell you how you can win two free two-day passes to EW’s PopFest this weekend in Los Angeles. Not only do we have all that awesome Survivor stuff, but we’ll have exclusive sneak peeks of the new Gilmore Girls and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Jennifer Aniston will be there. James Corden will be there. I will be there. (Granted, not as good as those first two, but whatever.) The schedule is insane with a million other things. Go look at it: ewpopfest.com.)

At some point in the recap, I will put in an email address and the first 25 people to email it will win two free two-day passes to the convention. Getting yourself there and putting yourself up in a fancy hotel (if you don’t live in L.A.) is all up to you, but we’ll get you into the show for both days. Just keep your eyes out for the email address somewhere in the recap. It’s like finding a hidden immunity idol, only without any obvious marking on the side. Happy hunting! Okay, let’s get to the recap itself.

ARE THE IDOLS TOO EASY TO FIND?

Another episode, another found immunity idol — this time by Jay, who got a flash of a winner’s edit with his whole tearful speech about how he wants to take care of his family and prove millennials aren’t selfish. His unbridled joy at the finding the idol was somewhat tempered at the end, after Michaela caught him and Will celebrating. (She told us she would stay quiet on the matter, unless she caught wind of something going down and then “I’m snitchin.'” But wait, don’t snitches get stitches? At least that’s what I always heard. Then again, I also heard it’s “bros before hoes” but I’ve never met a ho before in my life so I cannot vouch for the latter statement’s authenticity.)

Good for Jay. Look, he got lumped in with Figgy and Taylor’s super-grating showmance due to their day 1 Kappa Kappa Survivor alliance, but Jay has done nothing to demonstrate he isn’t in it to win it. He’s the one who took charge setting up the new camp and he’s the one who told Taylor how dumb he was for being in a showmance. So I’m happy for him to find an idol. But are too many idols being found? The whole “hidden in plain sight” twist for this year’s idols sounded good on paper, but perhaps they weren’t quite hidden enough.

Of course, we LOVE seeing idols played, as do the producers, but when someone finds an idol seemingly every episode, it does start to not feel as special. Also, as we saw with David, once someone learns about the hidden markings, it gives them a huge advantage over everyone else in finding the next one. Not sure how fair that is. It’s a tough one, because idols make Tribal Councils so much more dramatic, but they should be a little bit harder to procure (which is exactly why they should go back to hiding them in challenges!).

NEXT: People who can’t see bumping into things

[pagebreak]

THE YELLING LEADING THE BLIND

I love the blindfold challenges. I love watching dudes get hit in the nuts. I love hearing people yell “YOUR RIGHT! YOUR RIGHT! YOUR RIGHT!” over and over. And I love judging who can do the best impression of Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein’s monster by sticking their hands in front of them like they’re sleepwalking. It’s all gold, as far as I’m concerned.

But this challenge was even better than normal, for a few reasons. First off, Figgy started by doing the most Figgy thing imaginable and clapping over CeCe’s exit while saying it was because “I love Michelle. [awkward pause] I mean, I love Zeke, too.” Great gamer move, Figs! She then went on to completely botch the challenge, taking her team from first to worst when she couldn’t direct a blindfolded Ken to solve the puzzle.

Then things got weird. Not Michaela literally pushing David out of the way — that was hilarious, not weird. But rather we had our first medical intervention…for someone who wasn’t even participating in the challenge. Hannah was sitting out and watching when she mentioned she felt faint. She went to sit in the shade, but then said her face was tingling and she couldn’t feel her hands. (Ken probably couldn’t feel his genitalia at this point after ramming it into a pole, but that’s a whole other story. Speaking of which, is Ken now truly like the Ken doll with no penis after that collision?)

So Dr. Joe got called over, at which point Hannah asked him the most brilliant question imaginable: “You’re not going to let me die?” I love that question, because there’s only one acceptable response. Like, are you allowed in that instance to answer with a “Hmm, not sure yet. Let’s hope for the best!”? Or can you go all Magic 8-Ball and pull a “Reply hazy, try again”? I mean, she’s kind of limiting his responses with a loaded question like that, isn’t she?

No matter, it turns out Hannah was just panicking, as evidenced by Dr. Joe’s cute-as-a-button medical diagnosis of “Hannah has managed to calm herself down.” I’m surprised he didn’t pat her on the head while he said it and give her a lolly. Look, we’re having some gentle fun at Hannah’s expense here — you could tell she was wildly embarrassed to be the person who needed medical treatment while watching a challenge — but I do think it brings up an interesting point. So much is made of the physical toll Survivor takes on your body, but one of the most underrated aspects in terms of the game’s difficulty is the mental exhaustion. Imagine the coldest, the hottest, the hungriest, the most tired, the most claustrophobic, the loneliest, or the most emotionally wrought you have ever been — now multiply that by 100. That’s Survivor.

That’s why you always see people saying something along the lines of “I told myself I wouldn’t be the person to be crying or freaking out.” And then they do. (#SurvivorBreakdown) I’ve seen it with my own eyes when I’ve been out there for the first few days of filming. It’s culture shock and physical and emotional torture all wrapped into one devastating package. Don’t get me wrong, this was once again not a great look for my (misguided) episode 1 pick to win it all. But within the context of what this game puts you through, it was not necessarily as bizarre as it seems.

FIGTALES

I’m sorry, but can we pause for the cause to discuss for a moment the fact that Figgy and Taylor have taken to calling themselves FigTales? Is that like DuckTales? Are Uncle Scrooge, Huey, Dewey, and Louie all of a sudden going to start arguing over whose turn it is to collect firewood? And will there be a merge at some point involving Scrooge’s pilot Launchpad McQuack and his pilot Duckworth?

Here’s the thing about Taylor and Figgy: I am quite sure they’re totally nice and pleasant and fun people back here in real life. They’ve said hardly an ill word about anyone that we have seen. They’re not villains. I’m sure I’d get along with them quite swimmingly in the right social setting. BUT HOLY HELL, THEY ARE INFURIATING IN THIS GAME!!! Their inability to recognize why their showmance puts them at risk is beyond ludicrous. “It’s not gonna hurt us now,” Taylor said this week…for the sixth week in a row.

And Figgy’s assertion at Tribal Council that she and Taylor voting together is no different than Ken and Jessica voting together is preposterous. The last time Ken and Jessica went to Tribal together, Ken tried to vote Jessica out! That is the very definition of different! The simple fact Figgy and Taylor honestly thought others hadn’t caught on to their relationship leads me to believe they’re as blind as everyone in that reward challenge with their buffs over their eyes.

NEXT: Michaela goes all out, in many ways

[pagebreak]

A ROOTING INTEREST

Now that we went through the (Ken’s) nuts and bolts of the reward challenge, let’s turn our attention to the immunity contest, which began with another classic Survivor out-of-context quote as Figgy proclaimed “I’m gonna trade him in for the big one today.” Uh-oh. Watch out, Taylor!

In any event, the contest had two players from each tribe race across a series of balance beams in the water, collect a bag of coconuts, and bring them to the beach. Then, two other players would open the bags to find three balls they’d have to maneuver through a table maze while standing on small pegs.

Takali got to the maze first (although if you’re at all like me, you probably haven’t figured out the tribe names yet and are not only wondering who the hell is on Takali, but also contemplating whether biting a hot Takali, it will give you a bite right back.) But Figgy and Jessica were on the maze for the tribe, and Figgy once again took her tribe from first to worst, squandering the lead and giving her team a date at Tribal Council.

But that’s not what was interesting. What was interesting was what went on with Michaela. Michaela is super blunt, and she doesn’t always think through the ramifications of how said bluntness may be perceived. She openly complained about last week’s tribe swap (even though she was put on a tribe with majority numbers), but this week she went truly next level.

First she started barking at her maze partner, Hannah. And then she barked at her again. And then some more. Then she took a second to breathe. And then she got back to barking. “Don’t get frustrated,” she snapped at Hannah. “I’m not frustrated,” Hannah calmly replied. “I’m just getting yelled at.” Look, here’s the thing: It worked! They demolished the competition and won the challenge. But it probably would have still worked if she had given instructions with a little less bite. If Michaela keeps that up, she may win the battle, but she’ll ultimately lose the war because people may not want to work with her.

And she wasn’t even done! After Ikabula won immunity, she openly cheered against Takali. I’m not talking simple half-hearted encouragement for Vanua, I’m talking offering advice on how to win, clapping up a storm and acting about as impartial as Fox News or MSNBC’s political coverage.

Probst asked her about it afterwards, and her reasoning was sound in that Takali had a Millennials numbers advantage (“There’s three of you. If you can’t figure out how to work together, you deserve to go home.”) and Vanua didn’t, so she was trying to protect numbers. But did she not notice Vanua just ignored their Gen X advantage at the last vote? And does she not realize she’ll likely have to work with a Gen Xer at some point if she wants to go all the way? Why alienate and upset people?

As a viewer, I love Michaela’s passion and unstoppable competitive drive, but she has to recognize how it may negatively affect her social and strategic game. She’s already made herself a huge target once we get to the merge, thanks to her dominance in physical challenges. Why make that target even bigger by not having people who will want to fight for you to stay? I want you to stay, Michaela. I think pretty much all of America wants you to stay. So stay! But to do that, you need to have a better sense of how your seemingly harmless actions are going to be perceived when everyone is looking for even the slightest reason to vote you out. Because otherwise…

[We now interrupt your Survivor recap to present the secret email address for free passes to EW’s PopFest. The first 25 people to email rsvp@ew.com will receive two free passes for both days of the convention. You will receive an email back if you’re among the winners. Good luck, and hopefully Jeff Probst and I will see you there! We now return to your regularly scheduled Survivor recap, already in progress.]

…and that’s why the Evel Knievel movie starring George Hamilton is actually superior to the one starring Evel Knievel as himself. But back to Michaela and the one very large caveat that could make everything I previously wrote completely incorrect. She is so overwhelmingly blunt, it could possibly aid her in the game and it is in this way. In a game in which you cannot trust a single word anyone says, Michaela’s brutal honesty could be seen as an asset. If I side with Michaela, I’m pretty confident I can trust what she’s telling me — at least more than I may be able to trust someone else who’s all smiles in front of me but could be stabbing me in the back as soon as I leave. I’m not sure others will see the advantage in that, which is the problem, but if I were out there — and let’s all thank our lucky stars I’m not — that would be something I would strongly consider.

NEXT: Did Adam make the right decision?

[pagebreak]

ADAM’S BIG DECISION

I like Adam. It’s not just because he’s a homeless shelter manager, and I’m hoping I can trick people into thinking I’m a better human being than I actually am because I’m down with the guy who’s actually making the world a better place each and every day. Pretty sure that’s not going to work anyway. I rag on reality TV contestants for a living, so it’s not like anybody thinks I’ll be hanging with Ted Danson in the Good Place when all is said and done.

No, I like Adam because he seems like a smart and savvy player who has somehow managed to mask his intelligence and knowledge of the game from other players. He’s low-key smart, which is what makes him so dangerous. Just look at what the second half of FigTales said, when he talked about how it was “unlikely” Adam was way smarter than Taylor thought he was. Wrong.

Adam had a big decision to make here. Stay with the Showmance and keep the Millennial numbers strong. Or, since he was at the very bottom of the Millennials pecking order, align with Ken and Jessica, whom he clearly likes more anyway. Jessica worked on Adam a bit and then had Ken Doll go do the same, with Ken promising to never put his name down — which always strikes me as a bit odd. Does this mean Ken is also giving his word that he’s refusing to vote for Adam to win the million dollars should he make it to the end and Ken is on the jury? Because that involves writing someone’s name down as well.

“The whole world is probably screaming ‘Get out the power couple. What are you thinking?’” said Adam, and he’s absolutely correct. So we went to Tribal to see if he would do it, but then all of a sudden Tribal Council almost got hijacked by an impromptu wedding ceremony. Ordained minister Jeff Probst offered to marry Mr. & Mrs. FigTales right then and there, although I’m relatively confident his officiating jurisdiction may not extend to Fijian shores. “Survivor first, let’s go!” replied Figgy to the offer, at which point Taylor asked to be excused to use the restroom, calmly exited the Tribal Council area, busted into a full sprint once out of sight, stole Jeff Probst’s boat, made a pit stop at the world-famous Cloud 9 floating bar to “just throw down a few tall boys and chill,” and then hightailed it back to America just in time for 2-for-1 Jell-O Shot Thursdays.

Of course, before he left, he told Adam the Millennials would “boot his ass out” if he flipped. Well, I know one Millennial who won’t, because Adam did indeed flip and sent a tearful Figgy out of the game. Was it the right move, ignoring the numbers and potentially pissing off his fellow Millennials?

I think it was, and here’s why. The Millennials may have the numbers, but once you get into the numbers within the Millennials, Adam’s at the bottom. Where’s the promise and hope for him to climb that internal totem pole? It’s certainly possible, but not probable. Plus, contrary to what Michaela thinks, is this even a Millennials vs. Gen X game anymore? Chris already turned on the old fogeys to side with Zeke. And Zeke is also hating the Millennials and may even be contemplating some sort of alliance with David, at least judging by the preview for next week. This game has become super fluid, and when the game moves, you have to move with it.

And honestly, who’s going to be upset at Adam anyway? Taylor, obviously. Michelle. Jay, perhaps. Even though Michaela talked about keeping the numbers, she already tried to get Figgy out once before, so I’m not sure how pissed she’s going to be about it. (Although, to be fair, Michaela being pissed is not exactly a rare occurrence.) The point is, I don’t think there will be a groundswell against Adam because of this, the same way I don’t think Chris is public enemy no. 1 among the Gen Xers for ousting CeCe.

So the showmance is dead, and I’m actually really looking forward to seeing what Taylor can do now that he hopefully gets his head in the game. He could be a completely different player now that we’ve got all that lovey-dovey nonsense out of the way.

Wow, this went on WAAAAAAY longer that I planned. Didn’t I start with some whole spiel about how I had to make this one much shorter than normal? Well, here we are, well over the 3,000-word mark yet again, so there goes that plan.

And we’re not done. We’ve got my weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst and we’ll be chatting with Figgy on EW Morning Live (Entertainment Weekly Radio, SiriusXM, channel 105) Thursday at 9:40 a.m. If you missed it, go back and hunt for that email address to get the free PopFest tickets, and you can also follow on me on Twitter @DaltonRoss for all your Survivor scoop. Hope to see a bunch of you at PopFest, and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

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