Thursday, October 20, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 5 Recap

Previously on Survivor:  Boom chick a wow wow.  Figs, I'm so glad you and I came on Bachelor in Paradise.  I'm a tiger mom and everyone hates when I boss them around so I'm totally going to boss everyone around.  They'll love it.  I found the hidden immunity idol...clue.  No wait, take two.  I found the hidden immunity idol.  For real.  As soon as I can open it.  Do you have a pick ax or a screw driver you can lend me?  Oh hey Adam, whatcha doin' buddy?  Where's the beef?  Jessica, you're in trouble.  Says who?  Um, the tribe?  Oh what a cool and totally unnecessary obstacle course before the puzzle.  Stop staring at me, Ken, I'm totally safe.  Despite what Lucy just said.  Jeff, before you count those votes.

The night after David's bold (stupid) move to save tribe pariah Jessica and blindside tribe tyrant Lucy, David is ready for everyone to yell at him.  Except of course for Jessica who will vow her undying gratitude to him for playing his idol on her and being one of only two votes to save her.  Right?  Not exactly.  Jessica takes Ken aside and thanks him (despite the fact that he just voted against her), apologizes for not believing his soulful blue eyes when they tried to tell her the truth, and offers him her first born, a kidney, and anything else he wants.  Oh, and the legacy advantage should she get voted off.

The next morning, the hunt is on for the hidden immunity idol that is back in play.  David has the advantage of knowing what he's looking for and it pays off when he sees the tribe logo on a tree branch.  After summoning all the strength he can muster (which is usually not enough to open an envelope without help), he revels in having found his second idol.  Hopefully, he'll play this one more wisely.  Last week, Adam's idol-discovering confessional was about a young man in a time of great personal crisis finding happiness in fulfilling dreams. This time, it was about an older man who has waited 42 years to feel a real sense of victory.  And that was sad in its own way.

Someone is not happy
After 33 seasons, it was about time for Jeff to admit that luck plays a factor in Survivor and things happen that will change the game that you have zero control over.  That a fourth word should be added to the motto - outluck.  And with that said, it's time to "drop your buffs."  Two tribes will become three and the Figgy/TayTay romance may be in jeopardy.  But have no fear, fans of Figtails, they remain together, now on the purple tribe.  They may be happy, but one person who is not happy is Michaela.  I assume Michaela is not a poker player because she has zero filter and the most expressive face on the planet.  She is #pissed, #overthis.  She ends up on the new green tribe which will have to start from scratch, building a shelter, getting fire, finding food.  Plus they have the longest, most difficult to pronounce tribe name.  It's a raw deal and she's not going to pretend it's anything other than a raw deal.  She tells Jeff that he did them wrong and he really can't argue.

But she's not the only one who's upset about the reshuffling.  Zeke is complaining that he went from being in the majority, almost-never-lose Millennials tribe to being in the minority in a five person tribe.  But if Zeke were being honest with himself, he went from being in the bottom two of nine, to the bottom two of five. So really not much has changed for him.  Taylor on the other hand is facing some real hardship.  Now that they're on a new tribe, Figgy tells him they have to be on the down low about their romance.  No cuddling, no kissing, no canoodling.  It's torture.   Poor guy.

Adam is frustrated that of all the Millennials he could be joined up with, it had to be Figgy and Taylor.  He is not in their alliance, he is one of only two remaining players to have voted against Figgy, and he knows they have less than no loyalty to him, numbers notwithstanding.  But there is hope.  He talks to Ken who tells us later that Adam is the nicest kid ever.  Adam admits to Ken that he was at the bottom of the Millennials totem pole and Ken sees in Adam a ray of hope for him and Jessica.  Adam sees it a little differently.  He went from being expendable to being a key fulcrum between two pairs.  So post switch, Adam is as happy as Michaela is pissed.

But we're not done.  Now Debbie Downer comes out of the shelter the next morning, looking like her pet rat just died.  Michelle was sitting on top of the world over at the Millennials tribe and now she is one of only two at her new tribe and, to make matters even worse, she's there with Zeke who she is not aligned with.  But certainly she can use her looks and charm to work her way back into the majority.  She starts by having everyone introduce themselves.  As soon as she finds the Christians, she'll drop in about her missionary work and she'll be good to go.  Only...Chris mentions he's from Oklahoma and guess where her arch nemesis Zeke just happens to hail from?  Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plains.  And where young boys grow up idolizing the local college stars - like Chris.  Zeke can't wait to work with the big ginger-haired football player.  And as it turns out, Chris wants to work with the Sooners fanboy as well.

So the two Okies bond over Chris' awesomeness and Michelle starts making plans for the pre-jury trip and wonders what she could possibly talk about with Mari, Rachel, Paul, and Lucy.

Back over at the green tribe, Jay and Bret have had no luck making fire.  They're over it.  So Michaela steps in.  In her confessional, while we watch her work on the flint, she tells us that every time she has wanted to give up in life she just pushes herself a little harder and we know that there is a hundred percent chance that we will be seeing a spark that illustrates how her hard work and determination will pay off. #winnersedit  We then get Bret saying Michaela saved us today (spoiler alert, she'll be saving them again shortly) and how happy he is for her.

Michaela was overcome with emotion and went off to process what she was feeling - pride, relief, happiness.  This gave us another glimpse of how Survivor is so much more than just a game show.  It reveals things about people that they may not have known about themselves.  We've already had Zeke talk about how Survivor has shown him a better version of himself.  Today Michaela was moved by reminding herself that she really could overcome and dig deep, surprising herself with her own strength and determination.  Put to the test, she aced it.

The Immunity Challenge also revealed things the survivors may or may not have known about themselves.  David sucks at challenges.  CeCe does more harm to her tribe than good.  Cross walking along a balance beam carrying a 40 pound bag and swimming with a buoy as things CeCe is capable of doing.   But she is Simone Biles/Michael Phelps compared to David.  Jeff's play-by-play tells the tale.  David cannot get out of the water with the buoy.  David loses the buoy.  Disaster.  Zeke asks what we all were thinking, "is he throwing this?"  It looks like David may never get on the platform.  And he's lost the buoy again.

Michaela saves us, part deux
As lame as David is, and lame does not do his pitiful performance justice, that is how adept Michaela is.  She's Steve Nash/Stephen Curry/Rick Barry all rolled up into one amazingly beautiful and athletic goddess.  My favorite part of watching her in this challenge was noting how she would toss or spin the balls before shooting them.  Totally bad ass.

The orange team ultimately loses to the purple team, even though Ken had trouble sinking the shots.  David and CeCe had put their tribe at too much of a disadvantage for Chris to make up and eventually Ken was able to get all his balls in.  #obligatoryinnuendo  Despite their horrendous performances, David and CeCe are unfazed as they return to camp.  They have the numbers so they feel they have nothing to worry about.  But Chris is not so sure.  He has no allegiance to David or CeCe, who have consistently voted against him, and he has this new bond with Zeke.  He'd like to see them get rid of some of the dead weight.  And by dead weight he means CeCe.

Interestingly, Chris goes to David and tells him the plan.  In his own words, he's trusting in someone who has blinded him twice.  This would not seem the wisest course of action.  Especially, as we know, since David again has an immunity idol that he could use to mess up Chris' plans.  David has a lot to think about.  Does he make two boneheaded moves in back to back episodes, playing his idol for someone else too early in the game, or does he vote with the majority knowing that at worst he's safe if they go to tribal council three days hence?

Michelle is told the plan, told she's safe, but she doesn't know who to trust.  She goes to CeCe and tries to sell her on David being the weakest link but CeCe immediately goes and tells David what Michelle was planning   This could have blown up in her pretty face, but David ultimately had to weigh the risk of backstabbing Chris a third time versus keeping someone in the game who is a potential vote against him.  Add to that the threat of being the first person choked at tribal council as Jeff looked on, David had a lot to think about.

At tribal a lot was said, but the decision was in stone.  As David said before they got there, no matter what is said, let's stick to the plan.  So while Zeke sounded desperate and worried, Chris talked about repairing past fractures and Michelle explicitly named David as the most logical target.

Oh, so this is what it feels like to be blindsided
CeCe was so sure the majority Gen X alliance would keep her safe, that when the third vote against her was called she could only muster a stunned "wow."  She walked up to Jeff, put her torch in the hole and walked away before her flame was snuffed out.  Since I've been doing recaps, I can't remember not being able to screen grab someone standing behind their extinguished torch.

Did David do the right thing? Last week I thought it was a huge mistake to waste an idol on someone who had no loyalty to you, especially so early in the game.  This week he had to decide whether to play the idol on the only person who has consistently voted with him and would be loyal to the end.  If he played his idol to save CeCe and vote out Michelle, and they went to tribal next week (and unless the immunity challenge was for one player to hold the rest of their tribe on their shoulders, they're due for another trip there) would Chris really risk a tie and vote to save Zeke?  I think David made a mistake.  Now he's in the minority and will probably have to play his idol at the next tribal council.

CeCe was a dead woman walking from the beginning.  She and Rachel were on the outs from the main alliance on Day One.  After Rachel left, Cece was in the bottom still, this time with the tight duo of Ken and David.  She was spared last week only because Jessica had put a huge target on her back and Lucy managed to make herself a bigger threat.  She finally had the numbers but was such a challenge liability that her lack of a bond was more than she could overcome.

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 4 Recap

Previously on Survivor.  Let me explain.  Not right now.  But I want to talk now.  Later.  But later isn't now and I want to talk now and make sure you're not mad even though you were blindsided and I voted against you and you thought we were friends.  I feel great, top of the world, brand new life, I'm in total control.  There's no guys alliance, right?  You have nothing to worry about - what's your name again?  My name is ... blindside.

So in a slightly older version of last week's Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, a blindsided man tells the blindsiding female that he really doesn't want to talk about what happen.  So she walks away.  That was an option??  Jessica goes talk to the more receptive Bret and eventually Chris comes into the discussion and she tells him how Paul's one ill-advised sentence heightened her paranoia and led to her orchestrating the overthrow.  Chris wants to go all J-Tia and dump out some rice, but instead decides to hold on to his anger and redirect it at the Millennials in the upcoming Reward Challenge.  Meanwhile, Jessica gives us the confessional of impending doom as she realizes that she may have made an epic blunder.

The next morning Sunday asks Lucy if they made a mistake the night before and the answer of course is yes, they shouldn't have turned on their solid alliance so early in the game and made two enemies out of prior allies when they had an easy vote that would have solidified their numbers.  It's Survivor 101.  Lucy abandons the sinking USS Jessica and goes over to Bret and Chris, tells them she has Ken and Dave in her back pocket, and they all can get their revenge next tribal council.  No reason to watch the rest of this episode!  #zapherass

What is that up on the hill near Millennials camp?  Is that Tony Vlachos?  No, it's a different goat!  And while the tribe goes off to see if they can rustle up some vittles, Adam turns his sights on even more elusive prey.  The hidden immunity idol.  As he's followed closely by a camera man, Adam wisely figures he's on the right track and he does indeed find the...clue to the idol.  Well, still better than nothing!

Recreating Season One GoT, Hodor and Bran
But before he can continue his search, it's time for the Reward Challenge where we learned that Chris on the Gen X tribe and Michaela on the Millennials tribe are potential comp beast threats.  If they make it to the merge, they could be hard to beat.  In fact, after Michaela single-handedly kept the Millennials alive through sheer will, Jeff dropped perhaps a little hint?  "That's what it takes to win Survivor."

You know what else it takes to win Survivor?  Safety.  And so Adam goes back to search for the immunity idol with so many clues - tribe insignia, on a shell, on the beach, over here where the lighting and camera guys are set up  - that you wonder if the producers were concerned the Millennials were too lazy to find it on their own.  Just because they have an app to get them a ride, an app to bring them food, an app to find them a date and an app to find their phone with all their apps doesn't mean they need things spelled out for them that obviously.

So "super duper" Survivor fan Adam - who has been watching the show since he was nine and has probably been dreaming of this very moment since then - has one of the key Survivor moments as he at last finds the hidden immunity idol.  This should be the biggest high he has ever experienced (and he lives in the Bay Area, so, you know) but instead this moment of all moments is immediately put into somber context.  And calling Adam's post-discovery break down hard to watch is an understatement.

I can't possibly imagine the range of emotions this experience brought forth for Adam.  Living out his Survivor dream on a month-long respite from the biggest nightmare in his life.  Looking forward, probably for the first time in a long time, to have something happy to share with his mom.   From some interviews, I know that Adam and his mom had been considered for Blood versus Water and being on Survivor had been both of their dreams.  When he got the call to go out on his own for Season 33, it must have been an agonizing decision whether to leave for six weeks to go on the show but I'm sure that the experience was something he was hoping to buoy her, something to share with her while they lived through the darkest time in their lives.

With all that real emotion hitting me in the face, I almost forgot how Hannah just happened to pop up at the exact wrong time.  Hey, there, buddy.  Whatcha doin'?  How's the ol' idol hunt goin'?  Put a pin in that.  Since, spoiler alert, Millennials are not going to tribal council tonight, that issue - did she see him find the idol or didn't she - will wait for another day.

All is great on Gen X beach.  There are plenty of leftovers for breakfast so everyone should be in a great mood, right?  Not so much.  Self-described tiger mom Lucy is not in the mood for any funny business from Dave (if she's seen any of the shows he's written for, she'd realize she had nothing to worry about).  Dave asks, as one does when one is on a tribe and in an alliance, what the plan is.  She bites his head off and feeds it to the cloud of bats hanging in the trees.  He'll not make that mistake again.  She then tells him and Ken, just be quiet, do what you're told.  She points at Ken and gives him the stern mom voice and makes sure he heard her and understands and will not mess this up.  She does realize this is a social game, right?

The Immunity Challenge was visually fun, as the tribes lofted a member up to gather puzzle pieces and was, at least for Jeff, a contrast in styles.  Because he is contractually obligated to work in a Millennials do it this way, Gen Xers do it that way comparison at least twice an episode.  What I saw was the Gen Xers locking into the first random words they saw way too early and then not giving themselves the flexibility to see anything else.  Meanwhile, the Millennials found a few key words like "tonight" and "flame" and then built around it.  In the end, it was the tribe that stood back, kept their cool, and analyzed the situation before they took action, who won.

With that, Gen X was on its way to another visit with Jeff and his shirt of many buttons.  The plan was for the remaining Gen Xer's to get their revenge on Jessica and make her pay for trying to take control of the tribe.  Lucy and Sunday had buyer's remorse and decided voting out Paul was a terrible idea and all part of Jessica's evil plan.   With Paul gone, Lucy came out of nowhere, invisible in the first three episodes, to fill the power vacuum Paul's departure created.  You can't have two alpha females, so Jessica had to go.  Now, after the loss, the tribe could have blamed Dave as he contributes absolutely nothing to their tribe except for his promised puzzle solving skills which have thus far proved worse than his stick breaking skills. But Lucy has her sights set on Jessica the turncoat, so the rest of the tribe needed to get on board.

One of many Survivor mistakes is to assume what works in the outside world will work on the island.  What's even a greater mistake is assuming what irritates people in the outside world won't irritate people on Survivor.  Lucy feels comfortable that everyone will be happy with her ordering them around and making all their decisions for them. Even though she admits that this very behavior actually makes her family hate her at times.  But for some reason, complete strangers who are competing against you for a million dollars should be happy to be told what to do and what not to do.

But hers is not the only mistake on the Gen X tribe.  Jessica is told by Ken that Lucy has thrown her name out there and the plan is to blindside her at tribal council.  Now Ken is not a savvy Survivor player.  He is a heart on the sleeve, Kumbaya singing, Namaste kind of guy who has show zero signs of being a strategist.  He seems honest to a fault, an open book of sappy poems about dolphins and puffy clouds.  As a deputy district attorney, one of Jessica's jobs is to assess the veracity of statements, to determine whether someone is more likely than not to be telling the truth.  She should be thinking of a career change.  She is convinced that Ken is lying to her.

You had this guy on your side and you turn on him?
So she of course runs directly to the person he names as targeting her and asks, are you targeting me.  Because of course if someone is planning on blindsiding you the way to find out is to ask them.  Lucy of course denies the plan she has worked so hard to keep the lid on and then marches off to find out who didn't listen to her.  Someone is getting a time out.

Dave, wisely, disavows any knowledge of Ken spilling the beans and then immediately goes to tell his pal that he's in deep trouble.  Mom is mad.  Ken confronts Lucy and she does not get him at all.  He's so emotional, like a girl.  Ew.  Girls are the worst (insert eye roll).  Lucy does have a point, there shouldn't be any emotions in Survivor, especially not about voting people off.  But she is wrong that there isn't a diplomatic way to get people to do what you want; barking orders is not the right way.  Not for women or for men.

So Dave has a lot to think about.  Do the easy thing, and vote out Jessica?  If he does, he's worried that he and Ken will be back to the bottom.  But he just swore to Lucy he wouldn't vote her out, can he break that promise?  Are you allowed to do that on Survivor?  He meant to read the rule book, but it was so heavy, he couldn't hold it.  But he does have an immunity idol.  And it's pocket sized, so he's going to bring it with him just in case.

At tribal, it's like the whole tribe took truth serum before they sat down.  Everyone is spilling everything.  Ken wanted to vote out Lucy because she was acting like a dictator.  Lucy thought Ken was man enough to handle her bluntness.  Lucy basically admits in front of Jessica that Ken was telling her the truth, but that perceptive Jessica still cannot grasp that Lucy had turned against her.  This is an astounding lack of awareness and I wonder if whatever has infected her eyes has spread to the left side of her brain because she seems incapable of logical thinking at this moment.  Or, as Lucy would say, she's such a girl.

Jessica is dumbfounded.  She turns to Ken, "Am I supposed to believe you when you tell me my ally is turning on me?"  "Yeah."   For a split second, Jessica senses she's made a huge mistake.  But it's too late for her to change her mind so, to paraphrase Chris, she's about to go all in with the losing hand.  Until Dave springs up to save her ungrateful, undeserving ass.  He shocks everyone by playing his hidden immunity idol this early in the game, on someone who has shown him no loyalty, to vote out someone who was not an immediate threat to him.

And with that Jessica sees that Ken was telling her the truth and she was the target as one after another, the Jessica votes are revealed and then discarded.  Her worthless vote for CeCe shows just how out of the loop she was.  And with only two votes, Dave's and CeCe's, tiger mom slinks out of this jungle and back home to run the lives of those who can't vote her out of the family.

Lucy gets the football pulled out from her #charliebrownsrevenge

Jessica, when she recovers the power of speech, manages to tell Dave, thanks.  Will this form a bond that will carry both of them further in the game, will Ken be impressed by his little buddy's maneuver, and will Chris and Bret ever not be on the wrong side of a vote?  Stay tuned.

Check out Lucy's post eviction interview:

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 3 Recap

Previously on Survivor: The showmance has got to go.  This showmance is ruining my bromance.  Who will I go bowling with?  They don't even have toothbrushes.  Bye Figgy.  Dave you're next.  I'm so totally screwed, oh my god is that an idol?  Let me show it to my new best friend, the octopus-catching Adonis.  Paul breathes control, Paul can't breathe, Paul is struck by heat exhaustion and a bit of irony.  Jay tells Michelle Figgy has to go, Michelle says not so fast bro.  Whispers at tribal, did Hannah get lost on her way to vote?  Blindside #1.

Just tell me I'm not the worst person in the world
Coming back from the unexpected, uncomfortable tribal council, Zeke and Adam try to play it cool.  Good game, nicely played. Zeke manages not to blurt out "I'd like to stab you all in your sleep."  He and Adam go off to count their numbers, which is easy now that it's just those two.  Hannah comes over to apologize and explain/justify what just happened.  Zeke does not want to talk about it at this particular moment when his head is still reeling from the fact that his game has just been turned upside down.  The show is only 44 minutes long, but we still get a full two minutes of Zeke and Adam alternately telling Hannah that  Maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in an Reddit AMA, maybe in couple's therapy, but not now. But Hannah wants absolution, wants to be told she's not a horrible person, and wants them to make her feel better right now.

Hannah has good arguments.  The numbers were there, her vote meant nothing, she did what was in her best interest, it doesn't mean that she's not still with them in spirit, it hurt her more than it hurt them.  But as in most interpersonal relationships, Zeke is upset and disappointed and so all the logic in the world is not going to work at that precise moment.  She could fly in Justin Bieber to serenade Zeke with a live version of Sorry and it wouldn't make up for what he feels is a huge betrayal of the quirky kids club.  But Hannah wants back in and wants Zeke and Adam to know that they're still tight and she's still here for them.  "Use me," she wants to tell them.  She doesn't even like everyone in the damn majority alliance that she just sided with, she tells us.  Is a reality TV show really the place to work out your high school insecurities?

Adam gets a great confessional where he talks about it being his dream since he was nine to play this game, which means he's either getting the ironic soundbite before his torch is snuffed or his hero arc is still solid.  He tells Zeke that it's "You and me on dumb ass island" and he's right.  Had they not told Jay their plan last week, Figgy would be gone, they'd still be in the majority, and they wouldn't have had to deal with Hannah's neurosis and the Triforce's smugness.  But they're now firmly at the bottom and there's no where to hide.  Still, Adam tells us, "I wouldn't count me out" and so we won't.

Over on Gen X beach it's a beautiful sunrise with a deep scarlet horizon.  Paul the old salt quotes the old adage, "Red sky at night, sailors' delight.  Red sky at morning, sailors take warning."  If that isn't the most over the top piece of foreshadowing, I don't know what is.  Paul, you're in trouble; the skies don't lie.  He may think that Cece will be the next voted off, but she's seen telling Dave, "I trust god. I think we're going to be all right."  And CBS is not going to let her go out after saying that.  For good measure, Dave tells her that you should never give up so the underdogs battling back is as sure as Jeff making a dumb Millennial/Gen X comparison sometime during the show.

Paul tells us that he's back from the dead, which of course means he's about to take a stake to the head to make sure he's gone and not coming back.  Ken is tired of Paul's boasting about being the leader and the provider and all his experience.  Put up or shut up.  Ken can't believe that he's on the bottom of the tribe and I can appreciate his confusion.  Any other season, any other tribe he'd be the alpha male.  Instead, his position is taken by an overweight, bombastic, clueless, David Lee Roth wannabe.
Both tribes are given the chance to send some members to a summit where they can meet and get to know some members of the opposing tribe.  The Triforce and Will go to for the Millennials, CeCe, Dave, Paul and Chris for the Gen Xers. Figgy pronounces respite like it's despite and so I momentarily cannot pay attention to what anyone is saying.  Later, watching Big Brother Over the Top, a twenty-something there pronounces heir like here and I die a little inside.

Taylor's thought bubble: She's the jelly to my peanut butter
Back to the summit, Chris the lawyer is, not surprisingly, smart about keeping quiet and hoping to hear more than he speaks.  The Millennials are also smart about what they share, keeping quiet about showmances and somehow convincing Figgy and Taylor to keep their hands off each other while in front of the parents.  Paul, of course, talks.  A lot.  Way too much.  I'm a little embarrassed for him until he goes after Dave.  He tells the Millennials that Dave is incredible, and Dave is touched to find out that the big guy actually likes him.  That is until Paul goes on to say, he's incredible because he screams any time he sees a bug.  Paul's last few fans jump ship.

The Millennials are curious about Ken and CeCe is nice enough not to objectify him which I would never do just because of his chiseled body, angular face and surprisingly good singing voice.  Dave takes Taylor aside and goes all Jonathan Penner on him offering to jump ship, abandon his teammates, and vote their asses out of the game the first opportunity he has.  Taylor was probably thinking about licking some of the peanut butter off of Figgy and missed everything that Dave said, but Dave felt better and saw Taylor as his ray of hope if he ever wanted to get rid of Paul.  Oh Dave, hope is closer than you think!

Ken starts working on Jessica. He flatters her, "you and Sunday are humble."  But Paul acts like he's the king of the camp.  And why?  Because he's the biggest, the loudest?  What does he really contribute to the group?  Jessica hears what he's saying, but she's committed herself to Paul and the rest of their six person alliance and she doesn't want to betray them.  But Ken planted a seed and sometimes that's all it takes.  Which is why having people question their alliance, think about their place in the game is a good strategy.  Kudos to Ken.

Taylor is so happy with life on Millennial camp he's doing backflips.  His girl is safe, they don't have to worry, Zeke is out next.  "Ain't nothing to it."  Adam still can't believe how his fortunes have turned.  This is particularly galling to superfan Adam as "Figgy sucks at Survivor."  But even with her showmantic misstep, she was smart enough to ally with the cagey Michelle while Adam allied with "loose lips" Zeke.  He is also probably frustrated that the four person Triforce (I will never tire of their name) is so obviously tight that their temporary allies should reconsider sticking with them much longer, but will he be able to get Michaela and Will to see the light?

We don't hear from Will at all and Michaela is not making any decisions yet.  She doesn't like or trust Figgy (shocker), but she's going to wait, watching and thinking, before deciding what to do next. That is a thoughtful approach and Michaela is showing herself to be a strategic, rather than emotional, player.  Hopefully all her watching and thinking will get her to see that those four are planning on moving in together when the show is over and go into business selling Triforce friendship bracelets (with four strands!) and so should be broken up sooner than never.

How'd this picture get here?
There's an immunity challenge that requires carrying heavy bags, walking across a balance beam, knocking down a puzzle and putting together a puzzle.  The Millennials do a better job at figuring out who can best get the bags across the beam, while the GenXers do not strategize enough ahead of time, leaving us with a long stretch of CeCe struggling to make it across in the time it takes three Millennials to cross.  Of course, that means that her tribe loses and Chris gives us the premature and, thus, obvious misdirecting statement that after that poor performance, "I'm not sure how CeCe doesn't go home tonight."

Paul has watched Survivor before so even though he gives us the "CeCe is going next" quote, he's quick to add that it's dangerous to get too complacent on Survivor.  He fails to add that it's also dangerous to say something to alert someone in your alliance that they are at the bottom.

Sunday confirms with Bret and Chris that to keep the tribe strong they have to vote out CeCe.  She performed the worst at the challenge (in truth, only because Dave was waiting over at the puzzle and didn't have to prove himself on the beam) and so she has to go.  Bret, the police sargeant, says it sucks that they have to vote her off, Chris, the lawyer, says it doesn't suck.  And we wonder why lawyers get a bad rap.

CeCe asks the girls if they know what the plan is and Jessica says she thinks the boys are working it out.  Hopefully as the words are coming out of her mouth, Jessica the Assistant District Attorney realizes that she doesn't want a bunch of boys making decisions about her future in the game.  While she and the other females lie to CeCe and pretend that they don't know she's going home, Ken and Dave wonder if there's a chance of switching the target to Paul.  Nothing to lose.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained.  A whole lot of nothing, can they turn it into something?

Yes, with a heaping serving of help from Paul himself.  Jessica already had Ken plant some seeds of doubt in her head about Paul.  So when she and Paul talk about the vote, she reluctantly agrees to stick with the six person alliance.  But then she asks Paul if there's a boys' alliance.  And he tells her not to worry.  "If they decided to do that I would say, ladies, you're on your own."  And the Survivor music composer brings out the strings of doom to signify that Paul just said the worst possible thing at the worst possible time.

So Jessica pulls together Sunday and someone who just landed on the beach to give them a solid three girl alliance.  Jessica tells Sunday and this mystery woman (Survivor Wikia says her name is Lucy but I've been unable to verify that) that the three of them are at the bottom of the six person alliance.  I say, they're also at the top of the six person alliance.  But definitely not in the middle.  Regardless, this concerns her.  So she thinks she may have to flip on Paul.  But could she possible convince Cece, Dave, and Ken, the next three on the chopping block and Paul's targets, to turn on him.  Good thing she's a DA and is used to making persuasive pleas because this is going to be really hard to sell.

One more moment of hubris before trial council as Bret, Chris and Paul see all the women talking and immediately Paul dismisses the conversation as nothing for them to worry about.  Bret is concerned. This is the second positive editorial choice for Bret this episode.  Keep your eye on that one.

Dave talks too much at Tribal Council, mentioning that meeting with the Millennials helped humanize them and build bonds between them.  That's not what your tribe wants to hear.  He did mention that this experience is helping him cope with his anxieties and make him more calm, which is something we all can be grateful for because he makes me nervous just sitting still.

Jeff throws CeCe under the bus, making sure everyone noticed that she cost them the game.  But then he tries one of his many sets of questions designed to hammer the Millennials vs. Gen X narrative over our heads.  The young people worked together, you all did your own thing.  They were an efficient team, you were a bunch of unconnected individuals.  And then, in an exchange that Jeff will be regretting for some time, he asked the Gen Xers if they text.  This isn't the dawn of the texting generation, where only a few have one of those new-fangled, hand held devices for communicating with words instead of sounds.  EVERYONE texts.  But you know what everyone does not do in 2016, abbreviate "you" with "u."  Jeff has dated himself worse than if he were wearing a Milli Vanilli t-shirt and raving about his new flip phone.

Begin rant.
There is nothing sadder than someone Jeff's age trying to pretend he understands what it's like to be in your twenties.  The division is not about how we text, but how we see the world and ourselves in it.  And that is not something that can be discussed in a two minute tribal council setting.  I have nothing against this season's theme of a generational divide and everything against forcing certain "we do this, they do that" simplifications.  Let us the viewer observe the differences - and the similarities - don't try to create some facile, stereotypical contradistinctions between the groups.
End rant.

Before it's time to vote, Jeff asks about paranoia.  And this is always a good question.  Who feels vulnerable and who feels safe speaks volumes at tribal council.  Last week, Mari was sure that Figgy was going home.  This week Paul is just as sure that he is safe.  But he goes a step farther.  He blames those at the bottom for where they are and says that the top six are where they are because of hard work.  He then, faux humbly, said that he was sure he'd be sitting where the bottom three are now and he won't feel good about it either.  All the time he was speaking, he was speaking the truth.  There was a six and a three.  The top six did work hard to get there.  The bottom three were responsible for where they are.  Had Paul not put doubt into Jessica's mind, they would not be in trouble.  And had the top six not worked hard to come together, they wouldn't have the numbers to blindside him.

Paul had the numbers absolutely correct.  He just didn't know the three and six had rearranged themselves.

Paul told us earlier this episode that he was given a new life in this game after his medical scare last week.  Unfortunately for him, that life was short-lived as he was ultimately hoisted on his own petard of poor alliance management.  But, Paul did have a very classy exit with a nice farewell to his tribemates.  Bret and Chris exchange, "what the hell just happened" looks and have the night to figure out how they went from the top of the totem pole to the part that's buried in the dirt.

Check out his "The Day After" video interview here.

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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Survivor 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 2 Recap

Previously on Survivor.  Dude, bro, you're hot, I'm hot, let's find some hot chicks and the four of us can make a three person alliance.  Oh you Millennials with your gold stars and your SnapChatting, we had to walk uphill both ways to rent a video at Blockbuster. It's getting a little windy.  Look what I found!  What do you mean I can't use it for 35 days?  Is that six inches, it doesn't look like six inches.  Where's our fire making trophy?  Okay, it's like really windy.  I'm scared of everything, someone hold me.  Being bossy and standing off from the group totally will not make me a target.  Evacuate evacuate, fallen trees, squashed camp.  I'm the puzzle master.  Welp,  Millennials win immunity.  Oh crap, it's me.  I trust you, I trust you, Jeff don't call on me.  Rachel, the tribe has spoken.  19 are left, who will be voted out tonight?  Spoiler...not who you expected!

Last we saw David he was setting new lows for island adaptability.  I've seen a lot of people compare his physicality with one Stephen Fishbach, but I maintain that Fishbach is Gregor Clegane compared to the spindly-armed anemic.  John Cochran could snap him in two.  The only thing going for him as a potential ally, he's so weak I doubt he can break a promise.

Paul is over David.  He tells us that he has a strong, tight six-person alliance and there is no room for CeCe and David.  CeCe's kiss of death was allying with Rachel and since early in the game you look for easy targets, her friendship with the first person out has left her in Paul's crosshairs.  David is simply not Paul's kind of guy and seems so overmatched by the elements, you'd be doing him a favor to send him to the Tokoriki Island Resort.

What David lacks in strength and courage he more than makes up for in self-awareness.  He recognizes that he's playing a miserable Survivor game and wants to do something, anything to prove himself to his tribe.  And so the Survivor gods smile down on him and grace him with the ability to make fire...with just a flint, a knife and kindling.  Basically, what any Survivor should be able to do, but what his tribemates all failed at.  So kudos to Dave. Will this save, Dave?  Probably not.

Chris tell us that they'll keep David busy running errands while waiting to punch his ticket out of the game and David is thrilled to use the excuse of looking for rocks to really look for an idol. And when you are so devoid of musculature that no one expects you to be able to move or carry more than one rock an hour, this give him plenty of time to go idol hunting.  And wouldn't you know it, "oh my god, oh my god, oh my god," he found the hidden immunity idol.   And how does he view the importance of this serendipitous find?  Gamechanging.  "Especially at the nadir I was on, and now I'm at a zenith."  That's pretty accurate. At least for one vote.

You're the cutest, no you're the cutest.
Meanwhile over on the Millennial tribe, Taylor is macking on Figgy big time and Figs is falling for TayTay's blue eyes and they have their own oh my god, oh my god, oh my god moment on their beach one night.  Michaela is having none of this stanky unhygienic smooching and she busts them the next morning.  So of course they are going to be immediately targeted for their budding showmance right? Nah, dude, we're Millennials.  We hook up, no biggie.  Just chill.   Zeke is worried, they're not playing Survivor.  Oh, yeah, Zeke. Let's see who makes a boneheaded move that blows up their game and who gets to make out with someone hot AND dodge a bullet at tribal council.

Zeke tells Mari, Hannah and Jay about his concerns either not realizing that Jay is in an alliance with the showmance or forgetting that the four of them have been tight since day one.  Jay is worried that his closest allies are about to be number one and two in the boot order, so he immediately runs to give them the red alert.  How do you tell two young smitten kids that their love is doomed, that there's about to be a nuclear bomb vote dropped on one of them if they don't stop the after-hours smooching?

So Jay takes his broski Taylor aside and cautions him about the risk of getting too close to Figgy.  Jay asks him how they're each going to win a million dollars if he wrecks their game with a showmance?  Yes, dear reader, along with getting participating trophies, these Millennials apparently think they're each going to get a million dollars at the end of the game.  But if he plays the game right (i.e., ditch Figgy), Jay tells Taylor all good things will come his way.  He will get to snowboard and chill. Now is any girl worth giving that up for?  But wait, Taylor thinks, why can't I have it all?  It's the Millennial way!

So last recap I mildly mocked Ken and his "live off the grid" story, positing that roughing it on Maui was not exactly Robinson Crusoe-esque.  There's a Duke's Beach House for crying out loud.  If you can get to nachos and mai tais within an hour how radical is your life choice?  But the guy catches an octopus spear fishing and feeds his tribe and I have to admit that was pretty impressive.  And my change of heart has nothing to do with his increasing hotness as he slowly develops the inevitable Survivor scruff.  Nor am I all swoony because he has found a soulmate in the awkward, nebbishy David whom he has now introduced to the joys of walking sticks and newly-caught cephalopods.

David and Ken strategizing gives me life.  The two recognize that Paul is running things on their beach and they better get a move on if they want to topple the power on the Gen X tribe before it's too late.  It's refreshing to see the cool, chill, physical guy go full game mode with the neurotic super fan.  So Dave fortifies their bond by showing Ken his idol and they make a tight twosome that I can totally get behind. Maybe I was premature up above.  Maybe the Dave as Fishbach comparison is not that far-fetched, especially if Ken is his JT.

Back on Millennial beach, Hannah is hacking away at a very resistance coconut and Mari gives us the eye roll inspiring quote of the episode,  'We didn't realize playing this game would be so hard.'  When you're used to playing video games all day in an ergonomic rocker, being outdoors must be a shocker.  Less of a shocker if you'd ever seen the show before.  Ask Russell Swann or Caleb Reynolds, they'll tell you.  But, whatever you do, don't contact Michael Skupin. And if you do, don't take Will with you.

Did Michaela have Jeremy Collins write her first confessional?   "This girl is so dumb," she says of Figgy and she's partially right.  Everything I've ever seen on Survivor tells me that a tight twosome is an easy target and an obvious showmance is going to get you in some serious early boot trouble.  But may I stop to ask, why is it Figgy who  is getting all the negative attention?  Last time I checked it took two to tango, or whatever dances those youngsters do these days.  Why is Michaela not calling Taylor dumb (other than her desire not to state the obvious)?  Why isn't the target on him for flirting with Figgy instead of the other way around?

Obviously, something went down during the first six days because Michaela is having none of Figgy. The tension at camp is thick and the other tribemates smile and look nervously as the two girls go at it.  And you know that everyone is feeling great right now knowing that it's the ones stirring things up that have the biggest targets, so they can all just relax at the next vote.  Isn't that right, Mari?

Adam confirms the basic laws of Survivor that all of us superfans know.  Since I didn't go to Stanford, I'll sum it up UCLA style.  Don't stir shit up.  But since Adam got so little screen time this episode I guess I shouldn't yadda yadda his sage advice.  So, if you ever intend to play the game, just follow these rules: don't come blazing out of the gate, don't get into catfight and, for the love of Probst, don't get into a showmance.

I'm king of the...wait, I can't feel my arm.

Paul tells us that he's in control at Gex X beach.  100%.  He breathes control.  He should have tried oxygen because not long after he tells us how in control he is of everything, his body tells him something different and he goes down like the proverbial ton of cocksure bricks.  Since he's fine, I'll forget that while he was lying there, shaking, not feeling his hands, having his vitals checked for a possible heart attack, David (and we, let's fess up) were thinking, this would sure help the minority's game.  We're awful people.

But Paul was just another in a long line of heat exhaustion/dehydration victims who just needed a little rest and water to get back on their feet.  So Jeff, Dr. Joe and the chopper left along with Dave's chances of turning things around should they head to tribal council.

The immunity challenge was a nail biter and very surprisingly the Gen Xers came out on top, which had me cheering.  Ken and Dave were safe and I'd get to see one of the beautiful people sent home by my beloved freaks and geeks alliance.  Zeke shared my excitement.  As a fan, this is what he was looking forward to.  Voting people out, after all, is an integral part of the game.  Only, Zeke should have learned from the very long line of soundbite providers that when you tell the cameras you're jazzed to go to tribal, things will go very badly for you.

It starts well.  Hannah, Zeke and Adam set out the plan to target Figgy.  They then tell Mari and she's a little concerned that Figgy might get wind of the plan, but they tell her not to worry.  Hannah confirms with Michaela and Will that they are down with the plan.  And the six of them agree on the vote, keep their mouths quiet, go to tribal council, compliment Jeff on how great it looks, and vote out their biggest threat.  Easy peasy.

But then Zeke and Adam pull Taylor's brochacho Jay aside and TELL HIM THE PLAN.  Now, let's take a step back for a moment.  Zeke went to Harvard.  Adam went to the Harvard of where the weather doesn't suck.  And these two geniuses take Taylor's best friend, tightest ally, his bro for life, Jay, and tell him that they're going to target someone in his alliance.  His best friend's girl.  Zeke and Adam, two huge superfans, not two guys who were recruited from a WeHo nightclub, but actual Survivor fans who live and breathe the show and could not wait to play the game, took one member of a tight four-person alliance and told him they were going to vote out one of the other four.   If I wasn't an arthritic Baby Boomer I'd probably write another page or two on how watching this conversation was like watching an unwary pedestrian who is standing in the middle of the railroad tracks, head phones on, back turned to the rapidly approaching train.  I tried shouting at them, abort mission!  Say JK.  Suck the words back into your mouths.  But to no avail.  It's too late.  The damage is done.

Now it is possible that they saw the wavy haired surfer as too much of a stoner to process the words that were coming out of their mouths or they thought he was too laid back to actually react to the information he was hearing in time to do anything.  And in some ways they were right.  Jay took in the information and was bummed that he was about to lose one of his closest allies.   He was resigned to this fate.  But what Zeke and Adam did not count on was that Jay would tell someone with a brain in her head.

Michelle hears that they are about to lose a number and she says no.  It doesn't make sense to get rid of Figgy.  We have to switch the vote.  And it's that simple.  Michelle looks around to find another option that she can sell and it's Mari.  Mari is smart, Mari is a gamer, and Mari is not part of her alliance.  So Mari has to go.  Now, the obvious emotional target would have been Michaela.  She and Figgy have been at each other's throats, but Michelle doesn't name her.  Instead, she tells Jay we have to bring her back into the fold.  She must have picked up something around camp that made Mari more of a potential threat, someone she was more likely able to convince people to vote out.

Last week, we were all so impressed with Hannah making friends with Michelle and trying to bridge the gap between the Kappa Kappas and the nerds.  But we were wrong. It was Michelle who was brilliantly making friends with Hannah.  That will come into play shortly.  But before that, she and Jay go to work.  They tell Figgy and Michaela about Zeke's plan - Figgy first, Michaela second.  And they get them to bury their mutual hatchets for now (while remembering to bring them to tribal council so they can plunge them into the unsuspecting Mari).

Last week, I also made fun of the three amigos and their four-person alliance in a ten-member tribe.  But sometime between then and now they did some more math and realized that they needed to be six strong.  So if they have Michaela, thanks to Zeke's loose lips, they only need one more.  So they go to Will.  Will is worried about Figgy and doesn't like the idea of changing his vote, but he's an 18 year old high school student and Michelle is probably the most beautiful girl he's ever seen this close up and so he agrees with her to switch the target to Mari with the promise that somewhere down the line they'll revisit Figgy lest she become the next Parvati.  Somehow, he ignores the fact that he could be talking to the next Parvati.

So with the new plan in motion, they head to their first tribal council.   But Michelle is not convinced things will go her way, so she has a plan to make sure she can squeeze every last vote out of her tribe.

OMG is that really Jeff Probst standing before me?

Many of the Millennials are awestruck at their first visit to tribal council.  Adam looks like a toddler at Disneyland about to be handed a giant cotton candy.  It's pretty darn cute how he doesn't hide just how excited he is, no feigning apathy for Adam.  Being there, while sucky for obvious reasons, is the ultimate Survivor fan dream come true.  Hannah, Zeke and most of the others geek out that they're really there sitting around the fire pit, about to fill out their first piece of parchment.  Mari talks about how real it is to have to vote out someone in person rather than playing a simulated game (you have no idea, girl).  Zeke the firestarter talks about becoming his best version of himself out here.  Michaela for her part is not having the warm fuzzies and tells Jeff that she feels that Survivor is bringing out the worst things.

While she and Adam debate whether it's better to be forthright about the negatives or better to paint a rosy picture, Michelle starts whispering to Hannah that she's voting out Mari.  Jeff and his shirt of many buttons tries focusing the conversation on the optimist/pessimist dichotomy at the tribe, while on the far right Hannah is having a meltdown as she is getting an unexpected message at an unexpected time.  Back and forth they go.  Vote out Mari.  Why?  I can't tell you.  Vote out Mari.  Why?  Because.  Vote out Mari?   Why?  Ask me tomorrow.

Hannah is lost and confused and trapped on the outskirts of her alliance, stuck between a rock that is Michelle and a hard place of the very amused Jay.  She gets a brief respite when Jeff asks her about alliances and she proceeds to tell Jeff about the romance between Figgy and Taylor and everyone laughs nervously about it.  Jeff points out the obvious, two people together, two votes together, it's pretty strong, pretty dangerous.  They're not hiding it, everyone sees it, so what are they going to do about it?

 Figgy says it's not a problem.  Taylor says it's not a problem.  It's too early to be worried about this already inseparable couple who can't keep their hands off each other and finish each other's sandwiches and will be having startlingly beautiful children together 8.75 months from now.  Michaela can't believe the load of horse crap that they are trying to pass off as caviar.  Of course they're a dynamic duo.  Of course they need to be broken up.

Eventually, Jeff can't ignore the side conversation.  Hannah starts getting lightheaded and giddy and loses whatever chill she ever had.  Hannah, Michelle and Jay try to play if off like they're not having this huge discussion about Hannah changing her vote at the eleventh hour.  And Mari, in what was a case of very bad timing, says all that chatter was probably just "Hannah being Hannah."  Having no idea she was on the chopping block, thinking it was obviously Figgy's last few minutes in the game, Mari made a throwaway joke at Hannah's expense.  She did not wonder why that end of the tribe was locked in a heated conversation moments before the "obvious" vote and she did not try to corral Hannah away from the power of Michelle and make sure they were on the same page.  Whoops and double whoops.

Hannah was faced with a real dilemma.  Stick with the plan (heh heh heh) or switch her vote because the popular girl wanted her to?  I'd love to hear what was going on in Hannah's mind other than, I want to be with the in crowd.  She did seem troubled by the decision and she stayed at the voting urn so long Jeff was about to call in the chopper to rescue her, but eventually she decided to put her faith in Michelle and turn her back on her allies Zeke and Adam.  As it turned out, all that grandstanding was for naught as Will and Michaela inexplicably decided to keep Figgy and vote out someone who posed no immediate threat to them at all, Mari.

Where's the reset button?
Mari is blindsided, as are Zeke and Adam.  So much for the anti-cool kids alliance.  How long before they realize it was their decision to tell Jay the plan that caused this stunning vote?  How long before Adam changes his Survivor laws to include, don't tell someone that you're voting out a member of their alliance?  How long before they revoke Hannah's membership in the nerdy kids club?

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Survivor Season 33 - Millennials v. Gen X - Episode One Recap

Usually when Survivor comes up with a tribe division based on some overriding quality, I can easily plug myself in.  I'm a white collar brain, I'm a nerdy superfan.  Not this year.  As a Baby Boomer, I get to sit back and watch those young whippersnappers, those MTV-watching, latchkey, slacker Gen Xers who separated themselves along the eyeliner/flannel divide have to deal with the reality that they're not young anymore.  Their time has passed.  They're yesterday's news.  And now a whole new group of Vine-obsessed, Snap Chatting, quinoa-eating, entitled Millennials are here to stake their claim.  In this culture war, I take no sides.  I'm just here to observe.

Season 33's conceit of the great generational divide gets a lot of support early on from the castaways.  Proud Millennial Taylor Stocker tells us that despite his young age, he's had much life experience.  He's been to North Dakota!  Scratch that off his bucket list.  If the Survivor producers wanted to give him the Debbie Wanner edit, they could change his chyron every appearance.  Bee Keeper.  Beer Brewer.  Snowboard instructor.  Midwest traveler!  He calls himself a Peter Pan who will never grow up and if he can get away with it, good for him.  He should be allowed to rock that silly hairstyle as long as he wants.

Mari Takahashi echoes Taylor's forever young sentiment.  A professional video gamer, she plans to never grow up - which certainly seems like an early candidate for words that will come back to bite her, not in the game but probably in her forties. She tells us that she wants to spend her entire life playing and I'm thinking maybe she took that board game too seriously when she was younger.  But she gives us the first "I'm going to win" confessional which means she is another Richard Hatch, accurately predicting the outcome, or another delusional player giving a soon to be ironic soundbite.

Immediate fan favorite, Zeke Smith, is dressed like he was blindfolded, dropped in a dumpster outside a Hawaiian-themed restaurant, and grabbed whatever he could find to wear.  He is 28 but does not go full metal Millennial.  He tells us he's a middle aged man trapped in a doughy twenty-something body and is not quite sure where he belongs.  On my TV, Zeke, for the next thirteen weeks.

Chris Hammons has two strikes against him. He's an attorney, and no attorney has won Survivor.  And he's a ginger whose lack of melanin means he'll probably burst into flames early on.  But at least his tribe will have fire!  He talks about being in the "older" group but as he's young enough to be my son, I don't hear anything he says after the word "older."  I was in law school when you were born, Chris.  Don't tell me about old.

Sandy Burquest is auditioning for Fargo Season 3 dontcha know with that cute Minnesota accent of hers (okay, unlike Taylor I don't travel the middle of America so I don't know that much about its geography, but I'm pretty sure N. Dakota and Minnesota are right next door).  She is the mom of four and as a mom of two I salute her and hope she wins and then is invited back so she can spend another 39 days away from having to feed and clean up after that brood.

David Wright is a pale, nebbishy, frail guy with zero survival skills, crippling anxiety and a fear of just about everything.  On his People blog, Stephen Fishbach called him his Dopplenerder and I don't think I can outdo that description.  Cirie Field would call him a wuss.  His idea of a nature walk is the Organic aisle at Pavillions.   He hasn't had a backpack since high school. He says it took him 14 years as an assistant to finally get a writing job and it's probably because he spent all that time curled up in the corner trying to keep all the bad things away.  David, whoever signed you up for Survivor has a sick sense of humor.

18-year-old high school senior (that is not a typo) Will Wahl is excited about the generational war and says may the best generation win.  He's 18, so he doesn't yet know that the best doesn't always win.  Didn't he watch Season 32? (I kid, Michele. But really, Michele??).  The castaways are shocked to have a high school student on the show but not as shocked as the teacher who gave him the hall pass two months ago.

Where's the oldest Gen Xer?
On the other end of the spectrum we have Paul Wachter the elder statesman at 52.  He drags out all the stereotypes about Millennials in his comparison of the two groups.  We never got a trophy just for playing, we didn't have iPods, there weren't apps for everything, and no drones were delivering milk.  I have yet to see a milk-delivering drone, so I am clearly missing out on one of the coolest dairy product delivery systems created since the teat.

CeCe Taylor makes a lot of friends over at the other tribe by insulting them with how they don't work for what they have and that everything is handed to them and the looks on the faces of the younger tribe can be summed up with a simple, "oh no she did not just say that."  Each Millennial was thinking of the perfect eye rolling GIF they would tweet her if only they were in the real world right now.  If CeCe wants to make it post-merge she is going to now have to work doubly hard because she is on the Millennial's radar.  Did someone forget to tell her that the tribe divisions weren't for the full game?

Adam Klein gets off to a great start with Jeff.  Jeff points to him and says "Adam," and he replies with a Cochran-esque "Probst" and we all fall just a little in love.  Jeff, already on the hunt for this season's bromance, might have found his soulmate.  Adam throws it down by promising that the Millennials will win the first challenge and show those old fogeys who knows how to work hard.  It's a risky prediction that could come back to bite him, but just from sizing up the two tribes unless it's a program a VCR task, the Gen Xers are probably not going to win.

But before they compete, each team runs to grab supplies for their camp and they have some decisions to make (fishing gear v. chickens, a hammer v. pots and pans).  Amid the chaos, Jessica Lewis, a 37-year-old district attorney, finds a note.  She wisely pockets it and goes on gathering items.  Jeff makes a big deal about the Gen Xers picking fishing gear versus the Millennials taking the chickens.  Paul says the decision was about the long haul, planning for 39 days.  Taylor had a better reason for choosing the chickens.  "They lay eggs, Jeff."  I bet he learned that in his travels to North Dakota.

Jeff gives both tribes some sobering news about an upcoming storm before he sends them on their way to fend for themselves in the elements while he goes back to his comfy climate controlled haven.

Mari has about a dozen confessionals about how awesome the Millennials are and it seems unfair that she gets to do here on the island what she does on the outside - talk to the camera about a game.  Why don't they bring in some criminals for Jessica to prosecute while they're there?  How about letting Michelle pour someone a coffee?

Taylor has found his brochacho.  Jay Starrett, a real estate agent from Florida.  They have a brotastic bromance the two broennials.  They talk about which of them is the hottest and which of the two girls - Figgy Figueroa and Michelle Schubert - is the cutest and how totally rad it would be if the four of them were like you know a thing which would be for real so awesome.  And so three of the four come up with a cute name for themselves, the three bromigos or something, and ignore that three or even four out of 10 is not what you should be looking for.  Great for batting averages, not great for making past a jury vote.

Meanwhile, Zeke, my spirit animal, the light of my life, the cream in my coffee, the salt in my stew (yes, the last two are actual song lyrics.  That Silent Generation sure knew how to write!) is telling us how he really doesn't fit in on his tribe and feels like the crotchety old guy yelling at those youngsters to get off his lawn.

Paul takes his role as the real crotchety old guy by bringing the tribe together to give a speech, which is going great until Ken McNickle decides to grab the mic away and give his old speech.  For a chill, off the grid, go with the flow guy that was a little cold.  Ken goes on to discuss his alternative living arrangements in the jungles of....Maui.  He's picked up survival skills by braving the harsh unforgiving and wildly popular vacation destination.  But he has pretty eyes, so we'll give him a pass.

Jessica wisely gives herself time to go off and read the clue she picked up earlier when everyone was scrambling to grab supplies and it's a Survivor first.  The Legacy Advantage (sounds like something my financial planner might suggest).  Whoever holds the advantage on day 36 will have an advantage in the game.  If she is voted off before day 36, she can hand it over to someone else.  Now we (and she) don't know any more specifics, all we can hope is that it won't be this year's Medallion of Power.  It's great that they're shaking things up, but an advantage with three days to go in the game seems pretty lopsided.

I'm getting mixed messages from Figgy.  Do you want me to think that you're a pretty face?  If so, stop making ugly faces with the cameraman two feet from you.  But I don't think that's what you want since in every preseason interview you dropped in that you didn't want to be another pretty face.  Beauty fades, but being annoying is forever, so you have that to look forward to.  Figgy is hoping to go the Amber route and find a husband and a million dollars, but just as Brett the Boston cop is no Rob Mariano, you are no Amber Brkich.

Now, I would give Jay credit for mentioning that if he, Figgy and Jay are a tight three they still need three more (giving them what we like to call a majority), but I would then have to take the points right back from him for never actually going to any of the others outside his core beautiful people alliance to have them join up.  They bring in Michelle but that's it, leaving six normal looking humans on the outside of the people who would have chosen ANTM instead had it not been canceled.  We could be in for some old fashioned Survivor showmances as Figgy likes Taylor's dreamy blue eyes and Jay thinks Michelle is super hot and suddenly this has the makings of a new CW show, The Triforce Diaries.

Hannah Shapiro is already writing her next blog while she's on the island, pointing out the emergency of the Kappa Kappa Survivor gang of gorgeousness.  Now, Hannah is a cute if bookish nerdy girl but the beauty sub-tribe would make anyone feel insecure.  But rather than let any insecurity get the best of her she's taken a page out of her former professor Max Dawson's Survivor rule book (subtitled: Do as I say, not as I did!) and is trying her best to bond with the group she doesn't feel part of.   Keep an eye on that one!

Shelter building is often the first place where a survivor can make a bad game move.   Being too bossy, too demanding is bad.   Not helping, not showing your value is also bad.  You have to find that sweet spot of working hard (or appearing to be working hard) and not barking orders.   Paul and Rachel Ako immediately butt heads over how deep to build a hole.  If you're playing a game for a million dollars, you shouldn't fight over the depth of a hole.  And you shouldn't tell a grown man that he doesn't like to work, especially when he's made a point of how he's on the old hard working people tribe.  You don't tell the old guy that you have to keep him focused. Basically, if you're playing a game for a million dollars do the exact opposite of everything Rachel does this episode.   Too late to say spoiler alert??

David also has his own problem with oversharing.  But in his case, it's not to tear down someone else but to bring self-deprecation to a new height.  He goes way out of his way to tell his tribemates just how bad he is at any and all things that would help them as a tribe.  Not since Prissy famously cried, "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies" in Gone With the Wind has any character so loudly proclaimed just how useless they are for the job at hand.  This is 2016, nor 1816, most people don't have any experience building a shelter, Dave.  The standing and nodding part was good, the volunteering that piece of useless information, not so much.  David then doubles down on putting an "easy target, first boot" sign on his ass by wincing and covering his ears when the men folk get down to the actual shelter building.  But he'll redeem himself later, we all assumed, as he flies through the inevitable puzzle during the immunity challenge.  Let's put a pin in that.

With his game on shaky ground, David then goes full paranoia mode by claiming that part of his team has already found the hidden immunity idol.  He's driving his teammates crazy, but Chris hints at David's secret weapon.  He's funny and he's charming.  This is why there aren't a lot of buff, ridiculously handsome comedians.  David has to hope that on the scale, the funny charming is outweighing the paranoid and unhelpful.

Back over with the young uns, Adam is the sober voice of reason, noting the impending storm and wanting to make sure they're prepared.  Building a shelter should be a priority he thinks, but Millennials just want to have fun, so his tribemates all go off to frolic in the ocean while she stands on shore with Mari, the old married couple who can't control their rambunctious kids.  Adam sounds like a Gen Xer and seems pretty concerned that he's with the Veruca Salt "I want it now" group.

Just a little rain.

So that little wind and cloudy sky turns into a rain, which turns into thunder and lightning, which turns into a monsoon with turns into a long night of regret over not having build a shelter and instead playing in the ocean like a bunch of Millennials.  But guess what, the next morning we find out that the Gen Xers didn't do any better and they too had a long freezing cold and very wet night.  CeCe is in pretty good spirits all things considered and if she can go through a night like that with such a positive attitude, I may have to move her up my standings.

The new day brings news of two things that have never happened - Jeff shows pity of the tribes and sends them each a tarp and whoever wrote the note that accompanied the tarp eschewed the usual poetry format.  This must have been serious if they didn't take the time to find a rhyme for thunder.

Our first confessional with Michaela Bradshaw shows her to be a Survivor fan as she recognizes that if Jeff just hands you a tarp and doesn't make you run through a rope course, jump over a wall, dig through thirty feet of sand and put together a 3D puzzle first, something is seriously wrong.  Despite both team's greatest efforts, the meager stick and palm frond shelters, even with the emergency tarp, are not going to protect them from what Mother Nature has in store.  And so in comes "Jeff Probst" (as Zeke calls him as if there were another Jeff around) to tell the tribes that the weather has been upgraded to a cyclone and so they are getting the hell out of Dodge.

It's a Survivor first!  Obviously, either the weather is the worst they've ever faced or they have a new insurance adjuster/legal team who is wary of getting sued when a falling tree impales one of the castaways.  Anyone who is a fan of the show knows that they are now part of Survivor history in a good way, not in an Erik Reichenbach hand your immunity idol over and then get voted out way.

Using footage from The Perfect Storm lest we lose any camera operator (seriously, why did they leave some behind to film, who drew that short straw??) we see the castaways evacuate before the torrential downpour comes to wreak havoc on their modest shelters.  The sky opens and dumps down on them with enough water to solve the California drought and it is not surprising the next day when they find out they would have been flattened like a baking soda-less pancake has they not been evacuated.

Okay, David, I'm sorry I said you blew your chance at the game with your obvious weakness, your unbridled paranoia and your unrelenting fear of absolutely everything.  You see the words coming out of your mouth and you can't stop them from flowing.  I get it.  I also get the existential angst.  But you have to pull yourself together.  This is your shot to play the game you love.  I'll give you one weepy confessional but then get back out there and play the game!  But, wait, don't play it so hard and so openly.  David goes out waving a flag that says follow me to find an idol and starts very obviously searching around camp for salvation which only increases the target on his back three fold. If he isn't gone next, this will be one hell of a redemption arc.  Because right now he's a candidate for the suckiest survivor ever.

While David is wallowing in his insecurities, Zeke instead is overcoming his.  He is by his own words rising to his potential and my love for him grows exponentially.  He made fire without flint, dude.  This is what you hope to see on the show, someone who tests their limits, who puts themselves in an awkward, unfamiliar position and surprises themselves with what they can do.  We have the "no participation trophy for us" Gen Xer who can't get his act together, and the "que sera, sera" Millennial who pushes himself to do something outside his comfort zone.  And you start to think, maybe these generational constructs are pretty arbitrary.

Hannah pulls in Mari and starts to create a Freaks and Geeks narrative with the awkward turtles banding together to overtake the beautiful swans.  She's lucky that the gorgeous Mari considers herself a geek gamer.  She works on Adam and Michaela - also both very attractive but still feeling on the outs of the four person alliance - and convinces them to let their freak and geek flags fly and take down Regina George (Figgy) and her minions.

The immunity challenge has a nice twist where you have a choice to make at two places along the course.  If you choose a shortcut then the puzzle at the end becomes harder.  It does not go unnoticed that the "work hard" Gen Xers take two of the shortcuts, the Millennials only one.  The puzzle at the end, as it usually does, allows someone to shine while others become the goats.  In this case, it's Figgy and Michelle who bask in glory while it is Rachel who takes the brunt of the loss even though she was not the only one on the puzzle and rather than insisting she do it (as she is later blamed for) she volunteered only after no one else wanted to.

So Millennials beat the "old people" (including someone two years older than their older member) and it's the Gen Xers who are first at tribal council.  David of course looks like the obvious one.  He was there at the puzzle, in fact he was the first to volunteer.  He swapped out when it was clear that he hadn't a clue where to put any piece.  And he's as paranoid as a tin fold hat wearing 9/11 truther.  And he's as useless as Jeff Probt's white shirts.  Plus his tribemates think he found the hidden immunity idol.  The one smart thing David does is tell them that he absolutely does not have the idol and that if they spare him he will forever be in their debt and will be the most loyal person in the history of Survivor.

As questionable as David's game is, it's the Tony Vlachos of games when compared to Rachel.  She sees a bunch of people talking, knows that an alliance "is forming," yet does nothing to confront them, infiltrate them, work with them or even just talk to them.   She and CeCe build a solid two person alliance which she somehow thinks will protect her in a tribe of ten people.  But other than that, Rachel stays far away from the discussion about who is tonight's target, doesn't strategize with anyone besides CeCe and does not capitalize on the fact that David has done a lot wrong these first four days.

At tribal, Jeff says David's name and he jumps out of his skin.  The whole tribe jokes about how he's afraid of his own shadow and Jeff gets the vibe that maybe he'd be happier out of the game and into a nice warm (but not too hot) bath.  But David fights back.  He wants to stay in the game, he tells everyone.  And in the biggest understatement of the episode, he admits that "my biggest enemy is myself."  David is a friendly, funny, trustworthy guy.  The only thing that will ruin things for him is his own insecurities.  And so he makes a plea to stay and have the chance to stop the self-sabotage.

Who is not going home tonight?
Everyone is worried they could be on the chopping block.  Rachel realizes that she can be a bit confrontational and promises that she'll reel in back in if she stays.  Probably something she should have discussed with the tribe before sitting around the fire minutes from the vote.  To no one's surprise, Rachel is the first person evicted from Survivor 33.  The recruiting director from LA was probably recruited to be on the show and was not prepared for how quickly you need to get your bearing.  Before she knew it, her game was already over.

Want more from Rachel?
Interview with Josh Wigler/Parade.
Interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Interview with RealityTV World.
Interview with Gordon Holmes/Xfinity
Interview with GoldDerby.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mad Men Season 5, Episode 7 Recap: At the Codfish Ball

And down goes Bluto.  While Sally Draper talks on the phone to her friend Glen, complaining about her evil step-grandmother, the telephone cord (remember those?) causes the old woman to take quite a tumble.  Of course, Sally lets the blame fall elsewhere and becomes the hero who saves the day.  But with Pauline out of commission and Betty and Henry gone for the weekend, this lands Sally over at her Dad's for the weekend.  That ultimately leads her to fall headfirst into adulthood as she experiences things way above her pay grade.  She dresses up to join the grownups at a big fancy dinner only to discover the adults around her acting like irresponsible children. And we're left wishing Sally could have stayed an innocent child just a little bit longer.

At the Draper residence, Megan's parents are in town for the weekend.  They bring baggage both literal and figurative and pull out some dirty laundry to shake out in front of their daughter and her new husband.  The Calvets are not happy and their favorite activity to do as a couple is snipe at one another which is what they proceed to do within seconds of settling down in the Draper's "exquisitely decadent" apartment.  Dr. Calvet is particularly adept at managing to appear to be self-effacing while his actual target is his wife.  But then he doesn't reserve his condescending dismissiveness just on his wife, mocking the Drapers' wealth and extravagance.

While this married couple play out their version of George and Martha, Roger Sterling and his ex-wife Mona are getting along famously.  Roger is a changed man since he dropped both acid and his young bride and Mona likes the more mellow and self-aware person she sees beaming with happiness before her.  He comes to Mona asking for a favor and he is so honest and straightforward that she's captivated.  Plus, he does still support her so any success for Roger is a success for Mona. So she agrees to help him find out what potential clients may be ripe for the picking.

News that Pauline has injured herself and that Sally and Bobby will soon be visiting is a welcome relief from the marital battle at Chez Draper.  While Don is picking up the children, Emile turns his attention from Marie to criticizing the Draper's wealth and Don's attempts to seem high class.  The constant derision appears to much for Marie who excuses herself from the table no sooner than the children start in on their heaping plates of spaghetti.

Later that night, Megan sees the dynamics of her parents' marriage a bit differently.  She sees her mother as jealous of her - she's Emile's favorite - and notices that the jealousy manifests in her flirting with Don.  Don is oblivious, but then when you look like that you're probably pretty used to stray women flinging themselves at you.

Peggy is still seeing Abe and he's trying his best to work himself into her busy schedule, sharing lunch with her and her coworkers.  But Abe wants more.  When he suggests a special dinner during the week, Peggy knows something is up.  She thinks he's ready to break up with her - Stan did mention that Abe was too good-looking for her after all - but Joan suggests that maybe he's going to propose.  So Peggy takes Joan's advice, goes out an gets a fancy new dress for this special occassion.  And Abe does pop the question.  Will you...shack up with me.  This is not the proposal that the good Catholic girl was expecting, but that girl probably wouldn't be having sex out of wedlock with a Jewish guy so maybe she'll say yes.  Joan certainly makes her feel better by letting her know that it is a beautiful statement that Abe wants to spend more time with her.

Heinz has not been an easy client to please and the team is scrambling to make a new presentation that can keep the bean account.  Megan has an epiphany - a way to sell beans as a family tradition passed down through the ages.  Everyone loves the idea, even Stan who has to scrap all his work to provide artwork for the new pitch.  At dinner with the Heinz exec and his wife, however, there are some signs that it may be too late to keep the client as Raymond lets slip that he and his wife Alice have been in town for a few days.   

Don had planned on doing a formal presentation back at the office the next day, but Megan's intel from Alice that Heinz will be going with another agency forces their hand.  Megan whispers to Don that they're about to be fired and you see his wheels turn as he tries to figure out a way to keep Raymond at the table.  Megan adjusts on the fly and starts to direct the conversation towards the pitch.  And Don clicks into gear and starts doing what Don does - weaving a story full of familial love and bonding.  Over beans.  This resonates with the Heinz exec who thinks that everyone should feel as deeply about the little legumes as he does.  And Don assures the pitch's success by letting the client believe that he came up with something they hadn't thought of before (casting the same mother and child). 

Don is getting an award from the Cancer Society for his open letter against the evil tobacco industry and will be accompanied by his wife, her parents, and Sally, who ends up becoming Roger's de facto date to the dinner.  Sally looks beautiful all grown up in her Nancy Sinatra boots and sparkly modern dress, but Don is not ready for his little girl to be a woman quite yet (especially not after Emile's unfortunate malapropism).

At the dinner, Roger engages Sally as his date and co-conspirator for the evening as he tries to go to work on networking.  Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove are also there to swoop around for potential new clients.  Pete has an interesting moment with Emile Calvet when the good doctor (*PhD) tries to belittle him, asking what exactly an account manager does.  But Pete gets the upper hand as he schmoozes the hell out of Emile, buttering him up and playing to his wounded ego's need for reassurance, and after the French Canadian is fully puffed out Pete tells him - that's what I do.  Ouch.

Over at Peggy's place, her mother has come over (and brough cake) to hear the big announcement.  But Katherine, who we've seen as a good practicing Catholic with the local priest a frequent dinner guest does not want to hear that it's 1967 not 1947 or that all the kids are doing it.  Her daughter is not living in sin.  So she takes her celebration cake and goes.  But not before dealing out what she considers to be some hard truths.  Peggy, she tells her, is selling herself short.  Abe may not want to marry you but he will marry someone and start a family with them and it won't be you.  You think Katherine is being old-fashioned and unsupportive, but you later realize she's being protective.  Peggy is a grown woman, but to Katherine she's still her daughter and she needs someone to look after her and make sure she doesn't get hurt.

At the dinner, Emile is looking at Roger like he's a perfectly cooked steak and she has just come to the end of a long meatless Lent.  She laughs at all his jokes and notices when he moves around the room.  Emile, her husband, is invisible to her.  Not only has she been watching Roger all night, turns out he has noticed her as well.  They have a brief conversation about life and decisions, ambition and mistakes and next thing they know they're off in a secret corner and Marie is playing Aloutte on Roger's flute.  Or something like that.  At least that's the story Roger will try and sell poor unsuspecting Sally when she walks in on the two of them.

But before that, give Emile credit for being the first one in her orbit to notice that Megan is not deliriously happy with all her Heinz success, her fancy apartment and her dashing husband.  There is some emptiness in Megan that he sees.  He scolds her for giving up on her passion, for trading it for the Capitalist symbols of success.  She argues with him, but his words hit a nerve and speak to something that's been gnawing at her.  She may be very good at what she is doing, but isn't not making her feel very good.  Something is clearly missing.

Sally has a shocking experience when she walks in on Marie pleasuring Roger and her father has his own shock when Ken Cosgove's father spills some true on him while a bit inebriated.  The Cancer Society Board and all these big executives may love Don's work and shower him with praise, but they don't trust him, can never trust him, and will never hire him.  Don turned on his biggest client, they all saw it.  That's why they're there.  How can they not worry he'd do the same to them?  Don may be an advertising genius, but he's also poison.  So enjoy that award, Don.


Emile:  My daughter pretends to find interesting what I find interesting because she loves me.

Emile:  I see she's convinced you that she's particular.  I'm the proof she is not.

Roger:  My whole life, people have been telling me I don't understand how other people think.
And it turns out it's true.

Mona:  I thought you married Jane because I had gotten old.  And then I realized it was because you had.

Stan: Well, it's not fair that just because you're a boob-carrying consumer that your opinion means more.

Megan:  I think I have an idea.  It might be really good.  But it might be terrible.
Don:  Well, you've established a firm bed of insecurity.

Roger:  We are being lowered in a bucket into a gold mine.  I'm gonna bring my pick and crack something off the wall.

Roger:  Who knows why people in history did good things? For all we know, Jesus was trying to get the loaves and fishes account.

Marie: Every daughter should get to see her father as a success.

Marie: You seem like you were born in a bow tie.
Roger:  I didn't tie that one either.

Emile:  Don, there is nothing you can do.  No matter what, one day your little girl will spread her legs and fly away.

Katherine:  I need my cake.
Peggy:  Why?
Katherine:  Because I'm not giving you a cake to celebrate youse living in sin.

Peggy:   You want me to be alone?
Katherine:  You know what your aunt used to say? You're lonely, get a cat.


Emile tells Don "My daughter pretends to find interesting what I find interesting because she loves me."  What Don doesn't know is that is what Megan is doing for him as well.  She's not in love with advertising and it's not her passion but she pretends because it is Don's passion and it means so much to him.

Don is reading "The Fixer" by Bernard Malamud.  According to Wikipedia, the book "provides a fictionalized version of the Beilis case. Menahem Mendel Beilis was a Jew unjustly imprisoned in Tsarist Russia. The 'Beilis trial' of 1913 caused an international uproar and Russia backed down in the face of world indignation."  Megan jokes to Don that her father won't mind finding out he reads James Bond, but this reflects Don's possible insecurity especially when dealing with a erudite scholar like Megan's father.  Don may be rich and sophisticated now, but down inside there is still lurking the country bumpkin who used an outhouse.

"At the Codfish Ball" was a song and dance routine made famous by Shirley Temple in her movie "Captain January" in 1936.  Apparently, there was nothing at all weird or creepy about a bunch of grown men standing around as a little elementary school girl sashayed and swiveled her hips around.  Temple's dance partner was pre-Jed Clampett Buddy Epsen and their twenty-five year age difference was not meant to arouse any concern as they performed together.  The parallel between their pairing and that of Sally and Roger is clear (if they age gap much, much larger) and we see Sally the young girl being caught up in very grown up activities that the adults should be sheltering her from.  Stolen childhoods and misbehavior by the adults who should know better are strongly paralleled.

Don doesn't mind carrying the bags and doesn't see the need to bother the doorman, perhaps harkening back to his rural, no-frills roots.  Dr. Calvet seems much more to the manor born than Don and is more comfortable with being waited on.  For all his money, there is still part of Don that is the poor, humble farmer's son who was taught not to take any help.

The theme of children growing up too soon comes forward in Michael Ginsburg's discussion of how to market Playtex bras.  Peggy's approach, he says, is to sell sexy bras to old ladies whereas he believes that they should target young girls who are in a hurry to grow up.

In the Heinz pitch at dinner, the back and forth between Don and Megan is pretty erotic.  She's feeding him lines he's in her head and they're communicating on a nearly subatomic level.  She pretends the idea was Don's, inspired by her domesticity.  He accepts the credit but feels guilty enough to try and let Megan take some credit for at least a part of the idea. It's a pretty sexy scene between the two of them, not unexpectedly leading to a little make out session in the back of the taxi that leads, we imagine, to a longer one back at the office.

The next day everyone is celebrating, but Megan is fairly muted.  Peggy, whose account this was and who was fired for not making Raymond happy, is overjoyed for her, yet Megan can barely muster a toothy smile.  Why is she not ecstatic over this, why is she having trouble accepting praise and feeling celebratory?

Notice how Peggy's mom greets Abe with the formal "Abraham" and seems surprised when he tells her that ham is his favorite.  You get the feeling she's still processing her daughter having a Jewish boyfriend.  Not surprising then that her reaction to their big news is about as ebullient as Megan's reaction to landing Heinz.  But it's not his being Jewish that's the problem, it's his not putting a ring on it.  She's dealt with Peggy's unwanted pregnancy, her being a "career girl," and her dating outside of the faith.  But shacking up is a bridge too far.

When Bobby and Sally arrive at their Dad's place, Bobby tells Megan that Sally doesn't like fish.  Megan realized this so she made a different dinner for the kids.  But at the American Cancer Society dinner, Sally showed that she was dabbling with becoming a grown up and tasted the fish.  She wasn't immediately repelled and, as it turned out, it wasn't her worst experience with adulthood that night.  

The episode was bookended with two phone calls between Sally and Glen.  Glen is only a couple of years older than Sally, but he's always been the more mature one.  She was the wide-eyed innocent to his jaded adolescent.  But with what she perceived as Roger's betrayal (and seeing her step-grandmother in that position) she's now as world-weary as Glen.

Spoilers - Don't read until you're all caught up.

Stan tells Peggy that Abe is too good-looking for her.  Typically joking around for the two work buddies.  But, a few years hence, Stan decides he's the right one for her after all.

Of course, Emile was right.  Being a copywriter was not Megan's passion.  She came to New York to be an actress and she was determined to make that dream come true.  So she eventually tells Don that she is going to pursue her passion, despite her natural gifts as an ad woman.  She had some middling success in New York, getting cast on a soap opera, but when she moved to Los Angeles she can't get arrested.

Marie is flirting with Don and she later flirts - and more - with Roger.  We see this as a sign of her unhappiness in her marriage, perhaps also her reaction to growing older and losing her looks.  But no one could have predicted then that she would ultimately find love and happiness with Roger!  Two old coots who lamented their lost years and lost youth coming together in the end to find the person they were always meant to be with.

Learning that practically no one wants to work with Don hits him hard, understandably.  That plus Megan's decision to quit working with him makes him go down a very dark, very deep hole from here on out with various levels of success and failure.  He almost completely bottoms out before rallying.  But Don will be battling the demon he created with "the letter" for years to come.