Thursday, December 1, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 12 Recap

Previously on Survivor: Chris is the biggest threat, no Jessica is, wait Zeke could win this whole thing, we have to target David NOW.  Jay wonders, am I invisible?  Do I really exist?  Hannah hyperventilates, Ken is hot and I'm the target.  I can't be voted out before I can profess my love.  Bret and Zeke bond, Zeke runs off to see if his gaydar needs new batteries.  Bret likes booze.  Sunday does not like Jessica.  Must vote out Jessica.  Adam wonders, am I invisible?  Do I really exist?  Big guy is blindsided, Zeke and David split up.  Who gets Hannah?  When two tribes go to war, someone will be collateral damage.  White rock good, black rock bad.

So Zeke and David both seem like smart guys, who've probably read up at least a little on 20th Century history.  They have to be aware of the concept of mutually assured destruction.  As the great Google machine defined it for me: The Mutual assured destruction, or MAD, is a doctrine of military strategy and national security policy in which a full-scale use of nuclear weapons by two or more opposing sides would cause the complete annihilation of both the attacker and the defender.

Imagine it on a smaller scale.  A duel.  Each side turns and aims.  What is to be gained if you both shoot simultaneously and with precise accuracy?

When you find yourself in this position, cooler heads are supposed to prevail.  You realize that it is in neither of your best interest to fire, to set off the weapon of choice.  It will lead to your demise.  Thus we get, hypothetically, deterrence.  A reason for neither side to strike first.

That is the lesson that Zeke and David did not learn or if they learned it they failed to implement it on the island.  While their decision to launch full scale mutual destruction resulted in each of them leaving last week unscathed, there was collateral damage - poor black rock grabbing Jessica.  But the direct damage was only held in abeyance for the moment.  And it only took a few days for the bomb to hit its intended target as Zeke headed out of the game and down the ramp of regret and rethinking.  What if.


Zeke's journey from the bottom to the top to out is a great lesson for future Survivor players.  When you're at the bottom, you scramble.  You make something happen.  And that was what he did when he found himself on a five person tribe when he and fellow Millennial Michelle was outnumbered 3-2.  He built a rapport with Chris, based on their Oklahoma connection and their mutual love for the Sooners and Zeke's hero worship of one of the championship members.  He also built a strong bond with fellow outsider/nerd David.  Zeke went from the bottom of the Millennials to a solid position with these two Gen Xers.

After the merge, Zeke was sitting very pretty.  He reconnected with Hannah and they rebonded (albeit warily) with Adam.  But Zeke was not on anyone's radar.  He was close with Chris (who had in his pocket Sunday and Bret), he was close with David (who had in his pocket Ken and Jessica).  He was in the majority nine-person alliance and on the other side of the pariah foursome of Michelle, Taylor, Jay and Will.  He could have let the majority take out each of the four Millennials.

How would the remaining nine have broken?  Ken and Jessica were a solid two.  Bret and Sunday were a solid two.  Those four had their sights set on each other.  The remaining five, Chris, Zeke, Hannah, Adam and David could have moved back and forth in flexible voting blocs to let those four take each other out.  And then with five left, Zeke could have targeted David.  Hannah and Adam would have been amenable to getting their Gen X counterpart out and letting them be the remaining angsty neurotic people left on the island.  Zeke knew that Hannah was having doubts about Adam and Chris was in his pocket, so at four he had a great shot at getting rid of Adam.  Now he's final three with two people who would take him if it were a final two.

But no.  Once Zeke tasted power he got, as we Big Brother fans like to call it, HOH-itis.  No longer operating from behind, he had no idea how to put on the brakes once he was in the lead.  You keep speeding, you're going to hit a wall.  Or a Wahl.  Get it?  Will Wahl??  I'll wait.

At the tribal council when Jessica was rocked out, the tribes were split between David's side and Zeke's side.  But despite the nomenclature, no one sees David as having or running anything.  David doesn't appear to be in control of his gross motor functions, it's not likely he can control a group of Survivors.  But Zeke, Zeke is smart, calculating, a chess master capable of moving pieces at will.   He is a threat.  David is only a threat to himself, no one sees him as anything but a frightened puppy curled up, quivering in the corner.  But Zeke, Zeke is the one you have to watch out for.

And so young Luke Skywalker, with the voice that probably led the show's sound mixer to take up heroin, decides that he must take down the season's greatest threat to catapult himself into the winner's spot.  Going into the vote, there were nine players left and "Zeke's team" of Jay, Will, Bret, Sunday and Zeke had the numbers to pick off "David's team."  They decided on Ken as he is the clearest physical threat of the four.  But Will does not like being told what to do.  He's a big boy now and he can stay up as late as he wants.   And he's not going to pick up his clothes, he likes them wadded up on the ground.  And he can keep playing Final Fantasy, he doesn't have to do his homework.

Will is feeling his oats.  So he goes to the other side and tells them that he wants to Make a Big Move(c) and that Zeke is going to win the whole thing if they don't take him out now.  They are giddy.  David was 100% sure he was going next and now there's hope.  Adam figured he still had a target on him because of his advantage and now he doesn't have to worry he was next.  Hannah had her name written down five times last tribal and now she doesn't have to worry that she's next.  Ken sees a butterfly and marvels at the beauty of the universe.


Oh Ken. You gorgeous specimen.  Possibly when you were living off the grid you ate too many suspect mushrooms, maybe you smoked too much pakalolo.  Remember a couple weeks ago when you were on the Gen X tribe and you told Jessica that she was being targeted and she didn't believe you but instead went to Lucy, Sunday et al and told them what you said?  Remember how we all called the lovely, smart attorney a dumb ass?  Remember how it almost got her voted out, but for David's largesse?

No, Ken did not remember.  After grilling Will like he's auditioning to play Mr. Miyagi in the road company of the Karate Kid, he then goes to the other alliance.  The group he's competing against.  The five that voted against his four two days previously.  And he outs Will and tells them that Will tried to turn on them, tried to align with Ken and his group, and ratted out that they were going to vote out Ken.  Ken blew up Will.  Ken blew up his own alliance.  And Ken blew up any chance anyone would ever talk to him, let alone trust him, again.

Will is caught with his hand in the cookie jar and he knows he's a dead man.  If he stays with Zeke's group, they will remember and they will make him pay the first chance they get.  If he goes with David's group, he loses his one true ally, Jay, with whom he's been tight since the beginning.  And he's now allied with someone unpredictable who could blow up his game in an instant.


Before we get to Will's decision, and the play that made his decision, moot, a moment on the loved ones' visit.  This is always a high point for the season as we get to see the human side of the players, the tough guys who become softies and, in Hannah's case, the big bundle of exposed nerves who becomes calm and reassuring.  We see how lucky some people are in the genetics game as both Jay and Ken reveal similarly attractive siblings and we see the cruel side of the gene pool as Adam now knows where his hairline is destined.

 As touching as all the family reunions were, Adam's time with his brother was of course the most poignant.  How's mom?  Such a powerful question and how for his brother to answer?  Adam is thousands of miles and still many days away.  What words can sum up what's been going on back home in the time of one brief embrace?  Adam wants, needs, more, but he tearfully tells his brother and the rest of the families that despite aching for more time, he will not use his advantage to deny anyone their loved one's visit.  And we all fall in love a little bit more with Adam.

After Jay smokes the competition, he gets to pick who will join him and his sister on the reward.  He picks Will and then Sunday, all while Adam is pleading.  Jeff tells Jay he can pick one more and showing himself to be capable of putting the game aside and be a human being, Jay says that despite their many differences, he will choose Adam.  Adam had impressed him by promising not to use the advantage and he rewarded that selfless act.  And any taint that Taylor had left on Jay is now completely gone.  Jay has rapidly moved up to be one of my favorite remaining players.

Out of respect I won't delve deeper into Adam's talk with his brother, but I will say that his sharing this most painful and private moment probably will help many people watching.


I will say kudos to the challenge producers this season.  We have yet to have a repeat winner of any individual immunity challenge and we have had an equal mix of expected comp beast wins - Ken and Jay - and less likely winners - Will, David and Adam.  With Adam's win, and Ken having blown up Will's game, it looks like it will be four votes for Zeke, four votes for Ken, and Will the decider.  But with Will having said earlier in the episode that he's voting out Zeke, I know that Zeke is not going this episode.  It's NEVER the person they mention before the immunity challenge that actually is voted out.  And Zeke is WAY too big a character this season to go out without a huge episode devoted to him.  No, there's is ZERO chance that Zeke is going.  So, I prepare for my eye candy to be voted off as we head to tribal council.

The producers lay it on pretty thick at tribal, what with Will sitting in the middle of the warring sides.  Adam is safe and for some reason David is not on Zeke's radar any more.  But Zeke's side tries to be clever and out-think the other side.  It worked great last time, as they managed to convince David's side that they were targeting Ken.  So if it works once, it should work again.  They want the other side again to think they're targeting Ken, but again they will write down Hannah's name.  This way even if David has found his fiftieth idol this season, he'll again misplay it and this time Hannah will go home.


But Zeke failed to calculate two things.  One, that David's group would suss out their true plan and play the idol correctly.  And, more importantly, that Will would realize that once his game was blown, it was in his best interest to flip and vote against Zeke.  And so not only did David's side launch their nuclear weapons at Zeke first, they also used the Strategic Defense Initiative missile defense to neutralize any nukes Zeke sent their way.  5-0, Zeke was voted out of the game.

Adam may have wasted his nutsack idol, but he gained respect and undying loyalty from Hannah and, with Jeff not revealing all the votes, he looks like the savior to the jurors, rather than Will who actually cast the vote that mattered.  It wasn't that long ago that everyone was targeting Adam.  But he graciously didn't play his advantage at the family visit, he ended up giving the advantage to Jay as an appreciation, and he gave up his immunity idol for an ally.  Someone's star is on the ascent.

Going to Day 34 there are still eight players left, interestingly four original Millennials - Adam, Hannah, Jay and Will - and four original Gen Xers - Bret, David, Ken and Sunday.  Jay is the only one with a hidden immunity idol and Ken, if he can make it three more days, will have the benefit of the Legacy Advantage.  Based on the vote, Bret, Sunday, and, to a lesser extent Jay (who might be able to reconnect with Will) would seem to be on the outs, but as this year has proved (especially the last few episodes) things move pretty fast on Survivor and you can't predict the future.  With Zeke gone, is David the biggest threat left?  Or will the Survivors focus on Jay who is a physical threat, has the most friends on the jury and still has an idol?

Here's Zeke's day after video:


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 9 Recap

Previously on Survivor: I hope I can get my freakin' revenge, I'm ready to play.  Hannah, the gods have heard you, it's time for a merge!  Hugs all around.  And food, a lot of food.  And Mason jars.  You all feast, I'm going digging around -- there must be a pony in here somewhere.  I found...a really awful advantage.  Gee, thanks.  Clang clang.  I'm going to pretend I didn't hear that and go back to sleep. I'm going to go out and bond with my old friend TayTay over stolen food.  You have a secret, I have a secret, let's be secret friends.  Nah, dude, bro, I'm like totes voting you out.  Let's undermine the kingpin, who to target? Well, we could go after Will.  Scratch that.  Well, we haven't voted a woman out in two days.  Adam is the worst ally ever.  I was thinking the same thing! Taylor stole food! That's such a Millennial thing to do.  Bye Michelle.

You have to feel sorry for the Survivor editors this episode.  Obviously, Taylor is the next to go.  He's close to Jay (whom everyone views as a huge threat), he's been caught stealing food (though the magnitude of the theft is only known by Adam at this point), and he only has two people left in his alliance (Will who is not seen as a threat and Jay who many suspect may have an idol).  So how to pad the hour?  A little misdirection, a lot of filler and a little explosiveness right at the end.

Can you believe we lost someone who we trusted so much?
Jay comes back from Tribal Council particularly salty.  He calls out his former Millennial tribemates for being stupid, allowing themselves to be the bottom three of a nine person alliance.  But Adam correctly notes that, at least for him, being at the bottom is still preferable to being voted out, which was Jay's plan for him that night.  If Jay was so concerned about the Gen Xers having the numbers, perhaps he should have rethought his decision to vote out the most loyal Millennial out there, Michaela.  As that great philosopher Taylor once said, "There are only so many people you can trust in this game and when they're gone it sucks, Bro."

Jay can't believe the Gen Xers trusted Adam over him, but he doesn't realize that no one trusts Adam at this point.  I doubt Adam trusts Adam.  Adam has run back and forth between the two sides so much that on the Google satellite picture of the Vinaka beach you can see the rut he created.  But he is an easy later boot, he's not winning any challenges and he has no one at this point.  By contrast, the tight four person, now three, about to be two, Triforce alliance was a bigger immediate threat.

We - and I speak for every viewer out there - already are over Taylor, so we didn't need another confessional of him gloating about having stolen half of the merge feast and playing guess the fruit in the dark.  If the purpose of the scene was to make us all stand up and cheer when he's eventually voted off the island, we're already there.  Taylor boasts that his secret is safe because the only one who knows is Adam and Adam has a bigger secret that Taylor is keeping.

While Taylor is stuffing his face with soggy pretzels and mystery fruits, Hannah is reveling in turning the table on Jay.  Remember Jay how you kept Hannah in the dark about your plan to blindside Michaela?  You told Hannah that you couldn't tell her ahead of time and you were sorry and you'd let her know next time?  Well, guess what Hannah gets to say?  I'm sorry Jay, but I had to do what was best for me.  Sorry I couldn't tell you ahead of time.  Maybe next time.  Ah, sweet revenge.

Right after Hannah's "I'm really playing the game" quote, she comes way back down to earth after the Reward Challenge.  Charged with putting a team together, school-yard pick style, she went for potential allies instead of brute strength and her team was smoked by the unbeatable Chris-Bret-Ken combo.

Is this Survivor or Club Med?
The winning team feasts and drinks to their hearts' content.  Except for Will who were are told, about a hundred times by my count, cannot partake even though the legal drinking age in Fiji is 18.  Apparently, the Survivor contract requires you to abide by the laws of the U.S. regardless of where the show is filmed.  This is because the blue haired cat ladies who watch CBS will have a fit if they see that sweet young boy get his first (hahahaha) taste of demon liquor right before the next police procedural.  But Bret happily takes Will's share and gets wasted, though luckily not drunk enough to forget to come up for air after his epic cannonball.

So everyone on the winning side is well fed, well lubricated, and happy, right?  Not so much.  Sunday is fretting about the fractured Gen X tribe.  Despite their unified vote at Tribal, she sees the six as two warring groups of three with David, Jessica and Ken on one side and Sunday, Chris and Bret on the other.  Sunday wants to make a move before the other side does and she's convinced Jessica is gunning for her.  So she wants to put Jessica's head on the chopping block as soon as possible.  We sure didn't see this cutthroat person behind that Fargo-esque "donchaknow" voice, the mom of four persona, and the unruly mop of curly blond hair!

While Sunday may be an under the radar strategist, Adam is waving huge red flags wherever he goes, drawing unneeded attention to himself.  He suggests to us that maybe...MAYBE?????...he's been playing too hard.   Ya think?  So what does he do to slow down?  He takes Jay aside and tries to strategize with him.  Adam tests the waters with Jay, explaining his vote, discussing his thoughts going forward.  He doesn't apologize for flipping against one of Jay's allies as he was Jay's target.  Okay, fair point. He goes on to tell Jay the truth, that Taylor pisses people off and is the number one target and that  those aligned with him are by the transitive property of annoyance also going to be targeted.  That's why you, Jay, and Will and Taylor are at the bottom.

This somehow is a bombshell to Jay.  He is flabbergasted.  I'm at the bottom?  He asks this incredulously, after one of his closest allies was just voted off in a 9-4 blindsiding vote.  Somehow it is a complete shock to him that he, one of the remaining three in that alliance, would be at the bottom in a tribe of twelve?  Simple math would have told him he's at the bottom.  But he acted like Adam kicked sand in his face, then stomped on his head, chortling all the way.  His overreaction to Adam explaining obvious facts to him was hard to comprehend.  How oblivious was Jay to his surroundings that Adam telling him the truth was seen as mocking, ridiculing, and insulting him?

Jay, you can do math, right?
So the rift between Adam and the Triforce grows exponentially at this point.  Adam is now a "huge jerk" for telling someone whose ally was just voted out by the majority alliance that he is in the minority.  I cannot even fathom how this was misinterpreted.  But kudos to Will.  When Jay came to him and said that Adam rubbed it in his face that they were at the bottom, Will asked "What did he actually say."  Will realizes that there's a difference between the words said and how someone interprets them.  That may be a key moment in Will's story right there.  He didn't just react, he questioned.  He is wise beyond his years and someone to keep your eye on.

After Taylor and Jay catch up and Jay informs him of his conversation with Adam, the camera pans back and we see that both Hannah and Zeke were around for this anti-Adam bitchfest.  And they are more than happy to join in.  Jay and Taylor may be at the bottom and one of them may be going next, but nobody trusts Adam.  And nobody sees how dangerous it is to keep someone around that you can't trust and targeting obvious targets instead.  So they all join in Adam bashing, yet two of them are still going to are putting off dealing with him until later.

One person does want to switch up the target and that's Sunday.  She confides in Jay that Jessica is her real target and he's more than thrilled to promise her his vote against Jessica or pretty much anyone she mentions.  This is the crack in the majority alliance he's been hoping for.  Sunday next tells Bret she'll do whatever the majority wants, but she would rather get rid of Jessica.  Since for us the viewer it's been months since the two were on the same tribe, we don't understand why Sunday is afraid of Jessica and why she wants her out so badly.  But whatever bad blood existed on the old Gen X tribe is not long forgotten, at least not for Sunday.

The Immunity Challenge was a balance upon balance contest and Jeff offered the Survivors a choice.  Compete or feast.  Only two opted out of the challenge, taking the bait and trying to live down Jeff's repeated suggestion that these two feel awfully safe to give up a chance at immunity just for some delicious sandwiches and beer. But not for Will, who's only 18 in case you forgot.  Put down the phones, ladies, Will will be drinking a nice safe soda pop.  Zeke rightly points out that he had zero chance of beating the boarders (surf, snow, skate, any plank you have to stand up on) in a balance challenge and that he was better off refueling for a challenge he might have a chance at later.  But Jeff would not let it go unnoticed that you had to feel pretty darn confident not to try for immunity.

Your obligatory Ken photo.  You're welcome.
In the end it was down to Ken, the surfer with the abs of steel, and Taylor, the snow board instructor who has been secretly chowing down so he could crush challenges.  Ken pulls out the win, giving him all of his screen time for this episode.  I know he's boring, but he's so purdy to look at.  Damn you Survivor editors who only care about strategy talk!

So Taylor and Jay realize it's down to them in tonight's vote.  Taylor decides to share with Jay his hidden jars of food and they have their island Last Supper.  He tells Jay that Adam knows about the stash and that Adam has a secret of his own that he's going to blow up at Tribal Council.  He's doing this for Figs, his woman.  He will avenge her!  Until he breaks her heart by breaking up with her after the show, but for now, he will avenge her!

At Tribal Council Taylor, Jay and Adam act like immature middle schoolers.  Jay says it was rough being blindsided, Adam says welcome to my world, Jay says, well welcome to Survivor, and they go back and forth seeing who can be more petty and more whiny.  It's a tie.

While Jeff points out the obvious - the three who voted wrong last Tribal are now at the bottom - Chris throws out a lifeline.  You can be on the bottom (like he was) and you can fight back.  There are cracks.  That's a hell of a lot of information to slip out at Tribal.  Chris is admitting that the nine are not tight and a savvy player can find and take advantage of the rifts.  Taylor misreads the situation and decides that the crack Chris is talking about deals with Adam so he puts all of his energy in trying to undermine Adam.  The problem with this is, the tribe could have voted out Adam if they had wanted to last week.  He is not seen as the biggest threat and he is not currently the biggest target.  This was a shot that Taylor, and Jay, tried to take last week and they missed.  They should have worked to find a new target, maybe even Sunday's target.

Happy, hyperventilating, confused, giddy
So Taylor goes balls to the wall on the offensive against Adam, and it gets some traction.  He admits to not only eating food at night at the camp, but stealing large amounts and burying it to eat later.  Everyone is shocked, but even more so when he adds that Adam helped him and joined with him.  Now we know this is not true.  But Adam is not blameless.  While Taylor is lying about Adam helping him bury the food and partaking, Adam did know that Taylor hid food from the tribe, did not stop him, and did not tell anyone.  Those are big enough red flags without the lies added on.  In fact, had Taylor not lied and just laid out the facts, Adam would have had nothing to say in his defense other than "I was being sneaky and trying to create a secret alliance."

But now the entire tribe is in chaos.  Hannah needs oxygen lest she have another panic attack.  Will can't believe that his ally kept this secret from him.  Michelle thinks this is hysterically funny.  And the rest of the tribe isn't sure who to strangle first.  David wants an accounting of what food items were stolen.  Sunday wants to know if anything remains.

But wait, there's more.  Taylor then tells the tribe that not only did Adam know about the food stash (which Adam admits), not only did he keep the secret (which Adam admits), but he did so because ADAM IS KEEPING HIS OWN SECRET.  He's Batman.  No, that's not it.  He's got a secret advantage which he can use to drug and rape your women, murder your children and wipe out your bloodline. When your loved one comes to the island, he can have them murdered and their bodies used as chum to summon sharks while you look on helplessly.

Taylor tries to make Adam having found an advantage that anyone could have found the moral equivalent to stealing food from your hungry tribemates.

Just when things cannot get any crazier, Jeff lays a wet fart in the middle of the proceedings and tries to connect Taylor's brazen selfishness and audacity to the Millennials v. Gen X theme.  But he's wrong.  Taylor is not espousing a Millennial position, he's being a jerk.  He has not played Survivor since he first decided to hook up in a showmance on day one and he's still not playing Survivor.  He's playing, have as much fun as I can while I'm out here, and he's the only Millennial who has taken that approach.

So not Millennial is Taylor's approach that his best buddy Jay rips him for it, calling him a dumb surfer, no offense.  Taylor doesn't take offense at being called dumb, only at being called a surfer.  He's a dumb snow boarder, bro.  But not Jay.  He has hopes and dreams and is willing to work for them.  And to his credit, he is and has been playing Survivor and not Fijian Fantasy Island.  Maybe the best thing for Jay's game would be for Taylor to be gone.

Adam is becoming apoplectic and you expect him to burst a blood vessel in his brain as everything seems to be crashing down around him.  Taylor admits to stealing, hoarding and feasting on the tribe's food.  Jay admits to eating some of the stolen food.  Yet the focus is still on Adam who did not partake of even a crumb.  Keeping Taylor's secret is becoming a bigger crime than what Taylor or Jay did.  This Kafkaesque drama is about to torpedo Adam's game and he feels powerless to stop it.  Until secret cop Bret puts this all into perspective:  There were a lot of errors made, we have to determine who's the most culpable.

And with that, the tribe votes.  Shockingly, Jay does not play his hidden immunity idol, but when all the votes are shown we discover why.  Knowing the tribes would be splitting the votes, he thought it would be 5-4.  If he voted for Taylor, as he smartly did, at worst it's a tie.  But it was pretty clear to him that the 5 would probably go for Taylor, the "most culpable" of the two.  And so it did.

Gnarly man.  
What Jay may not have anticipated was that his ally Will would read the writing on the wall and vote with majority, casting his vote against Jay.  Regardless, it was Taylor who saw his torch snuffed as his horrendous gameplay at long last caught up with him.  Or as Jeff put it so well, sometimes the vote at Tribal Council is all about consequences.



Want more Taylor? Check out these post-eviction interviews:
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Josh Wigler - Parade
Gordon Holmes - Xfinity
Entertainment Weekly
Rob Has a Podcast
GoldDerby
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Ponderosa Video:




Thursday, November 10, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 8 Recap

Previously on Survivor: Taylor, I know I blindsided you, backstabbed you and ruined your chance of giving Figgy the final rose but... what point was I making?  Adam, I will destroy you.  And your little dog too.  Jess, Ken, let's shake on getting Adam out because handshakes are totally binding.  Zeke, I trust you, here's my hidden idol, my SSN, all my passwords and a full body scan.  Michaela saves the day again, what would we do without her?  So here's my plan for the next three weeks - let me show you via some sea shells, a slide show, a hand puppet and an interpretive dance.  Michaela is dangerous.  Ya think?

So the day after Jay and Will executed their plan to get rid of Jay's biggest threat, Michaela, Hannah is in her usual position of out of the loop cluelessness.  She is not happy to have been the only one not in on the plan to blindside Michaela.  This shows her to be firmly at the bottom of her so-called alliance and proves to her that Jay is not someone she can trust.  She swears her revenge, which now makes two people (adding Taylor's plan to avenge Figgy) in the Inigo Montoya role this season.

But before anyone can put a plan into play, it's merge time.  Adam, who has been our guide through most of the season, puts this moment into perspective.  "This is the point when alliances and loyalties are tested and the great players are separated from the mediocre players."  He of course misses the most crucial meaning of the merge.  They're all date-able!


There are hugs all around and jubilation as old friends come together.  Michelle is lofted into the air by Hannah and she tells us she is thrilled to have her old allies back so she can be back in the driver's seat.  She was at risk in her small four person tribe, but with Jay, Will and Taylor back, how could anything go wrong?  Cue the dark clouds, rumbling thunder, maybe a lightning strike or two?  Too obvious?

The Survivors enjoy the merge feast and the opportunity to become reacquainted with old tribe members and get to know new ones.  While they feast and and share stories, they are unaware that someone from production worked very, very hard to hide a clue to a secret advantage right in plain sight.  There, on the inside of one of the boxes, is a message to decode.

Look I'm a clue.  Read me!
Look at all the words below "congratulations you have made the merge."  More specifically, look just at the initial letter of each of the words.  They have to mean something.  They probably spell something, right?  Otherwise, why so many random adjectives?  Unless some intern was studying for their SAT, there's no reason for words like gregarious, right?  So what does it spell?  "Mail brings advantage.  Find it first."  Aha!  So, likely, there is something by the location of the tree mail.  Surely, one of the super, maybe even a super duper, fans will see the message, figure it out, and find whatever is hidden there.

Or Adam can just bypass all that, make all that hard work for naught, and just use his general Survivor knowledge to go root around for a hidden something while his fellow tribemates gorge themselves.  And so lo and behold, Adam finds a first of its kind advantage.  It gives him the power to take away someone's reward, also known as the "Make an enemy for life" advantage.  He is thrilled as he knows that this is something new to Survivor and as a super duper fan he will now be in SurvivorWiki as the first person to find the hidden steal a reward advantage!  Maybe it'll be named after him, like that god forsaken Tyler Perry Idol.  Adam then gives us a perfect soundbite, that he will use this advantage at the perfect time later in the game.  And now we have Chekhov's advantage to keep our eyes on.

With the merge comes some major evaluations of what is the power structure.  Who has whose back, where do you fit in your alliance, who is dangerous, who can you trust.  So, naturally, we get a few confessionals of people assessing their place in this brand new tribe.  Jay is sitting on top of the world.  He is Il Duce, el jefe, the boss of all bosses, or, as he puts it, the kingpin, meaning, apparently, that he is a vertical bolt used as a pivot.  Best of all, no one knows how godlike he is because he's so humble, unassuming, and covert.  No one has any idea that Will would fall on a grenade for him, that Taylor would give him his left nut if he asked for it and that Michelle looks to him as her guiding light.   Nope, Jay is sitting pretty.  He's got them, plus Hannah and Sunday and Bret (who he just saved and who owes him his life).  That's seven.  That's a majority.  That's a wrap.

Only... Bret the cop has noticed that Jay and his fellow Millennials are thick as thieves and he starts to get suspicious whether going with Jay is a good idea.  He reconnects with Chris, who tells him that he and David are tight and hoping to get back together with him and Sunday.  That's four.  They also have Zeke.  But they need more if they want to be in power.  Oddly, he doesn't immediately think of Ken and Jessica and it's easy to wonder if there might be some residual distance there from when they were on opposite sides of the Gen X tribe.  Time to put those differences away!

We got this, we totally got this.
Meanwhile, the old nerd crew has reunited and they bring together perspectives from each being on a different tribe the last few days.  Zeke, Adam and Hannah have the bond and the intel and could certainly direct how this game goes from here if they're smart. And since they went to Harvard, Stanford and Northwestern, respectively, they should have the brain power to pull this off.  That or our higher educational system has some 'splaining to do.

Zeke, like Bret, has a Jay epiphany.  This charming, magnetic bro could completely dominate the game with his magnetic charm.  Jay is dangerous.  And charming.  Both mostly dangerous.  With his perfect teeth, unruly hair and twinkling eyes, Zeke realizes that everyone will fall into Jay's charismatic gravitational pull.  And Zeke worries that if the majority of bro'y bros join together, he might be back on the bottom of the totem pole.  Jay has to go.

In the wee hours after the feast, there is scrambling around the campsite.  But it's not for a hidden immunity idol.  Nope, it's for banana chips.  Taylor tells us that he is a MacGyver of the Mason jars and that he uses them to create a super secret stash of food just for him.  Because nothing says loyal tribemate like stealing and hoarding food.   Not surprisingly, he make enough noise to wake up half the camp.  Bret and Adam each see him but take different tacks in how to deal with this information.  Bret pretends to be asleep and just file away the information for later use.  Adam decides to get up and go over and use the information to create a bond with Taylor.

The person who he had just blindsided and backstabbed.
The person whose girlfriend he had just voted out.
The person whose game he had just destroyed.
The person who had just vowed that Adam was his mortal enemy.
The person with whom he was never aligned even back when they were on the same tribe.

This was the moment where I completely lost my faith in humanity.  Not the election.  That was more understandable (if more horrifying) than what Adam did next.

So you want me to bag on my closest ally? Gnarly.
Adam decides to have a midnight bro-down to build an unlikely alliance with Taylor.  Adam admits it's unlikely based on their fractious history.  But what Adam completely, totally, utterly, entirely misses is that isn't not an unlikely occurrence it's a never in gazillion years even if you were the last Survivor player in the galaxy occurrence.  No matter how hard you try, no matter what you say, Taylor will never ever ever ally with you.  Ever.  Never.  Adam, you're a nice kid.  You're a smart kid.  But don't try to fit a square peg in a round hole.  You're a nerd.  Embrace it.  Revel in it.  Don't try to cozy up to the cool kids, they'll be working for you soon.  You don't need Taylor's help to run this show.  Look around.  You, Zeke, Hannah, join with Dave, Chris, Bret and Sunday.  Boom that's seven.  Get rid of all the physical threats - Jay, Taylor, Ken - you're home free.

But, no, Adam, suffering from heat stroke, island madness, or an old fashioned brain fart, decides instead to tell Jay's closest ally that his best move is to vote out Jay's henchman Will.  Now, I kinda get the logic behind what Adam was saying.  You get rid of Will and Jay will come running back to Taylor.  That's what he was selling.  But Taylor was not afraid of Will, Taylor did not see Will as a threat to him, Taylor did not doubt Jay's loyalty, and Taylor did not want to shoot himself in the foot by voting out one of his own allies.  AND, if Taylor voted out Jay's closest buddy, Jay would be hella pissed and very unlikely to mend fences.  No, on second thought, I don't see the logic behind what Adam was trying to sell Taylor.

And then to double down on the dumbest moment of Adam's Survivor experience, he then tells his mortal enemy about his secret advantage.

Adam, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??????

Sorry, didn't mean to shout.  Well, that's the end of Adam.  He had a good run.

Taylor vows quick revenge on Adam and the thought of him outlasting super duper fan Adam makes me queasy.

But the Gen Xers are here to save the day.  They're pissed at Taylor's cavalier attitude about the tribe's food and concerned about his strong alliance with Jay, Will and Michelle.  They start talking about Taylor as a potential first post-merge boot.  They do the math, they have the numbers.  This should be easy.

You have the gnarliest hair.  No you do.
Taylor and Jay are strategizing, which means Taylor is throwing out random words and Jay is thinking tactically about what is best for their chances.  Jay wants to keep it Millennial strong, and plan for the Gen Xers to target one of their own.  There are seven Millennials - Adam, Hannah, Michelle, Jay, Taylor, Will and Zeke - to six Gen Xers - Bret, Chris, David, Ken, Jessica and Sunday.  If the Millennials join together, they can wipe out the Gen Xers.  It's simple math.  But life on Survivor is never that simple.

So Taylor tells Jay - after getting him to promise he won't tell a soul - that Adam has thrown around the idea of voting out Will.  He doesn't tell Jay that Adam's stated reason is so that Taylor and Jay can be closer, he tells Jay that Adam is doing this to target him.  So in a few minutes, Jay has gone from thinking he has a nice, tight, final seven with his Millennial peers to finding out that Adam is gunning for him.  Jay, who was so set on sticking together, at first cannot process what this means, then eventually comes over to forgetting Millennial Strong agreeing that Adam has got to go.

Luckily for Adam, Zeke is in the right place at the right time and overhears the conversation between the two dudes.  In the first known use of the word "coterie" in 33 seasons of Survivor, Zeke tells us that Jay and his cool kids clique now have their sights set on Adam and he needs to get in there and work to save his fellow nerd.  All he has to do is get Adam back in line and get him to forget any idea of building an alliance with the surfer dudes.

Will was minding his own business, content knowing that he was in the majority post-merge and that his school vacation would continue while his fellow seniors were waiting on their college applications.  Then Taylor tells Will that his name has been thrown out there, by Adam no less, and Will is now scared.  And also super duper motivated going into the immunity challenge.  And we know what often happens on Survivor when there's one player who really needs safety more than anyone else.   It's a test of strength, balance and, coincidentally, will, and it come down after an hour to two more unlikely players - Will the youngster and Jessica the determined.  It's a tremendous showing for Jessica, but in the end, youth wins out.  Let me take a moment to give a shout out Dave for not being the first out and actually lasting pretty long in the competition.  He's really coming into his own!

Someone is not happy with the plan
After the challenge is over, Jay, Taylor, Hannah, Michelle and Will talk about their next move.  The men want to vote out Adam, even if it cuts the number of Millennials down to six.  Michelle, who in the second episode proved herself to be a keen strategist with her flip to get Mari vote out, is not convinced.  She thinks it's too early to target one of their numbers and that they should instead weaken the Gen Xers first.  But this is personal for the guys and they want Adam to pay for what he did now.  Reluctantly, Michelle goes along.

Zeke takes Adam aside and tells him everything.  What he overheard, how Will knew he had to win the challenge, and how Adam is now the target.  Adam suggests that maybe he played too hard.  If by too hard he means really stupidly because he never should have trusted Taylor with any information because he is not his friend, then, yeah, that was too hard.  If he means naive and risky telling Jay's closest ally that he wanted to vote against him and expecting that would not come back to bite him then, yeah, that was too hard.

If you ever go on "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" make sure Zeke is your phone a friend.  This guy is the ultimate lifeline.

But Adam, instead of kissing Zeke's feet for bailing him out of the huge mess he's made, thinks that because the Gen Xers can't decide who of the Taylor/Jay/Michelle group to target (since they're worried, rightly as we know, that Jay has an idol and would, wrongly, play it for Taylor), HE SHOULD TRY AGAIN WITH TAYLOR.

I'm sorry, was I shouting again?

Adam, becoming the most frustratingly oblivious player this or perhaps any season, thinks he has to do some weirdo voodoo, some crazy magic trick rather than simply realize that NINE PEOPLE are united in getting one of the three out.  And if you as a super duper fan know anything, you know the number one rule of Survivor is "anyone but me."  That's what Queen Sandra would tell you.  So if it's not you, just go with the flow.  Adam, you told us not long ago that maybe you're playing too hard. You know, you might be playing too hard.

Give it up, Adam.  He's not that into you.
Adam, please do not go back to the Taylor well.  It's dry.  Sahara desert.  No, make that the Atacama Desert of northern Chile.  Because I googled driest place on earth and I saw that.  Coincidentally, next to it was a picture of Taylor's dead blue eyes.  There's nothing for you there, Adam.  He wants no part of you.  No bygones, no alliance, no secret pact, no final whatever.  You voted out his girl and Taylor is not playing Survivor he's playing Avenging Boyfriend.  Still, Adam tries and gives Taylor another chance and it goes just as badly as possible.  Worse, he does it in front of the tribe!

Dave asks Hannah, incredulously, "You don't think Adam would try to flip on us, do you?"  Yes, David, yes he would and yes he is - trying, at least - because he is playing too hard.  But please, David and Hannah, join with Zeke and save Adam from himself.  Because when his fever goes down and his brain goes back to normal he will thank you for keeping him from blowing up his game.  "Adam is the worst teammate ever," says Hannah. "Adam a bad alliance member," says Zeke.  "Adam is the most frustrating person ever," says Zeke and every Survivor fan watching.  Adam is actively trying to grab defeat from the jaws of victory and make something simple very complicated.  And it is only a matter of time before even those fighting so hard to keep him in the game will get tired of bailing him out and just let him drown.

But fortunately for Adam, all of the Gen Xers and the nerd herd from the old Millennials all want to break up the foursome of Taylor, Jay, Will and Michelle.  They dislike Taylor and are afraid of Jay, the other two are just numbers.  Will is off the table thanks to his immunity win, and their fear that Jay has an idol that he would play on himself or Taylor lead them to Michelle as the likely target. Zeke has never trusted her and their time together on the orange tribe did nothing to bring them closer together.  Plus, he and Hannah know Michelle is the brains of the triforce alliance, a dangerous player as they go forward, so she's the target.  Unless everyone is fed up with Adam and his vacillations in which case he'll get an invite to the blindsided club.

At tribal council the discussion first turns to Taylor secreting a stash of food for himself to feast on while his tribemates followed the rules.  He makes zero friends as he explains that he took what he wanted because he could and because it was there and because he decided he deserved it since the merge feast did not include any gold stars.  This causes most of the tribe to bristle, but Taylor just continues to laugh that stupid laugh that he uses to let everyone know that he doesn't give a damn and will do whatever he wants whenever he wants with no repercussions.

Jeff notices how completely at ease Taylor is with all the negative attention to his late night snack hoarding.  Hannah calls Taylor a chill bro and he actually gives the "rock on" sign as he gleefully laughs at the fact that he can eat more than his share of the food and not be at all in danger of going home tonight.  And he does that even after Zeke reminds him that this is a game for a million dollars and that making unnecessary enemies, or bringing unnecessarily negative attention to yourself, could be a million dollar mistake.  He doesn't care.  Taylor's gonna Tay.

After a discussion of whether tribal loyalty is more important than interpersonal trust, it's time to vote.  Prophetically, Michelle couches tonight's vote thusly:  trust will be broken with some people and strengthened with others.

Why did I stick with Jay and Taylor?
Michelle was a smart player, had a good social game and was great at challenges.  But she stuck with the wrong alliance, failed to reestablish a bond with Hannah, failed to recognize the numbers were against her and ignored the need to pull more people in.  Her instinct not to target Adam was good but she didn't fight hard enough to go with her gut and get the Millennials to agree on a Gen X target.  And so, she's off to Ponderosa as the first member of what will be a very large jury!



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Thursday, November 3, 2016

Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 7 Recap

IPreviously on Survivor:  Zeke is giddy, Adam is undecided, Taylor is in love.  Jay and Will find a hidden immunity idol, Michaela finds Jay and Will with the hidden immunity idol.

Oh, who am I kidding, let's not bury the lead.

Michaela is gone.

Backstabbed, betrayed, blindsided.  A victim of her awesomeness.  Survivor has no meaning any more.  Life has no meaning any more.  Why play out the rest of the season, when its greatest contestant has her fire snuffed out too soon?   Even if you were a Cubs fan, you had to feel awful after that tribal council.  Thanks to Jay and Will, I have now entered my blue period.  I will reluctantly continue to watch the rest of the season, knowing that somewhere Michaela is winning at life because every single person watching last night thought that Jay made a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad move voting out a loyal, trustworthy ally.  But part of me died a little inside last night as the competition and confessional goddess walked down the lonely path of pre-merge oblivion.

Michaela - gone, but not forgotten.

When the episode begins, and there was still hopefulness hanging in the air, Taylor was pissed to the max, like totally, about Adam's blindsiding vote to break up the greatest love story Survivor had ever known.  Adam - forgetting how after being blindsided Zeke was not in the mood to chat - decided now was the perfect time to talk to Taylor about his betrayal.  Taylor, surprisingly, doesn't tell him to go take a walk into the ocean, but sits down to listen to his plea.

So what does Adam say to patch things up between him and Taylor?  "Taylor, this was in your best interest.  Showmances never last.  Without Figgy around, you've got a great chance to go far.  You weren't seeing clearly, so I had to come in and bail a bro out.  I'm totally with you dude, bros before, um, girls who could potentially mess up their game."  No.  Adam instead decides to fall on his sword, a grenade and whatever other weapons of destruction he can find and fuel Taylor's rage.

So what words does Adam offer Taylor to bridge the chasm between them, to start the process of healing and forgiveness and resolution?   "I screwed you.  I lied to you and I screwed you.  You are now in a worse position than you were before.  And that's my fault."  Adam, Adam, Adam.  Whoever told you that honesty is the best policy lied to you.  Honesty almost never works.  Especially not on Survivor.  But also not in the real world.  "Does this dress make me look fat?"  The answer is "No" without even looking.  No one wants to hear a bitter truth.

The dead - but pretty - eyes of the Terminator.
What does work?  Not reinforcing the angry, vengeful thoughts already percolating in Taylor's mind.  Taylor is furious, how does validating that feeling help?   How does stoking that feeling help?  Now Taylor knows, not only was Adam a rat who sold him and the love of his life out for a measly $1M, but that Adam knows that he did this awful thing and takes full ownership.  Why make an enemy for life who you have to sleep near for the next however many days, who will make it his life's goal to make sure you do not get to the end of the game?

For better gameplay, we go over to the orange tribe where David is always thinking.  His plan if they go to tribal council is to vote out Michelle next and he thinks the rest of the tribe is on board.  But he also knows that Chris is a reluctant ally at best and that his support - and vote - cannot be guaranteed.  So David works on building a bigger bond with Zeke.  He makes a risky move by telling Zeke he found a hidden immunity idol.  There are two schools of thought on the best way to play finding an idol.  One is the Kelly Wentworth/Carolyn Rivera approach of keeping it secret and using it tactically at tribal council.  The other, championed by Stephen Fishbach on the RHAP Know it Alls, is to use it strategically to create a feeling of trust and unity with another player.  David is potentially going down as the first player to use the idol both ways in one season.

We didn't have to wait long to find out that, at least as of day 20, telling Zeke was the right choice.  Zeke is now a loyal ally of David, willing to protect him and go far with him into the game.  David could not have hoped for a better quote coming from Zeke after the big reveal than "He has put his life in my hands and I'm going to take very very good care of his life."  That could not have gone any better.  David/Zeke final two.  Oh, what was that Zeke?  What did you tack on to the end of the sentence?  "For the time being."  Oh bother.

When the three tribes meet for the Reward Challenge, the Millennials are shocked to see that Adam switched over to the Gen Xers and voted out Figgy at the last tribal council.  Not shocked, but stoked, is Michaela.  Jeff reminds her how she had told the Millennials that there were three of them to two Gen Xers and if they couldn't figure it out they deserved to be voted off.  But today Michaela admits that she knew exactly what she was doing when she helped the orange tribe win immunity and that she knew exactly what she was doing when she helped send the purple tribe to vote someone off.  "It's been time for Figgy to go for a while."  And just in case no one picked up on the vibe, Michaela added, "Bye, Felicia."

In retrospect, probably too much information.  If you're in an alliance one of the key things you want from your allies, besides fidelity and honesty, is secrecy.  No airing dirty laundry for the other side to see.  Michaela was way too open about everything and became the Wikileaks of the Millennials, dumping information for the other side to pour over.

The orange and green teams win the Reward Challenge, but the most notable part of this scene was what Michaela said after she, once again, led her tribe to victory.  "It makes me nervous when I help the team win.  I don't want people to think that I'm the one to beat."  Too late, Michaela.  Way too late.  While Bret responded to her win by looking like a proud papa, Jay was feeling some combination of intimidation and fear.  And every Survivor super duper fan had the feeling of impending dread.  That was too dangerous and too accurate of a quote not to be meaningful.  #foreshadowing #whydidntyoufigurethisoutsooner

Over on the losing purple tribe, Taylor is scrambling.  And for the chill, seemingly clueless, surfer dude, he's actually doing a good job trying to save his game.  On-coming bus?  Check.   Grab Adam?  Check.  Throw him under the thundering wheels?  Check.  He lies like a lying liar to Ken and Jessica that he was completely betrayed by Adam who had sworn his undying fealty to him and Figgy, had promised to be the best man at their wedding, and had offered to name any future offspring FigTayls.  He conveniently forgets to mention how Adam was on the bottom of the Millennials' totem pole and that he was the next to go if they had ever lost a challenge and that he and Figgy had no alliance/deal/arrangement with Adam other than their placement on the generational spectrum.

Do they look convinced to you?
He gets Ken and Jessica to make a handshake deal with him, he'll never write their names down, they'll never write his, blah blah.  And I'm momentarily worried until I look again at their body language during this discussion.  Whatever Taylor is selling them, they don't look like they're buying.  Ken is not a Survivor strategist, he's a loyal, stick to your word kinda guy.  He bonded with Adam and I'd guess that means something to him.  He has totally zoned out from what Taylor is saying and would not turn his back on Adam.  Jessica, on the other hand, is a lawyer and so she's thinking what's best for her game and not about loyalty.  She'll consider the fact that keeping a savvy player like Adam versus a clueless guy like Taylor may not be best for her game.

It's Day 20, past the halfway point and for once I wish the producers weren't giving me more Michaela sound bites.  This isn't good.  She's saying funny and empowering Michaela things - about being strong, mind over matter - and I can't help but worry about her safety in the game.  It's dangerous to show strength, especially if you're also smart.  And especially if you're also a woman.  That's a threatening combination to a lot of guys.  And when you start comparing yourself to Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan, you might scare a few people.

Hannah is still Team Millennials and feels good about the 4-2 tribe split.  She likes Sunday but she's suspicious about Bret.  He looks like a cop, sounds like a cop, walks like a cop.  He's a cop. This "funeral director" cover story is not convincing anyway.  She interrogates him and he does not hold up under the scrutiny.  She can use this syllogism to her advantage. If you can't trust him, you can't trust him.  But what Hannah doesn't suspect is that Bret is not the most untrustworthy person on her tribe.  Or in her "alliance."

Then, the unthinkable happens.  Michaela and her team loses a challenge.  It's as shocking as Cubs fans having something to celebrate.  And any hope that I had that the Millennials would stick together and vote out Bret or Sunday was dashed the second that Taylor said, "Sorry, Bret you've got to go."  CBS advertisers are not paying to run their commercials before a boring, predictable outcome.  And no one wants to watch ten minutes of the easy, obvious vote.  Well, in retrospect, that would have been awesome.

So the green tribe comes back after the loss and literally no one says anything for a half an hour.  The two on the bottom know that they're dead in the water.  Which is ironic since they're standing, alive, in the water as they come to this realization.  They hate that fate isn't in their own hands, but the numbers are the numbers.  While Sunday and Bret are resigned to one of them going home, Michaela pulls together the four Millennials for an unnecessarily complicated strategy session  While coming to the conclusion that it doesn't matter which of the two Gen Xers are voted out, Michaela shows more attention to detail and military strategizing than Hannibal, Genghis Khan, and Eisenhower put together.  It was overkill.  There's four of you, two of them.  Vote out either of them.  By planning maneuvers and playing with people like chess pieces, she showed herself not only to be a physical threat in the game but a strategic one as well.  .

My brain just went boom.
So Jay has an epiphany.  First, he realizes that he knows the word epiphany.  Second, he realizes that Michaela is his biggest threat post-merge, not Bret or Sunday.  He can easily beat them in competitions.  But Michaela?   She's smart, physical, personable and strategic.  A deadly combination.  Michaela got him thinking down the road with her sea shells, but what he sees down the road is a rough ride while she's in his way.

From there things unravel quickly and we plow forward on an inevitable trajectory.  We don't need Will chiming in that Jay is right, that Michaela is dangerous to their game.  And we certainly don't need him telling us how great and loyal an alliance member she is but how she strategizes too hard and she knows about their hidden immunity idol.  And we don't need to hear how much Will likes Michaela and he'll hate to blindside her and also blindside Hannah.  Because we know what's coming.

Jay throws out a little misdirection, lest we think his vote is in stone.  Michaela is in my alliance.  She is loyal as the day is long.  She's never lied to us.  Bret has lied to me and is not in my alliance and is instead part of the Gen Xers.  As of this moment, there are six Gen Xers remaining: Bret, Chris, David, Ken, Jessica and Sunday.  There are eight Millennials: Adam, Hannah, Jay, Michaela, Michelle, Taylor, Will and Zeke.  With Adam and Zeke being wobbly at best, keeping Michaela would keep the numbers.  Plus, she would act as a meat shield as she's such an obvious threat after a merge.  So he should vote out Bret.  Right?

At tribal council, Jeff opens his big fat mouth and points out that each time a tribe has come to tribal since the tribe swap, a member of the majority has been voted out.  Thanks for reminding them, Jeff, and giving Jay another reason to target one of his own.  Michaela tells Jeff that she's not concerned about what the other tribes have done, her four is strong and loyal.  Jay suppresses a laugh.  The longer tribal council goes on, the bigger the hole is for Michaela to fall into.  Or, rather, to be pushed.  The game has evolved.  Loyalty and alliances are not necessarily what will get you to the end.  You have to be flexible.  You have to trust your gut. Now Michaela picks up a shovel and made the hole even wider - the merge is coming soon, she reminds everyone.  Who do you want to go to the end with?  Me, the female Joe Ingram, or the out of shape Gen Xers?

Everyone talks about loyalty and how sad it is to break up this loving tribe.  And Michaela offers regret at having to vote out Bret or Sunday and offers an olive branch to whoever stays.  She doesn't want to, but she has to.  She's loyal.  They go off to vote and Hannah is having a mini-panic attack, but at least she knows who to vote for.  She says she wishes she and Bret could have gone farther in the game.  Be careful what you wish for.

Jeff comes back with the votes and reads off two quick Brett votes.  Expected.  Now it's time for a Sunday vote, right?  He opens up the next vote and it's for Michaela.

The anatomy of a blindside

What???

Did you do that?

Yeah.

Like a boss, Jay just looks Michaela in the eye and admits his role in her demise.  It's Brutus stabbing Caesar, Ollie stabbing Jon Snow.   It made Ciera voting out her mother look like child's play (see what I did there?).  Jay is one cold-hearted SOB.  And if you thought his age and unwieldy hair meant he was not a cut-throat competitor who came to play, you were mistaken.  That cold, steely look in his eyes was that of an unapologetic assassin.  Ice water has replaced blood in his body.  He probably doesn't sleep at night, just swims back and forth.   Waiting for his next attack.  Russell Hantz seems warm and cuddly by comparison.

Hannah is shocked, confused, and doesn't know what to do, where to look, how to process what just happened.  Not unlike her panic attack during a challenge she wasn't even playing in, Hannah can't help but make Michaela's blindside all about her.

Michaela, never one for hiding her emotions, did not take this game move in stride.  She called out Jay, she looked at Will, she was not going to go quietly into that good night.  But it was all too late.  The die was votes were cast and it was over.  She was dead woman walking.  She failed to understand the "new Survivor" game.  She relied too much on loyalty and didn't remember that this is a game for money and there are no rules besides get to the end.   She recognized she could be seen as a threat, yet did nothing with that information.  She knew Taylor and Will had an idol.  She could have easily made an alliance with Bret, Sunday and Hannah to get rid of one of them and the idol.  But, again, loyalty kept her from even considering that as a move.

Michaela played an old school version of Survivor, the same one Mike Holloway played.  But, unlike Mike, she was not one of the boys and she was clearly not just a physical threat, and so she was an easy target.  But I, and most of Twitter, hated Jay's move.  I think it was premature and, worse, gives him a distinct numerical disadvantage going to the merge.  He makes an unnecessary enemy in Hannah who has two friends, Zeke and Adam, still in the game,  And none of those two were all that close to Jay.  Plus, Jay now needs Secret Service protection from what I've seen to deal with the threats that have come his way after he disposed of a fan favorite so unceremoniously, so calculatingly, so gleefully.

This was my face when she was voted out. :(

Goodbye Michaela.  You will be missed.  If you ever come back, be a little more circumspect and a little less trusting.




Of course you want more Michaela!
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Survivor Season 33: Millennials v. Gen X - Episode 7 Recap

Previously on Survivor:  Zeke is giddy, Adam is undecided, Taylor is in love.  Jay and Will find a hidden immunity idol, Michaela finds Jay and Will with the hidden immunity idol.

Oh, who am I kidding, let's not bury the lead.

Michaela is gone.

Backstabbed, betrayed, blindsided.  A victim of her awesomeness.  Survivor has no meaning any more.  Life has no meaning any more.  Why play out the rest of the season, when its greatest contestant has her fire snuffed out too soon?   Even if you were a Cubs fan, you had to feel awful after that tribal council.  Thanks to Jay and Will, I have now entered my blue period.  I will reluctantly continue to watch the rest of the season, knowing that somewhere Michaela is winning at life because every single person watching last night thought that Jay made a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad move voting out a loyal, trustworthy ally.  But part of me died a little inside last night as the competition and confessional goddess walked down the lonely path of pre-merge oblivion.

Michaela - gone, but not forgotten.

When the episode begins, and there was still hopefulness hanging in the air, Taylor was pissed to the max, like totally, about Adam's blindsiding vote to break up the greatest love story Survivor had ever known.  Adam - forgetting how after being blindsided Zeke was not in the mood to chat - decided now was the perfect time to talk to Taylor about his betrayal.  Taylor, surprisingly, doesn't tell him to go take a walk into the ocean, but sits down to listen to his plea.

So what does Adam say to patch things up between him and Taylor?  "Taylor, this was in your best interest.  Showmances never last.  Without Figgy around, you've got a great chance to go far.  You weren't seeing clearly, so I had to come in and bail a bro out.  I'm totally with you dude, bros before, um, girls who could potentially mess up their game."  No.  Adam instead decides to fall on his sword, a grenade and whatever other weapons of destruction he can find and fuel Taylor's rage.

So what words does Adam offer Taylor to bridge the chasm between them, to start the process of healing and forgiveness and resolution?   "I screwed you.  I lied to you and I screwed you.  You are now in a worse position than you were before.  And that's my fault."  Adam, Adam, Adam.  Whoever told you that honesty is the best policy lied to you.  Honesty almost never works.  Especially not on Survivor.  But also not in the real world.  "Does this dress make me look fat?"  The answer is "No" without even looking.  No one wants to hear a bitter truth.

The dead - but pretty - eyes of the Terminator.
What does work?  Not reinforcing the angry, vengeful thoughts already percolating in Taylor's mind.  Taylor is furious, how does validating that feeling help?   How does stoking that feeling help?  Now Taylor knows, not only was Adam a rat who sold him and the love of his life out for a measly $1M, but that Adam knows that he did this awful thing and takes full ownership.  Why make an enemy for life who you have to sleep near for the next however many days, who will make it his life's goal to make sure you do not get to the end of the game?

For better gameplay, we go over to the orange tribe where David is always thinking.  His plan if they go to tribal council is to vote out Michelle next and he thinks the rest of the tribe is on board.  But he also knows that Chris is a reluctant ally at best and that his support - and vote - cannot be guaranteed.  So David works on building a bigger bond with Zeke.  He makes a risky move by telling Zeke he found a hidden immunity idol.  There are two schools of thought on the best way to play finding an idol.  One is the Kelly Wentworth/Carolyn Rivera approach of keeping it secret and using it tactically at tribal council.  The other, championed by Stephen Fishbach on the RHAP Know it Alls, is to use it strategically to create a feeling of trust and unity with another player.  David is potentially going down as the first player to use the idol both ways in one season.

We didn't have to wait long to find out that, at least as of day 20, telling Zeke was the right choice.  Zeke is now a loyal ally of David, willing to protect him and go far with him into the game.  David could not have hoped for a better quote coming from Zeke after the big reveal than "He has put his life in my hands and I'm going to take very very good care of his life."  That could not have gone any better.  David/Zeke final two.  Oh, what was that Zeke?  What did you tack on to the end of the sentence?  "For the time being."  Oh bother.

When the three tribes meet for the Reward Challenge, the Millennials are shocked to see that Adam switched over to the Gen Xers and voted out Figgy at the last tribal council.  Not shocked, but stoked, is Michaela.  Jeff reminds her how she had told the Millennials that there were three of them to two Gen Xers and if they couldn't figure it out they deserved to be voted off.  But today Michaela admits that she knew exactly what she was doing when she helped the orange tribe win immunity and that she knew exactly what she was doing when she helped send the purple tribe to vote someone off.  "It's been time for Figgy to go for a while."  And just in case no one picked up on the vibe, Michaela added, "Bye, Felicia."

In retrospect, probably too much information.  If you're in an alliance one of the key things you want from your allies, besides fidelity and honesty, is secrecy.  No airing dirty laundry for the other side to see.  Michaela was way too open about everything and became the Wikileaks of the Millennials, dumping information for the other side to pour over.

The orange and green teams win the Reward Challenge, but the most notable part of this scene was what Michaela said after she, once again, led her tribe to victory.  "It makes me nervous when I help the team win.  I don't want people to think that I'm the one to beat."  Too late, Michaela.  Way too late.  While Bret responded to her win by looking like a proud papa, Jay was feeling some combination of intimidation and fear.  And every Survivor super duper fan had the feeling of impending dread.  That was too dangerous and too accurate of a quote not to be meaningful.  #foreshadowing #whydidntyoufigurethisoutsooner

Over on the losing purple tribe, Taylor is scrambling.  And for the chill, seemingly clueless, surfer dude, he's actually doing a good job trying to save his game.  On-coming bus?  Check.   Grab Adam?  Check.  Throw him under the thundering wheels?  Check.  He lies like a lying liar to Ken and Jessica that he was completely betrayed by Adam who had sworn his undying fealty to him and Figgy, had promised to be the best man at their wedding, and had offered to name any future offspring FigTayls.  He conveniently forgets to mention how Adam was on the bottom of the Millennials' totem pole and that he was the next to go if they had ever lost a challenge and that he and Figgy had no alliance/deal/arrangement with Adam other than their placement on the generational spectrum.

Do they look convinced to you?
He gets Ken and Jessica to make a handshake deal with him, he'll never write their names down, they'll never write his, blah blah.  And I'm momentarily worried until I look again at their body language during this discussion.  Whatever Taylor is selling them, they don't look like they're buying.  Ken is not a Survivor strategist, he's a loyal, stick to your word kinda guy.  He bonded with Adam and I'd guess that means something to him.  He has totally zoned out from what Taylor is saying and would not turn his back on Adam.  Jessica, on the other hand, is a lawyer and so she's thinking what's best for her game and not about loyalty.  She'll consider the fact that keeping a savvy player like Adam versus a clueless guy like Taylor may not be best for her game.

It's Day 20, past the halfway point and for once I wish the producers weren't giving me more Michaela sound bites.  This isn't good.  She's saying funny and empowering Michaela things - about being strong, mind over matter - and I can't help but worry about her safety in the game.  It's dangerous to show strength, especially if you're also smart.  And especially if you're also a woman.  That's a threatening combination to a lot of guys.  And when you start comparing yourself to Steve Jobs and Michael Jordan, you might scare a few people.

Hannah is still Team Millennials and feels good about the 4-2 tribe split.  She likes Sunday but she's suspicious about Bret.  He looks like a cop, sounds like a cop, walks like a cop.  He's a cop. This "funeral director" cover story is not convincing anyway.  She interrogates him and he does not hold up under the scrutiny.  She can use this syllogism to her advantage. If you can't trust him, you can't trust him.  But what Hannah doesn't suspect is that Bret is not the most untrustworthy person on her tribe.  Or in her "alliance."

Then, the unthinkable happens.  Michaela and her team lose a challenge.  It's as shocking as Cubs' fans having something to celebrate.  And any hope that I had that the Millennials would stick together and vote out Bret or Sunday was dashed the second that Jay said, "Sorry, Bret you've got to go."  CBS advertisers are not paying to run their commercials before a boring, predictable outcome.  And no one wants to watch ten minutes of the easy, obvious vote.  Well, in retrospect, that would have been awesome.

So the green tribe comes back after the loss and literally no one says anything for a half an hour.  The two on the bottom know that they're dead in the water.  Which is ironic since they're standing, alive, in the water as they come to this realization.  They hate that fate isn't in their own hands, but the numbers are the numbers.  While Sunday and Bret are resigned to one of them going home, Michaela pulls together the four Millennials for an unnecessarily complicated strategy session.  While coming to the conclusion that it doesn't matter which of the two Gen Xers are voted out, Michaela shows more attention to detail and military strategizing than Hannibal, Genghis Khan, and Eisenhower put together.  It was overkill.  There are four of you, two of them.  Vote out either of them.  By planning maneuvers and playing with people like chess pieces, she showed herself not only to be a physical threat in the game but a strategic one as well.

My brain just went boom.
So Jay has an epiphany.  First, he realizes that he knows the word epiphany.  Second, he realizes that Michaela is his biggest threat post-merge, not Bret or Sunday.  He can easily beat them in competitions.  But Michaela?   She's smart, physical, personable and strategic.  A deadly combination.  Michaela got him thinking down the road with her sea shells, but what he sees down the road is not a tight alliance of four but a rough ride while she's in his way.

From there things unravel quickly and we plow forward on an inevitable trajectory.  We don't need Will chiming in that Jay is right, that Michaela is dangerous to their game.  And we certainly don't need him telling us how great and loyal an alliance member she is but how she strategizes too hard and she knows about their hidden immunity idol.  And we don't need to hear how much Will likes Michaela and he'll hate to blindside her and also blindside Hannah.  Because we know what's coming.

Jay throws out a little misdirection, lest we think his vote is in stone.  Michaela is in my alliance.  She is loyal as the day is long.  She's never lied to us.  Bret has lied to me and is not in my alliance and is instead part of the Gen Xers.  As of this moment, there are six Gen Xers remaining: Bret, Chris, David, Ken, Jessica and Sunday.  There are eight Millennials: Adam, Hannah, Jay, Michaela, Michelle, Taylor, Will and Zeke.  With Adam and Zeke being wobbly at best, keeping Michaela would bolster the numbers.  Plus, she would act as a meat shield as she's such an obvious threat after a merge.  So he should vote out Bret.  Right?

At tribal council, Jeff opens his big fat mouth and points out that each time a tribe has come to tribal since the tribe swap, a member of the majority has been voted out.  Thanks for reminding them, Jeff, and giving Jay another reason to target one of his own.  Michaela tells Jeff that she's not concerned about what the other tribes have done, her four is strong and loyal.  Jay suppresses a laugh.  The longer tribal council goes on, the bigger the hole is for Michaela to fall into.  Or, rather, to be pushed.  The game has evolved.  Loyalty and alliances are not necessarily what will get you to the end.  You have to be flexible.  You have to trust your gut. Now Michaela picks up a shovel and made the hole even wider - the merge is coming soon, she reminds everyone.  Who do you want to go to the end with?  Me, the female Joe Ingram, or the out of shape Gen Xers?

Everyone talks about loyalty and how sad it is to break up this loving tribe.  And Michaela offers regret at having to vote out Bret or Sunday and offers an olive branch to whoever stays.  She doesn't want to, but she has to.  She's loyal.  They go off to vote and Hannah is having a mini-panic attack, but at least she knows who to vote for.  She says she wishes she and Bret could have gone farther in the game.  Be careful what you wish for.

Jeff comes back with the votes and reads off two quick Bret votes.  Expected.  Now it's time for a Sunday vote, right?  He opens up the next vote and it's for Michaela.

The anatomy of a blindside

What???

Did you do that?

Yeah.

Like a boss, Jay just looks Michaela in the eye and admits his role in her demise.  It's Brutus stabbing Caesar, Ollie stabbing Jon Snow.   It made Ciera voting out her mother look like child's play (see what I did there?).  Jay is one cold-hearted SOB.  And if you thought his age and unwieldy hair meant he was not a cut-throat competitor who came to play, you were mistaken.  That cold, steely look in his eyes was that of an unapologetic assassin.  Ice water has replaced blood in his body.  He probably doesn't sleep at night, just swims back and forth.   Waiting for his next attack.  Russell Hantz seems warm and cuddly by comparison.

Hannah is shocked, confused, and doesn't know what to do, where to look, how to process what just happened.  Not unlike her panic attack during a challenge she wasn't even playing in, Hannah can't help but make Michaela's blindside all about her.

Michaela, never one for hiding her emotions, did not take this game move in stride.  She called out Jay, she looked at Will, she was not going to go quietly into that good night.  But it was all too late.  The die was votes were cast and it was over.  She was dead woman walking.  She failed to understand the "new Survivor" game.  She relied too much on loyalty and didn't remember that this is a game for money and there are no rules besides get to the end.   She recognized she could be seen as a threat, yet did nothing with that information.  She knew Taylor and Will had an idol.  She could have easily made an alliance with Bret, Sunday and Hannah to get rid of one of them and the idol.  But, again, loyalty kept her from even considering that as a move.

Michaela played an old school version of Survivor, the same one Mike Holloway played.  But, unlike Mike, she was not one of the boys and she was clearly not just a physical threat, and so she was an easy target.  But I, and most of Twitter, hated Jay's move.  I think it was premature and, worse, gives him a distinct numerical disadvantage going to the merge.  He makes an unnecessary enemy in Hannah who has two friends, Zeke and Adam, still in the game,  And none of those two were all that close to Jay.  Plus, Jay now needs Secret Service protection from what I've seen to deal with the threats that have come his way after he disposed of a fan favorite so unceremoniously, so calculatingly, so gleefully.

This was my face when she was voted out. :(

Goodbye Michaela.  You will be missed.  If you ever come back, be a little more circumspect and a little less trusting.




Of course you want more Michaela!
Entertainment Weekly
Parade/Josh Wigler
XFinity/Gordon Holmes
Rob Has A Podcast
Reality TV World
GoldDerby
TVGuide