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.

Want more from Paul?
Entertainment Weekly
 Josh Wigler/Parade
Rob Has a Podcast

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