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.


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!

Want more Michelle?
Rob Has a Podcast
Josh Wigler/Parade
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