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:

Want more Zeke?

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