Edgic is a weekly feature analyzing each player’s edit, mapping characters to their story-arc. Note that our focus is not solely to determine the winner, as is typical of other Edgic sites. For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
We use a different color scheme than traditional Edgic. We wanted the bigger character ratings, the OTTs and CPs of the world, to stand out. So we made all of these colors bolder and brighter. Simultaneously we wanted the less important character ratings, particularly the UTRs, to blend into the background, as the characters do on the show. So we made these colors duller, more gray and brown. We also looked at the tonal dimensions — negative to positive — and wanted to make it visually consistent whether a character was portrayed positively or negatively. To that end, we reserved all variations of red and pink for the negative ratings, and all the positive ratings are variations on green.
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What Does This Episode Tell Us?
The first episode is always a good indicator of the season’s overarching stories. It usually introduces us to the key players and foreshadows future events.
Last Season: If we flashback to the first episode of last season, it introduced Aubry as someone struggling to overcome a hurdle in the game (her anxiety and own mindset) and eventually getting past that and winning the challenge for her tribe. It was the summation of Aubry’s entire game in one easy to digest chunk: always coming up against obstacles but managing to work her way through them.
Likewise, it introduced Michele as the easygoing bartender who gave us a rundown of each person on her tribe and told us why she would choose to align with someone. She gravitated towards what felt more natural while keeping her options open. That was her game that eventually led to victory.
Other stories such as Jason and Scot’s bullying behavior, Tai’s scatterbrained paranoia and Debbie’s many jobs were also set up in episode one. There was also lots of short-term stories, like Liz and Peter’s blind arrogance, Caleb and Tai’s bromance, and Anna leading a girl’s alliance.
Short-term vs. Long-term: It’s important to pay attention to the events of the first episode and try and work out what is short-term story-telling and what is long-term story-telling. Rather appropriate given that a large theme of this episode related to short-term vs. long-term value.
The thing that instantly pops out when looking at the ratings is the lack of complexity on the Gen X tribe. The ratings across the board on Gen X are very flat; a bad sign given that this was the tribe that attended tribal council.
The audience was confused with the Gen X vote, not expecting CeCe to receive the second highest amount of votes, and the ratings reflect that confusion. A tribe with little complexity tends to mean we didn’t get to see fleshed out personalities and strategies. With a lack of insight into the players and their games, it led to a somewhat confused vote.
On the flipside, the Millennials received far more complexity. The personalities and interpersonal dynamics were better fleshed out and left the audience with a pretty clear understanding of who most of these people are and where they stood. The Millennials tribe didn’t attend tribal council, so this is significant.
Why is this significant? For a tribe not to attend tribal but still receive that much care and detail it suggests more long-term value in the players that are part of this tribe. It gives a better chance that the season’s biggest characters will be from this tribe. Also, there’s an excellent chance it means the winner is from this tribe, although it’s too early to go all in on that summation.
The Theme: The other big takeaway from this episode was, of course, the theme. Obviously, in the premiere, it’s to be expected that the theme, Millennials vs. Gen X, would be shoved down our throats. What we need to work out is which element of this theme will be our long-term story?
Is it going to remain as simple as “may the best generation win”? Or is there something deeper at play? It was interesting to look at who was all about their generation and who rejected it. And, perhaps more importantly, those who exhibited qualities of both.
Players such as CeCe, Chris, David, Paul, Taylor, and Will were very much all aboard with their generation (more so Paul and Taylor). Will referred to the Gen X tribe as “old dudes” (subtitled). CeCe and Paul openly criticized the lack of work ethic of the Millennials (David and Sunday also fall into this bracket for their intro confessionals). Taylor praised his generation and the Millennial mindset and how he can’t change.
Adam and Mari accepted their generation but also displayed Gen X traits and showed respect to the other tribe. Mari stated that her generation is the best but also said she’s sure the Gen X tribe have said the same thing about themselves. Adam was also proud to be Millennial and was hoping to disprove misconceptions, but after the Millennials tribe had failed with the shelter night one, he praised the Gen X work ethic. On the Gen X tribe, Ken said not to underestimate the Millennials and that they’re sharp.
Meanwhile, Zeke tried to reject his generation but admitted to falling into some of its negatives. “I think Twitter is the worst thing ever invented- I mean, I’m on Twitter.” and is seen frolicking in the water with the “kids” instead of working on the shelter after shown talking to Adam and Mari about the ominous weather. But he also displayed Gen X like qualities- taking over with shelter and fire duties, as well as planning ahead to take the balance beam shortcut rather than making a Millennial-style game time call.
Which players will succeed this season? Those that stick rigidly within the boundaries of their generation or those that display qualities of both?
Generation Definitions: The edit basically told us that-
Gen X = Hard work. Listeners. Strong opinions. Egotistical. Fighters. Dismissive of Millennials.
Millennials = Que sera sera. Dreamers. Head in the clouds. Think they’re invincible. Shallow. Don’t do things the normal way / no regular jobs. Don’t work hard: work smart. Creative. Fun-loving.
Interestingly, other than Will’s “old dudes,” the Millennials didn’t speak poorly of the Gen Xers, but members of the Gen X tribe talked down about the Millennials a fair amount. We know from Adam’s statement, “We’re going to prove a lot of people wrong about their misconceptions about Millennials,” to watch and assess whether the Millennials will be defined by these stereotypes or overcome them this season. We have no such challenge set to the Gen-Xers, which is another negative sign for their chances.
The other theme was Cool Kids vs. Misfits with the Millennials tribe seemingly split down the middle (although we don’t yet know where everyone stands). Figgy, Jay, and Taylor were portrayed as the Cool Kids, with Michelle part of that but also with a foot in the other group. Hannah and Mari led the Misfits seemingly bringing on board Adam and Michaela. We don’t know where Will and Zeke fall. This could be a short-term storyline.
We’ve made a big thing in the past over which players receive intro confessionals. In Survivor: Cambodia, out of the twelve people that received an intro confessional, eleven of them made the merge. Last season, Survivor: Kaoh Rong, only nine people received an intro confessional, which was a little lower than average. Those nine were Anna, Caleb, Debbie, Jason, Joe, Nick, Peter, Scot, and Tai. Six of them made the merge.
Interestingly, last season, the winner, Michele, did not receive an intro confessional. But as we pointed out in the first Edgic post of Kaoh Rong, in the past eleven seasons (not counting returnees or BvW seasons), there have been four legitimate winners with intros and three without. Jeremy, Mike, Tony, and Fabio – all had intros. Sophie, Kim, and Denise – didn’t have intros. It suggested that seasons with female winners are less likely to receive an intro, and that held up with Michele’s win.
This season only six people got an intro confessional: Taylor, Mari, Zeke, Chris, Sunday, and David, in that order. That’s the lowest ever. Does that mean they’ll all make the merge? Probably not but it’d be surprising if less than four did. It does suggest that these people will be important characters- we already saw that David, Mari, Taylor and Zeke were standouts in this episode.
More important was the content of those confessionals. Apart from Chris, they were all about Millennials.
Taylor was all “my generation is about doing what you wanna do.” Mari mentioned her Millennial job as a video game player and how as an adult you’re told to “grow up.” Zeke talked about the stereotypes of young people.
Sunday criticized Millennials, “they’re a little bit more ‘que será, será.’ “If it takes me seven years to do school… Who cares? My parents are paying for it.” As did David, “I don’t think younger people would put that kind of time into whatever their dream is. They would just try to find a new dream.” Only Chris talked up the Gen X generation and left it at that.
What does that tell us? This season will mainly be the story of the Millennials.
Also, the order of Taylor>Mari>Zeke covered the entire spectrum of the Millennials. Taylor was the OTT I love-my-generation and I can’t change guy. Zeke was the OTT I hate-my-generation even though I’m part of it guy. Mari was in the middle, proud of her generation but aware of the criticisms and wants to prove she can make it work. It was both extremes with Mari smack dab in the middle. And again, it gave the Millennial point of view much more depth than Gen X.
Lastly, in terms of intro shots, it was Zeke’s face that popped up when the Jeff Probst voiceover mentioned, “in the end, only one will remain.” Foreshadowing? Maybe. After all, last season those words were accompanied by shots of Jason, Neal, and Michele- in that order, ending on Michele.
Under The Radar
Michaela was barely in the premiere, but when she was, it was all about the shade. Whenever people said flippant, shallow statements, such as when Paul said, “we didn’t always get a trophy,” or when CeCe said, “they don’t work for anything,” the camera shot to Michaela’s face rolling her eyes.
She was barely in any camp scenes and had only one confessional, but her one confessional showed that she’s observant. Specifically, she knew it was a bad sign that Jeff gave them a tarp because it indicated that the weather would get worse, and her inclination was to “get to work,” showing that she transcends the millennial “lazy” label. She was also one of the people that Mari approached for her Misfits alliance. Her winning chances don’t look great given the lack of airtime and strategic depth, but she’s set up as being a practical person who will give us great reaction shots when people spew rubbish.
Similar to Michaela, most of Lucy’s presence this episode was relegated to reaction shots, looking annoyed when Paul was giving his “welcome” speech at camp Gen X, and looking incredulous when Rachel was criticizing Paul during shelter building. She received a subtitled line about the weather and was mentioned by name when Bret was counting numbers, this just scrapes her an UTR rating rather than INV.
Unlike Michaela, however, Lucy was shown to be oblivious and out of the game. She was shown overlooking the advantage envelope at the marooning, and when arriving at camp Gen X, she held her hand up for a high-five for an awkwardly long time before someone finally noticed and made contact. Lucy was also the only person not to put her hand up at tribal council when Jeff asked who felt in danger- however, the edit nor Jeff focused on this, which is rather telling. Combining these small signs with the fact that she was the only person on the cast not to receive a confessional (a big red flag in the season premiere), it’s looking like Lucy’s impact on this season will be minimal to nonexistent.
Will was depicted as the kid in the candy store this episode. He had no game-relevant scenes, and every sentence he spoke was loaded with hyperbole. He was introduced at the start of the game as the youngest person to ever play. He exclaimed, seemingly unable to control himself, “Old dudes!” subtitled to hammer it home, when Jeff announced the ages of the Gen Xers. He referred to the season as a war and said that they’re already “at each other’s throats” after just a few minutes of banter and a seemingly harmless marooning. He referred to their shelter as “definitely one of the worst in the history of Survivor.”
Everything was over the top with Will…except for his amount of airtime and relevance to the gameplay. As the Millennials tribe shook down to a battle between the Cool Kids vs. the Misfits, Will was out of this picture entirely. It seems that his role this season may just be the kid who’s along for the ride, a rollercoaster at a theme park, screaming and laughing.
Just as Will was given focus as the youngest of the Millennials, Paul was immediately given focus as the oldest of the Gen Xers, and just like Will, he embraced that position in his tribe positively. While he loved the designation of his generation, he had no hesitation openly condescending the Millennials, which came off as one-dimensional.
When naming some of the positive qualities of Gen Xers, his negative qualities shined through, coming off as brash, “I expect them to be people of my caliber,” presuming he’s of the highest caliber, and as dogmatic, “very strong opinions, but based on sound decision making.” He interrupted the Gen Xers to give a welcome speech, and during this speech, the camera panned to Chris and Bret with their mouths hanging open looking nonplussed, and then to Lucy casting her eyes around with the same perturbed look.
Paul was also part of an interesting scene with Rachel, where she was unreasonably criticizing Paul, and he handled the interaction calmly and in stride. He also had a confessional showing a reasonably cautious attitude about Jeff’s arrival to camp being a “safety situation.” At the end of the episode, he was shown to be included in the majority alliance’s planning meetings, albeit as a silent member. There was no insight into his short-term or long-term strategy. Nor much depth to his character outside of Gen X mascot. It doesn’t give much hope of a big time story for Paul this season other than maybe a small antagonist of the Millennials.
It’s noteworthy to get one of the season’s opening confessionals as the game is about to start, but in Sunday’s case, the noteworthiness is decidedly bleak. Four of those six confessionals were people introducing themselves and speaking positively about their generation. The entirety of Sunday’s introductory lines was kvetching about Millennials. The only personal detail we learned about her is that she has four children, as opposed to the other people who told us about their occupations and lifestyles. The bulk of her confessional was spent jeering that Millennials are, “Que sera sera,” which literally translates to “whatever will be, will be.” In a game all about adaptation, mocking a statement about taking life as it comes isn’t promising.
Her only other confessional this episode was spent complaining about Rachel. While her comments about Rachel being overeager and “confrontive” were validated by camp life footage and others in the tribe, there’s an irony to her statement, “It can just really bring a lot of negativity to the group, and people don’t like it.” Every time we heard Sunday speak she brought negativity about others to this episode. She was named as part of the majority and was shown saying that if people volunteer for the puzzle and fail, they should be voted out (which is what happened).
What does this say about Sunday’s role this season? Receiving an intro confessional suggests she could go far and play a pivotal role in the season. Maybe that’s as an antagonist to the Millennials? Or, perhaps she will become an example of Adam’s “proving the misconceptions about Millennials are wrong.” Maybe Sunday will learn that there’s more to the Millennials than she currently believes over the course of the season?
CeCe was one of the people shown openly disparaging Millennials on the mat at the start of the game. As we’ve been mentioning throughout this write-up, these statements come off as flippant and one-dimensional. Most of her airtime was spent discussing the bad weather conditions. We caught a little glimpse of her talking to Lucy at camp about what a miserable day it was. She had two confessionals narrating how much it had been raining and how the camp was devastated by the cyclone.
Before tribal council, we saw her chatting a bit with Rachel, and Rachel said that she and CeCe were both on the chopping block. While this statement ended up being correct and the votes were split between the two of them, it was a surprise to the viewer. There had been little indication that anybody was gunning for CeCe or that she didn’t fit in until the votes were read at tribal council. The fact that CeCe was so close to going home yet we learned almost nothing about CeCe as a person or why she received any votes doesn’t bode well for her long-term story arc this season. It’s not like the edit was trying to protect her, as it already showed her being openly negative about the Millennials earlier in the episode. It sends a message that it was not worth investing the time in CeCe, that it was more important for the audience to get to know and feel invested in David.
Middle of the Road
The main takeaways about Adam is that he’s a reliable narrator and a hard worker. Often in Survivor, the edit sets up a few people to be wrong wrong wrong, and even fewer people to be right right right. We look to tease out the right right right narrators to clue us in to what’s really happening in the game. How do we know Adam is reliable? Right off the bat, on the mat, he said, “When we win the first immunity challenge, we’ll see who really has to work to win.” The Millennials did indeed win the first challenge, as he predicted.
Mari, Zeke, and Adam were shown huddled together observing that the weather looked like it was getting worse, and as we know, this observation turned out to be correct. Furthermore, Adam expressed concern over their shelter and told them directly, “I’m telling you guys from experience, not a good idea” to go swimming instead of working on the shelter. He said that his tribe “thinks everything’s gonna be okay.” Soon we saw a storm bearing down upon them, their shelter falling apart, the tribe “in a world of hurt,” and Taylor said, “It’ll be ok. We will survive the night,” subtitled, explicitly corroborating Adam’s words about his tribe. So when Adam made his bold prediction that his tribe is “going to prove a lot of people wrong about their misconceptions about Millennials,” a thesis is set for the season.
Adam was shown being largely positive about Millennials this whole episode, but he also got a chance to show some respect towards Gen X. “Gen Xers believe that you have to put in your time in order to get to where you want to be.” Adam lauded their work ethic and wanted his tribe to have more of it. We glimpsed him in a conversation with Mari, editorially placing him with the Misfits alliance, but we didn’t get to hear his thoughts on the gameplay yet. Given that he was the only person for whom the edit went above and beyond to prove as a reliable narrator, signs point to Adam sticking around for a while. Will he play a more pivotal role in the gameplay, or will he stay in the shadows and do the observing for us? Time will tell.
Chris received one of the coveted opening confessionals that pegs him as a pivotal character to the season and higher likelihood winner candidate. He introduced himself and named several positive characteristics about Gen Xers: they listen, have life experience, and fight to stay alive. Is this foreshadowing Chris’ journey this season — will he have to fight to stay alive? He told Bret they needed to build the shelter themselves because he thought there was a lot of talking and not a lot of doing amongst the rest of the tribe. There was no conclusion as to whether they, indeed, saved the day and made the shelter for the tribe, but instead this scene set up the relationship between Chris and Bret as well as David.
Chris and Bret are shown to be hardworking and willing to take on the challenge of building a shelter while David stood nearby covering his ears and creating paranoia about idols and trust. After David had run off, Chris and Bret shared a moment as the non-paranoid, calm guys; they were also shown together being observant about the weather getting worse. Chris himself had a confessional similar to Adam’s saying that he doesn’t think the rest of the tribe sees what’s coming in terms of weather, which set him apart as more practical and observant than the rest of the tribe. He correctly predicted that “this weather is gonna be something that none of us were prepared for.” Chris also had a moment where he said to Bret and Paul while building the shelter, “We just need to get going on this, man. I guess we got to split these.” This statement was oddly subtitled, then much later in the episode, these same three men talked about tribal council, and Chris told them they should split the vote. Even though it was only micro-foreshadowing within an episode, we got little hints that Chris, like Adam, might be a reliable narrator for us going forward, that what he says will likely come true.
At the immunity challenge, Probst highlighted, “Chris blocking two Millennials all by himself.” At the very least, we saw that he’s tough, willing to get physical, and successfully took on a couple of Millennials “all by himself.” There may be some potential foreshadowing there regarding gameplay. Maybe he successfully boxes out a couple of Millennials. Maybe his road is a tough one, and he has to fight to stay alive. But not this episode. Chris dictated after the challenge that Rachel and David were on the “hatchet.” (This is noteworthy because, while the episode depicted David as being on the bottom in various ways, in the end, it’s CeCe who was on the bottom with Rachel, not David.) Does this mean Chris was wrong here? On the contrary, the lack of coverage on CeCe indicated that the edit supported Chris’ point of view, and by this point in the episode, Chris was already established as fairly reliable. He was not only shown to be in the majority but shown to be the person calling the shots concerning how the votes would come down at tribal. While he firmly embraced the Gen X tribe, he was never seen disparaging the Millennials. This was a solid episode for Chris, and he’s somebody to keep an eye on long-term.
There are two main messages conveyed about Michelle in the premiere. The first is to do with her absent-mindedness. On the mat at the start of the game, the camera lingered on her excessively long as she stroked her hair. In a camp scene immediately following the marooning, she suggested using pocket lint as tinder for fire, except that they were all soaked from the rain, to which she responded, “Oh yeah…” Then she talked about lighting her hair on fire while still playing with her hair.
The second message conveyed about Michelle is about her peaceable, trustworthy nature. She was seen having positive chats with both Jay and Hannah and spoke in confessional about how people trust her because of her faith and prayer. People might instinctively compare this to Michele Fitzgerald’s episode one confessional last season, but on closer inspection, they’re not really that similar. Michele last season got to offer her opinion on each tribe member, why she would or wouldn’t align with them and told us who she eventually sided with (the girls) and why (it felt more natural). Here, Michelle only mentioned two people, Jay and Hannah, and it seemed more to be setting up a potential short-term story where Michelle is in the middle of the Cool Kids vs. Misfits.
The Cool Kids considered her to be a “hot girl” who’s a part of their alliance. However, when Hannah and Mari talked about that alliance, they only referenced “Figgy and the boys.” Furthermore, the edit never showed Michelle acknowledging being with that alliance. This shielded Michelle from the negativity that that alliance is drawing while simultaneously showing her as somebody both sides are comfortable with. In other words, the story coming together for Michelle is that of someone who’ll be a positive presence absent-mindedly floating through the game.
Ken was a bubble of positivity this episode. He interrupted Paul’s Gen X “welcome” speech to talk about humility and not underestimating the Millennials, showing a reasonable and respectful attitude. He offered his help to the tribe as someone who has lived off of the land in Hawaii. He had a confessional about wanting to be supporting and uplifting, while positive music was soaring in the background. He was literally telling us his tone for this episode should be Positive, which, given the musical cue, it is.
Finally, while many people showed confusion or laughed at David’s timidity, right as David said, “Well I came out here to expand (my realm) and there’s no bigger way to do it than this,” Ken swooped right in with a walking stick bug for him to hold, saying, “Want to try new things, hold this guy.” He helped David accomplish his goal of expanding his realm and did so with positivity and grace. In terms of gameplay, Ken was depicted as being on the outs but still voted with the majority. We don’t know about Ken’s long-term prospects, but he seems to be someone who’ll bring positive energy and respect to the season.
Our introduction to Bret came in the form of a few brief shots: hugging and introducing himself to Ken on the mat at the start of the game, “Bret, nice to meet you,” then saying loudly, “I’m so happy to have this thing on my head.” Back at camp, we saw a lingering shot of his mouth hanging open during Paul’s welcome speech. We then saw Chris pull him aside to make a shelter because everyone else was talking and not doing. When David said he’d never done this before, Bret responded with, “Welcome to the club, pal,” though in confessional, he was making fun of David for being afraid of everything and needing to “man up.” As mentioned in Chris’ section, we also saw Chris and Bret share a moment as the non-paranoid, calm guys after David went away, and the two of them were also shown together being observant about the weather getting worse. All of this set Bret up as a guy who sits back and listens, gives off a strong vibe and puts people at ease. When he has something critical to say, he saves it for confessional.
To that end, all of his confessionals this episode were somewhat disparaging towards others. First, he talked about David and his timidity. Next, how he automatically assumed Gen X would beat the Millennials because of their strength and experience. His third confessional was about how Rachel messed up the puzzle, and finally, he discussed voting out David, incorrectly believing that he had the idol, or Rachel, who was useless at the challenge. In his final confessional, he also named the majority alliance this episode, which he’s a part of. While some of these things tell us about Bret’s personality, we did not get to know Bret either through his own confessionals or other people. Nobody was talking about Bret, and he was only talking about other people.
We did, however, see a budding relationship between Bret and Chris. Since Chris had personal development in this episode, this points to Bret being a supporting character in Chris’ story this season. There’s also the potential foreshadowing of interactions with Ken later in the season based on their moments together on the mat at the start of the game. It’s important to note that Bret was shown being very wrong about David possessing the idol, which tells us going forward that he’s not a reliable narrator and despite being in the majority, doesn’t have the best pulse of what’s happening in the game. Bret will likely be present in the game play this season, but probably not somebody we should grow attached to or root for.
Jay was pitched to us this episode as Taylor-lite. He received less airtime and not all of the subtitled bro lines, but he was very much depicted as a looks-deep, go with the flow Millennial. Almost every shot of Jay showed him with a big smile or laughing freely. He said he likes Taylor because he’s like a “homeboy” who says “bro” and will surf with him when the “waves are firing,” in other words, has that Millennial, fun-chasing attitude.
He was shown commenting on how Figgy and Michelle are cool and “super hot,” hanging onto superficial connections. He referred to Michelle as “Namaste,” subtitled, and didn’t know her name. Later he kept calling her that, showing that he’s incapable of connecting beyond appearances. He was subtitled saying, “I’ll make the fire,” but failed at doing so, as Zeke is the one credited for ultimately starting the Millennial fire. This is a bad sign for Jay’s winning prospects in a game where fire represents life.
When Figgy had her bout of paranoia, Jay remained noticeably cool by comparison and used the opportunity to chat strategy, saying, “We just need three more if anything goes down, but I don’t plan on losing to old people.” In this scene, he was the only one of the Cool Kids alliance shown to be sensible. That said because he’s lumped in with the self-isolating beautiful people alliance and was shown embracing it, the negative tone attributed to them as a group also squarely applies to Jay.
Over The Top
Taylor got the opening confessional of the season. It set him up as a thematic cornerstone of the season as a Millennial who does whatever he wants to do, but it also shows that he very likely can’t win when he said, “this is who I am, and I can’t change.” Every season, we are told a story about how Survivor relies on adaptation. Taylor’s story this season will be that of the Millennial who lost because he only embodied the stereotypical qualities of a Millennial and couldn’t change (i.e., not disproving the misconceptions).
The rest of the episode hammered home Taylor’s Millennial qualities. He explained setting up his alliance based on people’s looks alone: Jay for his “gnarly hair,” Figgy who’s “pretty dang cute,” and Michelle who’s also “really good looking.” After praising these people based on appearances alone, he concluded by saying, “I already have a connection with these people here.” In other words, his connections are only surface-level.
When Zeke disparaged Millennials for not having real jobs, the camera often cut back to Taylor. When Taylor was shown bro-ing down with Figgy and Jay, his words were subtitled, “let’s make a bowling,” “the ‘ceps bro,” “we’re invincible, we’re like the Triforce,” statements that are decidedly bro shorthand and blindly overconfident. During the storm on night 1, Taylor was shown saying, subtitled, “It’ll be ok. We will survive the night.” We are in for a long-term story arc of a person who gets by day to day with the mantra “everything will be ok,” but who is incapable of ‘going deep.’
Zeke is the foil to Taylor on the Millennials. While Taylor praises and embraces all the happy-go-lucky stereotypes of Millennials, Zeke disdains them. Despite the disdain, he was shown to be very much a Millennial. For example, he thinks Twitter is “horrendous” yet he’s still on it. He was shown with the reasonable Mari and Adam anticipating the weather worsening, yet was then shown frolicking in the water with the other “kids” instead of working on building a shelter.
We also saw a number of Gen X qualities in him. After the cyclone, he led the camp to build the shelter and start the fire. He was also shown making the call for Millennials to use a shortcut in the immunity challenge, planning ahead instead of just waiting to see whether or not they needed to use it. Finally, his ultimate Gen X quality is that he wrote off Millennials as lazy and jobless.
He received P tone for this episode because when he made fire, he had a whole confessional talking about reaching a milestone in his life, growing as a person, and positive music played in the background to the expression of his moment. The fact that Zeke exhibits qualities of both generations and was portrayed as effective, combined with the fact that he got an opening confessional (and the shot in the “until only one remains” section) indicate his story arc is a long-term one and his chances of winning are good.
We saw Rachel at the start of the episode twirling her buff and sort of dancing with it, looking flirty. When the Gen X camp was shown building their shelter, she started picking on Paul in ways that didn’t make sense. For example, she said, “You like to play more than you work, you…You you you. You like to joke around. I have to keep him focused!” He was shown quietly working hard right next to her while she appeared to be dancing and joking with a flirtatious affectation. The camera panned to other people’s faces looking confused and annoyed by her. This whole scene made her look out of touch, lacking self-awareness, and annoying.
Sunday referred to her as “over-eager, overly confrontive” and bringing “a lot of negativity to the group.” When their tribe was being evacuated for the cyclone, Rachel gave a little confessional narrating the situation and looked like she was barely keeping her footing, being easily pushed over by the elements. This was a metaphor for her life in the game. She was portrayed as weak at the challenge, both at knocking down an obstacle as well as doing the puzzle, and even Jeff added his voice to the mounting negative tone towards her when he said, “Rachel offering a lot of advice. She was first in and couldn’t get anything done.” She stepped up and let her voice be heard, but she lacked awareness which led to being ineffective and thus was voted out.
David received the most confessionals and highest visibility out of anyone else in the first episode. He was also one of the six intro confessionals, where he talked about how he spent 14 years in assistant purgatory before achieving his dream of becoming a writer. The fact that David didn’t go home, even though he was set up as a potential boot, and received so much visibility and personal content suggests he will be a major character this season.
We very quickly learned that David is out of his element. He doesn’t like anything about Survivor (the sun, the sea, the sand), except for the gameplay. But he was shown to be bad at that too. He was like Woody Allen in the jungle. Covering his ears when Bret was chopping wood. Paranoid about people having idols. He received negative SPV (Second Person Visibility) from Bret when he said David is “afraid of his own shadow” and that he needs to “man up.” Chris was a little more diplomatic; he stated that David was paranoid but also funny and charming at times. All this sort of stuff gave David his Mixed tone for the episode.
He was also shown to be wrong, a lot. He was adamant that Ken and Paul had found a hidden immunity idol and wanted to ambush them. That was wrong. He believed he was going home. He only ended up receiving one vote. Wrong. It makes David yet another unreliable narrator. Despite his wrongness and his fish-out-of-water approach, David was shown smiling a lot. He also shed tears and received positive music when he talked about working hard and turning the game around for himself.
One thing about David is that although he’s wrong about a lot of things, he has self-awareness. He realized everyone was strategizing and not including him and recognized he was in trouble. Hence why he approached Jessica, Bret, and Chris and gave them his unwavering loyalty. Ultimately, David spelled out his story for the season “My biggest enemy in this game, honestly, is myself.” It seems that David’s biggest hurdles to overcome will be the ones he puts up in front of himself. The editing choice to show David as the alternative boot candidate instead of developing the story of why CeCe got votes tells us that it would have been boring or not worth the time to explain whereas the editors wanted to create an emotional investment in David.
Figgy is perhaps one of the easier edits to read as we were given a whole montage about her, during which she narrated her thoughts which were (in)validated alongside scenes of her from camp-life. On the surface, things sounded (and looked, as we’re constantly reminded) good. Upon closer inspection, she was a disaster. Here’s the montage:
Millennials Day 1
(camp life) Figgy announces that she doesn’t want to name a chicken Tai because she can’t kill it.
(confessional) Says she’s the center of attention.
(camp life) Keeps trying and failing to grab a chicken out of the coop, and asks Taylor to come help her with the chickens. Nobody comes to help her.
(confessional) Says she’s good at manipulating men.
(camp life) Chopping bamboo and says she’s “about to slice [her] face open,” showing ineptitude with the machete while Taylor just stands around watching her.
(confessional) She says, “People think that [she’s] just a pretty face” but that she has brains behind the pretty face. Immediately follows this by saying maybe she’ll get the million dollar check and a husband, showing that she only has one eye on the prize (and the game), the other on romance.
(camp life) Michaela, Adam, Michelle, Taylor are all shown leaving camp to go collect coconuts and more material. Jay is shown seeing and acknowledging them walk away.
(camp life) Figgy immediately walks into the scene and asks Jay, “Where’s everybody at? I don’t like this. I don’t like this. Where is everybody?….Seriously now. But seriously, where are they? Where’s everybody at? I don’t like the breakup. I like knowing where everybody is. Does that make sense?” Much of this was subtitled.
All of this showed us: Figgy is useless at survival, has a distorted sense of self and her role in the game, is paranoid, unobservant, out of the loop, and out of control.
We learned a great deal about Figgy from this episode (we know she’s bartender), and we also heard her thought process behind her choices of allies. This is why she received a complex rating. She was also spoken of negatively as part of a “high school cool kids” alliance, also named the “popular group,” “beautiful people,” and “Kappa Kappa Survivor,” all these different nicknames with connotations of superficial exclusivity, specifically called out for “isolating themselves.” Figgy, specifically, was singled out, by Hannah: “Figgy and the boys are dangerous,” and by Mari: “Figgy is really aggressive and is running the show.” This tells us that, if the Misfits alliance wins the day, Figgy stands out the most as the biggest target and potential boot option.
Hannah was presented as a foil to the Cool Kids this episode. While Figgy labeled herself a “pretty face,” Hannah said of herself she’s “nervous seeing all the beautiful faces…because I don’t want to be the obvious first out,” indicating she “obviously” doesn’t fit in with the “beautiful faces.” Like Jay, Hannah also forgot people’s names (the same person actually, Michelle), but unlike Jay, she was shown making an effort to learn them and get to know people in the process. She was shown working alongside Michelle asking her name and about her job as a missionary. We also saw that she was successful going beyond the surface because Michelle mentioned believing that Hannah trusts her.
Finally, for all Hannah talked about her worries surrounding the Cool Kids alliance, she was the catalyst to getting Mari to form the Misfits counter-attack, thus proving effective in manipulating others to save herself in the game. Her (correct) articulation about the Cool Kids alliance, her awareness of her position in the game, and her efficacy at moving the game in a better direction for herself all led to Hannah’s CP rating this episode.
Jessica had a solid episode of game related content but no personal content. Her CP rating comes primarily through her strategy confessionals, mostly related to the Legacy Advantage she found and her conversation with David where she tried to suss out whether or not he had an idol.
She was shown calmly and stealthily taking the envelope at the start of the episode and stuffing it down her pants. We know she is observant. She later snuck away from camp to read the note. Shows she is sneaky. This is good content for Jessica. The bad stuff is that she was portrayed as wrong a couple of times. She told us if Gen X lose the immunity challenge “it’s going to be David.” That was wrong; David only ended up receiving one vote. She also said, “We’re going to be voting Rachel, but my fear obviously is the hidden immunity idol, if anybody has it.” There were many reasonable fears she could have, but the one she had was that Rachel may have the idol. We knew for a fact that Rachel didn’t have it, and she was depicted in a way as if there’s no way she could have had it.
The question is would Jessica have received such visibility if not for finding the Legacy Advantage? That obviously gave her a bump. But she had strong content regardless, like the focus on the bacterial infection in her eyes at tribal council, it showed she is tough. Will she make it to Day 36 like she told us she would so that she can use her advantage? She will probably fight and scrape to get there, but because she was portrayed as incorrect a couple of times, signs point to her not making it that far.
Mari’s opening confessional was conveniently sandwiched between two extremes of the Millennials tribe, Taylor, and Zeke, bridging the gap and representing all of the good qualities. She said she makes a living “playing games” and declared that she’s going to win this game, Survivor. It had a striking similarity to something Mike Holloway said in the first episode of Survivor: Worlds Apart, where he introduced what he does for a living and how it applies to Survivor and why it meant he was gonna win. Look:
Mike: “I work in the oil and gas industry. I’m normally the one that is covered the most in oil, covered the most in mud. Same thing with this game. If you’re not getting your hands dirty, you ain’t going to win. My hands are going to be filthy.”
Mari: “I play video games online for a living, and as an adult, you’re constantly told, “Grow up. Stop playing; it’s not a game,” but I wanna make my entire life about playing. Survivor is the game of games, and I am going to win.”
She also labeled Millennials as the best generation ever but gave due respect to the Gen Xers by recognizing that they’re probably saying the same about themselves, showing confidence and humility at once. She is the poster child of the Millennials and continued to be a narrating voice for them throughout the premiere. She commentated on their jobs, how they’re all over the map and not “regular” jobs, embracing the fun side. However, she was also shown alongside Adam observing the coming storm and believing they should be putting in the work on a shelter instead of frolicking in the water. “I don’t know what these guys are doing. Mama says come back in now!” like she was responsible enough to be their mother.
Later in the episode, Hannah approached Mari to discuss her concerns about the Cool Kids alliance. Mari picked up on it immediately and began the counterstrike. She was the one given credit for pulling together the Misfits alliance, shown speaking with Adam and Michaela after her chat with Hannah. The Cool Kids alliance weren’t shown being aware of Mari’s moves, indicating that she moved stealthily. She credited her Millennial qualities and job with her success in maneuvering, “My goal is to play like I would play video games.”
Mari’s story is that of someone showing you can have fun and be successful. She is the self-described “adult” and “Mama” of the Millennials, while the others are “kids.” Everyone thinks Millennials “play video games all day,” which Sunday told us and it is actually true of Mari (the camera even flashed to her as Sunday said this) as if that makes them lazy and unsuccessful, “living at home” with their “parents paying for it.” Sunday’s opening confessional with these stinging words came shortly after Mari’s, almost as if specifically set up for Mari to disprove. Mari is the person proving those people wrong about their misconceptions, bringing Adam’s prediction for the season to life. Could Mari be a winner contender? She’s the strongest coming out of the premiere, but it’s early days, as we saw with Anna last season, people are often set up for an early fall… although Mari’s content here is a lot stronger than Anna’s episode one.
Stories in Play
-Millennials vs. Gen X – the theme of the season, expected to continue throughout.
-Disproving Millennial Misconceptions – perhaps the most interesting and important theme introduced in this episode which could impact the entire season. Will the Millennial players prove or disprove the negative stereotypes? Adam, Mari, and Zeke already show signs of being more than just the one-dimensional Millennial stereotype, unlike players such as Taylor.
-Cool Kids vs. Misfits – the story set up on the Millennials tribe is a brewing battle between the Cool Kids (Figgy/Jay/Taylor + Michelle) and the Misfits (Hannah/Mari + Adam and Michaela). Will and Zeke are unaccounted for currently.
-David Out of Water – Right now David has the biggest edit as a fish-out-of-water contestant not suited to the elements but hoping to turn things around. Given the time spent on him in this episode we should expect this to continue for a while.
Top – Mari, Hannah
Middle – Zeke, Adam, Chris
Bottom – Ken
Long Shots or Drawing Dead – The rest.