Tired of Brains, Brawn, or Beauty? Still can’t figure out why Sia showed up at last season’s finale? Just begging for more action? Well, regardless of how you feel, the 33rd season of Survivor, Millennials vs. Gen X, is here!
All season you can stay tuned to Inside Survivor for Episode Reviews, Strategic Breakdowns, Edgic, Power Rankings, and so much more! I’ll be your blue shirt, khaki short wearing fearless leader this season for weekly episode reviews. Well, I won’t actually be wearing the typical Probst get-up, but nevertheless, I’ll be penning the recaps this season. Without further ado…Survivor fans ready? Go!
Whether by design or by social preference, age division is a theme that is not new to Survivor. In Africa, it was an age battle within Samburu. In Nicaragua, Espada and La Flor pitted the under 30s and the over 40s against each other. In Fiji, the Millennials (aged 18-31) and Gen X (aged 33-52) square off.
After landing on the beaches of Fiji, the 20 castaways are quickly divided into their respective tribes. Those that didn’t pick up on context clues, color coordination, or pre-game interview hints are officially clued into the theme. With both tribes on their mats, Jeff begins setting up the generational battle to find out “which generation is best suited for Survivor.”
After some age bashing and banter accompanied by spectacular facial reactions and one-liners by Michaela, contestants learn that they will not be gifted supplies via drone. Instead, the tribes must scour the nearby jungle for food items, including fruits, vegetables, and building supplies. Apart from the free-for-all is the option of supplies: fishing gear (including fins, snorkel, and Hawaiian sling) or three chickens and a choice of hammer or cooking supplies.
On Jeff’s mark, the contestants sprint into the jungle for the basic supplies. Gen X, represented by CeCe and Bret, decides on the cooking supplies, containing pots, pans, and tongs, and fishing gear. A group of six Millennials follows suit, also choosing the cooking supplies, but opting for the chickens over the fishing gear. As stated by Jeff, “Gen X is looking long term, while the Millennials are looking short term.”
In the scramble, Lucy picks up a bushel of bananas, revealing an envelope. Without noticing, she moves on, only for tribemate Jessica to sneak up and take the note, promptly concealing it in her pants.
When the time expires, the tribes return to their mat to examine the spoils of war. As they begin to leave, Jeff informs the tribes that they are in the midst of cyclone season and a massive storm is on the way, encouraging tribes to focus on building their shelters.
The Millennials set out to build their shelter, fire, and bowling lane, only for “lost boy” Taylor to swoon over Jay, Figgy, and Michelle. The three join together and refer to themselves as “The Triforce.” Quickly, the social lines break down into the Cool Kids (Triforce plus Michelle) and the ‘Misfits,’ led by Mari and Hannah. Instead of finishing their shelter, the Millennials take part in a barely-clothed swim in the ocean.
Over at Gen-X, the mood is far more business minded. Fortunately, male model Ken takes charge of shelter building and camp life, having lived “off the grid” for the past five years. On the opposite end, however, are Rachel, who is annoying her tribe with incessant remarks, and David, who is slow to acclimate to the rigor of the outdoors and breeds paranoia.
Early on, Jessica sneaks away to open the envelope she found earlier, revealing this season’s first twist – The Legacy Advantage. According to the note enclosed, the Legacy Advantage provides the holder an advantage in the game…on Day 36. Additionally, the owner of the Legacy Advantage, if voted out, must will it to another player.
Both tribes, however, are unprepared for the wind and rain during the first night. The forecasted storm is upon the tribes and only getting worse. In a rare move of almsgiving, production gives both tribes a tarp; under the rules that tribes use them to weather the storm and return them once it passes. Tarps would soon prove futile as the winds and rain become faster and stronger, officially being categorized as a cyclone.
With the forecast only looking worse, Jeff visits both camps and evacuates the tribes for their own safety, a clearly unprecedented move for Survivor. This was absolutely the right move for production as Tropical Cyclone Zena, officially classified as a Category 2 Cyclone with winds estimated at 105 mph / 169 km/h, ripped through Fiji, killing at least one.
On Day 3, tribes return to their beach to survey the aftermath and re-enter the game. Gen X sees that the largest tree in their camp has fallen, crushing their shelter. Had production not intervened, it is likely that there would have been a serious injury. Despite massive damage, both tribes quickly resume work with a newfound intensity. The Millennials build a fire on their own, thanks to the help of Zeke. Work doesn’t stop strategy, however, as Mari and Hannah champion the Misfit cause, pointing toward Figgy as the leader of the tight-knit four.
On Day 4, tribes arrive at the immunity challenge, returning their pre-provided tarps, as they have now had ample shelter building time. Jeff describes the challenge as a set of obstacles with a puzzle at the end. Tribes, however, have the option of choosing a “shortcut,” simplifying the obstacle, but adding ten pieces to their puzzle.
In the crawl through obstacle, Chris stalls the Millennials by blocking access to their war club, used to destroy a tiki and officially denote a tribe taking the shortcut. Thanks to Chris, Gen X has a minor lead out of the first obstacle and choose to take the first shortcut. Rachel struggles with destroying the tiki, however, and the tribes leave the first obstacle at the same time. Thanks to the shortcut, Gen X exits the second obstacle with a lead, leaving the Millennials with eight members still in the obstacle. Gen X opts for the second obstacle, simplifying a balance beam, which the Millennials also take, albeit later.
As the tribes enter the puzzle stage of the immunity challenge, Gen X must complete a puzzle with 70 pieces (50 + 20) and the Millennials must complete a puzzle with 60 pieces (50 + 10). David/Rachel and Michelle/Figgy are the puzzle makers for Gen X and Millennials, respectively. In the end, Gen X taking the extra shortcut provides them with a lead enough to spread their puzzle pieces out on the board. The Millennials quickly build momentum on the puzzle, while Gen X swaps in Jessica and Sunday, in the hopes that they can figure it out.
As Jessica and Sunday make headway on the puzzle for Gen X, Rachel offers advice, but it isn’t received well. Their efforts, however, are pointless, as Michelle and Figgy power through the puzzle, winning the challenge (and flint) for the Millennials. As Gen X proceeds out of the challenge, a confessional by Chris points to both David and Rachel as potential targets.
Shortly after returning to their beach, it becomes clear that Rachel is the target, but the majority, including Jessica, Bret, Chris, Sunday, Paul, and Lucy, fear that David has an idol. David, seeing that he is being left out of strategic conversations, pledges his loyalty to the majority and ensures them that he doesn’t have an idol. His words are well received, although some still believe that he’s lying.
CeCe and Ken are relegated to the minority, but there is little to suggest why they’re there. The same goes for Paul, Sunday, and Lucy (the only person without a confessional or speaking moment this episode), but they’re in the majority.
Gen X enters tribal council, with the plan being to split the vote and target Rachel. Jeff quickly draws attention to Jessica, whose eyes look severely swollen and pink. Apparently, during the evacuation, the winds were so strong that sand was blown into her eye, infecting it and eventually spreading to the other eye.
As Jeff directs a question towards David, he exclaims, ‘Oh crap!”, leading his tribe to announce further the fact that he is ‘scared of everything.’ It’s clear that, for the most part, David is his own worst enemy.
Jeff polls the crowd, asking the tribe to raise their hand if they have believed, at some point in the past few days, that they could be voted out. Everyone but Lucy raises their hand, but the omission isn’t made aware. As Probst prods Rachel, she reveals that she thinks she could be going home, but struggles to find a good reason beyond that she has been “up front” and unfiltered in communication. Idol paranoia is already rampant, with the focus directed again towards David.
As Jeff reveals the votes, Rachel is voted out by a 5-3-1-1 tally. All of the Gen X men voted for Rachel, Rachel voted for Sunday, the majority females (Sunday, Lucy, Jessica) voted for CeCe, and CeCe voted for David.