Recap in Brief
After Michaela’s shocking elimination, Hannah returned to Ikabula not trusting her tribe, but it didn’t matter because the merge was around the corner. Vanua, Takali, and Ikabula were no more as the 13 (!) remaining castaways merged, becoming Vinaka. It seemed as if three major factions formed: Triforce-plus (Taylor, Jay, Michelle, Will), the Misfits (Zeke, Hannah, and Adam), and Gen X (Jessica, Ken, Bret, Sunday, Chris, and David).
While the rest of the tribe feasted, Adam gained an advantage, where he can steal someone’s reward. Taylor, continuing to seem oblivious and carefree, chose to pilfer some leftovers from the merge feast. Any chance of the Millennials regrouping seemed lost when a game of he-said-she-said had the two sides targeting one of their own, specifically Adam and Will. Knowing his back was up against the ‘wahl,’ Will outlasted everyone to win the first individual immunity.
Adam remained the Triforce-plus’ target, while everyone else scrambled to establish a new target. At tribal, idol paranoia reigned supreme, as a surprised Michelle was voted out 9-4, due to being on the wrong side of the numbers and the unlikeliest to hold an idol.
The Survivor community was shell-shocked after Michaela’s pre-merge boot. No one seemed more shocked than Hannah, however, who had fallen victim to being a blindside bystander. Hannah’s situation polarizes the crux of Survivor – who can you actually trust? After choosing to target a supposed merge threat, Ikabula’s choice set a major tone entering the merge, where absolutely no one is safe. Don’t color me surprised, now, when it’s not the strongest perceived players that are targeted, but the ones nestled safely under their wings. At a certain point, the obvious choice will go home or on an immunity run.
We’ve become numb to the idea that anything in Survivor can truly be game changing or totally brand new. I’ve become quick to neglect the Survivor propaganda machine, especially when every season is billed as the greatest thing since Borneo. This season again played host to yet another twist, but the magnitude of it got lost in fluff at first.
Initially, Adam’s ability to steal a reward doesn’t seem that significant – I mean, is robbing someone’s hamburger really going to help him? Surely it would just end up pissing people off? But what constitutes a reward? While most rewards tend to be food related, in the past we have also seen things like idol clues and challenge advantages offered as rewards (especially in Survivor auctions). Who’s to say this season won’t offer items like extra votes or vote steals as rewards? And the bigger thing is that he can choose whom he steals it from. If played in the right way, this is a twist that can actively take something away from your biggest adversary, while also giving yourself power.
Kids Will Be Kids
The generational split this season was questionable at best. Despite only being separated by a minor gap in age, players like Ken and Mari were cast to create starkly different generational stereotypes. While I don’t love the idea of a gimmicked theme, it fit how the Millennials and Gen X treated the merge. Gen X, mostly consisting of a fractured alliance and a few on the outs, all rallied together as one. The “youngsters” however, continued along with their cool-uncool hierarchy, eventually splitting their majority into two minorities.
This season, Gen X has proven how to make calm and rational decisions, while the Millennials haven’t been thinking with their heads (well except for Taylor if you know what I mean). If they had put reservations aside, they could easily have been the final seven.
What Lies Beneath?
Gen X’s justified stubbornness to stick together will prove to be a massive hurdle to clear for any millennial. This is why the dynamics within the Gen X’ers are increasingly intriguing. This entire season, we’ve viewed Gen X not through the majority lens, but of that of David and Ken, the two who actively see themselves as awkward and quirky. When the chips fall as they may, I would not be surprised to see Ken and David combine forces with Zeke and Hannah in a full “revenge of the nerds” takeover. The only reason I don’t include Adam? His perceived sliminess and Zeke’s confessional about how he can’t trust him.
With the “cool” Millennials on the ropes, Jay, Taylor, and Will are the odd men out. Isn’t that ironic? With Taylor, you know what you’re getting, but with Will and Jay, you have a duo that has made big moves and already revealed their hand. Quickly, I would image that Jay is kicking himself for getting out Michaela, who promised final four and was a firm believer in keeping the Millennials together. I would be shocked if Jay wasn’t target number one.