Last minute conversations produce Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X’s first blindside.
If the Survivor editors get paid for every moment of human juxtaposition, they’d be raking in the big bucks after “Love Goggles”. The storytelling budget seems to have absorbed the additional funds from when the censoring/blurring department took the episode off, and, as long as you’re okay with white butts and prominent bulges, the decision really paid off.
Gen X returned from last week’s tribal council with a clear division between the majority and minority. Despite being allowed to sit at the cool kid’s table during the Rachel vote, David knew he was on the outs. So, the man does what any rational game player would do when they know they’re on the bottom – look for the Immunity Idol. Trudging through the jungle to find “big rawks” (Yes, I’ll take any chance for a Debb Eaton reference), David hunts for, and eventually finds, the idol…inside of a coconut.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate the subtle brilliance of hiding arguably the most important object in Survivor in one of the most mundane? It’s like the pearl in an oyster or Kim Spradlin in One World.
After spearing an octopus, Ken reveals that he is not the macho man that we all thought him to be, but instead insecure and shy due to a childhood filled with “speech impediments and nervous twitches.” Ken doesn’t fit in with the alpha males running the majority, so he finds strategic solace in the closest thing to his self-perceived personality – David. Bonding over octopi, Transformers jokes, and David’s Immunity idol, David and Ken decide that the misfits need to stick together. The fact that these two are aligned together, on the surface, is just baffling, but it makes sense!
As the day develops, we learn it’s Paul that’s captaining the S.S Alliance over at Gen X. And if Paul loves one thing outside of his kids, the open-ocean, and tacky jewelry, it’s control. As Paul states that he “breathes control”, we’re let into a conversation between Ken and CeCe. As Ken and CeCe join together, Paul is shown out of breath. They talk about “cutting off the head” (in this case Paul, the head of the alliance), Paul rests his head on a bamboo pole. Even better, Ken talks about how Paul will feel “invincible” as we see Paul collapse, clearly on a downward medical spiral. It’s almost like he’s losing his physical health as he slowly loses control. When David found the idol, I’m sure a part of his controlling soul was ripped from his body like Voldemort losing a Horcrux.
Jokes aside, Paul is down and deteriorating. His hands are numb; he has collapsed on the sand, and he is struggling to drink water. Producers step in and call medical. Claiming chest pain, medical (welcome back Dr. Joe) is worried about the possibility of a heart attack. Jeff has already called for a helicopter, clearly reminiscing on his days of jet ski trips and outlandish adventures to bring the voting urn to the reunion. Fortunately, tests show that Paul’s heart is fine and he was just suffering from heat exhaustion. He’ll be all right, but a little bit of Jeff dies as he can’t ride on a chopper looking dramatic. At the conclusion of the saga, Paul has gone from being in control both physically and strategically to weak and vulnerable.
Just when you thought this would be the dramatic tribe, you remember that there are ten 18 to 31-year-olds frolicking in the land of milk and honey on a Fijian beach. Wanna know who’s having the most fun? It’s clearly Figgy and Taylor, whose attraction has budded into a “showmance,” as defined by Adam.
While Figgy and Taylor are totally into each other, the rest of the tribe, especially Jay and Michaela, are not into their romance. Jay realizes that they’re closing themselves off and reminds Taylor “couples never win,” clearly forgetting about success stories like Rob and Amber. Michaela, on the other hand, just doesn’t like how overt their Fijian fling is. She’s not one to hold her tongue and tells Figgy just how she feels about her budding romance.
And the Survivor gods smile upon us as the Millennials lose the immunity challenge, giving us a chance to watch this drama train go further off the tracks. When they return to camp, however, it’s not the romantic drama that pervades – it’s strategic. Figgy is the quick target due to threatening status in a power couple – and being in the minority alliance. With the writing on the wall, Zeke lets Jay in on the plan, also noting that if Michaela doesn’t fall into line afterward, she’s next out. Jay sets off to let Michelle know the plan, but she isn’t willing to lose one of their numbers and sets up changing the vote to Mari.
Michelle tells Jay that they need to get Figgy and Michaela back on the same page, so he clues them in. This is a brilliant move, as it requires both Figgy and Michaela to put away their resentment in order to make a strategic move that benefits them both. The issue, however, is that Michaela would only make five votes. Michelle, the rat-tail boasting, bible thumping, dragon lover who no one really thought had much going on upstairs, pulls aside Will, trying to convince him that Mari is a bigger threat. With the Millennials leaving for tribal council, we’re left to wonder whether Will will flip.
Tribal, however, presents a very different picture, as Michelle informs Hannah that she is “voting for Mari.” Hannah is clearly stunned, seeking a reason that is never provided. This conversation makes me think that Hannah and Michelle were working together and had previously planned to vote together. At the other end of the stools, are Mari, Zeke, and Adam, eloquently describing the realities of playing the game, assuming that their plan is still locked in. As the votes come in, however, it’s a shocked Mari who is blindsided 7-3. In the end, Michaela, Will, and Hannah (after an extensive time at the voting booth) all side with the Triforce.
A rewatch provides some beautiful moments in this episode. When all is said and done, the three on the outs, Mari, Zeke, and Adam, all have damning confessionals. Zeke says that he “just wants to start playing” later realizing that he doesn’t enjoy his plans coming to fruition. Adam tells us the “law of Survivor” to explain why Figgy is playing a bad game, only to have it backfire. Mari, asks her alliance, “Do you think she will see a blindside coming?” Ouch times three.
A collective moment of silence for yet another minority boot. Two episodes, two Asian females voted out. At least we still have Lucy, who has yet to mutter a single word this season. Literally, the producers have spoken more than her. In honor of Lucy’s edit, I vote to retroactively change the aforementioned moment of silence to a collective Ghandia-esque screaming session.