Recap in Brief
After a swap split alliances and built new ones out of the ashes, life at the swapped tribes settles down. It’s clear that the strategic lines between Gen X and Millennial have blurred. At Ika Bula, Jay finds and idol with Will, only to have Michaela stumble upon their find. At Takali, Figgy reveals her not so secret “-mance” to Jessica and Ken. At Vanua, CeCe’s absence is celebrated as the tribe can now succeed at challenges. Vanua, thanks to Michelle’s puzzle skills, wins a sweet reward, with Ika Bula also winning a smaller reward of cookies. Michaela’s leadership guides Ika Bula to immunity before helping Vanua win. Takali goes to tribal, where Adam decides to break up #figtails. Figgy is voted out 3-2 and becomes the sixth person voted out of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.
Hey, whatcha got there?
Idol paranoia has been rampant this entire season, beginning with David’s freak out on the very first day at Gen X. The crazy thing is that the fear is completely justified! Before the swap took place, three idols had been found, one of which was due to an idol being played at tribal. The thing with hidden immunity idols this season is that well…they aren’t so hidden. Say what you will about production’s hiding strategy, but each of these idols haven’t been very secretive in either starting tribe. Nothing characterized this better than Adam finding his idol, where soon after he found the damn thing, Hannah screamed, “Hey Adam, how’s your idol hunt going?” This season, people aren’t afraid to hunt for idols, tell their allies about them, or use them.
The idol situation at Ika Bula proved to be no different. A once singular and private affair, idol hunting has now become a team sport. Jay, with Will at his side, set out to find the hidden immunity idol at the newly formed Ika Bula. After quickly finding success, season MVP Michaela walked up on them huddled around the idol. The openness and prevalence of idols this season points towards a season that is absolutely littered with idol play. This season, thanks to the precedent set by David, people will not be afraid to play their idol, and it’s likely that no one will be taking one home as a souvenir. With the “luster” of idols wearing off a bit, I’m left wondering – are we to expect that idols will be used for seemingly smaller moves instead of groundbreaking and game-changing moves this season?
Loose Lips Sink Ships?
Maybe it’s the Millennials’ tendency to post all of their thoughts on social media, but there has been an openness regarding loyalties and feelings that haven’t been a part of Survivor for many seasons. The overt status of Figgy and Taylor’s romance, Hannah’s pestering of Zeke, and Michaela’s outspokenness are all examples that prove that castaways this season aren’t afraid to speak their minds, regardless of consequence.
At this week’s reward challenge, nothing changes as Michelle’s presence was celebrated by Figgy, shown clapping and stating her fondness of Michelle. Also noted was Figgy’s delay in excitement over Zeke’s safety. Time and time again, this season has shown those in a perceived majority being very cocky and open with their thoughts. All of the people voted off so far, with the exception of Rachel, have stuck their foot in their own mouth whilst in a majority status.
The editing this season has definitely paid homage to the style of play. Bluntly, the edits this season have been very obvious to read. In a short amount of screen time, we’re told which contestants to pay attention to and which ones to forget. Lucy’s surprise #tigermom edit perfectly sums this up. For three episodes, we barely got a peep out of her. On the fourth episode, her visibility jumped like crazy in order to justify her boot later in the episode. There are a few people who are hiding in the shadows according to the edit. Players like Bret, Sunday, and Will have been basically invisible, while the majority fall into a supporting role to a few major players. Had Hannah not “gotten too excited” during the reward challenge, it’s likely that both she and Bret wouldn’t have been present all episode. The reward challenge, where callers led blindfolded tribemates, was a perfect illustration of this.
I, for one, hope that this is the old’ bait n switch. Survivor editors know how to craft a storyline and reel viewers in. Fans can quickly become polarized and baited into believing the edit. I really hope that, just when we expect the edit to be overly predictable, the rug is pulled out from under us and all hell breaks loose. Otherwise, this season might just be the dud that people think it to be. Maybe we just got spoiled with how stellar Kaoh Rong’s pre-merge was?
Revenge of the Nerds
We all know how the story goes: the underdog finally gets fed up with the cooler, more athletic, popular kids and wins the game/fight that no one actually expected them to win. This season has shown a clear divide between the underdogs and majority. First, it was a breakdown of the “cool” vs. the “quirky” with the Triforce +1 taking control of the Millennials and Paul’s posse at Gen X. Even though the majority has been firmly in control, this season has shown the perceived underdog having massive amounts of power.
First, it was Michelle drawing Hannah, the physical embodiment of the word ‘quirky,’ over during the Mari vote. Next, the Gen X minority, with the help of the girls, flipped and got Paul out. After that, David’s idol play ended Lucy’s supposed reign of terror and saved Jessica. The alliances formed after the swap were built in the same way, with the underdogs combining forces (see the Oklahoma bromance of Zeke and Chris for evidence). We’re being conditioned to think that those at the bottom don’t just have one vote, but the power to shake everything up. Adam’s position in the vote at Takali fit that mold perfectly.
According to the edit, those that show vulnerability are people to watch out for. In a week’s time, David has apparently shed off all forms of anxiety and transformed into a new man. Adam talking about his mom seemingly fit together with his gaining an idol and power. Once we learned who the real Ken was, he became this powerful figure and a beacon of hope. So far, those shown being vulnerable and with raw emotion have met success. Jay’s tearful description of his family was just another example of this. It makes me wonder if that’s why we haven’t heard Sunday talk about her overcoming breast cancer or Bret being an openly gay police officer. If Rachel had lasted longer than three days and had any sort of impact on the season, I’m sure they would have clued us in on her emotional backstory.
Adam in the Middle
Unsurprisingly, after Takali lost the immunity challenge, it was Adam who held all of the power. With Michaela’s “if you can’t work together you deserve to go home” statement ringing fresh, Adam was left to decide between the devil he knew (Figgy and Taylor) or the devil he didn’t (Jessica and Ken). Frankly, the outcome wasn’t surprising when Adam turned on the Millennial “power couple” and chose to vote out Figgy. In this case, the “devil you know” had previously voted for your alliance member and ostracized you as someone on the outs. In all honesty, Adam voting with Taylor and Figgy would have been the bigger surprise.
In the end, it’s very likely that Figgy’s excitement over Michelle proved to be her downfall rather than simply her overt relationship with Taylor which everyone knew about anyway. The fact she revealed another tight connection only made her target that much bigger. While the truth works for Michelle, it sure didn’t help Figgy when she was in danger.