7:00pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
Players Learn 'The Truth Works Well' on 'Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X'
[This article contains spoilers for the Wednesday, October 26 episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.]
As I'm rarely a shipper, I tend to get vaguely disgusted by the portmanteau couple names that fans generate and then eager entertainment writers regurgitate to seem like they're down with the grassroots sentiments.
For some reason, though, I kinda dug "FigTayls."
Maybe it was the strange combination of one last name, one first name and a random "s." Maybe it amusement at a couple name being chosen seemingly because it sounds like "pigtails." Or maybe it was just the randomness of a couple choosing their own couple name within days of meeting?
I just liked saying "FigTayls."
But regarding FigTayls, let this be totally clear: They should have been split up in the first episode and Michelle was smart and manipulative and pulled a minor miracle, but there's no way that Adam was wrong in jumping ship on the Millennials, if only for one episode, to send Figgy home. You only get so many clear opportunities to blindside a power couple before they become impossible to stop and once Vanua blundered in not voting Michelle out, there was the strong chance that we were going to cruise into a merge with FigTayls, Michelle and Jay as a core four-person unit with the strength to run the table at least until somebody within that group turned traitor. There's no reason to run that risk, especially if you're like Adam and you know that you'll be at the bottom of a Millennial majority if such a majority exists at a merge.
After last week's dumb Vanua vote, the Millennials held a 9-6 advantage and they still hold an 8-6 advantage, at least in theory, but they needn't. If Adam wants to be with Gen X, it's 7-7, but if David and/or Chris are willing to align with Millennials, it could be... Well, it could be anything. And in a season in which I never liked the theme and therefore would love for the theme to cease to be even casual point of conversation, rendering tribal divisions amorphous is a best cast scenario and probably it was also the best case scenario for Adam, who was shuffled into a new tribe in which he got to go from outcast to swing vote. He had no reason to think FigTayls and their Pretty Kids alliance would have been friendly to him, especially not with Figgy still ruffling his hair and reminding him that he voted against her at the first vote. Adam hasn't moved into a position of power, but he hasn't worsened his position.
Wednesday's (October 26) episode was generally enjoyable, but not thrilling. The editors blindsided us a bit with that final vote, building drama by showing Adam's uncertainty, but never giving any indication on whether the Gen-Xers were targeting Figgy or Taylor first. [EDIT: Ken totally told Adam, "Jess and I are voting Figgy." I missed that in Ken's soft-spoken tones.] I guess in terms of week-to-week tribal strength, keeping Taylor was a better bet, especially in an episode in which Figgy's struggles in both the reward and immunity challenges led to (or contributed to) two losses. We were kept in the dark and then tribal council was just a strange and unsettling mess of Jeff Probst taunting FigTayls with, "If you like each other so much, why don't you get married?" with Probst volunteering his services as an ordained minister. Everybody laughed and giggled. Nobody talked about strategy. Figgy acknowledged that a tribal council marriage would be a Survivor first. Taylor cringed. Probst tried to pivot to make it seem like he was only goading them on to prove that they're Millennials and therefore impetuous, but nobody was buying it. "Are you in loooooove?" is not Jeff Probst at his most probing. I don't really ever need to see that again, so I hope nobody else showmances this season.
In addition to the semi-surprising result, the episode included a no-risk health scare as Hannah had a panic attack during the reward, requiring a summoning of Dr. Joe. Hannah was both freaking out and also aware that her freaking out could just be a condition that she's prone to, so when she asked Dr. Joe, "You're not gonna let me die?" she was absolutely trying to make a tension-cutting joke, even if the editing in the "Scenes from next week" teaser made it look like she was in earnest. This wasn't an example of Survivor producers nearly killing several players as they did last season. It was somebody figuring she was having a panic attack, but wanting to take precautions, just in case it was something worse. Hannah recovered quickly and she's still in general risk, as a physically weak player with no strong alliance. Her best case scenario remains an Aubry-esque arc mirrored after last season's runner-up, but by this point last season Aubry was taking control of the game. It's sad that a panic attack was Hannah's best screen exposure for weeks. Maybe Will or Sunday should have a panic attack if they want to become more memorable.
No indications from next week's episode preview that a merge is coming, so on we go.
Some Bottom Lines from this week's Survivor...
Bottom Line, Part I. The immunity challenge was our first "balls" challenge of the season and, as expected, Probst took a fair amount of pleasure in saying "balls" repeatedly, as is his wont. It was an interesting and somewhat original challenge with the two swimming legs and the bags of coconuts and I still don't understand why Vanua had David doing anything physical, but for the first time he gained a tiny bit of respect by not being awful. He was far more embarrassing in the reward challenge, which was one of those tasks with a caller yelling instructions as blindfolded people spun in circles or rammed their groins into poles. Poor Ken Doll.
Bottom Line, Part II. Ken's droll response to Figgy outing her relationship with Taylor was hilarious and Ken writing "Figueroa" at tribal council was such vintage, awkward Ken. It's my assumption that he didn't feel close enough to Figgy to use the nickname and then didn't want to use Figgy's first name ("Jessica") because of obvious potential for confusion (though "Jessica F" would have worked), so he went with odd, but correctly spelled, formality. I like Ken. [EDIT: I watched on a small screen and definitely misread what Ken wrote. Was it "Figeroo" or "Figeroa" or, apparently, "Figaroo"? Either way, it definitely was not "Figueroa." So... Disregard most of this! Scatterbrained this week.]
Bottom Line, Part III. I don't like Ken as much as Michaela, though. It was another week in which Michaela delivered funny, withering quotes in the confessional and absolutely dominated a key challenge. Michaela did the balls maze basically single-handed because Hannah was useless and even though she shouted Hannah into submission, Hannah didn't look offended. The only person taking Michaela's bossiness the wrong way was Probst, whose sassy-voiced declaration that Michaela was "making sure Hannah knows what TIME it is," verged *this* close to racist. I also liked Michaela cheering for Vanua in that challenge and then correctly explaining to Probst that she wanted to avoid losing a Millennial, so she was hoping the only evenly split tribe wouldn't lose. When Taylor argued that his tribe also had Millennials, Michaela correctly shot back, "If you can't figure out how to work together, you deserve to go home." Michaela is awesome and correct.
Bottom Line, Part IV. Other than Probst egging FigTayls toward the altar, the week's only nod to the theme came, once again, from everybody's favorite generational demographer Jay. Saying that he was doing this for his mother and sister, Jay declared, "People say Millennials are selfish and they always wanna do things their own way and they do whatever they want, but it's not true. This is for my family." Oh and Jay has an idol now. I'm not sure why this was as anti-climactic as it was, but it's a thing that happened that wasn't exciting or interesting at all. There are now a lot of idols and advantages and stuff floating around.
Bottom Line, Part V. The collective giddiness from the Millennials at seeing that Vanua hadn't done the right thing and had picked off a Gen-Xer pretty much confirmed that what David and Chris did last week was dumb, as did Zeke's own post-tribal giddiness, as well as his later recognition of Michelle's strength. Zeke would have turned on Michelle without hesitation last week if he'd been led along properly and there's a alternate, logical reality in which Gen X could now suddenly have a numbers advantage. [If Vanua votes Michelle out last week, is Adam less amenable to turning on his tribe to split FigTayls out? Yeah, probably. Granted.]
That's all for this week!