7:13pm PT by Daniel Fienberg
The 'Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X' Merge Brings Thoughts of Revenge in 'I'm The Kingpin'
[This article contains spoilers for the Wednesday, Nov. 9 episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.]
What a difference a week makes.
That's always why Survivor is fun. As the song goes, "You're riding high in April/ Shot down in May." That's life!
Last week's Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X ended with Jay staring down Michaela, cold-eyed and lethal.
And this week's Survivor ended with Jay making almost the same face, only accompanying his dead eyes this time was a slack jaw.
It's not like Jay has totally lost control of the game. He's got several tight alliances and, most importantly, he's got an idol. But in an episode in which he started off with the declaration, "I'm the kingpin and no one knows. And I wanna keep it that way," Jay was left feeling like a chump, as he lost the other female from his Pretty People's Alliance.
Farewell, Michelle. I didn't like Michelle as much as I liked Michaela, but I really thought she had potential. She blew it this week and, even in her post-eviction confusion, she knew it.
"I maybe went overboard with my laying back," Michelle admitted.
That's an understatement.
Michelle knew that her alliance was making a mistake in targeting Adam, knew that this post-merge moment wasn't the right time to take out another Millennial just for reasons of pique. She protested, but her protest was quiet and small, and a small protest isn't going to save a guppy when the sharks have gotten a scent of guppy blood.
In this case, even though Jay's the one with the shark's eyes, Will and Taylor were the sharks and Adam was the nervous, overplaying guppy. Taylor wanted Adam out because Adam played a big role in ousting his cuddle buddy Figgy. Will wanted Adam out because Adam wanted Will out as Jay's right-hand man. Jay was fine with getting Adam out because Adam only wanted Will out to hurt Jay.
Somehow, in this chum-filled sea of revenge, it really felt like the pretty, young Millennials didn't give any consideration to the idea that any of the other people at camp: A) Had a vote or self-interests at all and B) Might be capable of looking at a group of milling pretty Millennials and surmise that a strong alliance might be in place.
David was correct in the assessment that Michelle would be the easy target because the Millennials wouldn't guess she was the target and wouldn't feel any need to try to protect her. But Ken was correct that Taylor was still a more logical target from a strength perspective. At Tribal, Michelle was completely blindsided, but I don't think she was as blindsided as Taylor would have been and neither was in any position to save themselves. Heck, I don't think the Gen-Xers (and Millennial nerds) even considered voting Jay out because they assumed he was protected, but Jay could have gone home with an idol if they'd wanted to take out the kingpin. Jay ended up being such a clever kingpin that he forgot to consider that other people might be playing the game with a different agenda other than his winning. And Michelle, even fearing that a bad move was being made, didn't do anything to stop it. So she went home.
So much for that brief wave of consideration that Jay might be a stealth genius. Instead, he got the chump/hubris edit tonight, from the title of the episode on down. And Will, absent for so much of this season, got the same not-so-subtle foreshadowing edit that doomed Michaela last week. Will's foreshadow edit was clumsier and more positive, and honestly, the Survivor editors ought to aspire to be better than cutting from "I guess I need to win this immunity if I want to survive" to "Oh look, Will won immunity." At least put another scene between desperation and challenge! Spread things out. We should all be glad that Will won that immunity and now has something to hang his hat on to justify skipping his last month of high school. Before, he was just background wallpaper and Jay's stooge.
Let's discuss a few more points in the Bottom Lines ...
Bottom Line, I. If Jay got this week's "Cut off at the knees" edit, Hannah got to be this week's comeback kid. Who'd have guessed that hyperventilating, panic attack-prone, left-out-of-every-vote Hannah would be thrust into the role of trying to get Adam to chill out and stop shaking the boat? Hannah was the cooler head who obviously prevailed and convinced Adam sufficiently that he was safe that Adam didn't need to waste his idol, which would have been a blunder. In addition, Hannah got to make several funnies, eagerly admitting to Jeff Probst all of the places that hurt when others were being stoic during immunity, and also expressing her hunger to Jeff with, "I could eat you." Go Hannah. She also summed up Adam's wobbliness by noting, "Adam decided he couldn't just play with the weirdos, he had to sit at the cool kids table."
Bottom Line, II. I badly want the Nerd Bloc to come together, but I understand why Zeke isn't feeling warmth toward Adam and his neurosis. But in theory, Zeke, Adam, Hannah, David and maybe Ken ought to come together to run the game. That's a result I could root for. But Adam did want the cool kids to like him, and his needless and spineless appeals to Taylor for friendship and voting support were not a good look for him.
Bottom Line, III. That's easy for me to say, because we got to watch Taylor's contempt for Adam, not that Adam would have noticed anyway. Plus, Taylor pretty much has contempt for everybody. Taylor's theft of food was dumb and his lack of shame was just straight-up Taylor-esque, as Taylor-esque as last week's political apathy. You're Taylor and you're stealing food and hoarding it and Adam catches you, how over-the-moon are you that not only does he not blackmail you, but he vows never to tell anybody and also provides you with a secret that you didn't even ask for? Adam was weak this week.
Bottom Line, IV. And that advantage that Adam got? How is it an advantage? Once you're past the merge, how often is it going to behoove you to steal somebody else's reward? Yes, you might want a nice meal or a visit with a loved one, but how are you going to balance that desire against the awareness that when you take away somebody's meal or somebody's time with family, you're alienating a potential jury member? Recent seasons have seemingly affirmed the suspicions that a toxic juror can help taint a full jury. You'd better really, really, really, really know and feel confident with somebody to get the cheap charge of a stolen reward. Or I guess you could just have open war with somebody. Like now Adam knows how Taylor and Will feel about him and there's nothing stopping him from stealing a reward from them, because he knows that revenge is more important than gameplay to them. [I also liked the "reward stealing" parallels because the advantage Adam found and Taylor stealing merge feast food from the tribe.]
Bottom Line, V. We came SO CLOSE! We almost made it through a full episode without anybody saying that anything they did was based on being a Millennial or a Gen-Xer, but Jeff Probst just couldn't let that stand. Nope. Probst led the tribal council by asking, "What are some of the differences you notice between the Millennials and the Gen-Xers?" as if the castaways hadn't been on blended tribes for a week and as if they didn't exist in a blended world. At least David treated the question with the contempt it deserved by answering that Millennials eat more. Probst was at his most annoying this week, especially during the immunity, when he wouldn't stop babbling. Let the theme go, Probst!
Bottom Line, VI. Based on the speed with which Michelle went out and the unremarkable nature of her exit, last week's fart-a-thon reward in which everybody else was gross and Michelle was practicing proper etiquette feels even more superfluous. At least give me a payoff for Michelle being ladylike, Survivor!
That's all for this week...