Millennials vs Gen X

The Characters and Their Stories–Survivor 33: Episode 8

The Characters and Their Stories is a blog in which Michel Trudeau uses the edit to determine the themes of the season to try to find its long-term players. Each week, he will explores the overt signs as well as the more nuanced nods.

The Characters and Their Stories-Survivor 33: Episode 8

left-lizard-shadowPreviously on Survivor

At the Takali tribe, Adam betrayed Taylor.

At the Vanua tribe, David and Zeke were growing closer.

At the Ikabula tribe, the 4 Millennials planned on sticking together, but Jay wanted to do a big move.

At Tribal Council, Jay and Will voted with the Gen Xers, sending Michaela home and leaving Hannah in the dark.

Jeff’s recap didn’t mention that David revealed his idol to Zeke.  We only heard David say that he trusted Zeke and that they were made from the same cloth.  This makes me think that the idol will not come between them.  Zeke won’t betray David’s secret and David won’t use it against Zeke.  Instead, I think the two will go very far together mostly because that was the only positive relationship that was mentioned when ACT I was about to come to an end. 

As for Jay’s big move, Jeff had been pushing for it during the last Tribal Council but now his words gave it a definitive negative slant.  We didn’t hear that Michaela was dangerous, just that Jay wanted to make a move.  It underlined his selfishness.  Then Jeff went on to say that he sided with the Gen Xers instead of saying that he brought them in to his side.  We did hear Jay say that this was going to mold the rest of his game and this episode showed just how dumb the move was, just how bad his game had become.  If it was to save Michelle, then Jay’s move failed miserably!

With the merger, we saw some players take a surprising back seat while others emerged.   

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Ready to Play

Ikabula Day 21

When the tribe got back to camp, Bret was heard saying that it was a hard vote and that Michaela was mad.

My attention was on Hannah who smartly stayed quiet.

Jay’s interview: “I made a big ass move tonight and I thought I was going to get punched in the face, honestly.   But Michaela is the closer; she closed on every single challenge so I needed to do this pre-merge just to be safe and I’m pretty proud of myself right now.”

Again, the edited version of the story doesn’t mention anything about keeping Michelle and Taylor safe. It was all as if Jay feared that Michaela would run the tables during individual immunity! That’s how cowards think.  A true competitor would not have been afraid of losing but would have appreciated the opposition, especially since Jay knew that he was Michaela’s only alliance.

When Bret and Sunday thanked everyone for keeping them, Jay said that Hannah hadn’t been told about the plan because they didn’t want her to be dirty.  Hannah used the opportunity:  “You know I would have voted with you all, though.”  Later, when she was alone with Jay she said he had to trust her and that she didn’t care about having bloody hands.

Hannah: “At this point, I’m clearly at the bottom of this tribe.  I can’t trust any of these people. Being completely excluded from a vote is a surefire way to break trust and to create enemies.  Jay thinks I’m this pathetic idiot that can’t see pass his pretty face and intense game play. I’m just plotting for getting back at them for not including me in their gameplay.  I hope I can get my freaking revenge. I’m ready to play!”

That was an excellent tactic. Here Hannah showed a very impressive social strategy and the blood that Hannah will have on her hands will likely be Jay’s! 

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Ikabula Day 22

A boat arrived. Pirates? No, they were messengers bringing news of the merge.

I wonder what they would do if they had been pirates?  Keep the cameras rolling?

Bret’s interview: “That was music to my ears.  I went from terrified that I was going home to now I’m at the merge within 24 hours.  I can’t tell you how awesome that feels.  Now, the whole game is just opening up for me.  Jay’s word has been true so far so maybe I can trust Will and Jay but yet I know I still have Chris and I want to see what he has been working on.”

Suddenly, Bret was about to receive a very important role in this merger episode. He could be a late emerging player.

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Takali

We arrived after the “pirates” had already made their visit and the tribe was packing all their belongings.

Adam’s interview: “I made the merge.  To get to this point means so much. It really means the world but this is when things start to get really serious.  This is the point in the game where alliances and loyalty are really tested.  The really great players get separated from the mediocre players and I hope that I’m in the former group.”

Getting four votes and letting his own alliance see his clumsy game play, I think we can put Adam in the group of mediocre players.  This episode showed us his limitations.  Borrowing from election night coverage, it’s too early to call, but if the tendency continues, Adam won’t last long.

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The Merger

The screams of the arriving castaways alerted the Vanua tribe members of the merger.

Zeke’s interview:  “I’m so stoked!  I was down on the bottom for so many days I didn’t know I would make the merge and here I am.  The clouds have cleared and I’m utterly thrilled.  I’m also a little nervous because who knows what connections were made on the other beaches, but for now, I’m just excited to be here.”

Hannah was the first that we saw jumping in Zeke’s arms. We also had a close-up of Ken and David’s reunion, and then from a distance, we saw Jay going to hug Michelle.

David’s words: “We are back together, man” were even shown on screen.  I think the camera work identified the truly important pairs of players to watch and which will be distant memories when we get to the finale.

Michelle confessional: “Thank God! It’s the merge. This is gigantic. To be back with the people that you originally trusted and I want to work with is huge. Jay and Taylor– those are the relationships that I can take to the end so I’m back in the game.”

We only had some brief scenes of the festivities.

Jay solo: “I’m super excited because I’m back with Michelle and I got Tayls back but then I got also in my pocket, I got Will and Hannah and I’m pretty sure Bret and Sunday. (To show Jay’s delusion, we saw Bret laughing while Chris was putting his hand on the policeman’s shoulder). Besides that, I got an idol in my back pocket so I’m the kingpin and nobody knows and I want to keep it that way.”

Bret’s interview: “Seeing everyone together, I have no idea who I can really trust and who I cannot.  I still can truly trust Chris and Sunday the most and then I thought I could really trust Jay but I saw some Millennials coming together, laughing, joking and it got me a little nervous.  So I don’t know, man! We’ll see.”

I found it interesting that Bret showed concern after seeing the Millennials laughing together right after Jay didn’t notice Bret and Chris sharing a laugh.  That’s another indication that Jay’s group isn’t as good at this game as their rivals. 

Taking a walk in the jungle, Chris told Bret that David wanted to get back with the two Ikabula Gen Xers.

Chris then gave us his thoughts: “I haven’t decided if the merge is going to be a good thing or a bad thing for me. Everything was going very well for me at Vanua; we were on a roll.  But the fact that there were two tribes then a swap and now we are back to thirteen and trying to figure out those relationships is extremely difficult. Dave, Zeke and myself are meshing pretty well. That’s a pretty good core that I have to work with and then I want to regroup with Bret and Sunday and figure out what the next move is.”

While we didn’t hear Chris mentioning Jessica, there was a distinct pause after he said the name Sunday. He may have added Jessica although, even if he didn’t, we saw the two women sitting next to each other so that could be Jessica’s way back in the group. Another noticeable difference between Jay’s Millennials and the Gen Xers is that the older group showed much more caution.  Chris and Bret said they had to take their time to figure things out while Jay was already crowning himself King of Fiji.  Sorry, bud, but that title still belongs to Earl.

Zeke, Hannah and Adam took a walk of their own.  Zeke congratulated them all for making the merge.

Zeke’s reaction to the merge: “I’m delighted to see my old nerdy pals, Hannah and Adam.  You know it’s almost good that we got split up, right? Because I’ve got intel from Vanua, Adam’s got intel from Takali, and Hannah is tapped into the intel from Jay. (Hannah was heard telling them exactly what went down at the last Tribal Council). Having my nerd voting bloc, I should be feeling great, but Jay worries me. He is the locus of power right now because Jay is very charming. He looks at you with those deep brown eyes and he smiles that surfer’s smile and it’s very enchanting and it’s making me nervous to see all the dudes, Ken and Chris and Tay, everyone getting taken in by this Jay charm.  He has this sort of mystique about him and everyone is drawn to him. He controls Will outright, he probably controls Michelle, and I’m like:  If this bro alliance happens, I’m in trouble.”

Interesting that Zeke had the first interview when the tribe got together and the last one before the end of the first scene. It makes us see the merge mostly from his perspective.  To think that, if Jay hadn’t blindsided her, Hannah could have acted as a bridge between the two guys instead of confirming Zeke’s opinion of Jay.  Also, it was quite ironic, to hear Jay saying, “I almost had you” and pointing at Zeke right in the middle of Zeke’s confessionalYes, Jay, you could have had Zeke but you failed and you will soon pay.

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Vinaka Day 21

We used to have charming scenes of the tribe figuring out their new name and then painting the flag.  Now, it all looks like both came directly from production.  Of course, we could blame that on Boston Rob because of the way he turned the merged tribe name into his own personal joke.    

Speaking of production, we witnessed a big waste of ingenuity.  There was a clue in the merge feast basket that Tribephyl, a poster at RTVW, figured out.  By taking the first letter of each word after “Congratulations. You have made the merge.”, we were left with: “MAIL BRINGS ADVANTAGE FIND IT FIRST”.  Check it out!  Maybe production should have hidden the advantage in such a way that deciphering the message was essential.  They should know by now that tree mail is always the first place people look, so the secret message should have directed them to a more obscure location.  Instead, production seems to think that these castaways aren’t very smart so they don’t make it too difficult.

The tribe was still enjoying the feast but Jay used the time to snoop around.

Adam’s interview: “My philosophy here is having a merge feast… It’s nice… It’s fun.  I like to eat, but do I need it?  No. In almost every merge in Survivor, there’s going to be a merge idol here somewhere and I know this camp well. I’m the only person that’s been able to find an idol here.  So, if there is an idol out here, I feel like I may have a good chance of finding something.  I take a look at tree mail, I look up, and there’s a note but there is no idol… I know everything about this game and this is definitely a first and it’s exciting to be part of Survivor history to have a new power that no one ever had in this game before… I think I’m in one of the best positions in this game and I have an idol, so, I’m going to sit on this and use it on something that really matters.”

Winning rewards often cause jealousy so imagine someone stealing a hard-earned prize.  This twist can easily derail someone’s game, so it’s surprising that a Survivor historian didn’t mention it.  Probably the interviewer didn’t want us to hear that part.  Imagine if they still had a car reward!  On the other hand, you could use this to solidify something if you get in a tricky situation.  You know the reward winner gets to share his prize with others so by stealing someone’s advantage you could invite the right people and get them to vote with you.  It really would have to be a Hail Mary type of play, though.  I guess that’s what production wanted:  It’s a twist that could derail an arrogant player or help an underdog.  Hearing Adam say that he would use it during the family visit, probably the most desired reward left, and still think he is in a great position in the game makes him look arrogant.

Night came and someone was going through the remaining food reserve.

Taylor’s interview: “I wake up in the middle of the night and I get this idea. I’m pretty good with mason jars and canning stuff so I pull a classic Survivor move.  I take a mason jar and I put so much stuff in there.  I’m going to try to eat as much of that as I possibly can.  Ha! Ha! Ha! That’s my stash.”

I guess Taylor thought that Na’Onka’s way of playing Survivor was a good idea.  Well, everyone was planning on taking Na’Onka to the end if she hadn’t quit!  Is this a hint of things to come?

Bret: “It’s the middle of the night and I hear clanging.  I look up and the kid is grabbing dried bananas.  That’s our food for the week. This is thirteen people living out here. You don’t just jump in and start divvying up food for yourself.  I don’t want to be the one to say anything so I got back to bed.”

Adam: “I wake up in the middle of the night and see Taylor sneaking some food. I see it as an opportunity to build trust with him.  I’m going to have a midnight bro-down and talk some game.  Taylor is an extremely unlikely ally for me. I have voted against his girlfriend twice and actually voted her out. If I can convince him to vote my way then I’ve got control of this game.”

Adam told Taylor that Jay was building an army and that Will was his right hand man.  Voting out Will, he reasoned, would enable Taylor to reclaim his position with Jay.

Munching on his food, Taylor started looking around, just listening to what Adam was saying.

It was a bit like Dreamz listening to Mookie’s rant after he voted out Michelle!  This is Fiji v2.0 after all!  Come to think of it, Dreamz was a very good goat himself!  How many hints do we need before we start seeing Taylor as a Final 3 goat?  Maybe that’s why Figgy was looking for goats!    

Taylor’s reaction: “Holy crap!  Adam is trying to get Will out.  Are you dumb? I couldn’t believe it!  I don’t want to work with Adam. He wrote my woman’s name down but Adam thinks we are very buddy-buddy and I want to keep it that way.” In the middle of Taylor’s confessional we heard Adam telling him about his advantage adding that he wants to use it to steal the family visit reward. Taylor’s confessional then resumed: “That could not have been easier.  I get all this intel from Adam and I didn’t really have to do anything. I am a fan of the survivor revenge so I want to blindside Adam as best as possible.”

The two shook hands and Taylor said it was going to be epic. Adam laughed at the perspective.

I didn’t think it would be possible but this scene made someone look dumber at the game of Survivor than Taylor! I think Adam’s failure will indeed be epic. He won’t be laughing when Jeff snuffs his torch. I just hope we see him stealing someone’s reward before then just to show everyone how dumb this superfan is.

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Vinaka Day 22

Early in the morning, Chris, Ken, Sunday and Brett talked about the disappearing food. Bret said it was Taylor.

Chris: “I’m starting to think we underestimated the Millennials hold on each other and their actual bond.  I see a tight group over there, so I’m thinking we got to get one of them gone or we’re in trouble.”

To Bret, Chris enumerated the people that could vote with them. He said: “You, Sunday, me, Dave, Zeke– that’s five. Jess and Ken–that’s seven.”  Bret said that Ken was ready to pounce and Chris added that everybody was pissed at Taylor.

So right now, the target is clearly on Taylor. It will be interesting to follow the trail to see how the vote gets deflected to Michelle.

Talking to David, Jessica and Zeke, Ken said: “The tightest bonds in this game are Jay with Taylor, Jay with Michelle and Will.”  David agreed so he asked if they were good with voting out Taylor.  We saw Jessica agreeing and it was implied that the others did also.

David’s interview: “Already, people are floating around the name Taylor and it seems we’re all on board with it but it’s so early.  We’re at a point of the game where everyone is trying to carve out a path to final Tribal Council so there’s going to be a ton of scrambling.  People are going to get unsure and that’s when the game gets crazy.”

When David said that everyone was trying to carve out their path in the game, we saw in succession, Chris, Jay, Zeke and Michelle. Will one of these players be successful? We already know that it won’t be Michelle but Zeke’s inclusion is very interesting. On the other hand, when David said that some people get unsure and the game gets crazy, we saw Adam, Will and Taylor. We saw that Adam’s paranoia put a target on his back and we know that Taylor is planning his revenge so will the game get crazy?  It looks like it will and that could mean Adam goes soon.  

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Vinaka Day 23

Jay told Taylor that he wanted to keep the Millennials’ numbers strong.  He wanted the Gen Xers to flip on one of their own first.  That’s when Taylor informed Jay of Adam’s plan.  Jay realized that if Adam was gunning for his right hand man, then he was the real target.

Jay’s interview: “I’m chilling, just sitting back and Tayls comes to me and says “We need to talk.” He’s like, ‘Dude, Adam is gunning for Will.’ I’m like: ‘What the hell is going on?’”

When Taylor said they should vote out Adam, we saw that Zeke heard everything.

Zeke’s interview: “I just heard Taylor and Jay discussing getting rid of Adam and I’m like: Oh, my god! This is not good. Right now, Jay and his company (?) are the most dangerous.  I was hoping to get this nerd alliance together, but if Adam gets voted out, it will throw a wrench into my beautifully laid plan.”

Taylor told Will about Adam’s plan.

Will: “Adam’s a rat and we need to get him out, but now I’m freaking out because if he can get the numbers, I’m screwed. I’m starting to think to myself that I have to win immunity.”

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Immunity Challenge

Jeff mentioned the improvements that were designed to make this challenge more painful but the biggest difference that I noticed was that by shackling the players’ wrists they couldn’t avoid getting drenched.

Sunday was the first out of the challenge and she was closely followed by Chris and Bret.

Jeff’s comment: “Survivor challenges are made to test how far you can dig.”

Maybe we shouldn’t expect too much from Sunday, Chris and Bret then.

Jay and Zeke fell out right after.

No one would tell where they were feeling pain but Hannah was honest: She hurt everywhere including her face.

Ken and Hannah were the next two to go.  Michelle lasted just over 20 minutes. Taylor, David and Adam fell soon after.

The target still seemed to be on Taylor because we saw Bret and Ken smile when his bucket tipped.

It came down to Jessica and Adam who said they both felt good.

That seemed to be the extent of their discussionNeither proposed a deal.

After one hour, Jessica told Jeff that her kids would be proud.  She said she told them they could do everything. Will said his mom told him the same thing, so Jessica said he had a good mom.

Back in the day, I would have said that this was a hint that one of Jessica’s kids would make the trip to Fiji on the same plane as Will’s mom, but we can’t rely on these words anymoreSo, maybe Jessica and Will are going to be around during the family visit but I’m not banking on it.

We reached the hour 30-minute mark and that’s when Jessica’s legs gave out.

Will won the first immunity and when he went to hug Jessica, he said: “I knew I needed it so I kept pushing.”

That caught Adam’s ear.

Adam: “My plan totally just blew up in my face.  I got to give him credit: Will needed to win today and he did.  Now I need to figure out another plan.”

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Vinaka Day 23

Some were scrambling; some weren’t.

Will had the first interview:  “I can’t believe that I, the youngest person to ever play this game, won the first immunity challenge and what makes it even better is that I needed this one because I know Adam had a plan to try and vote me out of this game so he has to go.”

Another thing that made it good was that Will was the first man to win this type of challenge. Of course, we have to say that some men gave up their chance to win by making a deal and this season’s numbers were clearly against a woman winning.

In front of Hannah, Jay and Will said they wanted to get Adam out of the game.

Hannah’s great play at the start of the episode was already paying off.  Jay didn’t keep her in the dark this time.

Michelle’s interview: “We get back, and almost immediately, Jay turns around and says: “We’re voting Adam out tonight.  My immediate reaction is: What? That’s stupid. We have all these other people who would be great to go home. (Bret and Chris were on screen when she said that). It seems more of a personal move than a strategic move and I’m really worried we’re making a huge mistake.”

At least, Michelle was right.

With Jessica present, Zeke told Adam that he overheard Taylor and Jay planning on voting him out. Adam realized that Will knew so that explained his words after the challenge.

Adam in confessional: “I laid the groundwork for what I thought was a solid plan and then the day of Tribal Council, it all unravels.  I had a feeling I might be playing too hard. I was playing too hard and now I have to scramble.  At this point, I’m willing to work with anybody on this tribe if it will keep me in this game.”

Zeke said he thought they had the votes to get out Taylor. They huddled with Chris, David and Ken. David said he was worried that Taylor had an idol but Zeke thought Jay had it.  David reasoned that Jay could give it to Taylor.

David’s interview: “What needs to get broken up is the upper echelon of the Millennials and that’s Jay, Michelle and Taylor. It’s just a question of getting everybody on the same page because in the back of our minds we’re thinking: Well, there are idols out there, right?”

To the group, David said that Michelle was the safest option because she didn’t have an idol.  Ken still wanted to go after Taylor.

So the credit goes to David for shifting the vote away from Taylor and putting it squarely on Michelle. It’s doubly interesting because we have to recall David’s conversation with Taylor at the summit so long ago.  Did David have an ulterior motive in taking out Michelle instead of Taylor?  Is he planning on working with Taylor down the road?  That’s another hint that Taylor could be carried to the end as the goat.  

Adam’s interview: “I need Zeke and the Gen Xers to get through this Tribal Council but they’re back and forth on who to vote for.  If they can’t get it together then I need my plan B which is to see if I can get Taylor to target somebody else.”

Taylor told Adam that he acted too soon and that the information leaked.

Taylor’s confessional:  “At this point, Adam has a good idea that his name has been dropped so he’s scrambling, but it’s too late, man.  Tonight is 100 percent about revenge.  Adam is responsible for Figgy going home so now we’re at the merge and I got my boys back. We’re coming to beat you up.”

Will and Taylor talked about the possibility that Adam had an idol to play, but they figured he was scrambling too much to have one.

In the meantime, Hannah talked to David about Adam’s odd behavior.

David’s interview:  “We were going to try to save Adam, but I don’t know if we can trust him.  And then paranoia sets in and the panic and that little seed of doubt can grow into a gigantic forest of doubt.

Hannah then talked to Adam, telling him to relax or he could screw up the vote.

Hannah’s interview:  “Adam’s name is being thrown out there hardcore and I knew this was going to happen because Adam decided he couldn’t just play with the weirdos, he had to sit at the popular kids’ table.”

So not only Taylor looked like a smarter player than Adam but now so does Hannah!  I also want to point out that Hannah talked directly to David about her doubts.  That implies a big degree of trust after such a short period of time together. I suspect that Zeke brought those two together, increasing the size of his nerd voting bloc.

Hannah then told Zeke that Adam was the worst teammate ever.  Zeke agreed that he had to go very soon because he wasn’t trustworthy.

Zeke’s interview: “I was hoping to preserve my sort of nerd voting bloc, but Adam is the most frustrating person to work with because I don’t know what he’s up to.  So now I’m thinking we should just vote him out.”

There was a clear audio cut right after Zeke said “I’m thinking…” as if the end was spliced in but didn’t exactly mesh with the first part.  It makes me think that the “We should just vote him out” part came from a different time, like maybe when they actually do vote him out.

Adam had the final interview of the evening: “Hannah tells me that I should just relax and that everything is going to be okay but I know for a fact that my position in this game is very tenuous.  Now, the good news is: I have a hidden immunity idol so I could play it and know that I’m still going to be here tomorrow, but if I use it and I had the numbers, I look like a chump.  Ah! I don’t know what to do.”

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Tribal Council

Turning first to David, Jeff asked about the difference between the two age groups.

David said the Millennials ate more food and that their reserve was gone.

Bret told Jeff that Taylor ate it.

Taylor laughed along with everyone and even said he wasn’t keeping it a secret.

Jeff couldn’t believe that Taylor could admit openly to stealing the food.

Taylor said it wasn’t really stealing because he needed it.

Jeff polled everyone: Chris and Jessica said they were very hungry. Hannah said she could eat Jeff.

Everyone laughed at the double entendre.

Jeff was in complete disbelief that Taylor didn’t show remorse.

Chris said that it wasn’t cool but selfish.

Taylor wanted to make the clarification that it wasn’t because he was hungry; it was a medical emergency.

Zeke countered that they all had that medical emergency. He added: “In a game for a million dollars, you have to practice a little delayed gratification because it might cost you a million dollars down the line.”

Going back to Hannah, Jeff asked about Taylor’s calmness despite the possibility of being on the bloc.

Hannah said he was a chill bro.

Finally turning to the vote, Jeff asked about the state of the tribe.

Adam said it wasn’t just about the early loyalties but about the people they got to know on the three different tribes.

Jay was sitting right behind Adam and we saw his death stare again.

David told Jeff that they were in the phase where it’s “The people I trust versus The people you trust.”

Jay said it really was about finding someone you can trust.

Michelle, who should have known she was in danger just from where production told her to sit, didn’t take Jeff’s warning about being too trusting. She agreed with Jay. According to her, it was about being with people that mesh best together.

Will told Jeff that everyone had their own objective, but the question was about the prevailing objective.

Chris said that despite all their personal objectives, a line was going to be drawn in the sand.

Michelle agreed that a line was going to be drawn and that trust will be broken with some people and strengthened with others.

Taylor explained that worrying doesn’t accomplish anything because there was nothing that could be done at this point.

Adam realized that Taylor was looking right at him when he said that. Adam admitted that he was very nervous. He added that nobody wanted to be the first person voted out after the merge because this is where the fun begins.

Jeff took that as a cue to let the good times roll: It was time to vote.

We saw Taylor voting against Adam and saying: “This one’s for Figs.”

While his ballot remained secret, we heard Zeke voting confessional: “I have never been able to trust you.”

Well, that didn’t apply to Adam and since we knew Zeke was voting with the majority, then we knew Adam wasn’t going to be voted out.  Why kill the suspense?  Maybe the editors had a bigger objective.

When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol, Adam looked around at everyone but decided to remain seated, keeping his idol in his pocket.

As expected, a majority of 9 players voted together against Michelle who became the first member of the jury.

Will and Jay looked stunned while Chris was smiling behind his beard.

After Michelle left them with a goodbye kiss, Jeff said: “Any time there are lines drawn in the sand, the question is:  Will they be there in the morning or will the tides of Fiji wash them away?”

I think this is the first time we’ve actually been told we are in Fiji. We certainly haven’t visited the island paradise much.

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The Story

As expected, the Millennials tribe was hopelessly fractured but Michelle’s final words told us that Jay’s “army” really thought they had the numbers.  She must have been counting on Zeke, David, Chris, Sunday and Bret to be on their side, yet we never saw Jay or Michelle talking to either of the 5 after the merger.  The episode’s suspense would have been better served if we had witnessed a discussion between Jay, Michelle, and someone from the other side agreeing on voting out Adam. It must have happened, but the immediate suspense was neglected in order to present the real objective which was to show us the real players. Jay and his army are just obstacles that have to be eliminated before the real game is played.  That game will oppose Zeke and his nerd voting bloc against Chris and his Bro alliance.  With David’s bond to both Ken and Zeke, we will probably see him in the middle of a tug of war.

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The Characters

Sitting on the Bench – Besides enjoying the feast, these three had nothing to offer

Sunday: At least we heard her tell everyone that she was older than all of them.  There’s not much else to say about her story.

Jessica: Even if she starred in the immunity challenge, we have to note her absence during all the important strategy discussion. We didn’t hear anything from her even when the tribe was vacillating between Adam and Taylor, the two Millennials she knew best. Her point of view could have guided the discussion and she probably expressed her opinion, but it didn’t matter.

Ken: That makes two lackluster episodes in a row for Ken and this one coming during the merger was particularly troubling. His earlier experience with the Gen X tribe members was good interview material considering he had to be hesitant about rejoining Chris and Bret, but we simply saw him siding with them. He was the last one heard gunning for Taylor, so I wonder if he’s the one that loses his seat when someone decides to take Taylor to the end.

In Foul Territory – They’re on the wrong side of the newly drawn line

Adam: He started the season on a great roll, but the last three episodes have shown us that he isn’t a good player.  Here we even saw that Taylor and Hannah understood the subtleties of the game far better than him.  Hannah called him the worst team mate ever and Zeke said that working with him was very frustrating. With Jay’s dwindling army forced into full retreat, the tribe could decide that it’s the perfect time to get rid of him.

Will: He had a great moment but it could be his last. We had a hint that he could make it to the family visit but that could lead to nothing. Will is seen as Jay’s right hand man so he’d be the automatic choice in a split vote situation.

Jay: The selfishness he showed when he went after Michaela came back to hurt him immediately. Michelle told us that Jay’s plan was stupid and he seemed to think that Bret and Sunday would automatically side with him. His idol could be used against a big player and Chris looks a lot like Savage, a famous idol victim but where would he go after that? He is out of big moves.

Grazing in the field – Just like a good goat

Taylor: Like his girlfriend Figgy, Taylor could be voted out at any Tribal Council but all the hints we had suggesting she could be there at the end could have actually been meant for him. Maybe we just misread those hints and we should have realized that Figgy, who had been looking for a goat, actually found Taylor!  We also had funny parallels, first between Taylor and Na’Onka, another food stealer, and then with Dreamz when Taylor was too distracted to listen to Adam’s plan. Were those parallels accidental or did they have meaning? All I know is that the tribe seemed to agree that Taylor wasn’t a smart player so that can easily lead someone to want to sit next to him at the end.  The problem is that he will have three good friends on that jury and there are bound to be some people unhappy to have been betrayed. Everything that Zeke said about Jay’s charm also applies to Taylor and that is always dangerous when it comes to the jury.

The Playing Field – The real players

Chris: He had some good moments during the merger and he isn’t even considered as a threat, so he could go far enough where he could dominate the end game yet there is something lacking in his story. He looks more like a victim than a winner. There really is no place for him in Zeke’s nerd voting bloc, so maybe he’ll put too much trust in his fellow Oklahoman.

Bret: After being a figurant for most of the season, Bret suddenly gained substance in this episode. We heard about his options and even heard why he decided not to go further with Jay’s side who simply took him for granted. That means he still has to deal with Hannah who knows his secret. Will she use it at the right time? We haven’t seen enough of Bret since the start of the season to suddenly consider a contender despite a good merge episode.

Hannah:  I’m sure many will be shocked at her placement but Hannah really emerged as a player in this episode.  She completely fooled Jay when she said she would have voted with him against Michaela and that enabled her to hear all his plans. Then we saw that she was close enough to David to talk about her doubts regarding Adam.  She could be Zeke’s right hand woman and that would carry her far in the game.

David: He was the one that turned the target away from Taylor and focused it on Michelle. It’s always important to see who gets credit for the big votes and the merge vote is often crucial. What is even better for David is that he could have an ulterior motive for saving Taylor. Those two had the most memorable scene during the Summit so it seems bound to bear fruits.  What is particularly interesting is that their respective situations are now reversed. Taylor was flying high as a member of his tribe’s majority alliance while David was eager to ditch his tribe for new allies.  It would be quite a move for David to sneak Taylor to the end, but it wouldn’t be appreciated by his present allies.  The calmer version of David is much easier to take but no one changes this drastically over 22 days.  Was it all theatrics or will his paranoia return?

Zeke: His voting confessional told us that he had written Michelle’s name and not Adam’s whom he had trusted up until the last day or so. Why kill the suspense? I think it was to show that Zeke, despite looking more like a journey player at times, had been playing all along.  If we remember day 1, Michelle told us she’d use her missionary work as a cover to gain people’s trust yet and use it to her advantage, but now we hear that Zeke hadn’t fallen for her ruse at all.  According to his words, Zeke didn’t have to wait for the Mari vote to see through Michelle.  He would solidify his position in the game by delaying the elimination of Jay’s army in order to dispatch the frustrating Adam and he would still have his nerd voting bloc against Chris and his allies. His comment to Jeff about delaying gratification in order to win the game sounded like a winning quote.

The merge episode is usually the moment I make the winner’s pick but this one changed the narrative of many important players so I’ll use the excuse that we had a merger at 13 to delay the official pick. However, considering his great story from the start of the season and his important role in this episode, I see Zeke as the top contender for the title of Sole Survivor.


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