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 6
At the Ikabula tribe, Sunday and Bret were in the minority.
Bret: “I’m down 4 to 2.”
At the Takali tribe, Figgy and Taylor were trying to hide their romance and Adam found himself in the power spot between 2 Gen X-ers and the Millennial lovers.
At the Vanua tribe, Gen X was in control but there were cracks from within and Chris used his relationship with Zeke to pull in the Millennials.
Zeke: “Finally, I catch a break in this game.”
At Tribal Council, the Gen X-ers gave up their numbers and Cece.
If we don’t count the typical reference to Figgy and Taylor, this summary was mostly focused on the Gen X-ers. The only other Millennials that were mentioned were the two that are going to side with those Gen X-ers. The story was about to change and we will see that some have made false assumptions:
These Kids Think They Are in Charge
Vanua Night 15
David’s interview: “Coming back after Tribal Council was an absolute relief. Chris and I said goodbye to Cece with these two Millennials. It was absolutely the right thing to do going forward. It’s no longer the Millennials versus Gen X; it’s people I trust versus the people you trust.”
Wasn’t Cece someone that David could trust? It would have been more accurate for David to say: It’s the people that can help me versus the people that won’t. Cece was someone that could only help David passively, someone that was weaker than him so she would always go before him. By eliminating her now, David earned Chris and Zeke’s trust, two players who can help him actively by bringing in more allies such as Bret, Sunday and Adam.
Zeke had a different view: “Tribal was such a delight because those silly Gen X-ers sent home one of their own on the one tribe they had the numbers. Now, all of a sudden, I seem to be in a power position with Chris and I’m so stoked. I’m a brand new baby in this game of Survivor.”
Right then, a little beetle took flight.
The symbol seemed clear: Zeke was about to take flight. His journey could take him far but first he must realize that the game is changing.
Day 16: We followed a heron on its way to the Ikabula tribe
Jay’s confessional: “Everyone is hungry; everybody is getting grumpy but I got to stay focused on this game because I have this passion inside of myself that says: You got to take care of your family. I got my mom and my sister and I never had a dad or nothing. So, to me, it was like I got to take care of these two beautiful ladies. They say the Millennials are selfish and they want to do things their own way and they do whatever they want but it’s not true. This is for my family: I’m going to win Survivor.” Using the excuse of looking for coconuts and Will following, Jay went to look for the idol. His confessional continued: “The hidden immunity idol is the only cushion. I need to find this thing and I am searching everywhere to find this thing.” He then spotted a weird log: It had the tribe’s color on it so he played around with it and finally smashed it on a tree. “I break this bamboo and then Ah! Ah! Ah! and then I hear the Survivor song in the background: Oh! hey! ta-doo la hey!– and I’m saying: This is freaking awesome; this is epic. This immunity idol means: Mom, you just got one step closer to getting a house. Today is probably the best day I had on Survivor. I’m set right now.”
This is a great confessional and it clearly connects Jay with the audience. It had all the necessary ingredients: emotion, family and drive. The problem is that it was a lot like the one we heard from Adam when he found his own idol. Instead of standing out, it reduces the value of both. Where we felt it added to Adam’s story and made him a stronger contender, we are now forced to say that the two young men are naively jumping too far ahead. An idol, like David just showed, is often only good for one move. It’s certainly not worth a down payment on a new house!
Right when Jay said that to keep this secret, we heard Michaela walking up to them.
Michaela’s interview: “Hey! What you got there? I walk up on them two huddled up like two Eskimos and out pops this idol.” Jay said that the good thing was they knew the others didn’t have it. Michaela went on: “Jay is one of my allies at this point but do I think Jay would play that immunity idol on me? Heck no! Right now, I’m not going to tell anyone that Jay has the idol but if I get wind of something going down, I’m snitching.”
The Reward Challenge
When Vanua walked in with Michelle leading the march, Figgy started clapping while Bret was quite surprised.
The tribes always walk in order of height but it would be interesting to have it changed once in a while. Michelle should have been told to walk behind the Hulk just to get a bigger reaction.
Asked about her reaction, Figgy said: “I love Michelle. I love Zeke too but I was really, really worried. It sounded bad but Michelle and I are really close so…”
Jeff asked Michelle if it concerned her that Figgy was so open.
Michelle said: “No, actually I think the truth works well in this game.”
Jeff said he had never heard someone say that before.
Jay, Figgy and Michelle were the callers and puzzle solvers for their respective tribes.
The soft spoken Michelle wasn’t able to direct her tribe as well as Jay and Figgy whose commands were much easier to understand. Figgy laughed when Ken kept hitting himself on a post that was just high enough to hit him where it hurts. Then he fell over.
The interactions between Michelle and David were quite amusing. The guy kept going in the wrong direction. Chris even had to act as relay but David still wound up on another team’s puzzle.
Takali finished first and they were closely followed by Ikabula.
That’s when Hannah started feeling bad.
We heard her and the doctor say it was caused by a panic attack and too much cheering but she seemed very calm all along. It couldn’t be because she hasn’t had anything to eat for the last 4 days, could it?
Even if Figgy and Jay had a big lead, Michelle proved once again to be the puzzle expert.
Figgy started crying but the attention went to Hannah who needed medical attention. When she finally got up, the players applauded her but she told them to stop.
Vanua Day 16
Michelle said she felt content and Chris agreed, saying they came out there to win a million dollars but now they have pie.
David said they wouldn’t have won with Cece and Zeke added that they owed it to Michelle for solving that puzzle.
Michelle commented on Figgy’s admission.
That led to Zeke’s confessional: “Michelle is a very dangerous player in this game because Figgy announced to the world in this challenge: “I’m so happy to see Michelle” and then she waits a beat and then says “Oh, and Zeke too.”
The whole tribe joked about Figgy’s comment so Zeke raised his hand to show that he’d salute Figgy by giving her the finger. Michelle said that Figgy owed her for saving her life in the game.
Zeke’s interview continued: “I’m obviously at the bottom of the Millennials so my gut tells me that getting rid of Michelle isn’t bad for me, right? Michelle was plotting against me before and has connections to Taylor and Figgy. I never thought I would say this but I think to go forward it might be necessary for me to give up on the Millennial Tribe.”
Did you feel the wind suddenly changing direction? Just a few moments ago, Zeke was berating the Gen X guys for giving up their numbers so easily and now he’s thinking of doing the same thing. This confessional seemed to mark a turning point in the story: The Millennials had been riding high from the start of the season but now their naïveté and their openness are going to be fully exploited by their more experienced rivals. We had a first glimpse of it during the challenge with Figgy’s comments; Michelle made a similar mistake when she said that Figgy owed her and it would only get worse as the episode moved along until it all came crashing down on them before the end of the evening. Figgy’s elimination can certainly help Michelle momentarily because she becomes much less threatening, but in the long run, it will cost her the numbers she dearly wanted.
We swam over to the Ikabula tribe.
Jay was trying to hit some fish with a stick but he didn’t appear to kill any.
Symbolically, it was like shooting in the dark. Could it be an indication that Jay’s plans, including his idol, will all be wasted?
Back in the shelter, Hannah was explaining her panic attack to Sunday.
Hannah’s interview: “I can’t help that I am a person that has anxiety. Of course it’s embarrassing; you’re just collapsing and you’re not even in the challenge. There were game thoughts that I can’t seem weak. That’s the worse part: I can’t seem weak in front of my tribe. My brain is just so exhausted. There’s not a moment where you can just breathe out and be like “Okay, I’m going to take five minutes out of Survivor and go take a breath.” And so, now I have to keep going. Perception is reality and I have to keep saying I’m good so people know that I’m good so that it doesn’t become a hindrance in my game.”
Flying over to Takali we were about to see that some people didn’t mind taking a break from the game.
With Ken walking away from the shelter, Figgy offered her cheek to get a kiss from Taylor. Adam sounded disgusted so Figgy said it was only on the cheek.
Taylor’s interview: “My survivor romance is growing each day but Fig is like: “Don’t tell Jess and Ken about Figtails”, our little romance we got going on here. But the Millennials have the numbers so we’re in a good position right now. We’re a power couple and at this point there’s no reason to hide it.”
Taylor said that they had Adam on their side so it couldn’t hurt to tell Ken and Jess. Figgy relented but needed to practice her announcement. Taylor played the role of Jessica.
In interview, Figgy said she was worried about coming out because she didn’t know what reaction to expect.
Both Jessica and Ken found her hilarious for thinking they didn’t know, Jessica adding that Figgy wasn’t very good with keeping secrets.
It was just a little romance, not a huge game secret but it shows once more the Millennials’ naïveté.
Ken’s interview: “I’ve been around the block, little girl. I’ve been around it way longer than you and it’s obvious, and she was shocked. She thought they were doing a great job of hiding it. These kids think they are in charge of it all and they think: ‘This is vacation; this is fun! I’m on Survivor! This is awesome!’ But that little couple of Taylor and Figgy aren’t as cool as they think they are. I’m not going to sit on my ass and hope and pray that everything is okay. I’m going to make the moves to make sure I’m okay.”
It was funny to see that the camera showed Ken sitting on his ass while, in voice over, we heard him saying he wasn’t going to be sitting on his ass. At least he was sitting right next to Adam, the guy he needed to make that move. It looked like Ken was sizing him up. For his part, Adam was yawning so he didn’t look like someone that was ready to make a big move.
Day 18 – The Immunity Challenge
Another day lost! What happened of Day 17?
Handing the little idol back to Jeff, Figgy said: “Gonna trade him in for the big one today.”
Yep, size matters!
Adam sat on the bench for Takali while Sunday and Will (again?) did the same for Ikabula.
Ken, Jay and David went in the water first. (Luckily for David, they didn’t really have to swim!) Ken fell off the beam so that cost him time but he caught up to David to take second place by carrying all three bags at once.
We heard comments on Jay and Ken’s big fall while Jeff, at first, said that David was the big surprise of this challenge.
On the second leg, Taylor took the lead, Bret slowly made his way over the course and Chris made up some of the time that David lost.
Once more, Takali had a huge lead when Figgy and Jessica took over.
If you pay close attention, you hear Jeff ordering Bret and Jay to get on their mat before Michaela and Hannah were allowed to go untie their bags but he let Michelle and Zeke go even if David was still up on the stand. We’ve often suspected production interference but we rarely had such clear visual proof. Maybe Jeff wasn’t favoring Vanua specifically but only helping the last place team. He did make it easier for the 3rd place team to catch up. When you remember all the “amazing’ come from behind victories in Survivor (way more than anywhere else) then maybe we have part of the explanation.
Another thing to note is that the camera never focused on the three people sitting out. Adam was one of our contenders but he was ignored.
Jessica and Figgy had a lead but they couldn’t figure out the right tactic. Michaela figured it out when she yelled at Hannah to stop moving so big and that she was too stiff on the board. She barked more orders: “Don’t move it, Hannah, just hold it steady… I don’t need you to move it at all.”
Having only one person tilting the board was secret. That was the only way to control the ball.
Michaela and Hannah were first to get their ball to the end and then they got on a roll. Michaela said: “Don’t get frustrated; I’m just trying to get you to win, trying to keep us all here.”
Figgy and Jessica placed their first ball right after Michaela and Hannah finished their second one. Meanwhile, Michelle and Zeke were going nowhere.
Starting on their 3rd ball, Hannah wanted to know if Michaela needed her for anything. “Shut up” was all that Michaela wanted. When Jeff said that Michaela and Hannah wouldn’t want to go on a road trip together, Michaela said she loves Hannah but just needs people to shut up.
I think that last part was directed at Jeff! I like Michaela so much!
Michaela and Hannah won immunity for Ikabula.
When Bret hugged Michaela, he said: “There’s nothing you can’t do.”
Watching the other two tribes struggling, Michaela started giving instructions to Michelle and Zeke. “You only have one person moving when you get past that bar.” That caught Taylor’s ear. Michaela applauded when Michelle and Zeke tied the score.
Even if they were still making some wild moves, Jessica and Figgy saw their second ball fall into place. Both tribes got to their last ball at practically the same time but Takali’s wouldn’t fall.
It lipped out just like my last birdie putt!
Michelle and Zeke won the second immunity.
Jeff had to ask why Michaela was encouraging Vanua.
She answered: “We kind of want Millennials to stay and when you get two and two somebody’s got to go home so…”
Taylor pointed out that there were Millennials on the other side also.
Michaela flatly said: “Yeah, but there are three of you. If you can’t figure out how to work together, you deserve to go home.”
A scary movie type of sound effect underlined Michaela’s words. I have to say, though, that with a 4-2 advantage, Michaela could have saved all the Millennials by simply letting Hannah do whatever she wanted with that board. Michaela’s comments are another example of the Millennials’ openness.
Figgy had the kiss-of-death interview: “The Takali tribe is going to Tribal Council tonight and it really blows but if the Millennials are smart, we’ll stick together and take out the Gen X-ers.”
Takali Day 18
Adam gave the first interview: “Losing puts me in a bind because this whole time that I’ve been out here, I’ve been playing double agent and it certainly feels like if I wanted to side with Jessica and Ken then I could do that. If I wanted to side with Figgy and Taylor then I could do that, but no matter how I vote tonight, somebody is coming back unhappy and I am in a really, really tough position.”
Figgy took a walk with Adam using the time to ask who he would rather take out. He answered: “I guess Ken.”
Figgy agreed and she told us in confessional that Ken would be a big threat if they let him make it to the merge.
While it was evident that Figgy would be in danger every time she went to Tribal Council, there had been hints that she could last long because some players kept saying it would be dangerous to keep her around. So hearing Figgy saying that someone else would be dangerous to keep around, we must take notice.
Taylor’s interview: “Tonight at Tribal Council, we are going to vote out Ken, but who knows? Maybe Adam is double-crossing us and he’s way smarter than we think he is… Unlikely but maybe.”
This means that Adam is indeed smarter than Taylor thought. There is no way that Taylor can avenge his girlfriend’s elimination.
Talking with Adam in the shelter, Jessica promised him that he would be safe with her and Ken.
Jessica’s interview: “Figgy and Taylor are going to vote for Ken but clearly this can’t happen because I need Ken to move forward. He’s got my back and I have his, and if Ken went home, I would be the next one to go.”
We didn’t hear Adam telling Jessica that the two lovers were voting against Ken but he must have because Jessica definitely knew how the vote was going. She wasn’t afraid of getting any votes herself. Already that was a clear indication that Adam was heavily leaning towards the Gen X-ers.
Jessica went to Ken, telling him he needed to convince Adam that he would never write his name down. She added that the three of them would run this game.
Ken’s interview: “I could be going home but I’ve never gone down without a fight. So, until Tribal tonight, I am going to be fighting for this.”
To Adam, he said that he and Jess respected him and that they didn’t want to move forward with two conniving, arrogant kids. He said their vote was going to be Figgy. He asked: “Do you want to be sitting with me, and David and Jess or do you want to sit over there with Taylor, Figgy and the cool kids knowing that you are at the very bottom?”
Did Ken just give us our Final 4? I think he may have done just that. It was a bit strange to hear Ken mentioning David’s name clear out of the blue so there must have been a previous discussion letting Adam know that Ken and Jessica were aligned with David. While Adam couldn’t know for sure that David had a hand in saving Zeke, he may have seen Vanua’s vote as an indication that he could trust the Gen X-ers.
Adam said he’d be putting his trust in people he didn’t know so Ken assured him he’d have his back until the end and that he would fight for him.
As rain started coming down hard, we heard Adam giving the last interview of the evening: “My mind is just reeling right now because Ken makes really good arguments. The question is: Which side is going to be better for my future in this game. I mean the whole world is probably screaming: ‘Get out the power couple! What are you thinking?’ But at this point, I don’t know that it makes sense for me.”
I’d say that the vast majority of people in this world (and even in America) don’t give a crap about Adam’s dilemma. They haven’t even heard of Figtails so it’s funny to hear him say that he is making such an important decision. What he has done is open the door for the Ken and the Gen X-ers to take over the game while he’s probably grabbed the goat costume for himself.
The seating arrangement made it clear that Adam was in the middle in case we had missed most of the episode.
Ken said he was definitely on the outside.
Even if Taylor said they had a bond, Figgy pointed out that Adam voted for her at their first council but she had forgiven him.
When Jeff said that Figgy was saying that she looked at him the same way she looked at Taylor, Figgy burst out laughing.
I will miss that spontaneity.
Jeff asked Taylor if he was in love.
The guy said that he wouldn’t use that word but that they liked each other.
Jeff went on to suggest that he could marry them on the spot.
Figgy was game: “Survivor first, let’s go”, but Taylor wasn’t sure if she was serious.
Jeff and Ken realized that Figgy was waiting for Taylor to confirm what she just said.
Figgy said that it was just two people voting together just like Jessica and Ken were two people voting together.
Jeff pointed out that it was different because Ken and Jessica were using it as their strategy.
Figgy said they were just as strategic.
The tug-o-war for Adam was on but Taylor pointed out that the Millennials have the numbers so it would be dumb for Adam to go against the majority.
Figgy was voted out 3-2.
Once more, Jeff ruined the outcome but not for us this time. He kept Ken’s vote against “Figaroo” for last so Ken already knew he wasn’t going home. Adam’s ballot should have been turned last.
Adam turned to Taylor saying he’d explain if he could.
I think Adam should have learned something from Zeke who didn’t want to hear Hannah’s explanation.
Jeff said: “Somebody will be voted out and somebody will go back to camp unhappy. The question becomes: How do you deal with it?”
Before this vote, everyone was under the impression that the Millennials had the numbers to rule the game after the merger but one vote changed all that. This episode marked the end of the innocence. Already the scales have fallen from Figgy and Taylor’s eyes and that will soon spread to the others, starting with Michelle and Jay, their closest allies. How will they react? It won’t be only them either because we saw that Michaela and Will were also counting on the Millennials staying together. It appears that, after the merger, the game will be dominated by Ken, Jessica, David, Chris, Adam and Zeke. They could even be joined by Bret and Sunday if Michaela and Jay don’t wake up and realize they absolutely need to throw the next two challenges and eliminate them. We are probably headed for a long string of predictable Tribal Councils.
Another aspect to consider is that this visit to Fiji is starting to have a familiar look. Just like in season 14, the women are being decimated. In the original Fiji, the first five votes were against women and here we’ve had 5 out of 6. It’s never the same when there aren’t enough women. At least we won’t hear Jeff talking about a female alliance. He must be so happy.
Taylor: He may kick and scream but the only thing he can do is tell everyone at the next reward challenge that Adam is despicable. I think Figgy was wrong and that Figtails will soon be reunited. Will their romance flourish or will they get bored with each other? That’s the biggest question I have when it comes to Taylor.
Sunday: If she can make it to the merger then she would be fine but this is a castaway without a role to play. We saw her listening to Hannah during her period of distress so her social game isn’t a problem but her stay in the game depends entirely on Ikabula winning immunity challenges. Why should they save her?
Bret: The same can be said of him. He lent a helping hand to Hannah but that’s mostly because circumstances put him by her side. For someone who is in trouble within his new tribe, we haven’t seen him trying to find a way to stay safe. That either means Ikabula won’t go to Tribal Council, so it wasn’t necessary to show his discussions with the Millennials, or we will see him hopelessly scrambling to save himself when facing that vote.
Hannah: The desolate conditions in Ikabula certainly contributed to Hannah’s medical situation but I’m sure production will continue putting people at risk just to have material to put on air. Even if she only served as Michaela’s helper, it was fun to see Hannah doing her best to win that competition. Her hair falling over her eyes, her glasses askew (that’s not orthogonal if Rocky is reading) she was determined not to be the zero. Michaela said she was only trying to get Hannah a win and if the themes had been a little different then we could say those words were great foreshadowing for Hannah, but here, they only meant one win in one challenge. Hannah will follow most Millennials when they start falling like dominoes.
Will: Seeing him just following quietly behind Jay during the idol search really showed his story up to now: He’s a nice guy to have around and he won’t cause any trouble even when his number comes. I’m sure he must have looked around for the idol himself but whenever the camera found him, he was simply watching Jay.
The Resistance – Unlike the previous five, these three players have a chance to put up a fight:
Jay: He gave us a great moment when he found the third idol but it was so similar to Adam’s moment that it reduced the impact of both. With them each saying this was their ticket to victory we know at least one is wrong so why not both? If we strip Jay’s interview of its emotional content then we realize its naïveté: Finding an idol isn’t an end, a guarantee of success. It’s just a tool to help your game and it may turn out to be good for only three more days.
Michaela: This was another excellent episode for Michaela as far as character development is concerned but it showed that, like all the Millennials, she doesn’t see the bigger picture. Like David said, the game isn’t Millennials versus Gen X anymore, but Michaela is still living in the past. She told everyone her priorities in the game and where her loyalties lie so she shouldn’t be surprised if the Gen X-ers turn on her first. They all saw what she can do in challenges so they’ll have her in their sights. Her earlier connection with Adam could come into play, though, but it would only be a momentary reprieve.
Michelle: Of all the Millennials that haven’t yet aligned with the Gen X-ers, Michelle is in the best position to find an opening and a new life in the game. The moments of joy that accompany victories are always good bonding opportunities and Michelle just gave two such moments to Chris and David. Jeff recognized her accomplishment in the puzzle and Zeke added that their win was entirely due to Michelle. On the other hand, her skills with puzzle will eventually turn her into a threat and it will be extremely difficult to infiltrate a group that is battle-experienced like Ken, David and Jessica. Even in her present tribe, she’ll never be more than a 4th to the tight bond between Chris and Zeke and their developing trust in David.
The Tools – Their votes will continue to be greatly appreciated:
Zeke: In the first episode, he was quick to say that he didn’t fit in with the Millennials and he certainly used his first opportunity to make new bonds. This decision will certainly carry Zeke far into the game but no matter how close he gets to Chris and David, he will never be in the inner core. They will gladly use his vote until they can safely make it to the end game with Ken and Jessica.
Chris: Now that he is in control of his tribe we know that Chris will make the merger and then rejoin the Gen X alliance that is practically certain to dominate the numbers. Like he said, he needs the numbers but they won’t exactly be his numbers. Maybe David will blindside him a 3rd time.
Adam: Some will applaud his move, but what he’s done is give the game away. His move isn’t as bad as the one Kass made in Cagayan or that Cochran made in South Pacific for two reasons: He did it before the merger so his immediate victims won’t be on the jury and he’s got an idol to use as protection when his new allies inevitably turn on him. Still, there will be a minimum of 5 Millennials on the jury and they will have plenty of reasons to vote against him. Granted, the road to the end would have been difficult if he had stayed with the Millennials but he certainly could have used Zeke, Hannah, Michaela and one or two Gen X-ers to overthrow Jay, Michelle and the Love Birds.
The Real Players – This episode gave us a glimpse of the Favorites to make Final 3:
David: Our wayward Survivor is in a good position at the moment but his penchant for big moves could screw his own chances. Right now, all he has to do is stay on course but we all saw what happened when he tried to do just that in the reward challenge. He wound up in the Millennials’ side of the obstacle course. Was it symbolic? Will his next move have the same result? Even if this theatrical castaway finds a way to handle the boring pagonging, he will have problems earning the jury’s respect.
Jessica: It was interesting to see that Adam first went to her when he had to make up his mind. She found the words needed to convince him to ditch his old tribe. While her social game was deplorable during the first week she spent on the island, it has picked up nicely since the close call she had in the third cycle. In a sense, she’s in the position of a returning player: She realized that her behavior turned a whole tribe against her so she’s learned from her mistake and she is doing the most of her second chance. Will that experience prove as useful to her as it does to veterans facing rookies? I’d say it’s already paying dividends and she will probably be there to use her legacy advantage. Can she win the vote? She’d probably need to get rid of her closest ally to do so but will she do it? That, I doubt.
Ken: Like he said, Ken has been around the block and nothing has really troubled him yet. The marooning was an occasion for him to show his survival skills. The formation of an alliance that didn’t include him was a way for him to make new bonds and work his way inside a stronger alliance. Finally, an unfavorable switch was a way for him to connect with a member of the other side and turn the whole game upside down. There is little doubt that he will now make it to the merger and there he will reunite with David who, by delivering Chris and Zeke, will put the numbers squarely in Ken’s favor. We heard him telling Adam that they would be with David and Jessica to the end and the edit gives us no reason to say he will be proven wrong. The promise wasn’t delivered arrogantly or with deception but with the same truthful intentions that we saw when he approached Jessica. Like Jessica asked, should we believe Ken 100%? I think we’d better believe him. The truth works well, not for those who say it out loud to everyone, but for those who use it to gain trust.
Things can certainly change in the next few episodes so we will wait for the merger to make an official pick, but right now, Ken has all the makings of our Sole Survivor.