Lightning CAN strike twice in the game of Survivor. For the second week in a row, Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X has delivered its second big blindside of the season. As I discussed in last week’s review, I LOVE blindsides–the sound of the music during the tense moment and the look on someone’s face when the vote turns: priceless. (This sounds a bit mean; I swear I’m not evil… only competitive.) The players are learning it the hard way. And as compared to last week, it’s the Gen X-ers turn.
Paul, the big burly guy who suffered heat exhaustion last week, got blindsided at Tribal Council. He started the week strong and in a great position: he was the leader of a six-person majority alliance that included him, two men and three women. Even with Ken, David and CeCe wanting him out, he still had the numbers and support from his alliance members to keep him around. All he had to do was sit back and reaffirm alliances in time for the vote–CeCe would’ve been the one voted off. However, he learned the hard way of the importance of a social game and relationship management.
EVERYTHING you say or do in the game of Survivor has weight to it. The people you go collect water with, the castaway you flirt with, the ones you chat the most with, the comments you make at Tribal Council–it all determines perception. A quick slip of the tongue and his overbearing ego ruined Paul’s game; he was already a target to begin with, but this pushed him over the edge. He made a bonehead move by revealing to the women that he favored the men over them in his alliance. For anyone playing a numbers game, it’s painfully clear where he would side when things were narrowed down. The minority alliance already made a spark by campaigning for him to be voted off; Paul’s comments fanned the flames. This moment will be looked to in the future as a cautionary tale for future players: agree to every alliance and reassure everyone is on equal footing.
Though, the recent summit twist could throw a wrench in that plan. The concept of certain tribe members going to meet enemy players for a short while is an interesting game move, and one that has been enacted before. For those lucky enough to go, it helps to create delayed alliances for tribe swaps or merges. David from the Gen X-ers is ready to jump ship the first chance he gets and work with Taylor. I’d be very curious if he actually does make the move when the time comes (or if he’ll still be around by then). Sometimes the tribes create new mixed alliances while other times, it’s complete “Pagonging” (the post-merge strategy of one tribe decimating the other by systematically voting out members one after the other). If he does break, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets voted out regardless.
Over at the Millennials tribe, the backlash of the Figgy vote is rearing its ugly head. The ego of the “popular clique” is exhausting, while those in the minority are feeling defeated. The power really still lies with Mikaela, Hannah and Will. In the early rounds of Survivor tribes, the middle players control the power but they’re too shortsighted to think about the long game. If they wanted to band against Figgy, Taylor, Jay and Michelle, they could make some real power with Zeke and Adam.
The better long-term strategy is to side with the boys; the popular clique is too strong together and they’re not breaking. Zeke and Adam are an unofficial pair, and by pulling in three others, the remaining players at merge would trust each other more. It’s already been shown the “core four” trusts each other explicitly and Michaela doesn’t get along with Figgy. Two guys vs. four strong athletes–it’s all in the math.
The final item of note is Jeff Probst and his stereotyping. Sure, this season of Survivor is called “Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X” and it looks at the game styles between the two groups. However, the whole bit at Tribal Council about the texting language, and how the Gen X-ers perform physically against the Millennials was a bit overdone for the sake of the theme. It perpetuated the “out-of-touch” stereotype of their generation and made the tribe seemed weaker compared to the younger players, which is wrong. Generally speaking, older castaways have performed just as a well in Survivor as the younger players, and they’ve won as many seasons. While this season’s theme defines the basis of the tribes, the castaways are more than the categories they’ve been placed in.