We’ve reached that moment, Survivor fans: It’s time for the merge. The group gameplay and challenges are over and the three tribes are now one. The new Vinaka tribe of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X consists of seven Millenials and six Gen X-ers, but even with the slight lead, it’s anyone’s game. Especially with what we’ve seen all season up until now, nobody is sticking to traditional tribe divides.
I love the merge portion of the season – and particularly the first episode of the merge. There’s a subtle shift in the castaways’ attitudes when they meet up with new tribe mates and you get a real sense of how they could play the rest of the game. Players who once had the power might now be at the bottom and certain people take the opportunity to push themselves forward. The downside is the potential systematic annihilation of one tribe if things become cookie cutter and too easy. But if we’re truly lucky, it could be the beginning of one shock after the next.
When it came to Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, the three tribes were downright excited. The Ikabula tribe couldn’t hold back their joy at being taken away from their makeshift camp to start the merge phase. Let’s face it, they really did get the short end of the stick when the tribes were divided into three groups – they had to start from scratch. I’m still not quite sure how the final merged campsite was chosen between the three different tribes (if someone has a good guess, please share down in the comments). My thinking is maybe the host tribe had more players or won a challenge beforehand? The answer may have been cut for time.
This was a packed episode as compared to others. From some that come to mind: the group merging, the welcome feast, Adam searching for an idol, challenge and the typical backstabbing – it had a lot to discuss. If Taylor had not stolen food for a personal stash and Adam catching him, I think the welcome feast should’ve been cut down. There was a lot of time spent on this scene, and by this point in the game, more than half the players already knew each other. Though, the bits of the core Millennial four coming back together did provide groundwork for the future drama.
Even the challenge got a big chuck of airplay – and it’s one we’ve seen to death. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve watched the castaways hold a rope/stick/etc above their heads to stop a bucket of water from falling. I understand the challenge is physically taxing and it’s a fan favourite, but it needs to take a break for a while. Let’s try something different than the bucket.
The real meat of the episode came from the head-scratching gameplay of the Millennials. As I mentioned above, the Millennials outnumbered the Gen-Xers by one person – they had the power. And yet, everything they did this episode either alienated their relationships or was a plan to turn against each other. Right from the start, Hannah felt betrayed by Jay for blindsiding her and voting out Michaela. She’s absolutely right in this situation – if he wanted to work with her or secure their relationship, he should’ve told her of the switch. She’s already proven that she will do anything to be with the majority, but all he’s done is ruin their relationship and push her away.
The same goes for Taylor, Jay and Adam. Adam made the bonehead move of trying to get out Will (unnecessary), told Taylor in hopes of securing his alliance and yet forgetting that Taylor is Jay’s closest ally. Taylor OBVIOUSLY is going to spill everything! These Millennials are forgetting that this is a game that started out with two tribes; they were all playing together from Day #1. For a tribe with a minority number of players, the Gen X-ers had all the power – they only had to sit back and let Adam/Jay give them the opportunity to decide who would be going home. Unfortunately in this case, Michelle got the boot. But how did it end up this way?
Blindsides, that’s what. This all can be traced back to Mari’s vote off in the second episode. Adam, Zeke and even Hannah were surprised when the core Millennial alliance of Jay/Figgy/Taylor/Michelle turned against them (with Will and Michaela going along for the ride). Since then, those three always felt at the bottom but made decisions that finally gave them power at the tribe swap. Whereas the Gen X-ers have some semblance of tribe unity and trust, the Millennials don’t.
Michaela said it best at her vote off: Jay was going to regret that decision. From where things stand right now, it’s completely even but if the original tribes teamed up. Though, it’s not looking that way. If it doesn’t turn around for Jay (and by extension, the Millennials), their mistakes will surely catch up with them in a matter of time.