Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X Recap
Episode 1: May the Best Generation Win
By Jim Van Nest, Gen X-er
September 21, 2016

I don't know what we're laughing about.

Hello, good people. After months (that seemed longer) of waiting, the best reality television show ever is back. Welcome to Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X!! This is, amazingly, the 33rd season of Survivor and they're trying a new theme. We're separating the tribes along generational lines. As I said in my previews, I'm not a fan of this. I think there is plenty of drama in every season without a need to label the tribes. But, as with most Survivor seasons, if the cast is good, the show will be good. If they're not, it won't. On my first glance, the cast has a lot of potential to give us a great season.

We're back in Fiji for the first time since Season 14 and we have 20 people vying for the title of Sole Survivor and the $1 million that comes with it. With that in mind, we'll have to have some double eliminations along the way to fit that many people into the confines of a typical season. We've been promised twists and turns. We've been promised weather and we've been promised series "firsts". We're also getting a 90 minute premiere tonight, so hopefully we'll get to know some of these people before the first episode is over. I don't really have much of an intro here as I'm just ready to get to the show. So without further ado, let's hit the tagline. Thirty-nine days, 20 people, one Survivor!

The show begins with some amazingly beautiful shots of several of the islands of Fiji. Over these shots, Jeff tells us that the players do not yet know the theme of the season. We meet a couple of the Millennials first - a snowboard instructor, a video game player and Zeke - who hates Twitter, despite being ON Twitter. We meet a couple Gen Xers - an attorney, a mom with a sweet Minnesota accent and a TV writer who doesn't think young people would put in much time to get what they want. I don't care what anyone tells me, this theme is being strongly forced. These people HAD to have been asked the most leading questions. This is not starting out well for me.

Once we get an abbreviated theme song, the boats make it to the beach and Jeff has them draw for buffs. Once all of the orange and purple has been distributed, he breaks the news to them. It's a generational war - Millennials vs. Gen X. I wonder if they couldn't have already figured out their tribal breakdown - considering everyone with an orange buff is wearing some kind of shade of red, orange or pink, while everyone on the purple tribe seems to be wearing blue. Way to keep THAT a secret, Jeff. Right off the bat, Jeff asks if anyone wants to cop to being the youngest player. Will raises his hand and gets a huge cheer for leaving high school to play Survivor. Um...what? Anyway, Jeff asks who is the oldest on the Gen X tribe. Paul raises his hand and then right off the bat starts complaining about the whole "everyone gets a trophy." As a born right in the heart of Gen X (born in 1970) - if I have to hear about the trophy thing one more time, I'm gonna find a litter of kittens and beat them all with my son's Pinewood Derby participation trophy. Get the eff over it already. By the way, this is a record for "how fast can Survivor or someone on Survivor piss me off."

While I was ranting, Jeff tells both tribes that right off the bat they'll need to run into the jungle and grab their gear and food for the trip to their beach. There are a couple of places to make choices, but overall, it's just a free for all grabbing crap. The first decision is a bunch of pots and pans or a hammer. This makes no sense to me or either tribe - they all take the pots and pans. The second choice is either chickens or fishing gear. Gen X wastes no time taking the fishing gear. Millennials end up taking the chickens. Right off the bat, it seems kinda stupid to take chickens over fishing gear. I mean, you have fishing gear; you have the potential for food all season long. But - how many times have we seen a tribe, even with fishing gear, not able to catch anything? While I also would have taken the gear, I'm not so sure that taking the chickens was a huge mistake like others do. Also in the commotion of grabbing stuff, one of the Gen Xers, Jessica, finds an envelope on the ground. She quickly scoops it up and tucks it in the waistband of her pants. We have no idea what it is, but I'm sure it's something awesome, right?

As time expires and everyone gets back to their mat, Jeff warns them all that this is cyclone season in Fiji and there are storms moving in. He tells them to not waste any time getting a shelter built as they're expecting some really bad weather. Naturally, neither tribe will listen. Before the tribes get to their beaches, I want to point out a couple confessionals we heard over the beginning of the show. I mention them because they could be foreshadowing something. As you know, I never read spoilers, so this is all just conjecture through the first 12 minutes. But we've already got soundbites of Mari (my winner pick) talking about how her generation is the best. We also have a quote of her saying, "Survivor is the game of games and I am Going. To. Win." So, through 12 minutes, it's looking real good for my winner pick.

We see the Millennials (tribe name Vanua - who knew?) get to camp first. They start by introducing themselves. Within about five minutes, Taylor (the snowboard bro) and Jay (the long man-bun bro) have hit it off. And whadaya know, they've also hit it off with Michelle and Figgy - the hot chicks. So mere moments into the game, we have a bro and chick alliance of four ready to take over the game. Zeke is feeling out of sorts with the "kids" on his tribe. He definitely identifies older than they do. Not looking good for Zeke right out of the gate.

Over at Gen X beach (Tribe name Takali) - the older crowd arrives and introduce themselves. Paul takes the time as the old guy to give a pep talk about how this setup is gonna be great for them. They're thinkers and hard workers. Ken, the model, chimes in that as Gen Xers, they also know that they can't underestimate their opponents. Gen X uses their hands, but the other tribe uses their brains. They can't just assume they'll win easily. Ken also tells them that he's lived off the grid for the last five years and that he has extensive experience living off the land. Jessica, our girl with the envelope, finds some time to sneak off and open it. She has pulled the very first "Legacy Advantage." This letter will give her an advantage on Day 36, if she's still in the game. If she gets voted out, she'll have to will the advantage to someone else. So, one way or another, the advantage will play on Day 36, we just don't know who for, right now.

We come back from break to the Millennial beach. Figgy and Taylor solidify their bond. Jay and Figgy solidify their bond. I have to give Jay some props for calling the three of them the Triforce. Sweet Zelda reference, bro! They also talk about how Michelle is with them - so they have their solid four-person alliance. And with that locked up, they go about the business of letting everyone know they're a click. Hannah is not too happy to see the click of Kappa Kappa Survivor forming, so she tries to make a bond with Michelle. They seem to get along well and Michelle tells us that a lot of people trust her because of her faith - she's the missionary recruiter, remember.

Over at Gen X beach, everyone is a workin'. Ken, who has all the knowledge, doesn't seem to be leading anything. Rachel and Paul are working on digging a hole for something...and Rachel proves herself to be quite a bit annoying. Sunday, our Minnesota mom, is not too thrilled with Rachel. Meanwhile, Chris and Bret have decided to take over the building of the shelter. David is over there to help them and he tells us how much he hates the outdoors, and the sun, and the water and almost everything about Survivor, except the game. As they work, David sees Ken and Paul a little bit away and fantasizes that they have the idol. So, he tries to get Bret and Chris to question it. No one has an idol, David is just overly paranoid. Dare I say he's paranoi-ing? Chris doesn't like how hard David is playing this quickly out of the gate.

Over at orange beach, Adam tells us that they're in a world of hurt with their shelter. The wind is picking up and the tribe has decided to stop working and go swimming. Adam and Mari are the only ones not in the water, but they do the smart thing and don't try to make everyone else get to work. When that much of the tribe wants to play, it's not in your best interest to speak up. You just roll with it and end up the way this tribe does. All of a sudden, it's dark, the storm is picking up and they have a half-assed shelter that actually collapses under the weight of like three people. What we get next are a bunch of scenes of how bad the storm is and how bad their shelter is. Hannah suggests that this storm just might be their punishment for not building a shelter.

We come back from commercial to the Gen X beach on Day 2. Everyone here is miserable as well. No one slept and everyone is cold and wet. And in an unprecedented move, the tribe gets Tree Mail which includes a huge tarp. The note says that the storm is getting worse and that they will be required to give the tarp back when the weather breaks. If Jeff has to come get it, it'll cost them more than the tarp. Um, whoa! Chris points out (and he's right) that he doesn't recall anyone being given a tarp they didn't have to earn. He's really concerned about what the weather has in store for them the rest of the season.

Over at Millennial beach, Michaela agrees with Chris that things are not going to be good if Jeff is giving away tarps. With their tarp in hand, they set off to improve their epically bad shelter. As Zeke talks about how it can't get worse - we get a shot of Jeff showing up at camp. He tells them that the storm has been upgraded to a cyclone and is expected to hit their beach tonight. For the first time in Survivor history, they've made the decision to evacuate the camps until the storm passes. They can grab their personal items and their chickens and get out of there.

We join the Gen X tribe as Jeff shows up at their camp. They're all concerned, because Jeff never comes to camp. He tells them to grab their stuff and head out to a safe place to wait out the storm. We see a confessional from Rachel in which the wind is blowing so much she can hardly stand up. As they make their way to the waiting boat, the winds pick up tremendously and the rain seems to be swirling around them. I don't know, I'm not sure that being out on the ocean is a much better place to be with the weather coming in, but I guess they don't have far to go.

After the break, we are treated to some storm footage. This storm is some serious business. We actually see a tree come down and land dead on the Gen X shelter. Had they not been evacuated, it's a safe bet they would have been in that shelter when the tree came down and someone or someone(s) could have been seriously hurt, even killed. This footage, I've learned, was caught because one of the camera guys rigged up a Go-Pro camera to another staffer's extra cell phone battery charger and left the camera running through the storm. It was actually pretty ingenious and really paid off as it caught the tree falling on the shelter.

Day 3 dawns all sunny and beautiful as if nothing ever happened. EVERYone is released back to camp and we come back to Gen X first. They are blown away to see their camp and the shelter. They don't waste a lot of time, though, and get back to the work of building a shelter. In a scene reminiscent of Stephen Fishbach on Second Chance, David has a fight with a stick, but he finally gets it to break, so good for him. He tells us that he's feeling the game slip away from him. He doesn't have anything going for him right now. So, also in Fishbach-ian form, he starts shamelessly searching for the idol. The rest of the tribe openly talks about him searching like this. Jessica tells us that the whole tribe is annoyed and that if they had to vote now, David would be gone.

The Millennials get back to camp and everything is just as destroyed over there. Zeke comes out of nowhere and leads the building of the new shelter. And once that's done, he uses bamboo to start a fire with no flint. For a major fish out of water character, he has stepped up like no one before. A shelter and a fire...are you kidding me? Once that stuff is out of the way, the beautiful people make it really obvious they're a group. Hannah doesn't like it, so she goes to Mari to talk game. They decide to collect the rest of the misfits (or Freaks and Geeks). Which is SO stereotypical of the high school click. The beautiful people think they have this indestructible force, never taking one second to think that their alliance of four is on the short end of a 6-4 Misfit vs. Pretty people split. Come on, man! Strive to be more than a reality TV cliché! Please!

As we come back from break we FINALLY get to a challenge. And it's a big one. It's the typical first challenge obstacle course, but with a twist. On two of the obstacles, the tribes will have a choice to make. They can choose to make the obstacle easier. The price? The challenge ending puzzle will have 10 pieces added to it for each short cut they take. It starts at 50 and will have 70 if they use both shortcuts. Right off the bat, things get tough. Chris blocks the millennials from getting one of the clubs they need until his tribe has all of their clubs. Gen X takes the short cut on the next obstacle. It's the tunnel of ropes and for all the big guys on this tribe; I certainly see why they would take the shortcut here. Once through, they take the shortcut on the balance beam as well, which gives them a 70-piece puzzle. David and Rachel take the lead on the puzzle for Gen X.

The Millennials skip the first shortcut and it slows them down. Once through the ropes, they take the shortcut on the balance beam and they will have a 60-piece puzzle to work. Michelle and Figgy take the puzzle and they make quick work of it. David and Rachel accomplish next to nothing and eventually tag out. But it doesn't matter, the kids get the puzzle completed very quickly and Gen X will be headed to the first Tribal where someone will be the first person voted out of Survivor Season 33. As they head back to camp, Chris tells us that David and Rachel jumped up to do the puzzle and they essentially lost the challenge for them, so they're on the block tonight.

Naturally, we come back from break to the Gen X tribe as they work to decide who to send home first overall. Bret tells us that Rachel volunteered to do the puzzle and that they're her thing. He wants her gone. Jessica, Sunday and Bret all decide that Rachel should be the vote. David, on the other hand, is worried that he's the vote, since no one is talking to him. He goes down to the water to talk to Jessica and company. He tells her that he wants to stay and he will vote for whoever she wants him to. Just say the name and he'll vote that way. And this is what is called effective scrambling. When your ass is on the line, you go to whoever seems to be in charge (and right now, that's Bret, Jessica, Sunday and Chris) and you promise them your loyalty and your vote.

David is playing this the best way he can. I'm not sure if it will work, but it's all he has at this point. Jessica asks him about an idol and he tells her that he doesn't have one - which we all know he doesn't. So, he talks to the rest of the group and tells them that he was looking, but that he never found an idol. He tells them that if they keep him through this vote, they'll have his loyalty. Bret thinks he has an idol, so he is thinking of splitting the vote between Rachel and David. He has six people, just enough to split. Well, unless the misfits of this tribe get together and link all four of their votes...then THEY have the majority. Does no one do the math on this shit? You should never split the vote if the people kept out of the loop outnumber you. Rachel and CeCe are up at camp and they're watching everyone chatter. No one is coming to them, so they know they're out of the loop and the assumption is that Rachel will be getting the vote. As Rachel gets more and more concerned, David is getting more assurances that he is safe. He sure hopes they're telling him the truth. I'm not so sure. With Bret so sure he has an idol, if they make him feel safe, they can blindside him and the idol he doesn't have right out of the game.

We get to Tribal and Jeff has them all get their torches and dip them in the fire - because, as you know, fire represents your life in this game. When your fire is out, so are you. He starts his questioning by asking about the weather and the evac. He makes note that Jessica seems to have something going on with her eyes. She looks like she has some wicked pink eye. She tells him that sand got blown into her right eye and then developed a bacterial infection which has now spread to her left eye. She looks really bad. And really contagious.

David talks about how he is scared of everything, including going home tonight. Everyone admits to being worried about getting voted out. Chris seems to think it's just paranoia. Rachel, on the other hand, feels really uncomfortable because no one really strategized with her prior to Tribal. And in all seriousness, that is HUGE. If you come back from a challenge and no one wants to talk to you prior to Tribal, you're going home. David says that tonight's vote is a test for him to prove that he can be trusted. And with that, it's time to vote.

They show no votes, which seems odd for the first vote of the season. Something of note, Bret fist bumps Paul as he sits down. It would seem that the alliance here is Bret, Paul, Chris, Jessica, Sunday and Lucy (yes, there's someone named Lucy on the show). Let's see how the votes play out. First vote: David. Second vote: Rachel. Third vote: Sunday. Wha? Fourth vote: CeCe. Whaaaaa? Now it starts to alternate, Rachel, CeCe, Rachel, CeCe. And the final two votes come up for Rachel, making her the first person voted out of Survivor 33 - Millennials vs. Gen X.

And once again, we learn that early in Survivor, the annoying person is more likely to be voted out than the overly strategic player. David was really the vote here. You can’t trust this guy. Sure, he's with you now, but come swap or merge time, he's gone. Rachel may have annoyed everyone, but she would have been loyal. And she most definitely wasn’t coming out of the gate playing super hard like David. Why CeCe ended up in the mix, I have no idea. But at the end of the day, the six DID split the vote between Rachel and CeCe. David and Ken jumped on board and voted for Rachel. Rachel and CeCe voted for Sunday and David respectively. Very interesting first Tribal Council of the season.

Overall, I liked the first episode. I still don't like the theme. I don't like the forced adversarial tone that Jeff seemed to be going for here. I also don't like that some of the cast fell right into the stereotypes that go with their generation. I do enjoy that the pretty people alliance is headed for a huge crash and they have no idea. I have hope for the season, especially once the tribe swap comes around. Anyway, let's talk Next Time on Survivor: There's a sho-mance blooming on the Millennial tribe and it just might cause a rift in the bros. Jay is heard telling his boy that power couples don't last in this game.

Also, it looks like we'll be seeing Dr. Joe over at the Gen X camp, but not for whom you would assume, Jessica and her eyes. Dr. Joe says, "He might have had a heart attack." Egads! We see a teary eyed confessional from David, so it's not him. I think Ken is out of the woods on this one, Chris too. If I were to guess, it's either Paul or Bret. And whatever happens, it's not cool. Let's hope everything turns out okay for them and they either can stay in the game or can get the medical help they need. Until next time kids, thanks for reading. Take care!