Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X-ers - Episode Recap
Episode 8 - I'm The Kingpin
By Jim Van Nest, Gen X-er
November 15, 2016

Millennial strategist

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen Xers. We have finally made it. The Merge episode! The previews for this week have been all about the merge, so we should probably set the stage for the halfway point of the season.

At the orange Vanua tribe, Zeke has managed to work his way in with both Chris and David, leaving Michelle on the outs with her dragons. Michelle, however, is part of the Tri-Force alliance with Jay and Taylor, which gives her a potential alliance come merge time. At the purple Takali tribe, Ken and Jessica are firmly in control of the tribe with handshake deals with both Adam and Taylor. Adam has previous relationships with Zeke and Hannah. Taylor has the Triforce; meanwhile, Ken and Jessica also have David. The green Ikabula tribe shocked the Survivor world last week by #blindsiding Michaela. Jay and Will are firmly in control of the tribe and seem to have been joined by the pair of Bret and Sunday - which leaves Hannah blowing in the wind on her own. But she has past relationships with Zeke and Adam. Bret and Sunday also have a tight bond with Chris. Then you have to factor in that Taylor wants revenge on Adam for the Figgy vote. Hannah wants revenge on Jay and Will for the Michaela vote. Chris wants revenge on Jessica for the Paul vote. Michelle wants revenge on Zeke for not being her bestie. Confused? You won't be after this week's episode of Survivor. (Anyone who gets this reference is VERY Gen X.)

We begin tonight's episode at Ikabula after the stunning blindside of Michaela. Jay tells us about the blindside he pulled off and how he felt it was super important to get rid of Michaela before the merge. As Sunday and Bret thank them for staying in the game. Hannah was obviously kept in the dark and in a very subtle, very awesome move, Jay says, "We didn't tell her because we didn't want to get her dirty." Hannah says she would have voted with them, but he tells her he didn't want her to have to play that way. What an awesome way to cover for the fact that he couldn't trust Hannah not to freak out all through Tribal. Hannah tells us that she is at the bottom and she can't trust anyone. So, while Jay made a super effort, she doesn't seem to be buying it. He tells her that from now on he will always include her in their moves. But she tells us that she's now out for revenge.

As the sun rises on Day 21, we stick with the Ikabula tribe as a boat is pulling into the shore. As the boat lands, a man hands over a parchment. This paper tells them that they have five minutes to grab their personal gear and anything else they'll need to take with them to their new beach. Bret is so excited to make it to the merge. With his new alliance of Jay and Will and the old alliance of Chris, he feels pretty good about it.

We check in with Takali on moving day to find that they will also not be staying at their beach. Adam is also excited to have made the merge, but he knows that now is where the game really starts to kick in. Cue the titles.

We come back from break as two boats make their way to Vanua beach. The screaming from the boats wakes the orange tribe up. They are also excited about the merge, especially Zeke. He's excited to be off the bottom and in a place to possibly make some noise after the merge. As they disembark, all the previous alliances start hugging it out. Michelle and Jay. Ken and David. After all the hugs, they open up a couple of crates and have the Merge Feast. As they begin to eat, Jay tells us that he's in great shape as he has his alliance of Taylor and Michelle back. But he also has his Ikabula tribe, so he's feeling like the kingpin out there. I should also mention that the new merged tribe buffs are black. Very cool. They decide to introduce and tell a little about themselves so that everyone will now know everyone. Bret tells us that he's glad to see his buddy Chris, but he thinks he might be able to have something with Jay. Then he sees how all the millennials seem to get back together, he's not so sure he can stick with that. Chris tells us that he's not sure how this is going to work either. He likes his group with David and Zeke. And if he can add them to Bret and Sunday, they could do something.

Zeke tells us that he's excited to get back together with his nerd alliance of Hannah and Adam. They all get together and start sharing intel, especially the events that led up to Michaela getting voted out. Hannah tells them that she was blindsided as well and that Jay was the mastermind. This gets Zeke's attention and he starts noticing how the guys are all hanging out. He knows that Jay will control Taylor and Michelle's votes. And if he gets in with the Chris' and Ken's of the game, he could be in good shape. As we head to break, Zeke is telling us how worried he is about this sudden change in the tribe, all centering around Jay.

We come back from break to the new Vinaka tribe on Day 21. As people continue to pick at the merge feast food, Adam tells us that he's not that into the food and that he's more concerned about the merge tribe idol. My initial thought it that there probably won't be a merge tribe idol - not with all three regular tribe idols actually in play. But he's searching and searching. And since they're including this in the show, something is about to happen, right? Well, as he's looking around Tree Mail, he looks up into the thatched roof and sees a rolled up clue. This clue is a Reward Stealer. Once Jeff has presented the reward, but before the winner leaves the challenge area, he can speak up and steal the reward from the winner. Another Survivor first - but I'm not so sure I like this one. I'm trying to figure out exactly how you could steal someone's reward and not end up paying for it almost immediately. But, it is a pretty sweet kink in the game. I wonder if he'd have the balls to steal the family visit??

So, in the middle of the night, Bret wakes up because he hears the clanging of glass and sees that Taylor is getting into the food, eating some of it and hoarding some more of it. He's pissed that someone would steal the food that 13 people are needing to survive. He decides not to say anything right now and goes back to bed. A few minutes later, Adam hears Taylor. So, yeah, Tails? If you're going to be a lying, stealing bastard - you might want to try to be quiet about it.

Anyway, Adam takes this as an opportunity to "catch" Taylor in the act and possibly work a deal with him. Once he catches him, he tells Taylor that he's worried about Jay. He says that Jay has Will as his right hand man now and not Taylor. He makes the pitch to vote out Will and perhaps Jay and Taylor can get back to working together. On top of all that, Adam tells Taylor about the reward stealer he found early in the day. He even suggests that he might use it in the family challenge. Taylor, however, has not forgotten. He listens to Adam, nods his head and shakes his hand. But he tells us that he's been waiting for revenge and it looks like now might be the time.

As day 22 dawns; Sunday, Bret, Ken and Chris are all sitting on a log talking about possibly having a watermelon today. Ken suggests that they need to hope that nobody ate it, because the mangoes disappeared overnight. Bret tells them all that it was Taylor. They start to talk about how close the Millennials are and that they need to do something about it. Chris tells us that he's really concerned about how tight the Millennials are. Chris lays it out to Bret. The two of them pull in Sunday, David and Zeke. Then they hook up with Ken and Jessica to create an unbeatable seven-person alliance and target a Millennial. At the same time, David is talking to Ken, Jessica and Zeke talking about the same strategy and they decide Taylor should be the vote since everyone is pissed at him anyway.

We come back from break and join Jay and Taylor on the beach. They agree to keep the Millennials in the game. He wants to get the Gen X'ers to turn on one of their own. But as they're talking, Taylor tells Jay about Adam's plan to take out Will. He says that he knows they don't really want to take out a Millennial, but maybe it's time to take Adam out. Especially since he'd never expect it. And right on cue, Zeke happens to be behind them hearing every word without them knowing it. Naturally, he freaks out a little and realizes that something will have to be done to stop that and to try to weaken Jay, as he's the strongest player out there. So, he heads back to the nerdery to try to set something up.

Meanwhile, Taylor has Will pulled aside. He tells him that everything is getting crazy. He tells Will that Adam is gunning for him. Will freaks out, worrying that Adam might actually be able to pull the numbers together and he has now set his sights on winning immunity. And with that in mind, it's time for a....

Probst Sighting!!! And here we are at the very first individual immunity challenge. And it looks to be a Survivor classic. A test of wills. Who wants it more? Today's challenge will have them balancing on a narrow perch with their hands tethered to a bucket above their head. Once their bucket dumps over, they're out of the challenge. Last person standing wins!

Just moments into the challenge, Sunday loses it and gets a blue shower. Just after that, Chris takes a blue shower. Then Bret takes a white shower. And just like that the Gen Xers are dropping like flies. Jay and Zeke are next out. Jeff starts asking everyone where they're feeling it. Adam says he isn't feeling it. Hannah tells him that she's feeling it everywhere. And just like that, Ken drops out and then Hannah. Michelle drops out and leaves only five people in the challenge. Taylor drops right after her, then David and then Adam. We're down to two. Jessica and Will remain. At the one-hour mark, Jeff starts up a conversation. Jessica talks about making her kids proud. Will is trying to make his mom proud. Thirty minutes later, they're both still standing. Ok, so look - at the 30 minute mark, all but 2 people had dropped out of this challenge. An hour later, these 2 are still Beast Moding through. It's a real shame that someone will have to lose as this is one of the most impressive efforts I've seen in this game. No matter who wins, Will and Jessica get mad props for just destroying this challenge like they have!

Finally it starts to happen, Jessica is starting to show signs of fatigue. She's wobbling a lot. Will then has a small tick, but Jessica just can't hold on anymore, and Will. Wins. Immunity! As we head to break, Adam tells us that his whole plan is blown up and he needs to work on something else.

As the tribe returns to camp, everyone congratulates Will on the challenge win and Adam is visibly shaken. Will and Jay decide that Adam has to go. Michelle doesn't agree with this plan. She thinks they're voting on a personal note instead of a strategic one. At the watering hole, Zeke comes and tells Adam and Jessica that he heard Taylor telling Jay about the plan to vote Will. Zeke tells them that he thinks he has the votes to take out Taylor and save Adam. As Adam makes a pitch to David, Zeke, Ken and Chris - the group goes back and forth about who to vote out. Zeke and Ken agree that Taylor should be the target. David tells them they should be worried about an idol and that maybe Michelle is a better get here. Zeke feels pretty sure that Jay has the idol and there's nothing to worry about. After several minutes of this, the group breaks up still without a definitive target. Adam, worried that nothing will happen here, decides he needs to try out Plan B.

So, he goes to Taylor. Taylor tells him that he made a play for Will too soon. He tells us that Adam is going home and he'll finally have his revenge for Figgy. Adam leaves and Will joins and they discuss voting for Adam and wonder whether he might have an idol. They quickly dismiss that idea and continue to target him. Meanwhile, David and Hannah see Adam scrambling and talking to Taylor and now THEY'RE wondering if Adam is turning on them. Hannah corrals Adam and tells him that he has to stop scrambling so much, because people are getting worried about him. He tells her that he doesn't trust anyone but her. Nice play by Hannah here. She's been pretty frazzled for most of the show, but here, she is dead on right. Adam has an alliance that's with him, but every time they see him talking to someone else, he casts a larger shadow of doubt. Hannah and Zeke talk about Adam and they agree that he has to go soon because he has this desire to keep hanging at the cool kids table.

Adam tells us that he does have the immunity idol and he can play it tonight. For some reason, though, he's worried about playing it and not needing it and looking like a chump. Anyway, we get to Tribal Council and we start talking about food and the fact that Taylor has been stealing it. Bret and Chris are very obviously irritated about it. Everyone else is also hungry, and Taylor just sits there with his dumbass surfer grin not caring one bit. He says that he's not even hungry, but when he wakes up and his stomach is a mess, he has to eat it. Or something like that. This is the most ridiculous line of discussion we've had at a Tribal in several seasons. Zeke does make the point that doing stuff like that could turn out to be million-dollar mistake.

Talk turns to tribe swaps and how much impact it has on trust. There's a lot of back and forth, but it all ends up coming back to who you trust. Jay, Taylor, Will and Michelle are all clearly together and their answers here prove that. They're all about keeping the people they trust close. Jeff is blown away that Taylor doesn't even look remotely worried. He says there's no point in worrying and that too many people are worrying too much. As he says this, he keys in on Adam. And Adam says that he most definitely is worried as he knows his name has been thrown out there. And with all that, it is time to vote.

Thirteen people vote and we only see one of them. Taylor writes down Adam's name and says, "This one's for Figs." We hear Zeke's vote saying, "I have never been able to trust you." But we don't see it. At this time, Jeff asks for anyone willing to play an idol and no one steps up. For real? Jeff starts reading votes. The first eight votes are split between Adam and Michelle. Then they roll in and the eighth person voted out of the game - Michelle. And just like that, the kingpin takes a huge hit in the first Tribal after the merge. And what we've seen tonight is that the Gen X tribe has trust between each other and the Millennials are all over the place. And if this keeps up, we're going to see a Gen X sweep.

Next time on Survivor: Adam is public enemy #1 now. We see a quickie scene of him telling Jay and Taylor that they're on the bottom, as if they don't know that. Taylor decides to share Adam's reward stealer info with his alliance. His plan is to put a huge target on Adam's back. The only thing I can think here is that there's no way that Adam will go home next week. They'll never telegraph a vote that much, right? RIGHT? Well, if you want to find out, I guess you'll just have to come back next week and see. ‘Til then, take care!