Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen Xers
Episode 9 - Still Throwin' Punches
By Jim Van Nest, Gen X-er
November 22, 2016

Just. No.

Hello, good people, and welcome back to Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X! We enter our ninth episode of this season of Survivor and I'm wondering where all the women went? This season started out with an even 10-10 man-woman split. After eight votes, seven women have been dispatched, while only Paul was dumped from the men's side of the ledger. I'm not sure this has been on purpose, but it is a bit curious. And oddly enough, I'm not sure the cast is even aware of it. Nor do they seem to be aware that the dismissal of Michelle last week knocked the original tribes even again - with six Millennials and six Gen Xers remaining.

What we've seen this season - more than most, I think - is that the original tribes don't mean a whole lot to this group. They seem to have latched on to their swapped tribe a little more. As it stands right now, we have a massive majority alliance of nine and the second coming of the Three Amigos in the minority. The majority alliance, though, seems to have two factions. There's the David, Zeke and Chris faction - which has ties to Bret and Sunday as well as Adam and Hannah. Then there's the Ken and Jessica faction, which has ties to Adam and Hannah as well as ties to David. It's hard to say how this gigantic group will move forward, but one thing's for sure: Jay, Taylor and Will are in trouble. And if we're to believe the previews, Taylor is going to continue his quest to exact revenge on Adam for sending his island girlfriend - to distinguish between his actual girlfriend at home - on the pre-jury vacation.

I'm wondering if the decisive vote to take out Michelle next week will even register with Taylor that he and his bros are in trouble. I guarantee Will and Jay are thinking about it. They have to know what kind of position they're in and are probably marveling at the way this game can change on a dime. Just a couple days ago, they sent Michaela home and were kings of the island. And with one merge and one vote, their fortunes have changed and tonight they could be fighting for their lives in this game. Ah, those fickle Survivor Gods!

We begin tonight's episode at camp after the vote and Jay is distraught about how the vote went. He is especially pissed with the millennials that joined up with Gen X to vote out Michelle. Chris, on the other hand was very pleased with how the voting went. He still doesn't feel very confident about Adam, but at this point, does it even matter? As Taylor and Jay try to figure out what happened, Taylor decides he should probably talk to Adam to see where they stand, so Adam doesn't blow up his food hoarding. At the same time, he decides that he should probably rat out Adam's advantage in the game. Cut to a scene of Taylor enjoying his food stash and I have to wonder, was there really nothing else of interest going on surrounding this episode that we can waste two minutes of show time on Taylor eating??

Jay, knowing that he's in trouble, is trying to find a way out of the hole he's in. He goes to Hannah to see where they are. She tells Jay that she felt like she was being carried by his group, which does nothing but make her a really good goat to take to the end. She decided to step out of that and make her own play. To his credit, Jay brightens up and congratulates her and tells her how proud of her he is. Which is a really nice way to pull her contrast to Taylor, who vows revenge against people who voted against him, Jay is trying to reel that person back in. He has some game; I just hope the arrogance that has him sitting on the bottom doesn't do him in. As Jay tries to figure out his next move, Hannah tells us how exciting it is to start playing the game instead of letting it play out around her.

We come back from break on Day 24 and it's time for a Probst Sighting! Today's reward challenge is a beast. The group will be broken into two teams of six. They'll maneuver an obstacle course to retrieve a key. This key will unlock a super heavy box which they'll have to drag under a tight cargo net. Once out of the net, you open the box to pull out five bolos. You will then use them to land on a hugs ladder golf stand (hillbilly golf - for my family). First to land all five bolos wins reward, which is a trip to a resort with all kinds of food and alcohol (except for Will). The tribes will be a school yard pick 'em and when all is said and done, the teams are Captain Chris, Ken, Bret, David, Taylor and Sunday against Jay, Will, Adam, Zeke, Jessica and Captain Hannah.

While they're pretty close through the obstacle course. The cargo net becomes too hard for Hannah's team to maneuver and Taylor hooks all five bolos before Hannah's team get their crate out from under the cargo net. As we head to break, Hannah tells us she chose Jay and Will because she wanted to keep them close to her, but ultimately, she picked a terrible team for this challenge and she hopes it doesn't set her back.

We come back from break as the winners arrive at the resort. There is a ton of eating, which Taylor says he's more prepared for, since he's been sneaking food. And then there's a ton of drinking, most of which is done by Bret. Chris estimates he had eight or nine drinks during the reward. Um, that's a lot for ANY night, much less one where you haven't eaten anything for 24 days. This has potential to be bad. As Bret continues to be the life of the party, Sunday starts breaking down the Gen Xers. She is tight with Bret and Chris, but she doesn't trust David, Ken or Jessica. She tells us that it might be time to start taking out some of their own so she can have a little more control in the game.

Back at camp, Jay and Adam head down to the water, bummed about losing the challenge. Jay is still scrambling and wants to see where Adam is. Adam explains to Jay that his move was pure self-preservation. He knew he was caught and that votes were coming to him. So he could either flip with Gen X or go home, and that's no choice. Very logical and understandable argument. He tries to explain to Jay that Taylor is the reason their alliance is on the bottom. Jay seems surprised to hear that he's on the bottom, though I don't understand how that can surprise him. He was on the wrong side of a 9-4 vote. How could he be anything but on the bottom??

He tells us that Adam was "rubbing his face in it"...but really he wasn't. He was simply stating the facts and when Jay seemed surprised, Adam pointed out the hard truth. Not really rubbing his face in it, I don't think. However, if Jay took it that way, perception is most of the time reality in Survivor. So, Jay is now out to get off the bottom and get Adam out of the game. Jay tells Will about this conversation, with Hannah and Zeke also there. They both confirm that they're not all that stoked about working with Adam. Zeke tells us that Adam was so dumb to have had that conversation because that kind of thing makes people vote for you.

As the sun rises on Day 25, we find most everyone sitting around the fire. Sunday and Bret start to talk about how they both want Jessica out. She wants to use Jay in her plan here, so she asks Jay who he would want to vote out. He gives the perfect answer, "I'll write down whoever you say." She tells Jay that she is going to push for Jessica as the vote tonight. He tells her that he'll make sure he and his folks vote Jessica tonight, unless he hears something different. And with that, it's time for another...

Probst Sighting!! Today's challenge is another "test of wills" challenge. Each person will stand on a narrow inclined beam while holding a bow shaped object. On that bow will be balanced a ball. If you fall off the perch or drop your ball, you are out. At regular intervals, they will move down the perch to narrower boards. Last person still balancing their ball wins immunity and will be safe from the vote tonight. Let's draw for spots!

But wait - Jeff is offering a choice. If you feel safe enough, you can sit out of this challenge and feast on grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, potato chips and beer or soft drinks. When all is said and done, Zeke and Will are the only ones who choose to eat over participating in the challenge.

As the challenge begins, Will tells us that he knows he had no chance of winning, so he decided to skip it and eat, rather than participate, lose and get nothing. I would have thought a few more people would have felt the same way about this. The only reason to stay in is if you absolutely HAVE to have immunity or you feel like the challenge is one that you can win.

The first round will be a mere five minutes. And go. Within seconds, Hannah starts to wobble and she drops out. No win for her and no food, either. And this is what I'm talking about. Did she really think she could win this? If not, she should have bailed and taken the food. Everyone else makes it through Round 1 and they all move down. After some wobble, Bret loses his ball and he drops out. "Why didn't I opt out?" Good question, Bret.

After this, everyone makes it to the next round again! They're actually doing quite well, but the board now is very narrow. I expect them to start dropping like flies now. As expected; Jessica, Sunday, David and Chris drop out almost immediately. A few seconds later, Adam drops out. Jay follows him and Taylor and Ken are the only two that remain. Both guys start to wiggle a bit. Taylor seems to be playing around, whistling and moving his bow around and after a few minutes of this, he pays the price. Taylor's ball drops and Ken wins immunity! As they head back to camp, Jay tells us that his life in the game is in Sunday's hands as he hopes they can get enough people to vote out Jessica and save Taylor and himself.

We get back to camp after the challenge and it's time to play "It's Anyone But Taylor or Jay." David breaks everything down for us. It's between Jay and Taylor tonight. Will, he says, is safe because he's less of a threat. He thinks they need to split the votes, just in case there's an idol, which is smart. They have nine versus three - they can easily split the vote 5-4 and still maintain an advantage, no matter which way the three vote. So, the group gets together and arranges their split and everyone seems happy. David seems to want Jay to be the ultimate target of the night. Right after the big pow wow, Sunday pulls Bret, her closest ally, aside. She tells him she doesn't want Jay to go home; she wants to get rid of Jessica. Bret tells her he'll roll it past Chris to see what he thinks.

The next thing we see is Sunday talking to Jay in the hammock, telling him that the main group is looking at either him or Taylor. She apologizes to him and tells him that she tried but there's nothing she can do. Taylor joins the conversation and appears to be given the bad news. They don't hold ill will against Sunday, which is good; she did try to save them. Jay tells us that he's not done, though. He's Still Throwin' Punches.

After this little party breaks up, Taylor takes Jay down to his secret stash of food. Jay tells us, as he eats Taylor's food, that he has no plan to tell Taylor about the idol. He breaks down his idol options: using it for himself, playing it for Taylor or just doing nothing and taking his chance. As they dine, Taylor decides to tell Jay about Adam's advantage. They decide that it'll be way cool to blow Adam up with this information. As the tribe prepares to go to Tribal, Taylor tells us that he feels that Adam's secret is way bigger than his, especially since other people know he steals food. So, he may go out, but he plans to go out with a bang, blowing up Adam's advantage and game with him on the way out the door. After all, he is the Avenger of Figgy.

Jeff starts by asking Jay what happened at camp after Tribal. He liked the move, but hated being on the wrong side of the move. Adam chimes in that Jay isn't the only one to be blindsided during this game. And this pretty well starts the Jay, Will and Taylor vs Adam theme of the Tribal Council. Taylor admits to the tribe that he hid two full jars of food and that Adam helped him do it. Adam vehemently denies helping or eating any of the food. While Taylor and Jay have a blast with this, Adam never waivers from the fact that he didn't help or eat any of the food. He admits to not telling people what he knew but not partaking.

But wait, Taylor's not done. He tells everyone that Adam has an advantage in the game. Ken wants to hear from Adam what the advantage is, so Adam tells everyone. No one seems too concerned about it really, until Taylor starts telling them how Adam will be able to rip their loved one visit away from them. The back and forth goes on for a while until finally Adam suggests that if the advantage is that big of a deal, they should just vote him out. Jeff says, "Wow!" At which point, I noticed that it had been several minutes since Jeff had spoken, which is crazy for a Tribal Council.

Anyway, jogged back into the game, Jeff suggests that a Survivor bomb was just dropped on Tribal. David agrees and suggests that admitting their secrets will be the final nail in the coffin for one of them. Jeff does his best to try to tie this into the Millennial vs. Gen X theme. Jessica says that there's no way she would have stolen food and probably none of the Gen Xers would have either. Jay chimes in that he was just as appalled to hear about the food and what Adam and Taylor had done as anyone else. He says that if he were Adam, he would have told everyone. Uh, wait a minute - who just sat there and drained those jars of food right before Tribal??

Adam actually brings this up and Jay acts confused about it. Jeff steps in to say that if Adam should take heat for not telling everyone, that Jay has to own his part, which was eating some of the food. "He just said he would not take food from starving people and then admitted eating it." This Tribal was spiraling downward for Adam really quick, until he made that statement. That one seemed to bring everyone back to reality a little bit. And with all of that out of the way, it's time to vote.

Everyone slowly votes and we are shown none of them. Oooh, it's a secret. About the only thing I'm sure of is that the Jessica thing was either a complete red herring or it was put in as foreshadowing for a different episode. It is very clearly Jay, Taylor and Adam on the line tonight. Jeff comes back with the votes and asks if anyone would like to play their hidden idol. Let's remind everyone that two of the possible votees have idols - Jay and Adam. And, neither of them decides to play theirs.

Hmmm...interesting! First vote: Jay. Taylor. Adam. Then Jay. Taylor. Jay. Taylor. Looks like Adam's off the hook. Jay. Taylor. And now we're tied 4-4, with one for Adam. Three votes left. And they all come up...Taylor. He becomes the second member of the jury. So, when all was said and done, it was seven for Taylor, four for Jay and one for Adam. I'm interested to see how the votes were split up. The plan was to do a 5-4 split. Does that mean that two of the new three amigos turned on each other? Jay and Will turned on Taylor, I guess? I don't know...I guess I'll wait out the commercials and see what the votes looked like.

Next time on Survivor: the Gen Xers start to fall apart from within. We see David talking about going after Chris, we hear Chris talking about going after Jessica. Sitting in the middle of all of this is Zeke, who gets a little info thrown his way from Will - Jay had an idol. Will tells us he doesn't want to tell too many people. We then see Zeke telling David, David telling Chris and Chris telling Bret. We also see David telling Hannah, so EVERYone will know that Jay has an idol next week. Which can only mean that a Gen Xer is going home. Should be exciting to see who it will be.

Okay, let's get to those votes. I was right, Jay and Will both voted for one of their own. Jay voted for Taylor and Will voted for Jay; meanwhile Taylor cast his vote for Adam. Overall, it looks like the split didn't go down the way they planned as only three people voted for Jay, but ultimately, I'm sure no one cares and it won't be discussed. I'm just obsessing over something that doesn't really matter. It happens. Please be sure to come back and join me next week for a double helping of Survivor as next Wednesday's pre-Thanksgiving episode will be super-sized up to two hours!!! So we should see two people going home next week, woo hoo!!! 'Til then, take care!