Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X - Episode Recap
Episode 13 - I'm Going for a Million Bucks, Part 2
By Jim Van Nest, Gen X'er
January 16, 2016

Raise a glass!

Hello good people and welcome to Part 2 of the Survivor: Millennials vs Gen X finale. Not wasting any time here - let's get right to it. Bret was just voted out of the game, much to the chagrin of Adam and the entire jury.

We pick up the action as our final 4 return to camp: David, Ken, Adam and Hannah. Both Adam and David are blown away that loyalty is so strong in this game. Adam tries to explain to Ken and Hannah why David is such a threat and they're just not buying it. In confessional, David is telling us that he can't believe they kept him in the game. And when the strategic mastermind/biggest threat thinks you messed up, ya done messed up A-A-Ron! We join Hannah and Adam discussing it and she says something about how she had to keep David in the game or she would upset Ken and then she wouldn't make the end. Um, if there's one thing I know, Hannah is making the final 3. Period. End of discussion. Regardless of who went home and in what order, Hannah will be making the final 3. Adam lays it out again...there are 4 people left, Ken is the most likely to win immunity and he'll never turn on David. Ergo, Ken and David are in the final 2 and no matter which of Hannah or Adam rides along, David wins the game. Period. Adam is completely distraught over all of this and he tells Hannah that they HAVE to win the final immunity tomorrow. HAVE to. Which, of course, leads to the dawning of Day 38 and a...

Probst sighting. Our last challenge Probst sighting of the season! Today's challenge is a simple one. They have to use a long pole and maneuver bowls through a metal maze. When they get to the top, they set the bowl on a platform. This rig is on top of a spring, which makes it very movable. They will then go grab a 2nd bowl and begin stacking them. They have 13 bowls and the first person to stack them all, wins immunity. If no one is able to stack all 13, after 30 minutes, the person with the most bowls will win immunity. Survivors ready? Let's go.

The challenge plays out pretty straightforward until stacks reach about 10. At this point, Ken places #11 and David's stack of 8 falls over, forcing him to start over. Adam actually steps off his platform and stops working on his stack, hoping to see everyone else's fall. Ken places his 12th bowl and as he heads back for the final bowl, the wind blows and his entire stack topples to the ground, making Adam look like a genius. As he watches, his tower also starts to lean and falls over. With everyone starting over, Hannah is now in the lead and there are only 2 minutes left in the game. Ken and Hannah are at 10 right now, while Adam sits at 8 and refuses to place anymore, hoping that strategy will serve him well. At the 30 second mark, Ken places his 10th bowl to tie Hannah, while Adam sits on 8. Ken makes a move to place #11, but time runs out before he's able to get it in place. Ken and Hannah are tied at 10! That means David and Adam are out of this challenge and we'll have a showdown between Hannah and Ken.

There will be 5 more minutes, the person to have the tallest stack after that 5 minutes, wins immunity. If either of them gets to 13, they win automatically. Let's go...again. They pretty well stay neck and neck, with Ken having a slight edge. At the 1 minute mark, they both have 5 bowls stacked. And I have to say, when doing one of these stacking challenges; it's really a good idea to have a straight stack. At only 5 bowls, Hannah's stack is so unlevel it's already leaning. Simple poor planning on her part. At about 30 seconds, Ken places his 6th bowl. Hannah is working on her 6th and gets it placed before time runs out...but Ken is working on #7. As Jeff does the 5 second countdown, Ken gets #7 placed and Ken. Wins. Immunity!! His 4th! And just like that, Adam's worst nightmare has happened and his shot at the million may have gone right down the drain. As we head to break and they head back to camp, Ken tells us how difficult this decision is going to be. Really? Is it that hard to decide whether you want to cut Hannah or Adam?

As they get back to camp, David tells us that while he's bummed that he didn't win, the next best thing happened and his buddy Ken came home with the necklace. Ken has been so loyal to David; he feels that the worst case scenario is going to be a fire making challenge against Adam. Now, David started the original fire and has been the person largely in charge of the fire for the duration of the game, so he's feeling pretty confident about being able to win a fire making challenge against anyone. Adam and Hannah powwow and Adam tells her that he's writing David's name down, no matter what and she should do the same. She promises him that she is and then asks him to let her deal with Ken. The hopes of their games rest in Hannah being able to get Ken to turn on his biggest ally and best bud. That's gonna be a tough sell.

So Hannah goes to Ken and tells him that while Bret called her a flip flopper, the one person she has never flipped on is Ken. She goes on to say that is why everyone thinks she is so stupid, because she believes in loyalty. Ken agrees 100% that trust and loyalty are paramount. And he even says, "Look where it's gotten us." She goes on to tell him that even if they vote out Dave at this final Tribal, they can maintain their loyalty and trust to each other, while making the move that suits them best in the game. While Ken understands what she's saying and knows that David will likely beat them at the end, he asks her to just trust that he knows what he's doing. She goes on to tell us how frustrating it is trying to work with Ken when everything he believes in goes against what's best for them in the game. While Hannah and Ken palaver, David and Adam are left back at camp. David tells Adam that Ken has been so loyal to him since day 1 and that Adam would be best off targeting Hannah. To which Adam tells David, no frickin way, dude. He says that if David goes to the end, he loses. So, what, he gets 3rd place instead of 4th? That's not what he's here for. The only way he can win is if David goes home. He tells us that tonight should be a no brainer and he shouldn't be worried at all. But with this group, he knows that it's best for him to go out and start practicing making a fire, which is exactly what he does. Before we head to Tribal, Dave lets Ken know that he's not even gonna make a pitch to him because he trusts Ken that much. He's prepared to go into Tribal and beat Adam in a fire making challenge and that's it. He thanks Ken for sticking with him and they we all head to the penultimate Tribal.

Jeff begins by talking about the final challenge. He talks about how Hannah took so long to vote the first time and how she had a panic attack WATCHING a challenge. And now she walks confidently to the voting booth and almost took out Ken in the biggest challenge of the season. He asks Adam how it felt to have no control over anything in that sudden death portion of the challenge. He says that he was right where he wanted to be as his only goal in that challenge was to make sure David didn't win it. Dave adds in that despite the game Adam has played, he has played a better game. Adam is like, finally! He admits it. It's what he's been telling people for days and yet, they keep sticking with Dave. So naturally, when they got back to camp, everyone wanted to talk to Ken, but first, of course, he had to fish. He's not gonna let anything like Survivor or a million dollars get in the way of what he's about. No sir-ee. Jeff asks what David's pitch was and he simply says that Ken has shown ultimate loyalty, trust and integrity throughout this game. Things that no longer exist in Survivor, so he is not worried tonight and knows that his bud will be with him. So, Adam, what was your pitch? Adam says that his pitch was simple too. You can only take your allies so far in this game and at some point; you have to do what's best for you and your family. Jeff finally asks Hannah what she thinks about all this. She says that any of the 3 of them could go home tonight, but at the last Tribal, Bret only congratulated 1 of them and that there comes a time when the game might have to trump loyalty. Ken is nodding while all 3 of them are talking and he says it's because that all have very valid points. But at the end of the day, he has to decide for himself what's most important to him.

And with that, it's time to vote. Naturally, we see no votes as has been the case most of the season. Jeff will tally the votes and with no more idols in play, we'll just get right to reading them. Dave. Adam. Dave. And the final vote: David. WHOA!!! He actually did it. Ken turned on his boy. I honestly, didn't see that happening. It seemed much more Ken-ish to allow them to battle it out like men, may the best fire making man win. I guess, at the end of the day, what was important to Ken was winning the game and getting a million bucks for him and his daughter. What will be interesting is whether or not this move will be enough to win him some votes. The jury, thus far haven't been too big on the Ken train. They haven't appreciated his loyalty thing and the way he handled the Will vote doesn't sit well with several people. You just have to wonder if finally turning on Dave will win him some respect points with the jury. If not, I have to think Adam will cruise to victory.

Day 39 dawns on the island and everyone is happy to be there. Ken is thrilled to be the last member of Gen X. He also likes that he was able to work hard and remain loyal and still make the end. He tells us that he has had 1 motivating factor, his daughter. He desperately wants to give them a better life. As they feast, Hannah tells us how much she's grown over the course of the game. She was neurotic and crazy at the beginning and now she's strong and confident and really feels like she played the best game of the 3 remaining players. Adam also feels like he's played a very strong game. He lays out his resume for us: hidden idols, immunity challenge win, blindsiding others while not being a target. As they head to Tribal, he tells us that he can't even imagine what his mom would be thinking if she knew he was getting ready for the Final Tribal Council of his season.

We all file in to Tribal and Jeff compliments them on making it to the end of the game. He addresses the jury reminding some of them how long they've been coming to Tribal as jury members. He tells them he'll give them some time to come up with questions/comments and then they'll begin.

And we begin with Taylor (this should be stunning.) He says that, spontaneous millennial that he is, his vote is totally up for grabs tonight, so he wants them to pitch to him why he should vote for him. So, he essentially gives them each an opening statement. Hannah goes first. She says that she thinks she played the best game. She is the reason everyone sitting on the jury is on the jury. She compares her Day 2 self (when it took her 10 minutes to vote) to today and says she's ready for them to bring whatever they have to this Tribal. Ken's up next. He feels that he showed the other side of the game. Loyalty, teamwork and hard work are things that can exist in this game. Adam simply says that he played the best game. He always managed to keep himself out of the spotlight of the vote and he was able to protect the people he wanted to go to the end with.

Next up is Sunday. Sunday takes us back to our season's theme. She wants to know how each person was adaptable and whether they think they played the game like a Millennial or a Gen X'er. Ugh. The season has been great in spite of the whole generational thing - please stop bringing it up. Anyway...Ken's first. He is very old school and he is very set in his ways. He says he wasn't very adaptable, however those that are too adaptable in this game can also be called, "flippers." Adam is next and he says that Ken is the perfect Gen Xer who would have won season 1 of this game. And he says that Hannah is the other extreme, so flexible that even her allies didn't know what she was doing from Tribal to Tribal. He feels that he lies somewhere in the middle of those 2. Hannah breaks in to say that just because some people didn't understand her moves, doesn't make them too flexible. She says that while voting out Sunday or Bret may not make sense to them, it made sound strategic sense to her and Adam just went along. Adam mentions those were 2 times that Hannah "went rogue" and that regardless of the final outcome, they were still bad strategic moves. And he's right, they were.

Next up is Jessica. She starts with Ken and how he put himself up on a pedestal of loyalty and honesty and that she was shocked that he would turn on David in that final tribal vote. He admits that decision was the hardest decision he made in the game. He starts to tear up, "David, you were my #2 alliance. #1 was my daughter. Only reason." And that's a VERY good answer to a really tough question. He did set himself up as the loyal friend only to chuck his buddy at the last minute. I'm not sure there's a better way to respond to that like of question than Ken just did. It should also shut up anyone else who wants to pound on him for that. She has nothing for the other two.

Will is up next and starts with Ken. He tells Ken that he respected him so much more, as a player, by his vote against David than he did for the other 38 days’ worth of loyalty talk. To Adam he says that he is confused about his game. He points out that Adam was on the wrong side of the Bret vote and some other times. Adam says that is exactly what he was talking about before. Voting out Bret was a terrible move because leaving David in the game was potentially a million dollar mistake. And once again, Hannah cuts him off. She felt she had to keep David in the game or she would have lost Ken's trust and trust was so important to Ken. So - that's 4 questions and 2 times Hannah has cut Adam off from speaking. Safe to say, she's a little scared of Adam at this point.

Zeke is up next and congratulates everyone. He suggests that we are in the midst of the evolution of Survivor strategy. He tells Ken that he did nothing to evolve the game, despite being an excellent provider. So his question is for Hannah and Adam and he wants to know what they did to help aid in the evolution of this game. Adam says that something we've seen here recently in Survivor is that once someone gets on top, they feel like they have to stay on top and eventually get taken out for it. Like Chris and Zeke this season. He made sure that at the Final 6, there were 3 people more dangerous than him and he kept his challenge beast (Ken) close to stop them all from winning. Hannah brings up the whole "trust cluster" thing again and suggests that this is a new way to play the game. She also wants to point out that Adam talks about leaving threats in the game as shields, but she was the one who decided when those shields were taken out, not Adam. She claims Adam likes to take credit for other people's moves in the game. Hmmmm- I'll say this, she ain't going down without a fight. I'm not sure I buy it 100%, but she makes some good points.

Time for Michelle. She addresses Hannah first and asks her how many votes she was on the wrong side of. They agree that the Mikayla vote was the only vote she was wrong on. She wants Adam to clarify why his successes should outweigh his blunders in the game. He feels that many of the blunders weren't his blunders, but rather the failures of his alliance mates. Again, Hannah interrupts to say that her moves were not blunders, they were her strategy. Adam says, once again, voting out Bret was not the right move because it put David one immunity challenge away from a million dollars. As he's saying this, the whole jury is nodding along with him. I think he's got 'em. She tries to save it by saying that it made sense insomuch as Bret didn't want to take her to the end, so she did have to get rid of him. And that Day 2 her might sit there and take this, but Day 39 her isn't going to. We see a nod from Will, but not much else from the jury. I'm starting to think the more she cuts in on Adam, the less the jury is liking her.

We've heard a whole lot about Bret in this Final Tribal, let's here FROM Bret now. He asks Ken at what point does he feel like he really started playing the game of Survivor. He felt he started playing right off the bat. He was on the bottom from the very beginning and he set up an alliance with David, Jess and CeCe. He tries to say more, but Bret cuts him off. He moves on to Adam and wants to know how everything went down and why he couldn't get rid of David. Adam says he wanted to get rid of David on the Sunday vote, but Hannah was dead set on it. And he says that the Bret vote was the biggest blunder in the game. He knew he had someone who would never turn on David, in Ken. To which Ken says, "But I did." And while that's true, everyone knows that it's too little too late. So, he was on the wrong side of the vote there assuming that they would do the smart thing and get rid of David.

And here comes Jay. He has 1 question and it's only for Adam. He tells Adam that he considers him a brother and he was with him to the very end. Why didn't he use Jay to take out David when he had the chance? Adam says that they had such a crazy relationship in the game. Bitter rivals but shared a brother's love. He tells Jay that he knows why Adam's there and why this is so important. He breaks down into tears here and tells Jay, "You were in the way." Jay completely understands and doesn't ask Adam to elaborate. He just has a seat.

And Chris is next. He tells them that what they don't know about him is that he is not a coach, like he claimed. He's a trial lawyer from Oklahoma and this is the first experience he's ever had being on an actual jury. However, he can't just take off the lawyer hat, he has to advocate for one finalist. He says the story has to being with the little skinny guy luring around planning all of their demises in this game. And that's David. But one of the 3 finalists went up against Dave and finally took him out. Ken is nodding at this. And then he looks to Adam and says that he is impressed that Adam was finally able to use his social game to convince Ken to finally turn on his ally, Dave, after no one else on the jury was able to do it. He offers his congratulations and tells the jury that he hopes they will join him in writing Adam's name down tonight. Ken is about to come up off the stool at all this. He lets everyone know that Adam had nothing to do with his decision to vote out David. That was 100% his choice. And in actuality, Hannah was really the one to convince Ken to make the move. Adam was just the beneficiary of that move. However, and this cannot be stressed enough, perception is reality in the game of Survivor. The jury has sat there for Tribal after Tribal listening to Adam rail about how they have to get rid of David. He's gonna win the game. He has to go. And no one would go along with it. For Tribal after Tribal, they've watched Adam's frustration mirroring their own frustration with why David was still in the game. And then finally, at the final 4, David goes home. Regardless of who said what, or who decided what - what the just saw was Adam FINALLY got them to vote out David. And perception is reality in the game of Survivor.

To close us out tonight, is David. He tells them about how transformative this experience was for him and he wants to know how this game has changed them over these 39 days. Hannah starts by talking about how weak and scared she was at the beginning of the game, she has grown so much stronger and more confident over these 39 days. That's something she plans to take with her as she leaves Survivor. Ken talks about his social awkwardness and how he forced himself to engage with these strangers every day. He put himself in social positions that he would never normally do. He did this because of the one driving force behind his game, his daughter. He did what he had to do for her. Adam is up next and he starts by telling them that he had applied 2 years ago to be on the Blood vs Water season with his mom. And that this lifelong dream of his had then become their dream. They almost made it, but just missed the cut. So, he's not out there for a transformation. He's out there to bring some joy to his family. At this point, he starts to break down. He tells them that 7 months ago, his mom was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and that every time he found an idol, or won immunity or when he had the family visit, he felt like she was there winning with him. So whether he wins or not, he feels this journey will bring him closer to his family and will bring some happiness to some people who really need it. David tells him that his Mom is thinking about him right now and that he'll see her soon. Not many dry eyes on the jury right now, I can tell you that.

And while I'm sure some people will bitch and complain about Adam "playing the cancer card" here. I think that's crap. If super model Ken can talk about how he has a hard time making friends and Hannah can talk about how scared she is of everything and how she has panic attacks, it's 100% inbounds, in my opinion, for Adam to talk about what's going on back home. It explains a lot about his character and about his motivations while he's on that island. It explains a lot about how he played the game and why he deserves their vote for Sole Survivor. Now, having watched the whole Tribal, I don't think he needed to share this with them to win. I think he's got this game won, and handily, without the mom story. The mom story just cemented it. The question, for me anyway, is who will win second? Who will get that throwaway vote to take 2nd place, Ken or Hannah?

Jeff tells them all that the only thing left to do is vote. So, 1 by 1 they file to the voting urn and 1 by 1 they cast their votes. None of their votes are shown to the camera...which would usually indicate a sweep, but they've hardly shown any votes this season, so I'm not sure that it's a sign of anything. The only thing we even hear during the voting is Jay saying, "Love ya buddy". Once all the votes are cast, we come back to the live audience as Jeff comes back onstage, this time carrying the voting urn. All of the finalists are there and the jury is in place as well. Now, the only thing left to do is read the votes. First vote: Adam. Adam. Adam. Adam. Adam. Aw, hell with it - it's a 10-0-0 sweep for Adam. Nary a vote for Ken, nary a vote for Hannah. As the audience erupts, Adam heads out to hug his family. One notable absence, Adam's mom is not there. While I generally don't go too much into the reunion, I will go into it enough to say that after getting the 10 votes to win Survivor, Adam flew home immediately and saw his mom one last time. He arrived home and whispered in her ear that he had just won Survivor. And less than an hour later, she was gone. She held on long enough for him to come home and for him to give her the good news. Talk about an amazing sense of will...I would say that Adam's mom Susie had it.

So, congrats to Adam on a well-deserved victory. Congrats to the cast for an incredible season. It was nice to have a cast that didn't have any seriously despicable people in it, for a change. If the worst your cast has to offer was Fig-tayls. I'd say it was a successful casting season. At the end of the reunion, Jeff teased season 34 - which has been dubbed "Game Changers" and he brought out some of the cast of that season. For a complete breakdown of the entire Season 34 cast, please check out my casting spoilers article and its supplemental piece where I break down the 2 Millennials that are part of the Season 34 case.

Season 34 of Survivor will premiere on Wednesday March 8 with a 2 hour premiere and I'll be back to tell you all about it. I may even write a column in llama for my boy #teamTV. Til then, take care Survivor fans!