Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X Recap

Daaaaang! Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X brought it tonight! In what was clearly the best episode yet this season, we had all sorts of excitement: An Idol was found, there was a epic Reward Challenge battle (#showdown4theages, if you will), and there were so many twists and turns with strategy leading up to and right on through Tribal Council, that someone summed up best by the end of the episode when they simply said, “Wow.”

You know it’s a hoppin’ night of Survivor when new lingo is introduced, as we all now know what #LiveTribal means (more on that later). And I’m pretty sure no one on Survivor has ever uttered the phrase: “They about to see some tatas tonight.” Yes, there were some eye-opening, potentially boneheaded maneuvers as well, but Episode 4 had pretty much everything I love about Survivor rolled up into one hot, juicy hour of television. It was almost enough to knock Jeff Probst off his feet (wait that happened too!).

We’re going to take a deep dive into tonight’s episode of Survivor and what it all means coming up. Here’s your last chance to turn back in case you haven’t yet seen Episode 4. Spoilers to come!


The episode began with the aftermath of last week’s blindside of Paul. Chris and Bret were the only two left in the dark about it, and we learn that Jessica is being seen as the mastermind behind it. Chris and Bret are so pissed they can barely talk about it (what’s with people forcing conversation back at camp following Tribal this season? Hannah was an epic annoyance to Zeke last week following their Tribal, and tonight it was Jessica trying to corner Chris into a convo).

But it’s funny how this game of Survivor works. Not only did Chris and Bret perceive Jessica as the main culprit behind the plot to vote out Paul, even Jessica’s closest allies – Sunday and Lucy – turned on her! And why? Well, because if Jessica could be so savvy to get Paul out, she must be a threat. Man, sometimes you just can’t win on Survivor. Here’s Jessica actually standing up and going to bat for her fellow females by getting out Paul, who threatened the idea of an all-guy alliance, and in saving the two girls she created two enemies.

Survivor recap

This episode was Lucy-heavy, to make up for her near invisibility through the first three episodes. I have been pretty hard on Lucy thus far, mainly making fun of her lack of air time and her perma-scowl. But Lucy was front-and-center tonight, and frankly, she’s not all that bad. Sure, she’s blunt, and sure for some reason the show felt the need to make a connection to #TigerMom with her being an assertive Asian woman (come on, CBS and Survivor producers, you’re better than this), but Lucy’s downfall in this game was not just her straight-forwardness, it was her lack of game awareness…but let’s return to Lucy a bit later.

So what else happened tonight? Well, there are always goats on Survivor (I see you, Phillip Sheppard, Clay Jordan, and several other former players), but tonight we literally got a goat. There was a goat up on a cliff ledge and the Millennial tribe went off after it. Look out Mark the Chicken, you may have a potential threat to your Survivor Mascot status, if they catch this thing and domesticate it.

All of this goat-hunting opened up some free time for Adam – on the outs with his tribe – to do some serious Idol searching, and this time it was fruitful. Adam first found a clue and then found the actual hidden Immunity Idol a bit later. Now, Survivor rarely deals in cliff-hangers, but a very interesting moment occurred right after he found the Idol, when it appeared that Hannah saw him find it and dispose of the shell it was located in. Or did she see him? The show purposely left this vague, and never addressed this the rest of the episode. This may become important later on, if Hannah did see him with the Idol, or even if Adam thinks she saw him. And how about that emotional moment with Adam discussing his mom, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer and who clearly means everything to her son. As Big Papi recently said in an Xfinity TV commercial, “I’m not crying, my eyes are just sweating.”

Survivor recap

And what about that Reward Challenge? I keep using the word “epic” tonight, so let’s go with the hashtag we were presented with instead: A #showdown4theages. This works on so many levels, with the whole generation thing…but never mind that. While watching this segment, I had written in my notes “Man, Chris is a beast!” I mean, the dude bear-hugged two Millennials at once, and if you pause your DVR on that moment, the expression on his face will give you nightmares for years to come.  But as the challenge rolled on, I added to the sentence as follows: “Man, Chris is a beast…but not compared to Michaela! Damn girl!”

Michaela won her portion of the challenge on sheer will power and determination, sans bikini top to boot. I already liked Michaela as a player and a personality, but she just was placed on the physical threat radar instantaneously after tonight.

Now let’s discuss the big development of Episode 4, which was the strategy – or lack thereof depending on your perception of it – over at the Gen-X camp.

Wow, I find myself simultaneously loving and hating things like this on Survivor. On one hand, I’m hating that Jessica doesn’t trust Ken, when Ken has no real reason to give her the intel on what Lucy was plotting. But on the other hand, this is the stuff my Survivor dreams are made of.

So here you have a tribe of eight people with Ken, David, and CeCe on the bottom. After Jessica developed into a major threat after their last Tribal, Lucy and Sunday worked at pulling Chris and Bret back into their alliance, knowing that they would both be seeking revenge on Jessica for what happened to Paul. Lucy had no choice in telling Ken and David about her plan to blindside Jessica – she only had four votes otherwise. But once equipped with that information, Ken put himself out on a limb in an effort to save Jessica and it almost blew up in his face, big time. Trusting Lucy over Ken, Jessica then went back to Lucy and all hell broke loose. With Lucy coming out on top of this strategic battle, David felt he had no choice but to play his Idol to save Jessica.  There are several ways to look at it, but I think that it was a great move. A bold move, but great nonetheless.

Survivor recap

Sure, Jessica sort of picked sides when she decided to trust Lucy over Ken, but had Ken and David just gone along with the plan to blindside Jessica, they would find themselves in a three-person alliance (Ken, David, and CeCe) on a seven-person tribe. Now for sake of argument, we can’t assume or consider the fact that next week looks to be a tribe swap…you can’t play the game banking that such things are going to happen. So if Jessica goes home, Ken and David still have an Idol, but only have three people in their alliance. By playing the Idol, David is actually gaining a number by adding Jessica. It’s interesting, but even though she blabbed and threw Ken under the bus, this is a game of numbers, and four is better than three.

Now that Jessica has been saved, and knowing that everybody that she thought she was close with actually tried voting her out, she has absolutely nobody to turn to. Add to this, that she will feel incredibly loyal and thankful to David moving forward. Three becomes four.

Where Lucy went wrong is that she let her thoughts of Jessica cloud her judgement. The minute Jessica came to her with info that Ken spilled the beans on her blindside plan, the smart move might have been to flip things on Ken. But Lucy still wanted Jessica gone, even after Jessica showed Lucy more loyalty than to Ken. As I eluded to earlier, Lucy’s other fatal flaw was her apparent lack of game-awareness, which is one of the key attributes to playing this game successfully. When she said about Ken that he should be thankful that he’s still in the game, she failed to consider that he may not be content just to be here. The combination of these things led to her demise.

Survivor recap

Episode Take-Away: Just when I was starting to form an opinion of this season, this episode nearly swept me off my feet like Jeff Probst trying to announce a Reward Challenge winner. I loved the emotional moment spent with Adam (his words rang true to me personally, and I wasn’t quite prepared for them…since my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor at the same time my wife and I were celebrating our pregnancy this past year), I loved the challenge, I loved the strategy, I loved the Tribal Council, and I loved that David is playing the game.

And to know that we are on the verge of a tribe swap has me giddy for next week (although not because I give a rat’s behind about whether or not Taylor and Figgy stay together…blech. I’m over these two already and they’ve barely had screen time lately). This was a #LiveTribal alright, defined as a Tribal where anything can happen and votes are never locked in until there is ink drying on parchment. This is the very essence of the game and it had been absent for several seasons. It’s pretty cool to see that as much as the game changes and evolves over the years, it still is the same crazy, mind-boggling social experiment that it always has been.

Strategic Move of the Week: Michaela throwing her bikini into the water mid-challenge….I kid. Of course, David‘s use of his Immunity Idol to save Jessica. Little does he know that the game is about to change in a big way heading into a swap, and that Idol may have come in handy. But in the moment, it was a brilliant move.

Voted out this week: Lucy

Vote: 5 – Jessica, all of which were voided by Immunity Idol played by David (Lucy, Sunday, Chris, Bret, CeCe), 2 – Lucy (Ken, David) 1 – CeCe (Jessica)

Next Week’s Episode: The Gen-X hidden Immunity Idol is back up for grabs, but will someone find it before Jeff Probst tells them to drop their buffs? The big tease for next week is that we will get the game’s first major shake-up… Episode 5 can’t come soon enough.


Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets