“I’m trusting a guy who’s burnt me twice.” Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X October 19, 2016 recap

23 Oct

We begin with David questioning whether his idol play last episode was a good move: “I saved someone who nobody wants to work with, and now I don’t have an idol.”

Jessica, relieved to still be around, tells Ken about her legacy advantage and says that if she had been voted out she would have willed it to Ken. Not to David, who is the only reason she’s still in the game, but Ken who just voted against Jessica!

Meanwhile, everyone else either guesses or knows that there is a new idol in the game, since one was played last tribal council. So everyone starts looking for one. However, David has an advantage since he knows to look for something with a symbol painted on it in tribal colors, a new development this season. And indeed, he spots something bearing that symbol, the only problem is, CeCe and Sunday are standing right near it. But eventually they go off to look somewhere else, and David grabs it.

Off the tribes go to the reward challenge. But soon after arrival Jeff Probst tells them to drop their buffs. Not only is there a tribe switch, but it’s a switch from two tribes to three. Purple and orange tribes will have camps to go back to, but the new green tribe will have to start a camp from scratch. As consolation, they will have one more person than the other two. As the players unwrap their buffs, Michaela’s comes up green, and she curses and sulks.

Here are the new tribes:

Purple: Taylor, Figgy, and Adam; Jessica and Ken. No clear advantage or disadvantage here — Jessica and Ken are in the minority, but weren’t in a great position on their old tribe either.

Orange: Cece, Chris, and David; Zeke and Michelle. This is certainly bad for Michelle who was more than sitting pretty in her prior group. It’s great for CeCe who was on the outs in Gen-X. Zeke later tells us he’s bummed about the situation since Michelle is the one millennial he has “zero trust in.”

Green: Michaela, Hannah, Jay, and Will; Sunday and Bret. Definitely a bad draw for the latter two.

By the way, no challenge is actually held.

When the new purple tribe gets back to camp, Taylor, who is excited that “Figtayles” is still together, goes over to hug his girl, but she doesn’t want them to be seen doing any such thing. “Are we doin’ that?” a disappointed Taylor asks. Meanwhile, Adam tells us that being on a tribe with those two is his “worst nightmare”. He elaborates, “Figgy is very controlling, she lies constantly, and she’s going to go through this charade as long as she can about how they are not a couple.” Ken naturally wants to sound Adam out, and the younger man reveals that he voted against Figgy at tribal council. The more Adam thinks about it: he is the swing vote who is going to decide whether “Figtayles” or Jessica/Ken advances.

At the orange tribe, who should we see hitting it off but Chris and Zeke. We knew Chris was from Oklahoma, but it turns out New Yorker Zeke is originally from Oklahoma too. What’s more, it turns out Chris played football on the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners national championship team (his name is Chris Hammons and he was a special teams captain in 2000). And guess which team Zeke idolized as a kid?

On the green tribe, everyone tries to start a fire without success … except for Michaela, who accomplishes it and goes off sobbing.

The challenge involves first loosening a floating ball from underwater, then swimming it across to a platform and putting it in a basket to signal the next teammate to swim. Once all have done that, they need to shoot the balls into a floating basket. But if they want to take the time to do so, they can also try to hook the basket to pull it closer and make the basket-shooting easier.

Orange leads off with CeCe, who I’m sorry to say is every bit as horrible at this as she is every other challenge. She takes an eternity to get to the other platform. But still to come on the same tribe is David, who not only struggles to get to the platform, once he makes it there, he loses the ball over the opposite side of the platform and has to dive in from the other side. He almost loses it again over the original side! It is so ridiculous that teammate Zeke turns to Chris and ask whether David is trying to “throw” the challenge. And then to make things even worse, Michelle can’t get her buoy to the surface, forcing Chris to swim twice. So it’s no surprise that Orange comes in last in the contest. (Green is first, thanks mostly to Michaela’s accuracy shooting baskets).

Back at camp, the Gen-X group naturally decides one of the two Millennials, Zeke or Michelle, must go. Chris tells us, “This is a crucial decision, and quite honestly I’ve made a different decision: CeCe and Dave both backstabbed me and one of them has to go tonight.” He elaborates that while David has crossed him a couple of times, the neurotic writer at least has some relationships in the game, and Chris is going to need a grand alliance to protect him after the merge. So he wants to go after CeCe, with David’s help. He notes, “I’m trusting a guy who’s burnt me twice.”

Michelle wants to fight this, though it’s not really clear why. She claims that she couldn’t get anywhere talking strategy with CeCe, though all we viewers see is an innocuous conversation.

Meanwhile, does David want to use his immunity idol to save someone for the second week in a row? CeCe is his only ally on the tribe, after all.

Well, let’s not beat around the bush: CeCe goes home. She was horrendous in challenges, had no social game and didn’t seem too interested in strategy. So she is a strong contender for the honor of worst player of the season. However, does that make this a good move for Chris long-term? I actually think he would have been better off taking out Michelle, and wonder if he will regret not doing so. Especially since she’s the only person I have ahead of him in my rankings below!

contenders: Michelle, Chris, Will, Jay, Adam, Zeke, Bret, Jessica, Sunday

no chance: Figgy, Taylor, Hannah, Michaela, David, Ken

“And now for the bit that’s gonna upset some people…” Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X October 12 2016 recap

15 Oct

Chris doesn’t want to talk about what just happened at tribal council. Like Zeke in the previous episode, Chris wants to put off any conversation until morning. Until someone else starts talking some distance away from him, then he yells to stop whispering and talk out in the open!

Morning dawns, and for whatever reason the TV picture is now sepia-toned instead of full color. Lucy tells us she doesn’t completely trust Jessica: “The power-hungry person had to take away another power-hungry person.” She tells this to Bret as well, and the Bostoner tells us viewers “you’ve now shown your cehds.” To Bret and Chris, Lucy says that Ken and David trust her, hence they could all ally against Jessica.

Over at the Millennials’ camp, everyone is super-excited when they spot a goat, and that distraction lets Adam go look for an idol. He cries when he finds it … but alas, he discovers it is only a clue, not the idol itself.

We go to a reward challenge, the first of the season. Again I wonder if this was added because the season has been too boring (the Gen-X tribe in particular). Nothing boring about the challenge though, one of those brutal affairs in which players can take any action necessary to obstruct the other team from reaching its goal (some seasons have had this played on land, this one’s in the water). In the first two-on-two round, Chris grabs onto both Jay and Adam so David can swim to the goal with the ring. In one of the later rounds, we find out that Michaela is seriously strong and athletic.

Time for the final round. Surprisingly, David is out there for the second time. An epic half-submerged battle ensues, with huge waves buffeting the players too. I don’t think I have ever seen tribemates cheering so hard, on both sides. Finally Gen-X touches their goal to win. Jeff Probst raises both hands to declare a winner, and at that moment a huge wave knocks him back several steps! America surely would have loved to see Probst knocked on his butt, it was not to be, though. Oddly, as the teams part, David wishes the Millennials good luck. Good luck at what, beating his own Gen-X tribe?

Back at camp, Adam finds the shell he has been seeking that has the idol inside. Success … but wait, someone’s nearby! It’s just Hannah, who in passing cheerfully wishes him good luck in his idol search.

For the Gen-Xers, David asks Lucy who she is thinking of voting out. She says she won’t announce the name until later, but shortly she tells David and Ken that it’s Jessica. However the two men are not allowed to tell anyone else. Ken bristles at this rule.

The immunity challenge involves the tribe hoisting one member on a lift sort of like the kind that window-washers of a skyscraper use. They players have to maneuver the person back and forth so he can collect a number of boxes in order, then all the letters on them have to be used to spell out a puzzle. When it’s time to do the anagramming everyone is stumped for quite some time, but finally the Millennials figure it out. That means that for the third time in four weeks, Gen-X is going to tribal council.

We see shots of a shark, a spider, and a bat. Not my favorite sights! Lucy thinks she has an alliance together to vote out Jessica: herself, Bret, Chris, Ken, and David (not Sunday). But Ken proposes taking out Lucy, pulling in Jessica and Sunday to do so. He also tells Jessica about Lucy’s plan. Jessica can’t believe Lucy would be gunning for her, so she asks Lucy about it. This makes Lucy furious with Ken. Ken thought he had a connection with Jessica, though we viewers knew better. All of this is not long before tribal council, so it’s confusing just what the plan is (for viewers and players alike, I believe).

Tribal council is mostly Probst hammering away at his boring generation gap theme. The vote takes place, and Probst makes his obligatory mention that this would be the time to play an immunity idol. David stands up and asks if he can address the tribe. Probst gives him the floor. After saying how much he loves everyone, David says “and now for maybe the bit that’s gonna upset some people … I’m going to play this for Jessica.”

Lo and behold, almost every vote was for Jessica, except three, two of which were for Lucy who is voted out. The only people who voted for Lucy were David and CeCe, and Jessica voted for CeCe.

I can’t see this as anything but a colossal blunder on David’s part. Not only does he waste a precious immunity idol, it is to take out Lucy who was not threatening him, and save Jessica who was no ally of his. It was really just dumb.

contenders: Michelle, Chris, Will, Adam, Jay, Zeke

not sure: Jessica, Bret, Sunday

no chance: Figgy, Taylor, Hannah, Michaela, CeCe, David, Ken

“Ladies, you’re 0n your own.” Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X October 5, 2016 recap

11 Oct

Hannah wants to tell Zeke and Adam her lame excuse why she didn’t vote with them, but Zeke doesn’t want to talk right now. Hannah really wants to get it off her chest, but Zeke tries about 10 different ways of telling her he doesn’t want to talk right now. And the producers decide to show us all 10. This is a clue that we might not be in for the most eventful episode.

The Gen-X tribe is not helping the excitement factor. They are pretty boring overall. We are reminded that David, Ken, and CeCe are the ones on the bottom. Ken points out to several people that while Paul talks big about his fishing skills, he hasn’t caught a single fish while Ken has caught plenty.

Because there are no new or interesting subplots (at least that’s my interpretation of the producers’ thinking), the players are told it is time for a summit: four people from each tribe, chosen randomly, go meet the other tribe. It’s Will, Jay, Taylor, and Figgy for the young-uns, and David, Paul, CeCe and Chris for Gen-X. Gen-X reveals a lot more about their tribe than the tight-lipped kids do. Plus, David proposes an alliance to Taylor and basically hints he will abandon Gen-X at the first opportunity.

Back at camp, Figgy and Taylor talk about Zeke as the next person who should go. Adam hopes Figgy will be the next out, to shift the balance of power. He pitches Michaela, who votes with Figgy last time despite not liking or trusting her.

The immunity challenge has multiple steps as usual, the first being to carry a 40-pound bag across a balance beam. CeCe is very slow and deliberate, in fact in the time it takes her to cross, at least three of the millennials cross (and Jeff Probst mentions at least three times how slow CeCe is). The millennials have their weaker players simply cross the beam empty-handed while the stronger players carry multiple bags. Finally Gen-X copies the strategy, but they are way behind by that point. The lead proves insurmountable and the millennials win. In addition to the immunity, there is a reward of some comfy chairs for the winning tribe. Jay asks if they can trade them for fishing gear. Probst says the other tribe would have to agree and the Gen-Xers say no.

The decision on whom to vote out is pretty clear: CeCe, who was bad in this and every other challenge. Paul talks to Jessica to confirm, and as they wrap the conversation up, Jessica mentions as an afterthought that she hopes there’s no all-male alliance brewing. Paul assures her that he would let her know if any such thing were being talked about. (Sounds fine so far). He then elaborates that letting her know would be to say “Ladies, you’re on your own.” (Seriously, he said that.) Jessica can’t believe her ears, and quickly informs Sunday and Lucy (who actually speaks in this episode) that the three of them are on the bottom of the six-person alliance. They immediately decide to vote against Paul, knowing that David, CeCe, and Ken are sure to join them.

Which, after a boring tribal council, they do, and Paul is out.

contenders: Michelle, Chris, Will, Adam, Zeke, Ken, Jay

not sure: Jessica, David, Bret, Lucy, Sunday

no chance: Figgy, Taylor, Hannah, Michaela, CeCe

“Me and Figs got called out on mackin'”: Survivor Millennials vs. Gen-X September 28, 2016 recap

1 Oct

The Gen-X tribe hasn’t yet succeeded in making fire despite the fact that several tribe members have tried it. So David, who freely admits, “I’m more of a Cochran than I am an Ozzy,” gives it a try. Shockingly, he succeeds. However, the others still tell the camera they want to get rid of David. And David is still trying hard to find an immunity idol, but being a bit more subtle about it this time. He’s searching for idols during his trips to go look for big rocks. Why exactly the tribe needs big rocks at their camp is not explained. Whatever the case, he finds a coconut that has a target painted on it! He splits it open and there is an idol inside.

At the Millennials’ camp, Taylor tells us that Figgy is “super-rad.” The two of them get in some smooching at night, which others don’t fail to notice. Or to put it in Taylor-speak, “Me and Figs got called out on mackin’.” Figgy tells Taylor everyone else seems fine with them being a couple, but she’s wrong. And the disapprovers include the third member of the “triforce,” Jay. “No couple ever lasts on Survivor. Ev-er,” Jay tells us. Rob and Amber of Survivor All-Stars would disagree with that, but that was 25 seasons ago .. it’s doubtful if even the great Rob could make the same thing work today. Anyway, Jay decides it’s time to discuss with Taylor, bro to bro. “You want to snowboard and chill?” is his cutting question. I think this is a reference to winning a million dollars and not having to work, but perhaps only a millennial could say for sure.

Michaela has avoided voicing any criticism of Figgy, but uses every possible facial expression to show she disapproves. Finally the two start sniping at each other. Adam tells us, “Basic laws of Survivor will tell you: don’t come blazing out of the gate; don’t get into a catfight; and sure as hell don’t get yourself into a showmance!”

Back at Gen-X, we find out that model Ken can spear-fish quite well. We also find out that, despite his ladykiller looks, he is an introverted guy. He and David make an alliance, and David shows Ken his idol. As for the majority group, Ken says, “I see it as Paul’s posse.” They think Paul (the oldest player of the group) is the person they should target.

Paul admits he needs to be in control of every situation. And Cece is joining up with Ken and David. “Cut off the head,” they say about Paul. But Paul suddenly has to lie down; his hands are numb. Medics get there fast … but once the doctor arrives, he says it’s just dehydration and exhaustion. A helicopter has been summoned, but before Probst has a chance to say “Get to the choppa,” it’s sent back to base as Paul stays in the game.

We are taken to some platforms way out in the ocean for a water challenge! The seasons that have these are so much more fun! At least Gen-X must think so, as they win, despite the very unathletic David slowing them down. That’s the last we see of this tribe for the episode, but I should quickly note that Lucy isn’t heard to speak for the second week in a row.

Time for the Millennials to vote someone out. Both the guys and the girls seem to agree that person has to be Figgy. And Mari is pretty sure Figgy won’t even suspect she’s being targeted. Problem is, someone is dumb enough to tell Jay. He tells Michelle, and she’s determined to fight back, suggesting Mari be targeted. And she also suggests that they pull in … Michaela! But how would they ever recruit Figgy’s biggest enemy? Well, Jay simply lies and tells Michaela that people are talking about her as the next voted out after Figgy. Michelle wants to pull Will in as well, but Will is cautious. Referring to Figgy, he says a player can get early momentum and get all the way to the end, his example being Parvati (though Michelle is much more like Parvati than Figgy is). By the way, I said last week that high schooler Will, the youngest player on the tribe, is also the most mature. He certainly has the deepest voice. I’m beginning to think Will is really a young-looking 38-year old.

Michelle is not done being a puppet master. While tribal council is going on, she whispers to Hannah that she’s voting for Mari. Hannah keeps whispering that she needs a reason, but Michelle can only offer that she’ll tell her later. Most of the rest of tribal council is everyone else wondering what’s being whispered about and Michaela sniping at Figgy some more.

Everyone goes to the voting booth, but Hannah takes the longest to vote … by far. She is freaking out, and even tries to count off how many people are voting a certain way on her fingers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Jeff Probst wander over to peek at the voting booth before, but he does this time because it is taking so long. This is like a high school movie: Will nerdy Hannah have the guts to stand up to the popular kids?

The answer is no, and Mari is voted out. “Salty!” is the video gamer’s only comment as her torch is snuffed. Will and Adam look completely shocked. I have to say this was a smart vote, as Mari looked like perhaps the smartest player on the tribe, and much more of a threat to win the game than Figgy.

The previews show that a twist is coming next week already, it looks like a tribe reshuffle of some kind already. And then we see that the only votes cast against Figgy were from Mari, Adam and Zeke. In other words, not only did Hannah vote for Mari, Mikaela did too, and so did Will!

Time for a preliminary ranking.

contenders: Michelle, Will, Zeke, Ken, Adam, Chris

not sure: Jessica, David, Bret, Paul, CeCe, Lucy, Sunday, Jay

no chance: Figgy, Taylor, Hannah, Michaela







“I Was Born Afraid of Dying” Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen-X Season Premiere Recap

24 Sep

The scene is Fiji, and the season puts contestants ages 18-31 against another group ages 33-52. In case anyone doesn’t grasp the concept of the season, much time at the beginning of the episode is spent discussing the differences between the generations.

It’s time for the tribes to grab supplies to take back to camp, and at various stations they are presented with a choice of which item to take: for example, they can grab some chickens or some fishing gear, but not both. In the chaos an envelope falls on the ground and Jessica (a district attorney from New York) of the Gen-X tribe grabs it.

Before Jeff Probst sends the tribes on their way, he warns the tribes that it is cyclone season in Fiji, so they would be well-served to hurry up and get their shelters built.

As the Millennials get started, we hear from Zeke, a financial analyst from Brooklyn. He says to the camera that he may be young, but he’s an 80-year-old man at heart and “I’m on a tribe with children.” No Survivor season premiere is complete without a young woman telling us that she can manipulate men, and this year that person is Figgy, a bartender from Nashville. She quickly allies with Jay, a “dudebro” type, and Taylor who was obviously cast as the designated hunk of the season. Seemingly also with them is Michelle, a pretty hippie type much in the mold of all-time Survivor great Parvati. Hannah, at first glance somewhat of a clone of last season’s Aubry, quickly sees she doesn’t fit in with “the beautiful faces of Kappa Kappa Survivor.”

As Gen-X gets organized, Ken, a model from Denver, tells the group he has lived in the jungles of Maui (huh?) for years and has a lot of survival skills. Soon thereafter Jessica slips away to open the envelope she picked up and finds it is a “Legacy Advantage” that can be used on Day 36 of the game. The note also says that if she has to leave the game she is to will the advantage to another player. Then we meet Rachel, a recruiting director from Los Angeles whose contribution is to make gratuitously obnoxious comments. Then there’s David, a TV writer also from Southern California. He tells us he likes Survivor for the gameplay and doesn’t like bugs or sleeping outside. Nothing unusual there, but we see him recoiling and plugging his ears just because someone near him is chopping bamboo. That is unusual! He volunteers to help red-haired trial lawyer Chris and Boston cop Bret build a shelter, but no sooner does he spot Ken and Paul (a greybeard who is the oldest player) walk around carrying something than he immediately says they obviously have an idol and need to be confronted. Chris and Bret point out that those two would hardly be openly carrying an idol around if they had one. To which hyper David says “I don’t mean to be, like, the paranoid guy.” Too late for that. By the way, he later sums up all of his fears as “I was born afraid of dying.”

We cut back to the Millennials to see their shelter, and it’s pathetic and nowhere close to done. But they’ve had enough labor for now and decide to have a beach party even though the sky is full of very dark clouds! Much too late, they try and do more before bedtime but don’t get far. “Dude, this is gonna be so bad,” one of them says.

In the morning, both tribes get a tarpaulin in tree mail which is said to be on loan. We find out Gen-X had a very rough night too even though they had a better shelter. The tarps worry the players more than anything, since they have seen prior seasons with really bad weather and nobody getting a tarp for free. That must mean this night is going to be historically rough. Soon after, the Millennials actually get a visit from Probst, who says the weather report says the storm will turn into a full-blown cyclone, and for the first time ever they will have to evacuate a tribe from their beach! He goes to give Gen-X the same message afterward, and by that time the wind is so strong everyone has to cover their faces as they get pelted by sand as they walk to the boat.

Some cameras remain at the camp to get footage to show us, and it is so bad even bats are taking cover (bats are shown at least four or five times in the course of the episode).

Probst said on camera everyone was being taken to “a safe place.” Where were they, the Hilton? We viewers are not told. The storm may have abated but David’s paranoia hasn’t, and he decides to start looking for a hidden immunity idol. It is quite obvious, and the rest of the tribe is quite annoyed since he does it while everyone else is trying to get the shelter rebuilt!

The Millennials have to regroup as well, and of all people, Zeke from Brooklyn leads them in building their shelter and also makes fire without a flint.

Time for the first challenge of the season. The twist is that two optional shortcuts are built in, the catch being that if you use a shortcut you get a larger puzzle to solve at the end, and the puzzle gets even larger if you use both shortcuts. The first part involves untying some clubs bearing the tribe colors from a net. Chris has the brilliant idea to let the others untie clubs while he just hinders two of the Millennials from untying clubs of their own, which he can do because two of them are very close together.

The Millennials may have taking shortcuts in life as their credo, but when it comes to the challenge they only use one of the two while Gen-X uses both. The tribes get to the final puzzle at roughly the same time. David and Rachel are the puzzle-solvers for Gen-X, and soon David tells his tribemates “if you guys see anything let me know.” Not what you want to hear from the guy who’s supposedly the puzzle ace. Two others substitute in but it’s too late.

So the Millennials take the first immunity challenge. Since the youngsters won’t be seen again this episode, I should cover the four I haven’t yet mentioned: Adam, a homeless shelter manager; Mari, a professional video gamer who is the oldest of her group at 31 and seems like quite a smart cookie; Will, just 18 and the first person ever to play Survivor while still in high school (and one of the more mature people on his tribe); and Michaela who is from Fort Worth and does vacation club sales.

Gen-X has to vote someone out, and most seem to agree fairly quickly that that person should be Rachel. It seems everyone knows about the plan except for Rachel, CeCe (an insurance adjuster from California), and Ken. Well, and David who thinks it is going to be him. Will he annoy everyone so much that they really do end up deciding to vote him out instead? By the way, Jessica has a fairly clever little strategy. After David swears on a stack of bibles that he doesn’t have an idol, Jessica says she was going to offer him a deal but it was contingent on him having an idol! (I could see that strategy actually flushing an idol out if the player were desperate enough).

The Gen-Xers I haven’t not mentioned are Lucy, a dietitian from California who I’m pretty sure does not speak one single time in the hour-long show, and Sunday, a female youth pastor from Minnesota who might not have spoken once either, but whose worried facial expression is shown many times in the course of the episode.

Most of the tribal council is about David, and the very first vote read is one for him, but the majority of the votes are for Rachel, with three going toward CeCe who was Rachel’s friend. Sunday got a vote from either Rachel or CeCe as well.

Early favorite: Based on one episode, I will go with Chris.


Survivor Kaoh Rong Final Thoughts

3 Jul

This season did not have anywhere near the hype of “Survivor: Second Chance” but it was almost as good. The prior season had complicated alliances that shifted week-to-week, but there’s something to be said for alliances that last the whole game (or at least as long as the respective players stick around). And this seems crazy to say since Second Chance was an all-star season but: I think Kaoh Rong actually had better characters! I think Second Chance had a more deserving winner, however.

The thing that strikes me as a re-read my recaps for the season: Tai made a blunder almost every single week! For the most part it led to some entertaining situations, however.

Good things about this season:

  • Debbie. What a casting find she was. It even looked for a while like she would turn into a great player, but then she self-destructed. Still TV gold.
  • Aubry and her maturation throughout the season. She went from almost quitting on the first episode to almost winning! And I am still shocked that she didn’t win, in fact.
  • The moment when Tai decided not to hand over his idol to form the super-idol, perhaps the biggest blindside of all time. And to top it off, it meant Scot went home with Jason’s idol in his pocket!
  • At the time, it seemed like anyone in the final four (Aubry, Michele, Cydney, and Tai) had a chance to win, and that rarely happens.

Bad things about this season:

  • The three evacuations (Caleb, Neal, and Joe) had a strong bearing on the strategy and result of the game.
  • The first episode was the most boring one in recent memory.
  • Some mean-spirited players in bullies Jason and Scot and arrogant Peter and Liz. All of them did get their comeuppance, however.
  • While the super-idol’s not being used made for a super-dramatic moment, I think it’s too powerful and should not be brought back.

Sorry, nobody cracked my best players of all time list, or my best alliances of all time list. And Jennifer’s tribal council blunder wasn’t bad enough to qualify her for the the worst of all time.

You can check out my full rankings of the seasons here.

“Alliance out the door now.” Survivor Kaoh Rong season finale recap

22 May

The final four examine where they stand after Joe’s evacuation.

Aubry says Michele is a threat because she’s the only one who hasn’t crossed anyone else. Meanwhile, Cydney tells Michele that the three girls should be the final three.

The next challenge is for the reward of a meal. Aubry wins and picks Cydney (for the second week in a row) to join her.

By the way, I just realized there has been no “loved ones” challenge this season. I really hope they have gotten rid of those for good, though I doubt that’s the case. Also, what a likeable final four this is! And the same is true for the final five for that matter.

While the two women are gone, Michele campaigns with Tai once again, and Tai pays lip service to her idea of taking Aubry out. I am not buying it for one second, though.

The immunity challenge ends with a puzzle that’s quite interesting: the players need to make columns by stacking cylindrical pieces of many different lengths. Each column must be the same height so a platform can rest on it, then another set of columns must be started and so on. This seems to be the kind of puzzle that you either get your head around or don’t, and alas Aubry doesn’t. Aubry has a good lead, but it comes down to Michele and Tai, and Michele wins. In celebration, she kicks her own column down.

Aubry and Tai hold hands on their way to get water. Aubry wants to take Cydney out, but knows Michele won’t be so inclined. So the best they could do is force a tie. But Aubry is by no means sure she has Tai’s collaboration in the bag: “Tai and I have been like a zipper that doesn’t quite zip for the whole game.”

Michele and Tai are talking too, and they both think Aubry would get the most votes, since Tai is not much of an orator and probably wouldn’t be able to sway the jury.

As Mark the chicken chases a crab around, Michele tells Tai that she’s going to vote Aubry.

At Tribal Council, Tai tells Probst “alliance out the door now.” Aubry’s face is very tense, as it has been during much of the episode. The votes are cast, and there are two votes for Cydney, two votes for Aubry. Probst asks if there is any possibility either Michele or Tai will decide to change their vote. They both say no. The question I’m asking at this point is, why did Tai not vote for Aubry?

Since no votes are changed, the tie will be resolved by a fire-making challenge. Aubry gets out to a lead pretty quickly, and before you know it there’s a high stack of wood that’s about to burn through the rope. But as she tries one minor adjustment the whole thing collapses and she has to start almost from scratch. We see a number of jury reactions during the challenge, and every one of them seems to be cheering for Aubry. If you needed any proof that Tai made a huge mistake sticking with Aubry, you have it right here. Cydney gets a few embers going a few times, but never anything beyond that, and Aubry rebuilds her fire and wins the challenge.

Rather than immediately ushering Cydney out, Probst first asks for a reaction. She said she is sad mainly for her mother who has a hard time affording even basic necessities. She would have liked to win the money for her.

As Cydney exits the game, we cut to the live studio audience, and Probst feels the need to interview Cydney’s mother who just found out seconds ago that she would not be getting a life-changing amount of money. Quite understandably, it’s all the poor woman can do to say a few words. Pretty sorry, Probst.

As we come back from commercial, we see a shot of an absolutely huge scorpion as the remaining three players go back to camp. “I think you just handed Aubry a million dollars,” says Michele to Tai, as I nod in agreement watching at home. Surprisingly, Michele and Aubry take it for granted that the three of them are going to the final tribal council. But Tai points out that Probst said no such thing. “There’s not another challenge,” Aubry asserts definitively. But soon they are in fact summoned to one.

Confusingly, when they get to the challenge Probst tells them that all three are in fact going to the finals. But they are playing a challenge anyway, and the winner gets to remove one of the jury members from the game! This is a Survivor first.

The challenge is a “leftover” from earlier in the season when there was an option to choose between multiple challenges. This is the one no one chose. It’s a dexterity challenge and the winner is Michele.

She goes back to camp and thinks about which jury member she wants to vote out and comes up with the obvious choice: Joe. Makes sense: he was Aubry’s closest ally and it seems inconceivable that he would vote for anyone but her to win the game. However Tai says: what about Neal? He’s presumably almost as pro-Aubry as Joe, and he’s more likely to campaign for Aubry and win over others to his cause. Oddly, Michele even asks for Aubry’s feedback on which jury member it would make sense to vote out.

At tribal council, the unsuspecting jury is confused to see no one wearing an immunity necklace. Michele is tasked with reading the explanation to the jury. Then Probst wants to talk it through … endlessly. They really want to milk this twist for every bit of drama they can.

Finally, Michele casts her vote in the voting booth and Probst reads it out: Neal! Obviously Michele agreed with Tai’s line of thinking. Neal walks past Michele on the way out and says something to the effect of, “You think you’re a badass bitch but you’re a little puppy. You don’t stand a chance.” Wow, this is coming from Neal who was one of my favorite players of the season. And I do mean was … what a jerk! Obviously, this was something he had written to use at the final tribal council and felt it was too good to go unused. And by the way, now Aubry has been robbed of Neal’s assistance twice in the same season.

Nothing else of interest happens before the final tribal council. And frankly, not that much interesting stuff happens during the final tribal council. Nick, who starts the questioning off, takes an interesting tack as he forgoes questioning in favor of giving each contestant advice on what they can do to win over the jury. Another unusual moment comes when Michele is answering a softball question: Aubry interrupts to ask Michele if she knew that Aubry and Tai were voting against Cydney.

When it’s time to vote, the only votes we see are that Julia votes for Michele and Joe votes for Aubry, both of which were pretty much locks. We also see that Jason seems very torn about what to write, but not which name he finally chooses.

The whole time, Tai had been holding onto Mark the chicken, who amusingly even began to flap his wings restlessly when Tai was asked a tough question. Now before we finish up, Probst tells Tai it’s time to let the chicken loose, which he does.

Now we go to the live studio show. We see the final three and the one inescapable fact is that Michele is smoking hot. She looked very good even after 39 days on the island, but real life is something else altogether.

The votes are read, and the winner of Survivor: Kaoh Rong is … Michele? Wow, I did not see that coming at all. I was so certain Aubry was going to win that I was only half paying attention when the votes were read. Not that I thought Michele had no shot — you’ll notice that I had ranked her as the #2 favorite — but I didn’t think she could win if Aubry were one of the other finalists. Aubry did so much more in the game. But Michele didn’t really have any “blood on her hands,” and sometimes that’s enough.

Also, I guess congratulations are due to the producers: Michele was barely seen or heard from until the sixth episode of a fourteen-episode show. They resisted the temptation to feature her in favor of showing the more interesting things that were going on.

At the reunion show, we don’t find out much more information to help us understand what happened. For instance, when Probst brings up Aubry, he’s mostly interested in comparing her to previous winner Cochran than asking her any questions about the season. Then all of a sudden a crazy woman wearing a hat with hair or fabric hanging down that obscures her face takes the stage to start talking about Tai. She looks like something out of a Comic-Con-goer’s nightmare, but it turns out she is a pop star named Sia. This goes on for a far too long, and then we get to see Probst talking to Drew Carey about a recent appearance of reality stars on “The Price is Right.” Groan.

Also, we get to see a preview of Season 33. It will take place in Fiji. Probst calls it one of his all-time favorite locations and says there will be lots of great underwater shots. And the theme of the season is — I kid you not — millennials versus Generation X.

I’ll be back before long with final thoughts on the Kaoh Rong season.