At the start of the merge episode of Survivor, Jay told the camera, “I’m the king pin but no one knows.” That gave the episode its title and us evidence that he was being set up by the editing for an epic fall from power.
Except, this is Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X, where the tribe finds women to vote out instead, so Michelle went home for Taylor and Jay’s sins.
Thirteen people at the merge, all white people.
Eight Tribal Councils, seven women voted out.
Three women, nine men remain.
Again, is this explicit racism and/or sexism? Probably not. Is it implicit? The evidence is piling up.
Synchronized boats bring the merge
The arrival of the merge was a little unceremonious, with a boat arriving at two of the beaches and a crew member handing the tribe a scroll. But that did lead to a wonderful visual as the boats with two of the tribes met up in the ocean and then sped toward the third beach, ready to bring generational harmony.
The remaining players introduced themselves, and I was hoping Taylor would go with something like, I’m Taylor and I’m so millennial I got someone pregnant before the show, and then had a showmance that I intend to keep going until she finds out I’m going to be a father. Yes, me, in charge of another human’s life.
At the new tribe camp, Adam went idol hunting and discovered “a new power that nobody has ever had,” which is overplaying his game. Oh wait, that’s just what he went on to do. No, his new power is being able to steal someone else’s reward. Presumably, he’ll use that on some kind of in-game advantage rather than a muffin, but he is a millennial! (shrug emoji)
There was actually a clue to this new power that the show skipped over.
I pause my DVR and read all notes that the Survivors receive—or at least, read as much as possible. So when they opened the merge feast container, I paused to read the note attached inside the lid. It was practically gibberish, which made me think it was code. One of the first words in the sentence was “initial,” so I started looking at the first letter of each word.
The result: mail brings advantage; find it first. Adam found the advantage in the treemail structure, but at least according to the edit, not with the help of that clue.
There was no reward challenge, though, just the merge feast. The immunity challenge was a familiar one, where each player holds their arm over their head and tries not to flinch, or else they’ll be doused with dyed water. (Only Survivor would color-code the water, too. Love it!)
But the challenge came with a modification: “Used to do it with one arm. That wasn’t tough enough,” Probst explained. So they stood with two arms handcuffed to a bar. The final two, Jessica and Will, lasted more than 90 minutes, which is insanely impressive. Will, the 18-year-old high school student and the game’s youngest-ever player, won the first individual immunity, though Jessica didn’t exactly give up—she just appeared to have moved slightly, but enough to end her chances.
I don’t know what everyone who’s out of the challenge does during that long time, but during the rehearsal, at least, Jeff Probst used that time to do a little comedic shilling for CBS shows:
Taylor steals food, Michelle gets voted out
Meanwhile, Taylor got hungry and stole the tribe’s merge feast. Bret noticed and saved that intel for Tribal Council. Adam noticed and used that as “an opportunity to build trust with him,” aka an opportunity to hold this new information over Taylor’s head to make up for that whole backstab thing.
(At Tribal Council, however, we learned that Taylor’s thievery was “a medical emergency” because his stomach was insisting that he feed it. Of course, we know this isn’t true, because if it had been a True Survivor Medical Emergency, Jeff Probst, MD, would have been there, interrupting actual doctors’ work with exposition. This conversation also gave us the best line of the season so far: Hannah telling Probst that she was so hungry, “I could eat you.”)
Adam also used this middle-of-the-night opportunity to tell Taylor he wanted to target Will, which he later realized was a mistake. “I had a feeling I might be playing too hard. I was playing too hard,” he said.
Thus the alliance of Jay, Taylor, Will, and Michelle targeted him.
But the other millennials—the ones who give you hope for the future, rather than despair—joined up with the Gen Xers to target that group. And they chose Michelle for reasons that are unclear, though presumably it is because they thought there might be an idol in play.
They easily had the numbers (nine) to split the vote, but they didn’t, and Michelle took the fall for their power alliance.
I do understand that Taylor is a non-threat—he’s basically unconcerned with the game—but they’re letting him stick around to be rewarded, perhaps even as the runner-up, since no one would vote for him to win. At least that would give Jeff Probst his big finish: You’re a millennial who did nothing all season, so here’s $100,000!