Warning: This recap for the “Who’s the Sucker at the Table” episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X contains spoilers.
A one-man rebellion overthrows a fledgling dictator in another erratic episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.
Did Jeff Probst slip something into the Fijian water supply this season? Seriously, these castaways are playing with the off-the-wall energy you’d expect on Day 30, not Day 12. Even in the more strategy-focused recent seasons, the early episodes tend to be a little slower and predictable. Already this season we’ve seen the blindsiding of a potential winner (still salty), the downfall of an alliance alpha, and now a baffling yet thrilling idol play. Survivor is sizzling like sausages at a reward challenge!
The episode starts with the Gen X tribe skulking back to camp after last week’s blindsiding of pirate Paul. Chris and Bret aren’t happy campers — especially Chris, who throws a tantrum like a belligerent football coach who hasn’t won a game all season. He even considers dumping out the tribe’s rice, Brandon Hantz style. The recipient of their hostility is Jessica, who appears to have taken the brunt of the blame for turning on the six-person alliance.
With Jessica in the hot seat, Lucy removes her cloak of invisibility and emerges as the tribe’s new head honcho. She’s the leader nobody asked for, nor knew existed, until this week. Lucy believes that Jessica has too much power and tells Bret and Chris that she has odd couple David and Ken in her pocket and will use them to vote Jess out. It’s a sound plan in theory, but this is Survivor, and of course plans fall apart as often as Jeff Probst wears blue shirts.
Meanwhile, in Camp Millennial, there is a much more fun, collaborative atmosphere. Armed with sticks and a machete, half the tribe heads off on a Stranger Things–style adventure. The mission — catch a pig or a goat or basically anything that can be killed and eaten as long as it’s not a cameraman. While this expedition is going on, it gives self-described super-duper fan Adam a chance to go on a hunt of his own for the hidden immunity idol. Adam has much more luck than the goat herders when he snags an idol clue. He can’t eat it, but it could prolong his life in the game. Side note: Maybe they should make the idols edible. Then you have the dilemma of keeping it or eating it.
You know what you can eat? Sausages! That’s what’s on offer in this week’s reward challenge, where tribes must race into the ocean to retrieve a ring. The first tribe to bring the ring to their tribe’s post gains a point. It’s a fun battle that almost sees Jeff get washed out to sea by a massive wave Now that would be a Survivor first! The Gen X tribe triumphs, 3 points to 2, but Michaela leaves as MVP, removing her top and dragging three players across to her tribe’s post. From this moment on, she will forever be known as Michaela “Beastmode” Bradshaw.
Michaela soaks up the praise back at camp while Adam shuffles off for Part 2 of his idol search. And he finds it! Although Hannah does pop up out of nowhere to ask half-jokingly, “How’s your idol search going, buddy?” Hannah is developing quite the knack for being in places she’s not wanted; I fully expect her to swim by when someone’s taking an aqua dump next week. Luckily for Adam, it seems she didn’t see him take the idol, and he has a tearful breakdown about his mother, who is battling Stage 4 lung cancer. It was both Adam and his mother’s dream to see him on Survivor, and it makes for a touching, heartfelt moment that is sure to have every viewer rooting for him.
No time for heartwarming moments on team Gen X, as Lucy informs David and Ken of her Blindside Jessica plan, and when I say “informs,” what I mean is “barks orders at them while rattling off a bunch of rules and regulations,” as Ken calls them. Even though David and Ken are still on the outs and this move will certainly help them, Lucy’s office-manager approach is off-putting. It’s like a friend inviting you to play the Game of Thrones home version: It sounds fun on paper, but the excessive amount of rules you have to follow will soon have you wishing for a Red Wedding.
At the immunity challenge, tribes have to use a chair on a pulley system to grab 10 numbered bags. The first tribe to complete a word puzzle with the tiles from the numbered bags wins immunity. Both tribes power through the first part quickly but come to a halt at the puzzle. Forty-five minutes pass with both tribes staring at the letters like confused Wheel of Fortune contestants. At one point it looked like David had spelled out STALLING BEEF, which sounds like what the Millennials were trying to do to Chris in the earlier reward challenge. Maybe they were expecting the words to be text abbreviations? Finally, the Millennials figure it out, sending Gen X to tribal council for the second week in a row.
At Gen X camp, Lucy attempts to put her Jessica plan into motion, describing herself as a “tiger mom” while she does it. Ken has his own plans: He’s tired of being dictated to and wants to vote out Lucy. Unfortunately, when he tells Jessica that Lucy wants her gone, Jessica doesn’t believe him and goes and spills the beans to Lucy. A chaotic game of telephone erupts. Lucy complains to David that Ken told Jessica; David relays to Ken that Jessica tattled on him to Lucy; and nobody is quite sure what the hell is happening heading into tribal council.
Edit-wise, it seems obvious that Lucy is about to be eliminated. She had gone from a silent background extra whose only utterance in three weeks was the word “shush” to a sudden screen hog talking about how Ken “is emotional like a girl” and how men can usually “handle bluntness.” And Lucy is eliminated, just not in the way anyone expected. Her plan actually works, or at least would have worked had David not pulled out his hidden immunity idol and used it on Jessica. In a move that I’m still scratching my head over, David decides to give up personal safety to save a person who doesn’t fully trust him and remove someone who trusted him enough to tell him her plan. What’s worse is that Ken was seemingly left out of David’s bold play, as only CeCe and David voted for Lucy, providing enough votes to send her home.
Last week we talked about the fluidity of the game and how this season’s players were showing a real willingness to shake things up. This tribal council was no different; it was very much alive and kicking. Jessica never saw the votes coming her way (although she does have an eye infection, so we’ll forgive her) and was even more surprised by David’s giving her his idol. As for Lucy, the lesson is to never be a dictator in the game of Survivor; you have to know when to speak up and when to be quiet and listen to the needs of others. Yes, silence might not bring you airtime, but it is golden.
Players of the Week
Adam: Even though he almost got caught by Hannah, he did manage to find both the clue and the idol in this episode, which should take him far in this game.
Michaela: Yeah, the Millennials may have lost that reward challenge, but how can you not be impressed by Michaela “Beastmode” Bradshaw? She was willing to get her “tatas” out to bring her tribe the win. That’s a Player of the Week in my book.
David: I’m putting David with a caveat here. His move with the idol was risky, but it did mean he ultimately decided who went home this week. However, the repercussions could be deadly.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.