Warning: This recap for the “About to Have a Rumble” episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X contains spoilers.
We all remember leaving school and having to apply for jobs. Creating a resume can be a nightmare when you have very little life experience. Can I put down that I learned nifty knot tying skills at Cub Scouts? Is my massive Pokemon card collection a good example of commitment? How about my ability to devour a foot-long Subway sandwich in under 5 minutes? That shows great time management, right? These were the kind of struggles on the mind of 18-year-old Will Wahl in this week’s episode of Survivor.
Will is the youngest person ever to play this game; literally still in high school at the time of filming. That’s commendable given that Survivor is a highly stressful environment and we’ve seen plenty of players far older with more life experience break down or act a fool on this show over the years. But Will, by his own admission, has been a passenger for the majority of this game, riding in the booster seat, suckling the teat of his milk bottle (the kid loves milk!). He realized that if he wanted a shot at winning, he needed an impressive resume that would convince a jury to vote for him in the end. That mission started with taking out one of the game’s biggest threats, Zeke.
But before we get there — lots of love and lots of tears!
The tribe returns to Vinaka camp completely rocked, in more ways than one, from last week’s crazy tribal council. Hannah is feeling guilty that Jessica put her game on the line for her and ended up picking the black rock. David meanwhile doesn’t have time for guilt; he’s more bothered about how he wasted his idol on Ken and wound up in the minority alliance. The only person on the losing side with something to be happy about is Ken, not just because he has abs of steel, but because he was gifted the Legacy Advantage by Jessica, and he secretly picks it up at treemail the next morning. “It goes to show the power of genuine and authentic relationships,” he mumbles in his serious Ken voice.
On the flip side, Zeke’s group are enjoying the spoils of war. Zeke is practically salivating over how well tribal went for him, declaring himself a “warrior” and committing to his new five-person alliance with Bret, Jay, Sunday, and Will. But most of all he’s just happy to have “won the battle” against his former nerd-ally turned nerd-nemesis, David. “I’m just as happy that I’m gonna win this game as I am that David’s gonna lose it.” Remember last week when Chris declared Jessica’s demise at the start of the first hour? This was yet another one of those “uh-oh” foreshadowing statements.
The reward challenge is up next and it’s that time in the season when viewers start making up excuses about why their eyes are suddenly watering: “Who the hell is chopping onions in here?!” The family visit has always been one of Survivor’s most polarizing aspects. Some people absolutely adore the raw emotion of a family reunion, while some find it mawkish and vomit-inducing. Personally, I can take or leave it, but I’d be lying if I said this one didn’t affect me and that was because… I was chopping onions — no, because of Adam and his story.
When Adam found the hidden immunity idol back in Episode 4, we learned about his mother who is suffering from stage-four lung cancer. He told us how hard it was to leave her to come and play Survivor but how much the show means to the both of them and how she encouraged him to go and do it. It came up again last week when he won a letter from home. But having his brother, Evan, right there in front of him, able to update him properly on the condition of his mom was huge. Adam tells his brother that he has an advantage that allows him to steal a reward, but through his tears, he promises his fellow tribemates that he isn’t going to use it because there’s no way he could take away someone’s loved one visit. A touching moment that also earned him back some game cred.
In the reward challenge, the players must maneuver through an obstacle course while tethered to a rope. The first person to finish will get to enjoy a BBQ reward with their loved one back at camp. Ken gets out to an early lead, but Jay, Zeke, and Hannah are on his tail. Adam gets trapped under a log while Jeff Probst comments, “Adam’s shot at love slipping away.” Come on, Jeff; I’m sure girls will still wanna date him even after seeing him face down in the sand wailing like a beached seal. Maybe. Jay eventually pulls out in front and snatches the win, getting to spend some quality time with his sister, Melanie. But he’s then cursed with the dreaded task of having to pick two others to join him.
Luckily, Jay has an easy-out, as he made promises to Will and Sunday earlier in the game, so Will and his mom, and Sunday and her husband join the BBQ fun. Phew. Oh, wait, not that easy, Jeff makes Jay pick one more person. It’s an agonizing moment as the rest of the tribe looks on, almost on hands and knees begging. As viewers, we’re all rooting for him to pick Adam but that’s because we know about his sick mom, Jay doesn’t know about that. Plus Jay and Adam have been enemies most of the game. There’s no way he’ll pick Adam… wait, did he just pick Adam?! Jay says even though him and Adam “have been brawling this whole game,” he respects that he didn’t use the advantage. I’m all out of tissues.
Back at camp, Jay, Adam, Sunday, and Will get to feast on food (and love) with their family members. Adam and Evan break away for a private chat where Evan updates his brother on the health of their mother. Unfortunately, things haven’t improved, and she didn’t take to the latest round of chemotherapy. While Adam is understandably upset that his mom isn’t currently receiving any treatment, Evan assures him that she’s regaining strength and that him being on Survivor is a huge boost for his mom and the family and that they’re all very proud of him. I said I’m out of tissues, damn it!
Adam and his brother return to the beach to join Jay and his sister, and to show his gratitude for being picked, Adam gifts Jay the reward advantage. Now, while this was another sweet moment, it was also a cunning, brilliant move. Adam is a genuine person, no doubt, but he’s also incredibly smart. In one fell swoop, he managed to gain everyone’s respect by not stealing the reward, unburdened himself of the cursed advantage by palming it off onto Jay, and still got to attend the loved one’s reward anyway. That’s what we call a successful day on Survivor.
Another person feeling reinvigorated after the reward is our LinkedIn portfolio building maestro himself, Will. “Seeing my mom made me realize I need to start playing,” he says, like he’s just awakened after a 30+ day slumber. Maybe she told him, “Will, you’re 18 now, you gotta move out when you get back home. Dad’s already turned your bedroom into a poolroom.” Of course! That’s why Will is clamoring for the million dollars all of a sudden! At camp, Will tells David he’s “ready to start playing this game hard” and that his intention is to take out the person that everyone believes will win, Zeke. This is music to David’s ears (and that music would be Barry White given the insane deepness of Will’s voice). A day ago, David was hanging his head like Charlie Brown; now Will is offering him a second kick at the ball.
But first, there’s a little thing called an immunity challenge to get out of the way. In this one, players must squeeze together handles that are holding up a metal bar. If they lose tension, the bar falls, smashes a tile, and means they’re eliminated. The last person holding onto their bar wins immunity. A lot of these immunity challenges are very similar this season; holding something in place for an extended period of time. Shake it up, Survivor. Although if it means the alternative is more of those weird worm wriggling challenges from last week, then maybe not. Most people drop out of this challenge relatively quickly, ending in a battle between Adam and Jay. Jay is unable to make it three challenge wins in a row, as Adam picks up the victory, continuing his fantastic breakout episode. In Adam’s own words, he only has “one checkbox left — to win the game.”
Back at camp before tribal council, things should be relatively easy. Even though Zeke is suspicious about the other alliance being too calm, he comes up with a plan to target Ken in case David found another idol. Zeke has no idea Will has flipped. David is worried for different reasons; he’s nervy about trusting Will, describing the situation as “Will just got his driving license and we’re all in the backseat.” But Will is indeed on board to blindside Zeke, so no need for anyone to panic and cause confusion. Right, Ken?
Ken and Will have a chat, Ken tells us that he doesn’t “…just have a five-minute conversation and then hop in bed with somebody,” he has to form a genuine connection with them first. I bet that’s written on his Tinder profile. Ken tells Will that he can now see he is an authentic person like himself. Meanwhile, in confessional, Will informs us that talking strategy with Ken is like having your fingernails ripped off. In an act of good faith, Will lets Ken know the other alliance is writing his name down tonight. “Thanks, Will.” That’s all you need to say, Ken. But no, Ken takes offense, he can’t believe anyone would dare write his name down.
Ken approaches Jay asking him if what Will told him is true. Soon the entire Zeke alliance is circled around Ken struggling to piece together what just happened. Will admits to feeling like a passenger in the game and that he was trying to make a big move for his resume, but now Ken has torn that resume up like a pissed off career counselor. Ken says he was just “testing” Will. Will’s a high school student, he’s used to tests, but this is just nonsensical. As Adam says, “That’s not a test; that’s a betrayal.”
Heading into tribal council nobody is quite confident in what is about to happen. David’s group can’t believe Ken has messed up what should have been a simple blindside. Hannah now feels the target has moved onto her for the second week in a row. And Will is truly the man in the middle. At tribal council, Will talks about wanting to be treated as an adult. He feels that people don’t give him the credit he deserves and IT’S SO UNFAIR! Even when he admits to forming this Zeke blindside plan, others get the credit instead of him (like when someone cheats off your test paper in school, right Will?). Sorry.
Jay tries to convince Will to stay on their side, saying that he’s always treated him like an equal and that when they voted out Michaela, that was a move they made together. David instead attempts to appeal to Will’s game-side, telling him that flipping and voting out Zeke will look great on his resume. Adam chips in to say that everyone is equal in their alliance (says the guy with immunity around his neck and an idol in his pants). Jay tells Will to go with his gut.
The votes are cast. Jeff collects the urn. But before he reads the votes, Adam, who has had a star-making night, provides one last bombshell, shoving his hand down his shorts and removing the idol from his crotch. “I didn’t have anywhere else to put it because I don’t have my bag,” he tells Jeff. He plays the idol on Hannah, who is pretty sure the votes are coming her way. And she’s right. The Hannah votes pile in, one, two, three, four, all null and void. Then… Zeke, Zeke… Zeke. Three is enough, Zeke, the man who was so giddy at the start of the episode, has his torch snuffed.
When the votes are revealed during the credit sequence, it shows that Will did flip and voted Zeke too, meaning that Adam didn’t even need to play his idol on Hannah. But better safe than sorry. I wouldn’t have trusted what Will was going to do either after that Ken craziness. In the end, the game lost one of its big players, Adam lost an idol, David regained his numbers, and Will just might get a job after all!
Players of the Week
Adam: An excellent week for Adam. Not only touching and emotional but really well played. Announcing that he wouldn’t play his advantage gained back some respect he lost a couple of weeks ago. Giving the advantage to Jay was a brilliant move. Plus he won immunity. Yes, he wasted his idol, but given the circumstances, it was a move worth making.
Will: It wasn’t clean and simple and telling Ken what he did was a big misstep, but he ultimately did what he set out to do, eliminate Zeke. He deserves some credit there, but he’s now flipped on his closest allies, probably not going to help him gain jury votes, no matter what it says on his resume.
Hannah: She didn’t do a great deal this episode, but she correctly recognized the votes were coming her way and got Adam to play his idol on her, even when she didn’t actually need it.
What did you think of the episode? Are you heartless when it comes to family visits or do you have a sensitive side? Did Will help build his resume? Did the right person go home? Let us know in the comments below.
Sadly, Adam’s mother, Susie, passed away two days after the season of Survivor finished filming.
Since his mother’s passing Adam created a crowdfunding page, The #Livelikesusie Memorial Fund, to honor his mother by raising money for lung cancer research
The #Livelikesusie Memorial Fund page can be visited here. You can also purchase autographed Survivor buffs from PlanetBuff.com with 100% of proceeds going to Stand Up To Cancer in honour of Adam’s mother.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.