Warning: This recap for the “Still Throwin’ Punches” episode of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X contains spoilers.
Information is currency in Survivor, and when and how you choose to share it could be the difference between $1 million and a lonely flight back home to the U.S. Having a secret can be powerful, but if that secret starts leaking out like Ashley Madison user accounts, then you could end up with a big old mess on your hands. You have to be careful with whom you trust that secret, especially when an ally can become an enemy at the drop of a buff. In the right hands, a secret can be used to gain control; in the wrong hands, it can just as easily blow up in your face, as both Adam and Taylor found out this week.
Returning to the Vinaka camp after last week’s tribal council, Jay is annoyed that he “lost one of [his] closest people,” and he refers to the nerd trio of Adam, Hannah, and Zeke as “stupid” for aligning with the former Gen Xers. Maybe not as stupid as voting out a loyal ally just before the merge, eh? Oops. I bet Jay wishes he had Michaela and her shell plans right about now. Instead, he has Taylor, who seems to have mistaken Survivor for Man vs. Food.
Taylor has started to bury Mason jars full of snacks (from the merge feast) in the sand, like a crazy person stocking up for the end of the world. He describes it as his “best idea yet.” But remember, his other ideas included “building a bowling alley instead of a shelter” and “hooking up with Figgy,” so the benchmark isn’t very high. The problem for Taylor is that his secret stash isn’t so secret. Adam knows about it, for one. So the two strike up a deal where Adam won’t snitch about Taylor’s hoard if Taylor keeps quiet about Adam’s reward-stealing advantage. But this is Survivor, and just like a jar full of soggy pretzels, nothing stays buried forever.
The next morning, Jay approaches Hannah to try and patch things up and work his way back into the majority. Hannah tells him that she wanted to start playing a more independent game, and that’s why she flipped on him — also she didn’t want to be seen as a goat. Hannah has had a good couple of weeks, and she’s beginning to find her footing in the game, which she calls “addicting.”
The reward challenge sees the tribe split into two teams of six. Each team must race through an obstacle course and retrieve a key, which will be used to unlock a box. The team must then drag the box under a net to the finish line. Once at the finish line, they must open the box and retrieve three bolos. The first tribe to throw and land all their bolos on a set of wooden poles will receive cheeseburgers and cocktails (soft drinks for Will) at a poolside resort.
Chris and Hannah are drawn as captains and get to pick the teams. Hannah, admittedly not used to being in this position, makes some odd choices for her squad (Adam, Jay, Jessica, Will, and Zeke), and they struggle even to get out of the net. (I’m surprised Jeff Probst didn’t shoehorn in a metaphor about millennial Internet addiction — missed opportunity, Probst!). Chris’s team (Bret, David, Ken, Sunday, and Taylor) easily stomp to victory.
The winning team indulges in a huge table full of grub. Taylor explains that he’ll be able to handle the food consumption better than the others because his stomach is more accustomed, thanks to his secret stash. It’s sad when you have a better bond with slices of dried peach than you do your fellow tribemates. Meanwhile, off-duty Bret takes advantage of the free bar and gets hammered, cracking wise and cannonballing into the pool, like a drunk uncle at a barbecue who thinks it’d be hilarious to belly-flop into the inflatable kiddie pool. Never change, Uncle Bret.
Back at camp, Jay continues his efforts to wriggle back into the majority. He has a talk with Adam, hoping to find a way in, but Adam is hesitant about betraying the trust of his new alliance and tells Jay that it’s Taylor’s fault he’s now on the bottom. Adam isn’t the greatest at putting people at ease — I mean, he’s essentially the human embodiment of the phrase “There’s no easy way to say this.” But I don’t think Adam intended to rub it in Jay’s face. However, that’s how Jay makes it sound to Will, Hannah, and Zeke, who agree with Jay’s assessment that Adam is a “jerk” and an “a**hole.” Wow.
Old cracks are reemerging among the Gen Xers too, as Sunday and Bret share their concern about Jessica. Sunday feels uneasy around Jessica because she voted for her way back when and believes Jessica still holds a grudge. With that in mind, Sunday approaches Jay, whom she says she has a tight bond with since their time together on Ikabula and lets him know her plan. Jay, of course, agrees to vote however she wants if it means saving his own skin.
The immunity challenge involves balancing a ball on a bow while standing on a thin beam. Sounds simple enough, but Jeff throws a wrinkle into the proceedings when he offers the players a chance to sit out and partake in a snack of grilled cheese and beer (or soft drinks for Will). The only two to take the offer are Zeke and Will. Obviously, Taylor didn’t need to, as he probably just snacked on a Mason jar full of cashew nuts. “You know you can’t drink the beer, right?” Jeff tells Will like an overbearing parent. I half-expected Will to shout back, “I’ll do what I want, DAD! … I mean, Probst!”
The challenge comes down to a battle between Taylor and Ken. All the stolen food in the world isn’t enough to help Taylor as he loses control of the ball, allowing Ken to snatch the immunity necklace. Ken has been surprisingly quiet the past couple of weeks, which is a little odd, seeing as pre-merge he was a solid winner-contender with consistent airtime plus strategic and personal development. Are the editors intentionally downplaying him so that we forget about him for the time being? Or are his chances of winning buried deeper than Taylor’s Mason jars?
The majority alliance, seemingly led by David — who, much like Hannah, has really found his footing in the game recently — plans to split the vote between Jay and Taylor in case either has an idol. However, Sunday is still worried about Jessica and floats the idea to Bret of voting her out. It certainly seems the vote could go that way, given that a woman has left every single week except for Episode 3, but because of Jessica not uttering a single word up until this point, it’s probably unlikely.
With no immunity, Jay and Taylor know their days are numbered, and if they want to both survive they’ll need to think fast — not an easy feat for Taylor. Jay hopes that Sunday will come through for him and vote Jessica out. If not, he has an idol in his pocket, but he doesn’t want to use it if he doesn’t have to. In steps Taylor with another of his grand ideas. After sharing the contents of his secret stash with Jay, he informs his fellow bro that Adam has an advantage that allows him to steal a reward. Taylor threatens to blow up Adam’s spot at tribal council in a last-ditch effort to save what remains of the Triforce alliance. “That could ruin his game!” Jay gleefully exclaims.
It doesn’t take long for tribal council to heat up. The animosity between Adam and Jay is palpable. Jay says he didn’t like being blindsided last week and he’d love to write Adam’s name down again. Chris says that he’s also been on the outside of a vote, but that you can always work your way back in if you can find the cracks. With that, Taylor leaps into action, confessing to stealing and hiding food, but claims that Adam helped him do it.
Cue shocked reactions!
Adam admits to seeing Taylor hide food but adamantly denies his own involvement. Jay stokes the fire, even though he admitted to eating some of the stashed contents with Taylor. Just when Adam thinks he’s in the clear, Taylor reveals that Adam also has an advantage in the game, forcing Adam to tell the tribe about his reward-stealing advantage. Adam plays down its power while Taylor goes for some classic politician-style scare tactics by saying Adam could use it to steal someone’s loved-one visit. The horror! During all this mayhem, Taylor says, “I’m not a dumb surfer.” We know, Taylor — you’re a dumb snowboarder.
After all the accusations and mud-flinging, Adam and Jay both keep hold of their idols, and Taylor is voted out, 7-4-1 (four votes for Jay and one for Adam). As he grabs his torch, he apologizes to the tribe for stealing and eating all the food. Too little, too late, bro.
Despite revealing Adam’s secrets, it was his own indiscretions and lies that ended up costing Taylor the game. As Jessica said at tribal council, just because you admit to the crime doesn’t make it OK. If you commit the crime, you gotta do the time!
Players of the Week
David: Most of the players who received airtime this episode played poorly, so it’s the quieter ones who deserve credit. David didn’t really appear until later on, but once again he was the one shown putting the plans into place for tribal council.
Hannah: She isn’t a sports captain, but she’s starting to come to grips with the game of Survivor and is thinking strategically.
Ken: He won immunity and is one of the biggest physical threats, yet nobody seems to have him on their radar. Just keep doing what you’re doing for now, Ken doll.
Who are your players of the week? Happy to see Taylor go? Can you keep a secret? Let us know in the comments below.
Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS.