Thoughts on the episode:
- This Millennials vs. Gen X theme is OK on paper, but in reality I’m not buying how the theme and the tribe dynamics are playing, from an entertainment standpoint at least. I don’t think this is the greatest group Survivor has ever casted, and I don’t think the tribe divisions are doing anything to help the show play better on screen. We have the Gen X tribe, who are just a large group of bullish guys and independent women who don’t seem to gel much as a tribe. There’s a lot of individualistic people on that tribe, and while I do believe they did a good job coalescing and building camp, I don’t imagine their tribal dynamics being interesting for TV. Then there’s the Millennials who are a large group of over the top free spirits or people with odd jobs. They are interesting for TV, this is true, but there’s so much to be desired from a Survivor standpoint. The Taylor-Jay-Figgy alliance brings me bad flashbacks of the Caramoan season and how annoying the fans tribe in that game was, and while players like Hannah and Mari seem game ready, the rest of the tribe didn’t stand out in the first episode. Maybe I’m reading too much into one episode of Survivor, but this doesn’t feel like a great season off the bat. I think there’s gonna have to be a lot of twists and turns thrown into the mix to make things interesting, because I don’t see the game working out brilliantly if left to play out, but luckily this is Survivor, and anything’s possible.
- The most interesting thing we got to see this episode was the storm and how it impacted the first few days of the competition. If the cast was a little timid this episode, I think the storm may very well be to blame because all of these new Survivors were forced to acclimate to the game with this huge impending storm looming over their camp preparation. It was quite intense watching the clouds get darker every shot and watching the production response to the situation as it intensified. First, the tribes got a tarp once it was clear they could not get adequate shelters up by the time the storm hit, which seemed pretty unprecedented to me at the time. But then, once the storm became a cyclone, Jeff Probst came in himself with the stunning news that they would have to evacuate the beach because of the severity of the storm. This was something new for the game, and I think it was one of the coolest things that happened in the premiere. I only wish we could’ve gotten some behind the scenes about where they went and what happened when they were evacuated; it would’ve been a very different look at the show in a similar way that the Caleb injury from last season created a different look for the game. The show can feel free to break the fourth wall a little bit; they’ve already started with the Ponderosa videos and the medical situations of last season, they shouldn’t be afraid to give us different looks here and there.
- The first challenge of the season was really well done, and it included something we’ve seen early on the last couple of seasons; a choice that could impact the results. This was a not-so-simple set of obstacle courses that lead to a puzzle at the end, but Probst offered each team a chance to take shortcuts and simplify the obstacles at the expense of doing a harder puzzle at the end. It was a really tough dilemma for the tribes because it all depended on how you feel about your teams physical or mental skills with only a few days and no competitions to draw experience from. The tribes were going in blind and had to make judgment calls, and that was kind of fun to see play out. The Gen Xers took both shortcuts and finished ahead while the Millennials skipped the first one but took the second shortcut when it was clear they were falling behind. Because of their decision, the Millennials got to the puzzle last but also had an easier one to finish, and their tribe was much sharper on the puzzle than the duo of Rachel and David for Gen X, and secured the first immunity of the season. Even though I still find the Millennials to be a disheveled bunch, they performed great together in the first challenge, so perhaps there’s some hope for them going forward. The Gen Xers on the other hand looked bad, and more importantly, they looked like they had some dead weight on their tribe that they really had to get rid of ASAP in order to form a stronger unit. They got what they really needed on Day 3; a trip to tribal council where they could trim the fat a little!
- The Gen Xers were a bit of a mess out of the gate, losing the first challenge and having to face the question of who to go forward with in order to make the tribe stronger. David was a mess for them from the get-go, letting his paranoia run wild, creating chaos in the first three days because no one knew if he had an idol or not. Then there was Rachel, who’s personality did not mesh with most of her tribe, and the personality differences lead to a bit of isolation between Cece and her and the rest of the team. When Rachel and David, the two outcasts, were the ones to mess up immunity, it all boiled down to them for the vote out. The big question was not strength or smarts, but who could be trusted to be loyal. At the end of the day, after a lot of deliberation at camp, it became clear that while David was spastic and paranoid, he was smart enough to realize he overplayed and would have to take a backseat in order to regain loyalty. This made him the perfect minion for the majority alliance going forward, and they decided to split the vote on Rachel and Cece, who isolated themselves strategically from the rest of the tribe and couldn’t recover. Rachel was voted out at Tribal Council in a relatively predictable decision; even though the producers cleverly fooled us to believe the vote would be split between her and David. It was a sneaky misdirect, but I figured from early on that Rachel was probably going to be the first one gone because of her personality and inability to gain traction as a leader. She was a goner from the onset and I think her tribe will be better after the vote.
Final Thoughts After the Episode:
- My player of the week honors go to Jessica from the Gen X tribe. I thought she did a really great job handling David’s freak out and helping to get him back in the fold for the vote. Plus, her quick action at the beginning of the game allowed her to get a really cool advantage in the game, which automatically gives her an excellent alliance building chip to use going forward. I think she’s set up really well in this game, and is one of the people I have my eye on going forward (no pun intended)…My favorite moment of the episode was when Hannah kind of put the pretty young squad on blast by calling their beach Kappa Kappa Survivor. She seems like she’s going to be great in confessionals in this season, and I think she’s got the wits to outsmart the pretty people alliance. Hannah is another one I’m watching closely this season, she has winner potential…I hope that we see a very quick dissolution to these tribes, hopefully in a manner similar to what we saw on Second Chance with two tribes becoming three. These people aren’t nearly interesting enough so far to warrant being on tribes this large, so I hope the producers make three tribes of 6 after the second vote, because that would be just the kind of jolt this particular game needs.