Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X - Jeff Pitman's recaps

A whirlwind of windbags


Survivor has returned, and with it, our recently MIA weekly vidcap galleries. So to minimize our contribution to the collective exhalations of the Survivor online commentariat, we'll cut this short, and give our quick-hit takes on the show, the season, and the first-episode standouts. Then... straight to the pictures.


Episode as a whole: Good-ish

Slow, solid, a few #unprecedented events, but still... enjoyable. Taken as a single package (despite being split in half by the Day 2 evacuation), the premiere was entertaining, the new contestants seemed fun and exciting, and there's a promising level of gameplay. Each tribe easily eclipsed the unrelentingly dull Moto tribe from the first season in Fiji. So there's that. But then again, we also really enjoyed the premiere of Worlds Apart, and we all know how that turned out. In fact, no matter how great or terrible the season as a whole ends up being, we almost always like the premiere episode.


Why is this? Because in the long, slow buildup to the first episode, we've devoured cast release press interviews, "Meet contestant __" videos, and cast and twist previews. We've invested time and energy into predicting how the contestants will fare, long before the opening frames of the actual show, and are anxious to see how the people we know on paper actually perform in practice. We imagine it's a similar perspective to the one casting and production have on Day 1. It's a big thing, throwing 20 previously untested people out into the wilderness and hoping they perform. But this particular set of 20 seemed to respond admirably. It's all downhill from here!


Theme as a whole: Please make it stop



The horrendous misdescription of Gen X as the paragons of "I got here by my own hard work" is the complete opposite of the snarky, slack, adrift generation Douglas Coupland described. Pretty much every stereotype with which the Millennials were maligned in this episode (apart from the addiction to devices) was sneeringly lobbed at Gen X by Baby Boomers, back when the Gen X-ers were in their 20s. (Just re-watch the first few episodes of Survivor: Africa for a refresher.) For the record: Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, with his laconic delivery and disinterest in fame, was our muse. Clerks's smug dismissal of adult responsibility was our mantra. We grew up playing videogames (Atari! Nintendo! Oregon Trail!) and programming computers. So, dear Boomers: stop trying to turn us into you. We're not you. Gah.


But if this theme disappears in a few episodes, and cross-generational alliances form, we certainly won't complain. Either way, at least the premiere's theme over-emphasis still beats spending all night outdoors in the middle of a cyclone.


Who met or exceeded our expectations?



- Zeke - Yes. Oh, yes. Who cares about the mustache and retiree attire? He's indeed a Survivor natural. He had a lot of exposure, to be sure. But he so fully embraced the experience, it's impossible to begrudge his airtime. He earned it. Any time someone gets hyped by Probst as much as Zeke, you have to worry. But those fears were undeserved. Welcome to the show, Zeke.


- Mari - Much better than expected. Mari's first few confessionals had us worried (especially in the opening sequence). Her "I'm going to win" seemed baselessly overconfident and rehearsed. A boasting YouTuber, tossing out trite trash talk as they narrate yet another playthrough. That all changed, however, the second Hannah and Mari had their Freaks and Geeks alliance discussion. Almost immediately, Mari evolved into someone legitimately invested in playing Survivor. Not only that, but she then went and did the footwork necessary to achieve those goals, pulling in Adam and Michaela. (Notably, neither Zeke nor Will was ever shown being approached, so as shown, it's just a second four-person alliance. But it's a start.) She's still at risk as the "mom" of the tribe, but she seems to have a good head for the game, and we anticipate good things to come.


- Jessica - Jessica's understated pre-game video interview failed to get across that Jessica has a strong sense of the game, and an internal fire to compete. (She states it in her bio, but it's just unsupported in the video.) This episode settled those doubts. Finding the Legacy Advantage, negotiating with David, trying to calm him down. All solid work, and while battling Pinkeye, no less. Where's the Worcestershire sauce when you need it?


- Hannah and Adam - Each emerged as a solid narrator for the Millennials. We had reasonably high expectations for both of them, and they didn't disappoint.


Fine, who underperformed?



- The Triforce - It's weird. Individually, Taylor, Figgy, and Jay all seem authentic, fun, and full of energy. But the second Taylor pushed the alliance nickname and made the hand sign, we had an immediate, almost anaphylactic response. Excessive saliva built up and we bent over, wracked with abdominal pain, as a fountain of vomit erupted from our mouth. (Metaphorically, at least.) In that instant, the Triforce's three members collectively became our most-loathed grouping not appended with "-R-Us." (Also, as a gamer, Mari must be shaking her head in dismay at their misuse of Zelda nomenclature.)


- Chris - Pre-season, we politely assumed that Chris's dour, scowling demeanor was an act, to trick casting into letting him play. Instead, he's carried that into the show with him. At least based on the 25 or so confessionals he received in the first episode. Maybe he'll ease up, relax a bit, and actually enjoy himself next episode. Survivor is supposed to be fun, not a grim, hopeless sentence of hard labor to endure. Well, it's also that, of course. But with occasional smiling, at least.


- Bret - Probst loves him. For us, his key moment was using his vaunted "I can always tell when someone is lying" police skills to determine that David 100% had an idol. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Otherwise, pleasant enough in confessionals.


Still, the season is long, and we're not ready to write off any of these contestants yet.


Puzzling about the puzzle



The immunity challenge's choices were interesting, but it seemed confusing that the Gen X tribe could blow what seemed like a commanding lead on what seemed like a minor difference in puzzle difficulty (70 pieces for them, vs. 60 for the Millennnials). They were doing essentially the same puzzle, just that five of the big middle pieces with patterns were split in half for Gen X, and not for the Millennials. The thing is, as jigsaw puzzles get close to finished, and there are very few options for where pieces can go, solving them gets progressively easier. So maybe Gen X underestimated that. Even so, it looks like David and Rachel were just really bad at placing pieces at the start.


Okay, that's enough of that. On to the vidcaps!


Millennials vs. GenX Ep.1 vidcap gallery

Millennials vs. Gen X Episode 1 recaps and commentary


Exit interviews: Rachel Ako

  • Gordon Holmes at (9/22/16): "Rachel: 'I Could Have Really Screwed Jess Over Because She Was Desperate"
  • Josh Wigler at (9/22/16): "Rachel Ako on Bad Weather, Bad Luck, and Survivor Purgatory"
  • Rob Cesternino at RHAP (9/22/16): "Exit Interview | First Player Voted Out -9/22/16"
  • Dalton Ross at (9/22/16): "Survivor contestant 'thought someone was going to die' in cyclone"


Episode 1 Podcasts