Monty Brinton / CBS

Survivor Starts A Clash For And Of The Ages

Will the battle between the Millennials and the GenXers be a washout, or will viewers be flooded with generational angst?

Talkin' 'Bout My Generation

The new cast arrives on the beach in Fiji, where Jeff Probst quickly reveals that they are being divided into a Millennials tribe (ages 18-31) and Generation X tribe (ages 33-52). I can't even with this generational bullshit; I actually wrote my college senior thesis on the novel Generation X by Douglas Coupland and then tied it into sociological and economic trends (I was a lot smarter back then), and everything Probst claims is true about Generation X is pretty much the opposite. We were the slackers, the losers, the ones who knew the game was rigged, so we weren't even going to play. I don't know where all this "hard workers" and "willing to take the long view" bullshit is coming from. And the age designations are off as well. I promise this is the last time I will talk about the semantics, because it doesn't matter. Basically, you've got one tribe of younger people, who tend to be more optimistic and have fewer responsibilities; and one tribe of old cranks like me, who have been beaten down by life and hate new things.

After some generational heckling between the tribes, Probst tells them that there are supplies and food items scattered around the beach, and that they will have a short time to gather them. I like it better when they have to jump off the boat, but I'm guessing the high winds and waves made that impossible. There are also two stations, each with a choice: chickens versus fishing supplies; and a hammer versus pots, pans, and utensils.

Both tribes scramble for supplies. The GenX tribe takes fishing supplies and the pots and pans. The Millennials take the chickens and the pots and pans. Like, who would take a hammer over a whole selection of utensils? Just use a rock. Or the giant frying pan you just picked up. Probst tries to make it out like the Millennials chose the chickens because they are short-term thinkers. The only other interesting development is that Jessica from GenX finds an envelope one of the Millennials overlooked, and squirrels it away for later.

After a warning from Probst that they should start on shelter immediately because it's cyclone season and a storm is coming, both tribes head to their camps.

Setting Up Camp...And Alliances

The Millennials arrive at camp, and Zeke immediately wins my love when he says that he is dressed for the retirement home, because he is an eighty-year-old at heart. He feels like he's on a tribe with children. Figgy, Jay, and Taylor -- the three prettiest people on the tribe -- make an immediate alliance. Jay makes a side alliance with Michelle the Missionary, probably because he realizes that Figgy and Taylor are a few seconds from hooking up and he doesn't want to be left out. Hannah already feels like she doesn't fit in but, no dummy, she channels that into trying to bond with some of the other women instead of sitting around feeling sorry for herself.

GenX arrives at their camp. Paul, the grizzled rock star dude, wants to give a speech about how much he loves their tribe, but Ken, the underwear model, interrupts to say they can't underestimate their opponents, and also that he's lived off the grid for the last five years. Wow, he would be a treat to hang out with. He's like a grown-up Dylan McKay. Jessica manages to sneak away and read the note she found during the supplies scramble; it's something called the Legacy Advantage, which will give her a game advantage on Day 36 if she's still there. If she gets voted out, she can will it to another player. Time will tell if this new twist affects the game or not, but it seems interesting.

As they build their shelter, Rachel immediately rubs people on GenX the wrong way. She tells Paul, the oldest and crustiest, that he's not a hard worker, so that goes over well. David is not an outdoors guy, to say the least, but he's psyched to play the game.

Bret and Chris, the two big guys in GenX, bond immediately and start building the shelter. Early returns suggest that those two are going to be the leaders of the tribe, unless someone gets smart and blindsides them early. David is really sure that Ken and Paul have found an Immunity Idol and wants to ambush them. The other guys are like, "Nah." Anyway, David tries to make an alliance with Bret and Chris; they agree, but they think David is paranoid.

Weathering The Storm

Adam on Millennials is worried about the coming storm and the tribe's lack of shelter. The rest of his tribe says screw it and goes swimming. When it gets dark, they realize that they need to build something. They throw something together, but it immediately falls apart. The storm comes and they huddle together, soaked and freezing. We're supposed to think it's because they are fun-loving Millennials and not because they're just idiots.

GenX didn't get their shelter built either, but we don't get a whole storyline about how it defines their generation. The next day, they continue working on it, and then Probst sends them a tarp, telling them they have to give it back when the weather clears.

The Millennials get a tarp on the second day too, and realize it means that this season is different and also that the weather is still going to be bad. As they are rigging up the tarp, Probst shows up on their beach and explains that the weather forecast has changed and that they have to evacuate. Adam lets us know that this is unprecedented. Probst also delivers the news to GenX, and Jessica has no chill as she asks if they can bring their bags. You know, in case they have a game-changing advantage clue. Or, she just wants to make sure she doesn't lose her extra set of clothes. As they leave, the rain starts and it is nearly blowing some of them sideways, so good call on the evacuation.

Rebuilding Shelters And Alliances

GenX returns to camp on Day 3 and see all the trees down, including one that fell on their shelter. They take it in and immediately start clearing brush and rebuilding. David confesses his many, many fears to the others. Then David scrambles around, peeking under logs and rocks to try to find a Hidden Idol. He's super-obvious; Paul, Chris, and Bret notice.

Over at the Millennials camp, Zeke takes charge of building of the shelter and laughs that the extent of his outdoorsman skills is riding the subway, so he's not sure why anyone is listening to him. He's also the one who gets fire started without flint. I like Zeke, even though at first I wasn't so sure about his ironic moustache.

Hannah notices that the "cool kids" (Taylor, Figgy, and Jay) are bonding together, so she approaches Mari about a misfit alliance. Mari agrees and thinks the cool kids are isolating themselves. Mari gets shit done as we see a quick montage where she puts a bug in everyone else's ears about aligning against the cool kids.

Immunity Challenge

I know you guys were super-worried about it, but rest easy: both tribes brought their tarps back. This first challenge is a typical obstacle course that ends in a puzzle, with a twist. Two of the obstacles have a shortcut that, if used, add pieces to the final puzzle.

GenX takes both shortcuts (but I thought they were the hard workers who recognize the value of hard work and working hard!), which means that they complete the obstacles first and have to do a 70-piece puzzle. The Millennials only take one shortcut (Probst has to be pissed that they are undermining his generational conceit) and have a 60-piece puzzle to complete.

David and Rachel start the puzzle for GenX, but they are a mess, so Jessica and Sunday switch in. Michelle and Figgy work on it for Millennials and finish first. I don't know if ten fewer pieces would have helped GenX. They weren't even close.

Pre-Vote Scrambling

The strategizing starts on GenX right after the challenge, though it's mainly "Rachel really sucked at that challenge and sucks in general, so how about her?" David learns that everyone thinks he has an Idol. He tells Bret and Chris that he doesn't, and that if they keep him, they'll have his loyalty. Once they're alone, Bret and Chris discuss splitting the votes between Rachel and David in case David has an Idol. Rachel notices something going on and talks to CeCe about it, but doesn't actually do anything like talk to people or try to get an alliance going.

Tribal Council

David is scared to talk to Probst, and his tribemates all laugh that he's scared of everything. Everyone admits that they are also worried they might go home. Rachel says she felt uncomfortable today because no one would talk strategy with her, and it's probably because she's very upfront. She apologizes to her tribemates and asks for another chance. She doesn't seem very sorry. She's one of those people who says something really offensive and then says, "Hey, I'm just being honest."

Probst wants to talk about Idols. Jessica says she thinks there are Idols in play, and people were suspicious of David in particular. Finally, they vote, and Rachel ends up getting five votes, which is enough. It looks like the main alliance split their votes between Rachel and CeCe, instead of giving votes to David, so I guess they decided to trust him in the end.

Verdict

You can skip the opening and avoid most of the generational hogwash, and after Rachel screws the pooch on the Challenge, it's pretty obvious she's going to be the first boot. The rest of it is worth watching because it sets up alliances that might affect the rest of the game, plus the various personalities are interesting enough that I have a good feeling about this season.

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