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!
Yay! Survivors on a boat. Sadly, nobody knew how to paddle a raft this season.
Sure, you're getting soaked on a boat. But it'll be at least 24 hours before this happens again.
We sat these guys next to each other to draw contrast. See? One has slightly longer hair!
Also, the other guy wears a jacket over his plaid shirt, but I wear mine on the outside.
Oh wow, you're right. Totally different.
We both have blue eyes and light hair and beards, though!
Nobody cares what you say, old man!
Hey! There's more than just dude bros in plaid on this season!
You are so right, Zeke. There are also people in stripes. And... Big Dig memorabilia?
Not me! Patterns frighten me. Also logos and/or pictures. Please don't make me wear a buff.
I'm wearing blue! It's what I do. Note to self: Make sure twitter handle is not camouflaged next time.
Good news! This season the cast is much, much smaller than the host.
We won't have a repeat of this scene this season. No sirree!
Oh, Jeff. I'm on next season, silly!
Gah, where were we? Oh right, sorting you into totally surprising tribes. Take a buff.
It's touching me! Send help. (I'm talking about that godawful hashtag, obviously.) (Okay, also the buff.)
Okay! We have to find some way to pad this out to 90 minutes, but still not show the full intro. So let's spend a few minutes stating the most insulting stereotypes of the other tribe you can think of.
Old people are smelly.
Breathe in deep, you lazy participation trophy-mongers.
Wait, there's not room for a full intro?
Wait a second, Probst, aren't you older than all of us?
Probst: "No more questions! Okay, run over there and grab stuff, or something."
Um, did somebody drop their wallet here? Anyone? Oh well, finders keepers.
It had some guy's ID in it. A Jeffrey Lee Probst, or something. But really, it could be anyone's.
If anyone asks, just say your name is Mark. Trust me on this one.
Good call grabbing those palm fronds, old folks. Those will be in short supply out here.
And you guys picked decorative gourds and a pumpkin? Well, Halloween is coming, I guess.
This is streaming on Twitch, right?
True, Zeke does live out in the sticks.
Okay! Tell everyone your name and your jo-... uh, where you went to colle-... uh, your most-liked tweet?
That's not fair. I've done stuff!
Okay, time for the elderlies. And the out-of-place models.
Shh! My modeling career is supposed to be our little secret.
My secret is that I'm actually a Millennial.
FINE. I'll show you my secret, too.
Good news! On Day 36, the holder of this gets a 2016 Subaru Legary, and is promptly voted out of the game. Fiji broke the car curse. Fiji's bringin' it back.
It's right there in the fine print. Believe me, folks.
The one season nobody lists Parvati as the player they're most like, and it features someone playing exactly like Cook Islands Parvati? Hilarious!
You've never heard the slang term "Bobbitt," have you, Taylor? Nah, don't worry, probably not relevant.
They were totally not scared away by your machete-ing, Figgy
I'm right, here! Thanks for noticing.
Wait, you're scared by bamboo, Dave? Seriously?
Yes! Also air, water, sunlight, and the dark. I'm slowly conquering my fear of the ground, though.
See! I barely notice I'm on the ground now!
Only 38 and a half days left!
I have no additional insight into this matter, but I will recap what just happened in a matter-of-fact fashion.
We don't have a shelter, but as the responsible ones, let's all take time to fix this completely irrelevant prop!
Solid work, guys.
Yeah, but on the bright side, tomorrow night you can sleep on a concrete floor.
That was a fun night! Maybe this rain will keep going forever? Hooray!
If you guys all gather in tight, maybe we can use this treemail as an umbrella
It's a tarp!
It was a tarp. It was delivered to our camp. It performs tarp-related duties.
Good news, guys! We can quit pretending to build a shelter, and just huddle under this tarp!
Nice work, everyone! Time for trophies!
Wait, why is Probst coming to our beach now? Our shelter's totally finished.
How do you do, fellow kids?
Later, at the old folks home... "Um, excuse me? Did you drop your wallet?"
It was weird. He got really mad at that point, and told us we all had to leave. Crying buckets, that guy.
Is it safe to wake up yet?
In my judgment, the decision to film during cyclone season was an unavoidable coincidence and CBS/SEG should in no way be held responsible for the destruction of the shelter.
Good work making me less afraid to die, jerks.
Oh, come on!
Guys with shaved heads always do this in the first episode. It's in the contract.
Really. People shouldn't be looking for secret items in the first episode! It's unseemly!
Triforce? Is that what you kids are calling it these days?
Mid-air not-quite high-five, Adam!
I made fire! Me! Take that, Survivor: Brooklyn.
Meanwhile, the pretty people perfect their new vomit induction system.
We haven't eaten. It's more of a dry heave.
So... Revenge of the Nerds, or Freaks and Geeks? Which alliance name is less likely to get CBS sued?
Definitely Freaks and Geeks. Nobody currently famous in TV or movies ever worked on that show.
Good news! We had some delays due to the cyclone, but we had a new idol flown in from a Kansas tiki bar.
Yeah. At least it's not a miniature statue of Russell Hantz, like in the last young-vs-old season.
Since you're all so small, you shouldn't have any problems going through the rope obstacle.
Although if you old people are feeling extra chubby, you can choose to skip it!
Not cool, Probst.
All except the legendaries, Ditto, Mr. Mime, Kangaskhan, and Farfetch'd. Move it along, Niantic.
We have a huge lead. Take your time, Rachel.
First contestant born on Survivor!
The Gen Xers solemnly transport the coffin containing their dreams of winning to its final resting place.
This is a lot of pieces, but as long as Probst doesn't cripple me with grammatical errors, we'll be fine.
Millennials! Ten less pieces!
Damn you, Probst
The young tribe won? That's so unlikely!
It even comes pre-painted in our colors! As if you knew we'd win it!
Oh, sure. It was our choices that did this.
I really like that you guys wrote out "Television" in my chyron. I'm also scared of abbreviations.
Please tell me the logo on my buff says "GenERATION X" and not something shorter.
I'm really grateful we had that "no talking" rule while we were evacuated.
Rachel: Should we talk about Tribal Council? CeCe: Hold still while I stick this branch into your hair.
It turns out branches don't stay stuck in your hair very well. Survivor is educational!
Colby was in Red Eye. I have a red eye. Can we get together to play poker after this is over, Jeff? I know where you live, because I have your wallet.
As it turns out, I'm okay with pinkeye. As long as its not a sign of flesh-eating ocular parasites.
Ha ha, I had you going there for a second, didn't I? I'm totally going to die from this.
Who here had a confessional this episode?
Sorry to see you go, Rachel. Or, as the CBS interns writing recaps will probably call you, Lucy.
Millennials vs. Gen X Episode 1 recaps and commentary
Exit interviews: Rachel Ako
Episode 1 Podcasts