Game changer Jay?
Adam was ambushed twice in this episode: Once at Tribal Council, and once in camp. Both ambushes were orchestrated by Jay. We'll get to the Tribal scene shortly, but the key new, game-altering event was the one in which Jay bemoaned Adam "shoving my face in" being on the bottom of the pecking order. We're not 100% sure this was actually strategy, but the segment as presented made little sense, because everyone's reactions to it bore no resemblance whatsoever to the actual footage we were shown.
While chatting in the water after the reward challenge, Adam confirmed to Jay that, duh, you voted on the wrong side last night at Tribal, so of course that puts you on the bottom. At least from what we were shown, Adam wasn't rude or condescending, he just agreed with Jay's assessment of the power structure, which (1) Jay already knew, and (2) was obvious. Jay's response to this was to completely flip out, not with Adam, but with everyone else. Back in camp, he complained about Adam's (unshown) rudeness, at which point Hannah and Zeke risked personal injury leaping to agree that yes, "Adam is an asshole." (Since this is probably the first time Adam heard about this, you could probably add that he was ambushed a third time this episode, by the editors.)
What Jay did here appears to be a new strategy, or at least tactic: Overreacting/acting in response to a one-on-one conversation (of which only you and your victim have knowledge) for the benefit of everyone else. Clearly, Hannah and Zeke bought Jay's story that Adam was gloating. Was Jay legitimately offended, or was he making a scene as a strategic play? As audience members, how are we supposed to interpret it? Jay's clearly been edited as a villain since turning on Michaela, so for him to act in an underhanded manner here is consistent with the edit. In contrast, Hannah and Zeke have been voices of reason. Are we supposed to believe Jay here, because the other two are on board? The fan/podcast conventional wisdom seems to be that we should take this scene at face value, and that Adam simply has a horrendous social game, which is possible. But can't it be two things? Couldn't Jay also be twisting the tone of that conversation to his own advantage? Trying to fracture an alliance by casting (fabricated, or at least exaggerated) aspersions about the least-popular person in it?
To be sure, Jay maintained his angry response in confessional, so maybe it was real. And Hannah and Zeke confirmed that Adam is a difficult alliance member to keep in line last week. Maybe we're the ones overreacting. Let's move on.
Then at Tribal, Jay and Taylor both lied repeatedly about Adam's role in Taylor's food theft, leaving Adam to confusedly wave his arms and object in a lengthy attempt to establish some semblance of sanity. Here, the two-on-one aspect worked against Adam, especially in light of Taylor revealing Adam had been hiding his advantage.Albeit not in a Mason jar, as far as we know. This part was clearly intentional.
Either way, maybe it's a stretch to call Jay a Game Changer just yet, since Taylor did end up being voted out, and not Adam. But still, an interesting development in terms of in-game tactics. What's the appropriate defense for this? We're as mystified as Adam seemed.
Game changer Sunday?
This will probably be explored in greater detail in the upcoming episode(s), but Sunday marked her debut in the edit by going against (part of) her own original tribe's alliance this week. We suspect this will probably be the precipitating event in what Zeke promises will be the "Gen X civil war" in the next episode. First, while the reward winners were happily relaxing and Bret was debating whether fresh fish could be turned into a cocktail, Sunday had an odd confessional in which she reminded us that none of the people in her core alliance (herself, Bret, and Chris) trusted David. Or Ken, or Jessica. Later, she and Bret toyed with the idea of targeting Jessica this week (despite Taylor's continuing stash of purloined foodstuffs). Finally, when the Millennial nerds + Gen X alliance was discussing splitting the vote, Sunday apparently was told to vote for Jay, but then immediately told Bret she didn't want to.
Sunday also had continuing discussions with ex-Ikabula tribemate Jay, first to get him on board with voting out Jessica, then later informing him about the majority's upcoming vote split between himself and Taylor. Then she went a step further, actually refusing to vote for Jay, and casting her vote for Taylor instead. So an intended 6-5-1 split (probably actually 5-5-2) ended up as a 7-4-1 total. (Will was clearly in on the vote, also not shown.) This will not go unnoticed. Casting a rogue vote might be explained away when the split architect was Jon Misch, but we're guessing David will be less inclined to let it slide. Jay is still a dangerous player. If he can pull in Will, he would bring an idol into an alliance with Bret and Sunday (and Chris), which they don't currently have. With 11 players left, an alliance of five is one more person (Zeke?) away from taking control of the game.
Taken all together, Sunday appears to be actively changing her game, just as she said in confessional.
Game changers: Chris, David, and Zeke?
This coming week will burn off two episodes back-to-back, and after that, there are only three episodes left. Keep in mind, while we're starting to get an idea of where people's loyalties actually lie, there are three idols and the Legacy Advantage all still active. So alliances and players that seem dominant now could still fall unexpectedly. Oh, and there's also Adam's Live Grenade Disadvantage. Let's not forget that. But it's not too early to start thinking about where this all might end up. Or at least fan fiction our way to the most exciting possible outcome.
Looking back at the first preview during the Kaoh Rong reunion, we were introduced to six characters: Chris, Taylor, Mari, Sunday, Zeke, and David. The same six were given "generational" confessionals prior to the intro in the premiere episode. Of those, Taylor and Mari are now gone, but the other four remain, and Chris, Zeke, and David are all viable winner candidates. Sunday finally joined the show this week, but coming so late in the season, it's unclear whether that's an indicator of impending doom or success. What's interesting is that the other three guys are the apparent leaders of the three main suballiances. Furthermore, they are/were also post-swap tribemates who were once in an alliance themselves, and (here's the Game Changer part) could still be, secretly. Here's how that breaks down:
Alliance 1: Chris/Bret/Sunday - As discussed above, Sunday had a confessional (!) about how these three were her core alliance, and how none of them trusted the other three Gen X people. So while good old Gen X got the band back together (minus Paul, sorry), and have voted as a group post-merge so far, they may not continue to do so for long.
Alliance 2: David/Ken/Jessica - Of these three, Jessica's in the most imminent danger, and David is the only one with meaningful connections to anyone else (and an idol). Ken and Jessica sort of had a suballiance with Adam at the swap, but they promptly backed from that after the vote, and here we are, three episodes later without having revisited it. Ken just brought renewed attention/targets on himself by winning individual immunity, even if the editors couldn't be bothered to give him a confessional. Jessica does have her still-mysterious Legacy Advantage, but she can obviously hand it off to Ken or David if Sunday decides to renew her attempts to vote her out. A group with a lot of tools, if they can just keep the other two suballiances from ganging up on them.
Alliance 3: Zeke/Hannah/(Adam) - Up until this week, Adam seemed solidly part of this group (albeit with a side agreement with Taylor, which Taylor did not see as an actual alliance). Maybe now that everyone mistrusts him, Adam will actually be kept around. He does still have his idol, for what it's worth. Zeke's also connected to David and Chris, while Hannah's also loosely affiliated with Jay. Which side they choose in the Gen X civil war could well determine the outcome of the game.
The stragglers: Jay and Will. Jay does have an idol, and Will has... lots of soft drinks. Wisely holding onto his idol this week, Jay now can destroy everyone's trust in him when Will blabs about it. But Jay could still theoretically play spoiler for someone else's carefully laid plans on his way out.
How will this all play out? Our dream scenario is this: David, Chris, and Zeke have a secret Final Three alliance. They run the post-merge as the three power players in the decoy suballiances above, slowly whittling down their numbers, then end up rejoining each other in the final three. Each having done their absolute best (they swear!) to have saved the other unfortunate members of their suballiances, only to have failed. A triple-headed HvV Sandra. To be sure, that does seem a little too fan-fictiony, even for us, but that would be pretty amazing finish. (It would also be great if it's actually Sunday, Jessica, and Hannah doing the same thing, but come on, we have to base it in reality somehow, and we doubt Probst would be so enthusiastic about this season if that were the case, so... *shrug*.)
If that did happen, the winner would almost certainly be Zeke, with Chris and David splitting the Gen X jury votes, and Zeke sweeping the Millennials. What's more likely, though, is that one of the suballiances will be taken out by the other two. Everything should be a lot more clear once the coming week's feasting ceases.
Okay, that's enough of that. On to the vidcaps!
Maybe getting rid of Michaela wasn't such a great idea after all.
Oh, who are we kidding? Let's blame it all on Adam!
What, age-wise? Adam's younger than you, old man!
AGREED! I'm currently yelling at you from a "Tropical holidays" green screen photo booth!
Blah, blah, blah. Wait... have your pants always had that fake ripped thing going on?
With lace! Tough, but sensitive!
I said "Come on in, guys" and you were almost all guys! This season is really the best.
Yay, he almost noticed us!
Actually, I was talking about Will, since he's still a kid. But I guess he's also a guy.
I just wanted to make sure everyone knows you're really REALLY young, Will.
The Millennials vs. Gen X theme? I'm sure they'll find a way to work it in. Don't worry.
Chris! Singlehandedly demonstrating he's better at picking teams!
Don't belittle the only attribute Probst holds dear, Hannah.
No women were harmed, nor involved in any way, in filming this challenge.
Ooh, he team pick good!
All is possible through Chris, who strengthens himself.
Wow! Look at all this food!
So I'm going to need a set of REALLY BIG Mason jars
So I was passed out from the cocktails, and I heard all this clinking of glass. You'll never guess who it was.
It was the bartender. He got me another. Awesome.
Would you say I'm taller than Chris, Adam? No?!
What kind of social game is that kid playing? Of COURSE I'm taller!
I just don't get Adam. He also told Will his swimsuit looked patriotic. Who does that?
I'm giving a confessional about a plan that doesn't end up working. Why didn't I think of this 8 episodes ago?
Woo! Soft drinks!
They specifically got soft drinks for me, so I felt the least I could do was sit out.
Where have you gone, Whitney Duncan? Oh yeah, TAR. Never mind.
Yo la tengo! Yo la tengo! No la tengo.
Oh, so this is what Taylor's forearm tattoo is about. Prescient.
Sit further down, Hannah. You're not even allowed to smell this.
Two surfers, a snowboarder, and a super-duper fan.
Finally I'm allowed to touch Ken's shoulder! *shudder*
To be clear, Sunday, you're voting for JAY. Not Jaaaaayyyyy-essica. Got it?
It's so many letters! Let's do Jessica instead.
If I just write the initial letter, that means both of them get a vote, right?
Adam has a stash of food in this exact spot, too. Also in Mason jars. He called it his advance or something.
Seriously, bro! They look just like these.
Wait, have I been eating Adam's food this whole time? That's embarrassing.
Everything bad that's happened to you in this game is Adam's fault. He's the original sinner.
Objection, your honor! It's not my fault there are no Taylors in the Bible!
Overruled, I want to see where he's going with this.
Adam's evil advantage "jarred" my conscience, causing me to put food in jars, then take it out and eat it.
That doesn't even make sense!
Who did this?! I explicitly said nobody was allowed to mention Mark the Chicken this season!
With a proper lid, I bet you could store food in that shell thingy.
Millennials vs. Gen X Episode 9 recaps and commentary
Exit interviews: Taylor Stocker
Episode 9 Podcasts