Puzzle Pieces + Puzzling Propositions: Survivor, Week 3

Last week’s episode of Survivor—the third of the season—was promoted with a big twist: intergenerational mingling, perhaps some folks switching tribes. Cue dramatic music! And then promptly un-cue it, because the curveball turned out to be a summit meeting of four Xers and four Millennials, who got together to discuss island life over PB&Js. (Daring move, as the Millennials weren’t asked about any peanut allergies…) Light banter ensued, but nobody shared any strategic secrets or made any major plays. Except for David, an Xer who pleaded desperately for a Millennial to join the dark side—the Xer side, that is. Slimy, yes, but it’s possible that David is what we call a Cusper—someone born between two generations and who can likely identify with both—and understands the benefits and importance of having a mutigenerational group. Or he’s just slimy and wants to do whatever he can to win. Either way, he’ll be one to watch moving forward.

The main event, the immunity challenge, was up next. This week’s game: contestants must carry cumbersome sacks from one end of an obstacle course to another and solve a puzzle at the end. Some didn’t do so hot, and the results held some generational twinges (our brains put a generational spin on it, at least). Some of the Xers who struggled continued until they finished, without asking for help, putting them well behind the Millennials who weren’t afraid to call on their tribemates to literally carry the load when they couldn’t. The younger generation then had more time to solve the puzzle at the end of the obstacle course, allowing them to win immunity. They felt their victory was due to competitiveness and collaboration; they’d try anything to win, and the way to do so was to swallow some pride and ask for help. But the Xers who struggled stood by their choice of individualism, which could pay off if some of them make it farther in the game.

Following the challenge, the Millennials lounged on the beach with one of their prizes, beach chairs, along with the comforting knowledge that they wouldn’t have to go to tribal council. Despite winning, the Millennials felt that their first-place prize was actually more of a participation award; what they were really eyeing was the Xers’ consolation prize—fishing gear. They asked the host and the Xers if they could trade, but were promptly met with a resounding, “NO!” The generation often labeled “entitled” sulked back to camp, where one of the Millennials was heard muttering, “If that were our parents, they would’ve let us do it.” Okay, that comment was a little entitled, but in my logical opinion and minor defense of the Millennials, who gives FISHING GEAR as a consolation prize, and BEACH CHAIRS as a winning prize? Do we smell a little generational bias, Jeff Probst?

The Xers head to tribal council and with typical aplomb, end the episode by voting off a power player, creating the real twist of this week’s episode. But prior to the vote, apropos of absolutely nothing, Probst asked the group rather randomly if they wrote “you” or “u” when texting. An odd question, Jeff, especially when the Xers are supposed to be making the all-important decision of who’s catching the next plane home! While most of the Xers gamely said they appreciate the value of using the whole word “you” when communicating electronically, I don’t think it was a critical component of the impending vote. Audiences probably thought this was a silly exchange—I certainly thought this was a silly exchange—but you can’t blame the producers for trying to embed generational moments into every minute. Maybe next week’s generational question will be, “Who has more debt, Millennials or Xers?”

U stay put 4 next wk’s recap!