Edgic is a weekly feature analyzing each player’s edit, mapping characters to their story-arc. Note that our focus is not solely to determine the winner, as is typical of other Edgic sites. For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
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What Does This Episode Tell Us?
The first episode of Survivor: David vs. Goliath was one of the most finely crafted season premieres in recent memory. It only takes a passing glance at the chart above to see that this episode was brimming with color and character. There were only two UTR edits across the 90-minutes. Compare that to the double-episode premiere of Ghost Island in which half the cast was either INV or UTR. This was an episode with tons of tone, personality, and playful editing flourishes, making it one of the most enjoyable premieres to Edgic in a long time.
Before we get into the individual character breakdowns, it’s always fun to take a deep dive into the season intro, which can often be the most telling portion of the season when it comes to overarching themes and important characters. There is a lot to glean from these opening 10 minutes of set-up and introductions that may become significant later down the line. For example, the majority of characters highlighted in the intro tend to be people that will be around a while. Ghost Island had an unusual intro, but if you look at the six people highlighted in the Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers intro – Ben, Chrissy, Cole, Mike, Ali, Ryan – five of the six made the merge and three of them made up the Final 3.
Surprisingly, the David vs. Goliath premiere introduced us to a lot of characters right off the bat. In the speedboat intro where Jeff Probst’s voiceover explained the theme, we heard from Christian, Elizabeth, Natalie, Angelina, and then Pat, all in separate confessionals. On the main boat, once the tribes had arrived, we heard from Angelina again (a second confessional), Nick (a Probst question and confessional), Gabby (Probst question), John (question and confessional), Alison (question), Pat (question), and then Lyrsa and Christian once they were selected for the challenge. That is ten separate characters, half the cast (!), introduced within the first 10 minutes of the episode. Hats off to the editors.
Does that mean all ten of these players are making the merge? Obviously not, seeing as Pat is already gone. So who is in for the long-haul? Well, firstly, let’s remove Lyrsa from the equation for the time being seeing as her intro only came after being selected for the challenge. That leaves us with eight people: Christian, Elizabeth, Natalie, Angelina, Nick, Gabby, John, and Alison. Unless the edit is really shaking things up this season, I would put money on AT LEAST six of these characters making the merge, and I would expect the same number to be significant pieces of this season’s story. I will look at which of those eight I think stands the best chance of going far in the individual write-ups. That doesn’t mean those not highlighted in the intro won’t be stand-out characters or even the season winner, it just gives us a solid starting point.
Another small moment I want to mention from the intro is back during the Goliath tribe speedboat introduction. When Probst said, “Ten strangers who share one thing in common… winning,” the camera landed on Daniel right when he uttered the word “winning.” It could be foreshadowing. It could be misdirection. Or it could be completely irrelevant. I’m not sure the edit these days is quite so on the nose with those sorts of things, so I lean towards it being misdirection if anything, but well worth noting nonetheless.
The other big take away from the intro was this theme of turning a situation into your advantage. Probst hammered it home that the theme isn’t necessarily about hard work; it is about the advantages given to you in life and how you capitalize on those advantages. That obviously tied into the opening challenge, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this was a recurring theme throughout the season. Other themes and potential story-arcs that popped up during the episode included appearances being deceiving, nerd camaraderie, and women not being able to find idols. All of those seem like key story points that will continue in the coming episodes.
Under The Radar
Alec had the least amount of content in an otherwise stacked episode of characters. His first and only confessional didn’t arrive until around the 24-minute mark and was a brief narrational confessional about the shelter. He did talk about how the Goliaths have a mindset of making light out of a bad situation, which presents him as having a positive attitude, but other than that there was very little to extract from his edit. A quick background shot of him crab-hunting suggests he’s a hard worker, but there was no focus on his interpersonal relationships or any sort of attempt to tell us who Alec is as a person.
It’s early days and there is plenty of time for this surf bro to breakout as a character, but in an episode that took great care in crafting multiple personal stories, the fact Alec was left by the wayside is not a positive sign for his chances. I feel like if Alec was to play a major role in the direction of the season then he would have been given more substantive material in the premiere, especially if he were to win, his introduction would have been much stronger.
Jeremy‘s introduction came even later in the episode than Alec’s. His first confessional didn’t appear until the 32-minute mark and it was all about Mike. He explained how the School of Rock writer had a target on his back because of The Amazing Race, his net worth, and his idol searching. It’s never a good sign when a person’s first confessional is solely about another player – especially when there is no solid content of their own to counterbalance that fact.
There was a second confessional from Jeremy a few scenes later regarding the Goliath tribe’s hunt for the idol. He told us he only decided to look for the idol because that’s what everybody else was doing. The explanation was nice, but again, he felt on the periphery compared to the majority of others on his tribe. For example, look at the depth given to Daniel, Mike and Alison & Angelina in their idol searching scenes in comparison to Jeremy.
Again, similar to Alec, there is still the opportunity for Jeremy to emerge as a bigger character in later episodes, but his lack of personal content and limited air-time is most definitely worrying, especially in regards to his winner chances. He doesn’t seem to be set up as a character whom this season’s stories will revolve around.
Middle of the Road
Alison wasn’t a huge presence in this episode but she did receive some intriguing content which is worth exploring. Her introduction on the boat came via a Probst question and was used to highlight the David vs. Goliath theme. Alison argued that despite her privileged upbringing she still understands the underdog mentality and worked hard to gain her qualifications to become a physician. This was some solid personal information from Alison and we got a strong sense of her attitude.
The red flag for the young doctor is that Probst used this scene to undermine her and prop up Pat’s story. Probst acknowledged Alison’s work ethic but he also put her on the spot when he asked her what kind of family she comes from and what her dad does for a living. After admitting to her “upper-middle-class” roots and that her father is also a doctor, Alison’s story was contrasted with Pat’s blue-collar background where college wasn’t even an option. It wasn’t enough for negative tone, but given the David tribe was presented in a very positive light, it reflected somewhat badly on Alison that she was used as the scapegoat (she was also wrong when she was subtitled saying “We got this” when it came to the first challenge).
Alison’s first confessional came a good half an hour into the episode and was about Mike and Natalie being on the outs of the tribe. However, unlike a couple of her fellow tribe members, Alison demonstrated restraint and an ability to weigh options. While Natalia was pushing for Natalie’s ouster and Daniel was pitching why Mike should go, Alison told the group, “Let’s not decide a name yet; it’s so early.” In confessional she continued this line of thinking by explaining “we have options.” This shows us that Alison is a thoughtful player who will consider her strategies rather than playing off initial reactions and personal emotions.
The final scene of note for Alison was her idol talk with Angelina at the water well. Alison brought up how women rarely find idols on Survivor and declared her intention to change that fact. What’s interesting about this scene is that despite Alison being the one to broach the subject, it was Angelina who took priority in the edit. Angelina received the confessional talking about how few women find idols compared to men and how she intends to be the one to boost that stat. That tells us Alison is perhaps not as important to the narrative as Angelina. Overall though, Alison had a decent mix of content to build on in future weeks.
Angelina had a sizable edit and a lot of juicy content but she didn’t do quite enough explaining to push her into CP territory. But almost immediately Angelina was on our screens talking about her “fairytale life,” her Ivy League education, and how she will be a “force to be reckoned with” in this game. That was followed up moments later on the boat with a second confessional describing how “stacked” the Goliath tribe is compared to the weak-looking Davids. “I had a huge smile on my face,” she said as the David tribe hopped onto the boat. The camera focused on Angelina laughing and giving a pitiful look towards her opponents. “The cards are just stacked completely in our favor and I wanna take full advantage of that,” she said, hitting on the Probst-approved theme of capitalizing on advantages.
It took less than ten minutes for me to realize the edit was presenting Angelina to us as the villain of the season. Or at the very least a pre-merge villain (but her premiere edit seems to have legs). In terms of the story being told on screen, Angelina is the antithesis of the David underdog who had to fight and claw their way through life. She lives a “fairytale life” of advantages. She also seemed to be underestimating her opponents based on appearances, which is a bad sign given the Davids won the very first challenge (like Alison, Angelina was subtitled saying “They’re gonna fall in” when Christian and Lyrsa were navigating the rope bridge – she was wrong).
Later in the episode, Angelina chatted with Alison about idols and specifically how few women on Survivor find idols. As I said in Alison’s write-up, it was Angelina who took precedence in this scene, receiving yet another confessional and stating her intention to “boost the stat” in terms of women finding idols. You could read this scene one of two ways. It could have been included to undermine Angelina, seeing as a few moments later we see that Daniel, a man, had already found the idol. Or it could be foreshadowing that at some point in the season Angelina will make good on her promise and get her hands on an idol. It was such an unexpected thing for Survivor to acknowledge that it leads me to believe this story will continue throughout the season.
All that said, with her one-two-punch of confessionals in the intro and how she was a key representative of the Goliath tribe, I expect Angelina to be one of the season’s biggest characters and a “force to be reckoned” with like she told us she would be.
If Angelina was the poster child for the Goliath arrogance, then Elizabeth was the mascot for the David tribe’s underdog fighting spirit. In Elizabeth’s intro confessional she talked about not having a lot growing up and how she’s put in blood, sweat and tears to earn everything she has in life. A far cry from Angelina’s “fairytale life” and the edit certainly wanted us to compare the two. Despite this positive-bent, I didn’t feel there was enough to actually give Elizabeth P-tone, same with Angelina and her negative-tined edit, it didn’t feel right to slap her with N-tone. The positivity and negativity were more of an overarching theme-related tone rather than character specific… for now.
Elizabeth had two other confessionals that continued to push her as the beating heart of the David tribe. In her second, she talked about the terrible weather and how struggles define who you are, while stating that the Davids care about each other more than the Goliaths. Her statement was backed up by shots of the tribe working together to build the shelter. Compare that to the earlier Goliath scenes where there was tension brewing between Natalia and Natalie, Mike was causing suspicion by idol searching, and the group was already discussing who to take out. Of course, Nick would soon become an outlier on the David tribe, but even he would later open up to the group and bond.
There was another interesting scene before Elizabeth’s final confessional of the episode. Not only did we see Nick approach her for an alliance, but we also saw her form a partnership with Lyrsa. The self-confessed “punk rocker lesbian” told us she had a trust and connection with Elizabeth and the two agreed to watch out for one another. It should be noted that in both this scene and the one with Nick, we never heard from Elizabeth in confessional, so we don’t know her true thoughts on these alliances. That could be a warning sign that these alliances won’t matter in the long-run or that Elizabeth will not be a strategic force in the season, but more of personality-orientated character.
That latter sentiment is backed up to a degree by Elizabeth’s final confessional – the last confessional of the episode. After Pat’s medical evacuation, Elizabeth told us that Davids are used to being knocked down and that they “WILL. KEEP. FIGHTING.” It continued the David underdog theme and sets up a story of the Davids (or a David) fighting back and overcoming the odds. The question is – is that Elizabeth’s story? Or is she just the spokesperson for the David tribe and it will be one of her tribemates that ultimately fulfills that narrative? Right now, it could go either way, but I lean towards the latter.
Lyrsa‘s content wasn’t a million miles apart from Elizabeth’s, the main difference being that Elizabeth had the stronger introduction. But we did hear from Lyrsa on the boat and we learned a little about her background (she’s from Puerto Rico, people perceive her as weak, etc). However, her intro only came after she was picked for the challenge – unlike Christian, Alison and John who were all introduced prior to being selected. That makes it feel like Lyrsa’s inclusion, at this point at least, was circumstantial rather than purposeful.
That said, Lyrsa didn’t disappear after the marooning challenge, she still received two confessionals and an alliance-building scene. She formed a bond with Elizabeth and got the confessional narrating the scene and explaining her thought process. Both ladies acknowledged their differences and how nobody would suspect them working together. Lyrsa also got to drop another personal touch with her self-named “punk rocker lesbian” label. That’s all solid content. What’s interesting is that this scene was sandwiched in a sequence of scenes where we saw various David pairings forming alliances.
Let’s take note of all the pairs we saw building alliances in that sequence: Jessica & Bi, Jessica & Carl, Carl & Davie, Lyrsa & Elizabeth, and Christian & Gabby. That is everyone on the tribe except for Pat (who was medevaced) and Nick (who was set up as the odd man out). That is a testament to how well edited this episode was and how complex the David tribe is compared to the Goliaths. Long-time Edgic followers know about the importance of early game relationships. The winner (and/or important characters) is nearly always shown making some sort of bond or alliance in the first couple of episodes. Last season, we saw the game’s two most important pairs, Domenick & Wendell and Donathan & Laurel, bonding in the season premiere. It’s too early to tell which of these David pairs are the most important, but at least Lyrsa is among good company.
Lyrsa’s second confessional came after the Immunity Challenge loss and she explained why Nick was on the chopping block. She doesn’t trust him and he doesn’t contribute to the camp. Lyrsa said it wasn’t just her opinion but the tribe “consensus.” We can take Lyrsa at her word because earlier in the episode we saw others such as Carl and Pat complaining about Nick’s laziness and how they wanted him gone first. It’s interesting that Lyrsa was the one given this confessional, especially since we didn’t get a tribal council and Nick did not go home. It makes me wonder if Lyrsa and Nick will come into conflict, either personally or strategically, in the future.
Kara‘s airtime in the premiere was minimal but I think, looking at the content she did receive, she is going to play a significant part in the story – or at least a story, even if it’s not the overall season narrative. Based on her introduction, which came around the 20-minute mark, Kara’s story is going to revolve around Daniel. It reminded me of Jessica in HvHvH and how the majority of her content tied directly to Cole. We first heard about Kara via Dan and Kara’s first confessional was primarily about Dan. That said, she did manage to slip in a bit of personal info about her cheerleading past and current job as a realtor, so that’s a good sign. Dan also showered her with a ton of positive SPV (second person visibility) hence the P-tone.
So if Kara’s story is intrinsically linked with Dan’s, then where is that story heading? Well, Dan referred to her as his “kryptonite.” He also acknowledged that showmances are bad and “mess you up” and that he is “screwed”, but he “couldn’t help himself.” Even though there was a lot of surface positivity to this scene, there were a lot of ominous warning signs lying underneath. In Kara’s confessional, she said part of her job is to be “charming” and that it was clear Dan was “drawn” to her. If you go back to the marooning scene on the boat, when Probst described the Goliath tribe as “naturally charming,” the camera landed on Kara. I think we’re definitely meant to view Kara has someone with the ability to charm and draw people in. The question is – is that charm going to help Dan or hinder him?
A positive for Kara is that she seemed to show more restraint than Dan when it came to the showmance. She told him they couldn’t put a target on their backs, and while she talked about having a connection with Dan in confessional, she didn’t come across head over heels like Dan did when talking about her. That possibly gives her room to move beyond the showmance storyline in later episodes. We also saw that she seems to be in an alliance with Dan and Natalia as all three were idol searching together and present when Dan found the idol. There isn’t quite enough material yet to tell if Kara is in this for the long-haul but at the very least she has a short-term story with Dan which could either prove a powerful relationship or end up screwing one or both of them.
Outside of the two UTR guys, I think Natalia probably had the worst edit of the premiere. Her introduction didn’t come until 25-minutes into the episode and while she did tell us her job (which is always a good thing) the rest of her content revolved solely around Natalie. Her confessional was complaining about Natalie “barking orders” and “putting a target on her back.” In a later scene, Natalia again complained about Natalie, this time telling her tribemates that all Natalie does is stand and stare “like a stalker” and “complain”. Then, in another scene, when the group was discussing first targets, Natalia pushed for Natalie to be voted out, though Dan argued Mike was more of a threat. It was all Natalie, Natalie, Natalie!
Here’s the thing that makes Edgic such a fascinating way to look at Survivor. There are two reads of the edit. I touched on it briefly in Kara’s write-up above. There is the “surface edit” and then the “underlying edit.” The surface edit is your initial, visceral reaction to the episode and characters. Probably more in line with how a casual viewer will react and experience the episode. The underlying edit includes the finer details that often foreshadow events to come. These details may start off small but become bigger over time until they eventually rise to the surface. I mention this because I felt like Natalia’s edit was a perfect example of the surface edit versus underlying edit dichotomy.
On the surface, you could take Natalia’s complaints about Natalie at face value. It’s easy to accept what Natalia is saying because we were only really hearing her side of the story. But when you look at the details there is perhaps another story being told. If you watch those scenes back, we never saw Natalie “barking” orders. She was always soft-spoken and even qualified her interjections with “I recommend” and a smile, which is not exactly the style of a forceful bossy type. In fact, Natalia was the louder one giving orders. When Natalia said Natalie just stands and stares “like a stalker” and “complains,” the camera just showed Natalie standing normally, when it was Natalia who was the one complaining… and getting very little traction from her tribemates. In the long-run, I’m not sure if this is a good sign for Natalia.
It’s also worth remembering that Natalie got an intro confessional and a second confessional explaining about adjusting to a younger group. The first time we saw Natalia was part of a shot laughing at the David tribe and then jumping into a conversation to call-out Mike for being on The Amazing Race. That to me suggests more editorial importance on Natalie than Natalia. And the only reason I keep comparing the two is because the majority of Natalia’s edit was directly linked to Natalie. She did have the one other scene as part of Dan’s “beautiful girls” when he found the idol, but we never heard her opinion on Dan or Kara or anyone else other than Natalie. Maybe my read is off. But I got an ominous feeling from Natalia’s edit (which is worrying because she is my Inside Survivor draft winner pick!).
Natalie was the first Goliath introduced in the speedboat intro. She told us about her job, that she’s a “proven leader,” and how she has people in life that would “take a bullet” for her. My initial thought was… I wonder if someone will end up taking a bullet for Natalie in this game? The next time we heard from Natalie she was talking about adjusting to the younger people on her tribe and how she is used to being in charge. She obviously received a ton of negative SPV from Natalia which I discussed above, and despite what the finer details may or may not mean, it still warrants an N-tone for the episode for Natalie.
However, even though Natalie is set up as an early target, I feel confident about her edit. Her intro confessional combined with camp life scenes make me believe she has longevity or at least the chance to be a big pre-merge character. There was an interesting scene where she approached Mike and warned him that he was putting a target on himself by searching for the idol. That set up a potential connection going forward and shows that Natalie is looking out for others. There was also a couple of fun moments like when she called Dan “fine” and started laughing. It may be no surprise that Dan later moved the target away from Natalie and onto Mike in the group strategy chat.
If we’re looking at the pure surface level edit, then Natalie looks to be in danger in the near future, but my gut read of the underlying message is that Natalie will be around a while.
Over The Top
There was a lot of fun, character-heavy OTT edits in this episode and John‘s was one of the most fun. It was an OTT edit with emerging CP. The kind of edit that tells us that, yes, John is a larger than life character but there are layers to his personality that will be peeled back as we move forward through the season. He was introduced by Probst on the boat and immediately sold his Goliath label by mentioning his pro-wrestling career and name-dropping a couple of his aliases. However, in confessional, John revealed that people underestimate his smarts, referenced his university education, and told us he is here to “figure out who John is.”
The reason I stuck with OTT instead of MOR or even CP-lite was because of his second confessional where he reeled off a War & Peace size list of his various wrestling nicknames and aliases. It was fun and goofy and played for laughs. Very OTT and what most people will remember of John from this episode. But again, the Mayor of Slamtown wasn’t limited to the pro-wrestling heel gimmick. “None of those characters that I’m playing in a wrestling ring are gonna win the game of Survivor. I’m playing as John. I’m playing as me,” he told us. Mentioning winning is always a good thing, and the whole “playing as John/figuring out who John is” stuff presents a potential growth-arc for the Prince of Parkour. As I said, there are emerging CP elements within the OTT edit that I expect to come out in the coming episodes.
A potential worry is that we didn’t see John forming any real connections or alliances. Yes, he did have the one scene with Mike talking about his wrestling career, and maybe that is enough for now, but it ties into the lack of complexity overall for the Goliath tribe. The relationships on the David tribe are much more fleshed out, and while it is very early in the season, if I was to call my shot like I did last year when I said the winner was most likely on the Naviti tribe, I would say this season’s winner is a David. That makes me feel more confident that John could be a potential journey edit… which is surprising given his archetype!
Davie was another really fun OTT edit, with added positive tone for the amazing reaction he got from his tribe for catching an octopus. That whole octopus scene was just so joyfully presented with the pirate-y adventure music combined with Davie’s enthusiastic screaming in confessional. “Davie Crocket, king of the wild frontier,” he called himself. The fun continued back at camp, we saw the tribe’s miserable faces light up when Davie revealed the octopus (and the funky music started again). The immediate takeaway was that we are meant to like Davie.
In his follow-up confessional, Davie talked about not conforming to society, how he is a “blerd” (black nerd) and lover of the “zombie genre” and “cartoons” and “nerd-type things.” There was a big emphasis on “nerds” throughout the premiere, more so than usual. It’s come to be expected that there will be a nerd archetype each season, but it’s usually limited to one person, whereas here it felt like “nerds” was a theme. Gabby and Christian bonded over their shared nerdiness. Davie is a self-confessed “blerd” and we saw him talking about Mario Kart with Christian. Mike nerded out about being a “Survivor fanatic”. This might be looking into it too deeply, but even Dan’s love of Superman could fall under this nerd theme. It feels like nerds will do well this season and that is a big positive for Davie.
The negative is that Davie didn’t get a proper intro until 41-minutes into the episode. We did briefly see him earlier in the episode during the David tribe alliance pairing sequence. He talked with Carl about sticking together and how Pat was getting under his skin. And it’s definitely a good sign that he was involved in that whole duo sequence. But it was Carl narrating the action and we didn’t learn anything about Davie until 40+ minutes into the premiere. Based on history, especially recent history, you would expect a winner to be introduced sooner than that. But I wouldn’t completely rule Davie out if he is able to follow up with strong content in the next two or three episodes. Right now though he just seems like he will be a fun, rootable character.
Bi‘s edit was similar to Davie’s in the sense that her intro came past the 40-minute mark and was presented in a very positive, OTT-manner. And again, like Davie, we saw her earlier in the episode in the pairing sequence where she made a deal with Jessica to look out for each other. But her actual first confessional/introduction wasn’t until 44-minutes into the premiere, which is probably not a good sign if you’re looking at Bi as a potential winner candidate.
However, the confessional itself was great, she talked about coming to America from Vietnam at a young age, experiencing poverty, having an abusive boyfriend and mentioned her career as an MMA fighter. Her story of fighting all her life also tied into the David theme of underdog fighting spirit. All of that was excellent personal content and given the emotion of the scene it was clearly meant to be taken as a positive, hence the P-tone. The negative for Bi’s overall edit is that it felt like she was mainly been used to prop up Jessica’s story. At the end of her confessional, Bi tied her own experience back into Jessica’s story about her mom and how she should be proud. Going back to earlier in the episode, it was also Jessica who was given the primary focus when forming the alliance with Bi.
Again, the David tribe as a whole is dripping in positivity, and Bi is very much a part of that, so right now it’s hard to say how long she’ll last or where exactly her story will go. Just based on the timing and placement of her content I would expect her story to be not quite as important to the overall narrative as some of her tribemates, but there is certainly a solid foundation to build on.
Christian was no doubt one of the biggest characters of the premiere and based on everything we saw will probably be one of the biggest characters of the season. Much like with John, there were certainly CP elements to his edit, but the overall vibe was fun and goofy OTT. “Big Bang Theory”, wrote slide puzzle algorithms, the incredible time-lapsed puzzle confessional, “platonic couple threat,” etc. There were lots and lots of fun OTT moments in Christian’s edit.
He was the first person introduced in the speedboat intro and immediately told us his occupation and that he’s a “huge nerd,” but also noted that people will underestimate him and might be surprised with what he can pull out. He was almost instantly proven correct when the Goliaths picked Christian as the weakest guy on the David tribe, only for him to smash through the slide puzzle in seconds and help bring home the win for his tribe. “Appearances are deceiving,” Christian said, which was also the title of the episode, and I believe that will be a significant theme throughout the season. It was a recurring theme in this episode alone and not just on the David tribe. John talked about people underestimating his intelligence and only seeing the muscle-head wrestler. Dan revealed that he used to be fat and worked his ass off to get in shape. I think those representing that theme will play an important role in the season.
Outside of his OTT-ness and theme tie-ins, Christian was also shown having his pulse on the dynamics back at camp. He recognized that Pat was rubbing people the wrong way with his bossiness and off-color jokes (and unlike the Natalia/Natalie scene, Christian’s comments were backed up with the appropriate footage and agreement from other tribemates). He was also part of the pairing sequence and his scene with Gabby was given the most focus of all the duos. They bonded over their nerdy qualities, which as previously discussed, appears to be an important theme of the season. They also both received confessionals commenting on the alliance and complimenting each other. It’s a good sign that of all the David pairings, this particular relationship was given extra special treatment, which means it should play a significant role in the narrative.
Can Christian win? He is certainly not out of the running. However, there are a couple of things that make me hesitant to place Christian as a top winner contender. The time-lapse puzzle confessional was hilarious, but would that have happened had Christian won? Maybe. But the whole thing about how he focuses too much on his mistakes and the way the edit played with it made me think that Christian will trip up due to overthinking at some point. Or it could have been one of those things that was too funny for the editors not to include and so it would have made it into the episode regardless. Either way, I expect Christian to be a big presence this season.
Outside of Pat, who obviously took up a big chunk of the airtime given the way the episode ended, Daniel was the most visible character in the premiere. He had five confessionals and at least two strong camp scenes with the Kara showmance and the idol find segment. He also received a significant amount of personal content when he revealed his weight loss story and how he came to be a SWAT officer. On top of that, he had positive SPV, mostly from Kara, but also Natalie and Angelina. If we’re looking at surface level edit here, then no doubt Daniel was presented as a positive character.
The details of the underlying edit help explain the reason for the OTT rating as opposed to CP. As with John and Christian, the CP elements of Dan’s edit felt drowned out by the overwhelming OTTness. The weight loss story itself, while heartfelt, was presented in a rather OTT manner, with Dan talking about how he struggled to resist half-price Maccy Ds. But what really sold this whole sequence as OTT is that the weight loss story was punctuated with the “beautiful girls” talk. “Now the most beautiful girls tell me I’m very good looking, so y’know, I can’t help myself,” he said, which led into the scene with Kara which had its own set of ominous warning signs, as I previously mentioned in Kara’s write-up.
Dan repeatedly told us that “beautiful girls” are going to screw up his game or mess him up or become his “kryptonite,” Kara specifically. And even though he recognized the potential dangers of a showmance, he told us that he “couldn’t help himself.” The underlying edit appeared to be setting up the trapdoors which could send Dan tumbling out of the game in the future. For example, just look at the idol scene. Again, on the surface, it looked very positive for Dan, he “set a goal and found the idol.” But just like his weight loss story, it concluded with one very specific focus. “I found an idol with the most beautiful girls in this whole entire game right now,” he said, “it can not get any better.” The “beautiful girls” have become Dan’s motif and in a season where “appearances are deceiving,” it could suggest Dan is focusing on the wrong things.
That said, Dan looks set to be a big character in the season. He didn’t receive an intro confessional but he was introduced within the first 20-minutes of the episode. He was one of the few Goliath tribe members that had a relationship building scene. And he had a ton of personal content and positive SPV.
Pat‘s stay on the island was short-lived but his exit was certainly impactful. If not for that final scene and emotional removal from the game, Pat wouldn’t have had such high visibility and definitely wouldn’t have received P-tone. Earlier in the episode, he received a decent amount of negative SPV from his tribemates in regards to his bossiness and crude jokes, all of which was backed up by the edit. Under normal circumstances, Pat would have been Mixed tone, based on the later compliments for his work on the shelter. And I can understand if people still rate Pat M-tone for the episode in spite of the overly emotional exit.
The reason I went with P-tone is because the entire last segment of the episode was dedicated to Pat and it was reaching PP territory. The whole tribe was practically crying for Pat and offering their support. Pat himself was shown to be a fighter, not wanting to leave the game even though he was clearly in serious pain. The tears, the music, followed by the confessionals from Jessica and Gabby. Jessica talked about how Pat was fighting to stay in. Gabby admitted that she misjudged Pat, which in a way wiped the slate clean of his previous negativity. When tone leans one way to such an excessive degree, it overrides the negative, in my opinion at least. When people remember Pat they won’t think of his crude jokes, they’ll remember him as the heart of the David tribe that got taken out under unfortunate circumstances. That is OTTP.
I teetered between CP and MOR for a while when it came to Carl, but overall I felt like he got to explain all his decisions in a well-considered manner without ever crossing over into OTT territory. And on top of that, he had alliance building scenes and personal content. It was at the very least a CP-lite edit. Now, Carl’s intro didn’t come until around the 27-minute mark, so that is a point against him, but when he did arrive the content he received was fairly strong albeit with a couple of red flags.
We first heard from Carl during the David tribe pairing sequence. Jessica told us she wanted to make alliances and Carl was one of the people she talked to. Carl got to comment on this alliance in confessional and told us that he has a wife and two daughters at home. He said Jessica reminded him of his daughters and because of that he could “mold her” into how he wants to play the game. It’s great that he got to narrate the scene, but when a person says they can “mold” or control another player that is a warning sign. If you remember last season, Stephanie said something similar about nurturing Donathan, and while Donathan didn’t play any part in Steph’s elimination, the edit was presenting Donathan as a character who didn’t need nurturing, therefore it reflected somewhat negatively on Steph. I got a similar vibe here with Carl perhaps underestimating Jessica due to her age and… yes, appearance.
Carl then approached Davie and the two promised to look out for one another. This was a common theme in all of these pairing scenes. Each duo made promises to warn the other person if they heard their name. You have to imagine not everyone is going to be able to keep up their end of the bargain. Again, Carl got to narrate in confessional. He told us he wanted to play the game “laidback” but that he noticed everyone else approaching each other and realized he needed to get in on the action. “The David team is here to play,” he said, which I think could be an overarching theme of the season, with the Davids really bringing it socially and strategically.
Later in the episode, Carl talked with Pat about Nick’s work ethic. He then elaborated on his thoughts in confessional while also dropping in that he works as a truck driver. Carl, who had earlier talked to Davie about Pat painting a target on his back, told us that despite Pat’s over-the-top nature, he was a “gift” when it came to making the shelter. In comparison, Carl was not impressed with Nick and his laziness. Carl and Pat agreed that Nick should be the first one out. This was all part of presenting Nick as the odd person out on the David tribe, something emphasized in Nick’s own confessionals and the post-challenge confessional from Lyrsa.
Carl is certainly hovering around the contender circle right now just based on how involved he seemed to be in the tribe dynamics and the fact he got to explain himself. What knocks him down a peg or two though is the lack of introduction within the first 20-minutes of the episode, the “molding” comment about Jessica, and the fact that he doesn’t quite fall into that nerdy underdog theme that is so prevalent. All in all though, a strong start for the Texan trucker.
Jessica had a really strong opening episode. She hit almost everything you would want on the premiere episode checklist other than having an introduction within the first 20-minutes – but given her archetype that might not be as damaging as it appears on first glance. But everything else was there in abundance. Personal content about herself and her family, an explanation of her game-approach, alliance building scenes, positive SPV, strong emotion, and theme tie-ins. Off the bat, Jessica is within the list of top contenders.
Her first confessional came at the 26-minute mark and she talked about being 19-years-old and not wanting people to think her age means she isn’t strong enough to play the game. That was her explanation for telling her tribemates she is 22. Unlike past teens on Survivor – Michael, Will, Julia – the edit didn’t feel like it was lingering on the age thing, and seeing as none of those players won, that is probably a good thing. Instead, Jessica told us she wanted to “make as many alliances as she possibly can” and we saw her go to work, forming bonds with both Bi and Carl. Now, that could be foreshadowing that Jessica will make too many alliances and be unable to keep all her promises or it might just be to show Jessica as a proactive player. Time will tell in that regard.
What we can tell already is that Jessica is making solid, personal connections. Carl said she reminded him of his daughters. And in an emotional scene in the shelter, Jessica opened up about protecting her mom from an abusive relationship, something which connected her further to Bi who called Jessica a hero. Obviously, this accounts from Jessica’s P-tone. It was also Jessica opening up which allowed others to express their struggles, including Nick, which bonded the David tribe even further. Then, during Pat’s evacuation, Jessica was one of three tribe members to receive a confessional, alongside Gabby and Elizabeth. I think it’s always important to note who gets confessionals in big moments like this as it likely means the show wants us to connect emotionally to these players.
I can’t really think of any negatives in Jessica’s premiere edit, other than the aforementioned lack of intro and possibly foreshadowing of too many alliances. There were even little positive moments like when it was raining and Pat told her to “crawl in the shelter” and she replied “No way” and was then shown continuing to work in the bad weather. It’s little scenes like that that don’t need to be included which are the most telling. Whatever Jessica’s long-term story is, right now we are meant to see her as hard worker with an ability to emotionally connect with her fellow players.
Nick had the hardest edit to read of any person in the premiere. It was this weird mix of heartfelt personal content combined with negative SPV. Not to mention he was presented as the decoy boot in an episode that didn’t end up having a tribal council. So even though we got this really well-rounded, complex idea of Nick as a person, it is very difficult to pinpoint what the edit is trying to tell us about his story in this season.
He was introduced on the boat by a Probst question and received an accompanying confessional. He talked about living in a trailer and growing up on food stamps to becoming the first person in his family to go to college and making it as a public defender. As with many others on his tribe, he represents that David underdog fighting mentality of going out there and getting it. He also talked about how in the Bible David doesn’t just defeat Goliath he eventually becomes king. That could quite easily be foreshadowing, though it doesn’t necessarily have to apply to Nick, it could represent any of the David tribe members. It was a great, personal introduction to Nick as a character.
However, the next time we saw Nick, he was talking about not wanting to waste energy working and how he would rather be plotting and scheming. He wanted to find his “flock of sheep.” He told us he finds it easy to gain people’s trust. We then saw him approach Christian and Elizabeth in separate scenes. He even went as far as to name his alliance with Elizabeth. He talked about wanting to have fun and win the million. The mention of the money, great, but the fact we never heard from Christian or Elizabeth and their thoughts on the Nick alliance is a bad sign. The negativity continued when Carl referred to Nick as “lazy” and made an agreement with Pat to send Nick packing first. This read of Nick was later backed up with Lyrsa’s confessional when she said she didn’t trust Nick and that he doesn’t contribute to the camp.
Nick’s biggest scene, and the one which makes his edit so hard to read, was the one about his mother. After seeing his tribemates open up about their past struggles earlier in the day, Nick realized it would help if he shared something personal too, even though he said he rarely opens up like that to people. In an emotional segment, Nick told the group about losing his mother to an overdose three years ago and how that affected him. He said that after revealing his story it felt like a weight had been lifted. If the edit wanted us to see Nick as a straight-up villain we wouldn’t have got this scene. Likewise, if they wanted to present him as a hero, they would have included this but not all the negative untrustworthy/lazy content.
Looking at Nick’s premiere edit as a whole, combining the strong boat intro, the mix of negative and positive SPV, and the decoy boot stuff, I would say he is going to be a pivotal part of the season narrative. The decoy boot content could be there because Nick will remain a target in the upcoming episodes, but all the surrounding material makes me believe he is a long-term character who will likely have many ups and downs throughout his time on the island. He’s definitely one to watch.
Mike was one of only two N-toned edits in the premiere alongside Natalie. A large reason for that was because both Mike and Natalie were set up as targets on the Goliath tribe and didn’t receive a big positive scene like Nick did to counterbalance the negativity. That said, Mike’s N-tone was light, and certainly not an edit-killing negative rating. He wasn’t presented as a bad person, just strategically unaware. The majority of the N-tone came from his gameplay errors, mainly searching for the idol too early and getting caught out. It was sort of a Stephen Fishbach kind of N-tone.
His introduction came at 17-minutes into the episode and was the first confessional we heard as the Goliath tribe arrived at their beach. That’s a nice spot for a first confessional – I believe Adam Klein occupied the same spot in Millennials vs. Gen X, however, Adam also had an intro question from Probst. Mike wasn’t really featured in the intro, other than calling Christian “Big Bang Theory,” which tied into the appearances are deceiving theme. But Mike’s first confessional was solid. He commented on his tribe, talked about his job and career in Hollywood and set his goal of wanting to win. In a regular episode that would possibly be enough for a top contender spot, but in an episode with an abundance of strong, personal intros, Mike doesn’t particularly stand-out ahead of anyone else that received similar, if not better, content.
The next time we saw Mike he was asking John questions about his wrestling career. It was a cool little scene, but it wasn’t really about Mike, as the confessional and primary focus went to John. The bulk of Mike’s content instead revolved around a failed idol search and unnecessarily putting a target on his back. In confessional, Mike said finding an idol is on his Survivor bucket list, and he also believed nobody back at camp noticed he was gone because they were “so caught up in their social game.” This is a red flag for two reasons. Firstly, as we saw with the intercut scenes, people back at camp did notice he was missing and rightly suspected he was idol hunting. Secondly, the flippant dismissal of the social game is alarming when the edit focused so heavily on making personal bonds, especially on the David tribe.
Mike’s story for the rest of the episode was all about the idol and being a target. We saw the group discuss first boot options and Dan specifically pushed for Mike, calling him “slick.” Jeremy qualified this by saying Mike was already a target due to his experience on The Amazing Race and his money and now the idol search had just given them even more reason. Immediately upon arriving at camp, Mike was pinpointed for his time on The Amazing Race and his writing career. However, Mike was made aware he was a target when Natalie warned him about people’s suspicions. He got to admit in confessional that he made a “rookie mistake” and “got caught up in the excitement.” Yet even though Mike recognized his error, it didn’t stop him from continuing to look for the idol later, though he was right at that point that everybody else was also looking.
As with Nick, I’m not fully sure what to make of Mike’s edit right now. He had some decent content and ticked off a few key points on the Edgic checklist, like mentioning his job and wanting to win. But it kind of felt like the stuff about his job was included as part of the reasons why he is a target rather than to set up a personal story arc. Plus all of the idol focus took away from some of the earlier positives. And combined with the fact he didn’t have an intro in the opening, I’m struggling to see the longevity in his edit, unless the scene with Natalie is foreshadowing a future alliance partnership. Mike is one of those whose second episode will reveal a hell of a lot.
In an episode of great edits, I believe Gabby had the best. In terms of both significant character and potential winner, she hit almost every key point you’d want to see in a premiere. She was part of the marooning intro but not too in-your-face. She fell into many of the season themes, including appearances being deceiving, recognizing her advantage, and the nerd camaraderie. She talked about her job and applied it to the game. She was seen forming an early alliance. She got to explain her thought process. She was part of important scenes even if what was happening wasn’t directly about her. And she had positive tone. There wasn’t really any flaw.
While Gabby’s first confessional didn’t come until 21-minutes into the episode (the first confessional as the David tribe arrived at camp), she did receive TWO questions from Probst on the boat. She got to talk about the theme and what it means to “be a David,” telling Probst that the Davids have more to prove and have to climb their way to the top, which makes for a “cooler story.” Based on everything we saw in the premiere it wouldn’t be a shock if that is the story of the season – a David climbing their way to the top. After the Davids won the challenge, Probst went back to Gabby to get her thoughts, where she called it a “great first victory,” which could be foreshadowing more victories to come. Also, if you pay close attention, there was a hell of a lot of Gabby reaction shots, not just in the intro but throughout the episode.
In her first confessional, Gabby continued to talk up the David tribe and explained why they would have more success than their opponents. She talked about how the Davids would be more cohesive (complimented with shots of the tribe working together) because their “advantage” is being “scrappy” and knowing they “have to use each other to be successful in this game.” Initially, I wondered if Gabby was being set up as the David tribe narrator/cheerleader. Her comments were filled with a lot of “we” and not enough “I”. But she made up for that in a later confessional when she talked about her job as a technical writer and how she considers herself the “nerd-whisperer,” referring to her budding alliance with Christian.
The entire scene with Christian was a big thumbs up for Gabby’s chances. It came at the end of the whole pairing sequence and was given the most focus of all the duos. Gabby not only gave her opinions on Christian, but we heard his thoughts on her too. And they were all very positive. There was no undermining. Both were shown to be on the same wavelength and their comments were backed up by camp footage. “Nerds gotta look out for each other,” Gabby told Christian and with the heavy nerd focus overall in the premiere, I have to imagine this is a pivotal scene and an important theme of the season. Also, Gabby calling herself the “nerd-whisperer” sort of places her at the head of the nerd table.
On top of all that, Gabby was one of the three players to be given a confessional during the Pat evacuation. As I said earlier in Jessica’s write-up, it’s important to note who receives confessional time in big moments, especially ones that don’t directly involve that person. Gabby was one of the David tribe members to talk about the Pat situation, about how she misjudged him and how he will be a big loss for the tribe. Here’s another thing which I didn’t mention earlier about this scene. Not only did Gabby, Jessica and Elizabeth receive confessionals, but those were the same three who spoke during the little post-medevac beach chat with Probst. Gabby and Jessica had longer speeches than Elizabeth, and Gabby’s felt particularly foretelling. She said that Pat would want to see the Davids “succeed” and “stick together as much as we can,” which backed up her very first confessional about how the Davids will succeed because their advantage is knowing to use each other in this game.
Of course, it would be foolish not to mention the dreaded “shock CP female pre-merge boot” edit that seems to be a recurring part of Survivor in recent years. From Anna to Michaela to Ali to Stephanie. Gabby could certainly be the next to join that group of women. The same could be said for Jessica actually. However, I think that Gabby had a far better intro and overall premiere edit than any of those women. There seemed to be so much focus, so much foreshadowing and far too few red flags for Gabby to fall victim to the shock early exit edit. Right now, I would say Gabby is in it for the long-haul and, winner or not, will play a significant role in the season narrative.
That’s it for the first week of Edgic! Lots to talk about. Sound off in the comments.