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.
We use a different color scheme than traditional Edgic. We wanted the bigger character ratings, the OTTs and CPs of the world, to stand out. So we made all of these colors bolder and brighter. Simultaneously we wanted the less important character ratings, particularly the UTRs, to blend into the background, as the characters do on the show. So we made these colors duller, more gray and brown. We also looked at the tonal dimensions — negative to positive — and wanted to make it visually consistent whether a character was portrayed positively or negatively. To that end, we reserved all variations of red and pink for the negative ratings, and all the positive ratings are variations on green.
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The season recap summed up the edit of each player in bullet point form and told us what would happen in the finale. If you’re undecided on the winner, these little segments usually provide a huge clue to which player is taking home the crown.
“Sarah – since the merge, she has played an aggressive game, bouncing from one alliance to another, taking out anyone standing in her way. With the Legacy Advantage guaranteeing her spot in the Final 5, she is in a power position to shift the game again.”
It basically told us that Sarah was the “silent assassin” pre-merge, but since the merge, she’s played the most dominant and visible game. There was a big focus on how she gained the Legacy Advantage, which not only saved her at Final 6 but was a key reason in securing her the jury votes. “I deserve to be a game changer; I didn’t leave my son for 39 days to not win $1 million.” Sarah was the only one with a clear winner quote, which mentioned the money, in her recap.
“Troyzan – for weeks he has quietly played from the bottom, but with a hidden immunity idol still in his pocket and alliances in turmoil, the timing may be right for Troyzan to make a move.”
This told us that Troyzan was quiet all season long but now was going to make a move (with his idol) and slip into the Final 3 due to the alliances being in turmoil. That’s exactly what happened.
“Tai – his uncanny ability to find hidden immunity idols and his patience to not play them, leaves Tai in a powerful position, with two idols and only three tribal councils remaining.”
A large portion of the finale dealt with Tai and his idols and the power he had with them. Other players, such as Brad, were trying to think of plans to counter Tai’s idols. “I’m not afraid to make big moves,” he said. There was nothing in his recap about winning which told us Tai’s content would mostly be limited to his idols.
“Culpepper – his social game was dominant, but since the merge, he’s been on the wrong side of the numbers. With no immunity idols or advantages, winning challenges may be the only the way Culpepper can make it to the final tribal council.”
That was Brad’s story of the finale – challenges, challenges, challenges. He had to win to survive and that’s what he kept doing, but with each victory, his ego grew, and his previously dominant social game slipped. Again, there was no quote about winning the money; it was “If you nap on the job, you’re going home.” It called back to his premiere intro confessional, “Go big or go home.”
“Aubry – it’s been another season of highs and lows for this strategic force, but she’s once again within striking distance of the end. Can Aubry find her way back to the Final 3 or will she be voted out for the first time in her Survivor career?”
Aubry hasn’t really had much of a story this season, and this felt very cobbled together at the end. It became a story of can Aubry hang on til the end? “That’s the Aubry way, always hanging on by the skin of my teeth,” she said. And she did hang on through the first tribal council of the night, thanks to Tai’s idol. But again, nothing here pointing to a win, and all signs pointed to her being “voted out for the first time in her Survivor career.”
“Cirie – this Survivor legend and perennial fan favorite has once again relied on social relationships and savvy gameplay. In her four seasons, Cirie has never found an idol or won an individual immunity challenge but with the million dollars in sight, is this when it finally all comes together?”
This one was a little misleading because it did make it seem like Cirie had a shot at winning. She was the only other person except for Sarah where the million dollars was mentioned. But really it was a celebration of her legacy – commemorating her game. Especially because the way she went out was no real fault of her own, the edit didn’t have to make up an excuse for why Cirie failed this time; it was just bad luck. Instead, the edit cemented her as a true legend of the game.
in order of elimination.
As mentioned above, Cirie‘s finale edit was a celebration of her Survivor legacy. She was eliminated (not even voted out) due to pure bad luck, and upon her exit, Jeff Probst gave a run down of all her accomplishments, talked about how much she has grown and thanked her for her time on Survivor. He even let her say the famous last words, “The tribe has spoken.” All of this, coupled with the applause and standing ovation from the jury was straight up OTTP.
“This has been one of the most grand experiences of my life. It changed me, I would never have done any of this stuff if I didn’t get off that couch 11 years ago,” Cirie told Probst at tribal council. While she has had some good winner-like content throughout the season, her edit has always pointed more towards the journey/growth edit – even though she has already covered that story in previous seasons. It’s why I never had her winning chances as high as Sarah and Brad.
Her overall season rating is CPP. Cirie will be remembered as a Survivor legend, a smart strategist, emotionally complex, and socially savvy. Even though she messed up with not reading the Vote Steal rules, that is almost glossed over now with the way she went out. Instead, people will remember how Cirie was eliminated due to misfortune, thereby not negatively affecting her Survivor legacy.
Aubry‘s had a weird edit this season. Mostly UTR with a sprinkling of MOR and one lone CP. In a way, I wonder if the intention was to protect her legacy. In her first season, Kaoh Rong, Aubry was portrayed as a complex character and strategically in-tune with the game, she was the key narrator, and we pretty much saw the season through her eyes. However, in Game Changers, Aubry was often on the wrong side of the vote, and as soon as she made allies, they were quickly eliminated.
There was enough material here to portray Aubry as a sort of clueless underdog, consistently baffled by the votes yet scraping through by hook or crook. But that would be such a U-turn from her Kaoh Rong edit and would undermine her previous story as a smart strategist. Instead, she was barely visible in most episodes, with no extra attention made to her tribal council blunders. That’s the only reason I can think of to explain the insane lack of Aubry coverage this season. She is an excellent narrator, so why not use her? Especially with her lasting all the way until the finale. The reason not to use her is if her narration of the game was often incorrect and they didn’t want to make her look bad.
The story thrown together for Aubry at the end was the player who suffered “ups and downs” but was still a “strategic force” as Probst put it in the recap. “I feel like I could be going home. So I’m going to make a pitch to save myself, but I need the numbers right now.” That was Aubry’s finale episode, trying to hang on despite not having the numbers. As she was eliminated second in the episode, we didn’t get a whole lot of Aubry and what we did get wasn’t overly complex. But she made a pitch to Sarah and Tai to take out Troyzan. However, as she correctly predicted, her life was in Tai’s hands, and in the end, he wanted her out over Troyzan. “I love Aubry as a person, but she’s also a really good player. So she’s the one need to go home because I can’t beat her,” Tai said.
Overall, Aubry is UTR for the season. When thinking back on Aubry’s time in this season, it will be hard to pinpoint what her story was – and it’s because she didn’t really have one. There were way too many episodes where she went without confessionals and was just drifting by in the periphery or confused by a vote-off. When thinking back on Kaoh Rong, Aubry is one of, if not THE, first character that comes to mind. But when people think back on Game Changers in the years to come, people are likely to remember Sarah, Brad, Cirie, and the pre-merge slaughter of legends like Sandra, Tony, Malcolm, and JT. For Aubry it will probably be, “Wait, Aubry was on that season?!”
In spite of his complex pre-merge edit, since the merge, Tai‘s main story has revolved around his idols, with a little bit about his inner conflicts. Both of those themes were part of his finale story, with the use of his idols playing right into his conflict of playing with his head or his heart.
Tai got to explain all of his feelings and strategic decisions throughout the episode (hence his CP rating) and received both negative and positive tone. The other players piled on him for lying and being deceitful, although Tai was rightfully given a chance to highlight the hypocrisy, which even Probst backed up at tribal. We were also meant to feel sympathetic for Tai with the way Brad spoke to him and treated him throughout the finale, especially when Tai broke down. Later, during the jury questioning, Andrea backed up that Brad was acting “assy” towards Tai.
His dilemma in the finale was trying to regain trust but not knowing who to turn to. He thought by telling Brad about his idols it could cement their bond but he was wary (correctly so) that Brad was trying to play him. “But the back of my mind, I worry if I give the idol to Brad, he’ll make a fool of me,” Tai said. This perception was right, as Brad later told Troyzan he wanted to make a fool out of Tai by taking his idol and voting him out. “Honestly, nobody really care about me. They just want something from me, and it’s painful.” That really summed up Tai’s story here, people were pulling him in all directions, trying to use him to benefit their own games. Tai had indeed lost control of his own destiny, as he put it.
The other function Tai provided in this episode was to highlight Brad’s negativity. Brad, who had had a positive edit early in the season, was obviously going to lose against Sarah in the end so the editors needed to focus on the reasons why he lost. The way he treated Tai in the finale was terrible and the edit really focused in on that. “Brad and I happen to want the same thing, but the way he talk to me is, like, I am the minority or subservient or something. It’s not an equal partnership. He has no respect for me.” This theme of Brad having no respect for people became a big topic in the jury questioning and a large reason why Brad lost votes in the end.
Tai’s overall season rating is MORP. While he had a few complex episodes throughout the season, his post-merge edit really slowed down and reduced his story to one primarily about idols with a little bit of the old Tai paranoia mixed in. I think Tai will be remembered positively, especially for his ability to find idols and the balls he shows in holding on to them until the right moment, but he’s unlikely to be remembered as an overly complex character this season.
Oh, Troyzan. How is it possible to be UTR in the season finale, especially when you make the Final 3? I’m not sure, but Troyzan accomplished it. The few confessionals he received were mostly fluff. Nothing in the story revolved around him. Even the build-up to his idol play, the only element of his game to be given attention this season, was lackluster. “I have an idol which I can play either tonight or the next Tribal Council, which makes me feel safe.” It was just a really empty edit.
If it wasn’t already obvious that Troy had no chance to win, the way he ended his first confessional of the episode certainly spelled it out. “I feel like I’m in a good place, but we’ve got stuff to do. We have to win immunities. We have to play Immunity Idols. We have to be smart.” To be focused so much on the “we” at this stage of the game is terrible. It was like Troyzan putting his game (and story) into the hands of others, and that is basically the impression his edit gave off, and the reasons the jurors dismissed him at final tribal council.
He was spoken about by others as either an ally or a target, but we rarely got to hear Troy’s thoughts on the matter. “And then there’s Troyzan, who hasn’t done anything without Brad’s permission this whole game,” Sarah said, damaging Troyzan’s story even further. They tried to throw in a little bit of content to suggest he could win when Sarah said: “At the same time, he hasn’t made anyone mad. And Sandra won twice by not making anyone mad.” But that was just laughable, not only because that’s not how Sandra won, but also because it was so late in the game to try and make us think Troy still had a chance.
In the end, Troyzan got to talk about how playing this game was his dream. “This was a dream that I truly put out there 16 years ago when I watched the first episode.” He realized he wasn’t getting any votes and instead thanked the jurors for being part of his experience. After such a poor edit, he did get to end on somewhat of a happy note. But overall, Troyzan is UTR for the season and the reasons why are fairly self-explanatory. In years to come, when people think back on Game Changers, the question will be, “Who was in the Final 3 with Sarah and Brad again?”
What a journey this season was for Brad. Pre-merge he was given all this positively-toned complexity and high visibility, the edit really going out of its way to not only make him look in control but someone very likable. Post-merge, he sunk into the background, protected somewhat from the negativity hitting Debbie and Sierra, but ending on back-to-back OTTNs and returning almost to his Blood vs. Water character.
It’s been clear for a while now that the winner was going to be Brad or Sarah. They were the only two characters with consistent editorially manipulated content. Yes, the likes of Cirie were up there too, but a lot of Cirie’s content you’d expect to be shown because it’s Cirie. With Brad and Sarah, the edit seemed to be going out of its way at times to highlight them. The early positivity for Brad was clearly there to make him appear as a strong contender, he needed that, as he was obviously going up against Sarah at the end and there needed to be some tension that he could possibly win. But this late surge in negativity effectively killed him early into the finale. I said last week that the post-immunity challenge tantrum was not a good look, and it’s that which made me lean toward the Sarah win. That OTTN edit continued here and made it clear Sarah was winning.
The way Brad spoke to Tai throughout the episode was a horrible look. “Damn, I feel like a dog, someone leading me,” Tai said of the way Brad was treating him. Brad was shown to be cocky: “This is my island,” “I think I can beat every single one of them,” “This necklace makes me Superman, it makes me bulletproof.” “As far as the jury is concerned, after winning five Immunity Challenges, I know that I can beat both Troyzan and Sarah because, after football, I became a trial attorney, so I think I can sell my case better to the jury,” he boasted. But he wasn’t bulletproof, his treatment of Tai and others came back to haunt him at final tribal council. Tai, Andrea, Michaela, and Cirie all brought up the way he speaks to people and his poor social game. It was quite the turnaround from the Brad edit we saw pre-merge. Those tearful scenes with Aubry and Cirie on post-swap Mana never really amounted to anything.
The only thing here that ties back to his early game edit was his immunity challenge wins. Remember, at the merge, I looked back at all the first confessionals of the season, and it was unclear what Brad’s “You’ve gotta go big or go home” meant. At that point, Brad hadn’t really done anything “big.” Now in hindsight that makes sense. That was essentially his story in the finale, win immunity or go home, and he continued to win each challenge. His other comment in the premiere was about his desire to follow the game that his wife Monica played – what would Monica do? (#WWMD). Well, Monica finished runner-up, and Brad followed that to a tee. Looking back now, those early signs, including the stuff like being shown sleeping/snoring in the middle of camp (something winners are never shown doing), should have made it very clear Brad wasn’t the season’s winner.
Overall, his season rating is CPM. It was a game of two halves for Brad. A pre-merge full of game and personal complexity edited in a very positive light, to a post-merge of being out of the loop and ending on an extremely negative note. I don’t think Brad will be remembered for the way he finished the season, though. When looking back, people will remember the weirdly positive stuff like his affection for home decor plus his love for Monica, but they’ll also remember his arrogance and the horrible way he treated Tai at the end.
In a similar way to Brad, Sarah also had a game of two halves. Her pre-merge edit was relatively quiet, but not in an Andrea/Aubry way where the editors just didn’t seem to care, for Sarah it tied into her strategy of playing like a “silent assassin.” We still got to hear from her, sometimes when it was seemingly unnecessary to the story, for example, that whole scene with Troyzan on Tavua after the first swap. There was no follow up with Sarah and Troyzan until this very episode! Sarah also had that fantastic introduction in the premiere, telling us everything we needed to know about her concerning her personal background, her past game, and her new strategy. She was going to be the silent assassin, and then when the timing was right, she would play like a criminal.
Sarah followed the strategy she laid out perfectly. Post-merge, she became a dominant factor, the story of each episode mostly revolving around her and her decisions. She flipped on alliances, snatched an advantage from underneath Michaela, and practically stole Sierra’s Legacy Advantage from her. She lived up to her “criminal” moniker. There was doubt thrown in there along the way regarding whether the jury would reward her for betraying her relationships, but with every negative Brad scene in the finale, Sarah’s winning chances grew higher and higher.
“I’m gonna do whatever I have to do to solidify my spot,” Sarah said early in this episode. That has been her M.O. this season. She has always looked out for number one, doing what she needs to do to advance herself further. None of this “we” talk like with Troyzan. “The story of my game this whole season is I’m always in the middle. So I’ve got a decision to make tonight.” Sarah rightly summed up her season story of “being in the middle.” It’s a position she found herself in in Cagayan, and she let the power go to her head and blew it. This time, she thought about her every decision and made sure she knew which way the vote was going every single time.
In her final confessional of the season, Sarah brought her story back to her first confessional about being a police officer. “As a police officer, I don’t respect being lied to. It makes me feel like you think that I’m stupid. But I’m the criminal tonight. And those people on the jury are the police officers. So if they’re asking for the truth, I’m going to give them the truth, because I reward honesty. I hope they reward my honesty tonight.” Sarah then went to the final tribal council and answered all the questions honestly, admitting to her lies in the game and giving her reasons for the moves she made. She obviously received a mixture of positive and negative tone here. There was some backlash for the way she abused her relationships, Andrea was upset, and Debbie straight up said she didn’t respect Sarah’s game. But she was also called a “badass” and was given lots of praise by the likes of Zeke and Michaela for her killer moves and always being on the right side of the vote.
Sarah’s story summed up this whole season. From the very first episode, she told us how this game would play out. “I feel like somebody will get anxious and feel as though they need to make a move, which will put a target on their back.” That became true for so many players from Ciera to Tony to JT to Zeke. All those shots of sharks circling, waiting to strike at the first sniff of blood, those were the other players waiting to attack anyone that stood out. Sarah correctly told us the game is about timing, and her timing was always impeccable.
“Last time I played like a cop, look where it got me. This time I’m playing like a criminal, and we’ll see where it gets me. My word is not my bond in this game this time.” Another statement from the premiere which Sarah consistently delivered on, cutting multiple bonds post-merge. Even Cirie telling Sarah, “The only time I’m gonna write your name is if I’m not here and it’s for your own benefit,” came back into play with Cirie voting Sarah to win. Although, Cirie technically voted Sarah at the Final 6, but none of that counted.
Overall, Sarah is CP for the season. She had a small bit of tone throughout the season but not enough to impact her final rating. Sarah won’t be remembered as a colorful personality, but she will be remembered as a savvy, ruthless player who abandoned her cop mentality for a criminal mindset and effectively lied and stole her way to the victory.
That’s it for another season of Edgic. Thanks for reading each week!