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.
|Name||EP 1||EP 2||EP 3||EP 4||EP 5||EP 6||EP 7||EP 8||EP 9||EP 10||EP 11||EP 12||EP 13||EP 14|
As it was a double episode with two sets of ratings, instead of ranking the players by rating I will instead list them alphabetically.
“I feel like I’m finally playing Survivor,” Ashley said in Episode 11. That sentence sums up her edit across these two episodes. She’s a player that has been very passive this season, especially since the merge when she fell mostly into the background. She tried to push her agenda in Episode 9, wanting to take out Joe, but her plans were shot down. But where last week I thought her story was little more than beef with Joe, this set of episodes showed me something different about Ashley.
Ashley has a consistent story of wanting to make moves but never getting the chance – either due to circumstance or because she doesn’t have enough control. Early on, back on the Heroes beach, Ashley’s game was stifled because of the target painted on her and JP by Alan. Remember she said: “JP and I, we can’t talk to each other because on Day 2, Alan decided to go absolutely nuts, calling out JP would be some kind of power couple.” Then at the swap, she wanted to vote out Joe, but he played an idol, stopping her move dead in the tracks, and she got the blame for it going wrong – Joe said he read her face. Her next move was to try and sway Desi, but the new Levu tribe never went back to tribal, and then at the merge, Desi stuck with Joe, which told us Ashley failed to bring her over. Then, as already mentioned, last week Ashley wanted to vote out Joe but was unable to convince the alliance of seven to do so.
That leads us to these two episodes. In Episode 10, Ashley was brought into Lauren’s new four-piece alliance. During the reward, Lauren and Devon shared their information regarding idols and secret advantages. “This girl hasn’t been told anything,” Ashley said, which further highlights how out of the loop she’s been this season. But Ashley recognized that up until this point she has just been following the pack and needed to step up and find a way to take charge. “Lauren’s plan to break from the seven early is an awesome idea,” she said. “And if I wanna be in on this stuff and really be the one making decisions and not just being told what to do, then I need to step up the aggression, I need to step up my gameplay.” Ashley saw this as an opportunity to step up her game and put herself in a position where she could control things. When she later won the immunity challenge, she told us she was “giddy” about the vote, and it was time to “pull the trigger.” Nothing here was overly complex, hence her MOR rating for Episode 10. One other thing worth mentioning about this reward, we didn’t see Ashley’s (or Devon’s) letter. Ashley has lacked personal development this season and that was a great opportunity to give her some, but nope.
Ashley continued to talk about her evolving game in Episode 11. There was a significant focus on her relationship with Devon. The bond between the “25-year-old surfers” was built on swapped Levu, but it has very much been in the background since the merge. Now it is back with a vengeance. Devon told Ashley: “We have the exact same game, you and I. And we’re getting to the end together.” Ashley then said that the previous vote was the turning point of the game for her and Devon. “Yeah, because we finally made a move,” Devon replied. “I feel like this game just upped to a whole other level for me. Coming into the merge, I definitely took a backseat in my own game, but my gameplay has really evolved and I feel like I’m finally playing Survivor,” she said in confessional, intercut with shots of her sipping margaritas with her pinky up. “Making that big move set the pace for some more big moves down the road. I honestly feel like this is my game to lose.” How do we read this scene? Maybe the Ashley and Devon relationship is more important than we thought and will carry through to the end. But it also seemed too celebratory. Both Ashley and Devon came across overly confident, and it could be foreshadowing a rude awakening for the pair.
The big question for Ashley is, will she succeed in being able to make her own decisions? She certainly didn’t achieve that in Episode 11. Although she stepped up in complexity, she still failed to really control the game. The latter part of the episode saw Ashley and Lauren discussing the option to get rid of Ben. It was Lauren who presented the idea, not Ashley, although Ash seemed on board with it. Ashley told us that “everybody” would vote for Ben if he got to the end – including herself. “It seems like Ben would be a huge threat at the end, and I’ve realized in this game you have to be aggressive, and I’m starting to do that,” she said. “Taking out the stronger players is a big move. Ben could go home tonight; this could be our chance to make that happen.” We then saw Ashley approach Devon with her “alternate plan” (interesting to note again that she said “this would be a big move for BOTH of us.”). But ultimately, Joe was the one that went home. Now, Ashley never said “Ben MUST go,” the edit left it as her considering options. So she didn’t look incorrect. But it still looks like Ashley is deferring to others.
What is next for Ashley? I’m not entirely sure, but I am happy to have finally found a consistent narrative for Ashley’s edit. She hasn’t been the easiest character to work out this season. But there is a continuous story of her being unable to get her way or make the move she wants to make. The fact she didn’t take out Ben here could be what comes back to bite her. Is she too late in stepping up her game at this point? Is the sudden CP bump foreshadowing an upcoming boot? It’s very possible. But even if Devon is right, and the two do make it to the end together, I have a hard time seeing Ashley as the winner. Not only did Joe previously call her a goat, but the edit has told us over and over that she is more of a follower than a leader.
I said last week: “If Ben dodges the bullet next week and Joe goes before him, then I might have to start reconsidering Ben’s story.” Well, lo and behold, Ben survived the double episode and Joe went before him. It’s time to start reevaluating Ben’s edit and his role in the narrative.
With his high-vis since the merge, and last week’s negative tone and “dictator” talk, it really felt like Ben was heading for a downfall. But that didn’t happen. Not only did it not happen but he was back to P-tone in Episode 10. We’ve seen over the past few weeks Ben slowly drifting away from Chrissy and becoming tighter with Lauren. Last week, he told us he wanted Lauren and Devon as part of his final three. That story was cemented here as Lauren also pitched an alliance including herself, Ben, Devon (and Ashley). Ben said he was sick of living with Joe, but if he “has to keep him, I’ll do it.” Lauren told him that the Round Table stuff would hurt Ben in the end because they’d (Chrissy and Ryan) gun for him right off the bat (which we heard Chrissy and Ryan confirm). Ben said: “That’s why I’m on board, and I will ride to the end with you four.” The group then toasted to the “Final 4.” What this shows us is that people still want to work with Ben, despite the dictator stuff last week which wasn’t brought up again. It also helped grow the seeds which Ben planted the previous week with Devon, as his ideal alliance came together.
Ben then had a strong positive scene with his letter and finding the idol. He talked about his wife, and his kids, and once again brought up his time in the Marines. Ben has always had such solid personal content right from the very start at the marooning. It’s good, but sometimes so much personal content can point to a journey edit rather than a winner edit. But Ben is very good at applying his personal content to his game. “My family just gave me the gas and the fuel I need to play this game,” he said. He described searching for the idol as a military-like mission: “Right now I have a map, I have an objective, and I’m going to go and get the job done.” Then when he found the idol, he thanked his family. His two biggest personal stories – his family and his job – were applied to the game. Then, on top of that, he talked about what it meant for his game going forward. “The seven is blowing up, and my name is being thrown around,” he said. “I’m being called the King Arthur, so I need the idol, and I ain’t telling no one about it because no one around here can keep a darn secret. This gets me one step closer to the million, and I believe that my wife helped me find this idol.” This scene just hit every point you could hope to hit. The personal, the strategic, the winner quotes. He even touched on the running theme of secrets and how he wouldn’t tell anyone about his idol. We’ve seen significant, personal idol finds like this in the past lead to victory – Mike, Jeremy, and Adam – could that be where Ben is heading?
The rest of Ben’s Episode 10 was setting up his Secret Spy story. Devon pitched the plan of Ben voting with Chrissy and Ryan. Ben agreed to it, saying his new mission is “to stay on the inside of JP, Chrissy, and Ryan and infiltrate when we get back from tribal.” He told us he was going to put on his “acting shoes.” This all led directly into the second episode of the night with Ben playing double-agent. It’s interesting that the edit made sure to show us this plan was Devon’s. Ben definitely got a bunch of credit for how well he pulled it off, but you have to feel if Devon wasn’t important to the story, they could have easily left his part out. They could have just shown us Ben’s “My mission is to infiltrate…” confessional and we’d be none the wiser that Devon came up with it. But I don’t think it’s such a bad thing for Ben not to get credit for putting it together. He’s already had tons of edit-credit for plans and moves, a cool-down in that area is a welcome change of pace. Plus, as I said, he still got praise for his acting performance.
In Episode 11, Ben had his first non-CP edit of the season. His content was primarily about his Secret Spy act. We already had all the complexity of that plan in Episode 10 – the next episode was just reemphasizing that, so I felt MOR was more appropriate. Ben acted betrayed on coming back to camp and argued with Joe. He told us in confessional that he was continuing his double-agent role. He also brought up how Joe was “walking around like it was his damn idea to blindside JP” – it showed us Ben was still irritated with Joe which explained why he was happy to cut him later in the episode. Perhaps the most significant thing about this post-tribal scene was the chat between Ben, Lauren, and Ashley. Ben confirmed that Chrissy and Ryan think he’s in with them and then he said: “I’ll get Ryan to play his idol” (which was subtitled). Later in the episode, we saw Ben pushing for Ryan to use his idol: “If I had one, I’d use it, get yourself to Day 31.” Ryan then did use the idol at tribal. That is a good look for Ben because he was correct.
At the reward, Ben once again continued his double-agent role. “It would be nice to kick back with Devon and Ashley, but I’m still playing my part as being on the outs,” he said. “But that stuff’s kind of fun for me right now, just because I’m messing with Joe and he don’t even know it. Anytime I can mess with Joe, I’ll take it.” Again, we can’t call this CP because it was simply reiterating the same strategy. Joe was shown to be completely eating it up. “[Ben] is now at the bottom and he doesn’t know how to play this game without power and control,” Joe said. Ashley then complimented Ben’s performance: “Ben’s still putting on his Academy Award performance as a very disappointed King Arthur, and he sells it like I’ve never seen a story sold. It’s awesome.” But then things took a turn back to Ben being a threat. “But [Ben’s] playing a really good game and that’s pretty scary,” Ashley said. This, of course, was set up for what was to come after the immunity challenge.
After Chrissy won immunity, Ben had a short confessional where he basically said there are still three people to pick (Joe, Mike, or Ryan) and that they just needed to “get to gettin’ and figure out who to vote out next.” Again, nothing CP about that. When the alliance of four got together to decide who to vote out, Ben was the first to suggest Joe. The others agreed. But it was then Devon who took charge of the plan with his fake split vote idea. The next time we saw Ben, he was pushing for Ryan to use his idol and telling us that his performance act is getting exhausting but that “it’s for a good cause.” He correctly called that he didn’t need to play his own idol and that Joe would get his torch snuffed. Later, Lauren and Ashley wondered if they should vote Ben out because of how big a threat he is to win. “Everyone would vote Ben. Strong leader, the Marine with the kids… shoot, I would vote Ben,” Ashley said. Lauren agreed that Ben is a huge threat. Ultimately, they didn’t go through with the plan, but it sets up cracks within the foursome going ahead. It also strongly suggests Ben would win at Final Tribal – unless this is ironic foreshadowing.
Where does Ben go from here? Last week I thought he was heading for a downfall, and that didn’t happen, and while the target on his back remains, I’m not so sure he’ll be going home just yet. Ben always seems to get himself out of a tough situation. I’m a little worried that he didn’t fully explain why he split from Chrissy, unlike Devon, who explained exactly why he split from Ryan. But one thing we know for sure, Ben is one of this season’s biggest characters, and this episode put him back into winner contention.
These two episodes were an emotional rollercoaster for Chrissy and her edit. In Episode 10 she was on top of the world, her sights set firmly on the end-game, only for the rug to be pulled out from under her. In Episode 11 she was down and out, her game seemingly flashing before her eyes, until she won immunity and saved herself.
Chrissy’s winner chances took a big hit in the first episode of the night. The edit did not care at all about showing her to be overconfident and incorrect in her assumptions. As has become custom, Chrissy started both episodes with the first confessional back at camp. In Episode 10, she was living the high life. “Tribal Council was crazy and fun,” she said. “The seven accomplished exactly what they needed to accomplish, which mainly was vote out Cole. But the best part of the night was when out of left field Dr. Mike played an idol, for no reason at all. It was icing on the cake. So at this point, we have two Healers left to vote out. Joe and Mike are dead men walking.” Chrissy had already written Joe and Mike off and was focusing on her game ahead, rather than paying attention to what was going on around her.
When Ben, Lauren, Devon, and Ashley were on reward, Chrissy and Ryan talked back at camp. The whole point of this scene was to show them as deluded and unaware. Mike even set the stage by saying Chrissy and Ryan are “blinded by the seven.” Chrissy told Ryan: “I do think we need to get Joe out next… I think that Mike just isn’t as good of a player.” Not only did Joe not go home next, but Chrissy later changed her mind, saying it would be more fun to leave Joe around and get rid of Mike first. She undermined her own point. Then the pair began discussing who would be next to go after Joe and Mike. They said that it should go Ben and then Lauren. “Me and Chrissy are playing a bit more strategic game than everybody else,” Ryan stated. “Am I being stupid by thinking the seven of us really will get to the seven us?” Chrissy asked. Ryan said, “I think it’s going to happen.” Chrissy replied: “I think it’s going to happen too. My intuition tells me that we’re going to do it.” Of course, it didn’t happen, and this scene was immediately followed by the rest of the “seven” breaking away. The whole purpose of this scene was to show Chrissy and Ryan as overconfident.
This delusion continued after the first immunity challenge. Chrissy suggested to the group to take out Mike, contradicting her earlier point. “I feel very comfortable with our alliance of seven. We are definitely unified in wanting to get out Joe or Mike,” she said. The edit kept hammering it home that Chrissy was completely out of the loop. “I can’t wait to get rid of both of them, but getting rid of one of them is going to break up this new…Coconuts alliance, which is making us all bananas.” Perhaps this comes back to what Ben said about playing with heart and emotions instead of brains and smarts. Chrissy’s annoyance with Mike and Joe was blinding her. Just to cement the overconfident theme, Devon followed Chrissy with his own confessional, basically stating it outright. “I look at Chrissy and Ryan, and I see the power blinding them. I see the cluelessness in how confident they’re acting,” he said. Chrissy has had one of the strongest edits this season (Lauren called her a “mastermind” in this episode), but there have always been these creeping doubts of overconfidence (getting caught whispering, etc.), and this episode brought all of that to the forefront.
That was mostly it for Chrissy in Episode 10, until her reaction to the JP blindside. I rated her MORN. She had some strategic content, but it wasn’t in-depth or elaborated upon. She and Ryan discussed the order of who they wanted out, but not the details of how. Compared to the other side of the alliance who thought out all their plans in detail. The negative tone, of course, comes from the overconfidence which was highlighted by the edit and the other players.
In Episode 11, Chrissy’s first confessional back at camp perfectly contrasted her one from the previous episode. Last time, tribal was “crazy and fun,” and this time, “I’m upset about the blindside, but I’m more upset about the way that those five treated us three when we got back to camp.” Chrissy tried to ask for answers but was denied. “Blindsides are a part of the game, being snarky to your friends is not. That is the part that’s frustrating to me… but clearly they’re not friends. Whatever.” I’m not sure if we were supposed to agree with Chrissy here, or see it as a sign of hypocrisy. Afterall, Chrissy had spent the last episode shutting out Mike and Joe, talking as if they’d already gone, and now she was getting a taste of her own medicine. It also didn’t seem like anyone she would consider a “friend” was been “snarky.”
I rated Chrissy OTTM for the second episode of the night. It felt like we got both extremes of Chrissy’s emotions, with minimal strategy. There was the one scene where she tried to talk game with Lauren, and where Lauren called her “annoying” in confessional, but it didn’t go anywhere. “She just didn’t want to talk strategy with me,” Chrissy said. What it set up was Chrissy’s feeling of being on the bottom. “I don’t want to be seen as desperate, but that’s how I’m feeling today. This game is kicking my butt, and it is a new feeling for me,” she said. “And right now I’m definitely in trouble because I don’t wanna be voted off.” This led into the scene where Chrissy was curled up in the shelter. The music was sad. “It’s just day twenty-nine. I’m just finally having to just catch up,” she said when Mike asked if she was okay. She followed up with a tearful confessional. “Being out here and being stripped down to nothing is harder than I thought it would be because in the real world I’m always in control of everything,” she said. “And it’s hard for me not to be in control of my own fate. That is why this game kicks your ass. I really don’t want it to be the end of the line.” This was the first extreme – the broken, down and out Chrissy. It was a far cry from the “I’m always happy” Chrissy from last week.
But towards the end of the confessional, Chrissy tried to put on a positive outlook. “But this has been my dream for 16 years, and what I do as an actuary is come up with all of the possible outcomes, so I will always keep thinking of different combinations and different ways that I can get myself back on top,” she said. This confessional was intercut with Mike bringing her rice and her saying “I think this rice is going to do the trick for me.” Chrissy’s confessional ended with a potent statement: “I hope I can have the last laugh.” Now, how much do we read into that line? Was it just foreshadowing her immunity win which immediately followed? Or does it have further implications? I’m having serious doubts over whether Chrissy can win at this point, but perhaps “the last laugh” could mean casting the deciding vote for the winner. Either way, the end of this confessional and the subsequent challenge win was the other emotional extreme. From distraught to overjoyed.
When Chrissy won the challenge, she was jumping for joy. She told Probst she had been “waiting for this for 16 years” and got to talk about the “incredible feeling.” It was a rapid turnaround from the depressed Chrissy curled up in the shelter. “I really believe that I was the one that was going to go home, so coming home with this necklace is just beautiful in so many ways,” she said in confessional, a massive smile on her face. That was pretty much it from Chrissy for the rest of the episode and why I went with OTT rather than MOR. OTT emotions across the spectrum. The overconfident all-powerful to the down-and-out underdog. Is that what Chrissy’s story is now?
While the red flags in Chrissy’s edit are becoming more blatant, her edit is still very strong. She still gets personal content – once again she talked about her Survivor fandom and applied her job to her game. That kind of content isn’t given to an inconsequential character. Even though she wasn’t CP in these particular episodes, Chrissy is a complex character. She is multi-faceted. She’s “smart” yet “overconfident,” a “mastermind” yet “annoying.” This is the type of edit that makes the finale episode – whether it can carry Chrissy to Final 3 remains to be seen. It’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility. It will be interesting to see if this underdog edit continues in the next episode or if she reverts to her old ways. We also really need an explanation of the Chrissy/Ben relationship because for a bond that had such focus pre-merge, it’s really taken a backward step since the merge.
Devon has had a fairly consistent narrative throughout the season, but I don’t think there is any denying that these two episodes were his break-out moment. While he’s often played second fiddle to more prominent characters, here, Devon took charge, created his own plans, and started carving his own story to the end. But was it all positive? Let’s break it down.
He was kind of quiet in Episode 10 until the reward. Lauren pitched the four-person alliance and said it’s the time to share intel. Devon quickly told the group about Ryan’s idol and how Ryan had lied to him. Remember last week I talked about whether Devon and Ryan would actually split? I was unsure if it was a red herring or a genuine change in direction. These two episodes confirmed that Devon is done with the Bellhop. That does somewhat undermine their pre-merge edit – for example, we never saw them “cause chaos” together. But at least Devon didn’t go running back to Ryan, and he got to explain exactly why he was moving on. In this scene, Devon committed himself to the new alliance. “I’m not walking away from this,” he told the four. It’s worth keeping a note of that in case Devon ultimately does turn his back on them.
The other key moment at the reward was Devon’s confessional about Lauren. “Lauren has been surprising me. She came into this game talking no strategy, and now I’m seeing this other side of her, and she’s really good,” he said. “She’s like as good as me.” There was a *clang* sound after Devon said this. What can we read into that? It definitely underlined the moment and told us we should remember it. My first thought was that maybe Devon and Lauren both make FTC and the vote is close between the pair. Then I started to think that this was maybe foreshadowing Devon turning against Lauren down the road because he sees her as his biggest threat. “I’m happy she’s on my side,” he continued. “And I think this plan is going to work. This is what Survivor is all about… this moment. You never know what can happen at rewards.” Devon was correct that the plan worked, and that rewards can change the game. It made me wonder if rewards will continue to shake things up in the future. As with Ashley, it’s also worth noting that we never heard Devon’s letter. It would have been the perfect moment to give Devon some personal content, so that is a little concerning.
It was after the first immunity challenge when Devon really came to the forefront. After labeling Ryan and Chrissy “clueless” and “blinded by power,” Devon came up with a plan for how to maintain control following the blindside. “It’s going down tonight, but moving forward, we need to maintain control after the biggest blindside yet. And so, I’ve come up with a plan to do it very subtly,” he said. Devon got the credit for coming up with the Secret Spy plan. “Ben’s with us, yet he’s going to pretend like he’s not with us. So after tribal council, Chrissy, Ryan or JP, whoever is left, will come running to him.” It was definitely a complex idea, and Devon got to explain it in both confessional and camp scenes. “Ben’s voting with them, we need Mike and Joe to vote with us to just keep numbers.” For the first time, Devon looked to be in a position of control. Up until now, he’s been a solid player in the majority but someone merely following along.
After returning from tribal, Ryan approached Devon to see where his head was at. “I never thought I’d have to repair my relationship with Devon,” Ryan said. Ryan was shocked that Devon blindsided him, which continued the narrative of Ryan underestimating Devon. Devon again got to explain his move. He told Ryan the reason he didn’t tell him about the vote was because he broke his trust by telling about the idol. Then he restated this explanation in confessional: “Ever since Ryan lied to me about him and I being the only ones that knew about the idol, that lie caused me to no longer trust him anymore.” Contrast this to Ben and Chrissy who we never heard an explanation of why they drifted apart. It tells us the Ryan and Devon relationship is still important. Ryan said he never wavered from going to the Final 3 with Devon and Lauren – something that we haven’t heard about in the edit until now (so that is worth noting). “We’ve had an alliance since Day 1, but it is a selfish game in the end, and I have my own plan to get me to win that million, and [Ryan’s] no longer part of it,” Devon concluded. Always good to mention the money. The edit gave Devon ample time to defend his move. All that is positive.
Devon continued to be a huge part of this episode. His next scene was making everyone rice and getting thanks for it. He followed with a confessional which included some personal info. “I grew up watching Survivor, but you don’t realize how mentally straining it is, and my whole game, up until this point, has been very cloudy, but now everything is becoming much more clear.” His confessional flowed into a shot of the sun shining in the sky, the clouds passing by. Devon has always had these interesting shots to do with nature which fill his content with importance. But then things begin to take a bit of a turn. Devon and Ben celebrated the success of their plan. “Is it just me or do you feel really good?” Devon asked Ben. Devon said after they vote out one more person they’re “guaranteed final four” and can be open with Ben. Then Ben pointed out they already have the numbers because of Lauren’s extra vote. “Oh, that’s true,” Devon said. Was this telling us that Devon didn’t see quite as clearly as he thought? His next confessional could be a sign it’s heading that way. “Having Ben as a secret agent, I know where the idol is, I know where the advantages are, I know what every single player’s thinking,” he said. But Devon doesn’t know about Ben’s idol. That is a red flag. Devon did call Chrissy more of a challenge threat than Joe though, and given that Chrissy won immunity in this episode, that was proved correct.
But were signs of overconfidence creeping in? “For the first time in this game, I’m calling the shots, and I don’t think anyone knows that I’m as good at this game as I am,” Devon said. “So I’m sitting in the best possible seat in this game.” Quotes like this scare me. They’re the kind of things players say before heading for a downfall. It looks especially ominous because in the previous episode Devon was talking about Ryan and Chrissy being blinded by power, and now here he is saying he’s in the “best possible seat in this game.” This theme continued at the reward with Devon putting on Ben’s cowboy hat. Almost as if he’s the new “King Arthur.” Devon and Ashley then started talking about their game. “We have the exact same game, you and I. And we’re getting to the end together,” Devon told Ashley. It’s similar to what he said about Ryan back in the premiere: “Ryan and I have the same mindset, same ideas, our chemistry is perfect.” And we saw how that turned out. Also, Ashley is a player that has been described as a goat and being highlighted as unaware a lot throughout the season. Is that the person you want to compare your game to?
After the second immunity challenge, Devon again took charge of putting the plans together. Ben named Joe as the target, but Devon, much like in Episode 10, came up with the details. He planned to fool Joe and Mike into splitting the votes. Devon pitched the idea to Ashley and Lauren, using the ploy of Lauren’s extra vote. “I come up with this idea to tell ’em split the votes between Ryan and Ben, but the reality is myself, Ashley, Lauren, and Ben are going to vote Joe, and Joe will go home,” he said. That is exactly what happened. Devon told Joe and Mike what to do, and they happily went along with it. Later, Ashley went to Devon with the alternate plan of voting Ben, and the edit portrayed Devon as the ultimate decision-maker. “Ben is included in our alliance, but I realize Ben, he is a big threat,” he said in the final confessional before tribal. “I need to make big moves in this game to succeed, so I gotta keep doing what I’m doing and I gotta be ruthless, but I also have to be smart and make the right the decision.” Ultimately, Devon decided to keep Ben. Now the question is, was that the right decision? Or will it come back to bite him?
There were two sides to Devon in these episodes. I really liked what I saw in Episode 10 and the beginning of Episode 11, it was a Devon stepping up and taking charge while explaining his reasoning. But throughout Episode 11 he seemed to develop some overconfidence which could spell disaster. However, if the cockiness is setting up a downfall, I feel that Ashley would more likely be the victim than Devon. Her edit isn’t as strong as his, and she had the “it’s my game to lose” confessional. Devon has more end-game potential, not to mention his relationship with Ryan is still a big focus and could come back into play before the season is over. It will be interesting to see if Devon continues this overconfidence next episode.
Is it possible to be INV in your boot episode? JP came dangerously close. He didn’t get a single confessional in his elimination episode. He had a couple of sentences at tribal council and was mentioned by others when they were talking about the trio of “Chrissy/Ryan/JP.” That was it. I mean, this episode was set-up as the #EpicBlindside and the turning point of the season. JP was the victim of that blindside, but his story and reaction was never important. The edit didn’t care about showing his downfall; instead, the fallout of the blindside focused on Chrissy and Ryan.
It’s been a long while since someone was quite as underedited as JP. He only had five confessionals in a total of ten episodes. You have to go back to Leif in One World for an edit of similar irrelevance (Leif had four confessionals in ten episodes). Even though I’m trying to be less harsh with the INV ratings this season, there is no way I can’t slap JP with an overall INV. The edit never cared about his story or his thoughts on the game. They basically tried to pretend he didn’t exist.
What an odd way for Joe to end his season. I said the same last week with Cole, how he went from this OTT/CP mix to an UTR exit, almost like his story was already over before his torch snuffing. Something similar happened to Joe across these two episodes. I’ve talked a lot about how easily Joe could have been portrayed as an OTT villain if the editors chose to go that way, but he’s always been given a rounded, CP edit. But in his final two episodes, all the complexity fell away, and we were just left with the OTT elements.
It really seemed like the edit was foreshadowing Joe outlasting Ben. That didn’t happen, and as I mentioned in Ben’s section, it meant it was time for some reevaluation. That reevaluation applies to Joe too. If his story wasn’t leading to outlasting Ben, then what was it about? At this point, it seems like Joe’s most important narrative arc actually involved Mike. The two of them instantly clashed in the premiere, were in each other’s sights in the early game, with Joe slowly warming to Mike’s personality, and then they came together at the merge and found common ground as underdogs. It was Joe’s relationship with Mike which was his primary focus in Episode 10. His one and only confessional was about Mike’s botched idol play and Mike usurping his role as the villain. “He was the villain, which I was kind of upset because that’s my role, that’s my lane,” Joe joked. “But he definitely messed up with the idol, because no one knew he had the idol, so we could have used it down the road for a blindside for him and I to move forward in the game. Now we’re just two swing votes with no alliances, no power, and no idol.” That was pretty much the only time Joe talked game in this episode.
His other key scene, and the main reason for the OTT rating, was the Coconuts talk with Mike. It was basically the pair of them cracking jokes and acting the fools at camp. The OTT-ness is right there in the name – The Coco-Nuts! That was pretty much it for Joe in the first episode of the night, other than getting dragged into the JP blindside as a tool. There was none of the usual Joe content we’ve come to expect – explaining his moves, his aggressive gameplay. Just the comical buffoon Joe. The reason for the mixed tone is because players like Ben still talked about how sick they were of Joe, while Mike clearly looked at Joe through a positive lens. Overall the Coconuts alliance was meant to come across as silly but fun. That’s why I opted for OTTM.
Things didn’t get much better for Joe in Episode 11. While we heard from him more, everything he said was completely off-base. Joe and Mike were essentially made the butt of the joke in Episode 11. They were living in fantasy land, tricked by the Secret Spy Ben plan. Joe, arguably, got it worse than Mike. It started with Joe celebrating back at camp and arguing with Ben about gaining the upper hand. Little did he know Ben was in on the scheme. “Mike and Joe are pretty much in the dark of me working with Ashley, Devon, and Lauren, but Joe is walking around like it was his damn idea, you know, to blindside JP,” Ben said. “He did what a good little puppet would do. You know, you pull the strings, you make sure you write JP, and he did.” This was the start of Ben toying with Joe for the episode. It continued at the reward. “I’m no longer in the bottom, and I finally have a true alliance. The tables have completely turned,” Joe said, completely unaware. “Joe is still eating it up,” Devon laughed. “I’m still playing my part as being on the outs, but that stuff is kind of fun for me right now just ‘cause I’m messing with Joe and he don’t even know it. Anytime I can mess with Joe, I’ll take it,” Ben added. The edit had no worries about showing Joe completely and utterly hoodwinked. “Ben has been the leader of his pack since the beginning, and now he’s at the bottom, and he doesn’t know how to play this game without power and control,” Joe said.
The entirety of Joe’s edit in Episode 11 was making him look a fool, right up until he got voted out. Even beyond the Ben stuff, he also bought into Devon’s fake split vote plan. “Lauren has an advantage which gives her the ability to actually vote twice. So right now, I mean, I’m ecstatic. I just feel so much safer just knowing that that advantage is going to be used.” That’s why I went with OTT. I didn’t feel the tone swayed too much either way, so I kept it neutral. But there was no complexity here. Again, as I said with Cole last week, it felt like the story had moved on and Joe was just used as a side-joke in the larger narrative. But overall he finishes as CPM for the season. Despite the OTT ending, people will remember Joe as a complicated character that rubbed people the wrong way at times, but was also an aggressive player, with an engaging relationship with Mike.
Speaking of break-out episodes, Lauren had her best episode of the season this week. We’ve talked a lot about how Lauren is always part of the conversation but never the one leading the discussion, well, that changed in Episode 10. Lauren took control of the game and her narrative.
From the moment she won the reward challenge, Episode 10 became all about the Rimmer taking charge. We heard her thought process every step of the way. “Ryan’s wrong. I picked those people for strategic reasons,” she said, undermining Ryan’s belief that Lauren picked her reward participants for non-strategic reasons. “This reward would be a good opportunity to change the future of my game tremendously. They do think that they’re a strong group of seven, and it’s not a strong group of seven. It’s getting ready to blow up.” Lauren set the stage for the events to come. Just like she said, she used the opportunity to change her game, and the seven blew up. “Seven is a great number to get to, but that seven is not gonna last forever. And if we’re– and if you’re stupid enough to really think it’s gonna last, something is wrong,” she stated. “JP, Chrissy, and Ryan feel a little bit too comfortable right now. So to me, it’s the perfect time to beat them to the punch and break up the numbers before it comes breaking up on us.” Lauren received the credit for presenting the idea of a new four-piece alliance. Nobody undermined her. Everyone was on board. “Lauren’s plan to break from the seven early is an awesome idea,” Ashley said. And Devon was full of compliments for Lauren’s gameplay: “Lauren has been surprising me. She came into this game talking no strategy, and now I’m seeing this other side of her, and she’s really good. She’s like as good as me. And I’m happy she’s on my side.”
There was a moment at the reward where Lauren said: “I’m gonna keep right on hustling.” This stood out to me because Lauren has been waving the flag for the Hustler work ethic since the very first episode. While her story hasn’t been as well-crafted and complex as some others, there is this consistent through-line when it comes to her Hustler spirit. She is very straight-forward and focused on the task ahead. “This is not personal; this is business,” she said during the reward. Much like Ben, Lauren is trying to keep heart and emotion out of the game. Although, we did get a fantastic emotional scene from Lauren when she received her letter. She gave us some personal insight into her life back home and applied it to her game. “I’m a single mother. I have to fight for every dime that I’ve gotten. And it’s a really good reminder that I have to make big moves for [my daughter],” she said in a tearful confessional. “That’s the whole point of me being here is to not give up on her. I mean, I’m not here just for myself. I’m here for her and for her future. It’s not for me.” There was definite P-tone attached to this scene, and the whole reward sequence was an incredible look for Lauren.
After the first immunity challenge, Devon and Ben took over in terms of putting the plans into play. But Lauren was still very visible and offered her thought process heading into the vote. She broke down why each person was a threat. “Chrissy is just a huge thinker. You know, she is such a mastermind. JP is a huge threat because, you know, he might not be good at balancing, but he is good at everything else. Ryan is a huge threat because he has an idol. This is a great time to flush that idol and get rid of him.” Lauren never said outright which person she’d prefer to go, but the edit left the vote intentionally up in the air, no one in the alliance went on record saying who they wanted to leave. “[Chrissy, JP, and Ryan] think that they’re in charge, and I’m glad that’s the page that they’re on because I’m a page ahead of them,” Lauren said in the final confessional before tribal. “You have to think about every little scenario because once you make the play, there is no taking it back. Tribal is going to be a huge blindside.” What this showed us is that Lauren is a thinker. Unlike Ryan and Chrissy who were blind to what was going on around them and already thinking ahead, Lauren was making sure to cover every scenario, past, present, and future. And she succeeded.
Lauren’s edit quietened down somewhat in Episode 11, but as always, we got to hear her thoughts on the game. “JP going home worked out as planned. And it was perfect timing because it gave us the upper hand, and it just reversed the roles,” she said after tribal. “Chrissy, JP, and Ryan felt like they were on the top, and now Ryan and Chrissy are sitting on the bottom, and they know it.” It was a very matter of fact statement, but an accurate one. As Devon and Ben took on starring roles in the episode, we didn’t really hear from Lauren again until Chrissy approached her to try and talk strategy. Lauren listened but let us know that she wasn’t taking anything to heart. “I mean, I’ll listen to you all day long, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to change my mind. If you wanted to work with me then you would have talked to me several weeks ago and not today,” she said. “I’ve jumped ship once; I’m not going to jump ship again. So I’m staying in the same boat.” The last part was interesting because despite promising not to jump ship again, Lauren suggested taking out Ben later in the episode. Does that not count as jumping ship? I mean, it ultimately didn’t happen, so perhaps we can’t hold that against her yet. But it reminded me of the merge episode when Lauren said she was sticking with the Healers and then voted against them.
Lauren was left in a similar spot to Devon at the end of this episode. For both of them, the topic was timing and making the right decision. That decision revolves around whether or not to vote out Ben. “Timing is everything in this game,” Lauren said. “And it could be the time to vote Ben out, because he has made big decisions, and has been the king in his roundtable and all that stuff.” They didn’t go through with it this time, but is it setting up a Ben blindside in the near future? Or is it foreshadowing that they missed their shot and the decision to leave Ben around will come back to haunt them? It’s something worth thinking about, but right now, Lauren is looking very good. Her story is coming into the limelight, she has a consistent theme of “hustling,” and a decent amount of personal content. I could definitely see Lauren in the finale episode, and a win is not out of the question, even if she is possibly behind Devon and Ben at this point.
Last week confirmed Mike‘s role in the story as the underdog. Things pretty much stayed on track throughout these two episodes. Mike is out of the loop and out of allies. But even though Mike was the butt of the joke, unlike Joe, Mike also got to offer his thoughts and explain himself. Obviously, the reason for that is because Mike was outlasting Joe and therefore had more importance to the continuing narrative.
In Episode 10, the other players were confused about Mike’s idol play at the previous tribal council. Joe told him he wasted it. But the edit made sure to give Mike the time to explain his thinking behind the move. “I had to play my idol for two reasons. One, because I’m not going to be that idiot that goes home with an idol in his pocket,” he said. “But I also knew that there was a chance that they might write Joe instead of me, and I need him with me. So I had to make sure that they were going to write my name. And now my vote comes along with another vote, so we’re a bloc of two, versus Cole staying here, I’m still just a bloc of one.” It was an in-depth explanation of a move which seemed rather nonsensical last week. He then got even further follow-up about his current position in the game. “It appears that I might have put a target on my back… but the reality is I already had a target on my back,” he said. “I needed to start playing my game, and my game is I’m going to convince you seven why you need to crack. Everybody thinks I’m that crazy doctor, but I’m here to win this game. I’m not here to make it to nine or to eight or to seven. The seven have to break up at some point, and now is going to be the time to act. And so, yes, it might appear that I’m on the bottom right now, but stay tuned. I think it’s about to get really good.” Notice the winner quote mixed in there amongst his game explanation. And although Mike didn’t convince the seven to break, he was right that the game was about “to get really good.”
All of the above showed us that the edit still cares about Mike as a character. It would have been easy to paint him as the easily duped fool, much like they did with Joe. But instead, Mike got to offer his insights. He even explained the Coconuts antics within a game context: “So, like, it’s a day for Joe and I to stir things up, and bust some more jokes. We’re like Siskel & Ebert.” It’s why I didn’t rate Mike OTT with Joe. It felt like the edit was still portraying Mike as a complex character and someone who has a role to play in the story ahead. But, saying that, he still was made to look a fool as the episode went on, and especially as things picked up in Episode 11. Mike was brought into Devon’s plan as a number. Mike assumed he’d found a new alliance for himself: “Oh, my gosh, it’s happening. The seven have split, as I knew they would. All of a sudden, the court jester has become Merlin, and I’m gonna make them disappear one by one.” That could have been a solid quote leading to a Mike uprising, but the edit repeatedly told us that Mike was not in control, he had no decision whatsoever in who went home.
In Episode 11, it was as if Mike was narrating a completely different season. “When you look at where I was three tribals ago from where I am today, I went from the bottom to the top,” he said. “And now I have a nice alliance of five. We have a plan to work together, and I’m sticking to that plan.” But as viewers, we knew Mike wasn’t on the top, and we knew that he wasn’t really part of the alliance. He was merely a cog in the machine. Maybe Mike should be OTT like Joe for all of this, but I leaned MOR because of his scene with Ryan at camp. Ryan approached Mike with the offer to work together, but Mike shot him down, and he explained why. “I went up to Ryan every day for at least a week and said, “Let’s work together,” and he said, “No.” He said to me right before tribal council he wasn’t voting for me, and then he voted for me, and he has the nerve to come up to me the next day and say, “You know Mike, I’ve always wanted to work with you.” Like, well, isn’t it just a buck [day?] late and a dollar short?” Even though Mike might have been off-base with everything else in this episode, his read of the Ryan situation was valid. He also had the scene where he took care of Chrissy when she was having her “bad day,” bringing her rice in the shelter. It showed Mike as someone with compassion and it could also set up a working relationship between Mike and Chrissy down the line.
The most damaging part of Mike’s edit in these two episodes was his final confessional. “I’m excited for Ben to go home because Ben is the biggest threat out here at this point. He will do anything to win this game,” he said. “And Ben has betrayed me multiple times. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I’m not going to let Ben fool me again.” And then what happened? Ben fooled Mike again, and Mike ended up on the wrong side of the vote. It looks even worse because at tribal Mike was talking about how “his” alliance share info equally and would do things the right way, unlike the alliance of seven. But Mike didn’t know all the info and then his closest ally Joe was voted out. It just makes Mike look wrong and easily duped. I think that hurts his winner chances. But I don’t think it kills his importance to the narrative. He is still very much an underdog with a relatively strong edit and a decent amount of personal content. I expect more antics from Mike to come.
I said last week that the edit was slowly starting to undermine Ryan more and more. In these two episodes, the edit went all-out in full-on burial mode. Ryan, along with Chrissy, was made to look overconfident, arrogant, and blinded by power. He was unaware of the game going on around him.
Almost as soon as Ryan appeared in Episode 10, he was being undermined. He told Probst that he trusted Lauren and that her reward picks were not strategic based. Immediately, Lauren had a confessional straight up saying “Ryan’s wrong” and that she picked for “strategic reasons.” Back at camp, the edit continued to portray Ryan as unaware. “It’s just been so beneficial to have people like Mike and Joe on the outside who nobody wants to work with, so it’s making it a lot easier to get to that seven than it normally should be in a season of Survivor.” He believed the game was “easy” and that nobody would want to work with Mike and Joe – this, of course, foreshadowed the next episode when Ryan had to go begging Mike to work with him.
Ryan’s next confessional, however, was the real stand-out. “We’re still going to get out Mike and Joe, but me and Chrissy are playing a bit more strategic game than everybody else. We’re looking down the road, and our focus at this point is on Ben as that first vote going into the seven,” he said. “And it’s so funny; Ben’s the one that’s saying, “Let’s stick with the seven. Stick with the seven.” Yeah, we’re sticking with it, but you’re going to be number seven.” Ryan came across cocky and way too comfortable. He told Chrissy they were going to make it to the seven “100%.” The very next scene showed the seven breaking apart, and Ben was very much not the one thinking “stick to the seven,” that was Ryan himself. The theme of overconfidence was hammered home when Devon said that Ryan and Chrissy were blinded by power. It was definitely a negative look for Ryan, and I don’t think his strategy talk was fleshed out enough to warrant CP in Episode 10.
Things looked a little better for Ryan in Episode 11, but there was still a slight N-tone (mainly from Mike) lingering in the air. After tribal council, Ryan did manage to compose himself. He explained his strategy of dealing with the blindside. “So I tried to be very gracious. I just said, “Good move, everybody. Well played,” even though I’m infuriated,” he explained. “I thought I had it made. It’s a very new feeling for me being on the bottom. And I really need to think how I’m going to recover from this.” It stood in stark contrast to Chrissy who reacted more openly hurt. Then, we saw Ryan approach Devon to try and patch up their relationship. “I never thought I would have to repair my trust with Devon,” he said. “Devon and I have been together since Day 1. I’ve given him every single ounce of information that I’ve had in this game, and he blindsided me. He could have sent me home.” It reminded us that Ryan had underestimated Devon throughout the season, but it also highlighted the importance of this relationship. The fact the edit spent time showing the two talk it out emphasized their bond. Both Ryan and Devon are still in the game, so there is a chance for the pair to regroup and cause the “chaos” they promised.
The other scene of importance for Ryan in Episode 11 was his talk with Mike. I’ve mentioned it before, but there has been a pattern to Ryan, and Chrissy, of not thinking about people outside of their immediate alliance. Despite complimenting his own social game, Ryan has continued to lack self-awareness when it comes to how others perceive him. That was evident in his chat with Mike, where he tried to build a working relationship. As already discussed in Mike’s section, Ryan had the chance to work with Mike before and never cared. Why would Mike care about Ryan now the shoe was on the other foot? But still, Ryan got to explain his strategic intentions, even if he was unaware socially. “We have both been on the bottom, I think it would endear us to each other, and just maybe I could swing him over and have the numbers back on our side.” Ryan ultimately failed in swinging Mike over.
Where does Ryan go from here? Well, despite getting a taste of his own medicine, by the end of Episode 11 he was still shown to be condescending. “How did we get tricked by two 25-year-old surfers?” Ryan asked. Once again, it played right into his running theme of underestimating the competition. He then wasted his idol at tribal council, which Ben previously told us he was going to get him to flush. Ryan was outplayed in both episodes, and the edit had no desire to protect him from the backlash. I think it would be a tough sell for Ryan to win based on his edit, but he still has story potential. His relationship with Devon, which may seem dead on the surface, is very much alive based on the time dedicated to it in these episodes. That could come back into play before the end.