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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Under The Radar
Ryan went from being severely undermined last week, to almost protected in Episode 12. It’s his first UTR rating of the season. I considered MOR, but Ryan didn’t expand on any of his thoughts in this episode, he just stated the obvious. He had just two confessionals, and we barely saw him in camp scenes. The episode overall was very middle-of-the-road in terms of confessionals and characters talking about strategy. Only Ben and Chrissy felt like true CP. That probably speaks to where we are in the season, with most people’s narratives now cemented, there is no real need to go over the same points again and again.
To open the episode, Ryan admitted to being “duped” and for the first time showed some humility. “I was frickin’ hoodwinked. I was just duped. Apparently, Ben was with Devon, Lauren, and Ashley. I had no idea, and I played my idol. I didn’t have to. They flushed that,” he said. “I’m in an awful spot right now. I have no allies except Chrissy, who has no power. Um, but other than that, it went really well.” Like I said above, it was stating the obvious, no sense of what his plans were moving forward. But it was good for Ryan to acknowledge his failure. Also, much like last week, he disappeared from the post-tribal confrontation, unlike Chrissy for example, who bickered with Ben at the shelter.
Ryan had his moment with his dad, but as I’ve said in the past, I try not to assign tone based on the family visit. Everyone has a tearful/heartwarming moment at the family visit, so unless it’s completely OTT and given extra-focus, I don’t count it as editorial manipulation. That was all we really saw from Ryan until after the immunity challenge when Ben approached him about voting out Lauren. “I was shocked! Ben wants to vote out Lauren. Now he was very vague, but that’s all I needed to hear because as long as the target is not on me, I’m down,” he said. “The problem is, for this to work, we need Chrissy, who hates Ben.” Again, it was stating the obvious. He said they needed Chrissy for it to work, but we didn’t hear how Ryan planned to get Chrissy on board, nor did we see him attempting to do such a thing. It was all through Ben’s perspective, and to a lesser degree, Mike’s.
The question to ask ourselves is, was the edit protecting Ryan from the backlash? Or was he simply not relevant in this particular episode which revolved primarily around Ben, Chrissy, and Lauren? He did tell Mike at tribal council that they needed to vote for Lauren. While Ryan didn’t follow through with that, Lauren did end up going home, and Ryan patted Ben on his back for correctly playing the idol. That suggests that Ryan could still have an in with Ben moving forward. Heading into the penultimate episode, I think this UTR rating probably means Ryan is safe and will make it to the finale episode. He’s had his comeuppance and acknowledged it, so he doesn’t seem primed for an impending downfall. I don’t think his edit points to victory, but I could certainly see him battling it out in the finale episode.
Middle of the Road
Lauren‘s elimination is a perfect lesson in Edgic. Her improved edit over the past few weeks had us thinking she was back in contention and one of the most likely to make the finale episode. But we should always remember that the pre-merge is most important. Everything we need to know is in the pre-merge edit. Whatever comes after is either confirmation or distraction. Despite having a confessional in every episode, Lauren’s pre-merge edit was nothing to write home about. She didn’t really have a clear narrative other than representing the Hustler worth ethic. Her most memorable story was her beef with Patrick. Then on top of that, in the very first merge episode, she told us she was sticking with the Healers, only to vote against them and never explain why. We should have always known Lauren’s chances were doomed.
But that is what makes Edgic fun, right? The edit can take us on wild detours and it’s easy to get caught up in the scenery. Lauren looked to be on track to the finale, but she hit a massive speed bump and ended up crashing off course. But the set-up was there if we’d paid more attention. As I said last week in regards to Lauren and Devon: “They didn’t go through with [voting out Ben] 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?” The decision came back to haunt Lauren sooner than I thought, but that’s what happened.
Despite her historic exit, Lauren’s final episode was MOR. Like most of the others in this episode, she never got too in-depth with her strategy talk. Her first confessional of the episode was strictly about Ben and how he was stooping to a personal level by making a fake idol to trick Chrissy. “That’s just because he has a personal thing against Chrissy, and that’s my problem with Ben. He’s taking all these factors to the personal level,” she said. This quote could have two purposes. Firstly, it was foreshadowing the personal battle between Lauren and Ben later in the episode. Secondly, it could be foreshadowing Final Tribal Council should Ben make it there. Perhaps Ben taking the game to a “personal level” will be held against him in the end. Outside of the Ben talk, two of Lauren’s other confessionals were about explaining the idol and how to find it, and then stating very matter of factly, “It’s either Mike, Chrissy, or Ryan going home.”
We did see Lauren around the well with Ashley and Devon discussing the vote. But it was mainly Devon and Ashley doing the talking. All Lauren said was “ASAP” when Devon said, “I agree with [Ashley] that Ben should go.” This was the conversation that Ben overheard and caused him to turn against the alliance, and Lauren. When Lauren got wind of Ben’s plan, she said: “I just heard that Ben is trying to blindside me. I’m like, ‘What the hell is going on?!’ So you know, I still have that extra vote, but first I want to see if I can get the numbers back on my side.” Again, nothing too in-depth. We never saw her making a counter-argument or trying to gather numbers. All the edit showed us was her giving Mike part of her idol with no real reasoning. In fact, Mike was the one that got to explain the move, not Lauren. “Lauren gave me a piece of the idol to say, ‘Look, I trust you.'” But he went on to call it one of the “stupidest moves ever in Survivor history.”
Lauren’s game quite literally went up in flames at tribal council. Ben’s sole vote was enough to send her packing. While it was a shock in the moment, we really should have seen it coming. There was a lack of care to Lauren’s edit overall and no concise storyline. She had a confessional in every episode, but she was mostly in the background pre-merge and only really came to the forefront in recent weeks. A classic Edgic distraction. However, saying that, I would still rate Lauren CP overall for the season. Her recent edit did start to change opinions of her and her game. She had a fair amount of personal content along the way too. Lauren will undoubtedly be one of the characters that viewers remember from this season, and for that, I think CP makes sense.
I teetered between MOR and CP for Ashley this week. She was looking ahead to the end of the game and how she would possibly get there. But it felt like she was covering the same ground as last week and didn’t really get to expand on it. It seemed like leveling it out to a MOR was appropriate given that everyone else other than Ben and Chrissy was MOR (or UTR in Ryan’s case) in this episode.
Ashley’s dilemma, much like last week, was about Ben. Does she take him out now or later? Chrissy brought her on the reward specifically for this reason. She saw Ashley as the most likely to break from the alliance and vote out Ben. “Of course Chrissy is going to say anything she can to get another number on her side, but it is interesting because she might be right,” Ashley said. “Both alliances know that Ben’s a huge threat at the end, so do I just go ahead and initiate that right now to be able to say I made a big move? That’s the question.” Indeed, that was the question, and the main driving force of Ashley’s edit. “Having the Immunity Necklace at tribal is gonna feel amazing tonight,” she said later in the episode. “I see myself in a great position. I have an alliance that I can trust, and we have the numbers, but I realized I may not have that many big moves on my résumé, and for me to win this game, I got to get rid of the stronger players.” Even though Ben did get the majority of votes, his idol saved him, and once again, Ashley failed to get her way. As I said last week, Ashley has a consistent story of trying to make a move but failing.
The other critical moment for Ashley in Episode 12 was at the Immunity Challenge. Devon stepped down in exchange for a shoulder massage. Probst called it out as a bold statement. Devon confirmed that it’s known across the whole tribe that he and Ashley are strong allies. Ben pointed out how people get “comfortable in their alliances.” That has been another consistent theme throughout this season. People think they are in a comfortable position in their alliance and when that happens, they get blindsided. It happened to Patrick way back on the Healers tribe, it happened to Ali, it happened to Jessica, and most recently Ryan and Chrissy suffered the consequences of getting too comfortable. This could spell a downfall for Ashley and/or Devon. Especially with this moment reverberating around the tribe. Ben and Mike talked about how Ash & Devon were close, and it became a topic of conversation again at tribal council.
If this theme of “getting too comfortable” holds true, along with Ashley failing to make a move, then I could see her gone soon, perhaps even in the upcoming episode. Devon has the better edit out of the pair, so I feel that Ashley would take the hit if the tables turn against them.
Devon‘s edit was a bit more subdued this episode after his big CP break out last week. But it covered similar territory, just on a smaller scale. There were still some signs of overconfidence that could be setting up some sort of downfall.
Outside of the family visit, Devon’s first real content of the episode was reacting to Ben’s fake idol. “Ben made his own idol, and it looks really legit. Turns out Ben’s pretty crafty. I’m impressed, Ben,” Devon said. That is now three weeks in a row where Devon has had this kind of confessional. A moment of realization that others are playing the game around him. First, it was his reaction upon finding out that Ryan had been lying to him. “This game just got real complicated,” he said. “Ryan’s been telling me that I’m the only one that knows about this idol, yet… he’s going around to other people telling them the exact same thing.” Then last week he was surprised to learn how hard Lauren was playing. “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,” he said in astonishment. Now, he is seemingly surprised that Ben is “pretty crafty,” when it’s been evident for a while now how sneaky Ben can be. Is this a consistent theme we should be picking up on? That Devon is perhaps a little unaware of what else is going on around him?
We also need to talk about that quote he made about Lauren last week. He said, “She’s like as good as me.” That line was underscored with a *clang* sound which suggested that we should pay attention to it. Of course, Lauren ended up going home this week and gave away her idol in what was referred to as one of the “stupidest moves in Survivor history.” Comparing your game to a person voted out due to a spectacularly dumb move isn’t the greatest look. However, the one saving grace for Devon here is that this didn’t happen within the same episode. If Devon had made this quote in the same episode Lauren was voted out, that would be a near death-knell for his edit. But the quote was in Episode 10, and this was Episode 12, the time in between might just save him. But it is still worth noting, especially after he previously compared his game to Ashley’s, who was called a “goat,” and said that he and Ryan are exactly the “same,” and Ryan has been duped twice in a row.
Later in the episode, Devon discussed the vote with Ashley and Lauren. His relationship with Ashley has taken on more importance over the past couple of weeks. For the second week in a row, Ashley has pushed to vote out Ben. But both times Devon showed some reluctance. “Ashley still wants to vote out Ben,” he said. “She sees him being the biggest threat in this game, but I see Chrissy being a threat too, due to challenge capabilities and being someone who the jury might want to see win the million dollars in the end.” At the well, it seemed like Devon got his way in wanting to vote Chrissy first, but because Ben overheard the conversation and ended up targetting Lauren, it caused Devon to change tact, and at tribal council, he was heavily pushing for Ben to go. Despite getting the votes, Ben survived. It comes back to what I said about Lauren, they both had the chance to take out Ben last week and didn’t take it, and now it has come back to haunt them. Just like with Ashley, there is this theme of being too comfortable, and Devon being so bold as to step down from the challenge and openly state his allegiance to Ashley could be a sign of a downfall.
Where does Devon go from here? Even though a downfall is possible, I still think Ashley is more likely to take the brunt of that than Devon. There is more to Devon’s edit than Ashley’s. There is still unfinished business with Ryan, and he has his targets set on Chrissy and Ben. So while I think there are some red flags in Devon’s edit, he still has story-potential and remains a top contender, simply because he has fewer flaws overall than most of the others remaining.
This is the sentence I ended Mike‘s section with last week: “I expect more antics from Mike to come.” Little did I know his antics would be as extreme as throwing an idol into the fire at tribal council! But honestly, I think that is what we should expect from Mike at this point. He will continue to do things to liven up the game, whether they make sense or not.
Mike is very much still the underdog. The player who tries his best but is always tricked and outplayed. He admitted as much at the start of Episode 12. “Again I got blindsided. I just believe people when they tell me something, and each and every time I get screwed,” he said. But as always, Mike keeps a positive outlook and never gives up. “I’m gonna get through this; I just have to figure out how.” That has been consistent from the very start of the season. The thing is, despite Mike surviving, it’s rarely because of something he did, and much like Ashley, he never gets his desired result. In this episode, he was once again dragged into Ben’s plan. “I thought I was screwed, but Lauren has all these advantages, so Ben wants to get rid of her,” he said. “And all of a sudden, I feel like I’m back on top. So never underestimate Dr. Mike.” It’s funny because Mike keeps talking about how he won’t be fooled by Ben again, and then here he was willing to work with Ben for the next vote. Also, “never underestimate Dr. Mike” has essentially become his tag-line for the season. In a topsy-turvy world, that could be a winning narrative, but the edit has undermined Mike so much I find it unlikely.
After the Lauren plan started to fall apart, we got to hear Mike talking about an alternative plan. “Chrissy won’t commit to taking out Lauren. This is vengeance more than anything else. She’s playing emotionally at this point, and I don’t know what’s going to happen tonight,” he said. “So it’s Survivor rule number two, ‘Have a Plan B.’ That is when we saw Mike telling Ashley and Devon about Ben’s plan to blindside Lauren. I don’t think anything we saw here was enough to warrant CP. Mike told the other alliance about Ben’s plan, but we didn’t hear him suggesting what should happen instead. The last we heard from him before tribal was after Lauren gave him part of her idol. “Lauren gave me a piece of the idol to say, Look, I trust you.’ And it falls into those, like, stupidest moves ever in Survivor history,” he said. “And the only question is, ‘Do the Survivor gods make her pay for it or not?'” Mike then played the role of “Survivor god” at tribal when he threw the idol into the fire. Mike did get to somewhat explain his reasoning for burning the idol – that it is a “blessing and a curse” – but I think this was sold more as a “crazy doctor Mike” moment than a masterclass strategic move.
Ultimately, Mike decided to vote for Ben, and wouldn’t switch to Lauren despite the insistence of Chrissy and Ryan. But, again, Ben got the last laugh by playing his idol and foiling the plan. Mike and Ben’s games are interconnected at this point. It’s not just that Mike is a character that is continuously tricked and outplayed, but he’s continuously tricked and outplayed by Ben specifically. Every time Mike says he won’t be fooled by the ex-Marine again, it ends up happening. I think the big question for Mike’s edit now is, will he ever get one over on Ben? Or will he continue to get outplayed right to the very end? Right now Ben is in the driver’s seat Edgically speaking, but crazier things have happened, and Mike is one of the craziest components left in the game.
Although Lauren ended up having her torch snuffed, this episode was all about Chrissy and Ben. Their relationship has taken a backseat the past couple of weeks, but it was back in full force here. It is a tumultuous relationship, and this episode showed all sides of it. It started with a tense confrontation and ended with Chrissy arguing for Ben to stay over Lauren.
Much like last week, Chrissy felt personally slighted by the previous blindside. She took her anger out on Ben, who she called a “jerk.” It was a bad look for the both of them and is one of the main reasons they both received N-tone for the episode. “I get the fact that this is a game, but I felt very close to Ben, and his response was inhuman,” Chrissy said. “And he wasn’t even a friend about it. He was just kind of being a jerk.” It echoed her statements from last week when she said, “That is the part that’s frustrating to me… but clearly they’re not friends.” It’s interesting how Chrissy has developed from a character early on that was focused on numbers and data, to a character that is now very emotionally invested and taking things personally. This idea of taking things too personally comes up again later in the episode.
But despite her frustrations, Chrissy was still looking ahead. Similar to Episode 11, where she won immunity, she showed that she wasn’t giving up. “It looks like my days are numbered, but I’m not going to roll over and die. I have to do everything I can to make it to the end for my family. And if I get a chance to get back at Ben, I’m going to take it.” That last line came immediately into play when Chrissy won the family reward and didn’t pick Ben. “Poor Ben picked the wrong time to pick a fight with me because he did not get to see his sweet Kelly,” she said. “And now I’m going to make sure that he regrets that he ever crossed me.” It was pure vengeance speaking, again, a theme that runs through the episode from both Chrissy and Ben. Despite the revenge talk though, Chrissy did get to explain her strategy. “The reason that I picked Ashley to come on the reward with us was because I felt like Ashley would be the easiest of the four to break” she explained. “It’s a long shot, but if I can bring just one person over to our side, then we have the majority in numbers and can control the next vote.” Chrissy had content like this throughout the episode which is why I rated her CP over MOR.
The theme of vengeance and personal conflict came back into play after the immunity challenge. After Ben tried to switch the vote to Lauren, he needed Chrissy’s vote to do it. But Chrissy was reluctant to trust Ben. “I was trying to talk to Chrissy, and she just blew me off. She’s holding a grudge in this game, and taking it too personal,” Ben said. If this was coming from Ben alone, we could perhaps overlook the statement. But Mike also said the same thing: “Chrissy won’t commit to taking out Lauren. This is vengeance more than anything else. She’s playing emotionally at this point…” The theme of heart/emotion versus tactical gameplay has been a running theme and could be the deciding factor in who wins this season. Right now, the other players are presenting emotional gameplay as a negative. But the thing is, Chrissy still got to explain herself, and she DID consider saving Ben. “I was ready to go to tribal and vote for Ben, but, oh, my God, if by voting out Lauren, that will keep me safe, I have to consider it,” she said. And she also explained her reluctance: “The problem is, for six days Ben has lied to me and used me, so how am I supposed to trust him knowing that he might just come back to camp and say, ‘Ha, Ha, I duped you again.'” Unlike Mike, who foolishly jumps right back on board with Ben time and time again, Chrissy shows appropriate caution.
By the end of the episode, Chrissy was actually supporting Ben at tribal and pushing for Lauren to leave. That showed us that Chrissy could, in fact, put personal beef aside. However, with Mike being unwilling to budge, Chrissy ended up voting Ben anyway. Although we did see Chrissy smiling when Ben played the idol. It was an interesting turn of events and put the spotlight right back on the Chrissy and Ben relationship. It was a bond formed in Episode 2, and at the time Chrissy said they could run it all the way to the end. It has taken twists and turns since then, but both are still alive in the game, and so that story option is always open for both of them.
Where does Chrissy go now? I still see Chrissy as one of the season’s most significant characters and that should carry her into the finale episode. She could even make the Final Tribal Council (she mentioned “making it to the end for her family” in this episode). One other thing worth pointing out from this episode is something Devon said. “I see Chrissy being a threat too, due to challenge capabilities and being someone who the jury might want to see win the million dollars in the end.” He placed Chrissy in the context of Final Tribal Council. That could be foreshadowing of her making the Final 3, and maybe even winning some more challenges along the way to help her get there. The question is whether the jury would “want to see her win the million dollars.”
I said last week that “Ben always seems to get himself out of a tough situation,” and boy did that happen in Episode 12. Every time it seems like the odds are against Ben, he finds a way to survive, the edit always presents him as one step ahead. Where other players are blinded by power or too comfortable or easily duped, Ben is consistently shown to be considering all options and making the correct move for himself.
As I said in Chrissy’s section, this episode was all about Ben and Chrissy’s relationship. Ben was sarcastic when Chrissy asked what happened at tribal council. He said that Chrissy always makes people out to be the “bad man,” and she replied that he’s a “jerk.” Ben then argued that Chrissy isn’t going to be able to “mother” him. It was a tense argument that gave both N-tone. Chrissy even referred to Ben as “inhuman.” A big theme of the episode was personal vendettas and playing emotionally. Ben has presented himself as a player who thinks tactically rather than with his heart. He sees the game as a mission that must be completed. But there were parts of this episode that perhaps showed Ben taking the game to a personal level too.
While Chrissy was at the family reward, Ben was back at camp making a fake idol. He explained his strategy behind this. “Traditionally, once an idol is played, one comes back into the game,” he said. “So I decided to make a fake idol, and I’m going to plant that somewhere while I’m looking for the real idol. If Chrissy, Mike or Ryan find this fake idol, they’ll stop looking, and that will give us more time to look for the real one.” That is some nice CP strategy talk, but Lauren had a different perspective on Ben’s fake idol plan. “Ben’s got this fake idol, but what is it going to do? Who is it going to benefit? He just wants Chrissy to walk up to Jeff, give that fake idol to him, and watch Jeff throw it in the fire and just embarrass herself,” Lauren said. And, just to show that Lauren wasn’t off in her read, we heard Ben say, “I hope Chrissy finds that damn fake idol.” As Lauren said: “That’s just because he has a personal thing against Chrissy, and that’s my problem with Ben. He’s taking all these factors to the personal level.” Ben has often talked about not taking things personally, but is there some hypocrisy here? Was he not personally offended by Cole’s eating habits? Was he not personally offended by Joe’s lie about the Marines? And now this personal move against Chrissy? It’s worth highlighting because this could factor into his overall narrative.
The thing is, Ben always gets to explain himself, and ultimately shows that he can put aside personal differences when it comes to the vote. Later in the episode, he suddenly dropped his beef with Chrissy and hoped to work with her again. He overheard a conversation between Ashley, Devon, and Lauren and correctly called that his name came up. “I heard my name, and then they seen me coming and they stopped talking. The whole thing was really suspicious,” he said. “Something is definitely going on around here. They’re saying it’s Chrissy, but I feel like there is a chance that it’s going to be me. So I got to do whatever I have to do to keep myself in this game.” The edit gave Ben valid justification for flipping on his alliance. We then saw him approach Mike, Ryan, and Chrissy with a plan to blindside Lauren. Mike and Ryan were receptive, Chrissy less so. “I was trying to talk to Chrissy, and she just blew me off. She’s holding a grudge in this game, and taking it too personal,” he said. But, again, he put that aside and persisted. “Half of me was like, ‘“Screw it, I have an idol.’ On the other hand, I’d rather save it for the five, and to do that, I’m gonna need Chrissy.” Ben then approached Chrissy in private and the two had a more civil conversation, and this time Chrissy was considering voting with him.
At tribal council, Ben got the last laugh. He almost succeeded in winning Chrissy back over, after all, she did push to keep him and only changed when Mike refused to go along with it. He also got to acknowledge the fake idol plan and said he “took it back because I didn’t want it to be a personal attack against Chrissy.” Then he survived the unanimous vote by playing his idol – the only kept secret in the game. Chrissy was shown smiling when Ben played his idol, which I think confirms that she wanted to keep him over Lauren. Secrets have been another running theme throughout the season. Probst himself hammered that home at the end of tribal: “The one thing that had the most power was the only secret.” That made Ben look smarter than everyone else. On top of that, the camera focused on the jury, with Joe applauding Ben’s move and saying, “That’s what happens when you keep Ben around.” All of this made Ben look like a top contender and the man to beat.
So what is Ben’s story heading into the penultimate episode? He is seemingly now public enemy number one. But there were signs here that Chrissy and Ryan are still open to working with him. Ben avoided the downfall edit and is now in a position where he knows he is a target and must do what he can to survive. That to me sounds like he will make the finale. Can he win? I think it’s possible and I definitely think the edit wants us to believe Ben is unbeatable. But perhaps the stuff about personal vendettas will come back to bite him. Maybe his constant talk of not playing the game emotionally will hurt him in the end if others believe he didn’t take into account how his actions emotionally affected his fellow players. Even though Ben seems unbeatable in the end, I think there is enough negativity in his edit for him to lose. But if I were a betting man, at this point, I would definitely have my money split between Ben or Devon.
That is it for this week’s Edgic. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.