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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It’s time to wrap up Edgic for another season, and as we look back over the chart, I think it shows us that this season was somewhat predictable in terms of narrative. The three biggest characters made it all the way to the end. Ben, Chrissy, and Ryan all had substantial screentime, complexity, and the clearest narrative arcs. The relationship between Ben and Chrissy was given significant focus throughout the game. Ryan’s edit diminished at the merge, but that fits for a third-place runner-up. It’s rare, especially these days, that the three biggest edits make the end, but that is exactly what happened here.
Last week I talked about how the story seemed to be heading for a Ben versus Devon showdown, and while I was wrong about that taking place at the Final Tribal Council, the two did face off in a fire-making challenge at the Final 4. The story beats we’ve highlighted over the past few weeks still make sense in leading to this narrative conclusion. I said that “if Ben wins, it will be the story of how Devon failed to stop Ben from making it to the end.” Devon literally failed to stop Ben by losing to him in the fire-making challenge.
in order of elimination
I think Mike‘s character was summed up perfectly in the recap to this episode when Jeff Probst said: “Mike, he’s the only Healer left in the game, and despite being excluded from nearly every vote, this doctor has found a way to stay alive. With the end in sight, can Mike rise to the occasion?” It described Mike’s underdog position, how out of the loop he has been, and ended with a penis joke. That is Mike’s edit in a nutshell, right? (pun intended). He was the goofy sex doctor who cracked jokes and made nonsensical moves and stayed alive despite never getting off the bottom.
Mike didn’t have a big role to play in this season finale. He was mainly used to talk about Ben. “Ben is like the bad guy in any horror movie. You just keep trying to kill him, and he keeps coming back to life,” Mike said. “Ben needs to leave this game; he’s very dangerous. You know, I don’t need the million dollars, I’m playing to win Survivor because I am going to be the ultimate Survivor. Ben’s playing because he feels this need to win this money for his family… which makes him ferocious.” If Mike’s winner chances weren’t already dead in the water, him declaring that he didn’t need the money certainly didn’t help. The rest was all commentary about Ben’s game and basically set up the narrative of the episode, Ben’s ferocious battle to victory.
For one final time, Mike was outsmarted by Ben, when Ben didn’t fall for the fake idol plan and used his real idol to save himself. As I’ve said over the past couple of weeks, the edit has not shied away from showing Mike to be wrong, wrong, wrong, especially in comparison to Ben. Even though Mike had this theme of the underestimated underdog to his edit, there were too many incorrect calls and lack of explanations to take him seriously as a winner contender. Ben was the real underdog story heading into the finale, and Mike was merely a passenger on that journey.
Overall, I rate Mike as MOR for the season. He had his share of CP ratings peppered throughout the season but it never really felt like we got a whole lot of depth from Mike. We knew he was a sex doctor and a family man, but his personal info was often used for jokes, rather than developing a nuanced narrative. There were elements of OTT to his edit too, especially with his theatrical tribal council performances and relationship with Joe. But MOR seems right. He was a character that was present but never truly all there in a game sense. He was just happy to be living his dream.
I will admit that I didn’t expect Devon to be the fourth place “robbed goddess” edit of the season, but that is kind of what we got, to an extent. It’s become a pattern in recent years for the fourth place finisher to receive a decent chunk of screentime and/or strategic credit for a number of moves. If we take a look at some of the recent fourth place castaways, we have Tai Trang, David Wright, Cydney Gillon, and Kelley Wentworth. All of these characters were present in the season narrative and received a fair amount of strategic credit. It seems Devon’s edit was following this pattern.
Last week I said that the edit went out of its way to give Devon credit for the Secret Spy Ben plan and the strategy behind the Joe blindside. I believed the reason for that was because Devon would end up explaining his role in those moves at the FTC. That’s not what happened, but it still seems like the edit wanted us to see Devon as a player with his pulse on the game. Probst pretty much spelled it out in the finale recap: “Devon, true to his nature, he has hustled his way through the game, controlling votes and orchestrating blindsides. But with only five players left, will that grit be enough to get him to the end?” We were undoubtedly supposed to perceive Devon as a strategist and a threat to Ben’s game heading into the finale.
Where things went wrong for Devon, and what should have been the main sign that he wasn’t going to win, was the cockiness that emerged later in the season. Ever since the JP blindside, the edit stopped portraying Devon as this “beautiful, bright light” and showed him becoming overconfident with his position in the game. When he stepped down from an immunity challenge for a shoulder massage. When he told Ben he should be thankful for still being in the game. When he told Ben he was going to stop him from winning immunity. Not only were these signs of cockiness but the edit also undermined Devon. In the episode where Devon stepped down from the challenge, his ally Lauren was blindsided. When he told Ben to be thankful, he was again blindsided when Ben pulled out another idol. When he told Ben he’d beat him for immunity, Devon was highlighted as being last in the challenge. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to these moments.
That cockiness was still present at the finale. Right from his very first confessional in the recap-intro: “I’m sort of seeing my destiny unfold. This whole game, I’ve been in a power seat. I’ve been making decisions. I’ve manipulated people, but I ain’t backing down. I’m going for the million.” But Devon wasn’t in the power seat because he continued to fail at what he said he was going to do – stop Ben. He wasn’t able to stop Ben from finding another idol, and he couldn’t stop Ben in the fire-making challenge. In a neat callback to the Devon drone shot from the merge episode, we had another birdseye view of Devon as he was laid out on the beach, relaxing before going into the fire-making showdown. Even though Devon explained that his decision to stop practicing fire was to preserve energy, it felt like we were meant to see this as Devon resting on his laurels.
But despite Devon’s failure to stop Ben, he did still get some savvy strategic credit in this season finale. He was the only player to suggest that Ben might have found another idol and told us he was thinking about throwing a vote Mike’s way as a safety net. That’s precisely what he did at the first tribal council of the night and managed to save himself. This plays right into the edit of a strategic fourth place edit.
Overall, I rate Devon as MOR for the season. He was given strategic credit and edited as one of the true players of the season. But he was severely lacking in personal content – another sign that should have told us he was unlikely to be the winner. Other than his “bright, beautiful light” speech and a brief mention of being a surfing instructor in the premiere, we never learned a whole lot about Devon has a person. His pre-merge edit was also lacking something. I think Devon will be remembered a savvy strategist that could have quite possibly won the game had he managed to stop Ben. But I doubt he’ll be thought of as a dynamic personality.
I thought that Ryan‘s diminished post-merge edit meant that he wouldn’t make the FTC. I should have realized that his edit was following the Ken McNickle trajectory – strong CP start with a subdued end-game. Ryan’s pre-merge was so high-vis and so CP that it was more than enough to carry him through to the end without needing to be as present post-merge.
While Ryan was certainly one of the season’s biggest characters, especially pre-merge, his edit took a backseat to Ben and Chrissy at the merge, which now makes perfect sense given that he finished in third place. He didn’t have a robust narrative at the merge, especially as his relationship with Devon fell apart. His primary relevance to the story came through his association with Chrissy and as the weeks went on it became clear Ryan was second fiddle in that pair. The Probst introduction again summed up Ryan’s edit: “Ryan, this superfan’s knowledge of the game helped him find advantages and idols. But it’s his strong social abilities and his alliance with Chrissy that have kept him in the game. Will that loyalty pay off?” Early on we heard a lot from Ryan – we knew he was a superfan, we saw him find idols and advantages and put them to use. But the second half of his game and edit was mainly linked to Chrissy, and indeed, it was that loyalty that saw Chrissy take him to FTC.
It was always going to be difficult for Ryan to win, especially as the edit had gone out of its way to undermine him since the merge. He often made incorrect statements and was plain wrong about the game. That continued in this episode too, when Ryan mistakenly thought Ben had bought the idol trick “hook, line, and sinker.” Winners are rarely shown to be so blatantly wrong. There were also story strands left dangling, like him and Devon “causing chaos” together which showed a lack of care overall to his narrative. Again, all of this now makes sense when we look at where Ryan ended up. He was essentially drawing dead in the finale and even admitted as much himself. He was dismissed as not doing enough to earn the win by some of the jurors and became an afterthought as Ben and Chrissy battled it out for victory. I gave him N-tone for the criticism of his game at FTC, which included calling him out for not trying around camp.
Overall, I still think there was enough to Ryan’s edit to warrant a CP for the season. But I lean towards CPN. I think he’ll be remembered as the Survivor superfan that never had a date or went to prom but was social enough to control the game early on, only to become overconfident and dismissive at the merge.
Chrissy was the one character remaining that I was confident would make the FTC. There was too much depth and focus to her edit for her to end up anywhere else. As I said last week: “All of this amounts to a rounded CP edit that should see [Chrissy] sitting at the FTC. I imagine the topic of personal moves versus strategic moves will be a key focus from the jury.” I think that was pretty spot on. Chrissy made the FTC, and her social game/personal connections was a big topic of the jury questioning.
Throughout the season Chrissy had her fair share of ups and downs, and the edit followed each one of them on her journey to the end. Probst laid it out in the intro: “Chrissy, a rough start nearly sent her home, but she recovered and seized early control of the game. When the tides turned again, she had to win immunity to stay alive. Now, this resilient mom is the only woman left in the game. Will her roller coaster journey end on a high?” That is exactly the narrative we saw – from her puking up at the first challenge, to surviving the vote, forming strong alliances with Ben and then Ryan, controlling the post-swap and early-merge votes, only to be blindsided at the Final 9 and need to win immunity to survive. The word “resilient” is the perfect way to describe Chrissy and her story, and she continued on that path in the finale by winning two more immunity challenges.
But the signs that Chrissy wasn’t going to win had been creeping in since the start of the merge and became clearer and clearer over the past few weeks. Not only was there some of the overconfidence and incorrect statement-making similar to Ryan, but there was also a consistent theme of Chrissy taking the game too personally. She would often take blindsides to heart and become involved in arguments back at camp. She even touched upon this in her confessional in the finale intro: “The finish is going to be absolutely incredible. We are so close. There are so many combinations that could happen. I hope we can pull it off in a joyful manner. Of course, it’s Survivor, so that will never happen.” She wanted things to be joyful but always saw the potential for tension, and she was often a part of that. There were some hints of that in the finale with her and Ben going back-and-forth about the idol.
However, despite some of this personal negativity to Chrissy’s edit, she ended the season with positive tone. Her record-breaking challenge wins were met with adulation from both Probst and the members of the jury. Ashley gave a speech dedicated explicitly to Chrissy’s dominance in the challenges. Desi and Cole also complimented this facet of Chrissy’s game. Chrissy then gave a final speech about being a mom and how that helped her in the game and how all moms are heroes. Everything here was framed in a positive light, a concerted effort I imagine to make the audience believe Chrissy stood a chance of beating Ben in the final vote.
Overall, I see Chrissy as CPM for the season. We learned a lot about Chrissy over the course of the season, and it started right from the marooning. She talked about her job and her family and her Survivor fandom. We always heard all about her strategy and her relationships. Her relationship with Ben was highlighted in Episode 2 and continued to be referenced even when they were separated at the swap. That should have been a solid sign that they would take it all the way to the end as Chrissy suggested in the second episode. We saw Chrissy as both a power player, an underdog, and a challenge beast. We saw her positive side and negative side. She will be remembered as a badass mom who took charge of the game but who sometimes took things too personally and rubbed people the wrong way.
Whatever you think about how Ben won the game, that should be put aside for now as we look strictly at his edit. The latter half of this season has really been the story of Ben, especially since around the time of the Secret Spy Ben plan. For a brief moment, I thought Ben might have been positioned for a downfall with the “dictator” talk, but once he survived the double episode, I reevaluated, and it looked like Ben was indeed in it for the long-haul with a high chance of winning. Here’s what I said last week: “[Ben] avoided those downfall signals earlier in the merge and is now the underdog, and with the way the edit has made everyone else look foolish, it would seem strange for Ben not to achieve his goal of making it to the end.”
Ben came into the finale as the underdog (in a game sense) but still one of the most likely to win edit-wise. The finale was the same story we’d seen over the past three weeks – how can Ben stay alive? Again, Probst spelled it out in the intro-recap: “Ben, this American hero is a strategic powerhouse, but his bold and aggressive gameplay has turned him into public enemy number one. With no allies left in the game, can he find a way to keep his torch lit?” Ben was indeed public enemy number one, but he consistently found a way to keep his torch lit whether it was by finding idols or Survivor Hail Mary twists. That story carried right through until the very end.
I said last week that just because Ben was set up as “the man to beat” it didn’t mean he was unbeatable – we’d seen David fall victim to this just last year. But what I should have paid more attention to was the difference between Ben’s and David’s edits. While David was undoubtedly a fish-out-of-water character, by the end of the season he was a proven strategist and major threat to win. Not only that but David was in a power position at that point given his tight bond with Ken. David wasn’t entering the finale as an underdog in the same way Ben was, despite both men being painted as huge threats. David falling at the last hurdle was a logical conclusion to his journey narrative, whereas had Ben ultimately lost, either at F4 or at FTC, it wouldn’t really have made sense why the edit undermined the other finalists so much at his expense.
Ben was always one step ahead of everyone else, and the edit showed us that time and time again. It happened again in this episode when the group tried to dupe Ben with the dead Super Idol, only for Ben to be shown laughing at them behind their backs. Chrissy and Ryan were shown to be plain wrong by thinking they’d fooled the ex-Marine. Mike was literally seen falling flat on his face. The only person that didn’t quite buy it was Devon – and that makes sense of everything we’ve seen in the preceding weeks. Devon had his share of incorrect statements this past couple of episodes, but he was never undermined as much as the others. He was portrayed as Ben’s biggest competition and I think that held true here with how Devon didn’t fall for Ben’s acting. But where I thought this battle between Ben and Devon was going to go all the way to FTC, it actually culminated at the F4 in a fire-making challenge. As I said earlier, the story beats we’ve covered in Ben’s and Devon’s edits still add up with this ending.
Like Chrissy, Ben ended the season with a CPP rating. While he faced a little bit of criticism for his social game, the positives far outweighed the negatives. Not only was he praised for his idol finding and never-give-up attitude, but his speech about PTSD and providing for his family was also presented in a super positive light.
Overall, I’ve rated Ben as CPM for the season. In a similar fashion to Chrissy, we saw all sides of Ben throughout this game. He could have quite easily been portrayed as the one-note All-American hero, but that was never the case. The edit gave depth to Ben, we saw him emotionally vulnerable and heartfelt, but sometimes aggressive and volatile (his arguments with Joe and Chrissy). He wore his heart on his sleeve and that sometimes got him into trouble, but he never gave up. If he messed up, he always got to explain himself and his actions. We always knew his thoughts on the other players and his relationship to them – as I said in Chrissy’s section, the relationship between the two Heroes had the most focus out of any other pair in the game (especially after the edit gave up on Ryan/Devon). I think Ben’s “bold and aggressive” style make him a love/hate character and that’s why CPM seems right.
That’s it for another season of Edgic! Thank you for reading each week. In a couple of months we’ll do it all over again for Survivor: Ghost Island!