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.
For this season we updated the colors representing the ratings to make it easier to tell, at a passing glance, what means what.
We wanted the bigger character ratings, the OTTs and CPs of the world, to stand out. So we made all of these colors bolder and brighter. Simultaneously we wanted the less important character ratings, particularly the UTRs, to blend into the background, as the characters do on the show. So we made these colors duller, more gray and brown.
We also looked at the tonal dimensions — negative to positive — and wanted to make it visually consistent whether a character was portrayed positively or negatively. To that end, we reserved all variations of red and pink for the negative ratings, and all the positive ratings are variations on green.
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Does Edgic Work?
The important thing to remember is that this isn’t a discussion of strategy or favorite and least favorite players. Edgic is concerned with interpreting the content on the screen and figuring out the story that the editors are trying to tell.
If you followed Edgic with us last season you will be aware that the editors of Survivor are very deliberate when it comes to choosing what footage to air. With the countless hours of material recorded, it makes sense that the scenes that end up making the television broadcast are selected for a particular reason. This goes all the way back to season one when Richard Hatch said to the camera in the very first episode: “I’ve got the million-dollar check written already, I mean I’m the winner.” Everything has an intention, whether big or small, and everything should be scrutinized.
Let’s take two examples from Survivor: Cambodia: firstly we have the temple shot from the title sequence featuring the final four in the center of the image: Jeremy Collins, Spencer Bledsoe, Tasha Fox and Kelley Wentworth.
Secondly, the scene early on between Spencer and Jeremy when Spencer talked about how he’s yet to tell his girlfriend that he loves her was classic foreshadowing to the later loved ones visit when Spencer finally said the words “I love you” to his girlfriend Marcella. These scenes, and many others like it, are intentionally chosen to craft a certain story-arc. It is those kind of things we need to pay attention to during Survivor: Kaôh Rōng to try and determine the editor’s intention. Edgic is very much a proven method in not only working out the potential winner but in mapping the main story-arcs of the season.
What Does This Episode Tell Us?
The first thing that stands out when looking at the chart for Episode 1 of Survivor: Kaôh Rōng is that it was a relatively balanced episode in terms of screen-time. Every character received at least one confessional and multiple personalities and relationships were fleshed out. Out of 18 players only 2 received an Under the Radar rating. This is a huge advantage of the 90-minute premiere; more space is given for characters to breathe and it allows the audience to get a steady grasp on the new dynamics.
The Brawn tribe had slightly more visibility but that was to be expected given that they attended tribal council. If we look at the Brawn tribe’s ratings it shows us that it was a very character driven episode for them with very little complexity on display. The lack of complexity for a tribe that voted somebody out is perhaps a little damning. Even in spite of the split vote, the edit didn’t present us with any strategic insight into the reasoning for the vote-split and instead made the vote simply about who was perceived as the weakest. The theme of the Brawn tribe this episode was “we are strong and there’s no room for weakness”.
The Beauty tribe, on the other hand, were given the most complexity. The edit set up various interpersonal relationships, and potential alliances, which is very noteworthy seeing as this tribe didn’t attend tribal council. What this suggests is that this tribe and the players within it are going to be important to the overall game this season. Compare them to the Beauty tribe from Survivor: Cagayan, who also didn’t attend tribal council in the premiere, and the dynamics here are much more solidified and interesting. In a way, they’re more similar to the original Brawn tribe than the original Beauty. This tribe is the tribe to watch.
The Brains tribe was a mixture of the two. A little complexity and strategy focus but overall rather simplified (young versus old) when compared to relationships brewing over on Beauty.
The themes set up in this episode related mainly to the conditions and the weather. The scenes featuring Aubry and Jennifer, of course, best exemplified this. There was lots of mentions of the sun and the heat and medevacs. “It’s a harsh sun.” “It’s so hot out here.” “I think this heat might be one of the biggest factors in this game.” You would expect this to be a continuous theme throughout the season given the way Kaôh Rōng has been promoted and Jeff Probst calling it “the most grueling 39 days in Survivor history.”
The other theme, less overt, but definitely present, was to do with overcoming the odds and proving your worth. Or “walking the walk” as Probst put it at tribal council. Aubry and Jennifer both overcame the conditions and lived to fight another day. Darnell failed to live up to the Brawn name and was sent packing. Alecia similarly was on the chopping block for not backing up her talk. Debbie on the Brains tribe talked a big game but we didn’t see her accomplishing anything and she was clearly on the outs. It will be interesting to watch if this theme develops over the season.
Last season we made a huge deal over the intro and specifically those who received intro confessionals. Examining those opening confessionals and the content within them was a great way to map a character’s story arc and determine which players were going to be significant to the season. Out of the 12 people that received an intro confessional in Cambodia, 11 of them made the merge. Jeff Varner was the only one that didn’t make the merge, but he had the biggest four episode edit in Survivor history.
It’s a little harder to tell whether the intro confessionals will have as much impact in a non-returnee season, especially as there were only 9 intro confessionals in this premiere, which is a little lower than the average. If we compare this to the last BvBvB season in Cagayan, there were 12 intro confessionals (13 if you count Spencer’s second!) and 8 of those 12 made the merge. That’s an excellent sign for the majority of the 9 featured here: Anna, Caleb, Debbie, Jason, Joe, Nick, Peter, Scot, and Tai. If history has told us anything then at least 5, if not more, of this 9 will make the merge.
In terms of winner chances, it’s also a good thing to be included in the intro confessionals. The last 3 non-Blood vs Water winners Jeremy, Mike and Tony all received an intro confessional – it’s hard to count Blood vs Water due to every pair receiving an intro. However, not having an intro confessional doesn’t entirely rule out winning potential. In the past 11 seasons, there have been 4 legitimate winners with intros and 3 without. Jeremy, Mike, Tony, and Fabio – all had intros. Sophie, Kim, and Denise – didn’t have intros. Boston Rob and Cochran were introduced separately by Jeff Probst and as stated, Tyson and Natalie Anderson automatically had intros due to the BvW theme. What this tells us is is if this season has a female winner then there is a good chance she didn’t receive an intro confessional.
So what else was in the intro outside of the confessionals? You had small scenes like Tai trying to protect a chicken, Scot manhandling a chicken, Caleb heroically diving into the water to catch a chicken… lots of chicken related content that told you a lot about people’s personalities. You also had Cydney hip-checking Neal which was a great little character moment that portrayed Cydney as tough and maybe even suggested a later battle between the two.
Also, as much as it might pain you, it’s worth paying attention to what Jeff Probst was saying, and focus on the images on screen during his statements. “And if they last long enough…” he said, as the camera panned to Michele, followed by Neal. “They’ve already been divided into three tribes based on the qualities they most rely on in their daily lives,” he continued, as the camera panned dead center to Michele, followed by Jason. Finally, Probst said: “In the end, only one will remain to claim the million-dollar prize.” The order of people shown was Jason, Neal, and Michele (although Nick is also within shot).
The consistency of the people shown during Probst’s big statements suggests that Jason, Michele, and Neal are characters that are in for the long haul. The outlook is very good for Jason who not only received these pivotal shots but also had an intro confessional.
Under the Radar
Despite the Beauty tribe having the most complexity in the premiere, Nick arguably had the least substantial edit out of the entire cast. Yes, he received three confessionals, including one in the intro, but 95% of what he said was inconsequential.
Our time with the Beauty tribe was spent building relationships between the three women, Caleb and Tai, the women and Tai, and the women and Caleb. Nick’s content was reduced to camp life commentary and it was all very surface level. He described himself as better looking than most people. He had a confessional about what was “beautiful”. Everything he described was “beautiful”. Michele described him as a model and referred to his shaved arms and legs. When the tribe was chasing after the escaped chickens all he talked about was how they were “burning calories.” Everything was an allusion to Nick’s looks and focused on the physical – no substance.
His commentary was even contradictory, one minute claiming nothing could go wrong and the next decrying the less than stellar start for the Beauties. Even after the tribe caught the chickens and Tai figured out a way to allow them to move around freely, which made everyone much happier, Nick killed the mood with his “They’re going to be dead in a few days.” Again, the edit continued to point out Nick missing the deeper substance. He was stuck on the surface that they’re going to kill these chickens, while everyone else was petting and playing with them.
However, Nick did get that intro confessional and there were two lines that stood out. The first was his mention of “39 days and a million bucks in my pocket at the end” which is the kind of winner quote you’d expect in an intro. Mentioning the money is good, we only have to look at Jeremy’s intro confessional from last season for proof of that.
The second line which offers Nick hope is the quote: “My looks will definitely help me.” On its own, it could have just come across as an arrogant boast but his statement was later qualified by Michele when she described him as the “tall dreamy guy”. This offers Nick a lifeline. Could he eventually manipulate his way into the women’s alliance via Michele?
If it wasn’t for those two lines in his intro then it would have been very tempting to write Nick off as an insignificant character this season because everything that followed was paper thin.
The only other UTR rating of the episode went to Joe. He could have tipped into MOR due to his confessional about how his FBI career could translate to the game but it wasn’t quite enough. He was the least developed member of the Brains tribe.
But there are positives for Joe and lots of them. He had the intro confessional which is an automatic plus point for either season longevity or significance (or both). He also mentioned being the “Sole Survivor” at one point which is a potential winner quote. And while he didn’t receive much screen time himself, he was on the minds of others. The younger group signaled him out as a liability due to his age, referring to him as “gramps” and the “geriatric tinge.” What this does is paint the younger group in a negative light with the audience and makes Joe a potential sympathetic character going forward.
He was also thought of highly by Debbie who described him as a “work horse” and that statement was backed up by numerous shots of Joe not only participating in the shelter building but actually leading and teaching both Debbie and Aubry. He was also very fatherly when he advised Aubry against working in the sunlight and told her to drink plenty of water. There were other subtle scenes with Aubry that could be very important for both characters but we’ll discuss those more in Aubry’s section.
Overall, while Joe’s edit was kind of put into the background, the main points that were set up is that he isn’t the old fart that the youngsters are portraying him as, and he has an attachment with Debbie but also has enough distance from her craziness as not to be lumped in with her as the “old crazy person”.
The fact that Nick and Joe were UTR in the premiere isn’t utterly devastating as they did both receive confessionals, including ones in the intro, and there was just about enough content to suggest a longer arc. This isn’t like a Monica situation from last season where she received only 1 insignificant confessional in the entire premiere and nothing in the intro. There is always a chance for Nick and Joe to step into the limelight later on.
Middle of the Road
Julia just barely escaped an UTR rating. She was by far the least visible person in the premiere and the only player to receive just one confessional. Fortunately, what she said in that confessional had some significance to her story and her game and was enough to lift her into a MOR rating. Julia told us more about her story going forward in just 1 confessional than Nick did in all 3 of his for example.
In her confessional, she talked about the connotations that come with being a sorority girl and how she is underestimated. “I can pull my own weight”, she told us, and that was backed up as we saw shots of her getting stuck in during the marooning (almost getting taken out by a falling coconut), falling over while diving for the escaped chicken, and collecting palm fronds. These moments were small but significant in showing that Julia isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
More importantly was the fact she talked about her strategy and alliances. “I’ll be able to make connections instantly with these people. I definitely want to stick with Anna and pull in Michele. I think that the three of us could do very well,” she said. The three Beauty girls was the key alliance that was formed on that tribe and Julia getting to talk about it in a confessional kept her relevant and awarded her the MOR rating; even if she did appear less important to the trio than Anna and Michele.
Her role in this episode is almost like the little sister. The edit placed her under the wing of Anna who took on more of a leader role. It was a very small but solid edit that could go either way in future episodes. Is she the Natalie Tenerelli or the Natalie White? Will she continue on as the sidekick to the other girls or perhaps develop into a character that adapts to jungle life and proves those that underestimated her wrong?
Peter had a rather subdued edit in the first episode but when he did appear the consistent take away was his arrogance. The edit almost seemed to enjoy highlighting his cocky attitude. From the very first time we heard him open his mouth, he told us: “It’s gonna be difficult for me to not show how smart I am, to express humility…”
The fact that he’s aware of this flaw could be a positive but he didn’t appear to do anything in this episode to counter it. “If they feel good getting crushed by Obama, so be it” was almost like a Bizarro World version of Fabio’s winner quote from Survivor: Nicaragua: “I don’t care what they call me as long as I win the million dollars.” Peter’s version doesn’t quite have the same ring to it and comes across too cocky to be a winner quote.
His content seemed mostly focused on setting him up as an arrogant person. All of his confessionals put other people beneath him. Ignorant people, “crushing” the contestants in this game, “grandma and gramps” who are the “low hanging fruit to be eaten first”. He even alluded to being more evolved than the other tribes by saying they couldn’t show up to a challenge without fire, “from an evolutionary standpoint”.
In addition to the negativity surrounding everything that came out of his mouth, he was also shown to be wrong just enough to invalidate him. The Brains tribe, in fact, didn’t have a fire by the time they got to the challenge, and grandma and gramps were working hard and building the shelter, proving they aren’t as useless as Peter seems to think they are. Finally, we saw Peter weaving palm fronds saying, “should I start up here and go down?” Was this an allusion to him currently, seemingly, being on the top of this tribe? Will he just go down from here? Time will tell.
Liz had a fair amount of confessionals for the premiere but we didn’t learn a whole lot about her. Her confessionals tended to be about others, with a slight negative tinge to them that was consistent to the slightly negative toned edit of the young group as a whole.
She spoke poorly of Debbie (“she just talks, talks, talks”), which was substantiated by the edit, but also spoke badly of Joe which wasn’t supported. Liz and Neal suggested that Joe was the most likely to be medevaced even though we got a positive confessional about how tough Joe really is plus all the footage of him building the shelter while those two were lazing in the water. Her confessional about Aubry’s meltdown also had a negative tone to it with her “…she hadn’t even gotten to the point of, like, chapped lips” line. If you tie Liz, Peter and Neal (who we’ll get to later) together it makes quite the negative little trio – not overtly, but it’s there.
It could also be that these comments are foreshadowing. Could Liz be a potential medevac herself after she called out Joe? If we were given content that suggested Liz had an accurate read on the situation then Joe might have looked doomed (and he still could be) but that is questionable right now. When someone makes big declarations on Survivor it usually comes back to bite them in the ass. She made a similar statement regarding the young alliance when she said to Neal: “I don’t see anybody flipping over some stupid thing.” That seems like obvious set up for someone to flip, most likely Aubry who Liz was worried about “cracking again” later in the episode.
The entire situation with Aubry was very interesting and could be a continuing story arc between the two. The stand-out moment was in the shelter during her meltdown when Aubry said “I just wish you guys got to meet me” while slapping Liz’s knee. It might not seem like such a big event on its own but the camera actually panned down and zoomed in so that the knee-slap was the only thing in shot. This scene was sandwiched between the two Liz confessionals where she passed judgment on Aubry, and the background music was very dark and ominous. So what can we read into that? It was like a signal that Aubry was aware that Liz was judging her and almost prophetic in nature. Keep a close eye on these two because something is brewing.
Liz did get an excellent first confessional about how the Brains tribe can see different approaches and different ways of thinking and how they “we’re off to an immediate advantage.” And regarding winning the challenge and seemingly getting into a four-person alliance, that was backed up.
Scot was the most visible of the MOR rated characters, but there wasn’t quite enough substance to push him into CP. He had an intro confessional, he got to put his point across, and was a vocal member of the majority alliance on Brawn. All positives on paper but let’s take a look at what his edit was saying.
“I was the guy that did all the things nobody else wanted to do. I’d go knock people on the ground, I’d push people out of the way, I did it better than most guys. People I’m gonna get along with are guys that are strong, and if you show weakness, bye-bye!”
You can pretty much map Scot’s story-arc of the season already just from that opening confessional. He is the embodiment of Brawn in a very straight and narrow way. He does not tolerate weakness and that was highlighted in the episode with his attitude towards Alecia and Darnell; especially Darnell who he referred to as “dead weight”. The majority of his content was focused towards strength and challenges and at one point he even said, “We’re not beautiful, we’re not smart, but we are strong.” That is a massive red flag. Scot claimed that his tribe only has one attribute and doesn’t value other characteristics and skills used in this game. “There’s only five of us. Six? I’m not very good at counting. I’m on the Brawn tribe,” again, proves that he’s not smart, just strong. Compare this with the Beauty tribe who on more than one occasion said, “we aren’t just beauty we have brains too.” It isn’t a great outlook for Scot and the Brawn tribe in the long-run.
The fact that they lost the challenge after Scot declared that “failure is not an option” is yet another strike against the Brawns. Also, add in Jason’s scream of “We’re Brawn for a reason!” while they were getting beat in the puzzle, it was almost like the edit was saying brawn alone will not be rewarded. That’s not to say that Scot’s one-track minded approach to the game won’t take him far, it very well could, he had plenty of screen time in this episode and an intro confessional that suggests he could be around a while. But it is unlikely to be a winning strategy if his edit is focused solely on strength at the expense of smarts and social.
It might also be worth keeping an eye on the relationship between Scot and Alecia. During his intro confessional when he talked about weakness it flashed to a shot of Alecia. In this episode, Alecia was as much to blame for the failure of the challenge as Darnell yet Scot tried to offer her a lifeline. “We’re trying to give her blatant hints to just calm down because the only thing you’re doing right now is killing yourself,” he said. Which is interesting because Alecia isn’t just killing herself she is potentially killing the entire tribe if she continues to mess up challenges, and that could ultimately kill Scot as well. Another relationship to look out for next week.
Cydney was perhaps the least visible member of the Brawn tribe, at least joint with Jennifer, who obviously got a boost due to the creepy bug scene. She also didn’t receive any focus in the intro other than hip-checking Neal. While those things look kind of bad on paper, especially given that the Brawn tribe went to tribal council, Cydney was saved due to all the positive SPV (Second Person Visibility) she received.
When the Brawn tribe members were introducing themselves to each other, she received an enormously positive reaction from the tribe when she told them that she’s a bodybuilder – an even bigger response than Scot the NBA player received. It ties back into Brawn’s focus on strength, as mentioned in Scot’s section above, and because Cydney represented this attribute her tribe thought highly of her. “Professional bodybuilder, can you just knock some trees down for us?” Scot said. Again, contrast with the way he spoke to and about Alecia and Darnell. Similarly, at tribal council when Jason was chastising Alecia and Darnell for being weak, he only had positive things to say about Cydney: “9th toughest woman in the world.”
All that is a plus point for surviving the early Brawn mentality of “keep the tribe strong”. But like with Scot, is it positive for the long game? At the challenge when Alecia told the tribe she wasn’t good at puzzles, Cydney smacked her down and said, “…stop talking about what you’re not good at.” It was another highlight of the Brawn tribe’s dysfunctionality and unwillingness to listen. She was powering ahead with brute force much like Scot. It doesn’t bode well in the long run in a game that requires more tact and thoughtfulness.
The other bad sign was her relationship with Darnell and how she stated that she’d prefer Alecia to go home over him. “I’d prefer for Darnell to stick around because of our initial alliance. The more numbers I have, the better it is for me. So when I get to Tribal, I’m going to make sure people know who needs to go home.” That was the last confessional before Darnell was voted out at tribal council.
Cydney embodies the brawn attribute, but she was not shown in a strategic light and didn’t get her way with this vote. Her story right now says “season spectator.”
Over the Top
Alecia received the stereotypical first boot edit and… wasn’t the first boot. It was almost identical to Abi-Maria’s first episode last season (she received an OTTN5 rating) with tons of negative SPV and just an overall disastrous start. But hey, Abi ended up making it pretty damn far, so let’s not rule Alecia out yet.
The key theme to Alecia’s edit in this episode was that she is weak and useless and out of her depth on the Brawn tribe. Unlike Cydney who was praised for her job, Alecia received sideways glances and an awkward “fancy” when she told her tribe she was a real estate agent. She does not meet the Brawn tribe’s value system. It cut straight from that scene to her “Malibu Barbie” confessional. Fancy indeed.
The edit continued to support this “out of her element” arc all throughout the episode. “We need one of the guys to do this,” she said, proving that she is unable to do anything on her own, further supported at the challenge when she tags out for Scot. It tells us that she will rely on the guys to do her work for her in this game. Contrast with the Beauty girls who spend the episode deciding which guy they want to drag along with them.
Alecia didn’t get any respect. Jason didn’t even bother to learn her name, always referring to her as “blondie” or “little girl.” Jennifer called her “sweetheart.” Cydney said she didn’t like her. “She doesn’t do anything,” Jason said, he had no sympathy for her. We already mentioned Scot’s attitude towards her and the camera pan to her during his “weakness” comment. It was just pile on Alecia for 90 minutes which was almost enough to make you feel bad for her if she wasn’t so incompetent.
It wasn’t only in the challenge where she was useless – standing still while Jennifer had to yell “Get the f**king pieces!” – but in the strategy side of things as well. Scot tried to help her out and told her to stop with the scheming and she immediately blew it by playing coy about potentially having an idol. “She’s pushing herself out of this game,” Scot said. Her “I’m a mental giant” quote followed by not removing the cap from the pen pretty much summed up her edit.
But were there any positives? Not many but a couple. Despite not fitting in, Alecia is aware that she doesn’t fit in, she isn’t deluded. “If we lose, I could be on the chopping block because they want a stronger team.” She recognizes what this Brawn tribe is all about and her place within it. She continued this line of thought at tribal council when she said “I’m not going to say that I can do something that I can’t,” which was true. She told the tribe she wasn’t good at puzzles and nobody would listen to her. She knows she’s weaker than most of this tribe and that is a positive sign.
It’s really hard to say where Alecia’s story is going. She could be the obvious next boot if the Brawn tribe loses or she could just as easily be kept around again due the Brawn tribe’s well-documented lack of brains.
Darnell had the decoy first boot edit and ended up being the actual first boot. Like Alecia, he had lots of negative SPV from his fellow Brawn tribe members but there also enough positive stuff to give him an overall mixed OTT edit.
He talked about how he had good instincts and that his gut has served him well in life. Then we cut to a conversation between him and Cydney where he tried to pitch Alecia as the third alliance member and Cydney shut it down. “I kinda like Alecia though.” “Mmnnmmm.” “You don’t like her?” “I don’t like her.” His gut instincts were not so good in that situation.
All his gut really did was tell him to go to the bathroom and everybody made fun of him. Putting him “on blast”. It was his most significant scene outside of losing the goggles during the challenge and both were OTT in their portrayal. Darnell’s gut kept leading him into the wrong decision, so when his gut told him to trust Cydney, we as an audience should have probably known he was wrong… Cydney voted against him at tribal council.
The main negative SPV came from Jason and Scot. Scot called him “dead weight”. Jason talked at tribal about him not pulling his weight in the challenge. Even Probst during the challenge referred to Darnell’s mishap with the goggles as an “absolute disaster”. But this was balanced out with the positive SPV at tribal when he talked about his struggle growing up. He even shed tears and received sympathy from Cydney and Jennifer in particular.
Darnell’s short Kaôh Rōng story was about struggling to get by in Chicago, and relying on his gut, but his gut failed him over and over and over again in the game. He was portrayed as not exhibiting the core value of his tribe: brawn. Probst even said, “gotta walk the walk”, meaning people who don’t exemplify their own tribe’s category won’t last.
Jennifer had a relatively quiet edit until the bug incident which immediately shot her up into an OTT rating. Her positive rating was because of the way she handled it; as an audience, we were meant to sympathize and feel her fear and pain. When it was over, she picked herself back up and got her head back into the game with her tribe rallying around her.
We weren’t meant to feel like she was in any way over-reacting in her struggle. Cydney validated the pain and trauma in her confessional. She was also given sympathy from hater of the weak Scot, so that told us this was a dangerous situation. When she recovered, she was given hero music to accompany her “We’re going to win because I’m so pissed off” quote. This was all positive stuff for Jennifer.
Her most telling quote of the episode was immediately after she recovered from the bug situation – “39 days no problem.” It suggests that she could be in for the long haul. If you remember last season Kimmi kept mentioning “the end” and dreaming of getting to the end. Kimmi did, in fact, reach the finale episode, while not the Final 3, it could easily be defined as the end. Jennifer mentioning 39 days is a good sign.
She didn’t receive much strategic content. Jason and Scot led all the alliance talk. Her content was focused solely on overcoming obstacles and surviving (both in this game and in real life which she brought up at tribal council). That is all good material for going far although nothing yet that indicates winning.
Perhaps surprisingly to those who remember him from Big Brother, Caleb received almost a mini-hero edit in this episode. The show portrayed him as the hardworking ‘Merican hero that is more than just a former Big Brother contestant.
He was given positive validation by Michele: “You definitely belong on the Beauty tribe. You look great up in that tree,” and also “Super strong.” Anna said he could be trusted due to the loyalty he showed on Big Brother. He was given super heroic music while talking about his background in the military and how he is “mentally stronger than anyone in this game.” He was also given credit for starting the fire (according to Peter that would make the Beauties more evolved than the Brains!). Even his early confessional about Tai which began insensitive ended on a somewhat positive note: “Maybe there’s a lot more to him than people see.” It left us questioning how he’ll interact with Tai.
While he was given a very positive edit in terms of strength and fitting in well with the tribe, the edit made it clear that he wasn’t very aware of the game itself. He didn’t know the girl’s names, he mentioned the “treemail thing” and he didn’t know why Tai was “walking over there”. The girls had to let him know that Tai was likely looking for an idol. All these add up to Caleb not knowing this game very well, not being strategic, just being a straightforward, hardworking, good looking guy.
It’s a very interesting edit because it’s so different from the character he was portrayed as on Big Brother. On that show, he started out as the creepy stalker and ended as the lovable goof. Here though it was much more positive and heroic. It suggests that Caleb is going to be a big character (he also received an intro confessional) that we’re supposed to like and root for.
Tai had the largest edit of the episode by far. A simple way of thinking about Edgic is looking at which characters stood out the most – who do you remember the most the next day? Ask the majority of the audience after episode one and they’d tell you it was Tai. That’s a perfect example of an OTT character.
Like Caleb, he received a very positive confessional early in the episode explaining his background with sympathetic music. It provided a personal connection to the audience… compare this to characters like Liz and Peter on the Brains tribe who we don’t really feel connected to on any sort of personal level yet. He had the best character introduction of the episode bar none. “This is my hood. So I know a lot of stuff.” He was shown to be in his element, climbing trees, helping the chickens. “He’s freaking always moving. He’s like a whirlwind.” An adventurer that is excited to be on Survivor.
He had positive SPV from the girls after he showed them to how to tie the chickens. While the music indicated confusion, as did the looks on the girls’ faces, his plan was ultimately met with positivity. Anna gave a confessional about loving that Tai respects all the creatures and how he is someone that she would like to work with. The reason for his mixed tone is because he later received negative SPV regarding his idol search. Michele said he was creating “anxious energy” and Anna backtracked on her earlier claim now referring to him as “Sketch… I don’t trust you for a freaking second.”
There was definitely contradictory elements to Tai’s edit. He started talking about how he respects all living creatures, especially plants because he’s a gardener. But then during his idol hunt, accompanied by sneaky music, he was seen ripping trees from the ground. He was of course later shown apologizing and replanting the trees. The real intention of this scene seemed to be showing that Tai is willing to do whatever it takes to get further in the game, even if it means (literally) going against his nature.
Whether Tai can win, or even make the merge, is up in the air. His story seems to hint that his fast-paced, can’t sit still mindset will end up costing him. What is for certain though is that he will continue to receive a great edit and become a memorable character whether he’s here for four episodes or fourteen episodes.
Debbie had a similar edit to Alecia regarding all the negative SPV she received, and if the Brains tribe went to tribal council, you would assume based on edit that Debbie would be a first boot target.
Most of her content and SPV revolved around how she talks about all her accomplishments, annoying people while doing so, but unable to put her money where her mouth is and deliver. Let’s just take a quick look at some of Debbie’s boasts this episode:
“Who’s a good swimmer because I’m an excellent swimmer?”
“I can get a fire started without flint.”
“I have extensive training in shelter building.”
Did we see her swim? Not during the marooning and Aubry did all the diving in the challenge. She wasn’t shown making the fire; she just stood over Neal barking out orders. “I know how exhausting it is to if you want me to do it…” she said, but then doesn’t do it. And she was seen incorrectly using an ax to build the shelter with Joe advising her against it.
She had tons of negative SPV. From Neal: “Debbie has a whole different level of craziness… chatty. Hope she shuts up.” From Liz: “She just talks talks talks and talks so highly of herself that I start to think that she might just annoy everybody to death!”
Debbie compared herself to Coach in her pre-game press, and Jeff Probst has referred to her as Coach-like. Whether she’s actually like Coach or not doesn’t matter because it’s the Coach circa Tocantins edit she is getting. Not the whole warrior/mythical style Coach but the Coach that makes big promises then doesn’t deliver. That appears to be Debbie’s story, at least so far, and it was set up in her intro confessional: “This game is largely a brain game, and in these challenges, I am going to kick ass. Because puzzles lay down for me like lovers.” She didn’t do the puzzle in the first challenge. “Nobody else said they’d be the savior.” Debbie did and didn’t deliver. That quote from Neal further supports Debbie’s story-arc of talking the talk but not walking the walk (call-back to Probst’s words at tribal council).
She attached herself to Joe very early on, and they were shown building the shelter together. But she was still portrayed as stubborn and in her own world. She refused to use the saw and then Joe had to contradict her “Yeah, I think you’re going to need the saw.” Before he eventually had to tell her to stop: “We’re coming down, the whole thing here.” She was bringing the house down. A liability.
In spite of annoying people and not delivering, she was shown being there for Aubry and showing compassion when a human needed another human. That scene stood out because it was a stark contrast to the rest of her edit – which included an ever changing range of job titles in her chyron. It appears that she will be used mostly as a punchline by the editors but this small scene provides hope that Debbie could develop into something more should she last long enough.
Aubry had a fascinating edit. Almost non-existent for half the episode she suddenly popped onto the screen with an emotional and physical meltdown that looked to spell doom and then immediately bounced back to kick ass in the challenge. It was like a season-long Cochran style redemption edit packed into 15 minutes. Definitely OTT.
She received negative SPV during her meltdown from Liz (“If she cracks again…”) and Neal referred to her as “being weird” and “freaking out” which could potentially cause them to implode like the original Brains tribe. But then her challenge performance garnered lots of positive SPV: “Awesome job.” “Aubry got all four paddles all by herself.” “Aubry making a lot of progress for the brains.” “You’re the best.” All of this contributed to her mixed tone for the episode. She also got to describe exactly why the conditions were so hard for her. “Going from black to white.” We were brought into her world and allowed to get to know her. Even though she later said to Liz, “I just wish you guys got to meet me,” we the audience got to meet her.
The main thing that is worth paying attention to with Aubry’s edit though is her relationship with the older tribe members and in particular Joe. Some of the scenes were very subtle but implied a lot. While Aubry was included as part of the young foursome we were never shown her talking with them – she was featured in one shot with the four of them in the water, but we never heard her converse with them in their alliance discussions. We did, however, see her interact with Debbie and Joe.
“I need some shade,” she said, as she left the younger group and sought comfort in the shelter beside Joe and Debbie. As we pointed out in Debbie’s section, this scene stood out as it showed Debbie in a different light. To everyone else she was “crazy Debbie”, but to Aubry, she was an understanding friend. “Thank you for being here for me,” Aubry said. “No problem. It’s going to be ok.”
Joe also took on a fatherly role to Aubry, advising her to get out of the heat. But there is more to the Joe and Aubry relationship. It regularly appeared in the background and short scenes. At the challenge, he gave her a kiss on the cheek for a job well done. It also showed him teaching her how to build the shelter which included a subtitled line:
That could be massively reading into nothing, but it harks back to what we said in the intro. The editors have endless hours of footage to choose from; there was probably reels and reels of clips featuring people working on the shelter. Why out of all clips pick this one and not only put it in the episode but subtitle it to make sure we didn’t miss the line? Now, “Gets exciting when you get to the end” could be interpreted in many ways. Obviously, one way to read it is as “the end of the game” which could mean anything from deep into the merge or even the Final Tribal Council. It could be a hint that Aubry makes it towards the end of the game. It could be a sign that Joe makes it to the end of the game. It could be a hint that they both make it to the end of the game together.
Whatever it means it is worth noting. More importantly though is that the edit seems to be slowly setting up a budding friendship between Aubry and Joe. She certainly had more human interactions with him, and Debbie, than she did with Liz, Neal or Peter. The youngsters talk about her as if she’s with them but we only see her with the older people. She’s the only one not seen bad-mouthing the older pair. Does it suggest Aubry flipping to Debbie and Joe? Remember Liz was adamant about how nobody would flip? It’s never great to be so cock-sure of something on Survivor.
The amount of OTT characters in the premiere is interesting in of itself – 7 people with OTT edits, that’s almost half the cast. It suggests that this could be a more character driven season as opposed to a more strategic one. Compare it with last season which only had 4 OTT ratings in the first episode and mainly CP/MOR edits which set the tone for a more strategy focused season.
Each tribe got one strong CP narrator and Neal was that character for the Brains tribe. He received the second highest confessional count (tied with Jason and Scot) and was the only member of his tribe shown talking with everyone.
Even though he described himself as the “quirky, incorrigible and eccentric” guy that is often seen as a “dandy in ice cream pants” he was edited as the logical center of his tribe. He’s the one who led conversations to create an alliance on common grounds with others. And even though it was dismissive of the older tribe members he reasoned it with logic, at least in his own mind. “When you have six people on a tribe, and you know that four of us are gonna be quicker, both physically as well as mentally, it makes a hell of a lot of sense to try to keep the four younger ones together.”
Neal was in charge. “We’ll protect you, Barry,” he told Peter. He also demonstrated his authority and smarts when talking to Peter in the water when he said “Don’t talk too loudly. Sound carries very well over water.” That could also be foreshadowing of someone getting caught in a conversation at some point. Also, despite his confessionals admitting that he was annoyed by Debbie, he still put his head down and did what she said on her fool’s errand. Neal is willing to play ball and do what is needed to get ahead.
There was a slight negative tinge to his edit with his dismissal of the older tribe members and calling Aubry “weird.” But similar to Liz and Peter, it wasn’t quite enough to give him an overall negative tone rating. It did, however, give a moment to pause and didn’t exactly make Neal out to be a rootable character. There already feel like early signs that this young clique will face some comeuppance but given his strong CP edit in this episode, one would imagine Neal will not bear the brunt of that. Sorry, Peter and Liz.
Right now Neal looks to be in a very strong position, both game wise and edit-wise. He didn’t receive an intro confessional which is a mark against him, but he was one of the three (along with Jason and Michele) that had constant shots over Probst’s opening voice-over. All signs point to him having longevity this season.
Anna was the stand-out CP narrator of the Beauty tribe. She not only received an intro confessional but she had the highest confessional count of the episode alongside Tai; this all bodes well for her going forward.
Her intro might have been about “pushing up her boobs” to distract the men, which isn’t exactly a great winner quote, but the rest of her content was solid. She had the most strategy based confessionals on the Beauty tribe and was the one that told us the girls are tight and needed a fourth, and was then shown sizing up the men. She was also given credit for being the one to spot Tai idol searching. It was her thoughts we got to hear most about the situation. She got to explain her reasons for both trusting Tai earlier and then later distrusting. She did wrongly assume that Tai had an idol clue, but that is minor in the grand scheme of things.
While she got to share her strategies and offer her opinion on a lot of other people, we didn’t see many people talking about her. All we heard was Michele saying she wants to work with the girls and Julia saying she intends to stick with Anna. Nothing too personal. Compare this with Michele who received much more positive SPV.
Anna’s edit right now is the leader of the girls. Though Michele was the first one to bring up the girls alliance, Anna was the one shown locking it down with Julia with Michele as their third. She was then shown communicating with every man on the tribe. She talked about the pros and cons of Tai, and then later Caleb. On the one hand, she’s getting the most strategic content of the Beauty tribe. On the contrary, it’s reminiscent of Jeremy 1.0 in Survivor: San Juan del Sur, the big strategic leader that will suffer a downfall, perhaps at the merge.
Michele had a CP-lite edit that would have been MOR if not for an exceptional first confessional. Her visibility was much lower than Anna’s, but she was still present when necessary. Despite not receiving an intro confessional, the content of her very first confessional more than made up for it.
In that first confessional, Michele got to introduce herself, her job, how her job will apply to this game, and express her opinion on every single member of her tribe. That’s a very rare confessional and nobody else in this episode got one quite like it. She was also the first person of the episode to mention an alliance, in this case with the girls, and so edit wise you associate Michele with the alliance and the alliance with Michele.
She’s the bartender that understands people’s personalities and sees who she needs to be around different people. “Not sure I can handle all that testosterone over there.” She was shown subtly throwing the men under the bus to lock it down with the girls and give a sense of closeness, and her confessional about being a bartender told us she was doing this knowingly and purposefully. She talked about how going with the girls “felt natural” and how there was a “lot of ego over there” with the guys. All of this was backed up by positive music that gave her words credibility and told us that things are going well for her.
The edit also showed Michele as desirable to her fellow tribemates. Anna and Julia both mentioned how they wanted to work with her and when the guys were discussing who they got a good vibe from they said “the girl in yellow?” “Michele?” “Yeah.” It wasn’t quite enough to give her an overall positive tone rating, but it was the edit backing up her social skills which she talked about in her bartender confessional.
The slight negative is that after this great introduction, Michele disappeared for the rest of the episode while Anna took over as the leader. Anna and Julia were a tight pair that wanted to bring Michele in, which sets up Michele as third in the alliance. However, concerning longevity, this could be a good sign for Michele, as she isn’t being portrayed as the head of the snake but is still given content to show that she is aware of what is happening. Take for example her confessional about Tai and the idol; its inclusion wasn’t necessary, but it let us know that Michele had a voice in this tribe too.
Not having that intro confessional is a mark against her but the edit did feature her in many pivotal intro shots. If her edit continues as a strong as this one next week, then Michele could be a contender. Either way, everything so far suggests that the girl’s alliance is the important one over on Beauty, it was the girls that got all the strategy content, and Michele was a big part of that.
Other than Tai, and perhaps Debbie, Jason was one of the most memorable characters introduced in the premiere. Like Neal and Anna, he was the clear CP narrator of his tribe and was set-up well from the very start with a perfect intro confessional.
In fact, before we even heard his intro confessional we got a super loud knuckle crack from him on the boat; later followed up by the challenge with more super loud knuckle cracking. If you know anything about sound on television then you’d know stuff like that is hard to pick up in the live recording and editors usually add it in in post-production – that’s the job of a Foley artist (no not Dan). What this means is that the editors wanted us to hear those knuckle cracks, and so they made them as loud as possible. Why? Because it signified that Jason is about to get to work right away and knock people out (of this game).
“You kick in the door, you raid the house, you snatch the guy up, hog-tie him like a pig, throw him in the back of your truck and take off. I don’t care, I just need to get my paycheck, and you’re my paycheck.”
That intro confessional summed up Jason’s whole premiere episode. He walked onto the Brawn beach. Kicked down the door. Carried a “heavy f**king rock” and all kinds of other physical labor. Then snatched everyone up in an alliance. And while everyone else came back from the challenge apologizing to one another about their contribution to the loss, Jason was shown silently surveying the landscape, deciding who to hog-tie and throw out of the game.
There were villain-like elements to his edit. He had the dark, villain style music over the scenes of his alliance making, and his attitude towards Darnell, and especially Alecia, wasn’t exactly the friendliest. However, he didn’t receive any negative SPV. Nobody talked badly about him. Even Alecia said she agreed with him at tribal council. Jennifer was shown laughing at his joke when he asked if she had any matches; this showed us that he’s not just conniving, he’s connecting.
The reason he is a CP, rather than MOR, or even an OTT, is because his edit was very rounded. Yes, he had the tough talk and villain style music, but he was also given time to discuss his family and his two daughters, one with autism. “I’ll be the girlie-girl dad, and then I also teach them how to be a badass.” The edit was telling us that yeah, Jason is going to get his hands dirty and some of his tactics might be villainous, but he is doing it for his family back home. It makes him relatable to the audience even if he comes across quite brash at times.
The only real negative for Jason is the Brawn tribe as a whole. Scot set the theme that the Brawn tribe only care about one attribute – strength. Supported by Jason’s yelling of “We’re brawn for a reason!” (subtitled) at the challenge, while they were doing the puzzle which they then lost. The edit is undermining the Brawn tribe a little bit right now, and that might hurt Jason’s winner chances. However, he had a great confessional about alliances that told us he is thinking about this game beyond tribal lines and tribal definitions:
“In my eyes, these alliances are only truthful when I need ‘em. Potentially, they could all be truthful in a way. Every single one of them could be bull. I’ll make that decision as I need to make it.”
Could Jason be our winner? In a post-Tony Survivor world, it’s possible. It’s too early to say right now but what is likely is that Jason will be on our screens for a long time.
That is it for Survivor: Kaôh Rōng Edgic for Episode 1. Let us know your thoughts and anything interesting that we missed in the comments below.