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Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X Episode 5 – Edgic


Inside Survivor analyzes the edit of Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X Episode 5, mapping the stories, characters, and winner contenders. Edgic is a feature co-written by Martin Holmes and two-time Survivor player Shirin Oskooi.

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.

You can read all our previous Edgic posts here.

Color Key

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Name EP 1 EP 2 EP 3 EP 4 EP 5 EP 6 EP 7 EP 8 EP 9 EP 10 EP 11 EP 12 EP 13 EP 14
Adam2Adam MOR3 UTR2 CP4 CPP5 CPP3
Bret2Bret MOR4 UTR1 UTR2 MOR2 MORN3
Chris2Chris MOR4 MOR2 MOR3 MORM4 CP5
David2David OTTM5 CPM5 CP5 CP5 CPM5
Figgy2Figgy CPN3 OTTN5 CPN3 UTR1 CPN3
Hannah2Hannah CP3 OTT3 OTTN2 UTR1 INV
Jay2Jay MORN3 CP4 MOR2 UTR2 MOR3
Jessica2Jessica CP4 INV CP3 MORN4 MOR2
Ken2Ken MORP2 CPP4 CPP4 CP5 CPP3
Michaela2Michaela UTR1 CPM5 CP2 OTTP2 CPM3
Michelle2Michelle MOR2 CP3 UTR1 INV CP4
Sunday2Sunday UTR2 UTR2 MOR2 UTR1 UTRN1
Taylor2Taylor OTTN3 OTTN3 MOR3 OTT1 OTTN3
Will2Will UTR2 UTR2 UTR1 INV INV
Zeke2Zeke OTTP4 CP3 MOR2 UTR2 MOR4
CeCe2CeCe UTR2 UTR1 MORN4 UTR1 MOR4
Lucy2Lucy UTR1 INV UTR1 OTTN5
Paul2Paul UTR3 OTTN3 OTTN5
Mari2Mari CP3 MOR3
Rachel2Rachel OTTN4

What did this episode tell us?

A swap is a significant change in the game and an important time to check in with the more critical characters of the season. Three people were basically absent from the entire episode — Hannah, Will, and Sunday — and a fourth was absent from the swap onwards: Jessica. The fact that these four were silenced is quite bad for their winner chances and signifies a lack of importance to the season as a whole.

However, we did see seven CP ratings, which suggests that these characters are our key players, the ones most likely to run deep into the game and provide us with our main story-lines and gameplay. A swap is almost like a check-point in the game, getting air-time and strategic insight at this check-point is a very good sign moving forward. Flashback to last season and how we got to check in with Michele Fitzgerald at the swap and heard several times her thoughts on being separated from her Beauty girls.

Dreams & Nightmares

We’ve gotten a taste of people’s dreams and nightmares here and there throughout this season. This theme grew legs and left muddy footprints all over this episode. Figurative dreams and nightmares, literal dreams and nightmares, within the microcosm of the game, at scale in life: they were covered explicitly and at length.

Dreams are typically spoken about with joy and respect on Survivor, and in particular this season, we’ve already heard people talking about going after them and achieving them (Adam, David, Mari, Jay, and Taylor have all mentioned dreams in various contexts). Nightmares are usually used to describe an unfortunate twist in events that leave one’s life hanging on the line. This season, we’ve also been introduced to a much more serious version of “nightmare,” of Adam’s mother battling cancer and her actual life being on the line.

Now, dreams are mentioned every season, so it isn’t always worth digging too deep into, but this episode is the first time this season people talked about literal dreams, the kind that happen while sleeping. The scene is given particular focus that suggests we should pay extra attention to the dream/nightmare theme this season. CeCe asks about them while continuing to wake to a living nightmare. Zeke never has them. David has his first one. (Meanwhile, Jay is working too hard to have dreams, and Adam is hyperbolizing about his “worst nightmare” which we know to be false because he’s also actually living his real worst nightmare.)

Since figurative dreams are a positive moment one achieves, it seems plausible that having a dream is a reward. David just made a big move that paid off, therefore he gets a dream. Zeke usually has a negative outlook, leaving him inherently dreamless. But Zeke also said “the heavens opened and the lights shined down,” so maybe he’s finally opening himself up to a dream. CeCe was right to be concerned about other people’s dreams and her own nightmares as she was on her way out. We will track this theme throughout the season to see if it unravels into a greater storytelling mechanism.

The Recap

The Previously on Survivor segment reminded us that “Figgy and Taylor couldn’t hide their love,” with Michaela representing the person they couldn’t hide from. This set up Figgy and Taylor’s storyline this episode of trying to hide their relationship from their new tribemates.

We were then told “On Gen-X, a blindsided Bret and Chris sought revenge on Jessica (“zap her ass”). But David and Ken wanted to save her.” It showed us Jessica not believing Ken and ended with “David played his idol saving Jessica and sending Lucy home.” Again, this was set-up for the events of this episode, with Jessica apologizing to Ken for not trusting him and reforming their bond.

THE CHARACTERS

Invisible

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There was practically no footage at all of Will this episode. Hannah was shown twice: right after the swap asking if people wanted to do a round of intros, which launched into a Bret montage, and then after Michaela’s return from the forest, hugging her and jumping up and down with her, meant to highlight Michaela’s emotional journey and how happy everybody was with Michaela. These scenes used Hannah as a prop for other characters, and it seemed incidental that it was Hannah who was used.

This episode saw both Hannah and Will swap into the new, third tribe starting from scratch with shelter and food, which gives more opportunity for them to be given throwaway confessionals. Will has even been the go-to guy for these kinds of confessionals this season! But we received no hyperbolic statement from him narrating either the new numbers scenario or the camp life reset. Per our introduction to this week’s Edgic, the silence points to these characters’ lack of importance to the season as a whole. Will’s lackluster ratings leading up to this episode speak for themselves on this point. Hannah started out with more compelling content but has now fallen back into the shadows. Her content seems more and more to be about highlighting other characters, being a tool for other people (“use me!”).

Under the Radar

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Sunday is the representation of disappointment in this episode. She’s shown standing right next to the replanted hidden immunity idol, not seeing it. She says, “So frustrating,” and David says, “Keep looking Sunday,” but it’s right under her nose. Then he says, subtitled, “No luck?” highlighting Sunday’s episode of having no luck. When Jeff tells everyone to drop their buffs, before even picking a tribe, Sunday is shown disappointed, grabbing her head. Back at her new camp, Jay speaks negatively of Bret and Sunday, disappointed in the Gen Xers he was put with. At the immunity challenge, Sunday can’t get a buoy, and Probst narrates, “Give up and swim it in.” “Give up” are never good words to have ascribed to one’s edit in Survivor. She’s then shown telling Jay, subtitled, “Sorry” when he’s brought in his buoy. Her only airtime showed disappointment after disappointment and gives Sunday her Negative tone.

This episode was a chance for Sunday to break out, but her continued lackluster ratings speak for themselves on the point of Sunday not being a major player of the season. She still might make it far, and could even get a short three/four episode arc post-merge (kind of like Julia Sokolowski last season), but her edit so far does not place her as one of the central characters.

Middle of the Road

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Jessica was only really present in the beginning of the episode when everyone came back from tribal council, and only because she was meant to be voted out but saved by David’s idol play.

David describes her as somebody who “nobody really wants to work with.” We see lots of her apologizing and ingratiating herself to Ken, even having a subtitled line, “I’m such a jerk.” She also tells Ken about her legacy advantage to buy good will, and we hear from Ken that it did, indeed, win his trust back. She disappears for most of the rest of the episode, except being seen by Adam as Ken’s tight pair, and after Ken clinches the immunity win for their new tribe, we hear Jessica say to him, “Oh I love you!” and hug him.

Jessica’s edit this episode relegates her character to a stepping stone on Ken’s path to victory (should he get there). She boosts Ken, his numbers, his grasp at the legacy advantage, his character. This would explain why, per our introduction, she notably doesn’t get to comment on the swap this episode. Her content is only ever about immediate events because we aren’t meant to care about her thoughts on, and therefore prospects in, the longer term game.

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This episode shows whether Bret lives up to the Gen X standard of good, hard work. The outcome? He doesn’t.

At his new swap tribe, we hear Hannah say, “Want to do a round of intros?” then see Bret jumping to, going round the circle shaking hands with every Millennial learning their name, rapid fire style; reactive, trying to get his hand in there, but getting nothing more than a name. We immediately cut to his confessional narrating that he and Sunday are in trouble, but as a Gen Xer, he has drive and won’t quit. However, Jay says that Bret “can’t figure things out for [himself]” and he “just sits back and waits for you to say something,” depicting Bret as reactive, inherently not driving anything. Bret says, “I need to prove to them that I’m worth keeping around,” and then the camera immediately cuts to all of the Millennials, not Bret, working hard to build the shelter. Jay tries showing Bret how to do something, and Bret doesn’t understand. The edit is showing us that Bret is not proving to anybody that he’s worth keeping around.

Bret is also shown taking a stab at making fire after Jay, and comically so, just bouncily banging away at the steel flint to no avail. As we often mention, fire is special in Survivor editing, and being shown failing at making fire is typically a death knell to one’s winner chances. Jay’s commentary about Bret alongside camp footage supporting Jay’s words leads to Bret’s Negative tone for this episode. He was narrationally present in the episode, playing the game but only alluding to the numbers, nothing complex, leading to a middle of the road rating.

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Jay transcends the Millennial designation this episode and is revealed as having some good Gen X qualities. He also continues to have a few significant negative signs in his edit, all in all, pointing to seasonal importance but a non-win.

When Jeff hands out the new buffs, Jay is shown singing the Survivor theme song, taking the unknown and change in stride, having fun with it. This is the little reminder that he’s one of our resident Millennial bros. But as soon as he gets to their new camp, he says in confessional, “Everyone says we’re just dreamers,” including himself, just last episode, but he sees himself as more than that. “The truth is, most of us are relentless.” He says the Gen Xers are the ones who supposedly “work hard” and “do things the right way,” but that as a “relentless” millennial, he also has these qualities when needed. Jay is backed up by camp footage showing him leading this new tribe to building their new shelter, working hard, and giving direction to Bret in particular. Bret says of Jay, “Kid knows how to do everything, huh? That’s cool,” further backing up this impression.

Despite this positive new development we see in his character, he quickly shifts to being cocky about the Millennials numbers advantage. “I’m chillin’ even if I lose a challenge. I don’t care. Boop, you’re outta here!” He shows complacency with his situation, which is never a good sign on Survivor. People need to “work hard” not just on shelters, but also on relationships. Numbers are people and need to be “relentlessly” maintained.

Additionally, Jay is shown for a second time trying and failing to make fire this season. Lacking the “relentlessness” he spoke of earlier. This pretty much destroys his chances of winning as fire has a special designation in Survivor — “in this game, fire represents your life” — but all signs point to him being an important player this season. We always check in on him. We’re shown many positives and negatives to his character. Though his episode-to-episode content is typically in the MOR realm, his overall character across episodes shows complexity, and that likely means we’ll be seeing him for a while.

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On the surface, Zeke had a solid episode. In the details, Zeke had a terrible episode. At the swap, he tells Jeff that the “numbers are definitely not in my favor. But I look around. I see a strong tribe. I see a tribe that can continue the winning streak.” It’s great that we get to check in with Zeke; this shows his perspective is worth hearing. He’s also, surprisingly for his character, positive! However, his statements are wrong. Far from a strong performance, their tribe struggles greatly and loses.

We then get a confessional from Zeke where he gets to relay his feelings on the swap privately, and we are back to seeing the negative-outlook Zeke we’ve come to know. He describes the swap as a “disaster scenario,” “in a bad spot,” and “not in the numbers.” The fact that we’ve heard his take on the swap both publicly on the mat and now privately in confessional reinforces that his perspective is important. However, in that same confessional, Zeke mentions that Michelle is the one Millennial he has “zero trust in.” At the end of the episode, at tribal council, the camera zooms in on a shot of Zeke and Michelle holding hands as the votes are being read. We are given no new information for why their relationship might have changed to find solace in one another while awaiting their fate. Thus, while the confessional adds to the importance of Zeke’s edit, wanting us to know where he is at emotionally and strategically, it once again shows that his words don’t add up.

The good news for Zeke is that he’s shown bonding with Chris over being from Oklahoma. We see it, then Chris tells us in confessional they have a “connection immediately,” and then we see Chris pulling Zeke aside to tell him he wants to work with him. Zeke says, “It’s like the heavens opened and the lights shined down and finally I catch a break in this game.” In fact, it is Michelle who starts the Oklahoma bonding conversation between Zeke and Chris, and as faith as been her tool in this game, Zeke’s statement could be read as Michelle opening the heavens and shining a light down for Zeke to catch this break. Regardless, we finally see Zeke having a real connection with somebody, and it comes ‘hand in hand’ with a positive outlook in the game.

Zeke has an interesting scene with his new tribemates where he tells them, “I don’t dream. I have no dreams. I very very rarely remember a dream.” Remember our season theme of Millennials disproving misconceptions? We are constantly reminded that Millennials are dreamers, and it’s typically depicted positively. They dream big, and they go for it. Nothing holds them back. This is not a ‘misconception’ that Zeke should want to be disproving. Interestingly, the camera is laser focused on Michelle the entire time Zeke says all this. The entire time. Is it because she’s more of a dreamer millennial than Zeke? Is it because she’ll prevent him from having any dreams such as winning?

Regardless, Zeke not having dreams paints him as someone who isn’t a dreamer, further rejecting his Millennial self as he did in episode one. Last episode, he referred to the reward challenge as a “nightmare.” So Zeke is someone who has nightmares but doesn’t have dreams. Zeke lives in the negative and rejects the positive. If he doesn’t have dreams, he can’t achieve them. Zeke’s current status is that he’s flowing through the game occasionally tolerating nightmares.

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CeCe’s boot episode was one death knell after another for her chances in the game. She has a confessional saying, “Since the immunity was played, the Immunity Idol is back up for grabs, so we kind of, like, had an idol search party.” The attitude here is incredibly casual for someone who’s consistently on the bottom. It’s a “party,” like for fun, instead of treating it like her life is on the line. Then she’s shown being near the idol but missing it, and David says, “Eventually CeCe gets bored and she goes back to camp.” She gives up on an opportunity to save her life in the game. All this lays a bad foundation for her.

She’s shown performing “atrociously,” as Zeke says, in the immunity challenge again, and unlike Michelle and Chris, she doesn’t apologize for her performance. After losing immunity, she characterizes her situation as “a nightmare, a recurring nightmare. It’s like I go to sleep, I wake up and I’m in the same nightmare, back to Tribal Council.” There’s so much negativity wrapped all around her and she’s even aware of it, yet she shows no desperation or drive to get herself out of this situation. She says, “The one positive is finally I’m not on the bottom.” The second you “sleep” on your position in the game, you’re out.

CeCe is completely oblivious to relationships in this episode: namely, her own relationship with Chris, an olive branch by Michelle, and the budding relationship between Zeke and Chris. CeCe is shown pitching Chris on saving Zeke, as if they’re automatically working together just because they’re both from Gen X. She says in confessional, “This time we have the majority, three Gen X against two Millennials.” However, Chris and CeCe have never once voted on the same side. Chris has even voted against CeCe. Furthermore, Zeke and Chris’ initial bonding scene was specifically shown at a wide angle with CeCe and everyone else in the shot. Everyone was present to pick up on the “instant connection” between Zeke and Chris. We know that Chris would not consider voting off Zeke right now, yet CeCe is talking to Chris about it as if it’s on the table, like she either missed their relationship entirely, or it simply didn’t matter. But as the edit always reminds us, relationships matter. Finally, she’s shown talking to Michelle, telling her, subtitled, “Don’t feel defeated.” It’s CeCe who should feel defeated, because by the time this scene is shown, the plan is set for CeCe to be voted out. Again, CeCe is out of touch, and she doesn’t entertain Michelle’s plans to flip the game around, thus rejecting her only opportunity to save herself.

CeCe’s downfall came from not building deep enough relationships, apathy towards the game (finding the idol, monitoring other people’s relationships, assuming she had the numbers), and timing. Her overall rating is UTR because we didn’t get to know much about her even in this, her boot episode. The closest thing to personal development she got was a line about her prayer and faith the episode she was miraculously saved from going home. If she’s remembered for anything, it’ll unfortunately just be for being bad at challenges.

Over the Top

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Taylor’s main story this episode is as the lusty boyfriend who hopes he’s not separated from Figgy in the swap, and when he’s not, he continues to show little thought towards the game, thinking only about romancing Figgy. Even Figgy, who isn’t depicted positively or as an effective player, is shown thinking of their game and shooting him down, making Taylor look even worse. He’s a one-dimensional, OTT millennial lover.

His thoughtlessness in the game first comes after the swap. He says he’s “stoked” because “I’ve got the numbers, and I have Fig, so it could not go any better for me.” However, the other Millennial he’s stuck with is Adam, who was shown voting against Figgy and continuously pitching to split up Taylor and Figgy. Being put with literally any millennial other than Adam would have been better for him. This is confirmed when Adam says it’s his nightmare to be stuck with them and is shown bonding with Ken, considering a flip to the Gen X.

When Figgy won’t let him hug her, he says, “So we doing that even though we have numbers? Screw that!” and then, “Does it really matter though?” He doesn’t put any thought to it. He’s all energy and emotion and reaction. Furthermore, he thinks he can behave however he wants because he assumes he “has” numbers. But Adam isn’t a number; he’s a person with whom Taylor doesn’t have a close relationship. Like Jay, Taylor doesn’t think he needs to work at all for his “numbers.” Even Figgy says of Taylor, “It’s not smart.”

While Ken is working hard around camp and cooking a meal, literally feeding them, Taylor is shown lying down mouthing to Figgy, “You’re hot,” subtitled, and then once again, “You. Are. Hot.” This scene is funny, but it shows how foolish he is, how he has no survival instincts, lying there doing nothing, tuning in to attractiveness and someone he already has a relationship with instead of being helpful or showing gratitude or building new connections. All this foolishness, even with Figgy calling it out as “not smart,” gives Taylor his Negative tone this episode.

Taylor’s entire game right now can be summarized by his confessional, “But I really think that us being a power couple isn’t any different than two people in an alliance that really trust each other.” “Power couple” in Survivor doesn’t just denote romantic couples; it literally just refers to “two people in an alliance that really trust each other.” Taylor puts emphasis on the word couple when the real emphasis is on the word power, the power of two votes being locked in. Adam says to Taylor, “But you know you’re going to do what she says,” and Taylor says, “I know,” even though he “thinks it’s stupid,” (though it’s clearly Taylor that’s depicted as the “stupid” one here). He admittedly will blindly do whatever Figgy wants him to do…two people whose votes and actions are locked in. He sees “couple,” but everyone else sees “power.” It seems the edit is telling us that his “love goggles” are blinding him and will cause his downfall.

Complex Personalities

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Figgy wasn’t a huge character in this episode, but we definitely checked in with her and know exactly where her head is at. She’s thrilled with her swap tribe, showing big smiles and “high energy.” Ken says his new millennial tribemates have “high energy, some goofy energy to the tribe,” and the camera immediately cuts to Figgy. We’re given the impression that she’s happy because she has not been separated from her Survivor boyfriend Taylor and also because she thinks “we have the numbers,” assuming Adam is with them.

In our episode three edgic article, we wrote, “when [Figgy] said, ‘People who write down Figgy’s name go home.’ …we knew Adam and Zeke would be safe this episode because Figgy is always wrong.” Figgy wanted Adam to go home for writing her name down, and how quickly she’s forgotten her own edict. It once again highlights that she’s an unreliable narrator, as we can’t even rely on her to follow through with her own plans.

She has a montage with Taylor where he cannot stay away from her, and she rebuffs him multiple times, subtitled to hit it home. She gets to explain her behavior in a confessional, that “being with these new people, that’s going to put a target on our backs.” She’s showing restraint and caution within the game, which is out of character for Figgy. It shows she’s capable of disproving millennial misconceptions. This thoughtfulness around her behavior and gameplay is why she has a CP rating for this episode.

It’s somewhat unclear why she didn’t have this exact same outlook and motivation before. In episode two, she literally said, “nobody cares” as she and Taylor threw caution to the wind. The Previously on Survivor segment also reminded us, “Figgy and Taylor couldn’t hide their love.” This makes us question whether she’ll be able to keep up the charade. Adam backs up this train of thought by saying, “I don’t know how long (the charade) will last, because Taylor is ready to start canoodling again.” Note that Adam’s assessment here depicts Taylor as the one who’ll lure Figgy away from this newly “smart” game play. We are explicitly told that Taylor will do whatever Figgy says, but under the surface, it appears to be Taylor causing Figgy to play recklessly.

Adam also says of Figgy that she’s “very controlling” and “lies constantly,” which, though minor, registers her Negative tone for the episode.

The final note to Figgy’s edit this episode is, she’s shown asking Ken and Jessica, “Do you guys have a goat loose around here? We have a goat that’s loose!” This is the second episode in a row where Figgy is explicitly shown talking about a goat. Once again, it seems to be an on-the-nose commentary that she’s a “goat” as a player, one of a growing many signals that she will make it to the end of the game…and lose.

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This episode was an editorial rollercoaster for Michaela, starting out low, ending up high. She was revealed to be a complex person during her turnaround, and explained her emotions. By literal definition, this adds up to her CPM rating.

After getting swapped to Ika Bula, Michaela is shown to be angry and annoyed. She throws her new buff to the floor. Buffs are sometimes used as a substitute for one’s fire/life in the game, thus throwing it to the floor shows carelessness and disrespect for one’s life in the game. Probst literally narrates her anger, “Michaela green and not happy.” Her moody expression is shown while everyone is shaking hands and smiling. Probst describes her anger for a second time, harping on it, “Boy, Michaela is wearing it on her face,” the “it” here referring to her anger and negativity.

Probst, now for the third time, points out Michaela’s negativity “Michaela, you still seem unhappy right now,” the word ‘still’ drawing attention to the time she’s had to cool off but hasn’t. For Probst to have brought it up three times, this is the edit harping on her reaction. It really wants us to register her anger. Michaela says, “You didn’t do this right, Jeff. Just saying.” Rather than adapting like she’s supposed to, putting on a smile and pushing through it like everybody else, she brings negativity to the situation. “Man, I was pissed… I just wanted to flick him off right there,” she says.

This was the Michaela bomb. This is the starting basis for her edit and tone: she’s Negative and in a bad place. Later on in the episode, we visit her camp with the focus on Jay struggling to start a fire. He says they’re tired, starving, miserable, and nobody can start the fire. Michaela pipes up, “I’ll try it.”

She has a confessional about how “sometimes I get to a point where I’ve given it all that I have and am almost to the point of giving up, and then I push a little further and things pop.” This sets up Michaela’s turnaround. Though she hasn’t started the fire yet, we know that she’s just scripted the rest of the scene for us. We then get personal development about Michaela, learning more about her real life. She relates this situation to “Working to put my own self through college. Working to pay off my own loans. I work.” Personal development is key in the edit because it creates an emotional investment. The image here is of a hard worker who doesn’t give up and who had to make her own way in life. The relation of game to real life here starts her CP rating.

After her spark catches flame, everyone in camp perks up and runs to the fire as we see big flames go up. Bret has an entire confessional just narrating Michaela “going berserk” creating all these sparks, and “Boom.” She didn’t give up, put out a lot of energy, and got that “pop.” He says, subtitled, “There you go, keep it going,” really referring to keeping Michaela’s newfound flame going, but also keeping her on this positive trend: keep soaring. This is all Positive tone. He says, “She saved us today,” meaning when she succeeds, she brings life to the whole tribe. Michaela retreats to the forest to privately cry, sensitive music cues as she begins to speak and explain the emotions. “Sometimes you just need something so bad. Sometimes when you have no other choice but to get something done, it happens, and is just letting me know, like the life I’m trying to get by winning this thing is worth it.” She was in a low place in the game and needed the fire badly. But we now also know, she’s been in a low place in life, and winning this game would give her a better life, and that playing this game is “worth it.” We now see her eye is on the prize, “I do want it badly.”

She continues, revealing her motivation to win, “for my family…I just want to prove that you can have success and you can have, like, your family together.” We’ve just seen she’s capable of exactly this. Michaela “saved” the tribe today. She was successful for herself making fire, but that also brought the tribe, her Survivor family, together. We now have a better idea of who Michaela is as a person and a Survivor player, and her strong motivations to win this game. Learning this kind of thing about a player is complex and therefore all of this content is CP rating with Positive tone.

She returns to camp feeling better, smiling, and the tribe literally cheers for her, shouting her name. “The best.” People give her high fives. “None of us could do that and you got it done.” Hannah hugs her and they jump up and down. Then we go to the challenge where Probst highlights her strong performance with such narration as, “Michaela quickly with the buoy,” and “Michaela scores on her first shot. Michaela two for two. Incredible…She has been on fire…Michaela for the win! Yes!” All of this cements the completion of her turnaround, ending on a high note, cheers, and Positive tone.

While she ended the episode on a very positive and complex note, the road to getting there included negativity and being in a low place, an emotional rollercoaster. This yields her Mixed tone and CP rating for the episode as a whole.

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David opens up the episode announcing to the Gen X camp, “Y’all can let me have it now or not, it’s up to you,” as if playing an idol for somebody would draw ire. He’s completely out of touch with their reaction. They’re not angry; they’re confused. This is a reminder that, while David is able to have deep relationships with individuals, he’s off the mark when dealing with a whole group.

He questions whether it was the right move to play it, and this question is quickly answered as he finds the idol again the next day. We go through an emotional journey with him, feeling his vulnerability, anxiously looking for and spotting the idol with others around, and then joy and relief as he finds it, “exactly what I looove and craaave.” He says, “I’m so fortunate to play an idol and then find it again the very next day,” showing some humility in his victorious moment. Positive music swells as he compares this to his real life, “I’ve tasted no victory in my real life that compares to the victory that I feel right now in Survivor.” The edit, and the Survivor gods, are rewarding his early, big play. “I want to be that guy, because that’s going to get me further in this game,” setting David up to continue to play aggressively this season. These early scenes of David already hint at his CPM edit of the episode: he has lows, he has highs, and he’s achieving his dreams.

After all that P tone around his idol find, we get a lot of Negative tone around his challenge performance. He’s shown hitting himself in the face with the buoy in the water. He struggles to get out of the water, “loses the buoy,” “disaster,” Probst narrating the whole catastrophe. He’s so bad that Zeke asks, “Is he throwing this?” Later Zeke says that David is “atrocious in challenges and don’t seem to care.” CeCe tells David that Michelle said, “You’re the weakest, and you’re clumsy.” We’re left no room for doubt about what people think about David as a physical competitor. Yet unlike Michelle and Chris, David isn’t shown apologizing for his performance in the challenge.

Chris approaches David to consider an alternate voting plan. The scene juxtaposes a thoughtful, measured Chris with a rushed, eager to please David. Chris gives David time to think through a plan, but David rushes to commit to it. David gets to explain this behavior, he wants to “make him believe he can trust me.” Getting to explain one’s strategy and behavior bumps a person into CP rating territory, but it doesn’t always mean that the person is right. In this case, contrary to his stated intention, David doesn’t come off as trustworthy. He comes off as if he’ll quickly latch on to any new plan and quickly throw somebody under the bus. So we continue to see signs of Chris questioning David’s loyalty, “Now whether Dave will stay to his word or not, I don’t know.” It also points to David once again betraying Chris down the road.

Right after the swap, David tells his tribe mates, “This is the first time I’ve had a dream since I got here.” As the dreams and nightmares theme seems to be unraveling with each episode, it’s hard to point to exactly what this means for David. As dreams are typically a positive moment one achieves, perhaps he dreamt because he made a successful move in the game.

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This episode was about new life for Adam in this game. The edit held off on showing us his thoughts on the swap, first setting up the scene and his surroundings. We see that he’s still with Figgy and Taylor and that the two of them are thrilled. We see them interact a little at camp. Then, we jump to Adam’s perspective as the one that matters most in the swap to the purple tribe. He characterizes being on the same tribe as Figgy and Taylor as a nightmare, but then we’re shown a camp scene of him opening up to Ken, playing the game, opening doors for himself. We see that his efforts are successful because he’s won over Ken, who wants to work with him. He then gets to speak upon his situation on this tribe and his game plan. He correctly pegs Ken and Jessica as a tight pair, and therefore sees himself as being a middle man between two tight pairs. This is thoughtful, forward-looking discussion of his game and lands him his CP rating this episode.

On a slightly bad note for his longevity, the confessional shows overconfidence. “I’m the guy they need to come to. I’m the guy they need to work with. I get to decide which side moves forward.” It typically sounds alarm bells when somebody thinks they’re in the power seat. However, it’s tempered by the fact that we’ve already seen Taylor and Figgy referring to him as being on their side as well as Ken saying he wants Adam to work with Jessica and him. Especially since he’s been our reliable narrator all season so far, we have all the reason right now to believe he is, in fact, the swing vote deciding the fate of this tribe.

Ken had a lot of kind things to say about Adam, “nicest kid ever,” “super positive,” “respectful,” and “polite.” All this effusive praise leads to Adam’s P tone for the episode. His chances are looking good as he’s now in a good position strategically, has an idol, and we continue to check in with him.

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Ken’s episode begins with a reminder from the recap that he tried saving Jessica, but she didn’t believe him. When everyone returns to camp from tribal council, Jessica is shown spending an extensive amount of time with Ken groveling for forgiveness, “if I had been voted out, I would have handed (the legacy advantage) to you.” Even though David was the one who saved Jessica, it’s Ken who receives all the credit for it, and it’s his (mended) relationship with Jessica that’s shown as important. At least in the short-term, this is likely because the two of them end up on the same tribe after the swap. There could be some long-term merit to this as well.

Ken is the first person shown commenting on the new purple tribe dynamic when they arrive back at camp. He talks about the high energy of the millennials, and hopes that by “being more grounded and more subtle with the way that we speak and the way we do things can help” Jessica and him survive. He’s then shown chatting up Adam about his position in the game, trying to win him over, and he gets a confessional commenting on that chat. He comments, correctly, that he’s exposed “a little bit of a crack on the Millennials,” showing he’s in tune with people and the game. He says he’s “hit the jackpot,” not because of the crack he’s exposed, but because of what a great guy Adam is. Then, secondarily, after lots of talk about Adam as a human being, he then says that he and Jess hopefully have Adam, game-wise. It’s important to note Ken’s approach and discussion of strategy. He’s nearly always shown putting the relationship first. While Adam doesn’t commit to working with Ken in confessional, he does make it clear that he’s open to it, with his only hesitation around the fact that “Ken and Jessica, they seem to have a tight bond.” All of this relationship-focused game content lands Ken his CP rating of the episode.

Ken is also always depicted as positive and hopeful. Zeke and Bret are both in the same “numbers” position as Ken, a two person minority on their new tribe. Zeke calls it a “disaster” and Bret says he’s “in serious trouble right now.” Michaela was even in a numbers majority and threw her buff to the ground in anger over her swap result. Ken, however, says, “I hit the jackpot.” He characterized the new tribe as “interesting” and only spoke positively of Millennials. He has a great attitude, shown working hard at camp cooking a lavish meal for the new tribe literally as Taylor lies down doing nothing and everyone else is just watching. The words Ken uses to describe Adam, “He’s super positive. He’s respectful. He’s polite,” while we know Adam must exemplify these qualities because trustworthy Ken says so, it’s actually Ken who’s been shown in camp life to embody these characteristics the most. All of this combined with Jessica crying on Ken’s shoulder at the start of the episode lead to light Positive tone for Ken.

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Chris is shown at the beginning of the episode setting up the idol “search party” that’s about to take place. “We’re gonna look everywhere…Ain’t no shame in looking for the idol today.” Indeed, this is the first episode where we show him taking an active role in the game play, looking everywhere for allies, playing the game without shame. There’s also a bit of irony in this scene because it’s CeCe to whom he openly talks about looking shamelessly for the idol, and it’s CeCe, today, whom Chris sent packing.

After the swap, most of Chris’ story is about bonding with Zeke and pulling in Zeke and David to change up the game. We mentioned all the footage showing Chris and Zeke’s immediate connection, validated on both sides in confessional as well. During the challenge, Chris is subtitled saying, “Let’s try pulling in, Zeke.” This is really alluding to how he’s pulling in Zeke in this vote. Woven into all these scenes is Chris taking control of his game. He says, “I have a tad bit more control” in confessional, and “I got a game plan” and “I’m ready to make a move” to Zeke. After tribal council, Chris pretends to go along with CeCe’s plan to vote Michelle but narrates over this in confessional that he’s “made a different decision.” And it is his decision that carries the day.

He fully explains why he’s turning against the Gen Xers, “CeCe and David backstabbed me.” He explains why it’s prudent to keep David over CeCe, “he has at least some numbers that will survive this three-tribe situation that we’re in” in the context of his long-term strategy, “I have to have a big alliance to protect me in a merge.” Then he states the plan explicitly, “we’re going to vote CeCe off tonight.” We then see him approach David, working towards his longer term plan of using David’s numbers. Furthermore, his approach is thoughtful and collaborative. He doesn’t even name CeCe; David rushes to, reading Chris’ thoughts. When David again tries to confirm voting CeCe, Chris responds, “I just want you to think it through,” giving David time and space. By contrast, David rushes to agree, and even says, “I don’t even need to (think it through).” This juxtaposition accentuates Chris’ savvy in building trust and influencing a vote. All this game discussion, combined with the personal development we received about him being a college football champion from Oklahoma make Chris a CP character this episode.

Recall the last time Chris talked about voting out CeCe, “I’m not sure how CeCe doesn’t go home tonight.” As we mentioned then, this was factually correct: he wasn’t sure, in the end, how she didn’t go home. This time, however, he definitively states that CeCe will be voted off. “CeCe’s gone,” he says, subtitled to Michelle and Zeke. Because Chris has always been factually correct, this is the surefire signal that CeCe will go home tonight. His status as a reliable narrator is intact.

There’s some mixed tone to Chris’ edit as well. On the one hand, Zeke gushed about him all episode long. “Not only did he play for the Sooners, he was on the 2000 National Championship team. These guys are my childhood heroes! That National Championship was one of the biggest events of my childhood!…I want to work with the big ginger-haired football player.” On the flip side, he’s also shown to be a very negative presence. “I’m going to be the first one to choke David in front of the whole nation,” he tells Zeke and Michelle in front of David if David blindsides him again. Though it is in jest and everyone’s laughing, it still raises one’s eyebrows, and to punctuate it, it even comes up at tribal. So Chris is a physically imposing football champion “childhood hero” who literally threatens the little guy… Neither these P nor N signals were so overt as to warrant the M rating, but it’s something to keep an eye on as his character develops.

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Like Adam, the edit waited a while before showing Michelle’s perspective on the swap. She enters the picture, literally and figuratively, when Zeke is talking about not having dreams at all. The camera is on Michelle the whole time, slowly walking up to the rest of tribe the during this conversation. Is it because she’s a dreamer, the one with big dreams? Is it because she will thwart any dreams Zeke may have in this game?

“How’d you sleep?” she’s asked. “Not too good.” Then, we get a confessional where she talks about how her “whole game was turned upside down” as she’s lost all her numbers from Millennials. This would certainly cause her to stay up at night, as the expression goes. She asks, “Are you guys thinking we should slow cook the beans?”And Chris replies,”I’m not that hungry.” She puts an idea out there for the tribe and is shut down. But this doesn’t stop her; she’s relentless (as Jay said of millennials).”I’m a little worried if we have a challenge, we won’t have time to cook the beans.” They then relent and say OK.

Later, she says to the tribe at large, “I missed where y’all are from,” again giving the impression that she’s late to joining this tribe’s conversations. Chris and Zeke both begin talking about being from Oklahoma, and the conversation runs away from Michelle. She means to start bonds of her own, but instead, creates one for others. Her own narration during these scenes is, “My problem is that the alliance might be stacked against me,” indicating she’s not yet connecting with this new tribe.

After Chris and David commit to voting out CeCe with Michelle and Zeke, Michelle says in confessional, “But how do you trust it? There’s a thousand possibilities that he’s not telling the truth.” On the one hand, she’s not definitive about not being able to trust them. She’s merely questioning it and not resting on somebody else’s word, the way CeCe does. On the other, we know that they are telling the truth, and she isn’t able to read that from them. She assesses her situation and tells us her game plan, “I’m not gonna sit back and let other people decide my fate,” and then we see her going to work.

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She tells CeCe that, “I know that either me or Zeke–probably me–is on the chopping block. I know that. I see that.” Again, on the one hand, she’s the decoy boot for CeCe and therefore her name is on the block. On the other hand, we know she’s safe for tonight and she’s now actively putting her name on the chopping block by refusing to lie low – like we said last week, very Ciera Eastin of her. CeCe tells David that Michelle pitched her to vote out David and insulted him as the “weakest” and “clumsy.” This puts Michelle in more danger than she’s actually been in all episode as David is now considering voting out Michelle by playing his idol for CeCe.

Her pitch to CeCe is shown as strong and rational, especially since the two of them are the ones whose names are being written down tonight, but her attempt fails. She’s unable to work a relationship with CeCe and convince her. That said, she is successful at reading CeCe and immediately grasps that she has no hope with her. So even though she said, “I’m not gonna sit back and let other people decide my fate,” she ends up having to do just that, “all I can do right now is hope that David and Chris are telling me the truth and hope for the best.”

At tribal council, Chris says, “I don’t like to be reckless,” and the camera focuses on Michelle during that whole sentence. Shortly thereafter, just like her relentlessness with the beans earlier, she once again brings up ousting David at tribal council. “I personally don’t see how there could be very much trust there, especially continuing forward,” painting David as untrustworthy and aggressively broadcasting her voting desire. For the second time, she’s unnecessarily going after a man who has the power to single-handedly oust her. There’s one word that the edit already ascribed to this gameplay of hers: “Reckless.”

This episode is a mixed bag for Michelle. On the one hand, her attitude and thoughts on the game are reasonable. On the other, she needlessly acted too aggressively by not sitting back and reading the truth of the situation. She’s shown failing at executing her plans, but she is also allowed to correctly explain away the situation, protecting her from “looking bad” for failing. The amount of attention she receives this episode considering she neither gets her way nor is voted out speaks to her importance as a game player this season — specifically game player, not character. Right now, we don’t get much personal development about her real life, though she’s been a catalyst for us getting personal development about others. She’s a strong presence whenever she goes to tribal council, but otherwise, she fades into the background.

Stories in Play

-Millennials vs. Gen X – the theme of the season, expected to continue throughout. Although with the swap it might not be as forced fed.
-Disproving Millennial Misconceptions – Will the Millennial players prove or disprove the negative stereotypes? Adam introduced this concept in episode one. This episode, Jay disproved the misconception that Millennials are just lazy dreamers, by working hard to build the shelter while the former Gen Xers, Bret and Sunday, simply stood and watched. Michaela then continued this theme when she made fire.
-Cool Kids vs. Misfits – the Cool Kids have the majority numbers on the Millennials tribe. Is this theme over now the the tribe’s have swapped? Zeke and Michelle, previously in opposing alliances, ended the episode holding hands. Although, Adam is still wary and critical of Figgy and Taylor.
-David Out of Water – David still has one of the biggest edits and each week he is getting more and more comfortable in himself and the game (finding another idol, trying to reform trust with Chris). Although he still struggles with the physical portion of the game – failing miserably at the challenge.
-Humility/Connections – This theme is best represented by Ken currently. He has both being described as humble and described others as humble himself. In this episode, he reconnected with Jessica who cried on his shoulder, showing genuine human connection. He also bonded with Adam, seeing the good in him, “polite” and “positive.”
-Dreams & Nightmares – dream talk has been present all season but it had a particularly large focus this episode with the “dream chat” on Vanua beach. Are those with dreams more likely to succeed this season? It’s a theme worth keeping an eye on.

That’s it for this week’s Edgic. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.


Shirin is a two-time Survivor player who competed on Survivor: Worlds Apart and Survivor: Cambodia - Second Chance.



  • Michael DiPietro

    Heya! I would strongly make the argument to switch Michaela from CPM to CPP, I understand the episode started off on a low for her, but if you really look at the editors intent, it was only their to set her up for her to achieve an even bigger high/positive at the end of the episode. The negative was even presented cheekily/in a fun way with Michaela smiling by the time she told Jeff “he didn’t do this right” and then the confessional about her ‘flicking him off was IMO an attempt at hyperbolized humor on her behalf.

    • But the fact that it was there to set up the positive end is exactly what mixed tone is about. It doesn’t override it. Nor is mixed tone a bad thing. It shows that Michaela is the most complex character. 🙂

      • Michael DiPietro

        I suppose I see it as odd for someone like Michaela to walk away from an episode like this with CPM where the editors intent was to really just all around show some humour and likability along with some CPP content bordering on hero edit whereas someone like Adam, while I agree, is CPP, you could just as easily say the episode started on a low for him because he wasn’t happy with being swapped along with Figtails (negative) but then grew into a positive edit when new doors opened.

        I think a true CPM is someone like David he has true negatives about his character made clear, and not just in a very light way to highlight the positives/highs, along with having some clearly defined and separate positive moments as well.

        Just my 2 cents, I know there is a TON of variability as to how EDGIC is done and respect the way you see it. I personally enjoy this columns insight and write up the most which is the only reason I’m bothering haha 😛

        • Yeah it’s all down to interpretation. Michaela’s angry reaction (it wasn’t all humour) was harped on over and over, compared to Adam that just said he was annoyed to be with Figgy and Taylor still. Just because Michaela is CPM doesn’t mean she didn’t end the episode positive – she did. But this isn’t her overall season rating, it’s her individual episode rating and she had both negative and positive tone to tell her arc. 🙂

  • Mat

    Hi guys ! What do you think of Michelle’s edit ? Does she have a chance to reach the merge ?
    I was really hopeful with her at the beginning, but I think she’s probably gonna be “swap-screwed” before the merge. I can’t really see another scenario should Vanua go back tyo Tribal Council.
    What do you think 🙂 ?

    • Her edit had some flaws last episode but it’s still strong. Her chances of making the merge should still be good.

    • Red

      I agree that If Vanua goes back to tribal she will go. Which is why I think they won’t go back to tribal again. The only way I see her surviving a tribal is if she/Zeke/Chris vote David. David uses his idol and Votes Zeke to take that connection away from Chirs

  • Yaseen Kotwal

    Loved reading this… maybe Jay failing to make fire twice is forshaowing a failure at Final 4 fire making challege????

    • Gary Johnson

      I thought the same exact thing!

  • Gary Johnson

    Fantastic article as always, Shirin! I was very delighted to see that you’ve had a lot of the same insights i had while analyzing the edit! especially about Figgy being foreshadowed as a F3 goat. I also think Jay could very likely be our 4th placer and lose in a fire-making challenge a la Rodney. 4th place will be either Jay or Michelle. Ken definitely has the best edit. He’s still my winner pick at this point.