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Survivor: Winners At War Episode 5 – The Edit Bay


What is the edit telling us after episode 5?

Photo: CBS

Hello all, welcome to the Edit Bay, a swanky island resort located just south of the Edge of Extinction. As you may know, I’ve decided not to write Edgic this season due to a mix of fatigue and not having the time or desire to do a deep dive edit analysis on a season with the EOE in play. However, because readers have been asking for some form of edit-based content, I’ve decided to create the Edit Bay as a happy compromise. I won’t be assigning ratings or breaking down every character, instead, I will offer some “hot takes,” if you will, on the narrative arcs and top winner contenders.

THE STORIES

“MAIN HEADLINES”

FIRE TOKENS REPRESENT YOUR LIFE — While we didn’t get an Edge of Extinction segment in this episode, there was still some fire token talk at the tribe camps. Nick had a confessional about receiving a token from Tyson, which perhaps included some foreshadowing. “I think in another situation, I would have really have liked to work with Tyson, and maybe that situation will come up,” he said. Is that a hint that Tyson could return to the game and align with Nick? This also ties back to Nick’s first confessional of the season, where he talked about the importance of fire tokens, and so, I suspect his story will revolve around the currency.

There was one other brief mention of tokens, other than when Rob willed his to Parvati at the end, and that was Michele telling Parvati she’d give her token and any future tokens for an idol right now. That could also be foreshadowing, especially with Parvati now having four tokens to her name.

TONY ON PROBATION — It feels like Tony’s story is moving onto its second stage now, which I’ll talk about in the next section, as his lowering people’s guards strategy moves into the big threat shields strategy. But Tony continues to be a presence in each episode, he always shares his thoughts and explains his moves, and we still haven’t seen him become a target.

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LIONS VS. HYENAS — This is basically the continuation of the “free agents vs. the connections” narrative, except Tony put a new name to it. He talked to Sandra about how the lions (i.e., the big threats) need to surround themselves with other lions; otherwise, the hyenas (i.e., the lower profile threats) will gang up and eat them. We saw this in the previous episode regarding the Tyson vote, and it remained a focal storyline in the latest episode.

Looking back, this narrative has been a big part of Tony’s arc right from the premiere, as sort of a secondary story to his “on probation” stuff. In that first episode, Tony mentioned wanting to keep Amber around so that “husband and wife” would stay in the game as a big shield. Last week, he talked about keeping Tyson around as a shield, and this week, it was Kim. The problem is, so far, Tony has failed to get his way. He’s let these shields get away, even if the blame was put in the hands of others.

The question here is, will the lions continue to be eaten by the hyenas, and if so, will Tony also fall victim? Or is it going to be that Tony is the only voice of reason, but the others don’t listen to him, and he ends up as the last lion standing? Whichever way it goes, I expect this lions vs. hyenas story to play out a while longer.

“POST-SWAP STORIES”

BAD ROMANCE — The tribe swap gave birth to some new stories, the most prominent of which was probably on the new Sele tribe. Michele and Wendell’s outside-the-game relationship, and subsequent break-up, became a hot topic, one filled was awkwardness and tension. I’m not sure if this will be a long-term narrative, but I expect it to at least play out for the rest of the pre-merge.

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KIM IN THE MIDDLE — This one is tied to the lions vs. hyenas story, and it sees Kim caught smack dab in the middle of the new Dakal tribe. While Kim hasn’t had a ton of air-time so far this season, there is a slight underdog vibe to her edit, and this could be the start of a comeback. She now has options as a swing vote between Denise & Jeremy and Sandra & Tony, and with the amount of set-up it received last week, I expect to see a follow-up in the near future.

“STORIES ON HOLD”

MICHELE HAS SOMETHING TO PROVE — No real follow-up on this particular arc, but Michele still received significant focus in the episode, and I don’t doubt we’ve seen the end of this storyline.

“I’M WITH YOU” — There was no direct follow-up on this statement made by Nick back in episode four when he made it clear he wouldn’t flip on the red tribe at a potential swap. But he did reiterate how good he felt to land on a tribe with the numbers and his closest allies Wendell and Yul. There is just something ominous-sounding about this that makes me think someone in this alliance will flip. Early in the episode, there was an off-handed (but subtitled) comment from Sarah telling Nick and Yul “not to get cocky,” and the whole “Nick has a crush on Parvati” thing could perhaps be hinting at Nick flipping to Michele and Parvati.

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ADAM THE RAT — This story sort of took a backseat in this episode as the Yara tribe was more about the implosion of the former Sele boys and Boston Rob’s downfall. That said, Adam’s story of being an untrustworthy double agent did essentially lead to this moment, where the trust was broken so badly between Adam, Ben, and Rob that it doomed them from ever working together again.

THE CONNECTIONS

“ALLIANCES”

SARAH & SOPHIE — The swap birthed some new alliances while it put others on hold, and one of those new partnerships came on Yara, between Sarah and Sophie. Being down on numbers 3-to-2, this duo was basically thrust together, but cemented by an idol find. As for who this alliance favors the most, that’s a tricky question.

“I’ve never been able to read Sarah,” Sophie said in confessional. “But I really felt after giving her this half of the idol, she felt like ‘this is a girl I can work with til the end.'” While it’s good that Sophie got to comment on the alliance, it’s a little worrying that we never heard Sarah’s thoughts. Sarah never confirmed if Sophie’s read was right. Plus, Sarah is already in a duo with Tony, an alliance where both members gave it positive reinforcement. So it will be interesting to see how much legs this Sarah & Sophie partnership has in the long-run.

MICHELE & PARVATI — Another duo forced together by being on the outs, Michele and Parvati bonded over their predicament. I can’t see this being anything other than a temporary alliance, however. There was no real talk of their alliance in confessional, as Michele’s story revolved around her past relationship with Wendell, and Parvati’s story was about trying to find an in with the old Dakal members.

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NICK, WENDELL, & YUL — Three of the free agents group ended up together on the new Sele tribe, and, as previously mentioned, Nick mentioned the alliance directly in confessional. There was no talk from Wendell or Yul, though, in regards to this trio, but b-roll footage did show them to be together.

SANDRA & TONY — The former Game Changers are still together and still look to be aligned. But we only heard specifically from Tony in this episode. Sandra didn’t receive a confessional at all. It was all about Tony wanting to protect the lions and trying to get through to Sandra.

“TENUOUS RELATIONSHIPS”

MICHELE & WENDELL — It’s not an alliance, but these two are now linked via a past relationship, which is clearly significant to the narrative to a certain degree.

PARVATI & YUL — There was a short scene in the latest episode where Parvati and Yul reunited. Yul told Parv that she’s his wife’s favorite player, and Parvati talked about playing on Cook Islands with Yul in the past. As with the above, it’s not really an alliance, and Yul didn’t comment on it at all, but it’s a potential connection moving forward. 

ADAM & BEN — These two have had such an odd relationship throughout the first five episodes. They were both linked to Denise early on. Adam made it clear he didn’t trust Ben. Adam was left out of the Ethan vote by Ben and was left groveling to him in the next episode. And yet here they were stuck together and voting with one another. Whether allies or enemies, I expect this relationship to continue to be highlighted in the coming weeks. 

DENISE & KIM — Another short scene, but potentially the start of a future alliance. Kim approached Denise and talked about moving forward together. Denise spoke of it confessional about how Kim might be willing to pull her in or even jump over to her and Jeremy. I definitely expect to see this relationship develop more in the future.

THE CONTENDERS

The below list is just the edits that currently stand out. It doesn’t mean that all those not mentioned are out of contention. 

SARAH

Pros:

  • A clear alliance with Tony, which received significant focus for three episodes in a row, and both members talked about the alliance in confessional.
  • The fact she and Tony are currently on separate tribes suggests they should both make the merge to reunite, given the extent of the Cops R Us content. 
  • Now has a secondary alliance with Sophie.
  • She received some emotional content when she was shown offering Yul a hug after his talk about Jonathan Penner’s wife and her battle with ALS. 
  • She had a lot of strategy content in this episode, where she talked about her thought process regarding this vote and the impact on her game moving forward.
  • She has received focus in each episode, including a flashback to her previous seasons. 
  • She has received some personal content about her job as a police officer.
  • There was a weird focus on her relationship with Tyson in the previous episode, which perhaps was setting up something for the future.
  • Her reasoning for wanting to keep Tyson in the previous episode was validated even if she didn’t get her way.
  • She started on the complex tribe.

Cons:

  • An underwhelming premiere edit.
  • Tony was presented as the more important member of Cops R Us.
  • She didn’t speak about her alliance with Sophie in confessional. That could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how events unfold in the future. 
  • Even though the blame was put on Sandra, she didn’t get her way in keeping Tyson, and that could suggest a downfall if the big threats continue to be targeted.
  • She said Cops R Us could work as long as nobody knows about it. This might mean the alliance falls apart later down the line if it becomes public knowledge. 

SOPHIE

Pros:

  • Strong premiere edit. 
  • She had an established duo alliance with Yul in the premiere.
  • She was named as part of the “free agents” group.
  • Now has a secondary partnership with Sarah, which she talked about in confessional.
  • She’s had a fair amount of content, whether narration or strategy and mentioned long-term plans (Yul being a nerd-shield, Sarah being someone who wants to work with her until the end). 
  • Was shown to have empathy for those living on the Edge, which shows her in a positive light.
  • She started on the complex tribe.

Cons:

  • She kind of disappeared in episodes three and four, which is a little concerning, especially in the episode where Dakal went to Tribal.
  • Her alliance with Yul has had no mention since the premiere, nor has she given her personal perspective on the free agents group.
  • We didn’t hear Sarah’s thoughts on a potential long-term alliance, which could suggest Sophie has the wrong read on Sarah.
  • There was finally a follow-up on her idol scene with Kim, but it was quick and inconsistent. Back in episode two, Sophie talked about how Kim made a mistake sharing her idol with “the devil,” but here it was revealed she gave it back, with no real explanation.

TONY

Pros:

  • Strong premiere edit.
  • A consistent story arc and strategy about playing down his threat level and lowering the guards of his fellow players. 
  • A secondary story tying to the “lions vs. hyenas” arc.
  • A clear alliance with Sarah, which received significant focus for three episodes in a row, and both members talked about the alliance in confessional.
  • The fact he and Sarah are currently on separate tribes suggests they should both make the merge to reunite, given the extent of the Cops R Us content. 
  • Presented as a likable presence around camp, confirmed in the previous episode with Yul’s kind words at Tribal Council.
  • He is shown to be aware of the danger the big threats face, and his reasonings are validated by others, even if he hasn’t gotten his way at the vote. This could be leading to a “last lion standing” underdog arc.
  • He started on the complex tribe. 

Cons:

  • Even though the blame was mostly put on Sandra, he didn’t get his way in keeping Tyson, and that could suggest a downfall if the big threats continue to be targeted.
  • Kim was shown not to fully trust Tony in the last episode, which means she could flip against him.
  • Sarah said Cops R Us could work as long as nobody knows about it. This might mean the alliance falls apart later down the line if it becomes public knowledge. 
  • The focus on Tony’s likability around camp could be setting him up as a social threat this time around. 

MICHELE

As I’ve said before, I’m pretty low on anyone who originally started on Sele winning, but I like to at least keep one or two in the conversation for the sake of balance.

Pros:

  • She has a clear storyline of wanting to prove herself, which was first mentioned in the premiere and has been reiterated in subsequent episodes.
  • She now has a secondary story with Wendell.
  • She was given credit as the first person to name Ethan as the target in his boot episode.
  • She has alliances/relationships with the likes of Jeremy and Parvati, even though they aren’t directly referenced in confessional. 
  • She was presented as a decision-maker on the original Sele tribe.

Cons:

  • She had a very under the radar premiere.
  • Even though she has alliances, none of them are particularly well defined or directly talked about in confessional.
  • Her “proving myself” story could be more of a journey arc than a winning narrative. 
  • The story with Wendell could potentially lead to a downfall.
  • She was shown to be somewhat duped by Rob in the previous episode when she ate up his lie about Adam.
  • She didn’t start on the complex tribe.

YUL

Pros:

  • Strong premiere edit.
  • He receives a lot of strategic focus.
  • He received some much-needed personal content in the latest episode with his talk about Jonathan Penner’s wife and her battle with ALS.
  • He had an established duo with Sophie in the premiere.
  • He formed the “free agents” alliance in the premiere and has talked about it in subsequent episodes.
  • Nick validated that Yul is one of his closest allies.
  • We often hear his thoughts on the tribe dynamics and how it plays into his game.
  • He started on the complex tribe.

Cons:

  • Other than the brief chat with Parvati, he didn’t receive any post-swap content. No thoughts on his alliances or strategies moving forward.
  • Last week, he claimed that the free agents alliance is strong and unsuspected, but we saw the others were well aware of this group.
  • Nick validated that Yul is one of his closest allies, but there are also ominous signs that Nick could flip to Michele and Parvati. 
  • No follow-up on his alliance with Sophie since the premiere.
  • Sarah was subtitled telling him “not to get cocky,” which felt similar to the previous episode when Yul talked about how good he feels, only to be immediately undercut by Sophie saying the “good times are a facade.” 
  • Was one-upped by Tony in episode two’s breadfruit scene.
  • Sophie previously referred to him as her “nerd-shield,” which means he could be voted out ahead of her.

Martin is a 31-year-old writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously ET Canada and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull.



  • Toby

    Great read as always, and I’m so here for a Tony win (its a relief to read that you think both Tony and Sarah will make merge). Any thoughts on who you think might be setup as ‘the goat’ or do you think that they aren’t going to show anyone as the goat? Also, who does the edit suggest is coming back from edge? It seems like Tyson is the top contender, followed by Natalie.

    • No one really feels like a goat right now. I mean, maybe Adam is the closest to that? As for Edge returnees, yeah, I’d say Tyson and Natalie are the top two contenders. Tyson because of that Nick confessional and Natalie because of all the focus she’s received. Then again, not many people had Chris pegged as an EOE returnee last time, so who knows.

      • Alex Gomory Keisler

        Who do you think it most likely to leave next week? Do you see any stories that look like they’re about ready to end?

  • Alex Gomory Keisler

    This whole week I’ve been terrified that Tony (my favorite player) is going to be booted, either by an onslaught of idols and advantages, or because Kim flips, so I’m relieved that you’ve still got him as a top contender, and that you think he’s making the merge. One thing I noticed was how he was shown handling the swap. He got to share his thoughts on the new tribe, he correctly broke down where the numbers were, he was shown to be aware of the danger of Kim flipping, and he immediately worked to get her on his side. That’s a great look. In fact, it’s very similar to how Mike was edited in the swap episode of Worlds Apart (with Sierra playing the Kim role) and Mike won, so that sets a good precedent for Tony. If Kim was going to flip and boot Tony pre-merge, you’d expect Tony to be shown as unaware of the danger and overconfident in his numbers. After all, that’s how Cece, Figgy, Michaela, and Max were shown. They all swapped up in numbers, and were eliminated when one or more of their original tribemates flipped on them. I don’t feel like Tony’s being set up for that sort of downfall. Heck, this episode ended by putting doubt on his chances, putting an obstacle before him. Winners are always shown fighting past obstacles, so if he survives this I’d say it makes his story much stronger. They didn’t go to tribal council this week, so it’s probably a misdirection anyway, like the merge episodes with canceled tribal councils in San Juan Del Sur and Kaoh Rong, where the alliances did a 180 the following week. My one concern for Tony is that if he does go out the way Cirie did, his nice edit could be fully explained as a tip of the cap to a good player who gave great television, played well, and got undone by some bad luck. Still, him leaving this early would take a big chunk out of the narrative, especially since we’ve already lost one of our biggest characters and strategists in Rob.

  • I think there is more to the Michele – Parvati alliance than what we’ve been shown. They’re also friends in real life (although I’m not sure how close – it’s also interesting that that past relationship is never mentioned, maybe because it’s not from Survivor whereas everyone else met because of Survivor?) and I’m sure that Parvati and Rob weren’t targeted early on because after the Natalie vote, Michele, Parvati, Rob and Jeremy were much closer than we’ve been shown.

    I feel that unfortunately Yul can be ruled out as a winner. The way the fund and awareness raising for ALS was presented kinda implies that Yul won’t have two millions to donate for it. Or maybe I’m reading too much into this.

  • Kass S

    Love it! Thank you for doing these even with EOE.