Hello all, welcome back to the Edit Bay! This weekly feature takes a dive into the edit of the latest Survivor episode, analyzing the key stories, main characters, and top winner contenders.
While intended as a condensed version of Edgic, for this season, I will be including my ratings for each castaway at the end of the article.
NEW ERA — It was clear from the moment Jeff Probst wandered out of the jungle and addressed the camera that this season would be heavily focused on the “new era” of Survivor. From the format changes to the twists to the numerous confessionals mentioning “new era,” it’s obvious that this is the thematic throughline of the season.
When the show has such a prominent theme and obvious intention with that theme (to sell this is a NEW ERA of the game), it stands to reason that the narrative will follow a similar suit. That means I expect this season’s successful players will be the ones shown to welcome and adapt to this new era of the game.
Think of it similar to the Fire Tokens in Season 40 and how, early on in the season, we were told that the person who uses those tokens to their advantage would have the best shot at winning. The edit presented Tony as someone adapting to the Fire Tokens, being able to bargain with them and borrow them at vital points in the game.
Therefore, we should look out for similar tells in the edit in Survivor 41. If a player is presented as adapting to the new era or at least being willing to jump in with both feet, that probably bodes well for them. That is why I’m already down on Deshawn and Sydney, who both failed their first new era test.
Sydney talked about her adventurous side and how she loves to travel. “I always need to challenge myself in life, and Survivor just made sense,” she said in confessional. Meanwhile, Deshawn, when commenting on the boat arriving at camp on day 2, said, “It just speaks to how expedited this game is, especially when Jeff is saying it’s a whole new era. You have to be ready to play the game like it needs to be played.”
And yet, immediately following this, both Sydney and Deshawn adamantly turned down the option to take the mysterious boat trip. “I’m thinking, definitely not going,” said Deshawn. After just talking up the need to challenge themselves and “play the game like it needs to be played,” both showed hesitance, which I don’t think bodes well.
On the opposite end, Danny volunteered to go, stating, “It’s a risk any time you’re away from the tribe, but I wanted to go because I came out here to play the game of Survivor.” That is the attitude I believe the edit is already favoring this season, so a good sign for Danny’s longevity.
RISK VS. REWARD — This is kind of tied to the New Era narrative, as, again, we can see this will be a key theme of the season. This season’s twists are all based on the concept of risk versus reward, from the summit trek dilemma to the Shot in the Dark die.
I suspect this will be a concept flowing throughout the season’s narrative, in the twists and the gameplay and the character arcs. So any character with elements of this in their edit is probably in good stead, at least in terms of relevance.
In terms of telling what is negative or positive with this particular theme, I don’t think it’s as clear-cut as the “new era” stuff. With the new era theme, I think it’s pretty obvious already that those embracing the new era will be favored positively, Edgically speaking. But the risk versus reward isn’t a black and white situation. I don’t think there is a clear right or wrong; it is all down to how the edit presents a player’s decision.
For example, Xander and JD both chose to Risk their vote, and both earned Extra Votes because of it. But Xander’s choice and thought process was presented far more favorably than JD, who was kind of mocked by the edit upon his return to camp.
YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS — Speaking of JD, he brought up what I believe could be an important story for the season. “Young people typically don’t even do good on Survivor,” he told Sara. “Let’s switch that up.”
There are a lot of really young players on this cast, and that is something that seemed to be a focus in the premiere. In fact, JD’s very first confessional put his youth into perspective, as he talked about being born AFTER the first season of Survivor. And again, later in the episode, during his flashback sequence, he mentions, “I’m the youngest kid out here.”
Now, the question is whether this is an overarching season narrative or if it’s a JD-specific story. Right now, JD is the main flag bearer for the youth arc. This is one definitely worth keeping an eye on.
IT’S PERSONAL — One of the new editing techniques this season is the use of flashbacks and pre-game footage from the players’ lives back home. So far, this has been used to dive deeper into a character’s backstory and let the audience get to know them on a more personal level.
Despite the abundance of twists, I do think this season’s edit will put more of a focus on personal stories. There seems to be a more concerted effort to help viewers connect with the people on screen.
Given that the flashbacks are a new editing trick, it’s hard to pinpoint right now what exactly they tell us about someone’s edit. It would be simple to say that those who received a flashback in the premiere are destined to do well/go far, but we already saw the elimination of Sara, who had a flashback and personal story about losing her grandma to COVID-19.
Those who received flashbacks: Voce, Sara, Brad, Genie, Ricard, Tiffany, and JD.
“SIDE STORIES / OTHER NOTES”
THE ISSUES — At the marooning, Jeff talked about how the world is evolving and how Survivor is evolving along with it. He said he wants the cast to feel comfortable with talking through issues. This, of course, led to the topic of “Come on in, guys” and whether Jeff should continue to use it.
Real-world issues have become more prominent on Survivor in recent seasons, and the show doesn’t seem to be shying away from talking about these issues anymore. So it will be interesting to see if this continues throughout Survivor 41.
INTRO CONFESSIONALS — It’s always worth looking at which players received intro confessionals as they are usually quite telling in who goes far. This season, six players had full intro confessionals, in this order: Evvie, Danny, Tiffany, JD, Voce, and Shan.
Sara, Deshawn, Erika, and Xander then had brief, one-line confessionals that followed. And Genie had her first confessional as the cast climbed onto the boat for the marooning.
It’s those first six confessionals that are the most important. Based on history, one would assume at least half of them will make the merge. In fact, I would go as far as to say 4 of the 6 are likely merge-bound. The opening confessionals are an easy way to introduce the audience to the season’s key players and memorable characters.
The one-liner confessionals are harder to gauge because they were so brief. They are pretty much soundbites that help sell the season. But the fact those specific people were chosen is still worth paying attention to. It puts them as secondary to the first six, but you could probably bet on at least 2 of the 4 making the merge.
Genie having a separate pre-marooning confessional is interesting. She wasn’t a main focus of the premiere, but she did receive this confessional and a flashback sequence. That tells me there is more to come from Genie down the line.
COMPLEX TRIBE — Those who have followed my Edgic articles over the years will know that I put a lot of stock into the complex tribe theory. I’m of the belief that 9 times out of 10, the complex tribe contains the winner of the season.
However, the difficulty this season is that I’m not fully confident on which tribe was the complex one. I feel pretty comfortable in saying that it wasn’t Luvu (the blue tribe). Nobody on Luvu received a flashback sequence, and only one of them (Danny) had a full intro confessional (compared to the two from Yase and two from Ua). And other than the Danny/Deshawn partnership, and Naseer calling them out, the tribal lines and alliances weren’t clearly defined.
Now, obviously, Luvu didn’t attend Tribal, so the tribe dynamics perhaps didn’t need to be as fully explored as Yase and Ua. However, with that being the case, I would have liked to have seen more personal content from the players on this tribe. Because they didn’t get that, I have a hard time seeing Luvu as the complex tribe.
That means the complex tribe is between Yase (yellow) and Ua (green), and, honestly, I’m torn. Ua had the most flashbacks of any tribe, with 5 of the 6 members receiving them (Genie, Ricard, Sara, Brad, and JD). And even the player who didn’t receive a flashback, Shan, told us a lot about her life and approach to the game (plus she had an intro confessional). So it feels like we got a fairly good grip on the personalities of Ua.
However, something was lacking in the alliances and tribal dynamics on Ua. The edit didn’t flesh things out as much as I’d have liked for a complex tribe. On the surface, it appeared that Ricard, Shan, and Sara were a trio. But Ricard and Shan ended up voting Sara out. Ricard seemed to be targeting JD and yet went after Sara instead. Genie threw a random vote on Ricard with zero explanation. We didn’t really hear reasons for any of this from the players in confessional, nor did anyone talk about who they were truly aligned with (the closest was Shan discussing her social strategy of playing the middle and keeping close to everyone).
That leaves us with Yase. While this tribe might not have received as much personal content as Ua, the tribe dynamics seemed better fleshed out, with more set-up and foreshadowing for the future. Of this six, Tiffany and Voce had flashback sequences, and Voce and Evvie had intro confessionals (with Xander having a one-liner intro).
More importantly, however, we at least heard some talk of alliances in confessional and what could be an important duo. Evvie and Liana had a strategy conversation on the beach where they appeared to commit to having each other’s backs. Evvie talked of them potentially pairing up with Xander and Voce if need be. And Liana referred to Evvie as her “number one” in confessional.
It’s a good sign to have a pair set up early in the edit. Although, there was one potential red flag here. Liana said she got an “inkling of genuineness and authenticity” from Evvie. This was immediately followed by Evvie saying that they wouldn’t tell anyone about their pHD in human evolutionary biology at Harvard. This could be a sign of Liana putting her trust in the wrong person.
We also saw a connection between Evvie, Tiffany, and Liana. In confessional, Liana talked of wanting to keep Tiffany around. And Evvie said, “Tiffany is someone I want to go really deep in this game with. I don’t want to lose Tiffany. She’s a very familiar type of person to me. We click, and we both really want to work together, which puts me in a really good spot.”
Now, we didn’t hear Tiffany’s thoughts on Evvie and Liana, but the fact we have some semblance of future plans and foreshadowing on the Yase tribe is a good thing. There was also a bit of a running theme of Yase being the underdog tribe (from the early challenge blunder to the talk of Davids at Tribal Council).
So while I’m not fully convinced on which tribe out of Yase and Ua is the true complex tribe, right now, my gut leans to Yase. And if the complex tribe theory holds true, that means your winner is on this tribe.
EVVIE, LIANA, & TIFFANY — As mentioned above, this trio appears to be one of the more clearly defined alliances. I would like to see them all talk about the other in the next couple of episodes. Right now, we have heard Liana refer to Evvie as her “number one” and Evvie say that they want to go deep with Tiffany.
DANNY & DESHAWN — After volunteering to do the Sweat challenge, Danny and Deshawn seemed to bond, even agreeing to idol search together. In confessional, Danny said, “I believe that me and Deshawn have a pretty strong alliance.” However, we never heard any follow-up from Deshawn, and their idol search was immediately busted by Naseer.
JD & SHAN — This one is kind of tenuous because it wasn’t confirmed by either in confessional. But JD and Shan did commit to each other on the beach, and, at Tribal, JD swore his loyalty to Shan, promising he would vote however she wanted. The issue is that, right now, Shan’s game is playing everyone. So while this pair has a connection, it’s hard to confirm it as an actual alliance.
XANDER & VOCE — This is also a loose alliance because, again, neither man officially talked about the other in terms of working together. What we did see was Evvie talking about how the Sweat task would have bonded the two men. So they were placed into a pair in relation to Evvie’s game.
YASE — I also want to look at Yase as a whole as a potential alliance. With the way the edit framed them as underdogs, plus Xander’s whole speech about using the Extra Vote as something for the tribe, there is potential for this group to move forward as a unit. Evvie also talked about working with Xander and Voce. And Evvie also said Tiffany will be loyal to them (Evvie, Liana, Xander, Voce) because “she views us as, like, her babies.”
NASEER VS. DANNY & DESHAWN — Naseer caught Danny and Deshawn searching for idols and immediately snitched on them back at camp. However, Sydney then snitched on Naseer to Deshawn. This sets up a feud going forward… potentially a short-term story.
RICARD VS. JD — Ricard was immediately distrusting JD, and not without reason. He correctly called that JD wasn’t giving the whole truth of his summit trek. And, after the Immunity Challenge, he said he thinks JD should be the next to go. Yet, Ricard ultimately voted with JD against Sara. It will be interesting to see if this continues as a feud or develops into a working relationship.
The below list is just the edits that currently stand out. It doesn’t mean that all those not mentioned are out of contention.
- They received an intro confessional (the first confessional of the season, for a matter of fact) talking about how much they love Survivor and are excited to play.
- Had an alliance forming scene with Liana. Also mentioned wanting to work with Tiffany (deep into the game) and kept their options open of working with Xander and Voce too.
- In the pre-Tribal scene, Evvie seemed to be the one leading the strategy and talking to each person to keep Tiffany and boot Abraham.
- They received positive comments from Liana about being authentic and genuine.
- While they didn’t have a flashback, Evvie did tell us about studying for a Ph.D. in human evolutionary biology and how that ties into Survivor and will help their game.
- They correctly read the situation in sending Xander to the summit. “I absolutely think Xander was the right decision. I think he’s the least likely to lie about what happened,” Evvie said. This proved correct when Xander told the truth upon returning to camp.
- Evvie also got to comment on Xander’s Extra Vote advantage.
- Post-challenge, they explained the current dynamics of the tribe, who was in danger, their thoughts on the matter, and what they wanted out of this vote. Evvie explained how they didn’t want the “keep the tribe strong” mantra to become “let’s vote out the women” and made their desire known to vote out Abraham. Evvie got their way at Tribal.
- They described their game strategy (to Abraham) as “making genuine relationships with people and working with them as long as I can.” It’s good to hear a strategy laid out like that.
- Is on what appears to be the complex tribe.
- No flashback sequence, though we don’t know yet how significant that is or isn’t.
- While we heard them telling us about their desire to work with Tiffany, we didn’t hear Tiffany’s thoughts on the matter.
- On the flip side, we saw Liana talking in confessional about Evvie being her number one. But we didn’t hear Evvie’s private thoughts on Liana and that alliance.
- It’s not always the best situation to be presented as the one calling the shots this early.
- She received an intro confessional where she talked about her history with the show and wanting to show her kids that you can do anything.
- Also received a flashback sequence, going into her personal story of losing her mother to breast cancer and being a “previvor.” She also tied this into the game, acknowledging that her name had been thrown out but that her “social skills” and “resilience” would save her. And that is what happened.
- The end of her flashback confessional included a potential winner quote: “Now I’m here, so it’s time to take that title and change it to Survivor, and that’s what I want to do.”
- While Abraham threw Tiffany under the bus for messing up at the first challenge, the edit didn’t really support his version of events. Abraham said that Tiffany jumped in the water and didn’t help, but the edit showed someone telling Tiffany to get in the water and count the paddles. So she had a reason for being in the water.
- Liana and Evvie both said they want to work with Tiffany, with Evvie even saying they want to go deep into the game with Tiffany.
- She said her gut instinct told her she would be fine at Tribal (which was right), but she continued to fight by searching for an idol.
- Is on what appears to be the complex tribe.
- The heavy personal content and wanting to prove something to her kids could be more of a journey edit than a winner’s edit.
- When looking for the idol, the edit made sure to let us know that she walked right by an advantage and missed it. This could be a sign that she will miss something happening right in front of her, especially as she said her worst nightmare would be being blindsided during this sequence.
- While Liana and Evvie both talked about wanting to work with Tiffany, we never heard Tiffany’s private thoughts on either of them or who she wanted to work with moving forward.
- She had an intro confessional, and it might have been the best of the bunch. Shan let us know details about her life (she’s a pastor, half-Italian, half-Jamaican), the perceptions of her, and how she intends to play the game. “Listen, I am the mafia pastor, okay,” she said. “I am half Italian, half Jamaican. That means I’m cutthroat, okay. Like I will play for you and walk you out the door at the same time.”
- Shan reiterated her strategy later in the episode, again talking about her skills as a pastor and how that helps her in the game. She talked about “active listening,” getting people to trust her, and establishing bonds. All of this in aid of being able to cut people’s throats without them seeing her coming. She even had a fun moment of creating her own soundtrack as we saw evidence of her making these bonds with different people back at camp.
- It was shown that Shan’s strategy was working as, even though she lost on the puzzle, she wasn’t shown to be in danger. Ricard even said, “I would be really surprised if they voted out Shan.” And it seemed like it was Shan’s choice on which way the vote went.
- She received the final confessional before Tribal, explaining the tribe dynamics and her position within it. “I’m at the bottom because of the puzzle piece. I’m at the top because of social game, and I’m in the middle because of this divide. If I can get the person that I want out tonight, that puts me in a really good spot to keep controlling this game.”
- At Tribal, Shan was at the center, with everyone coming to her to ask what the plan was and what she wanted.
- No flashback sequence, though we don’t know yet how significant that is or isn’t.
- Despite seeing her talk to everyone, there was no real alliance-building scene. However, this might not be hugely important for Shan because she described her strategy as making bonds with everyone and then cutting their throats.
- We didn’t fully learn why she ultimately voted out Sara over JD, though we might find that out in the upcoming episode.
- As with Evvie, it isn’t necessarily always a good thing to be shown as in control so early. Shan might be too out in front, which we know is rare for a woman’s winner edit (but maybe times are changing!).
- There was so much focus on being the cutthroat pastor that it could signal that Shan is just going to be a major player that will make big moves rather than a winner.
- He received an intro confessional where he told us about his past as an NFL player and his competitive spirit. He also mentioned trying to win, which is worth noting.
- He was shown to quickly adapt to the “new era” theme of the season. “We need to just put the work in, run hard. This is the new era of Survivor,” he said upon arriving at camp.
- He quickly volunteered to do the Sweat challenge. And later he put himself forward for the summit, saying, “It’s a risk any time you’re away from the tribe, but I wanted to go because I came out here to play the game of Survivor.” Hitting these key themes of new era and risk vs. reward is a solid look.
- There was a brief set-up of an alliance with Deshawn, and Danny was the one that got to comment on it.
- He told the truth about the summit when he returned to camp, and Heather had a confessional backing up that everyone believed him.
- Danny was the only player on blue to receive significant visibility.
- No flashback sequence, though we don’t know yet quite how significant that is or isn’t.
- He isn’t on the complex tribe.
- He was called out by Naseer for idol searching, which basically outed his partnership with Deshawn. Erika also noted the “red flags” of Danny and Deshawn potentially saving each other and picking off the so-called “weak.” This could mean he is an early target.
- Danny said he believed that JD and Xander would choose to protect their votes at the summit, which was incorrect.
- While he mentioned an alliance with Deshawn, we didn’t hear Deshawn talk about the partnership in confessional, though he did commit to it on the beach. We also didn’t see any other alliance dynamics or relationships between Danny and his tribemates.
- It could be argued that a lot of Danny’s edit was circumstantial seeing as he did both the Sweat challenge and the summit trek.
- She received one of the clearest alliance/pair-building scenes (with Evvie) of the episode and was the one to comment on it in confessional.
- She was also the first to name Abraham as the target in confessional after the Immunity challenge.
- In the pre-Tribal scenes, she told Tiffany that the guys might be pushing a “keep the tribe strong” strategy to vote out Tiffany. This was proven correct as the scene cut to Abraham pushing exactly that strategy on Xander and Voce.
- She appeared to be involved in a lot of the strategy talks but not the one leading things. She wasn’t super present, which can be good thing early on.
- She is on what appears to be the complex tribe.
- She didn’t receive an intro confessional or a flashback sequence.
- We didn’t really get much personal content from her.
- She said she feels authenticity from Evvie, which was then followed by Evvie admitting to holding back about her studies.
- Liana talked about how Evvie was her number one, but we didn’t hear Evvie’s thoughts on Liana. And the situation was similar in regards to Tiffany.
- Her first confessional of the episode wasn’t the greatest, as she just talked about Yase sucking in the first challenge and how they were all idiots. If anything, this could be setting up Yase as the underdogs.
- He received an intro confessional where he talked about his history with Survivor, highlighting his age.
- He made fire pretty much straight away and was presented in a positive light. His talk of preparing for the game before the game showed him as someone who is willing to fight hard.
- Like Danny, JD was shown to embrace the “new era” of Survivor, talking about how stoked he was to go on the summit trek. But he also showed awareness of how been away from camp could harm his game.
- He received a flashback sequence where he talked about his past being bullied as a kid and how Survivor gave him strength and inspired him. This kind of content balanced out some of the negativity elsewhere in his edit, showing him to be a rounded character.
- He talked through his strategy of not wanting to be the person talking strategy all the time and instead having tiny conversations. And while he didn’t necessarily stick to this, he explained that his plans could change due to the new 26 days speeding the game up.
- There was a lot of focus on his age, being the youngest person in the game, and how young people don’t tend to do well on Survivor. This could be setting him up to go on a deep run and changing things up for castaways his age.
- He got to comment on becoming the target and explain somewhat of how he was going to vote at Tribal.
- While JD’s edit was rounded, he did receive various negative comments from his tribemates. Ricard called out JD’s strategy fo talking with everyone, noting that he finds him untrustworthy and really intense. Sara said she was rubbed the wrong way by him.
- JD’s story after returning from the summit was questioned. Ricard didn’t believe JD was telling the whole truth, despite JD believing everyone ate it up.
- He also told his tribe that he led the way in the trek, even though we saw him struggling on the trek and falling on his butt.
- Even though he promised loyalty to the likes of Shan and Brad, we didn’t get a real sense of who he wants to work with moving forward.
- He compared himself to Ozzy and Woo, two Final Tribal Council losers. Although, you could see this as a positive too, in the sense of JD maybe becoming a challenge threat like those two.
- Despite saying he wanted to switch things up for young players, he voted out Sara, the second youngest on his tribe. However, given that JD was the other target, this can somewhat be excused.
- He had a lot of content, and it could be a case of too much, too soon. This could either spell big character that the edit wants to get the most out of while he’s there or someone who will be the star of the season throughout.
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