Hello all, welcome 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.
There were a few fleeting moments after I wrote last week’s reevaluation article where I started to question my own sanity. Did I really just write 7000+ words about Erika’s edit? Am I reading into something that’s not there? Is the winner just the obvious biggest character of the season in Shan? These were the questions running through my mind before last Wednesday’s episode.
Thankfully, the latest episode alleviated some of those concerns. I believe my reevaluation was a worthwhile effort, as I do think I’m finally on the right track with this season’s edit (famous last words, I know). After basing most of last week’s write-up around Erika and Deshawn, this episode cemented many of the things we discussed last week. Those two castaways feel important to the endgame, particularly after losing the season’s breakout star in Shan.
In this week’s Edit Bay, I’m going to write a little about each character remaining in the game, touching on their place in the narrative and their chances of winning.
I said last week that if the “lamb emerging as a lion at the end” theme is important, then “we should expect Erika to play a part in Shan’s downfall and for her to tie up loose ends with Deshawn.” This episode provided Erika’s edit with the first part of that narrative.
The episode started with Erika naming Shan as her main target. “Right now, Shan is definitely the biggest threat to win,” she said in confessional before talking to Deshawn about making a move against Shan. “People are afraid to target [Shan] because they know that she could play the idol at any second, and then you could get hit with a stray bullet and go home,” Erika continued, setting up the events for later in the episode when she created a plan to avoid that potential stray bullet hitting her.
This is key for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it continued on from the previous episode when Shan worried about Erika being a dangerous threat. Shan’s concerns proved correct, as Erika immediately set to work on a Shan blindside. More noteworthy, perhaps, is the fact Erika was given this credit at all.
While most of the episode revolved around Shan’s personal and strategic relationships with Deshawn and Ricard, Erika received the credit of being the first person to name Shan as the episode’s target. On top of that, Erika took over the blindside at the end of the episode, credited with protecting herself, creating the split vote plan, and swaying Danny into voting Shan. Do we believe Erika was the only one thinking about splitting the votes? It’s highly unlikely, yet she was the one the edit credited.
This felt like clear editorial manipulation. Erika didn’t have a personal attachment to Shan; therefore, the content between Shan/Deshawn/Ricard made for far more compelling TV. Still, the edit wanted us to acknowledge that Erika named the target and came up with the plan that was ultimately implemented successfully. It’s the same reason we constantly hear other players referring to Erika as “smart,” “sneaky,” “dangerous,” a “threat.” They want us to recognize Erika as a competent Survivor player even if she isn’t the most dynamic on-screen personality.
Now Erika has played her part in Shan’s downfall, her next step is tying up loose ends with Deshawn and, to a lesser extent, Danny. These three have been linked since the pre-merge, with Deshawn & Danny discussing Erika’s threat level on multiple occasions, even going so far as trying to throw a challenge to get rid of her. Each time, their plan has been foiled. And now we’re at a stage where Erika convinced Danny and Deshawn to vote with her, despite Danny saying, “When you see Erika making these moves, you can see that she needs to go.”
It will be interesting to see if Deshawn and Danny return to their fears about Erika and try and make a move against her. But based on everything we’ve seen, logic would dictate that they’ve missed the boat on that one, and it’s much more likely Erika will end up defeating them instead.
The breakdown of the Ricard and Shan relationship was always coming. Ever since the tension in the pre-merge, it was inevitable that one would turn on the other at some stage. Ricard was the one to pull the trigger in an episode where the pair discussed their friendship and the uncomfortable reality that the time was approaching when they’d have to make a move against the other.
On the surface, this looked like a solid episode for Ricard. He was described as a threat and someone capable of winning at the end. He saved himself from a potential elimination by winning Immunity. And he received credit for targeting Shan, with even Shan herself complimenting him at Tribal Council after her vote-off.
But was this the right move for Ricard? As far as what we saw in this episode’s edit, I’m not so sure. Ricard made a move against Shan after she was honest with him about Deshawn & Danny targeting him. Shan chose Ricard over the four, and yet Ricard remained skeptical. Instead of aiming his sights on Deshawn or Danny (players coming after him right now), Ricard blindsided Shan, someone who, for now at least, was shown to still be on his side.
It’s not as if Ricard wasn’t aware of this, either. “Deshawn continues to lie, and I don’t respect it. It bothers me; it annoys me,” he said in confessional. “But I still think he’s the best choice moving forward today. And he can go home tomorrow.” He knowingly kept in the game a player he knows is out to get him, and that could come back to bite him.
However, in Ricard’s defense, the edit also allowed him to explain his reasoning for going after Shan. “Regardless of how our allyship goes, how we vote together, if we continue on together, the reality is she has an idol, and she has people who can back her up. I don’t have that,” Ricard stated. His reasons were valid. And we also know that Shan intended to cut him eventually, just not right now. But I think the read here is that Ricard acted too soon and will now have an uphill climb to reach the end.
It’s also an issue because Ricard’s edit was so intrinsically linked to Shan that you could almost view this as an end to his story. He doesn’t really have a consistent individual narrative/theme to fall back on, like, say, Xander’s lone wolf underdog theme or Erika’s lamb to lion theme. Perhaps Shan’s exit will allow Ricard’s individual narrative to blossom in the remaining episodes, but if that’s the case, it needs to happen immediately.
A big plus for Deshawn’s edit is that we’re given a complex, rounded view of his character. This episode afforded him the time to share his perspective on both a strategic and personal level. He provided reason for being conflicted, and we understood why he turned on Shan. The turn didn’t come out of nowhere, nor was it presented in a one-note fashion. The edit put in the time and effort to help the audience understand his decisions.
Despite his explanations, however, there are these inconsistencies and contradictions in Deshawn’s edit. He makes statements that he ends up going back on or doing the opposite of, and this is something that’s been happening since the start. He initially wanted Naseer out but ended up working with him. He wanted to keep Luvu together for the early merge but wound up voting out Sydney. And he’s noted on several occasions that keeping Erika around is a risk, and not only is she still there, but Deshawn has been voting with her recently.
It’s also concerning that Deshawn and Danny took the negative heat for the Shan blindside, with Shan directing her disappointment towards Danny at Tribal Council and calling Deshawn a “snake.” Compare that to how Ricard and Erika were given credit, with Ricard, in particular, receiving Shan’s mark of approval before her torch snuffing.
There is still hope for Deshawn, though. His edit has the personal moments and complexity and relationships. And he still has potential story threads with the likes of Erika, Danny, and Liana. So I would still expect Deshawn to play a key role in the season’s end-game.
Xander’s edit has gone a little bit quiet, especially so in this latest episode. It’s probably not the best sign to disappear in the biggest episode of the season so far, which saw the elimination of the most prominent character. He didn’t receive a single confessional, nothing to follow-up on last week’s vote or even to mention holding onto his idol.
This backs up what I said about Xander last week. He has the narrative of the underdog but lacks personal and strategic depth. It’s like the edit is holding him at a distance as if it doesn’t want the audience to get to know him on a deeper level. He’s one of the only players remaining that hasn’t had any personal content. I think that if Xander was the winner, we’d have some insight into his character by now, not to mention we’d have heard his thoughts on the season’s biggest blindside.
However, while Xander himself didn’t comment on his situation, we did hear mention of his idol from others. Erika and Deshawn brought it up at the start of the episode, with Erika noting Xander is less of a threat than Shan because he lacks the relationships. And, later at Tribal, Evvie commented from the jury bench that Xander still has his idol. So far, those with idols have gone home with them in their pocket. It will be interesting to see if Xander falls to a similar fate.
This was the most present Danny had been for a while. He was the first person to name Ricard as the target and laid out his reasons as to why he wanted Ricard out. He also explained himself when it came to the alliance of four and why it made sense to break away from Shan. And he sprinkled on some doubt towards the end of the episode when he wondered if Erika was playing them and should remain the main target.
It was nice to see Danny get some solid strategic content, though his plan to take out Ricard was ultimately busted when Ricard won Immunity. But I have similar reservations with Danny that I do with Xander, but even more so, because at least Xander has the underdog Yase theme and lingering story thread with Liana. Danny doesn’t really have a lot of personal depth to his edit. He did get a flashback in the premiere, but since then, he’s sort of just been presented as Deshawn’s right-hand man.
We know Danny is (or was) part of the four-person alliance, but his individual relationships within that haven’t been explored in any real depth. Also, he met with Xander at the Summit in the pre-merge, but that has never properly been revisited. And similar to Deshawn, he made these ominous premonitions about Erika (including in this episode), but has failed to take her out.
Again, this stuff wouldn’t be so bad if Danny had an individual story or theme of his own. But that lack of coherent story makes me believe that Danny’s edit is only that of the solid side character of the season.
Liana’s edit was okay in this episode. As with the other members of the four-person alliance, we got to hear her perspective on the break-up. She told us why she felt committed to Shan, reminding us of the bond they made at the Summit. It was made clear to us that this was a relationship that went beyond the game, and so Liana stuck her neck out for Shan.
However, the worrying part about all this for Liana is how she said that she needed to differentiate her game from Shan’s and yet stuck with Shan at the vote. On top of that, she acknowledged that being unwilling to turn on Shan would be “idiotic” but chose to plow ahead with Shan regardless. In one sense, it’s good that Liana was shown to have some awareness, but it also contains ominous signs of doom. It’s kind of been a consistent theme for Liana that she just can’t pull the trigger when it comes to making a move, whether it’s because she backs off or is foiled.
Similar to Danny and Xander, Liana is lacking in personal content. We don’t really know much about her, other than she is a student and loves her mother. There is a chance that she could receive more personalized content now that Shan has gone, especially if Liana takes on an underdog role—which would fit with the Yase story arc. But even in that case, it would feel a little bit too late.
There is also the lingering story with Xander. One would suspect there is still a final chapter to be written in this story, especially as the previous episode saw Liana continue her distaste for Xander. If even one of them had more personal content, I could see a world where both Liana and Xander sit next to each other in the Final 3. However, because both are severely underedited in that regard, I can’t see them both making it there—a fire-making battle would be likelier.
Lastly, we have Heather, who is at least a little more present in the edit now. Although, that isn’t saying much. Her part in the narrative is basically “Erika’s sidekick.” She’s rarely given any agency of her own. Looking at things from a game perspective, it’s hard to see why anyone would target Heather at this point. If she does get voted out, it would most likely be to weaken Erika, similar to what Shan was advocating for in the previous episode.
For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
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