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.
Putting the ridiculous Do or Die twist to the side for a second, I thought this was a strong episode, anchored by an important conversation at Tribal Council regarding race and diversity. The words spoken at Tribal, particularly by Deshawn and Liana, were very powerful. Taking off my Edgic cap for a moment, it was great to see a conversation like this highlighted on prime time television.
In terms of the edit, this episode pretty much carried on from where we left off in Episode 10. There have been some ups and downs and narrative inconsistencies throughout the season, but at this point, every character appears to have their role/story established. This episode cemented a lot of that while also allowing for a wider cultural conversation, which will perhaps come up again in the remaining episodes.
Let’s break down the edits of the Final 6.
For the second week in a row, Erika swooped in at the end of the episode as the key decision-maker of the vote. In Episode 10, she received credit for coming up with the split vote and swaying Danny to vote for Shan. In this episode, she was presented as the swing vote, the person who would decide whether it was Liana or Ricard going home.
This is very telling because Erika’s decisions are hardly groundbreaking in the grand scheme of things. I’m sure she wasn’t the only person thinking about splitting the votes. And her being the swing didn’t really matter, seeing as Xander played his Extra Vote. But the edit wanted us to see Erika as a vital part of the plan on both occasions, portraying her as the clincher in both votes.
Now, it could be argued that Erika was shown as the swing vote in this episode to add some tension to the vote. After all, if we’d known Xander was playing his Extra Vote, then it would have taken a lot of suspense out of the moment. So, in that sense, you could say Erika’s content here was circumstantial. But given the way she was presented at the Shan vote, I don’t see it that way. This seems like a concerted effort by the edit to show Erika as someone who is thinking about and playing the game.
Another positive for Erika is that she got to lay out her thoughts and weigh up her decision in a CP-lite manner. She explained the pros and cons of both options and why either decision could make sense. She told us that Liana is “sneaky” and doesn’t have any allegiance to her. Whereas Ricard is someone she can trust but is also the biggest threat to win in the end. She ultimately chose to keep Ricard, but her reasoning was explained in the final confessional of the episode.
“It’s one of those moves where you’re watching at home, and you think, “Oh my God, it’s so obvious! You have to take the big threat out of the game.” But, like, when you’re in the game, you see how important it is to have people you can trust,” she said. “I’m rolling the dice just like Deshawn is, and whatever decision I make, I just have to own it.”
Even though Erika recognizes Ricard as a threat, she is banking on trust being the most important factor. And she told us she will own the move, which contrasts nicely with Deshawn’s story this episode, where there was focus on him not owning his game. If Erika’s story continues this “lamb to lion” progression, I expect next episode, she will talk more about the decision she made and her plans moving forward.
Of course, there is always the option that Erika made the wrong decision and that this episode was ominous foreshadowing. “As much as I know I can trust him, if I don’t take the shot now, Ricard could run away with the game, and I have no chance,” she said. There is certainly a possibility that keeping Ricard could come back to bite Erika. However, I see this as more of a hurdle for her edit to overcome rather than a death knell.
Ricard’s edit has definitely picked up in recent weeks. He’s received a ton of credit, particularly regarding the move on Shan. In this episode, the other players showered him with positive comments, referring to him as “smart” and “super likable” and crediting his gameplay. He was presented as the biggest threat in the game and someone with a great chance of winning in the end.
Now, you could view this one of two ways. You might see it as a coronation edit, setting up all the reasons why Ricard will be crowned Sole Survivor in a couple of weeks. All the talk of how big of a threat he is and how the others will live to regret it if they don’t get him out now could foreshadow his victory. This is certainly not out of the realms of possibility—however, it’s not the way I’m reading Ricard’s edit.
The other read is that the edit is setting Ricard up as the next big threat that needs to be overcome on the path to the Final 3, basically taking over the role Shan fulfilled. All the talk of how he would for sure win at the end seems a little too on the nose for my liking. Instead, I see it as Ricard being the prize trophy that the eventual winner will have to take down.
On top of that, Ricard’s content this episode wasn’t quite what he needed following Shan’s exit. As I’ve said several times this season, Ricard’s edit had been so attached to Shan’s throughout. He hadn’t had much of an individual narrative, and if he was to get one, it needed to happen immediately following Shan’s boot. But the majority of his own content this episode was centered around Deshawn.
He had three confessionals, and each one was about Deshawn, to some degree. The first was about how Shan called Deshawn a snake and how he sees Deshawn as an “emotional” player who “can’t take ownership of the fact that he’s all over the place.” His second was about Deshawn’s Do or Die twist, in which he said, “I hope it’s ‘die’ for Deshawn.” His third was worrying that if Deshawn ended up safe, it could put him in danger.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Ricard still put things into the context of his own position in the game. He talked about how Deshawn was taking the heat off him (though that wasn’t quite an accurate read as we saw the others referring to Ricard as the biggest threat) and his concerns about Erika potentially flipping on him. But it wasn’t quite the big personal content and forward planning that one might have expected.
Last week, I talked about how Ricard recognized Deshawn as a threat to his game but instead chose to take out Shan, someone we were shown had his back. Ricard told us that he could get Deshawn out next, and, obviously, that didn’t happen due to the Do or Die twist. This is the kind of ominous foreshadowing that seems important. Deshawn still being in the game suggests Ricard’s days are numbered—unless we’re heading for a Ricard v Deshawn showdown at FTC, but my gut says it’s the former.
While Deshawn might outlast Ricard based on that foreshadowing mentioned above, I’m not so sure things will ultimately end well for the young medical student. The edit has not been kind to Deshawn recently, with this episode, in particular, hammering him pretty hard.
He was called out by Liana at the start of the episode for voting out Shan. And his attempts to push the heat onto Ricard blew up in his face, with Ricard referring to Deshawn as a “very emotional” player whose game is all over the place. And Liana said she agreed with Shan’s assessment of Deshawn being a “snake.” Plus, there was talk of Deshawn not owning his moves and instead trying to push the blame.
Now, on the positive side, Deshawn was at least shown to be aware that things weren’t quite going to plan. He realized that his attempt at throwing heat onto Ricard backfired. “I guess I came off a little bit accusatory, and it just didn’t end up working out,” he said. “It’s tough because if I could go back and redo after the last Tribal Council, I would probably just go back and shut up.”
So, at least Deshawn has some self-awareness, and we saw him attempting to patch things up with Ricard and Liana at camp the next day. His speech at Tribal went even deeper into his mindset. He explained how morals and gameplay intersect in Survivor, and that’s something he’s struggled with throughout the season.
All of this continues to tell me that Deshawn is a rounded, complex character and one of the key figures of the season. We always get his perspective on things, and there is a sense of awareness there even if the edit likes to highlight his mistakes. But is that awareness enough to overcome his editorial flaws and take the win? Maybe, but I lean on the side of no.
The way I see it is that Deshawn will outlast Ricard, fulfilling the foreshadowing in Ricard’s edit. But Erika will overcome Deshawn, either by voting him out, beating him in fire, or defeating him in jury votes, fulfilling the foreshadowing in the Erika-Deshawn edit. Those are the story threads that need tying up as we head into the final stretch.
After a quiet episode the previous week, Xander was back in action in Episode 11 and all giddy about finally pulling off a move and having an alliance. I’m not sure about you, but this confessional came across a little bit goofy and somewhat delusional? I mean, Xander was indeed part of the Shan vote, but he was completely absent from the last episode, so there was a disconnect with this confessional.
“All of a sudden, I’m in charge with a group of people that I actually trust and that I can work with, and we’re saying final four? Oh, my God, this is too good to be true,” he said. And it’s that last line that stood out most to me. It probably is too good to be true. Xander has been undermined a few times in the edit this season, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this alliance quickly blew up.
On the plus side, Xander’s underdog edit was still intact, even if he was suddenly in the numbers. Returning to camp after the Shan blindside, he talked about going from the bottom to the top, and there was focus on how he’d never had this feeling before. All of this was there to remind us that Xander has been a lone wolf, scratching and clawing his way through the game—and with Liana gone, he is now the last Yase turtle standing.
He also shared his reasoning for wanting to keep Ricard over Liana. Even though he admitted to Danny that Ricard was the biggest threat, Xander told us that if Ricard went, then he’d become the number one target. He also said he trusts Ricard way more than Liana, as Liana has lied to him multiple times, which we have seen across the season. All of this made sense and has been backed up in the edit.
I still get “falling at the final hurdle” vibes from Xander’s edit, either losing in fire or being taken out just before fire. And that is because of one big omission in his edit—no personal content. There are just two episodes left and Xander still hasn’t had any significant personal content. Yes, his speech at Tribal during the race conversation was nice, but it still wasn’t quite Xander-focused content. We still know nothing about his life outside the game or his reasons for playing. That is one of the main reasons I don’t see him as a winner.
This was easily Danny’s best edit since the premiere. He received a ton of personal content. And if this kind of edit had come earlier in the season, I might have been a lot higher on Danny’s chances than I am currently. Instead, it came a bit too late and felt more like a swan song than anything else.
The bulk of Danny’s content in this episode revolved around the 25th anniversary of his father’s passing. He gave a long, heartfelt, emotional confessional about his dad and the conflicted feelings he’s been battling for years. He talked about shedding the shame of being angry and moving forward in a way that he hopes will make his dad proud. This led to Danny winning Immunity and talking about how this experience has helped him let go.
As I said, it kind of felt like Danny’s story was wrapped up in a neat little bow. His edit has reached a natural endpoint, showing his character growth and ending with the high of an Immunity win. It wouldn’t shock me if Danny was voted out next. There just hasn’t been enough of a consistent narrative to his edit that suggests winner or even FTC to me, sadly.
Another zero confessional episode for Heather. I mean, what can I say? The edit just doesn’t care about her. She is only mentioned in the context of “Erika and Heather.” She’s part of a pair, but only Erika ever gets to share her perspective on the game and the other players. I suppose she at least got to comment at Tribal? That’s something.
The crazy thing is, I can’t tell where Heather’s edit will end up. Is she destined to be a Final Tribal goat? Perhaps. But I feel like even goats have bigger edits than this. Before the Do or Die happened, I could have seen Heather been the victim of a twist. Maybe she is the fire-making loser? Or the first boot in the finale? What an enigma.
For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
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