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.
Before I get into this week’s stories and contenders, I wanted to talk a little about the season’s edit as a whole and what I think are some potentially worrying trends.
I thought last week’s episode was really bad. The majority of the screen-time was spent on advantages, whether finding them, reading their rules, or interacting with them to some degree. On top of that, the person most involved with the advantages was Brad, who was eliminated by the end of the episode, essentially rendering the whole thing pointless.
It’s difficult to analyze long-term narratives when that much screen-time is devoted to advantages and a player that is not long for the season. And it has me concerned that the usual Edgic tells might not apply so well to this “new era” of Survivor. The episodes are in danger of becoming more episodic than ever before, more akin to Australian Survivor editing than Survivor US. This ends up creating a disjointed narrative with overlooked characters and confusing stories.
Hopefully, Episode 3 was just a blip, and future episodes won’t be quite to that extreme. But what we had last week was basically an episode where nothing really mattered and very little advanced narrative-wise.
NEW ERA — I’ve said previously that those shown to adapt or welcome Survivor‘s new era will likely do well. Obviously, that wasn’t the case for Brad, who, despite finding a bunch of advantages, ended up with his torch snuffed. But, while Brad welcomed the new wrinkles to the game (“I’m loving this game. I’m loving all the twists, and all the turns, and all the danger.”), you could argue that he didn’t effectively adapt to them.
Brad was edited as a fairly erratic, impulsive player. We saw this in Episode 2 with his spying mission. While his boundless energy helped him find advantages, he failed to capitalize. Not only did he butcher his secret phrase at the challenge mat, but he wrongly trusted Shan, telling her about all his advantages. Last week, we had already seen that Shan was suspicious of Brad after he eavesdropped on JD and Ricard.
The new era is obviously the big overarching theme of the season. And we’re probably going to see it helping some people and hurting others. Even those who welcome it on board could get stung by it. I suppose that was the idea behind Jeff Probst’s “the monster is coming” promos pre-season. This new era of Survivor will chew you up and spit you out, and it does not discriminate. Although, I do still believe the winner will be presented as someone who adapted well to the new era.
RISK VS. REWARD — As mentioned, Brad was at the center of this week’s risk versus reward theme, and that’s what makes this all kind of irrelevant. There was so much focus on Brad, and it was practically all circumstantial with no bearing on future narratives. Brad took risks but did not reap the rewards.
On the flip-side, Sydney and Tiffany chose not to risk their votes and so received no reward for their trip away. However, both did get to follow up on their decisions. Sydney hoped that Brad received the Steal A Vote, which he did, but he was voted out. Tiffany hoped that protecting her vote earned her some trust with the other tribes—she didn’t, as we heard Sydney say she doesn’t trust Tiffany.
Meanwhile, JD got busted for his Extra Vote advantage after Shan caught it sticking out of his pants. This led to JD having to grovel to Shan and Ricard, complete with Curb Your Enthusiasm-inspired dodo music. JD’s edit is starting to seem like his hero Woo in many ways—someone with lots of enthusiasm for the game but prone to goofy mistakes. So, all in all, not a great week for our advantage holders.
Now, it would be fantastic if Survivor was telling a story where advantages are a hindrance and that those with the best social game are the ones who will succeed. We’ve already seen players like Evvie and Shan talk up the need for social bonds, and so far, those are two of the better-edited players this season. Whereas those with advantages (Brad, JD, Xander) have struggled and made themselves targets.
I just find it hard to believe that Survivor would ever paint its advantages and twists in a negative light. The show loves its new game mechanics, so it probably doesn’t want to promote them as bad things to future players. But while not at the forefront, perhaps this will be an under the surface story. We kind of saw a similar thing in Island of the Idols, where Tommy’s more social game was rewarded over Dean’s more flashy idol-orientated game—it wasn’t hammered home in the edit, but there were just enough signs beneath the surface.
DO WE NEED NASEER? — Luvu continues to be the underedited tribe, and this remains the only story happening on the blue beach. It’s all about whether the tribe needs Naseer or not, and it’s always Sydney who is narrating this story.
In the first episode, Sydney snitched on Naseer to Deshawn and said that Naseer would be the first to go. Then, in Episode 2, she changed her mind, talking about how essential Naseer is to the tribe and how she wants to keep him because they’ve grown to like him. Now, in Episode 3, she is back to snitching on him again and saying he isn’t needed and should be the first one out.
I don’t think this was a good look for Sydney. It felt very much like a classic hypocritical edit. “We can live our life without Naseer because we actually think that he can ruin all of our games because he’s so, so erratic,” she said. But Naseer has not been shown as erratic; he’s distrusted Danny and Deshawn since the premiere when he caught them idol searching. He hasn’t wavered. Sydney, on the other hand, has gone back and forth on Naseer in every episode. That is erratic.
“I feel like Sydney… she’s playing a double agent game,” said Naseer. And we know he’s right because we’ve seen Sydney promising not to share Naseer’s conversations and then snitching on him to the others. It’s also telling that we haven’t heard any other Luvu tribe members’ thoughts on the Naseer and Sydney situation other than Deshawn. We only have Sydney’s perception of the situation to rely on.
I suspect there is more to this story, and given it’s the only focus on Luvu, I fully expect it to continue over the coming episodes. But I don’t imagine it is quite as straightforward as Sydney makes out.
IT’S PERSONAL — There were no personal flashbacks this week, but we did get a little bit of personal insight into Liana and Shan.
After airing her frustrations of not taking out Xander, Liana talked about coming from a hardworking family and how that drives her to play this game hard and be a great player. She also mentioned a lesson she received from her dad about how “Change is the only thing that’s constant in this world,” and so she will never give up. “There’s always an opportunity to flip the narrative,” she said.
I thought this was a pretty good and interestingly placed confessional. Liana has been significantly lacking in personal content so far, so it was nice to get a little something, even if it wasn’t a full flashback. The way she tied her life lessons into the game was also a classic Edgic trademark. All the talk of never giving up and flipping the narrative could be foreshadowing a big move down the line.
However, what came next changed my perception of this confessional somewhat. Liana missed the Beware Advantage right next to her, and the morning after, Tiffany found it. “It was right in front of my face, and like that would have just given me so much hope to have an advantage. Maybe that’s my million-dollar mistake,” said an emotional Liana.
What should we read into this? Is it telling us that despite wanting to play hard that Liana is a player that will always come up short? She wanted the “big threat” Xander out but didn’t get her way. She talked up playing hard and flipping the narrative but then missed an advantage. Is this her story? Is this her million-dollar mistake? Will these early errors come back to haunt her? Maybe.
But I find the placement and inclusion of these confessionals to be fascinating. Why was it important to get Liana’s perspective on the Xander vote and Tiffany’s advantage find? And not just get her perspective on the game but with some personal detail sprinkled on top. It suggests to me that Liana has a crucial role to play, whether that is turning things around and “flipping the narrative” in her favor, or continuing to come up short, perhaps at the hands of Xander and/or Tiffany.
Meanwhile, Shan, who also hasn’t had a flashback yet, talked about her parents’ divorce, comparing the Brad vs. JD vote to her heartbreaking choice of which parent she wanted to live with. This is also tough to read because of Shan’s previous edit as the cutthroat mafia pastor.
Does Shan’s sudden emotional struggle undermine her edit? Perhaps. But it could also just have been a good opportunity to share some personal content for someone who has so far been very game-orientated. And it’s not as if it totally counteracts her previous content.
In the premiere, Shan said, “I want people to feel that they can trust me. Being able to create bonds with people and establish a strong relationship… That’s the disguise, right? So they won’t see me cut their throat in the end.” She explained how she wants to establish strong relationships to gain trust, and we’ve seen her do that. It’s just that it is taking an emotional toll.
EVVIE, LIANA, & TIFFANY — I still believe this trio is the most established of the alliances so far. They receive screen-time every episode. This week we saw them on the beach together after Tiffany found the Beware Advantage.
Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean this alliance is the tightest. Last week, we already saw that Liana and Evvie were worried about Tiffany potentially causing issues with her unpredictability. And this episode, Liana was frustrated about not getting her way with the Xander vote, not to mention being upset that she lost out the advantage to Tiffany.
There are definitely enough cracks to suggest an implosion of this alliance somewhere down the road. But that doesn’t take away the focus on this trio, which to me suggests their importance to the narrative.
SHAN & RICARD — This duo continues to be linked together, at least in camp scenes and in Ricard’s confessionals. We saw them both discussing the vote options this episode, and Ricard noted in confessional that it basically came down to Shan making up her mind on JD or Brad.
That said, we still haven’t heard Shan talk about Ricard or this alliance in confessional. Shan’s whole story is about getting everyone to trust her, and, so far, we have seen her accomplish that. Brad trusted her enough to tell her about his advantages. JD trusted her enough to hand over his Extra Vote for safe-keeping. And Ricard has previously said Shan is his closest ally. But who is Shan ultimately loyal to? I would suggest herself only.
The below list is just the edits that currently stand out. It doesn’t mean that all those not mentioned are out of contention.
- While Episode 3 was mostly Brad-focused, Shan remained at the center of the relationships on the Ua tribe. She is shown to have strong relationships and trust with multiple people in her tribe and is making the ultimate decision at Tribal Council.
- She received some personal content regarding her parents’ divorce and the position she was put in as a child.
- She had follow-up focus in Episode 2 despite limited air-time for the Ua tribe.
- The duo of Shan/Ricard is presented as the decision-makers on Ua, and the edit has placed Shan as the leader in that pairing.
- She had a really strong intro confessional in the premiere where she laid out her game: “Listen, I am the mafia pastor, okay… I am half Italian, half Jamaican. That means I’m cutthroat, okay. Like I will pray for you and walk you out the door at the same time.”
- In the premiere, 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. We have seen her following through with this so far.
- While keeping JD despite losing trust in him could be seen as a bad thing, Shan did manage to obtain his Extra Vote, so there was a reason to believe she could control him. On top of that, the previous episode had explained why she didn’t trust Brad (due to his spying).
- Is potentially on the complex tribe?
- No flashback sequence, though we don’t know yet quite how significant that is or isn’t. And she does at least now have some personal content.
- She said that she could no longer trust JD after she caught him lying about the Extra Vote, and yet she kept him in the game. On the flip-side, she voted out Brad despite noting that Brad had 100% trust in her. This could potentially be foreshadowing that keeping JD was a mistake.
- Her struggling with the emotional toll of cutting Brad or JD could be a sign that Shan will fail to follow through with her cutthroat strategy at some point in the game.
- Shan has yet to tell us who she genuinely wants to work with and move forward with in the game. However, this might not be hugely important for Shan because she described her strategy as making bonds with everyone and then cutting their throats.
- There was no follow-up on why she ultimately voted out Sara over JD.
- 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.
- Evvie had a very quiet Episode 3, but a cooldown here isn’t necessarily a bad thing given their massive amounts of screen-time across the first two episodes.
- The Evvie/Liana/Tiffany trio is the most established alliance of the season so far.
- In the second episode, Evvie decided not to risk their vote but was provided the opportunity to explain the choice in a way that made sense for their game.
- Has been presented as the center of the Yase tribe and we have a good understanding of their relationships with each tribe member.
- They received a solid intro confessional (the first confessional of the season, for a matter of fact).
- Has a separate cross-tribal alliance with Deshawn.
- Previously received positive comments from Liana about being authentic and genuine.
- In the premiere, Evvie told us some personal info about studying for a Ph.D. in human evolutionary biology and how that ties into Survivor and will help their game.
- Correctly read the situation in sending Xander to the summit in the premiere in that they could trust him to tell the truth.
- Is on what is potentially the complex tribe.
- While a cooldown is okay, Evvie didn’t receive any confessionals at all in Episode 3. This meant they didn’t comment on Tiffany’s advantage find, something that could be considered an important moment in the episode.
- Still hasn’t had a flashback sequence, though we don’t know yet quite how significant that is or isn’t. Overall, their personal content is lacking.
- No follow-up this episode on keeping Xander, despite previously talking about how much of a threat Xander is.
- On a similar point as above, keeping Xander after referring to him as a smart, dangerous player could come back to bite them.
- They worried about Tiffany potentially being a loose cannon and causing problems down the line but voted with Tiffany to take out Voce. This could also come back to haunt Evvie.
- While she still hasn’t had a flashback, she received some personal content in Episode 3 about her family’s hard work ethic and lessons she learned from her dad. She also tied these into the game of Survivor.
- Even though the last vote didn’t go how she wanted it to, she got to follow up this episode and talk through her frustrations.
- The quotes about “change being constant,” “never giving up,” and “flipping the narrative” could all be positives in terms of Liana turning things around despite her mistakes.
- She has been shown to have good game awareness in previous episodes, and even when something goes wrong, she gets to acknowledge it and comment on it.
- She is part of the most established alliance in the game.
- Liana was highly sought after as a vote in Episode 2, with Xander and Voce both needing her and Evvie & Tiffany speaking of trusting her.
- She was the first to name Abraham as the target in confessional in the premiere.
- She appears in a lot of the camp strategy talks and also shares her thoughts in confessional, but hasn’t been overly exposed like, say, Evvie or Shan.
- She is on what is potentially the complex tribe.
- Not getting her way with the Xander vote and then missing the advantage could be signs that Liana’s game will come up short. Her narrative could be the player that has the correct read on the game but doesn’t follow through and ends up paying the price.
- She didn’t receive an intro confessional and still hasn’t had a flashback sequence.
- Keeping Xander in the game could come back to bite her, especially as she mentioned again this week how much she wanted him out.
- Similarly, in Episode 2, she mentioned Tiffany being a firecracker that could cause issues for the alliance. But she stuck by Tiffany at the vote. Again, this could come back to haunt her.
- When Liana said she felt authenticity from Evvie in the premiere, it was followed by Evvie admitting to lying about her studies.
- Her first confessional of the season 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 seems to be the main proponent of the “new era” and “risk versus reward” theme.
- While he didn’t get a full intro confessional, he did receive a one-sentence intro in the premiere.
- Even though his advantage-find content could be considered circumstantial, he has provided his strategic thinking behind his choices.
- Others have described him as a “dangerous” player and a threat. While this could paint him as a target, it could also set him up as someone who will be tough to get out.
- Is potentially on the complex tribe.
- He hardly received any screen-time this episode outside of the idol phrase thing at the challenge. Again, this makes Xander’s edit feel very circumstantial as if he is only relevant when tied to the advantages.
- Despite losing his closest ally in Voce last week, Xander didn’t give us any follow-up in this episode.
- He not only hasn’t had a flashback sequence, but he hasn’t received any personal content at all so far.
- He was a target in Episode 2 and survived the vote, but we didn’t see the vote from his perspective. It was more about Tiffany saving herself and Evvie & Liana making the choice, rather than Xander doing anything to change his fate.
- In Episode 2, he said, “I’ve got my two closest allies, Evvie and Voce, and I feel like they’ve got my back.” This was proved wrong as Evvie voted out Voce and originally wanted to target Xander.
- Even though she’s portrayed as somewhat of a wildcard, Tiffany always gets to comment on her situation and explain the reasons behind her choices.
- Her confessional after finding the Beware Advantage fit the New Era thing nicely. She was open to the adventure. “It’s my time to on an adventure. I was meant to find it. If I wasn’t, it’d have been in somebody else’s hands. That’s how I look at it, so I’m taking it, and I’m going with it,” she said.
- She is part of the most established alliance in the game so far.
- She received an intro confessional in the premiere 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.”
- 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.”
- Evvie and Liana have both talked about wanting to work with Tiffany, with Evvie evening saying they want to go deep into the game with her.
- Despite working together, Evvie and Liana have both expressed concern about Tiffany’s unpredictability. Yet, they have kept Tiffany in the game. This could suggest Tiffany will cause Evvie and/or Liana’s downfall at some point. A potential long-term story.
- She got her way with the Voce vote in Episode 2, explaining why she was worried that Xander may have an idol.
- While she took ages on the balance beam in Episode 2, the slow-motion footage was kind of presented in a positive manner.
- Is on what appears to be the complex tribe.
- At this week’s summit, Tiffany clashed with Sydney. In confessional, Sydney said she didn’t trust Tiffany and that she was “playing too hard too fast.” This was despite Tiffany saying, “I was not gonna cause drama here.” It seems drama was definitely caused.
- Tiffany came away empty-handed from the summit, claiming that she at least protected her vote and maybe gained some trust with two tribes. However, as noted, Sydney explicitly stated that she did not trust Tiffany.
- In Episode 2, Tiffany was portrayed as slightly erratic and confused. She couldn’t understand the situation with Xander’s advantages, even though Evvie and Liana explained the situation several times.
- Also, in the second episode, Tiffany was shown taking a long time on the balance beam. Although this wasn’t presented totally negatively, in fact, the slow-mo shots accompanied by voice-over encouragement was kind of positive-leaning.
- The heavy personal content and wanting to prove something to her kids from Episode 1 could suggest a journey edit.
- In Episode 1, she walked right by an advantage, sort of foreshadowing Liana’s situation in Episode 3.
- Despite working as a trio, Liana and Evvie have both expressed worries about Tiffany being a “firecracker” that could blow up their games. This paints Tiffany as a loose cannon.