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.
IT’S PERSONAL — This episode’s Summit Island trek provided one of the most personal scenes of the season so far. Shan and Liana’s meeting was an emotional moment, with the two castaways connecting over their shared experiences as women of color. This led to a deeply personal flashback as Shan opened up about losing her mother.
Shan was one of the main characters of the season who lacked a flashback until this episode. Now she can tick that box. It provided viewers a deeper understanding of Shan as a person. So far, a lot of Shan’s edit has been focused on the cutthroat gameplay, so this gave us a nice rounded view of her as a personality.
What’s interesting to note is that the majority of the Summit scene was narrated by Shan. The only confessional Liana received was at the end of the scene, and it was primarily focused on the Risk vs. Reward portion and her claiming the new advantage. All of the personal stuff was mostly carried by Shan, presenting her as the more pivotal character.
Outside of Shan and Liana, this episode also provided more personal details for Naseer and Tiffany. Naseer had a cool moment when finding the idol, where he talked about how his daughter hid idols in the backyard to help him practice. And we heard about how Tiffany works with troubled youth and how this ties into her gameplay on Survivor.
All of this confirms to me that Liana, Shan, Tiffany, and Naseer are four of the more important characters in this season’s narrative. I expect them all to have significant moments post-merge.
SHAN THE ASSASSIN — The cutthroat mafia pastor reared her head again this episode (complete with theme music) as she stole the idol right from under Genie’s nose. Ricard did get credit for the idea, especially the part about convincing Genie that they needed to say the phrase just to test Luvu. But Shan still received the majority of the air-time.
I find this all very intriguing. I believe that we’re meant to view Shan as a smart, cunning player who isn’t afraid to make a big move. Modern Survivor loves those kinds of players, and the edit is rewarding Shan for her bold play. But there is also this lingering sense that Shan is going to get herself into hot water. She even commented herself, “That’s so dirty” in regards to taking Genie’s idol. And the awkward conversation with Ricard over the Extra Vote shows that she might have lost some trust.
I’ll talk more about this in the Shan & Ricard alliance section below, but there are definite signs that Shan’s cutthroat gameplay will come back to bite her.
NEW ERA / RISK VS. REWARD — The above-mentioned idol steal fell squarely into the Risk vs. Reward theme. Shan straight up said in confessional, “I don’t know what I’d be unleashing, and yet, the Survivor player in me can’t help but want to take a risk.” Later in the episode, we saw Shan weighing up her options at the Summit, ultimately choosing not to risk her vote but doing so in a way to build trust with Liana.
TO THROW OR NOT TO THROW? — After a solid episode for Luvu last week, this episode was very one-note for the blue tribe. The story continued from the last episode, with Deshawn and Danny wanting to throw the Immunity Challenge to take out Erika. The new layer to the story was Naseer being brought into the plan because Danny worried about the women having the numbers at the merge. Naseer, however, shot down the plan, and, once again, Operation Challenge Throw failed.
From the first episode, Luvu’s main story has revolved around Danny & Deshawn (with sometimes Sydney) versus Naseer. First, Naseer snitched on Danny & Deshawn for idol searching. Sydney then told on Naseer to Deshawn and Danny. After that, Sydney and Deshawn went back and forth on whether Naseer needed to go. And we’ve seen Naseer crush Deshawn & Danny’s plans to throw a challenge twice now (once with his challenge performance, once by telling them no).
The only other story on blue was last week’s seemingly out-of-nowhere Deshawn vs. Erika plot. With the merge ahead, we will never see this version of Luvu attend Tribal Council together. But one must imagine that these stories will have some relevance at the merge. Logic would dictate that the Luvu tribe splits apart at some point due to these unresolved inner tribe conflicts.
MEN VS. WOMEN — This is tied to the above section. As mentioned, Danny brought up his concerns about the men being outnumbered by the women. And we had the scene of Sydney acting as the provider to hammer the point home that the women are handling themselves well this season.
I’m not sure if this will become an overarching theme of the post-merge. It could just have been introduced as a way to explain why Deshawn and Danny were suddenly bringing Naseer into their plans. But it’s worth keeping an eye on over the next couple of weeks.
SHAN & RICARD — This is perhaps the most fascinating alliance in the game right now. Shan and Ricard have been working with each other from the start. They’ve both confirmed each other as their “number one” on separate occasions. And they’ve pulled off several moves together already. Yet, there is also this brewing tension between the pair.
It came to a head this episode when Ricard refused to hand Shan back the Extra Vote. Shan wanted all the insurance she could to make sure Ricard wouldn’t blindside her. But Ricard also worried that nothing was stopping Shan from blindsiding him if he handed the advantage over. This led to an awkward back-and-forth between the pair before Tribal Council.
This does not sound like the makings of an alliance built on trust. And I think the edit has been setting this up for a while now. We’ve seen over the past few episodes Shan taking out people that she herself has acknowledged had trust in her. She voted out Brad, who trusted her enough to tell her about his advantages. She voted out JD, who gave her his Extra Vote (twice!). And now she’s booted Genie, who also trusted Shan. Even Shan said, “I believe that I can fully trust Genie because she is an extremely honest person.”
Meanwhile, we have seen Ricard described by various Ua tribe members as “sly,” “sneaky,” and “distrustful.” Genie also referred to him as the “mastermind.” And the edit has shown him as such, as we saw this episode with his idol plan. Yet, this is the player that Shan has hitched her wagon to. She has voted out “honest” players that she knew trusted her and stuck by someone she knows is as cunning as her. She even said this episode, “Do I bring the strategist? Or do I bring the loyalist?”
It’s especially telling with what Liana said in this episode: “It’s not about who you trust in this game. It’s about who trusts you.” And Shan also stated, “nobody gets to the end without trust.”
Shan chose to bring the strategist, someone that now has less trust in her. And this could certainly come to be something she regrets if the narrative continues to head in this direction. Either Ricard will end up blindsiding Shan—we already saw him worrying about her taking all the credit in this episode. Or Shan’s paranoia, which is becoming more pronounced each episode, will lead to her chopping Ricard.
SHAN & LIANA — The Shan and Liana connection is certainly something that could tie into the Shan & Ricard story. Shan and Liana bonded during their trek, and Shan spoke of how much she was putting her trust in Liana. “I just wept on top of a mountain with this girl. I trust that that is something that’s gonna be stuck in her mind ’cause I know it was stuck in mine.”
Liana did confirm that the feeling was mutual, but we didn’t get as much of her perspective on the relationship as we did from Shan. And Liana had that line about how it’s not who you trust; it’s about who trusts you. So that suggests that there is still a gameplay element to this relationship beyond the emotional connection.
EVVIE, LIANA, & TIFFANY — Cracks were beginning to form in this trio in this episode. As I’ve said before, this threesome is probably the most well-defined alliance of the season. And while the second episode showed Evvie and Liana worrying about Tiffany’s unpredictability, they’ve pretty much been in lockstep throughout the pre-merge.
However, this episode saw Tiffany worrying about Evvie’s closeness to Xander. This made Tiffany question what Evvie had told them about Xander’s advantages and led to her and Liana searching Xander’s bag. Even though Evvie said in confessional that they are committed to the women over Xander, the fact that Tiffany questioned that suggests it won’t be smooth sailing for this trio come the merge.
DANNY & DESHAWN — There’s not much to add here. As I’ve said, this is one of the only clear alliances that the edit has highlighted on Luvu. And this week, the pair brought Naseer in due to their fears about losing numbers to the women.
LIANA/TIFFANY VS. XANDER — This episode continued to highlight the rivalry between this group. Firstly, we had Liana and Tiffany searching through Xander’s bag. Then we had Tiffany catching Xander in a lie and telling us that she’s “onto him.” And then later, after Liana received the Knowledge Is Power advantage, she said, “Xander is absolutely not someone I can trust, but Knowledge is Power gives me everything I need to potentially snuff his torch.”
Liana wanting to take out Xander has been a consistent storyline of the pre-merge. She was determined to take him out in Episode 2, but Tiffany put a stop to it due to her idol paranoia. Then, in Episode 3, she was upset that she didn’t vote Xander out and worried about missing her opportunity. And now she is talking about using her advantage to snuff his torch. So I fully expect this story to continue into the merge.
DESHAWN VS. ERIKA — There wasn’t as much focus on this storyline in this episode, but we did see Deshawn once again pushing to throw a challenge to take Erika out. That obviously didn’t happen, which means this is another potential story to continue into the merge.
THE FINAL 12
With the merge coming up, I thought, instead of the usual Contenders section, I would write a brief bit about each remaining castaway. That way, I can share my thoughts on every player, including those that don’t often get highlighted due to their limited role in the season.
I will list the remaining 12 in order of my top contender to my bottom contender.
It feels kind of crazy to have such a big personality like Tiffany ranked at the top, but in a world where Tony Vlachos won Survivor twice, nothing is off the table. Despite the flaws in her edit (mostly in Episode 2), Tiffany has a lot going for her.
She is a consistent presence who always provides her perspective on the goings-on in the game. We know where she stands, and we know the reasons behind her actions, even if those are sometimes based on paranoia. She is part of a clearly defined alliance and has an ongoing story/feud with Xander. Plus, she has a potential lingering thread with Sydney from her Summit meeting.
Most importantly, there is a lot of positivity to Tiffany’s edit. She not only had the intro confessional in the premiere, but she had an excellent flashback sequence. This provided a deeper insight into Tiffany and her reasons for playing. And even her Episode 2 challenge failure fits nicely into Yase’s underdog storyline—she never gave up and has since been presented as a challenge asset.
As I’ve said before, this could turn out to be a journey edit rather than a winner’s edit—it is certainly not a traditional women’s winner edit, that is for sure. And Episode 2’s focus on her wildcard unpredictability is worrying. But based on everything we’ve seen, Tiffany looks like she’ll continue to be a major character throughout the season.
Evvie has a strong edit, though lacking in personal content. Besides the brief confessional about being a Ph.D. student in the premiere, we haven’t learned much about Evvie. Now, that might not be such a bad thing if the edit is slow-playing things. If Evvie was the season’s winner, then the edit could be waiting for the merge and beyond for an uptick in personal content.
The positives for Evvie are similar to Tiffany in that we almost always know where they stand in the game. Evvie gives us their perspective on the tribe dynamics and where they fit within them. They’re also part of the season’s most clearly defined alliance. And they have potential side alliances with Xander and Deshawn. Plus, Evvie was the one that got to narrate Yase’s big underdog sea turtle scene.
However, the reason I place Evvie slightly below Tiffany is because of some ominous warnings signs. I’ve never felt fully comfortable with that second episode and how Evvie and Liana said they worried about 1) keeping Xander and 2) that Tiffany may blow up their game. That has foreshadowing written all over it.
Liana is about neck-and-neck with Evvie for me at the moment, though just a little bit behind due to having less air time. Liana has had a couple of really stand-out scenes, and she’s part of that defined Yase alliance. But we don’t get her perspective on the game as much as we do Tiffany and Evvie. Even in moments where we should expect more focus, like this episode’s Summit, it was Shan that received most of the screen time.
The positive for Liana is that she is presented as someone with a good read on the game. She is perceptive and recognizes who or what is a threat. Even in this episode, we saw a close-up shot of her following the idol catchphrases reveal. But it does feel like, despite her game awareness, Liana fails to follow through.
We saw her back down from the Xander vote, and we saw her miss out on the Beware Advantage. Will we see her miss out again with the Knowledge Is Power advantage? Will she wait too long and the idols will be used before she gets a chance to steal one?
Also, like with Evvie, Liana has that ominous foreshadowing of keeping Xander and Tiffany in the game despite previous concerns.
Shan has the biggest edit of the season; there is no doubt about that. And I would love this to be a coronation edit. It’s so rare we get huge, dominant female winner edits. And while I think that is still possible, there is something that worries me about Shan’s edit.
I touched on many of these worries earlier, so I won’t go into too much detail again here. But I feel like Shan’s cutthroat mafia pastor arc is telling a story where she keeps cutting people that trust her in favor of the wrong people. And this will ultimately come back to bite her. We’ve already seen signs of this in the Shan and Ricard relationship.
On the plus side, Shan has been given a very rounded edit. This episode, in particular, provided some great personal depth. Shan has the personal story and the game perspective, making her a clear key figure in the season’s narrative. And I think she will continue to be a major factor in the season; I’m just not sure that it includes winning the whole thing.
This is where things get a bit trickier. Everyone else’s edit is either severely lacking or contains lots of flaws. Ricard is perhaps the best of those remaining in that he has a clearly established alliance (with Shan) and has been credited as a savvy player. We’ve also seen him putting plans together, called the “mastermind,” and he had a great personal confessional/flashback in the premiere. Plus, he hasn’t been overexposed in the edit.
However, while you could say he hasn’t been overexposed, you could also look at it as he’s been underedited. And would the winner of the season be ignored that much, given they went to four of the first six Tribal Councils? Ricard’s edit has played second fiddle to Shan from the start. Now, that might be intentional if he ultimately usurps her. Or it could suggest Ricard isn’t as important to the narrative as Shan.
There is also a slightly negative slant to Ricard’s edit. He referred to Genie as a “spare tire” that can be put out to the side of the road… I’m not sure the edit would keep that content in for the winner. It almost sets Ricard up for a rude awakening somewhere down the line.
The Luvu tribe is underedited as a whole, but I at least feel like I know Deshawn and his relationships compared to the others. His premiere episode was weak. But he’s shared his perspective on the dynamics since then and, up until this week, had had a confessional in every episode.
We know that he has an alliance with Danny and Sydney. We know that he doesn’t trust Erika and wants her out. We know he has an off-and-on relationship with Naseer. And he has the potential connection to Evvie from the Summit. We have also seen people coming to him with information on several occasions.
The problem for Deshawn is the gaps in his edit. Some parts just aren’t explained. While he was correct on his read of Erika’s gameplay style, his vendetta to take her out came from nowhere. And his opinion on Naseer changes like the wind with no real rhyme or reason. Plus, while his failed challenge throw was mostly played for laughs, it’s still not the greatest look to set a mission and fail.
However, the saving grace for Deshawn (and for Luvu as a whole) is that Luvu never went to Tribal Council pre-merge. And this, combined with air-time spent on Summit Island and advantages, could somewhat explain Luvu’s lack of focus. So if Deshawn, or even a Naseer, has a really strong merge episode, it could boost them up in contention.
I think it’s clear that the audience is meant to root for Naseer. He’s had some fantastic personal content, both this week and in previous episodes. And, while he has been on the outs of his tribe, his focus has always had a positive slant to it (for example, his fire-making scene in Episode 2).
Sadly, I just don’t think there is enough game focus for Naseer to be this season’s winner (unless, as I said above, he has an incredible merge episode). We know he now thinks he can trust Danny and Deshawn, but we don’t have a broader sense of his strategy. I just feel like we would have got a lot more of Naseer’s game perspective in the pre-merge had he been the winner.
That said, I think Naseer has the edit of a fan favorite that will probably have at least a couple of key moments in the post-merge.
Danny had a strong premiere, complete with an intro confessional, some nice personal content, and a heavy dose of game talk. But since then, his edit has been a lot of nothing. He basically disappeared for two episodes, and when he reappeared, his content was all tied to the challenge throw plot. So there is not a lot of substance there to work with, and for a player of Danny’s archetype, I would expect a lot more focus had he been the winner, even if his tribe hasn’t attended Tribal yet.
On the plus side, we do kind of have a sense of Danny’s alliances. We know that he has been working with Deshawn and, by association, Sydney. And this latest episode told us that, while he doesn’t necessarily want to work with Naseer, he needs him going forward. This is due to Danny’s fears of the women running the game post-merge. So there are some connections and story beats for Danny’s edit to explore post-merge.
As I said with Deshawn and Naseer, perhaps a really strong merge edit can boost Danny back up the list of contenders. But it would require him to fill in a lot of gaps. For example, it was still never explained why Erika was “his girl,” and even his worry about the women seemed to come abruptly, given that we’d previously seen him working with Sydney.
Despite being on the complex Yase tribe, I don’t feel great about Xander’s chances. The majority of his content has been circumstantial, most of it related to idols and advantages. All of the game and relationship narration on Yase has been handled by Evvie, Liana, and Tiffany. Even worse, Xander severely lacks in personal content—we don’t know anything about his life outside of the game.
It’s also not a good look that Xander has been undermined, especially this past episode with his idol goof. Tiffany directly called him out. He is shown to be outplayed by his fellow tribemates. Again, I don’t think a potential winner would be presented in this way.
The positive for Xander is the heavy amount of foreshadowing. The Yase tribe members have told us over and over how dangerous Xander could be. Liana made it her mission to get him out back in Episode 2 and failed. So there is definitely groundwork to suggest Xander could come back to haunt the Yase trio. That doesn’t necessarily help his winning chances, but it suggests a pivotal part to play in the post-merge narrative.
Even though she had a boost in screen-time in Episode 4, Erika’s overall pre-merge edit has been far too quiet. She disappears for episodes at a time, and we have missed out on her perspective on key moments. While there is a history of women winners having quieter edits, I think Erika is too lowkey to fit that mold.
Now, I will say that Erika at least explained why she has been quiet so far. In Episode 4, she said that she’s been intentionally keeping her head low but wanted to take off the lamb costume and reveal the lion underneath. That at least provides an excuse for the underwhelming edit, and it gives her a potential story for the post-merge. Although, the fact that Deshawn clocked that this was Erika’s strategy wasn’t the best look.
We don’t have a great sense of Erika’s perspective on the tribe dynamics, other than she trusts Deshawn and wants to vote out Sydney. However, some subtler moments tie her to Deshawn… her fears about the men picking off the “weaker members” in Episode 1, the fire-making chat in Episode 2, and the conversations in Episode 4. There is a chance these threads are picked up in the post-merge.
Sydney is the one Luvu member who has had a confessional in every episode so far. She has been a consistent presence during the season. Yet, I don’t see any chance of her winning. For the most part, there has been a negative slant to her edit—not like “this person is evil” negative, but the snarky villain style negative. And she’s been shown to be quite erratic and quick-tempered, seen in her flip-flopping on Naseer and her fire-making tantrum.
She did receive a positive scene in this week’s episode, however. We saw Sydney catching fish and providing for her tribe, complete with compliments from her tribemates. I don’t necessarily think this was intended for a positive redemption arc for Sydney. Instead, I saw it more as a way to highlight the “women are outdoing the men” narrative that was then brought up by Danny and Deshawn.
There are unresolved plot points from Episode 4 regarding the Erika vs. Sydney battle, which I expect to be picked up at the merge. And there is all the Sydney and Naseer stuff too. So Sydney has story options, but I don’t think the edit suggests she will come out on top.
Poor Heather. Easily the most invisible castaway of the season. Heather wouldn’t have had any screen-time since the marooning if it wasn’t for her challenge blunder in Episode 4. She is unfortunately not relevant to the main narratives of the season.
However, when Heather has been shown, it has been positive. Her opening speech at the marooning talked of how much Survivor means to her and her family. And even her challenge failure was presented with a “never give up” positivity. So even if she isn’t a major character of the season, we’re at least supposed to like her. Perhaps she’ll end up the victim of an advantage, hence the edit not letting us invest in her.
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