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.
The merge is often one of the most important episodes of the season, Edgically speaking. But this was no normal merge episode. With more game-breaking twists, the traditional merge episode has not only been upheaved but split over two weeks. That means we have to wait until this week’s episode to fully grasp the outcome of the merge episode edit.
That said, this episode did confirm a few things. Most significantly, this episode cemented my gut feeling from the premiere that Yase was the complex tribe. Outside of Erika, who was part of the Exile twist, it really felt like the Yase members drove this episode. They were practically in every scene in some shape or form.
Evvie had lots of narration around the coming together of tribes and the merge feast. Xander also had lots of narration while talking about his worries of being stuck in “mergeatory,” and the continued Xander versus Liana storyline was also discussed. Liana, meanwhile, continued her connection with Shan while also continuing her off/on relationship with Tiffany. And speaking of Tiffany, she discussed her position on the tribe and her feelings towards Liana.
It just really seemed like the yellow tribe was in every corner of this episode. They felt relevant to the story, like the edit wanted us to hear from them and understand where they stood. And so, I go back to what I said in my premiere write-up, if the complex tribe theory holds up, then the winner of the season should come from Yase.
ERIKA’S EXILE — The big story of the episode was Erika getting sent to Exile. Erika’s pre-merge edit was pretty underwhelming for the most part, but she did have an established story, set-up in Episode 4, and an underlying connection to Deshawn.
We had seen previously how Deshawn, Danny, and Sydney wanted to throw a challenge to boot Erika. This established Erika as on the outs and laid the groundwork for her being sent to Exile in this episode (by the majority of her ex-Luvus). And the target of the episode, despite her absence, continued to be Erika, as the previously mentioned trio pushed for her vote-off. So Erika now has a solid underdog story.
The trip to Exile also gave us a chance to learn more about Erika, including her life outside of the game. And she tied this nicely into her game. “I’ve been used to things never coming easy for me in life, like growing up in Canada, always looking different than the other kids, and knowing how many challenges my parents had in trying to give us a good life,” she said.”
She continued: “I’m just so used to things not being handed to me, but I just always am able to somehow persevere and figure out how to get through it… I’m gonna come back into the game like still looking like a lamb but ready to play like a lion.”
This was all great content, and you could view it one of two ways. If you were to look at it from a more favorable angle, you could say the reason Erika’s pre-merge edit was so quiet was because the editors knew she had this huge moment coming up. Therefore, they could afford to put her on the back burner, knowing that her story didn’t truly begin until the merge.
Or, you could view it as a mostly circumstantial edit, in that whoever got sent to Exile would receive this kind of focus. So, therefore, it’s not so much about the start of the post-merge narrative for Erika, but more just a critical moment that she so happens to be involved in.
Perhaps frustratingly, I fall somewhere in the middle. I do think the whole “I find a way to persevere” and “ready to play like a lion” stuff is a good sign for Erika’s post-merge game. It has all the hallmarks of a classic comeback story. And her turning things around on the old Luvus seems heavily foreshadowed, even if only in the short-term.
But I still can’t look past her pre-merge edit. Yes, she now has a clear narrative and story threads with other characters, and those things could carry her far. However, I still don’t see this turning into a winner’s edit or even a season’s main narrator edit. If those were to happen, Erika would have had a better start to the season than a streak of UTR, UTR, and INV.
EXTRA VOTE DRAMA — The drama over Shan’s Extra Vote took up the first part of the episode. This was not so much about the Extra Vote itself, but what it told us about Shan and Ricard’s relationship.
Despite agreeing to move on, this pair has now lost trust in each other. “Part of me feels like I can’t really trust [Ricard] completely with his word,” Shan said in confessional. While Ricard stated, “I’m just gonna drop it and move on, but from here on out, I have to do what’s best for me.”
This will surely come to a head at some point. The set-up is all there. Not to mention, Shan reaffirmed her bond with Liana later in the episode and formed a new alliance with Liana, Danny, and Deshawn. The seeds are planted for the breakdown of the Shan and Ricard alliance.
Also worth noting that Ricard basically disappeared from the episode following those opening scenes. His story seems firmly attached to Shan’s, at least for right now.
YASE CRACKS — The other thing that confirmed to me that Yase was the complex tribe is that this episode followed through on all the pre-merge foreshadowing. While Yase has been shown to have camaraderie and a relaxed atmosphere, there have also been these cracks that could be broken apart later in the game.
From early on, we’ve known that Liana distrusts Xander and is determined to take him out. Before the merge, we heard her say, “Xander at my tribe is still a huge threat. He has all of these advantages in the game, but Xander’s overconfident. He feels so comfortable with me. He doesn’t see me as a threat, and so I’m champing at the bit to like just flip the narrative.”
She continued to push a Xander vote-off later in the episode, and Tiffany even commented on it. “Liana is continuing to hold this emotional tie to wanting Xander out, and she’s gunning for one of our own. That’s a problem,” she said. This also tied into Tiffany finding out about Liana’s advantage and how that caused distrust between the pair.
As we know, Episode 2 also foreshadowed Tiffany potentially causing problems for Liana (and/or Evvie) down the line. These narrative beats seem to be coming to fruition. And with Tiffany now knowing about Liana’s advantage (and seemingly already telling others about it, judging by that background scene with Sydney), she has the ammunition to blow up Liana’s game. Or, vice versa, Liana has reason to flip on Tiffany, knowing now how much a threat she is to her own game.
MEN VS. WOMEN — This concern was brought up again in this episode by Danny, who used it to justify sending Erika to Exile over Naseer. And Danny even brought up his worries about the women controlling the game at the merge feast to Evvie.
I’m still not quite sure what to make of this story just yet. Will Danny’s paranoia about the women become a self-fulfilling prophecy and end up mobilizing the women against him? Or is it just there to explain why Erika is being pushed as the target? It’s also telling that, despite the concerns over the women, Danny and Deshawn formed an alliance with Liana and Shan, though we didn’t hear Danny comment on it in confessional.
Again, this is one we need to keep an eye on for the next couple of weeks to see if it becomes a bigger part of the narrative.
SHAN & RICARD — I touched on this relationship earlier. Shan and Ricard are still connected, but there are ominous signs for their future as a duo. Both of them have talked about losing trust in the other. Ricard is concerned about Shan having lots of power, plus her paranoia. And Shan is worried about not being able to trust Ricard’s word.
SHAN & LIANA — We saw this pair established at Summit Island in Episode 5, and it was reconfirmed in Episode 6. Shan and Liana were able to reconvene and discuss plans going forward. Although, we did see Shan accidentally reveal Liana’s advantage in front of Tiffany.
Shan told us, “I am super excited to work with Liana moving forward because Liana and I really bonded on the journey, and I kinda just trust her with everything, you know. She’s, like, ‘I’ve got your back.’ And know I’ve got hers, and that’s how I genuinely feel.” She reiterated this again later in the episode.
We didn’t hear Liana’s thoughts on the alliance to the same degree. In fact, when Liana talked about Shan in confessional, she mentioned how it sucked that Shan brought up the advantage in front of Tiffany. But we did see Shan and Liana strategizing together, and the two were highlighted as part of the alliance with Danny and Deshawn.
DANNY, DESHAWN, LIANA, & SHAN — This was an alliance that came together later in the episode. We first saw Shan and Liana talking to Danny about it, and then later to Deshawn. The four bonded over their shared experiences as people of color and spoke of how amazing it would be to work together on the down-low.
It will be interesting to see how this alliance develops because we also have the story thread of Danny and Deshawn being concerned about the women running the game. Plus, we have Shan’s cutthroat mafia pastor theme that has so far seen her cut plenty of people that thought they could trust her.
EVVIE, LIANA, & TIFFANY — This trio has been together from the start and has had consistent focus. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. As I touched on earlier, there are clear cracks in this alliance, especially when it comes to Liana and Tiffany.
I find it interesting that before the merge, Liana said, “I think amongst the women, there’s a really solid form of trust, so much that we’re putting on this kind of like facade to keep Xander in a certain place.” And yet later in the episode, we saw her talk of not trusting Tiffany and seeing her as a threat.
So, I still think this trio is important to the narrative, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be sticking together for the long haul.
NASEER & XANDER — This was a brief but noteworthy little scene. We saw Naseer complimenting Xander (“You’re dominating, bro”) and promising to have his back. It tied into Xander being worried about his position, especially as the only guy currently available to be voted for at the next Tribal. Again, this could potentially play into the whole men versus women narrative.
LIANA VS. XANDER — I talked about this storyline earlier. It’s been a consistent theme from early on in the season. Liana has it out for Xander but hasn’t been able to pull off a move against him so far. Meanwhile, Xander remains oblivious.
This episode saw Liana discussing her Knowledge Is Power advantage with Shan, where she mentioned maybe using it on Naseer or Xander. And she also pushed voting Xander out to Tiffany. However, Tiffany questioned Liana’s obsession with Xander and worried about her quickness to flip.
LIANA VS. TIFFANY — Following on from above, Tiffany distanced herself from Liana in this episode after finding out she had an advantage. “We were a tight three coming in here, and you already had something to hide from us,” Tiffany said in confessional. “If she could do that within the game like this, she’s gonna flip on us in two seconds, so I’m not so sure I’m gonna have her back like I did before.”
Tiffany explained why she is moving on from Liana, and it was backed up in the edit. We heard Liana say that she didn’t want Tiffany to know about the advantage, and she described Tiff as a “major threat.” Not to mention, we saw Liana making new alliances with Shan and Danny & Deshawn.
DESHAWN/LUVU VS. ERIKA — Again, I talked about this earlier in the Erika section, but this seems like it will continue to be a story for the foreseeable future. The old Luvus (mostly Danny, Deshawn, and Sydney) were still pushing for Erika to be voted out.
There was a lot of contradiction here, though. Before the merge, the Luvus talked of sticking together, at least for the first couple of votes. Even in confessional, Deshawn said, “I’m just trying to keep the pieces together for one vote, but if I can’t, we’re gonna be screwed.” Yet, Deshawn was on board with booting Erika, a fellow Luvu.
This seemed to work well last week, so, for now, at least, I will continue to write a brief bit about each remaining castaway. Once again, I will list the remaining players in order of my top contender to my bottom contender.
The thing that stands out about Tiffany’s edit is that we always get to hear from her. And I don’t just mean inconsequential narration. She always gives us her perspective on the game and her place within it. That is so unusual for the “older” woman archetype on Survivor unless they’re super important to the overall narrative and/or the winner. You only have to look at Heather’s edit to realize how well crafted and cared for Tiffany’s portrayal has been.
In this episode, Tiffany told us how she felt after the “merge” and where she stood in the game. “I’m kind of on the outs in a weird way because Liana went on a journey with Shan, so they have a little bit of a connection. Heather’s sort of connected to five people who have already won. And I’m sitting here, like, “What’s happening?” So I’m just going with everybody at the moment.”
What Tiffany said is true. We have seen Shan and Liana form a connection. And all we know of Heather is that she was on the blue tribe (plus we had that seen of Luvu saying they’ll stick together). So, it made sense why Tiffany would feel sort of on the outs. She also correctly read that Liana is too emotionally tied to wanting out Xander and that Liana is ready to flip (again, backed up in the edit with Liana forming new alliances).
On top of this, Liana described Tiffany as a “major threat,” someone that is able to charm others despite her intensity. “She has this intensity about her. She’s playing so hard, yet she’s a really funny, charismatic person that everybody loves to be around, and so that to me is kind of like poison,” Liana said. “And I’m, like, ‘Especially with you knowing about this now and how I’ve seen you operate, you’ve just become a major threat.'”
While you could look at that as a negative, in that it paints Tiffany as a target, it is also a super compliment. While Tiffany can come off as intense because she’s playing hard, she also has a sociable personality that people gravitate towards. That suggests that it shouldn’t be hard for Tiffany to make new allies should she drift away from the Yase trio.
You could also look at the Liana and Tiffany relationship from the other point of view. Liana being aware of Tiffany’s threat level could mean that Liana will make a move on Tiff first. And if it’s Liana that comes out on top, I could see her as a top contender for the crown.
I have Tiffany above her right now, though, because I just think there are more ominous warning signs in Liana’s edit. Her focus on Xander is beginning to be portrayed as an obsession. And her Knowledge Is Power advantage is no longer a secret; not only do Tiffany and Shan know what it is, but we overheard Tiff telling Sydney about it.
And, remember the scene between Tiffany and Xander in Episode 5, when Tiff caught him in a lie? Xander said, “I lied a little bit, but [Tiffany] works with kids who are delinquents, kids who have made mistakes. It’s her job to forgive them, so I’m hoping that she’ll take pity on me, and we’ll work together.” If that was foreshadowing, Tiffany could take pity on Xander and give him a heads up about Liana’s advantage before she can use it.
The plus for Liana is that she does have other connections outside of the Yase relationships. She has the connection to Shan (though Shan does most of the narration for this pairing) and is also part of the foursome with Shan, Danny, and Deshawn. So if Liana does come out on top of this Tiffany/Xander conundrum, she has other story options waiting for her.
While I’m still heavily favoring the Yase members, Evvie is starting to slip a little. They had a presence in this episode, but it was mostly narrational and not very game-orientated. They were the player that narrated the merge feast and talked up how tough the season has been physically. And they also narrated the first merge meeting, talking about how everyone was putting on their new friends faces.
So, there was nothing that deep here. No real telling of what Evvie’s future plans entail. But they were at least kept as a presence, even if they are slipping down in importance behind Tiffany and Liana, and even Xander. They were also shown to be compassionate, having empathy for Erika, who was away at Exile while their group enjoyed a feast.
Part of me worries that Evvie could be a victim of Danny and co’s concerns about the women taking over the game. It’s telling that Danny brought up his worry directly to Evvie at the merge. Evvie assured him that wasn’t what was happening, but, as they say on Survivor, perception is reality. If Erika saves herself with the twist next episode, who is to say that Evvie doesn’t become the next target.
I’m boosting Xander up a few spots just because of how positive I’m feeling about Yase’s chances. But I still have him below the other Yase members just because I feel like he is undermined a lot in the edit (thinking Yase is a solid four), and a lot of his content pre-merge was circumstantial. Plus, he is severely lacking in personal content.
However, Xander did receive a decent amount of air-time in this episode. We got to hear his thoughts on the new dynamics and where he stood in the game. He was worried about his position and talked of either winning immunity or using his idol to stay alive. And his worries weren’t exactly unfounded, as we saw Liana and Shan discussing Xander as a potential target.
If Xander overcomes Liana’s Knowledge Is Power advantage, or at least becomes aware of it, he has a good chance of turning things around. It could be his wake-up call. Plus, he has the tenuous connection to Naseer and even Tiffany as potential allies should he realize the old Yase is not as solid as he thought. But I think he’s in desperate need of some personal content for me to see him as a winner.
Shan’s edit is just way too big for me to see her as the winner. Again, I’d love it if she was. A huge, well-developed female-winner edit is something Survivor has been screaming out for for years. However, it just isn’t how this show operates. Plus, I can’t shake the ominous feeling to Shan’s edit.
I’ve talked about it before, including earlier in this article, but there are too many instances of Shan cutting people who trust her. And now, her closest Ua ally is someone who has lost trust in her. And her newest ally, Liana, is someone we have been told is hasty to flip and has said herself that she is focused on her individual game. While the focus of Liana’s advantage has been aimed at Xander and Naseer, imagine how cold-blooded it would be if Liana used it to take Shan’s idol!
Shan’s obviously a massive character and a huge part of the season. She has dominated the screen-time. And I don’t think her winning is out of the realm of possibility. I just think the signs are there that her cutthroat gameplay and pervasive paranoia will be her undoing.
I said last week that Deshawn probably has the best edit on the Luvu tribe, and I’m sticking by that for now. But it’s far from perfect. There is a lot of inconsistency when it comes to Deshawn’s edit. Take this episode, for example; he spoke of wanting to keep Luvu together for a vote or two but then was quickly aboard the Erika boot plan. Not to mention he jumped into a new alliance with Shan and Liana.
That said, Deshawn did mention how having a diverse cast “busts your possibilities wide open,” which went some way in explaining him splitting off from Luvu. There was also some nice personal content in this confessional, as Deshawn talked about living in San Bernardino and being used to being around a lot of African-American people.
The problem for Deshawn is that it is almost guaranteed that Erika is going to get revenge on the Deshawn/Danny/Sydney trio with this new twist. Everything we’ve seen so far is leading up to that moment. But if Deshawn can survive that, there is then a chance he can move into some new stories and bump up the list.
I’m bumping Danny up a little because he at least got to explain the reasons behind his decisions in this episode. He told us why he wanted Erika to 1) go to Exile and 2) be the first merge target. Most of it is tied to his fear of the women running the game, which isn’t a fully accurate read, but also not totally wrong either. We know that the Yase women have been working as a trio, though the Ua votes had nothing to do with gender. So, at least Danny has been afforded time to explain himself.
However, I’m not sure he looks particularly great. His “rock, paper, scissors” reasoning was kind of undermined in both Erika’s and Jeff’s reactions. It suggested that Erika saw right through it. And, as I said with Deshawn, this whole story with Erika is set up for her to get revenge. Danny even spelled it out when he said, “I don’t want [Erika] to come back with a grievance and automatically decide that she wanted to flip and try to get one of us out.”
There is definitely a chance that Danny could be the victim of Erika’s twist, especially with being the main cheerleader for voting her out this week.
I talked a lot about Erika earlier, so I won’t repeat myself too much here. I’ve bumped her up slightly because she does have a clear story/theme now—the lamb becoming a lion. And it seems destined that she will get payback on the Luvus that sent her to Exile.
The jury is still out, though, on whether this Erika vs. Luvu is a short-term, early merge storyline or if it will be something that carries through the remainder of the season. And, if it is a short-term story, will Erika then disappear from the edit again, or will she continue to play a part in the ongoing narrative. Unfortunately, these are questions that can’t really be answered until after this twist is over.
What I would like to see for Erika in the next episode or two is her building new relationships/alliances. That would convince me she is important to the post-merge game and not just a circumstantial edit due to a twist.
I’ve dropped Ricard down a bit because of how he disappeared once the “merge” happened. His edit just seems too tied to Shan’s. Now, a lot was going on in this episode with all the twists and so on, so there is a chance that we’ll see more Ricard in the next episode. If that’s the case, we really need to see him building some new relationships away from Shan.
Right now, I see Ricard playing a part in Shan’s story arc, and that could end up being a significant part. But he’s lacking in an individual story of his own.
This episode didn’t really change my opinion on Naseer’s edit. I see him as a likable presence that adds some much-needed spark and personality into the season. But there is no real game depth or relationship development, the kind of things you’d expect if Naseer was the season’s winner.
He had a narrational confessional at the merge feast where he talked excitedly about getting his buff. But there were also some ominous signs, especially when he said, “First Tribal Council, I’m not going home anymore.” Now we know what Erika’s twist is; it’s highly likely Naseer isn’t going to have immunity much longer.
His only other moments in this episode were him mispronouncing Evvie’s name at the sit-out bench, which the edit played for laughs. And then his scene with Xander, where he promised to watch out for him. The second scene is the more interesting, as it’s the closest Naseer has come to a genuine alliance-building scene all season. So there is a chance this develops into something more in the coming weeks.
It’s also worth noting that both Naseer and Xander have idols. So if Tiffany does end up warning Xander about Liana’s Knowledge Is Power advantage, Xander could then give Naseer a heads up too.
There wasn’t a lot of Sydney in this episode, but what we did see reemphasized what we already knew. She wants Erika out, and she told us why. “Erika’s a very smart person and an incredibly intelligent player, and if she has some sort of advantage, that makes her very dangerous.”
Sydney was correct in that read; Erika does have an advantage that makes her very dangerous. Sydney was also right on her read to not trust the “merge” note. She was rightly skeptical. But all these correct assumptions do not help Sydney’s overall edit. She is on the Luvu side that Erika is likely about to seek revenge on. So, unless she survives that situation and kicks off a new story, I’m not convinced on Sydney’s edit at all.
I feel really bad for Heather. The edit just doesn’t care about her at all. I mean, she at least got a name-check this episode. But that’s not exactly great, especially as it was Sydney saying she “cannot stand” her. We’ve been given no reason to understand why Sydney doesn’t like Heather. In fact, we don’t know how Heather fits into the Luvu dynamics at all.