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.
YASE THE UNDERDOGS — As we concluded the second part of the “merge twist” episode, everything became a lot clearer, this storyline, in particular.
From the marooning, the Yase tribe had been presented as the underdogs, and this theme continued throughout the pre-merge, even after Yase had started winning challenges. The “never give up” sea turtle scene was the most obvious editorial manipulation of the season so far, painting Yase as the little tribe that could. But why? At that point, Yase was on a winning streak, while it was Ua being decimated.
Well, given how the merge dynamics have shaken out, that sea turtle scene now makes a whole lot more sense. The Yase tribe (sans Liana, who flipped on them) are now the underdogs of the post-merge. It is currently Evvie, Tiffany, and Xander against the world. And so that’s why so much time was spent on portraying Yase as the likable underdog tribe; it’s a clear narrative throughline.
As I said last week, the “merge” episode confirmed to me that Yase was the complex tribe. I still believe that after Episode 8. Not only do they have this consistent, underdog storyline built-in from the premiere, but all the story beats set-up pre-merge make sense post-merge.
For example, we knew that Evvie, Liana, and Tiffany were working together but that there was some mistrust between them. We knew Liana didn’t trust Xander and was determined to take him out. We knew that Evvie was keeping close to Xander, which raised alarm bells for Liana and Tiff. We knew that Xander trusted Evvie, was cautious of Liana, and hoped that Tiff would forgive him and work with him. We knew that Tiff was open to working with Xander but was “onto him.” And we knew that Tiff lost trust in Liana after she found out about her advantage.
All of those relationship dynamics played into this two-part merge twist episode. Liana’s determination to screw Xander caused her to turn on Evvie, even against her better judgment. “She’s with Xander, and she glues Xander to Tiffany,” Shan said, convincing Liana to flip.
And Tiffany’s distrust of Liana caused her to spill the beans about Liana’s advantage, which led to Liana misplaying it at Tribal Council. This all ties back to those early episodes where Liana worried about how Xander and Tiffany could end up screwing things for her in the long run.
Even the stuff about Evvie telling Xander’s secrets to Deshawn came back up at Tribal, which opens more potential story development for the Evvie/Xander relationship. It shows that Evvie and Xander are not just suddenly closest allies out of nowhere. Evvie even said in confessional that they probably wouldn’t have played an idol for Xander if the shoe was on the other foot. And Xander learning that Evvie wasn’t 100% loyal to him fills in any potential narrative gaps.
It will be interesting to see if the Yase members continue to be a central focus of the post-merge. It could be that it was all the lead-up to this big move that Xander, Evvie, and Tiffany pulled off, and that’s the end of their story. But, if I’m reading the edit correctly, I would expect the narrative to continue centering around the Yase tribe members.
ERIKA’S EXILE — Erika’s trip to Exile was the big focus of Episode 7, and it continued at the start of this week’s episode. It reemphasized her perseverance to survive alone at Exile, and she continued to stamp her “lamb becomes a lion” theme. “I have to take ownership for what I did, but the days of me being that little lamb on Luvu are over,” she said.
However, once Erika made her decision, she went back under the radar. She wasn’t involved in the strategizing. There was no scene between her and the Luvus discussing their decision to send her to Exile. We didn’t see her making any new alliances and relationships, other than a brief scene with Ricard, which was part of a “nobody knows what is happening with the vote” sequence.
It was a busy episode, so you can perhaps excuse some of those things to a degree. And I will give one more episode for Erika to establish some new relationships and story relevance. But to disappear like that after making such an important decision tells me that Erika isn’t one of the season’s main characters.
NEW ERA — The new era theme came up in a big way this episode after Erika made her hourglass decision. We saw two different reactions. Danny was not happy (justifiably, in my opinion), feeling that Jeff had blatantly lied to them. Deshawn, however, was accepting of what happened, understanding that this is a new kind of game.
“Danny was upset. I get it, but I’m, like, “What is fair, right?” We came into this game knowing that Jeff had some tricks up his sleeve for 41, and he said that it wasn’t gonna be like any other season, so fair or not, that’s how the chips fell, and now we have to find a way to respond to it,” Deshawn said in confessional.
This was quite the turnaround for the premiere when it was Danny jumping headfirst into the new era (taking the Summit trip) while Deshawn showed caution. Here, Deshawn took the punches and moved forward, while Danny seemed unwilling to accept what had happened. And I believe the edit certainly wants us to side with Deshawn’s point of view.
SHAN & LIANA — This pair recommitted to each other this episode as Liana officially jumped ship from her old Yase alliance. Despite her initial reluctance to vote Evvie, Liana told Shan that she wanted to work with her more as they think about the game in a similar way.
A potential problem for this alliance is that everyone is aware they are aligned. Xander and Tiffany noted how Liana ditched them for Shan and how they’re all “buddy-buddy.” This could lead to them being targeted down the line.
DANNY, DESHAWN, LIANA, & SHAN — Expanding from the Liana & Shan pair is this foursome which we saw set up in the previous episode. This alliance was highlighted again in this episode, first in the Previously On recap and then again in Shan and Liana’s conversation.
“I really do feel closest to Shan, Danny, and Deshawn, but Evvie’s been really close with me since Day 1,” Liana said in confessional. While Shan talked about having a vision of herself, Liana, Danny, and Deshawn together as the Final 4.
Interestingly, there wasn’t much follow-up from Danny and Deshawn in regards to this alliance. In fact, in Deshawn’s confessional, he referred to Danny and Sydney as his closest allies. But we did see the four talking together later in the episode, with Shan referring to them as “the core four.” And, obviously, Sydney went home, so this could now become Deshawn’s main alliance.
EVVIE, TIFFANY, & XANDER — This is a fun one because of how this trio has shifted. Evvie, Tiffany, and Liana were previously the threesome, with Xander on the outs. But, as explained earlier, the signs of this shift were set up throughout the pre-merge.
Tiffany and Xander have ended up coming together through their mutual distrust of Liana. Tiff lost trust in Liana last week after hearing about the advantage, and, once she told Xander, it confirmed his previous distrust of Liana.
What is intriguing here is that there are signs of even further shifting within this trio. While they’re together right now, we know from the pre-merge that Tiffany was cautious about Evvie. And now Xander also has reason to distrust Evvie after finding out they spilled his secrets to Deshawn. So that could cement Tiffany and Xander as the tightest duo of the former Yase, with Evvie on the outs.
LIANA VS. XANDER — I’ve talked a lot about this already in previous sections, but clearly, this was the big focus of the episode. Liana was dead-set on making a move against Xander, talking of how he had underestimated her. But, in the end, it was Liana that underestimated Xander, as he outplayed her advantage.
With both Liana and Xander still in the game, one should expect this relationship to remain a focus for the foreseeable future.
LIANA VS. TIFFANY — This is a secondary rivalry, but we also know there is a divide between these two now as well. Again, it was set up early pre-merge when Liana worried about Tiffany causing her problems down the road. That came to fruition here, as it was Tiff spilling the beans that allowed the Yase trio to form a counterattack on Liana’s advantage.
DESHAWN/LUVU VS. ERIKA — Once Erika became safe, this whole storyline was dropped. Instead, the story shifted to the targetting of Evvie and playing self-defense in the case of Xander playing an idol. There is a chance this story will come back to the surface in the future, but, at the moment, it is looking very secondary.
For the remaining episodes, I’m just to list my top five contenders in order of my top contender to my bottom contender.
This was a quieter episode for Tiffany, but she still claims my top spot, for now at least. I find her edit to have fewer flaws than everyone else. Plus, she’s had a fairly big presence in the season so far, so a quieter episode isn’t the worst thing in the world.
That said, it would have been nice to see her receive more credit in the fake idol plan; instead, the edit gave most of the credit to Xander. However, we still saw that Tiffany was an active part of the plan, and she ended up looking good for not wasting the idol on Evvie. Plus, her role in the move was spilling the info about Liana’s advantage, which was set up in the previous episode.
Tiffany has a lot of really good content. She has the “previvor to Survivor” story from the premiere, a nice amount of personal content, solid strategic content, and well-defined relationships with Evvie, Liana, and Xander, which continue to be the focal point of the season. In addition, we almost always hear her perspective on the dynamics and what she’s thinking in the moment.
What does Tiffany’s edit need next? We need her perspective on the game coming out of the last Tribal Council. And it would be good to see her establish some new connections and/or reemphasize her alliance with Xander.
I’m bumping Xander up just because of how much credit the edit gave him this episode, plus the positivity that came with it (Deshawn giving him major props at Tribal). It was a massive episode for Xander, one where he pulled off a big move and was proven right in his previous distrust of Liana. Even though he, Evvie, and Tiff didn’t take out their intended target, the move with the fake idol was presented as a win for the trio.
My issues with Xander’s edit are the same as they have been all season. He is severely lacking in personal content; he has been undermined at times (even in this episode, when he didn’t think Evvie would receive votes), and a lot of his content feels circumstantial. However, based on Survivor history, those kinds of flaws are more easily swept under the rug when it comes to male winner edits.
I’m keeping him up here, though, because he’s part of the complex Yase tribe, he has well-defined relationships, he has the whole underdog thing going for him, and he’s starting to get better strategic confessionals. The whole “shark above the water” thing is a nice theme for Xander; he’s the threat everyone can see, so he will always be a target, but that gives him some much-needed jeopardy in his edit.
Evvie is kind of neck-and-neck with Xander for me, but I find there are more ominous signs in their edit. They’ve had some solid strategic content before now and are presented as the underdog (Evvie narrating the turtle scene makes a lot of sense now). But they also lack in personal content, and I think we’ve been shown that Evvie’s game is going to catch up with them.
The moment at Tribal Council when Deshawn called Evvie out for spilling Xander’s secrets could spell disaster for Evvie moving forward. “Are you playing both sides of the fence? Where does your loyalty really lie?” Deshawn said. It shows that Evvie can’t be fully trusted, and it confirms Tiffany’s pre-merge suspicions of Evvie playing both sides. Those story seeds have been planted, and so Evvie could end up losing trust from everyone.
In this coming episode, Evvie needs to either reaffirm their loyalty to Tiffany and Xander or form some new connections. If that happens, then it gives hope that their edit can rebuild moving forward.
I’m keeping Shan in the running even though I feel a dreaded downfall in my bones. I think her edit is way over-exposed to be the winner; she would be the most visible winner of all-time outside of like Boston Rob and Ben. Even in this episode where she didn’t have a confessional, she was still a key focus, involved in several strategy talks and giving her perspective on the game.
The high visibility on its own doesn’t make a win impossible, but it does give me pause from having Shan higher up in my contenders. Because Shan’s edit does have a ton going for it. We always hear her perspective; she has well-defined relationships (with Ricard and now Liana, plus the four-person alliance with Liana, Danny, & Deshawn); and a nice amount of personal content. And this episode reinforced her connection to the four-person alliance, and to Liana, in particular.
While Shan was outplayed to a degree this episode, her reads weren’t entirely off. She was adamant that Xander wouldn’t play his idol for Evvie, and while it seemed he fully intended to at one point, he ultimately chose not to, despite Evvie’s pleas. However, Shan was wrong that Evvie had the idol, as Xander had actually given it to Tiffany. But she did get the credit for coming up with the Evvie/Sydney split vote plan at Tribal. So there was a mix of good and bad here.
There are still loose threads to pick up with the whole Ricard/Extra Vote situation, and the Shan/Liana/Danny/Deshawn alliance has a clear focus. So, whatever Shan’s ultimate fate may be, I fully expect her to continue being a driving force of the season’s narrative.
In the name of fairness and keeping in a contender from each tribe, I’m going to place Deshawn as my fifth and final pick. While I’m low on Luvu’s edit as a whole, if any of them were to win, I would say Deshawn has the best chance based on his edit.
There were two big positives for Deshawn in this episode. Firstly, he was shown to fully embrace the hourglass twist, accepting it as part of Survivor’s new era. He didn’t complain; instead, he “rewired” and worked to keep himself safe. Secondly, he at least received partial credit for saving himself; he was the first to name Sydney as a potential target after it came out that the Yase trio was targeting him.
However, there is almost a running trend of Deshawn’s plans falling through. He wanted to search for the idol in the premiere, and he got busted by Naseer. He tried to throw a challenge to boot Erika, and it failed. He wanted to keep the Luvus together for the first couple of merge votes, and he just lost a Luvu, someone he described in this episode as one of his closest allies. He even used his Extra Vote on Evvie and still didn’t get her out (though that was a heads-up move in case an idol was played on Sydney).
So there are some obvious concerns with Deshawn’s edit. But he does have what his fellow Luvus are lacking. He has a nice mix of personal and strategic content, he has relationships and alliances that we are aware of, and we usually get his perspective on the dynamics.
He also received a lot of compliments about his social game in this episode. He talked about it himself at Tribal, and it was backed up, not just by Evvie and Xander complimenting him, but earlier in the episode, Evvie said, “I think [Deshawn] has the best social game. He’s smart. He’s building a lot of relationships, and that’s really dangerous.”
Coming off the close call at the last Tribal, I think Deshawn’s edit needs to dive further into his social game. If we can see him continuing to form relationships and actually use them to propel himself forward, I’d feel a lot better about his long-term edit.
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