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.
Well, I certainly didn’t see the result of last week’s episode coming. For those that have been following my Edit Bay write-ups this season, you’ll know that I’ve had Tiffany in my top contenders since the premiere. And even though there were some ominous signs in her merge episode edit, I still felt like there was a lot of weight to Tiffany’s narrative, that even if she wasn’t the winner, I expected her to make it deep into the season.
Alas, that wasn’t the case. Tiffany was eliminated. Does that mean my Edgic reads are completely off this season? It’s very possible. Or is there some disconnect in this season’s edit that means we aren’t getting a consistent narrative? Also possible. I will say, in all my years of doing Edgic, I can’t remember having a top contender leave THIS early.
Even stranger is how lackluster Tiffany’s boot episode ended up being in the grand scheme of things. Whether you had Tiff as a contender or not, there was no denying she had a strong, visible presence on the season with a clear part in the story and a personal narrative of her own, including the whole “previvor to Survivor” arc. Yet, none of that was followed up on here as her season came to a close; her story ended in a whimper as the edit was more interested in selling the “live Tribal” drama.
Regardless, with Tiffany’s exit, it means it’s time to reevaluate the edit and where the narrative of this season could be heading.
YASE THE UNDERDOGS — As soon as this episode started, I got a bad feeling. Following the last Tribal Council, the underdog Yase trio split apart, throwing each other under the bus and looking for new connections.
While there was set-up last week for Xander and Tiffany to abandon Evvie due to her secrets coming to light, the fact all three turned on each other was a bad sign in the underdog Yase arc. And Evvie’s confessional, where they brought up the turtle scene and how Yase was meant to be this scrappy underdog team, could be read as a conclusion to this narrative.
There’s part of me that doesn’t want to believe that. I’ve been so gung-ho about this season’s edit revolving around the Yase members that it is hard to brush that all aside now. And there is no doubt, a large portion of this episode still had the Yase members at its center. The Yase underdog story could very well continue, just not as a unit, but perhaps for whichever member(s) survives from here on out.
However, perhaps it’s time to start giving some other stories more attention.
FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE — The other big story of this episode outside of the Yase implosion was the growing tension between Deshawn and Shan. It started when Shan shot down Deshawn and Danny’s idea to put votes on Naseer, arguing that Xander was the bigger threat. Deshawn didn’t like how Shan spoke to him and told her his issues about her not hearing him out.
While the pair appeared to patch up their differences at camp, the same problem reared its head at Tribal during the whispering madness. Deshawn again felt like Shan was telling him what to do, and Shan told him she wouldn’t “baby” him.
We’re starting to see a pattern of communication problems in Shan’s edit. There was the previous argument with Ricard over the extra vote, where Ricard noted that he didn’t like the way Shan approached him—and those two are still beefing, as highlighted by this episode’s papaya fight. And there was tension between Shan and Heather this episode, too, with Heather stating she doesn’t like how Shan tells everyone what to do.
So what do we make of this? Is it setting up Shan’s downfall? Or is it merely providing an obstacle for Shan to overcome? I feel like it’s the former because I’m not sure why the edit would show Shan talking up her social game and then undermine her by focusing on her struggling with people socially.
NEW ERA — There were two clear new era theme moments in this episode. The first came during the Reward challenge when Jeff hid an advantage under the sit-out bench. It was presented as an opportunity, and Xander failed to find it. Is that a strike against Xander? Maybe. The edit could have left it out entirely if it wanted to, as it wasn’t ultimately relevant.
The second happened at Tribal as Shan reiterated Jeff’s “drop the 4, keep the 1” catchphrase from the beginning of the season. This was to sell the craziness of the season and how things can change right up to the very last second at Tribal Council.
HUNGER GAMES — The toughness of this season has come up a few times in previous episodes, particularly surrounding the lack of food. That was none more clear than in this episode.
There was a whole sequence of the reward losers getting emotional about the starvation and once again losing out on the chance to eat. Some let it get to them, and others pushed through—and some did both, like Shan, who was upset but also said it gave her clarity and a renewed focus. Xander, too, used the opportunity to try and build new allies, noting that he intentionally put himself with the losers. And Naseer showed his initiative by foraging for food at camp and providing for the tribe.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see this become a more consistent theme in the latter half of the season. Although, its focus could mostly be there to sell the pre-challenge bartering, which we saw in this episode as Jeff offered the tribe rice in exchange for four sit-outs.
The thing is, despite Shan saying she was putting food out of her mind and focusing on the game, that wasn’t quite what the edit showed us. She had the spat with Ricard over the papaya; she volunteered to sit out for rice (later saying at Tribal she “just wants to eat”) and said the main reason for keeping Naseer is that he is a provider.
DANNY, DESHAWN, LIANA, & SHAN — With the Yase alliance breaking apart, this foursome is now the main alliance in the game. But, much like with Yase, there are obvious cracks within this group.
I talked about it above, but the tension between Shan and Deshawn was highlighted throughout this episode. There is every chance that this leads to Shan and Deshawn turning on each other in future episodes.
It’s also interesting how this alliance has two clear pairs, with Danny & Deshawn and Liana & Shan, which could suggest how things will break down should this alliance implode.
RICARD & SHAN — This alliance is still bubbling in the background, though not as prominent as earlier in the season. But this week’s papaya scene did well to remind us of the ongoing Ricard and Shan drama.
Shan said that Ricard is still her number one but aired her frustration with him taking the papaya and how moments like that can change the game’s direction. Meanwhile, Ricard worried that Shan could resent him for these constant rewards and how it might mess up their alliance.
LIANA VS. XANDER — This rivalry took an interesting turn in this episode as, for a moment at least, it looked like Liana and Xander were going to put their differences aside and work together. In the plight to find new allies, Xander agreed to vote with Liana and Shan against Evvie at the next Tribal.
However, after Evvie won Immunity, Liana reneged on working with Xander, stating how she wanted to flush his idol and render him powerless. So the rivalry is very much still on, and, at that, Liana continues to struggle with getting her way when it comes to Xander, as he did not play his idol.
EVVIE VS. EVERYONE — This episode’s major focus was how Evvie was on the outs, losing the trust of the old Yase members and struggling to fit in and make new allies. It seemed like everyone wanted Evvie out, noting how big of a threat they are, both strategically and at the challenges.
It’s difficult to say right now whether this will continue to be Evvie’s story going forward. Will they pick up the underdog Yase narrative (Evvie has often been the one to narrate that theme) for themselves? Or did this just make the most sense for this particular episode seeing as Evvie won Immunity and saved themselves?
I could see it going either way, and we won’t really be able to tell until after this week’s episode.
For the remaining episodes, I’m just to list my top five contenders in order of my top contender to my bottom contender.
I’m not sold on Xander as the winner, but, for now, at least, I’m sticking to my gut that a Yase member is pulling this out. I still think there is a chance that the Underdog Yase story continues and will be carried by whichever of them survives. That could be Xander or Evvie, or maybe even Liana if things take a turn. But I’m putting Xander at the top just because he has a more realistic chance of surviving (but that’s more based on his advantages than the edit, that’s how confused I’ve become!).
The positives for Xander is that, since the merge, he’s been getting a lot of strategic content, and he always fills us in on where he’s at in the game. He always explains his moves and why he’s making them; for example, he even provided a reason for why he chose to sit out of the Reward challenge. He’s presented as a player that is always thinking and willing to do what it takes to survive one more day.
On the flip side, his negatives come mostly from the pre-merge. He was undermined on occasion (and still is now from time to time; the missed advantage and telling Liana she’s “got this” in the challenge only for her to immediately drop out). And most of his pre-merge content was strictly tied to advantages/twists, and he went UTR when not relevant. That’s what gives me pause about him winning, even if he is the last Yase standing.
I said last week that Evvie needs to either reaffirm their loyalty to Tiffany and Xander or form some new connections. We didn’t quite get that, but we did see Evvie TRYING to make new bonds, even if it didn’t work. However, I can give that a pass, seeing as the episode was built around Evvie being the underdog outcast that won Immunity and foiled the majority’s plans.
As of now, Evvie is the main proponent for the Underdog Yase narrative. They were clearly presented as the one on the outs and, once again, brought up the turtle scene, reiterating Yase’s position in the game. It’s a good story to have, but at this point, it’s Evvie’s only story, and that is what worries me.
With Evvie not having any other connections and cutting ties with Yase, it’s hard to see where their narrative goes from here. Do they just keep playing the underdog until the very end? It’s possible. But, as I said above, that story could just as easily be passed over to Xander, who at least have other story options, like his off-and-on relationship with Liana.
This next episode really is a pivotal moment in Evvie’s edit. It’s a make-or-break moment. Either their underdog story comes to a close or they form some new narrative options that propels them forward.
This was an interesting episode for Deshawn as he was involved in what could be the defining story of the post-merge—the rivalry with Shan. It places him in a central position and gives him an obstacle to overcome in his journey forward.
While Deshawn might have come across as a little stubborn at Tribal, I think the edit wanted us to see both sides of the story. Both Deshawn and Shan got to explain themselves in confessional. We got his perspective on why he felt slighted by Shan, just as we got his perspective on why he didn’t want to work with the Yase members. His reasons felt justifiable in both scenarios.
As I’ve said before, Deshawn is the only Luvu who has been a consistent presence across the season. He’s had personal and strategic content, he has alliances (with Danny as a pair and with the Danny/Liana/Shan foursome), and now he has a potential rivalry. But there is also a trend of him not fully getting his way, from failure to throw challenges to taking out Naseer (which he failed to get done this episode). Also, his premiere edit was on the weaker side.
The jury is still out on Deshawn. I see him more as a big player of the season rather than the winner. However, if my read of the edit and the Yase tribe is way off (which it well could be) and the winner is actually from another tribe, then Deshawn is probably who I’d pick.
Last week, I said that I feel the edit is pointing to Shan’s downfall, and the latest episode didn’t alleviate those concerns. The clashes with Deshawn, Ricard, and Heather only made it more obvious that Shan is rubbing people the wrong way in her effort to control the game.
She is still a huge presence, and we always get her perspective on personal matters and game matters. In addition, we understand her relationships with the likes of Ricard, Liana, and now Deshawn. But, at the same time, it’s those relationships, particularly with Ricard and Deshawn, that spell an eventual downfall. It will all be about who strikes first. And I could see it going one of two ways. Either Ricard and/or Deshawn will make the move to blindside Shan first, OR Shan will take them out and face their wrath on the jury as she sits at Final Tribal.
I’m putting Liana as my fifth pick just because I don’t really see anyone else having much chance. Despite how bad the edit made her look in Episode 7, this week was a marked improvement. She got to acknowledge her mistakes and move on, even having scenes with Evvie and Xander to patch up differences. It was made clear that Liana still had the personal relationships despite her game-based betrayals.
The downside of Liana’s edit is that she has this running theme of missing her opportunities. It’s been there since missing the Beware Advantage in the pre-merge (and arguably at the marooning, missing the paddle). She has consistently failed to get out Xander and, even in this episode, was unable to flush his idol despite stating her intentions. So it still sort of feels like Xander and/or Evvie will end up outlasting her.
That said, Liana is kind of at the center of the season’s relationships. She has been connected to most of the big edits of the season (Evvie, Xander, Shan, Deshawn, Tiffany). That’s not a bad place to be, and it gives her plenty of narrative options moving forward.
However, I still think it will be a tough uphill climb to overcome the Episode 7 edit. Yes, she got outplayed by the Yase trio, and that had to be shown, but the edit didn’t have to bury her to the extent it did.
OTHER QUICK NOTES
ERIKA — She’s returned to being UTR after her twist-related spotlight. No real follow-through on the “lamb to lion” theme. Has continued to work with the Luvus despite them throwing her aside previously with no real explanation.
HEATHER — Hey, Heather finally received some screen-time! Unfortunately, it was mostly OTT content that made her look overly paranoid. I wouldn’t be surprised if this uptick in airtime suggested her boot episode is imminent.
RICARD — The majority of his screen-time is still tied to Shan and the ongoing tension between them.
DANNY — He was involved in a few group strategy scenes, but, right now, he’s presented as the least relevant of the four-person alliance.
NASEER — Some nice positive content for Naseer this episode with the whole papaya scene. He has this ongoing provider role going for him. But there is still a lack of substance when it comes to his gameplay. He did say he trusts Shan and Ricard, so we’ll have to see if that relationship continues from here.
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