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.
NOTE: This week’s Edit Bay will be taking a break from the regular format as I take a deep dive into reevaluating the season’s edit.
REEVALUATING SURVIVOR 41 (Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Ditch the Yase)
Following Tiffany’s exit in Episode 8, I said that I needed to reevaluate the edit of Survivor 41. However, last week, I don’t think I went far enough. There was still part of me unwilling to let go of the Yase underdog narrative that I’ve been hooked on since the start. I was still clinging to the hope that if Evvie survived Episode 9, they could fulfill the Yase prophecy. Obviously, that can no longer happen.
So, the time has come to entirely cut ties with whatever I thought before. This season’s edit has me utterly baffled; definitely the most difficult season to Edgic in quite some time. Whether that is due to poor editing (muddied by an overload of advantages and twists) or my reads just being terribly off this season, who knows? Let’s face it, it’s probably a bit of both. Whatever the case, I decided to properly reevaluate everything.
Over the past few days, I rewatched the entire season so far (skipping through challenges). I ignored the complex tribe theory and pushed the Yase narrative out of my mind. Instead, I tried to focus on the other two tribes, particularly Luvu. The aim was to take the season in from another perspective and see if there were any narratives I missed or undervalued in my initial viewing.
This meant getting off the Yase underdog narrative. While I think that was (and is) a vital story of the season, I’m no longer confident it will result in the winner. My reading of the Yase edit revolved around Tiffany, with Evvie as a potential backup. Those two are now gone, so if I was to keep going with the Yase theory, I would basically have to admit that Xander is the winner (because, let’s face it, it’s not going to be Liana, who the edit continues to undermine). Yet, I don’t feel confident about Xander at all.
I kept Liana hanging in last week because she had a decent rebound episode, but this week really buried her. The edit continues to make her look obsessed with Xander, and there is a recurring theme of her not getting what she wants. Xander’s chances are better, and his post-merge edit has been decent, but it’s still severely flawed—lots of undermining, especially pre-merge, and completely lacking in personal content. Even winners like Tommy had SOME personal content by this point.
That doesn’t mean a Xander win is impossible; he’s still in my top three contenders. But with each passing episode, it becomes harder and harder to justify. Instead, I see Xander’s edit similar to Kelley Wentworth’s in Cambodia—the rootable underdog that keeps finding a way to survive but lacks the personal and emotional content. It wouldn’t shock me if Xander was the fourth place “robbed goddess” of the season, keeping the Yase underdog narrative alive into the finale. But to bank on a Yase winning at this point seems beyond foolish—I need to reconsider the options.
So, if a Yase isn’t winning, who is? Your first instinct might be to switch to the Ua tribe because they had a similar complexity level to Yase pre-merge. But the only Ua members left are Shan and Ricard, and they too have majorly flawed edits that just don’t seem winner-ish to me.
Ricard hasn’t been a contender for me other than very early in the season. While he had a solid episode this week with some much-needed personal content and accurate game reads, I don’t think it’s enough to counteract the tinge of negativity that’s permeated his edit. I don’t think the show would have kept in the “spare tire” quote or all his squabbles with Shan if he was the winner. I also think he’s missing his own story/theme outside of his connection to Shan (although he did get the hard-of-hearing confessional this episode, but I think it came a bit too late).
Shan is someone I’ve always kept within my top contenders. Her edit is HUGE. She’s been all over this season from the start; tons of confessionals, personal content, strategic talk, alliances, and relationships. On paper, it all looks great. But, as with Ricard, there is this negative tone in her edit that I just don’t think would be there if she was the winner. We keep being told that she has communication problems and doesn’t know how to listen, and this has rubbed people the wrong way, as we’ve seen with Deshawn, Heather, and Ricard.
As I’ve said previously, I would love it if we got an “alpha” female winner edit, someone who is shown with all their positives and negatives and dominates the screen-time from the start. Shan would be an incredible winner. But given 20+ years of Survivor history, that is just not how they edit women winners, as much as that sucks. Maybe they’ve changed their ways, and I really hope they have, but I’ll believe it when I see it.
That leaves Luvu, the tribe I dismissed because of their lack of complexity. I think we can all safely rule out Heather; there are UTR edits, and then there is Heather, pretty much invisible for over half the season and then popped up to be the purveyor of paranoid chaos. Meanwhile, Danny’s edit has been living off his premiere for 9 episodes now. There is just not a lot going on for him; he doesn’t receive much strategic insight, he lacks personal content, and he doesn’t really have a story of his own.
So that leaves us with Deshawn and Erika. Deshawn is someone that has had consistent screen-time across the season but some inconsistency in his narrative, plus hints of negative tone/undermining. On the other hand, Erika has had lackluster screen-time but a consistent narrative with zero negativity and very little undermining. And, on top of that, these two characters have been connected together, though not at the expense of their own individual stories/themes.
Deshawn and Erika will be the main focus of this write-up going forward.
IN THE JUNGLE, THE MIGHTY JUNGLE
My rewatch didn’t really change my mind when it comes to the complex tribe. I still think Luvu got shortchanged. But in a season with an overload of advantages, trips to Summit Island, flashback sequences, plus being a tribe that never went to Tribal pre-merge, perhaps some of that can be overlooked. What they did have, though, was Episode 4, which I believe could have been one of the most important episodes of the season.
Episode 4 was by far Luvu’s most extensive edit of the pre-merge. They received a lot of focus despite not attending Tribal. And the main focus of the episode was Deshawn and Erika. This episode saw Erika introduce her “lion in lamb’s clothing” theme, an individual story that she’s carried through the season from her “an animal let out the cage” quote in the premiere. It also saw Deshawn air his worries about Erika and his determination to take her out.
Initially, I thought this was a secondary story, which might conclude in the pre-merge or early merge. And when Sydney went home, and we didn’t get any follow-up from Erika, I assumed it was a dud. But as we get closer to the end, we can’t ignore that Erika and Deshawn are still there with this unresolved storyline hanging above them. We didn’t need follow-up at the Sydney boot because the story was always about Deshawn’s (and, to a lesser extent, Danny’s) worries of Erika, not Sydney’s.
Let’s take a deeper look at those Erika and Deshawn confessionals from Episode 4 because the foreshadowing could be crucial to understanding the season’s edit.
Erika: “To be here on Day 8 and to have not voted, like, I don’t even have a torch yet. Part of me feels restless. I know that I’m small, that I’m a sweet person, but I am actually a lion dressed like a lamb. As much as I wanted to keep this like innocent act up, I’m so ready to take off my little lamb costume and show my teeth a bit more. Let’s turn things up a notch and get some people out.”
This confessional was the one accompanied by the shot of Luvu’s boat flipping over in the water. At the time, I read that as a potential death-knell to the Luvu tribe. But, in trying to look at things from a new perspective, perhaps it was foreshadowing of Erika sinking the games of Deshawn, Danny, and Sydney (the three other people in the boat with her). I say that because Deshawn’s Episode 4 confessional contains some ominous foreshadowing that points in that direction.
Deshawn: “I’ve always been a little apprehensive about Erika, somebody who’s that quiet all the time is a little bit sus, and I know she’s a really smart girl. Her Survivor IQ is high even though she tries to make it seem like it’s low.”
Again, at the time, I read this as somewhat of a negative for Erika because of how Deshawn was onto her game. But as Deshawn was unable to take her out then and since, it looks less and less damaging as time goes on. Instead, Deshawn’s words become high praise for Erika’s game, combined with the aforementioned foreshadowing.
Deshawn: “Erika is sneaky, sneaky, sneaky, so I want to just cut the head off the snake before it gets too much of a problem. I don’t want to give her the opportunity to play the slow beginning game and then emerge at the end and take me out.”
It’s that last line of Deshawn’s confessional that could be the most important statement of the season. Firstly, none of this had to be shown, seeing as Luvu didn’t attend Tribal. Sure, the attempted challenge throw was funny and perhaps would have made the edit regardless, but it certainly wasn’t super vital at the time. Why introduce “lion in lamb’s clothing” and “Deshawn fears Erika” if it doesn’t play any part in the season? Good storytelling would dictate there must be a payoff.
THE LION SLEEPS TONIGHT
This Erika and Deshawn connection goes beyond just the fourth episode, though. In fact, Erika’s first full confessional in the premiere was her reaction to finding out that Deshawn & Danny were idol searching. It was her being worried about the potential damage Deshawn & Danny could do down the line. Then, the second episode was the scene of Deshawn failing to make fire and telling Erika, “If you need someone to beat in fire-making, I’m your guy.” And, at the “merge twist,” Deshawn & Danny once again pushed for Erika to be voted out.
Erika and Deshawn also have very similar personal content; both have talked about the sacrifices of their parents and how they want to make them proud. It’s that kind of mirroring that really stood out to me on my rewatch.
Deshawn: “My dad taught me the three Ds when I was growing up, and that’s discipline, determination, and dedication gets you the win every single time. Just knowing all the stuff that my parents sacrificed for me in my life, I don’t know; I just feel, like, responsibility and pressure to do well… You fight so hard to live your career dream, and then you get the experience of a lifetime to come out here. So I think my parents, they’re gonna be really proud.”
Erika: “Knowing how many challenges my parents had in trying to give us a good life, coming from the Philippines to Canada, working so many jobs to keep us going. I know that it probably hurts them that they didn’t have as much time with us growing up as they would have wanted to. But I know that everything they did set me up with the skills to be able to achieve what I want to do… In many ways, me being on Survivor is almost like a love letter to my parents to let them know that everything they did gave me what I need to survive out here.”
You might ask, what makes this connection/partnership different or more important than Shan and Ricard? And I would say it’s because both Erika and Deshawn have separate stories outside of their connection. Whereas Ricard feels like his only story is his off/on relationship with Shan, Erika has the “lion in lamb’s clothing,” a story that, while minimal, is wholly her own. And Deshawn has plenty of other relationships/alliances/rivalries outside of his background beef with Erika.
So, what does all this mean? Well, it could mean that Deshawn and Erika will play a crucial role in the endgame. Deshawn’s premonition of Erika playing the quiet game and then coming alive at the end could be about to come true. Why? Because this recent episode echoed Episode 4, this time with Shan being the one to share her fears of Erika. Throughout the episode, we heard Shan refer to Erika as “smart,” “the mastermind,” someone that could pose a problem going forward. We’ve heard similar sentiments throughout the season from others, like Deshawn, Danny, and Sydney, and yet, the edit hasn’t show us WHY the others think this about Erika yet, so it must be leading somewhere.
If that is the case, it could explain the season’s edit. If the story is, “Erika played the slow beginning game and then emerged at the end,” then that could be why her edit was so UTR. We have to remember, Edgic isn’t about the amount of screen-time; it’s about the content of that screen-time. And when you look into it, Erika does have a consistent theme across the season. Don’t get me wrong, it would still be lackluster editing, and if this is the outcome, I think the show could have told the story better, but the bare bones of it do exist if you look hard enough.
The issue is, if Erika is about to emerge, it needs to happen as soon as possible. We saw hints of it this past episode with her discussing game with Xander and Ricard and the emphasis on her alliance with Heather, but we need to see that full lamb to lion transformation. If that is the way the edit is heading, then we should expect Erika to play a part in Shan’s downfall and for her to tie up loose ends with Deshawn.
If that’s not the way it’s heading, then I could see Deshawn coming out on top as Erika fails to strike. We always hear from Deshawn; he’s had some personal content, winner quotes and seems to have a decent read on the dynamics. If he eventually takes out Shan and maybe even beats Erika in fire-making (ironic foreshadowing?), then I could see that as a potential path to victory.
The issue with Deshawn compared to Erika, though, is that he has been undermined a lot more, plus has some negative tone. This past episode, he was referred to as “petulant” and “immature.” And there have been several occasions where he failed to get his way, with the attempted challenge throw being the most obvious, but also getting caught looking for idols and wasting his extra vote on Evvie. It’s also scary that Evvie gave him that subtitled, “I will never write your name down,” harking back to Alicia and Rob in All-Stars.
In conclusion, if this season isn’t the story of a Yase underdog victory, then it must be the story of Deshawn and Erika. The way I envision it is Shan as the season’s biggest threat that must be overcome, and whoever gets credit for her boot will likely be the victor. Xander is the main proponent for Yase’s underdog spirit, whose lack of personal content indicates he will likely fall at the final hurdle. And whoever makes the first move out of Deshawn and Erika will probably win, either Deshawn fulfilling the 3 Ds or Erika becoming the lion in the endgame.
Or I could be completely wrong again. We’ll soon see!
For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
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