Hello all, welcome back 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.
Welcome back to the Edit Bay, everybody. It’s time for another season of deep-dive edit analysis to determine the important stories and winner contenders on the latest Survivor. But before we jump into the Survivor 42 premiere, it’s worth reminding ourselves of last season and the lessons we can heed going into this current season.
Survivor 41 established a few things, with the most crucial takeaway being that we can’t rely so heavily on the past. Sure, there are certain tried and tested Edgic rules that can be used as a guide, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. Last season, I put way too much stock into the complex tribe theory, meaning I overlooked the Luvu tribe and Erika’s story until the early merge. It wasn’t until I was forced to reevaluate and went back and rewatched the pre-merge that I noticed the consistency in Erika’s narrative, even if her content was minimal.
That is something I’m keeping in mind when analyzing Survivor 42. While I’ll still look at things like complex tribe theory, I’m not going to be so stringent with it. Instead, I will be paying close attention to the individual characters and their stories and relationships. And fortunately, this season’s premiere highlighted a lot of interesting characters and potential stories that could carry us through the next couple of months.
Now, despite saying all the above, I’m about to cover one of those tried and tested Edgic rules. The intro confessionals are always a good measuring stick for working out key characters and longevity.
If we look back at last season, six players had full intro confessionals (Evvie, Danny, Tiffany, JD, Voce, and Shan) and another four had brief, one-line intro confessionals (Sara, Deshawn, Erika, and Xander). Of those 10 players, seven made the merge, three reached Final Tribal, and one won the season. Plus, Evvie, Tiffany, Shan, Deshawn, and Xander all had significant screen-time/edits.
This season, four players received the full intro confessional: Jonathan, Drea, Omar, and Lydia, in that order. Five players then had the brief, one-line intro confessionals: Daniel, Marya, Lindsay, Hai, and Mike. That gives us a total of 9 players, and if old trends apply, I would say that means at least six of these nine are making the merge. There’s probably at least one finalist among the group, and maybe the winner too, though that’s not guaranteed after last season. And a good half of these players are likely to be big characters with significant screen-time.
I want to do something a little different in this season’s Edit Bay, and that’s to look at each player’s first confessional. A person’s first confessional can be very telling. It can often set up a specific goal, a character arc, or a theme. It’s an excellent way to track a character’s narrative and check back on throughout the season to see if there is a consistent throughline.
Jonathan: “I’ve waited for a long time to be out here playing Survivor. I live for challenges like this. I have a world record in pull-ups with 100 pounds on my back. I did 15 in a minute. But this is like the ultimate challenge. There’s nothing like this. Like, yeah, there’s a million world records, but there’s one Survivor.”
What did this tell us about Jonathan? He’s here for the challenge. The talk of world records and pull-ups immediately lets us know that he’s physically strong. If we were to pigeonhole Jonathan into an archetype based on this first confessional, it would be the challenge beast of the season. He will likely push himself to the limit and be physically dominant but not necessarily a winner.
Drea: “From the beginning, I’ve had to fight for people to believe in me, even doing hurdles half-blind. They thought I was crazy. I became an all-American in hurdles. Like, I fight, and I’m very competitive. Sometimes, I bring that into certain situations, and they’re just like, “You’re too much, Drea.”
The two big things that jumped out from Drea’s first confessional were “fighter” and “too much.” She also had a brief flashback here of her performing hurdles. This tells me that Drea will play hard and take risks (as we saw across the first episode with her gaining two advantages). But, her intense competitive spirit could irk some people and wind up getting her in trouble.
Omar: “As an exotic animal veterinarian, you never know what you’re going to see when you come into work. It might be a tiny canary with a fractured leg or a giant rhino that you have to put your hand up its butt. I’m gonna come out into this game acting like a pigeon, something that’s non-threatening, but really, I’m going to be like the owl in the night. You’re not gonna hear or see me coming until you’re dead and Jeff is snuffing your torch.”
This Omar confessional was almost like a reworded version of Erika’s “look like a lamb/play like a lion” confessional from Survivor 41. Would Survivor be that on the nose and have back-to-back winners with the same story arc? Either way, this confessional told us that Omar will be an adaptable player, someone who appears non-threatening on the surface but will be sneaking and scheming behind the scenes.
Lydia: “As a young woman, as a Gen Z, I feel way outside of my comfort zone. I mean, the most I’ve ever even camped is at music festivals, like, truly. It’s definitely a weakness. I mean, I’m an awkward runner. I’m an awkward swimmer. I’m nervous about the bug. I will burn instantly. I’m already worrying I’m burning now. Even sand. Sand is horrible, especially when it sticks to your whole body. It sucks.”
My instant take-away from Lydia’s opening confessional was that she will fulfill the role of the comedic narrator with fish-out-of-water tendencies. There are some John Cochran and Stephen Fishbach elements here. But there is also potential for growth, sort of like Aubry in Kaoh Rong, where she ends up adapting to the elements as time goes on. I feel like the edit will rely on Lydia for lots of snappy soundbites.
Daniel: “I’ve been trying to get on the show forever. This is like a lifelong dream.”
This brief confessional from Daniel was pretty open-ended. It didn’t tell us a whole lot, other than Daniel is a Survivor superfan. That could very well be his character arc/theme—the superfan who is living out his childhood dream. And given his Stephenie LaGrossa name-drop at the first challenge, Daniel is certainly living up to his superfan credentials so far.
Marya: “There’s something for me that’s here that I need to find.”
Marya’s opening confessional was very vague. It screams journey edit to me; she’s looking for something beyond the game and the million dollars. Unless it’s some playful wordplay and Marya is going to end up finding some kind of advantage, which, given modern Survivor, is highly possible.
Lindsay: “How much farther can I really go? How much potential do I really have?”
This was another one that was kind of vague. There were some similarities to Jonathan and Drea in the sense of testing oneself and having a competitive spirit. We didn’t see enough of Lindsay across the episode to get a firm grasp on her character, but this confessional suggests her story could be about realizing her potential.
Hai: “Whatever twist Jeff is going to throw at us, I need to be prepared.”
Hai’s first confessional felt more like a general statement on the season and the twistiness to come. It could have also been foreshadowing him being one of the three to find the Amulet Advantage. Hai said he needs to be prepared for the twists, so we should keep an eye on how he handles them going forward.
Mike: “You get one shot at this. You get one shot. And I’m gonna give it everything I got.”
This was a pretty generic confessional but one that suggested Mike will play hard and leave it all out there on the island. Coupled with the rest of Mike’s content across the premiere, I sense that he will be one of the season’s more focal characters.
Those were all the intro confessionals. Now we move onto the others, first Maryanne, who received the first confessional after the boats arrived at the beach.
Maryanne: “Right now, it feels like a roller coaster. The strap is on, the people have done their final check, and the roller coaster just went like… (grunts). And it’s now just starting to move. And, in this moment, you have to decide. Are you gonna raise your hand to have the experience of your lifetime? Or are you gonna close your eyes and regret that for your life? My hands are gonna be raised, and I’m going to be screaming with everyone on this… whatever ride this is.”
This confessional had marks of a strong narrator and huge character. Maryanne has that Survivor superfan enthusiasm and wants to soak up every moment of the experience. She told us that she was ready for the ride, and she backed that up throughout the episode, even agreeing to go to Summit Island. I get the sense that Maryanne will be a character that wears her emotions on her sleeve and is going to be memorable no matter how long she lasts.
Swati: “Being in the National Guard, I think it’ll be a real asset, because young women, as we have seen, get voted out early on Survivor pretty frequently. So I think just having that initial impression of me, of like, “Okay, she’s going to do her work around camp, she’s going to participate in the challenges,” will be super useful. My family immigrated from India. They raised me by example on hard work and discipline. And some people were surprised when the hippie nerd joined the Army National Guard, but to me, the military really exemplifies those values. Also, my education was always a top priority. Uh, not to flex, but I got into every college I applied to, and now I got into Harvard. All I do at home is work and maneuver my way to the top, and that’s what I’m about to do here.”
Despite not being featured in the intro, Swati had the best non-intro first confessional of the episode. She told us who she is, how her experiences will help her in the game, and provided some great family background (with a flashback sequence). And she ended it all with what could be considered a winner’s quote: “All I do at home is work and maneuver my way to the top, and that’s what I’m about to do here.”
Immediately, we got the impression that Swati is a hard worker (backed up with shots of her working at camp), disciplined, and smart. It sets her up as someone who will be a threat in this game. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she was the first one credited with naming Zach as the boot. It tells me Swati is one to watch, but whether that is as a long-term threat or an immediate threat that needs taking care of remains to be seen.
Tori: “So, my social strategy coming into the game is, I want to tell people and show people what I want them to think about me. So I told them I work as a caregiver—which is a lie. I actually work as a therapist. But using what I know in therapy is totally what I’m going to do. So we quickly start working on our shelter, and the big kids go to deal with the fire, which leaves the three youngest people… we’re doing the palm fronds. So we’re talking, and I’m really trying to let my nerdy self show because I could just tell, I picked up on that… that that’s the kind of person they are. So I don’t want to be with the big kids. I want the people who are a little quieter, maybe on the outs. And, so far, I think it’s going well.”
Alarm bells were ringing already when it came to Tori’s first confessional. Maybe it was the juxtaposition of the music, coming from this uplifting, positive background track that accompanied Swati’s confessional to the bouncy, cartoon villain beat backing Tori’s. But I definitely got the vibe that the edit was subtly undermining Tori. And I think that was backed up later in the episode with her misguided idol hunt and the fact she voted against Zach, one of her nerdy alliance and the guy that warned her about the idol rumors.
My overall take-away from this first confessional is that Tori will be a gamer that does a lot of strategizing and advantage searching but is perhaps not as self-aware as she thinks she is.
Romeo: “I work in the world of pageantry. First impressions is the most important thing. So right off the bat, with Drea and Rocks, I just got really good vibes from them. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to do two things. I couldn’t win Miss Universe because I’m a man, but I could win Survivor. Who would have thought a pageant coach from South Central, this skinny kid, could be able to make alliances and be chopping bamboo with no problem. It’s incredible.”
There were positives and negatives to Romeo’s first confessional. The good was that he provided some personal details, told us his job, and had a potential winner quote: “Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to do two things. I couldn’t win Miss Universe because I’m a man, but I could win Survivor.”
However, the bad was that I didn’t think the edit fully backed him up. He said he was chopping bamboo with no problem as we cut to a shot of him struggling to chop said bamboo. And as for the alliances he made, the one with Drea and Rocksroy was already showing cracks, and his side alliance with Zach is now dead as Romeo had to acquiesce and vote Zach out. It made me feel like Romeo could be a character with good ideas but struggles to make them happen.
Jenny: “So I start counting the triangles, and how many of my tribe members say “I got it?” I thought, “Good Lord. These people are not puzzle people.” I’m a designer, and so I’m a very visual person. I’m also really methodical, so I can pick things apart, and I can see them visually. So I just start showing them the basic math of it, and they look at me confused. And at that point, I’m realizing I have to step up and really lead this challenge so that I can get us the tools that we need.”
While it’s a positive that Jenny mentioned her job and gave us some insight into her personality, being visual and methodical, I don’t think she had the best first confessional. It’s placement wasn’t great (neither an intro confessional nor first of the Vati tribe), and the content was mostly tied to the Sweat or Savvy challenge. At least she’s presented as smart, but there was no real substance here to grasp hold of in terms of character arc.
Chanelle: “Getting this number right is the difference between being on the beach with nothing or having water and fire and a shelter. It is the difference between literal survival in this game.”
Similar to Jenny, I don’t think this was a very strong first confessional for Chanelle. It was basic narration that could have gone to anyone. It didn’t tell us anything about Chanelle as a person or a player.
Rocksroy: “We’re in the middle of nowhere, people. We’re going to need firewood. We’re going to need a place to lay our heads. It’s game time. Let’s get crack-a-lackin’. It was like herding cats, and I’m not a cat herder.”
From the off, Rocksroy came across as bossy and fell into the Survivor trap of the early leader role. Now, he did get to reflect on this in his next confessional, explaining why he’s that way and recognizing that he needs to adapt. So there was at least hope that he can change. But as for first impressions, Rocksroy has a bit of a hill to climb.
ALLIANCES & CONNECTIONS
The next important factor is noting which players are highlighted as having alliances or connections. The earlier in the season, the better. And after last season, we need to pay attention to even the most tenuously linked characters. Remember, Erika and Deshawn were never really an alliance, but they did both talk about the other, as if the edit was keeping them in each other’s orbit, setting up the end-game.
Let’s break down all the connections from the premiere:
Drea, Hai, & Lindsay (Twist Connection) — The first connection of the episode came via the marooning challenge when Drea, Hai, and Lindsay were presented with the Amulet Advantage. These three are now linked through a game twist. However, it’s hard to put too much weight into this trio right now because it’s one of those situations where the edit had to show it.
Swati & Tori (Tenuous Connection) — There was no real depth to this relationship in the first episode; it mostly came about through Tori explaining how she wanted to work with the “nerds,” meaning Swati and Zach. We didn’t see them make a formal alliance nor did we hear Swati’s thoughts on Tori.
Drea, Rocksroy, & Romeo (Alliance) — This trio did make a formal alliance, but it already showed cracks when Drea tried to target Rocksroy. This took Romeo by surprise, and he questioned Drea’s strategy. So I feel like this alliance is not long for this world and will be part of the Ika tribe’s messiness.
Rocksroy & Swati (Tenuous Connection) — There wasn’t much to this relationship, as neither talked about the other, but we did see them together in camp, agreeing to vote the same way. Romeo also lumped them together when talking about how they didn’t want to vote Tori. So this is one of those quiet connections that could become something more down the line.
Hai & Lydia (Pair) — While neither Hai nor Lydia directly spoke about one another in confessional, we did get a scene of them bonding at camp. In fact, Hai literally said that he “felt a connection” with Lydia, and she shared that same sentiment. And Chanelle named them as one of the tribe’s three duos.
Daniel & Chanelle (Pair) — The second of those Vati duos was Daniel and Chanelle. However, unlike Hai & Lydia, we didn’t hear reciprocation here. The way Chanelle described the situation made it seem like she and Daniel were a duo by default. And while she said she would clue Daniel in and watch his back, we didn’t hear him promise the same.
Jenny & Mike (Pair) — This pair didn’t comment on each other at all. They were simply name-checked as a duo by Chanelle, with accompanying footage of Mike pouring Jenny water. We don’t know enough at this stage to determine whether Chanelle’s read on the dynamics is correct or not.
There were literally no alliances or connections set up on the Taku tribe. That might have raised a red flag under normal circumstances, but I think we can afford Taku some leeway. Jackson’s removal from the game was a significant part of the episode and so rightly took the majority of the focus at Taku.
Instead of the usual alliance dynamics, the episode highlighted Jackson’s transition story and exit from the season. It’s reasonable to think that Jackson’s departure disrupted whatever alliances or connections were made in those first couple of days. Plans could have quickly fallen by the wayside. So why focus on any of that if none of it ultimately matters in the long run?
The positive for the Taku tribe is that Jonathan and Omar both received full intro confessionals, Lindsay and Marya both had one-liner intro confessionals, and Maryanne had one of the biggest edits of the premiere. So there is enough there to suggest there are essential characters on this tribe, though it would be nice to flesh out some dynamics next episode to bump them up into contenders.
Mike — Despite last season changing up some editing trends, if Survivor 42 was to return to a classic winner’s edit, Mike currently fits the bill. He had one of the short intro confessionals, a great flashback scene where we learned about his job and personal background, and was named as a pair with Jenny. We also heard his thought process regarding certain decisions, like the Savvy or Sweat task, where he told us why Savvy made more sense for his game.
We know from the off that he is here to play hard and make the most of his “one shot.” And he has the story of playing down the perceptions of him being a “hard guy, a little mean.” As he said, “It’s my job to soften that blow because that’s not who I am.” Mike pretty much has everything one would want out of a premiere episode, except for maybe more direct alliance talk, but there is room for that to come.
Swati — As I mentioned earlier, Swati had one of the best first confessionals of the episode. Similar to Mike, we learned about her job, her background, and her approach to the game. She had a fantastic flashback sequence. And she was the first person shown to mention Zach as a boot option, explaining why it made sense for her.
She has tenuous connections to Tori and Rocksroy but no real firm alliances as of yet. That’s not the worst thing in the world, given that Ika’s dynamics as a whole are very messy. Her one negative is not having an intro, but her first confessional was so strong I think that can be overlooked.
Omar — Omar had a decent amount of presence across the episode despite Taku not attending Tribal and the majority of the tribe’s screen-time going to Jackson’s exit and Maryanne’s Summit visit. He had a solid intro confessional where he told us his job and laid out his approach to the game, “the owl in the night” strategy.
The rest of Omar’s content was mostly narrational or about the wider game of Survivor. He talked us through the triangle puzzle and later commented on Jackson’s removal and how the survival aspect of the game really bonds people. There was nothing groundbreaking here, but it’s noteworthy that Omar was given these quotes.
We need to see more of the Taku tribe dynamics and alliances before moving Omar up or down the contender’s chart. But as far as first impressions, Omar stood out as a character with potential, even if the pigeon/owl analogy is strikingly similar to Erika’s lamb/lion theme.
Drea — Drea jumped out to me as a player that is going to fight hard and make moves. The question is whether that will end up getting her in trouble or if she can manage her threat level and make a deep run. She got a full intro confessional and an alliance-forming scene, which certainly goes in her favor. And the competitive nature she spoke of was backed up in her ability to gain advantages.
The worry is her eagerness to break up her alliance already, which was questioned by Romeo, and her self-admitted “too much-ness.” These are things that could quickly come to bite her in the game. However, that said, Drea had one of the more rounded edits of the premiere, so I’m putting her in the top contenders pile for now.
Now, after Erika’s edit last season, it would be foolish not to pay attention to some of the more under-the-radar edits. Erika started Survivor 41 with an UTR2 rating, so I want to look at those I rated as UTR in the Survivor 42 premiere and their potential as contenders.
Lindsay — Lindsay didn’t have a big presence in the first episode, but she did receive a short intro confessional. In that confessional, she laid out a potential narrative about how far she can push herself and discovering her potential. That at least gives us something to clasp onto, even if she currently lacks connections and personal content. The rest of her content was tied to the Amulet Advantage, so it’s hard to determine how important that is right now.
Marya — Similarly, Marya also had a short intro confessional despite a very quiet premiere. And, like Lindsay, she was part of the Taku tribe, whose content was mostly focused on Jackson’s exit. Marya told us in her first confessional, “There’s something for me that’s here that I need to find,” which is very much open to interpretation. But at least she has a goal that we can keep track of, even if it’s vague.
Hai — The positive for Hai is that we got a brief introduction to a potential pair with Lydia. Also, he had the most to say about the Amulet Advantage, though I didn’t think it was enough to push him into MOR, as it was very much an “explaining the rules” kind of confessional. Right now, Hai’s content is primarily tied to twists, which is somewhat expected given he found the Amulet. There is no real goal or personal content beyond that, and he didn’t receive an intro.
Chanelle — Chanelle has the exact rating as Erika had last season. However, unlike Erika, she didn’t get an intro, and her first confessional left a lot to be desired. We didn’t learn anything about Chanelle as a person, nor did we get any clear goal or narrative. However, she was set up as a pair with Daniel, and she was the one to break down the Vati tribe dynamics, and, from what we saw, her perceptions seemed to be accurate. So there is potential for Chanelle to become more of a gamer down the line, but that first confessional is really damaging.