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.
Survivor 42 is over, and the finale cemented this season as a well-told narrative that paid off the foreshadowing from earlier in the season. On the whole, this season had a much clearer and fairer edit than Survivor 41, which neglected certain players and underplayed its winner. Survivor 42, on the other hand, spread the air-time around, fleshing out several characters and giving us a clear journey for the season’s winner.
Let’s break down the final five and where their stories ended up.
Maryanne — Since the merge, Maryanne’s edit went from strength to strength. She went from a likable yet OTT presence in the pre-merge to an outsider that remained perceptive. Her story was that of an underestimated outcast who was never afraid to be herself, and her goal was to prove that the “weird kid” could win Survivor. She said it herself, “I want to show that I can still be myself and I can still be weird, but in the end, I can succeed.”
Maryanne delivered on that goal in the finale. Coming off her Omar blindside, Maryanne was on a high. “I might actually have a chance to make it to the end and win this thing,” she said. “And I haven’t felt like that this whole game. It’s all coming together.” She was right, things were coming together, and she now had the power to make decisions best for her game. And we saw this throughout with the Lindsay vote.
While I expected Lindsay’s arc to conclude in a showdown with Jonathan, that isn’t really what we got (though there was a focus on their rivalry at the start of the episode). Instead, the decision of whether or not to vote out Lindsay was put in the hands of Maryanne, which makes sense, given that Maryanne won the season. It was all about whether Maryanne would play her idol for Lindsay; she was confident Mike would give her his idol, which would put her in the ultimate power position. But she spoke through the repercussions, recognizing that Lindsay would be tough to beat.
Maryanne ultimately voted Lindsay out (a nice callback to Lindsay worrying about Maryanne back on Taku). As viewers, we know that was the smart choice, even if it meant we missed out on some Tribal Council drama. Maryanne continued to make smart decisions throughout the finale, practicing fire in case she was put into the fire-making challenge and noting her best chances of getting votes at the end.
This culminated in a top-tier Final Tribal Council performance where Maryanne explained her game, accepting criticisms from the jury while also detailing the moves she made to get to the end. And her decision to vote out Lindsay proved correct when she revealed her secret and unused idol, clinching any voters who might have been undecided.
Maryanne was the biggest representative of the season’s theme, how you shouldn’t underestimate anybody and that you don’t have to change to succeed.
Mike — Mike has had a complex edit across the season, at times portrayed as a likable, social player, other times revenge-orientated and out of the loop. But he’s always delivered on his intro confessional promise: “I’m gonna give it everything I got.”
That attitude was fully on display right from the start of the finale. “On anything I’ve done, I’ve gone extra. And that’s what I’m doing right now. I’m fighting to the bitter end,” Mike said in an early confessional, noting that he is a “big player” that was ready to “play big.” That’s exactly what he did, winning his first Immunity Challenge and besting Jonathan in the fire-making challenge, earning his spot at the FTC.
But the bits in between the challenge wins told us Mike wasn’t winning. Mike put himself in a tough position where he’d made too many promises to too many people. He had offered to play his idol on Maryanne, Lindsay, and Jonathan and knew he was about to upset someone. “I’ve put myself in a position where I have to make a decision that’s going to hurt somebody, and it sucks,” he said.
The thing is, Mike wasn’t portrayed as a villain. It wasn’t as if he was intentionally lying and finding pleasure in it. It was presented more as if he was out of his depth, trying to keep the peace with multiple people and getting himself caught in a web. And it was almost as if he didn’t realize how much his actions affected people. This was a big topic at the FTC when the jury felt like Mike didn’t own his game, calling him out for his supposed “integrity” and “honesty.”
Final Tribal was a wake-up call for Mike; he acknowledged the jury’s criticisms of his game and realized that he perhaps didn’t play with as much integrity as he thought. This comes back to how Mike was portrayed as a likable yet flawed character. He wasn’t intentionally trying to upset anyone; he just didn’t always realize how his moves were being perceived. And that is what ultimately cost him the game.
Romeo — Romeo had by far the weakest edit of those remaining and perhaps the weakest edit overall of the post-merge. And that’s a shame because Romeo was a pretty significant presence in the pre-merge and looked set to be a mover and shaker long-term. But come the merge, Romeo found himself on the outside looking in, and that became his defining story of the season.
However, he got a couple moments to shine in the finale. There was the bit at the start with the fake idol — while I’m not sure it made any difference to his position in the game, it showed that Romeo was still working on getting one step further. Then there was his moment of the season, unexpectedly winning the final Immunity Challenge and securing his spot at FTC.
The edit really built up to Romeo’s surprise challenge win by focusing on his ineptitude earlier in the episode. There were countless times we heard Romeo say he sucks at challenges, at puzzles, at arts and crafts. But it was all leading to this huge win — Romeo’s “Miss America” moment. It was obvious Romeo wasn’t winning based on his edit across the season, so this was really his crowning moment.
In a way, Romeo’s narrative was a smaller, less consistent version of Maryanne’s story. He was also an outsider underdog who continued to survive. But whereas Maryanne was shown to be proactive and perceptive, working her way to move ahead with her emotional intelligence and social skills, Romeo was presented more like a “cockroach,” scraping by as others imploded around him.
Jonathan — Jonathan’s story arc didn’t end quite how I imagined it would, but it still made sense in the grand scheme of things. I expected his feud with Lindsay to play into his downfall, with a potential fire-making battle between the pair at the Final 4. That’s not what happened; instead, Jonathan went head to head with his fellow “big guy” buddy Mike.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a focus on the Jonathan and Lindsay rivalry in the finale. The episode opened with the two of them bickering over the Omar vote. And both Jonathan and Lindsay wanted to target the other at the Final 5 vote. Ultimately, Jonathan came out on top, explaining why it made sense to take Lindsay out and being part of the plan to vote her out.
But that was kind of it for Jonathan’s finale edit. He didn’t receive a lot of focus; instead, he took a backseat to Maryanne and Mike, and even Romeo. He only had three confessionals, and they were all fairly basic. His role in the finale was basically that of an obstacle for Mike to overcome. Jonathan was positioned as the fire-maker tasked with stopping Mike from reaching the FTC. But he failed. Mike beat him at fire-making, sending Jonathan to the jury in 4th place.
It was a kind of lackluster end to Jonathan’s Survivor journey, though it relied on his defining characteristic of the season — his challenge ability. Jonathan’s strength in challenges has been a constant focus since the beginning, so it’s not a huge surprise that this aspect of his edit took the focus here for the other finalists to overcome.
Overall, I think Jonathan’s character arc will be remembered as a player who was a dominant challenge beast but who struggled with some of the strategic and social aspects of the game.
Lindsay — Similar to Jonathan, Lindsay’s story didn’t end quite as I predicted. There was no fire face-off with Jonathan or even a big challenge showdown, as the Final 5 Immunity came down to Lindsay and Mike. But as I said above, we did see Lindsay and Jonathan beefing at the start of the episode, and she remained deadset on taking Jonathan out.
But Lindsay’s final episode was all about her not giving up and fighting to the very end. From the start, she knew that the Omar vote made her the next obvious target. She found her first glimmer of hope with the challenge advantage, encouraging her to play even harder at the Immunity Challenge. However, she came up short, losing in a close battle with Mike. Still, she refused to give up, declaring that she would play until the bitter end.
We saw Lindsay pitching for Jonathan to go and also pleading with Mike for him to play his idol on her. It was a fruitless endeavor, as the tribe ended up voting Lindsay out. But what this episode told us was that Lindsay was a threat. Despite a quiet pre-merge edit, Lindsay had had a strong showing post-merge, winning challenges and controlling votes. This was the edit of a threat that could have won had she made it to the end, and she received the emotional farewell music upon her exit.
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