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.
I’m not sure anyone was clamoring for the return of the fake-merge/hourglass twist, but that’s what Survivor gave us last week. However, at least this time, they had the foresight to air the twist episodes back-to-back. This gave us a more structured set of episodes with a clear beginning, middle, and end. And it also allowed time for some interesting strategy and heartfelt character moments.
The merge episode is often very telling when it comes to the edit. This is where old narratives are re-established and/or new stories emerge, setting us up for the endgame. The top contenders are usually present in the merge episode, sometimes overtly, other times more subtly, but we normally hear their insight on the merge dynamics. The strength of this season has been how balanced the edit has been, and this merge episode was no different, as everyone got a chance to talk across the two hours.
Note: I’ve categorized the two hours as separate episodes, as that’s how CBS listed them, including different episode titles. That means I’ve split the episode in half and given separate Edgic ratings for Episodes 6 and 7.
Now, let’s jump into the character edits across these two episodes.
Once again, let’s check in with the characters we highlighted as important back in the premiere, starting with the intro confessional group.
The Intro Crew
Reminder, the nine players that received intro confessionals in the first episode were: Jonathan, Drea, Omar, Lydia (full confessionals), Daniel, Marya, Lindsay, Hai, and Mike (one line confessionals).
Note: Last week, I drew attention to the fact that at least six of the nine intro characters would make the merge. As a kind commenter pointed out, with 12 players making “merge,” it meant at least six in each group of nine would be guaranteed to make the merge. So, that was less of a prediction and more just a matter of fact. But it’s still interesting to note that five of the season’s more prominent characters (Jonathan, Drea, Mike, Omar, Hai) received intro confessionals.
Jonathan — I thought this was a very good pair of episodes for Jonathan. There was the usual challenge beast content and the focus on his physicality, perhaps presented best at the Applebee’s reward as he discussed his diet. But he also explained his position in the game and showed great self-awareness.
In the first episode of the night, he said he considered going to Exile but that, due to his size, he couldn’t pass up the chance to eat. But he also recognized that his size had put a target on his back. “So I have got to lay low as much as I can and hope that my social game is enough to keep me around,” he explained. We then saw him follow through on that, quickly finding himself in a new alliance of eight and forming a personal connection with Mike. The edit showed us that Jonathan’s social game was working.
The second hour tried to throw a wrench in Jonathan’s plans when the hourglass twist left him vulnerable. But once again, he was shown to be aware and perceptive. He was under no illusion that people were throwing his name out, and he even said he’d vote himself out in their position. “But we’re supposed to be an alliance of eight,” he said. “An I am confident in Omar keeping people off my back.” Again, Jonathan was right, as Omar went to work and ultimately kept Jonathan (and Maryanne) off the block.
Jonathan going to Omar to ask for protection ties nicely back to their bond earlier in the season. The two had already been set up as a duo, with Jonathan describing themselves as the “perfect human” of brains and brawn. And Omar described Jonathan as his meat shield while he would provide the role of brain shield. The consistency and follow-up on this particular arc are strong points in Jonathan’s (and Omar’s) favor.
Is it bad that Jonathan took a more backseat approach to the vote and allowed Omar to take over? Maybe. But Jonathan’s edit has never been about him being a strategic force. His story is that of a physical beast using his social game to counter his threat level. That’s what we’ve seen, and in this episode, it worked. Of course, in previous episodes, we’ve seen Jonathan teetering with his social game and almost losing his temper. Those could be signs of an eventual turn. But for now, Jonathan continues to be presented as a force to be reckoned with.
Drea — This was a bit of a mixed merge episode for Drea. She had decent visibility and was involved in a lot of the strategy scenes at camp, being a central figure in the alliance of eight formation. She appeared to have a solid read on the dynamics and established new connections with the likes of Mike (over their idols), Hai & Lindsay (over their amulets), and Jonathan (as part of the eight). However, there were some narrative gaps in Drea’s edit that I found concerning.
Firstly, in the pre-merge Ika scene, Drea pointed out how Tori is always causing chaos at camp and how that’s a con for her game. “I would just like to get her out, but she always somehow slips by,” she said. This is somewhat ironic, seeing as Drea previously had chances to target Tori but instead stuck her neck out for her to save her. This isn’t necessarily a narrative gap, but it does continue that ominous foreshadowing of Tori eventually coming back to harm her old Ika tribemates.
The more worrying aspect of Drea’s edit in this episode was how her partnership with Romeo all but disappeared. This was after last week when Drea and Romeo were established as a pair, with Romeo describing Drea as his “number one.” But this week, they appeared to be on different wavelengths, with Drea not even bringing Romeo into the eight-person alliance. Instead, she vouched for Rocksroy as a trusted ally that she wanted in the alliance, despite her previously trying to vote him out.
So what’s the deal here? A lack of care in Drea’s edit? Perhaps. Or was the duo with Romeo never that strong? After all, it was mostly Romeo talking about Drea as his number one, not the other way around. So the story might be more about Romeo foolishly trusting Drea than a story about a loyal duo. The sudden vouching for Rocksroy is a little harder to justify. It definitely felt like we were missing a narrative beat. That said, this trio of Drea/Romeo/Rocksroy was established in the premiere, and all three are still in the game, so their stories and connections to one another clearly have some significance.
The rest of Drea’s edit across these two episodes mainly was tied to the advantages. We saw her connect with Mike over their idols, and she met up with Hai and Lindsay to discuss their plans for the amulets. Mike described her as a “smart player,” and I certainly think the edit wants us to view her that way. She was even shown correctly predicting Rocksroy’s game-changing power. But part of me wonders if this focus on Drea’s strategic prowess and advantage-backed power sets her up as a major threat to be dealt with down the line (like Hai alluded to).
Omar — Omar definitely got what I would call the merge break-out episode. He was still fairly quiet in the first episode of the night, but he had the introductory “this is where the war begins” merge confessional, reaffirming his theme from his intro confessional. “Make no mistake about it, I will jump up like a big shark from the ocean and eat some of these people up when the time is right,” he said, echoing his premiere confessional about laying low at first and then striking later.
It didn’t take long for us to see Omar jump into action. In the second episode of the night, he rose up and took control, successfully pushing the vote towards Lydia. He explained that while his first instinct was to lay low and not say anything, he didn’t like the direction things were heading. Omar didn’t want to lose any of his former Takus. He has a bond and alliance with Jonathan. And, as he explained, Maryanne has advantages that could help him later in the game.
Omar put his plan into action, approaching various castaways and using a half-truth to switch the vote to Lydia. “In this game, you take a little bit of information, and that’s where you weave in your own lies or your own truths,” he said. And it worked. Omar got Lydia out (even flipping Hai), saving Jonathan and Maryanne in the process and keeping the Taku 4 intact.
Now, on paper, this looks great for Omar. And I can’t help but notice the similar trajectory to Erika based on their similar themes—the “lamb to lion” and “pigeon to owl” (or shark? or whatever animal Omar wants to be next). The fake-merge episode was Erika’s big break-out last season; it’s where she received most of her personal content and stated that she was returning to the game looking like a lamb but playing like a lion. While the circumstances are different, Omar had his break-out transformation at the fake-merge, showing himself to be a sharp, capable player.
But are we really going to get two similarly-themed winners back-to-back? I suppose it’s not impossible. However, even though the timing is similar to Erika’s, part of me worries Omar has transformed too soon. Erika’s theme was more contained to her confessionals and only subtly implemented into camp scenes as the season went on. Omar, on the other hand, has emerged in camp as a shrewd gamer, and that might set the cat amongst the pigeons (sorry, these animal analogies are getting confusing).
Overall, this was an excellent episode for Omar, but I’m very interested in his follow-up. Does he continue on this trajectory? Or does he slip back into the shadows? And if he does continue to assert control, will he get found out and become a target? His next episode could be very telling.
Lindsay — If anyone needed a break-out episode here, it was Lindsay. But sadly, she didn’t really get anything of the sort. Her only confessional in the first hour was about the amulet advantage, which set up the scene between herself, Drea, and Hai. And her one confessional in the second hour was about putting the target on Maryanne in order to protect herself and Jonathan. This continued her running arc with Maryanne, but she ultimately failed to vote Maryanne out.
Sure, she was involved in some strategy scenes at camp and brought into the eight-person alliance. But we never really got her perspective or an idea of her plans moving forward. She is still severely lacking in personal content. And there has still been no follow-up on her “How much potential do I really have?” intro confessional. Although, there was an interesting quote from Chanelle at Tribal Council that could possibly tie into this as a season theme. “That’s what this game is supposed to bring out of you,” Chanelle said, “the fullest version of yourself, where you are meeting your highest potential.”
Hai — Hai continued to be a significant presence across these two episodes, positioned as one of the leading strategic players. But his edit definitely took a couple of big hits. Things started off pretty well, as Hai outlined his initial merge strategies. Firstly, he reconvened with Drea and Lindsay to discuss their amulet power and proposed that they protect each other. Yet, in confessional, he still showed caution about the girls potentially turning on him to seize power.
Later, he talked about Jonathan as a threat and how he could be used as a shield for his own game. Hai followed up on this thought by bonding with Jonathan and ultimately forming the eight-person cross-tribal alliance, with himself, Jonathan, and Drea positioned at the top. “I need to establish agency,” Hai said, “whether it be through my social skills, wrangling people together… I need to get my numbers in order and have a clear path to the end.” And we saw Hai do exactly that, up until a point.
But things started to become unstuck after his initial targets of Chanelle and Tori became safe. Hai wanted to push the vote on Maryanne, but he came up against Omar, who was gathering momentum to take out Lydia. Hai outright said that was “not an option at all,” reiterating that he would not vote out his closest ally. He wanted to protect his number one and keep his meat shield in Jonathan. That meant pushing for Maryanne. “In Survivor, your relationships take precedent, and Lydia going home will only hurt my game,” he said. “Moments like these are where good players fold and great players prevail.”
That final line is ominous because Hai ultimately folded and voted for Lydia. He went against what he wanted, recalling Daniel’s folding under pressure up against Hai earlier in the season. His vote for Lydia also came as a shock, as he was not afforded the chance to share his reasoning before Tribal. Now, that could simply have been to create some tension around the vote, so time will tell if Hai gets to explain himself in the next episode. If not, that is a pretty alarming narrative gap.
I still see Hai as a major strategic character, but this episode certainly knocked him down the contender’s list. Similar to Drea, I’m starting to see Hai as this big strategic threat that others will eventually realize needs to be taken out. That said, part of Hair’s story so far has been that he can adapt and react to the twists and turns of the game. So it’ll be interesting to see where his story moves from here.
Mike — I thought this was another solid showing for Mike, with maybe a couple of emerging worries. He started off reacting to Chanelle’s vote. I said last week that I expected Mike to take it on the chin and move forward. While he did that to a degree, at least publicly, he did say in confessional that he would never trust Chanelle again, so there are clearly some hard feelings. He said he’d take a bullet for Lydia and Hai, but for Chanelle, he would step to the side. This was ironic given that Mike ended up voting Lydia out—one of those emerging worries.
The rest of the episode saw Mike working his social game, making multiple bonds and personal connections. He bonded with Drea over their idols, noting that they could protect each other. We saw him making friends with Omar, with Omar opening up to Mike about his relationship. And in one of the more significant scenes of the episode, Mike connected with Jonathan, seeing something of his younger self in the muscular challenge beast. “I’ve been going through that my whole life, so I understand it hurts being stigmatized as the big dummy,” Mike said.
This scene with Jonathan stood out because it tied back to Mike’s first episode of the season. In the premiere, he talked about how people often have a perception of him as a “hard guy, a little mean,” but he wanted to show that is not who he is. “It’s my job to soften that blow because that’s not who I am,” he said. So there is this recurring theme with Mike (and shared by Jonathan) of not wanting to be judged and being deeper than what he might appear to be on the surface.
Not only was this scene with Jonathan the start of a potential new duo, but it ended with a potential winner quote. “We’re gonna go forward looking out for each other, and maybe for once in Survivor history, the people that are physically stronger win this thing for a change,” Mike said.
Mike voting for Lydia and not having a very active role in the strategic decision-making did give me a slight pause. But I think those are minor worries in an otherwise solid edit.
For the merge, I want to recategorize some players. So for the four players below, I’m labeling them the “outcasts,” seeing as they were kept out of the majority eight-person alliance. It’s also kind of noteworthy that seven of the eight-person alliance had intro confessionals.
Maryanne — This was a pretty good set of episodes for Maryanne. In fact, it was probably Maryanne’s most chilled edit of the season so far. The first hour saw her detailing her post-merge strategy, telling us, “My strategy is listening to what they want as a plan. I don’t want to say my plan, but if someone says their plan, I can be like, “that’s a great idea.” And that puts them in the spotlight rather than me.”
That’s what we saw throughout the episode. Maryanne wasn’t rushing around or panicking; she let the game come to her. While this did leave her out of the eight-person alliance and saw her name thrown out as a target, she was ultimately brought into the Lydia plan. And that’s because she made the right allies, particularly in Omar, who we’ve seen associated with Maryanne over the past few weeks. “In this game, you can’t go anywhere without allies,” said Maryanne, which proved to be true.
In the second hour, Maryanne found out she was a target, and while she said she was panicking and scrambling, that’s not what the episode portrayed. Instead, we saw a calm and focused Maryanne. Omar told her to play things cool, and she did. “All I want to do is cry and scream, but I know that in this game, I have to center myself, and I have to stay calm,” she stated. That’s exactly what she did, and the target eventually shifted off her and onto Lydia.
If there was a downside, this double episode didn’t establish any new relationships for Maryanne. We saw her briefly bonding with Lydia, but obviously, that didn’t amount to anything. Instead, her relationship storylines are still strictly tied to Taku. Jonathan threw her name out to his new alliance but did imply in confessional that he’s still close with Maryanne, despite outward appearances. Meanwhile, Maryanne said she didn’t want to see Jonathan go, following what I said last week about her wanting him as a shield despite their mini beef. And as mentioned, Lindsay, who has had a running suspicion of Maryanne, tried to push the target onto Maryanne due to her “hidden power.”
So Maryanne’s story is still very Taku-centric, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the orange tribe as a whole has had a strong edit. And this talk of Maryanne having power that could become threatening down the line is certainly something to keep an eye on. But it would be nice for her edit to branch out into some new relationships in the coming weeks.
Tori — Tori continues to be the cockroach that just can’t be killed. Nobody trusts her; her old tribemates bad-mouthed her to their new tribemates, referring to her as untrustworthy and sneaky. She was shown pestering Rocksroy about his Summit visit. And later in the episode, she was annoyed at Rocksroy for smashing the hourglass, which received a negative reaction from other players.
Yet, despite all this, Tori found a way to survive, this time by winning Immunity. But it’s clear that Tori is on the outside looking in. Even though she relished in the opportunity to “air her tribe’s dirty laundry,” nobody took Tori up on her offer to be a number. She wasn’t brought into the eight-person alliance and was instead named as a prime target. It’s not even clear if she knew how much danger she was in, as she didn’t receive a confessional in the second hour.
While I don’t see any world in which Tori wins, the positive for her edit is that at least she has a story. She has an ongoing rivalry with Rocksroy, an overall dispute with Ika, and a theme of slipping by despite being a consistent target. I’m not sure how far that can take her, but I expect more chaos from Tori before all is said and done.
Chanelle — Chanelle has kind of slipped into a bit of a Tori role, the tribe pariah that nobody trusts and is a clear target. Yet, she escaped the chopping block. However, unlike Tori, Chanelle, at least in these episodes, gets to share some of her own insight and shows a modicum of self-awareness and game perception.
Firstly, she explained her stray Mike vote from last week, noting that she did it in case Daniel played his Shot in the Dark. So that was exactly what she needed to clear that up. On the flip side, the vote annoyed Mike and he now doesn’t trust her. And this bled into the rest of the episode, with the word quickly spreading around the new tribe that Chanelle cannot be trusted. Mike told this to Drea, and Hai told this to Omar, informing him about Chanelle losing her (and by proxy, Omar’s) vote.
But, as I said, Chanelle wasn’t completely oblivious. The second hour saw her trying to find her place in the tribe. She noted the groups separating when she approached and stated that she didn’t trust anyone. She knew that “underlying side deals” were happening; she just wasn’t sure what they were. And she quickly caught on to Lindsay and how she was trying to protect herself and Jonathan. “He catches food and people are mesmerized by the “golden boy” kind of thing. He’s not golden to me,” Chanelle said, perhaps hinting at a future Chanelle vs. Jonathan rivalry.
It’s clear that Chanelle is going to have a tough road ahead of her. And her making it to the end is looking like a long shot. But the fact that the edit hasn’t completely buried her and is making sure to keep her somewhat aware provides hope for her story going forward.
Romeo — I’ve said over the past couple of weeks that I’ve struggled with where to place Romeo’s edit. But I think I’m finally starting to understand his role. He’s sort of the voice of reason, the person that points out the obvious… except he can’t convince others to see the light.
This goes back to the first episode when he wanted to keep Zach and vote out Tori, who he saw as a trouble-maker. Nobody else went for it… and now all everyone can talk about is how much of a nuisance Tori is and how much they want her gone. The situation felt the same this episode when he tried arguing that Jonathan was the obvious target to take out. And I think the edit agreed with him, as even Jonathan himself said if he was them, he’d vote him out. But again, Romeo might as well have been banging his head against a palm tree because he couldn’t gain traction.
Whether Romeo will eventually succeed and get his “littler people” alliance together remains to be seen. But based on his current track record, it’s not looking great. And, as I pointed out earlier, it’s even more alarming that his duo with Drea was shoved to the wayside. That makes it look like Romeo doesn’t have the relationships he thought he had. Right now, Romeo is on the outside looking in.
On the positive end of things, Romeo did have a fantastic personal scene with Hai, where he opened up about his sexuality and his difficulties with coming out in a very traditional immigrant family. He talked about changing himself to fit in and how he’s now living as his true authentic self out here on Survivor. It was a great, complex insight into Romeo as a person, and it tied into one of the season’s overarching themes of characters embracing their authentic selves.
Rocksroy — Out here on his own island, we have Rocksroy, who I thought had a pretty damn good episode. It was almost the culmination of his story so far, which has focused on his old school mentality; his love of the survival aspect of the game. His time on Exile allowed him to fully embrace that side of Survivor and put his skills to the test. He took the hand he was dealt and made the most of it, even sharing some personal info about his deteriorating eyesight.
This all fits with the image I already had of Rocksroy after the first few episodes. Sure, he can be stubborn and a little bossy, but he is also a hard worker who has his heart in the right place. The strategic aspects of the game might move a little fast for his speed, but that doesn’t stop him from recognizing his flaws (as he did last week) and trying to learn. He is also self-aware. He stated in this episode that he is a “predictable” player and that a predictable player is good to have in your alliance—as opposed to a chaotic player like Tori. That proved true, as Rocksroy was brought into the eight-person alliance while Tori was left out.
Outside of his Exile content and his big game decision, Rocksroy didn’t exactly receive much strategic insight before Tribal. But that has become expected. That isn’t what his character is about, and it’s why I don’t see it as a winning edit. His other main content was his ongoing rivalry with Tori; it’s what started the episode, and it continued while he discussed his decision at Exile and then again once he revealed his decision. I fully expect those two to keep butting heads until one of them leaves.
ALLIANCES & CONNECTIONS
The Eight — Definitely the most significant new alliance formed at the merge, seemingly helmed by Drea, Hai, and Jonathan. It also includes Omar, Lindsay, Mike, and Rocksroy. Lydia was the eighth but obviously ended up getting voted out. I suspect this alliance will be important to the narrative moving forward.
Taku 4 — The old Taku tribe somehow remained intact thanks to some swift maneuvering from Omar. But I’m not sure how solid they are as a unit anymore. Maryanne was left out of the Eight, and Jonathan & Lindsay pitched her as a target. When looking back at the tensions in the pre-merge, with Maryanne and Jonathan’s beef and Linday’s suspicions about Maryanne, the set-up for disaster is evident.
Drea & Mike — We had a scene of them agreeing to look out for each other due to both having idols. They’re also both included in the Eight.
Jonathan & Mike — This pair had a deep bonding scene that seemed to present them as not just potential allies but close friends. And so this looks like it could be an important pairing going forward.
Omar & Mike — This bonding scene wasn’t quite as prominent as the one between Mike and Jonathan, but it was still given focus when it didn’t have to be. This is another relationship that could play a significant part in the post-merge narrative.
Drea, Hai, & Lindsay — The Amulet trio agreed to look out for each other and protect their advantages. But Hai suggested some worry about the girls turning on him. So I wouldn’t be so confident on this alliance lasting long-term.
Drea & Rocksroy — As mentioned earlier, this one came a little out of nowhere. Drea vouched for Rocksroy as a solid number, and Rocksroy himself talked of Drea (and Romeo) being his allies.
Omar & Jonathan — This pair is very much still alive after Jonathan reached out to Omar to protect him. I can see them doing further damage together as the game continues.
Mike — Mike continues to tick all the right boxes. He is shown making alliances and personal connections. He offers insight into the dynamics and how he fits within them. And there has been a follow-up on his theme of being misjudged. We know who he trusts and who he doesn’t trust, and he’s had winner quotes scattered throughout. If there is a negative, it’s perhaps that sometimes he’s shown as too trusting, and also that “I will not be voted out with an idol in my pocket” line gave me a momentary sinking feeling.
Jonathan — I’m bumping Jonathan back up the contender’s list because I thought this episode did a great job of highlighting his strengths. He wasn’t just shown as the challenge beast, but as someone who has a strong social game and a level of self-awareness. He has alliances and connections and a similar theme to Mike, a player he has now bonded with and could become a crucial pairing moving forward. Sure, those signs that he might snap at some point are worrying, but the door isn’t closed on Jonathan’s chances just yet.
Omar — While part of me worries that the second half of Omar’s theme has started too early and could make him a target, I can’t deny this was a great set of episodes for the exotic animal veterinarian. There has been follow-through on his themes, a consistent focus on his alliances and relationships, and he’s presented as a smart and capable strategist.
Drea — As I said earlier, I do worry about Drea’s comments on Tori coming back to bite her, and I find it a little worrying that her relationship with Romeo pretty much disappeared. But I still think of all the Ika tribe members; she has the best chance of winning. She’s shown to be a strong player who isn’t afraid to take risks. She is part of the Eight alliance and seems to make new connections easily. There is still that lingering concern from her intro about others perceiving her as “too much,” but for now, I still have Drea in contention.
Maryanne — I keep going back and forth on whether to include Maryanne as a contender or not. Part of me thinks she has been too OTT to be seriously considered a winner contender. But then there are episodes like this where she is shown to have a firmer grip on her game, knowing when to switch it on and switch it off. There are also these signs from Lindsay and others about Maryanne having these “hidden” powers that people are overlooking, and that suggests to me Maryanne is at least going to pull off something big in the coming weeks.
Hai — I said last week that Hai will be set up well if he can make it through the early merge vote. And while he does seem set up well with several allies on the surface, I think his edit took a hit this week. Not only did he not get his way with the vote, but he directly said that Lydia leaving would be bad for his game. He seemingly folded just like Daniel did a few votes back, and that’s concerning. Hai’s trajectory should become clearer after this week’s episode—will he bounce back and explain himself or carry on downard?
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