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.
It’s time for another season of deep-dive edit analysis to determine the important stories and winner contenders on the latest Survivor. And the Survivor 43 premiere gave us a lot to get stuck into, with the two-hour episode featuring just one elimination, allowing plenty of time for us to get to know the new castaways and tribe dynamics.
I’m sticking with the format I used for last season’s Edit Bay, meaning this first week, I’ll be looking at each player’s opening confessional and what it might tell us about their potential story arc. I’ll then break down the alliances and relationships set up in the premiere and give my first thoughts on potential winner contenders.
But first, let’s look at the Intro.
While the past couple of seasons have upended some tried and tested Edgic rules, I think the intro remains a crucial factor in establishing key characters and winner contenders.
What immediately stands out this season is how many characters were introduced in the intro. The intros in recent seasons have been pretty quick and succinct, but here we were given a lengthy segment. There were 12 intro confessionals in total, some more in-depth than others, but that’s more than both Survivor 41 (10) and Survivor 42 (9).
The 12 people who received intro confessionals were: Ryan, Nneka, Noelle, Morriah, Sami, Lindsay, Karla, Cody, Cassidy, Elie, James, and Owen. Of those, the ones that got more than just a quick line or two were Ryan, Noelle, Morriah, Sami, Lindsay, Karla, and Cody. Obviously, Morriah was voted out, leaving six of this group still in the game.
Then those with the snappier confessionals were Nneka, Cassidy, Elie, James, and Owen. And it’s worth noting that Cody and Karla received short secondary voice-over confessionals towards the end of the intro.
So what can we glean from this? Based on the past (and the odds), I would say the winner is in this group of 12 and most likely in the first group of five, though that’s more up in the air. And I would bet that at least two of these 12 are finalists. Looking back at 41, where 7 of the 10 made the merge, and 42, where 7 of the 9 made the merge, I think it’s safe to say at least 8 of these 12 are merge-bound — which means you’re looking at 3 or 4 of the non-intro getters making it to the merge.
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into each player’s first confessional of the season.
Ryan: “I was born three months early with mild cerebral palsy. The doctor said, “You know, he’s not gonna walk. He’s gonna be in a wheelchair.”
Immediately, we learned that Ryan is a character that knows how to overcome the odds. If he is faced with a problem, he will find a way around it, even if it requires thinking outside the box. This was expanded on later in the episode with a more in-depth confessional, complemented by Ryan figuring out a technique to win the Savvy task.
It’s a clear and easy theme to grasp, putting Ryan in good stead. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee long-term success, but there is definitely some winner equity there.
Nneka: “Growing up in Nigeria was like Survivor. You know, it was like survival of the fittest.”
This confessional didn’t tell us much about Nneka as a person or give us a hint at her gameplay. And it wasn’t really followed up on later in the episode. So it seemed more like it was included in the intro to complement Jeff Probst’s “different cultures” comment.
Now, Nneka introduced herself again at Vesi’s first camp scene, telling us she is from Nigeria. “I think it’s a name you give when you want a boy and you get a girl,” she quipped. That might be a throwaway line, but it could also tie into her later confessional, where she said, “I can very easily build a relationship with the guys who are like, hey, easygoing. I work with guys a lot.” It could suggest Nneka’s strategy will be working with the boys.
Noelle: “I played Division I lacrosse. I was in a moped accident that caused me to lose my left leg above the knee. And then I became a Paralympian. And I hold the United States record for the 100-meter.”
This was similar to Ryan’s opening confessional, all about overcoming the odds. However, unlike Ryan, Noelle didn’t get to expand on it later in the episode. However, she did receive an alliance-building scene with Justine, but that had some red flags of its own.
Sami: “Being 19 and as young as I am, I am way more than just my age. I’m actually attending Brigham Young University right now. So, I’m, like, a student, pet cremator, business owner hybrid. I’m all this. I’m all these things. Like, look at me. I think I’m just a fun and “energible,” I don’t know if that’s a word, ”energible” person, and I don’t think I cater to one specific group. I can cater to anybody.”
This was a really strong opening confessional that told me Sami is set to be a prominent character, at the very least. It had a nice mix of personal info, gameplay goals, and humor. He mentioned his age, which seems like it will be a big factor in his story. And he talked up his “fun” and “energible” personality and how he can cater to different groups, statements that appeared to be backed up throughout the episode.
Of course, with the changing chyron and “energible” goof, it did feel like the edit was poking fun a little bit. That might knock Sami’s winner potential down a bit. But the rest of this premiere was so positive that it helped overshadow this.
Lindsay: “I am unapologetically Survivor’s biggest fan. I mean, I’ve loved Survivor longer than I’ve known my husband, my kids, my nursing career. I’ve spent the last 22 years imagining this moment. It’s finally here. I get one shot at it. What am I gonna do with it?”
This was an intriguing confessional because it left us on a sort of cliffhanger. It gave a sense of anticipation for what Lindsay will do with her “one shot.” That final part was similar to Mike’s intro confessional last season, where he said, “You get one shot at this. You get one shot. And I’m gonna give it everything I got.” And, as we know, Mike was a big character of the season and finished as runner-up.
However, there was more to Lindsay’s intro than Mike’s. She told us about her Survivor fandom, which in turn told us that she is married, has kids, and is a nurse. For the rest of the episode, Lindsay’s confessionals kept coming back to her superfan status and making the most of her opportunity and seizing the chances to play. So that looks to be her theme, the player hoping to turn her Survivor fantasies into a reality.
Karla: “Growing up in a tough environment, I’m a very adaptable and a very resilient person. That’s how I’ve gotten to where I am today in life. When I’ve been tired, when I’ve been beaten down, when I’ve been told no, that’s my time to shine and kick ass.”
Another “overcoming the odds” type confessional, which is perhaps something that will become an overarching season theme. There was less personal stuff here compared to Ryan and Noelle’s first confessionals, but Karla did get to expand on them later in the episode during her visit to Summit Island. Her theme seemed to be about thriving in dire circumstances and learning to adapt to the situation around her.
It was definitely one of the stronger opening confessionals, especially when taken as a whole, with the rest of her content across the episode. We got to see Karla making alliances, speaking on those alliances, and talking through her decisions. I would say this makes Karla one to watch.
Cody: “I’m gonna play the game as hard and as fast as I can, just like I do my life. Just like the way I surf. Just like the way I go out on a weekend. And I’ll be honest with you, I’ve already spent part of it. So I really need, I really need the million bucks.”
This confessional told us right away that Cody is going to be a lively character. He wants to play a “hard and fast” game, like how he surfs and parties on the weekend. There is some major crash-and-burn energy here, so I expect Cody to bring the wild and chaotic energy to the season. And there are one of two ways those kinds of characters can go, either Cody will go out early in a blaze of glory, or his large personality will become a defining part of the season with a deep run.
Right now, I’m not sure which way it will go for Cody. He did get some nice moments throughout the premiere, like his quick thinking that helped Vesi win the reward challenge. And he was involved in an alliance-making scene. But his talk of evil salespeople and going full throttle give me reservations. So, if I was forced to pick, right now, I think I’m leaning toward an early crash and burn.
Cassidy: “I’m not gonna sit around and wait for other people to determine my game. I make my fate. I make my game.”
This was a short and generic opening confessional, but combined with Cassidy’s later confessional, it shows a pattern. Both confessionals were about not wanting to wait around — Cassidy wants to start playing the game on her own terms. So you get a sense that she’s going to play a very individualistic game and make moves that benefit her first and foremost. The question will be whether she can get away it.
Elie: “One thing I do as a psychologist is get people to do things that they don’t want to do. They’ll figure it out once their torch is getting snuffed.”
This confessional reminded me of Omar’s intro from last season, where he told us his occupation and ended with, “You’re not gonna hear or see me coming until you’re dead and Jeff is snuffing your torch.” And as we know, Omar turned out to be one of the main strategists of Survivor 42, making many key moves throughout the game until it eventually caught up to him.
I could see a similar path for Elie, where she will be one of the season’s major move-makers before ultimately facing a downfall. She was the most prominent player in the premiere and had a nice mix of personal and strategic content. However, there were ominous signs and contradictions, like wanting to work with the women and then leading the charge to vote Morriah out. Her worries about her decision to keep Owen coming back to bite her reminded me of Omar and co’s concerns about keeping Maryanne.
James: “I want the game to be chaotic. I want no one to know what’s going on. For me, that’s my comfort zone. “
This confessional tells me that James is going to be a catalyst for some big moves or at least the cause of confusion. There were some villainous hints in his edit, too, with the later talk about how “someone that was nice and sweet can be a villain.” I could see James making some divisive moves throughout the season.
Owen: “I want this so bad. I used to daydream about seeing my name up in the opening credits.”
There wasn’t much to this confessional other than a chance for the editors to get playful with the chyron. All it really told us is that Owen is a big-time Survivor fan. The rest of the episode was mostly about Owen feeling that the Baka tribe wasn’t strategic enough, though alliances were being built around him. Interestingly, though, we did have a lot of talk from Baka about how Owen might be dangerous later in the game, which harkened back to how Maryanne was spoken about last season.
That’s it for those who received intro confessionals. Now let’s look at the first confessionals for the remaining five players.
Dwight: “My family and I have watched Survivor together since I was about six years old. We’ve watched every single season since then. So my game plan hitting the beach is, ‘okay, let’s go build the shelter, let’s go start doing all the Survivor things.’ And we quickly realized no one has any idea what they’re doing when it comes to shelter construction.”
This confessional, and the rest of Dwight’s premiere edit, fell into a sort of “out of his depth” theme. It was very much a “Survivor is harder than it looks” story, focused on the shelter building for his first couple of confessionals. This continued during the Summit trek when he thought the walk to the rock would only take two minutes. “I was so, so wrong about that,” he said.
We didn’t get any sense of Dwight’s strategy or alliances. Instead, what we got was a character that seemed willing to try but perhaps unprepared for the struggles of this game.
Gabler: “We’ve got a beautiful group of people on this tribe, a very positive tribe. We’ve got some strong people, we’ve got a lot of personality. But, being older, I am on the outside. I’m the oldest guy out here. I think I’m 20 to 30 years older than some of my teammates. So I have to be careful with how I start my game plan.”
The good thing here is that Gabler told us some personal info (his age) and how that plays into his game. We got an idea of his worries and how he attempts to go about tackling those worries. So there is an understanding of his story arc, even if the rest of his episode showed him to be somewhat scatterbrained. “I have to be careful with how I start my game plan,” he said, and I’m not sure he was, so it will be interesting to see what affect that has on his game moving forward.
Geo: “So our choice was Sweat versus Savvy. We just looked at each other, and we’re like, “Okay, none of us are, like, geniuses here.” So we just got to… let’s be real. For the Sweat challenge, you have to dig for your supplies, and it could be anywhere in the square. I volunteered ‘cause I felt a little guilty about not being able to carry the boxes from the previous challenge.”
This was pretty much a narrational confessional, which isn’t the ideal first confessional. But Geo did at least explain why he chose to volunteer for the challenge, tying it back to his first challenge performance. He did receive some more personal content later in the episode and got to open up a little about his gameplay. But this intro didn’t make me think Geo is one of the season’s main characters.
Jesse: “I really like Cody and Nneka, but for me, I think the game plan is to not do too much at this point. Like, day one, I want to sort of sit back. I want to see, like, who is just naturally sort of cliquing up. At this point, I’m in a really good position. Nneka and Cody want to work with me, but then on the other side, the two girls Justine and Noelle are tight, and they want to pull me in. Back home, I don’t have very many friends. It’s me, my wife, and my kids, so I don’t really get invited to parties or anything like that. But out here, I got two invitations to two separate parties, and now I have to figure out which one I want to go to.”
Despite not coming until nearly half an hour into the premiere, Jesse’s first confessional was one of the best of the episode. It hit all the major points you would want in an introduction. He told us his game plan, his thoughts on the current tribe dynamics and shared some personal info, which itself tied into the game of Survivor. Even though he didn’t have a significant presence across the episode, it felt like we got a great sense of who Jesse is (remember we also got the later confessional about his background in a gang and graduating from Berkeley).
Sure, not having an intro confessional could be a mark against him. But his “sit back and wait” strategy could go some way in explaining that. Right now, Jesse isn’t meant to be front and center. If any of the six non-intro-getters have a chance at winning, Jesse would be the top pick based on this first episode.
Justine: “I grew up doing a lot of things that are not typical of young girls. Like, my dad and I had matching dirt bikes, and we would be camping out in the trunk of our Jeep. So, coming into Survivor, I was like, “I can build a fire.” And then it’s very humbling when we can’t do it. But at the same time, I’m, like, super impressed with how our tribe has been doing so far. Yes, it would be amazing if we had fire, but I’m just thankful that we have a shelter.”
Not the greatest opening confesional for Justine. While it did have a little bit of personal info in there, it was mostly related to camp life and survival. This wouldn’t be so bad if Justine had a more in-depth confessional later in the episode, but she didn’t. In fact, her other confessional was also about the fire. On the positive side, she was given credit for starting the fire, and it showed us that Justine is a player that will get something done if she puts her mind to it. I also got the impression we were supposed to root for her.
Jeanine: “Elie wants to vote Morriah out because she’s just the weakest member of our tribe. But my mind is working right now. And I’m worried about how that will go in the future in terms of… it makes it pretty easy for the majority of three guys now to work together to vote out the women. And that’s why I’m, like, really stressed right now.”
Jeanine was the only player with just the one confessional, and it came right near the end of the two-hour episode. So that’s not the greatest of starts. That doesn’t mean she didn’t have a presence, though. She played a part in the opening Savvy challenge and was involved in strategy scenes at camp. But not having a proper formal introduction is a bad look.
As for the confessional itself, it was tied specifically to this episode’s Tribal Council, with some potential ominous foreshadowing for episodes to come. She worried about how taking out Morriah could be a mistake that would haunt her and Elie. And I could certainly see that coming to fruition when taking in this episode as a whole.
ALLIANCES & CONNECTIONS
The next important factor is noting which players have alliances or connections. The earlier in the season, the better. A winner usually has some sort of relationship established in the first couple of episodes, whether that is an alliance or sometimes an enemy.
Not all early alliances are built to last, however. Some are set up for short-term stories, as we saw last season with the likes of Chanelle & Daniel and Swati & Tori. But others clearly have long-term implications, such as Taku last season, which revolved around the tribe’s camaraderie combined with their concern about Maryanne.
Let’s break down all the connections from the premiere:
Noelle & Justine (Pair) — I believe this was the first alliance established in the premiere. Noelle spoke about it in confessional, and Justine later told Jesse that she had bonded with Noelle. This was spliced with shots of them idol searching together. The downside is that the girls’ connection was immediately noted by Cody, Jesse, and Nneka, which makes it seem like this pairing will be a focal part of Vesi’s pre-merge drama.
Cody, Jesse, & Nneka (Alliance) — This trio came together off the back of their suspicions about Noelle and Justine. While they all agreed to work together, I’m not sure I would put full confidence in this alliance lasting. Cody already seems like quite a chaotic force, and Jesse noted that he has alliance offers from his other tribemates too.
Elie & Jeanine (Pair) — What started as a trio with Morriah was soon whittled down to a pair. This is another alliance that I don’t get positive vibes from, just based on what we saw in the premiere. Elie went from “wanting to work with the women” to leading the charge to boot Morriah, and Jeanine already showed reservations about Elie’s strategy.
Elie & Gabler (Tenuous Connection) — While not as strategic a pairing as Elie and Jeanine, the edit did carve out time to show Elie and Gabler bonding over heavy metal. Elie told us that she “might want to work with” Gabler and “wasn’t ruling him out.” And later in the episode, she was the one to talk him down from playing his Shot in the Dark. I don’t see this being a reciprocal relationship; it feels more like Elie will attempt to use Gabler for her own benefit.
Cassidy, Karla, & Lindsay + James (Alliance) — The second women’s alliance of the episode, this one was initiated by Lindsay. It’s hard to say right now whether it will go the same way as the Baka women’s trio. There were hints that each woman has their own individual agenda. Cassidy told us she wanted to play a sneaky game, Lindsay was partnering up with James, and Karla found herself in the middle, having bonded with Geo and Ryan. Then there’s James, who was brought into the group as a fourth but expressed his own desire for chaos. I expect this alliance to be central to the goings-on of Coco through the pre-merge.
Lindsay & James (Pair) — Even though Lindsay approached James to be a fourth in her women’s alliance, I’m putting them down here as a pair. Their scene together established a Philly connection, and Lindsay told us that she liked James for his genuine nature. That said, James, on the other hand, may not be as trusting of Lindsay, as he told us he wants to let others think they have the upper hand. So I expect this alliance to hit a crossroads at some point.
Geo, Karla & Ryan (Alliance) — This is where things get sticky on the Coco tribe. Karla found herself bonding with Geo and agreeing to an alliance with Ryan. She described the three of them as “solid” but also noted she was working with James and the girls. Karla in the middle will likely be a big plot point in the coming episodes.
Sami — I’m cautiously putting Sami at the top, for now, even if I do get the sense he’s probably more of the “big character” archetype than the winner. But it’d be foolish to ignore all the positives from his premiere. He had an intro confessional, personal content, a clear explanation of his goals and strategy, and received a ton of positivity from his tribemates.
The downside of Sami’s edit is that he didn’t have any clear alliance or relationship scenes. Sure, he was involved in a few pre-Tribal strategy talks, but there was no significant bonding moment. That’s not the end of the world, as it’s still early days. There is a chance he can form bonds in the coming episodes. And who knows, perhaps his most significant relationships aren’t with the Baka members. Who’d have predicted Maryanne, Mike, and Romeo as last season’s Final 3?
Lindsay — While a lot of Lindsay’s premiere was narrational, I thought she hit on some key Edgic qualities, both in terms of content and placement. She had the intro confessional with the “What am I going to do with it?” set-up and the post-reward challenge confessional, where she framed her loss within the wider context of the game. This instantly told us that what happens to Lindsay matters.
She was also the first one on Coco to initiate an alliance, forming the girl group with Cassidy and Karla and bringing aboard James. So she also has alliances for us to keep an eye on. The negative here, if any, would be her seeing James as genuine and not realizing his own motivations. That, along with Karla double-dipping, could be setting up Lindsay for a wake-up call.
Jesse — As I said earlier, if any of the non-intro-getters were to win, I’d put my money on Jesse. His intentional laidback, slow-and-steady gameplay even goes some way in justifying his lack of intro. His first confessional was fantastic and told us how he intended to play the game while mixing in some personal info and thoughts on his tribemates.
We already have a strong idea of his position in the tribe, as we were shown him bonding with both Cody & Nneka and Justine & Noelle. So we know that he has options. On top of that, we have a great sense of who he is as a person, as he received an extended segment and flashbacks about his life back home, from his gang history to graduating from Berkeley.
The only reason I have Jesse lower than Lindsay and Sami right now is pretty much the lack of intro. I just think if you’re introducing 12 people in the opening moments, you’d probably want the winner in there. Although, that is certainly not a deal-breaker by any means.
Karla — In some ways, Karla’s edit mirrored Jesse’s. Both players were presented as being in the middle of two alliances. And both were presented as sociable players that others gravitated towards. In addition, Karla, like Jesse, received an extended personal scene, complete with background information and flashbacks. Even their stories were similar, having come from less than stellar circumstances and going on to graduate from the same university!
I feel like that mirroring might have been intentional, and it wouldn’t shock me to see both Karla and Jesse make it far enough to where they can meet and potentially work together. But I’ve placed Karla a little lower than Jesse because the edit made it feel like Jesse’s “in the middle” gameplay was more intentional. Whereas Karla seemed more nervous and, in her own words, “scatterbrained” about which way she should go. So part of me expects Karla to struggle with her future game decisions, which could negatively impact her.
As with last season, I want to make sure to give a bit of focus to some of the more understated characters in the premiere. After Erika’s win in Survivor 41, it would be stupid now to look at these players and their potential as contenders.
Cassidy — While not a big presence in the premiere, Cassidy did have a brief intro confessional; she was part of an alliance scene; and did get to spell out her strategy. It’s her second confessional that made her stand-out more than anything else. She told us how she wants to play the game and why she wants to play that way. And it was very reminiscent of Erika’s strategy and confessionals in Survivor 41.
“I want to play like a fox, clever and cunning,” she said. “I want to outmaneuver people. I want to be sneaky. I don’t want to play a loud, in-your-face game because, a lot of times, women can’t get away with that the same way that men can. There are some loud voices on this tribe, and it allows me to stay behind the scenes, and nobody sees me as, like, a huge threat until it’s too late.”
Whether Cassidy can pull that off remains to be seen. But she does have a goal and a theme for us to follow.
Owen — For someone who was a boot option, you might have expected Owen to have been a more prominent presence throughout the premiere. However, there are two ways you can look at this. The first: Owen isn’t a contender or main character; therefore, the edit didn’t need to give him much focus. The second: Owen is a contender and main character, and so the edit wanted to shield him.
I’m still not sure which way I’m leaning. But as I mentioned earlier, the similarities to Maryanne’s edit in the early episodes were noticeable. Elie, Jeanine, and Sami all aired their worries about Owen being dangerous later in the game. “Owen is the kind of player that, down the line, when we get down to it, I’m going to end up seeing just how dangerous Owen could be,” said Sami. While Elie said, “The downside to keeping Owen is that he could be trouble down the line.”
This makes me think Owen will probably cause some serious damage somewhere down the line, especially as this episode showed him as someone keen to start plotting and scheming. So I’m leaning more toward key player than winner contender.
Justine — I think Justine had some decent content across this episode; she was presented as sociable, hard-working, and received credit for starting the fire. However, there wasn’t much depth to her character, at least in terms of her strategic game. She was mostly focused on the survival aspects and, specifically, trying to get the fire going.
On the plus side, she did have a pair set up with Noelle, and we saw her connecting with Jesse. But she was also labeled as a threat by Cody, and her alliance with Noelle has already been called out. I don’t particularly get winner vibes from Justine right now, but I’m going to need to see more before fully making my mind up.
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