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.
This episode brought a lot of things into focus as the game heads into its final stretch. It kicked off what I imagine will be the end-game stories and also ruled out certain contenders.
The episode was kind of split into two main stories, the heroic departure of Noelle and the strategic rise of Jesse. Noelle’s story ended with the theme she has represented all season, never giving up despite her setbacks. This was best highlighted at the reward challenge and commented upon by her fellow tribemates, who noted her ability to bounce back even after losing her closest allies.
Meanwhile, the vote itself was almost entirely told from Jesse’s perspective as he laid out a step-by-step guide on how to execute the perfect blindside. In a way, it was a crowning moment, as Jesse stepped up his game and took control while also having some great personal content. But it also felt like a last hoorah, the celebratory moment before it all comes crashing down. I’ll get more into the details in the individual write-ups.
Let’s break down the final seven…
If Episode 9 was good for Cassidy, this latest episode was even better. For me, it cemented her spot as the top contender heading into these remaining couple of episodes. She got everything she needed, from a winner quote to tying up her rivalry to putting forward her end-game strategy and connecting to her season-long theme.
Even though Cody & Jesse were the driving forces behind the Ryan vote, this episode started with Cassidy receiving the credit. “Tonight at Tribal, we sent Ryan packing,” she said. “It felt pretty good for that to finally come to fruition, and it was even made more sweeter by the fact that he was trying to blindside me again. And yet, I got him.” The edit wanted us to know that Cassidy came out on top in her feud with Ryan.
The rest of the episode showed Cassidy to be a player making the most of her opportunities, putting the pieces in place behind the scenes to set herself up for the end-game. “I’m a big believer in a lot of the time when things don’t seem to go your way, like, there is a silver lining that you can find,” she explained. “So I think this is the perfect time for me to find out where Cody’s head’s at because I do want to have the numbers on my side.”
We then saw Cassidy talking things through with Cody and, she was the first to throw out Noelle’s name as the next potential target. She continued to push this in a conversation with Karla and Gabler. “There’s so much shifting in the game right now. These rewards are big, and that bonds people, that brings them together. So for me, I’m just trying to make sure that I can keep my allies strong, keep us intact,” she said.
Part of keeping the numbers on her side involved reeling in Gabler, but unlike Cody before her, Cassidy recognized that Gabler was an unpredictable player. “I never really fully know where Gabler’s at, to be honest with you,” she said. “And having him as a vote is gonna be critical for me.” I think this was a good look for Cassidy because Gabler did end up voting with her, but she rightfully remained wary.
Meanwhile, Jesse received more direct credit for getting Gabler to vote for Noelle. However, Jesse’s approach ended up blowing his spot, and he wound up on Gabler’s radar (which Cassidy avoided).
Now, Cassidy was named as a target in this episode before she won the Immunity Challenge. That might seem to go against her under-the-radar, behind-the-scenes play. That’s a fair assessment. But I think what we’re seeing now is a consistent story of Cassidy managing to slip through and dodge these targets aimed at her. This goes back to the days on Coco when Ryan and Geo saw her as a major threat. The other players know Cassidy is a danger that needs dealing with, but they always pass her over for a more flashy target.
That last part goes back to something Cassidy said in the premiere (and something which was reiterated by Sami in a later episode): “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.”
While Cassidy has been seen as a threat, she has been passed over for the bigger threats, allowing her to slip by. All the while, she has aired her opinions behind the scenes, setting the ball rolling on votes, particularly in regard to Ryan and Noelle. If the story continues to head this way, we should reach a moment where the remaining players realize that Cassidy is a huge threat, but it’s too late for them to do anything about it.
If all that wasn’t enough, Cassidy had a confessional this episode that felt like one of the most obvious “winner quotes” ever. “To me, today was just proving to myself that I am capable of accomplishing all of my dreams and my goals in this game,” she said after winning Immunity. “And now, the last thing that I want to accomplish is winning. And I really am starting to see that I can do it, and that’s such a fulfilling feeling for me.”
That looks like a launching pad for Cassidy’s end-game story, where she will carry this momentum to a potential victory.
I said last week that there were ominous signs in Cody’s edit, particularly around trusting Gabler. And lo and behold, this week, we saw Gabler bringing up Cody & Jesse as a power couple that needs to be separated soon. So while Cody might have survived this episode, it feels like it’s only a matter of time before his recent decisions come back to bite him.
There wasn’t a whole lot of Cody in this episode. His one confessional was mostly about his frustrations with not getting to go on reward, noting that people make deals over dinner. We did see him involved in strategy scenes around camp, but Jesse was the one narrating the action and detailing the plans in confessional. You could take that a couple of ways. It could mean Jesse is a more important character than Cody, or perhaps it sets Jesse up to be targeted ahead of Cody.
As Cassidy’s emergence looks to be one of the end-game stories, so too does the downfall of the Cody & Jesse alliance. This pair has been together from the start and controlled a large part of the game. But the signs are there that all will not end well. This goes all the way back to Karla catching onto Cody’s tactics at the camp raid, and who did Gabler approach about targeting Cody & Jesse? That’s right, Karla.
On top of that, you have Jesse’s relationship with Karla and Jesse having Cody’s idol. These are some combustible ingredients I expect to blow in the remaining episodes.
Another solid episode for Gabler, who continues to play his “wait and see” game. In a way, he is using the same strategy as Cassidy, playing in the background and letting the more vocal players take each other out. This has allowed him to avoid the chopping block while being seen as a valuable number for the majority.
“I positioned myself in a nice spot. Both sides are wanting me to vote with them, and neither side is talking about voting for me,” he said, which was backed up in the edit. We saw Cassidy and Jesse approaching Gabler for his vote throughout the episode. “So I think that’s a really good place to be. I’ve got options, and options are really big in this game.”
But we must remember, Gabler told us, that when the time is right, the AlliGabler will return to the surface. And the end of this episode seemed to suggest that time is coming. Gabler recognized Jesse was pulling strings and realized the dangers of the Cody & Jesse duo. “Jesse and Cody, they’re the real power couple out here,” he said. “So, tonight, I’m trying to think what’s gonna be best for me. And I’ve got claws just like anybody else out here.”
Obviously, Gabler didn’t make a strike against Cody & Jesse at the last tribal council. But the setup is there for him to turn against them next week. And, as I said in Cody’s write-up, this was foreshadowed in Episode 9. So the downfall of Cody & Jesse could very well be trusting too much in Gabler.
That said, there is always the chance that Gabler fails to take Cody & Jesse down. After all, Jesse does have two idols in his possession. And setting the ball rolling against the duo last week might have been too early. The edit is rarely that straightforward, so we should probably expect a twist in the tale. But if Gabler succeeds in this plan, his edit could very well be heading towards a seat at the Final Tribal Council.
This was Jesse’s episode. He was all over it, from beginning to middle to end. Not since Tony’s Fire Tokens heist in Winners At War has an episode felt so singularly focused on one character. Of course, Tony would go on to win that season. And perhaps Jesse is about to do the same. But I feel like the intent of this episode was to set Jesse up as the end-game boss.
I can’t imagine modern-day Survivor making the winner this obvious three episodes from the end. This episode was all about how great of a position Jesse has found himself in. He laid out the dynamics at the beginning of the episode, detailing the various groupings, how he has connections to each one, and how he, Cody, and Gabler are sitting in the middle. And the latter half of the episode saw Jesse put the Noelle vote into motion, justifying his reason for targeting her and then providing a step-by-step breakdown of the blindside.
In between all that, he had this amazing, emotional, personal scene at the reward, where he read his letter from home. It was the most in-depth of the loved one’s scenes, with only Owen having a similar amount of focus, while Sami and Noelle were quickly skimmed over. It tied back to Jesse’s family man theme, playing for his wife and kids and using them for inspiration to play the game hard. This even came with a potential winner’s quote, with the “Get that money, baby” quote from his son.
All of this looked fantastic. Jesse’s decision to target Noelle was justified in his talk about being loyal to his family over anyone else. And his plan was put together perfectly, with each part working just as he said it would. When it came to tribal council, he once again got his way. However, the episode left us on a mini cliffhanger, suggesting Jesse’s skill at this game hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Before tribal, Gabler became suspicious of Jesse. “Jesse made a real quick move. I understand it. Noelle’s a powerful player, but I don’t like to be surprised, especially minutes before Tribal Council,” Gabler said before adding, “Jesse and Cody, they’re the real power couple out here.” Gabler then brought up his concerns to Karla, who seemingly agreed with his assessment of Jesse and Cody.
That seems like the setup for Jesse and/or Cody’s downfall, especially as we’ve previously had warning signs about the AlliGabler. Of course, Jesse has two idols, so there is a chance he escapes this impending target. If he happens to survive a blindside attempt, I could see him winning, as it would add some much-needed jeopardy to his edit. However, taking everything as a whole, right back to his lack of intro in the premiere, I see Jesse’s edit as the big threat that the winner must overcome on their way to victory.
This episode gave us some clarification of what happened with last week’s vote, as Karla explained that she was initially out of the loop until Sami filled her in on the James vote at the last minute. In a way, it’s a good thing that Karla got to explain what happened. But overall, I feel that her edit has slipped these past couple of weeks, making her winner chances unlikely.
“I guess I’m just frustrated because it’s the first time people have planned to leave me out of a vote,” she said at the start of the episode. A lot of her ire was aimed at Sami, who was described by Karla and others as a messy player who flip flops between alliances. I’m not sure this was a great look for Karla, given that last week seemed to suggest Karla and Sami could be a pair moving forward.
These early episode confessionals could have been a launching pad for Karla to reclaim control of her game. But that didn’t happen. In fact, Karla was pretty absent through most of the episode as Jesse took the focus. This is quite alarming, especially given that Karla was Noelle’s target. We didn’t see Karla saving herself or shoring up her allies. She looked to have been spared simply because Jesse & Cody wanted to take out Noelle.
That said, the final scene before tribal council gives Karla some hope of a comeback. She seemed to agree with Gabler that Cody & Jesse need to be dealt with, so perhaps she will make a move against them soon. But as it stands right now, Karla has definitely lost some agency and doesn’t have as clear of a narrative heading into the end game.
Also worth noting, Jesse brought up how he knows Karla has an idol and how it’s pretty much an open secret. This came out of nowhere, as we’d been given no indication that people knew about that before now. I feel this undermines Karla or at least shows a lack of care and attention to her overall edit.
Owen is still waiting to deliver on those early fears of him being a dangerous threat. And this episode didn’t fulfill those promises. It was a relatively quiet episode for Owen, outside of a nice scene at the reward, where he got to talk about his loved one’s letters.
On the one hand, the focus on Owen at the reward was a good look, especially when you compare it to Sami, whose letter was quickly skipped over. While Owen’s scene wasn’t quite as in-depth as Jesse’s, it was still a nice little moment where Owen got to add a personal touch to his edit.
However, game-wise, Owen once again found himself on the outside looking in. He was named as Noelle’s new number-one ally, and that was given as a reason to target Noelle. Owen was left out of the vote at yet another tribal council. This has become a recurring theme for Owen across the season, setting him up as the true underdog remaining in the game.
Part of me wonders if this story will run all the way to final tribal council. Could Owen make it to the end despite being out of the loop for the majority of the season? I think it’s possible. Or will Owen finally get his big moment before the end? Those lingering premonitions from the early Baka days feel important, especially given what happened last season with Maryanne (unless the edit wants to mislead us based on that).
This episode fully ruled Sami out of contendership for me. He didn’t receive a single confessional, he had no real follow-up on last week’s vote or on his newfound relationship with Karla, and he was buried by his fellow tribemates. Sami has talked about how he doesn’t want to make it to the end and not get respect, but it appears he has already lost the respect of his fellow players.
We heard from several players in this episode how Sami is a “mess,” an untrustworthy player flips and flops and plays both sides. Noelle said she purposely took him on reward in hopes of stopping his flipping. Through all this, Sami never got to comment on the situation or defend himself. So as we head into the final stretch, we don’t have an idea of his strategy or alliances. It makes it look like Sami is drawing dead.
So could Sami be our new Xander? A player who, on the surface, looked pretty good but didn’t actually have the respect of his peers? Is he destined to sit at final tribal council and not get a vote? It certainly seems more likely than a Sami win at this point.
Top Tier: Cassidy (Rising)
Second Tier: Jesse (Falling)
Underdog Surprise Possibility: Owen (Static)
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