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 was another oddly edited episode. The story beats and cliffhangers from the previous episode were all but abandoned as things abruptly shifted focus to new side stories. I’m specifically talking about the sudden Karla versus Cassidy narrative and the lack of follow-up on the “Jesse & Cody must be taken down” cliffhanger.
Episode 10 ended with Gabler and Karla discussing Jesse and Cody and how much power they have in the game. It seemed to be laying the groundwork for the remaining players to finally take a shot at breaking up this power duo. And yet, Episode 11 didn’t give us any of that. Instead, Jesse & Cody remained in control as the episode centered on Sami’s downfall and Karla’s turn on her closest ally Cassidy.
It’s hard to know what to make of this. It’s certainly not the first time this season has had an obvious narrative gap. Karla suddenly turning on Cassidy felt very out-of-nowhere, even if the edit did crowbar in the flashback of Karla telling Cassidy about her idol. All it really did was paint Karla as paranoid, which could have been the point, as Karla’s edit has started to take a downward turn in recent weeks.
As for Jesse and Cody, I don’t believe that story has been forgotten. Sure, maybe Gabler’s worries in Episode 10 were just to add some last-minute tension to that specific tribal council. But I think it’s a story thread that will be picked up in these last couple of episodes. Gabler will try and strike at Cody & Jesse, and it will be whether the duo can dodge the incoming attack (which, at this stage, with two idols between them, is looking likely).
But let’s look at the remaining castaways as we head into the penultimate episode. This week, I want to do something a little different. I want to look at the remaining stories/narratives of each player and determine which one has the most likelihood of being the winner’s edit — ordered from most likely to least likely to win.
THE FOX AND THE HOUNDS
“I want to play like a fox, clever and cunning. 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.”
Cassidy has had a consistent theme and narrative since the premiere. She is the fox sneaking her way through in the background while the hounds turn on each other. It’s not a loud or flashy edit, but that doesn’t matter; she told us from the very beginning that it wouldn’t be. Her strategy is all about not being seen as “huge threat” until it’s too late. And we’ve seen, time and time again, that those who come after Cassidy end up getting voted out (Geo, Ryan, Noelle, and now Sami).
That doesn’t mean she isn’t a threat at all, though. We’ve seen other players refer to her as a threat, both socially and strategically. In this latest episode, Cody referred to her as “dangerous,” preferring to take her out over Sami. And what happened? Jesse said he “doesn’t see Cassidy as a huge threat,” which again allowed her to sneak through the vote and could come back to haunt Jesse.
This episode also showed Cassidy to be aware of the dynamics. She was one of the first to mention targeting Sami next, and she ultimately got out her target. But not just that, she also recognized the perception towards her and Karla. “I think, are starting to see me and Karla as, like, a pretty tight duo, which is always dangerous in this game,” she said. “I think people might try to get me out just to knock Karla down a peg right now because she’s safe. But I’m hoping that, at least, tonight, they see Sami as a bigger threat than me.”
Not only did this confessional reaffirm Cassidy’s theme of the fox hiding behind the bigger threats, but she was wholly accurate. The tribe was trying to split apart the Cassidy and Karla duo. Cassidy even told Karla that she believed Sami might try to cause distrust between them by sowing seeds of doubt. She was right, as we’d seen Sami lying to Karla about Cassidy targeting her, which caused Karla to consider voting Cassidy out. Cassidy had her finger on the pulse.
Also worth noting is the post-immunity challenge scene. Despite Karla and Owen being the ones to win this momentous challenge, it was Cassidy who had the first confessional upon returning to camp. It wasn’t framed as Owen or Karla’s success; it was seen through Cassidy’s perspective — a player that gave it her all but came up short and was beating herself up about it. Why show that if Cassidy wasn’t important to the end-game?
The consistency of Cassidy’s story across the season positions her as my top contender heading into the last two episodes. Her story makes sense, especially if she has a big move or two in these remaining episodes following the endless opportunities to get rid of her. If she makes it to the end and wins, she outfoxed the hounds.
THE STREET-SMART FAMILY MAN
“Coming out here, I just want to show my family, my son, my daughter that, like, you can do anything you want. But at the same time, I feel like I need to represent because there’s a lot of kids who are sitting in juvenile hall right now, locked up in the same room that I was in, thinking that they can’t make it. And I want to show people that you can go from sitting in a juvenile hall with a tattoo on your face and on the back of your head to, you know, sitting out here in Fiji with a PhD.”
Jesse is another player that has had a clear theme across the season. He’s the ex-gang member who turned his life around, started a family, got a PhD, and is now out here kicking ass on Survivor. But, as he said in the confessional quoted above, he also “needs to represent” for those kids who grew up similar to himself. This creates this interesting dichotomy between the heartfelt family man and the street-smart hustler.
We’ve seen throughout the season, but especially in recent weeks, that Jesse can be cutthroat when he needs to be. But this is never presented maliciously or callously. Even Jesse’s cutthroat moves are told through a family man’s perspective; as he’s said himself, his number one loyalty is to his family, which means making big moves in the game. So when he votes out Noelle or steals Jeanine’s idol, we understand the reasons behind Jesse’s moves.
The edit always makes sure to give us Jesse’s perspective. We always know where he stands or why he’s making certain moves. For example, in this episode, he explained why he felt taking out Sami was a better move than voting out Cassidy. He told us that Sami is a fire threat, plus he was making inroads with Karla, whereas Karla and Cassidy were beginning to drift apart. And we saw Jesse putting the move together as he approached his fellow tribemates.
Once again, Jesse got his way at tribal council. So, on paper, Jesse not only has a great story but he’s presented as an excellent strategic player. That certainly gives him strong winner potential. But as I said last week, it all seems a bit too good to be true. There has to be a moment when the other shoe drops. After Gabler brought up the Jesse & Cody power duo, I thought it might have happened this week. Alas, it did not, but surely that lingering thread is just waiting to be picked up.
So, what could go wrong for Jesse? This episode might have given us a hint. There was a moment where Cody and Jesse seemed to disagree about who should go home between Cassidy or Sami. In the end, Jesse got his way, as he deemed Cassidy less of a threat. This could come back on Jesse in a couple of ways. Firstly, he might be underestimating Cassidy. Secondly, Cody might realize Jesse has been calling the shots and needs to be taken out.
If we flashback all the way to the first couple of episodes, there was a lot of focus on the Cody and Jesse relationship. Remember, Jesse sort of brushed Cody off as a threat. He saw Cody more as a fun personality that wasn’t thinking so deeply about the game. And this came soon after Cody pushed his “salespeople are dangerous” agenda, with Jesse not realizing that Cody himself is a salesperson. Those little undermining moments are still swimming around my head.
Is there a world where Jesse and Cody both make it to the end? Sure. They’re the duo with the most consistent screen time. But I think it’s much more likely they try to take one another out beforehand. If Jesse survives that attack, he looks like a frontrunner to win it all.
CHILDHOOD DREAM BECOMES A NIGHTMARE
“I want this so bad. I used to daydream about seeing my name up in the opening credits.”
There has been a lot of content this season about players fulfilling their Survivor dreams, but none more so than with Owen. From his very first confessional, Owen was talking about his childhood dreams of playing Survivor and soaking up all the unforgettable moments that come with it. But living his childhood dream hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
In fact, Owen’s dream has become somewhat of a nightmare, as he’s spent the majority of the season on the wrong side of the votes. What’s interesting, though, is how Owen always gets to comment on his grim situation. He acknowledges his failures and the frustrations that come with them. For example, in this episode, he talked about once again being left out of the vote after the Noelle blindside.
“This is not fun,” he said with a laugh. “This is terrible. It’s, like, getting comical at this point that I just keep finding myself as the closest person to the person who’s getting blindsided… It’s like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football, and Lucy’s taking it away, you know, and he falls on his back like always.”
Rather than just ignore Owen, the edit has crafted a consistent story of a player constantly left out of the loop, despite his best efforts to find a way in. Even the other players are confused why Owen keeps being left out; Jesse said that himself in this episode, and we saw Gabler explaining how he didn’t have time to tell Owen the vote switched. It’s never presented as “Owen is terrible at this game,” but more a series of unfortunate but comical circumstances.
Despite this, Owen is still getting to soak up the Survivor journey. In this episode, he got to compete in and win a classic Survivor challenge, which he had stated he dreamed of playing. And we’ve seen similar moments earlier in the season, like his first individual immunity challenge win and his loved one’s letter scene.
The question is, can Owen turn things around in these last two episodes? Episode 11 was a good start, as he voted with the majority to take out Sami (a nice little callback to Sami worrying about Owen in the pre-merge). And he also showed some awareness of the dynamics, rightfully recognizing that he can’t trust Jesse; “He flipped on Dwight, he flipped on Noelle. He’s stabbed me in the back before. And as much as I like the guy, I don’t know if I can trust him,” Owen said.
It would be a wild winner’s edit, but modern Survivor likes to surprise us. Plus, part of me wonders how else the show would have edited Owen had he won. If Owen pulls off the win but was out of the loop most of the season, how do you tell that story? Do you try and cover it up? Or do you lean into it and tell the story of a struggling Survivor superfan who has to overcome the odds from an underdog position?
So even though I think an Owen win is very unlikely at this stage, I wouldn’t say it’s an impossibility.
ADAPT AND SURVIVE
“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.”
Karla’s story is similar to Jesse’s, both being players who achieved success despite tough circumstances growing up and having a mix of street smarts and book smarts. But Karla’s Survivor story is more about her ability to adapt and survive. Throughout the season, we’ve seen her shake off her early nervousness and embrace a bolder game, gaining herself advantages and allies in equal measure.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen examples of Karla’s ability to adapt, like her switching her vote to James to keep herself in the majority, something she did this past episode again as she joined the others in voting for Sami. But where other players’ edits have started to improve, I feel like Karla’s edit is on somewhat of a downward trend.
While you can look at Karla’s gameplay as adapting, it could also be seen as her giving up her agency. Also, she has started to show signs of paranoia, which she called out others for earlier in the season. In this episode, we saw her believing Sami that Cassidy was coming after her, despite Sami revealing this was a lie. This increased Karla’s paranoia about her idol (which she doesn’t realize is already an open secret) and made her want to turn on Cassidy, her number one ally.
Yet, in the end, Karla failed to get Cassidy out, as she went with Jesse and the majority in voting out Sami. So, not only did Karla not get her way, but she’s now on record as another player that wanted to target Cassidy but failed to take her out. If the Cassidy curse is real, then Karla could have just signed her death warrant.
LIVE FAST AND DIE HARD
“I’m gonna play the game as hard and as fast as I can… just like I do my life.”
Cody’s edit is intriguing. He’s definitely been one of the biggest presences on the season, but his post-merge edit is very different from his pre-merge edit. Cody started this game with a “play hard and fast” attitude, showing off a fun side while also getting stuck right into the game, forming alliances, spinning lies, finding advantages, and manipulating his way through a camp raid.
But since the merge, Cody’s fast and loose gameplay has become more straightforward and cautious. He’s still in control, and we often get his perspective on the vote. But it feels much more considered than it did in the first half of the game. You could see that as a good thing, as it shows Cody isn’t just a wildcard but a player who thinks carefully about his moves. On the other hand, you could read it as the edit playing down Cody’s role in the season.
In recent weeks, Jesse has been shown as the one calling the shots. Sure, the pair always talk through moves together, but more often than not, it’s Jesse who gets his way. That was most evident in this episode, as Cody wanted to target Cassidy over Sami. But, in the end, Jesse got his way, and Cody voted for Sami. Could this lead to Cody finally making a move against his closest ally? Perhaps. Or maybe it suggests Cody won’t get as much respect from the jury as Jesse.
OLD AGE WISDOM
“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.”
Gabler’s had quite the Survivor journey. He started off as the odd man out on his tribe, being the oldest player on the Baka beach. From the beginning, he told us that his age could be a detriment and so he’d be careful about how he approached the game. But he struggled early on, giving in to bouts of paranoia and doing things that irritated his tribemates.
Despite this, though, Gabler found himself with willing allies, or at least people willing to share information with him. This info allowed Gabler to make a strike against Elie at the merge, a player the edit had set him up against throughout the pre-merge. After this, Gabler got a reputation as a wild and unpredictable player. Yet, he recognized it was time to blend into the background, sinking below the surface until it was time to strike again.
In doing so, Gabler’s post-merge edit has gone from strength to strength. As he said in this episode, “I’m hiding in plain sight.” His strategy of falling into the background has worked. He was brought into votes by Cody and Jesse. He appeared to have a working relationship with Karla. And it seems he’s keeping his options open with Owen, telling him this past episode that he has a plan for them to get to the final three.
So, where is Gabler’s edit going from here? Well, I still believe the AlliGabler is due to return. He told us before that he would re-emerge when the time was right. And we’ve seen him talking about going after Cody and Jesse. The clock is ticking, and so I expect to see Gabler attempt his big move very soon. But will he be successful? That’s the big question.
|Name||EP 1||EP 2||EP 3||EP 4||EP 5||EP 6||EP 7||EP 8||EP 9||EP 10||EP 11||EP 12||EP 13||EP 14|