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.
The penultimate episode put a bow on the season-long Jesse and Cody storyline. As I’ve said over the past few weeks, it felt inevitable that this duo would split apart eventually. It was just a matter of who turned first. Would Jesse pay for underestimating Cody in the pre-merge? Or would Cody be blinded by his friendship with Jesse?
In the end, it was the latter, which made a lot of sense. Cody’s edit had become more subdued since the merge. Sure, he was still a significant presence, but it seemed like the edit played down his personality. In addition, he had given up a lot of control to Jesse, as we saw last week when he wanted to take out Cassidy but acquiesced to Jesse’s preference of voting out Sami.
Plus, given Jesse’s theme of the family man with the bad boy past, it made perfect sense that he would be the one to make the most cutthroat move of the season. And just as we discussed last week, this move was again told through the lens of a man making the tough decision for the benefit of his family back home.
Elsewhere, this episode continued to highlight the rift between Cassidy and Karla while also continuing Gabler’s below-the-surface gameplay and Owen’s desire to get on the right side of the numbers.
But who is taking home the crown? Let’s look at the remaining five, ordered from most likely to least likely to win.
This wasn’t the ideal penultimate episode for Cassidy, even though there was some good stuff within it. She acknowledged Karla’s betrayal, noting that she’d be “naive” to not question it, and she didn’t fall for Karla’s crocodile tears. She also had a big immunity win, after which she got to pinpoint Cody as the person she wanted out, and that’s what ended up happening.
However, there wasn’t much else from Cassidy across the episode. Her feud with Karla was contained to the first few minutes and barely referenced after that, though, seeing as there is unfinished business there, I expect it to come back up in the finale. And while we did see her voicing her desire to vote out Cody, she took a backseat to the planning, which was primarily told from Jesse’s perspective.
The thing about Cassidy’s edit is that it’s difficult to say whether her lack of agency is a bad thing or a good thing or, simply, neutral. You’d like to see a little more focus at this stage in the season. Yet, her whole theme and narrative have been about not playing a loud and flashy game but rather operating in the background. And we’ve seen her do that time and time again.
On top of that, a big part of her story has been the huge threat that keeps dodging the target. Throughout the season, people have recognized and acknowledged her as a threat, but they haven’t been able to vote her out. We’ve seen this with Geo, Ryan, Noelle, and Sami, all of whom have had their torches snuffed. Again, she was a target in this episode but avoided the chopping block due to a win by a clutch immunity challenge.
It’s a story that would make sense should Cassidy make it to the final tribal council. If she is looking across at a jury full of people that tried voting her out and failed, she has a great case to make and a narrative consistent with the beats she set up in the premiere. It’s not a flashy game or even flashy television, but it makes sense. And that’s why I believe Cassidy is the favorite to win heading into the finale.
However, if Cassidy is not the winner, it must be Jesse. Besides his oddly paced premiere, where he didn’t have his first confessional until halfway through, Jesse’s edit has all the hallmarks of a typical male Survivor winner. We’ve heard his strategic thoughts and plans every step of the way, his alliances were clearly defined, his theme and story were clear, and he’s had a ton of great personal content.
Despite all those positives, I can’t help shake the feeling that Jesse is more of an end-game boss than a winner. Perhaps that is just the lingering red flags of his late premiere confessional, combined with his contradictory “Cassidy is a social and strategic threat” / “Cassidy isn’t a huge threat” across different episodes. Whatever it is, I can picture Jesse as the final obstacle the winner must overcome in the finale.
For that to happen, you have to imagine Jesse will lose in the fire-making challenge. Putting Edgic aside for a moment, he has an idol that guarantees him a spot in the Final 4, which means his chances of competing in fire-making are incredibly high. It’s hard to read into fire-making challenge foreshadowing, as past seasons have thrown in red herrings that often amount to nothing. But a big part of Jesse’s reasoning to vote out Sami over Cassidy was because he worried he couldn’t beat Sami in fire-making. It would be ironic then if Jesse still lost in fire-making, especially if he ended up losing to Cassidy.
Or maybe this really is a coronation edit. Maybe Jesse triumphs and walks away with the million. It wouldn’t be the most surprising result, especially with the story the edit has crafted. After all, there is a universe where Jesse could have been portrayed as a major villain, especially after cutting close allies like Noelle and Cody. The edit could have portrayed a much more villainous character who audiences would want to see get their comeuppance, either losing at fire-making or being shut out at the final tribal council.
But that isn’t what happened. Instead, Jesse has been presented as this heartfelt family man, a man who came from a rough background and reinvented himself, all while still having that cutthroat side to him. As I said earlier, even his harshest moves have been told through the eyes of a man whose number one loyalty is to his wife and kids. That is not a character the edit wants us to root against.
So the question becomes, is Jesse the fallen hero or the triumphant hero? Is he the Cirie, the Malcolm, the Wentworth who falls at the last hurdle, leaving the game as the person many thought could (and should?) have won it all? Or is he the Tony, who unbelievably makes it to the end and wins it all? I think most options are possible, even though I lean towards the former.
This was a mixed episode for Owen. It started off pretty well as he laid out his goal of driving a wedge between Karla and Cassidy. And he certainly had a hand in achieving this, as he was the first person to tell Cassidy that Karla was going to vote for her. Sure, Jesse sort of took the reins of this story from here, but Owen was the one who got the ball rolling.
However, Owen spent most of the episode setting his sights on Karla. During the reward, he spoke of how big a threat Karla was to win and that he needed her gone next. But after the immunity challenge, Owen returned to a much more passive player. He seemingly nodded and agreed to whatever plan was put in front of him by Cody, then Karla, and, ultimately, Jesse. And when Jesse flipped the vote to Cody, Owen had no real follow-up about why he was on board or why he was moving away from the Karla vote.
Now, with all the idols floating around, you could easily see this as a self-preservation move from Owen. And he kind of suggested that when he told Karla that he’d be willing to vote for Gabler. But there was no direct confessional from Owen explaining his reasoning; all we had was his worries that something could go wrong at tribal council.
Could Owen pull off a miraculous win? As noted, I think it’s a long shot. But there is definitely an interesting story there of the Survivor superfan whose dream became a nightmare as he continually found himself on the outside looking in, only to survive against the odds and achieve his ultimate dream at the end. The premiere premonitions from the Baka tribe about Owen being dangerous at the end and his own “I’m not going to win in the Final 3” could well have been foreshadowing.
It would be a unique winner’s story, for sure, but that has been a trend in the new era of Survivor, as seen recently with Erika and Maryanne. That said, at this stage, a runner-up position seems much more likely for Owen.
Gabler’s edit has had a massive turnaround since the Elie elimination, and had his pre-merge been stronger, I might have considered him a contender. He has followed through on his strategy to sink below the surface, taking the target off his back and proving to be a helpful number to the majority alliances. But at this point, I think his game is perhaps too hidden.
While the audience knows Gabler’s strategy, there is nothing within the episodes themselves to suggest his fellow players know just how well he’s been playing. He said it himself in this episode, he’s “hiding in plain sight,” like the assassin poisoning the king’s chalice. And he even got partial credit for bringing up Cody (and Karla) as targets to Jesse and Cassidy. “And you know what’s awesome? I don’t think people see the game I’m playing,” he said.
Initially, I thought this was building up to Gabler resurfacing and making a big move that would backfire. But now I’m starting to wonder if he makes it to the final tribal council but doesn’t get the respect his game might deserve. Because we don’t hear others talk about Gabler often. When we did hear others mention him, it was about him being unpredictable or unreliable. There is nothing to say that perception has changed. Cassidy’s game is similar, but we have at least heard others refer to her as a huge threat.
The other issue, much like Owen, is that agency was taken away from Gabler in this episode. Even though he did bring up Cody as a target, Jesse was the one that took the reins. And Gabler was left in a position where he was left following the vote rather than directing it. Again, that is intentional and well-explained to the audience, but is it clear to the players in the game? Not from what we’ve been shown.
While Karla was a top contender for a large portion of the season, her stock has plummeted over the past few episodes. And it wouldn’t surprise me if she is the first one out in the finale. Unfortunately, this episode continued her downward trajectory as others undermined her and her own plans blew up in her face.
The episode started with Cassidy confronting Karla about how she planned to vote for her at the last tribal. Karla explained in confessional how this was true but that she had to convince Cassidy it wasn’t. This involved forcing tears and telling Cassidy to ask Jesse to vouch for her. But Jesse did not back Karla up. Instead, Cassidy had it confirmed that Karla had turned and was now set on getting revenge.
While Karla was aware she had a target on her back, she was misled by Cody when he approached her with his plan. She described it as “foolproof,” noting how she and Cody could both make it final four. All the while, Cody was luring her into a false sense of security so she wouldn’t play her idol and he could blindside her. That’s obviously not what happened, but not due to Karla’s doing.
Jesse was the one to flip the vote onto Cody, but his plan also involved tricking Karla into wasting her idol. And that’s precisely what happened, as Karla was spooked at tribal and played her idol. While we know Karla is a big threat, all of this presented Karla as out of the loop and in a precarious position heading into the finale.
Could she turn it around? It’s not impossible. A big part of her theme has been about adapting to dire circumstances. But I think it’s probably too late for Karla.
|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|