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.
Given that this was technically the true merge episode, I expected much more than we actually got. The episode spent more than half its run-time on the immunity challenge, meaning there wasn’t a whole lot of time for new dynamics and character shifts.
Sure, the challenge itself had a couple of interesting editing moments, specifically, the tribe camaraderie focus around Noelle and Gabler’s half-comical/half-inspirational journey to victory. But overall, challenges are the least interesting part when it comes to analyzing the Survivor edit, so this episode doesn’t give a great deal to discuss.
The rest of the episode re-established a couple of key points, namely Jeanine continuing her newly found underdog story, James being positioned as a social threat, and we returned to the early pre-merge tensions between the Jesse & Cody and Dwight & Noelle pairs.
But how do the individual character edits stand after this episode? Let’s take a look.
I said last week that Cassidy’s success will likely be determined by her edit in this week’s true merge episode. Well, if that’s the case, things aren’t looking so hot. This was not the episode Cassidy needed, as she was nowhere to be seen.
Now, you can forgive some of that due to the episode’s unusually long challenge, but still, to have no content at all is a little worrying. The only thing protecting Cassidy here is her theme/strategy to play in the background. That just about gives her an excuse. But this episode didn’t feel like she was intentionally hidden, more just forgotten about. In comparison, Erika, who I’ve previously compared to Cassidy, had her breakout episode by this point in the season.
It’s still too early to write her off completely, especially in an age of Survivor where Jeff Probst has touted the “murder-mystery” approach to winner edits. But Cassidy needs some kind of character depth or game move soon. Another episode like this next week, and that might truly be the death knell.
A couple of people were surprised I didn’t have Cody on my list of contenders last week. I can understand that. On the surface, I do think Cody has a pretty strong edit. He’s had personal content, lots of time to discuss his thinking and gameplay, a solid alliance-building scene, etc. Those are things one has come to expect from a winner’s edit. So why wasn’t he on my list?
There is just something about Cody’s edit that rings alarm bells for me. I think it’s a combination of his “play fast and hard” mantra and his getting clocked by Karla during the camp raid. That might seem insignificant, and perhaps it is, but I can’t shake the feeling that sooner or later, Cody’s game is going to catch up to him. And that might happen soon, given the way this latest episode went down.
While the vote turning against Dwight came around suddenly, the groundwork had been laid earlier in the season. As we’ve discussed previously, there was this divide on Vesi between Cody & Jesse and Dwight & Noelle, and, in particular, lingering tension between Dwight and Cody. So it was no real surprise that Cody pushed to vote out Dwight in this episode, and he does receive credit for getting his way. But was that a smart move?
The edit wanted us to question that. As Cody said himself, “This is a move that’s going to really make things a little crazy. Is it too soon? It could be, but no matter what, Jesse and I are gonna be on the same page.” With the way the numbers are currently, I’m not sure Vesi turning on one of their own is the right play here. And so, perhaps Cody was foreshadowing his own downfall in this confessional.
There is another part of me that can’t shake the feeling that Cody and Jesse might not be as long-lasting as it might initially appear. Is Cody trusting Jesse too much? In this episode, not only did he say, “No matter what, Jesse and I are gonna be on the same page,” but he also gave Jesse his idol, “I’ve given it to Jesse because I feel it’s safer with him than with me at this time.” So there is definitely groundwork for Jesse to turn on Cody and keep that idol.
But maybe my read on Cody is wrong. Perhaps his hard and fast gameplay will prove successful, his alliance with Jesse will hold strong, and his move against Dwight will boost him forward. It’s possible. But my gut leans the other way.
Ah, Gabler. This was certainly a huge episode for the self-proclaimed “Alli-Gabler” and one that cemented him as a big personality edit. In the aftermath of the Elie vote, Gabler was still catching heat for his chaotic “bull in a china shop” gameplay, particularly from Owen. But Gabler had a new approach: “Now I plan to go underwater again and just chill, and then pop back up, so I’m not perceived as a threat.”
Did Gabler succeed at that strategy? Of course not. Not only did he not go back underwater, but he rose to the very top after an impressive, record-breaking challenge performance. So, now Gabler is not just a threat due to his chaotic gameplay, but he’s also made himself an immunity challenge threat.
The edit around Gabler’s challenge win was a bit of a strange one. It was half-comical, half-inspirational. His minute-by-minute dedications bounced from heartwarming (his sick Uncle, veterans) to hilarious (Alaska!), and it was clear the edit was having some fun with him. But, overall, it continued to paint Gabler as this larger-than-life personality who can be somewhat OTT and grating but also has a big heart.
And his post-challenge confessional about playing for veterans with PTSD and inspiring others to follow their dreams was heartfelt. However, none of it changed my opinion in regard to Gabler’s winner chances.
I’m still waiting for James to establish new connections or relationships at the merge, but at least he had a new wrinkle to his story this week. That came in the form of the Knowledge is Power advantage, which James obtained after finding a mystery bottle in the water well. That said, a lot of this could be put down to circumstance.
James finding the advantage and telling others about it became a hot topic around camp and increased the target on James’ back. The episode set James up as a potential target alongside Ryan and Dwight, and we didn’t really see him succeeding in swaying people his way. He did try and use the KIP as leverage to gain trust, but from what we saw, James was spared due to Cody & Jesse changing the vote to Dwight.
So I don’t know where this leaves James. He’s been positioned as a target/threat these past couple of episodes, and it’s starting to feel like he is on borrowed time. The season’s narrative isn’t centered around his perspective, so I don’t get the feeling he is going to turn the tables and change his fate.
This episode helped confirm the feelings I had last week about Jeanine’s edit. As a reminder, this is what I said last time, “Either Jeanine crumbles and follows her ally out the door. Or, this becomes the start of her individual arc and she scratches and claws her way through. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I kind of lean toward the latter.”
Jeanine continued to scratch and claw her way through in this episode. Immediately, we saw her go to work patching things up with her tribemates and showing that the Elie vote didn’t affect her. While she talked of feeling “confused” and “alone” in confessional, she also noted that it was important to “pretend like this is the best thing for my game.” And we saw her do just that, talking with various tribemates (Noelle, Cassidy, Karla, James), all of whom seemed receptive to her.
However, while she succeeded in removing the target from her back, Jeanine is still very much the underdog. She was once again blindsided by the vote. And, on top of that, she lost her idol. “It feels scary to hand over my idol when that is the one piece of power I have right now… But I think my idol is safer in Dwight’s hands than it is in mine,” she said, which, obviously, turned out to be a mistake.
But I think that actually helps Jeanine’s story arc. If she is the underdog who has to fight to survive, then she will need these kinds of obstacles thrown in her path. I’m now at the stage where I could see Jeanine as the season’s fallen hero at the Final 4 or 5.
Last week, Jesse talked about stepping up his game and how it’s the time when the game really gets going, and you have to prove yourself. He followed through on that in this episode by flipping his vote along with Cody to blindside his former ally, Dwight. The question is now, was that the right move or not?
Regardless of the outcome, this episode once again saw Jesse laying out his thoughts and ideas and explaining his reasons. “I could go with the Vesi-Baka alliance, and we can, you know, split the votes between James and Ryan, and we could take out James. That’s the route that Noelle has sort of charted for us,” he stated before offering the alternative option.
“You can sit here in this game, and you can watch somebody like Noelle accumulate this power and, like, be like, “oh, you know what? Now’s not the right time. I’ll try and, like, weaken her eventually.” Or you can make a move now,” he continued before narrating how he went to Cody to pitch the idea and how the vote shifted from Noelle to Dwight.
Even in this moment, where the vote switched to Dwight, Jesse got to offer his perspective and why it was a good move for him. “That’s not personally what I want, but if I’m able to take out Dwight and weaken Noelle, that’s fine with me,” he said. “And it also gives Cody a sense of agency, right? You don’t want to strip people of their agency in this game.”
Perhaps the most interesting part of this whole sequence, though, was the brief scene between Jesse and Karla. “I genuinely trust Karla more than I trust Noelle right now,” he stated. “Like, we have so many similar experiences, and she reminds me so much of my family.” This connection might have seemed abrupt and out of nowhere, but the set-up for this was actually present way back in the season premiere.
Here’s my write-up about Karla from the first episode:
“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.”
It wouldn’t surprise me to see the bond between Jesse and Karla grow even tighter in the coming episodes. And, if my read on Cody’s edit is correct, that could play a part in the break-up of the Cody & Jesse alliance.
This was a quiet episode for Karla, perhaps her quietest of the season so far. She didn’t receive a single confessional. It’s not the end of the world, though, especially given the strength of her edit across the season so far.
Plus, as I just talked about in the Jesse write-up, she had that brief scene with Jesse, which could be the start of a new alliance/connection. That scene also did its job in showing that Karla was on the right side of the votes, though not necessarily leading the vote. And that might be a good thing if this Dwight blindside ends up backfiring.
There’s not much else to report for Karla this week. I still believe she has one of the strongest edits of the season, even if I am cautious about it being a little too perfect.
This was a mixed bag of an episode for Noelle. On the one hand, she had a hugely positive scene at the challenge, complete with swelling music and support from her tribemates. It added to her narrative of overcoming setbacks and not giving up. However, on the other hand, she was shown to be outplayed at the vote.
The edit positioned Noelle as the one leading the charge against James. And it was her discovery of James’ power that shifted her target onto him. She got to explain all of that in confessional. However, we saw Noelle going from person to person, revealing the news about James’ advantage and pushing the vote onto him. This didn’t go unrecognized, as Cody, Jesse, and Karla all noted how Noelle was calling the shots.
It was Noelle’s approach to the vote which turned things onto her and, ultimately, Dwight, her closest ally. So that isn’t the greatest look. That said, Noelle’s story is about overcoming setbacks, and we’ve already seen that this season after the Justine blindside — something she brought up in her pep talk to Jeanine at the start of this episode. So I wouldn’t count Noelle out just yet; she may bounce back yet again.
This was an interesting episode for Owen. He wasn’t a primary focus, yet he received a lot of air-time. He was basically the strategic narrator, a role that he’s occupied previously in this season. And most of his narration revolved around ominous foreshadowing, noting the potential things that could go wrong in the future.
He started the episode talking about the fractured Baka alliance and Gabler’s “warpath” against Elie. “It’s like we’ve invited the entire tribe to come view the Grand Canyon that is the crack in the Baka alliance,” he said after admonishing his pre-merge tribemates for not sticking together as planned. Owen’s criticism of the Baka tribe has been a consistent theme from the first episode, back when he didn’t think they were strategizing enough.
Much of his ire was aimed at Gabler, who he deemed a “loose cannon” who could not be relied on. “Gabler definitely raises some red flags about keeping him in my alliance for the long haul. ‘Cause who knows what he could do next?” he shared. I assume some of this was included for the irony of Owen and Gabler having to rely on each other at the challenge when they ended up aired together. But I also wonder if Owen and Gabler could go much further together with this tumultuous relationship.
While not a key figure in the vote, Owen did pop back up toward the end of the episode to share his thoughts. He explained why all the advantage switching was happening, noting that he’d been given Noelle’s Steal a Vote. But, again, Owen aired his concerns. “On top of all that, we’re trying to figure out who to vote out. So there are a lot of things that could go wrong tonight.”
So even though Owen doesn’t have much agency right now, he has these perceptive insights and valid concerns about the game. If he is following the Maryanne trajectory, as discussed last week, then he could be biding his time to make a move.
Nothing really new to report for Ryan this week. He was named as a potential target alongside James, yet we never heard from Ryan in confessional. And while he was present for a couple of strategy conversations at camp, he didn’t have any agency or narrative focus.
The one thing worth noting from this episode was the sunrise scene, where we saw Ryan stomping for crabs. Noelle, Jesse, and Cody commented on this, saying that Ryan has “endless energy.” I feel like this slots Ryan into that personality-type edit. He’s never going to be the season’s lead strategist or even the journey edit, but he’s a sort of side character personality.
While Sami was present in this episode, he didn’t really say anything. If we look at his two confessionals, they were the most basic narration. The first one was about the pairs situation for the challenge, and the second one was just typical pre-Tribal talk. “Over half of the players were safe, while the other half of us were not. Now things get interesting. Now things open up, and we really see who’s going with who.”
On the one hand, Sami getting these nondescript confessionals shoehorned into the episode tells us he’s important. The edit wants us to remember him, even if he isn’t a significant part of what’s happening. However, on the other hand, there is a lack of depth here that could be concerning. For example, we didn’t get any follow-up from him on the Elie vote or his relationship with Gabler. And he seemed to be included in the majority, but we didn’t get any insight into how this came about, either from Sami or anyone else.
I’m still pretty high on Sami’s edit overall, but this was certainly one of his weaker edits of the season. We need an update on his position in the game next week and an idea of his plans moving forward.
With all that said, who are my remaining Contenders?
Top Tier: Karla, Sami
Second Tier: Jesse
Maryanne Possibility: Owen
Erika Possibility: Cassidy
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