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.
I found the edit of this past episode very strange. It was confusing in parts, as the edit tried to reframe certain events from the previous episode to fit a new narrative. I’m specifically talking about Owen and Cassidy’s votes from the previous episode.
Last week, Owen voted for Jeanine, while Cassidy voted for Ryan. But you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it was the other way around after this episode. While Owen briefly mentioned that Gabler had clued him in on the Jeanine vote, the rest of the episode focused on Owen’s beef with James. Owen was upset that James lied to him by saying the votes were going on Ryan. This made it seem like Owen had voted for Ryan.
There was no scene or confessional from Owen telling us that it was his strategy to make James feel like he’d voted for Ryan. So other than that quick flashback to Owen’s chat with Gabler (which didn’t outright prove Owen voted for Jeanine), there was no real indication that Owen didn’t vote for Ryan.
This only became more confusing after Cassidy’s confessional, where she said, “I’ve been on the right side of the vote for the entire game.” But we physically saw her write down Ryan’s name last week, so we know this isn’t true. Yet, the episode didn’t highlight Cassidy’s quote in a mocking or undermining way. We were supposed to take it as a statement of faction. So what’s the deal here?
In reality, I assume Cassidy’s vote for Ryan last week wasn’t an act of defiance but an intentional move to counter a potential idol or Shot in the Dark play. In that scenario, Cassidy was still technically on the right side of the votes, as she knew where the majority of votes were going and was in on the overall plan. But there was a disconnect between the story told in Episode 8 (Cassidy standing up against patriarchy) and the story told in Episode 9 (Cassidy being in on every vote so far).
What to make of this? I think it goes back to something we discussed earlier this season. Survivor these days tends to focus more on episodic story-telling over season-long narratives. Sure, there are still recurring themes and specific plot points that pop up throughout the season, but it’s not the primary focus. The aim is to make a cohesive individual episode, and sometimes that means bending the truth or reframing certain scenes to fit a new narrative.
The episode wanted to really sell the Owen vs. James rivalry, so it made more sense to play things as if Owen voted for Ryan last week. While at the same time, it wanted to portray Cassidy in a positive light, so it made sense to portray her as a player with her finger on the pulse of the game that has always voted correctly.
But what does this mean in terms of winner contenders? Let’s look into the individual edits.
This was probably Cassidy’s best episode of the post-merge so far. Not only did she finally receive a great personal scene, but she followed through on her goal of revenge on Ryan. She set a target and achieved it and did so without putting herself in the spotlight, which has been part of her strategy from the beginning.
One thing missing from Cassidy’s edit was personal content, but she got that here with her confessional about her family and growing up watching Survivor. She talked about her sister, who passed away a couple of years ago, and tied that experience into the game. While this scene came a little late in the season, it’s still a good thing to receive it, especially because it connected to Cassidy’s fighting spirit and never-give-up attitude.
Another positive is her budding relationship with Cody and Jesse. There was certainly the suggestion the three could continue working together after this vote. On top of that, Jesse complimented Cassidy as a smart “social and strategic” player. The episode definitely gave the impression that Cassidy is a strong (if quiet) player, someone who is perceptive and knows how to get on the right side of the votes every time.
If there was a downside, Cassidy didn’t receive credit for the Ryan vote. While she did get out the player she wanted to, it was Cody and Jesse shown calling the shots. However, as I said earlier, part of Cassidy’s strategy is to play a sneaky, behind-the-scenes game, so not being the figurehead here could work well into her narrative.
This episode further highlighted the Cody and Jesse pairing. They were the ones calling the shots on the red team, as they were shown to be the decision-makers. But I also think this episode was the potential fork in the road for Cody and Jesse. This decision to keep Cassidy over Ryan could be what unravels their games.
There are a couple of reasons to think this. Firstly, the overall ominous feeling I’ve had about Cody’s edit all season; that his trust in Jesse and the looming threat of Karla will be his undoing. Secondly, there was an overconfidence here that suggested a rude awakening. Cody described this as a “super crucial vote” that was about setting up his alliances for the end game. He then established a final three alliance with Gabler, said that they were “driving the decision,” and also added, “if tonight’s vote goes accordingly, we’re on the freaking Autobahn to the million dollars.”
This felt like a set-up for a fall. And you can see why. Cody described Gabler as a “straight shooter” who will be “loyal,” but we’ve seen Gabler act unpredictably in the past. That would suggest Cody is putting too much trust in Gabler. Cody and Jesse also talked about how Cassidy was a social and strategic threat and mentioned her close relationship with Karla. They initially suggested that if James was voted out, then voting for Cassidy would make sense. But that’s not what they did.
Instead, Cody and Jesse kept Cassidy, which could come back to haunt them if their fears about Cassidy & Karla come true, as well as Gabler not staying loyal. So, while on paper, Cody looks good for leading yet another vote and getting his way, there are ominous signs for the coming episodes.
A pretty quiet episode for Gabler, but one that continued his goal of blending into the background. He had just two confessionals, the first of which was very basic reward narration. The second came after Cody approached him about forming an alliance.
“That’s music to my ears, because I’m thinking the same thing,” Gabler said in regard to the alliance with Cody. “I think I’ve positioned myself pretty well 17 days in, where people are approaching me, and that is so crucial going into this point in the game.”
There was nothing too in-depth here, but we saw proof of Gabler’s game plan working. He is no longer a target, and he has people wanting to work with him. The question is whether this strategy (and alliance) holds up. Remember, Gabler previously told us that he is biding his time until he strikes again, and so I expect we’ll see the AlliGabler again sooner or later. And given his previous unpredictable gameplay, that could spell bad news for Cody and/or Jesse.
Alongside Cody, Jesse was presented as one of the key decision-makers of the episode. As usual, he laid out the tribe dynamics in confessional, the potential avenues he could take, and the consequences that could come with each one. Just like it’s been the entire season, we always have a solid understanding of where Jesse’s head is that.
“Even though it’s only us five, it’s gonna have a huge impact on, like, our relationships going forward,” Jesse said in regard to the Cassidy or Ryan vote. And he explained why, stating that taking out Cassidy might make James and Karla “very angry.” But he also noted that Cassidy is “super social, super strategic… so that’s a little bit concerning.” On the other hand, he noted Ryan’s threat as a challenge beast.
In the end, Jesse and Cody decided to take out Ryan over Cassidy, despite their worries about Cassidy’s closeness with Karla. The question heading into the next episode is whether this was the right decision and what impact, if any, it will have on Jesse’s (and Cody’s) game. With Cody’s overconfidence and Jesse’s fears about Cassidy, there is definitely a suggestion that this vote could be the duo’s undoing.
That said, Jesse’s edit still looks strong overall. He has a great mix of strategic and personal content; we understand his alliances, and we always get his point of view. This next episode could be a make-or-break moment for Jesse. If he comes out of the Ryan vote unscathed and reaffirms his relationships, he has a good shot at making it to the end. But there is enough set-up to suggest this vote will be what sends his game spiraling off course.
Last week, I talked about how Karla’s story had picked back up its early themes of playing safe or playing bold. She chose to stick with the majority in the previous episode and vote out Jeanine. But in the latest episode, she went big again, voting out one of her closest allies, James. However, was this good for Karla’s edit?
It was good to see Karla making a bold play once again, as it tied back into her early narrative of believing in herself and proving she could play hard. This was also present after her immunity challenge win. “It’s all because of the power of believing and trusting in me,” she said after her immunity win. “Day 1 Karla would never believe this… I’m a freaking badass.”
However, I’m not sure if Karla’s vote against James was painted as the correct move. The edit didn’t present this as Karla taking control and making a calculated risk; instead, Sami appeared to be the one leading the charge, while Noelle got the credit for the creative play with the steal-a-vote. In fact, Karla had spent most of the pre-tribal scenes talking about how keeping James was better for her game.
“James is a crucial part of my alliance, and I know he wants to vote out Owen. Owen isn’t really part of my alliance. So tonight, I’m voting for Owen,” she said. However, Sami later approached her about putting the vote on James instead. “Sami kind of makes sense; James is a strategic player,” she said.” Everyone believes that he’s been calling the shots. However, James is really valuable right now. And why would I get rid of one of my numbers?”
Yet, that is exactly what Karla did. She voted out James, someone we’ve seen her aligned with since the early days on Coco. That said, she did get to explain her thought process going into tribal council. “I want to make the decision that works best for me but also works best for the future of the people that I say I’m gonna work with,” she stated.
In a way, this suggests that Karla intends to stick with Sami going forward. And, to her credit, Sami did appear to trust Karla. Sami outright said, “Karla’s opinion matters more to me than anybody else’s does right now” and that he “wants to work with Karla.” This echoes similar sentiments from Cody and Jesse, who have also shown their trust in Karla and desire to work with her. So perhaps the James vote-out isn’t as bad as it might initially seem on paper.
Much like with Jesse, this next episode will be very telling for Karla. To continue being a contender, I think we need to see her reaffirm this new bond with Sami and perhaps expand on her relationship with Cassidy and/or Jesse and Cody.
This was a surprisingly subdued episode for Noelle, given that she basically shifted the vote onto James and pulled off what was a really clever move. She did get to explain her plan, and we saw her effectively put it into action. So, on the one hand, she looked very good.
But it also felt like Sami stole some of her limelight. Rather than this being Noelle’s big strategic moment of the season, Sami instead got credit for flipping Karla, meaning that Noelle’s steal a vote wasn’t necessary to send James home (though still a good precautionary play).
So none of this changed my opinion of Noelle being a secondary character. I feel like her days are probably numbered as we head into the spiky end of the season.
This was a mixed bag of an episode for Owen. As I said earlier, his previous vote was reframed to fit the Owen versus James storyline, which was the main crux of the episode. And, for the most part, Owen was painted as the underdog up against the “Godfather,” with James having a more negative tint to his edit.
That said, there were moments where Owen looked somewhat petty, and the arguing between Owen and James was criticized by other tribe members, particularly Noelle. So Owen didn’t come out of the whole situation looking perfect. But he did get the last laugh, and, as I said last week, his hope that things will turn around for his game is starting to come to fruition.
“I know James is voting for me, but Sami, Noelle, and myself will turn the tables and vote out James,” he said before tribal, which turned out to be correct. The further Owen goes in the game, the more those early premonitions from the Baka tribe become important. Right now, though, Owen is still relying on others, and I feel to truly live up to those early fears, he needs to make his own big move soon.
This episode gave Sami a bit of a reprieve after last week’s episode, where he talked a big game and then backed down. He started the episode by reiterating that he didn’t want Jeanine to go home and intended to let Owen know he wanted to work with him. Once again, he told us he was ready to “shake this game up.” The question would be whether he’d follow through with that promise this time.
Thankfully, he did. Sami was shown putting in the work to sway Karla away from James and join him, Noelle, and Owen in voting out her former ally. Not only did this give Sami credit for the James vote, but it allowed him to make up for his safe play the week before.
The question I have is in regard to Sami’s relationship with Karla. Sami told us that Karla’s opinion matters to him more than anyone else and that he wants to work with her going forward. This came out of nowhere, as we hadn’t seen much interaction between Sami and Karla before this. And even though Sami convinced Karla to flip, it could be read as Karla being in the power position, as Sami was seemingly willing to acquiesce to whatever Karla chose.
If Sami is to climb back up the contenders ranking, I’m going to see more depth in his relationship with Karla in the next episode. Right now, I don’t see Sami & Karla as an end-game pair. That said, Owen and Gabler are still in the game, and we did spend a significant amount of time on this trio in the pre-merge. If Sami links back up with Owen and Gabler next week, I will feel more confident about his end-game chances.
With all that said, who are my remaining Contenders?
Top Tier: Jesse (Static), Cassidy (Rising)
Second Tier: Karla (Static), Sami (Static)
Maryanne Possibility: Owen (Static)
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