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.
For those new to The Edit Bay, it is a condensed version of Edgic, highlighting some of the stand-out story beats from the most recent episode. It also includes my weekly Edgic ratings for each castaway at the end of the article.
The 90-minute Survivor 45 premiere might have ended on a downbeat note with Hannah’s quit, but as a whole, this first episode gave us plenty to talk about. Already, there are some stand-out characters and a couple of interesting themes that could become important as the season rolls along.
But, as always, I like to focus on the intro and each player’s first confessional, as they can often be very telling. So, let’s get stuck into the season premiere edit.
Eight players received intro confessionals, five full confessionals and three shorter ones. Those players were Drew, Katurah, Emily, Jake, and Sifu (with the longer confessionals) and Sean, Kellie, and Dee (with the shorter confessionals).
While using the intro to determine winner contenders has been hit and miss in recent years, it’s still useful in highlighting some of the season’s main characters. And so you can probably bank on at least half of that eight to play a significant part in Survivor 45.
What has been more telling in recent years is the marooning mat chat. Erika, Maryanne, Gabler, and Yam Yam all received a question from Jeff Probst at the marooning, and, of course, all went on to win. There were three players this season who got the mat chat treatment: Brandon, Bruce, and Emily.
Now, this one is a little unusual, particularly in the case of Bruce and Emily. Given that Bruce is a returning player, it stands to reason that Probst would talk to him at the marooning. Then, Emily interjected and challenged Bruce. That made for good TV that was likely to make the edit regardless. So it’s hard to say in Bruce and Emily’s case whether their mat introductions mean anything more long-term.
Brandon had the most traditional “winner-style” mat introduction if you want to call it that. He got the name check and showed his emotion and desire to play this game. Again, though, Brandon had a big part to play in this opening episode, so his mat introduction doesn’t guarantee anything beyond that right now.
However, the marooning did introduce a potential overarching theme for the season, which could become very important….
AUTHENTIC OR FAKE?
After Emily challenged Bruce about his supposed advantage over the others, the returnee responded, “Any advantage you bring to the game is YOU, and if you can utilize it, utilize it, and if not, it’s gonna eat you up.”
If we take Bruce’s words at face value, the suggestion is that those who embrace and utilize their authentic selves will succeed this season. Authenticity was a massive part of this premiere episode, which is why I think it could have been set up for a season-long theme.
For example, we saw Katurah and Julie hide their professions (lawyers) and whole, authentic selves to avoid coming across as threats. Compare this to Jake, who was open about his job (lawyer) and became a target because of it. Likewise, Bruce tried to hide his dad/leader side and portray himself as the “fun uncle,” but he struggled to keep his authentic self from emerging when building the shelter.
On Lulu, Brandon, Emily, and Hannah were all portrayed as being their authentic selves, for better or worse. Brandon and Hannah were open with their struggles with the elements, while Emily was unabashedly herself, refusing to water down her personality to fit in with the tribe.
Over on Reba, the most underedited tribe of the premiere, Sifu talked about playing down his over-the-top personality to play a more subtle game but instantly failed as he got caught pulling off some Tony Vlachos-style antics. And Drew revealed there are two versions of himself, the “moody and introspective” Drew and the “outgoing” social Basile. His plan is to be the perfect balance of both personalities.
So this is the theme I’m keeping my eye on at the moment and what I will be focusing on as we run through these opening confessionals. Who is being authentic? Who is hiding something? And what does that tell us about their chances?
Drew: “I am one of the smartest people you’ve ever had on Survivor. And I don’t say that to brag. I say it factually. But the show is very different than the Ivy League. There’s a level of sophistication and finesse that’s required here that you don’t learn in the classroom.”
What I got from Drew’s opening confessional and his first episode as a whole is that he has self-confidence but also self-awareness. His first line about his intelligence certainly comes across as cocky, but he also notes that Survivor requires much more than classroom smarts.
Based on his later confessional, Drew seems to realize that the social game is a huge part of Survivor. And it’s his aim to balance his nerdy side and his social side to his advantage.
Katurah: “I studied this game, and I already know that if you come off really intelligent or strategic, you’re getting voted out early. And so I can’t tell that I’m a lawyer, I can’t tell that I’m strategic, until I can, like, show my true colors and start slicing throats.”
Continuing on from Drew’s comments about his intelligence, Katurah followed up by letting us know that she, too, is smart and strategic, but she knows how dangerous it is to let others know that. And so her plan, at least for now, is to hide her authentic self, not letting her tribemates know she is a lawyer.
For the immediate future, her plan worked, as Jake became a target on Belo simply because he told them he was a lawyer. Katurah continued to stoke the flames, putting all the focus on Jake. But will Katurah be able to hide her true self forever? And what will happen if the mask slips?
Emily: “There’s a lot of people out here that are just happy to be here, happy to have the experience. I don’t really care. I’m a goal-driven person. If I’m not gonna win the game, I would rather be the first person voted off. It’s a complete waste of time if you’re not the Sole Survivor. Excuse me for being honest.”
This first confessional from Emily perfectly sums up her character. She is honest to a fault. Her focus is on winning; she doesn’t care about the experience or pleasing others. But that honesty has already gotten her into trouble, across multiple tribes at that!
Much like Drew and Katurah, there is some self-awareness with Emily; at Tribal Council, she pointed out that her personality is aggressive. She knows how she comes across but struggles to be anything other than herself. At the marooning, Bruce suggested being authentic is an advantage, but so far, that isn’t the case for Emily.
Jake: “I live in Boston, Massachusetts, with my 85-year-old grandmother. I sleep on a bed straight out of the ‘60s. It’s painted bright pink. So, yeah, if I make a million, I’m paying off loans, I’m getting a place, I’m moving out of Grandma’s house.”
Speaking of authenticity, Jake’s opening confessional was 100% honest. He didn’t try to hide who he is or his current living situation, and we know he didn’t pretend to be anything other than himself to his tribemates. That earned him a target, which suggests that so far, being totally authentic is a hindrance. But it’s early days.
Sifu: “I’m Sifu, which is S-I-F-U. It means “master instructor.” I’ve been doing tai chi for 24 years, and I’m also a traveling musician, so I’m always doing those really cool licks. And I do that when I’m doing tai chi, too. I listen to super heavy metal, so I can kind of contrast the yin and yang. ♪ I am surviving! ♪ On an island. ♪ Yeah.
Much like Emily, Sifu’s first confessional beautifully encapsulated his personality. He’s fun-loving, colorful, and bursting with personality. Those qualities manifested in his gameplay, too, as he set about idol searching and spyshack-making at camp, hoping to play like “Tony Vlachos times five.”
But Sifu got busted. Even though he wanted to play stealthily, he was caught by his fellow tribemates getting up to shenanigans. So, already, he has lost trust. The story now becomes whether his fun and upbeat personality can help him overcome the distrust he’s created.
Sean: “I am here to reclaim lost time when I was trying to be someone who I wasn’t.”
Again, there is that theme of authenticity. Sean talked about trying to be someone who he wasn’t in the past, explaining that his Survivor journey is about reclaiming that time and playing the game as his true self. His premiere edit wasn’t as in-your-face as some others, but he was presented as one of the more level-headed players on the chaotic Lulu tribe.
Kellie: “People think nurses are, like, nice ladies, but you have to be tough. So, you know, it’s like I got a smile on my face, but then the dagger behind my back.”
This was a decent little confessional as it provided us with some personal info. We learned that Kellie is a nurse, that she’s tough, and that she will use the perception of “the nice nurse” to her advantage.
Dee: “I was made for this, and I’m gonna play like this is the only chance. And it is the only chance.”
A pretty generic confessional, but it was included in the intro, which is worth noting. Dee’s overall edit in the premiere was fairly quiet, with her other confessional being about catching Sifu up to no good. But she did say something later that could tie into the authenticity theme.
“Back home, my mom says I’m a little fireball, and if this was the real world, I would not hold back,” she said. Does this suggest she is holding back her authentic self so far? Perhaps.
Austin: “I cannot believe that this is happening. I want to, like, run around, find idols. I want to, like, make a fire. I want to build. I just want to do everything. I’m so frigging pumped for it.”
This was one of three post-intro but pre-mat chat confessionals. Again, like Dee’s, it was fairly generic. But it told us that Austin is raring to go and ready to play hard. And he backed that up as he found a clue to an idol later in the episode.
Sabiyah: “Survivor is just like boot camp. Being in the Marines, I’ve had to sleep outside. I’ve had to be eaten by sand fleas or whatever. It don’t bother me. So right off the bat, I know I’m probably one of the stronger people in the tribe.”
As highlighted in her opening confessional, Sabiyah’s first episode was very much centered on strength. She was picked to do the Savvy/Sweat challenge, which expanded on this part of her character. For a moment, it looked like her confessional would be undermined, as she was shown struggling with the strength portion of the challenge. But she ultimately pushed through and finished.
Her strength was further highlighted at camp as she took charge of the shelter building. She was also shown as sympathetic to Brandon and his struggles. The perception so far is that Sabiyah is a strong asset to her tribe and someone capable of empathy. But we did see signs of a potential personality clash with Emily, which could turn into a bigger story beat as the season progresses.
Kendra: “I am obsessed with my tribe. I’m a Libra, and that’s all about balance. And I feel like we have one of the most balanced teams. Like, our girls are all strong, and I see Bruce next to me. So, those vibes are just immaculate, like, for sure.”
Keeping with the authenticity theme, Kendra fit neatly into that category. She was presented as a positive, free spirit from the very get-go, which continued throughout the episode. Her free-spirited nature also earned her allies, as Kellie specifically mentioned getting a good vibe from Kendra. She was also in one of the only proper alliances in the premiere as she set up a trio with Kellie and Katurah.
If there’s a downside, it’s the over-the-top focus on astrology. Her first confessional mentioned being a Libra; the basis of her alliance was centered on birth months and astrology signs, and even when criticizing Bruce’s bossiness, she said, “Sounds like a Leo.” Sometimes, when a character trait is over-emphasized like that, it can push a player into a box and make them appear as a caricature.
J. Maya: “Victory tastes good. Look, it’s a bucket list item–winning your first challenge on Survivor. And I got to say, Reba is stacked. We have the brawn, we have the brains, and we have the morale. On top of all of this, having your supplies off the bat is such a win. You’re not getting anywhere without a machete or a flint here on Survivor.”
Not a great deal to say about J. Maya in the premiere. Her opening confessional was general narration about her tribe and Survivor as a whole. We didn’t learn anything about her or her game (though she did introduce herself at camp as a singer).
It’s worth mentioning, though, now that we have seen Kendra and J. Maya’s confessionals back-to-back, that there was frequent talk of “balance” across the episode. Kendra talked about having the most balanced tribe; J. Maya talked about her tribe’s perfect combination of brawn, brains, and morale. And it ties back into what Drew was saying about finding that balance between his two personalities.
Julie: “I told them that I was an art teacher, but in reality, I’m a late lawyer. I went back to school when I was 40 years old. But as far as my teammates, I feel like they don’t need to know I’m an attorney. Who wants to give a million dollars to an attorney?”
Again, we have an example of a player hiding their authentic self. Much like Katurah, Julie chose to lie about her real job as a lawyer. Right now, it looks like a good decision, as we’ve seen how the target has landed on Jake because of his profession. The “who wants to give a million dollars to an attorney?” also made my ears prick up. That could be such a great foreshadowing if one (or more) of the lawyers make it to the Final Tribal Council.
Bruce: “To be reliving this over again, getting this second chance at something that people don’t even get a first chance at… it’s euphoric. We checked out the beach first. This is, like, crazy. I wanted to joke around with them and say, “Well, you know, you’re with a celebrity, so they’re gonna give us a good beach,” but…”
After already having his introduction at the marooning mat chat, Bruce’s actual first confessional didn’t really tell us much. We know that he’s here to embrace his second chance, and he is adopting a more jovial, jokey personality. But, as mentioned earlier, we saw him failing to curtail his leadership instincts and instantly getting called out for it in confessional.
Brandon: “I’m disappointed in myself. I wanted this for so long, and I’m the guy who, at the first challenge, just passed out in front of 18 people. I’m really, really embarrassed. I’m going into the camp thinking that they’ve already planned a funeral. There’s candles lit in my honor.”
While on paper, Brandon had a rough first episode, in terms of his actual edit, I think he looked good. His failures in the challenges and struggles with anxiety weren’t presented in a way that insulted or mocked him. The edit was sympathetic to him, as were his fellow players.
We know from the mat chat how much this experience means to Brandon, and so his emotion and disappointment in himself for how the first couple of days played out was understandable. The audience is meant to sympathize with him and want to see him overcome these setbacks and succeed.
To me, it screams growth edit. It reminded me of Aubry’s early episodes in Kaoh Rong. Brandon didn’t get hit with the “dodo music,” and there weren’t a million confessionals of his tribemates mocking him. Instead, we got a rounded edit of a character we hope to see grow and learn from this experience he’s dreamed about for so long.
Brando: “In the new era of Survivor, we’ve had Sweat versus Savvy four times. There has never been a tribe that failed Sweat versus Savvy. And so it could be the nail in the coffin for somebody who isn’t able to get what they need for their tribe.”
A very generic opening confessional for Brando, which isn’t doesn’t bring much hope for his overall impact on the season. It was strictly narrational about the Sweat and Savvy challenge. In fact, all three of his confessionals were tied to the challenge. So, there was nothing here for us to grasp that hinted at Brando’s overall role in the story.
Kaleb: “Sabiyah, I’m honestly, like, so impressed with her. Like, she was talking me up.”
I always think it’s a bad sign when a player’s first confessional is strictly talking about another player. Kaleb’s opening confessional was good news for Sabiyah, who received positive second-person visibility. But for Kaleb, it didn’t give us anything. In fact, the majority of his confessionals were about someone else, whether it was Sabiyah, Emily, or Brandon.
That said, he did receive the final confessional of the episode before Lulu headed to Tribal Council. He told us he wanted to make the tribe stronger and “also make sure that I build the strongest coalition that I take into the next part of the game.” So we at least got a sense of his strategy by the end of the episode.
ALLIANCES & CONNECTIONS
While we had some strong themes and character moments in the first episode, there wasn’t a lot of alliance or relationship-building. Only Belo had a proper alliance-making scene. The rest were all tenuous connections, besides Brandon and Hannah, who bonded throughout the episode, but it didn’t matter because Hannah quit.
Katurah, Kellie, & Kendra (Alliance) — These three Belo women agreed to work together, with Kendra noting how women have gone first in the last few seasons, and she wants “to change the status quo.”
It was mainly Kendra pushing the alliance; we didn’t specifically hear Katurah or Kellie’s thoughts on it, though Kellie did say she was vibing with Kendra earlier in the episode. Katurah took on her own story off the back of the alliance scene after Kendra named lawyer Jake as a target.
Jake & Brando (Tenuous) — These two are linked because they did the Savvy and Sweat task together, but there is nothing much beyond that.
Kaleb & Sabiyah (Tenuous) — Similarly, Kaleb & Sabiyah were mostly linked because of Savvy and Sweat. We also saw them discussing the vote together. And, of course, Emily pushed them as a duo for her own game motivations.
EARLY CONTENDERS: Katurah, Brandon, Kellie, Drew, Kendra, Sabiyah.