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 episodes are already providing dividends for Survivor, as the second edition of Season 45 gave us a fleshed-out episode where we heard from every player at least once. The dynamics are shaping up in each tribe, characters are emerging, and story arcs are being set up for the future.
As with the premiere, “authenticity” still seems to be the key theme of the season. There are players embracing their true selves and others hiding parts of their personalities; each method has advantages and disadvantages, and so far, we’ve seen varying degrees of success.
Rather than go through every player, I will highlight a few key characters and what the edit told us about their stories and their part in the overall narrative.
Brandon was presented as authentic. He wasn’t afraid to show his emotions or open up about his insecurities. The edit was favorable to him because of this when it could quite easily have buried him for his frequent challenge failures. But Brandon was never humiliated by the edit itself; even Jeff Probst gave him words of encouragement, reframing his value to the tribe as that of a team’s “water boy.”
Even though Brandon’s time on Survivor was short-lived, the show applauded his authenticity and emotional vulnerability, perhaps as an example to future players. Survivor wants to see real human beings who will embrace the experience and not hold back.
Emily had the most significant turnaround for the premiere, from what seemed like guaranteed early flame-out to a potential journey arc and perhaps even winner. Like Brandon, Emily is another player presented as wholly authentic, for better or worse. She can’t help but be herself, regardless of the consequences.
But Emily also has a keen sense of awareness, both for the game at large and herself. She recognized how close she was to going home last week and how her attitude had upset others. Emily knew it was up to her to make amends and try and change her ways. This doesn’t mean she suddenly put on a fake persona; instead, she grew from the experience and learned to listen and take on advice.
This wasn’t easy an easy task. While Emily did make inroads with her tribemates, particularly Kaleb, she still battled to hold her tongue. For example, when the tribe tried to pair her off with Sabiyah during the idol hunt, she couldn’t help but speak out against it. She realized that she probably put a bad taste in the tribe’s mouth, but her assessment was also spot on. She was right that the tribe was trying to prevent her from finding an advantage alone.
It seems like this internal struggle will be an ongoing story arc for Emily throughout the season. As she said herself, “I feel like so much of the issues that I’ve had here has been attitude. And that’s so hard to change. Because attitude is ingrained in who you are.”
But this is a good thing for Emily edit-wise; it gives her a clear narrative to track across the season. And given that her change in attitude kept her around in this episode, it shows that her strategy is already working and could bear fruit the further she goes.
Could she be a winner contender? It would say her premiere was too negative, but in a post-Gabler world, it’s not impossible. But I would lean more towards a growth/journey edit.
SABIYAH / KALEB / SEAN
The remaining three members of the Lulu tribe were highlighted as a trio by Emily early in the second episode. They were also presented as the ones calling the shots as the vote came down to a choice between Emily and Brandon.
However, I don’t know how tight this alliance actually is. Sure, we saw Sabiyah telling Kaleb & Sean about her idol, but we haven’t heard any of the three talk in confessional about each other as any kind of serious unit. Sean’s content thus far has been mostly narrational or focused on broader tribe dynamics. While Kaleb and Sabiyah clearly have different approaches to the game.
Sabiyah is very much a “what you see is what you get” type of player. As we saw in the post-Tribal scene confrontation with Emily, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and let her feelings known. In a way, there are some similarities there with Emily. Throughout the episode, Sabiyah made it clear that she wanted Emily gone next.
On the other hand, Kaleb keeps his cards close to his chest. Rather than push Emily away, he wanted to bring her in as a potential ally, offering her comfort and support. “A bad player is gonna want to continue to isolate her, continue to make sure that she knows that she’s on the outs… A good player is probably gonna realize that everyone needs an ally,” he said in confessional.
If we’re supposed to read Kaleb’s way as correct, that would imply that Sabiyah is a bad player for isolating Emily. Because even though Sabiyah did seemingly choose to stick by Emily in the end, she’d spent the entire episode saying she wanted Emily gone over Brandon. Ultimately, Kaleb got his way, and Sabiyah didn’t.
BRUCE / KATURAH
The Belo tribe continued to be the Bruce and Katurah show with a sprinkling of other tribe members. Bruce furthered his mission to be the “crazy uncle” in hopes of lowering his threat level, and while it appeared to be working on some castaways, Katurah wasn’t buying it.
We heard Jake and Brando speak positively about Bruce, with both men seeming willing to work with the returning player. Even Kellie, who was previously name-checked as part of the girls’ alliance, seemed open to working with Bruce and the men if need be.
With a dominant tribe like Belo, it’s hard to say if any of this content is important for the near future or if it’s just there to create some tension in a tribe that has no chance of attending Tribal any time soon.
What does seem important is the Katurah/Bruce dynamic, given how much focus it received in this episode. So far, Katurah is presented as the one tribemate who sees through Bruce’s game. And we know she’s right because Bruce himself has admitted to putting on the “Uncle Bruce” act. The funny thing is, Katurah isn’t being 100% authentic either, as we know she is lying about her occupation.
While I think overall this episode looked good for Katurah, I worry about her edit becoming too Bruce-focused. You never want an edit to become one-note. Think back to Survivor 43 and how Elie seemed overly focused on Gabler, and we all know how that ended for Elie.
This was a much better episode for Brando than the season premiere. We actually got to hear his thoughts on the dynamics and his approach to the game. His bonding with the girls seemed to pay off as Kendra talked about wanting to work with him. And he also looked to have a connection with Bruce.
“I’m gonna be keeping every option open. I’ve got a strong alliance with the girls, but at the same time, you know, Bruce is definitely trying to pull me in, and so, I feel like I’m in a really good spot right now,” he said in confessional.
In a later confessional, Kellie positioned herself and Brando as the swing votes in the middle. This sets up Brando as an important piece in the Belo story, especially if they do end up going to Tribal in the coming episodes.
On paper, Drew has a really solid edit so far. He’s been a sizable presence in both episodes and looks to be a central figure in the Reba tribe. He talks a big game, but he backs it up. He’s shored up some allies, he’s earned himself an advantage, and he’s but open and honest with his tribemates.
My concern for Drew is that it’s all going a little too perfectly for him right now. On top of that, there are some hints of cockiness that could emerge the further we go into the season. This quote stood out: “There is a part of me that wants to be the king, that wants to domineer the tribe, and I have to tone that down now. But I do envision a time when my realm will stretch to the whole beach.”
That seems like foreshadowing that Drew will eventually let the power get to his head. It screams classic downfall edit. Perhaps even merge boot. He’s the powerful player that needs taking down.
But foreshadowing aside, right now, Drew’s edit is in a strong place. We know his approach, his allies, and his thoughts going forward. Not only does he have a foursome alliance, but he has a duo alliance with Austin, and we know how well duos do in this game.
DEE / JULIE
Dee and Julie were the other two named members of the Drew/Austin alliance. We didn’t hear Dee’s thoughts on the alliance itself, but we did see her bonding with her tribe over her big toe, of all things.
It was a funny scene but definitely an odd one to include in the episode. Is that just the benefit of the extra runtime? That we can get more of these goofier scenes? Maybe. But as Probst himself recently stated on the On Fire podcast, everything that makes it into an episode is there for a reason. So, part of me thinks that Dee’s premonition of winning a balance challenge because of her big toe will come true.
As for Julie, this was a pretty strong episode for her. She continued playing up the “Mama J” angle, which seemed to work. She connected with Drew and solidified an alliance with him, Dee, and Austin. Interestingly, Julie referred to Dee as her closest ally, though we haven’t seen that duo highlighted on-screen yet. If that duo is to be important, it would be nice to hear Dee’s thoughts on it in the next episode or two.
EARLY CONTENDERS: Katurah, Emily, Kellie, Drew.