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 third episode of Survivor 45 was the best of the season so far and acted as a sort of mini-arc conclusion to the “Lulu Losers’ story. The next episode’s tribe swap is sure to bring new dynamics and different relationships and narratives that will play out for the remainder of the season, so this episode put a nice little bow on the first chapter.
Lulu has been the star tribe of the first three episodes, with its prominent personalities and unfortunate track record in challenges. Loser tribes are not new to Survivor. We’ve seen many over the years; some are mercilessly mocked, and others are considered rootable underdogs. Lulu’s edit veered more towards the latter, especially given the over-the-top sentimental music played at the end of the latest immunity challenge. The show wanted us to feel bad for Lulu.
In addition to Lulu’s last hurrah, the third episode marked a turning point for Emily’s arc. She started the season ruffling feathers and clashing with Sabiyah and Kaleb, acknowledged her mistakes in the second episode, and worked on fixing her flaws across episodes two and three. This ended with Emily having both Sabiyah and Kaleb wanting to work with her, giving her the choice of where she wanted to go moving forward.
Ultimately, Emily voted with Kaleb to take out Sabiyah, bringing a close to an early season mini-arc. In doing so, the Emily and Kaleb relationship highlighted last week becomes even more important to the narrative as the story enters its next chapter.
While Lulu wrapped things up, Reba and Belo were in a holding pattern, further expanding on the stories from the first two episodes. Belo continued to focus on Katurah’s annoyance with Bruce while further exploring the side relationships within the tribes. Meanwhile, Reba further highlighted the Dee/Julie/Drew/Austin alliance and the potential distrust within the foursome.
Let’s look deeper at some of the key characters from Episode 3 and what the edit told us about their stories and their part in the overall narrative.
Of all the players, Emily perhaps has the clearest narrative and represents the “authenticity” theme better than anyone. Her character arc is viewed through the lens of “the old Emily versus the new Emily,” a constant push-and-pull battle that she’s dealing with while trying to navigate the complexities of Survivor.
Kaleb explained Emily’s character best at the start of the episode when he said, “Old Emily is just bubbling right there underneath the surface. Like, she’s not gone, right? But she is getting better and smarter, and Emily is somebody who I think knows that she has a home with me, and I’m gonna be the most real with her out of anybody on this island.”
We’ve seen that Emily is aware of her flaws and has a knack for turning those disadvantages into an advantage. While things started rocky for her in the premiere, she ultimately got her way in this episode. On top of that, she has secured her relationship with Kaleb, giving her a potential ride-or-die moving forward.
Now, to me, this still seems more like a growth/journey edit than a winner edit, though Emily should certainly be considered a contender. But the continued focus on the “old Emily vs. new Emily” battle tells me that will be a recurring theme throughout the season, which points more to a character-focused growth edit.
Right now, Kaleb has the “big threat” edit. He’s shown to be an adept player with a strong social game. His partnership with Emily looks to have longevity. And he always gets to talk through his moves and decision-making.
However, what hurts Kaleb’s contender chances is that he doesn’t seem fully aware of just how threatening he comes across. Whereas Emily knows how she’s perceived, Kaleb is blind to how others view him. Case in point: his camp raid of Reba. Kaleb used his charm on the Reba tribe members and appeared to have a successful trip. But behind his back, Reba talked of how much of a schmoozer he was and how that made him a serious threat.
Drew’s edit is interesting to me. On the surface, it appears to be a very typical CP male winner edit. He gets a lot of air-time, is mostly strategy-focused, and always talks us through his thoughts on his own game and the wider game dynamics. But typical edits aren’t such a thing in the New Era, and there are underlying issues that give me pause.
This was Drew’s most mixed episode so far, mostly owing to the fact he got caught idol-searching by Dee and Julie. Not only that, but he tried to lie his way out of it, and Dee didn’t buy it. Yet, Drew got to acknowledge how bad this looked, showing some sense of self-awareness there. And by the end of the episode, Dee and Julie had recommitted to the alliance.
In addition, he still has a strong duo going with Austin, and he made a potential new ally in Kaleb, who shared his goodwill advantage with Drew. Between his foursome alliance, his partnership with Austin, a connection with Kaleb, and his complex strategy-focused confessionals, Drew’s edit looks very, very solid.
So what’s the issue? Firstly, it’s all a little clinical and old school. For the most part, New Era winner edits are dashed with a little more tone and personality, more SPV (second-person visibility), and more doubt. Drew’s edit feels too clean and tidy right now.
Secondly, those little signs of cockiness from previous episodes about wanting to turn Survivor into his realm, etc, feel out of place unless Drew ultimately gets too comfortable and power-hungry. To me, Drew has one of those CP edits that is due to turn at some point in the season.
This was Dee’s biggest episode so far and had a lot of positives to take away from it. What we’ve seen so far shows that Dee is very aware of her surroundings and has solid intuition. In the premiere, she caught Sifu in his spy shack and easily clocked onto his lies. Here, she stumbled upon Drew idol searching, confirming her earlier suspicions that he and Austin were keeping something from her and Julie.
Not only were Dee’s suspicions proven right, but she correctly called that Drew and Austin were lying to her. On top of that, the majority of the idol-searching scene was told from her perspective, even though Austin was the one who ended up with it. Dee was the one who got to talk us through it and explain what it meant for her (and Julie’s) game going forward. That felt very intentional, given that the edit could have easily made the scene all about Austin, Drew, or even Julie if it wished to.
If there is a concern, it’s that, ultimately, Dee decided to trust Drew and Austin and reaffirm the alliance, even though she knows they lied. That could suggest a blindspot that might come back to bite her later. There is also a lack of personal content for Dee so far, outside of her Big Toe Energy scene last week.
THE BELO GIRLS
The Kendra, Katurah, and Kellie alliance was the first established alliance of the season, but with Belo not having attended a tribal council, it’s hard to say how solid this trio truly is.
This episode showed the girls talking some strategy, with their target shifting from Jake to Bruce. Kendra had bonded with Jake earlier in the episode after he almost passed out in the fire, which changed her opinion of him. Meanwhile, Kellie was still bonding with Brando and talked about him as her number one. And so the target naturally fell on Bruce, an agenda Katurah was more than happy to push.
Part of me worries about Katurah’s continued focus on Bruce, but given that not a lot is happening on Belo, it at least gives her a presence in the narrative. It also likely means one will be the cause of the downfall of the other at some point. And right now, it ain’t looking so hot for Bruce, who we saw continue to irritate his tribemates (even Kellie got annoyed from the challenge sit-out bench).
But the scenes of Kellie/Brando and Kendra/Jake also show that the women’s alliance might not last long-term. And with all the focus on Kellie’s “in the middle” decision-making, it seems set up for her to make a crucial decision at some point. There are clearly other relationships at play here beyond the women’s trio, and I expect them to become important to the narrative further into the season.
There are a few characters whose edits are neither great nor terrible but sort of hovering in the middle. These are the players that could potentially break out come a swap. I’m talking about the likes of Julie, Jake, Austin, and Bruce.
They’ve all had decent amounts of air-time and a couple of alliance scenes, but they’ve also been overshadowed by others on their respective tribes. For example, Julie has played second fiddle to Dee, while Austin has played second fiddle to Drew. Meanwhile, Jake and Bruce have had a bonding scene together, but their alliance has been shown secondary to the women’s trio.
But there is enough there to expand upon further in the season. Austin’s edit so far is a little too advantage-focused, but he does have a duo with Drew and a foursome alliance. To step up in terms of contendership, we need to start hearing more of his strategic perspective in the coming episodes.
Jake had a strong intro confessional with some great personal detail, and he plays into this recurring “can’t trust a lawyer” theme. He was initially painted as a target in the premiere, but as of episode three, he seems to have won his tribemates over, particularly Kendra. He’s also someone who has been completely authentic, and that seems to be helping him connect to others. But, as with Austin, we need more strategy talk.
Julie has a strong duo alliance set up with Dee, but her content this week was mostly narrational. Dee was the one who got to talk all about her distrust of Drew and Austin and the idol shenanigans. But for an “older woman,” Julie’s edit so far has actually been pretty solid.
Bruce is an odd one to place. He’s had moments of strategic insight and has explained the method to his madness. But even though his fun Uncle antics have been working on some tribemates, others, particularly Katurah, have pointed out his annoying habits. And he’s starting to irritate others too. Right now, Bruce’s edit points to a big clash with Katurah, and where things go after that remains to be seen.
RUNNING ON FUMES
Then there are those whose edits are in desperate need of life support. Sean, J. Maya, Sifu, and Brando are struggling. Sean’s edit is particularly concerning given how much air-time Lulu has received across the first three episodes. Despite attending every tribal so far, Sean’s overall presence and influence in those episodes seem minimal compared to everyone else, including the three boots.
J. Maya and Sifu at least have the excuse of Reba not having yet attended tribal, but even then, their content has been lacking across these first three episodes. All we know is that they’re on the outs and Sifu got busted making a spy shack. We don’t know anything about their relationships or strategic plans.
Brando probably has the most potential out of this group, as we at least know that Kellie considers him her number one, and we had the scene of him bonding with the girls and later with Bruce. But his premiere edit was weak, and he was basically absent from this latest episode. That tells me Brando is only important as support in someone else’s story rather than his own.
EARLY CONTENDERS: Katurah, Emily, Dee, Kellie.