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.
It felt great to have a proper tribe swap back on Survivor (the first of the New Era!), not only from an entertainment standpoint but for Edgic purposes, too. A swap episode is often a good indicator of which characters and stories are important to the overall season while also bringing potential contenders into clearer focus.
This episode continued certain story arcs, such as Emily’s growth, the Bruce versus Katurah rivalry, and the wider theme of “authenticity,” which was brought up several times at Tribal Council. It also introduced a few new relationships and stories that could become more prominent as the season moves forward.
For this week’s Edit Bay, I want to key in on a few players and their winner contender potential following the swap. I’m going to look at those whose edits improved their chances and those who dropped a peg or two.
Let’s start with…
This was a very strong episode for Kaleb. He was presented as a central figure in his new tribe, and his story and relationships were a focus throughout the episode. The episode opened with him reaffirming his connection with Emily after they pulled off the Sabiyah blindside, showing us that his time spent bonding with Emily paid off.
Kaleb continued this upward trajectory after the swap, where he ended up as the lone OG Lulu in the new Lulu tribe. His character never gets down or defeatist; instead, he lets us know how he plans to maneuver through tough circumstances.
“It looks really bad because it’s four Belo, one Lulu. But this is where I’ve been this entire game,” he said. “Back on the bottom. Have to work my way up. Nothing I haven’t done before. My job right now, as the lone Lulu member, is to be the most trustworthy and likable person to be able to bring into an alliance as possible.”
His approach appeared to pay off, as he was courted by all four of his new tribe members, including one-on-one scenes with Jake and Katurah. Everything he said he would do, he did, and it worked just as he claimed it would. The extra scene could simply be a benefit of the 90-minute episodes, but it showed an extra investment in Kaleb’s story.
Even better, Lulu received a rare post-Immunity win scene that focused primarily on Kaleb. He got to comment on finally winning an Immunity challenge and having fire.
So Kaleb’s stock is definitely rising, though he’s still lacking in
overall personal content. And his premiere episode was fairly weak, especially compared to some of the other top contenders. I don’t think winning is out of the realm of possibility, but if I had to bet on it right now, I’d say Kaleb is more of a big player who is strongly connected to the season’s biggest characters.
Last week, I categorized Jake in the “middling edits” section, a player that could break out come the swap. I wouldn’t say this was a huge episode for Jake, but it made me pay attention. While he isn’t a massive presence, Jake has continued to have these relationship scenes in each episode that suggest more beyond his edit’s surface level.
This episode saw him bonding with Kaleb on the new Lulu tribe. He took a measured, cautious approach but showed the ability to make connections that could prove fruitful further in the game. And this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this out of Jake. He connected with Bruce back in Episode 2, and last week, he bonded with Kendra.
At this point, we have to ask ourselves, why does Jake keep getting these scenes despite not yet attending Tribal Council or having a part in a bigger storyline? I think it’s to show us his authenticity is working despite how dire things looked for him in the season premiere.
In the first episode, Jake became a quick target due to his lawyer profession, something which Katurah blasted him for confessing. At the time, this looked great for Katurah, who kept her profession secret and terrible for Jake. But since then, Jake has not only avoided the target but he’s actively removed the target from his back, so much so that the person who initially brought up his name, Kendra, said she wanted to work with him.
“I’m changing my tune about Jake. I feel like we would work so well together,” Kendra said in Episode 3. “We communicate well. He’s easygoing. I’m me. I feel like we’d balance each other out really well, actually. And so, Jake could be a good ally.”
In the same episode, the former Belo trio of Kendra, Kellie, and Katurah agreed they’d rather work with Jake, pushing Bruce into the firing line instead.
Not only does Jake fit into the authenticity theme, but he’s also part of the recurring “lawyer” storyline. We’ve heard several times about not trusting lawyers and how threatening they are in the game. Katurah and Julie have both told us they intend to keep their lawyer profession hidden from their tribemates. Jake is the only lawyer who is 100% authentic, and so far, it is working for him.
Jake’s downside is that he’s a little low in visibility, which would be rare for male winner, even in the new era. There is always the chance his edit continues to grow from here, though.
Emily’s edit continues on the up and up. She opened the episode on a high from the Sabiyah blindside but showed grace and respect at camp, not gloating in front of Seasn. Yet, in confessional, she clocked that Sean’s friendly persona in the face of defeat was “not genuine,” again, tying back to this theme of authenticity. And, given Sean’s quit at the end of the episode, we now know that he was indeed just putting on a brave face.
After the swap, Emily saw her new tribe as an opportunity to start over and apply the lessons she’s learned from her experience so far and from Kaleb. She talked about being “open” and “honest” and genuinely getting to know people. And, much like Kaleb on New Lulu, her strategy worked. Despite their preconceptions, the new Belo members warmed to Emily, with Drew and Austin, in particular, bonding with her.
All of this continued Emily’s growth arc, how she’s learning on the job, gaining new experiences, developing new friendships. It’s such a clear story arc of a player who started off blunt and antagonistic and is learning to be more open and understanding. She also has that perfect mixed tone of a New Era winner, someone with flaws that have to be overcome or adapted to.
My concern with Emily’s edit is what I’ve mentioned previously: it’s very big, very visible, and all happening very early in the season. It almost feels like her edit peaked too soon, and that isn’t usually the style of a Survivor winner edit (though we need to acknowledge that the editors have changed things up in recent years).
However, I certainly believe the edit wants us to see Emily as a top contender. But my gut still leans more towards a journey/growth edit.
Kellie’s edit is somewhat similar to Jake’s, though without the premiere episode negativity. She has these brief, low-key relationship scenes in each episode, and we often get to check in with where her head is at in the game. It’s not a big, flashy edit, nor is it a character edit, but it stands out in its clinical consistency.
“I think a tribe swap is where you separate a good from a great Survivor player,” Kellie told us in this episode, which could be taken as an overarching statement for the season and/or eventual winner. As for whether it applies to Kellie herself, well, time will tell.
This episode saw her continue her “in the middle” narrative. Across the first three episodes, we saw Kellie bond with Katurah and Kendra as part of a women’s alliance while also connecting with the guys, especially Brando, who she called her number one. As she said herself in this episode, keeping in the middle put her in a good spot on post-swap Lulu, as she now has options.
As I said, it’s nothing flashy or groundbreaking, but it shows us that Kellie has an intentional strategy that is working. It’s reminiscent of a pre-New Era women’s winner edit, sort of a Kim Spradlin-lite, where we get these consistent reminders of her place in the game and thoughts upon it.
The concern would be that the New Era has changed things up in its editing style, and Kellie’s edit feels very safe right now. There is a real lack of personal content and tone. As with Jake, there is a chance her edit elevates from here, but there is just as much chance that all her talk of being in the middle is leading to her having to make a tough decision and betray someone. Then, it will all depend on how she handles any potential backlash from such a move.
On paper, Dee being the lone vote for Sifu and not getting her way looks pretty bad. But edit-wise, I actually really liked this episode for Dee, as I think she has that personality and somewhat messy edit of a New Era-style winner.
Part of what stands out about Dee is the care taken in scenes such as a bag search. This could easily have been a quick scene of Dee and Julie rooting through Sean’s bag and moving on. But we had the whole thing of Dee explaining how Sean’s bag was tied in a specific knot, and so she and Julie learned how to replicate the knot so it wouldn’t look suspicious. That is attention to detail that stands out as unusual.
The knot and bag search also continues this running theme of Dee’s edit, that she is perceptive and aware of her surroundings. In the premiere, she noticed Sifu being shady with his spyshack shenanigans. Last week, she caught Drew idol searching, and, even prior to that, she recognized that Drew and Austin were keeping something from her.
This all paints Dee as a player, and players are what modern Survivor like and celebrate. And that’s why I think her move against Sifu wasn’t as bad as it might initially appear in a game sense. We know why she moved against Sifu, as it was set up back in the first episode. She couldn’t trust him and so wanted him gone.
Julie, who has been presented as Dee’s closest ally, showed reservations about taking out Sifu. She wanted to keep “Reba strong” and play the safe option, prioritizing challenge strength over anything else. But that isn’t the attitude rewarded in modern Survivor, so I’m not sure that was a positive look for Julie. Survivor doesn’t want safe; it wants players who will take a risk and play hard.
Where Dee’s edit goes from here will depend on how she handles the Sifu vote. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I suspect she will find a way out of it. Her alliances and strategy content have received too much focus to suggest otherwise. There is the duo with Julie, plus her alliance with Drew & Austin that feels unfinished. And her consistent game perception tells me she will figure out a way to dodge Sifu’s ire.
Dee’s downsides are similar to others on this list: a lack of personal content (outside of the big toe stuff) and a relatively underwhelming premiere. If Dee can get some more tone and personal content in the coming episodes, she will continue to move up the contenders list.
Next, let’s look at the players who slipped down the contender’s list after the swap episode.
First of all, I still like Katurah’s edit and consider her a contender, but that’s mostly from her excellent premiere. But it would be stupid not to recognize how over-the-top her Bruce obsession has become. The edit has gone beyond hammering it home at this point, and the swap episode took it to another level.
This episode saw Katurah and Bruce swapped to the same tribe. It involved Katurah cutting Bruce off mid-speech, a time-lapse confessional of her listing all the ways Bruce annoys her, and the first-ever wordless confessional where she reacted to Bruce by shaking her head. All of this was hilarious, but is it too much?
Obsession edits rarely end well; I’m thinking of Stephen’s Joe obsession in Second Chance and Elie’s Gabler focus in Season 43. In both of those cases, the object of the obsession ended up voting the obsessor out at some point in the season. It usually comes to a head in some shape or form well before the season finale.
Now, I will say Katurah had a much stronger premiere than both Stephen and Elie and, for the most part, the edit has backed up her criticisms of Bruce. The edit hasn’t tried to hide away Bruce’s annoying quirks; even in this episode, it showed the “hiding the flint” gag and the less-than-impressed reactions of his tribemates. So, in many ways, the edit has been on Katurah’s side.
But Bruce also hasn’t been totally buried by the edit, either. We’ve seen his emotional side and his goofy side. In this episode, we had the scene of him getting teary as he realized he was back on the Tika beach. We’ve also seen him making inroads with players like Jake, Brando, and Kellie, who have all talked about working with Bruce. So, it’s not a guarantee that Katurah will get the last laugh in this feud with Bruce.
Then again, the edit has gone out of its way to account for those facts, too. Yes, certain tribemates have warmed to Bruce, but Katurah is well aware of that. That was part of her strategy in this episode in approaching Kaleb. She realized Bruce and Kellie were getting close to Kaleb, so she put forth her two scents to paint the target on Bruce, which Kaleb seemed receptive to.
The issue is simply that Katurah’s edit is just all Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. It’s veered into OTT territory and making her appear one-dimensional. Would an edit do that to a winner? I’m not quite sure, but it’s enough for me to drop Katurah down the rankings a little.
Of course, as mentioned previously, this could be a case of Katurah not attending Tribal Council pre-merge and the editors giving her a memorable story to keep her relevant and fresh in peoples’ minds. It’s a fun, entertaining storyline to keep her present rather than forcing or manufacturing strategic content that doesn’t go anywhere.
Still, I would like to see more depth added to Katurah’s edit in the coming weeks if I’m to keep her in the mix.
This episode all but put Kendra’s contendership to bed. While we know tried and tested Edgic methods aren’t as reliable as they once were, I’d still be shocked if the winner didn’t have at least a small presence in the swap episode. Kendra was completely invisible.
We didn’t hear any perspective from her on her new tribe or her game plan moving forward. There wasn’t even a bonding or personality-based scene. The new Belo tribe was all focused on Emily, with a side-helping of Austin and Drew.
This doesn’t mean Kendra is doomed; she could still play a part in the overall season narrative. She’s had the alliance/bonding scenes with Kellie/Katurah and Jake, all of whom are now on different tribes. So those lingering story points could mean she will reunite with those players at some point. But as for winning, I think the ship has sailed.
This was a quieter episode for Drew after his run of CP episodes, but we still heard his thoughts on the swap. His content was mostly focused on Emily, his thoughts on her personality, and how he and Austin needed to sway her to their side.
Drew also has plenty of connections between his duo with Austin, his alliance with Dee & Julie, and now his fledgling bond with Emily. This and his constant strategic focus are the ingredients for a solid strategic narrator-style edit.
However, what gives me pause for Drew is just how straitlaced his edit is. There is very little in the way of colour or personality or tone. It’s just straight-up strategy talk and not much else. That would be fine for a winner contender pre-Season 41, but not these days. The New Era tends to show a bit more flash, character, flaws, and particularly likes throwing obstacles in the way of the eventual winner.
Drew doesn’t have any of that right now. Everything is going a bit too well for him, and, weirdly enough, that is what makes me worry about his chances.
Austin has had a consistent presence across the first four episodes, but nothing we’ve seen has made me boost him up the rankings. His edit is very much focused on game mechanics and advantages. Sure, he gets a dash of strategic content here and there, but it’s always a less fleshed-out version of what Drew says.
I could see Austin making a big move or two, particularly in relation to advantages/idols. But there is an overall lack of depth that makes it hard for me to see him as the season’s winner.
QUICK THOUGHTS ON THE REST
I put these three at the bottom of my rankings. There just isn’t enough there. Brando was almost invisible in this episode, apart from a question from Probst at the swap mat; there was no check-in after he got split from Kellie, who was supposedly his number one.
J. Maya finally received some air-time this week, but there was no consistency. Suddenly, we were told she was part of a women’s alliance with Dee and Julie, and she was gung-ho about taking out Sifu. This came after we’d seen in previous episodes that J. Maya was just as on the outs as Sifu.
Sifu has a personality episode; we’ve seen numerous scenes of him playing air guitar. He hasn’t really had any strategy or alliance scenes, and he has already become a target for his episode one shadiness. Now, perhaps Dee’s stray vote will set off a new story arc for Sifu going forward, and we’ll start to see more of him. But as of now, it’s hard to see him anywhere near contendership.
I haven’t quite made my mind up on Julie’s edit. She’s had decent air-time, especially for her archetype. And she fits into some of the season’s central themes, especially the authenticity and lawyer. She also got her way in this episode with the Sean vote, even if it didn’t happen quite the way she intended.
My issue is that Julie appears secondary to Dee in that particular partnership. Also, as I mentioned earlier in Dee’s write-up, I don’t think modern Survivor holds safe gameplay in high regard, so her talk about keeping Reba strong and focusing on challenge strength makes me pause. Now, if Sifu ends up propelling Reba to a challenge-winning streak over the next couple of episodes, then Julie will look a lot better.
Bruce is another edit that kind of confuses me. Is there a world in which he could Gabler this season? He certainly has that heavily toned character edit with a mix of negativity and positivity. He also has a main rival (Katurah), just like Gabler had Elie. And he also had the marooning mat chat and the warnings (foreshadowing?) from Emily about how much of an advantage he has over the others. Plus, Bruce introduced the authenticity theme.
Nothing would shock me anymore in modern Survivor, but I lean more to Bruce being a big character edit, with his main part in the story being his rivalry with Katurah.
CONTENDERS: Kaleb, Kellie, Emily, Dee, Jake, Katurah.