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 last episode before the merge (mergatory) continued the main stories we’ve seen develop throughout the season. In many ways, not a lot changed here, especially as the person eliminated, Brando, wasn’t massively tied to any of the key narratives. It felt very much like an episode setting up the pieces for the merge.
Katurah versus Bruce, Reba against Sifu, and Emily’s rising social capital (plus her swing decision) all continued to be highlighted, alongside recurring stories such as Austin’s advantages, Kaleb’s charm offensive, and Jake’s physical struggles.
That’s not to say there wasn’t anything new to talk about. Jake and Dee both received great personal scenes, complete with backstory, which gave a more rounded view of their characters. And we saw hints of a new potential alliance between Kaleb and Kellie.
But what does this tell us about the edit moving forward? As with last week, I’ll focus on a few players, noting whose edits improved this week and whose dropped lower.
After Jake momentarily passed out at camp for the second time this season, he gave a confessional opening up about his past issues with his weight and his eating disorder. This added a lot of personal depth to Jake’s edit, giving us a better sense of who he is and what drives him in life and the game of Survivor. We know that Jake is a driven and determined player who always strives to do better.
“I am fighting my way to the end of this game, and I am fighting to win. I’m a survivor, and I’m gonna survive,” he said in confessional, succinctly laying out his goals. It’s the kind of confessional that you could definitely see been replayed in a winner’s montage.
This scene also continued Jake’s authentic approach to the game, which, as we’ve discussed, is one of the season’s main themes. He is refreshingly honest, whether it’s about his career, living with his grandma, or discussing his personal issues. All of that helps paint the picture of Jake as a likable, rootable character.
Where Jake lacks is in overall strategy and alliances. As I said last week, we’ve seen these brief relationship scenes in each episode, with Jake having one-on-one sessions with the likes of Bruce, Kendra, and Kaleb. The inclusion of these scenes suggests importance down the line, but as of now, it’s rather minimal. We don’t have a real sense of where Jake stands strategically or who he considers his main allies.
That could change come the merge, and if Jake does start to receive more game-focused content, his chances will continue to rise. But if he stays on this current trajectory, it would seem more like a journey/personal goal type edit, where his “win” could be making it deep without quitting or being pulled from the game, persevering despite his physical setbacks.
Dee was the other player in this episode to receive a personal flashback scene, where she opened up about her background and family history. It was all framed in a positive light, arising due to Sean’s quit and how Dee comes from a family of fighters who never give up and how that is her approach to the game of Survivor.
This personal content was exactly what Dee needed to add to her mostly strategy-focused edit so far. And speaking of strategy, Dee reflected on her vote for Sifu last week, noting what went wrong and how she hoped to get out of a sticky situation. She didn’t take any of the heat, instead allowing the target to fall on J. Maya.
The interesting thing to note about Dee’s edit is she is always given more than she possibly needs. Even though there appears to be a beef between Sifu and J.Maya, with J even coming up with a plan to throw herself under the bus as a decoy, Dee got to share her thoughts on the idea and what the best move would be for her game.
Dee explained that they could let J throw herself under the bus and hope her plan fools Sifu. But she also noted how she and Julie could simply pile all the votes on J, as she was never a member of the OG Reba alliance anyway. This tells us that when any decisions are made at camp, it’s essential for us to know how it will affect Dee’s game.
There is also this ongoing story between Dee and Sifu, though Sifu doesn’t seem aware of just how much Dee is onto him. Dee has distrusted Sifu since the premiere when she caught him being sneaky, and that is a thread we’ve followed ever since. It’s not been thrown into our faces in the same way Katurah vs. Bruce is, but it’s present and bound to come to a head in the near future.
There were a lot of positives for Kellie in this episode, even though her overall edit does seem a little low-key. But she had a nice scene helping comfort Jake after he fainted, where she got to remind us that she works as a nurse in the real world. She also formed a new connection with Kaleb, who referred to her as the best player on the tribe.
Her edit is very consistent. She is the MOR player caught in the middle of the game. That has been her story from early on on the Belo tribe. She has options in terms of alliances, initially between the Belo women and men, now between her old tribe and Kaleb. Even her journey saw her in the middle of the advantage or sandwiches debate, with her ultimately picking the advantage.
If Kellie gets to comment about Brando going home in the next episode, I’ll feel even better about her edit. She previously referred to him as her number one, so it’d be nice to get some follow-up on that. She could also do with a complex merge to add a bit of depth to her otherwise solid but unspectacular edit.
The reason I rank Kellie in the top contenders is because her edit feels very much in line with women winners of old. She’s not super-present or complex, but she’s always a factor and always gets to comment on the game or dynamics, very much like Sophie in Season 23. If Survivor has gone back to that editing style, then it’s hard not to consider Kellie a contender.
Obviously, what you have to bear in mind is that Survivor has changed things up somewhat in the New Era. The recent winners tend to have more tone and complexity, with their flaws not as hidden away. Even Erika, who had the quietest edit of the modern winners, had a complex episode in the pre-merge. So Kellie needs some of that in the coming episodes to really jump up the rankings.
Right now, my gut feeling is that Kellie’s consistent focus on being in the middle will lead to a big moment where she will have to make a vital decision that could alter the season’s trajectory. Whether that will be the catalyst to propel her own story or someone else’s, though, remains to be seen.
While I still don’t see Austin as a top contender, it’s hard to argue that his edit didn’t improve in this past episode. He finally got out of his MOR bubble and shared some more insightful thoughts on his plans, including his choice on the journey and his decision to share his advantage information with Emily.
Despite the increased complexity, Austin’s edit is still mostly centered on advantages and idols; only now he can also add sandwiches to the mix. It seems almost guaranteed that Austin will make a big move with his many powers, one that could set in motion how things turn out in the latter half of the season.
Also in Austin’s favor is his connections to some of the season’s biggest characters/players. He has a tight duo with Drew, which has been consistently highlighted since the start. He’s part of the OG Reba alliance, which has had plenty of time dedicated to it (and all four are making the merge). And now he has a bond with Emily, arguably the biggest character of all.
One thing Austin is missing, and why I think his edit is more big player/advantage-focused than winner contender, is personal content. We know very little about him outside of Survivor, which at this stage would be pretty unusual for a male winner.
Kaleb’s edit continues on the up-and-up. He is one of the season’s biggest strategic players, someone who always has the opportunity to tell us his strategy and approach to the game. In this episode, he reiterated his strategy of focusing on one-on-one relationships, which included a montage of him talking to each Lulu tribe member.
This has been part of Kaleb’s edit from the start, ever since he took the time to build his relationship with Emily. We already know that proved fruitful, as Emily helped save him when Sabiyah plotted his blindside. Over the past two episodes, we’ve seen Kaleb make one-on-one connections with Jake, Katurah, Bruce, and Kellie.
The relationships with Katurah and Kellie stood out the most this week. After Katurah shared info about old Belo dynamics last week, Kaleb returned the favor by giving her a heads-up while she was idol-searching in front of everyone. Katurah described it as a “show-me action,” meaning she believed Kaleb wanted to work with her.
Kaleb solidified this “show-me action” theme, saying in confessional, “I am a big fan of the law of attraction, but the most important part of that is action. It’s the last part of the word.” And we saw him putting in that work to build his relationships.
And it was Kellie who he pinpointed as the key to his game. He described her as the best player on the tribe who everyone wanted to work with; therefore, he wanted to connect with her to help advance his game. From what we saw, it seemed to work, as he shared info about Sabiyah going home with the Lulu idol. However, we didn’t actually hear from Kellie regarding her thoughts on Kaleb, so we shouldn’t go fully in on this alliance just yet.
Kaleb also has ties to Emily, the season’s biggest character, and Drew, whom he shared the goodwill advantage with. This gives him plenty of options heading into the second half of the game. Everything we’ve seen points to Kaleb being a key decision-maker going forward.
The issues, similar to what I mentioned with Austin, is that Kaleb is lacking in personal content. Plus, his premiere episode was rather lackluster. It’s all very strategy-focused right now, and, on paper, everything he’s doing seems to be working. But to really consider Kaleb at the top of my rankings, I would like to see some personal content and obstacles thrown in his way in the next couple of episodes.
There’s no doubt Drew is one of the season’s central strategic players, but I’ve always had a bad vibe about his edit, partly due to the lack of personal content and partly because of the slight overconfident vibes. That really came to light in this latest episode.
While Drew ultimately won out by getting Emily to vote with him and Austin, the way she shut down Brando at camp came across as blunt and unnecessary. Survivor is a game about keeping your options open, so for Drew to act like this shows a level of overconfidence. Compare that to someone like Kaleb, who we’ve seen taking time to listen to everybody and play along, keeping his fingers in several pies.
It was also interesting how Emily was quick to believe Brando’s lie about Drew, which shows there isn’t full trust there. This was expanded on just before Tribal when Emily said she felt a connection with Austin but views Drew more as a “game player.” It tells us that Drew’s strategic gameplay isn’t going unnoticed, which has been a common theme since Dee and Julie caught him idol searching. This could make him a target down the line.
He does have many connections to key players, including the duo with Austin, the OG Reba alliance, plus bonds with Emily and Kaleb. So there is plenty of story potential for Drew come the merge. But I still sense his fate is a big blindside sooner or later.
This was a mixed bag of an episode for Katurah. On the one hand, the edit backed up her statements about Bruce, showing him being annoying and irritating his fellow tribemates. Even Kaleb backed up Katurah, sharing his own frustrations with Bruce. So, in that sense, this was a good sign for Katurah.
But, on the other hand, it was yet more of the Katurah versus Bruce story, which has been played to death at this point. It’s strayed into cartoonish territory, so even though Katurah was proven right, the overall emphasis on this particular narrative is worrying.
Perhaps more concerning, though, was the negative SPV she received from Kellie. In the scene where Katurah got caught idol searching, Kellie referred to her as a “hot mess,” a “sloppy” player, and a “liability.” Now, unlike Survivor of old, these aren’t immediate death knells. You only have to look at Maryanne and Gabler for recent winners who received a bunch of negative SPV (both of them were called annoying, etc).
But as of yet, Katurah hasn’t had a chance to prove Kellie’s perceptions wrong. The edit showed her getting caught red-handed and then slammed by Kellie without being able to explain herself. So far, the edit hasn’t given us any reason to not take Kellie’s opinion seriously.
It’s hard to really tell where Katurah’s edit is going until this Bruce arc is wrapped up. Perhaps they’re heading for a merge showdown, much like Elie and Gabler in Survivor 43. Whoever survives that battle could then go on to have a fresh start and put themselves back into contendership. Right now, the edit appears to be siding with Katurah, which suggests she’ll come out on top.
For Katurah to stop dropping, she needs a really strong merge episode. And by that, I mean she needs more than just the Bruce feud stuff. We need to hear more about her plans and alliances. We know she was connected to the Belo girls at the start, and she’s been slowly building something with Kaleb (though Kaleb’s been connecting with everyone), so some follow-up on those relationships is vital.
As I’ve said before, Katurah’s premiere was so strong that it’d be foolish to write her off. Plus, she hasn’t attended Tribal Council pre-merge, which could go some way in explaining her edit. If not much was happening, but the editors wanted the audience to keep Katurah in mind, the Bruce feud was probably the easiest to highlight. But her edit needs to evolve beyond this in the coming episodes.
QUICK THOUGHTS ON THE REST
No real change for Emily after this episode. She remains one of the most complex characters in the season. We always hear her thoughts on the game and her position within it. This episode was all about her being the swing vote on Belo, with her choice potentially having consequences for the rest of the game.
This was not a good episode for Bruce. The edit completely supported Katurah in her assessment of the returning player. He was shown to be annoying, tactless, and bossy. Even Kaleb called out Bruce’s irritating behavior in confessional. I expect a big clash with Katurah soon.
SIFU & J. MAYA
These two are tied together in my mind as their edits seem intertwined. From the start, Sifu and J. Maya have been painted as on the outs of the Reba tribe. Yet, both remained (and continue to remain in J’s case) totally unaware of their position.
Sifu finally cottoned onto the women this past episode after he received a stray vote, yet he couldn’t figure out it was Dee. Instead, he seemed to be incorrectly focused on J as the culprit.
Meanwhile, J offered herself up as the decoy to try and fool Sifu, not realizing that Dee and Julie don’t consider her a real ally and are even willing to vote her out to make all their lives easier.
Neither Sifu nor J are contenders, in my mind. They’re merely obstacles in the wider OG Reba 4 alliance’s story.
I think Julie’s edit is perfectly fine. She always gets at least a brief bit of air-time where she shares her thoughts. But it always comes across as secondary to Dee. She’s either repeating what someone else already said or agreeing with what others have already suggested. There isn’t enough there for me to consider her a contender, but her consistent focus does suggest that the OG Reba alliance is important to the overall season narrative.
I find Kendra’s edit hard to judge. She clearly has a big personality, which leads to OTT episodes like this. But then she can have these UTR or basically Invisible episodes where she isn’t relevant at all. It would make for a weird winner edit, but there is enough there for her story to break out come the merge.
She had positive SPV this episode from her tribemates, particularly Drew, who complimented her energy and said she’s fun to be around. That’s been backed up previously by Kellie, and the edit has shown these fun scenes, like the worm-eating moment. And it’s her personality and likability that perhaps saved her over Brando.
But her edit just feels lacking overall. The merge could be a great chance for Kendra to flourish. We’ll see her reconnect with previous allies Kellie and Katurah, plus she had that bonding scene with Jake a few episodes ago. Plus, she was lied to by Emily, which could kickstart a new story arc for Kendra for the second half of the season.
Top: Dee, Kaleb, Jake
Middle: Kellie, Katurah, Emily