Edgic is a weekly feature analyzing each player’s edit, mapping characters to their story-arc. Note that our focus is not solely to determine the winner, as is typical of other Edgic sites. For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
We use a different color scheme than traditional Edgic. We wanted the bigger character ratings, the OTTs and CPs of the world, to stand out. So we made all of these colors bolder and brighter. Simultaneously we wanted the less important character ratings, particularly the UTRs, to blend into the background, as the characters do on the show. So we made these colors duller, more gray and brown. We also looked at the tonal dimensions — negative to positive — and wanted to make it visually consistent whether a character was portrayed positively or negatively. To that end, we reserved all variations of red and pink for the negative ratings, and all the positive ratings are variations on green.
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What Does This Episode Tell Us?
First of all, welcome back for another season of Edgic, now approved by Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X winner himself, Adam Klein:
With that self-congratulations out of the way, let’s get into it.
As always, the first episode of a Survivor season is a great indicator of what to expect throughout the season. It’s a table setting episode, introducing the key characters, setting up the main themes, and foreshadowing future events. However, returnee seasons tend to be edited slightly differently from a typical season, and things are further complicated here by the double-episode premiere.
But still, we should be able to tell a lot from these opening two hours. If we look back to the last returnee season, Survivor: Cambodia, the opening sequence and the confessionals within it pretty much set up all the key players and their season story arcs. Out of the 12 players that received an intro confessional in Cambodia, 11 of them made the merge. The content of those confessionals was a short synopsis of their season story:
Jeremy – He wanted to win the money for his wife Val and the family. “I want the money for Val more than for me.” Jeremy carried that theme through the entire season.
Spencer – He wanted to play less like a game-bot and instead connect with people emotionally. “People are not chess pieces, and they need to be related to on a human level.” Spencer carried that theme throughout the entire season.
Kelley – She wanted to make the most of her second chance and play a better game. “I can make the moves that I wanted to make and have a better game.” Kelley did just that.
Joe – He wanted to make it to the loved one’s visit to see his dad. “It was really hard not getting my dad out here for the loved ones visit. I think this is my time to make it happen right now.” Joe did just that, and his story was complete, he was voted out that same episode.
Kass – She wanted to change her perception but promised that Chaos Kass would reemerge if she made it to the merge. “The only thing that needs to change is their perception of me and then when the merge comes, if I’m there, uh, all hell breaks loose.” Kass did change her perception pre-merge, but then was caught up in controversy at the merge and booted.
We could continue to go through each player, but I think you get the point, those intro confessionals set up a series of individual story arcs and themes that played out throughout the season.
It’s a little harder to judge in Game Changers because only six people received intro confessionals: Tony, Malcolm, Sandra, Cirie, Debbie, and Brad. And unlike in Cambodia where everybody was on the same level as a second-chancer, here there is a mix of legends and lesser known names. So we have to work out, who is being shown merely to promote the season theme and who is being set up as a key character?
Of those six names, you’d probably expect Tony, Malcolm, Sandra, and Cirie to be highlighted. The two that stand out are Debbie and Brad. There is no real reason to include those two, especially when there are far bigger and more recognizable characters they could have chosen. That perhaps suggests that Debbie and Brad will play a significant role this season/be part of a big moment or at least make the merge. We’ll go into more detail about what was said in these confessionals in the individual player write-ups.
You can also glean information by matching up Jeff Probst’s words to the images shown on the screen. For example, when introducing the theme to the players on the boat, he said “Some of you make bold moves,” as we cut to Tony (and we certainly saw him make bold moves in the premiere). He followed up with, “Some of you make quiet moves,” as we cut to a close-up of Sierra (who stealthily picked up the advantage just moments later). “Some of you have made moves that were so successful, they’re legendary,” was said as we cut to Malcolm and Cirie (perhaps suggesting they’ll pull off similar moves here or that they’ll be seen as threats because of their past moves). “Others of you made moves that were a disaster and got you voted out,” as we closed-in on Ozzy (odd that they’d choose Ozzy for that one unless he makes a disastrous move this season?).
There were further quotes you could look into. “There’s only one winner” was said over a shot which included Brad and Sierra (with Varner at the bottom of the shot). “Most moves won’t work, but it’s having the guts to make the move that got you here,” was followed by shots of Zeke, Caleb, and Troyzan. “You’re going to have to be aware and willing to do anything, anytime, to anybody to move you further ahead in this game,” was followed by shots of Varner, Michaela, and Ciera. It’s best not to get too hung up on these because they can often be misleading but it’s worth noting so that we can track them throughout the season and see which of them have credence.
Shark imagery was all over this episode. Mostly associated with the Mana tribe but it played into stories happening at both camps. In the pre-season press, Jeff Probst compared the start of Game Changers to the movie Jaws, and so it’s no real surprise the producers played up the shark association. But it wasn’t just sharks, there was also talk of blood, which of course sharks can smell from a quarter of a mile away. Cirie said “there will be blood” and Zeke said he wanted to “lather in the blood of [his] enemies.”
It brought to mind two popular idioms, “the sharks are circling” and “there’s blood in the water.” Both expressions fit perfectly into Survivor and in particular this episode (and perhaps season). If the sharks are circling, then something is in danger, and the predator(s) are getting ready to make a kill. Blood in the water is defined as – “The exposure of a competitive weakness in an opponent that arouses increased competitive aggression in others. Likened to the literal presence of blood in water that causes aquatic predators (such as sharks) to seek out and attack prey.”
Both of these opening episodes had that uneasy sense of dread. Everybody was playing cautiously, not wanting to disturb the water. Those that did put themselves out there were targeted, their assertiveness turned into a weakness, which left them exposed and vulnerable to an attack. Ciera was the first shown to throw out names (targeting Tony and Caleb), once she did this the “sharks” (players) literally circled the water (well), and plotted their kill (Ciera). In the second hour, Tony was likewise left exposed due to his manic behavior, and once again, the entire tribe locked in on their kill and attacked.
On the Nuku tribe, which didn’t have much of a story other than Cirie vs. Ozzy and Tai/chickens, there were also aspects of this theme. While there was the more obvious talk of chickens and goats being prey, Cirie (and also Tai because of the chickens) was the main prey on Nuku (we saw sharks in the water before their talk on the beach). Everybody was cautious to work with Cirie, knowing that she was a target and associating with her could cause themselves to become targets. Only Tai went out of his way to try and help her, but as we saw, Tai has a target on his own back due to his protection of the chickens.
All of this is to say that right now, anyone who is making a splash is becoming easy prey for the predators to attack. Does this suggest that this season “big moves” won’t be the way to win? Will those making “quiet moves” prevail instead? Or is it more about the timing of these big moves? Certain players talked about striking at the right time. Hali said, “I’m like the cobra that you don’t know is sitting underneath you, and then all of a sudden, it strikes, and you don’t know what hit you.” Sarah described herself as a “silent assassin,” and even spelled out how others were going to crash and burn “I feel like somebody will get anxious and feel as though they need to make a move, which will put a target on their back.” Which is exactly what we saw happen repeatedly in these opening episodes.
If this theme holds throughout the season, then expect the big, splashy players to continue to be voted out while those swimming under the surface emerge later in the game.
As this was a double episode, I’m going to go through each character in alphabetical order rather than separate by rating.
Andrea had the quietest edit of the premiere, just the one confessional across the two hours, and disappeared in the second hour. On paper, this isn’t a fantastic start if you’re looking for a strong Andrea narrative this season. To compare, in Cambodia, the player that began with a back-to-back UTR/INV was Monica Padilla; although things aren’t quite that dire for Andrea’s edit. There were some points of interest here.
Her confessional, while somewhat generic and theme setting (“This is going to be an epic season, so… game on.”), was nicely positioned. It was the first confessional after the intro and put an exclamation point on the opening marooning segment. It also contained the episode title and introduced a prediction for the season, “you can’t just sit around and hope to get to the end.” It comes back to the idea of making moves and when to make those moves. But we didn’t get any insight into how Andrea herself intends to play, nor did we hear any SPV (Second Person Visibility). So for now, it seems like Andrea is being used as a tool to explain the wider theme of the season and gameplay.
The other point of interest was that we heard Andrea’s response to the new “no revotes” twist. “Now splitting the vote is very dangerous because you could be the one pulling a rock.” Maybe this is foreshadowing to Andrea later pulling a rock herself? Or it could simply be Andrea once again being used to explain and offer commentary on the season’s themes and gameplay. One last thing for Andrea, she was one of two faces shown in close-up at the start when Sandra said, “The Queen stays Queen.” (the other face was Sierra). Read into that what you will.
Aubry had a relatively tame edit here, especially when compared to her Episode 1 edit in Kaoh Rong, where she had the big crisis of confidence and then the impressive turnaround at the challenge. That short 15-minute arc in the Kaoh Rong premiere was a summation of her whole game – neurotic nerd to geek goddess. There wasn’t a big story for Aubry here. No intro confessional, in fact, she only had one confessional in the first hour, and it came towards the end of the episode, and it was all about Michaela.
She was part of strategy discussions, and we saw people approaching her for her opinion. That aspect picked up more in the second episode when Tony offered her an alliance and Aubry explained that she wanted “to play with people who are threats.” It wasn’t complicated enough for a CP rating, but that, plus her strategy conversations, just tipped her into a MOR rating.
There isn’t a great deal to discuss with Aubry at the minute, no signs of an individual story, and even though she received votes at the second tribal council, there was no emphasis on it (which is maybe a good sign). All we can really conclude at the minute is that Aubry is still strategically aware – she voted correctly at both tribals – and that if she does have a story to come it has no real relevance to anything that happened in these first two episodes.
Brad had an interesting opening edit, especially when you compare it to his first episode in Blood vs. Water which was OTTN5. This version of Brad was much more chilled and easy going. He had an intro confessional which is a good sign for longevity, and he explained his strategy. Nothing overly complex but he told us he was going to play like his wife Monica and “slow play” it.
The majority of his content was about Monica. “I find myself saying, “W.W.M.D., What would Monica do?”.” In the second episode, where he had very little content, his one scene was naming a chicken “Monica” after his wife. So right away we know what Brad is a family man that is playing like his wife. We also saw him being approached by Sierra for an alliance, which backed up his claims of letting everybody come to him. The edit right now is showing us that whatever Brad is doing, it’s working.
Now, when you add the wife/family stuff with the intro confessional, you might be thinking “the new Jeremy!” But when you look beneath the surface, some signs let us know this isn’t the second coming of the Jeremy Collins arc. The main one is that there was a close-up of Brad asleep in the middle of camp – snoring! We’ve talked about this many times in past Edgics, but winners are very rarely shown sleeping, and especially not snoring! It wasn’t shown as an ultra negative; it was kind of played for laughs, similar to him scratching himself with the hammer earlier in the episode. But when you notice those things, you realize they’d never be part of Jeremy’s edit.
While Brad is shown to be slow playing at the moment, he said in his intro confessional “to win this game; you gotta go big or go home.” That could suggest he is one of those players that emerges later to pull out a big move. Or he could be wrong – Tony went big and still went home. It’s kind of contradictory to Brad’s second confessional. Does he slow play it or go big? Again, it’s all about timing. But right now, things are looking fairly decent edit wise for Brad.
The story for Caleb across these two episodes was as Tony’s right-hand man. Every single confessional he had was about Tony in some regard. And while his confessionals and strategy talks in Episode 2 were fleshed out and well explained (hence his CP), it was all still directly related to Tony. Not only that, but he was arguing to keep Tony, and then ultimately voted against him, with no explanation given in the edit for why he flipped.
Where does that leave Caleb? Does he become an underdog? Maybe, but the amount he talked about becoming a target once Tony is gone causes some concern. Tony was almost his caretaker in these opening episodes. We saw Caleb slip on the rocks and Tony help him up. He later got his arm trapped under the snake in the challenge and Tony had to help lift it up. With his caretaker now gone, it suggests Caleb is easy prey for the sharks of the game. There’s always chance that a swap can open up new narratives for Caleb, but right now he is without a story.
Ciera, the first boot of the season, had a similar edit to her fellow Blood vs. Water tribemate Vytas Baskauskas in Cambodia, who was also the first boot. They were both CPN, shown to be untrustworthy and making others uncomfortable. Ciera wasn’t portrayed smarmy like Vytas, but it had a similar result, her play style was shown to be off-putting.
Ciera was the first victim of the shark attack. She put herself out there and was quickly devoured. She gets her CP rating due to her strategy talk at the well where she laid out a plan of targeting Tony or Caleb. Her negative tone comes from other players describing her as “gamey” and “sneaky” with negative connotations. It wasn’t overtly negative like “Ciera is a terrible person, ” but it was negative within the context of the game.
Cirie was the focal point of the Nuku tribe. We got to know her position on the tribe, her relationships within it, how she planned to approach the game (with Ozzy in particular), and we saw her discussing strategy with various players throughout the two hours. All of this speaks to her CP rating. She had a mixed tone in Episode 2, while people did compliment her and her game (“masterful player,” “mystical quality”), she also received some negative SPV, mainly from Debbie.
Given that Nuku didn’t attend tribal council and as a whole weren’t particularly fleshed out, it’s important that Cirie was given so much focus. Right now, she’s being set up as the underdog and is firmly linked with Ozzy. It has shades of Stephen Fishbach’s edit in Cambodia, not in terms of goofiness, but the early outcast on a winning tribe who is being targeted by one of the tribe alphas. In Stephen’s case it was Andrew Savage, and for Cirie it’s Ozzy. It suggests that Cirie and Ozzy’s stories will remain intertwined for a while. Although Stephen and Savage’s story never had a proper payoff, so that doesn’t mean we’ll see the Cirie/Ozzy saga come to a dramatic conclusion.
We also saw Cirie out of the loop, which is rare for Cirie in the game of Survivor. The edit showed us that she thought things were okay with Ozzy until Tai let her know they weren’t. We then had a montage of her strategy talks with Zeke, Sarah, and Debbie, where she tried to bring them on her side, but in confessionals each one of them undermined her. All of this further set up Cirie as the underdog and outcast of the Nuku tribe.
While things do look worrying for Cirie game wise, when it comes to her edit, she has substance and a story, which could suggest longevity or at least an important narrative role. She also had an intro confessional where she stated the only thing left for her to do is win. Always good when people mention winning, it shows their goal is focused on the ultimate prize (not making the loved one’s visit or playing a better game, etc.). The edit is telling us that Cirie is worth paying attention to.
Just look at Debbie’s first two ratings here compared to Kaoh Rong where she started with back-to-back OTTNs. This was a toned down Debbie, which is kind of funny because even a toned down Debbie still compared herself to a giant squid and talked about being in the Civil Air Patrol. But she wasn’t painted as a caricature as she was in those early episodes of Kaoh Rong;, she wasn’t so in your face, which is probably a good sign.
In the second episode, Debbie’s confessional juxtaposed with her conversation with Cirie was great for her edit. It showed her as perceptive both strategically and socially. She understood that Cirie was trying to play her yet she told Cirie what she wanted to hear. When Debbie is being portrayed as more aware of what is going on than one of the game’s all-time best strategists, then that tells you everything. When you couple that with Debbie having an intro confessional – one of only six people – it suggests that she is going to be around for some time.
Does that mean Debbie is a winner contender? It’s hard to say what a Debbie winner edit would look like given that she is one of the show’s kookier characters. Even though this was a toned down edit, there were still elements that were played for laughs. There was a flashback to her swinging from a branch in Kaoh Rong, and there were OTT aspects in the way she talked about the Civil Air Patrol. It’s unlikely these moments would be shown in a winner’s edit. What it does say is that Debbie will likely be a significant character, the giant squid amongst all the sharks, still capable but a little erratic and busy.
Hali didn’t really have a clear story set up in these opening two episodes. Yes, she had the one confessional near the start where she said she’s like a cobra that will strike and you won’t know what hit you. But other than that there wasn’t much we can hang our coat on. It wasn’t even enough to push her into MOR because she didn’t offer any expansion on what she meant or how she’d achieve it. It falls under the UTR definition of “receives little or no significant game relevant development,” it was little, nothing more. She then disappeared for most of the episode.
The positive about the cobra confessional is that if there is a theme this season of success coming to those who remain quiet and know when to strike, then that could mean Hali is one of those people. But right now it’s unclear what Hali’s function in the story is. She was part of some of the strategy discussions which is good, but she seemed like a number for Sandra in the same way Caleb was a number for Tony. We never had a confessional with her explaining her thoughts on the matter and what would be the best move for her.
The jury is still out with Hali. It’s early days and if she really is the cobra then perhaps she will be around long enough to strike later in the game. Or perhaps that was simply a fluff confessional to let us know who she is and why she is on this season.
J.T. was the only person not to receive a confessional in the first episode which is a little concerning. He did, however, get a question from Probst on the boat where he got to talk about being a former winner and told us he doesn’t think Sandra will be the only two-time winner. It was a fun little intro that reminded the audience that J.T. is a former winner, and he set his goal on winning again. But then other than being shown working around camp, J.T. pretty much disappeared for the remainder of the first hour.
We got a little more from him in Episode 2, we saw him in a small strategy discussion with Ozzy, so we know those two are aligned. His main content, though, was regarding Tai and the chickens. He was set up as the opposition to Tai. J.T. is out for “me and myself” while Tai is looking out for the chickens. “In this level of competition in this game, everything you do is critiqued. Anything can be a reason for someone to get rid of you,” he said. Possible foreshadowing to people using Tai’s relationship with the chickens to get rid of him? Or maybe it’s foreshadowing J.T.’s own game?
We also saw J.T. commenting on catching a goat, which judging by the preview for next week is going to continue. Right now, J.T.’s main story seems related to animals and Tai. There isn’t any real depth here that suggests a significant narrative arc for J.T.
This was a much more mellow Jeff Varner edit than the one we saw in Cambodia which was milked for all it was worth. That perhaps implies we’ll be spending more time with Jeff this season and so there is plenty of time to flesh out his character. After these two episodes, his primary function seems to be camp narrator. He didn’t have this grand introduction talking about his mid-life quest, in fact, his first confessional wasn’t until after the immunity challenge and he just talked about the loss and Tony being a snake. But he was always seen as part of the discussions.
His edit was a little similar to Caleb’s, in that it was mainly focused on the Sandra vs. Tony battle. But unlike Caleb who had hitched his bandwagon to Tony (and then voted against him with no explanation), Jeff didn’t seem to care either way. He said it was like “Christmas” having two winners going at it, and that “they” could decide who to send home. That helps remind us that ultimately Jeff is a player that is out for himself and doesn’t care who goes home as long the target is not on him. There wasn’t any real complexity on display, but the fact he got to explain his reasonings and put his ideas forward in the strategy talks gave him his MOR for the two episodes.
The other point to note with Jeff’s edit was the focus on his poor challenge performances. In both challenges, Probst called out Jeff, first for taking too long with the keys in the first challenge, where Jeff argued back “I’m fine. Don’t put that s**t on me.” And then again in the second challenge, Probst called him “useless.” His challenge ability was part of the reason he was sent home last time, so this could be setting up for that again or at least letting us know that it’s a reason for potentially targeting him.
Malcolm had a very solid opening edit. Back-to-back CPs and one of the six intro confessionals. We got his thoughts on the game, his approach, he was the first to name Ciera as a target in his confessional, and she ended up going home. All of these are big plus points for Malcolm and his edit. But there are some concerns here too.
While it’s great that the edit continued to show us Malcolm’s thoughts on the game, it was just that, the game, constantly. We didn’t get any personality or personal bonds built up; it was strictly focused on the game. That isn’t entirely terrible, former winners like Kim Spradlin had edits that were almost 100% game focused, but it’s worth noting. Also, his intro confessional told us that he previously “…made some splashy firework-type moves. I have a reputation to uphold and I’m gonna keep making big moves.” Nothing about wanting to win or changing his approach (although he did later say it was important to build relationships), instead he told us he would continue to play like last time – big, splashy, firework-type moves. So is that what we should expect again?
The other negative here is that in the second episode, Malcolm stated, “we need to keep the strong people who are good at challenges around as long as possible or else we’re doomed.” But he voted for Tony, and we never got to see why he changed his mind. Being shown to go against your own wishes is never a good sign, especially when the edit doesn’t display your reasoning. You can’t even reason that Malcolm will be proved right if Mana continues to lose because it’s a tribe swap next week, so that story disappears.
As of this moment, things look decent for Malcolm; there is enough to his edit to tell us he is an important voice as far as strategy is concerned. But we need to be shown his explanations when he goes against his own moves, and some personal content will help too. Given that he said he still wants to make big moves, perhaps he is going to revert to that style of play, and we’ve already seen how damaging that can be this season.
Michaela was one of the few people that had a very clear story in the premiere. In her first confessional she explained her strategy for winning this season, “literally schmoozing up to everybody here and making them feel awesome.” But told us that she “can’t control [her] facial expressions” and that “it is very difficult for [her] to lie.” So right away we know she’s focused on the win, what her approach to the season is, and the flaws in her character. All that amounts to CP.
Later in the first episode, we saw Michaela’s self-confessed flaws come to the surface. When she found out that she was the decoy boot, she wasn’t able to hold her tongue and made her annoyance very apparent. This is what gave her her negative tone for the episode – other players called her “crazy” and said she had a “hot streak” and was “pouting, making faces.” It’s interesting that the edit portrayed Michaela in this way because a similar situation happened in Cambodia with Ciera. At the vote before the merge, Ciera found out she was the decoy boot and was openly disgruntled, but she wasn’t portrayed negatively, actually, Ciera had positive tone for that episode. This likely suggests that this won’t be the only time that Michaela’s mouth gets her into trouble this season.
In the second episode, her edit was toned down somewhat, but there was still focus on her facial expressions. At the challenge when Malcolm wouldn’t tag out, we saw Michaela flash a look of frustration. She told us that she was “pissed off” to be standing there doing nothing but that “other people are making decisions for the group, so I guess I just gotta sit here and deal with it.” This continued her story of trying to sit back and bite her tongue even though the frustration within her is brewing. Michaela’s story right now is – how long can she keep the lid on the pot before it boils over?
What can we say about Ozzy’s edit other than same old Ozzy? Another MOR premiere, same as Micronesia and South Pacific. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. It just was. Most of his content was tied to Cirie; that is his story right now. His one confessional across the two hours told us that “big moves require big risks” and that he plans to be the “master of blindsides.” It wasn’t complicated enough to warrant a CP, and although we saw Sierra approach him for an alliance, that was Sierra’s scene, not Ozzy’s.
He didn’t receive an intro confessional, but he did get a question on the boat about his Survivor nightmares. His face was also shown when Probst mentioned “moves that were a disaster and got you voted out.” When you add that to his “big moves require big risks” and “master of blindsides” talk, it makes us feel like Ozzy will try to pull off one of those big moves this season. Will it work out this time or will it backfire?
But as we said, his main content is based on his relationship with Cirie. He mentioned her three times in his only confessional. He told us that if the tribe lost the challenge that Cirie would be gone – but they never lost. We had a scene of him telling Cirie that all was good and the past was behind them but then in the next scene he told Tai and J.T. that Cirie is weak. He all but disappeared in Episode 2 apart from his chat with J.T. When his name was brought up, it was by Cirie and about their relationship. Given the similarity to his past edits, one could expect Ozzy to be around a while but he doesn’t have an individual story yet, he shares it with Cirie, so expect those two to continue to be linked.
Sandra, along with Tony, had the biggest edit of the premiere. She was highly visible in both episodes, and we got her thoughts on the strategy and other players. She also put forward plans and was involved in strategy conversations. All of this speaks to her CP ratings. It was very different to Sandra’s edit in her previous seasons which started with a mixture of MOR/UTR. Sandra 3.0 is a key character.
The story of the second hour was, of course, the battle between Sandra and Tony. With former winners going head-to-head, there was no way the edit wasn’t going to focus on this. Sandra told us why she initially wanted to work with Tony, but explained it could only work “as long as their interests aligned.” Once Tony “went crazy” Sandra had no choice but to turn on him. The edit made sure to show that Tony was in the wrong; he misheard Sandra and Troyzan, and it set him on the wrong path. Sandra, meanwhile, was shown to be right. She said Tony was going home, and he did. She said they needed to split the votes, and they did. As of now, Sandra has won the battle.
But where does her story go from here? Outside of the Tony drama, her focus was on being the Queen and protecting her legacy. “The Queen stays Queen” has already become her catchphrase. The edit is showing us why Sandra won twice and why it wasn’t “just luck.” In the second hour, various players were complimentary of Sandra’s game. Tony told us “you don’t win twice by fluke.” Jeff said she’s “scary” and “knows what she’s doing” and “she’s won this game twice for a reason.” In camp scenes, we saw Caleb, Malcolm, and Tony talking about how good Sandra is. All of this is there to cement Sandra’s legacy and it also accounted for her positive tone. The negative tone came from the way she reacted to Tony’s vote-out, hence the mixed tone overall.
Can she win a third time? She certainly can’t be ruled out yet, but this edit is very different from her previous edits. It’s so in your face. It brings to mind Jeff’s edit in Cambodia, where the editors just milked every second knowing that he was only around a short while. Sandra is great TV, she is a quote machine, and she is a legend of the game. You have to show her. Would it be a different style of edit if she won? It’s hard to say. Expect Sandra’s edit to remain a significant focus whether she lasts four episodes or fourteen.
Sarah had a decent opening, she wasn’t a significant part of any of the major storylines, but she was one of only five Nuku members that got a confessional in both episodes. And both those confessionals contained solid content. In her first confessional she told us what season she’s from, what her job is, how she thinks people will play this season, and how she will play this season. There is an argument to be made for CP-lite here, but because she didn’t go too in-depth, we’ll leave it as a MOR for now.
“I feel like somebody will get anxious and feel as though they need to make a move, which will put a target on their back,” she said. We saw people like Ozzy and Malcolm and Zeke talking about wanting to make big moves. We saw Ciera and Tony making moves on Mana, and it did indeed put a target on their back and cost them their games. So right now Sarah is shown to back up her claims that she can read people. Her silent assassin approach, which we also saw Hali and Brad utilizing, could be the key to the season.
We gave her CP for her confessional in the second hour as it was backed up by a camp scene where she played Cirie. She told Cirie she had her back but explained to the audience that if people threw Cirie’s name out she’d have no trouble writing it down. She then further broke down her strategy for the season, “Last time I played like a cop, look where it got me. This time I’m playing like a criminal, and we’ll see where it gets me. My word is not my bond in this game this time.” This quote brought to mind another Cagayan player, Tasha Fox, and her intro confessional in Cambodia: “The first time I played Survivor I was nice Tasha. When I returned home, my church members were saying, “You need to be more aggressive. You need to lie and backstab like everyone else.” I’m here to win a million dollars and when it’s all done, I’ll pray for forgiveness.” We all saw how that turned out for Tasha, she made it to the end but got zero votes. Will Sarah prove successful playing as a criminal or will it lead to a similar backlash?
Sierra had a strong edit for the first hour but then disappeared in hour two. She found the Legacy Advantage, so she received early focus. It’s always difficult to judge when somebody finds an advantage/idol in Episode 1; we have to work out if they are being shown simply because of that moment or if there is more going on. Jessica Lewis found the Legacy last season and had a strong first episode edit before becoming INV in Episode 2 and never having a real impact on the overall season narrative. Will Sierra follow the same fate?
The positive for Sierra is that not only did she have a scene explaining the Legacy Advantage, but she explained what she wanted to do and who she is. She said she wants to do something big this season, she told us she’s a “cowgirl,” she told us her “job is working with guys, ” and so that is who she feels more comfortable playing with. This is personal content which Jessica did not get when she found the Legacy last season. Not only that, but we then saw Sierra putting her words into action by approaching Brad and Ozzy, telling them that it’s good to have numbers and a core alliance within the tribe. It gave Sierra a story opening and potential relationships to keep an eye on.
The negative is that Sierra then disappeared. It’s not too drastic just yet because Nuku didn’t attend tribal and there is a swap next week. But it’s worth noting because a drop to INV is never a great sign (and yes, maybe you could argue an UTR1 for throwing some rings in the challenge, but that’s a push). There was just enough in her Episode 1 edit to suggest she’ll be around a while but the fact she disappeared for the rest of the night might mean that she won’t be driving the narrative. The swap episode next week should let us know just how big a role Sierra will have in this season.
Along with Cirie, Tai was one of the main topics of conversation on the Nuku beach. Most of his content related to the chickens which suggest that that will be a running arc throughout the season.
He was involved in the Ozzy vs. Cirie drama. He told us in confessional that he liked Cirie and didn’t want to get caught in a situation where they (Ozzy and J.T.) tell him that Cirie has to go (calling back to Kaoh Rong when his allies Jason and Scot said they wanted his friend Aubry gone). He tried to resolve this by giving Cirie a heads up that Ozzy still had a bad vibe towards her (which we knew to be true because we were shown Ozzy saying she is weak). While some people might read this as Tai having a bad poker face, the edit didn’t say he was trying to hide it; it told us he intended to let Cirie know so that she could try and patch things up with Ozzy. All of this gave Tai his MOR rating for the first hour.
In the second episode, Tai was Mr. OTT Chicken Man. Tai obviously has a history with chickens, keeping Mark the Chicken alive all through Kaoh Rong, and even at the start of this premiere, he jumped off the boat with the cage full of chickens. He had a small confrontation with J.T. about saving corn for the chickens. J.T. said that “the chickens inevitably are gonna hurt Tai” and “he’s got to decide what he’s here to do, win a million dollars or marry these chickens.” Debbie also talked about Tai’s “sketchy” relationship with the chickens. The fact that there was so much focus on this in a premiere episode makes it seem like it will continue to be a point of contention.
Maybe even the goats play into Tai’s story. There was a scene focused on the three goats at the Nuku camp, and Tai told the tribe they wouldn’t be able to catch them. Brad joked that if they wanted to kill a goat, they’d have to kill Tai first, knowing that no way would Tai allow a goat to be killed. In the preview for next week, though, we see that J.T. does indeed catch one of these goats; if J.T. kills it maybe it will further the tension between himself and Tai. The animal focus doesn’t seem frivolous or played for laughs. It seems an important part of the narrative. You don’t have a legendary player like J.T. open his first confessional of the season with “Tai and myself, both of us love animals,” if it isn’t an essential story.
A short but wild ride from Tony in Game Changers. In his intro confessional, he said, “Coming into this game, I already know I’m a huge threat.” That proved to be true. He also said, “just when you think you’ve seen it all, you ain’t seen nothing yet.” Again, he proved that to be true, this time running into the jungle screaming about idols and building spy bunkers within minutes of hitting the beach. Tony delivered what he promised, but he made himself a target for the sharks.
His first episode was pure OTT Tony. How could it not be? Running into the woods making llama noises. Building a spy bunker. OTT behavior that canceled out any of his more grounded strategy talks. He was portrayed as “crazy” and a “big, bald maniac.” The other players didn’t trust him. All of this accounts for his negative tone. Much like with Ciera, it wasn’t negative in the sense of “Tony is an awful human” but it was negative in the context of the game. Caleb saying he likes Tony at the start wasn’t enough to drag him into a mixed tone.
In the second episode, he was portrayed as a more complex character. We saw him talk about putting an alliance of big threats together, he discussed it with Aubry and Sandra, explaining the benefits. When that plan fell apart, he explained why and how they should go after Sandra. Of course, these ideas didn’t work, and Tony was shown to be wrong, both regarding who he thought he could flip and of what he thought he overheard. His paranoia ruined his game. Surely the editors were well aware of the irony of Tony literally “burying himself” in his spy bunker. If we can glean anything from Tony’s edit, it’s that the theme of playing too hard too soon this season will lead to negative results.
His overall season rating is OTTN, despite his complexity in Episode 2, when people look back at this season, they’ll remember Tony for idol searching and the spy bunker.
Troyzan was another person with a relatively quiet edit, which is pretty telling given that his tribe attended both tribal councils. He and Hali were the only two Mana members not to get a confessional in both episodes. He was also the only Mana member not to get a question at the first tribal council. And his first and only confessional didn’t come until about half-way into the first hour and when it did it was just about Tony. Nothing about Troyzan’s own game, his strategy, or any personal insights. All in all, not a great start if you’re looking for a strong Troyzan narrative.
His second hour was a little better. He didn’t receive a confessional, but he was part of the late night scene with Sandra and Tony, although that soon became more about Sandra vs. Tony than it did Troy. But we also saw him discussing numbers with Michaela. Nothing overly complicated but it showed him as an active member of the game and therefore scraped him his MOR rating. Apart from that, there’s not much else to say. It could be like what we said with both Aubry and Sierra and others, maybe Troy’s story doesn’t begin until after the tribe swap. But even so, if you were looking for a character that will be driving the narrative this season, there wasn’t anything here to suggest it will be Troy.
Zeke, like a couple of others on Nuku (Sarah and Sierra), had a decent but not amazing edit. But for a tribe that didn’t go to tribal council, he got just enough to suggest that he’s worth keeping an eye on. He didn’t receive an intro confessional but he did get a question from Probst on the boat about what it’s like to be sitting amongst all these players he’s watched on TV. That was pretty much Zeke’s story, the excitable superfan who is pumped to be playing with his childhood heroes but trying to reconcile that this is a game and he’s here to “slay everyone and win a million dollars.” Again, always good to mention the money.
In his first confessional he set himself some goals, “I want to get my hands dirty. I want to lather myself in the blood of my enemies. I want to… I want to change the game.” It’s big talk from Zeke and could foreshadow him making a significant impact later in the game. In the second hour, we saw his conversation with Cirie, and he explained in his confessionals that while he is a fan of Cirie, his gut was telling him “it’s too early in the game to align with someone who everyone’s gunning for.” This showed an awareness and accounted for his MOR rating.
Zeke doesn’t have a real story right now other than the superfan that wants to prove himself, but he was present in both episodes, and we made sure to hear his viewpoints, so that would suggest he will be around a while.
Main Stories in Play
-Sharks Are Circling/Blood In The Water – there is a strong theme of those playing a big, bold game becoming easy prey.
-Cirie vs. Ozzy – the main story on Nuku is the battle between former enemies. Expect this arc to continue.
-Tai and the Chickens – the secondary story on Nuku was all about Tai and the chickens. Given the time dedicated to it, expect this to be a recurring story this season.
-Silent But Deadly – there was talk about slow-playing, striking when people least expect it, the silent assassin. Is this the way to play this season? Players like Brad, Hali, and Sarah all demonstrated these qualities.
-Mouthy Michaela – Michaela’s story right now is trying to keep her mouth shut and given the focus on that it seems likely to be a big story.
-The Queen Stays Queen – Mana’s main story right now revolves around Sandra cementing her legacy.
That’s it for this week’s Edgic. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.