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?
The blandest episode of the season? As you can see by the ratings, Episode 11 was almost completely toneless. There was a lot of CP relating to strategy and dynamics in the game, but very little character development which made for a very flat episode.
Roles were reversed, with last week’s minority alliance now taking control, and the former majority becoming the underdogs. The main story was Andrea versus Zeke, however, it was mostly one-sided as Zeke didn’t plan to turn on Andrea until the next vote. That is probably another reason for why this episode lacked urgency. The primary dilemma instead revolved around whether Sarah would stick with this new majority and turn against Zeke or not.
The recap started by reminding us of Andrea and Zeke’s relationship. “Andrea and Zeke faced off,” the Jeff Probst voiceover told us. We saw a clip of their post-tribal confrontation and an Andrea confessional where she told us, “Will I trust Zeke again? Of course not.” This was all set-up for this episode as the Andrea vs. Zeke plot was what most of the strategy revolved around.
“An alliance of six seemed unstoppable,” Probst continued, followed by Debbie declaring the line was drawn in concrete. “But a crack had already started to form,” he said, as we saw Sarah and Zeke discussing making a move. Sarah then got the credit for Debbie’s elimination at tribal council. “At tribal council, Sarah brought the minority together and sent Debbie to the jury… shocking Sierra, Culpepper, Troyzan, and Tai.” The fact that Sarah got the credit here speaks to her increased presence post-merge and her importance as a character.
Under The Radar
What else is there to say about Troyzan at this point? The edit clearly doesn’t care about him, therefore why should viewers invest in him? He had a couple of very short scenes this episode, one where he spoke with Tai about promising to tell each other if they hear their names (Troyzan later voted for Tai, so not a great look), and the other when he was stood beside Brad when Zeke approached them with his Final Five deal. We didn’t hear Troyzan speak in that scene nor offer his thoughts in confessional. He didn’t get any confessionals. Troy’s a number, and that’s it. He has no story or relevance to the overall season narrative.
Aubry is basically Troyzan with confessionals. She gets to speak now, but she’s still very much a character on the fringes of the game. She isn’t at the center of the plot driving the action. She’s on the outskirts and brought in by the other characters when needed.
Her first confessional this episode came after the reward. The first part was pure narration of the reward itself. The second part she got to share her concerns with the Brad/Zeke bonding session. While this shows that Aubry is perceptive, it came after Andrea’s much longer confessional about the same topic. This places Aubry second to Andrea in the narrative, further highlighted when Aubry says, “I think we need to kind of think very carefully about who we want to take out in the next vote.” From that moment Aubry all but disappeared, as the “we” (Andrea, Cirie, and Sarah) decided who they wanted out next. We briefly checked in with Aubry toward the end of the episode when Andrea looped her into the plan, “Yeah I totally have your back,” she said. She then followed up with a confessional talking about how smart Zeke is and how you have to strike before the other person. Rather basic stuff.
Three episodes are remaining and Aubry hasn’t had a CP rating all season. That kind of tells you all you need to know.
Middle of the Road
I could see an argument for UTR for Tai this episode, but his confessional just scraped MOR in my opinion. Yes, it revolved primarily around his two idols, but he spoke about his position in the game and his intentions with the idols. He told us he doesn’t want to tell anyone about the idols and intends to hold onto them as long as possible. But he also said that if his name comes up, he’ll play one – we saw him putting this plan into place by asking Troyzan to give him a heads up if he hears his name. That to me just about warrants a MOR. If Troyzan had had a similar confessional after this scene, he could have had MOR too.
The problem for Tai at this point is that his visibility and complexity has dropped significantly. His focus is now all idol based which suggests that is his main (only?) story. Tai is probably going to do something big with the idol(s) – either playing them or getting voted out with them both. When that time comes, I’m sure his visibility and complexity will rise. But at this point, I think we can rule Tai out as one of our principal characters and/or potential winners.
If it weren’t for tribal council, Michaela probably would have been MOR this episode. But she made a speech at tribal which really tapped into her approach and attitude to this game. “I’ve learned that these (people) can be friends outside of the game, like after Day 39, but if you’re here playing and starving just like everybody else, sometimes you gotta turn the heart down so that I can make sure that I get to the next day and I can make the most of this experience for me.” But she then broke into tears after voting out Zeke, showing that she struggles with turning her heart down. There’s an argument for P-tone for her tears, but because it lacked sufficient set-up, I decided against it.
But it was a great, complex speech, and it played into Michaela’s story which has been present throughout the season. She has trouble bottling her emotions no matter how hard she tries. Whether they are positive emotions or negative, she struggles to keep them in check. It’s a story which has kept Michaela relevant to the story even if she isn’t a character that is pivotal strategy wise. The problem for Michaela, which suggests she isn’t the season’s winner, is summed up in her one confessional of the episode. She said she doesn’t think it’s smart to take out Zeke right now and didn’t want to vote him out – but that’s exactly what she did. Compare to Sarah who also didn’t want to vote out Zeke but got a much bigger explanation of why she might vote that way.
I said last week that it would be interesting to see where Sierra‘s narrative heads now that she’s on the bottom. The past couple of week’s she’s been portrayed as the arrogant leader, over-confident in the control she believed she had. Now she’s on the outs and desperate.
The negativity definitely subsided as Sierra correctly recognized she was in a bad position. “I’m at the bottom of the numbers. I’m not safe,” she said. She also described the previous blindside as “super humbling.” But the thing that stood out here with Sierra’s edit was how she compared to Brad. Both of them were trying to work their way back into the game and save themselves. For Brad, that meant forming new relationships (which we saw with Zeke), but he remained uneasy about voting for his former allies (despite it being necessary). “It will bother me if I have to vote for Tai or Sierra but make no mistake; I am here to win the game.” Sierra, however, was shown to be quick to ditch her old allies to save herself. “Tonight I’m going to turn my back on my initial alliance, and I’m willing at any moment to throw any one of them under the bus.” We saw her telling Andrea and Cirie that she will vote “whoever.”
While it wasn’t painted as a super negative, this little moment shows the difference between Sierra’s edit and those of her allies. She is certainly more important to the narrative than Tai and Troyzan, but she isn’t as protected as Brad when it comes to villainous content. To me, it still seems like Brad will outlast Sierra (or beat her at the end) given the way they are presented.
Brad‘s story was very similar to Sierra’s this episode. He went from “being in pretty good shape with the six to being in terrible shape with the four.” His story was about finding a way back in, improving his position, and avoiding the vote.
As I said, the difference between Brad and Sierra is that Brad’s approach was shown to be more relationship focused and better thought-out. He didn’t say he was willing to throw anyone under the bus like Sierra did; he actually said it would bother him to have to vote Tai or Sierra, but he let us know that he is ultimately here to win (again, always a good sign to mention winning). Brad focused on his social game, which we saw working with Zeke at the reward, and we had proof it worked when Zeke brought Brad into a Final Five alliance. “I made tremendous headway getting in with Zeke at the reward. So in 24 hours, I worked my way up very quickly, not without effort, into a good position.” The problem here is that Zeke was voted out, once again hurting Brad’s standing in the game. But in terms of edit, there is a lot of care going into Brad’s content.
Here’s what stands out the most to me when it comes to Brad’s edit – people like him. From very early on, ever since Sierra reached out to him and we got the big scene about his fondness for home decor, the edit has gone out of its way to show Brad as likable. Debbie was made to look crazy for speaking poorly about him (and later made up with him). Aubry and Cirie both bonded with him on post-swap Mana, even though that hasn’t played a role post-merge. And even now, when Brad has been on the wrong side of the numbers, the edit has protected him from any negativity. The question is why? Why are we seeing him receive praise from people that he’s not even aligned with like Aubry and Cirie? Either it’s foreshadowing Brad working with those people in the home-stretch, or he’s eventually going to earn their jury votes in the Final Tribal Council.
Cirie rounds out the group of CP3s this week. I debated between CP and MOR, but I felt that all her confessionals were backed up in camp scenes where she was shown discussing her strategies and providing good back and forth with various players.
The way you can tell that we’re meant to be rooting for Cirie is how she was portrayed now that she’s in power. “You have to watch everything because if you’re not watching, it just takes a second and the wrong move, and the next thing you know, you’re sitting on the jury,” she said after returning to camp post-tribal council. Unlike members of the previous majority, namely Debbie and Sierra, Cirie wasn’t suddenly arrogant and overconfident now that she had control. She was shown to be still wary and cautious. Her statement also applied perfectly for Zeke and his fate this episode.
Cirie was a pivotal part of the strategy talk throughout the episode. Andrea was shown to be bouncing her ideas off Cirie, and then Cirie would give us her thoughts before going to work. “It would be easy just for us six to vote Sierra and go along, but Zeke is way more threatening to me than Sierra,” Cirie said. Unlike, say, Aubry, Cirie mentions the “me,” not the “we.” It gives Cirie individual motivations and purpose. “Now I have to get officer Sarah on board, but officer Sarah’s real touchy about Zeke, so you got to handle officer Sarah very carefully.” Cirie had an accurate read of Sarah, as she was shown to be reluctant about voting Zeke. But Cirie delivered on what she said, she handled Sarah carefully, talking to her on a level, and it not only ended up with Sarah ultimately voting her way, but she even revealed her secret advantage to Cirie.
As far as contenders, Cirie is definitely up there. At this point, I think only Brad, Sarah, or Cirie can win. Their edits have been the most consistent and well handled, although Cirie’s perhaps has more pre-merge flaws which keep her beneath the other two.
Andrea had a triumphant week, and three back-to-back CP4s should be making me feel a lot more confident about her chances. But I can’t shake that terrible pre-merge edit. It undercuts all the positives in Andrea’s post-merge content. Her edit actually reminds me a little of Ciera’s in Cambodia, barely present pre-merge, then suddenly shoots up post-merge when she can start playing the game. But as we saw with Ciera, that was short-lived.
Throughout the episode, Andrea was portrayed as persuasive, perceptive, and strong. She immediately saw into Brad and Zeke’s bonding session at the reward and how that could be a problem. “I am a little nervous that now is going to go try to do something over with Brad,” she worried. She was spot on, as we later saw Zeke approaching Brad for a Final Five alliance. Andrea then put the wheels in motion to blindside Zeke. “You don’t want to be the person throwing out names, but you also don’t want to be the person that waits too long to make a move,” she said. Again, she was spot on. We saw Zeke and Sarah discussing their list of targets, and Andrea was next on their list. “I know he’s going to come after me at some point, so that’s why this plan is so brilliant because he won’t see it coming.” Andrea was one step ahead of Zeke.
I know I keep predicting the downfall of Andrea, but it’s based on previous Edgic patterns. These post-merge visibility/complexity spikes from previously underedited players only usually last a few episodes. Andrea has now had a run of three CP ratings, and that seems like the limit. She is clearly a big threat in the game – we’ve heard people talking about her as such previously – and now that she’s gotten rid of her enemy Zeke, that particular story-arc is put to bed. Where can Andrea go from here in a narrative sense?
I said last week that when it came to the Zeke vs. Andrea dynamic, it seemed like a short-term arc based on the lack of focus their relationship had pre-merge. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see Andrea or Zeke gone next week,” I said. While I felt Andrea was the more likely to go based on her pre-merge edit, in the end, one of them did go; it just happened to be Zeke.
I perhaps should have realized that Zeke’s negative tone this past couple of weeks made him more likely to lose this battle. From very early on, his game was about wanting to slay his enemies and lather in their blood. He was too focused on making big moves at the expense of his relationships. But as Sarah said in the premiere, someone was going to get anxious and make a move too early, and it was going to cost them. That’s what happened to Zeke when he struck against Andrea two weeks ago. It failed, and he was still paying for that. “I feel like I sort of been handcuffed and haven’t been able to play like I want to play, but now the game has been broken open,” he said this episode. “I’m finally getting to use my Survivor skill set, which is the running around and the scheming and the plotting and the voting people out.” And while we saw him doing that with Sarah and Brad/Troyzan, he was planning for the next vote, and not this one.
The interesting thing here is that Sarah previously told us that if you trust someone like Zeke, you will end up getting blindsided. However, it ended up happening the other way around, with Sarah blindsiding Zeke. “I’m locked in with Sarah because I believe I can trust Sarah to the end,” Zeke told us. While Sarah definitely trusted Zeke too, she ultimately sided with her alliance, blindsiding the guy that trusted her the most. Zeke was outplayed at his own game.
His overall season rating is CPM, the same as his rating for this episode. People respected him for his story and his smarts, but he was also portrayed negatively for turning on allies and breaking trust too soon.
This was a mixed bag of an episode for Sarah. The positives are that she is still very much one of the season’s most important characters. We always hear her thoughts and feelings on the game and the other players. She receives the most screen-time. She places everything into the context of her own game and what benefits her. But the creeping feeling with Sarah is that her flip-flopping and willingness to turn on her allies will ultimately prove too “criminal” for others to reward.
The topic of the episode was “get rid of Zeke or get rid of Sierra?” and Sarah was there every step of the way offering her thoughts. Cirie and Andrea both said they needed her on board but would have to approach her carefully. Initially, Sarah told us why she was against getting rid of Zeke: “When Cirie presents the idea of getting rid of Zeke, I’m definitely not down for it, because I can trust Zeke, so I need to reassure her to keep him in this game as long as I can.” Sarah then revealed her secret advantage to Cirie to buy her trust, and it seemed to work, at least for the time being. Sarah also got to explain why revealing her advantage was smart for her: “Typically in Survivor, you don’t want to show your cards, but sometimes it’s necessary to lock people in.” But Sarah was still keeping all her options open: “I’m going to let the plans develop… and then I’m going to pick a side.”
All of the above looks good on the surface. Sarah is receiving complex game content. But is it a worry that Sarah is cementing relationships in one scene and then talking about flipping and breaking that relationship in the next? It also doesn’t look great that Sarah continued to speak about how much she trusted and needed Zeke. “I feel good with Zeke. We’ve been together since Day 1. And right now we’re staying with the girls, but at the end of the day, I don’t trust them, I trust Zeke.” But she voted against Zeke in the end. However, she did get to explain herself. “If I start scrambling around to try to save Zeke, I’m going to get in hot water,” she told us. She later repeated these thoughts: “If I press the issue of keeping Zeke, they’re going to think I have an ulterior motive, they’re not going to trust me, and trust is everything in this game.” We were given sufficient reason for why Sarah flipped on Zeke.
But here’s my worry for Sarah, and she says it herself at the start of this episode – “Hopefully, if I make it to the end, the jury will reward the fact that I was a Game Changer enough to make this type of move.” Will Sarah be rewarded in the end by the people she turned on? She’s effectively flipped on Ozzy, Debbie, and Zeke so far. I’m still confident based on the edit that the game is Brad or Sarah’s and I keep going back and forth on which one. Last week, I felt more confident in Sarah’s edit over Brad’s. This week I lean more towards Brad. When Sarah said the thing about hoping the jury will reward her, it reminded me of what I said back in the premiere about her opening confessional sounding very similar to Tasha’s in Cambodia (playing like a criminal/pray for forgiveness). It could come down to what people value more – “game-changing moves” or likability – if it’s the latter, that could be a bad sign for Sarah.
Main Stories In Play
-Michaela and her expressions – the story of Michaela trying to hold back her emotions continues this time with a tearful breakdown at tribal council.
-Sarah in the Middle – Sarah once again found herself in the middle and turned on another ally. Where will she end up next week?
-Cirie’s growth – Cirie seems to be going on a journey edit based on the very emotional content she’s been given throughout the season.
-Shielded Brad – Brad continues to be more protected and better fleshed out than his allies. Will he have a big positivity spike next week at the loved ones visit?
That’s it for this week’s Edgic. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.