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.
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What Does This Episode Tell Us?
Swerve! The latest episode of Survivor: Ghost Island cleverly used classic editing techniques and tropes to lead us into a false sense of security, only to pull the rug out from under us at tribal council. How often have we seen the single episode downfall arc? A character is presented as overly confident and cocky, only to be blindsided by the vote. We’ve seen it many times over the years, Drew Christy and Max Dawson some of the more recent examples. It certainly seemed to be heading that way for Bradley, who the edit piled on throughout the episode. But in the end, the villain survived, and one of the Malolo 4 went home.
It’s fun when the edit plays with expectations like that. After 35 seasons, even a casual viewer can pick up on certain cues (the “I’m in control; no way I’m going home” confessional signaling an impending downfall) and what they mean. The editors/producers know that too, and we’re at a stage in the show’s history where they can use that knowledge to surprise us. But even though the edit might have confused and tricked us within this episode, it also brought other elements of the story into clearer focus.
Libby crashed back down into obscurity this episode. It seemed like Episode 3 was the big coming out party for the “cute blonde,” as she received a significant amount of focus and potential story threads for the future. But in Episode 4 it was back to invisible, not even a word was spoken, no follow-up on why she decided to vote out Morgan last week. Nothing.
What does this mean? To me, it says that Libby’s edit is purely circumstantial. She will only be a focus if she is directly involved in that particular episode’s story/vote. And I mean “directly” involved, just being a part of the majority isn’t enough. As we saw in Episodes 1 and 2, Libby attended both tribal councils and still wasn’t important to the narrative. Only when her vote truly mattered to the result, in Episode 3, did she receive screentime. You don’t go three out of four episodes with zero confessionals if you’re a major character.
I think by now we can see this season isn’t the story of Libby, even if she goes far, at best she will play an active role in somebody else’s narrative when the time calls for it. For example, when Domenick and Laurel had their chat about working together to take a shot at Chris, the camera cut to Chris and Libby together, perhaps she will be associated with Chris when the Dom versus Chris battle heats up. When Libby goes back to tribal council and her vote matters, I expect her to receive a lot of focus, but I feel like based on these first four episodes, her importance/visibility is going to be very up and down throughout the season.
Under The Radar
I said last week that I had some nagging concerns with James‘ edit that made me cautious to jump all in after a strong CP4 episode. I think his drop to UTR insignificance this week justifies my concern. While James has been more present than Libby overall – he had a camp chat scene about vote-splitting this episode that saved him from INV – he has a similar inconsistency to his edit. There is a distinct lack of care in his narrative, for example, where was his follow-up confessional this week about the Morgan vote? Major characters and winner contenders tend to give their thoughts on the previous vote – just look at Ben and Chrissy last season – and so the fact James disappeared in favor of the Dom versus Chris story is worrying.
It’s hard to predict where James is heading right now. Like Libby, his edit seems circumstantial, and unless he is directly involved in the vote (or receiving votes), then he is just a background character. Also, as I said last week, Domenick and Wendell have much bigger and more consistent edits, especially Domenick, and that suggests longevity. Even though the pair got outsmarted by James and the Malolos last week, they never truly felt in danger Edgically speaking. That was proved the case this week when we saw Laurel and Donathan wanting to work with Domenick and Wendell, which gives them hope for the future. James, meanwhile, was placed more on the Chris side of things. Much like Libby, I feel that James is going to have a very up and down edit for however long he lasts.
Angela got duped by her so-called allies in the third episode and that wake-up call could have kickstarted a personal narrative for the army veteran. But that didn’t happen. Angela did get a basic confessional about how she thought she could trust Domenick and Wendell, but they stabbed her in the back. And she later told Chris that her “family slit [her] throat,” but that was it. Once Chris was back at camp, the story became all about him and his feud with Domenick. Angela was secondary to everything going on. As I said with Libby and James, this season is not the story of Angela; she is a passenger.
Desiree has only had one (very short) confessional across four episodes. We don’t have any personal information about her. That is not a good sign. She is barely present other than screaming support for her tribemates from the sidelines. And yet she received the credit for suggesting the Brendan vote in this episode. Can we read anything into that? Or was that simply the order of events as they happened? Maybe. But the edit can always manipulate who gets credit for a move, and so if they wanted to neglect Desiree’s part in this, they could have easily done that. Perhaps it was to show that her opinion counts within the Naviti alliance and therefore ties her even further to that group. Or if the surviving Malolos later turn the tables, maybe Desiree takes a hit? It’s hard to say, but right now that is the only thing to talk about regarding Desiree’s edit. As far as winning or being a key character of the season, near impossible.
Jenna has had a steady if uneventful edit up until this point, but Episode 4 was her quietest yet. We still don’t know anything about her personal life. We know she is part of the underdog Malolo alliance. We know she sees Stephanie as her number one ally. That’s decent strategic content. But what is her story? What does she do for a living? Where is she from? How does her personal outlook on life apply to the game of Survivor? Those are things often present in the edit of a winner or critical character. But the audience hasn’t been informed of any of this when it comes to Jenna. We only really saw her in this episode in the group Malolo scene on the beach, where she was crying and wishing to write Bradley’s name down five times, and then at tribal council itself. I think we’ve seen just enough of Jenna so far that she could have a break out episode in the future and begin a more personal narrative, but it’s perhaps a little too late for her winner chances.
Middle of the Road
Sometimes you’re just wrong. I was wrong about Brendan‘s edit. Or at the very least, I was wrong to get comfortable in Brendan’s edit. I said last week that Edgically speaking, he was set up nicely. He was part of the Malolo team spirit, he was shown to be appreciating his surroundings, and didn’t have any negativity attached to his content. He had a leader-style edit, but not that of the obnoxious dictator heading for a downfall. And yet, here we are. Brendan was knocked out, and that strength and leader perception did a play a part in his boot, just not in the traditional sense.
The ex-Navitis chose to target Brendan because they believed he would be the least obvious choice. They were trying to dodge a potential idol play, and they assumed the ex-Malolos wouldn’t expect them to target the strong, leader type. So while Brendan’s leadership position did result in his downfall, it wasn’t presented negatively. The question is, should we have seen Brendan’s elimination coming? I’ve previously mentioned how the original Malolo didn’t have the greatest introductions in the premiere. Only Michael and Donathan got strong, personal intros in their first camp scene. Brendan was the only other Malolo to get an early personal confessional, but as I said at the time, it was directly tied to the opening challenge. “As a teacher and a coach, I’m relied on for a lot of things. And I know something big is at stake and so if I can help us win it, I want to win it.” That’s all he said. The archetypal leader. The rest of his content, while decent, was somewhat middling, and perhaps we should have realized that lack of depth could mean an early exit.
Overall, Brendan is MOR for the season. A strong, leader type with a fair amount of strategic talk, but nothing overly complex or personal.
Donathan has a really fascinating edit. After those first two episodes, you could have quickly written him off as this season’s high-vis CPP/OTTP journey character, perhaps similar to a Tai. But those elements have dissipated over the past two weeks, and it really feels like Donathan’s edit is being handled with care, even if he isn’t all over an episode. Remember last week I wondered why the edit left Donathan out of the Morgan blindside? I questioned whether or not that was intentional or if he just didn’t have much to say about it. But players always have something to say. The producers question them in confessionals all the time. If they wanted to insert a character talking about a specific move or topic, it could be done. And so I questioned why a character like Donathan, who was such a significant part of those first two episodes, was hidden from the machinations of last week. Well, I think this episode showed us why.
It was James and Libby who received the credit for the move against Domenick and Wendell last week. Donathan and Laurel were pretty much nowhere to be seen. The only thing we heard from Laurel was her suggestion to target Morgan rather than Wendell when James brought up the options. As for Donathan, we didn’t hear his opinion on the move at all. Then lo and behold, who are the two players wanting to work with Domenick and Wendell this episode? That’s right, Donathan and Laurel. It makes perfect sense. If Donathan and Laurel were shown being so gung-ho about blindsiding Domenick and Wendell last week, then this choice to align with them a week later would have looked very strange and inconsistent. And this is what I mean about how Donathan’s edit is handled with real care. Even back to the premiere, the first alliance/relationship that we saw was between Donathan and Laurel, and this most recent episode further cemented that this partnership has importance.
The reason why Donathan received a MOR rating this episode? He is looking ahead in the game and putting things into motion. His confessional might have just been simple narration about the Domenick versus Chris battle, but his camp scene with Laurel felt MOR enough to me. Even though what followed was from Laurel’s perspective, it was Donathan who brought up Wendell and not wanting him to go home. We also saw Donathan talking to Wendell and saying they could make a move against Chris. It wasn’t anything super complicated, but it felt more than UTR. I think Donathan is an integral part of the puzzle this season, and even though I still lean to an original Naviti winning this season, if any Malolo has a shot, I think Donathan could be that man.
Wendell had an interesting edit in Episode 4 in the sense that he was MOR without saying much himself. He was kept in the limelight by other people. I think every single person on the Naviti tribe mentioned Wendell at some point. Angela referred to Wendell and Domenick stabbing her in the back. Domenick talked about his alliance with Wendell. Chris and James spoke about putting votes on Wendell. And Laurel and Donathan talked about how much more they liked Wendell than Chris. Wendell was kind of a big focus without being a BIG focus.
“We might be on the bottom, but fortunately, my buddy Domenick found an idol. Wow, that’s great. Now we have a chance to shake things up a bit,” he said in his only confessional of the episode. “We absolutely have to make the smartest play we can make. We’re good out here. We’re good.” Despite his lousy move (and his less than stellar edit) last week, Wendell is focused on moving forward and shaking things up. Right now, he is playing second fiddle to Domenick, at least that’s how it looks on the surface. That could be a bad sign. But it could also be intentional. Domenick is so visible at the moment that perhaps his edit is a big, colorful distraction. If you start to look at the details, it’s Wendell who is brought up first. When Laurel and Donathan are discussing the vote, it’s Wendell who they both say they like and want to work with instead of Chris. Even though Domenick takes over the scene, with his conversation with Laurel, it’s Wendell (and Donathan) kept present in the background.
There are definitely flaws with Wendell’s edit – a lot of wrong calls last week – but there are also these intriguing elements that point to him having a more significant role to play. Remember, he was one of the few to get a substantial intro in the premiere, telling us about his job and his background. Plus his relationship with Domenick was established in the premiere too. Part of me wonders if Wendell is a Natalie Anderson style edit, hidden behind his more vocal alliance mate (in Natalie’s case Jeremy) and will later emerge when that person is voted out. It’s not a typical style edit for a male player – especially if he wins – but as this season has already shown, the editors are willing to shake things up in that regard.
After his stint on Ghost Island in Episode 3, Chris had a chance for an edit-reset. His emotional scene was the opportunity to shed any negativity and return to camp a new man. However, as saw in Episode 4, that didn’t happen. Chris came back to Naviti still laser-focused on Domenick. As I said last week, Chris is often right in what he says, but the way he says things is presented in a negative light. When Angela told him that Domenick and Wendell voted for her, Chris said that means they must be coming after him. “Wendell and Dom went for Angela because they wanted the power away from me, and that was a big mistake,” he said. He’s right; we know he is because that’s how Wendell and co described the move in Episode 3 – take out Chris’ right-hand man.
Despite Chris being right, the edit continues to shade him. Just look at the camp scene when Chris talked to the ex-Malolos about splitting the vote between Domenick and Wendell. On the one hand, the “I like you… and I like myself” talk is played for laughs, but on the other, it’s a sign of Chris’ off-putting arrogance. How do we know that? Well, the scene that immediately followed was Donathan and Laurel talking about Chris and how they don’t like him or his domineering style. “I don’t want Chris calling the shots around here,” Laurel said. The edit seems to be saying that even though Chris has a correct read on the game, it will be the way he talks to people that will eventually cost him. I still find it hard to say whether or not the edit wants us to dislike Chris completely; it’s not as if they are giving him a Bradley edit, but I do think we’re meant to be rooting for the Domenick side of this battle.
Welcome to the show, Chelsea! Not only did Chelsea get her first confessional of the season, but she received some credit for the vote. A double whammy! As crazy as it may sound, I did consider CP for a long time. But the more I looked at her content, the less right that felt. Yes, she suggested voting for one of the guys instead of the girls and explained why in a confessional. Decent strategic content. But did we learn anything else about Chelsea? Do we have a rounded view of her personality? I went back to how I viewed Angela last week; I decided to give Angela a CP because not only did she have strategic content but we learned a little bit about her life and personality, plus her thoughts on other players. Chelsea was just straight-up tribal-specific strategy contained in one single confessional. MOR seemed the right choice.
So what does this mean for Chelsea? Is she now going to break out as a huge star of the season? I would say that is unlikely. This was the first episode where she attended tribal council, and she was a focus of the vote, given that she was one of the people the Malolo 4 tried to sway. In that sense, she had to receive some content; otherwise, viewers would be even more confused than they were already. What I will say in her favor is that she wasn’t made to look incorrect. The Malolo 4 tried to say that she was on the bottom and not respected by Bradley, but the edit showed Chelsea having a voice in the Naviti discussion, it was Chelsea who first suggested targeting one of the men. In that sense, the edit validated why she chose not to flip. But despite this positive, I don’t see a way back from three INVs in a row. If her edit had been quiet but consistent until now, then this would be a good look, but following such nothingness, it’s hard to see it as anything but circumstantial.
Sebastian continues to be shielded from a lot of the Naviti negativity. He is the happy, goofy guy going with the flow. But he did receive a little more strategic insight this week. He commented on his alliance’s choice to target one of the Malolo men and applied it to his own game. “The group has decided to take out some big boys in this game, Michael and Brendan, they’re kinda like helpless penguins on a tropical island, and that kinda scares me because I’m a big boy too, but for now I’m just going to go with the flow,” he said. Right now, Sebastian is going with the flow, but he has aired his worries and that could be foreshadowing. It could also have been there to justify why the Malolo 4 picked Sebastian as a potential flipper. He’s a “big boy,” meaning his character type is based around strength and challenges, rather than subtle strategy. There’s not a great deal to say for Sebastian right now, I think he’s a mid-level character that has the potential to take on a bigger role as the numbers dwindle.
Over The Top
I said last week that Bradley seemed set-up to take the hit based on his negative edit. That was kind of right; it’s just that the hit wasn’t fatal. The edit continued to pile on Bradley in Episode 4, turning him into a fully fledged pantomime villain. Bradley was presented as the deluded, cocky, wannabe leader that mocks his victims. Even though he put forth his strategy, it wasn’t enough to quell the OTT parts of his edit.
Just look at Bradley’s confessionals in this episode. “As soon as we got back from the immunity challenge, it was somber, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face because it was like, this is fantastic we have the power tonight,” he said, taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. “I’m trying to play like a Boston Rob or a Kim Spradlin, you know, somebody that’s got the numbers and is in control and just needs to keep the ducks in a row.” Putting yourself in the same bracket as two Survivor legends who are known for their expert leadership qualities is straight-up OTT. But it’s even funnier when in Bradley’s next confessional he undermines his own point. “Tonight Brendan is an option to take out because he does like to play that leader role. He’s like a dad that gives terrible pep talks, which is fine, he can lead people because the leader never wins.” It’s the classic bad guy trope of not recognizing your own flaws. The negative tone is obvious. Stephanie said: “It just makes me sick that someone like Bradley is going to stay in this game.” Jenna said she would write his name down on five pieces of paper if she could. And, of course, everything at tribal council – Bradley saying that he has been babysitting the Malolos, etc.
Here’s the weird thing though, despite the OTT cartoonishness of Bradley’s villain edit, is he really that much of a dictator? After all, we saw the Navitis as a group discussing the vote. It didn’t present Bradley as pushing his agenda. Chelsea was the one to suggest targetting Michael or Brendan, and Desiree was the one to say it should be Brendan. Bradley even asked Desiree for her opinion on the matter. So while on the surface Bradley is all OTTN Boston Rob wannabe, there is some interesting stuff beneath the surface. I didn’t feel it was enough to squash the OTT rating because the general perception was still ultra-negative. But watching that scene back, it stood out to me. Why show the Navitis as all having a voice if you’re selling Bradley as the evil dictator? Should that have been our signal that Bradley would survive tribal council? Because the Malolo 4 were wrong?
I think the take away here is that Bradley’s character isn’t that of the controlling leader – it’s the character that THINKS he is the controlling leader. I believe that is what the edit is trying to sell us and that eventually, Bradley will get a rude awakening. When will that be? I’m no longer sure. I expected it to be a short-term story, but after this week, perhaps Bradley can take his wicked ways much further.
On the flip side of the OTT coin is Stephanie, the positive beacon of hope going up against the OTT villain Bradley. Up until now, Stephanie’s edit has been straight CP, lots of strategy talk but with very little personal development. That kind of edit suggested a potential Ali trajectory; strong CP start leading to a shock pre-merge boot. But this week, the strategy talk was rather basic. Instead, the focus was on her personal journey, and it was OTT, the crying, writing in the sand, manifesting an idol via meditation, etc. This episode was exactly what Stephanie needed to alleviate those Ali fears and set her on a different path. She received that much-needed personal content – the talk of being a single-mom not wanting to fail her kids – and a clear character arc. Stephanie represents the very word she scribbled into the sand – hope – but also, determination.
Last week, I found it very interesting how the edit presented Stephanie as taking the initiative to go idol searching, despite Michael being the one to find it. The fact that Michael used the idol on her this week, it makes more sense, this was always about Stephanie. “If you want to take me out you’re going to have to take me out fighting and screaming because I’m going to do everything I can to stay in this game,” she said in Episode 3. We saw in this episode, that even though she was down and out, once she had an ounce of hope (the idol), Stephanie went into fight mode, joining Michael in attacking Bradley at tribal council. With Brendan now out of the picture – the one lingering doubt in Stephanie’s edit (based on his distrust of her in Episode 2) – I now see a different trajectory for her story. I don’t think she’s the new Ali; I think she could be a Kelley Wentworth (Cambodia), the underdog that keeps fighting and finding a way to survive despite the odds being stacked against her. Could she go one further than Wentworth and win? Maybe, that will depend on how her story develops these next couple of weeks.
This was easily Michael‘s biggest episode yet. His move with the idol contained lots of moving parts and received a big chunk of the screentime in the latter half of the episode. There was no way this move was ever going to find its way on the cutting room floor, and therefore Michael was going to get this airtime regardless, but that doesn’t take away the CP rating. Michael still got to explain his move in great detail, both before tribal council and then at tribal council itself, as he spun his lie and tried to flip Chelsea and Sebastian. Michael has the edit of a fighter, much like Stephanie, but perhaps not as consistently so.
Does the move failing reflect poorly on Michael? It’s difficult to say. I don’t think it was massively detrimental because the edit didn’t present Michael as a doofus who was making a ridiculous move. He looked competent even in the face of failure. Perhaps telling Brendan that he thought the vote was Stephanie is a bad thing? But, you can’t hide the fact that Michael misplayed the idol. That’s just the way it happened. So where does he go from here? Of the original Malolos still left in the game, I think only Michael, Donathan, and Stephanie still have true winner upside (an outside shot of Laurel which I’ll get into in her write-up). Though this episode not showing anything from the New Malolo tribe before the Immunity Challenge is worrying for Michael and Stephanie. Back to the premiere, Michael and Donathan were the only two to be introduced early in the episode with personal content, although Michael has a couple of ominous signs (the Gonzalez boot and then this idol misplay if you choose to read it negatively). My gut says that Michael still has longevity in his edit, but after the Brendan boot this past episode, it wouldn’t entirely surprise me to see him taken out pre-merge.
Domenick continues to be the largest presence on this season. He hasn’t dipped below a 4 visibility rating yet. He’s also been CP in every episode, even if his confessionals themselves don’t always sound complex, his talk around camp and with his fellow tribemates still bumps him into CP. The edit makes sure we know where Domenick stands at all times. Remember earlier I talked about how it’s important who we hear from upon returning from tribal council? It wasn’t James or Libby who received confessionals, it was all three Navitis (Domenick, Wendell, and Angela), and Domenick was also leading the talk at camp too. We see a large chunk of this game from Domenick’s perspective, and that should be noted.
“Me and Wendell had such a good game plan set in place, we all were going to vote Angela, but the former Malolo caught me by surprise. Yeah, we got our asses kicked out there,” he said. Domenick showed humility and respected the move. We saw this at camp too. “You got me,” he said, smiling. There was no bitterness on display. Instead, Domenick moved right back into game mode and looked ahead to how he could save himself and Wendell. “I have a real idol,” he told Wendell, “there’s hope.” And there is that word “hope” again. Not only was Domenick’s hope rewarded, but he called exactly how it would be rewarded. “Just the same way we broke from our group, maybe someone from over there will break from there’s. It’s doable!” He was right, as later in the episode Laurel broke away and told Domenick she wanted to work with him and Wendell.
“I thought the only person I had out here was Wendell and now to know that Laurel and Donathan will work with us to get Chris out is such a huge turn in this game, and it’s great because I feel like I have life again.” Domenick has new life and a path forward. He will not go down without a fight. What was it he said in his premiere confessional again? “It’s time for me to step up and become a man and take control of my life.” That is Domenick’s story, he faces adversity, but every time he’s knocked down, he gets back up and perseveres and takes control. I think the players that represent those qualities, like a Domenick, like a Stephanie, are going to be rewarded in some shape or form this season. We saw that in this episode when Domenick received the Legacy Advantage. “There are definitely lessons to be learned by these relics. It’s important that I really reverse these curses. I can’t be eaten alive the same way these past players have been,” he said. So far, none of the relics have been used effectively, will Domenick be the one to reverse this curse?
In a post-Tony/Mike/Jeremy/Ben world, I think it’s only right to have Domenick near the top of winner contenders. He fits that archetype perfectly. Alpha male, aggressive gameplay, idols, family talk. The biggest difference is the visibility. None of those former winners had this much visibility in the first four episodes. They had a lot of CP, but even the Tony and Mikes of this world had a couple of 3s by now. If Domenick wins, he is on track to being one of the most visible winners in history. His early visibility is more like a David Wright or a Tai Trang. Is that Domenick’s trajectory? Is he an alpha David Wright? The season’s most prominent character that is toppled before the end? That is certainly an intriguing possibility, especially when you consider some of the questionable moves he’s made so far – moves that the edit hasn’t shied away from showing. If that is the case, then you’re probably looking at one of the quieter edits to pull out the win this season.
Kellyn played a prominent role in this episode and really cemented her character arc. It’s been obvious Kellyn is vital to the season from the very first episode. She was the first player to receive a confessional, she was introduced at camp, and had a bunch of personal content. I mean, just look at the old Navitis on current Malolo. Kellyn is the only one we know about in a truly sophisticated way. Chelsea and Desiree are barely present and have received zero personal content. We know a little bit about Sebastian, but his edit is that of the “goofy big boy.” And Bradley is an OTT villain, who only briefly mentioned becoming a lawyer in passing. Whereas Kellyn has gone into great detail about life, her past decisions, how she turned her life around, and how that applies to her Survivor journey.
It’s becoming clear that people sent to Ghost Island will likely receive some personal content, and so we need to be careful just how much faith we put in that footage. Donathan, Chris, and Kellyn all had these big, positively-toned scenes. The thing is, Kellyn’s Ghost Island scene/confessionals were very similar to her Episode 1 content, so the fact we got a repeat of that stands out. She gave well thought out reasoning for her Ghost Island decision, applying it to her current position in the game. Her choice was also proved correct, at least for the time being, when her tribe lost the Immunity Challenge. She said it is all about trusting your gut, and that if her decision is “…something that comes back to me, I can live with myself knowing that I did what I thought was right.” The scene could have ended right there. But it continued, with Kellyn reminding the audience about her personal life and how it applies to the game.
Just take a look at the following confessional:
“It’s just crazy how quickly this game just weaves in with you are, and who you want to be and where you want to go. I’ve been blindsided in my personal life so many times. So in the last two years, I really changed my life by trying to make the right decision by trusting my gut. I just got married and decided to not be in that relationship anymore. I changed my career path, I went back to grad school, got an MBA and got a new great job. And the fact of the matter is, if I hadn’t trusted my gut, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. I believe sticking to who you are at the core and trusting your gut can get your further in this game.”
If that was the first time we’d heard that story, then yeah, sure, you could say that’s just another Ghost Island emotional scene. But we HAVE heard this before, in a confessional from the first Naviti camp scene in the premiere. “Before Survivor, I was living my life like I should, doing what I thought I should do and I made the decision to say that’s not the life I want. So I got divorced, I finished grad school, and I finally started being able to live life for me. And I’m a huge fan of Survivor and I made it. And it’s going to be an insane journey.” The edit is not just telling us that Kellyn is an important part of this season’s story, it’s saying that this particular part of her story is crucial. Trusting her gut and being willing to make difficult choices is her narrative. That doesn’t mean she will always make the right choice – the zoom-in on the “one bad decision can haunt you forever” sign was undoubtedly ominous – but it gives her scope to overcome those bad decisions and change her life/game for the better if need be. Does that mean Kellyn can win? I wouldn’t rule her out, though I tend to see her edit as a journey arc, perhaps more than anybody else this season.
Laurel came out of nowhere this episode, eh? It started with a dominant performance in the reward challenge, which Probst specifically highlighted and praised. Laurel’s success in the challenge traveled back to camp too, with her tribemates applauding her and Domenick declaring, “You brought the food home, girl!” I felt that was enough for light P-tone. Laurel was definitely giving off good vibes throughout this episode. But her edit didn’t stop there; we also received some insight into her strategy and her personal life and how the two intertwined.
The conversation between Laurel and Donathan could become a pivotal moment in this game. As I mentioned in Donathan’s write-up, the Laurel/Donathan bond was the very first relationship set-up this season, in a relatively long opening scene at camp Malolo. The fact that these two are still together and discussing strategy is important. Laurel talked about the current goings-on in the game and the part she wants to play in it. “While it’d be easy to side with Chris to get Domenick and Wendell out, I don’t love the idea of working with him,” she said, justifying why she was so absent last week in the move against Domenick and Wendell. “In my real life, I went to Yale University, and I was also a Division 1 athlete, I like to call the shots. But here it’s a different story. I’ve been playing sort of under the radar, but I want that to change, I want to have my name on the game.” This confessional immediately jumped out at me, not just because she received some much-needed personal content, but it was like she was referencing her own Edgic! Laurel HAS been UTR so far, and the fact she acknowledged that gives her new life. It no longer makes her edit feel neglected, but intentionally hidden.
We then saw Laurel going to work, approaching Domenick about working together and making a move against Chris. She said she wanted her name on the game and she was making an effort to do just that. “Laurel surprised the hell out of me, she is here to play and play hard,” Domenick said, and I believe that is how the audience was meant to feel about Laurel this episode too. The big question is, is it too little, too late? Is the UTR acknowledgment enough to excuse such a lackluster first three episodes? Maybe, but I don’t think it’s impossible. Female winners have a history of being underedited, though perhaps not quite to this extent, at least not in recent years. But if what I said earlier comes true, about Domenick being a colorful, distraction edit and one of the quieter edits winning, then Laurel could quite comfortably fit that role. I wouldn’t put her near the top of contenders, just because it is hard to look past the weak premiere, but she has suddenly put herself on the radar. Watching how her edit evolves from here, particularly her story with Donathan and Domenick, will be very telling.
That’s it for this week’s Edgic! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.