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?
After last week’s expectation-swerving edit which saw Brendan eliminated at Tribal Council, this week’s episode was a more predictable affair. The edit didn’t try to trick us or throw out decoys to distract us. Instead, it told a simple but effective story of three underdogs fighting for their lives. We ended up losing one of the biggest character edits of the season, but not in a way that completely shocked Edgic followers; it was a potential outcome we had touched upon in previous weeks.
The simplicity of this episode means that not much has changed Edgic wise. Not a great deal of story development or character changes. Many of the edits remain stagnant, very likely because of the upcoming swap which will shake up the narrative. With that said, let’s take a look at the individual character edits this week.
Two back-to-back Invisible ratings and three overall in just five episodes. Not good, Libby, not good at all. That third episode is looking less and less like a break-out moment and more and more like a purely circumstantial edit. Other than challenges and a couple of brief background shots, there was nothing for Libby in this episode. No confessionals. No camp scenes. Not even a single sentence. This is not a character relevant to the main season narrative. If she were, we’d have checked in with her since Episode 3. The excuse that she hasn’t been back to Tribal Council is not good enough. Domenick, Donathan, James, Laurel, Wendell, Chris, and Angela haven’t been back to Tribal (or at all in Chris’ case) either, and yet we’ve heard from each of them at least once since Episode 3.
Things aren’t much better for Angela. She’s also fallen back into the scenery since the third episode, although at least we received a brief check-in from her last week. As I said last time, she is a passenger this season, not someone driving the narrative. Very little change in her edit to discuss.
Under The Radar
Wendell was JUST saved from the dreaded INV rating thanks to Donathan. If it wasn’t for Donathan talking about Laurel wanting to work with Wendell and Domenick, then the Furniture Designer would be enjoying obscurity with Angela and Libby. That confessional from Donathan kept last week’s story of the Domenick/Wendell/Laurel/Donathan alliance fresh in our memories. It’s a little worrying how quiet Wendell’s edit has become, but at the same time, nothing much has changed narratively on the Naviti tribe. He is still aligned with Domenick, seemingly on the outs but has a potential alliance with Laurel and Donathan. Would it be more reassuring to hear Wendell himself talk about these events? Of course. And perhaps his lack of content means he is not quite as important as your Domenicks and Donathans. But as long as his name is still included in the main story, there is always a chance he rises up later.
We had a brief check-in with James this episode, which is more than we can say for his former Malolo buddy Libby. I considered a MOR rating initially, but looking back at his one confessional, it was very basic. It was mostly about Chris’ challenge dominance and how having him on their side puts them in control. “[Chris] is a physical asset, plus Chris has shown a much bigger willingness to actually work with us Malolo 4, so having Chris on our side means that basically we are the ones calling all the shots.” It worries me that the edit has set James up to be on Chris’ side of the Dom versus Chris battle. I mean, it’s hard to say who we’re meant to be rooting for (because Chris’ edit is so weird, which I’ll get into later), but it feels slightly more weighted towards Team Domenick. It will really depend on where Donathan ends up, as he is clearly a character who the audience is meant to side with. Right now, it feels like James is on the wrong side of the fence, and coupled with his inconsistent edit, that is a little concerning.
Laurel was back to UTR this week, but she was still a part of the central story on the Naviti tribe. I talked last week about how significant the Laurel/Donathan relationship is, and yet again we had an entire scene dedicated to this duo. Donathan chose to share a personal story with Laurel because he trusts her. Laurel was shown to offer words of comfort and support. From their scene in the premiere to their strategy conversation last week to the emotional bonding scene this episode, the Laurel and Donathan friendship is a crucial part of this season’s narrative.
Unfortunately for Laurel, her edit seems secondary to Donathan’s. He has more airtime and more complexity and therefore more urgency within the story. The emphasis is on how Laurel’s choices affect Donathan and his game rather than Laurel’s own game. “Laurel is really wanting to work with Wendell and Domenick to get out Chris and you know I want to be there for Laurel, but I’ve definitely bonded closer with Chris,” Donathan said. “I’m kinda in the middle here being pulled back and forth, and I got to make the decision that’s best for me. This is the time I have to start thinking about Donathan.” The edit is less concerned with Laurel’s individual story, and more focused on how it plays into Donathan’s story arc. Whether Donathan decides to split from Laurel or continues to work with her, I think Laurel’s story will be linked with the young Kentucky man throughout the season.
A much-needed cooldown episode for Domenick whose visibility hadn’t dropped below a 4 until this point. Other than having a generic reward question directed to him by Probst, Domenick’s only mention in this episode came from Donathan in his confessional about being in the middle. This drop to UTR1 is kind of what I’m talking about when I say this episode saw many characters in a holding pattern. There is not much more we need from Domnick right now. We know he is at war with Chris, we know Wendell is his right-hand man, we know he’s outnumbered but has a potential alliance with Laurel and Donathan, and we know he has an idol and the Legacy Advantage. Many of those things have been repeated already through the first four episodes. This was the perfect episode to cool Domenick’s edit down without losing any of the narrative threads. I suspect he will be back in action next week when the swap shakes up the game.
Chelsea was the only UTR rating on the Malolo tribe and the only one without a confessional, that pretty much tells you everything. She was involved in a couple of the camp strategy talks, but it was very short straightforward game talk. Kellyn suggested voting for Jenna, and Chelsea agreed, saying that Jenna is one of the weaker players. Later, Desiree said that it makes more sense to target Stephanie because she’s more strategic. Chelsea then reported to Kellyn that “everybody’s changed their minds” and wanted to vote for Stephanie. “I don’t know how I feel about it…” she said, an unfinished sentence which shows that we didn’t get any depth or complexity to Chelsea’s thought process. It was bare minimum strategy talk and certainly didn’t paint Chelsea as a driving force within the game or the narrative. We still haven’t heard any personal content from her!
Middle of the Road
For the second week in a row, Desiree has called the shot, and the edit has given her credit. Last week, she was the one to name Brendan as the target, and in this episode, she was the first person to bring up Stephanie’s name. She was rightly worried about Stephanie being more strategic than Jenna. Based on what the edit has shown up until this point, we know that to be true. On top of that, Desiree was right about Stephanie not finding an advantage on Ghost Island. “I don’t know what happened on Ghost island when Stephanie was there, so I don’t know what she could have. But I’m starting to think nothing really happened because I looked through her bag and there was nothing in her bag, so I don’t know where she put it, but she may have got the advantage, I’m not sure.” She was understandably cautious but correctly confident that Stephanie didn’t have anything.
So what do we make of all this? Desiree has had such a lackluster edit so far, and yet she has been shown to have her finger on the pulse when it comes to the game. That seems to suggest there is at least some attempt at care when it comes to her edit. But it’s not enough to rewrite a poor premiere and three episodes without a confessional – not to mention the lack of personal content. It’s because of those reasons why it’s hard to see Desiree as a central character and all but impossible to see her as the winner. But there may be just enough strategic content to suggest a more prominent role as the numbers dwindle. Or, as I touched upon last week, this strategic edit credit could be because she is soon targeted as a threat.
A bit of a quieter episode for Kellyn this week but the main beats of her story arc were still present. As I’ve previously touched on, Kellyn’s narrative is about trusting her gut and being able to make difficult choices. Her tears at Tribal Council when having to vote out Stephanie was perhaps a sign of her making a difficult choice. She was also tearful after losing the Immunity Challenge, putting the blame for the loss on herself. “Losing today’s Immunity Challenge I just felt really disappointed in myself that I couldn’t pull it out for the team,” she said. All of this shows that Kellyn is an emotional player that wears her heart on her sleeve.
The thing that worries me about Kellyn’s edit is that, despite being in the majority, we haven’t seen any real development of her relationships within this alliance. She had private conversations with Chelsea twice in this episode, but have we seen any focus on their bond before this? Nope. We have no idea who Kellyn is closest with in the Naviti 5. Why is this? I’ve mentioned before that Kellyn could eventually end up “divorcing” this group and focusing on her individual game. Right now, she is very much playing majority rules and going with the group. Just look at how quickly her mind was changed from Jenna to Stephanie in this episode. She’s doing what others want. But if these are not the players that define Kellyn’s Survivor journey, then it would make sense why we haven’t seen her bonding with them on a deeper level. Kellyn’s airtime and consistent personal content suggest longevity and importance, and therefore it may be that this part of her story is just a minor blip in her overall narrative.
Over The Top
Sorry, Stephanie, I think I cursed you. Every week I’ve been saying that Stephanie’s edit could be the next Anna/Michaela/Ali, the early CP-edit shock boot. But then last week’s OTTP personal content made me reconsider and start to see Stephanie as a potential Season 31 Kelley Wentworth. The character on the bottom who scratches and claws her way to the end. Of course, it stands to reason that she was booted in the very next episode after I said that. Maybe I meant Season 29 Wentworth?
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise though; those Ali alerts were there from the start. The string of CPs with a heavy focus on strategy but with very little personal depth until last week. There was also the ominous signs like saying she could nurture Donathan just after he said he has his own mind and ideas, declaring that Jacob is the kind of person you need in the game and then booting him, and Brendan recognizing that she was thinking of pulling the double-cross. The biggest negative of all for Stephanie was the fact she didn’t appear in the premiere until the 38-minute mark, and it was straight into game-talk. That right there should have told us she wasn’t a long-term character because the edit would have introduced her earlier if that was the case.
With all that said, Stephanie had a fantastic edit, especially in her final episode. It was like the producers were memorializing her on her way out. Her scenes on Ghost Island were obviously OTT positive. “I have felt unhappy before in life. And that’s why I have left the Mormon religion and got divorced all in the span of 6 months. That’s when I realized my true inner strength and I believe in myself regardless of if anybody else does. And that is true strength in life.” There has been a lot of talk about strength and different kinds of strength this season, and Stephanie was a representative of a strong woman, a single mom who never gives up fighting. That was hammered home here, with that cinematic shot of her sat atop the rocks, and at Tribal Council, as she talked about her fear of letting down her kids and the OTT funeral-style music that accompanied her exit. I could understand going with the double PP here, but I only like to bust that out on rare occasions.
Despite falling into that pre-merge CP boot trap, Stephanie’s edit was far more prominent and more rounded than an Anna or an Ali. It was more similar to Michaela in Season 33 or Jeff Varner in Season 31. It was like a respect edit, made to honor such a big character/hard player, and much like Michaela and Varner, it would not surprise me to see Stephanie back on a future season. Overall, I’ve rated her CPP for the season. While her last two episodes moved into OTTP territory, the strategic content of her first three episodes, plus her ability to apply her personal life to the game, provided a rounded, positive view of the neon warrior woman.
How have I not rated Sebastian OTT by now? That feels like a massive oversight on my part. Everything this guy says and does is OTT. I should have rated him OTT last week when he was talking about penguins and Malolowlow. It doesn’t really matter if he talks a little game because his ridiculousness overpowers any strategic insight. It was the same this week. Hair sniffing, arm sucking, dead weasel, dreadlocks, wanting to keep someone around to braid his hair. Sebastian is Mr. OTT through and through. But he’s clearly relevant to the story. His airtime has been consistent for the most part and we always check-in with him before Tribal Council. Is the season narrative about him? No, and he’s unlikely to be driving the story forward. But he is present and has his part to play in the story, especially now that he has this potential relationship with Jenna, which could become relevant down the line.
After five episodes, you should be able to tell who the main characters of the season are, and there is no doubt Donathan is a lead character. He had a huge, positive introduction in the double-episode premiere, a much-needed cooldown in Episodes 3 and 4 (but still relevant to the ongoing stories), and now he’s returned to the limelight in Episode 5. We only visited the Naviti tribe once in this episode, and Donathan was at the center of the action. His emotional scene with Laurel added even more personal content to his edit, now giving us an insight into his family and life back home. The editors love to include family talk when it comes to recent winner edits – Ben, Sarah, Adam, Jeremy, all had scenes relating to family. As for those left this season, Donathan, Domenick, Chris, and to a much lesser degree James, have all talked about family, playing for their family, supporting their family, or gaining strength from family. This looks really good for Donathan.
Even though I decided on OTTP, there is an argument to be made for CPP because Donathan did close out the scene by bringing his game back into focus. After bonding with Chris, Donathan said: “Laurel is really wanting to work with Wendell and Domenick to get out Chris and you know I want to be there for Laurel, but I’ve definitely bonded closer with Chris. I’m kinda in the middle here being pulled back and forth and I got to make the decision that’s best for me. This is the time I have to start thinking about Donathan.” The fact that Donathan remains game focused despite his OTT emotional content is a good sign. From the very start, Donathan has focused on building trust and forming social bonds. He outright said that he isn’t the most physical player, and with all the talk of different kinds of strength, social strength is definitely something Donathan has been associated with since the first Tribal Council. The edit has demonstrated that social strength in his bond with Laurel and now with Chris.
Where is Donathan’s story heading? In the short-term, he is set up as the man in the middle of the Domenick versus Chris showdown. The edit has told us that the decision he makes is important. In the long-term, and Donathan’s edit certainly seems like it has longevity, he will continue to forge forward with his social strength. I still believe that IF an original Malolo wins, Donathan is the most likely.
Chris Noble is an enigma. A freestyle rapping enigma. His edit is amazing to watch but also extremely difficult to analyze. I can’t tell if we’re meant to take him seriously or not. Are we supposed to be rooting for him or not? Maybe it doesn’t matter. But the truth is Chris has one of the most fascinating edits of the season. I briefly considered CP for how he related his bonding session with Donathan to the game, but the OTT elements were overpowering. How can you not rate an edit with a douchey freestyle rap as OTT? His Reward Challenge performance praise, the rap, his constant begging for the chocolate pastry, and the mom talk, all of those moments had prominent OTT elements.
As always, Chris’ edit is this mixed bag of tone. His Reward Challenge win was overly positive, but then it felt like the boastful rap confessional was included to make fun of him. The same with his chocolate obsession. Three times we heard Chris request the chocolate pastry… subtitled too! Why keep showing that? I suppose it continues the theme of Chris trying to impose his will on others, but never quite getting his way. “I would really like the chocolate, but if people want to split it, I’m more than happy to do that too,” he said, followed by Laurel enjoying the chocolate. That implies Chris didn’t get it all to himself. It seems like such a weird thing to focus on, but honestly, the edit harped on it three separate times. Then it was back to the positive, with him reaching out to Donathan to form a new bond. “I could see Donathan was just a little upset, so I saw that as an opportunity to reach out to him because you know we’ve probably talked the least out of the four Malolo’s,” he explained. “I was telling him about my mom because I figured it was a good way to relate and to connect and build true relationships and bonds.”
Here’s the thing we need to think about – has Chris ever been wrong? I mean, the edit has undermined his approach at times, and the producers are clearly having fun with his more egotistical side, but concerning the game, has he made an incorrect call? He was rightly suspicious about Domenick’s idol ploy in Episode 2, he was correct when he told Angela not to trust Domenick and Wendell, and he was right last week when he recognized that the shot at Angela was technically a shot at him. And this week he was aware that Donathan was upset and smartly used that to form a relationship, and based on Donathan’s confessional, it worked. This is what makes Chris’ edit so unusual. The show could quite easily portray him as a Drew Christy style buffoon with his dumb raps and overinflated ego, but that’s not the character we’re seeing. Yes, there is a lot of OTTness to his edit, but there is also complexity and rational strategic thinking. I wish I could predict where Chris’ story is heading, but honestly, your guess is as good as mine.
After coming across as a cartoon villain in Episode 4, this week saw a more rounded view of Bradley. There was less arrogance and far less of the OTT deluded leader elements. He actually got to acknowledge his mistakes. In the first confessional of the episode, Bradley referred to the previous Tribal Council as a “massive wake up call” and stated that without the Naviti 5 holding strong he’d have gone home. On top of that, he also admitted that his read of Michael as a “fratty bro” was “dead wrong” and he can now see that Michael came to play hard. However, it seems like Michael might still be Bradley’s blindspot.
“I think every other person on original Naviti that is in my alliance sees that Michael is a huge threat,” he said at the start of the episode. Later, before Tribal Council, it was Bradley that said they should vote out Michael because he can’t be trusted. But then we saw Michael pleading his case to Bradley, offering his loyalty going forward. Bradley took it on board and said: “We’re on the same page.” Based on how it was presented, it implied that Michael changed Bradley’s mind, which was further cemented when Michael directly thanked Bradley at Tribal Council after the vote. That doesn’t look great for Bradley after previously saying Michael is a huge threat that can’t be trusted. It wouldn’t be surprising if that eventually comes back to bite Bradley. While there wasn’t the negativity of last week, the edit hasn’t given us any reason to root for Bradley, so you have to believe he will face comeuppance at some point.
We finally received some personal content from Jenna; even if it was very shallow, I think combined with the strategy talk and relationship focus at Tribal Council, it was just enough to scrape a CP-lite. The edit tried to give each of the Malolo 3 an emotionally charged story heading into Tribal. For Stephanie, it was about her superfan dreams, inner strength, and proving herself to her children. For Michael, it was also about his superfan dreams, plus his desire to show that he can accomplish big goals at such a young age. Both of those stories packed emotional weight and resonated with the audience. For Jenna, her story revolved around “Resting Bitch Face,” which is kind of funny when you put all three stories next to each other.
“In this game, you have to be likable, you have to be, you know, people wanna be around you. So I’ve been trying my best. But unfortunately, I always have this blank almost angry look on my face, so it’s hard for me to switch off the defensive bitchy look; that’s where I go,” she said. It felt like the editors were reaching to give Jenna a personal story, but even the fact that they tried shows CP-intent. Up until now, Jenna has been portrayed as Stephanie’s sidekick, but this episode was her chance to step out of the shadows. “It’s 100% an individual game at this point, and I’m just trying to think of a strategy best for myself,” she said. Her strategy was to get close to Sebastian. “So I want to try to work my way in with Sebastian. I just need to put my little wall aside, and I’m hoping that it will protect me.” We saw her put this into motion with some hair-sniffing. And, it worked! Sebastian said “…as long as she keeps flirting with me, that’s cool, and I’m not opposed to her staying in this game,” and Sebastian pushed for Stephanie to leave over Jenna.
Is this the start of a Jenna break out? It’s hard to say. Her lackluster edit so far tells me that she isn’t a central character of the season. Also, the fact she’s moved from Stephanie to Sebastian could suggest she is destined to be somebody’s sidekick. I feel like Jenna is a middle-ish character. She’s not one of the top dogs leading the narrative like a Domenick, Chris, or Donathan, but she’s not languishing in obscurity with Libby, Angela, and Chelsea.
This was a huge edit for Michael and cemented him as one of the season’s star characters. Now that Stephanie is gone, Michael becomes the key figure in the Malolo underdog story (there isn’t enough focus or complexity for Jenna to take that role) and that could take him far. Michael is presented as a fighter that will never give up. He is there to play hard, more so than many people realized. That whole opening scene at the Malolo camp was all about Michael. The tribe was impressed with Michael’s idol lie. Bradley acknowledged that he had underestimated Michael and referred to him as a “huge threat.” Despite Michael’s move not working, he didn’t receive negative backlash, either from the edit itself or from the players. Instead, his fighting spirit was praised.
Michael is a character that never rests on his laurels. He acknowledges his mistakes and finds a new way forward. “It was a gamble, and for me, in this game, it was my first hard fall,” he said about his idol lie. “I don’t think that I’ve reversed any curse because I didn’t play the idol right and I’m still beating myself up for that, but tribal proved to me that we are the three on the bottom, so after tonight’s vote I definitely have my work cut out for me.” That confessional set-up Michael’s story for the episode. He had to go to work to survive. “I think that it’s all going to be an understanding that it’s every man for themselves, and I really wouldn’t want to see Steph or Jenna go, but I’m prepared to write down either of their names tonight,” he said later in the episode. Much like Jenna, Michael stated his intent to play an individual game now. And, also like Jenna, he was shown working his social game and creating bonds, specifically in his chat with Bradley (which seemed to take his name off the chopping block). “I’ve given my best and some, I’ve been playing the game I’ve been waiting to play for ten years. And I would never forgive myself if I didn’t try my hardest,” he said, hammering home his “play hard” theme.
What makes Michael a far more compelling character (and overall edit) than Jenna is his consistent personal content. I’ve mentioned it before, but Michael was the only Malolo to be introduced in the Malolo group introductions scene in the premiere, and immediately revealed some personal info about his age and his dream to play Survivor. That right there should have told us his story was more important than Stephanie’s. His age and Survivor fandom has been consistently mentioned in subsequent episodes, including this one. “I am only 18, and this game, it’s the best experience in my life so far, and the fact it does seem like my options are very limited, it’s hard… it’s frustrating,” he said. “You know, I’ve always been an independent person and somebody that wanted more for myself. To move away from my family at a young age, and to come out here and play this crazy game, for me I just, I want to accomplish things as young as I can, and I really want it.” Michael’s story arc is clear; he’s the young Survivor superfan that will never stop fighting for his place in the game. Perhaps he is the Season 31 Wentworth?
Could Michael win? It’s not impossible. I believe he’s the only other original Malolo besides Donathan that could feasibly do it edit-wise. He has more flaws in his edit than Donathan, the biggest being his closing confessional in the premiere, which actually related to Donathan, about wanting to keep physical strength (Gonzalez) and how the first vote could come back to haunt him later. Perhaps that was foreshadowing Michael’s eventual downfall. But putting that aside, Michael has a lot of positives in his edit. Win or lose; he is obviously one of the season’s pivotal characters.
That’s it for this week’s Edgic! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.