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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This was Jenna‘s first INV rating of the season, and while obviously not a good thing for her edit overall, it doesn’t hurt her quite as much in this particular episode. Across the 42-minute runtime, the edit had to cover three tribes, two challenges, two idol finds, Ghost Island, and the dynamics of the losing tribe. That is probably why we saw three INV ratings, and they all came from the Yanuya tribe – the tribe that not only didn’t attend Tribal Council but didn’t have a long-running story to follow-up on like Malolo.
There was just one brief shot worth mentioning in regards to Jenna. When Wendell had his big idol find scene, he talked about the rest of his tribe sleeping while he went on the hunt. We saw a quick shot of Jenna and Sebastian asleep on the beach. Not only does that continue to present Jenna and Sebastian as a pair, but showing them “sleeping on the job” is never a good look in Survivor. While the INV rating here can be justified to an extent, it certainly doesn’t change our read of Jenna as mid-level (at best) character who is unimportant to the overall season narrative.
Sebastian‘s edit was the same as Jenna’s this episode. He didn’t even have his usual OTT elements – unless you count his tongue wagging at the mere mention of steak. He was entirely in the background, and, like Jenna, the only moment of note was him asleep on the beach while Wendell was out idol searching. Another mid-level character that isn’t driving the story forward but will probably pop back up when necessary to other people’s stories.
This was an awkward one for Laurel. She had such a strong showing edit-wise in Episode 6, but this drop to INV confirmed all my worries, that despite some strong content, she is still way behind many other characters. Again, you can somewhat justify an INV in this jam-packed episode, but it’s still a negative sign. I feel like Laurel needed something here, even if it was just a narrational confessional about the reward, kind of like what Chris received. She was also shown sleeping while Wendell was idol searching, and that makes me feel uneasy. I do still think Laurel has enough legs in her edit to go pretty far and play a part in the post-merge dynamics but is this season her story? I don’t think so.
Under The Radar
Not much for Angela this episode. She had a few lines at camp during the flag burning (and accidentally called Michael “James”), which just scraped her an UTR1 rating, but other than that, zilch. Angela is a prime example of a character that is only important when she goes to Tribal Council. In Episodes 3 and 6, when she attended Tribal, she had solid CP ratings. Every other episode has either been INV or low-vis UTR. The slight positive for Angela is that she has had some personal content and there is a clear theme to do with “family” and playing with her heart. There is also the previous connection with Chris which could play a part again as we head into the merge. She’s never going to be a top character and winning is all but impossible, but there are at least some loose threads to be picked up later.
I almost went with OTT for Chris this week because his brief confessional was mostly about food, but it didn’t feel OTT enough. It felt more like basic narration, and that is standard UTR. “Yeah, we’re bummed we didn’t come in first. We have the mindset of a team that likes to win and win it all. But at the end of the day, getting anything different and appetizing to fill your stomach is a win, especially when you’re one of the bigger guys like me who has to eat. I love to eat.” It was fluff, but having this small check-in with Chris further proves he’s one of the season’s biggest characters. He didn’t have a real story this episode (his big story is his feud with Dom, which took a backseat), but the edit still felt it necessary to keep him visible. Also, the comments about the challenge and “we want to win” continues to paint Chris as a representation of the physical strength portion of the “different kinds of strength” theme.
Middle of the Road
Libby finally returned to our screens this week, so that’s something at least, but there was still a distinct lack of depth to her edit. The only reason I went for MOR over UTR was because of her answers at Tribal Council about how she previously proved her loyalty to her alliance and how she can offer that same loyalty to a new alliance going forward. I felt that was just to enough to warrant a MOR due to the forward-planning.
The positive for Libby is that she does have a small albeit inconsistent narrative function. She is the “cute blonde” that shouldn’t be trusted. That was her story in Episode 3, it came up again last week via Domenick, and it was given as the reason to potentially boot her in this episode. The problem is that it’s never followed up on in any sort of substantial way. She disappears for weeks at a time, which suggests her overall effect on the season is not important. I said last week that the sudden “don’t trust Libby” stuff from Domenick made me think “Libby is in imminent danger or at least will be a decoy boot in the near future.” That is what played out in this episode. Libby was the other boot option, and therefore she received necessary screentime.
Where does Libby go from here? The fact that she survived this episode, and that Domenick voted with her despite saying she needed to go as bad as Chris last week, sets up her potentially costing Domenick at the merge. Her only character trait is “don’t trust the cute blonde,” and so it should be expected she will do something to live up to that moniker. It will be interesting to see if Libby’s visibility trends upwards now that she will be attending Tribal Council each week or if she remains a background player.
The thing that continues to be such a positive for Donathan‘s edit is that he is never shown to be wrong. He is never undermined. Even if other people in the game try to undermine him, like a Bradley for example, the edit always backs him up. This episode was a prime example of that. Bradley was shown snapping at Donathan during the Reward Challenge, but Donathan’s success in that very same challenge was given a positive bent from an editing perspective. Bradley was the one shown to be in the wrong, as we saw Donathan’s tribemates backing him up back at camp.
Donathan may not have been very active in the strategizing this episode, but he didn’t need to be, he explained how he was going to play the next vote. “I’m just going to like let [Bradley] do his own thing and let him dig his own grave out here,” he said. That’s exactly what happened. Bradley’s attitude around camp cost him his game. All Donathan had to do was sit back and smile. He also correctly named Bradley as the target and explained the current dynamics of the tribe. “There are three original Navitis – Chelsea, Bradley and Domenick, and then you got me and Libby, original Malolos, and if those three Navitis stick together me and hers on the bottom,” he said. “But I feel like we’re kinda on the same page today about Bradley. So if we lose the next immunity challenge, I hope Bradley is the next target.” Donathan was right, the tribe was on the same page about Bradley, and he was the next target.
I still believe that IF an original Malolo wins this game, then Donathan is the most likely candidate. He fits the theme of “social strength trumps physical strength” better than most, and also has his eyes on the prize, regardless of what Bradley said about him only being here for a “beach vacation.” And even if Donathan isn’t the winner, he is still a huge character who is set up to play a critical role at the merge. He has connections with multiple characters, including Laurel, Chris, Domenick and Wendell, which could put him in a pivotal role in the impending Dom vs. Chris battle.
I considered CP for Chelsea in this episode for a while. She did talk about the vote and the potential repercussions down the line. And we did see her in a couple of strategy talks at camp. But after rewatching and rewatching, I just couldn’t see depth to Chelsea’s edit. I still don’t know who Chelsea is, where she comes from, what her life is like back home and how it applies to her game. I don’t even really know her game or who she considers her closest allies. The edit just hasn’t given us any of that. That’s why I find it really hard to rate this episode anything above MOR for Chelsea.
“Libby thinks we’re going with Bradley tonight, but we have a little bit of a decision here because we’re getting close to a merge,” she said in her one confessional. “You have to start thinking about how you’re going to survive and make it to the end of this game. And voting out Bradley – I mean that is betraying Naviti, the original Naviti, and that is huge.” She was looking ahead to the end of the game, but it was relatively basic and didn’t go into any great detail. Instead, her confessional focused on betraying Naviti, and I believe that is the important take away here. It’s not so much about Chelsea’s individual game or story-arc, it’s about the disintegration of original Naviti and how that will play its part at the merge. Chelsea’s lackluster edit so far doesn’t suggest she’ll play the lead role in that, but she is likely a secondary character in the upcoming fallout.
Other than her connection to the Naviti storyline, there just isn’t anything substantial to take hold of with Chelsea’s edit. There is zero personal content. There are no close bonds or relationships to watch out for in the future. She is just kind of there.
Over The Top
This edit this season has thrown me off a couple of times, but when it comes to Bradley, I nailed it. Last week the sudden focus on Bradley’s relationship with Domenick seemed suspicious to me. It came out of nowhere, and for that reason, I didn’t trust it. Here’s what I said: “That makes me feel like there is a different story purpose for this sudden relationship, and that could be Bradley mistakenly thinking he has Domenick on his side. We’ve seen Domenick showing a willingness to work with old Malolos (Laurel and Donathan), and that could eventually have an impact on Bradley, whose villain edit suggests a future downfall.” It happened sooner than I expected, but other than that, it went down as I expected.
I went for OTTN for Bradley this episode, and overall, because despite his strategy talk, the extent of his negativity overrode everything else. “For me, the hardest test out here is like not to be a total dick because historically in my personal life that’s been what derails it all and then I won’t be able to get back on the track,” he said. That summed up his edit for this episode and his season as a whole. Bradley was unable to stop himself from being a “dick,” and it cost him. We saw him snapping at Donathan during the Reward Challenge, clapping his hands at Donathan back at camp, making bossy remarks to Domenick and Chelsea. “Bradley is getting snappy and people around me are starting to see that as well,” Domenick said, and there was a scene of the entire Naviti tribe together sharing in their dislike for the young Law Student. “He’s a nasty son of a b**ch” Domenick added.
It was always obvious Bradley was heading for a downfall. He was painted as a villain for that very reason. And the fact that he was absent from the two-episode premiere told us that he wasn’t the complex style of villain who could potentially win. While he had a few CP strategic moments, he was mostly a one-note OTT bad guy, deluded about how in control he was, dismissing of others, and shown to be unappreciative of the experience. His downfall was always going to come, especially in a season where the theme of social strength shines so brightly; Bradley was shown not to have the social skills to succeed. And with the Bradley saga over, it closes the chapter on the pre-merge and opens up the game come the merge.
I struggled to place Desiree‘s edit this week. At one time or another I had her as UTR, MOR, and OTT. She was fairly visible, and her content had story implications, but it was all very narrational and one-note. It was all to do with the Malolo curse, the tribe’s “bad juju,” and burning flags. Because of that, I decided to go with OTT. “This might be the most losing tribe in Survivor history. I don’t want any remnants of Malolo near my at all. It’s bad juju. I don’t want it,” she said. She then suggested burning the tribe banner to reverse the curse. That in itself is quite an OTT thing to do. But the funny thing is, Desiree was right, at least as far as the edit goes, because after burning the flag, Malolo finally won a challenge.
Desiree’s only other brief bit of content came at the start of the episode when Michael was looking for the idol. Again, she was correct in her read; she knew that Michael was idol searching. But she didn’t do anything to stop him or talk about how she planned to combat a potential idol find. I think Desiree has one of the hardest edits to read. There is some decent stuff here, like her continuous correct calls, but there are worries too, like the alarming lack of personal content.
Michael was back in a big way this episode and hit all the key points of his edit so far. The majority of his content came at the beginning of the episode, where he explained why he voted for James, and then found his second idol of the season. I wondered why we didn’t get any reasoning from Michael last week in regards to his James vote, I thought it might have been to maintain tension and also distance himself from the Naviti majority. Michael has always been the Malolo underdog, and his explanation here confirmed that theme. “I got rid of James to save myself, but you know, I gotta do what I gotta do to get by,” he said. “And now I am the last Malolo so I am definitely worried that I could be next just because the last three votes have been Malolo players, so finding an idol for me is the most important thing in my game right now.”
He then put his words into action, narrating his second idol discovery of the season. Unlike last time, when Stephanie and Jenna received the lead-in to Michael’s idol find, this time it was all Michael. “At this point, I’m not too worried about getting caught. I’m going to be aggressive; I’m going to go out there and tear this island apart if I have to,” he said. I think now that the Malolo curse has been lifted – bringing an end to that pre-merge narrative – that this is the new path forward for Michael. He is going to be the aggressive player, fighting his hardest to survive. His aggression paid off here as he found the idol and promised “to do some damage with this guy.” Wherever Michael ends up this season, I expect him to fight until the very end, whether that results in a torch snuffing or a $1 million check – I think edit-wise a torch snuffing seems more likely.
I think this episode signaled a turning point for Kellyn. Throughout the pre-merge, Kellyn has been one of the main proponents of “Naviti strong” and sticking with her original tribe. But it seemed like we had enough set up in her early confessionals about her personal life – specifically relating to her divorce and how she changed paths – to suggest that eventually, she would change direction. This episode provided Kellyn with a new path forward, and not just because her close ally Bradley was eliminated, but because of her second trip to Ghost Island.
Kellyn’s first journey to Ghost Island ended with her turning down the game of chance because she didn’t want to lose the Naviti numbers advantage. She was very much thinking about the game from a tribe/alliance perspective, rather than being selfish and looking out for her own interests. This time around, with the merge approaching, she shifted focus. “My first trip to Ghost Island I just trusted my gut and decided to play it safe, not play the game and keep my vote,” she explained. “Now, we’re getting close to the merge; you can taste the fact that it’s almost an individual game at this point and to be more proactive is key.” Again, the “trust your gut” theme was as present as ever, but there was also talk of the individual game. Kellyn took the chance and it paid off. “This could be the pivotal point where Kellyn goes from just being this sweet girl who everyone likes to being the girl who is smart enough and tough enough to actually make it to the end and win this game. Boom!”
That final statement in her Ghost Island confessional sounded like a winner quote. But I have my hesitations about Kellyn being the winner. Once again, the camera zoomed in on the “One bad decision can haunt you forever” sign lingering above Kellyn’s shoulder. One time you could maybe brush off, but twice seems intentional, especially when Kellyn’s first confessional of the season was about her worst fear being making a wrong decision. While Kellyn has one of the more prominent edits and will likely be a significant character at the merge, her edit seems to suggest that she will make a crucial mistake somewhere down the line that could be costly. Whether that means she misplays her advantage, or it is some unrelated error, I’m not sure, but I feel that is where Kellyn’s edit is heading.
Domenick was all over this episode, very CP, very strategy-focused, he talked about his current position in the game and where things could be heading at the merge and beyond. He also didn’t talk about Chris for perhaps the first time this season. That in itself is a positive. However, I have a big concern for Domenick, and it relates to Libby. Last week, Domenick gave a big spiel about how Libby can’t be trusted, she’s “the devil in an angel’s body,” and that she had to go just as bad as Chris had to go. Domenick had a chance to vote her out this episode, and instead, he took out an original Naviti, and I feel like the edit has set that up to come back and haunt Domenick later.
The thing is, Domenick did get to explain his actions and was shown to be aware of the potential repercussions of his vote. He told us that he initially wanted to stick with Naviti but that Bradley’s attitude was rubbing people the wrong way. “Bradley constantly talks down to me like he’s above me and above everyone in this game,” he said. “Moving forward into the merge, Bradley’s attitude and short temper could be disastrous for me.” In a game about social strength, Domenick recognized that Bradley’s lack of social awareness could negatively affect his own game. “Bradley is a pain in the ass to be around, but from what it appears, he’s willing to work with me to at least get to the end, so I have to figure out what makes sense for my game.” The full episode was about Domenick’s dilemma and what decision made the most sense for him. He was given far more focus than Libby, Donathan, and Chelsea. That probably means the consequences affect him more than anyone else.
When it comes to Libby, again, Domenick remained cautious about her. “The reason Libby might be the better choice now is that she is very charming and I fell for that once when I gave her a little bit of rope and she hung me with it when my girl Morgan got voted out. So I certainly don’t trust Libby…” So he wasn’t completely blinded by her, he was still wary, and he explained why keeping Bradley could hurt him just as much. “I don’t know what to do at this point, so I have to determine if taking this risk before the merge is going to pay off in the end,” he added. That is the big question and the one which will probably drive Domenick’s story at the merge. Will keeping Libby ultimately destroy his game? Or will it prove to be his masterstroke? If I had to bet right now, based on the edit of the pre-merge, I would say that keeping Libby is going to come back to bite Domenick in the ass. That doesn’t mean she has to take him out directly, but perhaps she sides with Team Chris and ends up costing Domenick one of his closest allies.
There is enough complexity to Domenick’s edit that he could survive his Libby mistake, and the long-running feud with Chris is the most significant story heading into the merge, so Dom clearly has a big role to play. Next week’s merge episode will tell us a lot about where Domenick’s post-merge narrative is heading.
Wendell’s upward trajectory continued in this episode with another strong showing and his first CP rating since the premiere. On first watch you could be tempted to undersell Wendell’s edit here because of the idol find – that situation is always going to require focus. But on rewatch, there is definitely more to Wendell’s edit than a simple idol find. The scene talking about his girlfriend Nicole and the entire tribe singing Happy Birthday to her is far more important than the idol hunt that followed. Much like the shell scene the week before, this seemed completely unnecessary to the broader narrative. We didn’t need to have the Happy Birthday scene, that could have easily been cut-out and gone straight into Wendell talking about his tribe sleeping while he went hunting for idols. The fact we learned this personal information about Wendell, and how it showed his tribe bonding over it, is huge, as it continues to show him as a social player and it makes him relatable. Not to mention that modern-day winner edits always like to tie in a family element.
Recent winners like Ben, Adam, and Jeremy have used family as driving factors in their game and edit. That is why this is such a good look for Wendell. “Today is Nicole’s birthday, so it’s hard to not be with her on her birthday right now and be out here… It’s very difficult. But it gave me some sort of grit to really wanna use my time to find something that will further my game,” he said. His girlfriend gave him motivation and he put that to good use. He then gave a very detailed narration of his idol search. “I know food is going to make people tired. So when they’re kinda going to sleep that is my opportunity right there to sneak off “look for firewood,” but really, to look for the idol.” This another hallmark of a traditional winner edit. Working while your fellow tribemates sleep. “Idols are what you want in this game. I need this thing; it’s something that like, now is when I have to find the thing. This can get me to the end.” And just to add to his winner like content, Wendell also mentioned making it to the end. “I’m super excited to have this thing, I’m so proud and I worked hard for it. The curse will be reversed, and I can’t wait to use it.” Then, to top it off, he mentioned the season’s overarching theme of reversing curses. All of this looks great for Wendell.
Does that mean the season is a done deal? Is Wendell the winner? While I think he is probably at the top of the contender list, there are still parts of his edit that are worrying. There was his third episode where he made blatantly incorrect calls, like how he said the tribe wouldn’t lose a challenge (and then lost), and how he didn’t believe Angela, despite her telling the truth. He’s also had quite low visibility, including an INV rating in Episode 2. I don’t hold that against him too much in a season which has to dedicate a chunk of screentime to Ghost Island most weeks, and especially in Episode 2, which had a shorter running time overall, but it is worth noting. But if Wendell continues on this positively-toned, CP rise the next couple of weeks, then his chances will only get better and better.
That’s it for this week’s Edgic!