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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As we head into the season finale, the penultimate episode helped cement a few of the narratives we’ve been following all the season. While each of the final five have had their share of ups and downs, and at one time or another have each had a break-out episode and a relevant story-arc, it seems to be coming down to two characters. Ben and Devon appear to be the front-runners Edgically speaking as we move into the last episode of the season. The other three characters took some big hits in this episode in terms of winner chances.
I will break things down for each of the Final 5, but as I’m currently sick and dosed up on cold & flu tablets, I may not be as in-depth as usual. But I will try to give a brief overview of each character as we prepare for tonight’s finale.
Under The Radar
There is no doubt that Ryan has been one of this season’s most prominent characters. But most of his editorial focus and complexity came pre-merge. His post-merge edit has been a mixed bag of ratings and handled with much less care and consistency than his early edit. Back-to-back UTR ratings and Negative-tone (from what Mike said about him post-Reward Challenge) heading into the finale tells me that Ryan is not the winner of this season.
Ryan felt very much like an after-thought in Episode 13. He had just two confessionals, both during the reward scene. His first was simple narration about the food. His second referenced his rocky relationship with Devon and how he’d like to go to the end with him and Chrissy. That was basically it as far as strategy talk. We never heard Ryan’s thoughts during the discussion at the table, which was led by Chrissy and Devon. The same thing happened after the immunity challenge. The strategy talk in the water was led by Ashley, Chrissy and Devon. Ryan was just there nodding along. Then at the tribe flag, Chrissy pitched her plan to Ryan and Mike, but all we heard from Ryan was “Mmhmm” over and over. There was nothing here to push Ryan to MOR.
I wondered last week if Ryan’s UTR rating was protecting him from the post-blindside backlash or if he was simply irrelevant to the dominant narrative. Now with two UTRs in a row, it looks like the edit is telling us Ryan isn’t as important to the end-game narrative as Ben, Chrissy, and Devon. I mean, it’s possible he could still make the Final Tribal Council, we did see him form a new Final 3 deal with Chrissy and Devon, so there is set-up. That could have also been included to put the focus back on his relationship with Devon, which has been a recurring story since Episode 1. There is probably one last chapter to their story before all is said and done. But my gut feeling is that this diminished late-game edit means Ryan will be out before the FTC.
Middle of the Road
It felt right that Ashley would be the next one out. Her edit was the least consistent out of those remaining and had really dropped off since the merge hit. When she became too comfortable in her alliance, that gave us signs of impending doom. As I said last week: “If this theme of “getting too comfortable” holds true, along with Ashley failing to make a move, then I could see her gone soon, perhaps even in the upcoming episode.”
As I picked up on a couple of week’s ago, Ashley’s most consistent narrative throughout the season has been her inability to make a move. Not that she hasn’t attempted to make a move, just that something always goes wrong or ends up thwarting it somehow. That held true in her final episode. Firstly, Ben told her that she could use his vote for something, both at camp, and then later at Tribal Council, but Ashley turned Ben down. She knew Ben was right but talked herself out of it. “Ben is saying that Devon and I don’t really have an upper hand anymore, and I think that’s true to a very large extent,” she said. “But coming from Ben, I have to think about it like he’s probably just saying that too just to save himself.” Ashley correctly called that what Ben was saying was true “to a very large extent,” but then second-guessed herself, and became focused too much on the threat posed by Ben.
Later in the episode, Ashley was shown to be the only person truly worried about Ben finding another idol. She therefore pitched a split vote plan, wanting the alliance to split the votes between Ben and Mike. It was a solid idea, but once again, Ashley’s move hit a dead-end. Chrissy had already started forming a counter plan to get rid of Ashley. One of the reason’s the target landed on Ashley was because of her reaction after the Reward Challenge. She was visibly upset and questioned Chrissy and Devon’s decision. That goes all the way back to the pre-merge when Joe put a stop to Ashley’s move with an idol play and blamed it on being able to read her face. Ashley had good instincts but often sabotaged her own moves by giving too much away or not acting quick enough.
Overall, I’ve rated Ashley MOR for the season. She had a heavy CP pre-merge, but looking back, I do think I over-estimated some of those ratings, and at least one or two should have been MOR. Then her post-merge edit really took a big dip as she mostly fell into the background. We never learned a whole lot about Ashley on a personal level, the edit didn’t follow her relationships consistently, and she didn’t often get to expand on her strategic game.
This episode cemented two of Mike‘s most dominant character traits. He’s underestimated. And he’s always outplayed and tricked by Ben. I ended last week’s write-up saying, “I think the big question for Mike’s edit now is, will he ever get one over on Ben? Or will he continue to get outplayed right to the very end?” Well, I think we can safely say the latter continues to be the driving narrative for Mike.
Even though Mike has this consistent theme of being underestimated, which was brought up again during the reward, when Chrissy literally said it herself, the edit has undermined him too much for him to be a winner. He is continuously shown to be wrong. The big one this episode revolved around the idol. “I’ve searched the beach, I’ve searched the woods, I’ve searched the paths, and I can’t find the idol anywhere,” Mike said. “So I’m not worried about Ben searching for the idol. There’s no reason to keep following him around. Ben is not going to find another idol twice in a row.” Ben, of course, would go on to find another idol. There is just no reason for the edit to highlight Mike saying this other than to make him look foolish and make Ben look smart. If Mike was the winner, that confessional could quite easily have hit the cutting room floor. Not only that, but Mike continued to be incorrect: “As long as [Ben] doesn’t win immunity, which he’s never done, I feel pretty confident Ben’s going home.” Ben didn’t win immunity, but he also didn’t go home. Mike is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
The only other moment where Mike got focus in this episode was after the Reward Challenge. He complained about Ryan getting chosen over him. He said Ryan was the “least deserving” to go on reward. He called Ryan’s survival and challenge skills into question. “He can’t even keep a rope straight,” Mike said. “I was so pissed losing this challenge. I don’t know why Devon and Chrissy didn’t take me over Ryan,” he continued in confessional. “You would think that because I’m in the middle, I would be needed, unless Devon is trying to flip Ryan back to him. It’s very scary to think that Devon could be the deciding factor of me winning a million dollars.” This whole scene felt very weird. Mike hasn’t really had much association with Ryan or Devon throughout the game. Most of his story has revolved around the Healers, Joe, and Ben. Now there is this sudden anger at Ryan and worry that Devon may be “the deciding factor of me winning a million dollars.” Is that foreshadowing? You could certainly look at it as Devon ultimately has the deciding vote at Final Tribal Council. But does Mike’s edit point to him sitting at FTC? It’s not impossible but seems unlikely. Maybe it’s less specific and is more about how Devon and Ryan reuniting means Mike is on the chopping block.
For Mike, it comes down to which part of his edit you put most faith in. If you were to say his theme of being the underestimated underdog was his lead story, then I would say there is the slimmest chance he manages to make it to FTC and pull off a shock win. He’s certainly had a bunch of winner quotes over the course of the season. But if you see his central theme as being consistently outplayed and undermined, that would suggest he ultimately fails, either by losing at FTC or, perhaps more likely, not reaching FTC at all. Personally, I think his edit leans more to the latter, and I don’t see him as this season’s winner. Maybe he’ll have one last big play before the end though.
Chrissy has jumped back up in complexity these past couple of episodes, and that to me suggests she will be making FTC. She’s been one of the season’s most prominent characters and has a very rounded edit. We’ve seen her positives and negatives on full display. She has been both an underdog and a top dog at various points throughout the same. Chrissy is a big part of this season’s story, and I expect that to carry through until the very end.
But even though I think Chrissy’s edit points to her making FTC, I’m not so sure she can win. This episode did not shy away from undermining her. “I’m a little nervous because Ben is obviously looking for an idol, but everyone now wants Ben out of the game,” she said. While that was correct, what she said next was alarming. “So to keep me safe for one more tribal, I am banking on the fact that Ben will not find an idol again.” Ben, of course, did find another idol. For Chrissy to say she was “banking” on him not finding one, while seemingly not offering a strategy to stop him from finding one, was not a great look. She was similarly undermined at tribal when Ben revealed the idol and did his “explosion” sound effects. Chrissy brushed it off as not a big deal, even though the camera focused on her jaw-dropped, shocked expression when Ben first revealed it. It’s entirely possible that shot was from a different moment, but the edit spliced it in after Ben’s move, which is pure editorial manipulation.
The positive for Chrissy is that she ultimately got her way at tribal. While she initially was all “Ben must go next,” later in the episode she switched her target to Ashley. Chrissy took on the main strategic role of the episode. Not only did she pitch the new Final 3 deal with Devon and Ryan, but she gave the most detailed explanation of why she wanted this F3, and why it made sense for her to take out Ashley over Ben. “Although I don’t know him well, having Devon on the final three with me allows me to break up the Ashley-Devon alliance,” she explained. “Ashley was calling me out in front of our tribe, so if Ashley wants me out, then I want her out. On the other hand, Ben is a big threat, but he’s not attached to anyone, whereas Ashley right now has better relationships.” There are a couple of interesting things here. Firstly, saying that she doesn’t know Devon that well is perhaps a knock on her social game (and Devon’s). And her “If Ashley wants me out, I want her out” reasoning could play into the theme of taking things too personally, rather than looking at the bigger picture.
Later in the episode, Chrissy won the Immunity Challenge, which backed up what Devon said last week about her “challenge capabilities.” It also put Chrissy in the power position going into tribal council. “My whole plan was to try and win immunity so that going into tribal council either Ashley or Ben was available to be voted out,” she said. “So I have to decide which one I want to vote out first. This is my time to be in control of the game.” Chrissy would then go on to pitch the idea of getting rid of Ashley to her alliance. She stated that Ben wouldn’t win the next two challenges (so that is worth keeping in mind). “Ashley’s plan is to split the votes for Ben and Mike, see if anyone plays the idol, and if no one plays the idol, then vote out Ben,” Chrissy explained. “But I would actually like to vote Ashley out first, because she is the one that I trust the least, and I know she’s gunning for me to be out. So I’ve got to get rid of her.” Despite Chrissy being wrong about Ben’s idol, she did ultimately get her way by voting out Ashley.
So what do we know about Chrissy heading into the finale? We know that she is currently in a position of control. We know she has a Final 3 deal with Devon and Ryan. We now she is a strong challenge competitor. We know that she is a long-time Survivor fan, plus other personal info such as her family life and job. We know that she has an up and down relationship with Ben and is currently underestimating him (banking on him not finding an idol, thinking he won’t win the next two challenges). We also have this continuous theme of her taking the game too personally. When she is blindsided, she takes it as a betrayal of friendship. She has been shown to be revenge orientated (not letting Ben see his “sweet wife”). All of this amounts to a rounded CP edit that should see her sitting at the FTC. I imagine the topic of personal moves versus strategic moves will be a key focus from the jury. With the way the edit has undermined her since the merge, I’m not sure she can win, but I’d probably put her third behind Devon and Ben.
This has really become the season of Ben, and this episode in particular was Ben-dominated. As I said last week, Ben is always shown to be able to get himself out of a tough situation. He is public enemy number one but always stays one step ahead. The edit has no problem with showing his fellow competitors to be foolish. Ben pretty much described his story at the start of the episode: “Everybody is painting me as the bad guy, and, you know, I have no alliances anymore. So I got a long, hard road ahead of me now.” The story is, can Ben make it to the end?
Ben was all over this episode. Twelve confessionals in total. Most of them describing his idol searching. But it wasn’t just idol related. Ben was literally looking for anything to help him survive one more day. He tried to exploit Ashley and Mike’s anger of not being picked for the reward. But that hit a brick wall. He tried to win immunity but failed. Only when these alternative options fell through did Ben return to his idol searching. “But being a marine, you never give up,” he said. That is very much Ben’s theme at this point. Never give up. “Everybody on this camp wants me gone, but if I can find the idol, I can blow up this whole game, so I’m not going anywhere until I get that idol.” He did ultimately find the idol. The question is if he blew up the whole game? He didn’t seem to get his way at tribal – he was pushing for Mike – and it was Chrissy that seemingly controlled where the votes were going. But there is no doubt that the edit made everyone else look stupid for allowing Ben to find the idol. Ben even said, “Those people are crazy for not following me.”
When and where will Ben’s story end? Going into the finale, Ben is the man to beat. Even though his path to the end might be tough, on paper, he looks like a winner. He’s had a high-vis, rounded CP edit. He’s almost always shown as correct or a step ahead of the competition. He always gets to explain himself and his moves. He has a big personal story with his PTSD. His relationships have always had a big focus. But just because he is the man to beat, doesn’t mean that he will win. That was the role David had heading into the Millennials vs Gen X finale. The man to beat CAN be beaten. Ben leaving in fourth place wouldn’t be completely shocking. But I think his edit suggests he will make FTC. He avoided those downfall signals earlier in the merge and is now the underdog, and with the way the edit has made everyone else look foolish, it would seem strange for Ben not to achieve his goal of making it to the end.
But can Ben win at FTC? It’s very likely, but not a sure thing. We’ve seen over these past few episodes several players saying how Ben will be impossible to beat at the end. It was brought up multiple times in this episode alone. “If Ben is in the final three, none of us stand a chance,” Devon said. We’ve also seen jury members reacting positively to Ben, like Joe clapping when Ben makes a move. But is this all too on the nose? Would it be too obvious for Ben to win now? Remember in Kaoh Rong we heard various players talking about how much of a threat Aubry was and how she’d be tough to beat at FTC. But Aubry lost in the end. If Ben was to lose, I could see it coming down to the same thing as Chrissy, personal moves versus strategic moves. Ben has told us that he thinks tactically and not emotionally, but that hasn’t always been backed up by the edit. He became frustrated with Cole because of his eating habits. He openly argued with Joe after Joe personally offended him. He wanted to plant a fake idol to trick Chrissy, which Lauren called out as taking things to a personal level. Ben has always explained the strategic side of these moves, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be perceived differently by the jurors.
Here is some wild speculation. There has been a long-held theory that this season will end in a tie, ever since Probst explained the tie-break rules at the Game Changers finale. There haven’t really been any hints toward that in the edit, but if it does turn out to be true, Ben could very well tie at FTC, most likely with Devon, who has been presented as Ben’s main competition ever since he donned the cowboy hat. If Chrissy is also at FTC, she would get to cast the deciding vote. If that’s the case, it would make sense why Ben and Chrissy’s relationship had such focus from early on. It would also play into the theme of gameplay vs. emotions. Would Chrissy vote personal, by denying Ben the win? Or would she respect Ben’s gameplay, and vote for him as Sole Survivor? I’m not saying this will happen, because there is no real reason to believe a tie vote will take place. But I wanted to put that theory into the context of this season’s edit in the event it comes true.
My thoughts on Devon remain pretty much the same as last week. “While I think there are some red flags in Devon’s edit, he still has story-potential and remains a top contender, simply because he has fewer flaws overall than most of the others remaining.” He had more red flags in this episode, mostly being wrong about Ben, but overall his flaws are less glaring than the others.
This episode started with Devon calling Ben the “Survivor devil” and saying that he would stop Ben from winning immunity. Devon would later trail behind in the Immunity Challenge, which Probst pointed out, so even though Ben didn’t win, the fact Devon didn’t personally stop him, and performed the worse out of everyone, made his earlier statement look stupid. He also looked foolish at tribal council when he blatantly said “Ben is going home tonight,” only for Ben to whip out the idol. But here is the interesting thing, the edit always provides Devon with some leeway. Even though he was gung-ho in wanting to take out Ben, earlier in the episode he said: “Ben is still everyone’s number one target, but this game is never as simple as you want it to be. As soon as I think, ‘Oh, I have this perfect plan, it’s going to be so easy,’ that’s when things just turn upside down and everything goes the opposite way and you have to devise this whole new plan and start over.” He recognized the potential for his plans to fall apart. There was no reason to show that if the edit didn’t care about making Devon seem game-aware.
At the reward, Devon agreed to the Final 3 deal that Chrissy proposed. Unlike Ryan, Devon was an active part of this conversation. His confessional was also more detailed. “Chrissy brought up the idea of us three starting an alliance and going to the final three together,” he said. “Ryan was my closest ally, and then he was my number one enemy, but regardless of how unaligned we’ve been over the past few votes, I feel like this is the perfect time to make a move, so I’m just going with who I think I have the best shot of going to the final three with and who I think I can beat in the end.” Not only did we have the reunion of the Devon/Ryan relationship, which was lingering in the edit, but Devon told us he was focusing on who he can beat in the end. If you compare it to Ryan’s confessional, the bellhop simply said he’d love to go to the end with Chrissy and Devon, nothing about winning or beating them. Devon believes he can beat Ryan and Chrissy – and edgically, if this is the F3, Devon should be victorious. However, Devon doesn’t believe he can beat Ben. “If Ben is in the final three, none of us stand a chance.”
One of Devon’s main stories now is beating Ben. Or trying to beat Ben. “You should have voted me out. Because I ain’t gonna let you win immunity, I’m telling ya right now,” Devon told Ben. He basically declared war. He failed in this episode, but will Devon eventually topple Ben? Will he beat him in one of the two remaining Immunity Challenges? Or will this battle go all the way to the very end? Devon is clearly worried about Ben. He was unsure about Chrissy’s decision to target Ashley. “I really like Ashley, and now Chrissy starts pitching this idea of getting rid of Ashley before Ben, which is just crazy to me because Ben is dangerous,” he said. But Devon failed to stop Ben from finding another idol and in the end had to vote out Ashley, someone he liked. Ashley then refused a hug from Devon on the way out. So right now, Ben is getting one over on Devon.
Even though this episode set up a Devon/Chrissy/Ryan F3, I truly feel like the edit is pointing to a Ben vs. Devon showdown at FTC, especially with what Devon said in this episode. Ben called out Devon for not making a move. “Why would I tell you everything about my game?” Devon responded. “Eventually you’re gonna have to tell me if I’m gonna be sitting over there,” Ben replied. “Yeah, but you’re not over there right now. If you wanna know my resume, I can tell you when you’re over there. But until then you should be happy that you’re here,” Devon answered back. There are various ways you can read this scene. It could point to Devon getting cocky and him being voted out before FTC. It could mean Ben does end up on the jury and Devon ends up explaining his moves to Ben and maybe getting his vote. Or Devon is going to end up explaining his moves with Ben sitting right next to him at the end. The edit made sure to show us Devon coming up with the Secret Spy Ben plan. It made sure to show us Devon coming up with the fake split vote plan to take out Joe. I believe the reason for showing those is because Devon will explain his part in those moves at FTC.
Can Devon win? I think so. It is between him and Ben, and I think that is what we are supposed to believe heading into the finale. It could honestly come right down to the wire, especially if that tie-vote theory comes true. Ben is the man to beat. Devon is the man that has said he can beat him. If Ben wins, it will be the story of how Devon failed to stop Ben from making it to the end. If Ben is voted out before FTC and Devon goes on to win, it will be the story of how Devon was able to stop the man who never gives up. If Devon somehow beats Ben at FTC, it will be the story of how Devon beat the unbeatable. If that last scenario happens, I feel it would be because Ben and Chrissy would be held responsible for making personal moves. Whereas Devon, for the most part, has been portrayed as the likable “bright light,” and if he’s able to combine that with a solid explanation of his game moves, that could seal the win.