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?
Welcome back! Edgic has returned from the Edge of Extinction, and I’m ready to put my analytical hat back on for another season. So let’s waste no time in getting stuck into this Island of the Idols premiere.
First of all: intro business. While this season doesn’t have a game-breaking twist like the EOE, it does have a theme that is bound to shake-up the edit. The involvement of Boston Rob and Sandra means that we have two non-active participants who will be commenting on the game and its players throughout. So even though I won’t be giving Rob and Sandra their own Edgic ratings and analysis, it’s important to note what they have to say about the active competitors.
The Rob & Sandra twist already threw a wrench into the season-opening. The intro/marooning is usually one of the easiest ways to determine key characters of the season. That wasn’t the case here, as the majority of the intro was spent explaining the twist. We didn’t receive any confessionals from the new players—though we did hear three voiceovers:
Elizabeth – “39 seasons… this game is full of twists and turns.”
Jack – “There are endless things you have to adapt to.”
Aaron – “Survivor is where it’s at now because it’s evolved. And it’s about to get crazy.”
It’s unclear whether these quotes are significant to the players saying them or are just general season-hype. Though the fact that Elizabeth was the first person sent to the Island of the Idols (IOI) could suggest that they were intentionally given to specific people.
There were also some player close-ups laid over Jeff Probst’s intro, but I think these have become less important over the past couple of years. But I’ll make a note of them anyway. When Probst said, “Which ones will rise to the top,” we saw close-ups of Missy, Karishma, and Aaron. When he said, “And which ones will fall victim to the lessons learned,” we saw Elizabeth, Noura, and Tommy. Again, Elizabeth visited the IOI this episode, and she failed her test, so perhaps there is relevance. But I wouldn’t get too hung up on any of this just yet.
As for the episode as a whole, we received a fairly generous look at the entire cast, save for one or two. As you can see from the chart above, the ratings are pretty colorful; there were only four UTRs out of a cast of 20, and of those four, three of them still received a confessional. Whether the show can keep up this balanced editing in a regular 42-minute episode remains to be seen.
The other thing that stood out right away was the dominance of the women. The first seven confessionals of the season went to the ladies: Karishma, Chelsea, Elizabeth, Missy, Lauren, Molly, and Janet. It leaped out because that is so rare… maybe even a Survivor first? And it seemed intentional, given what else we saw later in the episode: the Lairo women forming an alliance, Missy talking about how women always get voted off first, the situation between Kellee & Dan on Vokai. My initial impression after this episode was that this is going to be a season of strong women.
That’s not to say a woman is guaranteed to win. It’s way too early to make claims that bold. There were similar “female-empowerment” vibes to David vs. Goliath last year but a man still ended up winning in the end. So while I feel like the edit is pointing to a season of strong women stories/characters, that doesn’t necessarily have to translate to the winner’s story.
Lastly, before we jump into the individual character write-ups, I want to touch on the complex tribe theory. Many Edgicers subscribe to the theory that whichever tribe has the most complex edit pre-merge is the tribe that contains the winner. I think it’s a very valid theory and one I personally put a lot of weight in. So which was the most complex tribe after episode one? It was a tough call. Both Lairo and Vokai received a decent amount of content which showed us the tribe dynamics and relationships. However, I lean towards Vokai being more complex.
Lairo attended Tribal Council and had one of their players sent to the IOI, so they were always going to receive more content. Vokai, on the other hand, didn’t have to vote anyone out and yet we still got plenty of insight into their tribe. They had a group scene at camp which introduced us by name to Lauren, Jamal, and Tommy. There was the whole situation with Jason and the idol, which led to story connections with Dan and Noura. Jack and Tommy both explained their games and formed an alliance. There was a scene of the majority alliance forming. And a major personal story with Kellee and Dan which could be a continuous narrative.
Again, it’s very early in the season, and a couple more episodes should really tell us which tribe is the most complex, but if I had to place a bet right now, I’d say the winner of the season is currently wearing a purple buff.
Under The Radar
As the only player not to receive a confessional, this wasn’t the ideal start for Dean—especially as he was on the tribe that attended Tribal Council. He was very close to getting an Invisible rating; thankfully, he was saved by Elaine, who name-checked him (subtitled) when she was joking about him starving to death. Also, he was mentioned by name post-Immunity Challenge when the various factions on Lairo were counting numbers. For those reasons, he just scraped a generous UTR1.
Does this rating mean Dean is dead-on-arrival? It’s certainly not the start you want if you’re looking for a winner contender. Yes, Chris Underwood won last season with a lackluster edit, but I’m not using that bad fever-dream of a season as precedent. There is no EOE twist here, so no real excuse for a winner not to be properly introduced in the season premiere. But this doesn’t mean Dean can’t be an important character later down the road.
For comparison, Alec in David vs. Goliath started the season with an UTR1, and while he was never a major part of the narrative, he made it to the merge and had a decent CP run before his elimination. Dean fits the Alec archetype almost to a tee, so there is a hope there. The difference is that Alec didn’t attend the first Tribal; Dean did, and the fact he didn’t comment on the vote or his position in the game at all is a little worrying.
It’s early days though, and one lackluster rating doesn’t completely kill a character off. It could be that Dean’s story doesn’t begin until later—perhaps his relevance to the season is connected to characters on the other tribe. Give it another couple of episodes, and we should get a better idea of whether Dean is truly DOA or just biding his time.
Chelsea‘s premiere edit can be summed up in two words: “idols” and “paranoia.” Pretty much all of her content revolved around the Island of the Idols theme: her confessional, her answer to Probst at the challenge, and her response at Tribal Council. It was almost like a copy-and-paste job.
In her first and only confessional, Chelsea talked about being “mind-blown” by the lack of marooning and the season theme. “When people talk about idols in general it’s already paranoia, but that’s what our season theme is revolved around?” she said. “There’s some twist out there, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for it.” It’s probably not a great sign to say you’re not ready for something in Survivor and it makes it seem like this twist will somehow hurt Chelsea.
Before the Immunity Challenge, she again talked about the paranoia caused by this mysterious theme. “Just the word “idol” creates paranoia, so we have a whole theme around that now, and no one knows what that means,” she said. It really felt like the edit was hammering home this idea of idols/the theme causing paranoia and it was using Chelsea as the cheerleader for that. The question is, did Chelsea just give the best soundbites? Or is she directly connected to this theme or paranoia?
The fact we didn’t learn anything about Chelsea on a personal or game level is not a great sign. We know nothing about her life or her strategy/alliances. She was involved in game-talk at the well, but this vote was not told from her perspective. Her name was mentioned as part of a voting-bloc, but we have no idea who she feels closest to or what her plans are moving forward.
A plus point for Chelsea’s edit is that she does have a connection to the theme and idols/paranoia. That means she could have a role to play in that regard. The downside is that there was no depth and no long-term narratives or relationships set-up.
On the surface, Jamal‘s edit didn’t seem like anything special. However, it’s not quite as bad as the UTR2 rating makes out. Despite a lack of content and an extremely generic confessional, there were subtle hints of potential long-term connections.
Firstly, Jamal was one of three Vokai members to introduce themselves in the first camp group scene. We didn’t learn anything about him other than his name, but still, the editors could have picked any of the 10 tribe members to highlight here, so why Jamal? We then didn’t hear from him again until a bit later in the episode when he gave a basic camp-life confessional. He talked about how everything was going awesome and couldn’t be any better. “We’re chilling,” he said. There was perhaps some slight editorial undermining here, given that what came next was the scene of Jason idol searching and the tribe turning against him. Maybe things weren’t as chill as Jamal believed?
While this content alone isn’t exactly memorable, there were a couple of under-the-radar moments that could point to Jamal’s long-term in-game relationships. There was a scene of him bonding with Tommy about their love for their fourth-grade teachers—yes, this was more about Tommy than Jamal, but it’s still a potential connection. And when the majority group came together, Jack specifically mentioned Jamal by name and said that he liked him, which received back-up from the rest of the group (not quite significant enough for a Positive-rating though).
These things don’t completely negate the lackluster premiere for Jamal, but it does give him some narrative options going forward. It seems right now that he’d be more of a secondary character within a larger group, but he could have his moments to shine every now and then.
Lauren‘s edit was similar to Chelsea’s in that it was mostly tied to the season theme—though she didn’t seem quite as paranoid about it as Chelsea. She didn’t have a lot of content across the episode, but we were introduced to her and, like Jamal, we have a vague sense of her early game relationships.
The first confessional on the Vokai tribe came from Lauren. “The theme of the season is Island of the Idols, which really makes your mind sort of go wild,” she said. “So it’s surprising, it’s shocking… and it’s cool.” It felt like Lauren was welcoming of the theme despite her initial shock, which is quite the contrast from Chelsea’s “Ohh noo… I’m not sure if I’m ready for it” stance. I think those who find success this season will be those who embrace the theme and all it has to offer. That could put Lauren in good stead.
Other than that, Lauren was kind of a background character for the majority of the episode, though she was the first person to introduce herself in the camp group scene. As I said in Jamal’s write-up, there are 10 tribe members, and the editors chose to highlight Lauren—that shouldn’t be ignored. We also saw her bonding with Tommy (again, this was more about Tommy than Lauren) and she was part of the majority alliance group chat. Later in the episode, she was present when Janet and Kellee were discussing the issue regarding Dan.
It’s hard to say right now what Lauren’s role will be in the season. Of all the UTRs, I think she stands out the most. There were no negative vibes here; just a lack of meaty content. We need to hear more from Lauren in the next couple of episodes, particularly game-related content. Right now, she feels like a mid-tier character but with the potential to rise based on how the next couple of weeks go.
Middle of the Road
Noura was borderline UTR, but I think there was just enough to her edit to push her into MOR. She wasn’t highly visible across the episode, but her one main scene and confessional explained the reasons behind her actions. She made a game move and told us her reasons for doing it—that was more than any of the four UTRs.
It was after the Vokai tribe pinpointed Jason as a target when Noura sprung into action. She approached Jason and told him that the rest of the tribe thinks he has the idol. “After I hear that people are saying Jason’s name, I’m thinking, ‘I like the guy, and I wanna work with him,'” she explained in confessional. She continued: “He reminds me of an ex-boyfriend that I feel is a very authentic, good guy that I can trust… I wanna work with that. So what’s the first thing I do? I go to him, and I tell him.”
The fact Noura gave a reason for her actions = good. Her wisdom that “perception is reality” = good. The reason itself? Hmm… It’s difficult to say if we’re meant to see this as a smart move or not. Basing a game relationship off someone reminding you of an ex-boyfriend doesn’t sound like the best plan in the world. But she did say she found Jason to be “authentic,” and we heard a lot this episode (especially over on Lairo) about how important it is to make authentic, genuine connections.
I think the problem for Noura is that her edit is very much secondary to Jason’s. She was introduced to us as part of his story. It was all about protecting Jason and less about what is good for Noura. Other than the mention of an ex-boyfriend, we didn’t learn anything about Noura and her personal life. It will be interesting to see where her edit goes from here, but I feel like whatever happens, her story will be strongly connected to Jason.
Molly had a solid first episode. It was a sort of low-key edit but with just enough substance to suggest this is a character to keep our eye on. She talked about the group dynamics and her approach to the game but not in an overly complex manner. But it was enough for a strong MOR rating.
She didn’t introduce herself in the first Vokai group chat, but she did receive a confessional where she expressed her thoughts on the tribe. “Everyone on our tribe seemed really smart (cut to Tommy) and bright (cut to Kellee) and social (cut to Noura). And everyone just seems really excited to be there, which I think is a positive thing,” she said. It was a very narrational sort of confessional, but the tribe narrator is not the worst role to have in a season.
It wasn’t just pure narration, though. We also saw Molly talking game. She was the first person to notice that Jason had left camp. “Molly, you are very perceptive, my friend,” a fellow tribemate said, which was subtitled. Any time something is subtitled unnecessarily, it draws my attention. This quote felt particularly relevant. It tells us that Molly has strong game-awareness and can quickly pick up on what is happening at camp. We should keep watch on whether this becomes a consistent character trait for Molly in the coming weeks.
Molly was also part of the majority alliance formation scene and was the only one of the six to comment on it in confessional. “Already, I can see the core group formed, which is great because I don’t want to be that person on the outs,” she told us. She talked about how the group “just clicked” and how they want to have a “good time” and get rid of the “drama” and “sliminess.” She pointed to Jason as the person acting “shady” and “rubbing people the wrong way.”
This idea of not wanting to cause drama came up again for Molly later in the episode. She was one of the women uncomfortable with Dan’s disregard for personal space, and her approach to this situation gave us an insight into her game. “I’m trying to be delicate about this because it is a game and I don’t wanna ruffle feathers for as long as I possibly can. If you get yourself into a hole early, it’s really hard to climb out of it.”
I find it interesting that for a group that just wanted to have a “good time” and avoid all the “drama,” that there was already a hefty dose of drama within the group in the first three days. I don’t necessarily think that means Molly was wrong when she said Jason was the main source of shadiness—that opinion was backed up by many others. But I do think it’s meant to tell us that there is more than one cause of drama on this tribe and how Molly handles that will be significant to her story this season.
P.S. – The clam scene could be foreshadowing of a blindside, but my read of that is that it was just a fun, bonding scene.
I went back and forth with Aaron‘s rating—the main sticking point being whether he should have Negative-tone or not. I ultimately decided to keep him neutral because he didn’t receive any direct negative SPV (second-person visibility). But I could certainly see the argument for light N-tone simply because of how he was presented in relation to others.
Aaron was essentially the head of the enemy alliance which opposed Elaine, Tom, and Vince, all of whom were clearly edited as the positive heroes of the episode. That’s where the slight negative vibes stem from. It was Aaron and Ronnie who immediately threw the target on that trio; Aaron voiced it to the group and in confessional. It often came across like he was dictating to the rest of the tribe—a real ‘my way or the highway’ attitude. For example, look at the scene where he questioned whether Elaine would be loyal at a swap and then basically pushed her into voting Vince.
The saving grace for Aaron’s edit is that he did explain his reasons for targeting Elaine and Vince, even if they were rather shallow, and at Tribal Council he acknowledged that this is a game involving “people with real feelings and emotions.” That could give him an out if he returns to camp aware of his mistakes and realizing he needs to form stronger, more genuine relationships.
It’s not the best start to be blindsided at the first vote, but that is what happened, and there isn’t a great deal the edit could have done to hide it. Aaron was the only person (other than Ronnie obviously) to vote on the wrong side—that is a fact that cannot be changed by the edit. Could he have been protected more? Perhaps. But remember eventual winner Nick had a rough premiere episode in David vs. Goliath. I’m not saying Aaron is the next Nick—he didn’t receive any personal content like Nick did in his first episode—but there’s always the chance of a comeback.
I really liked Karishma‘s premiere edit. Like Molly’s, it was low-key but full of subtle, important details. She explained her approach to the game, shared a small bit of personal info, and received perhaps the most significant piece of positive SPV in the episode.
Karishma had the first confessional of the episode. It was her voice we heard as the Lairo tribe arrived at their beach. The confessional was mostly narrational, describing her excitement for the season, but it ended with some insight into her strategy. “I can feel all these mixed emotions ready to just burst out, but I gotta keep them down because as soon as I get off the boat, I have to be cool, calm, collected Karishma,” she said. And that “cool, calm, collected” Karishma is exactly what we saw throughout the episode.
She was shown to be social at camp—bonding and getting to know her fellow tribemates. We also learned she is from India in her conversation with Vince—this became more about Vince, who shared details of his Hmong background, but I sometimes think it’s important for the edit to hold some info back. The fact we don’t know Karishma’s full story yet gives us somewhere to go in the future. It would be a bad thing if we didn’t receive anything at all, but because we had a little sprinkling of Karishma, it’s a sign that there is probably more to come.
We also saw that her “cool and calm” approach was working in terms of getting herself into alliances. She was brought into the women’s alliance and was also seen as a valuable number for Aaron and Ronnie. She was sort of presented as being in a swing position. She told Aaron and Ronnie that she’d vote with them against Elaine, but expressed in confessional that she was very much in the middle. “I’m definitely concerned about Elaine,” she said. “She is hilarious. And she’s not here to be the comedian; she’s here to win a million dollars. But the first alliance I made was with Elaine and the women… I’m so torn right now.”
The swing position can often lead to disaster in Survivor, but I didn’t get that sense from this particular confessional. It made Karishma seem crucial to the vote, even though the reality was that the entire tribe voted against Ronnie except for Aaron. That then means the confessional was there to serve another purpose. I think it was included to show that Karishma is aware of Elaine’s threat-level and perhaps means she will turn against Elaine later down the road. She brought this up again at Tribal Council when she said that, “In Survivor, likability is a liability.”
But the moment that I found key in Karishma’s edit came after that aforementioned quote at Tribal. The camera cut to Rob and Sandra in their spy shack viewing gallery and Rob turned to Sandra and said, “She’s smart” (subtitled), and Sandra nodded in agreement. Rob and Sandra are the “Idols” of the season; they’re meant to be these all-knowing gods, and so, I think we’re meant to agree with their judgments. Rob calling Karishma smart is huge for her edit and contender chances. Karishma is definitely one to watch.
Ronnie was another player I went back and forth on, mostly regarding his tone. I ultimately decided on N-tone… even though it wasn’t excessive. Ronnie wasn’t presented as the most despicable person to play Survivor ever, not even close to it, but there was just enough of a negative vibe hanging over his edit.
Like with Aaron, Ronnie’s negativity mostly came due to his opposition to the positively-toned trio of Elaine, Tom, and Vince. However, unlike Aaron, Ronnie actually received some direct NSPV. Elaine called him a “weasel” after their chat on the beach, which in itself portrayed Ronnie in a slightly villainous light—not to mention it undermined him. Ronnie told us he wanted to make Elaine feel safe and put out “good vibes,” but as we saw, Elaine instantly knew that Ronnie was untrustworthy and it only served to paint a target on his own back.
There’s not a lot more to say for Ronnie’s edit—it was very average. We got a little bit of personal info about him being a poker player, and he later reeled off a whole list of jobs he’s had at Tribal Council. But there was nothing particularly in-depth, both personal-wise and game-wise. The main take away is that he tried to vote off the most likable person on his tribe and it backfired—perhaps another sign that authentic relationships mean more than simple numbers.
Tom was yet another rating I struggled with all week. For a while, I had him as CP because we did learn some personal info and he was involved in some game talk. But after rewatching, I don’t think there was quite enough complexity to his content—but it was a close call.
A big reason for the MOR over CP is that Tom’s content didn’t feel individualised enough; he mostly felt like support for Elaine and Vince. Even though we learned that he was a former hockey player (both in an early camp scene and in confessional), a lot of what he was saying pertained to Elaine and Vince, rather than his own game. His first confessional was all about how Vince surprised him with his handiwork and how Elaine had her “work boots on.”
He got a little more personal in his second confessional, where he talked about playing in the NHL and how winning as a team isn’t all about physical strength. “You know, Wayne Gretzky isn’t the biggest guy, but he’s probably the best player that’s ever played the game,” he said, which could perhaps be foreshadowing (of the winner not being the biggest guy… not the winner being Wayne Gretzky, though who knows with current Survivor twists?). He stated that his world is “all about discipline and hard work” and that he believes Elaine and Vince think the same way. This confessional was also backed with uplifting, positive music, hence the light P-tone.
I think it’s a good thing that Tom was portrayed in a positive light and was shown to back up Elaine and Vince—two characters presented as extremely likable. My concern is that Tom’s edit was too “team” focused. He told Elaine and Vince that he wants to get to the merge as a team. In confessional, he talked about being on a team and wanting to win. We never really heard Elaine and Vince talk about Tom to the same degree. I would have liked to have heard a little more “I” in Tom’s edit and a bit less “we.”
That said, this was a solid start for Tom. It gave the impression that he’s likable and has a good read on the game. He was the first person to throw out Ronnie’s name as a target. And when Elaine began to panic, he was the one that assured her it was fine and that Ronnie/Aaron didn’t have the numbers. Those things turned out to be accurate, so we know we can rely on Tom’s word. I would just like to hear a little more about his individual game in the coming weeks if I’m to believe he’s in it for the long-haul.
Over The Top
The Day 1 idol searcher is becoming a Survivor archetype in itself at this point and that honor this season goes to Jason. We’ve seen this type of edit a few times in recent years: David Wright, Mike White, Jacob Derwin. The question is, is Jason a David/Mike who will overcome this early setback and make a deep run? Or will he flame-out early like Jacob?
The first thing we heard from Jason in this episode was how he needs to find an idol. “I’m thinking to myself, this season is Island of the Idols… so you gotta be an idiot not to actually look for an idol,” he said. Cut to the rest of the tribe immediately realizing that he’s missing from camp and probably searching for an idol. It was not a great look for Jason as Dan and Molly stoked the flames of his mysterious disappearance.
There is a glimmer of hope, however. Jason was made aware of his blunder by Noura and recognized that he may be in trouble. “Is there any person that would be more of a liability and distrustful that would go look for the idol on day one? I’m mortified. Am I gonna be the first one out? That is my nightmare,” he said. This tells us that Jason knows the problem and now has the chance to fix it. He didn’t tell us how he was going to fix it in this episode though, hence the OTT rating… it was all straight up idol panic and paranoia (which tied in nicely with what Chelsea was saying throughout the episode).
The other thing that might suggest Jason isn’t as doomed as he may seem is what Dan said in confessional. “I gotta tell you, it was joyous to watch,” said Dan, referring to his throwing of Jason under the bus. “He’s done. It’s over. It is impossible now for Jason to dig himself out of that grave.” This came across slightly villainous, and given that Dan ended the episode with N-tone, I’m not sure we’re supposed to take his word as gospel. That sounds to me like Jason will prove Dan wrong and find his way out of that hole.
As for the Mixed tone, the negativity comes from all the idol shenanigans and how he was called out by his fellow tribemates. But he also received some positivity from Noura, who called him an “authentic, good guy,” and with the emphasis on authentic relationships throughout the episode, I think that was an important quote.
I’m not sure if Jason’s edit has the legs to pull off a David or Mike type run, but I certainly don’t get the feeling that he’s the next Jacob. I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot more of Jason, hopefully with a more rounded, complex edit in the future.
Janet was another one of those players where her rating could have gone either way. For a long while, I had her as CPP because we did learn about her background and motivations for playing Survivor. But when I thought about how a casual viewer would remember Janet after this episode, it became clear. She’s the badass older woman who made fire from scratch. That is what people will remember, and for that reason, I felt OTTP was more appropriate.
On the surface, this was a fantastic episode for Janet. She had a goal and immediately achieved it. “Coming into the game, I am worried about being an easy vote off because of my age and the stigma of the older person, especially the older woman,” she said (also adding to that woman-power theme). “So I need to stand-out to break that stereotype. And there’s no better way to come into this game and make an impact than make fire.” So what did she do? She made fire from bamboo and instantly proved her worth to the tribe.
“I’m a chief lifeguard… I’ve got over 130 lifeguards working for me,” she continued. “It’s been my experience in life, that if you prove who you are, people don’t care what your gender… what your age is. If you prove who you are, then you can become part of them.” This was a nice piece of personal info that tied into her desire to prove herself. We immediately know that Janet can walk-the-walk and is an asset to her tribe. My worry is… where does Janet go from here?
“It was really cool to break the mold on the older woman,” she said after making fire. It already feels like that story is wrapped up. Janet wanted to come in and prove a Survivor stereotype wrong—she’s done that. There was no long-term story here—nothing pointing forward. It was all great and positive, but we didn’t see anything of Janet’s game or her alliances or anything that hinted at where her story might go in future episodes. Maybe she will just continue to be the badass older woman, but we’re going to need more to get our teeth stuck into in the coming weeks.
We did see a little bit of Janet later in the episode during the situation with Dan. She was one of the people that the girls voiced their concerns to, which could be signs of a potential working relationship. “I’ve learned in my life, as a woman, you need to say what you think,” she said in confessional, continuing the strong feminist vibe to her edit. But again, right now, Janet’s edit seems representative of a wider theme, rather than an individual story that could carry her through.
Kellee wasn’t featured across the premiere to the extent of some of the other players, but her part in the episode dealt with a complex issue which she talked about intelligently. The whole situation and the way it was handled was complex—so it was hard not to rate Kellee as CP.
While we saw Kellee in some group shots and alliance-making scenes earlier in the episode, she didn’t really pop up until the Dan incident. Kellee felt uncomfortable with Dan touching her, and she voiced her reasons why. “I’m a germaphobe when it comes to other people’s grossness. I think that’s why I do sometimes get annoyed with Dan because Dan is a really touchy person. He makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable,” she said. “And I don’t think he really realizes it. His lack of spacial awareness for me as a germaphobe, but also like a girl… that’s just too much.”
Kellee’s sentiments were backed up by Molly, who felt similarly uncomfortable with Dan. And if the scene ended here, perhaps it wouldn’t have been enough for a CP rating. But what came next was a conversation between Kellee and Dan where she brought up the issue, and the two of them discussed it like adults. Kellee voiced her concerns, and Dan seemingly took it on board. And with all this going on, Kellee still had the game in mind. “We’re playing Survivor, where it’s about fitting in and connecting,” she said. “But Dan being a touchy person… it’s a lot.”
If there is a problem with Kellee’s edit, it’s that her story is now directly linked to Dan. We didn’t get a proper introduction from her. We didn’t get her perspective on alliances or her strategy. We didn’t learn anything about her job and life other than being a germaphobe. It was all tied to this situation with Dan. In comparison, Molly was also involved in this situation, but she had a decent amount of content elsewhere in the episode too which gives her other narrative avenues to explore. Kellee, right now, only has this one story.
It will be very interesting to see where Kellee’s edit goes from here. Is this situation with Dan going to be a continuous narrative? The fact Kellee said she thinks “Dan’s lack of spacial awareness is gonna hurt him in the game” suggests that there is more to come. But if Kellee is to be a contender, we need to hear where she is at game-wise in the next couple of episodes.
On the flip-side, we have Dan, who was unquestionably N-tone for all the things mentioned above. But it wasn’t a one-note, negative edit; we saw enough of Dan to gather a complex view of his personality.
Early in the episode, Dan sprung into action when it was noticed that Jason had left camp on his own. “When I noticed that Jason was gone, the goal was to say ‘where’s Jason?'” he explained. We then saw Dan putting this into motion as he spread the paranoia about Jason at camp. This seemed to work, even if it did come off slightly villainous, as previously mentioned in Jason’s write-up. “It is impossible now for Jason to dig himself out of that grave,” just seems like the kind of quote left in for foreshadowing purposes.
Dan then provided some personal info on his job and how it applies to the game of Survivor. “I run a talent management company in Hollywood, and I think working with actors is very similar to Survivor because I have to get a bunch of very passionate, aggressive people to make the decisions that I really do believe are the best decisions for them and for me,” he said. I find it interesting that when he mentioned “passionate, aggressive people,” the camera focused on Kellee, Molly, and Tommy. Given what we saw later in the episode between Dan/Kellee/Molly, it makes me wonder if these are the people Dan is going to have to try to convince to make decisions.
So we received a relatively complex view of Dan early in the episode… then came the touchy stuff. It’s notable that this was all told from Kellee and Molly’s perspective. Both women expressed how uncomfortable they were with Dan and his touchy-feely-ness, which was backed up in the edit with shots of Dan massaging his tribemates and resting his head on Kellee’s leg. We never heard Dan’s thoughts in confessional. But we did hear his conversation with Kellee where he listened to her concerns and acknowledged that he “has to be open.”
As I said in Kellee’s write-up, we have to work out if this will be a continuous story for Dan or if it was just a hot topic issue that had to be shown regardless. There are signs that we haven’t heard the end of it. It was subtitled when Kellee said: “Hopefully, over the course of these 39 days, it’ll get better.” That sets up a long-term goal and something for us to keep track of. And, as mentioned, Kellee also said she thinks Dan’s lack of spacial awareness is going to hurt him in the game, which suggests more to come.
Jack was another hard one to rate. It’s a borderline CP rating but could have just as easily been MOR. What pushed him into CP over someone like say, Tom, is that Jack’s edit was individualized. He talked about HIS game and what HE wanted and how HE was going to do it.
“I’m 23 years old, which makes me the youngest person on the tribe and I think that’s good. I think my playful attitude will be my biggest asset,” he said in his first confessional. This was a decent intro. He told us a little bit about himself and his personality and applied it to the game. This was also backed up by the edit, as we saw him being playful with his tribemates, chasing Molly with the water-spouting clam. When the edit shows evidence of your words, that’s a big plus point.
He then went on to describe his goals in the game. “My goal and what I want to accomplish is to be liked by everyone. I want everyone to want to have a relationship with me,” he said. It’s not the most groundbreaking strategic talk ever, but it did what it needed to. He continued: “But I need to find a person, and person number one is Tommy. We’re two young dudes. We’re very similar. And that’s just an obvious freaking pairing.” Again, the edit backed this up by showing Jack and Tommy bonding and agreeing to hang out after the game.
Now, there are a couple of issues here. Firstly, when Jack said, “that’s just an obvious freaking pairing,” it started ringing alarm bells. In Survivor, you don’t want to be in an obvious pair as that puts a huge target on your back. This could have been left in the edit as foreshadowing that Jack and Tommy will eventually come under fire for being a tight pair. Secondly, after this confessional, Jack’s edit was usurped by Tommy. It was Tommy that we saw making all these relationships with everyone, which is what Jack said he wanted to do.
As for the P-tone, that comes from the challenge and Probst’s high praise for Jack’s performance, even calling him the hero. I don’t usually take into account challenge commentary unless it’s excessive, but I felt like this particular moment stood out enough to warrant the positivity for Jack.
Overall, I think this was a pretty good start for Jack’s edit. A decent dose of positivity, a goal clearly stated, a bond set-up with Tommy, and we saw him as part of the majority alliance. The worry is if he will ultimately play second fiddle to Tommy. That is something we need to keep our eyes on going forward.
Tommy‘s premiere was really good and the most typically “winner-y” of all the edits so far. He had tons of personal info, lots of connections, and a significant alliance forming scene. The only sticking point is whether it was maybe too much at once?
In the opening group chat on Vokai, Tommy was one of three tribe members to introduce himself, and unlike Lauren and Jamal, who only said their names, Tommy gave us his full name, location, and job. “My name is Tommy Sheehan, from Long Island, New York, and I’m a fourth-grade teacher,” he said, followed by “awws” from the group. Later in the episode, he again told us he’s a fourth-grade teacher and this time explained how that relates to the game of Survivor.
“As a fourth-grade teacher, my job is to make sure everyone feels comfortable around me, and in this game, I’m doing the same thing,” he said. “My strategy was to connect to people in one-on-one conversations and get to know who they truly are.” We saw evidence of this in his chats with Jack, Jamal, and Lauren. Now, some of this stuff was rather shallow—surfing talk with Jack, same age as Lauren, Jamal’s love for his fourth-grade teacher. But I don’t think we were meant to see it as shallow. I think the edit was backing Tommy up. We also learned that he’s planning to propose to his girlfriend, which as a nice bit of extra personal info.
“It’s really working… everyone has been coming up to me. And I think I did a great job of connecting with people one-on-one, and I’m building a lot of alliances,” he said. That is when we saw the formation of the majority alliance led by Tommy, including Jack, Dan, Lauren, Molly, and Kellee (and Jamal mentioned by Jack as a seventh). This puts Tommy at the center of a core alliance while at the same time showing him making connections and relationships.
It’s kind of a perfect edit. And when that happens, you have to question if whether it’s maybe too perfect? Is Tommy creating too many one-on-one relationships? Are his connections too shallow? Did he jump into an alliance too quickly? Those are questions that can’t be answered just yet. But on first impressions, Tommy is another one to watch this season.
If Tommy had the best edit of the premiere, then Missy was an easy close second. She also had a bunch of personal content, lots of connections, and a potentially significant alliance forming scene. However, it’s always much more worrying for a woman to receive an early CP-rating, as it’s them who tend to be victims of the shock pre-merge CP boot curse.
Missy was seen fitting in right away, especially with the women. Karishma asked her about her athletic background, and we found out she used to play basketball. She also bonded with Elizabeth about their love for instruments. “Why are we the same person?!” Elizabeth asked. We then got a massively personal confessional where Missy told us about joining the military at 18, playing basketball for the Air Force team, and then developing a brain tumor. “As it grew, it got worse, and at one point, I couldn’t walk, couldn’t talk… almost died,” she said. This was a hell of an introduction—and coupled with an epic drone shot of Missy and Elizabeth running on the beach.
“I was really lucky because right now the tumor has completely gone, so it’s kinda like new life,” she continued. “That’s why I’m here now. I gotta do something decently dope. I wanna be the Sole Survivor. I wanna be the S-O-U-L Survivor.” That definitely has the makings of a winner quote. But it also tells us why Missy is here. She has a new lease on life, and she wants to make the most of it. Survivor is her chance to live her life to the fullest and fulfill her soul. To achieve that goal, she doesn’t necessarily have to win because there are journey elements to her edit too.
But Missy is a gamer too. She was the one credited for putting together the women’s alliance on Lairo. “I try to be the most observant in this game, and looking around at the other players, I like the girls because it seems like all four of the other women feel that they’re not gonna be subservient and they’re not gonna do what people expect them to do,” she explained. “They’re gonna do what most benefits them. And in this moment, what benefits all the girls is forming a woman’s alliance.”
We then saw the women agreeing to work together, and the scene was narrated by Missy. “I’m tired of women going home first,” she stated, and by the end of the episode, the women had reversed that curse. “Keeping the women strong is super important, and I know that people think Elaine, Tom, and Vince are together, and because of that, Elaine could be in trouble,” Missy continued. She was right, Elaine was a target, and we saw Missy giving Elaine the heads up. This tells us that Missy has a good read on the game and she is looking out for her allies.
Weirdly, after the Immunity Challenge, Missy kind of disappeared. She wasn’t a big part of the pre-Tribal scrambling, and we didn’t hear from her again in confessional or at Tribal Council itself. You could read that as a good thing—that she was intentionally hidden so as not to overexpose her after such a strong start. Or it could be a sign that she isn’t as important to the strategic side of the game as initially thought.
Overall though, this was a great opener for Missy. It ticked all the right boxes. She just has to overcome that hurdle of being the shock CP pre-merge boot which has happened a lot in recent years, though I would say Missy had a better premiere edit than any of those.
Elaine had what we call the “fan-favorite” edit (or maybe that should be the Sia edit now?). She was all over this episode, even though she didn’t actually have her first confessional until about 17-minutes in. If Elaine wasn’t talking, then somebody else was talking to her or about her.
We learned a lot about Elaine. As soon as the Lairo tribe arrived on their beach, she was the one that said: “let’s get to work.” We saw her working, making people laugh, talking about living on a farm—all of this before she’d been formally introduced. We learned via Ronnie that Elaine is from Kentucky and works in a factory. And when she did get a confessional, she opened up about being picked on in the past and how she uses humor to deflect and get people laughing with her, not at her.
The main take away for Elaine’s character is that she is likable. She received massive amounts of PSPV. Tom praised her work ethic. She was called “hilarious” and an “awesome person.” Even the people trying to vote her out only had kind words to say. That likability is both a pro and con. Elaine draws people to her, but she is also perceived as an end-game threat. As Karishma said at Tribal Council, “Likability is a liability in this game.” And I think this will be Elaine’s story, how far can her likability take her before she’s deemed too big of a threat?
It’s interesting that Elaine was put in the position of jeopardy despite it being Vince who received votes at Tribal. There’s no doubt that Elaine was an initial target, and I think it’s a good sign that she was shown to be convincing enough to get Aaron and Ronnie to switch the vote. But it was ultimately Vince who had the two votes sent his way, and yet Elaine got the main focus, which suggests she is the more important character long-term.
If there is a flaw in her edit, I think it is probably the paranoia, which looks to be a key theme of the season. There was more than one occasion where Elaine thought she was going home, despite Tom reassuring her that they had the numbers. Although this could simply have been included in the edit because it added some drama to the vote and made it seem more up in the air than it was in real life. Also, it explained Elaine’s emotional speech at Tribal, which I feel would have made the edit regardless because it was a good TV moment.
I expect Elaine to be a big character of the season. She will continue to make people laugh and be a positive presence. The hit to her winner chances is that she is just too visible as a likable person and that has been commented on several times already. Both Ronnie and Karishma said she is a threat to win the million, and it feels like that is setting up the reason for her eventual downfall.
Vince was another one on the border between MOR and CP, but I feel like he gave just enough of his perspective to warrant the CP rating. We got a good insight into his background, a decent sense of his alliances and in-game relationships, and a solid amount of PSPV on top.
Our first real introduction to Vince was him chopping wood at camp and receiving praise from his fellow tribemates. “I’m the first Hmong person to ever be cast on Survivor,” he said in confessional, sharing a brief history of the Hmong people and how they came over as refugees after the Vietnam war. “I grew up low income. I was the first of my family to go to an institution like Stanford. So I’ve always been that type of person that like does the work,” he explained. This sense of work ethic was recognized by Tom who complimented Vince in confessional.
We didn’t hear much from Vince again until after the Immunity Challenge. He was involved in a couple of group strategy talks and shared his game insights in confessional. “At the moment I’m working with Chelsea, Tom, and Elaine to vote against Ronnie,” he said. “But I feel like my name is on the chopping block…. because the puzzle didn’t come together.” Vince was correct that his name was doing the rounds, but then the story became more about protecting Elaine.
“They (Aaron & Ronnie) want to target Elaine; I don’t want to go down that route with them,” Vince said. “I totally trust Elaine, and I think like she has my back as well. So I need to make sure that Elaine doesn’t get the short end of the stick here.” This is a strange one because as I said in Elaine’s section above, it was Vince who ended up receiving votes. And yet it never felt like the story revolved around Vince; he very much felt secondary to Elaine. It’s interesting as well that Vince wanted to protect Elaine; meanwhile, Elaine told Aaron that she’d write down Vince’s name to save herself. Now, she didn’t end up doing that, but it’s worth noting in case that is potential foreshadowing.
The positive for Vince is that I think as audience members we’re definitely meant to like him. I mean, Sandra straight up said “I like him” during Tribal Council, and as I stated earlier, what Sandra and Rob say is probably crucial. The negative is that he feels like a supporting character to Elaine’s story, in a similar vein to Tom. I feel like, if Vince was a potential winner or end-game character, then this vote would have been portrayed a lot differently. I think we would have seen the story of how Vince dodged the bullet. Instead, it kind of looked like he put himself in danger due to helping Elaine.
Elizabeth was undoubtedly the centerpiece of the premiere episode. A large part of that was due to being the first person sent to the Island of the Idols, but even putting that aside, she had a solid amount of content.
It didn’t take long for us to find out that she’s an Olympian. It was brought up at camp and then elaborated on in a follow-up confessional. “I am a three-time Olympic swimmer, and I am a competitor,” she said. “It’s basically embedded within my DNA because I’ve been a competitive swimmer my whole life.” She went on to talk about stepping away from the sport and the hard transition back into regular life. Survivor, she explained, had brought back that excitement she felt back when she competed in the Olympics.
This idea of Elizabeth being a “competitor” was the main theme of her character. It’s the reason she gave for accepting Rob’s fire-making challenge. “In my heart, I’m thinking it’s gonna be very hard to win, but the competitor in me is ignited,” she said. She then lost the challenge handily, and Rob basically called her out for making a poor decision. I considered giving tone for this segment and Rob’s criticism, but ultimately I didn’t think it mattered too much. These tests are going to be happening a lot this season—I don’t think we can hold it against a player every time they lose. That’s just the concept of the twist.
The whole point of this was that Elizabeth made a hasty decision, and now she had learned to trust her gut. At least, that’s what the edit told us. When Elizabeth returned to camp, she “trusted her gut” and told her tribemates a lie about what happened at the IOI. “I don’t wanna seem untrustworthy, and I don’t wanna lie, but Rob and Sandra told me trust my gut, and I’m gonna have to because knowledge is power in this game,” she said. She then told a lie about having to smash urns for a chance to play a game. What’s interesting is that we didn’t see anybody questioning her lie. I’m sure at least one person must have doubted what she said, and so the fact this was left out is what I’d call editorial protection.
Not only did nobody question Elizabeth’s lie, but everybody wanted her vote. She was pulled into various conversations. This tells us that she has connections and people that trust her. However, it did seem like the game was kind of getting on top of Elizabeth. “My brain is scrambled eggs at this point,” she said. “The sun is going down and I’m heading into Tribal, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen tonight; I honestly have no idea.” This could have just been inserted to add some stakes to the upcoming Tribal (and it’s always nice to get the pre-Tribal confessional), but it also made Elizabeth seem somewhat overwhelmed and out of her depth.
The other notable thing about Elizabeth’s edit was the focus on lying. It’s something she mentioned a few times, specifically how she doesn’t want to lie but that she feels like she has to. “I wanna get to the end, and unfortunately, it’s gonna take me lying,” she stated. It makes me wonder if Elizabeth is going to tell more lies along the way and perhaps burn some bridges in doing so.
That’s it for the first week of Edgic. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!