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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The season ended pretty much as predicted. Not only was Tommy’s victory telegraphed from the beginning (remember back in the premiere I said his edit was the most typically “winner-y” of the bunch), but the penultimate episode signposted all the significant events of the finale.
Dean nullifying Janet’s idol was spelled out for us in the past episode, as was Lauren being forced to make fire. And at that point, who else could have won but Tommy? Dean and Noura did not have the editorial backing to be serious contenders, no matter what tricks the edit attempted in the closing moments. It almost felt like the show wanted to present a straightforward ending after the absurd, craziness of the Edge of Extinction finale.
This has been a rough season to Edgic due to the Dan Spilo inappropriate touching incidents and all the ugliness that followed. It was difficult to discuss the finer details of the edit when it was hard just to watch the episodes. But I wanted to finish what I started, so once again, this Edgic post will be short and to the point, as I go through the final five and assign their finale and overall ratings.
Middle of the Road
Janet‘s ending made a lot of sense, and not just because we all saw Dean’s idol nullifier coming into play. The season started with Janet being the first person to make fire, a feat for which she received a ton of praise, both from her fellow players and the edit. And, of course, that would turn out to be ironic foreshadowing, as in the end, nobody wanted to face-off against Janet in the dreaded final four fire-making challenge.
While Janet talked a little strategy in the finale, mostly about how she wanted to play her idol, it fell in line with the rest of her edit. Her game-talk was never the most complex or detailed. She was certainly complex as a human being, but something was missing when it came to a typical Survivor strategic edit. It’s because of that—combined with some significant dips in visibility—that made it hard to see Janet as the winner. She was always destined to be an underdog, fan-favorite rather than a Survivor champion.
Overall, though, I’ve rated Janet as CPP for the season. As I said, as a person, Janet was complex. The way she handled the Dan situation and her thoughts on that matter were well thought out and thoroughly explained. And we learned a lot about Janet as a person, her life, her job, her personality. All of this content was always shared under a positive light. So even though she didn’t have the most complex strategic edit, I think most people will remember Janet as a lovable, well-rounded personality.
Over the Top
This was a somewhat strange conclusion to Lauren‘s edit. It was almost like she was an afterthought in the finale. There was no real complexity or character depth. It all became very one-note. She didn’t really appear in the episode until it came time for Noura to choose who would be making fire. And so, Lauren’s edit simply revolved around the fire-making challenge and her argument with Noura. I wasn’t quite sure what to rate it, but OTT felt the most appropriate.
There was talk of Lauren being a threat to win, and I have no doubt that was the case within the game itself, but sadly, the edit never efficiently presented that story. I was never sold on Lauren as a winner because her edit was lacking in key areas. Yes, she was a gamer and had her fair share of strategic content, but where was the personal to go along with it? It was kind of the opposite of Janet’s edit. Janet had lots of personal content with minimal strategy, and Lauren had the strategy without the personal. You need a decent combination of both to win.
Lauren’s pre-merge edit was underwhelming, and even in the post-merge, she had episodes where she suddenly disappeared. Her story was intrinsically linked to Tommy, and while it often looked like she was calling the shots in that partnership, Tommy’s edit was far superior. Tommy not only had the strategy, but he had the personal content too, not to mention relationships outside of his Lauren partnership. Lauren never had that; we didn’t learn who she was as a person. She was merely set up as a game threat to be overcome, and so, her ending at the fire-challenge was no real surprise.
Overall, I’ve rated Lauren as MOR for the season. As I said, there just wasn’t that consistency in complexity. Based on all 14 episodes, I could tell you that Lauren was a decent player, but I couldn’t tell you anything about her life or who she is. And I think that is how an overall, casual perception of Lauren would be… therefore, MOR fits best.
Noura started this season OTT, then sort of leveled out a bit in the early post-merge, before burning bright again in the last few weeks. I mean, this was a full-on Noura OTT-fest, from her hilarious dinner date with Dean to her Immunity challenge win (and dance celebration), to her long-winded speech when choosing who to send to fire. She was back on Planet Noura and absolutely loving every minute of it.
It’s funny how Noura started this season as the outcast that nobody wanted to even talk to, to becoming the decision-maker in the finale. As she said herself, she was fielding calls left, right, and center. She was now the most popular kid on the block. But it was false popularity. It wasn’t like Noura’s tribemates were suddenly falling head over heels in love with her. She was a friend with benefits. Dean invited her on the date to schmooze her so that she’d take him to the Final 3. Tommy, likewise, tried to appeal to Noura’s ego so that he’d be chosen. Behind all the butt-kissing, the castaways were still piling on the NSPV (negative second person visibility).
All that said, I couldn’t quite bring myself to rate Noura as OTTN overall. Yes, she received lots of negative SPV from her tribemates throughout the game, but I think the edit was kind to Noura. She was presented as kooky and unintentionally funny, rather than a horrible person. Even the negative comments came from a place of frustration at her craziness, rather than her being mean-spirited or nasty. And I think the fact she was cheered at the reunion, and that Probst acknowledged the positive response, shows how the edit intended her to come across. Noura was a flawed but engaging character, simultaneously frustrating and fun.
Dean was a tough one to rate for the finale. His idol searching sequence, the date, and his advantage show-and-tell at the Final Tribal Council, all had touches of OTT. But he did get to explain himself along the way. He outlined his strategy and his thought process for each move and what he hoped they’d achieve. Therefore, I thought CPM was probably the most accurate rating.
The problem was, no matter what Dean did here, or in the past couple of weeks, it wasn’t going to change any minds. He just didn’t have the edit to back it up. Honestly, it felt like for the past three episodes, the producers were desperately trying to present Dean as a potential threat. It was almost like they suddenly realized, “oh, we haven’t presented a legitimate challenger for Tommy,’ and quickly scrambled to turn Dean into that man. But Dean was never going to win. A winner would not be entirely invisible for the first two episodes. And their first introduction to the season would not be them tripping over and making a stupid strategic blunder.
This is why I’ve rated Dean OTTM overall. For the majority of this season, he was shown as a goof. He was a doofus that made silly strategic errors. Or he had these comical, OTT-tinged scenes, like “Detective Dean Kowalski” or his whole plot with the fake Legacy advantage. The late-surge CP run wasn’t enough to quash what came before, especially, as I said, when his finale episode itself had lots of OTT. His CP content was all game. We never really got to know Dean, and I think that was reflected in Kellee’s jury question. We didn’t get who Dean was as a person other than a goofy, fun-loving guy. And that is the image most people will take away from Dean leaving this season.
Tommy‘s edit ended the way it started, with a straightforward, cookie-cutter CP rating. There was nothing flashy about Tommy’s edit, and perhaps that is reflective of his game. He never found or played an idol or advantage or even won an individual Immunity challenge. Tommy’s game was all about his social relationships. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for entertaining TV in the minds of the Survivor producers, so it is often ignored in favor of #BigMoves, idol hunts, or ridiculous twists.
Here’s what I mean, we all understood what Tommy’s game was, from the start, he told us he wanted to form relationships with every single person. And we briefly saw him chatting to the likes of Jack, Lauren, and Jamal one after another. He made other connections along the way, but to be honest, none of them appeared to have much depth or focus, outside of the relationship with Lauren. Instead, the depth came Tommy’s confessionals. Good-storytelling is meant to show not tell, but a lot of Tommy’s game was told to us via confessional. In a way, it had a lot of similarities to Michele Fitzgerald’s edit in Kaoh Rong, which was similarly told in words rather than actions.
That’s not to say there wasn’t a personal side to Tommy. We certainly learned enough about him to get a good idea of who he is as a person, his life, and his job outside of the game. Again, we knew all of this because he told us repeatedly. How many times did Tommy mention he was a teacher this season? And each time, he applied his teaching analogies to his position or moves in the game. Again, these are all hallmarks of a classic winner’s edit. It might not pop on screen, but everything you needed to know was right there, and it was all over the finale episode.
It’s probably not a shock to learn I’ve rated Tommy as CP overall for the season. It’s probably the most obvious CP you’re ever likely to see. He almost always explained his strategic thinking, with a little personal info sprinkled on top. But it was all deathly toneless, which is what made it such a bland edit. If Survivor wasn’t so concerned with #blindsides and big moments and jawdropping twists, perhaps a winning game like Tommy’s would be better served, but for now, it is what it is.
That is it for another season of Edgic! Thanks to all those that stuck with it and understood my trepidation with continuing post-merge. I haven’t yet decided if Edgic will be back for Season 40. My enthusiasm for edit analysis definitely took a hit this season, but besides that, I’m not sure if I’m a fan of Edgic-ing a season with Edge of Extinction in play.
Edgic is a big time commitment, and 20 potential write-ups every week for the entire season is A LOT, especially on top of the rest of the Season 40 coverage, not to mention coverage of Australian Survivor All-Stars (airing at the same time), plus work commitments outside of Inside Survivor. I will make a firm decision in the next couple of weeks and be sure to let you all know.
Happy New Year from Inside Survivor!