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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Under The Radar
As the only person not to receive a confessional this episode, Elizabeth‘s edit took a big hit. It’s a shame too because she was coming off the back of a pretty decent edit last week. But to go near Invisible in a swap episode is almost a kill shot to a player’s winning chances.
The only reason Elizabeth didn’t receive an INV rating is because Dean mentioned her as part of his “interrogation,” and we saw him briefly chatting to her on the beach. In that scene, Elizabeth denied any knowledge of who was behind the Chelsea vote. We know that to be false, but there was no confessional from Elizabeth offering insight into the previous Tribal Council and why she voted the way she did.
That was all we saw of Elizabeth for the rest of the episode. She basically disappeared once the swap happened. I tend to think a winner should be present in a tribe swap episode and at least offer some brief thoughts on the new dynamics and what it means for their game. The fact that Elizabeth didn’t even get a small camp scene suggests that she isn’t a main protagonist and is unlikely to be the season winner.
Elizabeth’s edit has fluctuated throughout the season so far, so I wouldn’t be too hasty to rule out her character potential. After all, she’s at least on a tribe with characters connected to her edit-wise (Aaron, Elaine, and Missy). That means those threads could be picked back up quite easily if need be. But as I said last week, I feel like Elizabeth is a mid-tier character at best, and this week’s episode didn’t do anything to change that line of thinking.
We’re now five episodes into the season, and we still know very little about who Lauren is or who she’s aligned with. She’s shown herself to be perceptive at times with an ability to game, but there is no greater substance to her edit, and that is worrying.
The positive here is that Lauren did receive a confessional at the tribe swap. It’s always a nice spot to hear from a player as the swap is an important milestone in the game. However, Lauren’s confessional was very generic. “When Jeff said everyone drop your buffs, I was cringing so hard,” she said. “Nothing is set in stone. You have to start all over again from square one and solidify your position in a new tribe, and that scares me big time.” It was basic narration with a tiny bit of personal insight about how the swap scares her.
A swap episode is usually an excellent chance for characters with underwhelming edits to break-out, form new relationships, and kickstart their game/story. Unfortunately, that just didn’t happen for Lauren here. We’re still none the wiser on what her gameplan is or who she considers her strongest allies. There were no scenes of her bonding with the new Vokai members or regrouping with the original Vokais. This all makes her edit feel circumstantial rather than crucial.
My main take-away from Lauren’s edit is that she is a character capable of delivering a cool soundbite, and when the time comes for it, she can switch on her game-face. But I don’t get the feeling Lauren is someone the audience is meant to emotionally invest in.
Dan‘s edit was similar to Lauren’s this week, in that he also gave a basic narrational confessional at the tribe swap, where he highlighted the “4-4 split” and the potential “doomsday scenario.” There was a lot of focus on the 4-4 split and how “dangerous” and “scary” it is… so one would like to assume we’ll get to see how that scenario plays out.
Other than that one confessional, Dan was pretty much absent from the rest of the episode. There was no insight from him on his new tribemates or what the swap meant for his individual game. Much like with Elizabeth and Lauren, this is a knock against his winner chances. This wasn’t the type of edit you would expect from a character driving the action of the season.
That said, the characters that Dan has been more strongly connected to narratively speaking—Kellee, Noura, Jamal, Janet—are all on the new Lairo tribe. There is only Jason on the new Vokai that shares a story connection to Dan from the premiere. That could mean one of two things: either those connections aren’t as meaningful as once thought or Dan will be around long enough to pick some of them back up later.
As one of a handful of players to have a decent amount of personal content and strategy talk, I still expect Dan to have relevancy and perhaps longevity in the season. But the UTR here, combined with his past Negative tone, probably suggests he is not the winner edit or the journey edit.
Jason was another of the new Vokais delivering narrational content this episode. His confessional was specifically focused on the 4-4 split and how much danger that scenario posed. There was a little more insight here than Dan and Lauren, but I still didn’t think it was quite enough to push him into MOR.
“The dangers of a 4-4 split are… it’s even hard to put into words because there is so much danger and so much could potentially happen,” he explained. “For example, we could have a tie at Tribal Council, and there’s a chance we have to draw rocks… So we really have to think of a way to get one of these new Vokai members over with us.” It was that last line that almost snatched the MOR as Jason told us what needs to happen. But he didn’t expand on how to go about it.
This wasn’t the fleshed-out edit I was hoping to see from Jason this week. There is still a lot missing. We haven’t seen a great deal of personal content, and other than his bond with Noura, we don’t know who he is most closely aligned with. A swap could have been an opening for Jason to enlighten us, but instead, all we got was a relatively basic narration on the broader game. It didn’t feel individualized.
However, Jason has received a confessional in every single episode so far. We always check in with him, even if he isn’t super relevant to the action. He has a story about turning things around after his initial episode one blunder and is so far succeeding at that. There is the connection to Noura, who is on the other tribe, which could suggest they’ll both be around until they reunite later in the game. So while I’d like to hear some more in-depth content from Jason, I feel like his UTRs are purposeful rather than neglectful.
As each week passes, I become less and less impressed with Jack‘s edit. His visibility is just way too low, and there is nothing of substance to sink our teeth into. He’s in desperate need of a break-out episode, and it just doesn’t seem to be coming.
The tribe swap was the perfect moment for Jack to rise up and tell us more about his game. But it just never happened. We didn’t even hear his thoughts on being separated from Tommy—his only real solid relationship presented in the edit thus far. There was a brief moment where Jack shoved his smelly buff in Tommy’s face, which shows they still have a friendly relationship, but that was humorous side-content at best.
His one confessional didn’t come until late in the episode, after the Immunity Challenge, and it didn’t tell us a whole lot. “Tom, Karishma, and Dean, I feel like I’ve connected with them all very, very well,” he said. “But Karishma did not do herself any favors; she has an inability to perform in challenges. And I’m ready for a W in orange.” It was basically just more set-up to make it seem like Karishma was in danger. And he didn’t provide any insight into those connections he mentioned.
I will say, however, that back in the premiere, Jack told us his gameplan was to be liked and have a relationship with everyone. While we haven’t seen any of these relationships fleshed out—other than the one with Tommy—Jack does seem capable of making connections. This episode included a scene of Jack (and Janet) bonding with Karishma. Now, the scene was more about Karishma than it was Jack, but it went some way in explaining why Jack would keep Karishma over Tom.
I’m struggling where to place Jack’s narrative right now. He doesn’t appear to be in any imminent danger, but nor does he seem like an important, high-level character. But what I always come back to is how protected he was during Molly’s boot episode. There had to be a reason he avoided the burial. It makes me think Jack is meant to be a likable presence and perhaps even rootable if he sticks around long enough.
Middle of the Road
Now, this wasn’t the INV/UTR death knell that would have doomed Janet‘s edit entirely, but it wasn’t exactly what she needed. As with the others mentioned above, this was a chance for Janet to branch out and kickstart a new story. Ultimately, however, nothing really changed.
There was nothing here that expanded on Janet’s narrative or introduced new facets to her character. She was part of personal and strategic conversations with the likes of Karishma, Tom, Kellee, and Noura. Just like back on old Vokai, Janet always seems to be in the loop. But we rarely hear from her directly… and we rarely hear others talking about her. She’s a subtle presence, rather than a central figure driving the plot.
The only time she did speak directly was after her conversation with Tom. “[Tom’s] a very straight shooter, which is typical of men of that age,” she said, tying back to her age-related content from the premiere. “There’s gonna be no hidden agendas with him… which I appreciate.” It seemed like this could be the start of a potential bond… but that wasn’t to be. Instead, Janet explained why Tom should be voted out. “He has more of a tribal mentality, and I believe if we got to a merge, I would lose him to his old tribe.”
It’s nice that Janet explained her reasoning for voting Tom, and combined with her Tribal content—particularly her debate with Dean—it’s what pushed her into MOR territory. But it still doesn’t tell us a whole lot about Janet as an individual. All we know is she’s sticking by old Vokai—perhaps to her own detriment. She told Kellee that she “had” Tom on her side, but rather than cultivating that relationship, she ended it. Yes, she explained why, but for a player whose edit lacks one-on-one bonds, that doesn’t necessarily make up for it.
Five episodes in, and we have no real idea of Janet’s relationships, and you would expect that by now for a winner. We’ve seen her questioning Jamal’s intentions in the past, but there was no follow-up to that story strand this week, even though they ended up on the same tribe. Perhaps the tension with Dean at Tribal will lead somewhere in the future. But these are both antagonistic relationships. Janet really needs a strong alliance/relationship building scene/confessional soon.
This was a decent-ish episode for Jamal. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but coming off the back of a solid CP rating last week, a MOR here isn’t the worst thing in the world.
If there is a negative, though, it’s the fact Jamal was essentially missing until after the Immunity Challenge. There was no post-swap confessional and no thoughts on the new tribe dynamics. Given that Jamal was someone presented as in danger on old Vokai, you’d think he’d get to speak to that in terms of his new tribe. He was involved in a couple of strategic group chats, but his one confessional was just about Karishma being a liability in challenges and why it might make sense to get rid of her. “Nothing mean by that… it’s just the reality,” he said.
The confessional alone is probably UTR, but Jamal’s Tribal content just tipped him into MOR. “My number one criteria is connections to the other side,” he said. “Is it a positive that one of these players has strong connections to the other side, or is it more of an advantage that they don’t have connections to the other side so they will stay with us come merge time?” It explained why he would vote Tom out and showed that he was placing more importance on connections (or lack thereof) rather than challenge ability (or lack thereof).
Where does Jamal go from here? It’s hard to say. There are loose threads with the likes of Dan and Tommy from the old Vokai days, so one might think Jamal will be around long enough to return to those later. His content in episodes three and four was about “going rogue” and seeking revenge on his tribe, but there was no follow-up on that this week. Perhaps that means we still have that to look forward to. But there are also the lingering red flags (episode two burial) that suggest his revenge mission won’t go quite as planned.
This was an almost perfect swap episode for Tommy. He was present, but not excessively so, and he immediately formed a connection with a new tribemate. No matter where Tommy lands, the edit continues to support his story.
Initially, he was just used as the Applebee’s spokesperson, narrating the reward scene and talking up the experience. Nothing particularly memorable here, other than it shows us Tommy is supposed to be a likable character—it’s unlikely they’d have a villain promoting their sponsor. But this content alone does not account for a MOR rating—that came back at the Vokai camp later in the episode.
Aaron was looking to form “real relationships” with his new tribemates, and he picked Tommy. The two men agreed to watch each other’s backs and protect one another come the merge. While this was mostly told from Aaron’s perspective, Tommy did receive a brief confessional where he shared his thoughts. “Aaron and myself, we’re like bros, so BING! I’m with him now,” Tommy said. “I know he wants to work with me. And I’m hoping he’s willing to vote out one of the old Lairo.” In support of this, we then saw that Aaron is willing to vote out an old Lairo, as he told Missy.
I didn’t think there was quite enough there to give Tommy a CP rating. Yes, he formed a new connection and spoke of the merge, but I don’t think he expanded on his plans enough. And, as I said, the scene was mostly from Aaron’s point of view, so I felt more comfortable with a MOR. But that’s still a positive for Tommy. To immediately secure a new bond post-swap shows that he’s an integral character, especially when so many others are in desperate need of relationships.
Whether this bond holds strong until the merge remains to be seen. It could be seen as a bit of a forced relationship, given that Aaron’s confessional about needing to make real bonds was kind of cynically delivered. But whether it lasts or not doesn’t really matter, what matters is that Tommy has yet another potential story avenue moving forward.
I’m still worried about Missy‘s edit. In her first non-CP rating of the season, Missy, again, was shown to be slightly overconfident. I rated her MOR, but honestly, some moments were veering on OTT. The majority of her content was badmouthing old Lairo: “Why would we lose? Our name’s not Lairo,” “Done eating L’s,” “Lairo can go to bed,” “Lairo has been dead,” “Orange does not exist anymore,” etc.
Now, Lairo did lose both challenges this week, so Missy wasn’t exactly wrong. So even though her content was becoming a little one-note, at least the edit wasn’t undermining her. The reason I went with MOR over OTT, though, was mostly due to her first scene with Dean. The confessional itself wasn’t exactly insightful, but it was accompanied by flashbacks explaining Missy’s move against Chelsea. That seemed like just enough to avoid the OTT rating.
That said, Missy is definitely starting to lose the complexity of her edit. Her confessional about Dean was dismissive and somewhat cocky. “Well, crap, Dean, I kept you here today,” she said. “You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. You shouldn’t… you really, really shouldn’t.” Again, as I said last week, perhaps this is part of a stone-cold killer edit, but to me, it feels more like the set-up for a future downfall.
The rest of Missy’s content was the wrestling scene with Elaine (which could be visual foreshadowing) and her conversation with Aaron. Missy agreed with Aaron that “orange is dead,” and they’d be prepared to sacrifice Elaine or Elizabeth if need be. “It’s like, hey new tribe, by the way, I love this swap, and I’m super happy, and I’m ready to flip,” she said in confessional. This has been a consistent theme for Missy and Aaron. They are both quick to flip and drop a name—and I’m not sure that is a good thing in the long-run.
Last week, Missy talked about how she had Karishma in her back pocket while simultaneously criticizing her at Tribal. Meanwhile, we, as viewers, knew Karishma was ready to flip on Lario. Now, while this didn’t specifically blowback on Missy (due to being on different post-swap tribes), Karishma did immediately flip on Lairo. On top of that, we know that Elaine and Elizabeth are wary of Missy & Aaron and their tendency to flip—Elaine mentioned it again this episode when she noticed her old tribemates already schmoozing the Vokais.
Perhaps my read is way off here, but it just feels to me like the edit is laying the groundwork for a rude awakening for Missy. Her saving grace could, ironically, be Karishma—if that relationship is essential, then both might survive until the merge. But it could also just have been included to highlight Missy underestimating her opponents.
I feel conflicted with Elaine‘s edit. There are some really positive elements, like her wariness of other players, but there is also a consistent lack of active strategy, which is concerning.
Elaine is a player that worries a lot. That has been a consistent theme since the premiere, and it was present again this week. Even before the swap happened, she told Probst she already felt on the outs because she’s “not lucky.” But then she ended up on the tribe with the 4-4 split. “I got real lucky,” she said. “Because even though we’re 4-4 here on Vokai, we have strong people to win challenges, and I got on a tribe with my alliance. So the Survivor gods shined on me.” A lot of her game is about praying to the Survivor gods and crossing her fingers, rather than actively working to change her fate.
On the flip-side, though, Elaine is shown to be perceptive, even if she does struggle to put all the pieces together. During the reward, she recognized that the “honeymoon phase” would soon fade and picked up on her old Lairo tribemates getting close to the original Vokai members. “My tribe, they immediately start chit-chatting and cutting up with the Vokai people, and I don’t like that,” she said. “These people could be lying through their teeth, we can’t trust them. So we definitely need to stay four strong.”
There are two ways you could read Elaine’s suspicions. The positive-read is that she is aware of her tribemates flipping, specifically Aaron & Missy, who the camera focused on during the reward scene, and the pair Elaine was already wary of last week. Given that later in the episode, Aaron & Missy confirmed that Lairo is dead, Elaine was right to be suspicious. The negative-read is that Elaine should have been the one bonding with her new tribemates and that her “stay Lairo strong” mindset means she is missing out on forming new connections.
The reason I lean towards the positive-read is because Elaine’s edit so far has presented her as extremely likable—someone people just feel drawn to because of her personality. It’s something Aaron commented on in the premiere and again in this episode. “Elaine is doing what she does; she’s doing an incredible job at the social game,” he said. “And that’s the only way you’re gonna win this game is to get people to truly, genuinely like you.” While Aaron has to strategically and cynically go out of his way to form bonds, Elaine is doing that by just being herself.
Elaine has been connected to Aaron from the start. It’s an antagonistic relationship that suggests a potential clash down the line. Maybe that is on the horizon soon, or perhaps this is a season-long narrative. The fact that both Vince and Tom are now gone—two characters connected to Elaine—puts more emphasis on her connection with Aaron. That said, Elaine has lots of connections, including with Missy and Elizabeth, so she is in good stead, though it would be nice if she built a Vokai relationship soon.
A much quieter episode this week by Noura standards, but there was still some fun, kooky stuff at Tribal Council. Lots of laughter and bantering with Probst, and she even got the Sandra seal of approval. “I love Noura,” Sandra said. It’s that comment, combined with Probst’s excessive praise for Noura during the Reward Challenge, which I believe gave her light Positive-tone.
Noura didn’t properly pop up until the end of the episode, and it kind of felt like she was only there to remind us of her No Vote situation. That said, she did receive the last confessional before Tribal and spoke about her individual game and the wider tribe game. “Even though I don’t have a vote, I still have a say. I’m still analyzing the game… what would be the best for my game, our game,” she said. It’s unclear how much of a say Noura really had, but we did see her discussing the options with Janet and Kellee on the beach. I didn’t think this was enough for CP because most of it was simply reiterating what had already been said by others earlier. It was sort of a summary confessional.
Overall, I don’t think this episode changed anything for Noura. She is unlikely to be a winner contender, so I never really expected her to share her in-depth feelings on the new tribe dynamics. We know she was on the outs on Vokai. We know she was targeted by Jack & Jamal in the past. But that is a storyline that can be picked up whenever—it doesn’t necessarily need to be a running arc.
Maybe she should have talked about being split from Jason? But I think having that lingering relationship could be a good sign for both of them meeting back up later. Right now, her role is still very much the “big personality/comedic relief,” someone we can laugh at and enjoy, even if she grates on her tribemates.
Over The Top
It felt inevitable that Tom‘s time was coming to an end soon. As I’ve said for the past couple of weeks, there was no sense of long-term story or success in his edit. His only saving grace was his connection to Elaine and Elizabeth, but those relationships were mostly one-sided (I don’t think we ever saw Tom speak about Elizabeth, for example).
Tom had a pretty decent premiere, but after that, his content became increasingly one-note, mostly related to challenges and team strength. He became singularly focused, to the point where even Probst commented on his repetitive answers at Tribal. In the past couple of weeks, Tom’s focus was directed explicitly at Karishma. He vocally agreed with Missy last week when she complained about Karishma underperforming, and this week, he continued to pinpoint Karishma as the weak link.
“I hate to keep putting it on the same person, but Karishma was not gonna be able to perform going through the sand,” he said. “The sad thing is, she’s been in puzzles, we’ve tried her in the physical role, and she just hasn’t been able to do anything.” Now, Tom’s opinion on Karishma was backed up by others, so it’s not as if he was being undermined. But it’s the fact all he ever spoke about was Karishma and challenges which really sealed his fate. There was no depth.
Even when Tom said he had to get to work and not mope around, his conversation with the old Vokais was about Karishma. He criticized Karishma’s challenge performance to the group in the water and later told Janet that they kept Karishma around as an “easy vote.” Sometimes it seemed like Tom was approaching MOR content, but it always came back to the same topic. “What I’m encouraged by is that [the tribe] don’t wanna lose any more challenges, and that really points the finger at Karishma,” he said.
I think Janet’s confessional about Tom efficiently summed up his tone and his character. He was an old school, straight shooter. “No hidden agendas,” but also, no real depth. He was one-track minded and too preoccupied with this “keep the tribe strong” mantra. That means he missed out on the nuances of Survivor, such as the social game and human connections which we’ve heard mentioned several times this season (and this episode specifically). For that reason, I think Tom leaves the game as OTT—the old school hockey player that was stuck in an old school mindset.
I said last week that Dean‘s reaction to the Chelsea blindside would be super telling for where his story is going. It would either cement him as oblivious, or it would kickstart his narrative as an underdog who would fight his way through the season. Thankfully for Dean, it was the latter.
This was easily Dean’s best edit so far, he received significant screen-time, explained his thought process, and made new connections. There were still OTT elements, like the entire Detective Dean sequence, but he provided enough reasoning for his actions that CP felt more appropriate. He took the Chelsea vote as a “wake up call” and realized it was time to wipe his hands of the Lairo tribe. The swap came at just the right time as it provided Dean the chance to make new bonds.
The key relationship here—and the part where Dean got most of his CP from—was the scene with Kellee. The two realized they share a mutual friend, and Dean talked about using that to his advantage. “Being able to talk about shared experiences, shared friends, brings a relationship to another level that you don’t have with certain people,” he said. “So, I’m gonna try and work that angle.” This was backed up with camp footage and Kellee’s confessional. “Dean and I immediately had a close bond,” Kellee said. “And after our conversation, I was like, ok, this is a guy I can definitely work with.”
However, later in the episode, Kellee expressed her wariness of Dean. “I really like Dean… I wanna work with him,” she said. “But there’s something about Dean that makes you want to work with him. That makes you wanna trust him. But also that makes me very, very wary of Dean and makes him a huge threat in this game. So Dean is not the right person to bring into the merge.” It turns what could have been a tight relationship into a distrustful relationship. In the end, Dean was left out of the vote, and so it shows Kellee is keeping him at arm’s length.
Now, the positive here is that Dean didn’t get voted out. He lives to fight another day as an underdog, which fits his narrative perfectly. And with all the talk of what a threat he could be at the merge (both Kellee and Noura said this), we could be seeing some foreshadowing. Perhaps this is more of a reflection on Kellee’s narrative than Dean’s. By not voting Dean out at this Tribal, maybe he could now skate through to the merge and cause problems for Kellee and others down the road.
I think Dean has a solid narrative role now. There are still some doofus elements, like the Detective Dean stuff and his incorrect call that Tom was safe. He also got called out by Janet at Tribal Council for claiming he approached everyone one-on-one (this combined with Kellee’s positive words is why I leaned towards Mixed tone). So while I still thinking winning is highly unlikely, I do believe Dean could be around a while as a thorn in the side of the other players.
On the surface, this was a really strong episode for Kellee. She finally got a connection and received SPV (second-person visibility). She also came across as smart and perceptive with a good handle on the game.
Kellee was the central figure of the new Lairo tribe. She was the first person approached by both Karishma and Dean. And it seemed as if she was the decision-maker of the tribe. The relationship with Dean, in particular, received significant focus. Kellee quickly bonded with him over their mutual connection but also took into account the broader dynamics of the tribe. “This is a guy I can definitely work with, but Karishma wants to flip… I think she’s with us,” she said. “As far as I know, we’re staying Vokai strong. So these three people seem to be at the mercy of the old Vokai members.”
What Kellee said was right, it was a case of the three old Lairos pleading to the old Vokais for their lives in the game. But it’s what happened later in the episode that brought up some red flags. Kellee spoke of how she liked Dean and wanted to work with him, but also said she was wary of his threat level. “Dean is not the right person to bring into the merge,” she said. That instantly turns what could have been a positive relationship into an antagonistic one, and that’s not quite what Kellee needed, given she already has that covered with Dan.
As I said earlier, Kellee didn’t vote Dean out, despite keeping him out of the loop, and now there is every chance he could make the merge and become a problem for her, as she predicted. It’s a positive in one sense because it suggests Kellee has longevity. A lot of her content points towards merge-related storylines, both with Dean and Dan (a storyline that was weirdly left hanging in the premiere). But there is some foreshadowing of these decisions coming back to bite her later.
This was Aaron‘s best edit so far, at least in terms of complexity. He talked us through all his decisions and explained precisely what he was doing and thinking moving forward.
I almost gave him P-tone too for the scene about his son, but I didn’t think there was quite enough editorial manipulation. Yes, he teared-up a little, but it wasn’t accompanied by any emotional, uplifting music and was skipped over relatively quickly. It reminded me of Jamal’s personal content last week in that it was very matter of fact. It’s definitely the closest he’s come to positive tone this season, though.
Aaron soon got to work, forming new bonds on the Vokai tribe, inspired in part by Elaine’s strong social game. “That’s the only way you’re gonna win this game is to get people to truly, genuinely like you,” he explained. “So I have to form real relationships and real bonds with people. And say, ‘let’s just talk about our kids, let’s talk about our family,’ because if they don’t like you, why they gonna keep you around?” He then backed that up by opening up to Tommy about his son, and it appeared to work, as Tommy agreed to a pact with Aaron.
I’m still unsure how we’re meant to take this scene. Tommy did seem to agree to the alliance, and therefore, Aaron’s tactic worked. But the way he went about it seemed rather methodical. Where we saw Elaine having fun and forming natural bonds, Aaron’s approach appeared somewhat cynical and calculated. So it does make me wonder if that bond will last long-term. But for now, at least, Aaron succeeded in his mission.
The rest of his edit was set-up for turning on old Lairo. Aaron and Missy had a conversation about how “orange is dead” and how they’d be willing to cut Elaine or Elizabeth should the time come. As I said last week, for all of Aaron’s talk about keeping Lairo strong, it’s his own paranoia and desire for big moves causing the Lairo destruction. Given what he said here, Lairo seems to be officially destroyed.
Aaron has been a central figure of the season so far, and he definitely has storylines that could carry him deep—the Tommy alliance, his relationship with Elaine, etc. But there is also that pervading sense of doom that is similarly present in Missy’s edit.
Karishma‘s story became a lot clearer after this episode. There was one confessional specifically which spelled out her role in the season. She is the “journey edit,” a big character who is on an adventure of self-discovery.
I felt like we received a very complex, rounded view of Karishma this week. There were still some OTT elements with the challenge blunders and the paranoia, but she also laid out her strategy and shared a lot of personal info. As I said last week, the story was building to Karishma flipping on Lairo, and that’s what happened immediately after the tribe swap when she approached Kellee. She made her intentions of flipping clear and wasted no time in sharing intel from the old Lairo tribe.
Karishma also recognized her weakness in challenges and realized she would have to work on her social game to survive. “I just showed my entire new tribe how weak I am in challenges physically,” she said. “So I’m screwed. I have one chance to stay alive, to keep breathing, and that’s to flip on old Lairo.” We saw examples of her social game in action when she opened up to Jack and Janet about her marriage. This was an emotional scene about a complex subject. Not only did it apply to her position in the game, but it told us more about Karishma as a person.
“It’s incredible to open up and be vulnerable at that level and talk about my marriage,” she said. “I’ve had really meaningful conversations with the Vokai members, I can relate to them more… So I think I may be able to get a footing in this game. I’m no longer Lairo, I’m moving over.” This showed us that the flip wasn’t purely based on revenge, but that there was an emotional and social element to Karishma’s decision to jump on board with the ex-Vokais.
There was one vital part of this confessional, though, that sold me on the journey edit read. “I’ve been married for 4 and a half years, but I’ve been questioning my life choices,” she said. “And I really, really need to understand what this next chapter is gonna entail. That is my purpose here in this game.” This tells us that Karishma doesn’t have to win to succeed. She is here to learn more about herself and where she wants to go next in life. Once she figures that out, she could go at any time.
As for this episode specifically, Karishma succeeded in flipping and surviving. Yes, she received a lot of criticism for her challenge performances, but she was also shown to be accepted by her new tribemates (hence the M-tone). “Considering how I was viewed as weak in the challenge, it’s definitely not crazy to assume the tribe wants to let me go,” she acknowledged. “So, I’m out here now with the old Vokai, playing up the social game.” And the tribe ultimately decided to keep Karishma around.
I feel like with her flipping on Lairo, and the revelations about her marriage, that Karishma’s story could technically be over already. However, there are some signs of longevity– there is still the connection to Missy, which might be relevant, and perhaps the bond with Kellee, Jack and/or Janet will become tighter. I think if Karishma is going deep, then next week, we need to see her solidify her new relationships.