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.
|Name||EP 1||EP 2||EP 3||EP 4||EP 5||EP 6||EP 7||EP 8||EP 9||EP 10||EP 11||EP 12||EP 13||EP 14|
I think it’s about time to wave the white flag on Janet‘s edit. I’ve been holding out hope for something… anything, but another Invisible here is a killer. As I’ve said before, Janet’s story/character was essentially summed up in the season premiere.
If you were looking for a positive, I guess you could say there are no signs of imminent trouble in Janet’s edit. There is nothing currently set up in her narrative that suggests she is in danger of elimination. So you could say she has some longevity. There are also very tenuous links with the likes of Tommy, Dan, and Jamal, which means she could be slotted back into action when necessary, though not as the main character.
But I think it’s clear by now that this season isn’t about Janet. We are not following her story. We do not see the narrative from her perspective. The pre-merge is almost over, and we still have no idea who she considers her closest allies or what her long-term gameplan involves. So even if Janet does stick around a while and pick up screen-time post-merge, it is extremely difficult to see her as a winner.
On first viewing, I thought this INV rating was bad for Karishma, as I was hoping we’d get to see her develop her relationships further with the ex-Vokais. But after thinking it over and putting it in context, I don’t think it really changes too much.
Firstly, Lairo didn’t attend Tribal Council, so already, we should expect less screen-time for those castaways. Secondly, Karishma was coming off the back of a huge edit last week, so to fade into the background here isn’t the worst thing in the world. Thirdly, and most importantly, perhaps, is that Karishma is most likely a journey edit, as we pointed out in last week’s write-up.
A journey edit doesn’t need to be consistently visible, especially when we already know the main beats of their story. We know that Karishma is on Survivor to figure out the next chapter in her life. She’s on a journey of self-discovery. We’re also well aware of her main storyline, which was flipping on old Lairo after feeling ostracized and bullied. That narrative—and her ties to the old orange tribemates (like Missy)—is still present, regardless of her lack of air-time this episode.
If you were looking at Karishma as a potential winner contender, then yeah, the INV rating here is a bad sign. But I don’t think that’s her role in this season. Karishma is a journey edit, and that means her story can drift in and out of relevance. It’s also possibly a decent sign for Karishma’s longevity that her name was brushed over in terms of targets this week, with the focus centering around Jack/Jamal/Noura instead.
Under The Radar
Another borderline INV rating for Kellee this week, which once again was saved by a brief camp scene. If it weren’t for her dancing scene with Jamal, which was referenced in confessional by Jack, I wouldn’t have given her the UTR1.
There are times where I feel pretty good about Kellee’s edit and then others where I have my doubts. It’s the lack of consistency that worries me. Just when it seems like she’s picking up steam, she falls right back under the radar. Last week we saw the start of a potential connection with Dean, but there was no follow-up this episode. Kellee never told us why she decided to keep Dean around despite her fears of him making it to the merge. There was no follow-up with Karishma either.
On a more positive note, when Kellee is shown, she’s usually presented as smart and strategic. She has never been hit with Negative tone or undermined in any sort of excessive way—keeping Dean was a potential red flag, but it was more foreshadowing than immediately undercutting. She also has the unfinished storyline with Dan from the premiere, which, given they’re currently on opposite tribes, suggests she will at least make the merge to wrap that up.
Perhaps not going to Tribal this week goes some way in explaining the lack of visibility, but if Kellee is to be a real contender, we need to hear what her long-term plans are next week, whether she goes to Tribal or not.
This is Tommy‘s first UTR rating of the season, and the first time his edit has started to show some cracks, even if those cracks are minuscule. Is the golden boy beginning to lose some of his sheen?
Let’s first look at those potential cracks, which were mostly contained within the setting of Tribal Council. Tommy was a big advocate for sticking Vokai strong and, of course, ended up blindsided when Elaine pulled out her Block A Vote. Now, there is not much the edit can do to get around that… that’s just how Tribal played out. However, you could look at Rob’s commentary as a potential warning sign. Rob referred to Tommy “selling Kool-Aid” to his tribemates and also pointed out Tommy’s “anger” at the result. “Suck it up, buttercup,” Rob giggled.
Are these comments the start of Tommy becoming an angry, revenge-driven player? I guess it’s not impossible, but I find that highly unlikely. It would go against everything we know about Tommy to this point. I think Rob’s comments were more about adding some color and humor to the proceedings. It was to sell the drama of Tribal. While I could see this result upping Tommy’s aggression as a player, I don’t think it’s the start of an angry villain edit.
In fact, I believe Tommy was shielded from a lot of the negativity and villain-like material this episode. Tommy never badmouthed or looked down on the old Lairos, unlike Jason and Lauren, both of whom came across as overconfident, especially as they dismissed Elaine’s potential as a player. While Tommy stated that Elaine going home would be the best-case scenario, he was never shown insulting her or feeling cocky about the vote. The UTR then seems like intentional editorial protection.
There is one more thing here worth noting, and that’s Elaine’s description of Tommy. As the ex-Lairos were running down the potential targets, Elaine clocked Tommy as “the biggest threat” of the old Vokais. “He’s got close ties with everybody,” she said. “I’ve got him in my sights, you know what I mean?” That’s a bad sign for someone who said their gameplan was to lower their threat level. Now, it could be that Elaine not taking her shot at Tommy here comes back to haunt her, but it could also mean Tommy is on the hot-seat.
Having a bit of jeopardy in your edit is not necessarily a bad thing, and it might actually be what Tommy needed. He was looking a little too squeaky clean before this episode. Now, not only does he have his old Vokai connections (Jack/Jamal), but he has potential antagonistic connections with the likes of Aaron (who betrayed his trust) and Elaine (who pinpointed him as a threat). Despite a quiet week, Tommy continues to build his storylines.
The third UTR rating in a row for Dan and with Negative tone to boot. Dan’s edit is still very much relying on his pre-swap connections and storylines. There has been nothing new to latch onto in recent weeks.
He had one confessional this episode, which began with a slight level of cockiness. “We’re winning every challenge we go to,” he said. “New Vokai is all this (throws up ‘W’ sign)… all this all day.” Vokai went on to lose the next challenge. But he did also take stock of the situation regarding Elaine’s visit to the Island of the Idols. “I think you have to assume the worst,” he explained. “And if Elaine comes back with an idol, that tremendously complicates the next vote… It makes it very scary.”
It’s a good thing that Dan showed some game awareness, recognizing that Elaine could have an advantage. But we never saw him make any attempt to counter that potential scenario. He was simply a tag along to the vote. And on top of that, he received Negative SPV (second-person visibility) from Missy, who described him as “a sketchy person in general in Survivor” while pointing out how he’s always checking through the tribe’s bags (this was backed up by footage).
The increasing lack of complexity and the overall negative vibe does not make for a strong edit. It’s near impossible to see how anyone could win with an edit like this. The narrative we’re being told is that Dan might have some game awareness, but he lacks social awareness, first demonstrated by his touchy-ness in the premiere, and now with the checking people’s bags in plain sight. That is a story… but it’s not a winning story.
Middle of the Road
This was an okay episode for Dean. His story is still that of an underdog, but one that is benefiting from tensions within the old Vokai group, and I think there was just enough game talk here to scrape a MOR rating.
The episode opened with Dean alone on the beach while the rest of the Lairo tribe discussed how he might be feeling. While he didn’t get to directly speak about the past vote, this opening put the focus on Dean nonetheless. This focus continued when Noura approached Dean about joining forces with the women and voting out Jack and/or Jamal. Suddenly, Dean had found the opening he needed.
“Noura has a plan,” Dean said in confessional. “The problem is, Noura is absolutely crazy, and I think a little bit delusional. She’s just all over the place, so I’d be crazy to work with her. But I’ve absolutely found a crack.” He then exploited that crack by telling Jamal exactly what Noura said, to the point where Jamal went from “Vokai strong” to “getting Noura out is of the highest priority.” It was a small sample of what Kellee worried about last week, Dean can charm and make people want to work with him.
That was pretty much all we saw from Dean for the remainder of the episode. Much like with Karishma, I think it’s a good thing that Dean’s name was quickly brushed off as a target. The dynamics on Lairo 2.0 are now pointing at fractures amongst the old Vokai. That means Dean should be able to sneak into the merge, just like Kellee feared, and continue to scratch and claw his way forward.
I’ve had my doubts about Missy‘s edit for a while now, but this week made me feel a little better. There are still some red flags that need discussing, but overall, it seemed like she was somewhat shielded.
Last week, Missy was all about her new tribe and was quick to declare that “orange is dead.” She agreed with Aaron that it was the right move to flip on old Lairo and join the old Vokais. That continued to be the case at the start of this episode, as we saw Missy telling Elizabeth that she doesn’t want to go to rocks. And later in the episode, she told Lauren and Tommy that they have her and Aaron’s votes to take out Elaine. Of course, after all that, Missy ended up sticking with old Lairo and voting out an original Vokai.
Now, I don’t think this decision to revert back to old Lario was an inconsistency in Missy’s edit. The whole situation was something of a Hail Mary. Things only changed because of Elaine’s advantage, and Missy acknowledged that. “Okay, this is crazy, we were basically offering up Elaine as a sacrifice, but because she can save us, now she’s our hero,” Missy said in confessional. While you could read this as another instance of Missy flip-flopping, it’s also consistent with her game of self-preservation and adaptation.
After that, we didn’t see too much of Missy. She popped up as part of the “Vokai targets” sequence, where she gave reasons for why Dan would be a good potential vote-off. She talked about his “sketchiness” and how she’s noticed him checking the tribe’s bags. “I see all of it because I’m watching him because I trust no one at any time,” she explained. This continues a theme from the premiere of Missy being “observant,” and her not trusting anyone makes sense of her “quick to flip” gameplay.
The question we have to ask is, is that flip-floppy gameplay a good thing or a bad thing? Is it a sign that Missy seizes on opportunities and does what is best for herself in the long-run? Or is it a sign that she’s burning trust, and her game will eventually catch up with her? I’ve been leaning towards the latter because of how others have picked up on her willingness to “drop a name” (Elaine & Elizabeth back on Lairo and now she’s broken trust with Tommy & Lauren). But if she can make it into the merge, I’ll need to seriously reevaluate Missy’s edit.
Over The Top
I struggled with Jason‘s rating here. And the choice to land on OTT might seem strange at first glance. But if you look back over Jason’s content for this episode, there was nothing of real complexity. The overall take away from his episode was, “HAHA, Elaine is toast… oh no, I am.”
Just look at his two confessionals. In both, he showed overconfidence in his position without offering any personal game insight. “[Lairo] flipped at the drop of a hat. They’re scrambling, fighting for themselves,” he said. “Aaron said he’d be willing to vote Elaine. That sounds great. It’s all good in the hood here. It really is.” His post-Immunity Challenge confessional was even cockier. “It’s funny because right now, Elaine’s like one of those chickens, waiting to be slaughtered. Unless Elaine has some type of idol, she’s going home. Tonight I hope we get a big bird.”
Yes, he did acknowledge the possibility of Elaine having an advantage, but he didn’t do anything about it or take it that seriously. In a later camp scene, Jason backed up Lauren when she said Elaine doesn’t seem smart enough to find an idol. Jason was basically used as the oblivious fool of this episode (which ties back to his premiere edit quite nicely), utterly unprepared for what was about to happen. This all felt very OTT to me, even down to his, “Don’t trust Aaron” exiting statement at Tribal.
Jason leaving here wasn’t exactly expected, but nor was it a complete surprise. While he’d had confessionals in every episode, his edit was severely lacking. As I said last week, the swap was a chance for Jason to enlighten us on his individual game or at least make new connections. Instead, all we got was basic narration. Even his connection with Noura was growing more tenuous by the week. So with nothing substantial to grab hold of story-wise, we should have seen this one coming.
As for his overall season rating, I also found this a tough decision. He’s had every rating available other than INV. But even though he started and ended OTT, I think his edit balances out as MOR. There was some complexity early on, then he kind of stagnated with basic narration. Despite being undermined in his final episode, I don’t think people will necessarily remember Jason as an OTT character. MOR just seems to fit.
Lauren was another difficult one to rate, but once I’d settled on Jason’s rating, it made it clearer. Much like Jason, there was no complexity to Lauren’s edit, and she was massively undermined in regards to the vote. It was one-note and, therefore, OTT.
Firstly, Lauren told the Vokais that she doesn’t think Elaine is smart enough to find an idol. By this point, we knew that Elaine had an advantage and was planning on using it. Lauren then doubled down on this in confessional. “Honestly, I don’t know that Elaine has the strategic mind to be able to play us,” she said. This was a bad sign, given what happened next. Lauren was underestimating her opponent, someone who, throughout the episode, we were told not to underestimate.
“But like, even if Elaine does have an idol, I know Elizabeth and Missy would spill the beans,” Lauren continued. Immediately following this statement, we saw Lauren asking Missy and Elizabeth if they knew something she doesn’t, and neither woman said anything. Elizabeth also said Lauren would be her target because she does nothing for her game. That was twice within minutes that Lauren was instantly undermined by the edit. This is why I leaned OTT, especially with the crying at Tribal, too, which just added to the overall OTT feel.
As I said last week, and which was also the case for Jason, the swap provided a chance to get to know more about Lauren and her gameplan/relationships. We do now know she’s wanted to play Survivor since she was 11-years-old, but other than that, we have nothing. We also know she was willing to go to rocks for Vokai, but we don’t know where exactly she fits into the hierarchy of that alliance.
Perhaps this blindside is a turning point in Lauren’s edit, maybe she will return to the gamer we saw back in Episode 2. But there’s such a lack of consistency and relationships in Lauren’s edit that I find it hard to see her becoming a central character and even more unlikely the season winner. Maybe there is a chance of a post-merge CP uptick, which we’ve seen in the past with players like Andrea. But there’s just as much of a chance she’s the next boot.
I went back on forth between CPP and OTTP for Elaine this week. There was definitely some complexity here, both strategic and personal, but the overall vibe felt OTT. I think the image most people would have of Elaine after this episode is her riding in on her stallion to save the day for her peeps. She was the OTTP hero.
Things started off slightly worrying. Elaine recognized a potential stalemate was on the horizon should Vokai lose the Immunity challenge, and she was willing to draw rocks. But she had an incorrect read on her old Lairo buddies. “Aaron, Missy, Elizabeth, they’re loyal,” she said. “If we lose and go to Tribal Council, I don’t think anybody’s gonna flip.” Now, while this ultimately ended up being right, in this moment, we saw Missy & Elizabeth confirm they DIDN’T want to go to rocks, while Aaron pledged loyalty to Jason and offered up Elaine as a sacrifice.
But after Elaine was sent to the Island of the Idols, her story became that of the underestimated underdog who was ready to play the hero. “Everybody underestimates me because of my size,” she said. “But I have the heart of a lion, and I’m strong like an ox. They may underestimate that big time.” This was very much the case with the likes of Jason and Lauren dismissing Elaine’s ability to strategically use an advantage. Even Sandra supported this theme of Elaine being underestimated: “If her tribemates don’t watch out, she’ll be right there at the end, and she could easily take this money.”
What Sandra said sounds like a winner quote—and it’s not the first time we’ve heard that kind of statement. Aaron & Ronnie targeted Elaine in the premiere for that exact reason—they thought she would win if she made it to the end (Karishma also said similar). Even in this episode, Dan told Aaron that “Elaine is the type of person who gets to the end and wins.” Is this foreshadowing? Maybe. But it’s also a sign that perhaps Elaine isn’t quite as underestimated as it seems.
If those statements are to be taken at face value, then that is some pretty heavy-handed foreshadowing. Could Elaine be the winner? It’s certainly possible. But there was another important confessional this episode that could suggest a different story-arc. “I’m not just here for a million dollars, even though the million would be pretty sweet,” she explained. “But I’m here for more than that. I lost my mom 3 months before I come out here. So I wanted that soul searching, that lifetime journey everyone talks about. I wanted some of that.”
Much like Karishma last week, Elaine has now opened up the possibility of a journey edit. This means winning doesn’t have to be the end goal. Elaine wants to soak up the Survivor experience and fill her soul. This is the reason she gave for jumping at the IOI opportunity. And you’ll notice how Elaine’s snap decision didn’t get the same sort of reaction that Noura got a few episodes ago. Sandra said that Elaine is “balls to the wall” and “that’s how you have to play Survivor.”
As for the rest of the episode, it was all about Elaine saving the day. “I’m gonna play the hero, ride in on my stallion and jump off and save the day for my peeps,” she said. Missy herself referred to Elaine as the “hero” (even if it did sound like she was just using her because of the advantage). “Who’d a thunk it? That little ol KY would come through for the team,” Elaine said. “That’s the coolest part to me that I get to do this for my peeps.” And at Tribal, she delivered on her promise, as Rob & Sandra cheered on from the viewing box.
While this was a big, positive edit for Elaine, there were also some warning signs. Is it a good thing that she was all about “saving her peeps” when we saw how willing Missy and especially Aaron were to sacrifice her? That could suggest she made a mistake. However, we’ve seen in past episodes that Elaine is aware of how sneaky Aaron and Missy can be, so it’s not as if she is completely blinded.
Where does Elaine go from here? It’s an interesting one. I think Elaine has longevity. She has an edit that can either be the winner or a late-game robbed goddess. All this talk of how she will win if she makes it to the end is either foreshadowing of that becoming reality or of others clipping her before that can happen. I sort of lean towards the latter, just because of the journey stuff brought up in this episode. Elaine doesn’t have to win to have a positive ending.
In the short-term, Elaine still has plenty of story options with her old Lairos, and I don’t suspect we’ve seen the end of the Elaine versus Aaron story just yet—it’s also ironic how Elaine ended up saving Lairo after the premiere where Aaron worried she’d flip at a swap. And she also highlighted Tommy as the “biggest threat,” which could open up a new story avenue.
Elizabeth teetered that line between MOR and CP this week, but I felt she gave a little bit more than say, Missy, and so it just about pushed her into CP. It also continued her fluctuating edit that floats in and out of relevance.
For the first time, we saw two players talking about their IOI experience when Elaine told Elizabeth about her test and potential advantage. It’s a good thing to see two players share IOI notes, but this also appeared to be very circumstantial. This vote revolved around Elaine’s Block A Vote advantage, and so her sharing it with Elizabeth was almost necessary. That said, the continued focus on Elizabeth & Elaine as a pair is undoubtedly a positive for both of their edits, especially with the likes of Tom and Chelsea no longer in the game.
Where Elizabeth gets her complexity is in her evaluation of the vote. Unlike Elaine, Elizabeth was aware that Aaron & Missy were considering flipping, and she knew that they’d need bringing on board. She told Elaine this and aired it in confessional too. “The block a vote changes everything. This is a glimmer of hope for the four Lairo here at Vokai 2.0 to survive,” she said. “But we need to have 4 votes to their 3. So as long as Elaine and I can convince Missy and Aaron to vote with us, we’re gonna be fine.”
Elizabeth and Elaine did convince Missy and Aaron to vote with them, and everything did work out fine, for now, at least. Elizabeth also got to offer her opinion on who the target should be. “For me, it makes sense to take out Lauren,” she said. “She doesn’t shield me; she doesn’t really do anything for my game.” Lauren didn’t end up being the target, but that sets up a potential conflict going forward. Also, Elizabeth was shown to be keeping her options open, so it didn’t matter too much that Lauren survived. “But honestly, there’s a reason to vote out every single one of the Vokai.”
As I’ve said many times now, Elizabeth still feels like that mid-level character that comes in and out of relevance. We see her when she’s necessary to the plot of an episode, and in those moments, she is often insightful and supported by the edit. She doesn’t quite have the consistency of a main character, but there is enough here to suggest that Elizabeth has longevity.
This was Noura‘s first CP rating of the season, and even then, she still gets tarred with the crazy brush. But even though she got a lot of negative SPV from Dean and Jamal, her confessional and subsequent chat with Dean was straight up CP strategy talk.
In Noura’s confessional, she recapped the previous vote, spoke of the current dynamics, and put forward what she wanted to happen next. “Tribal went according to plan, Tom went home, and now we’re sitting pretty with 5 Vokai and 2 Lairo,” she explained. “And you think, ‘this is so simple, let’s take out Karishma or Dean.’ But the players I don’t trust are actually Jamal and Jack. They’re the guys who were gunning for me on my old tribe, and I know I can’t work with those guys. So I’ve gotta kill them before they kill me.”
Not only did Noura explain why she wanted to target Jamal and Jack, with reasons that we know to be true based on Episode 2, but she then put her plan into action. She approached Dean and offered him the “opportunity” to jump on board with her and the “girls” to take out Jack and Jamal, thereby improving his position. Did the plan work? No, because Dean went and immediately tattled to Jamal. But that doesn’t take away the strategic complexity of Noura’s edit.
But why didn’t the plan work? We’ve heard the term “perception is reality” a lot in Survivor, but particularly in this season, and often in regards to Noura (she’s even said it herself). The perception of Noura from most of her fellow tribemates is that she is “crazy.” We’ve heard it back on old Vokai and now on new Lairo. “Noura has a plan… The problem is Noura is absolutely crazy, and I think a little bit delusional,” Dean said. “She’s just all over the place, so I’d be crazy to work with her.”
Jamal backed up Dean’s assessment of Noura, referring to her as “bonkers” and not someone you want to tie your game to. “We had the majority, we’re taking out former Lairo one by one, then Noura goes bonkers by trying to pull together a coalition to go against me,” Jamal said. “Noura is just so out of tune and so unreliable in this game. She doesn’t get it. That’s the reason why, for me, getting Noura out is of the highest priority.”
These statements from Dean and Jamal account for Noura’s N-tone, but the important thing here is what it sets up for the future. Remember, last week, I said that her storyline with Jamal & Jack could be picked back up whenever, and lo and behold, here it is. It comes at just the right time because with Jason leaving, Noura needs new game connections, and even though this is an antagonistic one, it provides her a narrative moving forward. It’s become a game of who will get who first between Noura and Jamal.
How do I see this playing out? It’s a tough one to call. Both Jamal and Noura have had moments of positivity and negativity. Noura is often perceived as “crazy” and “delusional,” which could suggest she won’t see her blindside coming. But Jamal also had that Episode 2 burial, as well as the suspicions brought up by the likes of Tommy and Janet. It really could go either way, and I think we’ll find out soon enough, but maybe not next week.
While the showdown could certainly take place next episode, I really get the sense that this is an early merge storyline in the making, especially because of the way Tommy ties into this story (the broken trust between Tommy & Jamal was a big highlight of Episode 3). It would not surprise me to see Noura versus Jamal as a big part of the early merge game.
There was no doubt in my mind that Jamal was CPP this week. He discussed a complex social issue in such an honest and well-articulated manner. It not only provided personal insight into Jamal’s background, but it also cemented his relationship with Jack at the same time.
The scene started with Jamal teaching his tribemates about West African music and dance. He received positive SPV from Jack, who talked up Jamal’s “experience” and “wisdom” and commented on how cool it was to see Jamal opening up and sharing more. This then led to Jack’s inappropriate “durag” joke and the subsequent chat about race and privilege. What followed was one of the most raw and powerful scenes in the history of Survivor.
Jamal rationally and intelligently explained why he found the comment insulting, opening up about racist caricatures of black men, the different pillars of identity, and white privilege. For his part, Jack apologized and listened to Jamal’s comments. This was presented as a learning moment, rather than a confrontation. And by the end, it had brought Jamal and Jack closer as friends and allies, with Jamal showing his appreciation for Jack’s apology.
The big question is whether this segment is relevant to the overall season narrative or if it’s something that stands alone. Would this have been shown no matter what? It’s definitely a fantastic moment that a TV producer would be crazy to pass up. But it’s not as if the show hasn’t brushed past race discussions previously (that happened just last season according to Julia Carter). The inclusion of this scene might have even been a response to that criticism. So I’m not sure if this will be a continuous narrative, but I do think it helps secure Jack/Jamal as a tight duo.
As for what is relevant to Jamal’s game and overall edit, I suspect that came at the start of the episode. The stuff with Noura feels more important in terms of narrative. As I said in Noura’s write-up, we have this “kill or be killed” showdown developing between the pair, and I think that will become a central story in the next couple of weeks.
Jack was on the other side of the conversation with Jamal, and his rating was a little more challenging to figure out. While his “durag” comment was definitely highlighted as insensitive, I never felt that the edit went out of its way to bury Jack or even present him as negative.
The segment started with Jack being highly complimentary of Jamal and how cool it was to see him opening up about his culture. Straight away, we saw that Jack didn’t have ill feelings towards Jamal, so when he made his inappropriate “joke,” we knew it wasn’t meant maliciously. Jamal recognized too that it wasn’t Jack being nasty but rather an example of a wider problem. “This whole caricature is so ingrained in our culture and so comfortable for white America… that for a sweet, well-intentioned boy like Jack, it flows off the tongue.”
Jack was also quick to recognize his error. “I immediately knew that I said something wrong, and I was very embarrassed to have said it,” he explained. “I felt like Jamal views me in this mature way, and I feel like I just took steps backward.” This led to Jack apologizing to Jamal and the two sitting down for an in-depth chat. In this conversation, Jack listened to Jamal, learning from the “wisdom” he spoke of earlier and acknowledged his mistakes. “Jamal has a way of helping me understand that privileges do exist,” he said. “I don’t think of myself as the most privileged person, but I am very privileged, I am.”
I never got the sense that the edit wanted us to view Jack in a negative light. It wanted us to see his response as a positive. This was summed up by Jamal’s reaction to Jack’s apology. “Jack’s apology to me made up for a lot of times when I’ve had to feel so insignificant and let it roll off my shoulders for my own social mobility,” Jamal said. “So that apology, man, I’ll remember that for the rest of my life.” The entire scene was framed as this positive, learning moment between friends.
What does it mean for Jack going forward? Well, if the edit wanted to paint him as negative here, I think it could have done that quite easily. The fact he received such positivity and was able to acknowledge and apologize is a good sign. It allows for personal growth. It also cements his relationship with Jamal as a tight duo going forward. Other than that, Jack is still lacking game-wise, but the edit continues to present him as a likable person, even in his misguided moments.
Aaron has one of the most significant edits of the season so far—there is no denying that. He’s also been increasing in complexity in recent weeks. We always get his point of view on the tribe dynamics and how his own plans and motivations tie into all of that. But why do I continue to get an uneasy feeling from his edit?
As with Missy, last week, Aaron was all about cutting his ties with old Lairo and moving on to new pastures. He made an agreement with Tommy to look out for one another and confirmed with Missy that he was ready to pledge to purple. This episode started off on a similar path. While Elaine was talking about sticking together as four strong, Aaron was throwing her under the bus to Jason. He made it quite clear that he was willing to cut Elaine and stay loyal to Vokai.
Everything was then thrown into question when Elaine retrieved the Block A Vote advantage. Once he found out about the advantage, Aaron told Elaine and Elizabeth that he was on board. However, in confessional, he explained that this was “100% a cover to keep Elaine relaxed.” He was still very much considering hopping in with Vokai and taking out Elaine. “If I prove my loyalty, vote the way Vokai wants me to vote, then Elaine goes home, and I get cemented with these guys,” he said.
Aaron lays out his thought process in a way that makes him CP, and he even explained why he thinks this way. “I don’t think Tribal Council to Tribal Council, I think three votes from now,” he said. “I don’t want to just make merge, I want to win this game.” That is all well and good, and mentioning the win is always a nice touch, but is Aaron missing the forest for the trees? Is he thinking too far ahead that he’s not seeing what is going on currently in front of him?
He’s already been referred to as “shady” and “sneaky” in previous episodes by Elaine and Elizabeth. Now he’s put himself in a position where he’s betrayed Vokai. We saw Aaron tell Jason twice this episode that he was ready to roll with Vokai—not to mention the agreement with Tommy from last week. He kept talking about how much a threat Elaine will be at the end and how he wants her out and how he is the one in control. But ultimately, he stuck by Elaine and voted out Jason, which ended with him being glared at by Tommy and being called out as untrustworthy by a departing Jason.
The question I have for Aaron’s edit is the same one I have for Missy’s. Is his flip-floppy game meant to show him as a ruthless yet successful player? Or is it an ominous sign that he will eventually be caught out? I’ve always veered towards the latter, especially after this episode, which saw Aaron exposed in front of the whole tribe. However, you could argue that all the talk of Aaron targeting Elaine was only included to add some tension to the vote. Otherwise, it’d be obvious Elaine would successfully save all of Lairo with her advantage.
Maybe my read of Aaron has been completely off? Perhaps he has Nick Wilson upside, another player that started off in the negative and was often undermined. It could be that continually breaking trust is just part of Aaron’s game/theme. If so, his final confessional spelled that out quite well. “I’ve made several promises in this game. Some of those promises I keep… some of them I haven’t,” he said. “It’s the game of Survivor… somebody’s heart is gonna get broken. I’m gonna have to break somebody’s trust and somebody’s loyalty.”
Next week is the big test for Aaron. How he responds after being called out at Tribal will be huge. If he explains his decision and fixes his relationship with Tommy, then he’ll be on the right path. But if he gets cocky and power-hungry, which he showed signs of this week, then things are looking gnarly. If my read so far has been correct, then the downfall is approaching.