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
Elizabeth continues her up and down edit. One week she’s relevant, the next she’s barely visible. It’s very circumstantial. Elizabeth is only ever complex in episodes where she attends Tribal Council. And usually, her complexity is tied to the story of another player, most often Elaine.
While she didn’t receive a confessional this week, we did see her in a couple of camp scenes. There was a part in the shelter early in the episode when she celebrated the Jason vote with Aaron and Elaine. Then later, she was in a scene with Missy, where they discussed the next potential target, but it was Missy leading the conversation. This was enough for the UTR rating, but it was very minimal.
So what is Elizabeth’s story heading into the merge? Well, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Even though she has complexity from time to time, and she’s never really shown in a negative light, she doesn’t have an individual story. Her role is, at best, a supporting part in the larger narratives of Elaine and Missy.
I’m now also wondering if Elizabeth could be a potential merge boot based on her pre-merge edit. In recent seasons, the merge boot tends to be a mid-level character, someone with a spell of complexity but not an excessive amount. I think back to another recent Elizabeth, in David vs. Goliath, who also had three CPs and a MOR3 pre-merge. I think the new Elizabeth would fit the bill quite easily. She has just enough game relevance to be a satisfying merge boot, without the cohesive narrative to suggest an end-gamer.
I could be wrong, and maybe Elizabeth’s story really takes off post-merge, but if that’s the case, I think she would need a big merge episode next week where she gives us an idea of what she is thinking moving forward. I tend to think she’s more likely to be gone soon… but some of my reads have been off this season, so don’t bank on it!
Not much change for Karishma. We haven’t had any insight into her game since the first swap episode. Her story was all about flipping on old Lairo and joining Vokai. Once that happened, her game kind of fell into a holding pattern.
In fact, Janet basically gave us a brief recap of Karishma’s story up until this point. “Karishma will be a loyal vote because she’s been ostracized from her old tribe,” Janet said. Karishma herself told Janet and Noura, “it’s a dream playing with you guys.” So, if we take the edit at face value, we are meant to see Karishma as part of the Vokai alliance. This is old information. Karishma didn’t tell us where her head is at going into the merge—her one confessional was about the weather.
What Karishma does have going for her is old connections with the old Lairos still in the game, specifically Missy. That is a thread ready to be picked back up at the merge. Missy previously told us that she has Karishma in her back pocket and can control her vote. Now Janet is saying Karishma is a loyal Vokai vote. Perhaps we’ll soon see Karishma in a swing position where she will make her ultimate decision of who to stick with going forward.
However, while Karishma does have a potential story, I don’t think it’s enough to turn her edit around in terms of winner potential. There was one massive hit to her winner chances this episode. Her voting confessional for Dean, where she bragged about taking him out with her first shot, only to fail in doing so, was severely undermining. I just don’t see any way that would be left in the edit of a winner.
But I think Karishma’s winning chances sailed a while ago anyway. As I’ve said previously, her edit took a turn into journey territory. She is here to find herself and figure out the next chapter of her life. We saw the conversation about arranged marriages and how Karishma felt like she was a burden and shame to her family. And I think her words at this week’s Tribal Council during the gender discussion ties into that theme quite nicely—about women feeling empowered to stand up for themselves.
A much quieter episode for Elaine this week, which is not necessarily a bad thing given her huge focus in the previous episode. We still got to check in with her at the start, where she recapped what happened at Tribal and talked about how old Lairo now has the numbers.
That was pretty much all we heard from Elaine. She was in a couple of camp scenes, but mostly as a listener. There was no insight into what her plans were moving forward, so we are led to believe she is still all about her “team,” which is old Lairo. Nobody was talking about her as a target, so you would like to believe that means she isn’t on anyone’s radar in the near future. Although, that can quickly change in Survivor.
What is Elaine’s story going into the merge? It’s interesting because there’s been so much talk about how Elaine is this massive end-game threat and how she will easily win if she’s at the end. That has been a consistent theme since the premiere. Aaron was a big proponent of taking out Elaine, but he never followed through. Will that storyline return at the merge? It’s very possible.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Elaine is targeted at the merge vote, but based on what we’ve seen pre-merge, I feel like she is going deep, and if not to the end, then at least close to it. But as I said before, she doesn’t have to win to succeed because she told us last week that having the adventure is more important than the million dollars.
Honestly, I’m kind of stumped by Aaron‘s edit. He’s had various red flags, negative tone, and signs of an impending downfall. And yet he’s also had a ton of complexity and high visibility throughout the pre-merge. This was the first time he’s ever been UTR.
I said last week that this would be a big test for Aaron. If he could explain his decision to vote out Jason and fix his relationship with Tommy, then he’d be on the right path. But if he got cocky and power-hungry, then things would be looking gnarly. Well, he didn’t get to explain his decision at all. And his one confessional was definitely cocky: “We’ve put them on their heels, and now we know they’re gonna come back scrambling for their lives. Because now who’s in control? We are.”
It’s that overconfidence why I’ve always kept Aaron’s edit at arm’s length. Even during his moments of complexity, there is still this throughline of cockiness. It’s why I’ve always felt like this edit was foreshadowing a blindside or some sort of downfall. But obviously, he had more longevity than I originally assumed. His amount of screen-time and the extent to which he’s discussed his strategy tells us that he is an important character. That doesn’t mean the downfall isn’t coming, it just means his story is more than JUST that.
Aaron has various connections and story avenues heading into the merge. His relationship with Missy is one of the most featured partnerships in the game. He’s had a back and forth relationship with Elaine that feels far from over. And two weeks ago, he formed a bond with Tommy, where the pair promised to protect each other at the merge. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Aaron once again caught in between old Lario and old Vokai as the game steps up to the next level. The question is, will his sneakiness finally catch up with him?
Middle of the Road
I can’t say I was expecting Jack to leave this week, but much like with Jason, it makes sense when you look back over his edit. Jack massively lacked game complexity. He had a couple of connections, but he didn’t have the individual game content that set him up for future storylines.
What Jack had was positivity and editorial protection (specifically in episodes two and six). Those are the things that made me think he might have longevity. Why bother shielding Jack from negativity if he’s just a low-vis, pre-merge boot? Well, it now makes sense after this episode. Firstly, Jack’s likability was primarily the reason given for his elimination. “He’s extremely good with people, very empathetic, super fun… [but] he’s connected to so many people,” Kellee said.
Secondly, in what was somewhat of a surprise, Probst announced that Jack was the first member of the jury. A pre-merge boot is not usually on the jury, and therefore there is far less need to protect them editorially or feature any long-term connections. But because Jack will be there until the end—where he’ll get to vote for the winner—it makes sense why his edit contained flashes of longevity. His connections/friendships with the likes of Jamal and Tommy could still be relevant, even if it’s just in his reactions from the sidelines.
As the first member of the jury, Jack is the person who will set the tone of what kind of jury this will be. I like to think his edit was devised around that. He even touched on it in this episode, at Tribal Council. “Just because I’m going to write your name down does not mean I don’t value that relationship that we made,” he said. “And I expect everyone, and I hope everyone, to have the same perspective to the end of the game.” This quote really brought Jack’s edit into focus for me—and it was also what pushed him into MOR over UTR for this episode.
Overall, I’ve rated Jack as MORP for the season. He certainly wasn’t the most complex or visible person in the game. But he was a positive presence that went on somewhat of a learning experience, highlighted most significantly in his chat with Jamal last week.
Are the wheels starting to come off of Tommy‘s edit? It was another interesting week for the 4th-grade teacher as more cracks began to appear in his previously squeaky clean edit.
Tommy took a backseat this week as Lauren jumped into the driver’s seat. There were moments where he almost seemed checked out, and Lauren had to get his head back in the game. “Turn it off,” Lauren said as Tommy started to tear up. “We can’t be scared. We have to be able to have each other’s backs and reassure each other.” I’m not sure if this scene was just to show us the Tommy & Lauren bond or if it was meant to highlight a weak-spot in Tommy’s edit.
After Lauren’s pep-talk, where she said the plan is to paint Dan as a flip-flopper, Tommy got his head back in the game. “Right now, I’m in a bad, bad spot because it’s dog-eat-dog,” he said in confessional. “So it’s time to lie, cheat, steal. I’ll do whatever I have to do to make Dan look like a very sneaky player.” We then saw Tommy talking to the likes of Aaron, Elaine, and Missy, where he threw Dan under the bus.
However, Tommy’s gameplan was immediately undermined by Missy. “I see what’s going on, Lauren and Tommy are trying to get rid of Dan,” Missy said. “But Lauren and Tommy are tight… super tight.” Missy would go on to discuss taking out Tommy so that she could have Lauren for herself. “I don’t want Lauren and Tommy to become the super pair that’s unstoppable. That’s catastrophic,” Missy explained. All of this made it seem like Tommy was one step behind.
The relationship with Lauren is the other big talking point here, though. Lauren described Tommy as her “number one” and “like a brother” to her. Missy called them a “super tight” pair that could become unstoppable if not broken up. It all came a little bit out of the blue, though it’s not entirely unfounded. Back in the premiere, we saw Tommy and Lauren bonding about both being young and married (or soon to be married in Tommy’s case). There hadn’t been much—if any—follow-up on that pairing since, but there is a foundation there.
Whether the Tommy & Lauren pair will become unstoppable is the big question. Could Missy’s fears be foreshadowing? Possibly. Or they could merely be setting up the reasons why Tommy and Lauren will be targeted in the early post-merge? I’m not sure we saw enough consistency with their relationship to suggest that they will be the dominant pair of the game. It’s not like a Dom & Wendell or Denise & Malcolm situation where there was a consistent focus on those pairings throughout the pre-merge.
Another potential knock to Tommy’s edit is the elimination of Jack. Those two had an early connection in the premiere, and Tommy went out of his way to get Jack back on side after the Molly blindside. But now, Jack is gone. So was all of that pointless? Maybe. However, Jack heading to the jury is perhaps a saving grace for Tommy’s edit. As Jack still has relevancy in the game, so does that relationship. Also, Lauren stepping in to fill the hole that Jack left is potentially a good sign for Tommy’s importance.
Thinking back to the first episode and that sequence of Tommy making connections, the three people we saw him chatting to were Jack, Jamal, and Lauren. His relationships with all three are still relevant. Tommy perhaps has a cheerleader on the jury in the form of Jack. His somewhat tense relationship with Jamal has post-merge story potential. And his re-solidified bond with Lauren secures him a supposed tight pair heading into the next stage of the game. On top of that, there is a connection with Aaron, who promised to watch Tommy’s back at the merge, and vice versa.
While Tommy has a lot of connections and potential story avenues, he has also been pinpointed as a threat. Elaine called him her biggest threat last week, and in this episode, Missy talked about getting rid of him to free Lauren. Even though I think Tommy is still one of the top winner contenders, I can see a world where he is the merge boot. He has that right mix of CP and MOR, and enough story set up to make sense of why he’d be a target.
I think next week will be a big episode for Tommy regardless of if he stays or goes. If he’s voted out, the edit has prepared us as to why. But if he says, we also know why—because of the connections he made early in the game.
Over The Top
Dan receives the rare OTTN1 rating this week. His only content revolved around him inappropriately touching his tribemates. There was a shot of him touching someone’s leg in the shelter and then a discussion amongst tribemates about his behavior.
Elizabeth, Lauren, and Missy all shared stories of Dan being heavy-handed in the shelter at night. They sort of laughed about it, but all agreed it was crossing a line. “Dan does some pretty weird, uncomfortable things,” Lauren said in confessional. We didn’t hear anything from Dan for the entire episode, either regarding this situation or the game at large.
This is also not the first time Dan has been highlighted inappropriately touching his fellow tribemates. There was an entire scene and discussion about it in the premiere. Kellee made Dan aware of his behavior, and he appeared to take it on board. However, in confessional, Kellee said she thinks Dan’s lack of spacial awareness is going to hurt him in the game. That made it seem like the story wasn’t done, and after this episode, that certainly appears to be the case.
It’s particularly notable that this was highlighted in an episode that included a meaningful discussion on gender dynamics—a conversation which specifically referenced the Me Too movement. This makes it seem like we’re being prepared for Dan’s downfall, and it will be tied to his inappropriate touching and lack of spacial awareness.
Dean was back to his OTT ways this week as he was made to look oblivious to what was going on around him. He never really talked strategy. Instead, he relied on what others were telling him and took it at face value, only to find out he was almost duped.
At first, it seemed like Dean was at least open to the possibility he could be voted out. “I think it’s either me or Noura, but if I’m on the hot-seat, these guys are making it awfully comfortable for me,” he said. “So unless they’re really good poker faces… I feel okay. They know Noura… they know she’s frigging insane. I think she’s in for a big blindside tonight, or else I’m the one being laughed at.” But when Dean discovered he WAS being laughed at, he was shocked. “I’m just completely mindblown. Little did I know that all along, they were coming for me.”
There was no complexity here. And it wasn’t simply basic narration that would amount to an UTR. It was intentional obliviousness, and that can only be an OTT in my eyes. As for the Mixed tone, that is because he received negative SPV (second-person visibility) from Janet and Jamal. Janet said he was “a pretty boy” who is “all about himself” and Jamal called him “smarmy.” But he also received positive SPV from Jack and Kellee, both of whom said they liked him.
The relationship with Kellee paid off big time for Dean. It now makes sense why it received such focus in the swap episode. Kellee gave Dean her idol, and he was able to survive the vote. It allowed him to scrape into the merge and continue his underdog narrative. We’ve heard at least a couple of players, including Kellee, say that letting Dean get to the merge would be a mistake. Now we’ll get to see if that fear was justified. Could Dean be about to go on a deep run? I think it’s very possible.
I struggled with Noura‘s rating this week. She did have some game talk, and she explained her motives, but it was covered in a cloud of OTT and NSPV (every week it seems someone calls her “crazy” or “insane”). Her edit is very much focused on her personality, and specifically, her personality clashes with Jamal.
Last week, I said that I had a feeling that the Noura versus Jamal showdown was an early merge storyline in the making. There was a point in this episode where I thought my read was completely off, as it looked like Jamal or Noura were heading for a snuffing. But despite their back and forth battles, both of them lived to see the merge, with an added new wrinkle to their relationship.
Early in the episode, Noura clashed with Jamal over the rice portions. She did not take kindly to Jamal’s comments and aired her frustrations to both the audience and her tribemates. “I hate Jamal,” she said. “I’m so over him. I’m over his face. I’m over his oppressive remarks. At what point do you say, ‘let’s breakaway and cut his throat off?'” She also called him a “complete a**hole.” But Noura couldn’t get the rest of the women on her tribe to turn on Jamal at this stage.
For his part, Jamal acknowledged that Noura is a “handful,” but he explained that he didn’t want to make an “emotional” decision. It didn’t make sense for Jamal to take out Noura, even after she admitted, at Tribal, to having considered voting him out. Noura and Jamal openly debated their relationship, with Noura even confessing that she hates Jamal sometimes. Meanwhile, Jamal exposed her plotting, forcing her to reveal she’d been targetting him and planning a women’s alliance.
All of this was beautifully set up for the moment where Jamal ended up playing his idol on Noura. After all of their arguing, Jamal wound up handing his idol to his mortal enemy. And she didn’t even need saving, as Noura had voted for Jamal’s closest ally, Jack. It was another brilliant chapter in the Noura versus Jamal story, and it’ll be fascinating to see how their relationship develops from here.
I certainly don’t think this is the end of the Noura/Jamal narrative, and as I said last week, I believe it could be relevant to the early post-merge game. The only difference is now, perhaps they’ll be on the same side for a bit? But it definitely feels like eventually, one will get the other.
Jamal’s positivity didn’t last too long as he returned to N-tone territory this week. It seems more and more likely that his powerful conversation with Jack last week was a standalone moment, rather than something that had game-long relevance.
As I said last week, the stuff with Noura felt more important in terms of narrative, and the “kill or be killed” showdown that was developing between the pair was set up to be a central story in the next couple of weeks. That certainly turned out to be the case here. Jamal and Noura clashed from the start of the episode and—as discussed in Noura’s write-up—it led to this beautifully ironic moment at Tribal where Jamal played his idol for his mortal enemy.
Outside of the Noura content, Jamal was made to look incompetent and socially unaware when it came to making the fire. He bragged to Janet that he knew how to work the flint, but then failed to make fire. When Jack suggested letting Kellee try, Jamal once again took over the situation. “[Jamal] says things in a way that is like ‘my way or the high way,’ whether it’s around camp or in strategy, he’s just a tough person to work with,” Kellee said. Jamal was then editorially undermined when Kellee stepped in and made the fire.
Despite this negativity and undermining, Jamal still remained complex in his strategy talk. He explained his reasoning when it came to the vote. “The plan is to unanimously vote out Dean tonight at Tribal. He’s hard to read, a little smarmy… And it’s the smarter move to just get rid of that threat,” he said. He also talked about not making an emotional vote and instead making the decision that will benefit the alliance moving forward into the merge. This explained why he played his idol for Noura, despite their clashes.
I should also mention the discussion about gender dynamics at Tribal. This all kicked off because Jamal said he was worried about an all women’s alliance. Kellee said she found the assumption to be “sexist.” This could have looked really bad for Jamal, but he was able to explain his viewpoint, revealing that Noura had discussed an all women’s alliance (which we saw earlier in the episode). He also listened to what the women had to say and appreciated their perspectives. Like the Jamal & Jack talk last week, this felt like a moment bigger than the season.
Where does Jamal go from here? The storyline with Noura looks set to continue, and he’s also about to meet back up with Tommy, who he had a connection with pre-swap. But the negativity and undermining moments in his edit make it near impossible to win.
Janet had a fantastic edit this week, and it came at just the right time because I was almost ready to write her off entirely. Obviously, her uptick in screen-time was helped by her visit to the Island of the Idols, but even so, the complexity and positivity here was tremendous.
Early in the episode, we got an idea of where Janet’s head was at in the game. She told Noura that she wanted to wait until the merge before taking out Jamal. “Noura’s all about a girl’s alliance. Pro-women, rah rah rah. And we’re not doing that,” she said. This came back into play later at Tribal Council when Janet gave a beautiful (and P-toned) speech about how the game is more than men versus women; it’s what you can offer as a person that truly counts.
Instead, Janet was happy to stay Vokai strong and take out Dean, who she referred to as a “pretty boy” who is “all about himself.” She also said that Karishma is a loyal vote because of what happened on her old tribe. “So it’s a matter of keeping Noura’s headspace with us,” she explained. You could say that Janet failed to keep Noura on side, seeing as she voted for Jack, but that was more about Kellee’s move than it was Janet.
Janet’s trip to the IOI was one of the best of the season so far and one that really saved her edit. As she said herself, “This is a big moment for me, and could be a turning point in my game.” She started off scared and emotional. But she told us why—she was worried about it painting a target on her back. That was her mindset when Rob offered her the test to potentially win an advantage. Janet thought it through and ran scenarios, ultimately deciding not to take the test.
The edit could have easily undermined or highlighted this decision as a mistake. But Janet received positivity for her ability to calculate the risk and make a choice that was best for her. Rob smiled and complimented her on understanding the lesson. Sandra praised her as the first person to actually consider the offer, rather than snatching the first thing presented to them. “Janet’s a very logical player because she has wisdom, she has age… she’s done this for years already,” Sandra said. “That right there tells me her longevity in this game… she’s got the making of a winner. We need an older winner.”
That wasn’t just a winner quote, it was a whole winner monologue. But was it too on the nose? Sandra also encouraged Rob to take a bet that the winner of this season would be a woman. Was that foreshadowing? Or was it just to tie into this episode’s theme of gender dynamics? There has definitely been a consistent theme of women’s empowerment this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the winner will be female. David vs. Goliath and Edge of Extinction had elements of “women power” too, but it didn’t translate into a woman winning the season.
The question I’m asking myself is, can Janet win? She had an amazing, positive premiere about the older woman overcoming Survivor stereotypes. Then she kind of disappeared for a few weeks, popping up every now and again for some pre-Tribal strategy conversations. And now she’s finished the pre-merge with another incredible, positive edit. Is the strength of her episode one and episode seven edit enough to counter her weak episode two-six? I think it’s certainly a possibility.
Janet’s themes and character are so well defined that maybe she didn’t need to be in our faces for the entire pre-merge. We know who she is and what she’s about. The downside is that her relationships aren’t quite as well developed. She was tangentially connected to Tommy pre-swap, but I’m not sure that is enough. And there was some slight beef with Dean a couple of episodes ago, which could turn into an antagonistic relationship post-merge (especially as she failed to take him out this week). She’s also mentioned not trusting Jamal and Dan, which could come back into play at the merge.
But I’m certainly much higher on Janet’s chances than I was last week. Even if she can’t win, I see longevity in her edit. Her story of overcoming the odds and fighting against stereotypes appears to be still relevant, so I’m expecting Janet to go on fighting.
This was a solid episode for Lauren after her OTT undermining last week. I said in her write-up last time that maybe the blindside would be a turning point in her game, and she’d return to the gamer we saw back in episode two. Well, she definitely had her game face on this week.
Lauren started off the episode emotional, feeling betrayed by Missy. She told us it hurt because she’d built a real connection with Missy. That is obviously a missing piece in Lauren’s edit because we hadn’t been given any substantial evidence of how tight she and Missy were before this episode. “It’s hard to put faith and trust in people when they tell you one thing and then do another,” she said. “So I have to decide what the best thing is for my game.”
From that point on, Lauren snapped into action, hoping to make moves that would not only save herself but her “number one” Tommy. She decided to target Dan, and she told us why. “Bonding is like 95% of this game, and we all seem to get along fine, but Dan does some pretty weird, uncomfortable things,” she explained. This was backed up by the tribe discussing Dan’s touchy-feelyness. “Dan is, unfortunately, the person that is gonna have the target painted on his back. So right now, it’s operation save Lauren and Tommy.”
Lauren was also shown keeping Tommy’s head in the game. While he was starting to panic, she remained calm and focused. She told him the plan and what needed to be done. Tommy then followed her directives and went about painting the target on Dan. Unfortunately, Missy quickly recognized what Tommy and Lauren were trying to do. That does reflect somewhat poorly on Lauren, as not only was her plan see-through, but her partnership with Tommy was obvious to Missy.
As I said in Tommy’s write-up, the Lauren/Tommy bond was a little bit out of leftfield, even though there was a basis for it in the premiere. All of a sudden, Tommy was Lauren’s “number one” and “like a brother” to her. It’s not enough to just talk about your relationships, we need to see them quantified in some way too. And outside of the premiere, we haven’t really seen any evidence of this partnership in the pre-merge until now. Nor did we see Tommy talking about his relationship with Lauren.
So why highlight this partnership now? It would suggest that it’s about to become relevant, but perhaps only for a short-term storyline. We know that Missy wants to break them up because she sees them as a potential “unstoppable” pair. Missy told us (and Lauren) that she needs Lauren for her game because she is her connection to the women on the other tribe. She wants Tommy gone so that she can have Lauren for herself. There was even a subtitled moment after the Immunity Challenge where Missy and Lauren hugged, and Missy said: “Now let’s win the game.”
Maybe Lauren and Missy are the more relevant pair? It’s a possibility, but if so, then I wonder why we didn’t see the formation of their connection in an earlier swap episode? In fact, why have we only just started to see Lauren’s relationships? Whatever the case, I see this Missy/Lauren/Tommy dynamic being important in the next couple of weeks. And it could be that Lauren pays the price for another one of Missy’s flips. After all, Lauren also has the type of edit that would fit the merge boot.
I said last week that if Missy made the merge, then I would seriously need to re-evaluate her edit. Well, that’s what I’ve spent the last few days doing. Maybe my read of Missy’s edit has been off?
Missy has been CP in all but two pre-merge episodes, and even in those two episodes, we still heard her thoughts. Yes, she can be quick to flip on a vote, but she almost always explains the rationale behind her moves. In the premiere, she said, “I try to be the most observant in this game,” and that has been a consistent theme. Her decisions are often formed based on what she observes. While I thought her choice to cut Chelsea appeared rash, Missy did explain that it was a decision made due to what she’d observed between Chelsea and Dean.
She continued to be observant in this episode. It didn’t take her long to work out what Lauren and Tommy were doing. “I see what’s going on, Lauren and Tommy are trying to get rid of Dan,” she said, “But Lauren and Tommy are tight… super tight.” We know that Missy’s read was correct because we’d just seen Lauren coming up with the plan and referring to Tommy as her “number one.” Missy then went to Elizabeth to discuss future plans about taking Tommy out so that they could have Lauren for themselves and use her connections.
Missy even told Lauren at the start of the episode that she needed her around because of her connection to the women on the other tribe. “You can’t go home, for my game,” she said. The question is whether Missy will succeed in getting rid of Tommy and keeping Lauren for herself. I think that is a story we could see play out in the next couple of weeks. If Missy can take Tommy out, then her chances skyrocket. But if Lauren ends up going before Tommy, I think that’d be a bad sign for Missy.
Going into the merge, Missy has a ton of complexity and connections. Her partnership with Aaron, while quiet this week, has been one of the most consistently highlighted relationships of the pre-merge. She has ties to Elizabeth and Elaine. She now has a connection with Lauren and an adversary in Tommy. And there is unfinished business with both Dean and Karishma. The relationship with Karishma could be particularly important, as Missy previously told us she has Karishma in her back pocket.
If my read on Missy has been totally off, then she should be able to get Karishma back on side. If she does that, then Missy could make some moves against old Vokai and put herself in a solid position to win. But if my original read was correct, then perhaps Missy’s early game overconfidence will come back to haunt her at the merge. However, given her observation skills, Missy should be able to see the danger coming.
This was exactly the kind of episode Kellee needed. “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,” is what I said last week. Well, she did go to Tribal, and we heard A LOT about her strategic plans, both for the present and the future.
Kellee looked good from the jump when she succeeded in making fire when Jamal couldn’t. It made her look like a competent person who knows what she’s doing. That said, I also wondered if there was some ominous foreshadowing here. It was Jack that stuck up for Kellee and told Jamal to let her try making fire. He complimented how good Kellee was at fire-making, while Jamal was dismissive. In confessional, Kellee complained about Jamal and said he is a tough person to work with.
However, when it came to her decision on who to send home between Jack and Jamal, she ultimately landed on Jack. This was despite saying on more than one occasion that Jamal was hard to work with and tough to connect with. Whereas she said she could trust Jack, and we saw that he liked her back, and the two even shook hands on not betraying each other until at least the merge. So even though I really liked this episode for Kellee overall, this was a potential red flag I felt needed noting down.
That aside, everything else here made Kellee appear to be a smart, strategic player with a great mind for Survivor. Once again, she got to comment on the IOI situation and how it applied to her game. “It’s always a little nerve-wracking when someone comes back from the IOI because I need their story to be consistent with mine,” she said. Thankfully, Janet’s story complimented Kellee’s earlier story. “It was a relief that the secret has stayed a secret,” Kellee stated. That’s twice now that Kellee got to comment on someone else’s IOI visit in relation to her own, something not afforded to others, such as Noura and Elizabeth.
Of course, the centerpiece of Kellee’s edit this week was her move with the idol. Her decision to save Dean was thoroughly thought out and explained in detail to the audience. It was about as CP as you can get. She covered every angle and possibility and told us the benefit and/or downside of each move. Kellee wanted to protect Dean because they have a connection via their mutual friend—plus, she wants to work with him. Jamal was a potential target because of their lack of connection. And Jack was an option because of the number of connections he has with others.
Kellee was in complete control of the situation, and the edit made it clear that that was the case. In an episode that featured a theme related to “calculated risks,” Kellee was shown to be weighing her risk versus reward options. “I’m trying to take a big risk, and yet risk mitigate all at the same time,” she said. Nothing she did here was rash or based solely on emotion. She was looking at what would make the best move for her own game moving forward.
Now, the potential red flag here is that a couple of weeks ago, Kellee said that Dean is not the type of person you let get to the merge because he can charm. And yet, Kellee single-handedly saved him and made sure he made the merge. However, she did explain that giving someone an idol would automatically bond you. “And at least for a little bit, he’s gonna be loyal to me.” Kellee showed awareness that Dean’s loyalty might not last forever, but it was worth the risk to earn his backing in the short-term.
“Nothing is foolproof in this game, but if this plan goes off in the way I hope, it really will shift the course of the game,” Kellee said. “I will literally be setting off an entire string of dominoes with this move.” She could very well be right. The repercussions of this move are bound to have an effect on at least the early merge game. It changes the old Vokai dynamics, and it ups everyone’s suspicion. Will Kellee be able to get away with it is the question? Noura’s subtitled, “Why didn’t he play [the idol] last time?” could suggest an interrogation is afoot.
Whether or not Kellee made a move that will ultimately paint a target on her back, the fact is, she is presented as a smart and strategic gamer. Yes, her visibility has been up and down, and her main relationships/connections (Dean & Dan) contain red flags, but I believe we’re meant to see Kellee as a strong player. Perhaps keeping Dean will backfire in a big way, but right now, Kellee is up there with Tommy and Missy (with an outside shot of Elaine/Janet) in the contender’s circle.