Edgic is a weekly feature analyzing each player’s edit, mapping characters to their story-arc. Note that our focus is not solely to determine the winner, as is typical of other Edgic sites. For more information on how Edgic works and rating definitions read our Introduction to Edgic article.
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What did this episode tell us?
The last few episodes have been all about “big moves, big moves, big moves” and meta conversations about resumes and playing to win. In this episode, it seemed to be all about how you approach big moves. Making a big move turns you into a threat and to survive that you need the “bonds and friendships to lean on.” If you make a big move without the bonds to back you up, then you will fall flat, like Will. Whereas if you have the connections and humility, you will survive even in spite of being a big threat, like David.
This episode also set us up for the finale by giving all the finalists, except for Ken, CP ratings. Allowing us to see their different approaches to strategy heading into the last phase of the game. It continues how open this season has been in terms of winner contenders, showing us a rounded view of the finalists.
The Previously on segment told us that “Zeke’s alliance had a numbers advantage over David’s coalition.” Followed by a David confessional telling us “the five is just going to pick us off one by one.” This was then followed with, “But Will was ready to graduate from high school student to power player.” We then saw Will saying, “Seke needs to go. Tonight’s the night,” and fist-bumping David.
“At tribal council, Adam played his idol, but his move proved unnecessary when Will flipped to David’s side. Leaving Jay with the only idol left in the game.” It kind of looked bad for Adam to call his move “unnecessary” although this was “necessary” to set up Will’s cockiness and downfall in this episode. And the mention of Jay’s idol gave us a clue that it was to be used very soon.
Under the Radar
Sunday had one of the six all-important introductory confessionals to the season in the premiere. From that point forward, she had a quiet edit all season, mostly just shown in the background as a caring person. She didn’t receive any personal content or insight into her background (pre-season we learned she’s a cancer survivor and a youth pastor, none of this made the TV edit). Her edit was a literal interpretation of how we were meant to see her game: a quiet player who didn’t make moves. In her boot episode, she didn’t even have a confessional, like she wasn’t playing to her dying day. And this best speaks to why we assign her INV for her season-wide rating (overall ratings aren’t just the total of a player’s season ratings, it’s their lasting impact on the season.)
In this episode, she was suddenly talked about by Hannah as a goat. Though this assessment was meant to resonate with the audience, the move to vote out Sunday was depicted as questionable for every person left in the game except for David. Probst tells us that if you want to win, you are supposed to make big moves, and a big move is voting out a threat, not a goat.
The only question we are left mulling over is why such a non-factor to the stories of the season would get an intro confessional. Was it because the sound byte was perfect to introduce the theme of the season? Was it to throw off the audience about Sunday’s chances in the game? It made us keep wondering when her character would come to life the way all the others with intro confessionals did (Mari, Taylor, Zeke, Chris, and David). Unlike the rest, she receives an INV rating for her presence in the season as a whole.
Middle of the Road
This episode continued Ken’s downfall heading into the finale. Though much of it was subtle, the episode was one negative after another for Ken strategically.
Will says to Jay, “If Ken somehow gets to the end, not even a contest,” and Jay agrees. Two of his three confessionals this episode are about praising Jay as a “strong contender” and challenge dominator. He then follows it up by referring to Jay as “a younger version of myself,” basically praising himself and showing a lack of humility (something that up until now Ken has been a big proponent for). He also never thanks Adam for helping him win immunity despite the edit making it appear as if Adam played a big part, which is confirmed by Jay, “ is so full of s**t. Adam helped him. He didn’t win that thing.” (The lack of thanks to Adam especially stands out on a season where his “closest ally” David thanks everybody for every little thing.)
There’s a random b-roll scene where Ken tries breaking a tree branch and overtly trips over himself, looking very silly. Strategically, he always needs to be told the plan by David, Hannah, and Adam. He appears confused before tribal, saying, “We don’t know what’s going on.” He takes a dismissive, almost patronizing view of Adam wanting to vote out David; what Hannah refers to as “Adam playing really hard,” Ken interprets as “Adam is afraid of David,” missing the point that the game is about making moves and taking out threats.
He scrapes by with a MOR rating because he’s present in many scenes with gameplay and narrates a bit about Jay’s strength and his own loyalty to David. Going into the finale, Ken still has a shot to win (mainly due to his strong pre-merge), but his legs have been cut out from beneath him in the last couple episodes, and he’s going in as a longer shot behind Adam, Jay, and David. It appears more and more as if Ken is in over his head and viewed as a goat.
This episode was a classic downfall edit for Will. He starts the episode praising himself for his big move of taking out Zeke and flushing Adam’s idol. He tells us about how he’s “the one calling the shots,” and somewhat aggressively refers to David as a “weasel” just for playing the game hard, which Will himself is trying to do, thus reflecting negatively upon himself as a weasel that wants to “flip-flop” to the end. He talks about people asking him for his opinion yet then is shown just telling people who to vote for. Though he’s close to being OTT again, he showed a little more depth and strategic thinking this episode, talking through whom to target and why with Jay, and he wasn’t as over the top in his demeanor publicly, e.g., at tribal council.
He also receives a fair bit of negative SPV from others. Namely, at the beginning of the episode, Bret ridicules Will’s gameplay, “this kid wants everyone to think he’s not just a high school kid, but he’s thinking like a high school kid. ‘Oh, I gotta do all my homework. I gotta check off all these boxes.'” Will himself keeps talking about his “resume” and David also says Will is “looking to pad his resume.” All the resume talk and flipping is talked about somewhat negatively. Adam also says he doesn’t want Will “controlling his fate.”
In the end, Will wanted to make big moves and be seen as calling the shots, but he did so arrogantly and without deep enough connections to support his moves, which was his downfall. Despite being UTR most of the season, we’ve given him an OTT rating overall because, from the get-go, he was the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, first-ever high school kid to play this game who spoke about everything with much hyperbole and gusto. Even though his edit was quiet most the season, when people look back, they’ll remember Will as the high-schooler that kept talking about his resume (that’s OTT).
Up until now, Bret was Chris’ buddy then Zeke’s buddy. With both of them out of the game, Bret is shown approaching Adam this episode and hitching his wagon to him, “You’ve got our votes,” he tells Adam. Bret discusses with Adam and Sunday a plan to vote out the threats of the game. Adam does join up with them for the first vote, and Bret is depicted as integral to helping Adam vote out Will. All this plotting and game discussion lands Bret his CP for the episode.
Outside of these scenes at the start, Bret goes silent for most of the remainder of the episode. Of the six people headed into the finale, it seems Bret has the least shot at winning the game. He’s the only character who hasn’t been well developed throughout the season. We have started to see a more strategic side to him than we did before, but it’s too little too late, and anyway, his recurring theme is that things never seem to go his way. “I’m used to Tribal Council not going my way,” as he puts it. Given how little he’s been developed as a winner contender, it is unlikely he’ll make Final Tribal Council because at this point, he wouldn’t add to the tension of who could possibly win.
This episode tightened Hannah’s connection to Adam and showed her as a strategic force. However, her “winner’s edit” ebbed significantly in this episode.
“Right now, Hannah and I are in power positions,” Adam says, and that is proven true throughout the episode. Hannah and Adam are shown as the pair deciding the direction of both votes. In the first tribal, Adam convinces Hannah to vote out Will, and in the second tribal, Hannah convinces Adam to vote out Sunday. In both cases, they stayed together as a tight pair. In fact, Hannah’s decision to target Sunday is wrapped around her relationship with Adam, not wanting Adam to replace her with Sunday in his final moves of the game. Their relationship has a lot of focus going into the finale. Will it be because they both get each other to the end?
Regarding her gameplay, Hannah keeps contradicting herself and her moves are called into question by the edit. “You want to play with people who want to play with you and take out the threats left in the game,” she says at the first tribal. Again, at the second tribal, she tells Jeff that “a lot of discussion has been around who are the threats to win at the end.” Yet it’s Hannah who saved the threat David and put the vote on the non-threat Sunday. She follows through on playing with people “who want to play with you” by sticking by David, but at the same, David is a “threat left in the game.” The edit is saying, can Hannah really have it both ways?
Hannah is shying away from making big moves in a season where Jeff has told us they have to make big moves to win. Whether you agree with that mantra or not, that is the idea Probst and the edit are pushing now as we head into the finale. Hannah’s argument for why she “leaves a visible threat in this game” is because “I frickin’ love David.” This makes David look great for building a deep enough relationship with Hannah that she protects him while making Hannah look silly for not voting out a big threat. It’s worth noting, though, that these hesitations are also what drive the mystery going into the first vote, so there was a storytelling need to have Hannah conflicted on who to vote for.
When she says, “it is important to split up Bret and Sunday,” the camera pans to David and Ken as if this is the tight pair that Hannah should be splitting up. Immediately after this, she says, “Sunday has made herself into a tempting goat,” and the camera pans to Sunday managing a roaring fire (positive imagery in Survivor, not goat-like). Furthermore, this reasoning to target Sunday for being “such an enticing goat” inadvertently makes Hannah seem like the alternative goat to take to the end, as if she’s competing for Adam’s goat spot in final tribal council.
“The kind of person that makes a decision and convinces other people of that decision is the kind of person that wins Survivor.” Hannah is successful in convincing people to vote Sunday, and that could certainly be a winner quote, but unless Hannah continues to control the votes from now until FTC it seems unlikely that she’ll be able to present her case on this vote alone? After all, it’s David we first see presenting a counter plan to save himself in the event of an idol play, and Hannah simply replaces David’s suggestion of Bret with Sunday. This episode paints Hannah as a goat who gets rid of another goat that she could have possibly beaten at the end, rather than making the moves she needs to make to be a viable winner contender. It appears more and more like Hannah will make final tribal council and lose.
One final note: Hannah mentions to Adam this episode, “Dave could flip because he knows we’re not going to want to sit next to him in the end.” Hannah has been shown to be skilled at anticipating others’ moves, which makes us wonder if this is foreshadowing of David flipping on Hannah and Adam in the finale.
The theme throughout this entire episode is what a big threat David is. Nearly everyone in the episode including Jeff Probst himself refers to David as the biggest threat in the game. “Dave’s a huge threat,” “head of the snake,” “biggest threat in this game,” “David’s the kind of guy where if he gets to the end, he’ll beat anybody,” and so on. Adam sums up it best when he says, “Dave’s in the majority pretty much every vote. Has impressed people with his work around camp, with his transformation, and that’s what juries love to root for.”
The message of the season, or at least the one pushed by Probst this episode, is either you’re already perceived as a threat and “have to lean on friendships and bonds” to stay in the game, as David says, or “if (a player) is smart, the thing to do is to follow up a big move with yet another big move,” also said by David. Even though Will’s elimination contradicts this, Probst still pushes it in the second half of the episode. In other words, David and Jay (the openly discussed threats) need to lean on their relationships and Ken, Hannah, Adam, and Bret need to make big moves and take out the threats.
With these as the laid-out goals, it is only David who is successful. He made enough moves to have respect as a player and built deep enough relationships to protect him. This is backed up by Ken saying, “I definitely want to be walking back here after Tribal Council with David, who has been my closest ally, my closest friend,” and Hannah saying she doesn’t want to vote out David because she “frickin'” loves him. Jay, on the other hand, has no allies left, and his closest person, Adam, got him to needlessly play his idol. Bret can’t rally numbers to boot David. Adam can’t convince Hannah to boot David and stays loyal to his voting bloc.
On top of all this, David is shown returning after tribal council both in the beginning and in the middle of the episode thanking everybody for not voting him out, continuing his gracious, humble streak. Also, he’s the one who lays out the voting strategy for the second tribal council to combat Jay’s idol play, solidifying his CP rating of the episode. David fits most of the season’s major themes: humility/connections, big moves, cool kids vs. misfits (misfit category obviously), dreams (Survivor is his dream, his intro confessional mentioned achieving his dream), and of course his fish-out-of-water growth narrative has run throughout the season. The only theme he doesn’t fit into is “disproving millennial misconceptions,” if that proves to be the most important theme then it could point to a Jay or Adam win instead, but everything else is spot on for David.
What does all this tell us? The backbone of the story going into the finale is about David; he is David AND the Goliath. He has always been an underdog in this game, and even now everyone is seemingly gunning for him, yet he is unstoppable with his loyal voting bloc. He’s also the only remaining player that had an intro confessional, which is usually a good sign for a male winner. The problem becomes, is a David win too obvious now? Is he just a growth arc (which aren’t typically winners)? Or does the fact that Probst said to win this “you must be seen” make it less of a problem how visible David has been all season? David seems to be the one to beat going into the finale.
While David was the hot topic of conversation this episode, it’s Adam who is the backbone of this episode strategically. Bret and Sunday tethered their votes to him, “us three are very equal.” Jay says he’s “working with .” David (and by proxy, Ken) rely on Adam and Hannah. Hannah and Adam are the tight pair “deciding who goes home next” for both votes. Adam is credited with leading the charge to vote out Will, and the decision is supported by the edit with Will’s arrogance getting out of hand, being a flipper that nobody can trust.
For the second vote, we see him argue that either one of David or Jay “needs” to go home because they are the biggest threats left in the game, which the edit supports. We are meant to believe they’re the biggest threats in the game and are convinced by Adam that one of them should go, yet Hannah successfully convinces Adam to vote out Sunday instead. We never get to hear Adam’s rationale for this vote, and we are left wondering why he acted against his own convincing arguments. This is not great for his winner chances as the episode ends with him acting against what he told us were his best interests, but it’s not a total loss. Adam does succeed at his bigger goal. He says “the worst thing that we can have is tomorrow morning Jay is still in this game with an idol in his pocket.” The episode then proceeds to show Adam successfully convincing Jay to play his idol.
The other big developments for Adam this episode were intrinsically tying his game to Hannah’s and a solidified, deep bond with Jay. For both votes, Adam and Hannah are shown as the last two getting together to make the actual call on how the vote will go. We see them mentioning each other constantly, e.g., Adam saying to Will and Jay, “Hannah filled me in,” and Hannah making the Sunday decision specifically to tie Adam closer to herself. With Jay, the newly solidified relationship starts slow and builds up to an emotional bond. Before the Will vote, Jay tells Adam, “I’m working with you.” Immediately after, we see a scene of Adam and Jay laughing about how Adam continually lies to Jay but expressing respect for one another. Jay calls their relationship “sick” and “like a yin yang.” The scene ends with Jay telling Adam, “I’ll take you to the end.” Later Jay gets annoyed that Adam helps Ken win immunity, but Adam explains it’s to oust David and they shake hands.
These Adam/Jay conversations are becoming a pattern: a push and pull between the two, truly showing that “(they) love each other and (they) hate each other” as Jay said of their relationship. When another one of these conversations takes place at the end of the episode, the love-hate builds up to them sharing secrets about their mothers’ ailing health, both of them (and the rest of the world) crying, giving them both P tone for the episode.
There’s enough editorial connection between Adam/Hannah and Adam/Jay to make sense of either pair reaching final tribal council. But perhaps more game relevance for Adam/Hannah who have worked together more efficiently. The Adam/Jay relationship might be more about voting for one another to win should one make the jury and one make the end. Regardless, these are the dynamics to track going into the finale, as opposed to Ken and David whose relationship is already well-established and likely won’t change in the finale.
Going into the finale, Jay’s story is that of the “challenge threat who’s alone.” As we mentioned in Adam’s section, a tight bond has developed between Adam and Jay, but game-wise, this bond will likely only help Adam as Adam still wants to vote out Jay while Jay twice in this episode said he would “take (Adam) to the end.” Either Jay continues to win immunity and drags Adam to the end with him, or Adam is able to vote Jay out. It doesn’t seem likely that Adam would willingly bring Jay to the final three.
Bret, Adam, Hannah, Ken, and David all name Jay, his challenge strength, or his hidden immunity idol as a threat. In all of Jay’s interactions with people, particularly Will and Adam, he’s collaborative and respectful. He wants to vote out Ken as a challenge threat, but Will pitches David instead, and Jay says, “I’m down,” fully supporting Will (following on from what he said to Will last week about treating him with respect). At tribal, he says of Will’s move last week, “I was proud of him as a fan.” He fist bumps Will and shows kindness towards him as he’s leaving the game, then shows humility in confessional, calling himself the “black plague” causing his allies to go home. He tells Adam, “I respect you fully dude,” and later when Adam confides about his mother, Jay immediately starts crying, showing compassion and empathy.
In other words, he’s not just a threat because he had an idol or because he wins challenges: all his former allies sit on the jury, and his social game is highlighted editorially as solid. Jay is a huge threat to win going into the finale, but he also has the biggest target on his back because, unlike the other big threat David, he has no allies left to protect him. David did call him a “free agent,” though. The edit has given Jay a few hail Mary shots to get to the end: he can win all the remaining immunities, or he can somehow lean on his bond with Adam.
Jay can certainly win if he makes it to the end but is there enough editorial evidence of that happening? Well, if the “disproving millennial misconceptions” theme does prove to be the most important in the end, then Jay would seem the most likely winner. He started the season as one of the Triforce bros, and while always shown to be more aware than Taylor and Figgy, he was lumped into that cool kids/dumb millennials group at the beginning. However, over the course of the season, we have seen Jay grow and develop into a three-dimensional character. We’ve seen him open up about his family and reasons for playing, watched him make bonds with various players, and he’s also made big moves (voting out Michaela/correctly keeping the idol in some tense votes).
The problem is that Jay has had a lot more flaws in his edit than David. The edit has shown him as wrong on several occasions (thinking he had Bret/Sunday/Hannah at the merge), failing to make fire, contradicting himself over eating the stolen food. These seem like things that could have been left out if Jay is the winner. Although with how topsy-turvy this season and its edit has been, no one here has a traditional winner’s edit, so it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Jay won.
Stories in Play
-Millennials vs. Gen X – the theme of the season, expected to continue throughout.
-Disproving Millennial Misconceptions – Will the Millennial players prove or disprove the negative stereotypes? Adam introduced this concept in episode one, and if this proves to be the most important theme of the season, then an Adam or Jay win would be more likely than a David win.
-Cool Kids vs. Misfits – This theme has been present most of the season.
-David Out of Water – David and his edit have dominated this season from the start, and he doesn’t just fit the growth narrative, he fits multiple themes that could point to his victory.
-Humility/Connections – A theme that has been best represented by Ken, however, Ken for the first time was shown not being as humble as usual. Instead David and Jay were showing to be humble and respectful this episode, giving them a much better shot at winning than Ken.
That’s it for this week’s Edgic. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.