Joey Amazing is still amazing, Kelley is getting the Bledsoe Edit and more in our Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 1 edgic roundup.
Welcome, one and all, to our weekly Survivor edgic feature! I’ve been providing charts and analysis for Surviving Tribal since Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, taking a look at the editing patterns in the episodes and the season at large in determining the stories being told and the potential winner candidates. You can read up more about edgic here, as well as our final David vs. Goliath chart.
Edge of Extinction, however, will provide our biggest challenge yet; determining a winner in a season with four returnees’ worth of stories we know, 14 people we don’t and the ongoing stories of players voted out who will appear at Extinction Island an undetermined number of times. Will screentime be hogged by returnees because they’re winning (Boston Rob), or will they get the focus in a losing game (Coach Wade)?
Here is our Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 1 edgic chart (note that players’ overall tone colors will be filled in one they are completely removed from the game, however long that takes):
Eric Hafemann (CP3): Eric Hafemann is crucial to Survivor: Edge of Extinction episode 1, and perhaps setting the tone for the season. With ominous, unsettling music overtop, Eric talks about his firefighter job allows him to quickly build rapport with people, allowing him to get Gavin on his side to start targeting the returnees, with Aubry first.
The way he talks to Gavin about the returnees creates an obvious divide, even so far as to glance over to them as others with editing cuts. His introduction sets the stage of what I believe will be an “Us vs. Them” theme throughout Edge of Extinction, as players will either band with returnees or against them in obvious ways.
Joe Anglim (CPP3): If you are a Survivor edge newbie, Joe Anglim is the perfect starting point for picking up on the subtleties of the show’s edit. That’s because Edge of Extinction hit us over the head with the idea that Joe Anglim cannot run from his “Joey Amazing” persona. His opening confessional about never being the biggest voice would fall on deaf ears within half an hour.
Even as he arrives at Kama and wishes to retire the nickname, within seconds he’s guiding the newbies on building a shelter, making fire without flint and having lesbians marveling at his presence and declaring themselves as Team Joe as their character introduction. Joey Amazing is back, and boy does it seem like we know where this story will end shortly before or after the merge.
Kelley Wentworth (CP4): “People are not chess pieces, and they need to be related to on a human level. Being more emotionally aware, I think I’m in a better place in life than I’ve ever been to play and win this game.” That quote from Spencer Bledsoe in Cambodia mirrors that of Kelley Wentworth’s first confessional in Edge of Extinction, shortly after expressing she doesn’t trust anyone.
Kelley talks about how important it is for her to make bonds early because she is closed off is a huge red flag, especially knowing what we know about this archetype. Kelley’s episode 1 story is about leading and looking after her tribe and taking the brunt of criticism for it from those in the minority. One moment she’s actively supporting and bleeding her tribe in a challenge; the next she’s seen being dismissive of Reem’s statements at Tribal Council.
Though I don’t believe Kelley Wentworth is a villain at heart, in a season where returnees are being targeted, and they’re not running the show, Survivor might need to conjure one. I can see the seeds being planted early, though they may take time to sprout.
Over the Top
Julie Rosenberg (OTT2): Julie’s quirky, fish out of water introduction as someone completely at odds with mother nature shows the opposite approach to “potential first boot woman of a certain age.” Whereas Reem’s first boot story captured a loud personality with praise and poison, Julie’s version showed a woman with an “aw, shucks” attitude embraced by her tribe and cheering on her mild progression in cutting the bamboo.
Seeing how minutes before Julie’s intro David Wright was praising how far he’s come in Survivor, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Julie take that similar path to him. That would mean more Julie throughout the season (an obvious bonus), but it could show a typical growth arc that sees her fall just short of a million dollars (an obvious negative for the audience). The dodo music did her no favors.
Keith Sowell (OTTP4): Keith is in a precarious spot. We know he’s a momma’s boy who leaned on the help of Reem and Wendy to learn how to swim better than he did at the marooning. However, he threw his “mother” under the bus as to not get dragged down, which is in stack contrast to Wendy who was viewed as stubborn.
While he received a hero’s welcome with the score during his swimming, he did talk about how swimming could be the factor that has him on the outs, and “when you’re on the outs, you’re on the outs.” Edgically, his lack of swimming doesn’t have the charm of David Wright nor the personal growth of Donathan Hurley, making it likely that his growth arc will be rushed while he’s still in the game.
Wendy Diaz (OTTM5): In a game that is entirely unpredictable, Wendy is chaos incarnate. This is not a slight on her personality, nor is it bemoaning her mild Tourette’s and OCD behavior; they are driving her character arc beyond the game, bringing us that tinge of personality as she faces adversity head-on. That part of her story brings a sliver of character balance.
Wendy’s chaos is energy; she refuses to slow down. Everyone from her opening confessional describing the dynamism of Survivor as her everyday life to the way she digs in on her alliance while bowling over others shows she is a powderkeg. The whirling dervish descriptor from Rick was spot on.
Reem Daly (OTTM5): Reem was introduced to us as if she was competing in Survivor during the Birdbox Challenge; whatever her instinct shared to the audience was, she was blind to the truth.
Her negative tone clashed with the uplifting tone of the returnees arriving for the marooning. As the Manu tribe builds up their structures, she falls down after taking a hit. When she says everyone’s getting along at Manu, not only does she not see that others don’t like her actions, she literally cannot see the embraces of others such as Wardog’s outstretch fist bump.
However, her nurturing, motherly ways undercut the negativity surrounding her, as the rest of the tribe felt pity for her good-intended but misguided path through her first three days. Now she will take up house at the Edge of Extinction where I’m guessing she will be waiting with open arms for those arriving going forward or telling people to “screw off, dude” (or “bro”). We’ll learn more once the gimmick becomes familiar.
Middle of the Road
Aubry Bracco (MOR2): Of all the returning Survivor players competing in Edge of Extinction, I fear for Aubry the most. When Joe was contradicted in the edit, it was because he was viewed as amazing and a boon for the tribe. When Aubry says she wants to lay low in the grass and pounce when the time is right, and then a minute later Eric and Gavin are spotting her in the grass, that contradiction becomes foreshadowing.
She’s the only returning player who is edited as treating the newbies with fear. In the episode (perhaps, season) theme of Returnees vs. Newbies, Aubry’s stock plummets early due to this editing contrast. The way the music lingers eerily around her words is utter ghastly, too.
David Wright (MORP3): Whereas Aubry was contrasted in the edit, David was boosted by his tribe following his direction. David has already earned his growth and has been praised by his tribe as he talks about starting from the bottom and earning his spot here at the top. It was accompanied with triumphant music; enough to overcome any lingering eccentricities such as flinching once with the bamboo swing.
Gavin Whitson (MOR2): “I’m here for one reason, and one reason only; that’s to win the title of Sole Survivor.” Whereas Eric’s edit was draped with negativity, Gavin gave us introspect into his hidden fandom, his humanizing southern bumpkin-ness and his wish to give back to his community. Most importantly, he’s one half of the few duos we learned about in the premiere, setting him his and Eric’s relationship as worthy to note going forward.
Lauren O’Connell (MOR3): Right now, Lauren’s character is that she is a Joe and Kelley superfan and that she’s here to work with Kelley from the start. Her name might get dragged down a tad of Kelley’s story is edited to become more villainous, as she’s already tagged as part of a dynamic duo. The earlier pairs are called out by other players, the bigger targets they create.
Hopefully, we learn more about Lauren going forward beyond her willingness to work with the players fans know already.
Rick Devens (MOR4): The Kool-Aid man himself has been very present in the ins and outs of the Manu life, offering up a bit of his sarcastic personality while talking about where the majority are thinking. We know he’s a superfan who’s waiting for the right time to break through that wall, and it’s clear that right now he’s in a good spot with the majority. His time to shine will come.
Ron Clark (MOR3): Despite having an edit typical of necessity that comes with an episode 1 advantage uncovered, Ron’s enigmatic personality shines through the process of its discovery. We get an excitable tone as he describes in detail what his advantage is, we learn he is a teacher, and the advantage menu helps propel him not only to survive early but to win Survivor.
Anytime a player offers up a winner quote as early as episode 1, you need to pay attention to them. Sure, we needed to hear from Ron because of the game, not necessarily because it’s Ron Clark, but the fact that he’s one of the few newbies with declared goals this episode, we have a story to build towards with him in mind.
Wardog DaSilva (MOR4): I feel like the show went as far out of its way as possible to make someone who calls themselves “Wardog” look reasonable, and that’s a testament to Survivor’s storytelling. His opening confessional, which sets the tone for the returnees, talks about how he’s actually a smart guy underneath his military tough guy persona and how a strong first impression can make or break his game.
Seeing how he got over that hump easily to the point where nobody’s questioning him, his input is valued, and he’s not seen as duplicitous is huge for his long-term growth. It sets the stage for a secretly strategic player; let’s see how that pays off down the road.
Under the Radar
Aurora McCreary (UTR2): Right now, all we know about Aurora is that despite her lesbianism, she’s all in on Team Joe (there’s something I never thought I’d write). She wants to keep Joe around due to the fact he can provide so much for her and the tribe in the game. I think we can count on her to keep Joe in the game, but will that mean she goes down with his ship?
Julia Carter (UTR1): Who is this person? We know she likes Aubry a bit and that she gave a slightly forced smile through a “welcome back” to the returnees. That doesn’t tell me her name, who she is, what her purpose is in this game nor where she stands in relation to the rest of the Kama tribe. I’ve already removed her from winner contention in my mind, unfortunately, though I cannot wait to learn who she is as a character this season.
Chris Underwood (UTR1): Chris did get name-checked, and we did hear him offer up a modicum of strategy in the post-tribal camp talks with the majority Manu alliance. However, we know Chris for being a worthy challenge competitor so far, which means he still has time to develop beyond his utility so far.
Victoria Baamonde (UTR1): Despite having little involvement with the plot at large over on the Kama tribe, we are told that Victoria is a Survivor fan; so much so she asked Santa for a buff for Christmas as a child. This sets up that she is a superfan; that’s it. Considering the “us vs. them” theme spread so far, this makes me think she will have an anti-returnee arc coming soon.