Survivor: No scenes on Extinction Island makes for a great episode!

Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

For the first time in this season of Survivor, there were no scenes on the Edge of Extinction, and the impact this had on the flow of this episode was clear!

Many Survivor fans aren’t tremendously fond of seasons that allow players to come back after their torch is snuffed. So far, Edge of Extinction has received a mixed reception from viewers. However, last week’s episode was a breath of fresh air.

Now, this isn’t an article that’s going to hate on the Edge of Extinction twist. That’s not my goal. Strictly from an entertainment and editing point of view, I want to explain why the time spent solely on the seven castaways still in the game made episode 12 stand out.

This was an exceptional point in the season because of Rick’s dramatic idol play and Ron’s fake advantage blunder, but there was so much more to this episode than Tribal Council theatrics. For one of the first times in the post-merge game, we got to understand everyone’s point of view.

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We got to see Ron’s strong but slightly over the top social game, and Julie’s willingness to stick with him. After receiving a relatively poor post-merge edit, Victoria came back to life, allowing viewers to watch her take advantage of this easy vote.

We even got to see Gavin’s struggle with voting Ron, Lauren’s eagerness to form a new alliance and Aurora’s strategically minded gameplay. All three of these castaways have been given inconsistent edits throughout this season, which sometimes prevents us from hearing what they think before the vote.

This episode gave us all of these backstories and conversations while still finding the time to comfortably squeeze in a family visit, a Reward Challenge, and an Immunity Challenge. The only way this could have been possible was by spending no time on the eliminated castaways.

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Instead of focusing on storylines that weren’t going to affect the vote, the editors concentrated on the emotional and strategic status of everyone left in the game. As a result, we were able to compare each player’s comments at Tribal Council with their original plans heading into the night, which isn’t something we could do often in this season.

It dawned on me that it isn’t the players that have made this season iffy. It’s the difficulty of telling a story with 16 characters for the entire season. There’s bound to be Tribal Councils where we won’t understand everyone’s motive behind their vote. The vote that saw Joe get blindsided is a perfect example.

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This episode just gave you the same great feeling of Millennials vs. Gen X and David vs. Goliath. It allowed the players to drive the pace of the game, leading to a memorable Tribal. Let’s hope that the editors can continue this momentum heading into the final two episodes of season 38.