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SURVIVOR 36 : Trying To Survive Another Tribal Swap and Reversing The Curse Of Our Previous Winner Pick

April 5, 2018

So, WELCOME BACK to another instalment of our ‘Survivor : Ghost Island’ Edit Analysis where we deconstruct this weeks edit, try to identify the seasons winner and most definitely DON’T burst into giggles still every time we write the word “analysis”.  Tee hee.

Apologies if this feels a little dense or disjointed, but we actually wrote up a whole thing last week but then didn’t get around to posting it until after the episode already aired, so we’ve just merged it into this week, which is of no real consequence as the only person we lost is James and, well, he was very clearly never ever going to win anyway (sorry Jim!)

What WAS a loss, however, was losing our slam-dunk clear #1 Winner Pick that we’ve held on to since the premiere, so lets all take a moment to mourn Stephanie.




No, seriously – can we actually take a moment because from what we saw from the intro this week, the CBS editors sure didn’t, which actually felt a little weird for someone who was getting one of the more sizeable edits of the season.  Seriously – there wasn’t even a single word said about her once they started this week, which is interesting.  Like, we weren’t expecting them to go all Darren Aronofsky on us with ‘Episode 6 : Requiem For A Stephanie’, but it was slightly jarring after the past four weeks of ALL STEPHANIE, ALL OF THE TIME.   TBH, it is starting to make us wonder if it isn’t that the editors are trying out new editing patterns by choice, but that the season is playing out so South Pacifically that they are being forced to get creative because they have no other option.  Lets keep an eye on this people, because that might just be our first proper HOT TAKE OF THE SEASON.


For real-real though, the way they have edited Stephanie doesn’t make sense, at least not from a modern day Survivor editing standpoint.  Now, don’t get us wrong – we’re definitely not complaining, as both this level of character development AND unpredictability are two of the notes we’ve being trying to push to the team for YEARS now, so it’s an enjoyable upswing in the entertainment level of the show.

The only other alternative that we can think of (besides the season being a straight-forward Pagonging) is that S38 or S39 is going to be ‘Survivor Second Chances 2 : Electric Boogaloo’, and thus every single potential casting candidate is getting extra care taken with their edit in order to get the public invested in the next Wentworth or … *shudders* Culpepper.  It makes sense though, particularly when you combine Steph’s edit with the care they took with Brendan the week prior.  Sure, he was never a viable winner candidate (at least as far as we were concerned), but he was given a much more developed and sympathetic edit that was clearly designed to make him both stand out and have people sad that he missed out on making it further.  The fact that Brendan originally almost made Marquesas but was replaced by Hunter Ellis, while Stephanie got the single most developed pre-merge edit since the golden days of Gina Crews is not lost on us either.

Speaking of Stephanie though, that segues us nicely into the first of our two editing lessons of the week (you can read the previous rules HERE) :-


This is an important one, and something we all are guilty of doing from time to time.  As an aside, it’s actually been quite refreshing losing our Winner Pick so early for once.  As we outlined last week, we’ve probably got a good solid 50/60% success rate from picking the winner right from the premiere, but even the ones we’ve been wrong on have all ended up going late game – like Chrissy (2nd Place), Cirie (Final 6), Ken (2nd Place), Keith (Final 4) and Trish (Final 5) – so for the last 14 seasons, we’ve had our Winner Picks made the finale (or just outside of) and thus we haven’t really had to recalibrate our predictions mid-season, so this is actually kinda fun!

Cute Pic of Us Going Through Stephanie’s Edit Again This Week..


The thing is, very few well thought out Winner Picks are completely ridiculous (well, maybe Keith), but it’s more that the care taken with them is reflective of something *other* than a winning game.  Sometimes, it can be something done for a completely unpredictable reason – like Cirie getting some weirdly thoughtful ‘Legacy Edit’ to make up for such a great of the game getting screwed over solely by a poorly designed production twist.  But, most of the time, it’s that their journey is actually telling how the eventual winner will convert the win themselves.  So always pay attention to the people immediately adjacent to your winner pick, and ask yourself if you’re looking at the story from the right angle.



Like Rule #1, this is another Survivor editing rule you can take to the (fake) bank.  Every season, we get different types of winners and different types of stories made out of their journeys – so no two Winner Edits are exactly alike.  You’re always going to have peaks and troughs in different places depending on the way that particular player is approaching the game in their given season.  But there are four key places where you can basically guarantee the winner will be forcibly shown, whether they are relevant or not.  The first is the premiere (which we covered last time but will go into again soon).  And the second is the (inevitable) Tribe Swap, which we hit this week.  You’ll see how this affects our contenders below when we go through our weekly rankings and discuss this in more depth, but always pay attention to who gets decent confessionals whenever there is a swap, and who gets to explain how the new tribal structure impacts THEM – particularly if they don’t end up going to Tribal Council that round (*cough cough Wendell cough*).  It’s a Golden Rule of Survivor Editing that we will here from the eventual winner whenever a major game obstacle like a swap or a twist is thrown their way and this week saw some very serious players emerge.

Speaking of RULE #1, lets quickly revisit that, as this is always an important one to reassess each week, as it still is and will forever will be the most golden rule of the Survivor Edit (unless you’re Natalie White, basically).  Last season of Survivor : HeHeHu was a really great example of this, as right from Week One, you could see the winner was only ever going to be one of Chrissy, Ben or Ryan – and Ryan ruled himself out once the merge hit when his edit took a turn for Tasha Fox territory (aka doing The Reverse Eddie Fox – which is a joke about his edit, not his colouring FYI).  Ali was the only other one who really had a solid enough start to be worth considering each week.



01. WENDELL (Previously : 2 – 2 – 2)

So, we may have lost Stephanie, but our season long number two had a STELLAR week this week and crushed the tribal swap with an edit that was literally SPRADLINESQUE.  Specifically, the way Wendell was edited this week immediately reminded us of how Queen Spradlin herself was edited during the Episode 5 Tribe Swap ep of One World – right down to the way seated sprawled-legged confessional look.  It’s a little thing, but Tribal Swap episodes are always one of the tell-tale signs of a Winners Edit, even more importantly THIS season, where the narration itself hammered this point home.

Introducing … HIM SPRADLIN


Wendell himself has the kind of presence that is easy to overlook amidst all these big personalities but, when you break it down, there were SO MANY little inclusions here this week that you would never show of such a low-key character UNLESS they were your eventual winner. Like, look at the whole shell exchange scene with Sea Bass (GOD I HATE THAT NICKNAME) – it’s actual a great little social move that is what Survivor is REALLY about, but it’s the kind of thing they very rarely show onscreen unless it is important down the road.  Until now, we haven’t really seen them interact, and they’re very much the respective right-hand men of Chris and Dom, but this scene makes it clear one of them is either going to be defecting sometime soon (most likely C-Baz), or we’re seeing our eventual explanation of why he will be voting for Wendell when the Final Tribal Council votes are read.

Also, lets not forget the HERO EDIT he got at this weeks challenge.  Sure, we got to see the part where he left the bag of puzzle pieces back on the mat, but that was only there to serve just how heroic that eventual win would be.  A lot of people probably didn’t have Wendell on their radar before tonight, but we’re pretty sure they do NOW.


02. KELLYN (Previously : 3 – 6 – 3)

On the other hand, Kellyn is making, well – if not a Komeback per se, but at least a super strong showing again – repeatedly getting the time to give thoughtful answers whilst being showered with praise by Probst.  Like, compare the care in how Kellyn is being presented as opposed to the one note say Desiree or Bradley keep having to play over and over and over.  While the other Naviti’s are being portrayed as unlikeable for (the very smart move of) not keeping the plucky Malolo underdogs around, Kellyn is getting portrayed not only as the voice of reason, but as a very sympathetic voice to boot.

Also, don’t forget that she also got the opening confessional of the entire season – so no matter where she places, Survivor : Ghost Island is very much telling the story of Kell.  In fact, if it weren’t for the scene in Episode Three where she unnecessarily tells all the Malolo’s point blank that they’re all going home and there is nothing that they can ever do about it, we’d be considering making her our Number One.  But there are just a few little things that feel like they’re missing in her edit, or at least make her less of a slam dunk than Wendell.  The aforementioned scene when she came over from Naviti is a big one – because it felt negative and almost a little conceited in how it was portrayed (even though Kellyn is very clearly neither of those things in real life).  Also, from as far as we can tell, she is legit RUNNING the game right now, and the fact that she is no doubt responsible for flipping Michael this round and yet we saw NONE of their relationship, makes it feel like something is off long-term for her.  She’s not going next, but along with Chris, she’s feeling more and more like she could be a merge boot instead of a winner.


03. DOMENICK (Previously : 6 – 3 – 5)

Domenick is another one like Kellyn, where he has an A+ edit, but tonally it still feels like we’re missing something if he WAS our eventual winner.  Which is not to say that he’s not getting a great edit (cuz he is), but just something feels *off*.  He’s clearly being built up to win the inevitable war with Chris, but then what?  He got some fantastic content in the first few episodes that very clearly explained who he was as a person and what this win would mean for him, but we also got a lot of shots of him being kind of a buffoon – the Snatch Game scene at old-Naviti stands out in particular to us – and while he also has an upcoming rumble with Libby in his immediately foreshadowed future, we’re starting to wonder how much longer-term he has beyond that.

Also, the one other big thing for all of Domenicks best winner content is that all of the strategic stuff shown on nu-Naviti after the first swap was shown to be very much equal parts him and Wendell.  So while there is some really good surface stuff there to build a winner edit out of, it all very much is set to be inherited by Wendell if he goes.  Of course, that’s the same thing we said about Sarah and Cirie last season, and we all know how well that worked out.. (although, that being said, in a season where the Legacy Advantage is such a key piece of the strategic puzzle – and “reversing the curse” such an integral part of the narrative one – the theory of Inherited Edits actually might be a lot more relevant than normal to identifying this seasons winner.  Which actually bodes incredibly well for WENDELL, now that we think about it).


04. DONATHAN (Previously : 4 – 4 – 4)

Donathan seems to have cooled down a lot this week, which actually is quite good in the long-term scheme of his edit, but just doesn’t give us much to discuss either.  As the clearly designated Miss Congeniality Fan Favorite of the season, it’s harder to predict an eventual winners edit than with everyone else, because the editors are always going to be spaffing over Donathan no matter what he does for every single second his torch stays lit.

Cute Pic of Donathan winning his inevitable Miss Congeniality Fan Favorite trophy at the reunion in two months time.  WERK FAN FAVORITE, WERK.


In fact, speaking of torches staying lit, we’re becoming more and more convinced that Donathan is our inevitable Final Four Fire-Making Loser (by Loserée), and that’s where we’ll see everybody’s favourite flamer FLAME OUT (GEDDIT?  GEDDIT?!?) this season.  He had a phenomenal premiere episode, so we can’t discount him just yet, but while a couple of the other contestants got set up for winning the game, the editors very clearly showed the story of how just getting to the end with all these people would be a win enough for Donathan.  And he’s adorable, so they’re probably right, but yeah.  The previews for next week show him getting into so A-Grade D-R-A-M-A with SOMEONE on nu-nu-Naviti, so whether he is in actual peril is still TBD, but it’s good for his long-term game that they want us to worry if he is.



05. LAUREL (Previously : 7 – 13 – 9)

After having a super-strong showing (both figuratively and literally) the past two weeks, Laurel kind of disappeared again this week, so we go back to not quite knowing what to make of her.  Last week we would have bumped her up to our very serious bracket of top winner contenders, but now we’re not so sure.  On one hand, we got to see her seriously woo (as in hang, not Hwang) the nu-Naviti pair of Wendell and Dom, so she’s not just a side-player in Donathan’s story any more.  This is doubly important because, according to the exit press, there was actually a concerted effort on old-Malolo’s side to strategically have Laurel & Donathan schmooze Wendell & Dom, while Libby & James worked on Chris & Angela, and then all meet back up and compare notes each night while they played Divide & Conquer.  Very sound strategy that very clearly paid off, but since we only saw shown it from Laurel’s POV, that means in the long-term her pairing is the only one that will benefit from it.

The problem we keep coming back to for Laurel though is that she got a very low-key premiere, and didn’t really get an edit born for herself until Episode Four.  So, for a female player, that’s not insurmountable from an editing standpoint, it’s definitely concerning.  She could still win, but more and more we’re starting to wonder whether she’ll be one of the losing final Tribal finalists (presuming it’s a Final 3 and not a surprise Final 2 or something).



06. MICHAEL (Previously : 5 – 5 – 6)

Michael continues to get a phenomenal edit this week (and we don’t just mean the way that he looks in his neon yellow underwears, although that most certainly helps).  He got key confessionals about his post-swap peril, and was also shown laying out all the relevant ‘What If’ strategies on how to approach flipping the vote at Tribal.  Most importantly, he got shielded from ALL the negativity of flipping on James when the votes were read.  As the audience, we were very clearly meant to root for James this week, and his Westworld-esque head pivot when the third vote was read was shown to be glaring at Angela, Kellyn and Desiree but NOT Michael, even though that was logically the person he would have been glaring at (since at worst he would have been expecting a 3:2 vote and thus that fourth vote to be against Des, no matter which way the result shook out).  But the editors very clearly left Michael out of the line of flying eye daggers in that moment, which bodes well for Michael.

The being said, he still feels like something is missing from his edit if he really was the winner too.  Part of it might still be the way Stephanie got all the idol-finding glory a few weeks back, and part of it might be the fact we never really saw how hard he had to have worked the past two weeks with Kellyn etc to save himself from those respective votes.  We’re meant to sympathise with Michael (and vote for him in the inevitable impending Second Second Chance season that has to be coming soon), but he is one of about six people who’s story feels like it’s sufficiently wrapped and set up to be able to leave next week, so who knows?



07. CHRIS (Previously : 8 – 7 – 10)

What else is there to say about Chris Noble that hasn’t already been said?  Oh, how about EVERYTHING?  Everyone’s favourite white rapper turned pastry-enthusiast turned all-round Renaissance Man this week chose to exclusively reveal the pain and heartbreak that comes with being a former cast member of Models Inc.  And the best part (well, heck, all of Chris Noble’s parts are THE BEST PARTS) of this tear-soaked confession was that, against all of the Phil Collin’s odds, he somehow still remains the official Loveable Buffoon ™ of Season 36.  Like – HOW IN THE WORLD IS THIS EVEN HAPPENING?

Just leaked photo of Chris Noble and his co-workers before he left to film Ghost Island last year.


Seriously, think about it.  Chris should be the laughing stock of our post-Drew Christy world, and yet he continues to get shown to be multi-faceted and endearing.  He has layers, like an onion (as opposed to The Onions, who were just unrelenting awful).  Plus, to top it off (yes – Chris Noble can top us any time he likes, and we make no bones about it), he’s getting little moments of ACTUAL depth in his character development.  The scenes with Donathan are great, although our hunch is that this is more likely to pay off for Donathan’s story long-term than it is for Chris.  But still, he’s not completely discounted yet, and that’s all we really need.


Seriously, Jeremiah Wood could never.


08. SEBASTIAN (Previously : 9 – 10 – 11)

And now we circle back round to See-Baz, whose Moulin Rouge-influenced nickname is fast becoming our least favourite part of the entire season.  That being said, we can’t quite discount him completely either.  In a very similar vein to Donathan, these blatant CBS-predestined Miss Congeniality Fan Favorite types are the hardest to prognosticate, because the editors are going to bend over harder than we would for Michael or Chris Noble in order to include them whenever possible.  Couple that with the fact that Seabiscuit is very much an anomaly as far as Survivor archetypes go still (and, really, kadooz to Casting for THAT), so while he’s not getting very nearly enough meat to make a win look likely, when it comes down to it – what even WOULD a Sebastian Winners Edit look like given the way the game is shaking out so far?  We’d say he makes the merge, but have absolutely zero clue beyond that.


09. JENNA (Previously : 10 – 9 – 12)

After having kind of a nice low-key start to the season where she got a lot more confessional time than most people realised, Jenna seems to have disappeared from our screens again, RBF PSA non-withstanding.  Like, it was nice to hear about the self-relization associated with having Resting Bitch Face and how that translates to the game of Survivor, but being Chris Noble’s more hostile-looking cousin does not a Winner’s Edit make.  That being said, her edit (and not to mention her limbs) seem to be more and more entwining with Sebastians, so while Michael might be the next Malolo to go, Jenna seems to be well-positioned to make it safely into the merge.



10. LIBBY (Previously : 11 – 8 – 15)

If Survivor’s Ghost Island feels like somewhat of theme park carnival game, then Libby’s Edit continues to be it’s roller coaster.  It goes up, it goes down, it disappears and then it gets all but called Satan by Domenick in last weeks episode.  We don’t know what’s going on here, but we’ve got motion sickness just thinking about it (although that’s generally what happens *whenever* we think of nubile women in bikinis..)

Libby might be labelled the new Parvati, but she’s not getting any of the content Queen P got in ANY of her three seasons.  So that title is not going to result in a million dollar cheque for THIS Cute Blonde, but it increasingly sounds like it’s nicely setting up the reason she’ll be getting the boot VERY soon.


11. ANGELA (Previously : 15 – 14 – 18)

Speaking of blondes that feel like their exit’s are being nicely set up by last weeks show – here’s Angela.  While her move to stick with the old-Naviti didn’t *not* make sense (Kellyn’s pitch was the absolute correct way to play it, btw), the public at large are meant to be outraged at her not sticked by Jim.  So while she got some really nice confessional time (FINALLY) this week, it feels less like an edit starting and more like a sayonara.  While we know that the merge is going to be at 13, the players don’t (Domenick non-withstanding), so if nu-Malolo go back to Tribal Council, it makes absolute sense to boot Angela over Michael.  Or, failing that, she might just very well be the merge-time casualty in the war between Chris Noble and Domenick.  Either way, adios amig-ess.

Survivor Ghost Island Angela Malolo

After all this talk of Malolo being the CURSED TRIBE this season, it’s very interesting to note the editors made sure to show Angela was the latest person to inherit that curse.


12. BRADLEY (Previously : 14 – 16 – 16)

If losing Stephanie last week wasn’t painful enough, it seems we have to say goodbye to gratuitous shots of Bradley’s Butt, which is making us sad in ways that *also* require lots of tissues.  Beyond that, he’s kind of in the ‘King Ghost Of Ghost Island for the First Few Eps’ territory that Chelsea and Angela are occupying predictions-wise, so while his full-blown Villain Edit is coming along nicely, there is the same percent chance of him winning this game as Kass (I guess it’s a lawyer thing?).



13. DESIREE (Previously : 13 – 15 – 13)

Everyone’s favourite Blood Orange song finally got a chance to speak this week but, well, it wasn’t good.  At least it wasn’t straight-forward character assassination the way Bradley’s edit seems to be going, but Des continues to be now be a go-to alternate boot, nothing more and nothing les.  (THAT RHYMED MARGE AND YOU KNOW IT RHYMED).


14. CHELSEA (Previously : 16 – 17 – 17)

It’s so weird, because we KNOW that Chelsea had at least one confessional last week but, gun to our head, we couldn’t tell you a single thing she said if our lives depended on it.  We can, however, almost certainly say that she was SITTING for it, like the Sit Out Queen that she is.  It’s a shame, because she seems to be actually kinda cool, and has some decent strategic sense, but in the same way that at least Jacob got to be the first ever person in Survivor History to set foot on Ghost Island, at least Chelsea will forever go down as the first player to have an entire season named after them.

She may not be winning Survivor, but at least Chelsea will always have her movie career..





Nicole Franzel is shaking…


15. JAMES (Previously : 12 – 11 – 14)

Not too surprised to lose James here (as evidenced by his ‘Previously … On Survivor : Glenn’s Winner Edit Island placements above) – he had one *kinda* good episode, and got some nice moments in his swan-song this week, but there was never any narrative meat for us to take him seriously as a winner contender from an edit standpoint.  He did have the single best posture we’ve seen in 36 seasons though, so claps for Lim.

No joke, but we really thought the Hidden Immunity Idol was James’s Spine.


16. STEPHANIE (Previously : 1 – 1 – 1)

We’re super sad still to see Stephanie go, but grateful that she got the best edit possible while she was there.  It’s increasingly rare to see female contestants (especially pre-merge ones) get even a fraction of the depth and development that she got, so this kind of shading is a welcome development.



It’s funny, because at the start of the season, we locked her in as our winner straight away, and said her editing worst-case scenario was Kelley Wenthworth.  Which, as it turns out was right – just in a Kelley Wentworth Second Chance Edit with the placement of Kelley Wentworth in Blood vs Water 2.  WAH.


17. BRENDAN (Previously : 12 – 8)

18. MORGAN (Previously : 7)

19. JACOB (Previously : N/A)

20. GONZALEZ (Previously : N/A)



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