Game Changers: Episode 5 Edit Analysis

This time I’m going to truncate the hell out of the recap this go around, as the main points are best spent talking in regards to the characters they affect. Basically, JT found an idol, Debbie went crazy, Sandra ate some sugar, JT got pissy with Michaela, and JT went home without playing his idol. Tavua still didn’t lose and has continued to be pretty irrelevant to everything going on, with the exception of Sarah and Troyzan getting an alliance making scene. Overall, this was a very character-interaction driven episode, and there isn’t much to talk about that doesn’t directly relate to who these people are, and by extension, how they are being edited.

So, let’s start with the first of two big characters this episode:

Debbie

Yikes. Remember how I was saying that Debbie was having a good edit? Well, so much for that. Debbie failed the reward challenge for her tribe and went off on a tirade throwing Hali under the bus and calling Brad a dictator, and this extended back at camp and into the immunity challenge. Not only did Debbie just innately look like a crazy person, but the edit went out of its way to prove it to the audience. Before the challenge, we see the Mana tribe strategizing on who should do which part of the challenge, and we see Debbie volunteer for the balance beam, and Brad is totally cool with Debbie doing that if she feels up for it. After she blows the challenge, she says Brad made her and Hali do it, which is completely false. And to make sure the audience knows this, we get a flashback to the strategizing scene where Debbie volunteers. This has NEVER been done before. After this point Debbie rages (in a somewhat manufactured way in my opinion) back at camp. (Brad even wonders if she is acting.) More raging at the next challenge where she tries to prove herself, and at least they end up winning the challenge. After that flashback scene, Debbie’s edit is completely dead.

Hali

Not much of Hali, she was seen trying to be nice to Debbie after the challenge. Debbie kept saying that Hali was awful at the challenge, and while normally this would be bad for Hali, we know not to take anything Debbie says seriously, so Hali is still fine. Not much to add since her content is so related to Debbie, as is the rest of her tribe. Hali has consistently been appearing to be in “the right” since the swap, and even though she is an outsider she certainly doesn’t feel like it.

Sierra

Even less of Sierra than Hali this time, as Sierra was not getting called out by Debbie and didn’t do much other than comment that Debbie is, in fact, a crazy person. Sierra is fine, her edit has been pretty boring, and she has mostly been giving strategic confessionals since the premiere. Hopefully a swap will shake up Sierra’s game and give her something to talk about.

Tai

Tai got a scene where he was shown to try to affirm what Debbie was saying to calm her down, but acknowledged in a confessional that Debbie was in the wrong. Like Hali and Sierra, his content was related to the Debbie meltdown, but his is a little more special as he was shown to at least try to listen to what Debbie was saying and hear her side of things instead of the more passive listening/dismissal she got from others. Outside of the premiere, and possibly Caleb’s boot, Tai’s edit has been fairly strong, and he is a good character to have around. It is worth noting that Tai got credit for the idol play, which, to be fair, was his idol play. Rather, Brad didn’t get credit for the play, when he was the one who told Tai to play the idol and who to play the idol on. Of the people who I don’t think have a shot at winning, I’d say Tai has the best chance of winning. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense, but I don’t care. That’s how I feel his edit is playing out.

Brad

Another week, another episode where Brad looks good. I apologize that this blog is turning into a weekly Brad Culpepper fanclub, but his edit really is the most positive out of everyone left in the game by a large margin. Debbie slandered the crap out of Brad, and not only did the edit bend over backwards to make sure we KNOW that Brad was in the right, but we see him not getting worked up over it, and even trying to extend an olive branch to Debbie. The edit obviously worked overtime to protect Brad’s image to the audience. We are supposed to like Brad this season, but why? If Brad is our winner, then I would expect more of the same, with Brad getting lots of screentime and a very telegraphed victory. And based on what we have gotten so far, nothing has been damning enough that he won’t have an edit similar to Mike’s. Another interpretation could be that Brad get far enough to see Monica at the family visit (or like, if he goes to exile next episode and she is our returning player who visits him?) and then will be voted out after, or “plays like Monica” and loses at Final Tribal. I personally see Brad and Monica having played two very different games that are almost total opposites, and to me, “playing like Monica” means balancing his gameplay with his wife’s. Brad is still my number one guy, and my only complaint is that he has been a little too positively portrayed.

Ozzy

Jeff talked to him before a challenge to get his (incredibly generic) take on Malcolm going home, and we heard him happy that he is winning challenges. Pretty standard Ozzy stuff, and feels a lot more like Micronesia Ozzy than Cook Islands or South Pacific, with maybe the arrogance toned down. There is only so much we can see if his tribe never goes to tribal.

Cirie

Like Ozzy, not much to say about Cirie when she doesn’t have to strategize. Unlike Ozzy, her edit has been fairly different: it’s completely tied to another person. At least Ozzy has his standard content to fall back on, right now Cirie doesn’t have much of anything. Hopefully a swap will kickstart her story again.

Andrea

She’s… good at challenges? At least she gets regular challenge visibility and positivity from Probst. She isn’t winning but at least the edit sort of tries to barely remind us she even exists.

Zeke

If he didn’t have a big role in the challenges he would be completely invisible. Zeke has been completely irrelevant so far so he isn’t winning, and if he remains invisible on a losing tribe then I’d say he will get idoled or twisted out of the game. He just doesn’t have a story right now beyond playing with legends, which I’m sure has worn off by now.

Sarah

Got more criminal content and a scene where she is considering working with Troyzan because working with the majority is “boring.” While this content was exactly what she needed to back up her premiere content, is wanting to flip and playing like a criminal a good thing? It sounds like Sarah will flip to Troyzan later on down the line, and I wonder how much this will irritate people, especially if she is playing like a criminal. Sarah is here to stay, but I have a feeling she will conjure up a villain edit moving forward.

Troyzan

We got to hear his thoughts on Sarah wanting to work with him, and not much else. The negativity he had from last week has vanished, but we still know that Troyzan is on the outs. It is possible that the negativity from last week was to cement his place in the tribe as being on the bottom, and might give more context to Sarah flipping later on down the line if that does happen. Troyzan’s edit seems to be really contextual to what is going on in the game rather being tied to his own story.

Aubry

We were reminded that she exists, which is sadly an accomplishment this season. She also took JT’s side during Tribal Council, and is now sitting squarely at the bottom of her tribe. Good thing there’s a convenient swap around the corner. Aubry has been so non-existent and irrelevant, there just isn’t much to say. Her confessionals are all strategy with the cringy, singature Aubry polish that I can’t stand. I hope she gets idoled out, which feels likely.

Varner

Still pretty consistent. Still staying back and letting other people duke it out and not starting shit. It is a little concerning that he was the swing vote for the episode and did not have much in terms of screentime. Then again, this was the JT, Michaela, and Sandra show, so it is understandable.

Sandra

First of all, Sandra was amazing tonight, and all in all I think she was portrayed almost positively despite absolutely starting shit. Between herself and the other two of her tribemates involved with the sugar incident, Sandra came out on top. Her story, and motto, of the season so far is “Queen stays Queen,” and she has fulfilled that promise as she is still, as of now, the only two-time winner in Survivor. Unfortunately for her chances of winning, her story is sort of over. It is possible that a swap could give her a new story to go with, but her current chapter of this story is over.

Michaela

Michaela’s story has come back into play. Her attitude, for better or worse, caused issues with JT and led to him getting voted out, but also put her on the hot seat to get a couple of votes. While JT was shown to be in the wrong, and was voted out accordingly, it is interesting that the edit didn’t go out of its way to protect Michaela like it did with Brad when Debbie attacked him. As a result, her portrayal this episode felt a little negative, even though she wasn’t totally in the wrong. From a narrative perspective, her storyline regarding containing her feelings is still ongoing, but it doesn’t seem like she has done the best job of following through with trying to make that improvement. Michaela is not our winner.

Final Thoughts:

Looking forward to a swap to shake up the tribe dynamics. Hopefully the characters that we haven’t been hearing anything from come back into play, it does get boring writing the same stuff for everyone each week. This last episode was fun, but it definitely felt a little too hammy and manufactured the more that I think about it, and seems deliberately contrived by the contestants themselves to get airtime. With Exile Island coming next week along with a mysterious (Boston Rob, probably) returning player to visit, I hope we can focus on some of the Tavua people who have been neglected this entire pre-merge thus far.

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