Eulogizing Survivor Edge of Extinction

What an incredibly weird season of Survivor.

Sure, 39 seasons and 19 years in they have to do some things to keep the show fresh and exciting. And Edge of Extinction was textbook ‘throwing something against the wall to see if it sticks’. I don’t really think anything stuck.

I, like everyone else, was pretty skeptical of a twist which promised that those who were voted out aren’t really out of the game. We saw a similar twist like this in Pearl Islands. It was fine. But some didn’t think that those who were voted out should have another chance. Along the EOE family line, we saw a couple seasons of Redemption Island. Again, no one seemed to be a big fan.

I tend to be a bit higher on seasons than other people. I can’t say the same about this one. This season just never connected with me for whatever reason. It’s possibly because of the focus on 4 unnecessary returnees (as much as I love Aubry, Kelley, and David this just wasn’t the spot for them), or just knowing that somehow the twist would royally F everything up.

Boy did it ever.

Spoiler alert – although if you haven’t seen the finale yet and are spoiler adverse, I’m not totally sure why you clicked on this or made it this far, but to each their own – a guy who got voted out pretty early on, made it back after nearly a month out of the game and won. Which, sure, was kind of the point of the season and it was within the function of how this game was being played, but it is hard for a lot to swallow. It’s hard for me to swallow! One of my favourite aspects about Survivor is the social game. We had Victoria and Gavin who both played exemplary social games and didn’t have to be LITERALLY HANDED IDOLS to make it near/to the end.

There was a lot of disappointment at the message written (or should I say w-rick-en) on the wall about an ‘inevitable’ Devens win, but I would have found that much more satisfying. Love him or hate him at least we knew who he was. Chris was barely visible on Edge of Extinction. Maybe if there wasn’t any returnees we would have been able to see him even a little bit more.

Chris had some interesting, flashy moves in a very short period of time, which was obviously necessary for him to win and he knew that. He absolutely made the most of his time within the game, but his time there was so short that it would be hard for me to vote for him. Especially since I thought that Gavin and Julie were worthy winners. His best move was obviously convincing Lauren to play the idol for him. His idea to go up against Devens in the fire-off was extremely risky, but it worked out for him and gave him another resume item. Wow, am I talking myself into the Chris win as we speak?

I mean, no. Not really. I feel a bit better about it. He did what he had to do to win, so kudos. But this season felt so off because of his win. I’m in the camp of whoever won deserved to win, and I guess that’s still the case here, it just doesn’t feel that satisfying.

2 thoughts on “Eulogizing Survivor Edge of Extinction”

  • When I saw you describe Gavin and Victoria as having “exemplary social games,” my first reaction was an eye roll. But that prompted me to wonder if there are inherent risks in playing a primarily social game because, unlike a game based on winning comps and/or finding idols, it is inevitably subjective. How do you objectively measure a social game? Is it the number of votes you cast for the person ejected from the game? The number of votes received at tribal? The number of times you “drove the vote”? Unlike comps and idols, social play is very difficult to quantify, especially in a game that we only see about 5% of the gameplay, but which ALWAYS includes comp wins and idol play. Making the situation even more complicated is that “good social play” is almost always subtle, which tends to go unnoticed, thus requiring explanation at Final Tribal, which seems to often fall flat with jury members who tend to trust what they saw, not what they were told. Ultimately, it seems to me that playing a primarily social game is extremely risky, even if we discount “Production’s” interest in creating a product that entertains the maximum number of people, once again incentivizing spectacle (comps, idol play, blindsides) over subtlety.

    • Absolutely! And I think that’s why I find those games more interesting, because they are so subtle, they often take more finesse. I think Gavin could have done a better job at explaining his game. I liked that he pointed out that he didn’t need to look for idols, but he could have pointed out how many votes he had correct. I think he did himself a disservice during final tribal.

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