The Road To Victory
Edge of Extinction Edition
Tonight is the night we will crown Survivor’s newest winner. There are 5 players left in the game with one more set to return from the edge of extinction early in the finale. While logically, some players are likely ruled out as potential winners because of their edit, it doesn’t stop us from imagining a world in which any of them become the winner.
As I’ve done with Survivor: HHH and Survivor: David vs Goliath (Ghost Island was just too brutal to get excited about), here is the road to victory for the remaining Edge of Extinction competitors.
So far, Gavin has had a pretty smooth ride in the game. He was lucky enough to part of Kama early on, a tribe that crushed Manu’s dreams time and time again in immunity challenges. His calm demeanor and athletic ability meant he wouldn’t be an immediate target out of the gates and he has managed to stay below the radar by not making too many waves.
By far the biggest obstacle left in Gavin’s path to a win is Rick Devens. This will be a common theme for most of these players, all of whom have squarely antagonized Rick to the point that they cannot work with him. The trio of Gavin, Victoria and Lauren seem set in their hopes to advance together. Gavin’s best hope is that somebody who opposes Rick comes back from the edge and they can assimilate them in the battle against the game’s biggest target.
Because Rick has professed to everybody that he has an idol, Gavin will have to be creative. If the returning player is with Gavin and crew, they can split the vote on Rick and Julie, sacrifice an easy final tribal council goat in Julie, and hope to take out Rick at five. If they can’t get Rick out before the final tribal council, it’s a moot point for anybody left in the game.
Gavin’s best argument if he makes it to final tribal council is his ability to make bonds in the game. He’s been in the loop almost every vote, the Wentworth boot being the only post-merge vote in which Gavin voted incorrectly. It’s been stated that he was very close to Wentworth and Lauren declared him to be his number one in last week’s episode. Gavin has been able to make the people around him feel comfortable.
He can also claim that despite loyalty, he never took his eyes off the prize. He cut Ron when Ron seemed like one of his closest allies. He agreed to turn on Aurora last week even though he had no real loyalty left with Julie to keep a goat around to carry further if possible. That’s the sign of a player who is thinking about the prize.
From what we’re seeing, Julie is being painted as the goat. She’s had emotional outbursts and though she’s never been shown negatively in these moments, they are being used as a reasoning to take her further. Aurora was just voted out ahead of her because Aurora presented a much bigger threat as the winner than Julie did.
Still, sometimes people can surprise you. There’s still a lot of game left to be played and Julie can make her impact late, often when it matters most on Survivor. It’s hard to remember what happened at the merge but everyone remembers the late game push Wendell put on and that helped him secure his win.
The way things are working out right now, Julie is locked in with Rick. She is going to be the target of a split vote knowing that Rick has an idol. The biggest thing Julie can do is work on the person returning from the edge of extinction. If she can have an active part in pulling that person onto her side, the other trio cannot split votes on Rick and Julie without risking their own lives (Lauren’s idol will come into play here too). If Julie can take the lead on this situation and come out of it with her trio intact, it would buy a lot of credit with the jury.
On top of that, this might be the best composition of people to take to final tribal council with her. For everybody else, Rick is a huge threat (and he would be to her too), but if Julie can be in the finals with both players who have returned to the game, she has the argument that she was the only one never voted out. A lot of people feel like they could never reward a player who has been eliminated from the game once. There’s a legitimate argument to be made for Julie in this case in which she is the one who played the best pure game of Survivor.
Getting to the end for Lauren is going to look a lot like Gavin’s path. She must take out Rick before final tribal council because her life will be a lot more complicated otherwise. Lauren will play a big part of these next couple of votes. Nobody knows she has an idol but the returning player might because Wentworth kind of sold Lauren out the minute she got to the edge. That idol is most effective when it’s kept in complete secrecy and will be needed either at 6 or 5.
If it seems like the player returning from the edge is not with Lauren’s trio, her idol will be the most important tool that her side can hold. She will have to play it shrewdly but it could be a flashy move that buys her a lot of credit with the jury.
Another thing to note is that Lauren is the player with the most outs left in the game. She has the trio with Gavin and Victoria but she also has a close bond with Julie. While Rick took credit for the Aurora vote, Lauren is the mastermind behind the scenes and she orchestrated it because she wanted to keep Julie around. While Gavin and Victoria may want to split votes onto Rick and Julie, if Lauren has her say, the split would be between the returning player and Rick. And so far, Lauren has had her say in a lot of these votes.
Of the players left in the game, Lauren has for sure had the hardest time. She spent the pre-merge on the two worst tribes (Manu and Lesu). She’s had to overcome a fainting spell and a gigantic numeral disadvantage at the merge. Despite coming from the other tribe, it seems like Lauren has ingrained herself in an alliance of Kama people and managed to convince those people to turn on themselves before turning to her. That’s an example of the social abilities she has demonstrated during the season.
For purists, it’s hard to argue that anybody might deserve the win more than Lauren. She has fought and clawed her way into the majority starting from the bottom. She hasn’t needed to use any advantages to do so. Her ability to connect with people has been her biggest assets and from the very first season, that was always seen as the way to win. Lauren has demonstrated a lot of people skills and has honestly been very impressive as a social player.
I don’t think we need to spend too much time on Rick. We know his road to victory is through Julie and the returning player, idols and competition wins. It’s already been the debate of the week on the internet and I don’t need to extend it further.
The good thing for Rick is that getting to the final tribal council feels like the hard part. If he happens to be there at the end, it seems like he’s an absolute lock to take home the victory. The jury is openly cheering him at tribal council and he knows he has some friends sitting over there. Rick might feel more comfortable facing the jury than anybody in Survivor history because he’s spent tangible time with many of them. It’s kind of stupid but I can’t fault him for that, though I will certainly fault the twist that allowed it.
Victoria has been the season’s silent assassin. She has been in the loop on every single vote. She masterminded Aubry and Joe’s boots. She also had a hand in sending Wentworth and David home as part of a group decision. If anybody has gotten the jump on the returning players this season, it’s Victoria.
For Victoria, getting to final tribal council plays out almost exactly like Gavin. In my mind, Victoria would be smart to stick with Gavin because I think she played a stronger game than he did and she might be able to articulate what she did a little easier.
In a game with a lot of entropy (shout out Christian and RHAP), Victoria has been the most unpredictable player of them all. She’s jumped to the numbers with every opportunity and has been unapologetic about sending home people who were once allies. That might leave some players feeling a little burnt by her strategy but Victoria just has to own her decisions. Yes, she was opportunistic and yes, she was friends with you but she cared more about the million dollars than your feelings.
Like I mentioned above, I think that Victoria needs to lean on the fact that she outplayed all four returnees and personally voted every single one of them out, a feat only she can claim thanks to Gavin being left out of the Wentworth vote. Usually, in a season that combines new players with veterans, the new players get worked over by the veterans. Victoria knew this and never let it happen to her. She took control of the game away from the returning players and made the story about the new ones and that deserves a lot of respect.
Edge of Extinction Players
There’s also the matter of the person who will be returning from the Edge of Extinction. I am not going to bother listing each player’s roads to victory because it will take too long, instead I will power rank the players based on who I think might return to see how accurate I ended up being.
1. David Wright
2. Aubry Bracco
3. Chris Underwood
4. Aurora McCreary
5. Eric Haffeman
6. Reem Daly
7. Joe Anglim
8. Kelley Wentworth
10. Ron Clark
11. Julia Carter
So, there it is, my perceived road for every remaining player to win the million dollars. In a little more than 12 hours we will know the winner’s identity and no doubt many think-pieces will be written about them. Until then, let me live the sweetness of ignorance, a world in which my predictions can still be correct.