Jeff Pitman's Survivor 38: Edge of Extinction recaps

At the edge of records?


Any time Survivor trots a season featuring returning contestants, it's reasonable to dust off the old record books, and ask whether the new crop of returnees could shatter any career marks. Although Edge of Extinction is not a full all-star season, with three third-time contestants (Joe Anglim, Aubry Bracco, and Kelley Wentworth), plus a second-timer who made it all the way to Day 38 his first time, the chances of individual records being shattered are a bit smaller, but rest assured: There are some that could be in danger. What are they? Well ... less talk, more rocking the numbers (with links to the overall leaderboards):


1. Longevity: Can anyone top Ozzy in days played? (Er, nope.)

Ozzy Lusth


During Game Changers, Ozzy Lusth set the all-time record for days playing Survivor, at 128. That's a lot! With the addition of David Wright, we're now up to 92 people who have played Survivor at least twice. Can any of this season's four top Ozzy?


Nope. Not even close. Aubry (currently #19 of all time, but poised to tie her buddy Malcolm Freberg after Ep.1 of Edge of Extinction) is the closest, at 76 days. Which is... a mere 52 days short of Ozzy's tally. The others are even further away: Joe at 56 days (#53 overall), Kelley at 51.5 days (#66 overall, the half day due to Day Zero in SJdS), and David at 38 days (debuting at #85).


But what about average days played per season? Aubry went to Day 39 her first time, and Day 37 her second. If she reaches the finals again, that has to be the best ever, right?


Wrong. Aubry's co-conspirator and idol angel Tai Trang has a firm grasp on the lead, with 38.5 mean days played. Even if she reaches the top three again, the best Aubry can move up to is 38.3 days. But there's a dark horse contender here: If David makes it to the finals this time, he'll be tied with Tai at 38.5. (This will not be the first potential tie with Tai, so go ahead and get your homonym giggles out now.)


One more related record (for which we don't have a leaderboard page, sorry) that could come into play here: Average placement. The all-time record among people who have played at least twice is a (3.0)th-place mean finish, shared by Parvati Shallow (6th, 1st, 2nd) and Spencer Bledsoe (4th, 2nd). With a win this season, Aubry would move up to 2.7. With a second-place finish, she would tie the two current leaders at 3.0. Similar story for David: A win puts him at a 2.5 mean placement (4th, 1st), and second place leaves him tied for the all-time lead (same record as Spencer).


2a. Tribal Council voting: Maybe some records will fall?

Cirie Fields


The heart of the Survivor experience is Tribal Council, and somewhat surprisingly, some of its hallowed records could fall this season. They probably won't, but we should at least mention a few of the big ones that might be in danger:


Most Tribal Council appearances: So far we haven't gotten around to making a permanent leaderboard for this category, but maybe we should. (In the meantime, the leaderboard is below.) The all-time leader turns out to be Cirie Fields, who has been to Tribal a whopping 33 times. Here are the remaining leaders, all the way down to the closest current returnee, Aubry:


TCA: Most Tribal Council Appearances, career
Rank Contestant Seasons TCA
1 Cirie Fields S12, S16, S20, S34 33
2 Parvati Shallow S13, S16, S20 31
3 Ozzy Lusth S13, S16, S23, S34 30
4-t Amanda Kimmel S15, S16, S20 29
4-t Sandra Diaz-Twine S7, S20, S34 29
4-t Boston Rob Mariano S4, S8, S20, S22 29
7-t Andrea Boehlke S22, S26, S34 27
7-t Russell Hantz S19, S20, S22 27
9 Spencer Bledsoe S28, S31 26
10 Rupert Boneham S7, S8, S20, S27 25
11-t Coach Wade S18, S20, S23 24
11-t Colby Donaldson S2, S8, S20 24
11-t Jerri Manthey S2, S8, S20 24
14 Stephenie LaGrossa S10, S11, S20 23
15-t Tai Trang S32, S34 22
15-t Aubry Bracco S32, S34, S38 22


Fittingly, Aubry is (currently) tied with Tai. But with even moderate longevity this season, she could easily crack the Top 5 (baby!). She would need 12 Tribal visits to pass Cirie, and while that's not outside the realm of possibility, in the age of three tribes AND F4 firemaking, it has become pretty difficult to vote 12 times in a single season. (Over the past three seasons, just four total players have 12 or more Tribal appearances.)


The remaining returnees are well below Aubry's total: David and Kelley each have 14, Joe has 11 (not counting the time he couldn't vote in Cambodia).

VFB - Most votes for the person booted: This one is probably out of reach, but feel free to check out the leaderboard, anyway. Parvati leads at 26 people booted, at least when you include her F3 Tribal Council autovote from Micronesia. None of the returnees are likely to crack that this season, but Aubry is the closest at 14. She'd essentially need a near-perfect game and the good luck to be on a bad tribe in order to successfully vote out 13 people, but it could happen. David is next at 12, and as discussed above, even attending Tribal 15 times in a season is virtually impossible, let alone voting correctly while there. Kelley trails with 7, and Joe Anglim has... 3. (More on Joe's total below.)

VAP - Most times voted against
: Despite Christian's flagging up the total last season, we still haven't created a separate stat that includes votes voided by an idol (alas, there is a downside to "Wentworth... does not count"), but even so, Andrea Boehlke's career total of 36 votes against her looks pretty safe this season. Aubry and Joe have cracked the leaderboard at 16 apiece, but to break Andrea's record, they'd need 21 votes against them, which is two more than the single-season record. Probably not gonna happen. For the others, David currently has 10 votes against him, Kelley has 9 (not counting the idol-voided 12 from Cambodia). Relax, the title's (probably) yours for another season, Andrea.


Non-VFB - Most times not voting for the person booted: This may the (hallowed) record most in danger. Keith Nale currently has a comfortable-seeming lead, topping the charts with 14 times whiffing in the voting booth. That's three more times than the second-place all-time duo of Kelly Wiglesworth and Spencer Bledsoe. But don't get too comfortable, Keith! Three current players are nipping at your heels: Joe and Aubry each have 8, and Kelley clocks in at 7. (David has just 2).


What's more, Joe really ran up his score the last time he played: He cast votes at Tribal Council five times in Cambodia, and exactly *zero* of those were for the person booted. In fact, the last time Joe voted someone out was at the merge vote in Worlds Apart, where Kelly Remington was booted (thanks to Jenn Brown's idol play). So coming into this season, Joe Anglim has a streak of 37 consecutive days playing Survivor without voting anyone out. By Day 3 of Edge of Extinction, he will have played 40 days, more than a full season, with no blood on his hands. That really is Amazing (and it's a record).


2b. More Tribal Council: Idols, idols, idols

Kelley Wentworth


Obviously, we can't completely leave Tribal Council without addressing the issue of the offseason: Idols. The streak of winners playing idols continues, even if the past two didn't directly save themselves with them. One of the returnees has the all-time record for votes voided by idols in a single season (and on a single play, above). Not to mention that another two of the returnees have made great *fake* idols, one of which was featured on Ghost Island, the last season this cast saw before playing. And who knows, these records might not be solely within striking distance of the returning players, the first-timers might also have a shot at some.


Career idols found: Russell Hantz holds the record here, with five total idols found. Tai Trang comes in a close second with four. But let's not forget: Tai tripled his previous season's find total in his last appearance. If David or Kelley do that (each found two idols last time), they would break all sorts of idol records. At the very least, to tie Russell, either would need to find just three this season. That would merely tie the single-season record, so it seems well within the realm of possibility.

Votes voided by idols: At first, this one would seem unlikely to be broken, mainly because Kelley Wentworth already holds the career record for idol-voided votes with 12, and she could easily pad her lead this time out. David Wright enters with the next-highest total among current players, with five. (None for Joe or Aubry, which means they're tied with all the newbies.) But considering Kelley set these records in a single season, nothing should be off the table here. Just two early post-merge idol plays would probably be enough to crack both the single-season and the career record, and given the prevalence of repeat idol finds in recent seasons, that scenario is not particularly difficult to imagine. These records could well fall.


3. Challenge beasting

Joe Anglim


Ever since he blew threw a puzzle in short order in the very first challenge in Worlds Apart, it's been no secret that Joe Anglim is really good at challenges. Not just really good: Perhaps the best ever. For individual challenges at least, he holds the all-time record for highest average placement (MPF, or mean % finish) in individual challenges in a single season, and for his career. That's not bad, although we recognize this stat may seem less intuitive than, say, total wins.


Individual IC wins: So let's go there, then. Joe could potentially set the career record for individual immunity challenge wins this season, and could do so in one fewer season than the current record holder, Boston Rob Mariano (who leads with nine; leaderboard below). Joe is currently tied for third (with Spencer Bledsoe) at six wins. (Ozzy Lusth is second, with seven). So Joe just needs three more wins to tie, and four to set a new all-time record. He came away with four wins last time in Cambodia. Interestingly, all the returnees enter with at least one IC win under their belts: Kelley and David have two, Aubry has one. They would have to put on quite a show to pass Boston Rob. It's theoretically possible, but probably unlikely. But ending up in the Top 5 is certainly not out of the question.


Individual immunity challenge wins, career
Rank Contestant Seasons IC wins
1 Boston Rob Mariano S4, S8, S20, S22 9
2 Ozzy Lusth S13, S16, S23, S34 7
3-t Spencer Bledsoe S28, S31 6
3-t Joe Anglim S30, S31, S38 6
5-t Colby Donaldson S2, S8, S20 5
5-t Brad Culpepper S27, S34 5
5-t Tom Westman S10, S20 5
5-t Terry Deitz S12, S31 5
5-t Mike Holloway S30 5
10-t 10+ players (various) 4


Mean % finish: Sadly, Joe has nowhere to go but down here. Joe holds the all-time record, with an 84.4% MPF over 12 challenges. Lex van den Berghe lurks right behind him, at 83.6%. Joe's best hope of maintaining his lead would be a streak of wins, then a narrow second-place finish, at which point, he would put this truly out of reach. But who knows what the Survivor challenge gods have in store this season? Joe struggled with the nighttime memory challenge in Cambodia, and that's the last time we saw that challenge, even though Probst gushed at the time about how fun it was. (Joe also holds the MPF single-season record). The other returnees are all decent in challenge finishes: David checks in at 61.1% (over 11 challenges), Aubry at 57.8% (19 challenges), and Kelley at 56.2% (13 challenges). The two-season minimum keeps the newbies off the career leaderboard, but Joe's single-season record might be within reach if he exits early post-merge (or even before).




All in all, there are some interesting records that may be up for grabs this season. Not quite as many as during Game Changers, or Heroes vs. Villains, sure. But don't sleep on it.


Hold up, bro: One more oddball record before we leave: Matt Elrod spent 28 days during Redemption Island living on ... Redemption Island. The Edge of Extinction purgatory seems similar on paper, although it's not exactly the same. Even so, staying (quasi-) "alive" for more than 28 days outside of the regular game seems like something production is fervently hoping for this season.


Will that, or any of these other scenarios actually happen? We'll find out over the next few months as Edge of Extinction airs.