With the whole of Jeff's speech included, I want to look at the story they tell with Jeff's words and the reactions, but first, here is michel's first take on the scene, from the Editing topic. I think it's very good.
"When Jeff explained the Redemption Island twist, it was Matthew’s surprised reaction that we heard first. Will he the one coming back from the island? The camera also panned to Kristina, Krista, Ashley, Francesca and David while Jeff explained the living conditions on the island, leading me to believe these people will spend time there. Russell was the one shown when Jeff explained the duels. Will he win some or is that where is game will end? After that the cameras showed Mike, Grant, Steve, Boston Rob before we went back to Russell when Jeff said the words “out of the game for good”. (if only!) Mike and Steve seemed to get the focus when Jeff mentioned the return.
Russell: “Redemption Island does not scare me one bit, it’s a vacation. Yeah! Put me on that island and see what happens. I’m gonna win the challenges and come back and take some heads off.”
Interesting how the editors focused on Russell’s take of the island. I believe that it will be his Waterloo."
So true about Russell.
My only issue with the part about "these people will spend time there" is that almost everyone will spend time there. None of those shown as Jeff explained the living conditions have spent more than one cycle there ... so far.
The way I see the story, Jeff takes us in a circular pattern, a cycle of exile and return, that is roughly in four parts.
PART I of the Journey, the Vote Out.
You will not go home when you get voted out.
Here we see Matt because he was the one with the big reaction to this news.
PART II of the Journey, the Life of an Exile.
Here the camera focused on Kristina, Krista, Ashley, and David, as Jeff made it clear the conditions would be tough and require self-sufficiency. I think it focused on the women and the guy in the suit because they looked like they would have a hard time doing shelter, fire, being alone. It was probably a nudge to Ashley, who lets others provide, that they showed her being told she'd have to feed herself.
PART III of the Journey, the Fight to Survive in the Game -- the Duel
Here the camera showed us strong alpha male types -- Russell, Mike, Steve, Grant, and Rob. These are the tough guys who would say "bring it on." There is an intimation that the Duel will favor the strong. No women are shown.
PART IV of the Journey, the Redemption, Return to the Game and Chance to Win.
Shown during the RETURN revelation are David and a group shot of Ometepe featuring Matt, Ashley, Francesca). Shown as Jeff tells them the person will still have a shot to win the grand prize -- Steve, Rob, Russell.
We would expect Rob and Russell to be featured there, as this is their shot at Redemption and they are both there to win at last. Steve may be there because he looks like a Tom Westman (and compares himself to Tom) and he said "Sweet." Or who knows, he may actually return. Yet to be seen.
So here is my feeling about the number of players shown who were pre-merge boots. The focus was on the women and David in suit during the description of the living conditions, because it would be supposedly tougher for them. The early part of pre-merge is typically heavy on female boots or the more nerdy guys. Then of course there was Russell, out early because he was Russell. So it was sort of logical that the weaker people who fit the storyline Jeff was putting out were also people who would be living the story. (David seems in big trouble.)
With Matt, they got lucky that the kid with the big reaction was the one who ended up owning the twist in the pre-merge. So I don't see anything odd about it working out to an extent. The alpha males shown in the second half of the cycle will be candidates to go to RI in the post-merge -- but I have no idea who goes and who stays in the game.
Conclusion -- the shots make good sense in telling the story. The editors weren't afraid to use people who went to RI early. At the same time, they didn't sit down and go down the line with the boots. Stephanie was really not focused on, whereas Ashley was and she probably isn't going anywhere before the merge.
Russell was shown because it was absolutely important that he get the story. Rob was shown as the master of the game, nodding and absorbing the new twist.
Honestly, the image I found most interesting was GRANT flashing along with Winner.