Recap: Survivor 43 Ep. 6


This is the first recap I’m posting for Survivor and I want you to know that I love this shit. I’ve been watching Survivor since I was nine years old. I watched every episode when it was the most popular show in America. I watched every episode for the next 15 years of people saying “you still watch that?” I watched every episode since COVID shut down the world and the show saw a resurgence on streaming platforms. I’ve auditioned multiple times. Submission videos, casting calls, you name it. I also hosted a Survivor podcast called Somebody Snuff Me for Season 41 (available on Spotify) and when I started Too Much Popcorn I did it knowing I would be doing weekly Survivor recaps.

Which brings us to Survivor 43. Before I get into the episode here’s how I see the current season. Since the format of the game drastically changed in 41 this is the first cast to have seen the format before playing and the first season in which production has had to react based on what did and didn’t resonate with fans the last two seasons. What has transpired is a season with far better gameplay than 41 but lacking the memorable characters that 42 gave us. Production has tweaked many of the flaws the game had the previous two seasons. Though not perfect, Survivor has a pretty good record of knowing when to pull the plug on a twist or premise that isn’t resonating with fans. So far we’ve seen them drastically improve the Beware Advantage, wisely keep the Risk Your Vote twists knowing the cast is aware they exist, and, as we saw tonight, the hourglass twist has been removed completely. There are still roughly the same number of advantages in the game but everything seems easier to track of and twists like the Beware Advantage have become easier to attain while providing some of the more engaging moments of the season.

As far as the cast goes, there’s been better and there’s been worse. Through six episodes this feels like a cast will ultimately be remembered for everything besides gameplay. I’m sure this will change now that the tribes have merged but thus far its impossible to name any one player who is truly running the game. That’s not to say there aren’t good players this season. I think all four players on Vesi (Cody, Dwight, Jesse, and Noelle) are solid in their own ways, Karla from Coco probably has the best edit so far and seems to have adapted to the new format the best among the cast, and Sami feels like the best chance to finally win the title of ‘youngest winner ever’ and finally put an end to one of the most annoying archetypes of cast members we see almost every season. Guys like James, Gabler, and Ryan have been great entertainment all season, Elie, Owen and Jeanine have all been week-to-week with the moves they make and the edit they’re given, and Cassidy is definitely on the show.

Onto the episode, we lead off with Coco receiving tree mail informing them to drop their buffs and pack their scenes. Karla was smart enough to note that it didn’t say merge and point out that the merge isn’t as clear cut as it used to be. So Coco and Vesi pack their things and head to the Baka beach. So when the tribes move in to together we’re looking at Baka with five of their original six and the other two tries with four apiece. The game picks up fairly soon as players, for some stupid reason, begin filling everyone in on who has what, Noelle in particular revealing that she has a steal-a-vote to Owen. We’ll see how that plays out, because if you remember a few weeks back it was Owen and James who Noelle convinced to let her get an advantage. In a great bit of editing from the show, Owen is able to narrate where all the advantages are and who has what which was a great way to set the table for what’s at stake post-merge.

At the immunity challenge Jeff has the cast of 13 draw rocks into two teams of six, with one person being forced to sit out the challenge and bet on which team will win. If they’re right, they are safe, if not, they’re vulnerable at Tribal. The blue team is made up of Dwight, Gabler, Jeanine, Jesse, Karla, and Ryan and red consists of Cassidy, Cody, Elie, James, Owen, and Sami while Noelle drew the grey rock, choosing to ride with the blue team. I could be wrong but this actually looked like a new concept for a challenge, or at least one that hasn’t been done a thousand times. The two tribes had to push a sled filled with puzzle pieces through some obstacles, climb up a ramp, and solve a puzzle. This is a fairly common formula, but still felt like a fresh spin on this. Hopefully we’ll see more of this in the individual phase of the game. Anywho, thanks for some Spider-Man antics from Ryan and Elie failing at a puzzle the blue team was able to overcome a sizeable deficit to win immunity, giving the six of them, plus Noelle, immunity at Tribal. Thankfully, Jeff Probst was explicit in stating that once they win they win and there’s no bullshit hourglass twist on the horizon. I completely believe that that ‘twist’ from the last two seasons belongs in the cellar of bad Survivor ideas and should never be let out, even if there’s a fire.

At camp it was a whole lot of good, ol’ fashioned Survivor scrambling. Since six people were vulnerable but 13 people were voting it led to a lot of different scenarios:

  • Cody was the only Vasi member on the block. Given his performance in challenges and how he rubbed a lot of people on Coco the wrong way a few weeks back seemed like an easy target. However, he had Noelle, Dwight, and Jesse looking out for him and he has an idol in his pocket.
  • James, my favorite character this season, was targeted by Elie for being sketchy while strategizing at camp.
  • Elie was outed by Gabler at the winner’s feast as having gone through his bag earlier (which is technically false, it was Jeanine who went through his bag but Elie was present and was very much an accessory-to-bag-going-through) and was labeled as someone who can’t be trusted, which caused Jeanine to scramble and for Elie to confront him at camp in one of the more heated moments of the season.
  • Cassidy, who again is definitely on the show, was targeted for some reason.
  • Somehow Sami, one of the biggest and strongest players in the game, was not mentioned at all.

Admittedly it was satisfying to see Gabler take down Elie and watch the fallout. As bad a player as he is, he’s been an AWESOME character this season and Elie has felt like a very smug and smarter-than-thou-because-I’m-a-therapist-and-oh-by-the-way-did-I-mention-I’m-a-therapist player all season long. She looked like a strong player early on but her stock has dwindled in recent weeks. In the fallout of their argument I actually laughed out loud when Sami said that “Gabler is a fucking idiot”.

At Tribal it was pretty tame despite the chaos of everything going on at camp. One thing I noticed tonight that I hadn’t all season is that we haven’t had a Tribal this season where people are getting out of their seats and having inaudible conversations minutes before the vote comes. I don’t know if this was a proactive measure from production as this is something that had become too common and you could make a lot of money betting on votes like this with a big crowd and lots of uncertainly by taking the over on how many people get out of their seat before the vote. If it was production that put a stop to this without actively announcing it, good on them.

From there things went relatively as expected, Elie received seven votes, James got two (and looked like he was going into cardiac arrest after each one), Cassidy (again, she is on the show) and Owen both got one apiece likely in the event an idol was played. Jeanine had thrown out the idea of giving Elie her idol to save her but I think we all knew that this was never going to happen. Now the tribes are merged with four members from each tribe. Elie wasn’t the big, headline grabbing vote but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t the right person to vote out. Her and Jeanine had become too close and if someone like James had gone the remaining Coco members likely would have been picked off. Now, Baka is divided, Jeanine has lost her closest ally, Gabler is almost a lock to be dragged to the end as a goat, and Owen and Sami are easy pickings if either of them can’t win immunity next week.

Now let’s take a look at the Survivor Stock Market:

Stock Up: Karla, Noelle, Cody

There weren’t a lot of highs in this episode. I feel like Karla understands the new style of gameplay better than anyone, Noelle’s interaction with Owen has me feeling that information is going to come back in some way and now Owen needs Noelle, and Cody managed to skate by without harm or using his idol despite having “VOTE ME OUT” written across his forehead.

Stock Down: Jeanine

Hands down there’s no bigger loser this episode than Jeanine. Sure, she still has her idol but she lost her biggest ally and Gabler likely isn’t working with Baka anymore. Plus watching her hype up the wrong team at the beginning of the challenge was a rough look.

Who’s Next? The preview for next week seemed to indicate there’s a big, unknown advantage coming into play next week. Rather than speculate on that, let’s focus on what we know. Only one person will win immunity so more physical threats will be at risk. Who’s the biggest threat in the game? Without question that would Ryan. He also rubbed a few people the wrong way at the winner’s feast in a move that could be considered playing too hard. There’s 12 people in the game so it’s a wild guess but Ryan is a guy whose felt like he’s accomplished just about everything he’s going to at this point.

Winner Pick: Now that we’ve had a few weeks to see the cast and the game it’s still tough to say as no true favorite has emerged. It feels as though a lot of the randomness that plagued the game the last two seasons is gone but if the last two seasons have shown us anything it’s that ‘edgic’ (or edit-logic for you heathens) doesn’t hold as much stock as it used to. I have little confidence in this pick at this point, but right now I like Dwight to win. He feels like more of a player than a character, isn’t one of the more high-key personalities, has received a solid edit, and seems well-liked within the game. Out of all the four Vesi members remaining he feels like the guy who can adapt to his surroundings the best.

So that’ll do it for this week. Now here’s a graphic I should take zero stock in yet can’t stop thinking about on a weekly basis. Shoutout to @justrategic

episode 6 confessional count #survivor

Originally tweeted by ty ๐ŸŽƒ (@justrategic) on October 27, 2022.

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