Recap: Survivor 43 Ep. 8

This episode is what I like to call a vegetable. Vegetables aren’t anybody’s favorite but provide a lot of nutrients for the rest of the season.

While there wasn’t a big splashy vote, dominating performance, or blow up at camp, there was plenty of groundwork being laid for how the top ten will play out. Think of it like the third or fourth episode of a season of Game of Thrones. There’s no dragon or white walkers but that knife Arya got is going to pay a big part later, even if the payoff sucks.

Kicking off the episode amidst the fallout of Tribal Council it began very similar to last week. Jeanine was on the wrong side of the numbers once again and felt she was on the outs. Plus, Dwight never gave her her idol back that he was holding to protect it from James’ Knowledge is Power advantage so that was flushed from the game without anybody (except for Jeanine and Jesse) realizing it. Like last week, her tribemates tried to console her by telling her that by continuing to lose she’s actually winning. I know you just lost two of your closest allies and your immunity idol without ever using it but that’s a good thing! Now you have nothing! Great pep talk.

Back to her idol. Following last week’s episode one thing that was never made 100% clear is whether Dwight gave Jeanine her idol back before he was voted out. I saw her reach for it and I thought he gave it back but others disagree. It essentially became Survivor 43’s edition of whether or not the dress was black and blue or white and gold. But those tricksters in editing room omitted a key piece of information. Jesse had it the whole time!

This felt a little cheap but at the same time I’m not sure what adding it to last week’s episode would have added. Plus, Dwight gave it to someone who he thought was his ally but why he never told Jeanine where he put it is beyond me. In fact, it’s kind of a dick move. Jesse is keeping that idol a secret which is 100000% the right move since everybody think its flushed and out of circulation. In addition, Jesse was also holding onto Cody’s idol for safe keeping and apparently Cody hasn’t asked for it back yet, leaving Jesse with two idols. I can’t imagine Jesse not giving it back to him if he asked for it, especially since he has one of his own now, but it would be DIABOLICAL for him to keep it or turn on Cody while he’s vulnerable.

The following day gave us a look at camp life, something that’s pretty rare in Survivor nowadays. Karla explained how she was having dreams about food, Gabler showed off how he lost 40 lbs using Surviv-X, and Ryan was daydreaming about wrapping burritos inside two pizzas. If we don’t see commercials for the Pizzito from Pizza Hut during the first commercial break next week I’ll be shocked.

We also saw Owen and Ryan get the spotlight for their sob story background. Ryan’s dove into how he was proud of himself from overcoming a cerebral palsy diagnosis to turning into one of those dudes from Atlantis in the new Black Panther movie. It wasn’t anything we hadn’t heard before but it helped illustrate the picture of Ryan being the biggest physical threat in the game. Owen’s was a little more personal. He went into his background about being adopted and feeling like an outcast as an Asian kid with white family and friends and how that feeling related to him being on the wrong side of the numbers despite feeling like he hadn’t done anything wrong. After this segment I was willing to bet all the money in the world Ryan or Owen was going home.

All this talk about food led directly into the challenge where Jeff presented the tribe with the option for enough rice for four days in five of the 11 players chose to sat out. We’ve seen more of this in recent seasons and it’s always interesting to see how the tribes react, more so the people on top. Sami elected to sit because he was hungry, Karla and Jesse elected to sit out since the challenge was grip based and they were both battling hand injuries, Cassidy (who is definitely on the show) chose to not be on the show. James then tried to convince Owen to sit out because he was protected (bullshit) but he wisely didn’t take the bait. James ended up sitting out instead, giving the tribe their rice.

Participating in the challenge was Cody, Gabler, Jeanine, Noelle, Owen, and Ryan. The challenge consisted of each tribe member balancing a ball on a platform on a stick. In regular intervals that add to the length of the pole holding the ball, making it more difficult balance as it grew longer. Eventually the challenge was whittled down to Cody, Owen, and Ryan. At this point, edgic told us all that Owen was going to win based on the story he told earlier. And sure enough, Owen beat out Cody to win immunity. Maybe next week Cody can finally redeem that high school wrestling match that he lost.

Once the tribe got back to camp it was obvious the tribe was going to go with either Jeanine or Ryan. Jeanine was the original pick of the majority alliance of Cassidy (definitely on the show), Cody, James, Jesse, Karla, Ryan, and Sami based on the fact that she was too much of a free agent and a really smart player (though she doesn’t have much of a resume`) so she was the easy vote. [Insert Stephen A. Smith voice] HOW EVUH, Sami put some feelers out and wanted to use the opportunity to take out Ryan based on the fact that he was the biggest physical threat in the game, was vulnerable, and went fishing for three hours between the end of the challenge and Tribal. The tribe seemed to be flip flopping between Ryan and Jeanine, both with valid reasons for voting each out. An interesting moment popped up where Cassidy was pushing James to go for Ryan instead of Jeanine because she was sick of seeing the girls be voted out (Dwight was voted out last week, just saying) and wanted to target a challenge threat now and wait for Jeanine. James pushed back, much to the annoyance of Cassidy. It was a big vegetable moment for Cassidy, who definitely has received the least amount of screen time out of all the remaining cast members. She hasn’t done anything to stand out yet but that’s not a bad thing. In fact, it almost reminds me a bit of Erika in Survivor 41, who we saw almost nothing from and learned nothing about until the finale but she ended up winning the game. I doubt the show would do that twice in three seasons, but weirder things have happened.

Tribal was pretty by-the-book. Production knew it was a pretty straight forward vote and there really hasn’t been any major drama around camp so Jeff asked everyone about the social contracts of the game but it didn’t really lead to anything groundbreaking or amusing. Once the votes came it ended up being a 9-2 vote for Jeanine over Ryan with Jeanine and Cassidy casting the two votes against Ryan. By sending her home and making her the first member of the jury (speaking of that’s bullshit that they made Dwight “earn his spot” in the merge and then not put him on the jury but I digress) Jeanine completes one of the biggest three episode slides in recent memory. This was by no means a surprise and was probably the right move. By getting Jeanine out now the majority has one less wild card to worry about and there are still plenty of other players that can take on Ryan in a challenge, especially if a puzzle or non-athletic challenge pops up so there was no immediate need to get him out.

Again, this episode didn’t produce any memorable moments or big moves but now we know Jesse has at least one idol, Owen and James are starting to develop a rivalry, Cassidy (definitely on the show) went against the majority, and Sami is starting to play harder and harder. I expect to see all these storylines continue moving forward.

Now, let’s get to the Survivor Stock Market:

Stock Up: Owen, Jesse

Nobody had a bigger episode than Owen. Aside from winning the challenge and probably saving himself from being voted out we also saw more of his backstory, he was on the right side of the votes, and his edit for the season continues to get better and better. I feel as if Owen has been a good narrator for this season. He’s been heavily involved in the edit, he looks like an easy guy to root for, and he very much fits the mold of a “modern” Survivor player in that he’s an underdog coming into his own as the season goes on and on. Don’t be surprised if we get a helicopter shot circling him on top of a mountain in the next few weeks, that will make him a lock to win. I’m also up on Jesse for the second week in a row strictly because of the advantage he gained with no effort and he doesn’t seem like a guy who’s going to tell people about it and put a target on his back.

Stock Down: James, Cassidy, Ryan

Before the merge James was probably my favorite player this season. I still think he’s a good character but I’m down on him again this week. He’s definitely the villain in the rivalry between him and Owen and that was a horrible move by trying to get Owen to sit out of the challenge the way he did. Between his suspect gameplay the last two weeks and the fact that he’s viewed as a huge social threat, I’m down on James again this week. Cassidy went from being in the majority to going her own way and likely putting a target on her back in the process. I don’t think she’ll go home next week but she’s definitely in a worse spot now than she was last week. Ryan seemed to fill in for Gabler as the local idiot in the tribe this week. This guy actually thinks that people will keep him around because he can fish. It’s like Rocksroy from last season, Survivor isn’t about literally surviving. Honestly he could probably win his way to Final Tribal and I still don’t think he’d receive any votes because he’s that bad at the strategic portion of the game.

Who’s Next?: So I’m 0-2 so far. Two weeks ago I picked Ryan and last week I picked Owen, though I probably would have been right had he not won immunity. Based on the preview for next week we know that two people are going home but I’m still only going to pick one since recent history tells us there are going to be two separate votes and the tribe will be split in two. Assuming he doesn’t win immunity, and he’s awful at challenges so I’m fully confident he won’t, I think James goes home next week. Assuming the tribe is split in two, we’re looking at five people per tribal, four of whom will be vulnerable. James is viewed as one of the bigger threats in the game so if he has nowhere to hide and people like Owen, Cassidy, and Sami are starting to become visibly frustrated with him, I think he becomes the biggest boot of the season next week.

Winner Pick: My original pick was Dwight but that lasted one episode before he got booted. Last week I went with Sami and I’m going to stick with him. He’s getting a good edit right now and his name is never thrown around despite being one of the stronger competitors on the show. This is likely due to having a meat shield like Ryan and Cody but that could be enough for now.

Now here’s my favorite graphic that I put way too much stock in but probably shouldn’t.

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