Recap: Survivor 43 Ep. 11

As much as I love Survivor there are sometimes where I watch this show and can’t help but think “That was bullshit.” This is one of those times.

We’ll get to the malarkey in a sec but let’s begin with what started off as a promising episode. In the midst of the fallout of the Noelle vote there was confusion at camp as to who had voted for Karla. The culprit, Sami, made the unwise decision to throw Gabler’s name under the bus but quickly owned up to it, leading to one of the more awkward interactions of the seasons with him trying to cover his tracks. Elsewhere, Owen was yet again frustrated he was on the wrong side of the numbers. Gabler came to him and told him he wants to go to the end with him. Owen basically told him to go for it because he doesn’t see anyway he can win if we keeps being left out of the vote.

The following morning Sami started stirring up some chaos but telling Karla that Cassidy told him about her idol. To our surprise, it turned out Cassidy had figured out that Karla has one and even got her to admit it. It was a shot in the dark (pun) lie from Sami but it just happened to make Karla paranoid about her closest ally. Sami got even more screen time where it was established that he was the best fire maker in camp and we even got a backgroudn segment on him. His wasn’t as much of a sob story as some of the other players but at this point I’m pretty sure he’s the last player to receive such a segment.

Later on the tribe received a visit from a boat with a message telling them there’s an advantage in the jungle. The seven tribe members instantly ran into the bush and started searching. Kudos to production here as hiding the advantage in plain sight as opposed to some of the usual hiding spots led to some editing gold with seemingly every player walking by it at some point. Gabler even had the thing a foot away from his face but just looked right past it. Eventually Cody was able to find an advantage that allowed him to bet on one of his tribemates to win the challenge. If his choice won immunity then he would win immunity too. I can’t recall if they’ve done something like this before, certainly not in the last few seasons, but this is one I could get behind. I just wish there was some sort of penalty for losing. We also saw that he bet on Owen, which I wish they withheld until later.

That brings us to the challenge. Oh boy, where to begin. It’s a Survivor classic where players hold onto a metal cage in the ocean and try to hold on as long as they can while the tide begins to rise and their ability to breath grows harder and harder. It’s a challenge that anybody could win and I think it’s one of the more exciting will power based challenges they do. Before the challenge began, Cody gave his advantage to Jeff where he explained that if Cody’s mystery pick won then it would be revealed that he had immunity after the votes were cast but before they were read. The field was quickly whittled down to Cassidy, Cody, Karla, and Owen. After Cody dropped, we knew he still had Owen in the game. From there Cassidy, Karla, and Owen hung on for over two hours, though the editing did little to show this aside from Jeff just constantly saying how much time passed. After two plus hours in the rising tides, Cassidy dropped, leaving Karla and Owen. The pair continued to hold on until the tide eventually started to go down and Jeff made the unprecedented decision to just call the challenge and give them both immunity. With the decision it gave the duo and Cody safety at Tribal.

There’s a few things to break down here. Let’s start with the big loser here: Cassidy got screwed. Yes, she dropped out of the challenge but if she knew she held on any longer than she would have had immunity than that’s just a tough pill to swallow. Though I’m sure when she dropped production still believed they’d have one winner, it just sucks for her. Second: you can’t just make a call like that at this point in the game, especially since Jeff knew it would also mean Cody would have immunity too. Production has made audibles in the past during challenges but they were usually safety based and never had a direct impact on the outcome like this. This time the players had beat the danger and rather than just having them stick it out as is or alter the rules to say that they should have to do it one-handed or something they just decided to call it a day. If memory serves, back in Australia Keith and Tina had to duke it out for 10 hours on a wooden perch before it was settled. Point 2B: if you’re production how do you not have a tiebreaker set up for this? Just a ridiculous move that wasted an otherwise awesome challenge. Third: Should Karla have outlasted Owen there would have been six possible people to vote out but by doing what they did they knowingly cut that number down to four. Would Owen have been safe without immunity? Tough to tell. Would Karla? Absolutely not. By giving her immunity they kept one of the biggest threats in the game. Time will tell what the ramifications are for this but this is perhaps the worst thing production has done in the new era.

Back to the game: At camp, Cassidy was rightfully down and frustrated about the result, and who could blame her? Cody’s status was up in the air but the tribe seemed to just stay away from him rather than finagle their way around the advantage. The names being thrown around were the two youngest players remaining: Cassidy and Sami. The logic being that Sami was the easy vote since he was on the bottom but Cassidy was too tight with Karla. To her credit, Karla even acknowledged that it was probably time to turn on her ally but Jesse had other plans. Jesse wanted to turn the votes on Sami because nobody could beat him in a fire-making challenge. He even concocted a plan in which they all vote Sami but leave Karla out of the loop so that she votes Cassidy, causing internal strife between the two allies. It was diabolical thinking, but far too unnecessary. Cody pushed back on the idea, citing that Sami was awful in challenges and that there was still time to take him out before fire making.

At Tribal, Sami revealed to everyone that he was playing his Shot In The Dark since he didn’t trust that the vote was really going on Cassidy. It was bizarre because moments earlier he was trying to pitch himself to everyone as someone that can be used as an extra vote if needed but then immediately ostracized himself by saying he doesn’t trust anyone and wants to go out swinging. Karla was openly annoyed by this. I’m not sure if she was still thinking Cassidy at that point, which she may have been as Jesse was visibly distraught by the decision. Regardless, it must have swung Karla to vote Sam because after it was revealed he was not safe (one day, Jeff, ONE DAY!) he was voted out unanimously.

I had Sami pegged as my winner pick after Dwight was booted so I’m glad I switched my pick last week to Karla. He got off to a strong start, had a favorable edit, but ultimately after the merge I think everyone started to realize he was playing a middling game and maybe didn’t have as much respect for his game compared to what we saw. As for the decision to go with him over Cassidy? I think they both would have been the right decision but I would have gone with Cassidy as Sami, even if he won a fire challenge, likely wouldn’t have fared well with the jury. The real question is: WHY IS NOBODY TARGETING JESSE!?!? He’s vulnerable every week, Gabler even floated an observation out last week how him and Cody were getting too close, and who exactly does everyone think is pulling the strings at this point? We know he is currently in possession of two idols, one of which was given to him temporarily by Cody but as far as we know he still has them both, and Cody only knows about one of them. The only logic I can understand in why not to target him is to that everybody thinks he has one but the edit hasn’t shown us that. As far as we’ve seen, nobody’s saying anything about him.

An important episode for sure but this one just leaves a sour taste for me. How the hell can you just call it a tie in the middle of a challenge? So dumb. Anyway, let’s check out the Survivor Stock Market:

Stock Up: Cody, Gabler

Cody obviously played his advantage correctly and is clearly the biggest physical threat remaining in the game. I think he even is starting to realize that Jesse is starting to get too cute with his voting. He’s clearly a smart player with good instincts and a feel for the game that seems to be well liked by everybody. I could see a scenario where others bring him to Tribal thinking he rode Jesse’s coattails only to be completely outtalked by him in front of the jury. I feel like Gabler has evolved from the local idiot into a really good player. His resume is pretty empty aside from an immunity win and voting correctly all but one time (so far) but he made a point on the episode tonight that everybody comes to him with the plan and yet he’s never the target. He’s not a strategic threat like Jesse or a social threat like Karla but if the tribe cannibalizes itself there’s a path for him to get to the final three and be more than just a goat.

Stock Down: Jesse, Owen

Jesse is getting too aggressive and I think the cracks are starting to show. Cody pushed back on his plan to pit Karla and Cassidy against each other and I could see him making a move soon. Jesse also has struggled in challenges and I’m not sure he is as well liked as some of the others in the tribe. Owen finally got on the right side of the numbers but he even admitted tonight that he can’t win. Barring a series of events in which he runs the table the rest of the way I can’t see him winning over the jury with his gameplay.

Who’s Next?: I believe idols are valid for two more Tribals. Who’s got two idols? Jesse. So I believe he’s safe next week. Karla seems to realize that she needs to separate herself from Cassidy and vice versa so I could see the vote next week being those two gunning for one another. I think it’s going to be Cassidy next week simply because Karla still has her idol, even if that information is starting to leak.

Winner Pick: So Sami was voted out in part because he’s good at fire. The mistake there however is that if he can’t win the jury anyway then Jesse took out someone that could be used to take out a bigger threat at four. If Jesse is going to win Survivor, he’s going to either have to win immunity at four or win at fire. That said, I still think Karla has the better social game, she has an idol, and has surprised in challenges as of late.

Now for the most pointless graphic of the week:

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  1. Recap: Survivor 43 Ep. 12 – Too Much Popcorn

    […] As much as I despised last week’s episode I think this season has actually been really good post-merge. My complaints early on were that no big threats or characters were being targeted but the benefit to that is that they’re all here at the final six which makes the stakes at every vote that much higher. This right here was the biggest boot of the season and was done so by a strategic masterclass. […]

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