Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 43 recaps
The agony of the follow-up
By Damnbueno | Published: December 1, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 11 recap/ analysis

The agony of the follow-up

Its almost inevitable. When we get a great episode of Survivor, the next episode is bound to be a letdown. I’m hard-pressed to think of the last time we got two great episodes back-to-back. The first one that comes to mind is Heroes vs Villains. In one episode, we got the Tyson/James double boot, followed by Boston Rob’s exit.

For the first time in three seasons, we’re getting a clean final 7 vote. We’ve been promised there won’t be a “Do or Die” twist to throw an unpredictable monkey wrench into what is usually the most important vote of every season. Maybe Producers recognized the very real possibility that since this season’s players had seen “Do or Die” twice, they might realize the smartest thing to do at the final 7 Immunity Challenge is to sit out. I could easily see a scenario in which Gabler, or perhaps Cody would be the only one to compete. No matter what the challenge was, who would risk being the first one to drop out besides Gabler or Cody? Maybe if Ryan was still in the game, he probably wouldn’t realize how smart it would be to sit out. But if Ryan is in the game, do Gabler and Cody still compete? I doubt it.

So now we get the huge standoff between the pairs of Cody & Jesse, and Cassidy & Karla. Since Sami and Owen were out of the loop at last week’s vote, they’re presumably on the bottom. But that also makes them a pair of convenience which means everybody is Gabler’s best friend this week.

That’s right, at final 7, Gabler could decide who eventually wins this game. Whoever he sides with could control the next two votes. We know he’s wary of Cody and Jesse, and has warned Karla about them. So it figures he’ll side with the women, right? But he’s also got Baka roots with Sami and Owen. He knows they want Karla out. Does Gabler side with the guys, thinking he’s got a better chance of beating them for the million? Then again, there’s Gabler’s tendency to speak before he thinks. He shares information very freely. If he lets it slip to Jesse or Cody that there’s a move against them, both of them could save themselves with Idols. Or they could simply “let it slip” to Gabler about at least one Idol, knowing Gabler will warn everyone. Then Jesse and Cody could hold on to their Idols for the final 6 Advantageddon 2. Can I tell you how glad I am that Do or Die won’t kill all these possibilities?

Gabler is almost a perfect example of why you shouldn’t let an undependable player hang around deep into the merge, even if you think they’re a goat. Its almost inevitable your game will depend on that player’s decision. If you’re not 100% sure someone will vote with you – like, say how Wendell could count on Laurel’s vote in Ghost Island – you need to put that vote on the Jury. Imagine the chaos if Gabler wins the final 4 fire challenge?

On an unrelated note, I like to keep track of who gets labeled any kind of “leader” (Head of the snake, Puppet Master, the boss, etc.) to see where they usually finish. Most who get shackled with that label finish around 10th. So far this season Elie (13th), James (10th) and Noelle (8th) have worn that label. I don’t count when someone hands out that label in a private confessional, it has to be one player talking to at least one other player, and labeling a 3rd as a “leader.” I don’t count when duos are labeled either, so Gabler telling Karla “Cody and Jesse are running the show” doesn’t quite qualify for me either. Let’s see if anyone gets that curse, err, label this week.

And away we go ....

Sami: “I voted for Noelle.” Jesse immediately knows Sami is lying.

Jesse reacts to Sami's lie

Karla: “Why’d you vote for me?” Sami: “I ... I ... I ...” Starting an explanation like that only digs your hole deeper. Sami had the entire trip from Tribal Council back to camp to come up with a feasible lie.

Karla, don’t go off on Sami. You might need him very soon.

Gabler to Owen: “I just lied to you, but here’s why you should still trust me.” At least Gabler believes that line. Owen sure doesn’t.

Jesse is Linus, Cody is Pig Pen, Karla is Peppermint Patty. But who is Schroeder? Its gotta be Gabler, right? Schroeder is pretty oblivious to what’s around him, isn’t he? Does that mean Cassidy is Sally? Maybe she’s Woodstock. I hate to say it, but nobody in this cast is cool enough to be Snoopy. And who would Sami be? Something tells me he’s in trouble now.

Cody: “We don’t wanna make fire against Sami.” That seals it, Sami’s a goner.

Firemaking is dangerous

Ahh, we finally get Sami’s background story.

Karla is playing this well with Sami. ‘Who was first to mention my name?” Sami: “Cassidy.” Dude, she’s not gonna buy that.

Karla told Cassidy about her Idol??? MAJOR disappointment. I thought she was smarter than that. Now Cassidy could ask Karla to play it for her. In One World, this is the reason Kim regretted telling Chelsea about her Idol.

Cassidy and Karla

Karla in confessional: “I have to go on offense.” Good idea, but listening to Sami is NOT smart here.

An Advantage is in the jungle? Knowing this cast, whoever finds it, is gonna weaken or kill it by telling somebody about it.

I wonder if this “Advantage” will be like Jamal’s in Island of the Idols – a guaranteed ticket out of the game?

Cody finds it. This one seems legit. It doesn’t look like this Advantage found him – like how Idols and clues found Boston Rob and Ben.

Cody finds advantage

So if Cody is betting on Owen winning, this pretty much means Cody is throwing this challenge, right?

Cody and one other person could have Immunity. I guess he doesn’t have to throw it. Karla and Jesse both have Idols. This means as many as 4 out of 7 people could be safe if for some reason the Idols change possession. I don’t think I like that, even though the journey could be entertaining. I think Jeff Pitman was right. Probst loved Advantagegeddon, and wants it to happen again.

This Advantage makes me a little less excited about watching this Immunity Challenge. Even though the twist reveal won’t happen until Tribal Council, I really wanted a pure final 7 vote.

I really didn’t need to see how much nose hair Gabler has.

Gabler Last Gasp-ing

Gabler is out first. Nobody is gonna vote him out. If I’m Gaber, I might drop out on purpose.

I wonder if Karla’s nose ring helps or hurts her in this challenge? I bet Probst is pissed Karla and Owen have lasted so long. He’s run out of annoying comments.

Both Karla and Owen win Immunity. Good job to them both. Another Survivor first.

So this means Karla, Owen, and Cody are 100% safe, and Jesse can save himself with his Idol. Karla can save someone (Cassidy?). So could Cody, but that’s a lot less likely. And as Sami said, the Shot in the Dark, could save someone too. Everybody could be safe at this vote. What happens then? So much for a pure final 7 vote. Thanks Producers.

Sami: Three people immune

Karla wants to go after Cassidy? That’s cold-blooded, but sometimes that’s what it takes to win this game. Cassidy is probably a vote for Karla in the end.

Jesse sees all the angles. He’s this season’s best player, even if he doesn’t get the win. His read on Karla is perfect. Jesse does what a lot of Survivor players don’t do – he looks past this vote, and ahead to the next two or three. He knows if Cassidy is gone, Karla has to keep Sami around. He’s smart to try and stay one step ahead of her.

I wonder if Cody will realize now is a great time to go after Jesse? Probably not.

Scientology sure is running a lot of ads lately. That Danny Masterson trial must be hurting them as much as Leah Remini did.

Karla sure is looking at Cassidy a lot at Tribal Council.

Karla and Cassidy

Sami rolls the dice and announces he’s taking his Shot in the dark. That means there are only 6 votes ... if they believe him. It also told everyone its easier to remove Sami. I think Karla just changed her mind too.

Gabler uttered the Keith Nale death phrase “Stick with the plan.”

Was Jesse or Cody even discussed as an option to vote out? They probably were, but since it didn’t make the broadcast, it wasn’t a serious move.

Sami plays SitD

A unanimous 6-0 vote on Sami. I really think he sealed it by telling everyone he was taking his Shot in the Dark. That play is probably best if it’s a secret too. Why can’t anyone but Jesse keep their mouth shut? What choice did Karla have when she found out Sami wasn’t gonna vote?


It would have been very tough to top last week’s great episode, but this one was very predictable. I figured Sami was a goner as soon as he lied about voting for Noelle. When Producers wedged in yet another twist, it made it more of a disappointment for me.

And now, we have an even greater chance for another Advantagegeddon. I’m pretty sure final 6 is the last time an Idol can be played. So that means Cody, Jesse and Karla will all play their Idols if they don’t win Immunity. Maybe one of them might hold on to it, pull a Tony Vlachos, and bluff that its actually good at final 5. But assuming that doesn’t happen, at least three people are guaranteed safety. One of the other three could win Immunity. Also, if one of the Idol holders wins Immunity, they could give their Idol to someone else. Wendell did this in Ghost Island, and it turned into a game winning move. He won Immunity at final 5, then played his Idol for Laurel. She ended up casting the tie-breaking vote that made Wendell the winner. I could see Cody doing that for Gabler, or Karla for Cassidy. Would anyone do it for Owen?

So the question now is this: Will Karla’s attempted move against Cassidy be exposed? Everyone left has a reason to do it. The only question is will Cassidy believe it? How will she react to it? Will it inspire her to a 2nd Immunity win? Will she pretend to be angry at Karla to disguise a move against someone else?

Whatever happens, it appears fairly clear that either Cassidy or Owen are gone next week. Nobody wants Gabler gone, and everyone else is safe. The only way something could change might be if Gabler pulls a move similar to Tarzan’s in One World. If he suddenly gets too aggressive, he could talk his way out of the game. Jesse and Cody appear to be in charge of things now. Jesse knows he can’t remove Cody at 6. Cody is bound to want his Idol back if he doesn’t win Immunity. Refusing him could be throwing away Cody’s jury vote, and creating a bitter juror. It seems inevitable these two won’t split up until the fire challenge.

What do you think? Who do you think makes it to the final 3 and why? Is the stage set for Karla’s exit at final 5? Will we see the AlliGabler return? And if we do, does he guarantee himself a seat in the finals, or a seat on the Jury? Does Cassidy have a path to the end if she doesn’t have Immunity? Who’s the best of the final 6 at making fire? Let me know in the comments.

damnbueno Damnbueno got his nickname in 8th grade Spanish class when his friend shouted out "You're pretty damn good at Spanish." The teacher insisted he say it in Spanish, so the friend said "Esto es damn bueno en Espanol." The nickname stuck. These days, when he's not forgetting his 8th grade Spanish, Damnbueno is indulging his obsession with all things Survivor. Reach him in the comments section here at True Dork Times.