Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 43 recaps
Stats (some meaningless) for a finale
By Damnbueno | Published: December 15, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 13 recap/ analysis

Stats for a finale

I keep several stats and files on Survivor. I refer to them several times when prepping my column. I update all of my stats and lists after each season. After Maryanne’s win, I thought I should have put a lot of the relevant updates in my column, but I thought of it too late. I was gonna put it in an off-season column, but life got in the way, and the timing didn’t feel right when my schedule opened up.

So this season, I’ll do an anticipatory column for this season’s finale to strike while the iron is hot. Besides, as great as Jesse has played, we’re all anticipating a Jesse win aren’t we? By now, we’ve already heard most of the theories behind the final five’s chances, so here’s a bunch of random information that may or may not pan out.

Feel free to fact check me on any item here – but only if you’re as obsessed with Survivor as I am.

Unless Gabler pulls it out, we’ll most likely have another winner age 30 or younger. We’ve had 20 winners between 20 and 29, 18 winners between 30 and 39, 3 between 40 and 49, and only 1 age 50 or older. Jesse was 30 when this season began. Everyone else was under 30 (most info I got on Owen said he was 29).

Only 6 people have won the Loved Ones Reward Challenge and gone on to win the game. Noelle won this season’s Loved Ones Reward, and got voted out at the next Tribal Council. She joined Kat, Brenda and Ron in that dubious distinction.

Since Owen, Karla and Cassidy each have two Immunity wins, the most this season’s winner could have is 4. Five players have won the game after getting 4 IIC wins (Jenna, Fabio, Boston Rob, Tyson and Tony in WAW). Three winners have won 5 IIC (Tom, Mike and Kim). Jesse hasn’t won any yet, so if he wins the game, he’d join a list of 12 (starting with Tina and ending with Maryanne) who won the million after not winning any Individual Immunity Challenges. Ten people have won the million with one Immunity win, and six have done it with two wins. In this case, zero is the winningest number. Plain and simple, you don’t have to win Immunity to win the million.

Only six people have won the million after winning the first post-merge Immunity Challenge – Cochran, Denise, Fabio, Tom, Earl and Brian. However, Earl and Brian were on split squad teams that won Immunity, and Denise and Fabio won when two necklaces were handed out at the merge. There wasn’t any individual focus on them. Tom had to go on an Immunity streak to reach the finals. Gabler won this season’s first post-merge Immunity.

Eleven people have given away an Idol (or played one for someone else) and gone on to win the million. 37 have given an Idol away and lost. We can also add the half-Idol Lauren Rimmer gave to Dr. Mike in HHH to this list. Technically, Jesse played Cody’s Idol for Owen, but I think it counts here. Survivor rules say one Cody gives an Idol to Jesse, it becomes Jesse’s Idol. He has the power to give it back or keep it.

In the 31 seasons that have had Idols, 16 winners have held one. 11 of those 16 used their Idols, but only 8 played those Idols for themselves, and only 3 (Mike, Jeremy and Ben) actually saved themselves with their Idols. It seems pretty certain Jesse will play his at 5, but not quite as certain that he’ll save himself with it.

19 players have held multiple Idols in a season, and six of them won the game. Jesse held two for several days.

4 people have played an Idol for someone else, and also won the game – Natalie Anderson, Jeremy, Adam, and Wendell. Jesse played one for Owen.

Mike plays an idol for Maryanne

4 people have had an Idol played for them by someone else, and also won the game – Sandra, Tony, Chris U. and Maryanne. However, nobody who was SAVED by an Idol played for them by someone else has ever won the game. Jesse played an Idol for Owen but Owen wasn’t saved by it since Cody got 4 votes to Owen’s 1.

Season 43 would be the 8th season that had a total of 3 Idols in circulation (unless another one is thrown in at final 5). Three seasons have had 4 Idols. 95 men and 43 women have found Idols. I count multiple Idol finds, so Kellee Kim would be counted 3 times for the 3 Idols she found in Island of the Idols.

22 people have been voted out while holding an Idol (22.5 if you count Lauren Rimmer’s half-Idol). But I doubt that will happen to Jesse this season.

I keep a “Biggest Bonehead Moves” list, but I don’t have any nominees from this season. Lindsay, Elie, Noelle, James and Sami all talked themselves out of the game to a degree. But they don’t qualify as a “bonehead move” on the level of James not playing either of his two Idols with only three chances left to play them, or Shantel saying “We should talk as a 4” within earshot of two of the players they were excluding.

Jesse would be the 2nd Hispanic male (Chris U.), Owen would be the 2nd Asian male (Yul), and Karla would be the 2nd Hispanic woman (or would it be 3rd since Sandra has won twice?) to win Survivor.

Entering this season, ten people have won the game without having any votes cast against them the whole season. Jesse or Gabler could join this group. The most votes cast against an eventual winner is 11 cast for Ben. So far, Cassidy has received 5 votes, Karla 3 votes, and Owen 2 votes. I should add that not receiving votes doesn’t necessarily mean you’re playing a great game. If you win Immunity, nobody can vote for you. That doesn’t mean they don’t want you gone. Most people won’t vote against the goat they want to bring to the finals either. I think its better to play a game in which you’re playing well, but can keep others from wanting you gone. Tom never had a vote cast against him, but several were plotting against him for most of the game. It doesn’t appear anyone has plotted against Jesse, mostly because they believe Jesse will work with them to remove someone else.

Ok, enough with the stats. Let’s see if Jesse can close it out, and finish a truly remarkable game of Survivor. If he does it, we can argue over how high to rank his moves and his win.

And away we go ....

Jesse seems smug in recapping his blindside on Cody, but keep in mind, his confessional could have been recorded after Final Tribal Council. He might already know Cody has forgiven him.

Gabler: No one is looking at me yet.” I agree Gabler, but its not for the reason you think it is.


Jesse: “I’ve been playing a subtle game.” Its like Jesse read my columns on subtlety before I even wrote them.

This looks like the island where Erika spent her two days at the Survivor 41 merge.

The new island

Cassidy wants Karla out. That’s good news for Jesse. Jesse doesn’t need this challenge Advantage because of his Idol. But it would be smart for him to pretend to look for it.

Karla’s ankle looks pretty healthy as she takes off running for that Advantage. Is she faking it? Is she milking it like Tyson did in Blood vs Water? I haven’t seen her use that Walking Stick either.

Running up that beach

Karla gets the Advantage. I wonder if it will be as worthless as Lindsay’s last season, or will pretty much guarantee a win like Erika’s?

When did Mariah Carey become “The Queen of Christmas?” Last time I saw her perform during a holiday, she was having a meltdown on New Year’s Eve.

Immunity and the Reward will be nice, but Jesse should tank it. He needs to be in camp pretending to be worried about being voted out.

Owen to Gabler: “Hold your pole.” I had a Beavis & Butthead moment there.

Probst: “Cassidy is right on Owen’s heels.” But the shot shows Cassidy even with Karla and Gabler. This is why I often watch challenges on mute.


Owen wins Immunity, giving him 3 wins. Since most people want Karla gone, Jesse might not need his Idol, but he should play it anyway, just for the wow factor.

Owen takes Cassidy on his Reward. There was a secret scene last week in which Cassidy was crushed after losing yet another Reward. I wonder if that’s why Owen took her? If Gabler is his finals goat, I wonder if he should have taken him instead? He might lose a voting partner now. It’s a tough call either way.

So does Jesse try to convince Gabler to vote for Karla or Cassidy? He’s seen Karla as the biggest threat for a while, but if he gets Karla on his side at this vote and removes Cassidy, I suppose there’s a chance Karla wouldn’t throw him into the Fire Challenge if she wins Immunity at final 4. It’s a tough call either way.

Three Reward trips to the Sanctuary. They must have really cut the budget. There wasn’t even a helicopter Reward this season.


Cassidy really wants Karla out, and that’s mostly due to Jesse’s manipulation.

Cassidy to Owen: “You, me and Gabler have played different games.” Did Cassidy just quote Gabler?

So when Owen and Cassidy pitch Jesse on booting Karla, does Jesse flip it, and convince Karla they can boot Cassidy instead?

Gabler: “I was hoping Owen would pick me.” That’s bad news for Owen.

Karla to Jesse: “We need Gabler.” Once again, everybody is Gabler’s best friend. He/she who controls Gabler controls the final 4.

Gabler: “I have a better chance against Owen and Cassidy.” That’s bad news for Karla.

Cassidy: “I’m not an idiot, Karla.” Karla just talked her way out of influencing Cassidy at all.

Cassidy reacts to Karla

Karla: “It was all me and James.” That comment probably cost her Cassidy’s jury vote too.

That’s the biggest difference I see between Karla and Jesse’s approach. I don’t think Jesse would ever slip up like Karla just did.

Hmm ... did Jesse reveal his Idol too soon?

Jesse's idol reveal'

Karla fear is being shown in huge neon lights.

Yup, everybody needs Gabler.

The whisper fest doesn’t bother me since we’re getting captions with it.


Cassidy doesn’t seem like she knows how important Gabler is.

I really don’t know who’s leaving between Cassidy and Karla, but I love it.

Playing Jeanine’s Idol might have just got Jeanine’s Jury vote.

Stunned Jeanine

So Karla votes for Jesse to prevent a “perfect” game?” That’s pretty weak to me. J.T. never had any votes cast against him, but I think his game was far from perfect. He was strategically dependent on Stephen all season long. There’s nothing “perfect” about that. Karla is going out with a smile on her face, but her demeanor says “bitter juror” to me — perhaps the first bitter juror this season. No wait, I don’t think James will ever vote for Owen. But it doesn’t seem to me like Karla will vote for Jesse or Cassidy purely because she’s angry.

We’ve seen this challenge a few times before. I remember Kim won it in One World, Candice won it in a duel in Blood vs Water, and Ken won it in Millennials vs Gen X.

Cassidy, final IC

Cassidy wins Immunity. She’s no fool, but would she throw Gabler in just to make sure Jesse doesn’t win at fire? If she does, will she lose Gaber’s vote if Jesse wins?

Should Owen ask Cassidy to throw him in against Jesse? Would that make Cassidy suspicious of Owen? I suppose it depends on how accurate Owen’s read on Cassidy is. If Cassidy thinks Gabler is the fire making master, maybe he shouldn’t say a word to Cassidy?

Cassidy and Owen

Right about now, I wish we’d seen these people making fire earlier this season.

We’re seeing Jesse failing at making fire. I think he’s gonna win the fire challenge now. I don’t think we’d see him this upset about facing the fire challenge if he lost. And last season, we saw Mike failing at making fire, then he beat Jonathan. Is Gabler sandbagging his fire making skills, or is he really that wiped out? I can’t tell.

I want to see a Jesse/Cassidy/Owen final 3. Jesse will probably win it, but the way these people are talking, it will be a great fight.

Will Cassidy blow the win by throwing Gabler in against Jesse? The jury’s reaction might tell us. It might be like Xander throwing Heather in.

Gabler: “My pitch was ‘Please let me make fire.’ Sami laughs. Gabler has no idea he’s seen as a goat.

Cassidy throws Gabler in, and James, Karla and Sami look unimpressed.

Underwhelmed jury

Gabler takes yellow, Jesse takes red. I forget which color has lost the most. Sounds like I’ve got to make a new list.

Gabler wins at fire, and the entire Jury is as crushed as Jesse is. Sia will give him some money though.

I haven’t felt bad for someone just missing the finals since ... since ever. I hate the fire challenge more at this moment than I ever have. And I hated it when Chrissy first read the note that introduced it in HHH.

I see Gabler cementing his loss with his opening statement. If he claims he was controlling the voting, the jury might just laugh out loud. His charity plea won’t matter at all if that happens.

Cassidy has a great shot. James, Ryan, Cody, Karla and Jesse all took dead aim at her, and they couldn’t get rid of her. If they value respect, she’s the favorite.

Owen’s plea seems simple. “I never gave up even though I kept getting knocked down.” I don’t know if it will work, though.

Final three

I’d love to see Cassidy saying “I played the entire game in this top, and kept it true blue the whole time.”

Cassidy mentioning all the women who went out early was very smart. Owen is being straightforward and honest, and I think that’s how the Jury is reading him. Noelle answered James’ question for Owen. I think Noelle is voting for Owen.

Noelle answers James

Gabler: “Elie looked through my bag.” Jeanine: “No, I was the one.” Gabler thinks he’s getting credit, but I think the Jury knows he got it wrong.

Jesse: “I extract info for a living. Tel me how you did it.” I love that question.

Cassidy: “If you came after me, I had to get you first.” Great answer.

Cassidy: “You didn’t get any votes because nobody saw you as a threat.” That’s what Aubry should have said to Michele.

Cassidy rebuts Gabler

Noelle: “Cassidy, why use the goat to remove the best player?” Cassidy: “Because I earned it.” Another great answer.

Noelle: “Great answer.” Is there an echo in here?

Owen is making a great case for himself. This is gonna be close. Gabler might cast the deciding vote. If he does, Owen probably wins.

Cassidy to Karla: “I took you out because I knew you’d beat me.” That’s how Earl got Yau-Man’s vote.

James to Owen: “I appreciate your honesty.” Maybe James isn’t bitter.

I think all 3 finalists did well under Jury questioning. They all pled a strong case. Very often, I see more mistakes on a rewatch. But my gut says Cassidy’s got this. My biggest question is will Karla and James still be bitter?

James votes for Cassidy. I guess he wasn’t bitter.

Karla votes for Gabler. I think she was bitter – but hey, she’s allowed to be. Its on Cassidy for making her bitter. Props to Jesse for making that happen.

Oh no

So much for all the edit-reading experts. Gabler wins.

I’m as open-mouth shocked as Cassidy and Owen. 7-1?

Game over

The Immediate Reunion

This is why I love the immediate reunion. The jurors confirmed Gabler’s FTC performance is why they voted for him. I don’t know if we’d get that from these players 6 months after the fact. I thought Gabler was honest, but not particularly impressive. Absolutely none of these jurors were seeing Gabler’s game the way he was seeing it. I’m baffled as to why they changed their minds.

Jesse is telling everyone how he got the Idols, and Probst keeps interrupting him. Shut up, Jeff!

The dramatic music playing while Jesse is talking is a bit much. The audience is already with him. We didn’t need to be told to feel good about him.

Cody toasts to “the greatest move in Survivor history,” then says Gabler made it????? Oh hell no, Jesse’s move is this season’s candidate for that honor.

Cody's toast

Hmm ... Fergie from the Black Eyed Peas is playing next season?


Did Ryan and Naseer have a baby who got picked to play in Season 44?

Yam Yam


I don’t know what to say about this, but now I have to finish a column about it, so I have to think of something. I’m flabbergasted.

I’m not sure what to make of this decision. Sure, Gabler donating the money is an amazing thing, but this Jury didn’t know he was gonna do that when they voted for him. I would understand this vote better if he’d mentioned it before they voted. I’m still very confused, and I don’t know if I’ll ever not be confused.

This Jury trashed Gabler all season long. They wrote him off as a goat almost since day 1. Almost everyone saw Gabler as a vote to carry in their pocket too. In post-game press, Sami even acknowledged he even stopped talking strategy with Gabler because he took Gabler for granted. These jurors knew Gabler wasn’t influencing their voting decisions either. He was largely a spectator. I definitely have to let this one sink in. I just don’t get it at all. It didn’t seem like Gabler ever had his jurors’ respect. They never once thought he was playing a good game. Even Ryan knew how disconnected Gabler was.

In 42 seasons, we’ve never seen someone who was written off as a goat so early and so often take the win. Even Fabio had a likability factor Gabler didn’t have, but Fabio got to sit next to two people who’d largely angered the entire Nicaragua Jury. Bob wasn’t taken seriously for most of his season in Gabon, but I don’t think he achieved goat status, and certainly wasn’t disliked. Nobody ever took Michele seriously in Kaoh Rong, but like Fabio, she sat next to two players who’d angered a majority of the jury. Jenna was seen as a brat all season long in The Amazon, but she had the dumb luck of sitting next to someone the jury thought was crazy and dangerous.

My gut says Gabler’s win is almost as shocking as a Phillip win over Boston Rob would have been. I’ve always said anybody can win Survivor, so I guess I have to thank Gabler for proving me right, but Gabler’s win was almost unthinkable. It would be like Katie beating Fireman Tom, Sherri beating Cochran, Skupin beating Denise, Albert beating Sophie, Will beating Carolyn and Mike, or Noura beating Tommy. Hell, a Russell win might have been less shocking than this one.

Just the same, this is a disappointing end to an otherwise enjoyable season. Gabler simply didn’t play the best game of anybody who made the merge. I really miss those “The Jury Speaks” videos. They always offer insight into how a Jury feels that is never in the broadcast. Cassidy and Owen played much better than Gabler did, and I thought they pled their cases well too. Where did they go wrong?

I have to wonder if Gabler won it, or Cassidy and Owen lost it. I’m notoriously bad at reading jurors. On a first watch, I thought Aubry killed it against Michele and Tai. But on a rewatch, I saw how Aubry missed several opportunities to bury her competition. Is that what just happened here with Cassidy? Did she just take for granted the jurors would hold true to all the negative comments they made about Gabler? Owen was in a weak position in the first place, but I don’t think he reminded anyone of how annoying Gabler was either.

I’m truly dumbfounded, and find it very hard to see what Gabler did right. I know I speculated earlier this season that Gabler was being intentionally annoying as a matter of strategy, so I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised. But I’m shocked just the same. Was I actually right about that? Its strange, but I don’t want to be right. I actually don’t want to believe this strategy could work, even if I could take credit for saying it could.

I don’t even know what questions I’d like you to address in the comments. My head is spinning. How did Gabler win this season? Let me know your theories 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.