Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 43 recaps
Being annoying for fun and profit
By Damnbueno | Published: October 20, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 5 recap/ analysis

Introducing the Coco tribe

I’m gonna break my traditional format, (especially since there really isn’t much to recap about last week’s episode), and explore a concept that has intrigued me about Survivor. Has anyone been intentionally annoying as a matter of strategy?

The answer is yes, but the motivations of those who’ve done it have been different. I’m bringing this up now because I’m wondering if Gabler is doing it this season. More on that in a moment.

Survivor players all get paid just for being there. But on top of that, there’s a sliding scale of bonus money depending on where they finish. Everyone knows the winner gets a million dollars, and 2nd place gets $100k. But 3rd place walks away with $85k. In a radio interview, Malcolm confirmed he got $50k after finishing 4th in Philippines. It scales down from there. I’ve heard, but never confirmed that 5th place gets $40k. In the early seasons, the first voted out got $2,500.00.

This pay scale provides an interesting incentive for the player who realizes early on they probably can’t win. Since the stronger contestants will want to sit next to people who’ve already blown their chances, why not enhance your “goat” image to make some extra money?

We’ve seen dozens of people on Survivor who had little interest in playing the game well. Some are actors, or models in for it for the camera time. We’ve seen several musicians (Chase Rice, Baylor Wilson, Whitney Duncan) looking to jump start their careers. Bill Posley (One World) was a standup comic likely trying to get his jokes on the air. Semhar Tadesse (South Pacific) wanted to do the same with her poetry. They may have been annoying while pursuing their personal agendas, but they weren’t necessarily doing it to pad their Survivor bank accounts.

Some who were part of a Blood vs. Water season never had any interest in playing at all (I’m talking about you Julie McGee). When some of these players found themselves deep into the merge (Baylor, Keith Nale, Katie Collins), they suddenly put more effort into the game. Chase almost won it all in Nicaragua with an impressive Final Tribal Council. But for the most part, none of them had a real passion for playing Survivor when they were chosen to play.

But then there are those who knew they were annoying, and consciously stayed that way because they knew it would keep them in the game.

Tarzan, who also played in One World, stated several times he only wanted to last long enough to share the experience with his wife at the Loved Ones Reward. He aligned with Colton in part because he believed Colton’s Idol would help keep him around. Tarzan knew exactly how he was perceived, and he enhanced that negative impression (like when he threw his dirty underwear in with Chelsea’s laundry as she was cleaning it) as a means of staying in the game. After he got to see his wife at final 7, he came up with a decent plan that could get him to at least the final 4. But eventual winner Kim shut that down, and sent Tarzan to the jury next.

Tarzan: It's not poop, it's dirt

In Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers, Joe Mena realized at final 10 he probably couldn’t win, so he changed his approach. In confessional, he said “There’s a group of 7 that are running the game. I’m definitely on the chopping block. I’ve been digging for an Idol that’s probably not there, but I’m not giving up. One thing I do have is that people do think I’m shit, so I’m gonna keep pushing buttons more, and get enough people so upset at me they’ll be like ‘Let’s keep him around because we can get rid of him at any point.‘ And at some point, I can make a move.” Joe was trying to win, but he also knew he had a better chance of sticking around if he was annoying.

Joe argues with Ashley and Chrissy

There are other incentives too. In a recent interview with Rob C., Caryn Groedel, who played in Palau, told an interesting story about her tribemate Willard Smith. According to Caryn, Willard admitted to her he never wanted to win Survivor at all. He in fact, didn’t even want to play. Willard made a bet with his assistant that he could get himself cast on the show. When it happened, he set a goal of getting voted out as soon as he could. Willard wanted the free pre-jury vacation. At one point, eventual winner Tom said of 56 year-old Willard “Because of his age, he can’t contribute a lot, but he can come out here and put another log on the fire.” Now we know why Willard was so “lazy.” Willard didn’t get voted out until day 12, so he was likely miserable while waiting for his free vacation to start.

Willard relaxes with Coby

Kass McQuillen might have been using this strategy for a while in Cagayan. You don’t give yourself the nickname “Chaos Kass” if you’re not aware you’re annoying the other players. But I’m not sure she was doing this intentionally, its possible she just didn’t care how much her actions would anger those around her. She might not have been annoying as a means of being carried as a goat. Kass seemed to sincerely believe she could win the game, especially if she was at the end with Woo. She also perceived Tony to have angered several jurors. But Kass got voted out at final 3, and while heading to Ponderosa, said “I knew I’d burned a lot of bridges. I had a hell of a time doing it. I came out here to have some fun. I’m on Survivor, so let’s cause some hell, and make it as far as we can. I probably could have kept my mouth shut a little more, but its more fun to just shoot off, especially when you know its gonna make everyone run in circles and scream and yell – be frustrated, but be afraid to get rid of you because they need you.” Kass was probably being intentionally annoying because it was fun.

Chaos Kass

The undisputed king of this concept is of course Phillip Sheppard. In Redemption Island, Phillip initially went after Boston Rob. But Phillip changed his mind and became Rob’s partner a day or two later. On day 23 he confirmed in confessional “Everybody wants to stand at finals with a guy like me, who has been polarizing and insulting. That plays right into my plan, which I’ll execute at the right time. But I know Rob wants a guy like me next to him at the finals. I’m the #2 guy, and I’m ok with that.” Phillip conceded the win to Boston Rob, but I think he’d planned his “FBI Agent” schtick long before the game began. I think he was angling to make himself famous and get invited to play again long before he found out Boston Rob would be playing with him. His efforts paid off as he got $100k for finishing 2nd, AND was invited to play again in Caramoan. Oh, and he delayed the release of his spy book until the Caramoan season hit the airwaves. Phillip got exactly what he wanted out of Survivor, and he never wanted the win. The funny thing here is according to his jurors, Phillip actually could have won the game if he’d admitted he was putting on an act that fooled Boston Rob the whole game.

Phillip, goal achieved

So how does this relate to Gabler? I’m purely speculating of course, but we all saw how spent he was very early on. He may have realized he’s in way over his head. I thought he was about to quit. Is his heart still in it? Could his palm frond blanket move be a tactic to help him leave the game without quitting? Is he trying to pocket a little extra cash by convincing someone to unknowingly carry him to a final 5 payday? Its something to keep an eye on.

Gabler, palm fronds

Oh, I did have one recap note from last week. Jeanine DID have a new bandage. It was on the back of her right shoulder. I wonder if she’ll get the Sia bonus money just for the sympathy of it all?

And away we go …

So Geo knew everyone was voting for Lindsay, and voted for Cassidy anyway? Geo isn’t very good at this game. Why not just shout “Cassidy, I’m voting for you next!”?

Cassidy: “Geo is clueless at this game.” Is there an echo in here?

Geo: “I don’t think Cassidy likes me.” Geo gets the awareness participation trophy. Nothing gets past him.

Karla: “I don’t know if Ryan or Geo should go first.” Boot Ryan. The merge is close. Stop the impending Immunity streak. They saw enough of Jonathan last season to know better.

Elie tells Jeanine “You don’t need your vote.” They really believe they fooled Gabler into thinking his Idol doesn’t work anymore, don’t they? In Japanese “Baka” means “stupid.”

Oh look, we’re getting the Beware Advantage instructions a THIRD time.

Owen stumbles into some info. I think he made the right call in giving his bead to Jeanine. He can still warn Sami and Gabler about it to thwart the women. Its interesting that Elie was so worried about Owen. While I don’t think she should have volunteered that info, I thought she trusted Owen more than Sami or Gabler.

Owen walks in on idol talk

Sami fills Gabler in on the bead info, but he says he didn’t have time to warn him? How long does it take to whisper “Don’t give Jeanine your beads?” This seems like a no-brainer. The women think Sami and Owen are with them. The guys can tell the women they agree to help blindside Gabler, then just vote for Elie, knowing Jeanine will save herself with her Idol. Or they can let the women put their 2 votes on Gabler, who’ll save himself with his Idol and bounce either one of them if they think Jeanine won’t play her Idol. I think most who find an Idol early wants to save it until after the merge if they can. It should be easy to fool these two.

An Immunity Challenge only 10 minutes in? Are two people leaving tonight?

I think we’ve seen every element of this challenge before except the ball rolling ramp. It’s a nice twist to have the players all tied together through the obstacle course.

The over/under on new bruises for Jeanine in this challenge is 3.

What are the odds Ryan, Sami and Cody will do the ball rolling?

Is it as easy for you as it is for me to see the drool from Probst’s mouth whenever he talks about Cody? There are four people on that net, but Probst only praises Cody.

Vesi on the net

Interesting, Dwight takes the spotlight role. I wonder if Dwight volunteered for it, or Cody wisely kept himself out of it?

Cassidy: “Aim for the right side.” Ryan shoots left and knocks everything off. Did he do that on purpose, or is he just tuning Cassidy out?

Ryan blows it

In past seasons, nobody could make two trips to Shipwheel/Big Rock island. So far this season, nobody has gone twice. Do they have the same rule?

Interesting, Ryan admits he threw the challenge. I wonder if anybody will catch on? I’ll admit, it will be funny if Ryan pulls a Drew Christy here, and gets voted out.

Cassidy immediately knows Geo could come back with an Advantage, so its smart to boot Ryan. Yeah, Cassidy knows what she’s doing in this game.

Does Ryan really believe Cassidy bought his “I don’t mind being voted out” act?

Ryan and Cassidy

Geo is faking that he’s in the same position Noelle was in. Does he not think the other tribes discussed what Noelle, James and Owen did? Having the three of them reveal their cards in each other’s presence is a good twist this time around.

I’m not sure what I’d do in their place. I don’t just want to hand an Advantage to Geo, but I also don’t ever want to lose my vote.

Does anybody on this show know how to get out of a boat?

Jesse dunks himself

Have any of you noticed the lack of “dodo music” this season?

Jesse has no vote. Now he really has no choice but to try and blindside Cody if they go to Tribal Council before the merge.

Jeanine, what’s the point of opening your note by yourself if you’re just gonna show it to everyone? Why not lie and say you didn’t risk it?

Ok, the green screened confessionals are ridiculous. There’s a massive windstorm behind Sami, yet his clothes and hair don’t move at all. It may not mean anything, but they might as well put a caption, reading “Sami’s thoughts on day 29.”

Sami's confessional

Geo tells Karla about his KIP Advantage. This woman is in the right place at the right time over and over. Its starting to look suspicious to me. I think the vote just got flipped to Geo.

I think Jesse and Jeanine made a mistake in telling everyone they lost their votes. Why not tell everyone they didn’t risk it, then only come clean to your most trusted partner if/when you absolutely have to?

Yo Cassidy, you just watched Lindsay get voted out for being paranoid. Don’t show Karla and James how scared you are. Just the same, I’m impressed at how Cassidy has done whatever she did to inspire Karla and James to watch her back.

Karla: “I hope this isn’t Lindsay part 2.” Is there an echo in here?

Cassidy’s smirks are as entertaining as Eliza’s eye rolls

Cassidy smirks

Ryan and Geo are really bad actors.

If Ryan leaves, he’s the new Drew Christy. If Geo leaves, he’s the new Erik Cardona – armed with some power, and supremely confident he has convinced everyone to back his play, yet in actuality, the most clueless person at Tribal Council.

Cassidy: “I’m the one who put the blanks in your gun.” I LOVE that line!

Geo proves once again that when you find an Idol or Advantage, you shouldn’t tell anyone about it. He’s the third straight player (after Liana and Drea) to hold the Knowledge Is Power Advantage to immediately kill it by telling someone they have it.


Ok, so despite my Survivor history sidebar, we didn’t learn much about Gabler’s intentions this week. But I did find it interesting that he sat out a pretty physical Immunity Challenge. We’ll have to revisit this one later.

I think Geo started the process of his demise at last week’s Tribal Council. He set himself up for failure when he said “I just wanna make sure I keep my people calm. You know, the people I spoke to are calm, so they won’t freak out.” Cassidy, Karla and James all looked concerned when he said that. A good Survivor player makes everyone think you’re working with them (or at least willing to talk strategy with them, like how Sandra handled Russell). In a game with as much fear and paranoia as Survivor, Geo gave everyone a reason to think he’ll shut anybody out.

So it looks like there’s a 13-person merge next week (Did anyone actually say the word “merge” in the preview)? There’s a lot of interesting possibilities here.

Jeanine and Jesse don’t have a vote, and their tribemates all know it. Will they let the other tribes know? Geo knew they lost their votes, but he promptly got voted out. Did he tell anyone on his tribe about Jesse and Jeanine? If he did, it was either Ryan or Karla. What will they do with that info at a merge?

All the Baka men know Jeanine has an Idol, but she thinks Elie is the only one who knows. Will the Baka men use this info to gain some new allies?

I think all 3 tribes are fractured, but of the 3, Vesi is the least fractured. But they also have weapons. Cody has an Idol. Noelle has a Steal-A-Vote, but we don’t know if she told Jesse and Cody about it. If she was smart, she kept it a secret, and won’t reveal it until she intends on using it at a crucial vote to gain an advantage. And Gabler’s Idol is still active for the first Tribal Council.

Karla has an Idol nobody knows about, but she’s also aligned with two pretty savvy players in Cassidy and James. They’re the most likely and capable of taking her out.

Three Idols, a Vote Stealer Advantage, and a lot of semi-secrets floating around. Next week’s show could rival Cagayan for the best merge vote episode ever.

What do you think? There are so many possibilities. I love Survivor when its this unpredictable. Even though there aren’t any standout strategists like Omar, I’m still really enjoying this season so far. Let me know your perspective in the comments.

damnbuenoDamnbueno 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.