Screaming at the Screen - Damnbueno's Survivor 43 recaps
Split-squad drama
By Damnbueno | Published: November 17, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 9 recap/ analysis

Split-squad drama

After last week’s revelation that Jesse is holding Jeanine’s Idol, we now have two players holding Idols nobody knows about. Its still possible someone has put together the pieces and realized Karla was collecting beads and has an Idol. But as we saw in a secret scene, Karla may have thwarted that speculation by convincing Gabler that Lindsay was collecting beads and likely left the game with the Coco Idol. If Gabler believed her and spread that info around, Karla is in good shape. But either way, Jesse is in better shape.

So with that in mind, I’m focusing on two upcoming long range strategic battles: (1) Who will go after the other first – Karla or Jesse? (2) Who will go after Cody and his Idol first – Karla or Jesse?

But in the short term, we’ve got another case of Producer meddling with the forced split squad, double Tribal Council this week. Two players will leave, and there’s only one scenario in which the three on the bottom could be safe – that’s if they all end up on the same team. But thanks to the promos, we know Owen, Noelle and Gabler won’t end up on the same squad. It appears that Gabler and Ryan have already played themselves into finals goats, so that means Owen and Noelle should be in the most trouble, right? Maybe not.

Maybe the targets on their backs are a little TOO big. Maybe those two are TOO obvious. That’s reason enough for someone in the majority to pick this moment to do something to make their individual game stand out a bit.

But the way these superfans are playing it safe, that’s unlikely to happen. Its times like these that I enjoy having an unpredictable, wild card player like Noura (Island of the Idols), Angela (Ghost Island), Keith Nale (San Juan Del Sur), or even Brandon Hantz (South Pacific/Caramoan) to challenge the savvy strategists’ social skills.

Just kidding. I don’t really want to see Brandon Hantz again. I wanted another male wild card to avoid naming Abi-Maria again.

Will we see a surprising shake up this week, or the more predictable safe vote? I’m hoping for the former, but prepared for the latter.

And away we go…

Owen was pretty slow to figure out James isn’t on his side. But showing James how angry he is wasn’t smart. Owen just made James take dead aim at him.

Owen, post-Tribal

An Immunity Challenge 2 minutes into an episode? This has got to be the fastest an IC has shown up – even in these double elimination episodes. We’ve seen this challenge twice before. Chelsea (aka purple Chelsea) and Domenick won it in Ghost Island, and Noura won it in Island of the Idols.

The way the teams were divided, at least we’ll get to see Owen and James go after each other.

I’m gonna guess Cody and Sami pull out the wins in this one.

James: “Karla, you’re inspiring me, broke finger and all.” It would have been nice for them to tell us Karla’s finger is broken. I thought she just had a deep cut.

Karla and her finger

Sami’s out, once again proving why I made the right call when I stopped making Survivor predictions.

James celebrated a little too hard for Karla’s win. Why not just yell “That’s my #1 up there!” Mad props to Karla on the win. I wonder if she’s thinking how James just outed their partnership?

James, over-celebrating

But at least I got Cody’s win right.

When Probst chatted with Karla, I thought he was gonna ask “Karla, what’s the feeling of victory?” like when he asks “What’s the feeling of love?” when the loved ones arrive.

Hearing these players gush over PB&J reminded me of how past players would babble on about how much they “love” snickers bars and Charmin toilet paper. Naaah, they haven’t been coached here at all.

One of the few Dan Foley moments I liked was his very sarcastic confessional about candy bars from Worlds Apart.

Ryan to Gabler: “Let’s go after Cody.” Gabler: “Cody has Immunity.” Ryan: “Oh yeah.” Ryan is a strategic genius.

Ryan and Gabler

Once again, I think Jesse’s got the most power at this vote. He let Cody have his way last time, so this time, he can probably persuade Cody to let him make the call.

James to Owen: “Doing what I told you was the right thing to do.” James just threw away Owen’s possible Jury vote.

Even Noelle knows James screwed up.

Noelle reacts

I wonder if Karla just identified James as a finals goat for the way he screwed up this thing with Owen? She knows Owen won’t vote for him. If I’m Karla, I’m gauging Sami and Noelle’s reaction to see if James just lost their respect too.

Right about now, I’m wondering how many people know Noelle can steal someone’s vote?

I love the way Jesse is thinking through this decision. I say boot Ryan. He’s less likely to be a bitter juror than Cassidy.

What are the odds that Gabler says something that screws up Jesse & Cody’s plan?

Noelle thinks James won’t take her Advantage if she tells him she’s got an Advantage? Noelle’s mouth is bound to hurt her soon. Why not keep the element of surprise and just steal James’ vote?

Sami: “Karla’s opinion means the most to me.” Karla’s ability to earn trust amazes me. She might be at Kim Spradlin level. I think this makes four people (James, Jesse, Cassidy and Sami) who value Karla’s input. She might have Gabler’s trust too.

If I’m Karla, I’m going straight to James and telling him to take Noelle’s Advantage. That cuts Sami’s hamstrings, and he has to vote for Owen, knowing James can now steal Owen’s vote. Karla should know she can beat James for the million. Sami will have no choice but to stay loyal a little longer.

Is nice to see Jeanine’s chin looking normal again.


Cody pissed all over Vesi’s camp? Was he channeling Clay from Thailand? Clay peed in his tribe’s cave shelter, admitted it, and said he’d do it again. If Owen is upset about how Cody was “Livin’” at Vesi camp, that probably means Noelle is even more upset.

Noelle is face palming while James is talking? I think James has lost her possible jury vote too.

Noelle, face-palming

Noelle stole Owen’s vote instead of James’? And Sami keeps looking to Karla for a decision? I have no idea how this is gonna play out, but I think Noelle screwed up.

Hmm ... James is gone, and doesn’t know if Karla or Sami flipped on him. But Noelle mocking him on his way out probably just cost her any shot at getting James’ jury vote.

HEY! That means KIP is gone again! Let’s hope its for good this time. Then again, we might find out in flashback that he gave it to Karla.

Jesse: “Oh shit. What happens now?” I say boot Ryan, and try to use Gabler as your finals goat. You still have a good shot at getting Jeanine, James and Ryan’s votes. But you probably lose Cassidy’s vote if you cut her loose.

Jesse sees James on jury

Cassidy is doing more talking at this Tribal Council than she’s done all season. I think that’s bad news for her. She had a flashback visibility spike too. Jesse and Cody look like they’re not sure about the decision they made before entering Tribal Council.

Did Gabler just become purple? Did we see him speaking once at this Tribal?

Ryan is gone, and the tradition of the challenge beast leaving around 10th place has been restored. He takes his place next to Ozzy, Rupert, Joey Amazing, and all the others who incorrectly believed providing food would buy them security.


I like Jesse and Cody’s move to boot Ryan. He won’t leave the game angry at either of them, and there’s no way he’s gonna believe Gabler swayed this vote. He’s unlikely to vote for Cassidy either. Booting Ryan also prevents him from riding an Immunity streak into the finals (or at least the fire challenge). Ryan might also be the type to say “I’m gonna vote for the person smart enough to take me out.” Jesse or Cody can own this move in Ryan’s eyes.

I’m not so sure I like Karla’s move to boot James. On one hand, James was getting a big head, and might have become too difficult to control later on. But on the other hand, he was starting to anger people, and was playing himself into a goat. Did Karla boot James just to remove the KIP? Was she protecting her Idol? That would make sense, but just the same, James considered Karla his #1. His temper could make him upset at her for the betrayal. Did Sami persuade Karla? If so, major props to Sami for finally influencing a vote into his favor. Removing James means Sami moves up the ladder in the majority. It also gives him a stronger shot at keeping Owen and Noelle on his side. If he still has Gabler’s trust, he can shake things up in a big way if he can take out Cody, Jesse or Karla next. Sami has a 4 vs 4 now, and only needs one defector.

Now that I think about it, Noelle blabbing to James about using her Advantage might have been smart if he believed her…and it looks like he did. Does she become less threatening because she’s unarmed now?

I think Owen shot way up on the respect ladder this week too. Standing up to James made a positive impression on Jeanine, Noelle, Sami and maybe even Karla. But he probably lost James’ jury vote in the process.

I’m most interested in seeing how both groups explain the votes to each other. This is where someone who has been playing a subtle game (Jesse, Karla, maybe Cassidy), can start owning their game to their possible jurors without standing out as a “leader” yet.” For example, Cody has been playing a fairly loud game, so if Jesse can pull a few people aside and say “Cody wanted _____, but I convinced him to do ____, some future jurors might be impressed with how Jesse is manipulating Cody. Or Karla could pull Cassidy and Gabler aside and take ownership of the James blindside by saying “I wanted KIP out of the game. James had too much power with that thing.” Jurors like to share that kind of info on the Ponderosa. Its sort of an “I know something you don’t know” prestige kind of thing.

With Ryan gone, does that mean Cody has become the biggest physical threat? He has finished 2nd twice, and won once in Immunity Challenges. Who else is as physically threatening? Sami looks athletic, but hasn’t performed well yet. Pre-merge, he only took one spotlight role (rolling balls up a ramp), in the challenge thrown by Ryan. I’m not sure if others are seeing him as a physical threat. If he’s been sandbagging, he’s doing a good job of it. Gabler has an Immunity win, but he’s probably seen as a goat. Who wants him out next? Who is worried if he wins Immunity? What do you think? Who steered these two votes? Who improved their position the most? Did Cassidy just start flexing her strategic and social muscles? If Cody is in trouble, will he recognize the need to play his idol? Did he get it back from Jesse? Will Ryan keep catching fish on the Ponderosa? If he presents Jeanine with a bunch of fish, will he think he can influence her Jury vote? Let me know in the comments.

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.