Kaiser Island - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor 43 recaps
In deep water
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: December 2, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 11 recap/ analysis

In deep water

The thing about tides is ... they’re like Survivor. Sometimes high, sometimes low. Coming off some high weeks, this one came in a little lower for me, but I hope it’s the final calm before a stormy finish. It was brought up at tribal council that these players are “too polite” which can explain why this season hasn’t been so flashy – that said, I think it could still be almost anyone’s to win which will hopefully make the endgame exciting, following a 6-0 vote at final seven which is something that is anything but exciting.


You're a dead man, Charlie Brown

Sami was left out of his first vote and Owen was left out of his – this is Episode 11, so like, tenth? Poor guy compared himself to Charlie Brown being duped again and this time not just by Lucy, but by Linus, Pigpen, Peppermint Patty, and the whole gang. I laughed when the camera panned to Karla when Owen namedropped Peppermint Patty since they’re both, you know ... sassy.

Peppermint Patty was also perked up over finally seeing her name come up at tribal council. Everyone knew those votes came from Sami and Owen, but Sami briefly held on to some hope that he could convince Karla it wasn’t him, frantically looking around for someone else to blame before he finally just came clean. This was a low for Sami and it was quite striking to see him with next to no confidence after he’s talked himself up this whole game – a refreshing rounding-out of his character.

Sami and Karla

The following scene where Sami talked about lessons learned from his mom also were a nice change of pace from the 13-going-on-30 level of self-assurance. This is why teens on Survivor aren’t all that compelling to me – they haven’t lived long enough to really be knocked down and figure out how to pick themselves back up, but Sami was getting to experience a bit of that at least in the context of Survivor, and I generally like Sami, so it was good to see him grow here.

Trying to recover in the game, he tried to make amends to Karla by pinning the blame of his vote on someone else and he wildly chose her closest ally, Cassidy which had me like:

Shocked Karla

Picking Gabler, Cody, Jesse – basically anyone else would have been a much easier sell in my mind, so while I understand him wanting to drive a wedge between a tight pair, this wasn’t the way to do it. He had to have known Karla would immediately go fact-check that with her girl, right? We didn’t directly see Karla ask Cassidy if what Sami said was true, but I’d be shocked if it didn’t come up – then again, with this cast being as polite as it is, that may have been too confrontational!

Instead, Karla revealed to us that she had shared her idol information with Cassidy, so she wanted to make sure that trust was still there. Cassidy confirmed it was and said she’d love to see two women in the finale (only two???) which one would think Karla would immediately respond with “hell yeah!” but instead it was another famous delayed reaction of hers.

Pausing Karla

Karla: Yes

I’m sure Cassidy appreciated the confident answer!


Boat Mail

Production also must’ve been longing for more when it came to ~drama~ from this cast because they moved the new era “twist” of a scavenger hunt at camp up a few days. Personally, I liked where this episode was headed – I was waiting to see more insane pitches from Sami or dive further into the cracks and crumbling of game-long #1 allies, but no. Instead, we were told we needed a new advantage to watch these people “fight” over! I’ve said it again and again, but this “drama” is not exciting drama. There’s nothing personal to it, so it just feels forced and extremely fabricated – it’s boring. It’s arguably comical watching people pass over what we, with our nourished and well-rested bodies, see is “obvious” but I’d much rather be laughing over more funny stories from Sami’s pet crematorium or about the time Cody got lost in a corn field after a football game in high school – not “haha he keeps walking by that tree!”

Cody looking

^Me looking for a fuck to give whenever there’s a new advantage.

I definitely did not need to learn what “LRPing” meant from Gabler – at first, I thought he was talking about “LARPing” which would’ve also fit with the wizard look he’s got going on.

After a “thrilling” hunt Cody finally found what everyone was looking for and filled us in on this new “Choose Your Champion” advantage – a piggyback immunity of sorts should the finder pick the right person to win immunity. With knowledge of what the next challenge would be, Cody selected Owen to be his Knight who would wave the banner of House Assenhmacher and swing his sword with pride!

Sandra: In a sexual way

No! Sandra, this is a family show! Besides, House Assenmacher is all about ass-play.


Last gasp

We were all dying to see the return of this one, but I should’ve known that the new era would know how to fuck it up. I may be in the minority, but this was NOT the “Last Gasp” I asked for – someone clearly read the tide charts wrong and picked the wrong time of day to run this shit. There are only two ways this challenge ends – when there is only one person left holding onto the metal grate or when everyone drowns. It’s not supposed to be possible to outwit, outplay, and outlast the damn tide!

Kudos to Karla and Owen for staying in the cold water as long as they did – they deserved to win immunity, but I’m not going to praise anyone for “breaking” this challenge with their willpower. The challenge was broken from the beginning, and I will not accept any other explanation. This is how I picture the Survivor challenge team planning this one:

Well what time we gotta do this thing at?

Rudy: I dunno

What was also busted about this was Cody’s Tyler Perry-style advantage. Jeff would only reveal if Cody was right after the votes have been cast but before they were read. So, if no one knows whether Cody is immune or not before they vote, guess what? No one is voting for Cody. Essentially, then, this immunity challenge granted an unprecedented three individual immunities – almost half of the players in the game, at final seven, one of the biggest opportunities in the game to otherwise make a big move. Thanks for sinking this one, Jeff.


Borneo was just too pure.


The obvious vote

Was it just going to be the obvious Sami vote or the more complicated Cassidy one?

I wonder how much of Karla’s contemplation over voting out Cassidy was Sami telling her that Cassidy threw her name out versus Karla simply starting to see who her biggest endgame threats were. She and Cassidy have been tight this entire game, and going to FTC with your BFF is totes fun, but it’s harder to sell yourself over someone who played a similar game. I think Karla was correct to question whether voting out Cassidy now could give her a clearer case to win at the end – I doubt it had so much to do with being duped by Sami.

Jesse, however, the astute player he is, sensed something was fishy.

Cassidy making a fish face

Karla suddenly wanting to turn on her “#1” must’ve meant she had a new #1 and Jesse didn’t guess it was him, so he had to get rid of who it was. Jesse’s plan to still let Karla vote for Cassidy but get everyone else to vote for Sami was the stuff of genius. It seemed “obvious” at that point that this is what was going to go down, another relatively transparent telling of the vote story through Jesse’s all-powerful lens. It hurt to see Karla getting outplayed like this, but damn was that a killer move. The new question I had after it all went down then was…why didn’t it go down that way?


So polite

“The thing about tides is that they’re never the same,” unlike every tribal council this season. Noelle’s face is the same one I make when watching these now.

Remember when players would dish all their dirt at tribal, call each other out, and get super defensive over being told, “YOU HAVE A-D-D”? Pepperidge Farm remembers! At this point, I’d almost bring back that stupid conch shell that lasted for like two tribals in Borneo (if that?) except give one to everyone who isn’t Jeff. Jesus, this guy has killed the vibe. He asks too many pseudo-philosophical questions and rather than letting people talk, they just end up waiting their turn to be asked something stupid and are pressured into answering with an agonizingly awful analogy. It never fails that the worst one always makes the episode.

Sami at least tried to spice this one up with the announcement that he was playing his Shot in the Dark. The tribe tried talking him out of it which only made it more obvious he needed to play it. He was 100% right – if he was being told the truth, his vote didn’t matter, so if he was being lied to, playing his Shot did matter. I appreciated his gusto to go out guns-blazing – that is how you actually do it on Survivor!

Sami getting snuffed

The hero music again? Okay, sure, whatever.

I’m shocked to say how much I loved Sami this season. At times, he was an annoying kid, but most of the time he delivered some silliness this season desperately needed, and his exit was equally as fun and colorful as was his time in the game. Inviting his tribe to come visit in Vegas but not on Sundays when he has church and saying that a million dollars going to a nineteen-year-old probably wouldn’t be good anyway were two classic lines in a single exit. I admire his spunk and having lost Survivor I think will be a good character-builder for the young grasshopper. Up until this week, he played a hell of a game straddling the middle, always wiggling his way into majority votes. It finally caught up to him, but had it not, this kid could’ve been on his way to the title of youngest winner ever and I surprisingly would’ve been happy for him – one of the best players and characters! Let’s all put our hands together for him ....

Sami, hands


Next time

Why couldn’t anyone have been willing to do that on Day 3, Owen?? Another “next time on ...” preview and another series of names being flashed on the screen. Like tribal council, it’s the same old, same old. We’re still sitting on those idols and I can’t imagine them all getting held onto until the final five, so I’m going to be cautiously optimistic and guess that we finally turn the tide of boring tribals and get a flashy one for a change with one or more idols getting played. Worst case scenario: Karla gets voted out with hers in her pocket, and I go find a riptide with a weight tied to myself so I sink to the bottom.

Players of the week


Sami – I thought this was a great send-off for Sami. Following the first blindside on him, he swung for the fences to stay alive, ultimately missing but going out in style. This episode only showed one morning and one afternoon at camp, but Sami had two full days after the Noelle boot to bounce back, so I wished we’d have seen more of him playing hard like I’m sure he was. Instead, we got a little too much time spent on a boring advantage, a broken challenge, and a brilliant bamboozling that ended up not panning out as excitingly as initially planned. Sami was strategically savvy, socially stupendous, and while a ”challenge loser,” I’d still consider him a triple threat player – I wouldn’t be surprised if he was sandbagging a bit physically, and he clearly attended the Butch Lockley school of fire-making, so I really appreciated everything Sami brought in his final week and this entire season. I’m still so happy that we got to see “Pet Cremator” as an actual confessional chyron – it’s the one thing missing from Debbie’s résumé!

Jesse – Jesse set himself up for an all-time great move in pretending to go along with Karla’s blindside of her #1 ally Cassidy only to save Cassidy then blame it on Karla back at camp and watch them blow up. Ultimately, I guess someone spilled to Karla that the vote was going Sami’s way – could it have been Jesse? We know they’re close, so maybe something held him back from going for Karla’s jugular like that. I’d have hated to see it for Karla, but I’d have loved the move for Jesse. Next week is going to be huge for Jesse. If he can sneak into the final five with Jeanine’s idol, he’s got the game if he can win at fire. I think his only competition is Karla, but in the last couple weeks, I think his stock has risen higher than hers from what we’ve been shown. I’d love for them both to make it to the end, but I’m afraid it'll be a case of “neither can live while the other survives” going into the finale. But which one’s Harry and which one’s Voldemort? Based on his almost-move this week, I’ve gotta say Jesse’s the villainous Voldemort.

Voldemort Jesse

He could really be a villain if he wasn’t so damn likable.

Ryan KaiserRyan Kaiser has been a lifelong fan of Survivor since the show first aired during his days in elementary school, and he plans to one day put his money where his mouth is by competing in the greatest game on Earth. Until that day comes, however, he'll stick to running his mouth here and on Twitter: @Ryan__Kaiser