Kaiser Island - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor 43 recaps
I'm way better than I even thought
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 28, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 6 recap/ analysis

I'm way better than I even thought

The merge was always an exciting episode of Survivor, but starting in 41, the show ruined it. They fixed it a little bit with at least ditching the hourglass and turning back time — the “Cher twist” was I like to call it — but one thing I wish they’d have kept was the 2-hour episode. If you ask me, I think we could’ve survived with a shorter premiere and a longer episode this week (in a perfect world, or in South Africa, we’d get both), but the Baka breakdown and buffoonery saved this one from being a disaster. It was the chaotic Baka vote I’ve been waiting for, but I do feel bad that everyone else kind of sat this one out — hopefully the “real” merge next week will let them share the stage a little more.



Sami shouting “BYOB” must’ve meant “bring your own buff” because — surprise! (not really) — the tribes weren’t actually merging, so no pretty new buffs to dirty up yet. This didn’t stop everyone from exchanging their half-hearted hugs, though, as they welcomed each other as new competition on the Baka beach. Cody shared the right sentiment in his confessional — they’re all liars!

Further faking it, in a following conversation back up at the new camp, Noelle was talking with Elie, Karla, and Owen about trying to look for an idol but to no avail — the three all shared the same story with her except Noelle was the only one who wasn’t lying (as far as we know, she doesn’t know Cody’s beads are anything more than jewelry). One quick note here though was Noelle telling Owen she had a steal-a-vote from the journey they went on together, so I guess that trip might actually amount to something despite so many prior journeys and promises of future alliance ending up dead ends.

With this news from Noelle, Owen provided an important recap for the audience of just how cluttered the game was with all its advantages and disadvantages in play — so many, that the editors needed to give us a visual:

So many advantages

This is everything that’s wrong with Survivor in one single shot. I would call this the show making fun of itself, but to do that, it has to be in on the joke. It definitely is not, or at least Jeff is not. Seeing the “scoreboard” on screen probably made Jeff shout, “Oh yeah!” like the Kool-Aid man (or Rick Devens), but it gave me nothing but the urge to sigh deeply. I’m sure Owen felt about the same with his specially made chyron:


That one was kind of clever if still sad, how I guess you’re just a joke of a player now if you don’t have an advantage listed next to your name. While Noelle’s tip to Owen was intentional, her slip about Cody compiling all the beads at Vesi was not which let at least Elie know who had the Vesi idol. This, of course, made Elie feel even more superior than she already did, excited that her victory in this game would be so easy.

Excited Elie

Elie then gave an all-time great, “famous last words” confessional where she said she knew she’d be good at the game but that she was even better than she thought she’d be. It was in that moment we all knew this would be Elie’s elimination episode because you can’t sound that confident and hope to survive the week. The Survivor editors just are not that kind.

More Elie

And neither am I for taking screenshots like this and posting them on the internet.


She's gonna need a hand

We then proceeded to Day 13, so the show would have us believe that nothing of note happened within the first 24 hours of the tribes moving in together. Come on … seriously? It’s stuff like this I should come to expect, but it’s still a shame. What, did they all just sit around the campfire singing "The Campfire Song Song"? I don’t buy that! Sami’s too young to even know that iconic SpongeBob musical number!

Dreading what this new “not merge” twist could be, it ended up just a stripped-down version of what we saw the last two seasons, essentially the same concept just without the total broken element of turning back time and taking immunity away from the winners of the challenge. If that was all this was, it begged the question: why bother? Could we not have just done a regular merge? Personally, I’d have rather seen twelve people have to scramble for safety instead of only six, but no, let’s give over half the tribe immunity! That’s fun!

While Karla cutting her hand open was not fun (though I appreciated her trying to turn my prayer circle from last week into a more powerful blood ritual), I did laugh at the unintended idiocy of Jeff yelling, “She’s going to need a hand!” as Karla ran up the ninja wall — what a savage burn! It reminded me of that dumbass doctor from Arrested Development:

He's gonna be all-right

You son of a bitch!

Hook-handed Karla: I'm a monster

That’s where all my focus was this challenge, making sure Karla didn’t get medevac’d, and luckily she did not – luckier yet, her team came back and won the challenge! Noelle also secured her spot in the merge by correctly predicting blue would win over red – had I been Noelle there, I don’t think I’d have cared about the challenge, but rather “who could I survive against in a vote?” This is where I wish we’d have seen more of Day 12. Maybe Noelle thought that the target was on blue, so if she picked them to win, even if they lost, she knew she’d be safe. This is just me speculating, so maybe it was simply a matter of who Noelle thought was the stronger team. Regardless, it was mostly the same to me – six one way, half a dozen the other. With Elie on the losing team, it certainly spelled out even clearer that her comeuppance was coming.


Losers lunch

The mood wasn’t exactly light at the “losers’ lunch” for the unfortunate six. A few weeks ago, Elie was giving herself a big pat on the back for blasting through a puzzle, but this one, she blamed herself for blowing — it was just a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Elie.

James must be a fan of The Bachelor because he soon interrupted the wound-licking to ask Cody if he could steal him for a sec. Naturally, that made James look sketchy because it only meant that James was off talking with Cody about who to vote out among the remaining four. Real smooth, James! He clearly isn’t here for the right reasons!

Elie was equally sketchy, though, promising Coco one thing and Vesi — well, Cody — another. I wonder if not having voted since Day 3 attributed to any of this aggressive scrambling, all that pent up strategy waiting to be tested. With Baka at a numbers advantage, I feel like less was more here. Pushing too much of an agenda as well as approaching both Vesi and Coco as “Baka” instead of “Elie” really made it seem like she was just trying to get anyone but a Baka voted out. That said, even if she played perfectly in the earlier part of the day, her game was getting blown up anyway because somebody still had a bone to pick over that Baka bag search….


Final seven feast

This merge feast taught me that Survivor players should always have alcohol available — this season, at least. Karla knew how to start this party by asking everyone if they wanted a beer. I was unfazed by this — I already know she’s the one in her friend group at the bar going, “Come on, let’s do a shot.”


I’d give in to that peer pressure 100% of the time.

Ryan was the lightweight of the group, the first to say something awkward like proposing the seven sitting at the table commit to being the final seven in the game. Sure, Ryan, see how that goes. Then the liquid courage loosened some lips as everyone started naming people they wanted to keep in the game, essentially naming everyone on the chopping block back at camp — oops! I don’t think we heard from Karla though — she must’ve just been sitting back making sure everyone was getting refills on their booze.

Then, out of nowhere, unprovoked, Gabler announced, “Elie went through my bag on Day 3,” and everyone just lost their shit.

Gasping Dwight

Puzzled Karla

Stunned Noelle

Shocked Jeanine

Drinking Karla

Every face in that moment was priceless, but especially Karla’s. Hers was, “Oh shit, here we go.”

The best part was that Gabler thought he was a strategic mastermind — “By throwing out Elie’s name, I was trying to throw out Elie’s name!” THAT is how you play new era Survivor, my friends. Take notes.

Kidding aside, he actually did accomplish what he wanted to while simultaneously looking like a complete idiot, so honestly, this may just be an automatic “Advance to Go” for Gabler, with “Go” being the final tribal council where he gets a whopping goose-egg as his prize. If you can get a guy like Gabler to the end, you’re golden, but this issue is keeping that amount of crazy under control for another two 13 days.


Off his rocker

Jeanine, as expected, told Elie everything that had happened at the loose-lipped lunch and all hell broke loose within Baka like we’d been dying to see for WEEKS. I was excited to see this shitshow go down, but admittedly not as excited as Cody who had appeared to have wet his pants over the fun that was about to be had:

Pee pants Cody

Elie confronted Gabler in a confrontation that’s been a long time coming – frankly, any confrontation has been a long time coming this season, so I was glad to finally see one. Elie called out Gabler on his shit and Gabler called out Elie on her (worse) shit. Surprisingly, I took Gabler’s side 100% in this argument. Elie had been lying to and manipulating Gabler since the beginning, and her defense of not providing him with valuable information as allies should share was that it wasn’t her place to share other people’s business – bull!

Even when Gabler asked Elie who searched his bag, and they both knew he knew it was Jeanine, Elie denied giving him a name like he wanted, to which he responded with, “It’s important for you to do that.” When asked if Jeanine had an idol, though, Elie didn’t hesitate because I think in that moment, she knew she had lost this fight. She walked way blaming Gabler for blowing up her game, and he retorted with, “I don’t know that it was me,” as if he wasn’t the one to offer up any target at the merge feast.

This was a 10/10 tussle, and Gabler wasn’t even finished yet.

Gabler's an idiot

Right in front of Ryan, Gabler told Jeanine he knew about her idol which prompted Jeanine to rip Gabler away from camp before he could blow up her game too. This man was on a mission! He knew he couldn’t be voted out, so he must have decided now was the time to play every card he had because he had nothing to lose.

Baka tried bringing itself back together with Elie begging Sami and Owen to help her fix the mess that they made by snitching her and Jeanine out to Gabler. Sami and Owen initially tried to cool Gabler down, emphasizing that they just needed to get all of Baka past this one vote, and then they could break down, but they quickly realized Gabler wasn’t having any of that. He said, “We’re still not Baka strong; we’re a Baka shitshow.” That should have been the title of the episode.

I was LIVIN for it, but I do wish this episode had been longer. We got only a quick glimpse of the rest of the tribe seeing what a disaster Baka was, making it too easy for them all to jump on the Elie bandwagon. In a perfect world, this Baka business would’ve been dealt with in one more episode before the merge. I think that tribal council would’ve packed way more of a punch with Gabler knowing he was safe with an idol which would have made Elie even more explosive and desperately pleading for her life. Because they were on the precipice of the merge, however, they had to play it cooler in front of Coco and Vesi.

I loved this pre-tribal segment and it may be the highlight of the season thus far, but it was 100% the Baka show — it deserved to be, but if we had more time, it would’ve been fun to hear some commentary from the other two tribes about the absolute chaos they were witnessing at camp because once it was time for tribal council, it all just kind of died down ….


It doesn't solve anything

For such a great lead-up, the landing didn’t stick for me. This isn’t new news, but tribal council has become more or less of the same conversation over and over. Jeff asks some open-ended questions that sound deeper than they are, and the players answer with vague answers that also sound deeper than they are. Not often anymore are too many players fearless enough to just fight for their lives at tribal council. Everyone wants to be in on the blindside and by saying too much at tribal council, they risk blowing that up, so we just spin in circles talking about nothing until it’s eventually time to vote. This is also an issue with a bigger merge tribe — too many people just want to blend in and hide for the first few rounds. I can’t blame them — it’s the best thing to do, especially when you’ve got a tribe like Baka blowing itself up.

What I would have loved to have seen is more insight on how Karla and Noelle ended up voting for Owen and Cassidy or how Owen stuck with Elie to vote for James while Gabler and Sami officially flipped on Elie. Karla and Noelle’s votes don’t make any sense because if they thought Elie would play an idol or her Shot in the Dark, her and Owen’s two votes would’ve still sent James packing. Did Owen vote with Elie out of pity, or was he lied to by Gabler and Sami, now finding himself all on the outs, alone with Jeanine? Elie and Jeanine obviously thought the votes were going to James or else Jeanine would’ve played her idol, so they were definitely duped judging by this face:

Shocked Jeanine

I’m glad to see that scab on her chin is healing!

Hopefully we’ll get some answers to those questions next week, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t.

Elie snuffed

Elie deserved a downfall like she got, but much sooner than I’d have liked to see. Especially after seeing them interact this episode, this season needed more of Elie and Gabler together. Gabler “won” (which I also don’t like seeing) so now I’m not even sure where his story will go, if anywhere. Elie was much more of a chaotic player than I ever could have predicted, and the best villains are those who think they’re playing like heroes which was Elie to a tee.

She had major Angelina potential here with how great she thought she was at the game which makes me devastated that she’s gone this early. Just imagine her for another half of the season! I love Elie for being so bad at this game because it made for such great TV. She seems to be a great sport about it too, owning up to her mistakes in her exit interviews, so overall, a fantastic featured player this season — completely unexpected from who I thought she’d be, in the best ways possible. She and her looks that could kill will be missed.



Next time

Oh good, we needed another item to add to that list of advantages we saw overlayed across the screen. Thank GOD the show listened to us asking for MORE. It sounds like Noelle’s name is tied to this one or at least she’s being looked at as holding some kind of “power.” The preview painting her as the target means she’s probably safe, so with Jeanine in possession of an idol and Karla being protected by my Survivor lesbians of legend (plus an idol), I’m guessing Cassidy will be the one to go because LOL at the odds of it being someone with a penis. Last week was just an anomaly.

Players of the week


Gabler – I hate to give this title to him, but Gabler really was a driving force of fireworks this week, for better or worse. Who am I kidding? Worse. Like I said, he may have made a “brilliant” move to last longer in the game, but he won’t be winning it. If he does, I’ll take whatever crate Karla cut her hand on but instead aim it at my jugular. That said, he did bring the drama, so as long as he continues to deliver that, I won’t be too upset over him not leaving yet. Dare I say the rest of the season would be more boring without him? He’s unpredictable and uncontrollable, and like Elie, he’s kind of playing like a villain who thinks he’s a hero. For the first time, I might just be excited to see what Gabler gives us next.

Sami – Low key, I think Sami played this week “the best.” He noted that Baka was a sinking ship so he bailed. While he did instigate a lot of the drama between Elie and Gabler, they didn’t turn the tables on him too hard aside from Elie confronting him for telling Gabler she went through his bag. The right move at the merge is to be flexible, none of that “tribe strong” shit, and Ryan said that he was the free agent going into it, but I think Sami played that role more impressively. Sami’s playing harder than most are probably giving him credit for, but I think it’ll catch up to him eventually. All it would have taken were a few conversations on Baka to figure out Sami was the real troublemaker who was pitting people against each other. For now, though, Sami’s sly and flying more under the radar than the rest of his former tribe, so props for playing the best in a shitty situation (… that he kind of was responsible for).

Jeanine – I said last week that the best thing for Jeanine could’ve potentially been losing both Elie and her idol this week. She lost Elie, and everyone will soon know, if they don’t already, that she has an idol, so she’ll probably be safest to play it soon, but once she does that…I think Jeanine will be in the clear. After another round or so, all this Baka business will blow over and Jeanine can just slip through the cracks. She’s probably looking like the biggest free agent of all now, having no one except Owen(?) so if I were Vesi or Coco, I’d be looking to scoop Jeanine right up. I’m optimistic that she’ll be able to recover from this blindside and do a better job at blending in than she tried doing with the opposing team in the immunity challenge:

Wrong team Jeanine

Poor girl just wanted to be with her sister, Elie.

Justice: Sister!

Lisa: Sobs

Justice: Sister!

Except less creepily.

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