Kaiser Island - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor 43 recaps
Tired of seeing women go home
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: November 11, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 8 recap/ analysis

Tired of seeing women go home

What’s that definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results? Well then Survivor 43 is INSANE! Me saying, “maybe this episode won’t be as boring,” or “maybe not a woman will be voted out this time,” only to get ... the exact result I should’ve expected. I’m running out of steam, even that coming out of my ears. I wouldn’t care about the horrendous boot order as much if we had an edit full of exciting characters and relationships that were fully explained, but we’re now three weeks into the tribes living at one beach, and while we kind of have a clearer idea of who’s with who (at least who’s in “the seven” and who isn’t), we still don’t know exactly how we got here, and I’m losing interest in where we’re going. Even a “reverse Vanuatu” ending won’t completely save this sort of sleepy season.


Picking up the pieces

Jeanine’s face there is mine at the end of most episodes this season – so done.

It was déjà vu with Jeanine barely surviving another blindside at tribal council and being told to totally not read into it and that everything was fine! This week, it was at least acknowledged that Sami (again) found his way into the majority side of the vote. I still don’t know how or why, but he’s a guy, so he’s at least not on the chopping block as much, so his odds are better than Jeanine who apparently no one wants to actually work with. That wasn’t so surprising, but what shocked the hell out of everyone was that Dwight didn’t leave the game with her idol.

Jesse's new idol'

That was a fun surprise but ultimately added little to the episode aside from a quick gag. It would’ve been a better payoff if Jesse had to use Jeanine’s idol directly against her, but I hope he at least has reason to use it in a big way later. Otherwise, it’ll just be another advantage with little to no impact on the game as we’ve seen with a few in the new era. Disappointing ....


One thing that wasn’t disappointing this week, though, was some personal content from Owen. We learned he was adopted, as he humorously added that “Owen Knight” wasn’t exactly a traditional Korean name, and he went into how this affected him growing up, feeling like he didn’t quite fit in. It hurt to hear how it felt “isolating” as a kid from, frankly, just not looking like the other kids around him from what it sounded like.

What I appreciated most about the “personal package” here was that it fit perfectly with Owen’s story in the game. He’s on the fringe of this merge tribe, and this whole season it’s felt that way with him – not totally a target, but not anyone’s close ally either. It’s been a journey of Owen trying to find where he fits, and it sounds like that’s been a struggle he’s faced his whole life, so I like that his real-life obstacles were weaved into his Survivor story. It wasn’t like Gabler who befriended someone who he watched have heart surgery – nothing about that explains why Gabler is the way he is in the game, but Owen’s story made perfect narrative sense – a rare win for the editing team this season.


The seven

So, we were finally formally introduced to “the seven” who are in charge of the game for now. That’s Karla, Jesse (a pair who I still think are low-key leading the pact), James, Cassidy, Cody, Ryan, and Sami. Jesse joked about how this group could just “skip to their lou” to the end, but typically in Survivor, it’s never that easy. That said, this season? I could see it being that straightforward.

Cassidy suggested their next target be a challenge threat which immediately raised eyebrows at Owen. James also called Owen a snake, referencing how he’ll just slither around and follow whoever who has power. From what we’ve seen, I don’t think that’s a terribly misrepresentative call. Owen may not be your typical malicious snake in Survivor, but James is spot-on with the assessment of Owen hoping to just latch on to someone.

Sami’s still in a spot where he’s able to swing between the seven and the other four – Owen, Jeanine, Gabler, and Noelle. He probably realized he has no actual power in the seven, so he wanted to figure out a way how to make a move with the four. He approached Owen and Jeanine about flipping back, but at best, that would still keep them in a 5-person minority against a 6-person majority. If only they could steal a vote ...


I don’t know why that never came up this episode; or if it did, we never saw it which means this “uprising” probably wasn’t as strong of a movement as the show would have us hoping it was. With these big, stupid, bloated merges, everyone just wants to play safe. With Jeanine and Owen’s necks already on the line, I can’t totally blame Noelle, Sami, and Gabler for just hoping the majority cracks in a few more votes. It’s the easy way to play, but it’s making for an incredibly boring show.

Until then, I guess we just get to hear Sami hype himself up as this incredible player/future winner while, in reality, he’s just sitting at camp looking like a deranged lunatic.

Sami, machete

It’s giving 2003 serial killer.

Matt von Ertfelda, S6


Immunity - Balls in the air

Even more deranged was Jeff calling this rice negotiation before the immunity challenge a “certain marker” in a Survivor season. Is this a new “classic” like earning the merge or Do or Die? It’s been 16 days – I know these people are hungry, but Day 16 wasn’t even the actual merge yet in seasons 1-40. I sure as hell wouldn’t be giving up immunity for some fucking rice at this stage of the game. Do we ever end up hearing more about this trade after it’s over? I can’t remember it making an impact in 41/42 other than just taking up time before a challenge. ICONIC.

Jeff also was out of his mind letting this happen during the challenge:

Ryan and his pole

The entire challenge design is to have to maintain balance at the very bottom of the pole, but by letting Ryan rest part of it on his head, that made it significantly easier from what I could tell – so easy that that’s why Ryan lost. He just got lazy with it thinking his head would have this in the bag for him (it should have).

I was excited, at least, that Owen won which meant that the tribe’s target was immune so we maybe would have an exciting pre-tribal scramble (spoiler: we wouldn’t). He also threw some nice shoutouts to people Survivor fans actually care about, though notably neglecting to show some respect for a few major individual immunity heroes from seasons past that people seem to forget to mention.

Courtney Yates, S15

Lill Morris, S7

Abi-Maria Gomes, S25

Stacy Kimball, S14

A Stacy Kimball reference? I dare you to find a deeper one than that!


Rock the boat

So it actually wasn’t too complicated after Owen won immunity. The vote was just going to be Jeanine. Bless his heart, though, Sami wanted to try and make a move here and flip the vote to Ryan. I shouldn’t sound so sarcastic – this was the only way this tribal council wouldn’t be a total bore.

Ryan thought that feeding the tribe with fish could earn him a few more days in the game, maybe even the million dollars! But just ask Rupert and Ozzy – fishing doesn’t mean shit. Karla literally said at one point, “I don’t care about your fish.” Tough, but true.

We really just didn’t need another woman to go, leaving 7 men vs. 3 women in the game. Within “the seven,” Karla and Cassidy both recognized that getting rid of Ryan would get rid of a guy, and Cassidy was the one who said she was tired of seeing women go home (THANK YOU!) However, when Sami got word to Jesse and Cody, he received a very hard “no.” James, too, knew that while Ryan could be someone to take out at some point, for now he was a vote on their side. Hmmmm, all the men wanting keep each other? Should’ve sent some huge red flags to the ladies!

I love that Cassidy at least challenged James, telling him what a horrible strategy it was to go to the end with all the strong guys in the spirit of “competition.” Like, this whole game is a competition – you vote out the biggest threats so you have a better shot at winning! Jeanine, who had been blindsided twice, lost two allies and an idol, and is the smallest woman in the game – that’s who all these dudes were afraid of most? She had nothing and no one. That may be an easy vote but a stupid one.

The girls could’ve flipped it, but they also recognized that rocking the boat in a tribe this big just wasn’t worth it. This is (part of) the reason I stopped watching Big Brother – one alliance steamrolling everyone, and even those people at the bottom of it don’t dare do anything to step outside of it for fear of no longer being with the “in” crowd. Well make your own new “in” crowd! If Sami and Cassidy wanted to take out Ryan as much as they acted like they did, they had all the resources to do it. Yeah, it would’ve made the night back at camp a little more awkward, but at some point, you have to step up and play the fucking game before it gets played for you.

I’m just DYING for someone to do something that really blows up this season, and unfortunately, I don’t see next week’s double vote being the time anyone will do it. There’s just going to be pressure to survive the double-elim, so it’ll be safest to stick with the majority. Owen and Gabler will be most at risk and Noelle if one or both are immune. The only way one of the seven goes is if two of those three are immune and they’re forced to vote out one of their own. Judging by this week, that would instantly be Ryan, so even that’s hardly a shake-up to look forward to – GAH!!! Like when is the good part of this season getting here?



Social contract

Even at tribal, most of the tribe admitted to playing subtle games and just wanting to be “on the bus” rather than wanting to drive it. Gabler spoke for the tribe and cautioned “aggressive” gameplay which means the “vibe of the tribe” is likely to just not cause any waves – terrible for TV.

Karla acknowledged that at some point they have to step it up so the jury can see who’s playing hard (an interesting camera shot of Sami when she said that) but I’m still just asking, “When?” The game shouldn’t slow down at the merge, but this one feels like it has. Jeanine being the one to go just was icing on the cake. They stripped her of everything she had to make her the absolute weakest player in the game (in terms of position) yet they still deemed her as their best option to go home. The grip she must’ve had on these people to make them fear her that much!

Jeanine snuffed

I truly feel so bad for her – I could say “this wasn’t her fault” but she admittedly had some of the worst picks in partners to play with in this game. Elie was a terrible ally that screwed Jeanine at every opportunity, and then Jeanine gave her one remaining hope and prayer in the game – her idol – to the guy who got voted out last week. She sure knows how to pick ‘em! Where Jeanine’s game went wrong can be traced back to the very beginning at Baka. I’ve been saying it all along, but she should’ve fought harder to save Morriah. That first vote really set this season down the darkest timeline.


Next time: two necklaces

Like I said, I fully expect this double vote episode to result in any two of Gabler, Owen, Noelle, and Ryan going to the jury. If it’s anyone else, I’ll be shocked with the way the votes have been going. In that case, then I’m glad it’s a double because it just means we can get down to just “the seven” sooner. I do think a Karla/Cassidy/James/Jesse/Cody/Sami final six could be a fun one and I think any of them could have a case to win (obviously I have my favorites), but it may just be a bore making it there, and then it’ll just be one episode plus the finale – a whole two weeks of excitement. Could we just make it a triple boot instead? Gabler, Ryan, Noelle – I’d be good with that!

Players of the week


Jesse – The only jaw-dropping moment of the episode was Jesse pulling Jeanine’s idol out of his pocket. Not going to lie, that was some fun editing, but then that was it, as well as glossing over the fact that Jesse had Cody’s idol too! We also weren’t given the explanation as to how Dwight and Jesse had reconciled after their divorce well enough for Dwight to give Jesse an idol. Another storyline that just was lost in the shuffle. All that to say, Jesse is still playing an incredible game and I think it’s a two-horse race between him and Karla right now. Karla still needs to win this season, but I’d be satisfied enough with a Jesse win.

Owen – Unless something crazy happens and he gets in with a new majority, this was probably Owen’s highlight episode of the season. We got a lot of great personal content from him and a victory that upset the majority alliance which we always love to see, especially when it’s a geeky superfan getting to live out his dream of Jeff draping jewelry around his neck. We still didn’t need a Terry Deitz name-drop but I appreciate that he properly gave props to the OG challenge beast, Kelly Wiglesworth.

Sami – Still a little much, but at least he thinks he’s playing a big game even if that may be bigger than the one he’s actually playing. Somehow, he’s worked his way in with the cool kids and they’re cool with him – Cody even recognized that Sami just sort of ended up on the right side of the numbers which was another example of telling us and not showing us, but we see enough of Sami trying to play the game that I have to admit he’s definitely impressive for a 19-year-old. That said, he still looks like a kindergartner who got his fingers stuck together after playing with the superglue.


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