Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 43 recaps
Three new tribes of big characters
By Brent Sullivan | Published: September 25, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 1 Recap/ analysis

Three new tribes of big characters

Welcome to “Top Five Baby!” where after each episode of Survivor, Brent Sullivan will try to break apart and find the top five moments that made a lasting impact on the season or moments that could at least affect the next few episodes. Sometimes the moments are obvious and other times ... not so much, but after years of watching and analyzing this show to myself, I like to share the ones that I think stand out the most.

Survivor is back, and so is Top Five Baby! The greatest reality show on TV is back again for its 43rd season. That sounds insane just saying it out loud … 43 seasons! I hope everyone had a great summer and got to go out and re-experience the world after not being able to travel much over the last two years. I am humbled and proud to also be back again this season. I love this show and I love that I get to be a part of other viewers’ and Survivor superfans’ lives in a small way as they read through recaps of what happened each week. We got another 2-hour premiere to start the season and there is a lot to break down and discuss in this 2-hour episode along with 18 new faces.

I love doing this and I love sharing my thoughts with you, and you will hopefully share them back with me. I am excited to be at it again. Since we had an extra hour this week, I will add in an additional topic I want to discuss. So, without further ado, I am thrilled to say once again, welcome to “Top Five Baby!”

1. Vesi


Let’s make it easy to start out the season. There are three tribes, so I will be fair and give them each a third of my time this week. Let’s start out by discussing the Vesi tribe and some of the things that happened over there.

Right out of the gate they win both the reward challenge at the start of the episode, and they get second at the immunity challenge at the end. So, they are off to a strong start in that department. Let’s see if they can keep it rolling next week.

Nneka, Cody, and Jesse also seem to hit it off pretty early, along with Noelle and Justine on the other side. Jesse finds himself smack dab in the middle of both groups, so he is sitting in a good spot before they even have to go to a tribal council.

Moving forward, I am curious to see which side he picks and where Dwight will fall in with all of this. Speaking of Dwight …

2. Lost vote

Lost vote

Not sure where Dwight was for all the strategy talk that happened at Vesi, but it’s possible that he was on the boat ride to the big rock or at the big rock itself during all Vesi discussions that took place. The reason I would like to know where he falls in the aforementioned alliances at the Vesi tribe is because whoever’s side he goes with, he won’t have a vote at their first tribal council. Since both he and Gabler chose to risk their vote, they both had to draw a clue out of a bag. One of them was going to get an advantage and the other was going to lose their vote.

Since Dwight ended up on the wrong side of that luck, he now can’t vote at Vesi’s first tribal council. He did come out and tell his tribe what happened (even though Cody didn’t believe the whole story), but now he has to navigate being a part of the tribe without being able to vote with them one time. Let’s see ultimately where he lands and let’s see what Jesse decides to do.

3. Coco


This is why I love 2-hour episodes. We got to spend so much time at each tribe and not just the tribe that loses the first immunity challenge. All three tribes got so much screen time.

So, over at Coco, Ryan and Geo (mainly Ryan) did great in the “Sweat” challenge by finding the tribe supplies in less than an hour. That is huge for both of them, they don’t have to spend that much time away from camp and everyone else now. That may have helped them both. Not only did they bond, but Karla seems really close to Geo now too.

The other big thing to come out of this tribe this week was the girls’ alliance here in Coco. Karla, Cassidy, and Lindsay all three wanted to do a girls’ alliance, so the three of them got together and made a pact to stay together. Looks like they are trying to bring in James as well, but not sure if he’s keen on that whole plan yet.

Now if it’s anything like the all-girls alliance over on Baka … it will be short-lived, but I think this one will last a little bit past a vote or two.

4. Karla is in the middle

Karla is in the middle

Ok, let’s stay in the Coco tribe just a little bit longer. I want to talk a little more about Karla. She was so worried about being the first one voted off, but now she finds herself as the swing vote between the girl’s alliance and the grouping of Ryan and Geo.

She also went on the trip with Gabler and Dwight. We didn’t get to see what happened when she came back to camp after the trip, coming back with her vote could be great for her. She doesn’t have to make up a story or try to get people to believe something else. She can vote and that says a lot. Now, just like Jesse in Vesi (I had to say that), which side will Karla choose if Coco has to go to tribal council before a merge?

5. Baka


We definitely got a lot more time with this tribe since they did lose the immunity challenge. Definitely a lot of characters in this tribe. They did have lots of colors too, but now that Morriah is gone, they’ve lost most of that!

Other things to note in the tribe is Sami seems to be an early threat in all aspects of the game. He solved the “Savvy” challenge for them to get their tribe supplies after they lost the reward, then he was the one that got the fire started so quickly as well. So, he’s definitely off to a great start.

Another standout in this tribe is Elie, she seems to have a pretty good knack for playing Survivor … at least so far. The way she talks to people and gets them on her side was fun to watch this week. I like this tribe so far and I hope they win next week so we can continue to see them grow and change as the game progresses.

The last person I need to talk about is Mike Gabler.

6. Gabler's play style

Gabler's gameplay

Now talk about characters. This guy knows how to stand out in a crowd … and not just because of his size. I thought he was doing pretty well when he won the chance to get on the boat. He risked his vote and came out way ahead when he won an immunity idol good for two tribal councils.

But then things got a little odd with his choices. Telling everyone that he was going to play his “shot in the dark” at tribal council so he wouldn’t be hiding behind his idol was definitely an odd choice.

In the end, he didn’t get voted out and he still has his idol that is good for one more tribal council. So, he still has time to turn things around. People on his tribe seem to like him and he’s a hard worker around camp. Maybe laying low for a few votes wouldn’t be the worst thing for him!

So, there you have it for this double-wide premiere episode. We had two full hours of content and there was plenty to discuss, but at the same time, I’m sure there were lots I didn’t get. This is another cast that appears to be full of characters with great stories. Which new cast member is your early favorite? Who are the biggest players of the season so far? I want to hear from you, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I was correct in my thinking, the interaction is part of what makes this so fun!

Please catch more of me here next week where I will try to bring you more fun top five!


Brent Sullivan - Top Five, Baby!Brent Sullivan is a long-time fanatic of Survivor and has been writing about it for years. When he is not writing, talking about, or applying to be on the show, he spends his time with family, doing nerdy IT stuff, and watching movies. Follow him on twitter: @BSully_13