Survivor 43 — Episode 12 Reaction

7 min readDec 8, 2022

Another episode in the books! Excellent Survivor content and the highlight of the season for me. Plenty to talk about! Let’s dive in.

Karla’s Crocodile Tears

At the start of the episode we get some clarity as to how last week went down: Karla was officially out of the loop and would’ve voted Cassidy last episode, but Sami’s shot in the dark antics spooked her and led her to change her vote at the tribal council. Cassidy gets informed about Karla’s earlier plan to vote her out and confronts Karla about it, but Karla vehemently denies, channeling her inner “telenovela” to pull out some tears to assure Cassidy. Unfortunately all her hard work goes immediately down the tube when she tells Cassidy to verify her commitment with Jesse, who immediately throws Karla under the bus.

This turns out to be a trend with Karla, as she channels more emotions at the reward to convince Owen and Cody that she has no idols despite the rumors. But again, that falls completely flat because Cassidy isn’t her ally anymore and tells everyone about Karla’s bead idol. Karla played her hardest this episode but also had her worst episode of the season, as her attempts at lies fell apart without anymore allies to back her up.

Family Over Everything

A tight immunity challenge is won by Cassidy, leading to idol holders Karla and Cody to band together and concoct a plan of attack tonight. Cody pulls in Karla to solidify a move to openly declare to the tribe that the two will play their idols, forcing the vote tonight to be between Jesse, Gabler and Owen. But that’s not what will really happen, because Cody and Karla are going to bluff hard, and keep their idols in their pockets to use in the final five instead. Karla is down for the plan, as she is feeling the heat and lacking in allies. But… Cody has other ideas. Cody wants to use this plan as a catalyst for another plan to vote out Karla tonight without threat of an idol play. Cody makes the rounds and the plan is set. It is going to be Cody’s signature move and guarantee him a spot in the final four.

But one more especially diabolical plan is in motion under all of this. Jesse, Cody’s ride or die ally, has heard Cody’s plan and decides that he can’t go through with it. Jesse is not on Survivor for the experience: he is here for the million dollars to provide for his family, and he will do whatever it takes to make that happen. Because Jesse has been holding onto Cody’s idol since the Knowledge is Power scare at the merge, Jesse rounds up the numbers to put the votes on Cody, guaranteeing he will go home because Jesse is going to play Cody’s idol without his permission before the vote. Jesse could do this without the backstabbing idol play, but Jesse wants to put Karla on edge enough to flush her idol. After a small (and ironic) scare where Cody wants to hold his idol for a second right before tribal, Jesse executes the blindside perfectly. Cody is shocked and is sent home, Karla gets spooked and wastes her idol, and Jesse gets all the shine for the huge move.

It all plays out beautifully, making this tribal council the best of the season and Survivor 43’s signature moment.


The L I V I N Award: Jesse

What’s funny about Jesse’s L I V I N award victory is that his risky move was motivated by how he was not on the show for great experiences, and he voted out the L I V I N guy.

The “Is It Legal?” Award: Playing Another Person’s Idol WIthout Permission

I had to cross-check my own Survivor knowledge to confirm Jesse’s move had precedent. At first, I thought of Cirie trying to play Sarah’s advantage in Game Changers, but that move was illegal. My guess is after that season Survivor changed their own rules to allow for any player holding an advantage to use it regardless of who the true owner is. In Heroes v Healers v Hustlers, Mike had possession of half of Lauren’s idol as insurance and he chose to throw it in the fire during tribal council, rendering Lauren’s idol useless. Later in Winners at War, Denise used an idol given to her by Sandra to vote Sandra out. Jesse’s move was the cleanest (and in theory most illegal) of all of them, because he wasn’t given the idol the same day as the tribal council and Cody really had no inkling of a thought that Jesse would do something that dirty to him. Future Survivor players will definitely take note: I don’t think we’ll be seeing people letting allies hold advantages for them as often anymore, therefore making it easier for Knowledge is Power to finally work.

The Respectful King Award: Cody

In recent seasons, big name blindsided players Shan and Drea took some parting shots at former allies before getting their torch snuffed. Cody took his blindside like a champ. Lowkey the best moment of the whole episode for me was right after Cody knew he was out, and Jesse stood up to give him a hug. After pausing to think for a second Cody decides to accept his apology and dap him up, acknowledging that Jesse’s move was all game and not personal. The two had such a bond for the entire time on the island, and I’m glad that the cutthroat nature of the game didn’t ruin the friendship they built… though I’m sure Jesse had to buy Cody a nice gift or something when they returned to the States.

The Jury Heat Check Award: Noelle

I can’t be the only one noticing Noelle delivering class commentary from the jury bench, right?

The Butterfly Effect Award: Not Getting Hand Cramps

How does this episode turn out differently if Karla’s body would just do what she wanted? The nerves and fatigue completely shut down her body in the pressure cooker of the final six immunity challenge. Her tears after that challenge were definitely not fake.

MVP of the Episode: Jesse

Obviously. He has his signature move now and the jury recognizes it.

Goat of the Episode: Karla

No idol and no allies anymore, a far cry from how high she was riding just one and a half episodes ago.




18. Morriah (Participation Trophy Queen)

17. Justine

16. Nneka

15. Lindsay

14. Gio

13. Elie

12. Dwight

11. Jeanine

10. James

9. Ryan

8. Noelle

7. Sami

6. Cody


5. Karla

One side of the coin has Karla going out as the obvious final five vote, as she carried weight as a FTC threat throughout the episode today and she can’t protect herself without an immunity challenge win. The other side of the coin is that this past tribal council was a complete outplay (separately from Jesse and Cody… She was outplayed by two different plans today. Woof.) Her “Survivor Resume” has no teeth anymore with the jury, making her beatable in FTC if she does make it. And I’ll acknowledge a third scenario where none of that matters and her previous twenty days carries her case to win. I think scenario one or two is more likely than three.


4. Owen

The Charlie Brown of Survivor doesn’t feel like he has any case to win, other than that he survived 26 days as a perennial underdog. His lack of strategic control the entire season kills his chances.

3. Gabler

No one feels that Gabler has a case to win more than Gabler himself. He is touting an under the radar game, but I’m not sure that people see his play as particularly good or worthy of the million dollars like he does.


2. Cassidy

She has been targeted a few times throughout the past few episodes but has been able to outlast those threats with savvy politicking under pressure and timely immunity challenge victories. Her strategic accomplishments don’t stand out in the same way as Karla or Jesse however. But. if she sits in a FTC with Owen and Gabler, I like her chances to win a lot. I even think at this point she beats her longtime ally Karla despite always feeling like the number two, because she doesn’t have the clear mistakes Karla has.


1. Jesse

Everyone has to get Jesse out if they want to win a million dollars. He’s made the best move of the season and his social game has been top notch. He will be able to pull Jeanine’s idol out of nowhere to protect himself in the final five, which will look even more impressive if the other castaways try to vote him out. It all comes down to the final four: if Jesse can either win the challenge or win firemaking, he locks down the victory. I would be shocked at this point if he doesn’t win. His monologue before tribal council about how he is doing it for his family was a clear Survivor winner moment for the postseason highlight reel.


What a fantastic end of the episode! Just the finale left… Will Jesse pull out the win or will someone else take it from him?




Reality TV connoisseur writing about the shows I like, especially Survivor. I also watch the Challenge, the Bachelor, Love is Blind, and more.