Survivor 43 — Episode 2 Reaction

Episode 2 is in the books! After a very rare one and a half hour episode, we get to see more strategy, backstories, and a boneheaded L I V I N situation be redeemed by crafty hat-making. Let’s dive into the episode.

Dynamic Duos the Name of the Game

The interesting trend we are beginning to see in Survivor 43 is the rise of the “duo” alliance in the early portion of this season. Among the 17 remaining players there are plenty of two person alliances: Geo and Ryan, Justine and Noelle, Elie and Jeanine, Cody and Nneka, Jesse and “Island Wife” Dwight. That’s over half the cast locked into these duos at this point in time.

This duoing is incredibly relevant on the Vesi tribe, as two duos sit on opposite sides of the tribe lines with the two girls Noelle and Justine on one side, and the unlikely couple of Cody and Nneka on the other. With Dwight out a vote due to losing the summit advantage draw, Jesse gets to sit firmly on the fence and make the final choice if the tribe must go to tribal council. Survivor production gave Jesse the iso edit early on in the episode, essentially giving him a three minute confessional where he extensively analyzes the social dynamics of the tribe. Jesse likes Dwight and wants to work with him as a duo, Jesse doesn’t see Cody as a strategic threat, and Jesse isn’t vibing with Justine’s personality.

Active Strategizing vs. Passive Socializing

Another wrinkle to the game that these new era players are trying to figure out is how fast to get the game going. Some players are taking a laissez-faire approach to plan making, while others are letting the game happen only when it really needs to.

Baka got the spotlight this episode to analyze the dichotomy. After voting out their first tribemate, the ladies of Baka are getting into the full swing of the game looking for idols and discussing which guy they should bring in as their third: Sami or Owen. The boys, however, are playing it slow and making jokes with Sami giving us his best Patrick Mahomes impression with coconuts. The thing is, the slow strategizing of the men of the tribe looks to be swinging in their favor, as the pace Elie and Jenine are taking in their game (and the assumptions they are making about the lack of game the boys are playing) seem to be isolating and shoehorning them into the minority. The two girls going off on their own makes it easy for the three boys to say they have the numbers and “why not make this an alliance?”

Too Much L I V I N

The immunity challenge is the giant snake pull and Vesi is thoroughly beaten by the other two tribes, sending them to their first tribal council. Immediate impressions from Justine, Noelle, and Dwight is to vote out Nneka, who had a miserable performance in the challenge and is looking to be a liability in the immunities from here on out. However, because Dwight has no vote, Justine and Noelle must rely on Jesse to make the plan happen. Jesse is pretty set on getting Justine out because he doesn’t vibe socially with her and she raised red flags with her declaration that “she is a good liar”. With Jesse siding with Cody and Nneka they have the numbers and the vote should be a simple one. But alas… one man can’t stop L I V I N.

Before tribal council Cody conveniently stumbles upon this season’s beware advantage and without second thought opens it, despite knowing that the beware advantage will probably take his vote away. We then learn what this season’s beware advantage is: to get a hidden immunity idol, Cody must get each of his tribemates to donate to him a special bead on their Survivor knapsack. He loses his vote until EVERY person willingly gives him the bead in question. While the beware advantage is still plenty “extra” as a twist, version two of the twist improves on what 41 and 42 did with the silly phrases: it isn’t as cringey and it allows for castaways to gain the idol stealthily rather than declaring it to the whole cast.

Cody has to do this quickly before tribal council, because if he loses his vote the numbers won’t be there to avoid a tie which means rocks are in order, or Jesse will probably have to flip and vote out Nneka. Cody, however, is the perfect person to find this beware advantage because his lifestyle of L I V I N excuses the silly request he has to make. Cody chooses to adorn the palm frond hat he made, and it only would work best if everyone gave him beads for the decoration. Combined with help from allies and the wonderful power of peer pressure from his allies in the know, Cody is able to achieve his goal and get beads from everyone, even people he was worried about like Dwight and Noelle. Survivor went with the edit trickery route here to build up false suspense by showing Noelle resisting the call to donate, only to later show at the voting urn that Noelle gave up her beads like everyone else. So while we were left in the air about what was going to happen, Cody, Nneka, and Jesse knew they had the numbers and the vote wasn’t sweaty: Justine goes home.


The L I V I N Award: Cody

L I V I N moment of the episode not dealing with opening a beware advantage 30 minutes before tribal: Cody swimming out to the nearby island to climb a rock and jump off of it just for the sake of doing it.

The Marya Award (We Have to Get the Backstory in Before the Pre-Merge Boot): Gio

Coco got no spotlight on this episode except for the genuine friendship between Ryan and Gio, and Survivor using an almond tree to dive into Gio’s sad backstory about how he had to move through life with his family rejecting him due to being gay. I’m worried that this is gonna be a Marya situation like in 42 where we get to hear the backstory of Gio, only to see him have zero impact in the game and be voted out in the next tribal council. All signs point to Gio being on the bottom of the totem pole in Coco barring a major shakeup.

The Mike the Urologist Award: Owen

Unfortunately for Owen, it seems he’s getting pushed into his self-proclaimed “loveable curmudgeon” role on this cast. While that may seem like a nice place to sit in, it hurts Owen’s prospects for the future of this game, as being the comic relief of the season means you are not gonna be taken very seriously as a strategic threat or “good player”. It’s very reminiscent of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers character Mike the urologist, a super fan who made many mistakes in his game yet still thought he had a chance to win.

The Tin-Foil Hat Conspiracy of the Episode: A Conveniently Not-so-Hidden Advantage

I can’t be the only one who wondered about how out-in-the-open that beware advantage was that Cody just happened to stumble upon to make a simple vote dramatic. It was pretty much sitting on top of a log in the middle of a clearing. I can only think of three reasons for this. One, I’m just crazy and that not-so-hidden advantage was actually pretty hidden. Two, Cody found the advantage off-camera and Survivor had to reshoot for the sake of the storyline. Three, there is a conspiracy afoot and Survivor moved the advantage to an easier location for Cody to find it.

MVP of the Episode: Cody

He succeeded in beating the beware advantage despite only having like a half-hour to do so.

Goat of the Episode: Dwight

He was made Jesse’s “Island Wife” only to be cheated on literally immediately, and to have strong enough emotions to feel betrayed by Jesse for voting out Justine despite not having a vote due to your own decision felt out of pocket to me.




18. Morriah (Participation Trophy Queen)

17. Justine

I thought Justine had the tools to be a strong player. But her social game was clearly not good enough to fit in with a tribe that doesn’t consist of 5 other attractive people. Too forward strategically despite not having the roots to make aggressive strategic moves.


16. Noelle

The logical next vote-out in the Vesi tribe after losing her only ally. Will cause no drama in the grand scheme of things unless she takes a flamethrower to her own tribe.

15. Gio

All signs point to Gio being on the bottom of his tribe.

14. Dwight

At least he has a vote now…


13. Owen

12. Jeanine

11. Elie

10. Sami

It seems the Morriah vote made things a lot worse for Elie and Jeanine, because they don’t have a grip on the numbers in Baka at all to justify how hard they are playing. We need one more vote in Baka to understand what is actually going on there.

9. Ryan

While in the minority alliance with Geo, his physical strengths give his tribe more reason to keep him around a little longer. Best case scenario for Ryan is Coco dominates like Luvu in Survivor 41 and doesn’t go to tribal council before the merge.


8. Gabler

It has been confirmed: Gabler is guaranteed safe next tribal council with his summit idol. It means he can ride out the numbers to the merge if he can play his strategic cards right. Best case scenario: the guy’s alliance in Baka forms. If Sami or Owen jump over to Elie and Justine, Gabler becomes the logical next boot in a four-man tribe situation.

7. Nneka

6. Cody

Unless Nneka is so bad in her next challenge that Vesi cannot physically keep her around, or Cody’s idol makes people want to blindside him, these two should be safe to the merge with the newfound alliance with Jesse.

5. James

4. Cassidy

3. Lindsay

These three plus Carla seemingly hold the power in Coco. A successful tribal council will confirm their position.


2. Carla

Still being presented as the swing vote in her tribe, though it makes much more sense to side with the alliance of three than the alliance of two.

1. Jesse

Sneakily, the best thing to come out of this episode for Jesse is that the two people he ended up aligning with are probably the most loyal he could get. Cody probably feels he can win the game on personality, and nothing about Nneka screams “blindside maker”. Jesse could ride that threesome to the end as the strategic mastermind.


And episode two is in the books! I liked episode two as it continues to set up the season. I want the strategic momentum to ramp up even more in episode three!



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

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