Another episode of Survivor 43 is in the books, and there’s things to talk about. Alliance based gameplay and one man’s desire to fish instead of strategize are the focus of this episode. Let’s dive in!
“The Seven” Run the Game Right Now
The impact of last episode’s Dwight blindside has made it clear where the numbers stand in the tribe at this moment in the game. There are the outskirt players of primarily Baka and Noelle, and then there is the seemingly solidified alliance labeled “The Seven”. The seven consists of the players let in on the Dwight vote: Jesse, Cody, Karla, James, Cassidy, Ryan, and Sami. A lot of the early part of this episode was a focus on where people stand, and while the Seven express outwardly that they want to ride this wave out and knock out the leftover tribemates before cannibalizing each other, they have a traitor in their midst. Sami, while publicly in the majority, has made it very clear that he wants to shake the game with a big move using his former Baka tribemates very soon, before he plays himself into a corner. All the outcast players are eager to find an opening in the majority obviously to extend their stay on the island, and majority members voiced through James, Cody, and Carla are intent on keeping a comfortable stranglehold on the numbers right now. These next few episodes will be centered on this Survivor war, and it will be interesting to see if someone is able to rock the boat enough to shatter the current social hierarchy.
The Least Interesting Negotiation in Survivor History
Because it is the new era of Survivor, I have to keep twist coverage going throughout the entire season, to see how production handles the direction of the game. Jeff Probst has brought back the “rice negotiation” twist we saw the last two seasons, to minimal impact. Jeff isn’t so keen to negotiate, and the tribe is quick to come to a civilized decision. The only bit of juice to come out of it was James’s heavy-handed attempt to get Owen (whom he wants out) to sit for rice, which Owen rightly called out as “patronizing”. The optional challenge is a consistent staple to Survivor, but without an enticing reward (such as luxury food like in many past seasons) the twist just does not hit the same. Owen ends up winning the immunity challenge which probably saved him from exiting later that night, and we go right into the tribal council strategizing.
The New Majority Ultimately Stick Together, Despite Some Ripples in the Water
The Seven solidified their numbers at the last vote and this tribal council is where the trust is tested. There is an easy target to vote out this week in Jeanine: she’s on the outs and without protection but has shown a willingness to play aggressively, which makes it worth cutting her out of the game to avoid any messiness later on. The vast majority of players agree and it seems like an easy vote. However, a new name is floated around and gains traction closer to tribal council. Ryan, who is incredibly confident that his current alliance will deliver, decides he is done being social for the day and has gone off to fish, which gives Sami an opening to float out his name without Ryan ever catching wind. Ryan’s former Coco tribemates are content with voting out Ryan as he is only aligned with them for numbers sake and not because of any loyalty or fondness. Karla and Cassidy are especially keen to send him home given the past tribal council where Ryan had cockily tried to vote out Cassidy completely unaware that Gio was on death’s row that night, and Karla and Cassidy had also expressed worry with the dwindling number of women remaining in the game compared to the number of strong challenge threat men. Ryan‘s name seemed to have legitimate momentum behind it, but it doesn’t supersede the Jeanine plan. While people may want to vote out Ryan, they recognize that the game Ryan is playing involves no strategic effort and zero social intelligence. Ryan is a complete non-threat outside of a challenge, while Jeanine is much more willing to make a move and find an opening. Jeanine is mercifully sent home with near consensus, sparing her from another inevitable bout of bad luck that this merge has given her plenty of.
The L I V I N Award: Sami
I’ll give props to someone for being willing to stir up chaos, especially in an episode where the majority is very content to sit still and play by the book. Sami definitely seems like the type of player who wants to make his moves entertaining.
The Danny McCray “Good Guy” Award: Owen
Big episode for Owen, who feels like he is shaping up to be the dude that is a steady, measured, likable source of entertainment on screen. He’s like Danny from Survivor 41: a good guy, not trying to play his personality up, but still has an aura of likability.
MVP of the Episode: Jesse
One person’s pain is another person’s pleasure. While everyone believes that Jeanine’s idol was taken home by Dwight, Jesse reveals through a flashback that he was able to finesse the Baka bead idol out of Dwight’s grasp and into his. A surgical maneuver given that Jesse knew he was voting out Dwight that night, and one you can only make when you silently flip allegiances. Very impressive.
Goat of the Episode: Ryan
Ryan hasn’t gotten the memo all season, and is solidifying himself as the worst player in this cast. It is mind-boggling to me that Ryan is so comfortable, in SURVIVOR of all games, to just completely skip the pre-tribal council scrambling for the quiet solitude of fishing. Consider this too: these Coco tribemates that he put so much trust in this episode completely blindsided him and sent his buddy Gio packing literally, in real time, a week ago. He seems to think that his fishing skills (albeit very good) will keep him in the game. Being a provider hasn’t mattered in votes for like 30 seasons. And even providers know that they have to be present strategically. The only excuse you can give Ryan is that the condensed pace of the game doesn’t allow for people to gather food at an opportune time. But Jonathan last season was a provider like Ryan, and still took part in strategic conversations. It’s simply bad gameplay, and Ryan looks to be unaware about how bad he is playing.
PLAYER TIER LIST:
OUT OF THE GAME
18. Morriah (Participation Trophy Queen)
BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE
Feels like the clear next target for the majority to vote out, needs a challenge win or some good luck to progress further in the game
The obvious number seven in “The Seven”. Even then he’s a complete non-threat strategically and socially so I could see Ryan being taken as a goat to the end.
The other non-majority players. I think Noelle is more likely to find a strategic opening. I think Gabler is more likely to be kept around.
IN A SOLID SITUATION RIGHT NOW
Lowkey a bad episode for James. He seems to be the one castaway drinking the most Kool-Aid over being in the majority, which makes him the most ripe for a blindside. It all hinges on how he uses his Knowledge is Power.
Both Cassidy and Cody are in good positions, but currently feel more like bus riders to me than bus drivers, strategically.
IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT
The person with the most power, with alliance based gameplay going on right now, is the one who isn’t afraid to rock the boat when he doesn’t necessarily have to. We have seen the storyline prepared for Sami to make a blindside on a key player: it comes down to how he executes now (unless he becomes Albert from South Pacific and never chooses to execute at all).
Still has an idol (don’t know anymore if it was kept secret or not). She also isn’t as public as James is about leading the majority alliance. The longer James stays in the game, the longer Karla benefits from using him as a shield
He secretly scooped up an idol for himself, and from what we’ve seen he seems like the savviest player on the island.
It looks like the split tribal council is returning next week, and two people will be going home within two five person groups. This has the makings to become the best episode of the season if things play out right. Survivor 43 feels like a season where the fireworks are set up, but no one has brought out the lighter yet. We need someone to light these fireworks and push the dramatics of the season to the next level.