This was the first episode to not star Cody, and that missing presence was felt. Instead of ass, we got “sass,” and while a few more characters finally got to shine, I got a bit of déjà vu watching this one. More beads, a journey, and even the vote almost went exactly like it did last week. I’m like a broken record myself repeating that Survivor needs to ditch its new era formula for the sake of a shake-up, but I have to especially emphasize that this week. The reason tribe shuffles entered the game in the first place was because after two seasons, the show realized it couldn’t just be a carbon copy of itself aside from a new cast and (at the time) a new locale each outing. Why that has been forgotten, I don’t know ….
WAS IT YOU?
I did at least appreciate the post-tribal accusations reminiscent of Rupert’s “WHO THE HELL VOTED FOR ME?” though at a smaller volume coming from Cassidy. We aren’t always shown the immediate fallout back at camp after a vote, but when the votes aren’t unanimous, I think it’s critical that we see that scene. When Cassidy asked who was it, the answer was not “It’s Britney, bitch!” but instead, Geo.
Cassidy confronted Geo privately to talk about why he voted for her, and if you ask me, the person giving more attitude in that exchange was Cassidy with sarcastic snaps like, “What do you think, Lindsay voted for herself?” Geo explained that there was concern that Cassidy was feeding Lindsay information, but no matter what Geo said here, I don’t think Cassidy was going to forgive him. She immediately went to complain to Karla about Geo being so, you know…
Weird of her to bring that up to Karla who also identifies as “sassy,” but Karla was unfazed and instead liked hearing that Geo and Ryan thought the Lindsay vote was their move. That played right into her game of being the true mastermind at Coco.
BEADS AGAIN … AGAIN
The only new bit with Baka’s beads was the Beware Advantage being found by not one, not two, but by three people! Well, Jeanine found it, but she shared it with Elie, and they were forced against their will to share the knowledge with Owen who just happened to show up as if directed by cue. (I’m sure that’s totally not what happened ….)
I’ve not been 100% sure on which way Owen wants to play on Baka, but with his willingness to help Jeanine get her bead idol, that seems to point to him wanting to work more with Elie and Jeanine and less with Sami and Gabler. Sami’s stance, too, was perplexing — he was obviously put off by Jeanine finding the advantage, but he was also quick to help her activate it. That just left Gabler to give Jeanine his bead, which he said he was saving as a gift for his daughter, but … well, what the hell, he decided it would be better to give it to someone he’d just met 10 days ago!
Sami immediately snitched to Gabler about what the bead exchange really was all about, which is what had me so confused with Sami. He tried to pin all the blame on the girls for getting their hands on an idol, but he conveniently downplayed how much he had helped them. If I was Gabler, I’d be calling into question Sami’s trust, just as much as that which was lost with Jeanine and Elie the other week after the bag search. Was Gabler supposed to show gratitude to Sami for filling him in only after Sami let Gabler make the mistake of giving away the bead? Sami had the power to stop this trade from happening, but he allowed it to happen.
Sami was sloppy here — in wanting to implicate Jeanine and Elie even more as untrustworthy, he also implicated himself as someone who’s not sharing everything with Gabler, or at least is only selectively sharing, so Gabler should be tipped off that he’s actually alone on Baka. He’s been pretty aloof, but he should have left Sami’s tell-all there thinking, “thanks for nothing.” Sami can keep talking all he wants with his fingertips pressed together like he’s some diabolical supergenius ….
… but his hubris is far mightier than his mind. The upside to this, though, is that the longer he believes he’s the smartest person playing the game, the funnier it will be when he gets outsmarted by someone else.
It could have been this episode! We were brutally robbed of a Baka tribal council this week, and now it looks like we’ll never get another one. The absolutely shitshow it would’ve been to navigate a tribe of 5 with only 4 valid votes, 2 idols, leaving just 3 players vulnerable would’ve provided for amazing television. Instead, the rest of the hour would follow the same formula as most of the episodes we’ve already seen.
IMMUNITY – WILL IT STICK?
Fortunately for this cast, there were no knees stabbed, legs twisted, or heads hit in this challenge that reminded me of one from the past — if there were, would anyone have cared this time?
This challenge also had an element of skee ball to it, so go figure the youngest would excel even though he claimed to have not spent that much time at Chuck E. Cheese’s. I imagine Cody also would've been great here as he seems like the type of person who still enjoys Chuck E. Cheese’s even at the age of 35. That’s where he probably gets pizza from after getting dumped.
The surprise was that Ryan revealed that he threw the challenge just to get rid of Cassidy! There’s an argument to be made to throw a challenge, but if he was acting solo, that should’ve been a no-go. When he smiled at the thought of Jeff saying Cassidy would be the 5th person voted out of Survivor 43, this felt like a classic case of misdirect and misfortune for Ryan. Another diabolical supergenius in his mind only.
A REALLY SHITTY PARTY
Before things got loco at Coco, it was time for another journey — my favorite thing about the new era of Survivor, right up there with the hourglass! (It hurt to even type that)
Jesse, or Vesi, rather, selected himself to go on this with Geo and Jeanine. Geo immediately attempted the tried-and-true strategy of spinning a sad story about being on the outs and needing this advantage, hoping the other two would just give it to him risk-free. Funnily enough, he thought he was lying, but he actually was slated to be the next Coco to go!
However, Jesse and Jeanine weren’t feeling generous. Jeanine may have scored herself an idol this episode, but evidently, that was not enough, so she decided:
And reached into the bag along with both Geo and Jesse.
When each returned to camp, they decided to share what they got with either some or all of their respective tribes, and herein lies a major gripe I have with these journeys. After the first one each season, and now having seen how the “twist” played out in 41 and 42, the players are going to know exactly how these journeys play out — how? Because the show hasn’t done shit to change them.
There’s zero incentive to lie here because of the ability to physically fact-check. Without those pieces of paper, at least it would be one person’s word against another’s, but knowing that whoever goes on the journey gets a souvenir in the form a note, it’s too easy to call someone’s bluff, forcing them to tell the truth anyway, so they end up being honest upfront. There was absolutely no suspense or drama in Jeanine and Jesse sharing their results with the tribes. Geo lied and said he didn’t risk his vote, but all it would’ve taken was for one person to ask to see the note, and then all would’ve been revealed.
Back to my point about Survivor and its stale formulas, if the players expect exactly what a “twist” is going to be, then it’s not an exciting twist — it can’t even be called a twist. Here, there’s not even a mystery of who got the “thing” — all but 3 people left in the game saw physical evidence showing who got what. It’s nuts! Ryan had the official episode title this week with, “stop with all the niceness,” and that’s how I feel. Stop taking away the ability for people to make up whatever shit they want in the game and seeing if they get caught or not! For the same reason, I’ve always hated Knowledge is Power — deceit is discouraged when there’s a way for someone to obtain undeniable proof that someone’s lying or hiding something. Just let. The players. Play!
INK ON THE SURVIVOR RÉSUMÉ
Meanwhile, at Coco, Ryan was trying his best to go full Gabler and get himself voted out of the tribe, feigning to fall on his sword and accept the boot for blowing the challenge. Ryan’s master plan was to convince Cassidy to vote for him while everyone else voted for Cassidy. Ugh … my namesakes are never ones to impress on this show. The first Ryan was the first boot of Amazon, the legend “Skinny Ryan” speaks for itself, only to be challenged over a decade later by a somehow “skinnier” Ryan. He did okay, I guess, but Ryno’s probably the best Ryan the show’s ever had, and that’s the Survivor I remind people of, right? RIGHT!!??
THANK YOU, KARLA — I KNEW YOU’D SUPPORT ME!
When Geo got back to camp, he thought he also had Karla’s support, selecting her as the first (and only?) person to share his advantage knowledge with, and that knowledge was his “Knowledge is Power.” Little did Geo know, Karla was the last person he should’ve shown this to because she’s the one person on Coco who stands to lose with that power in the game.
Karla immediately told James and Cassidy (how criminal!) what Geo got from his journey, and James agreed that the best plan was to boot Geo. Cassidy, however, was still stuck on Ryan’s shtick and had a Lindsay-esque panic attack, storming off to leave Karla and James to consider again flipping the vote to the person who was most paranoid.
I’m not sure what was in the water at Coco, but I was pissed thinking we could be in for the exact same story as last week — a seemingly easy Geo vote erupted by an explosion of one person’s paranoia. Same advantages, same journeys, same tribal councils, same women getting the boot — I just needed something new to happen!
KILL THEM WITH KINDNESS
In season 43 of Survivor, you can’t trick people into thinking you actually want to leave the game, so Ryan doubled down on his idiocy of opening up at tribal council about how he was fine to take the fall with this vote because, in his own words, he’s a “giver.” At least Cassidy clearly saw through him — Ryan asking people to say nice things about him as the wrote his name down? Give me a break! No one should’ve bought that insane of a sell, and shame on Ryan for thinking this group was that gullible.
Karla was so bored by this bit that she was completely zoned out, taking what felt like a Survivor minute to answer one of Jeff’s questions — or maybe she was tuning out Jeff instead of Ryan. The temptation would be too easy, much like the temptation of voting out someone who has a known advantage in the game ….
I’d yell more at Geo for sharing the knowledge of his advantage, but as I earlier laid out, the additional tweaks to game design have made it more difficult to lie on the island, so his choice was made as soon as he chose to “risk” — maybe if he hadn’t, Karla and James wouldn’t have gotten “spooked” and would’ve stuck with Cassidy’s desire to vote for Ryan. Between the two, I suppose I’m glad Ryan stayed because he seems to be the bigger bonehead of the two. The first man out, of course, had to be a gay one, so if the new era trend continues and next week’s “earn the merge” victim is a woman, this pre-merge will officially be the first to be straight man-less. Honestly, they deserve it! It’s been a long TWO SEASONS since straight men had such a triumphant run in the 30s!
NEXT TIME ON SURVIVOR…
I can’t wait to find out how I’ll hate this version of “earn the merge” even more than the last. It’s hard to predict what’ll happen without knowing which random half of the 13 remaining players will have immunity. I feel like Elie could be most in danger because Baka has numbers to make them the biggest target (who’d have thought?) and it would take less than a second for Sami and Gabler to sell her out. I also fear that if those two blab about the beads, then my two favorites, Cody and Karla, could also be in grave danger, so I am positively SWEATIN’ headed into next week.
Jeanine – Jeanine, is there any way I could have your jacket? Jeanine has sort of been the beta to Elie’s alpha, but this was Jeanine’s week to get a boost in visibility! She raked in the beads, somehow convincing Gabler that she was more important to him than his own girls that he “hatched,” and went for broke with the risk/no risk bet and lost, but A for effort! I do think that greed got the best of her in that decision — I’d have thought, “what could be in that bag that’s better than the idol in mine?” With no vote, everyone soon, I’m sure, to know she has an idol, I’m very worried for Jeanine, but an idol may be just enough to steer the vote toward Elie instead of her. It may even be best for Jeanine if she loses Elie and her idol in a flush vote. Losing her #1 ally and a powerful advantage would take her from the top of the threat list to the bottom, buying her the time she’d need to blend back in and make a deep run in this second half of the game.
Cassidy – Like Jeanine, Cassidy also had a big breakout this week (I’ll forgive her attempt to ratify a “don’t say gay” bill into Survivor since I don’t think it was intentional). I could tell she’s been waiting to make a big move and taste some blood — she about lost it like Lindsay in her crusade to vote out Ryan, but luckily, she was able to come to her senses and trust her allies to take care of her and vote out her sassy nemesis (neme-sass?) Geo. I have a feeling we’ll see that fiery side of her again, though, and I’m not sure if that next time she’ll be able to simmer down.
Karla – Karla’s perfect game, perpetuated this week, has potential to go to complete shit next week and it has me shaking. I think she’s had the most impressive run of the season thus far — no one’s talking about voting her out, everyone’s coming to her with information, and she’s the only player to pull off the bead heist completely on her own and off anyone’s radar. The latter, however, is what I fear is going to blow up in her face because of the way it’s engineered.
No one on Coco knows the significance of the beads, Cody and Jesse know, and all of Baka knows. In an attempt to sell Jeanine and Elie under the bus, I have no doubt that Sami’s going to spill, and in no time, it’ll be known that Cody, Karla, and Jeanine all have idols. Karla, having been a master sneak, will end up suffering once James and Cassidy realize their closest ally concealed something from them. Karla will have the idol to play should anyone come after her immediately, but I hate how even a successful Beware Advantage achievement may put her in more danger than she otherwise could have been, begging the question “what is the advantage of a Beware Advantage?”
It's essentially an idol that everyone knows about — again with theme of encouraging everyone to just tell each other everything. If the game gives consequence to both keeping and sharing secrets, I just think that’s a poor design. Share your secret, your power becomes weaker. Keep your secret — guess what? Someone else is still guaranteed to find out about it anyway. The only solution is to somehow telepathically communicate to the other beware advantage holders to NOT SAY A FUCKING WORD about them. The more I think about it, the more I think Karla should’ve left that thing in the tree.
I tweeted a summoning circle this week to prevent another woman from being voted out and it worked, but next week I think I’m going to have to summon something even more powerful, maybe a multitude of powerful, ancient spirits to keep Karla out of harm’s way. Something like this:
Ryan 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