Kaiser Island - Ryan Kaiser's Survivor 43 recaps
It's literally not you
By Ryan Kaiser | Published: October 14, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 4 recap/ analysis

It's literally not you

“Paranoia will destroy ya” – Boston Rob, Survivor: All Stars

(Ed. note: Also some other, even older people.)

Poor Lindsay. That was hard to watch, especially when the boot was 100% going to be Geo, but instead we continued the slaughter of women this season.

There was finally some exciting tension to entice me this episode, and part of that came from the fun raid reward, but I was reminded how rushed an episode feels when there are three tribes to cover as well as two full challenges. The reward and immunity challenges ate up 17 of the 43 precious minutes (40% of total time) and given how goofy the reward challenge was, I wish we’d have just gotten another combined immunity/reward. Two challenges just do not work in a three-tribe format when it comes to evening out airtime.

Still, though, this episode had some fun moments (if from the usual providers) and funny zingers to discuss!


Dead last

Nothing says “so done” like taking your leg off, lying on your back, looking up at the sky, and reflecting on your life choices as Noelle was doing in the scene above.

Cody compared Vesi’s recent trajectory to getting dumped by a girlfriend, ordering pizza that never shows, and your roommate drinking all the beer in your fridge – this analogy seemed too specific to not be coming from Cody’s actual life experience. I, too, was ready for a rebound from Vesi in order to finally get a feel for what was going on at Coco or at least see the climax of the bubbling blow-up at Baka. Vesi deserved that pizza to finally show up, though for their sake, I hope it wasn’t ordered from the Survivor kitchen:

Survivor pizza

I guarantee no one’s trading for that reward.


Baka's breaking point

While Baka’s bounced back from an early fall, things were far from sunshine and rainbows at camp. Gabler continued his quest since the beginning of the game to be Baka’s first boot — he failed at that, but he’s evidently hopeful for a second chance to still be their next. Waking up the tribe to cover them with “blankets” which are actually just palm fronds that provide little extra warmth was his next mission in social game suicide. Even after Elie said “no” Gabler persisted, thinking he knew what was best for Baka. I don’t think Gabler was taking notes during Sandra’s session on how you’re supposed to use palm fronds in the game:

Sandra's stealth lesson

On top of the fronds, friction persisted between Elie and Gabler over how to best keep the campfire going. It’s the little things that are building up at Baka and I just hope we see another vote of theirs before the merge so we blow past that boiling point and get a HOT tribal council. I’m still nervous, though, that despite the major conflict coming from Elie vs. Gabler, Jeanine is somehow going to be the victim of the vote after that foreshadowing in Episode 1 where Jeanine said she didn’t want to get rid of a girl ….


Floor is lava

Who … why? What even was this challenge? If they wanted to do some sort of “floor is lava” concept, they should’ve just gone full camp with it. Instead of sand, lay a bed of burning coals underneath. What we saw just looked stupidly silly, and why did only one person have to do it? Probably because watching 4 would have been even more boring than this was.

Exciting, though, was the reward on the line — a camp raid! At first, I asked, “what’s there even to raid?” given how little supplies each tribe started with, but that actually made the raid even more impactful. Taking away from a tribe that already has next to nothing? Imagine the drama!

Ahead of inevitable fireworks, the victorious Vesi also asked Jeff if they could trade the fish part of their reward away for a previous reward, since without flint, they had no way to actually prepare the fish except to eat it raw. Jeff said that this was “always” an option which had the “superfan who has never missed an episode and has seen most episodes multiple times” in me going:

Parvati: Are we being Punk'd?

What are the rules of this? Could Vesi have asked for any previous reward? Why take fruit when fishing gear or a toolbox was available, or could they only exchange food for food? In actuality, there likely isn’t a real ruling on this because Jeff made this shit up on the spot. If this otherwise has been a 22-year Survivor staple, I’m sure we’d have seen it come up in the past.

Burton wants Fairplay's buddy

Probst: You got it

Thunder D arrives

Sandra: This motherfucker again


Let me see your refrigerator

After Vesi won the power to raid Coco or Baka, I instantly hoped Cody would be selected as their amb-ass-ador. Dwight, Noelle, and Jesse were a little unsure of this choice because of what chaos Cody could cause, but that’s exactly why I wanted him to be that choice. The question then became who to raid — Baka had more booty to claim, but Coco was due to take a hit. Cody also wanted to “show no mercy” and take something detrimental like the tribe’s machete, but again, the rest of Vesi wanted to be lame and play nice. I totally agreed with Cody’s assessment of his tribe being “soft as hell.”

Upon arriving at camp Coco, Cody immediately told the tribe he had come for their machete which Lindsay warned would face “retaliation” if he went through with that decision. What kind of retaliation, exactly? We’ll never know, but I imagine something scary-looking like this:

Ami with a machete

However, Cody revealed in confessional that it was not, in fact, his plan to take Coco’s machete – that’s just what he wanted Coco to believe so he’d gain bargaining power. Brilliant advice from Cody: “Don’t come into a negotiation asking for what you want.” As soon as Cody scared Coco with the machete bid, they practically started selling the rest of the camp away. Cody went home with some fishing supplies, some limes, and a root of some sort – I thought the raid had a one-item limit, but I guess Cody’s elevator sales skills sent him home with a bonus.

Cody went home wealthy, but while he was all smiles and schmoozing, Karla caught Cody’s game. He was all “hang loose” and “mahalo” but Karla called him on his aloha spirit bullshit, savagely putting him in his place with, “Boy you’re from Idaho – calm down.” I’ve literally thought the same thing this whole time – how does a guy from Idaho Iowa end up talking and acting like that? Is there a little Hawaiian appropriation at play to make Cody come off less threatening? We know one thing – Karla’s not buying the “good vibes only” shtick this guy is selling.

Karla: I don't want your freakin' mahalo



My favorite part of this challenge was Elie eagerly asking, “Can we kick it?” regarding the finished puzzle, a nod to one of her doppelgänger Michele’s more iconic moments, or I don’t know. Maybe she was wondering if Wendell’s single.

I don’t remember many challenges, if any, in the past with such blatant collusion between two tribes which is a bit of a surprise. You’d think that two losing tribes would want to gang up on a winning tribe more times than we’ve seen, but perhaps the competitiveness takes control and tribes instead just “stay in their line” when it comes to winning reward or immunity.

I’m not sure how the rest of the Survivor community feels about this, but I honestly think it’s totally fair. A consequence of Coco’s streak of escaping the votes was Vesi and Baka banding together to finally send them to tribal council. This game is all about risk vs. reward, right? In this case, the reward was winning immunity (or literal rewards) and the risk was becoming a target of the other two tribes. That said, the challenge designers should keep this in mind while making puzzles so that they’re not so easy for conspirators to solve, but I agree that a win’s a win. There was no “flaw in the game” here.


Never as easy as it seems

Finally getting a deeper dive into Coco’s social and strategic dynamics, Geo shared that he was voting for Cassidy. Then, we saw a little spat between them so that we’d have some context to that claim — it would’ve been nice had we gotten anything on the matter the last three weeks, but better late than never.

Karla, Cassidy, and Lindsay set their sights on Geo, however, saying he’d been “sassy” lately, a likely result of him getting too comfortable and thinking he was calling the shots. With James also on board, this was an easy, slam-dunk decision. Cut to a unanimous vote at tribal council!

Karla eyeroll

I know, girl. I wish!

I say “I wish” but what we ended up getting instead was the messy shitshow I’ve been craving. Instead of letting the vote be, Lindsay let herself get completely paranoid and thought that people continuing to have conversations meant there was a new plan in place which was writing her name down. It wasn’t, though, and it never was until she started questioning her allies. Even being told “you are not the target” and “it’s literally not you” didn’t settle Lindsay’s stomach — in her gut, she thought her tribe was trying to blindside her, and she told Karla and James she’d hunt them down if they were lying. Where’s that machete??

Lindsay created a self-fulfilling prophecy. She wasn’t a target, but she suspected she was a target, so she made herself a target. I do at least “wish” it was someone else who led themselves down this road because I had hopes that Lindsay would break the mom stereotype of being voted out early, but this segment showed how Survivor can truly make someone lose their mind. You can’t trust anyone 100%, but you also can’t trust everyone 0%. Lindsay created mistrust in her allies by telling them she didn’t trust what they were telling her, so I agree they had no choice but to cut out this paranoia before it became a cancer in the camp.



Lindsay wasn’t going to rest until she found out who was lying to her. Initially, no one was, but by the end of tribal council, everyone was. I appreciated her trying to fight and call out people at the appropriate forum for not strategizing with her, and by the time tribal came around, I suppose she was right to feel she was on the chopping block, but again, this was all Lindsay’s own doing which made it tough to watch.

I also think Lindsay was a little conceited in her claim that certain people didn’t talk to her. Conversation, in both the game and in life, always goes two ways. If Lindsay didn’t approach people, why was it on them to approach her? She may have been saying that people like Ryan didn’t talk to her enough, but “fact-checking” with three other people on the tribe, all of whom she’d been in an alliance with from the beginning, should have made her feel safe to not even have to care about Ryan’s vote as much — he was in the minority with Geo, and she was told they were voting for Cassidy, not her.

Last week, I would’ve said this Coco vote could go any number of ways between Ryan, Geo, and James, so while I like when the show surprises me, this was just a sad surprise because Lindsay started off so strong but went from above an 8.5 to an F.

Lindsay snuffed

I don’t know that there was any other way to flesh out Lindsay’s story this season. I really think she just snapped in the eleventh hour. As a fellow superfan, I can understand that fear of being the first out from your tribe, and you know that everyone in the game is lying to some degree, but as I said earlier, you can’t have NO trust in everyone. I loved what I saw from Lindsay earlier, and she seemed like had she just kept her cool, she’d have played an aggressive, maybe winning game. I could’ve seen her as another Chrissy, redefining what “the mom” is capable of in this game, but instead of being cutthroat, Lindsay cut her own throat, and the mom curse continues, as does the trail of women leaving tribal council this season!

I tweeted that someone needs to call Ami Cusack STAT to fix this pattern, but I do acknowledge that aside from Morriah, the other ladies had their obvious flaws. Justine and Lindsay both told their so-called allies they weren’t sure they could trust them, losing what trust they may have had, and Nneka was a major reason for both of Vesi’s losses. The latter could indicate imbalanced challenge designs of the new era emphasizing too much on physicality, but she lost it on the puzzles which are meant to be equalizers, so she literally had nothing to offer. Still, I’d like to not see this season set a record for “most women voted out in a row.” I see more “risk” bags ahead for next week – could we get some help for these ladies, please?

Ami, Parvati, Kim bags

Hoping Ami comes with that machete…


Next time

More conflict between Cassidy and Geo, another journey for Jeanine, Jesse, and Geo, beads for Owen – in other words, more of what we’ve already seen this season. Yippee. What was it that Tony once said? Same circus, different clowns? That’s kind of been 41, 42, and 43 for me. Survivor needs to throw away the “new era” formula it thinks it has perfected. Beware Advantages, journeys that take up too much time, and no swaps to shake the game up before the merge have started to get stale. I want something new, and I want the players to have to adapt to something new too. A slight spin on something old just isn’t cutting it. The shorter season is advertised as an “accelerated” game but I don’t feel it yet – it’s a lot of the same old, same old and feels slow.

Players of the week

Next time

Cody – If there’s at least one part about this season that’s unlike anything we’ve seen before, it’s Cody. His tribe wasn’t even the main focus of the episode, but he was still its biggest standout. I think Cody was cast as the goofy, funny Hawaiian guy, but he’s impressed me week after week after week with how strategically savvy he is and how he’s a shining star storyteller. I shouldn’t be excited for the same guy getting so much attention, but he kind of deserves it? He just turns everything he touches to gold, a new era Natalie Cole! I’d say he’s almost too big of a presence to win, but I’m not so sure. Cody connived the crap out of Coco, so while he should be a target at the merge, he could talk himself out of being labeled the biggest threat. No matter how far he goes, I’m excited to still be on this Hawaiian rollercoaster ride.

Karla – We’ll see if the move this week makes the best future for Karla – I think it will, though. Sure, Lindsay may have been in the alliance Karla was truer to, but Karla is still firmly in the center of Coco with Cassidy and James on one side and Geo and Ryan on the other. By voting out Lindsay, and getting the entire tribe to go for it, Karla didn’t have to choose a side whereas had she voted out Geo, this would’ve left Ryan running around looking for new allies later, and with Coco already a target of Baka and Vesi, Karla doesn’t need that. No, I think this vote went perfectly for Karla even though it wasn’t her initial plan. I know asking for a third woman in a row to win Survivor is A LOT (but asking for 6 men to do it from seasons 35 to 40 wasn’t?), and while I’d be content with Cody winning, I still would LIKE for Karla to keep it going for the girls. Sorry to put that pressure on you, queen, but there it is.

More Karla eyeroll

Ryan KaiserRyan 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