Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 43 recaps
Surprise idols, sketchy power, and fishing
By Brent Sullivan | Published: November 14, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 8 Recap/ analysis

Surprise idols, sketchy power, and fishing

Welcome to “Top Five Baby!” where after each episode of Survivor, Brent Sullivan will try to break apart and find the top five moments that made a lasting impact on the season or moments that could at least affect the next few episodes. Sometimes the moments are obvious and other times ... not so much, but after years of watching and analyzing this show to myself, I like to share the ones that I think stand out the most.

So, things are really moving now. Some lines are starting to get drawn and a few players are starting to settle into their positions as others start to worry and try to wiggle their way from the bottom. Somehow Jeanine became the vote this week without having any power, any major alliance, or any good chance of winning an immunity challenge, and an easy vote who is a challenge threat got saved. There will be more on that here in a bit though. Also, it was fun to see Owen win immunity when he was clearly the target at the next vote. I always enjoy it when that happens. Especially when most of the majority alliance sat out of the challenge. The players that sit out were clearly all safe, so it backfired on them when Owen won. So much other stuff happened this week as well, so let’s get to “Top Five Baby!”

1. Where's the idol?

Where's the idol?'

Last week I mentioned something about there being a flashback this week that involved Jeanine’s idol being handed back to her. Well, since then we have heard Jeanine say that’s not why she was tapping him on the leg. However, we still get a flashback that involved Jeanine’s idol. For some reason, Dwight had handed her idol off to Jesse to hold during tribal council. Not sure why he moved it from his bag to Jesse’s bag. I can’t figure out how that was a better hiding spot.

But regardless of the reasoning behind it, her idol is still in the game. In fact, Jesse now has two idols since he was also holding onto Cody’s idol. I am sure at some point Cody will get his back, but in the meantime, he is in possession of two hidden immunity idols, and only one of them is known about. That honestly makes him a very dangerous and powerful player. Other than Karla who also has an idol that no one knows about (although that seems unlikely at this point), he has the only advantage that is truly a secret.

The question is will he be able to keep it a secret and be like Maryanne last season or will he be just like everyone else and spill the beans because he thinks it will get him further in the game?

2. Sami and the Seven

Sami and the Seven

Ok, I will start by saying that I personally think there is no way the seven players will stay together much longer. They really are a hodgepodge group of people with no real ties to each other, except for the last few days. One of them is bound to go home next since Noelle, Gabler, or Owen don’t really pose a big threat to them at the moment. But, none of them more than Sami seems out of place in the group.

Since the group of seven is comprised of the original four members of Coco and the duo of Jesse and Cody from Vesi (who jumped ship to get out Dwight), Sami seems out of place not just because his entire original tribe was left out, but because he seemed to join them at the last minute. Along with that, one vote in and he already isn’t happy with his position amongst them.

So, after joining them to vote out Dwight, he wanted to shift back to the other side and try to take out Ryan. That actually seems like a legitimate move to make at this point. Where he went wrong was he wanted to stay in the good graces of the new group as well as show the others that he still had their backs. So, by going to Karla and James with this plan, the vote ended up landing back on Jeanine.

Sami could have easily gotten Owen, Jeanine, Gabler, and Noelle on board, plus with Noelle’s steal-a-vote, they would have had enough numbers. Even if Noelle didn’t want to, it looked as if Cassidy would have been an easy one to sway. Now Sami finds himself stuck in this bigger group with nowhere to go unless something can shake up the game in his favor for a vote or two.

3. King James

King James

Part of what makes this show so fun to watch is the characters. I love to see how some people change how they act and how they play the game based on where they think they stand with everyone. James is a great example of this.

He feels extremely safe in his current position, so he is playing a very cocky game right now. The minority alliance already saw him as a strategic threat, that’s why they brought his name up during the vote split with Ryan. Now that he thinks he is sitting on top of this group of seven, he feels comfortable enough to sit out of challenges and doesn’t want to listen to some strategy talk. Once he made up his mind, he wouldn’t even hear what Cassidy had to say about Ryan. Then the way he tried to get Owen to sit out of the challenge was almost too obvious. I don’t blame Owen one bit for not taking that bait.

I honestly think James’ days are numbered in this game. If the players on the bottom can figure out a way to flip this around, James will surely be the target and go home next.

4. Ryan and the fish

Ryan and the fish

I remember back in the old days of Survivor if you were a big physical presence and a huge provider around camp, that would have been a one-way ticket off the island. There seems to be a shift in the way players are starting to think nowadays. Just because you provide and are strong doesn't mean anything if you can't strategically play the game or even put in an effort to play the game.

Ryan thinks he’s doing them all a favor by going out and catching 21 fish for them to eat, but all he’s doing is alienating himself from the group and showing that he doesn't want to be bothered to talk about the game. It’s possible that he doesn’t know fully what is going on in the game since the merge. I know that Cassidy (from his original Coco tribe) wants him out of the game, but honestly, at this point, I can see people letting him go to the end since he won’t be able to show anything he’s done. The one time he tried to make a move, it blew up in his face and his buddy Geo got voted out.

There are still lots of people left, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to see Ryan get third place this season and receive zero votes.

5. Cassidy's stand

Cassidy's stand

Finally, I’m glad someone brought up the fact that the woman are getting voted out like crazy over the men this season. I can’t believe we are down to the final ten and only two men have been voted off. Now granted, the remaining women completely have their hands dirty in this just as much as the men do, but it was nice to see them actually bring it up and recognize that it’s happening.

The conversation between James and Cassidy actually got a little awkward when she brought it up. I felt bad for her when she was being passionate about it and James just stared at her. I believe it will start to shift here and I believe that we see one of these women either sitting in the final three or at least sitting down to make fire. I just thought it was nice for Cassidy to get some screen time on this and hopefully it isn’t her downfall.

So, there you have it for the eighth episode and this week’s “Top Five Baby”. Seems like things are really starting to speed up now, only down to ten people left in the game. I’m curious if there is a big breakdown of The Seven next week. What do you think will happen to them? Who will be the first one from that group eliminated? What do you think Sami is trying to do? I want to hear from you, let me know if I missed any moments or if you think I was correct in my thinking, the interaction is part of what makes this so fun!

Please catch more of me here next week where I will try to bring you more fun top five!


Brent Sullivan - Top Five, Baby!Brent Sullivan is a long-time fanatic of Survivor and has been writing about it for years. When he is not writing, talking about, or applying to be on the show, he spends his time with family, doing nerdy IT stuff, and watching movies. Follow him on twitter: @BSully_13