Top Five, Baby! - Brent Sullivan's Survivor 43 recaps
Two wins, two out, eight left
By Brent Sullivan | Published: November 21, 2022
Survivor 43 Episode 9 Recap/ analysis

Two wins, two out, eight left

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.

Bam ... just like that we are down to eight players. Two original Coco members just left, and two more guys. (Finally, right?) Leaving just eight more people in the game to battle it out for the million-dollar win. James and Ryan were both playing completely different games, but none of that seemed to matter in the smaller groups that they were put into this week. Also, that first tribal council was the more exciting of the two, not knowing where Sami and Karla were going to vote. I thought Karla was going to tell James about their plan.

Not a ton of normal camp activity with the challenge being so early in the episode, but quite a bit still took place afterward, so let’s get to this week’s “Top Five Baby!”

1. Jesse and Cody ... again

Jesse and Cody ... again

I know I have talked about them in the past, but here they are again in the middle, driving which way the vote will go. Now that Karla has helped vote out James, these two are the only pair that seem to be in a tight alliance together. Sure, others have voted together for a vote or two, but nothing like what these two have done since their time on Vesi started. Cassidy and Karla are also close, but we don’t know how Cassidy is going to react to James getting voted out by Karla yet either, so that may change.

So, back to the Cody and Jesse relationship. The two of them have been in the middle a few times this season and have always worked together to figure out whom they wanted to vote out. When the tribes come back together next week, I am curious to see what happens. Since they have seemingly been working with Coco since the merge and two original Coco members just got voted out, will they still be able to get the numbers on their side?

I would like to think that at least a few of the other players can see what is going on and they can figure out who is making the moves. Let’s see how much longer they can stay together. Surely they aren’t both thinking about sitting at the end with the other one.

2. New pact with the AlliGabler

New pact with the AlliGabler

So, right after the merge ... or not-quite-the-merge, Gabler told us his plan. He said he was the AlliGabler and he made his move, and now he was going to go back under the water a bit and stay off the radar. Well, surprisingly enough, this plan of his has been working out. He was quite the topic of people’s conversation a few weeks ago and now we barely see him in an episode.

So, with Cody approaching him and making a “ride or die” deal with him, does that mean his plan is working? He is now getting approached by others to bring him in and now it’s only a matter of time before he re-surfaces and makes another move. I know short-term, this is great for him to be paired with Cody and Jesse, but for how long? How long will they string him along before they cut him loose?

He may be better off agreeing to whatever they want and then taking one of them out. I’m intrigued by his gameplay and can’t wait to see if he is able to make anything else happen with these few people left.

3. Noelle makes her move

Noelle makes her move

As I mentioned above, I was really worried about Noelle this week. I thought for sure James was going to use his knowledge is power to take away her vote steal. At that point, I figured he would either use it on her (which would be the worst case for her) or use it on Owen to get him out. (Still not good, but better than option one.) If Owen was gone, she wouldn’t have as much room to maneuver around with the remaining players. With Owen still in the game, she has someone she can work with, and it gives her options.

So, her big plan was to fake James out. She told him that she was going to use the vote steal on Owen so he couldn’t play his Shot in the Dark and then put two votes on Owen. Despite what I thought would happen, her plan went off great (no thanks to Sami). James is now out of the game, her ally Owen is still in the game, and there is no more Knowledge is Power left in the game.

So good on Noelle for making this move. She has been wanting to play hard for a while and now she’s seen what she can do, so the rest of the season should be fun to watch for her.

4. Sami and Karla

Sami and Karla

A topic that I bring up a lot in this column is how much airtime we actually see compared to how much actually happens on the island. Such is the case with Karla and Sami. It amazes me how much trust Sami is willing to put in Karla when we really haven’t seen them communicate much together. Sure, Sami was a late addition to their seven-person alliance, but apart from that, how much time have they spent together, and how many conversations have they had that we haven’t seen?

I know Sami has been playing both sides pretty heavily over the last few episodes, but for him to want Karla on his side when they voted was a little surprising to me. He was willing to vote out Owen if that’s what Karla wanted to do even though he has worked with Owen since the beginning of the game.

Regardless of what has happened in the past, Karla may be stuck working with him now. With Ryan and James now out of the game, Sami and Cassidy may be her strongest allies moving forward. There may also be something between her and Jesse, but that really hasn’t been explored on screen before.

5. Advantage update

Advantage update

So, as of now, there are only three left in the game with two of them leaving this week. Noelle played her steal-a-vote in a pretty big game move and took out James who was still holding the Knowledge is Power advantage. So that one is thankfully out of the game ... again. Noelle made a big statement with that play and may find herself in a good spot after that as well now.

However, there are still three hidden idols left in the game at this point. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but we still don’t really know how many people know about Cody’s idol, and we don’t know if anyone at all knows about Karla’s idol from the pre-merge. I call it Cody’s idol, but technically we haven’t seen Jesse give it back to him yet. So, Jesse might actually have two idols since he definitely has one that no one knows about.

Personally, I think all three of them are sitting in a good spot, plus all three having an idol that makes them very dangerous as well, as the numbers start to dwindle down. I would like to think that we will see an idol or two start getting played. The question is, who will play them correctly and who will play them at the right time to make a big splash with the jury?

So, there you have it for the ninth episode and this week’s “Top Five Baby”. Only a few weeks left until we get to find out which one of these castaways walks away as the winner. Other than Jesse and Cody being a duo, there still aren’t a lot of clear alliances, as things seem to be shifting from week to week. Who do you think has the best chance as of now? Will Owen be a target anymore now that James is gone? Will Sami’s gameplay catch up to him? 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