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The Best Show On TV Returns In Style: Survivor 43 Premiere Recap

Survivor returned to our screens last night with a two-hour season premiere. It was a pretty solid episode that did a good job introducing us to the different characters and tribe dynamics. I was glad they didn't do too much to force twists and advantages down our throats. As I've said before, Survivor is best when it's character-driven, not gimmick-driven. The premiere showed promise that this season could be heading in that direction. That being said, it certainly wasn't the most jam-packed, drama filled episode we've ever seen, but you just need to set the stage in a season premiere, and I think this episode did that. 

To hear our full Snuffing Torches episode recap, you can listen above, or on Spotify, or watch on YouTube here. 

We will have episode recaps all season long so make sure you watch, like, subscribe, give 5-star reviews and all that jazz. I'll still be doing my blog recaps each Thursday but instead of taking all day to write 3,000 words and recap every second of every episode, I'm going to do more bulleted thoughts on the key points from each episode to cut out some of the fluff and just keep it more opinion and analysis based. 

So here are some thoughts I had throughout the episode....

Opening Challenge

-I kind of miss the days when they had to get a bunch of supplies off the boat and jump into the water with their clothes on and all that jazz. Just felt like classic Survivor. But makes sense they can't do it anymore since the theme is limited food and resources. 

-I thought Noelle went to her Final Tribal Council speech way too quickly after being on the beach for like 10 minutes. Telling her emotional story about her prosthetic leg. Don't get me wrong, it's an incredibly inspiring story and she's probably one of the most impressive human beings to ever be on the show. But that just means nobody will want to sit next to her at the end because she'd easily win with a story that good. 

-Credit to Cody for outthinking the rest of the cast (and maybe the producers) with the hack to win the challenge. Or maybe that's actually how the producers intended for people to do the challenge and everyone else is stupid. Regardless, that was the only highlight of the episode for him as his stock dropped drastically as it went along.  

Savvy Or Sweat Challenge

-The Red Tribe (Vesi) won the reward challenge to get their limited supplies. The other two tribes had to decide between a mental challenge or physical challenge to get theirs. This is something we saw in 41 and 42 but with a twist. Instead of counting triangles, it was a number challenge where you could only move two sticks to make the highest number possible. 

-I think going with savvy is smart because you either win as a group or lose as a group. If you do Sweat, two people are automatically isolated from the group and could be on the outside of early formed alliances. And if you don't complete it, that's an added target on your back. Not a spot you want to be in at all. Sami volunteered to do it for Yellow, but Owen wisely talked them out of it for the exact reasons I listed above. Makes me feel good that he was my pre-season winner pick. I docked Sami points, but he got them all back once he wisely figured out how to move the sticks and win the challenge for his tribe. Smart guy. I was thoroughly perplexed by this puzzle myself and don't know if I would have thought of that solution. 

-The Blue Tribe decided to go with the Sweat side of things. I think it was wise by Geo to volunteer to do it since he struggled in the challenge. And Ryan is built like a truck so he made sense as the other option. They were able to complete it in a mere half hour. 

Advantage Island

-I just don't know what else to call this. But Karla, Dwight, and Gabler were each chosen from their respective tribes to go on a journey. Gabler and Karla were chosen at random whereas Dwight volunteered. I don't like that move. You just don't want to stand out early by being overeager to go gain an advantage. That could paint a target on your back. 

-This was a twist on last season's prisoner dilemma. They were able to talk to each other and theoretically could've all decided what to do together. Gabler and Dwight risked. Karla didn't. So it was 50/50 chances for Gabler and Dwight. One would get an advantage and one would lose their vote. 

-They opened back at camp. Dwight lost his vote. Gabler got an idol good for his next two tribal councils. Everyone was honest with their tribes about what they have/didn't have. I think it is actually better to just be truthful here instead of concocting a lie that can lost trust in people. Plus Gabler loudly screamed out and celebrated when he got his idol, so it would've been hard to play it cool after that. 

-The way I understand it is that Gabler can use his idol at either of his next two tribal councils and then it loses power. I initially thought it was good for both. It was a little unclear and I think they should have done a better job explaining that. If you're going to keep introducing new twists, you need to make sure the audience knows what's going on. 

-I do think an idol is way more powerful than the extra vote people got last year. Typically, I'd play things conservatively early on and wouldn't risk my vote only to gain an extra vote. But for an idol I might. Makes sense for producers to make the rewards better and thus incentivizing people to take those risks. 

Immunity Challenge

-A lot of mud this challenge. Highlight for me was James' pants falling down to his ankles as he tried to climb up. That's just good ole fashioned funny stuff. 

-Interesting twist that the tribes could choose what kind of ball mazes to do. I like that. Wonder if there will be more challenges like that this season that really hammer home the risk/reward theme. 

-The blue tribe came in first. Red came in second. Yellow was headed to tribal. 

Early Tribe Dynamics

Blue Tribe (Coco)

-Karla put herself in a very favorable position and really impressed me. She had an all girls alliance with Lindsay and Cassidy plus James. But then also formed a separation connection with Geo and Ryan. She position herself as a swing vote early on. She's someone who could be an early target for lack of challenge ability, so making that many allies who can protect her is the wise move. 

-I also think Cassidy showed a good understanding of the game as someone who wants to lay low and then strike late. I was down on her in my pre-season blog because of her hippie shit, but she struck me as someone who could go deep. 

-I like James. I liked him pre-season and I liked him in Episode 1. He seems to be in a majority with the girls but he has options. A likable guy who also seems to know the game well. 

Red Tribe (Vesi)

-Jesse has quite a story from going to gang to Duke PhD student. When he was talking about getting "dot" tattoos removed from his face, I started to worry he was talking about tear drops which would imply he's murdered people. Maybe that's what I have to do to finally get cast on this god damn show. It's just incredible how every single person has a sad or emotional story of some sort. I have nothing. Maybe making an OnlyFans and having nobody subscribe? Anyway, I like his chances. His tribe seems to like him and he should have a mix of book smarts and street smarts. 

-Cody is real annoying. Just too high energy and doing too much too early. Trying to paint a target on Justine for being a saleswoman to deflect from him also being in sales just felt like a strange move. Shouldn't start throwing people under the bus that soon. He's going to get on people's nerves, as alluded to in the previews for next week. 

-Them all not being able to build a shelter was pretty funny. I probably would also use the "Ah someone else will probably know how to build one" approach. 

-Dwight seems endearing and obviously knows the game, but as I said above, he needs to not come off as too overeager otherwise he'll be an early target. 

Yellow Tribe (Baka)

-Elie stood out to me as the star of this tribe. She showed a great understanding of the game and the ability to build interpersonal relationships. We also heard about the emotional story of her late sister. All things that screamed winner vibe to me. I think we will see her make a very deep run. 

-Gabler is an idiot. Like just an all-time idiot. His answer to Owen when Owen asked for an alliance was bizarre. And then when he wanted to give up the idol because he struggled in the challenge that was just downright moronic. He wanted to use his Shot In The Dark??????? Didn't even make sense! Drives me insane to see people finally get the opportunity to get on the show of a lifetime and then just throw it away with stupidity. So I officially hate Gabler now. But I do hope he stays around for awhile just as a fun character to hate. 

-An all girls alliance seemed to be forming, but Morriah being a challenge liability put her on the chopping block next to Owen. Owen was really only on the block because Sami said "Yeah I haven't really talked to Owen." Sometimes that's all it takes so early on. Being the first boot is sometimes just a product of bad luck. In Morriah's case, it was just because she was the worst physical competitor on the tribe. But I thought she played a fine game. She made some allies and didn't too anything stupid to stand out and make herself a target. Sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles. 

-Sami and Owen stand out as promising players from this tribe alone with Elie. I liked Sami's move to say he's 22 instead of 19. That's a big difference in people's minds. Hard to trust and relate to teenager. And then Jeanine still has a chance but we just didn't hear much from her. Then again, we didn't hear from Erika until basically the Season 41 finale. 

Tribal Council

-After a bunch of nauseating rah-rah answers about how sad they were to have to vote someone out, Morriah was taken out with a 5-1 vote. Her vote went to Owen. Probably the right move to keep the tribe strong. Really nothing Morriah could've done to save herself. Would've been tough for my pre-season winner in Owen to go home first. But now that he survived, maybe he has some momentum. 

Winner Rankings

Now that we've seen an episode and gotten to know these players, I feel more confident in these rankings. This is a ranking of the players I think are most likely to WIN. This is not necessarily who I think is safest in the game. Don’t look at the person ranked last as the person most likely to go home next. Look at them as the person with the least chance to win. That person could very easily get dragged to FTC as a goat, but won’t win. This is ranking people based on their chance to actually win the game.

Tier 1

1. Elie

2. Owen

3. James

4. Karla

5. Jesse

Tier 2

6. Sami

7. Cassidy

8. Jeanine 

9. Justine 

10. Geo

Tier 3

11. Ryan

12. Dwight

13. Nneka 

14. Lindsay 

15. Noelle 

0.0% Chance

16. Cody

17. Gabler

This ended up being over 2000 words so I guess forget what I said about keeping these shorter. Maybe next week. 

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