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It's About Livin' Not Winnin' - Survivor 43 Episode 2 Recap

We had a 90 minute episode of Survivor last night and although I'm not quite sure why, I'll still never complain about more Survivor on our screens. It was pretty similar to the first episode where although nothing too crazy or outlandish happened, it was still an enjoyable episode that saw character development and has left me optimistic for what could be in store this season. 

We did our first Snuffing Torches YouTube Live last night to recap the episode. You can catch up on that below and also listen on iTunes and Spotify

I'll give some quicker takeaways from the episode below. 

Yellow Tribe (Baka)

-We joined this tribe after the Morriah vote out and saw them dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Sami had the astute point that on Survivor, you cannot hide from the rain indoors. A salient observation. 

-Owen is an interesting character to me. He was my pre-season winner pick but almost got the first boot last week. He seems to be in better standing with his tribe right now, and we even saw him apologize to them for acting a bit paranoid out of the gate. He also had the goofball edit by dropping the water. But I still find him likable and think he understands the game. I don't know if he's getting the winner's edit, but he could end up being an easy to root for, Spencer-like plucky underdog. 

-Gabler's chances of being medically evacuated have to be significantly higher than his chances of winning. He's already falling apart and there doesn't seem to be a strategic bone in his body. Everyone reading this has the same chance of winning Survivor 43 as Gabler. 

-Speaking of Gabler, Jeanine went through his bag to get to the bottom of when his idol could be used by. Nobody, probably Gabler included, really knew. Turns out he can use it at the next tribal council he attends and nothing after that. But as we saw last week, there's no guarantee he does that. 

-The idea of an all-guys alliance was floated out there between Sami, Owen, and Gabler. But as Elie and Jeanine pointed out, the guys don't exactly seem to be playing the game that much. They are more concerned with tossing coconuts like Patrick Mahomes. But I'm very interested to see how these tribal lines will be drawn at their next tribal council. It would probably behoove the girls to look for a Beware Advantage. 

-We know modern day Survivor is all about emotional backgrounds and sob stories. We saw it in 41 and 42 and plenty already in 43. A lot of people do in fact have some very sad upbringings. But I gotta say.... I draw the line at ADHD. We got this whole emotional thing about how Elie struggled in school due to ADHD and dyslexia, but if we're being honest, I can't even begin to muster up the capacity to care about that. It's just odd because last week we heard a genuinely, very sad and emotional story about Elie losing her sister and then followed it up a week later with her teachers getting mad at her sometimes. Look, I love seeing camp life and getting to know the players, but I'd rather see them talking to each other and socializing around camp than hearing about every single problem a person has ever had. 

Blue Tribe (Coco)

-We really don't know much about this tribe. They haven't been to tribal yet which has meant less screen time. In Season 41, the blue tribe was great pre-merge so we never got a chance to know their members, like eventual Erika, all that well. If Coco keeps winning, that could be the case again. 

-All we know is that there's an all-girls plus James alliance and that Ryan and Geo are very tight. And that Karla may want to join them instead. 

-We did learn more about Geo and heard his story. I thought this was interesting and tells me that Geo might be a character who sticks around for awhile. We had very limited time with this tribe this episode, and it was mostly spent on Geo. *Cue the Brian Windhorst meme* Now why is that? Says to me he could be on our screens deep into the season. 

Red Tribe (Vesi)

-The tribal divides here were clear. Noelle and Justine were a tight duo. Nneka, Jesse, and Cody had a tight trio. And Dwight was kind of his own but did have an ally in Jesse. 

-Jesse was the star of this episode for me. I always pay attention to who the narrator for the season is. Who is the one explaining gameplay and walking the audience through what's happening? This episode it was clearly Jesse. He had his alliance of three but also maintained a good relationship with the loner in Dwight. In my opinion, having strong one-on-one relationships is even more important than having bigger alliances. And Jesse seemed to be building both. 

-Justine put herself on the chopping block by telling Jesse that she's a good actress and a good liar. What a bizarre thing to brag about on Survivor. Total miscalculation on her point thinking that was a good idea. If she was such a good liar, she should've lied and said she's a horrible liar. Instead, she put a huge target on her back. 

-Cody is a dynamic character. He's there for livin' not for winnin'. He seems like he'd play the bartender at a resort in a romantic comedy who sleeps with the main character's wife. He's entertaining, but I stand by saying he has a 0.0% chance of winning. His gameplay will be way too erratic (more on that later) and he'll burn out in spectacular fashion.

Immunity Challenge

-This immunity challenge looked HARD. They had to swim, climb through cages with a FOUR HUNDRED pound snake, and then complete a puzzle. Jonathan probably could've completed it with one hand, but there's no Jonathan this season. 

-Yellow came in first to win immunity and fishing gear. Blue came in second to win immunity and less fishing gear. And red came in last, mainly due to an overall very bad challenge performance from Nneka. 


-Due to her horrible challenge performance, Nneka was now on the chopping block next to Justine. It begs the classic pre-merge Survivor question. Would you rather keep the tribe strong or keep people you trust? That's what Cody and Jesse had to decide. For me, I'm always keeping the people I trust. I'm okay with going to tribal council if I'm going with people I trust to not vote me out. And when the merge hits, you want as many allies as possible. You'll also want those weaker players around to beat in individual challenges. I don't think going into the merge with the biggest tribe in tact is necessarily a good thing. We often just see the other two, smaller tribes band together to gang up on the biggest one. So I'd much rather hit the merge with 2 or 3 other people I really trust than 4 or 5 with a couple of wild cards and potential flippers mixed in. 

-Cody and Jesse agreed with me and decided to target Justine. Those two votes plus Nneka would be enough to send Justine home. Dwight couldn't vote because he risked it and lost it in the previous episode. When Jesse told Dwight the plan, he fought back a bit and said he wanted Nneka out instead. I thought this was bad gameplay by Dwight. First of all, Jesse just told you that Justine bragged about being a good liar AND she told Jesse she doesn't really trust him. It was clear she should be the target. Questionable that Dwight couldn't read that. And more questionable that he'd push back when he's powerless. He's dropping down my rankings. 

-Things seemed set to take Justine out with a 3-2 vote, but then Cody happened. He found a Beware Advantage and chose to open it. The reward was an immunity bracelet. The risk was he could only get it if he could willingly get one bead from each of his other tribemates' bags, or else he'd lose his vote. I thought opening this was a mistake when you know from previous seasons that Beware Advantages often lead to lost votes. A vote he really needed in just a few hours. This type of reckless gameplay won't win you the season.

- But luckily for Cody, he already had this reputation as a fun-loving goofball, so nobody really batted an eye when he said he just wanted the beads to make a hat. Well, everyone except Noelle who made a bracelet out of them. I don't think Noelle was suspicious, I think she just wanted a fucking bracelet. And although it would end up hurting her, I think the right gameplay move is actually to give the bead (assuming of course you don't know the twist), because you don't want to be the one person on the tribe who isolates yourself and doesn't play along. I liked this bead twist overall and thought it was a nice change-up. Kind of funny having them beg for the bead while Noelle was just like "Hey look at my bracelet!" Better than the secret idol phrase. Required some real skill to get it done so credit to Cody. Reminded me of Tony with the fire tokens in Season 40. If this was him, he would've had everyone's beads and firstborn children in 20 minutes. 

Tribal Council

-Going into tribal, it seemed like Cody didn't get Noelle's bead and would lose his vote. So I was thinking maybe Jesse would switch his vote to Nneka to avoid any potential ties and rock draws that could backfire against him. But thanks to some trick editing, we saw that Cody did actually get the bead and regained his vote. We've seen those trick edits more and more in recent seasons, and I was fine with it here. If we knew Cody had his vote, there would've really been no suspense. 

-I did find it interested that it ended up being a 3-1-1 vote. Cody, Jesse, and Nneka voted for Justine. She voted for Cody. Noelle voted for Nneka. We were under the impression that they were voting together for Nneka. But perhaps Jesse got them to split their votes just in case Cody lost his? This is something I would've liked to see in the edit. 

-Dwight seemed upset at Jesse for the vote, but he'll have to get over it. Justine couldn't be trusted and Dwight can't burn his one ally in Jesse already. 

And that's a wrap for Episode 2 of Survivor 43. A pretty good one, and I'm excited for next week. 

Winner 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. Jesse

2. Elie

3. Owen

4. Karla

Tier 2

5. James

6. Geo

7. Ryan

8. Jeanine

9. Cassidy

10. Sami

Tier 3

11. Lindsay 

12. Dwight

13. Noelle 

14. Nneka

0.0% Chance

15. Cody

16. Gabler

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