Survivor 43 Episode 5 Recap: A Few Bad Actors

On the heels of last week’s episode of Survivor, where Lindsay was sent home due to her own paranoia, it appeared for a minute that history was going to repeat itself this week. Cassidy was feeling worried that she was going to be voted out next, despite the fact that she was being constantly reassured by her cool, calm and collected tribe mates, Karla and James, that she was totally safe.

But things did go differently this week, thanks to the poor acting skills of island BFFs, Ryan and Geo. Even with Cassidy feeling some pressure and getting a bit worked up, Karla and James just had to act on the Geo/Ryan alliance. They were feeling so comfortable in the game, that the pair had come up with some elaborate schemes that they were super-confident would work in their favor. Ryan tried to force a totally unbelievable persona on himself, of being a “giver,” and being so noble that he would voluntarily fall on his sword. Cassidy – and the viewers – weren’t buying that bull for even a minute. And then when Geo came back to camp with the “Knowledge is Power” advantage, he decided to lie to the tribe and tell them that he didn’t take any risks, even though he then came clean to Karla. Not a good look. The sum of Ryan and Geo’s actions was too much for the others to handle, and with that, they blindsided Geo and sent him home way earlier than Geo had expected. For those that are not fans of the “Knowledge is Power” advantage, it must have also been nice to see that advantage get flushed from the game just minutes after being introduced into it.

And to think, Geo ended up going home partially because his closest ally, Ryan, single-handedly decided to throw the Immunity Challenge. I’m sure there have been, but has there ever been a more arrogant duo pre-merge than Ryan and Geo?

Episode 5 began and ended with the Blue Tribe. We didn’t get much from Red Tribe tonight, other than them dominating yet another challenge (their third challenge win in a row). We did get to see Jesse head off on the “Risk/Reward” excursion, along with Jeanine from the Yellow Tribe and Geo from Blue, but other than that, we hardly got a glimpse of anything new happening at their camp.

Despite not seeing Tribal Council this week, the Yellow Tribe did have a lot going on. This was, in fact, Jeanine‘s episode. Up until now, Jeanine had mostly been portrayed as Elie‘s partner-in-crime, but she really had a breakout episode for herself. First, she came across the Beware Advantage, and was tasked with the same “bead gathering” mission that we’ve seen play out at the other two tribes. She ended up securing her vote AND an Immunity Idol for herself, even though her method of bead collecting was a bit unorthodox in comparison to what we had seen in the past. Sami and Owen both appeared to ponder the thought of not giving Jeanine their beads, so that she would just lose her vote. But they all ultimately went along with it, even Gabler, although Sami explained to Gabler later that Jeanine had in fact gotten an Idol after collecting all of their beads. It’s a risky play, to allow Jeanine to acquire an Idol, but Jeanine doesn’t know that everyone else knows she has it. As fate would have it, Jeanine ended up losing her vote at her next Tribal Council anyways, after she took the “risk” at the “Risk/Reward” excursion, and came up empty.

The Gabler vs. Elie drama has been escalating each and every episode, so it will be interesting to see how this ends up playing out now that we’ve presumably reached the merge.

Episode Take-Away. It looks like we’ve hit the merge, although it was the players, not Jeff, that declared “merge!” during the next episode’s preview. If it is in fact the merge, we have reached it with a pretty even tribe split: 4 Blues, 4 Reds, and 5 Yellows. The Yellow Tribe has the slight numbers advantage, and also the slight advantage advantage (you’ve read that right), with both Gabler and now Jeanine in possession of Idols. The Red Tribe has Cody with an Idol and Noelle with her Steal-A-Vote, and then Blue Tribe has Karla‘s Idol.

As to the breakdown of the dynamics within the tribe, the Blue alliance of Karla, James and Cassidy seems quite formidable, and even though Ryan is on the outs with them, he may not have anywhere else to turn and may be targeted early due to how big a physical threat he is. The Red Tribe has galvanized over the past few weeks, absolutely crushing the challenges once their backs were against the wall, which means that Noelle, Cody, Jesse and Dwight, should they remain tight moving forward, may also be trouble for the others. What occurs within the Yellow Tribe may be what shapes the rest of the season. Though they have the numbers and the most advantages, they are also the most fractured. We know it’s Gabler vs. Elie and Jeanine, and while Sami and Owen appear to be closer to Gabler, will they ultimately decide to go that route?

The merge episode is always one of the best of each season, so I can’t wait for next week! If tonight’s episode was the last “pre-merge” episode of the season, I’d say this was a pretty solid start to what looks like a promising overall season. What say all of you?

Erik Reichenbach DabuDoodles Art. We’re honored here to be associated with Survivor legend Erik Reichenbach, who just so happens to be an amazing artist. As always, we’re thrilled that he shares his talents every week on my column and with my audience with a new piece of Survivor artwork each week. His latest piece will appear here usually in the days after the show’s airing, so if it does not appear here now, check back usually by the weekend following an episode and give this page a refresh. All of Erik’s work can be found and purchased on his site,, and I urge you to support this fantastically skilled former Survivor player!

“Game In Our Hands”

Art by Erik Reichenbach –

Out this week: Geo

Won Immunity: Red Tribe and Yellow Tribe

Vote Result: No advantages or Idols were played. 3 – Geo (Karla, James, Cassidy), 2 – Cassidy (Geo, Ryan)

Current Advantage List:

  • Gabler – 1 Immunity Idol (expires after one more Tribal Council for him)
  • Jeanine – 1 Immunity Idol (unclear if/when it expires)
  • Cody – 1 Immunity Idol (unclear if/when it expires)
  • Karla – 1 Immunity Idol (unclear if/when it expires)
  • Noelle – 1 Steal-A-Vote

Next Week’s Episode: Drop your buffs…it’s the merge y’all! But as Jeff Probst teases, this one comes with a twist…

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[Photo Credit: CBS/Monty Brinton/Robert Voets/Timothy Kuratek/Jeffrey Neira/Michele Crowe/David M. Russell]