Survivor 43 Episode 7 Recap: ‘This Is The Big Leagues’

These “new era” Survivor players just get it. As Jesse explained during this week’s newest episode, this is the point of the game, “Where legends are made or you flame out. This is the big leagues.” You simply aren’t going to coast through Survivor, and win. Sure, you may make it to the end of the game, but you’ll never have done enough to convince a jury of your peers that your game was worth awarding a million dollars to.

Though last week saw the remaining players “earning the merge,” it was this week’s episode where it really felt the game entered that post-merge phase. Last week, several players were immune, certain players didn’t have votes, and there was simply a lot going on. This episode, we saw a lot more individual dynamics play out, leading to a major blindside for a player that had felt relatively safe, up until the moment his torch was snuffed.

Yes, it was Cody and Jesse who ultimately decided to “go big” and take out Dwight. Actually, it was Cody’s idea, and the way that it was portrayed on air made it look like Jesse (and Karla) were truly the two players pulling the strings. Jesse had wanted to target Noelle, but abandoned the idea when Cody came in with strong feelings about voting out Dwight. Jesse “allowed” Cody to have his way, figuring that getting out Dwight would ultimately weaken Noelle anyways.

But it was James who really caused a whirlwind of panic. While with others at the water well, James noticed a bottle floating in the well, and since he was the first to spot it and retrieve it, it belonged to him. It was a clue that there was something hidden under the shelter, but while they all agreed not to actively look for it, James did anyways, and he was rewarded with the “Knowledge is Power” advantage…an advantage that is quite powerful yet hasn’t quite been used properly just yet, since being introduced just a few seasons ago. James decided to share what he found with others, to build trust, but all it really did was freak a few players out who were already hanging on to their own advantages or Idols. Like Cody, who now saw James as a bigger threat because that new power could be used to potentially take away Cody’s Idol. Because the game is ever-shifting, ever-adapting, the tribe decided to counter the “Knowledge is Power” advantage by playing a game of musical chairs with all of their Idols/advantages…they figured if James didn’t know who had what or which advantage was with whom, then there would be less a chance of James actually successfully nabbing someone’s Idol or advantage.

This strategy ended up backfiring spectacularly, when poor Jeanine gave her Idol to Dwight in case James came looking for it. But when Dwight was blindsided – as confirmed by Dalton Ross of EW – that Idol that Jeanine gave him to hang on to is now officially gone as well, out of the game along with Dwight. Apparently, once the vote-reading begins, it is not possible to trade or swap advantages or Idols. So Jeanine, in trying to protect herself from James taking her Idol, ended up losing her Idol anyways by over-thinking it. I mean, it’s easy to second-guess a player’s move after they make it, but I tend to think it is a very risky move to EVER give an Idol or an advantage to another player going into Tribal Council. Jeanine now knows why.

As Dwight mentioned in his parting message, he just missed the jury. That means that the remaining 11 players are the ones we will ride out the rest of the season with…most likely a Final Three with an eight-person jury. Of the 11 remaining players, we have seven man and just four women left in the game.

Elsewhere this episode, Gabler was mentioned as being a wild card and a possible target by Owen, but he absolutely crushed the final leg of the Immunity Challenge to score himself the first Individual Immunity of the season. He did so by summoning all sorts of people from his past, honoring them one by one.  It was a touching moment, I just felt kind of bad for Cody, who was trying to redeem himself from losing a big wrestling match in his youth, but that was apparently not cosmically important enough to make a difference. Gabler continues to be one of the stand-out contestants this season, and every time you underestimate him, he becomes more and more resilient.

Episode Take-Away: The episode started and ended with Jeanine in complete and utter shell-shock, both times for good reason. She started off losing her closest ally and feeling terrible about being on the outs, and she ended the episode once again on the outs and having to experience the added gut-punch of realizing that her Immunity Idol was lost. The good news for Jeanine is that she won’t be on anybody’s radar…there are simply way too many bigger fish to fry. But players playing from the bottom usually don’t have a good enough story to actually win in the end…no big moves for the resumé when they are simply scuttering by.

The big foreshadowing of the episode might have been the discussions about “was it too early to make a big move?” or to use Cody‘s surfing analogy, should they keep hanging out safely on the beach or jump in the water. As we see with next week’s preview, there is talk of a majority seven-person alliance forming, but also scenes showing those on the outs – like Jeanine and now Noelle – possibly banding together to create some chaos. Jesse, Karla and to a certain extent Cody, have been portrayed thus far as sort of running things behind-the-scenes, but this Dwight vote-out may end up being their defining moment should they end up losing…was it, in fact, too soon to make a big move? Time will tell!

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!

“Get Out the Vote”

Art by Erik Reichenbach –

Out this week: Dwight

Won Immunity: Gabler (1)

Vote Result: No advantages or Idols were played. 7 – Dwight (Cassidy, Jesse, Cody, Karla, Sami, James, Ryan), 3 – Ryan (Gabler, Owen, Jeanine), 2 – James (Noelle, Dwight),

Current Advantage List:

  • Cody – 1 Immunity Idol
  • Karla – 1 Immunity Idol
  • Noelle – 1 Steal-A-Vote
  • James – Knowledge is Power advantage

Next Week’s Episode: There are 11 left in the game and a seven-person alliance may be forming…but there is also an uprising from those not currently in power.

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