“Survivor 43” Premiere Recap – Risk Management

“Survivor 43” (CBS)

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Alrighty! We kick things off with a trio of boats racing through the Fijian waters. During the journey we get to meet…

  • Ryan who was born three months early (?!) which gave him a mild case of cerebral palsy. Doctors told him he’d never walk. He’s overcome a lot to be here.
  • Nnera who grew up in Nigeria which she says was like “Survival of the fittest.”
  • Noelle who lost her leg in a moped accident and went on to become a US record-setting Paralympian.
  • Morriah who makes Rainbow Brite look like a goth kid. Wow! Her attire is amazing!
“Survivor 43” (CBS)
  • Sami who is young and “enegerable” (his word).
  • Lindsay who is the biggest “Survivor” fan of all time. My son Papa Bear would beg to differ with you.
  • Karla who kicks ass.
  • Cody who’s going to play the game hard and fast. Welp, you can’t win it on day one, but you sure can lose it.
  • Cassidy who makes her own fate.
  • Elie who makes people do what they don’t want to do.
  • James who wants chaos.
  • And Owen who used to daydream about seeing his name in the opening credits. (Which the editors have nicely made happen for him.)

And finally, we meet up with our Emmy-hoarding host Jeff Probst who welcomes us to “Survivor 43.”

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Baka Tribe (wearing yellow)

  • Elie, 31 – Clinical Psychologist
  • Jeanine, 24 – UX Developer
  • Gabler, 52 – Heart Valve Specialist
  • Morriah, 28 – Middle School Teacher
  • Owen, 30 – College Admissions Director
  • Sami, 19 – Pet Cremator

The Coco Tribe (wearing blue)

  • Cassidy, 26 – Designer
  • Geo, 36 – Project Manager
  • James, 37 – Event Planner
  • Karla, 28 – Educational Project Manager
  • Lindsay, 42 – Pediatric Nurse
  • Ryan, 25 – Warehouse Associate

The Vesi Tribe (wearing red)

  • Cody, 35 – Elevator Sales
  • Dwight, 22 – Graduate Student
  • Jesse, 30 – Political Science, PhD
  • Justine, 29 – Cyber Security Sales
  • Noelle, 25 – US Paralympian
  • Nneka, 43 – Pharmacist

Quick Aside: I love that there’s a tribe named after my favorite Pixar movie!

Another Quick Aside: If you like the blue tribe’s matching accessories you might be cuckoo for Coco buffs.

Yet Another Quick Aside: I am so sorry for that last joke.

The three boats make their way to the beach where they’re greeted by Jeff and what appears to be an opening challenge.

During the opening chat we learn that…

  • Jeanine is there for herself and her father. “Survivor” was his first favorite show after coming to the United States.
  • James admits to being a day-one fan and that he’s a big Earl Cole guy. (Which I totally get.) He’s also a Philly fella like me. (Which I love.)
  • Gabler and his family are all big fans.
  • Noelle has been watching since she was ten. She also says losing her leg was the best thing to ever happen to her because it makes her appreciate what she has. That’s a fantastic attitude.

From there, Probst claims that there aren’t a lot of rules to the game. Mmm…I bet you seven fire tokens that most people would disagree with that.

Reward Challenge: Two players from each tribe will race down the beach and retrieve two crates. Then two other players will bring a boat back to shore that has more crates. Once all the crates are on the beach, the two last players will use the crates to create a cube. The first team to climb the cube and retrieve a flint will win supplies for their tribe; a pot, a machete, and the flint.

The losing tribes will have to earn their supplies another way.

Result: Baka jumped out to an early lead, but Vesi was able to pass them during the second portion. However, Coco was able to complete the puzzle first. All three tribes struggled to release their flint until Cody came up with a strategy that helped Dwight seal the deal for Vesi.

At Vesi Beach

During the getting-to-know-you portion, Nneka and Justine both think that they have boy names with Justine saying that her parents just added a vowel to the end. Kind of like my daughter Boston Roba.

And unfortunately, they learn that nobody on their team has any construction experience. Well, Cody could build them an elevator.

It takes a while, but Justine is able to finally make fire for the group.

Alliance-wise, it looks like Justine and Noelle are partnering up while Cody, Nneka, and Jesse are working together. However, it seems like Jesse has his choice between the two groups.

Cody also plants a seed that Justine shouldn’t be trusted because she’s in sales. That may seem like a small point, but it could pay dividends before they really get to know each other.

At Baka Beach

The tribe is greeted by an hourglass. SMASH IT! Send us back to a time with themes instead of numbers!

Oh, they get a choice between “savvy” and “sweat.” Savvy is a brainteaser the whole tribe can participate in. While “sweat” is a challenge where two people will have to dig up their supplies and they won’t be able to talk to anyone.

They choose savvy, which is a puzzle where they have a four-digit number that’s made of bones. They must move two bones to make the highest possible number.

My Initial Thoughts: Can you make a one out of two bones and make it a five-digit number?

Oh, Sami does me one better and turns a zero into three ones to make a six-digit number. Well done, sir.

We also learn that Sami is lying about his age because nobody wants to give a million bucks to a nineteen-year-old. I’m starting to like Sami.

He also tells us that as a pet cremator, he doesn’t throw animals on a fire, he places them gently. I have no idea what to do with that information.

However, with his incendiary experience, he’s also able to get a fire started. OK everyone, keep an eye on your pets.

Strategically, Owen tries to hit the ground running, but nobody seems to be picking up what he’s putting down. He tells several people he’ll let them know if their names are thrown out, but no solid alliances are coming out of it.

The women come together over Elie sharing a story about losing her sister to drug addiction. They all agree to work together.

Gabler is very worried that his age makes him the odd person out. But he’s able to bond with Elie over heavy metal. Hopefully he doesn’t try to Slayer. I’m sorry, that joke was Korny.

At Club Coco

The blue squad is greeted with the same choice; savvy or sweat. Geo volunteers to dig and Ryan joins him.

Oof…big mistake. Digging is easily the most exhausting thing you can do in a “Survivor” challenge. And when you’re not sure where to dig, it’s worse. There’s no finish line in your brain.

Ryan comes up with a strategy to dig an X around the area and it’s successful. They were able to locate the supplies in about 30 minutes. Maybe you shouldn’t listen to me.

Cassidy, Karla, and Lindsay seem to form an early alliance with Lindsay also being drawn to James because of their Pennsylvania roots. Cheesesteak Alliance!

Karla and Geo both bond over their shared experiences of being married, gay, and Latino. Unfortunately, Geo’s family doesn’t accept of his husband.

Actually, it seems like Karla is working with everyone at this point. Which as we know isn’t always a good thing.

They’re on a Boat

All three of the tribes receive a message that tells them that one member of their group will be going on a little boat excursion. Karla will go for Coco, Gabler for Baka, and Dwight for Vesi.

They’re taken to a separate island where they will have to make a decision. All three will be given the chance to risk their vote at the next Tribal Council for an advantage. Only one of them will actually win. So, the less people who risk their vote, the better your chances are.

Karla does not risk her vote, Gabler and Dwight roll the dice. So, they each have a 50% chance of getting the advantage. (I feel like I’d want to know what the advantage is in advance.)

Back at their respective camps, Dwight and Gabler both tell the truth about the journey, but Cody doesn’t believe Dwight. When they both sneak away to learn their fate…Gabler wins an immunity idol that is good for his next two Tribal Councils. And, they both tell their tribes the truth about the results.

Immunity Challenge Time: The tribes will race through obstacles while collecting three balls. One player will dig under a log and release a ramp. The tribe will then climb the ramp and cross a balance beam. The first tribe to get to the end will have their choice of table mazes. The second gets second choice and so on. The first two tribes to complete the table maze will win immunity. The losing tribe will head to Tribal and hand over their flint.

Result: Coco took an early lead and never gave it up, claiming first place. Vesi came in second place when Sami and Gabler couldn’t seem to get on the same page.

As Baka heads back, Sami says they haven’t been talking strategy yet. Um…not according to the first 90 minutes of this episode.

Pre-Tribal Politicking

Gabler, knowing that he might be in trouble due to the puzzle issue, tells everyone that he’s going to play his Shot in the Dark. That’s certainly a strategy.

Elie immediately lets Gabler know that she has no interest in voting for him. And, in a plan to keep the tribe strong, Morriah’s name is immediately thrown out. This makes Jeanine nervous because she doesn’t want to give the guys the majority.

Also, Sami wants to get rid of Owen because he seems smart. Maybe a little early for that.

Tribal Time

Before things get underway, Probst says something about fire representing your life. It was catchy.

Nothing terribly interesting is said other than Morriah claiming they won because they didn’t give up. It’s admirable, but I don’t know if it’s a win.

Voting Time: No votes are shown.

JPro tallies and returns. He asks if anyone wants to play an advantage and…nobody does.

Alright, we’ve got one vote for Morriah, one vote for Owen, two votes for Morriah, and the first person voted out of “Survivor 42” is…Morriah.

Verdict: I always say that someone usually deserves to be the first person out. But, I feel like poor Morriah was a victim of having nowhere to hide on a six-person tribe.

In fact, this could be the first season I’ve ever covered where I could see everyone in the cast having a chance of winning. Wild!

Other than that, a pretty solid premiere. We got to know almost everyone. There are some really strong players, nobody did anything particularly stupid, and things weren’t bogged down by too many twists.

And as for a winner pick? How can I root against a Lindsay from my hometown?

  • Elie – I think there’s something to be said for people who can recognize when their early alliance isn’t going to work out. That, and she’s clearly running the show at Baka.
  • Lindsay – She could’ve taken some heat for not retrieving the flint, but she seems to be emerging as a strong leader.
  • Sami – OK “Enegerable” is definitely not a word, and Sami is definitely a threat. He made his call, then was smart enough to back off when the winds weren’t blowing that way.
  • Jeanine – Same as Sami, no need to rock the boat. If Elie wants to make calls, let her.
  • James, Jesse, and Nneka – Playing the middle. Love it.
  • Owen – Owen didn’t really do anything wrong, but he already has a target on his back.
  • Geo and Ryan – Digging holes and making friends. Not bad.
  • Justine – She started a fire, but I worry that Cody’s sales stratagem just might stick.
  • Cody – He’s going to run away with this season or he’s going to burn out quick. I’m not sure which way I’m leaning.
  • Karla – What did the tribe think when you came home empty handed? I’d love to know.
  • Gabler –  Good job securing that idol, but what was the deal with the post-challenge Shot in the Dark threat? I’d be really nervous about working with you.
  • Dwight – You told the truth, didn’t get an advantage, lost your vote, and people don’t trust you. Ooof.
  • Cassidy and Noelle –  I can’t grade you if you don’t show your work.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @GordonHolmes