‘Survivor’ 43: Splintering Tribes Send [Spoiler] Home (RECAP)

Survivor Season 43 Episode 3
Spoiler Alert
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I'll Sign the Divorce Papers

Season 43 • Episode 3

[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Survivor Season 43 Episode 3, “I’ll Sign the Divorce Papers.”]

Trust is broken at Vesi after last week’s Tribal Council. Cody’s idol twist — completed with an assist from Nneka — sent Justine packing, leaving Noelle without her original alliance and Dwight and Jesse’s “island marriage” in the doghouse.

Vesi wasn’t the only tribe splintering quickly at the top of Survivor Season 43 Episode 3, which aired Wednesday, October 5 on CBS. Baka didn’t have to send a player home last week, but not-so-secret scheming deepened the divide between the men and women of the group.

Psychologist Elie and UX designer Jeanine were convinced Gabler didn’t know his idol was still in play, telling Sami their plan to convince him not to play it. The arrogance peeved Sami, he spilled the tea to Gabler, and Gabler played along with Elie’s attempted manipulation later.

All the while, Owen kept his knowledge of Elie and Jeanine’s snooping through Gabler’s bag close to his chest, determined to toe the line between both sides. After two episodes of light strategy, the game just got a lot more cutthroat.

Survivor Season 43 Episode 2

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Coco, on the other hand, was having a grand old time. Their first scene in the episode featured a birthday celebration for James, replete with handmade bracelets and plenty of food thanks to the gear they won in last week’s challenge. The birthday boy planned to spend his day looking for idols, announcing his plan to the crew. But as Karla described in solo commentary, everyone one the team had “low-key paranoia” about who may already have an idol.

While the others were distracted, she went out in search for one, finding a Beware Advantage. Unlike Cody, she put it back, choosing not to risk her precious vote. But that decision didn’t stick — Karla went back and took the Beware Advantage, learning that she must now collect the special beads given voluntarily from every player.

She smartly said she wanted to make a bracelet for her wife back home, inspired by the birthday bracelet they made for James. James gave in quickly, followed by Geo. To get the beads from Lindsay and Cassidy, she bartered earrings she brought to the competition. Ryan was harder to convince, but she remembered he was collecting turquoise things for his girlfriend. She traded her own turquoise beads for his one bead. And just like that, Karla got her idol and her vote back. Her speedy negotiations are noteworthy.

Then it was time to meet Jeff Probst for the Immunity/Reward Challenge. In it, three players from each team would leap off a tall tower into the ocean, climb a stack of crates, and dive into the water to retrieve a key. Once all three keys were collected, the remaining two players would unlock a turtle puzzle. The first tribe to complete their puzzle would win immunity and reward, the reward being a basket of fruit and a large toolkit. The second tribe to finish gets the same, but in smaller quantity, and last place loses their flint and heads to Tribal Council. Geo opted out of the day’s competition.

Noelle, a Paralympian with a prosthetic leg, showed off her athletic prowess in the challenge. She competed without her prosthesis, but it didn’t slow her down at all. The teams were neck-and-neck throughout the swimming and diving sections, with Jeanine and Elie winning first place for Baka with the puzzle. Lindsay and James solved the puzzle for Coco, and Jesse and Nneka for Vesi. Nneka’s performance in last week’s puzzle put her at serious risk of elimination. In fact, she was the top of the list to go home until she pulled through that beaded victory reactivating Cody’s voting ability. It’s hard to understand why Vesi would trust her with the puzzle again, but perhaps she was seeking redemption.

Survivor Season 43 Episode 3

Robert Voets/CBS

Unfortunately, it didn’t come. Despite snagging a strong lead when they started the puzzle, Coco pulled into second place over Nneka and Jesse, sending the red team back to Tribal Council for the second week in a row. But there was a twist at the end of the day’s game. Jeff told Baka to choose one player from each team, including their own, to go on a journey. They chose Noelle from Vesi, James from Coco, and Owen from their own camp. The trio left on a boat immediately.

Back at camp, Dwight was steadfast in his belief that Nneka and Jesse should be on the chopping block because of the puzzle. Nneka cried over the guilt she felt over the loss, and truly no one on the team felt good about back-to-back losses. In private, Cody and Jesse talked about seeing Noelle compete for the first time, admitting they thought her prosthetic leg might hold her back (she literally holds a U.S. record for track and field at the Paralympics, but OK). But she proved she’s one of the strongest physical players. Nneka’s puzzle failures two weeks in a row have unfortunately made her the weak link in her tribe’s eyes. With that context, Cody was ready to choose strength over alliance this time.

The other option they toyed with was Noelle, simply because her only strong alliance was sent home. Unlike Nneka, Noelle wasn’t present to defend herself. For their trio adventure, Noelle, Owen, and James followed a jungle path to a lookout, where they made a group decision. The three of them bonded on the way up, with Noelle explaining her circumstances at Vesi. Given she was at risk of elimination, she told them having an advantage could be a game-changer. And of course, losing her vote was not an option.

Survivor Season 43 Episode 3

Robert Voets/CBS

In the Risk or No Risk Challenge, only one player who risked their vote could end up with an advantage. The other would lose their vote at the next Tribal. Owen and James agreed not to risk their votes and let Noelle risk hers, setting her up for an advantage. They flipped their cards in front of each other to put their money where their mouths were.

“That is how you build trust,” James told them. Both he and Owen hope this will help Noelle take out a big threat on Vesi, improving all of their chances for the future merge. Noelle lied to her tribe, saying she chose not to risk her vote. And as it turns out, everyone should be concerned about her prosthetic leg, but not for the reason they thought: Noelle hid her advantage in her foot shell, knowing no one in their right mind would ask to look there when she offered to let them search her stuff.

She only trusted Dwight with the truth about her Steal-a-Vote, which would allow her to cancel out another player’s, and give her a second one, at Tribal Council. If she was to play it, it must be played when Jeff said “it’s time to vote.” She set her sights on Jesse, saying his comments in pre-vote discussion would be her deciding factor.

In Tribal Council, everyone but Noelle told Jeff they were extremely confident about how the vote would turn out. Despite that, Noelle did not play her advantage. And she didn’t need to, as everyone but Nneka voted for Nneka, making her the third person — and third consecutive woman — voted off of Survivor 43.

Survivor, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS