‘Survivor’ 43’s Worst Social Player Cuts Merge Dream Short (RECAP)

Survivor Season 43 Episode 6 Merge
Spoiler Alert
Robert Voets/CBS

Merge, baby. Merge! After Geo’s elimination last week, it was time to bring Baka, Coco, and Vesi together as one. The annual merge was announced quickly in the beginning of Survivor Season 43 Episode 6 on October 26, and the squabbling tribes were all smiles meeting their one big team. But there was apprehension behind the grins. With no official merge buffs, the players knew a twist was coming.

While they waited for an update (hence the episode’s title, “Mergatory,”) some gleefully shared their advantage intel with select players. Here’s the roundup of idols and advantages, plus those without a vote heading into the merge:

Gabler: Idol for One Tribal

Noelle: Steal-a-Vote

Jeanine: Hidden Immunity Idol, No Vote

Jesse: No Vote

Karla: Hidden Immunity Idol

Noelle trusted Owen with her Steal-a-Vote secret, and then inadvertently revealed to Elie that Cody had the bracelet immunity idol at Vesi. Is she too quick to trust people, or could she be making them think that is part of her strategy? Spilling your secrets and seeing where they land can be a quick identifier of trustworthy competitors. Elie went straight to her closest ally, Jeanine, with her Cody tea, and they started planning a Baka/Vesi “supermajority” alliance.

“I feel like I was made for Survivor,” Elie told the cameras. “I kind of figured out how to hack things. I don’t know, I feel like this is my environment. The social element of the game, I knew I was gonna be good at, but I’m way better than I even thought. Honestly, that’s exactly where you wanna be at the merge.” All of Baka knows Elie coordinated rummaging through Gabler’s bag; she doesn’t. Baka also knows Elie tried to trick Gabler into thinking his idol was no longer in play; she thinks the trick worked. Who’s going to tell Elie her social game is actually one of the season’s worst so far? (And why is it always the therapists who can’t read people on this show?!) We have a feeling the Survivor confident curse is closing in on her.

Survivor Season 43 Merge

Robert Voets/CBS

When the nearly merged teams arrived for the Day 13 challenge, the only represented colors on the course were red and blue. And then came the merge twist from host Jeff Probst: like Seasons 41 and 42, competitors have to win their way onto the merged tribe. Their challenge: divide into two teams of six, race to remove a heavy pile of debris covering a sled. The sled would then be dragged across the course, the players collecting boxes along the way. The six crates build a staircase leading to a ring of keys that unlock a Survivor word puzzle, but first they’d have to climb up a curved ramp to get to it. The first team to solve the puzzle (reading “Earning your spot at every stage”) earned immunity, their light blue merge buffs, and a merge meal that no player can take away.

“Losers, not the same story,” Jeff added. The losing team got no immunity, no buff, and no meal — they had to survive the vote to make it into the merge. And while six players would have immunity, all of the players would go to Tribal Council to cast a vote. One final twist: with 13 players, one had to sit out. Whoever drew the grey rock would not compete, but they would choose one team to align themselves with in the challenge and share their fate. Hope everyone made some friends in their downtime!

Noelle drew grey and chose Team Blue, which had two players from her former Vesi team (Jesse and Dwight), whereas Team Red only had Cody. Team Blue also had Baka’s Gabler and Jeanine and Coco’s Karla and Ryan, with Baka’s Elie, Owen, and Sami and Coco’s James and Cassidy rounding out Team Red.

The game play was dramatic. Karla sustained a bloody hand injury but kept pushing, and Blue was severely behind for much of the race. But leads scarcely matter once puzzles get involved. Elie and Owen worked on the puzzle for Red, Dwight and Jeanine for Blue. Both teams whispered as they figured out the puzzle’s message. Noelle chose right: Blue won in the end. Happy tears were shed as the seven players accomplished a Survivor dream. As for the previously confident Elie, her private, whispered reaction to her puzzle failure said it all: “F***.”

Internally panicked and outwardly tearful, Elie began strategizing between voting out Cody and James. Ryan pitched their group, who truly just met, as a final seven alliance, which wasn’t received with excitement. And then Gabler started gunning for Elie: “Elie went through my bag on Day 3,” he declared in front of Jeanine, who had no idea he knew. While Elie didn’t search his bag herself, she told Jeanine to, and Jeanine listened. Elie also planned the unsuccessful trick about his “moot” idol (it’s still active), so Gabler was absolutely right not to trust her.

Then an unfathomable confessional reaction from Jeanine: “I am flabbergasted that he would just throw her under the bus like that. It’s wild to me what comes out of that man’s mouth, especially in front of me who he knows it’s gonna get back to her.” Jeanine: plays against Gabler for weeks thinking he’s dumb. Also Jeanine: I can’t believe he would take that personally!

Survivor Season 43 Episode 6 Elie and Jeanine

Robert Voets/CBS

Gabler capitalized on Team Blue’s indecision, explaining in solo commentary: “Everybody was fractured. They needed somebody to go for. And by throwing out Elie’s name, I was trying to throw out Elie’s name. The trust has been broken between me and Elie since Day 3, so right now, I’m targeting enemies that I know are enemies … I wanna look like I’m decisive.” Fair enough.

Back with Red, James wanted to get Elie out, sensing she’s not to be trusted. Cody considered not playing his idol despite knowing his name was up — possibly the right move, given his name is a front to blindside James. In front of Dwight and Cody, Jeanine immediately told Elie of Gabler’s “betrayal” (can you betray someone you were never allied with in the first place?). They both lied in front of the men pretending she wasn’t involved in Gabler’s bag search, conveniently failing to disclose that Jeanine did, indeed, take a peek. To the cameras, Elie was shocked Gabler offered her up “on a silver platter.” Which begs the question: Why…?

She confronted Gabler, lying about the bag again. Her defense crumbled when Gabler pressed her to share secrets he knew to be true from Owen and Sami, telling her straight-up that she was not to be trusted because she wouldn’t share that info even then. As Gabler argued, if she wanted to be “Baka strong” like she said, then why not loop him in? The panic in her eyes could be felt through the screen. She then confronted Sami and Owen, who both got annoyed that Gabler named Elie, but also didn’t seem genuine about helping secure her ideal votes. “I think Elie has to go tonight,” Sami told the cameras.

Jeanine kept saying Gabler was “off his rocker,” which is a weird label for telling the truth. Jeanine tried to save things and keep the Baka five together, and the guys encouraged him to keep it cool to keep the women at ease. As deliberations continued, Elie started becoming the consensus, but notably, for how she acted in “Mergatory,” not solely because of Gabler.

Certain players radiated unease through Tribal Council. We’ll let you guess who. Unfortunately for Elie, her closest ally was without a vote. After talk of playing idols or advantages with Jeff, no one played any. The first vote went to Elie, second to James, third randomly to Owen, and then fourth to Cassidy, whose name was tossed around for no real reason earlier. James was the only one to get a second vote, and the rest went to Elie. We all felt it coming, right?

In one final attempt to hurt Gabler, Elie told the group “y’all see what trusting Gabler will get you?” Elie never trusted him, so this comment is just one last attempt to screw him over. And it must be said that Gabler’s only offense to Elie was truly just being annoying. His putting up her name tonight was the first time he struck an intentional blow all season long.

As Gabler said back with a smile as she planted her torch, “Right back at you.” The players reacted in shock to Elie’s statement. They’ll likely soon realize how honest Gabler has been. But honesty won’t always help you win Survivor.

Survivor, Wednesdays, 8/7c, CBS