On Wednesday, Oct. 19, “Survivor 43” narrowly avoided a catastrophe. The most widely despised twist in the show’s history came back for round three, but was eliminated hours later.
The episode began at Coco Beach, where Geo saw immediate repercussions for his vote at the last Tribal Council. He opted to vote for Cassidy when everyone else voted for Lindsay, just in case Lindsay had an idol. This was a solid move — it protected him from Lindsay idoling him out. However, voting for someone who ends up staying always has social consequences. Cassidy was angry, and as soon as she found out it was Geo who voted for her, their relationship was dead. Geo was now even further on the outs, along with Ryan. Because of their connection to Karla, though, the duo believed they still had the numbers.
At Baka Beach, Jeanine found the Beware Advantage. Just like with Karla and Cody, this meant she lost her vote until she collected beads from each of her tribe members’ bags. Once she finished that, she’d have her vote back, along with a hidden immunity idol. I wish that production had created a different task for each tribe’s Beware Advantage, because watching a player try to get the beads from their tribemates for the third time was not interesting. Also, since we had already seen two people do this successfully, I never felt like Jeanine would realistically fail. Jeanine and Elie chose to tell everyone in their tribe about the advantage, except for Gabler. I didn’t love this move — the odds of Gabler finding out and resenting them for it were very high. Sami told him, but unfortunately, it was too late. Jeanine had the beads and her immunity idol.
Jeanine and Elie are a tight duo, and they think they’re running Baka. However, they have a massive blind spot — Sami and Gabler are much tighter than they think. Owen is positioned as the swing vote, and is still undecided as to which pair he’ll side with. The power lies with him, not with the two women. It’ll be fascinating to see Owen’s decisions moving forward, as well as if Jeanine and Elie catch on to the fact that their situation is less rosy than they believe.
Jeanine, Jesse, and Geo went to a separate beach, and were tasked with the same dilemma as we’ve seen multiple times in this season. Each could choose to either protect or risk their vote. Risking means a shot at an advantage, but only one exists, and failing to get it means you lose your vote at the next Tribal Council. For the first time ever, all three castaways decided to risk it. Geo was the lucky one, meaning Jesse and Jeanine are both without a vote at their next Tribals. Geo opened his advantage back at Coco Beach and read it — it was the Knowledge Is Power advantage. At this point in the episode, I paused my television. I left my room, walked around my dorm, and contemplated whether there was justice left in this world. Why, why would Jeff Probst do this to me?
The Knowledge Is Power advantage is awful — with this advantage, you can ask any player at Tribal Council whether they have an idol or advantage before the votes are read. They aren’t allowed to lie, and if the answer is yes, they have to give it to you. So much is wrong here. Restricting players from lying is antithetical to the whole point of “Survivor.” At its core, it’s a social experiment. People live together, creating their own society within the basic rules of the game. This is far too restricting, and feels gimmicky. Also, it’s not an interesting advantage. If the person with Knowledge Is Power just keeps the advantage to themselves, they can ruin someone’s game with something that the player never knew existed. It’s basically “Survivor’s” version of a swap hands card in UNO — no one asked for it, and it just makes everyone mad.
Thankfully, this advantage has never actually worked. In both “Survivor 41” and “Survivor 42,” the holders of Knowledge is Power told others about it. Once the advantage and who holds it is common knowledge, it’s easy to overcome. This led to awesome moments in both seasons, like Xander Hastings tricking Liana Wallace into asking him if he had the idol in “Survivor 41.” He had given it to Evvie Jagoda before tribal, so the answer was no. However, an advantage that only leads to entertaining results when misused is a bad advantage. I was shocked that “Survivor” decided to bring it back, but thankfully it didn’t last long. For some reason, Geo chose the same path as Liana, and Drea Wheeler (“Survivor 42”) after her. He told Karla about the advantage, stripping away its power. Unbeknownst to Geo, Karla had an idol, meaning that she was uniquely threatened by his new advantage.
Coco lost the immunity challenge, largely because of Ryan’s failure in the last portion. Ryan actually wasn’t disappointed that they lost — he thought he had the majority in him, Karla and Geo. Because of this, he overplayed his hand. He pretended to be fine with going home in order to make Cassidy feel safe, while planning to take her out. I was very disappointed in Ryan here. This move was executed poorly, and the whole idea was incredibly transparent — if Cassidy was actually in danger, she would’ve been able to tell. To make things worse for Ryan, she was never even actually in danger. Karla, James, and Cassidy were the majority, as they always had been. The trio chose to blindside Geo because of his advantage. Geo left, as did the Knowledge Is Power advantage — restoring justice to the Survivor world.
Ryan was blindsided as well, and is now left alone at the bottom of his tribe. At least he now knows the reality of his tribe’s alliance structure. Thirteen remain, and we have officially survived the Knowledge Is Power advantage (at least until “Survivor 44”). Tune in next week for another strategy-packed hour of “Survivor” goodness.