Each week, Christine Pallon and Gia Worthy will round up the previous week of Survivor 43 as they list their top moments in various important categories. This includes the most essential information, the stand-out castaways, and the key moments from the week.
Here, Christine and Gia break down all the action from the season finale of Survivor 43.
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Top 3 Moments
Karla’s Last Stand
Gia: Karla had it rough going into the final five. She misplayed her idol the previous round, was on the bottom of the pecking order and was still struggling with her injuries. Even when all hope was lost, Karla proved to be the warrior she said she was by securing the final five advantage just seconds away from Owen. She then lost immunity but was fighting until the last second to keep herself in the game, even after Jesse’s idol reveal. Her resilience led to the first and only live tribal council of the season. While she was still voted out, no one can deny Karla went down swinging.
Jesse Loses Fire
Christine: Ever since he voted out Cody, Jesse essentially had to win final immunity or make fire to make it to the end. He was the obvious “big threat” left with both a solid “resume” and an incredible backstory, and anyone would be a fool to take him to the end. Once he lost the immunity challenge, he saw the writing on the wall and tried to convince Cassidy to make fire against him both at camp and at tribal since that was most likely his best chance at winning the challenge.
When Cassidy (correctly, in my opinion, despite the jury’s feelings on the matter) decided not to take such an unnecessary risk for one million dollars, Jesse faced off with Gabler in fire. Gabler handily defeated him and set a new fire-making record in the process, leading to one of the most emotional exits Survivor has seen in years.
Gabler Makes History
Gia: Most Survivor viewers were shocked when Gabler was crowned the Sole Survivor in a 7-1-0 vote. Perhaps even more surprising than the victory was his reveal of how he was going to spend his winnings. For the first time ever, Gabler announced on the reunion show that he would be donating the entire million-dollar prize to charities supporting veterans. No one in the cast knew about his plan beforehand, and it was enough to bring Ryan, whose dad is 100% VA, to tears. Overall, an unconventional ending to an unconventional season.
Christine: This whole merge, I repeatedly found myself saying: “Gabler is in such a good position, and I don’t know how.” I totally wrote off his winning chances — and understandably so, given how much negativity he got in the pre-merge — but I couldn’t deny he was in a solid strategic position for the entirety of the merge. Even if, from a viewing perspective, I think the jury overvalued him throwing out Elie’s name as a “big move,” and I take issue with the importance being put on winning fire-making, Gabler clearly did what he needed to do to win this particular jury over. I appreciate getting a shocking winner who’s using the money to do some good, even if Gabler winning wasn’t my preferred (or expected) outcome.
Gia: Cassidy was a strong player with an edit that didn’t give her the justice she deserved. She was strong, capable, and always had her finger on the pulse, even while all the other women were getting voted out around her. She was able to perfectly articulate all of her accomplishments throughout the season, and one can’t help but admire her well-earned confidence in her game. Unfortunately, this wasn’t Cassidy’s season to win. While I disagree that she should’ve put herself into final four fire-making, I understand why she lost. Nonetheless, she will be remembered for all of her strong points, and with Gabler donating all of his winnings, Cassidy stans can be rest assured that she walked away with the biggest cash prize.
Christine: Owen had a wild journey this season all the way to the Final Three. After the merge, he was never quite able to crawl his way out of the bottom and into the heart of the game, but he never gave up. Even at Final Tribal, when he knew he was most likely drawing dead, he made an honest and humble case for himself as a winner despite the odds stacked against him. With this finale, Survivor 43’s resident Charlie Brown joins an elite club of beloved zero-vote finalists where he’s in very good company.
Gia: Going into the final four, this was Jesse’s game to lose. He was by far the most consistent player having never voted incorrectly and always being in the know about the vote. That doesn’t even begin to cover the main highlights of the game, which include stealing Jeanine’s idol, blindsiding Cody, and convincing Karla to misplay her idol. It was heartbreaking to see him lose the fire-making challenge, but you can tell that his passion for the game and his loved ones are what got him as far as he did. I have no doubt Jesse will return in a future season, hopefully, to finish what he started.
Gia: Throughout the highs and lows, Karla was a star from beginning to end. She was undeniably my favorite since the pre-season press, so to see her make the finale was a dream come true. She knew she was on the bottom going into the final five, but she fought for her place in the game every step of the way like the true warrior she is. I admire her strength and perseverance, as well as her head for the game. Now all that’s left is to wait for her comeback on Second Chances 2.
Final Five Advantage
Christine: This whole “let’s make the final five start over at a new camp” business they’ve been doing the past few seasons is goofy and not that interesting, but whatever. Once again, our final five contestants scrambled for one last advantage in the game. Karla and Owen were the only two to get past the word unscramble and actually hunt for the advantage itself, and it looked like Owen was for sure going to snag it, given Karla’s injuries. Even though he could outrun her, she still managed to grab it before him, giving Owen another very Charlie Brown-esque moment. The advantage helped Karla a lot in the challenge, but not enough to win, with Owen still coming out on top and winning immunity.
Christine: Jesse had been holding onto Jeanine’s idol since Dwight got voted out and finally got to gag the girls with the big reveal at the final five tribal. On the jury, Jeanine was shocked (and devastated) to learn that her idol had still been in the game at the time she was eliminated. In the game, his reveal led to a live tribal. In the end, he decided to play it on himself, and Karla was eliminated with the majority of the votes still cast against her as initially planned.