Survivor 43 Finale Top 7 Moments
The “Survivor 43” season finale aired Wednesday night and concluded with the host Jeff Probst crown a new millionaire Mike Gabler. The 52-year-old from Meridan, Idaho defeated Cassidy Clark and Owen Knight after leading the jury to believe that he was the most deserving of the Sole Survivor title. So for the last time this season, we look back at the silliest, most shocking and most exciting moments of this memorable finale.
SEE Mike Gabler makes history after winning ‘Survivor 43’: I’m going to donate ‘a whole million dollars’ to charity
Top 7 moments of episode 13 (in chronological order):
1. New Graves, New Perk: Did I feel bad that the remaining contestants were sent to a brand new beach to start over? Heck no! After elimination of Cody Assenmacher, each one of them was extremely confident in their own way. Normally I applaud this, but some of them were over the top, esp Jesse Lopez, who had another idol ready to play in the game that was left untouched. He was a bit too smug in my opinion. When Mike discovered the benefit envelopes, this suddenly became the “Survivor” equivalent of Wordle. Karla Cruz Godoy figured it out first and off she went, injury and all. Owen wasn’t too far behind and was running like Usain Bolt to catch up with her. The chase for the advantage was close with Karla beating Owen to it by mere seconds. Needless to say, he wasn’t happy and chopped away a coconut, enraged, as the others observed.
2. The opportune time for immunity … and beef: The comparison to warriors at the Colosseum was an apt one as everyone had their game immediately. The reward was just as exciting since business usually equals success. They really threw everything into this challenge, with the season coming to a close. Jesse definitely steered the battle bus. He eventually made the time, but it was a brutal start for him. Karla’s advantage didn’t seem to help her much at all. Everyone did their best to figure it out, but Owen was especially gifted at the puzzle. By winning immunity, he cemented his place in the final four and appeared to be in disbelief. Perfect timing to ask who would join him right? Owen and Cassidy went to a feast that looked pretty delicious. The plot began quickly. With Jesse and Karla looming large as threats, the question really was “Who must go first?” A question they should have asked weeks ago. That duo wanted Cassidy out, with Karla blissfully unaware that Jesse had an idol, or so it seemed. Karla gave her best one-on-one appeal to Mike and Owen, with Owen suddenly questioning the order of elimination in his head. Finally someone who looks at jury management! Cassidy wasn’t buying any of Karla’s malarkey whatsoever. Karla basically ended up blackmailing Cassidy, and the former didn’t take this lightly. Look at the chaos at Tribal Council.
3. Tribal Council Shenanigans: The jury seemed happy that Owen won immunity. Jesse wasted no time calling Karla out on her sense, and Cody’s frown said it all. Jesse put his money where his mouth is and played his idol, along Jeanine Zheng in complete shock at the sight of the idol she so desperately needed to play during her final days as a contestant. Suddenly there was a side conversation between Jesse and a desperate Karla that led to everyone jumping in on the conversations. Honestly, the only normal actor on this tribe was Mike, who seemed completely uncomplaining. When all was said and done, Jesse’s idol was played and Karla was voted out. It seemed fine that she got the torch out, and Owen seemed especially happy to see her go.
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4. One last immunity challenge: Anyone else feeling a little sad that this was the last of the season? This challenge was quite amazing in terms of conception. It was especially windy, which made this even more fun. Owen and Cassidy made a mad dash for the win, but in the end the wind ended Owen’s hopes of back-to-back wins. An emotional Cassidy now had the power to decide who would make the dreaded fire to stay in the game. Owen wanted to face Jesse in the fire challenge for the sake of the game, which he thought might endear him to the jury. Jesse also had a plan and wanted Cassidy to fire at him – but she had no interest.
5. Burn Baby Burn: Once again, the jury was delighted to see the owner of the immunity chain, as she was indeed in “beast mode”. Jesse had no chills and once again tried to get Cassidy to make a fire to no avail. Owen was chosen to join the final three, much to his disappointment or relief. His facial expression was a poker face. That left Mike and Jesse fighting for their lives in the game. Also worth noting, my gut was right. I’m not sure who enjoyed watching the experience more, the two safe participants or Ryan Medrano and Noelle Lambert. In the end, Mike did his job perfectly and defeated the Jesse threat in the fastest fire ever done in this challenge. Jesse quickly broke down and only Mike was the positive reinforcement for him. Cassidy wasn’t moved to do that at all since this is “Survivor” and not a competition to get a best friend. She noted that she needed him gone to win, so a compliment was given.
SEE Everything to know about ‘Survivor 44’
6. The Final Countdown: Owen was very aware that this particular jury would be a difficult group to win over. From the sounds of it, the jury also thought very highly of him. Mike seemed to leave the jury with more questions than answers. Cassidy on the other hand would clearly have a tough time winning over Jesse, who sounded very bitter. Jeff welcomed the trio of contestants to the final tribal, where they now had zero power, and we saw three different approaches to winning over the judges.
Mike: When it comes to differentiating his game from the others, he admitted to being able to integrate with the different groups and alliances. It came across as loving. On the trust issue, he noted that he was able to read people, and even Jeanine had to give him the flowers for that. In the first interrogation area, Mike won people over with sincerity. Regarding the physical nature of the game, he was less vocal, but did mention that he could have been taken out due to a challenge. Mike brought the conversation back to his big move mail merge like his ability to be persuasive. My grade: A
Cassidy: Cassidy, who spoke very fast, noted that her story was one of a fighter who would not quit until she was forced to. Cassidy’s response to a big move she made was solid, but felt a little stale. Her approach to explaining her assassin-like ability to target people was impressive. She also tried to point several daggers at Mike, but it backfired on her. Cassidy convincingly explained that her relationship with Karla at the end of the game was wrong. She also failed to make a strong case that she was an important part of Ryan’s demise. My grade: B
Owen: Less convincingly, Owen played the underdog card, as he was for most of the game. When asked about his confidence, he explained the whole plan to get out James Jones. Owen briefly explained the core alliance he was in, but in such a brief way that it felt a bit like a canned answer. As for the physical aspects of the game, he was quick to cite the last gasp and his last five immunity wins as a highlight. He also struggled to handle the question by throwing over the whole James explosion. Owen regretted it a bit, but didn’t pull them out. He noted that there was no voice in which he was the great driver, but was a good team player. That answer especially won James over. My grade: A
The jury then took on its huge role in this game. Watching the jury vote is always bittersweet for me as you never know who is voting for whom. When the votes were read out, Mike won to Cassidy’s shock and the jury’s delight.
7. Reunion tips: Just like last season, the judges and finalists enjoyed pizza and champagne while fielding questions from Jeff. Mike surprised everyone with the fact that he donated all the money to charity. It also became abundantly clear that he had actually formed lasting relationships with his fellow contestants, which is rare for this show. Somewhere, millions of viewers have had their hearts grow three sizes. His fellow contestants also had their moments to shine.