The following contains spoilers for Episode 10 of Survivor Season 43.With 10 episodes down and just 8 players left (7 after Tribal Council), Survivor Season 43 is starting to near the endgame, and players are beginning to consider who they want to sit next to them at the final Tribal Council. It still seems like some of these players are hesitant to make really big moves, as many of the major strategic threats have been able to stay relatively safe throughout the season so far. Episode 10 had a few emotional highs, but overall came off as a fairly average and not particularly exciting episode, though that has kind of been the general feeling of the season so far.

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This episode is really Noelle’s, and if anything, sort of acts as a send-off because of how her story goes by the end. She’s been a major player through the whole season, but this episode really exemplified why she’s a threat, setting the audience up to root for her only to have to watch her get taken out in the end. That’s her narrative thread through Episode 10, and while it’s disappointing for anyone who is a big Noelle fan, this episode at the very least gives her the recognition she deserves.

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The episode kicks off with an early challenge, and it’s for a reward (a very much-needed meal and night of sleeping in a real bed, as well as letters from home). Noelle really struggles with the middle part of the challenge involving a balance beam, as her prosthetic leg makes it difficult for her to keep her balance on the tiny plank of wood. Every other player has gotten to the end and is trying to land their sandbag on top of the pole while Noelle still fights the beam, despite wanting to give up. She doesn’t, and she pushes through until she finally completes it, and after all of that manages to be the first person to land her sandbag, winning the challenge.

survivor s43 e10 noelle

It’s a very emotional moment, as it was such a massive comeback and such a satisfying outcome after her struggle earlier in the challenge. She is now also faced with the decision of who to bring with her on the reward, which is one of the elements of the game that proves that strategizing never stops, as the players really have to consider the consequences of every move they make. She chooses to take Sami, Jesse, and Owen with her, leaving the others back at camp with their uncomfortable sleeping conditions and meager portions of rice.

While the meal and accommodations are nice, the letters from home are what the players are really looking forward to, and they are as emotional as ever, especially because this is basically likely as close as they can get to having a loved ones visit due to COVID restrictions. After this moment of emotional bonding, Sami declares that he doesn’t want to flip his votes anymore and devises a plan with the others to vote Cassidy out and split the votes between her and Karla. Of course, plans made this early in the episode rarely come to fruition.

survivor s43 e10 challenge

Then comes the Immunity Challenge, which involves balancing a tower of tiles and trying to build it up past a designated line. The task is difficult, and it leads to a fantastic montage of everyone’s towers toppling over and over again, with their faces getting progressively more frustrated with each fall. Eventually, Cassidy manages to get hers to stay and wins the individual Immunity, spoiling Sami’s big plan to vote her out in the process.

In the post-Immunity, pre-Tribal scramble, everyone is trying to decide where their loyalties (as well as the loyalties of their allies) lie. Jesse explains his master plan for pulling off a blindside, presented with some wonderfully campy Survivor editing. Step one: have a cover story – in this case, specifically towards Noelle to ensure that she doesn’t suspect him. Step two: throw the fall guy under the bus, which Jesse does by telling Noelle that Sami is gunning for her, once again letting Jesse get the blame off of himself. Step three: have a backup plan – Gabler. Jesse points out that you can’t just tell people how to vote in this game and expect them to go along with you. You have to let them make the decision “on their own”, even as you influence them the whole time, which is the exact tactic he uses on Gabler.

survivor s43 e10 gabler

Gabler, however, is one of the only people who later points out to Karla that Jesse and Cody are dangerous and are kind of running the votes right now. Despite how good his game has been, Jesse has been one of the players who has surprisingly flown under the radar when it comes to votes, which could be really good for him in this late stage of the game, where the other players may now be too late to vote him out. Of course, it’s too close to Tribal for Gabler or Karla to do anything about Jesse or Cody right now, but this seems to be setting up that they might try to target them in the future.

At Tribal, despite her heroic showing at the reward challenge and the people she decided to take on that reward, Noelle is sent packing, leaving Karla and Cassidy as the last women standing on the island. It wasn’t a bad move to vote her out; she’s well-liked by the tribe and, as everyone was pointing out, has managed to stay afloat despite multiple attempts to bring her alliances down. She was a good player and might have had a shot to win, so sending her home was for the best, even if it wasn’t the biggest or most exciting move that could have been made. Hopefully these players will come out with some big swings as the final episodes air, because this season has leaned a little too closely to the side of safety so far.

MORE: Survivor Season 43 Episode 9 Review

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