The finale of Survivor 43 is almost upon us, and just six castaways remain as we head into next week’s penultimate episode. Looking back at my post-merge rankings, four of my top six are still in the game (Karla, Jesse, Owen, Cassidy), while my last pick (Gabler) has had a surprising late-season surge.
But who is in the best position to take the Sole Survivor crown? That’s what I will be looking at today in these updated power rankings of the six remaining players, organized from most likely to least likely to win. You can check out the previous premiere power rankings here and the post-merge rankings here.
The Cassidy curse appears to be very real. Whenever someone attempts to target Cassidy, they end up going home. We’ve seen this with Geo, Ryan, Noelle, and, most recently, Sami. Cassidy’s quiet but carefully crafted game seems like the winning formula in a season where those playing loud and flashy have seen their torches snuffed. Are there bigger threats than Cassidy still in the game? Yes. But those players are also bigger targets that I don’t see making it to the end.
One of those big threats is Jesse, who has probably played the best game of the season. He’s been able to balance a disarming social strategy with cutthroat gameplay, taking out anyone he considers an obstacle on his path to the million. If he makes it to the final Tribal Council, his win is almost guaranteed. But that’s a big if. People are starting to catch on to him, and this endgame will undoubtedly see an all-out onslaught to take him down. That said, Jesse has two immunity idols in his pocket, so he may save himself.
I previously ranked Karla in first place based on her impressive pre-merge gameplay. However, she’s lost some agency in recent weeks. While still often in the majority vote, Karla has seemingly given up control to the Jesse-Cody duo. And her abrupt turn on Cassidy this past episode showed her falling into the same paranoia trap she accused others of earlier in the season. Also, her hidden immunity idol isn’t as hidden as she wants to believe. I still think Karla can make an excellent argument if she makes it to the end, but I have doubts about whether she can get there.
This one might seem a little wild. Of all those remaining, Owen appears to be drawing dead. As he said himself, he’s the Charlie Brown of the season; nothing ever goes his way. He’s been on the wrong side of the vote several times and has continually lost his closest allies. Yet, he’s still hanging on. And I can’t help but think back to those first couple of episodes when the Baka tribe talked of how dangerous Owen could be if they let him get deep into the game. Perhaps that was ironic foreshadowing. Or maybe Owen will surprise us all with one of the biggest endgame turnarounds in Survivor history.
I owe an apology to Gabler. I never imagined he’d make it this far. Heading into the merge, his strategy was erratic and his social game left a lot to be desired. However, post-merge, Gabler has displayed a self-awareness that has allowed him to slip into the background, positioning himself as a helpful number for the majority alliance. He calls it the “hiding in plain sight” strategy, and I have to give it to him — it’s working. At this point, I can see him sitting at the final Tribal Council. That said, I still don’t believe Gabler would receive enough votes to win unless he pulls off a huge move soon. There is a perception of him in the game as a tagalong player. However, I’ve been wrong about Gabler before.
This might be a harsh ranking for Cody, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m knocking his game. On the contrary, Cody has played very well; alongside Jesse, he’s controlled most of the season. But there are these little flaws in his game that tell me he’s not winning. And I’m mainly talking about how he seems to be playing second fiddle to Jesse. Take this most recent episode, for example, where Cody wanted to vote out Cassidy but bowed to Jesse’s desire to take out Sami. Not to mention, he handed his idol to Jesse (and seemingly hasn’t asked for it back). I can’t shake this ominous feeling that Cody’s game is coming crashing down soon. Again, if Cody makes the final Tribal Council, his chances of convincing a jury he should win are high — I just don’t think he’s getting there.