'Survivor' recap: James Jones and Ryan Medrano get blindsided and voted out at back-to-back
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 11/17/2022
Survivor featured James Jones and Ryan Medrano getting voted out at two separate Tribal Councils on the same night after the merged Gaia Tribe was split into two teams during the Season 43 episode that aired Wednesday night on CBS.
James Jones, a 37-year-old event planner from Philadelphia, PA, and Ryan Medrano, a 25-year-old warehouse associate from Savannah, GA, who currently resides in El Paso, TX, were voted out at back-to-back Tribal Council sessions on Night 17 of the game.
Both men, James followed by Ryan, were voted out in unanimous 4-1 votes.
James voted for Owen Knight, a 30-year-old college admissions director from Bethesda, MD, who currently resides in New Orleans, LA, while Ryan voted for Cassidy Clark, a 26-year-old designer from Plano, TX, who currently resides in Austin, TX.
The Survivor broadcast began on Night 16 at Gaia's camp following the Tribal Council in which Jeanine Zheng got eliminated.
Sami Layadi, a 19-year-old pet cremator from Las Vegas, NV, who currently resides in Las Vegas, NV, said Jeanine was the "easy and simple" vote but it's not what he wanted to do. However, Sami didn't have the numbers to take somebody else out.
Sami wanted to start making some big moves and picking the "people at the top" off one by one.
Meanwhile, Owen had been left out of the vote again, and so Sami attempted to assure Owen that he wanted to continue working together.
Owen said he was pissed at James for lying to his face minutes before Tribal Council. James had told him to vote for Ryan.
Mike "Gabler" Gabler, a 52-year-old heart-valve specialist from Houston, TX, who currently resides in Meridian, ID, had told Owen at the last second where the votes were going, and so Owen said he was thankful to Gabler for that.
Owen told Sami and Gabler as a result that James was "dangerous," and Sami claimed that James was the only person who didn't want Owen to know about the real plan.
"Who does he think he is? He's not the f-cking Godfather," Owen complained, adding how James was driving him insane and it was time to get him out.
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James then asked Owen if he'd like to talk things out, but Owen immediately turned him down.
"Cool beans," James responded, later venting about how Owen had written his name down at the previous two Tribal Council sessions.
James therefore had it out for Owen since Owen had broken his trust already.
On Day 17, the Gaia Tribe met Survivor host Jeff Probst for the season's next Individual Immunity Challenge.
Jeff explained each castaway must hold onto a handle, clamping a ball between a set of jaws. If at any point a person lowered the handle, his or her ball would drop and that person would be out.
There was a twist to the challenge. The 10 players were divided into two teams of five, which meant one person from each team would win immunity. Both groups would go to Tribal Council separately that evening and vote somebody out -- so there would be two winners and two people going home.
In addition, the last person left standing at the end of the entire challenge would win Reward for his or her team of five. They were playing for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.
The winning team would also have the advantage of attending Tribal Council last so they could see what happened at the first session of the night.
Jeff had everyone draw for teams, and the result was Ryan; Gabler; Cassidy; Jesse Lopez, a 30-year-old with a Political Science PhD from Venice, CA, who currently resides in Durham, NC; and Cody Assenmacher, a 35-year-old in elevator sales from Preston, IA, who currently resides in Honolulu, HI, on one team.
The other team was comprised of James; Sami; Owen; Karla Cruz Godoy, a 28-year-old educational project manager from San Diego, CA, who currently resides in Newark, DE; and Noelle Lambert, a 25-year-old U.S. Paralympian from Londonderry, NH, who currently resides in Manchester, NH.
Jesse was out first, and then he was followed by Cassidy, Noelle, James, Gabler and Owen.
Owen, however, didn't drop until after Sami promised him that he was good.
It came down to Ryan vs. Cody for immunity as well as Sami vs. Karla on the other side.
After 10 minutes, Sami was out, and so Karla won immunity for her team. Karla continued fighting for Reward, but she dropped out next.
Ryan's ball then dropped, and so Cody won his first Individual Immunity of the season as well as PB&J for his tribe and a visit to Tribal Council second.
The losing team returned to Vesi beach, while the winning team headed to Gaia after the challenge for a feast of sandwiches.
In the groups of five, there were fewer places to hide.
Ryan pitched to Gabler that they should vote out Cassidy that night and make her feel comfortable beforehand. Ryan said he couldn't trust Cassidy and so now was the best time to strike.
The men shared their plan with Cody, who also seemed onboard with breaking up the former Coco Tribe. Ryan wanted to be able to say that he split up Coco when he had the chance.
But Cody told Jesse and Cassidy to vote for Ryan, and Cassidy asked the two guys to trust her and stay on her side.
"They could be coming after me," Cassidy acknowledged in a confessional. "This game never stops and it's completely exhausting... but I'm not going to let that fight go out of me."
Meanwhile, at the old Vesi camp, everyone congratulated Karla, who said James was a crucial member of her alliance and he wanted to vote out Owen.
Noelle and Sami also discussed voting out Owen with Karla, and Noelle predicted that Owen was going to go for James.
Noelle figured Owen would try to get Sami and herself on his side, and so Noelle asked Sami to make Owen feel comfortable so he wouldn't play "Shot in the Dark" at Tribal Council.
Owen and James then bickered, and Owen admitted he was nearing his breaking point. Owen had been relying on James for the truth, and he didn't get it.
"So everything is my fault?" James asked.
"Yeah," Owen replied. "I asked what I was supposed to do, and I did what you told me to do [and voted for Ryan]... Get over yourself."
James said he had the numbers and no sympathy for Owen.
Later that day, Cody and Jesse talked about whom they should "ride or die with." Jesse thought about his teammates' relationships with castaways on the other side, knowing this vote would have a huge pack on their ties with the other team going forward.
Jesse and Cody discussed how Ryan -- a "challenge beast" but "not a strategic threat" -- would serve as a shield for them going forward. But they mentioned how taking out Cassidy -- "a super social and strategic" player -- would make James and Karla unhappy.
Jesse said if the other team voted out Owen, then maybe they'd want to keep trust with James and get rid of Ryan. If James got voted out, Jesse suggested they should cut Cassidy because then Karla would be on her own completely.
The men recognized this was a crucial vote that would set up their alliance for days to come, and so they tried to get Gabler -- a free agent -- onboard as well. Gabler said the opportunity to work with Cody and Jesse was music to his ears.
Cody believed Jesse, Gabler and himself were going to drive the vote that night.
Meanwhile, Noelle told James that she planned to use her "Steal-a-Vote" advantage just in case Owen decided to play "Shot in the Dark." Noelle intended to steal Owen's vote.
However, Noelle told the cameras in a confessional that she actually wanted to get James out of the game. She thought he had Cassidy and Karla in his back pocket, and she didn't like how James was "running everything."
Noelle therefore tried to make James feel comfortable so he wouldn't play his "Knowledge is Power" advantage. Noelle was hoping to pull off this major blindside with Sami and Owen's help.
"I just convinced James that I'm stealing [Owen]'s vote... So I steal his vote and [Sami] has one. And then three on James," Noelle told Owen and Sami.
Owen clarified how Noelle was going to steal his vote but not vote against him, which would provide a smokescreen so that Karla, Cassidy and James would think everything is going according to plan and then James would not use his advantage.
Noelle, with her two votes, and Sami would then vote out James.
But Sami was on the fence because Karla's opinion apparently meant more to him than anybody else's. Sami said he wanted to work with Karla but he also thought James was the best vote.
Sami therefore attempted to convince Karla to turn on her ally and vote out James, which didn't sit well with her. Sami told Karla that Owen was expendable because he didn't have any solid allies, and he also pointed out how Noelle was going to flush her advantage.
But Karla thought James was "valuable" since he was one of her numbers. Karla realized she was in a decision-making position that night, especially since Sami was going to vote with her.
On Night 17, Jeanine was sitting on the jury when Karla, Owen, James, Sami, and Noelle attended Tribal Council first.
Owen and James' fight continued, but James tried to say Owen had proven his trust by voting for Ryan, even though Jeanine was the one who went home that night. Owen, however, was frustrated because he had asked to know the truth.
Noelle then talked about using an advantage for "us," which made Sami and Karla look at each other in a confused manner.
It then became time to vote, and Noelle played her "Steal-a-Vote" advantage. Noelle announced that she wanted to steal Owen's vote, taking it as her own. The announcement made James smile big.
James was then shown voting for Owen, and Noelle was shown writing James' name down.
When Jeff asked if anyone wanted to play an idol or advantage, no one spoke up.
Jeff proceeded to read the votes in the following order: Owen, James, James, and James.
"Good move, guys! For real, man," James said on his way out of the game. "I'll take that as respect though."
"Yeah, that's a sign of respect," Noelle noted.
"We'll see how far y'all get now," James snapped while getting his torch snuffed. "Cool beans."
James walked over to Jeanine and sat on the jury.
"I had a great time out here. I played the best game I could play. I wouldn't trade this experience for anything in the world," James said in his final words. "I feel like people thought that if I made it past this vote, they would've had no other chance to get me out. But I wasn't a big fish to fry."
The other team comprised of Jesse, Cody, Cassidy, Ryan, and Gabler then attended the second Tribal Council of the night.
Ryan and Jesse both announced how they were surprised by the first vote because James seemed to be in a solid place, especially since he had a "Knowledge is Power" advantage.
Ryan admitted Cody didn't talk to him as much as he had with other players, which made him a little nervous.
It then became time to vote, and Ryan was shown voting for Cassidy, who in turn voted for Ryan as "the final part of [her] revenge plan."
No one played an idol or advantage, and then Jeff read the votes in the following order: Cassidy, Ryan, Ryan, and Ryan.
"We're going to go hungry now," Cody joked.
"Keep them fed. It's your turn to fish!" Ryan declared on his way out of the game.
Ryan said in his final words that he just got blindsided.
"Honestly, I'm not even really disappointed. I played as hard as I could; I got to go fishing like I wanted," Ryan shared.
"I thought I could help people get further than they thought I could help them get. So I guess they saw me more as a threat than a benefit to have, but I'm definitely excited to see how this game goes and how they're going to play."