Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor Season 38 castaways into two categories, Hot or Not, based on who they think has potential longevity in the game. Hots are indicative of castaways who we think played well this week or who are setting themselves up for success; Nots are indicative of castaways who we think didn’t and aren’t. In order to avoid what Gus likes to call “hedging bets,” Nots cannot be given to more than half plus one of the castaways. For example, with twelve people remaining in the game, the maximum number of Nots that can be given out is seven.
Go ahead, hit us with your best shot. We’re probably wrong anyway, but that’s why it’s fun!
WARNING: This segment uses content from the “Next Time On” preview. If you are someone who doesn’t like watching those segments prior to the show, do not read further. You’ve been warned.
GUS: KELLEY WENTWORTH – HOT
I really waffled on where to put Kelley this week. On the one hand, she was the true plan to be voted out, and though I doubt whether she would have gone home (had David played an idol, she certainly would have followed suit) that does not bode well for her long-term survival. Moreover, despite her best efforts, it seems that she’s struggling to make inroads with the Kama folk. And although that group appears to no longer exist (I don’t see Kama reconstituting itself at this point, especially after Julie lost her whole mind during tribal – something I don’t blame her for, frankly). I worry for Wentworth’s ability to infiltrate or bond with that group without too many bumps in the road.
With all of that being said, Kelley still has her idol. She’s still got Lauren. She’s still got the whole of Lesu in the game (whether or not David and Rick will be voting for her we’ve yet to see). She’s got other, juicier targets ahead of her (vengeance votes, challenge threats). I don’t think that Wentworth has a lot of paths to the end just yet; I think her reputation is working against her the hardest of any returnee left in the game (Joe doesn’t count)… but I also don’t think she’s currently the biggest threat, and that leaves her with some opportunities to get ahead. And I can’t give her a Not after her handling of that tribal. She and David were adorable.
ALI: KELLEY WENTWORTH – NOT
“Y’all making me crazy.”
Kelley accurately guessed that something was coming her way this week, and she had the means to protect herself if things went sour. Also, Kelley was able to hold onto her idol yet another week. So what gives? Why am I giving her a Not?
Unlike Wardog and Lauren, Kelley is super on the radar this week. We’ve confirmed that she was going to be the one to get the boot had the tribal not completely erupted. And, despite ample warnings to the contrary, it appeared that Kelley thought that David would be the one eliminated, which we now know isn’t true. Kelley has been a target every week since she got on the island. Unless Kelley intends to Mike Holloway her way to the end (which is never a recommended strategy… too many variables), her target is only going to continue going until she’s ousted from the game. Kelley is going to be a target before any of the Lesu folks, including David, as we saw this week. This is because, unlike David, Kelley has failed to make inroads with the Kama folks, and I think this may become her downfall. Someone from Lesu has to go eventually. The idol can only protect Kelley for one vote. Playing an idol will only expand Kelley’s resume and make her even more of a target. It all spells bad news bears for Ms. Wentworth, but I hope I’m wrong. Ultimately, Kelley hasn’t made enough inroads with other players, and in the impending battle between her and David, I think it will tip the scales in David’s direction.
GUS: DAVID WRIGHT – HOT
Sure, David technically didn’t need to play his idol, but getting rid of it now, when he knew that he had been at the very least the original plan (to some folks) was probably wise. Plus, it wasn’t his call – Rick opted to steamroll ahead with their plan, something which David had no way of telling him not to do without giving away the idol’s existence. More than that, I was impressed by David’s levelheadedness during that wild and crazy Tribal. He and Wentworth were pretty much the only castaways not either “jumping ship” or trying to incite rebellion amongst others, and for that, I give him a lot of credit. I also really appreciated his levelheaded response to being informed that (as far as Wentworth knew) he had been the original plan to be voted out – although, to be fair, he 1) knew he was going to be immune that tribal and 2) was likely planning on voting against Wentworth anyway.
A strong showing in yet another balance and endurance immunity challenge this week sets David up for a good run in the weeks to come. Combined with his extant and budding Kama relationships, David looks to be in a pretty good spot.
ALI: DAVID WRIGHT – HOT
“Maybe we can shake things up and actually take control of this game.”
At this point, I think David may be in the best position in the game. I hope I don’t regret typing that, but I really think so. The true mastery of David’s game is he never burns bridges. David understands that, in order to make it far, you have to maintain your options. Rather than be upset with Rick because of the vote last week, David got them back on the same page. Then, he and Rick went and courted Ron and Julie for the vote, forging relationships with them and making it possible for tribal to play out the way it did. Furthermore, his spidey senses correctly guessed that he was the target, and he had multiple plans in place to avoid being sent home. The fact that Rick was willing to play an idol on David is a testament to David’s ability to create strong alliances, and that kind of loyalty in the game will take David a long way.
David also didn’t necessarily need the idol to escape the vote. Despite the target zeroing in on David early on, Kelley became the ultimate target of the vote (confirmed via Victoria on social media). He would have been safe at the vote this episode, and I think that’s in large part thanks to his ability to connect with others, even if they aren’t working for them. Most importantly, David was able to work with someone who was actively targeting him (and who he was actively targeting) at the very vote where they were both in danger. David recognized that he needed to put his feelings about Wentworth aside and make nice so that they might both get further in the game. With Wentworth gone, David becomes a big target. His play here might well be worthy of Legendary status.
GUS: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – HOT
Judging entirely from the Next Time On preview, it looks like Wardog is going to be voted out next week. But I’ve been burned by the previews before, and I’m not gonna let seven seconds of doubt-sowing outweigh some terrific gameplay from the Wardog this week. According to post-game tweets (#grainofsalt), Julia credited Wardog with being the whip at this week’s tribal, rallying the votes to eliminate her and taking the wheel after Devens intentionally ran the ship aground. Having this level of control during a chaotic and generally volatile situation is promising for the Wardog, but I do worry that he’s beginning to come out of the shadows too much.
Wardog’s strength is that he’s essentially Tony with a social game – it seems that he’s pretty well liked among all of the remaining players, and his strategic chops cannot be denied. However, his upcoming gambit to rally an alliance and become a leader may be ill-advised, as we’ve seen from this entire season so far that any time someone is seen to be leading anything they’re immediately voted out. If Wardog can keep himself out of the crosshairs, he could win. If not, he could be the next boot.
ALI: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – HOT
“Maybe we actually get a chance to crack this game open.”
Once again, I was impressed by Wardog. The minute Rick wanted to shake things up, Wardog was on board, whispering in peoples’ ears. Instantly, Wardog turned to Ron and Julie and tried forming bonds with them. This is the second week in a row we’ve seen his ability to make connections and his flexible gameplay. Wardog, like David, knows the power of having options. What I find most impressive about Wardog is that I feel like he’s playing like a returnee while he’s still a newbie. My one concern about him is he can occasionally veer into overplaying. If Wardog can keep himself in check, and not make himself too much of a target, I think he has the potential to go far.
GUS: LAUREN O’CONNELL – NOT
I came back to Lauren last because I had no idea where to put her. On the one hand, she’s still tight with Wentworth, and she appears to have Wentworth out ahead of her in terms of visibility and threat level. She’s also holding on to her idol, and she’s good at challenges. On the other hand, she’s in the minority, she’s openly close to Wentworth, who usually has an idol, she’s holding on to her idol, and she’s visibly good at challenges. Lauren’s also been brought up as a potential target SEVERAL times. She is is shaping up to be a visible threat, and I could see her getting voted out sooner than later of the Lesu group. Combine this with the fact that she’s eased off on gameplay (perhaps because she hasn’t really had to scramble for the first time in a while or hasn’t seen any real options for herself or her strategizing was too like someone else’s to make the cut), and we have a Lauren who is playing well, I think, but maybe not? I’m conflicted, and I hate to do this, but I guess I have to make Lauren a Not this week. I’m sorry, Lauren.
ALI: LAUREN O’CONNELL – HOT
The game has officially been shaken up, and Lauren still has her idol. Lauren wasn’t very involved in the way things shook out this week, but she’s gotten herself in a good enough position that I’ll give her a Hot. Plus, she has so many targets ahead of her that I think she may be in for quite a while.
GUS: RICK DEVENS – HOT
Last week, Devens gave us a face-heel turn, and this week he pivoted right back in a heel-face turn. I’m getting dizzy watching this guy. His wild play at Tribal to flip the game on its head (intentional? Completely improvised? I’m not sure) paid off in spades when he almost accidentally rallied the troops to vote out Julia (although the specific target was all thanks to Julie apparently). I’m also crazy proud of Devens for patching up (at least somewhat) his rift with David, and potentially reclaiming their twosome identity. Rick is giving me whiplash with his back-and-forth, but if his gameplay this week was any indication, he’s got a lot of good things yet to come.
ALI: RICK DEVENS – HOT
“Julia! I know I wasn’t the target, but you know what? I’m in the pilot’s seat! I’m trying to drive!”
Rick made that happen! Wow, what a bizarre tribal that was, and it was all thanks to this news anchor. Before we get to that chaotic tribal, though, I want to talk about Rick’s early episode gameplay. First, Rick was able to recover his relationship with David, despite not working together last episode. This is mature gameplay that was seriously missing last week. Then, he correctly sussed (along with David) that David would be the target at the episode’s vote. Now, let’s talk about that idol play. By offering to (and ultimately following through) play his idol for David, Rick cemented their bond even further. Granted, the idol was played unnecessarily, but with the chaos of that tribal, I don’t blame Rick for using it for insurance.
At tribal, Rick seized control of his destiny and became a “pilot.” Someone, and I don’t remember who, but I believe it was on RHAP, said that Rick is playing like a returning player because he technically is a returning player. I agree 100%. Rick came back from Extinction, and at first, it looked like he was going to fall into the rookie mistake of playing with his emotions. Instead, he completely did a 180 this week by reforging his relationships with the Lesu group and getting them together for this vote. Rick did what he had to do to get one step further in the game, even if it meant squelching his bruised ego. That’s playing like a returnee.
GUS: RON CLARK – NOT
Poor Ron. I felt terrible for him this episode; he was like a kicked dog. To be fair, he did bring a lot of this on himself by his alliance mismanagement, and his post-tribal conversation with Gavin retained a sense of disciplinary action… but, jeez, watching him cry because he felt (and was) completely powerless was heartbreaking. Even with the colossal defeat that he suffered last episode, Ron was able to bring things back – almost circumstantially. Kama clearly did want to still work with him, but the rawness and suddenness of their blindside, combined with the extremely short turnaround time between tribal councils, left him understandably hesitant (if not entirely against) working with any of his allies-turned-enemies. Julia’s abysmal alliance management only added to this reluctance. Even so, Ron found himself in a position of some power this week at the last minute, thanks to the grace of Devens and the abject failure of Julia… but he’s getting a Not from me nonetheless. Ron had no agency until it was handed to him on a silver platter at Tribal, and even then he was only able to swing the vote around because everybody else was uncomfortable and Julia blew up her spot during Tribal. I’m not sure what the path forward is for Ron as he’s been alienated by or has alienated most of his former and potential allies.
ALI: RON CLARK – NOT
“I just want to be a passenger.”
Ron was right this episode, everyone at home is screaming at the TV for the Kamas to vote out the Lesus. The correct (but admittedly not interesting) gameplay would be to eliminate all the Lesus. Instead, the Kama six is allowing the Foa Foa Four/Lesu Four to cakewalk to the end, idols in hand, in a mounting series of baffling strategic blunders. Also, Ron played well as the kicked dog bottom of the Kama alliance. I think the move when one knows they’re on the bottom is to play as Ron did this week, essentially take a step back and kowtow to those in control. Even though Ron was right and played okay, does that make him a Hot? Absolutely not. Ron’s position in the game worsens with each passing episode. I think it’s only a matter of time before the target on Ron’s back gets him eliminated. Furthermore, Ron started throwing out the names of former alliance members, while said allies were right next to them (see that hilarious exchange between Ron and Victoria during the tribal). Sowing seeds of distrust by throwing people under the bus while they stand there is not a great look. Ron did little to improve his standing in the game this week and therefore earns a Not from me.
GUS: JULIE ROSENBERG – NOT
Julie’s Not this week comes about by and large for the same reasons as Ron’s. I predicted last week that Julie would lose her cool the second she lost her stranglehold over the game, and lo and behold, it seems I was right. To go from moral outrage over voting out an EoE returnee to screaming “I’M READY TO JUMP SHIP” in the middle of Tribal is a pretty staggering shift. And Julie’s behavior throughout the day previous (e.g. “you’re not swearing to me”) demonstrates a complete loss of security and calm that honestly, I can’t blame her for but which serves only to tank her game. Openly announcing at tribal council that you’re ready to be a free agent is also a death knell to your game, because it serves only to communicate to everybody left that you have no real allies, and you’ll do whatever you need to get to the end – which is great for short-term survival, but horrible for long-term strategy.
This week, Julie did ultimately pick the target (according to Twitter) in Julia, and she got her way despite (or maybe because of) her being a semi-ostracized appendage of the Kama group. But I don’t see a good way for her to parlay her newfound short-term power into anything long-term, and honestly am more concerned that she’ll hop right back into the “my group is the greatest” way of thinking that so dominated her game prior to this episode.
ALI: JULIE ROSENBERG – NOT
“I’m ready to jump ship! I’m ready to jump ship!”
This was an entertaining, but ultimately terrible week for Julie. Insane is not the word I would use to describe her, because like Jeff said, I understand that she’s tired, hungry, and in the midst of a stressful game. However, I would describe her gameplay this week as erratic. Julie felt the heat for the first time in the entire game, and it really got to her. If that’s how she’s going to be when the going gets rough, there is much trouble ahead for Julie.
GUS: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
Well, that was a sudden shift. Aurora went from completely left out to a position of great power to wholly shafted in all of a single day of Survivor, and now she’s all but doomed. Her behavior at tribal sealed her and Julia’s downfall, when Aurora followed up Julia’s odd statement about collaborating with Wentworth, and her inability to infiltrate any of the other conversations just added to her net loss this week. The “I hate soccer moms” comment didn’t help either. All in all, Aurora had a very, very bad week.
ALI: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
“I didn’t say you were the only dysfunctional. What I said is we admit to it.”
The only thing we saw of Aurora during this episode was a terrible tribal council performance. Early in the episode, Kelley mentioned Aurora wanting to sleep in the shelter and not talk to her as a reason why Kelley began feeling like maybe the target was on her. If Aurora was truly not strategizing with Kelley at all, and instead deciding to lie in the shelter, then perhaps she’s going with the Morgan McLeod “pillow person” strategy. We all know how well that worked out. Where is the Aurora from last episode, a woman willing to negotiate immunity over Lauren’s body? I’m disappointed in her lack of strategic involvement in this game, which I believe to be her failure if Kelley’s confessional is to be believed. Granted, we did see Aurora strategizing with the Kama group. But to not even attempt to make Kelley feel comfortable when she knows Kelley is the target is poor gameplay. Kama has been against Aurora until they needed her as a number, and Aurora going back to them doesn’t do much to improve her position. She had an opportunity to make a big move, and she failed to execute (even though she flipped to Lesu last episode).
Aurora’s tribal council performance this week was abysmal. Not only did Aurora make it mind-numbingly clear which way the vote would go to a group that has an idol on their side (with much help from Julia), but she also was one of the catalysts for having Rick begin conversations with the Lesu group. And why wouldn’t that woman get out of her seat when she knew her name was going around? What gives? Why isn’t Aurora’s head in the game? Lastly, when Aurora knew everyone was voting Julia, she refused to participate (confirmed via other players on social media). We have no evidence that Aurora and Julia were even close, so why this sudden need to defend Julia in this Wendy-ian misplaced loyalty? The whole thing was just bad.
Typically in Survivor double boot episodes, the first person eliminated is an under the radar player. In light of this, I think either Aurora or one other player (named later) are good candidates for elimination based on their play this week.
GUS: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT
I went back and forth on Victoria this week, but I’m giving her a Hot because of how she handled tribal and because she’s managed to still be under the radar. Ron half-jokingly/half-seriously offered her up as a sacrifice to Lesu in one of the funniest and most gif-able moments of the season so far, but she backed off and kept herself off the table from that point forward. I’d honestly say that Victoria has been mostly a victim of circumstance so far, pulled along by some wackadoodle overplaying and allies who are playing short-term games. But she’s demonstrated strategy in the past, and I think in light of all the live-fire things going on around her she’s wisest to lie low.
ALI: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – NOT
“If we get rid of the queen bee, maybe the hive will fall apart.”
“They were going to get back to us and intentionally let the clock run out,” Rick said this about Victoria, Gavin, and Julia at tribal. Essentially, Rick and David approached the trio, who responded by giving Davens the brush off. The problem is, the two of them are far too savvy to take that lying down. Victoria lost yet another ally this week when she could have done much more to prevent it. All the trio had to do was inform Rick and David about what was going on before tribal, and their fears would have been assuaged. Furthermore, the trio, Victoria included, failed to make Julie and Ron comfortable before the vote, leading to what happened at tribal. Also, Ron threw her name out during tribal, so it appears that at least he views her as expendable.
GUS: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT
Conversely to Victoria, and in spite of my having described him and her (and Eric) as one unit in terms of rankings in the past, Gavin gets a Not from me this week on account of… I’m not really sure. A few things, but mostly because in spite of being on the right side of several contentious votes, he’s still not done anything of his own. He jumps on board the right plan when it’s the right time to do so, and that does take cunning and savvy, or at the very least situational awareness, but he’s not making any choices, and he’s not building himself a story. At the risk of driving the pilot/passenger metaphor straight through the ground and out the other side, he’s been a passenger on every single vote so far, occasionally hopping off one ship for another one but never really striking out on his own. Also, that’s not what a dictatorship is. Your group came to a consensus that they wanted to do something other than what you wanted to do, and you were in the minority. That’s the definition of a democracy.
ALI: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT
“I pulled off a huge move. Eric was my closest ally in the game, but he was kind of keeping me behind the curtain.”
I know they don’t have dictionaries out on the island, but Gavin’s definition of a “democracy” versus a “dictatorship” could use a brush-up. Gavin didn’t get his way, and that in itself is indicative of how much sway he has in the game. But then, he waffles back and forth between a ton of alliances, totally misplays the swing position (not at all flexible), and then has one of his closest allies booted from the game (right on the tail of another close ally). Gavin’s waffling caused all of his potential allies to turn on him, and he very well could have been the target if it weren’t for Aurora and Julia utterly self-destructing at tribal and a well-timed immunity win.
Oh, and one other thing, when one just won immunity, it might not be the greatest strategy in the world to talk about eliminating “challenge threats.” But congratulations on winning immunity, Gavin. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to make you a Hot.
GUS: REEM DALY – KINDLED
Reem said it herself: she’s been through the worst that the Edge of Extinction had to offer in her first few days on the Island. She’s through the woods; she’s been there long enough and has sunk enough time into the place that I can’t imagine her leaving ahead of the challenge.
ALI: REEM DALY – KINDLED
“When I first showed up here, I was just in the corner just crying.”
Like Joe said, “Reem’s too invested to go anywhere.”
GUS: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
I maintain that Chris has the best (or second best if we count Aubry’s advantage) chance of beating Joe in the return challenge. He shouldn’t be leaving.
ALI: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
*catches a stingray*
Chris hasn’t been able to catch much luck in the game, but it feels like every episode he’s catching some food for the tribe. I think, if he continues to make life bearable on the island, he has no reason to leave.
GUS: AUBRY BRACCO – KINDLED
She loves the game too much for her to leave.
ALI: AUBRY BRACCO – KINDLED
“I’ll stick it out.”
Aubry is used to being dealt a crappy hand in Survivor. This time is no exception. She’s not going to quit. Based on her edit, I think she has the best shot of returning.
GUS: JOE ANGLIM – KINDLED
He probably knows that this twist was essentially designed for him.
ALI: JOE ANGLIM – KINDLED
“For a split second, I thought, ‘just go to the right and there’s all the burgers and the food…’ But that’s not who I am.”
GUS: ERIC HAFEMAN – ASHEN
This guy is glum as all get-out. If that continues into next week, he might just quit. I doubt it, but he might.
ALI: ERIC HAFEMAN – KINDLED
“There’s a story here to tell my kids about not giving up. Because there’s going to be a lot of days in their life… hard days, where I’m gonna be the one telling them, don’t quit.”
At first, I thought about giving Eric an Ashen, because I thought that perhaps they might be showing him wanting to quit because he would end up leaving, much like with Keith. However, I got straight up chills when he started talking about his kids and how one day he’d be pointing to these moments as examples of how to persevere. He’s not going anywhere.
GUS: JULIA CARTER – ASHEN
I just don’t have a great feeling about Julia’s chances on the Edge. She probably won’t win her way back in, and I could see her being beaten down by the conditions. She might suffer an extreme version of Julie’s inversion, but much worse than Julie’s because Julia is actually out of the game. Also, WOW was this a terrible week for her.
ALI: JULIA CARTER – ASHEN
“They’re trying to bamboozle us.”
This week was absolutely terrible for Julia. Given how badly she did when the heat was really on, I’m wondering how well Julia is going to do on Extinction.
GUS: First of all, we both made Julia a Hot last week. I stand by that, because she played well last week, and then she destroyed herself this week. Laugh at us in the comments if you want.
ALI: I also stand by it. She was instrumental in the vote last week and found herself in a decent swing position. I did say that I thought Victoria was right in that the move was too early, but I didn’t fault Julia for trying to make herself a key player. It’s also impossible to predict that a person will implode that badly at tribal. I think that may very well have been the first live tribal we’ve ever seen. But yes, laugh at us in the comments.
GUS: So, what’s the tally this week?
ALI: We disagree on Lauren, Kelley, Victoria, and Eric.
GUS: I had a feeling we might wind up conflicting a bit this week.
ALI: Everything kind of blew up this week, and with a double boot coming up, there are a lot of variables to take into account. I feel like there’s been a pattern of Kama folks getting booted, and something about the way the game’s portrayed this season–
ALI: …Coupled with historical precedents like the Foa Foa Four and Matsing… I’m wondering if we might see the Lesu group go far. That being said, Kelley Wentworth is a huge target, and I’m not sure if she can slip through the cracks much longer. Credit to her for making it this far. Like you’ve said, “she should have been the first boot.”
GUS: I agree that Lesu could easily go crazy deep, and I also agree that Wentworth should have been the first boot. But I don’t see her going out with her idol in her pocket, and there’s always that variable that comes up when someone plays an idol that makes them sort of a hot commodity, where people are suddenly a little wary to vote them out, or they want them on their side because of what they’ve done. I mean, yeah, Wentworth could be the second boot in the two-boot episode this week (or the first) but I feel like she’s got enough of a handle on the game to keep herself around. You said that she was oblivious this week to her target status, but I don’t think that’s true. She couldn’t very well tell David “the plan is me” when she’s voting for him, and she was on high alert because of Julia’s aggressive nodding and winking at her pre-tribal and everyone else’s eerie silence. I think she would have definitely played her Idol this week had things not gone absolutely bonkers at tribal.
ALI: I’m a little worried she’s gotten used to not playing it if that makes sense. There have been so many instances where I think she might have been smart to use it as an insurance policy, and kudos to her for not doing so, but is it possible that this is an indicator that she’s too comfortable? I don’t know.
My reasoning for making her Not is I don’t see a way for her to slip under the radar. Her target is only going to grow as the late game approaches. Yes, she has an idol, and she’s won challenges in a pinch, but is that enough to get her to the end? I think she’s playing well considering her circumstances, but is this a game in which she can win? I think her options are dwindling. She hasn’t been able to make a ton of inroads with the Kama group. To me, that’s a glaring red flag in her gameplay. Granted, it isn’t as if the Kamas have made many overtures for her friendship, and it’s possible that the fallout from this week could change everything. But I can’t shake this feeling that even if she finds herself in a solid group this week, they’re still going to be gunning for her as soon as possible.
GUS: Sure, she’s in a tough spot, and I agree that it’s going to be hard for her to get to the end, but I think it’s possible. We’re at 10, right? And that’s five ex-Lesu and five ex-Kama? I don’t see Lauren turning against her; I don’t see Wardog turning against her. There are two idols there, so that’s an extension. I think things might get dicey around 7 or 6 for Kelley, but at that point, it’s a different game.
ALI: I could see Wardog and Lauren turning against her if it became advantageous to do so. There’s no way either of them want to sit next to her at the end. Wardog is far too smart for that; I’m sure he’s already thinking of ways to get her out without hurting his own game. Lauren understands the game and wants to win as well. At the moment, they need her to get farther in the game, but I think they’ll cut her when they get close to the finish line for sure.
GUS: Agreed. I think she’ll be wise to that, though. Maybe I’m putting too much faith in Wentworth. I’ve done that before. Remember when I was certain that she was winning Second Chance?
ALI: I think a lot of us hoped that would be the case. I’m honestly thrilled she’s made it as far as she has considering what a threat she was coming into the game. I think a part of me is feeling like something’s gotta give when it comes to all the luck Lesu has had so far in the merge, and of all the Lesu left in the game, I think she has the biggest target. But Kelley’s scrappy, so there’s a big chance she could make it far… Can we quickly touch on Eric? Because you’re very wrong about Eric.
GUS: Yeah that’s fine. I don’t think Eric is quitting. I just have difficulty giving him a Kindled after he was entirely dependent on the other people on the island to give him a modicum of strength to continue in the game on his first day there on the Edge. It looked to me like he took Reem’s advice a bit too much to heart.
ALI: They’ve all had a rough first day. Eric just experienced a massive blindside when he thought he and Ron were in control. That’s gotta sting. Then, he gets to go hang out on Extinction with a bunch of people he just voted out, and it’s not at lovey-dovey Ponderosa, it’s on an island where they’re still competing. I’m honestly shocked the other players didn’t encourage him to leave, but maybe that would have been bad jury management. I think Eric’s motivations for staying are myriad. Much like Reem, he has children, and he’s going to want to show them a father who wouldn’t quit when things got hard (this gave me major chills). He’s also a firefighter, and I’m sure he doesn’t want his buddies at the station seeing him wimp out when a trash-talking mom has stayed on Extinction since day three. And lastly, Eric has one of the best chances of getting back in the game (I still think it’s going to be Aubry that ultimately makes it, but maybe that’s just me hoping). If I were a big, buff guy like Eric, I’d suck it up because of that alone.
GUS: I can guarantee you that my mother rolled her eyes so hard they fell out when Eric started talking about doing it for his kids. It’s a legitimate reason to do things, but it’s also what every single parent on Survivor ever says when the going gets tough. I do agree with you that he’s probably not quitting, but I had to knock him a little for losing his cool within the first day of being on Extinction. Yeah, everyone does that, but usually, they fall into one of two categories: “This is hard, and I’m gonna do it for revenge,” or “this is hard, I hate this, why am I here?” I think Eric fell victim to the Kama mentality (as did Julie, and as I predict will Julia), whereby he’s gotten so comfortable with his power and constant stream of rewards that the second things became difficult (e.g., the baseline for Manu), he had trouble handling it. I don’t fault him, but for that reason, I had to give him an Ashen.
ALI: Your mother hates when contestants get sappy. I love how savage she is. We’ll see him at the end — mark my words.
GUS: Let’s touch on Lauren. Because I think we could have easily reversed our rankings for Lauren and Kelley. I actually wrote my whole write-up for Lauren before I decided whether to make her a Hot or a Not – it was that close of a call for me.
ALI: I am legitimately shocked that you gave her a Not. SHOCKED. It’s inconceivable that at this juncture you would give that D1 athlete a Not. Lauren has the potential to do well in challenges, she has the shields Wardog and Kelley in front of her, and she has an idol in her pocket. She is not going to go anywhere next week. Okay, I’m reading what you said about Lauren again and I have issues…
1. How could you possibly know she’s in the minority? Everything’s been blown up and we now know nothing about the tribe dynamics.
2. Kelley has also been brought up as a target several times, and yet, you gave Kelley a Hot. Kelley has been a target every vote so far, AND she’s a far bigger target than Lauren.
3. Easing up on the gameplay in the early merge is a completely legitimate strategy, especially when you’re in a “minority,” and you have two massive shields in front of you.
You were all about Lauren in the pre-merge, and now look at you. How dare you, fickle beast!
GUS: It’s a week by week thing. She can bring it back. I just think she’s in a volatile place right now and I could see her going home as a shock Lesu boot, especially if people think Wentworth has an idol. Or, she could swing it around and idol out Rick or Victoria. I could frankly see either. And you’re right, I don’t know that she’s in the minority, but I know that she’s part of Lesu, and people have to start worrying about Lesu before too long.
ALI: WAIT JUST A DARN MINUTE, Y’ALL! Gus just attacked me without typing it, so I’m going to bring it up right here. We are going back to Eric. Gus just said with his words, “You’re so predictable. Eric tells a sob story about his kids and you think he’s great.” Gustav. Olaf. Schlanbusch. I would like you to name one time that this has occurred before this week.
GUS: It’s like how I always get misty at that one ad for the Amazon Alexa. I just know you too well at this point to let you get away with that.
ALI: If Eric gets back in the game, I’m going to spray you with a firehose.
GUS: I’ll have earned it. Anyway. Lauren/Luaren/Lorine.
ALI: They’ll be voting out Wardog or Kelley before Lauren. Lauren fainted at a challenge. They’ll see her as weaker than the others.
GUS: Oh, piffle. Joe fainted at a challenge in Cambodia and was immediately voted out. She got recognition from the bench this week – I think it was Julie, but I’m not sure. Someone said something along the lines of “Lauren’s tough.”
ALI: Oh yeah, Julie’s really going to run the vote this week.
GUS: That’s a straw man and you know it. I’m not saying, “Julie will vote out Lauren.” I’m saying “people are noticing that Lauren is good in challenges.”
ALI: Gavin also said that about David and no one cared.
GUS: Gavin was in the challenge against David and David had already played that challenge once. Lauren has a track record of putting in work under difficult circumstances. Plus, if she fainted, that’s not indicative of a weakling: that’s indicative of someone who will not give up until they literally cannot compete anymore.
ALI: But that’s not because she’s pushing herself crazy hard. Everyone thinks it’s because rice makes her puke. Rice puke girl does not equal challenge beast.
GUS: It does when rice puke girl consistently performs decently well in challenges. I’m just saying she’s got a reputation as being strong, which she has earned – as you yourself have said, she’s a D1 athlete. She’s at risk, but I don’t think she’s about to go home.
ALI: We’ll see. Alright, let’s talk Victoria. She’s had two allies go home in the span of two episodes. She’s alienated herself from Ron and Julie. She has zero protection in the vote. Ron literally threw her name out in front of her last episode.
ALI: How, in God’s name, is she a Hot?
GUS: She’s rolling with the punches and keeping herself out of the limelight. And she was on the right side of the vote for both of those eliminations.
ALI: Oh, and look at this “in light of all the live-fire things going on around her, she’s wisest to lay low.” That’s what you said. But when Lauren lies low, she’s a Not because she’s “eased off the gameplay.”
GUS: Lauren and Victoria are in completely different situations right now. Lauren is coming from what was a trainwreck dysfunctional minority tribe with no real resume behind her. Victoria is coming from Kama/Manu, she’s killed a returning player, and she’s watching her allies destroy themselves. Victoria knows that she could be a target if she pokes her head up off the ground too far. Lauren is in a position where she desperately needs more options. Victoria can afford to lose allies and let other people implode.
ALI: “No real resume”?! She survived one of the most dysfunctional pre-merge tribes in Survivor history and she has an idol in her pocket!
GUS: Alright, let me rephrase that because I love Lauren and I desperately want her to win. Victoria ran some part of the game and can point to tangible things as being her doing. Lauren is in a tight two with Kelley and has been surviving a horrible situation well with good gameplay, but has still been playing from behind the whole time. Victoria has receipts; Lauren has only her survival.
ALI: Victoria has made some major blunders these past two episodes in going along with the ‘wackadoodle gameplay,’ and it’s been terrible for her game going forward. Now, the Lesu group have started working together again and her alliance has blown up.
GUS: Has the Lesu group started to work together again, though? They’re flirting with it, but I don’t trust them not to blow themselves up next episode in a Carl Boudreaux-style civil war. If the preview is anything to go by, Wardog tries to make an alliance and gets destroyed. That’s bad for Lauren.
ALI: The Lesu group can’t seem to help turning on each other; it’s true. They probably will turn on each other again next episode (which would be so, so dumb of them). Regardless of whatever fan fiction we can think up about what might happen, this week was not good for Victoria’s game. She was out of control of the vote and was forced to eliminate an ally to stay with the majority. She, along with Gavin and Julia, failed to make any of her allies comfortable enough to stay true to the vote during tribal, and it blew up in their faces.
GUS: That’s a perfectly legitimate argument. I think she handled it as well as she could and left herself in a position where she could work with almost anybody going forward (except Aurora. Poor Aurora).
ALI: I disagree entirely. Ron and Julie don’t trust her anymore. Rick and David might not now either. Who knows what Kelley might do if she finds out she was the real target, which she might now that Rick and David are theoretically working with her… And yeah, oof, Aurora… Speaking of Aurora, should we predict who’s going home this week? Typically, double boots are a bit… boring? So, with that in mind, I think Aurora is definitely one of the boots. And my second pick is Gavin.
GUS: Yeah, that sounds right. I think it could be Julie and Wardog, too. Who’s safe? I’m gonna say David and Victoria.
ALI: Hmmmm… This is really hard! I’m going to say… Lauren and Rick. Is it too early to do winner guesses?
GUS: Nope, not if you’ve got one.
ALI: I think that I’ve narrowed it down to three: Rick, David, or Victoria. I think it’s Rick.
GUS: I hope it’s not. Nothing against Rick personally, I’m just kind of lukewarm on the idea of the winner being an EoE returnee. I think it’s either Lauren, Victoria or Rick, though. I think from that grouping… it’s Victoria.
ALI: I’d be okay with it so long as it were someone who returned from EoE in the early merge. I hope that whoever comes during the second return doesn’t win. At that point, I think it would mess up the integrity of the game.
GUS: Agreed. I think that’s all this week! Later folks.
ALI: Happy White Rice Wednesday! Bye!