Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor players into two categories, Hot or Not. For the preseason, Ali and Gus will be ranking the contestants based on who they think has potential longevity in the game. These opinions are based solely on first impressions of each contestant based on their bios, interviews, and Josh Wigler’s First One Out.
Go ahead, hit us with your best shot. We’re probably wrong anyway (especially this edition), but that’s why it’s fun!
ALI: JOE ANGLIM – HOT – TYRANNOSAURUS REX
Edge of Extinction is going to benefit the athletes and the returnees. Joe is both, so to give him a Not would be a major mistake going into this season. Since the powers that be have said that dinosaurs inspired edge of Extinction, I can’t resist releasing my inner nerd and using dinosaur metaphors for my initial assessments. Please indulge me when I say Joe reminds me of a T-Rex, a classic dinosaur who survives by sheer size. Much like the T-Rex, Joe is a perfect example of the kind of Survivors Jeff Probst likes. But the T-Rex has one weakness, his eyesight. Joe too has trouble seeing danger coming, largely because he sees himself as the invincible “Survivor Macgyver/Joey Amazing.”
GUS: JOE ANGLIM – HOT – ORIGINAL FRENCH TOAST (HOLD THE BUTTER)
Joe was my first draft pick; check out my analysis in our Inside Survivor cast assessment for a deep-dive on why I’m high on him. Highlights: he’s notoriously amazing at challenges, he’s incredibly likable, he has tremendous survival skills, he’s got that returning-player glow about him, and the Edge of Extinction is a place where Joe would literally die before he quit (judging by his performance in previous seasons).
ALI: AUBRY BRACCO – HOT – IGUANODON
Aubry is good at creating minority alliances and getting far in the game by working from the bottom. The returnees are at a numerical disadvantage, but if any of the returnees can work with this position, it’s Aubry. She has the brains and the social ability to get people excited to work with her. I am also looking at the history of captain seasons, and the trend is to keep the returnees an embarrassingly long time. This trend doesn’t only exist on Survivor, look at Big Brother. Even when the players know that they should be targeting the returnees before they can get a foothold, the returnees still end up staying in the game. I think this will only be truer this season. When it comes to the survival elements, the newbies are going to be looking to the returnees for guidance. Aubry will be only too happy to provide support while the newbies make their transition. Before the newbies know it, they’re going to be thinking they’re indebted to Aubry, and that’s how she will get a foothold in the game. Aubry also survived one of the most brutal seasons of all time: Kaoh Rong. Should the worst happen and Aubry be voted out, she will be able to endure the Edge of Extinction. Aubry reminds me of the Iguanodon, a calm and nurturing Cerapod. But disaster to those who underestimate the kindly Iguanodon. Iguanodons inspired the appearance of Godzilla, and inside this gentle spirit lies a ferocity that cannot be discounted.
GUS: AUBRY BRACCO – HOT – CRISPY CHICKEN STRIPS AND FRIES (AND STRAWBERRY BANANA PANCAKES, BUT IN A TO-GO BOX BECAUSE THAT’S GONNA BE MY DINNER LATER)
If Aubry were the sole captain on her season, I’d be a little worried for her survival. She’s not as dominant in challenges as one might hope from a captain (card-stacking aside), and she’s so notorious that everybody straight up refused to play with her during Game Changers. Playing on a tribe with another returnee, however – and especially one as shiny as Joe Anglim – I think will actually add to her value and be a point in her favor. Aubry is similar to David in that she plays best when she’s not necessarily the headliner, but rather when she’s able to puppetmaster from slightly behind the scenes and control a dedicated group of allies. With Joe as a shield, Aubry should be able to go deep in this game – and after surviving a month of shunning during Game Changers, the Edge of Extinction seems like it would feel almost like a paradise to her.
ALI: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT – VELOCIRAPTOR
At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of young Victoria. Was the comment in her bio about liking to discuss being valedictorian a joke or fact? Deciding on this would be the difference between me thinking she could make it far or would be a potential first boot. After listening to her First One Out interview, I decided that she was probably joking (even though it’s still quite the humble brag). I was also very impressed by Victoria’s Survivor knowledge during her interview. At the very least, Victoria is intelligent enough to strategize and adapt to the rigors of the game. Victoria reminds me of the Velociraptor, far more intelligent and tenacious than she may initially appear.
GUS: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT – NEW YORK CHEESECAKE PANCAKES
I’m very high on Victoria. Yeah, she’s young, she’s maybe a little brash, she might be over-the-top at times in her bio (I really hope she’s joking when she says “I [had] a perfect 4.0 [in college] and I bring it up in conversation as much as possible”). But she seems like a cunning player, and she’s got enough outdoorsiness that I predict she’ll be useful around camp. She compares herself to Malcolm in her bio, suggesting that she’ll play smart rather than just through brute strength, and she displays a comforting level of wariness when she admits that “without alliances and bonds, you will never win.”
ALI: RON CLARK – HOT – THE FIRST MAMMAL
I love Ron. I smiled through his entire interview. As a teaching artist, I know first hand how difficult teaching can be. This man has to have an infinite amount of love and patience in order to do what he does every day. Regardless of how he does in the game, I’m a huge fan of Ron Clark. My only concern about Ron was whether he would have the killer instinct in this game. But he assuaged my fears when he revealed that he was willing to cut people because his students would understand that this is a game. I am legitimately excited to see this man play. Ron Clark reminds me of the first mammal, cute and cuddly, but with the tenacity to survive far beyond initial expectations.
GUS: RON CLARK – HOT – COUNTRY FRIED STEAK
Another one of my draft picks! I’m very enthusiastic about Ron. For a deep-dive on why Ron’s a Hot for me, check out the Inside Survivor cast assessment. Some highlights: I think he’ll be underestimated, he’s strategic, he works well with younger folks, he’s a passionate player, he can be laid back when he needs to be.
ALI: JULIA CARTER – HOT – STEGOSAURUS
Another woman I wasn’t sure about. Julia’s personality didn’t stand out to me during the interviews. However, that’s not exactly a bad thing. Usually, when people stand out in the game of Survivor, it means that they will probably go home. I was encouraged by the fact that Julia says she grew up watching the show. Furthermore, she got into medical school, so she’s clearly no dummy. On the other hand, for you fans of Angie Caunce’s work on RHAP (I find it rather fun), she might be in the category of the Meredith Grey, and sadly that archetype tends to fare badly in the game. Sarah Lacina is the first and only Meredith Grey to win, but she showed that a win is possible. Recently, there has been a trend in which archetypes who have never won are improving their averages, with archetypes like Pony Boy (e.g. Adam Klein) and Alpha Male Control Freak (e.g. Wendell Holland) clinching their first victories as well. Perhaps Julia Carter could represent the rise of the Meredith Grey, and I am hoping that she will earn my faith in her. Julia Carter is like a Stegosaurs; she has a lot of weapons at her disposal, and it will be up to her whether she can use them effectively, or if she will be taken down by fiercer competitors.
GUS: JULIA CARTER – NOT – PHILLY CHEESE STEAK STACKER
I’ve got to be honest with this one – I’m having trouble getting a read on Julia. This is my fault, and I’ll probably end up regretting this later, but I’ve got to give her a Not to start out. Sorry, Julia!
ALI: ERIC HAFEMANN – HOT – BRACHIOSAURUS
As I said in the draft article, I think that people are sleeping on Eric. This is a man who is trained to operate under pressure, and that is crucial on Survivor. There’s a reason firefighters tend to do well in the game. There is no way Eric is going early because he will be a challenge beast. Once the merge hits, this will be a different story, but Eric is going to be fine in the early game. Eric is like a Brachiosaurus. His exterior is gentle and slow, but his reach has enormous potential.
GUS: ERIC HAFEMANN – NOT – MONSTER MOZZARELLA STICKS
I’ve seen a lot of people labeling Eric as “boring” because a couple of his interviews lacked pizzazz. This is, I think, unfair. Eric doesn’t strike me as boring; he strikes me as maybe a little reserved and a little private. Which is completely fine, but doesn’t necessarily translate well to a Survivor victory (it sure didn’t work out so hot for Chicken Morris). Eric’s humility will also serve him well (from his bio: “I try to remember that 99.9 percent of the time I am NOT the smartest, coolest, most interesting, deserving, or important person in the room”), but will not necessarily translate into a win – I worry about his owning his game or really leading his alliance. I’ve got high hopes for Eric, but as yet they aren’t high enough to earn a Hot.
ALI: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT – DILOPHOSAURUS
I want to start this by saying that I like Aurora. I couldn’t help but smile when she talked about her job, and I do not doubt that she is tough enough to withstand the elements. BUT, and this is a big but, I like to let the players tell me how they are going to play, and Aurora is very concerned about her “bitchiness.” Oh Aurora, you should be worried about that. If Aurora can’t keep a lid on her outspoken personality, that could very well give her a one-way ticket to Extinction Island. Typically, the stress of Survivor exacerbates one’s negative qualities, so it’s not comforting that Aurora already knows that her temperament is going to be a problem. Therefore, until I see more of her gameplay, Aurora receives a Not from me. Aurora is like the Dilophosaurus, she’s a fierce predator with the potential to spit poison, but in this case, it may not be an advantage. Perhaps, like with Newman’s famous death at the hands of a Dilophosaurus in Jurassic Park, Aurora’s fellow contestants won’t see her coming until it’s too late.
GUS: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT – GRILLED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD
TBH I’m mostly just confused at the dissonance in Aurora’s bio, where she names one of her pet peeves as “any noise coming from the mouth” and then follows it up by saying that she would bring “Gum: I have an addiction and I don’t just chew, I chomp!” I’m not entirely sure how these things can coexist. I like Aurora, and I hope she does well; based on her bio, the people she compares herself to (Michaela and Ciera, to name a couple), and her emphasis on the “cutthroat side,” I worry that Aurora will overplay early and find herself on the Edge of Extinction.
ALI: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT – MAIASAURUS
Julie gave me major Denise vibes when I was listening to her interviews. Granted, I wasn’t a super big fan of the fact that she said she didn’t have a game plan. But as I listened further, and heard that she has been a fan of the show since day one, I thought that perhaps there is wisdom to going into the game without a game plan. We all know what they say about the best-laid plans. Perhaps what Julie is wisely trying to do is maintain a sense of flexibility throughout the game, hence her lack of a game plan. Overall, I think Julie’s dedication to playing the game will serve her well going forward. Her motherly demeanor will mean that the others will not see her coming, and she is athletic enough not to be a target early on. Julie is like the Maiasaurus, the “good mother dinosaur,” but that doesn’t mean she isn’t going to cut the competition.
GUS: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT – GRILLED TILAPIA HOLLANDAISE
My final draft pick! For more in-depth analysis on why I’m a big fan of Julie’s, check out the Inside Survivor cast assessment. Highlights: she comes across as a crafty and adaptable player, she’s a longtime fan of the game, I think her tribe will gel with her, I like the idea of wooden toys, I just think she’s neat.
ALI: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT – DRACOREX HOGWARTSIA
Honestly, I have to respect a man who is willing to move his wedding in order to go on Survivor. That kind of enthusiasm for the game is admirable. Other than that, I didn’t have much of a read on Gavin, and while I thought Julia and Victoria could slip under the radar as athletes, Gavin is going to stick out as a super fan. He doesn’t look like the most athletic guy, so his tribe might not feel super inclined to keep him early on. Once he hits the merge, Gavin is going to be a target because he’s the nerdy archetype, which in a player’s mind means he’s smart and has a deep knowledge of the game. Gavin is going to find his killer instinct to avoid Christian’s fate last season, and I’m not sure yet if he has it. Because of this, Gavin is the Dracorex Hogwartsia. Scientists are not sure whether this dinosaur is a carnivore or an herbivore, which feels like the perfect metaphor for how I feel about Gavin’s game. Also, I can’t resist giving Gavin the dinosaur they named after Harry Potter.
GUS: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT – THICK-CUT BONE-IN HAM AND EGG COMBO
First off – congrats on Gavin for his marriage that was like six days before he left for Survivor. If he can make it to the end, I think that’d be a pretty fantastic story for the Jury. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the only thing I know about Gavin, so I can’t paint a very complete picture of him. His bio discusses a fondness for The Office, Joe Anglim, Fortnite, and his family. All of these things have their merits, but none of them gives me an in as to how Gavin will play the game – apart from likely developing an Erik Reichenbach-like fondness for Joe. Gavin laments in his bio about how people sometimes mistake him for still being a high-schooler despite his being 23, but his bio suggests that he might be playing a game more reminiscent of a Jessica Peet than of a Michael Yerger.
TRASH TALK ZONE
GUS: I just don’t really know anywhere near enough about her to rank Julia as a Hot.
ALI: She’s been watching the game for a long time. She’s playing in honor of her dead father. She’s got a great story and a great reason for staying in the game.
GUS: A good player that does not make. Superfans can translate their wealth of knowledge into terrific gameplay, but they can just as easily overthink and explode.
ALI: Sure, but I don’t think Julia is a superfan, but she’s at least a fan. Victoria is way more of a fan and you gave her a Hot.
GUS: Eh, there were mitigating factors with Victoria. She came across better through her first impressions, and this game is all about the first impressions. Julia didn’t hook me in her pre-season press.
ALI: Plus, I bet her being a waitress reminds you of another waitress you loved… Miss Courtney Yates.
GUS: Oh yeah, that’s a thing. NYC waitresses do well enough, historically.
ALI: But Julia is obviously smart. She seemed self-possessed and well-spoken. I’m looking forward to seeing how she does. I think I didn’t get as clear of a read on her as I did on some of the other contestants, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. She’s got the reason for being there to survive Extinction. I’m excited to learn more about her.
GUS: Right. Finally, let’s discuss Eric.
ALI: This is the guy everyone is sleeping on. I love him.
GUS: I think I am going to recant my Not once I’ve seen more of him. I really do like him. He’s, like, just barely shy of getting a Hot.
ALI: Again, strong enough to make merge. And you know what they say, still waters run deep. I think he’s used to going really calm under pressure and that’s what he did in his interviews, and it came across as not dynamic, but I think that it bodes well for his time on Survivor that he’s not an emotional guy. Firefighters tend to do well in this game for that reason, and firefighters are less intense than Police Officers (it seems generally) because their job requires getting people to trust them quickly. These all seem like skills that will only benefit him in game. I think if the three guys use each other as shields, then they could do well.
GUS: I agree. But there’s a difference between staying calm under pressure and actively avoiding being the center of attention. I feel like Eric is used to doing what needs to be done – which is a highly admirable quality in real life – but is not necessarily accustomed to whipping votes into line, or jumping into a new social situation and becoming the It guy. Again, this is based on almost NOTHING – so he very well might just dominate his tribe in the first episode and prove me wrong. I actually really like Eric.
ALI: We good?
GUS: How about we each pick one person from each tribe to be the potential first boot of the season, AND one person from each tribe who is making the merge? Returnees are disqualified as picks. Let’s start with our predicted First Boots.
ALI: Okaaaaay… From Manu, I am sad to say I think it could be Wendy.
GUS: My Manu First Out is Reem.
ALI: How dare you. My draft pick, Queen Reem.
GUS: Sorry bout it.: And my Kama is… Julia. With an ‘A’.
ALI: My Kama first boot is Aurora. And I’m so sad to say it because I want to be her best friend.
GUS: I was thinking about her, too.
ALI: I can just see her making fun of Joe’s moustache and then he gets her booted because he can’t take it.
GUS: Who’s gonna make Merge? Starting with Manu.
ALI: Chris Underwood.
GUS: LAUREN O’CONNELL!
ALI: Lol. I hope you’re right.
ALI: Kama kama kama kama kama chameleon.
GUS: Hee hee hee. Kama is Ron Clark.
ALI: Julie… She gives me Denise vibes.
GUS: I am a BIG fan of hers. Premiere can’t get here soon enough!
ALI: To those of you who made it to the end of our novel, congratulations. It only gets shorter from here.
GUS: We’ve got some plans for handling people who end up at the Edge of Extinction; all of them are short and sweet. Ta ta for now.
Survivor: Edge of Extinction premieres tonight at 8 pm (EST) on CBS.