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Survivor: Edge of Extinction Hot or Not – Season Retrospective


Ali & Gus look back at their season rankings.

Photo: CBS

Another season of Survivor has come and gone, but because of Edge of Extinction, Ali and Gus weren’t able to give each castaway their proper retrospective. Because of this, Ali and Gus present the “Hot or Not Season Retrospective,” in which they will review each of the players and how they were ranked over the course of the season. Ali and Gus will also have a little write up on each of the castaways, describing their overall gameplay.

Chris

1st – CHRIS UNDERWOOD

ALI

Hot 2
Not 1
Kindled 9
Ashen 0

GUS

Hot 2
Not 1
Kindled 8
Ashen 1

For a total of…

4 Hots, 2 Nots, 17 Kindled, 1 Ashen

Chris started off the season pretty strong, creating solid alliances with Keith, Wardog, David, and Rick. However, a series of early missteps (voting out close ally Keith, and telling Wardog about David’s plan) gave him a shockingly early ticket to Extinction. Ali correctly interpreted Chris’s turning on Keith as a sign of the game potentially getting away from him. Gus gave Chris a Hot the week that Chris went home. On Extinction, Chris hustled to find an advantage in the return challenge but ultimately lost to Rick. His story on Extinction circumvented around his lost perfect game and his providing for the other players on the island. Ali and Gus both named Chris as the 5th most likely to return, and Ali speculated that it was possible that the reason the season’s editing was so strange was due to the Extinction returnee winning. Ultimately, Chris played an impressive final few days in the game and managed to win over Julie and Gavin.

Gavin

2nd – GAVIN WHITSON

ALI

Hot 6
Not 6
Kindled
Ashen

GUS

Hot 6
Not 6
Kindled
Ashen

For a total of…

12 Hots, 12 Nots

Gavin had pretty light content early merge but managed to work his way into the Kama 6 and create a solid alliance with Eric. Gavin’s under the radar gameplay earned him consistent Hots from Ali & Gus until Eric’s elimination episode. Ali and Gus were baffled by Gavin’s willingness to blindside a loyal ally so early. Gavin’s game then largely got away from him, with questionable moves that ultimately benefitted others over himself, earning him all Nots from both Ali and Gus until episode 12. Ali did give Gavin a Hot in episode 12, due to his correct assessment that eliminating Ron would be better for his game going forward. However, going into the finale, Gavin’s lack of content earned him a Not from both Ali and Gus. Gavin was unable to impress the jury in final tribal and received second place. However, both Ali and Gus agree that Gavin should have had far more credit for his subtle gameplay. His performance in the finale was especially notable.

Julie

3rd – JULIE ROSENBERG

ALI

Hot 8
Not 4
Kindled
Ashen

GUS

Hot 8
Not 4
Kindled
Ashen

For a total of…

16 Hots, 8 Nots

Ali and Gus were excited about Julie in the pre-game, with Ali even stating that she had “Denise potential.” Julie’s early promise earned her consistent Hots from both Ali and Gus in the pre-merge, as she was able to make inroads with the Kama 6 and gain a tight ally in Ron. Julie also pushed the other women on the tribe to search for idols and take charge of their games. However, Ali spotted trouble in episode 5, when Ron ignored Julie’s desires to eliminate Joe. Ali correctly guessed that this meant that Julie wasn’t taken seriously by her allies.

As the merge came and Julie’s emotions came into play, her game received more and more Nots from Ali and Gus. Then, it appeared that she reclaimed control by gathering strong allies in Victoria and Lauren. But when Ron was blindsided, Julie was once again on the outs and forced to work with Rick Devens, a man she knew she couldn’t beat. Because of the jury’s perceptions of Julie as a weaker player going into the finale, Gus and Ali both ranked her as “Notter,” with the lowest chances of winning the game. Julie’s lack of control over her emotions and strategy in the late game was a mark against her as she stood up against the jury. Once again, a woman was a no vote finalist, leaving Chrissy as the most recent woman to receive a vote in the finale.

Rick

4th – RICK DEVENS

ALI

Hot 5
Not 5
Kindled 2
Ashen

GUS

Hot 4
Not 6
Kindled 2
Ashen

For a total of…

9 Hots, 11 Nots, 4 Kindled

Rick endeared himself to fans and players alike early in the game. Though his physique could have made him an easy target, Rick found inroads with players like Kelley, Wardog, and Lauren (while making a strong bond with David). The unexpected swap left Devens up a creek without a paddle, and Ali and Gus didn’t see it coming, as they gave him Hots the week before his elimination. On Extinction, Rick made an enemy of Reem, but an ally in Chris. Gus and Ali redeemed themselves when they both gave Rick a Kindled the week prior to his return. Rick’s return to the game was chaotic. He was often left out of the vote, and had to resort to challenge wins and idol finds to remain in the game. His emotions often alienated other players, especially the Lesu 4.

Ali and Gus feared throughout the game that Rick could only rely on himself to get to the end, a path fraught with pitfalls and in need of a lot of luck. Because of this, Ali and Gus gave Rick mostly Nots after his return. However, because Rick would be the sure-fire winner should he make it to the end, Ali gave him a Hotter (the player most likely to win), and Gus gave him a Hot (the second most likely player to win). Unfortunately, Rick lost the fire making challenge and was the last player sent to the jury. Rick’s flashy gameplay and nail-biting downfall were incredible television, and (despite Gus’s often vitriolic reactions to him) Rick played a heck of a game.

Lauren

5th – LAUREN O’CONNELL

ALI

Hot 7
Not 5
Kindled
Ashen

GUS

Hot 8
Not 4
Kindled
Ashen

For a total of…

15 Hots, 9 Nots

Ali wasn’t sure how well Lauren would do in the early game. On the other hand, Gus was a passionate defender of her from the start. Ali did make Lauren her winner pick as insurance, but that was in part because production seemed unenthusiastic about the season in general, leaving Ali to believe that possibly a woman had won. Lauren had a rocky start to the game, ending up on a tribe that would lose almost every challenge. However, Lauren embodied the label Survivor, finding a tight alliance with Kelley and an immunity idol early on. Lauren’s eating habits made her a possible target during the swap, but ultimately she was able to sidestep the target, and Rick was eliminated. Ali gave Lauren a Not in episode 4 because her feud with Wardog could have put her in danger, but again, Lauren was able to sidestep trouble. At the merge, her position in the minority spelled bad news for her game going forward. And things looked even worse when she was blindsided, with her close ally Kelley going home.

However, Lauren was able to work her way into an alliance with Julie and Victoria, cementing her position. Impressively, Lauren was the target several times throughout the game and resisted the temptation to play her idol. Going into the finale, Ali and Gus both felt confident that Lauren would be able to make it to the end, giving her a Hot and Hotter respectively. She had an idol, performed decently in challenges, had allies in Julie, Gavin, and Victoria, and had good relationships with several jury members. All was going well for Lauren until Chris returned from Extinction, armed with knowledge of her idol (thanks, Kelley). Chris persuaded Lauren to incorrectly play her idol for him as insurance, and convinced her that she needed to eliminate strong ally Victoria. In the end, she was blindsided the following vote. A combination of being duped by Chris and being screwed by Chris’s return caused Lauren’s downfall and won her a respectable 5th place finish.

Victoria

6th – VICTORIA BAAMONDE

ALI

Hot 8
Not 4
Kindled
Ashen

GUS

Hot 8
Not 4
Kindled
Ashen

For a total of…

16 Hots, 8 Nots

Ali and Gus disagreed about Victoria in the pre-game, and her early invisibility in the edit made it appear that perhaps she wouldn’t be a presence this season. But Victoria played well in the early game, finding her way into the Kama 6, and gaining tight alliances with Gavin, Julia, and Eric. Though a few early missteps made Ali and Gus give her Nots, especially her obvious alienation of Joe and Aubry (to the point where she accidentally spoke about eliminating Joe right in front of him). But Victoria recovered from these early mistakes, becoming a force to be reckoned with around Aubry’s elimination. Gus and Ali disagreed over the way that Victoria handled Aubry’s boot, but ultimately, they both were impressed with how she was able to rally people around her in the post-merge. There was only one episode where Victoria was presented as an elimination candidate prior to the finale (which earned her a Not from Ali).

Ultimately, her ability to form fast connections with people like the Kama 6 and Lauren brought Victoria to the end, and made her a huge jury threat, the most likely person to win after Rick. Ali and Gus both gave Victoria a Lukewarm going into the finale, believing that Rick would have larger sway over the jury, and Lauren’s path to the end more secure. However, both thought that, should Victoria make it to the end, she would be able to win. Unfortunately for Victoria, Chris came back from Extinction with news about her threat level, which caused Lauren to turn on her. Later interviews with several cast members revealed that Victoria would have beaten anyone except Rick in the finale. So, the person most screwed by the twist was certainly Victoria. In a world where it seems dubious that a woman will ever win again, we must take comfort in the fact that, without production interference, Victoria could well have emerged the winner of season 38.

Aurora

7th – AURORA MCCREARY

ALI

Hot 2
Not 10
Kindled
Ashen

GUS

Hot 4
Not 8
Kindled
Ashen

For a total of…

6 Hots, 18 Nots

Gus and Ali were both concerned about Aurora coming into the game, especially in light of interviews in which she described herself as “outspoken” or even “bitchy.” These attributes, while great in a courtroom, can spell big trouble on Survivor. Perhaps that’s why Wendell is the only lawyer to have won the game (and he doesn’t practice law anymore). Aurora also had the misfortune of being a nearly instant outcast on her tribe, as she formed bonds with fellow outliers, Aubry and Joe. We heard little from Aurora early in the game, but once Joe was eliminated at the start of the merge, Aurora started to emerge as a threat in her own right. After winning several challenges and receiving an extra vote from her Extinction friends, she started to make headway with members of the merged tribe.

However, Aurora’s tense relationships with Ron and Julie made her an easy potential target, and pretty much every week she came up as a possible elimination candidate. Gus and Ali both found themselves rooting for Aurora, as she had been through so much in her life and in the game. But, because Aurora could not make the relationships necessary to get a foothold in the game, her strategy suffered. In the end, it’s plausible that Aurora would have been largely viewed as a goat in the end.

Ron

8th – RON CLARK

ALI

Hot 6
Not 5
Kindled
Ashen 1

GUS

Hot 7
Not 4
Kindled 1
Ashen

For a total of…

13 Hots, 9 Nots, 1 Kindled, 1 Ashen

Ron came out of the gate quickly, establishing himself as the leader of the Kama 6. He had one blip in the pre-merge when he spoke about eliminating Joe in front of him. But he was able to bounce back quickly and lead the Kama 6 into the merge. However, the leaders of alliances often become big targets. As the Lesu 4 were able to get their feet under them, Ron found himself blindsided more than once, especially when he managed to alienate members of his own alliance. As the merge went on, the “mean girl” Ron professed to be in pre-game interviews came out, and he became very confrontational. Ali and Gus disagreed only once on Ron, in Episode 7. During this episode, Ron muscled the vote onto Joe. Ali argued that this was against Ron’s interest, as his target will only grow as the merge continues.

Eliminating big threats was a huge reason why Ron went to Extinction when he did, as the threatening players went home (David then Wentworth then Wardog…). The only big remaining targets were Ron and Devens. As Devens kept winning immunity and playing idols, it was only a matter of time before Ron became public enemy #1. Ali and Gus both gave Ron a Not before his elimination for this reason. Once Wardog was gone, Ron was the obvious target.

Wardog

9th – DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA

ALI

Hot 2
Not 8
Kindled
Ashen 2

GUS

Hot 5
Not 5
Kindled
Ashen 2

For a total of…

7 Hots, 13 Nots, 4 Ashen

Wardog came into the game ready to play, but Ali feared that he was playing too hot too fast. He was never content to rest on his laurels, with an early blindside against Chris that seemed rather unnecessary. Early on, Gus argued that Wardog was heavily influencing the vote, which was a sign of his tactically advantageous position in the game. Ali feared that it was overplaying. As the game progressed and Manu/Lesu couldn’t catch a break, Wardog went into the merge as an alpha male who was on the minority alliance. As such, he would be a prime target for elimination. Wardog managed to survive, against the odds, playing a really exciting game with a lot of strategic promise. And he earned his first Hot from Ali when he convinced Julia and Gavin (and ultimately Victoria) to get together and vote out Eric.

In that moment, it looked like things would be going well for Wardog. His strategy came back to haunt him as Wardog began targeting the other big players left in the game (especially once he made the move to blindside Kelley). Once big threats like David and Kelley were eliminated, Ali pointed out that this left Wardog vulnerable, as he was now the clearest threat in the game. Gus agreed. As a result, both Ali and Gus gave Wardog Nots right before his elimination. As a whole, Wardog was a smashingly entertaining character who made bold moves. Unfortunately, he took out his competition a touch too early, making him an easy target.

Kelley

 

10th – KELLEY WENTWORTH

ALI

Hot 4
Not 5
Kindled 3
Ashen

GUS

Hot 5
Not 4
Kindled 3
Ashen

For a total of…

9 Hots, 9 Nots, 6 Kindled

Kelley had a heck of a ride over the course of this season. She’s used to playing from the bottom and this season was no exception. Wentworth quickly emerged as a target early on, understandably considering her stellar reputation as a player in Second Chance. Despite being the decoy target week by week, Kelley managed to hold on and make her way into a solid alliance with Wardog and Lauren. However, her intense animosity toward some of the other players (like Wendy), and her inability to make inroads with David made Ali and Gus wary of her staying power in the game.

Ultimately, Kelley was able to gain the upper hand going into the tribe swap. At the merge, the Lesu 4 was on the bottom, and Kelley had a difficult time making inroads with the Kama 6, failed to reconnect with Rick, and ultimately most of them were eliminated back to back. Kelley did manage to impressively hold onto an idol at moments where many would have played it to be on the safe side. Unfortunately, like with Aubry, Kelley got too comfortable not playing it and failed to realize that her alliance was turning on her. Tragically, much like Kelley, Gus didn’t see her impending demise, giving her a Hot right before her exit.

Davod

11th – DAVID WRIGHT

ALI

Hot 6
Not 3
Kindled 3
Ashen

GUS

Hot 5
Not 4
Kindled 2
Ashen 1

For a total of…

11 Hots, 7 Nots, 5 Kindled, 1 Ashen

Pre-season, Ali and Gus were worried that with David’s threat status combined with his poor challenge performance record in the pre-merge, he would be an easy target in the early rounds. However, David surprised them both when he quickly made inroads on his tribe, establishing connections with Chris, Rick, and Wendy, in addition to forging bonds with Wardog, Kelley, and Lauren. David was doing a good job integrating himself until suddenly he became fixated on eliminating Kelley. In the pre-merge, Ali and Gus disagreed often about David, with Ali thinking he was integrating himself rather well (Kelley fixation aside), while Gus feared he was still a viable target to most of the other players.

Things looked grim for David at the swap, especially once his closest ally, Rick, was voted out of the game. But things started looking up for David the Goliath once the merge hit. Rick returned to the game, but he had his own plans for moving forward, and they didn’t include the Lesu 4. David wisely held onto Rick’s idol until he could be sure the two were back on the same page. Unfortunately, Ali and Gus felt strongly that David would stay around because other returnees were bigger threats. They failed to account for David being on the outside of both the Lesu 4 and the Kama 6, making him an easy target to agree upon.

Julia

12th – JULIA CARTER

ALI

Hot 3
Not 5
Kindled 1
Ashen 3

GUS

Hot 3
Not 5
Kindled 1
Ashen 3

For a total of…

6 Hots, 10 Nots, 2 Kindled, 6 Ashen

Ali and Gus rarely wavered in their assessment of Julia, giving her the exact same scores. In the pre-season, Ali gave her a Hot, thinking that her status as a medical student might give her the critical thinking skills necessary in a game like Survivor. Gus disagreed, thinking that Julia had the least chance of all the young women to do well in the game. As the game began, Julia’s lack of presence in the edit was consistently remarked upon, even by Julia herself. Her invisibility made it difficult for Ali and Gus to justify giving her Hots early on, as there was no evidence that she was playing the game.

In episode 4, Julia emerged and was showcased as a part of the Kama 6 alliance, even searching through Joe’s bag at Ron’s instruction. Quickly after, however, Joe was able to convince Julia that she needed to keep him in the game as a shield for her. Though this storyline did not ultimately pan out, Julia certainly didn’t look good in this moment, and Ali and Gus disagreed about her for the first time since the pre-season. Gus stated that this moment was not as significant as it appeared, and ultimately, he was right.

Eric

13th – ERIC HAFEMANN

ALI

Hot 5
Not 2
Kindled 5
Ashen

GUS

Hot 6
Not 1
Kindled 4
Ashen 1

For a total of…

11 Hots, 3 Nots, 9 Kindled. 1 Ashen

Despite many describing him as “boring” in pre-season interviews, Eric played well in the pre-merge, finding himself in the Kama 6. He formed close bonds with both Gavin and Ron and set his eyes on Aubry as a target. Eric swapped onto a majority Kama tribe and had his target, Aubry, and Wendy leave over his allies. As the merge approached, Eric’s aggressive attitude toward Wendy’s chicken fiasco and his brutal blindside of Aubry made Ali give him two Nots in a row, disagreeing with Gus. Ali also felt that Eric would be targeted due to his physical prowess once the merge hit, and his reactions to Wendy indicated he might not have the social ability to preserve his longevity in the game.

However, once the Joe blindside occurred, Ali came around to thinking that Eric’s position in the Kama 6 alliance spelled good things for his game going forward. Eric and Ron then overplayed in trying to use the family visit to keep the Kama 6 together. Wardog capitalized on Julia’s insecurity in the alliance and ultimately convinced her to work against her best interests and target Eric before she should. As a result, Ali and Gus gave Eric Hots on the week he went home.

Joe

14th – JOE ANGLIM

ALI

Hot 2
Not 4
Kindled 6
Ashen

GUS

Hot 2
Not 4
Kindled 5
Ashen 1

For a total of…

4 Hots, 8 Nots, 11 Kindled, 1 Ashen

Ali and Gus felt going into the game that, as a physical player, Joe had a significant advantage over everyone else. But Joe’s strategic game has always had much to be desired, and this season was no exception. Joe found himself quickly on the outs and was unable to make connections with others on his tribe. In the first episode, Gus gave Joe a Hot, thinking that he wouldn’t be going anywhere early on. In this, Gus was correct, as Kama never went to tribal, largely thanks to Joe’s efforts. Joe’s one impressive play this season was attempting to convince Julia that she would need him as a shield. As this had been the best Ali had ever seen him play strategically, Ali felt she had to give him a Hot, against her better judgment. Joe was subsequently eliminated.

Aubry

16th – AUBRY BRACCO

ALI

Hot 3
Not 2
Kindled 7
Ashen

GUS

Hot 3
Not 2
Kindled 6
Ashen 1

For a total of…

6 Hots, 4 Nots, 13 Kindled, 1 Ashen

Aubry couldn’t find her footing this season. She was immediately on the outs on her tribe, and she was named as a target before Joe. Things were looking up when she found an immunity idol for the first time, so Ali and Gus started giving her Hots going into the swap because it appeared Aubry recognized that she was on the outs and would need to play her idol. Sadly, Aubry was played like a fiddle by Victoria and failed to play her idol, ending up on Extinction and humiliating Ali and Gus (both gave her a Hot before her boot episode).

Reem

18th – REEM DALY

ALI

Hot
Not 1
Kindled 5
Ashen 6

GUS

Hot
Not 1
Kindled 9
Ashen 2

For a total of…

0 Hots, 2 Nots, 14 Kindled, 8 Ashen

Ali and Gus didn’t feel great about Reem’s chances going into the Edge of Extinction, though Ali was hopeful that Reem could pull a Lauren Rimmer and surprise people. The minute that Reem hit the beach, she began annoying people and was the first person eliminated. Despite her early loss, Reem became a breakout player on the Edge of Extinction, and Ali and Gus are hopeful that we may see her again, duuuuuuude.

# of People Who Got Hots the Week They Went to Extinction

Ali: 4 (Rick, Aubry, Joe, Eric, Julia, David)
Gus: 7 (Chris, Rick, Eric, Aubry, Julia, David, Kelley, Aurora)

# of People Who Got Nots the Week They Went to Extinction

Ali: 7 (Reem, Keith, Wendy, Chris, Wardog, Ron, Aurora,
Gus: 5 (Reem, Keith, Wendy, Joe, Wardog, Ron)

Tune in for season 39 to see who’s Hot or Not! Have a great summer, y’all!


Alexandra "Ali" Shields is a sketch writer and playwright from Chicago and a graduate from Northwestern University. Alexandra has published humor articles with The Second City Network and cracked.com. Alexandra’s play, Twelve, won first place in the Jackie White National Memorial Playwriting Contest in 2018. Gus Schlanbusch is a Chicago-based playwright, theatre director and Survivor fan. His plays have been produced in Chicago, Detroit and Boston. He is a relatively new survivor superfan, his first live season having been Season 33, but Ali has caught him up pretty thoroughly on what he missed before then.



  • Tyler the Lightning

    What’s Kindled and Ashen?