Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor 41 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.
ALI – DESHAWN RADDEN – HOT
Listen… I didn’t expect things to come to a head between Deshawn and Shan this early. Do I think maybe this was a little premature and might leave Deshawn a little more vulnerable? Yeah. However, if he didn’t think that he could work with Shan going forward, Shan was definitely a threat to his game.
Deshawn has what appears to be the only consistently loyal ally in the game. With dwindling numbers, that can only be a good thing. And JEEPERS did the guy add to his resume this week. I worry a little bit because he did alienate himself from Liana, and she may be after him as a result. However, I think Liana burned that bridge first by going to Shan with information, so I don’t think there was a relationship to be salvaged at that point. I fear people may start wanting to take out Deshawn, but I can’t not give him credit this week. He took out a big threat to his game and a major person blocking the moves he wanted to make. Now, let’s see what he does without Shan’s input.
GUS – DESHAWN RADDEN – HOT
Deshawn and Shan were at lingering odds all season, and now that Shan is out, I expect one of two things to happen: either Deshawn follows on her heels or he steps into the power vacuum that Shan has left behind. I expect the latter. Although my fear is that this will result in butting heads between Deshawn and Liana, which will likely end well for Deshawn as he seems to have more of a wide-reaching alliance than Liana. If push comes to shove, Danny will likely choose him.
I could really see Deshawn winning this thing, honestly. The Shan vote was a group effort and one that was clearly hard for him. But he committed to it, and there’s plenty of reason to believe that he might be able to justify to a jury that he was a major driving force behind it.
ALI – DANNY McCRAY – HOT
I’ve been saying that Danny needs to do something that he can put on his resume. While I think Ricard and Deshawn will ultimately get the credit for going after Shan, Danny can absolutely have an argument here about his involvement. Danny has Deshawn in front of him as a meat shield, so I’m not too concerned about people going after him this week. If they’re going to take out anyone in this duo, it’s going to be Deshawn first. So, Danny increased his winning chances without putting himself at too much risk… I’d call that Hot gameplay.
GUS – DANNY McCRAY – HOT
Danny gets all of the benefits of the Shan elimination with none of the potential blowback of having been a mastermind behind it. He took out his alliance’s leader, crippled Liana and (in his eyes) Ricard, and primed himself for, dare I say it, the possibility of a late-game surge. I don’t think Danny is going to win, but he’s certainly played better this week than some others, and I can’t fault him for that.
ALI – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – HOT
It’s never great to get a vote at tribal. On the other hand, Shan being out of the game is only good for Erika. Shan kept talking about how nervous she was about Erika. Without Shan, people aren’t looking at Erika quite as much. I mean, Danny’s expressed some concerns about her, but other than that, I think Erika’s in a good position. The game’s been blown pretty wide open. There are way bigger threats in the game that people are going to be looking at.
This is the time when people need to take down the big game. I don’t think Ricard and Deshawn are going to be working together for long. The thing I’ll say for Erika is that everyone else seems to be giving her a lot of credit for her game even though we aren’t seeing a lot of it. With everything being in flux right now, I think Erika has enough game left to make something happen and she has so many shields in front of her. Erika’s a smart enough player to make something out of this.
GUS – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – HOT
I can’t believe I’m doing this, but everybody remaining in the game seems to think Erika is a huge threat, so I guess I should probably listen to what they’re saying. Why is she a huge threat? I’m not sure, but apparently, she is. Then again, perception is reality in Survivor, so if she’s being perceived as a threat to win, who am I to say she’s not?
ALI – RICARD FOYE – HOT
I bet Shan is kicking herself for not keeping Genie right now. I really appreciate the respect that Ricard and Shan had for one another. They were friends, but they knew that they were playing a game and that they’d have to go after one another. It was a really cool dynamic. My concern for Ricard is he looks like a pretty huge threat after this move. I don’t think the Deshawn and Ricard relationship is going to last. But WOW is Ricard going to have a heck of an argument to make at the end.
Is Ricard too exposed now? Maybe. When the chips fall, Danny and Deshawn are going to stick together since they’ve been a tight duo this entire time. I also think Shan didn’t do Ricard a ton of favors telling him so publicly that she had his vote while throwing Deshawn under the bus. This gives Deshawn a big reason to target Ricard. I’m trying to figure out where Ricard goes from here. I’m not sure Liana is going to want to work with him, but she may be so intent on getting back at Deshawn and Danny that they join forces. Ricard might also be able to connect with Erika and Xander in order to make something happen.
Regardless, I think that Ricard has been one of the most interesting players to watch this season. I keep thinking that he’s going to play himself out of the game, and he keeps landing on his feet. It’s hard for me to justify not giving him a Hot when it was such an interesting move getting out the biggest threat in the game. My prediction is that Liana is going to work with Ricard to try and target Danny and Deshawn, so Ricard may have a path forward. I’m nervous for Ricard, but I’m giving him a Hot because that was such an epic move.
GUS – RICARD FOYE – HOT
I can’t say I expected Ricard to come out on top in his war against Shan, but lo and behold, here he is. He’s still sans advantages, but considering that no advantages have been played effectively this season, I don’t know if that’s really that big of a deal. He clearly has some degree of social capital as he was able to swing this Shan vote, but his having been targeted this week is similarly concerning. Regardless, I don’t see him being targeted now that Shan’s out. And he’s got Shan’s elimination to his name.
Of course, the question now becomes, can Ricard translate to a win at the end? I’m not completely sure. He’s got less in the way of social capital than Deshawn and less in terms of physical (and advantage) capital than Xander. And apparently Erika is the second coming of Richard Hatch. But Ricard is certainly in a better place than he was at the beginning of the week, and for that I have to give him a Hot.
ALI – LIANA WALLACE – NOT
Liana was left out of the vote by the people she trusted. By the grace of the island gods, she wasn’t sent packing herself. It doesn’t look like she’s going to keep her feelings about Shan’s elimination to herself this week, which I think will put her smack dab on the target list. I don’t think it was wise for Liana to tell Shan about Danny and Deshawn’s plans because it’s made it pretty clear to the two of them that they can’t trust her.
Liana’s had a couple of pretty public embarrassments in the game so far, but the woman is playing hard, so we have to give her that. At least she has an argument for why she should win at the end. However, that argument took a pretty huge blow this week, and she’s definitely going to be on Danny and Deshawn’s radar. If I had to pick who might go this week, I’d say Liana.
GUS – LIANA WALLACE – NOT
Like almost everyone else in this season, I don’t really know what to think about Liana. Her through-line of “annihilate Xander at all costs” appears to be in decline, and while she lost her erstwhile bestie in Shan, she may have some claim to the move to get Shan out. That being said, I just don’t see Liana winning in the end. Almost everyone in the game (with the exception of Danny and Heather) has more of a resumé than she does, and she seemed to be the least interested in / dedicated to the plan to eliminate Shan. Could she surprise me? Yeah, of course; this is a season full of surprises. But it would be a hell of a surprise.
ALI – XANDER HASTINGS – NOT
The Xander secret scene with Shan and Ricard is hilarious. While Liana’s in the corner thinking about how much she loathes Xander, this man is in the other corner crushing hard over her. If this isn’t the setup for an island rom-com, I don’t know what is.
I have no idea how this guy is still in the game, to be honest. It feels like he has more lives than a room full of cats. Honestly, this season has completely broken me when it comes to trying to predict who is working together. However, I think that it’s clear to everyone Xander can’t make it to the end. The only saving grace I can think of is his idol. Only issue there is that everyone knows he has it. People with known advantages have been dropping like flies out here. I think Xander could be next.
GUS – XANDER HASTINGS – NOT
Xander retains his advantage and his idol, and his (decent but not perfect) challenge ability. He seems sort of like a cockroach at this time, and while I think he’d lose to a decent number of the remaining folks in the game (Ricard, Deshawn, apparently Erika?), he’s doing well enough in my book to merit a Hot. He wasn’t intrinsic to the vote this week, but he also wasn’t truly targeted.
That said, I do worry about his longevity. He’s mostly on the outskirts of what’s really been happening in the post-merge, scampering from tribal to tribal and allowing his allies to get the boot rather than extending himself to protect them (case in point, Evvie). I think it’s possible that Xander will scuttle his way to the end of the game, and while that would admittedly be impressive, I don’t think the players on this season will reward him for scrap alone.
GUS – HEATHER – NOT
Once again, Heather did all but nothing that was shown this week. Maybe she gets eliminated by a controversial twist or something and that’s why she’s been so absent? I’m not sure. But I can’t give a Hot to someone I don’t know.”
Gus: So, we were both wrong about Shan.
Ali: Look, I’m a big enough person to admit when I messed up. But I want to state again, for the record, that neither of us thought this was happening this week.
Gus: Oh I’m shocked. I really didn’t see this one coming. I fully expected that Shan would win it all.
Ali: Well, you know what they say – “Expect the unexpected!”
Gus: Wrong franchise.
Ali: It still applies. And look! We agreed on everything this week! Expect the unexpected again!
Gus: It’ll be something else to see how the players move forward with the presence that was Shan removed from their midst. I expect to see a lot of recalibrating this week.
Ali: Can’t wait!