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.
Last week, both Ali and Gus had JD as a Not. We’ve been nailing it so far!
GUS – DESHAWN RADDEN – NOT
Deshawn had a dominant challenge performance (in the reward challenge, when he was, you know, trying), but I just can’t in good conscience give a Hot to somebody who tried to throw a challenge for honestly no good reason. Honestly, I worry that Deshawn and Danny’s propensity towards vilifying anyone who instigates strategic conversation—or going along with said vilifying—bodes ill for their lives post-merge.
Like it or not, Deshawn and Danny (I hate to keep doing this but they’re gonna get lumped together this week again) have not really had to play Survivor the game thus far. They’re completely untested in terms of strategy or Tribal Council experience. Obviously, you can win without going to any pre-merge Tribal Councils, but I don’t see that happening here.
ALI – DESHAWN RADDEN – HOT
Here’s my theory, and we’ll see if this pans out. I think that come the merge, we often see in a three tribe scenario the fractured tribe picking off the bigger, intact tribe. This is because alliances get solidified in tribes where loyalty has had to be tested time and time again. Also, it only benefits the smaller tribes to band together. It doesn’t seem like Luvu is a cohesive enough tribe to counteract that, and many of them seem pretty eager to make moves. Overall, I think the tribe is doomed.
However, where Deshawn is right now, it looks like there’s a cohesive unit of three trying to run the ship unbeknownst to the rest: Deshawn, Danny, and Sydney. Therefore, Deshawn’s sitting pretty right now. Only time will tell if I’m right about later on.
GUS – DANNY McCRAY – NOT
See Deshawn’s entry. They were in lockstep this week, except that Danny didn’t want to throw as much as Deshawn did.
ALI – DANNY McCRAY – HOT
I have pretty much the same comments for Danny as I do Deshawn. My only small note about Danny is that we don’t see him as much as we do Deshawn, so I have a sneaking suspicion that he may go rather early in the merge. Call me wacky, but that’s where I’m hovering with this at the moment.
GUS – HEATHER ALDRET – NOT
She might be safe from the perspective of her tribe, but with her reward challenge performance as bad as it was, I can’t say that bodes well for her long-term life in the game. All sympathy to her, but if you singlehandedly bottleneck your tribe’s entire chance at winning a reward, that’s just not promising.
ALI – HEATHER ALDRET – NOT
Regardless of whether or not the tribe outwardly supported Heather, she and I both know that her challenge performance is going to put a huge target on her back. Not to mention, the few things we’ve heard about Heather include people calling her “crazy” or discussing how she’s on the outs. Luckily for Heather, this tribe has been winning a ridiculous amount. Will the luck run out this week? If so, I worry for Heather.
GUS – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – NOT
I honestly think Erika is playing fine—a few simple strategic comments shouldn’t be a death knell to your game, nor should it draw all eyes to you. Noticing this far into the game that your fellow tribemate is actually playing Survivor shouldn’t matter as much as her tribemates are making it seem. That said, perception is reality on Survivor, and there are people eager enough to get rid of Erika that they’re actively trying to throw challenges.
ALI – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – NOT
Erika, all of a sudden, emerged this episode, and everyone immediately turned on her. Not a good sign. Erika doesn’t seem to have much sway over the people on her tribe and targeted someone who is in with the people she approached. Erika also didn’t have the awareness to realize that Deshawn is in with Sydney, which makes me worry a little bit about her knowledge about the tribe dynamics. That’s not making the future look super promising. Plus, Sydney doesn’t seem like the type to forgive and forget, so I worry for Erika going forward.
GUS – NASEER MUTTALIF – HOT
Whiplash over the tribe’s attitude towards Naseer notwithstanding, he singlehandedly won the immunity challenge for Luvu this week, and I can’t help but give him the Hot nod for that.
ALI – NASEER MUTTALIF – NOT
I have to give it up to Naseer for unknowingly contributing to an absolutely legendary moment wherein he single-handedly won a challenge his tribe members were trying to throw. By the grace of Naseer, Erika’s still in the dang game. However, Naseer’s not in great standing on his tribe. If Luvu goes to Tribal, I could see him being high on the list of sacrificial lambs. I hope I’m wrong, because personally I like Naseer, but we’ll see what the future holds.
GUS – SYDNEY SEGAL – HOT
Sydney may have started to rub some of her tribemates the wrong way, but she’s still squarely positioned as the central confidante of almost everyone on her tribe save Erika. I don’t see her fraying all those bonds any time soon.
ALI – SYDNEY SEGAL – NOT
You know… sometimes when a bunch of people aren’t vibing with you, we have to look inward and see why that might be, especially on a social game like this. Listen, I get that being hungry, cold, and tired can bring out some unpleasant sides in all of us. I have a cold this week and have acted like a wounded tiger or the queen of grumps. But on Survivor, we have to be our best selves even when we want to throw the flint and cry.
I worry that if Sydney is having a hard time containing her feelings this early, she may really struggle in the more intense later game. I also think that she’s gained a few enemies on this tribe, and they may be all too willing to throw her under the bus come the merge.
GUS – GENIE CHEN – NOT
Genie was the obvious boot this past week, but I understand why JD went home instead. With as few members as Ua has left, though, I have to think that she’ll be the next one out if they are unlucky enough to go to Tribal again before the merge.
ALI – GENIE CHEN – NOT
If this tribe goes to Tribal, there’s no way Ricard and Shantel are turning on one another. Genie’s a dead woman walking, and rumor has it there won’t be a tribe swap to save her. She also didn’t handle the blindside in the most graceful way possible, which isn’t going to help her case moving forward.
GUS – RICARD FOYE – HOT
Again, not a ton of Ricard-centric content. But Genie is much, much more likely to go before him.
ALI – RICARD FOYE – HOT
I don’t see Shantel turning on him. They’re each other’s closest ally. The two of them have Genie to throw under the bus if it comes to that. He’s going to come out of next week just fine.
GUS – SHAN SMITH – HOT
Shan came out of this week with a stolen advantage AND with the person who had his eyes on her gone. This week couldn’t have been much better for her.
ALI – SHAN SMITH – HOT
Shan’s pretty freaking funny, I’ve got to say. My only concern with her is that the handling of JD’s feelings about the advantage was a smidge sloppy. At the end of the day, though, she was able to get rid of JD without much fuss, and things are looking good between her and Ricard.
GUS – EVVIE JAGODA – HOT
Despite swimming the wrong way in the challenge, I don’t see Evvie going home next week.
ALI – EVVIE JAGODA – HOT
Evvie’s been a pretty stand out character this season. They’re at the top of the Yase tribe and were the key decision-maker in the vote where Voce was sent packing. I do think Liana might be sitting in a slightly better spot only because Evvie has made an enemy in this game. However, I don’t think that enemy is in a place to do anything about it. Evvie’s safe for now.
GUS – LIANA WALLACE – HOT
She was there. She’s still got her alliance. She got some fish. Yummy.
ALI – LIANA WALLACE – HOT
There isn’t a ton to say about Liana this week, but she’s killing it at the moment. My one concern is that she had a confessional in which she worried not noticing an advantage might spell her doom in the game. Um… is that some foreshadowing coming up? Otherwise, I don’t see her having an issue for the time being.
GUS – TIFFANY SEELY – HOT
As far as we know, Evvie, Liana and Tiffany still have their alliance from a couple of weeks ago. Plus, they got a fish, and we all know how food motivated Tiffany apparently is!
ALI – TIFFANY SEELY – NOT
Tiffany seems like a great gal, and I’d love to have a few daiquiris with her. On the other hand, if the tribe decides they need to keep Xander for challenge prowess, Tiffany’s the next head on the chopping block. Has she been pulling her weight in challenges now? Obviously, but I do think that most of this tribe’s success could be attributed to Xander. So sorry, Tiffany, I think you could be next on this tribe to go.
GUS – XANDER HASTINGS – NOT
Losing Brad last week was a blow for Xander. At this rate, I don’t see that it’s likely that he gets his Immunity Idol activated ever, which means that he also doesn’t vote until merge. He’s dependent on his (admittedly excellent) challenge skills and social capabilities to get him through to that point. And I worry that Liana, Evvie and Tiffany’s pre-emptive endgame gameplay style (getting less pre-emptive by the day) will hold steady, and they’ll kick Xander out if they get the chance.
ALI – XANDER HASTINGS – NOT
While Xander is absolutely crushing it in challenges, there’s no evidence that he’s necessarily improved his standing in the tribe. If the little turtles that could end up in a Tribal situation, I could see Xander getting flushed out. Furthermore, the guy doesn’t have a vote for the foreseeable future. However, I think his one saving grace is that without him, the tribe’s likely toast.
Ali: Genuinely, you are out of your mind.
Gus: Yeah you know what’s always a winning strategy on Survivor? Throwing challenges when your tribe is consistently winning. That always ends well.
Ali: It also isn’t great to be a tribe that never loses. Loyalties aren’t tested, and there are always people then itching to make a move who might jump ship. If they don’t want to work with Erika going forward, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with getting rid of her. Do I think Danny and Deshawn are dead once the merge hits? Totally. And my rankings will reflect that. But in the coming week, the two of them will be fine and, frankly, there were more people who deserved Nots more than the two of them, in my opinion. You don’t let me have more than half plus one Nots to prevent bet hedging.
Gus: That’s because your prime directive is to never give anyone a Hot who goes home the next week. If you had it your way, you’d give half plus half nots.
Ali: That is so… not not true.
Gus: But, regardless, there’s a difference between losing and throwing a challenge. Throwing a challenge almost always comes back to bite you in the butt. And throwing a challenge just to get rid of Erika, for the sole purpose that she thought that maybe Sydney might be a bit of a liability, maybe, at some point, is a laughably bad reason.
Deshawn’s certainty that Erika would target the three of them at merge, so better to just kill her now, is also egregiously over the top. Why go out of your way to weaken your tribe and risk going home just to get rid of someone who might maybe be a problem later? Why risk having your throw fail just to have your target catch wind of it later? This move smacks of hubris. Also, you yourself said you think they’re toast at merge. A hot that does not necessarily make.
Ali: I’ll concede I thought about giving them both Nots, but I thought there were others who qualified for that more. Sydney, for example, who showed a lack of awareness as to how she was coming across, emotional volatility, and was considered as a target this week.
Gus: By Erika and nobody else. Who Deshawn and Danny were ready to throw to eliminate.
Ali: That does not earn a Hot for Sydney. She’s high on my list for early merge boots.
Gus: Naseer confides in her. Danny and Deshawn feel comfortable enough with her that they go to her with private information. And Heather doesn’t look like she’s out to get her. She might come off as abrasive later, but that’s hardly a death knell.
Ali: Naseer learned pretty quickly to stop confiding in her once it became clear that Sydney ratted him out to Danny and Deshawn. Boom, now he has an axe to grind. She’s talked about intentionally leaving Heather out in conversations. And she was so emotionally over the top that it made Erika want to target her. If Heather, Naseer, and Erika can get it together in some way, then Sydney’s a prime target for them.
Gus: We have no evidence that Naseer isn’t confiding in her. We have no evidence that Naseer even knows that she’s ratted him out. He may have broadly caught wind that his name was out there, but those things are not guaranteed to be causative.
Ali: Naseer said in a confessional, “I can’t trust Sydney anymore because she told Danny and Deshawn what I told her.”
Gus: Did that happen?
Ali: So… rethinking that Hot?
Gus: Maybe a little bit, but I wrote it down already, and we’ve already started talking.
Ali: *cackling* Alright, shall we talk Naseer? I just think that group of three might still be targeting him. I don’t know if he can get Erika and Heather together to target them back. However, I still give him props for that challenge performance. I do think that there are other people in front of him on the target list, though, Erika and Heather, for instance.
Gus: Yeah, sorry, he beasted the entire immunity challenge. I have to give him credit for that. I may never be able to give him a Hot again, but we had the two most burly-ass dudes in the game actively working against him and he won the damn challenge anyway. I realize he’s not in a great spot, broadly speaking, but that was REALLY good for him.
Ali: Oh, I hear you. That was wildly impressive.
Gus: I do not mean to claim that it overwhelms the bizarre whiplash the tribe has towards him, but it was just really super cool.
Ali: Oh yeah, definitely.
Gus: We should probably talk about Tiffany because honestly, I’m also surprised I gave her a Hot.
Ali: I mean, she and the rest of her tribe have been surpassing my expectations of late, but I could see her being sacrificed for the security of keeping Xander around. I think that Tiffany’s odds will go up exponentially come the merge. At that point, I may be throwing Hots at her.
Gus: I think we’re 1-2 weeks out from a merge at this point. I could honestly have gotten behind the Voce vote had it happened at this point, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if they repeated it with Xander. Besides, the man can’t vote; they can eliminate him without any worry at this point.
Ali: Very true. I went back and forth about what to give her, honestly. But it just felt like there was a chance (albeit small) that maybe Xander had earned enough goodwill with his challenge performance that she could be sacrificed.
Gus: I mean, I hope so! Xander’s fun (not that Tiffany isn’t) and I’d love to see him stick around. Anything else for us to discuss?
Ali: Not until next week!
Gus: Terrific! See you then!