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.
GUS – DESHAWN RADDEN – NOT
Deshawn (and Danny) were still talking about throwing challenges immediately pre-merge, and for what? To get rid of Erika? I can only assume there’s hundreds of hours of footage of Erika backstabbing and conniving, or else Deshawn and Danny are just egregiously bored because there’s truly no good reason to do that right now. The concern over a spontaneous women’s alliance—while valid—can be resolved in better ways than throwing a challenge.
ALI – DESHAWN RADDEN – NOT
Athletic men rarely do well come the merge. Now, Deshawn might have a fighting chance due to the merge twist, whatever that’s going to be. However, if we’re going with Survivor tradition, Deshawn’s days are numbered. Plus, Luvu’s far from a unified front. They may be coming into the merge with the numbers, but I don’t think that’s going to matter. Loyalties haven’t been tested because this group hasn’t gone to tribal at all. Every week, there have been restless moments on this tribe wondering who to get rid of, but none of that’s come to fruition.
GUS – DANNY McCRAY – NOT
Chucking Naseer under the bus purely because he doesn’t want to throw a challenge makes no sense. For the rest of my thoughts here, see my Deshawn write-up.
ALI – DANNY McCRAY – NOT
I have pretty much identical thoughts between Deshawn and Danny. I think Danny’s even more toast because he used to be an athlete. He also just decided he doesn’t want to work with Naseer, so that’s not going to work out awesomely for him going into the merge when he needs everyone to be loyal to him.
GUS – HEATHER ALDRET – NOT
As much as I love Heather, she did absolutely nothing this week.
ALI – HEATHER ALDRET – NOT
I just don’t… really know anything about Heather at this point? She’s not really connected to anyone, which isn’t great for her chances moving forward. The merge might be a saving grace for her, as she may be able to bond with folks from other tribes. Even if that’s true, though, she’ll likely be, as Ricard so wonderfully put it, a spare tire that they’ll leave on the side of the road as soon as they don’t have a use for her.
GUS – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – NOT
Much like Heather, Erika did nothing this week, and she’s drawn the endless wrath and ire of Deshawn and Danny.
ALI – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – NOT
It’s not great to go into the merge with a portion of your tribe gunning for you. I think that Danny and Deshawn may try to throw Erika under the bus. Perhaps Erika will be able to swerve that by bonding with folks on the other tribes, but like I said for Heather, that may not necessarily be a good thing for her either. Erika hasn’t really shown an ability to bond with her tribemates yet, so I very much worry that she may not be able to get a grasp on the game. If Danny and Deshawn decide to throw her under the bus, she might get Regina George run over.
GUS – NASEER MUTTALIF – HOT
Objectively Naseer isn’t in a fantastic place. He seems to have drawn the ire of much of his tribe, for some reason. But he found the idol this week, and his voice is music to my song. Also, I lost my mind when he spouted that line about goats and AstroTurf. Besides, now that he’s getting liberated from the nonstrategic hellscape that is the Luvu tribe, he might actually get to play some Survivor. I mean, he’s already pretty much singlehandedly winning the challenges for his team.
ALI – NASEER MUTTALIF – HOT
So I legitimately screamed when Naseer said the goat on astroturf line. That was some nice editing. Naseer’s going into the merge with an active idol. The only issue is, tons of people know that he has it. I worry a little bit about this. However, it might make him threatening enough that people are afraid to gun for him early on. Plus, Naseer is certainly no slouch in challenges, so he may be able to save himself if it comes to that. I’m not sure how game-savvy Naseer is, and I don’t think the guy has a prayer when it comes to winning. But I think he has a little more security than the rest of Luvu, so I’m optimistic about his chances for at least next week.
GUS – SYDNEY SEGAL – NOT
This ranking really just reflects my frustration with the Luvu tribe’s never having to do anything strategic. Sydney’s just fishin’ and havin’ a good time. I have no idea where she stands or what she wants.
ALI – SYDNEY SEGAL – NOT
I am very here for Sydney taking the initiative and being the fisherwoman of the season. Unfortunately, the only other content I’ve really gotten from her have showcased her spilling information, unable to keep her cool in stressful situations, rubbing Tiffany the wrong way (though I think the feeling was mutual), and deeply involved with Deshawn and Danny (who I think aren’t long for this world). I’m a little more optimistic about her ability to survive over Deshawn and Danny, but I worry she might get lumped in with them and that Tiffany may gun for her.
Overall, I don’t think she has the cool head needed in order to maneuver her way through the game. Luvu’s going to be the number one target coming into the merge due to their numbers, they don’t have the loyalty to stick together, and Sydney has no protection in her pocket. I worry Sydney may take a page out of the book of fishermen past like Rupert, Ozzy, and Joe… in that she won’t win.
GUS – RICARD FOYE – HOT
That slow-motion miss shot was just hilarious, but Ricard has a tight alliance with Shan (though it has its holes), and I think people will want to be able to leverage those two votes to their will rather than Pagonging the Ua tribe out of existence.
ALI – RICARD FOYE – HOT
Ricard, you wily coyote. He truly is quite the strategist, especially with coming up with that story to tell Genie about why they were saying the idol phrase at the challenge. That was chef’s kiss masterful. My concerns for Ricard are twofold. First, I think that the mutual trust between Shan and Ricard has been really shaken. I’m hopeful that they can work together moving forward because often trust is cemented at tribal council. Shan stuck with Ricard through one tough vote after another, so I’m hoping that Ricard can forgive Shan for her moment of paranoia.
I did think that Ricard was smart to hold onto the advantage. He’s no one’s fool, though I do think that he could smooth some of his edges going forward so as not to feed into peoples’ already potent paranoia. What I’m hoping is that Ricard and Shan will be able to move in the middle of the Luvus and Yases, picking them off and playing the middle.
GUS – SHAN SMITH – HOT
Shan can be a little erratic in her desire to control everything. And that desire seems to rub her ally, Ricard, the wrong way from time to time. But I think the control she’s shown over the game so far, and the wealth of advantages she has, combined with the fact that she now looks to be in tight with Liana, who has the Insufferably Broken Advantage ™, puts Shan in the strongest position of any remaining player.
ALI – SHAN SMITH – NOT
I’m concerned about Shan turning so often against people who have grown to trust her. Granted, some of that has been by necessity. But I’m hoping that she can mend some slightly damaged trust between herself and Ricard. I think that Shan’s handling of the advantage was a bit bungled, and she’s going to have to play more smoothly going forward.
However, I think that if she and Ricard can Malcolm and Denise their way through the game, the other people will be in for quite a hard time. Ultimately, I’m still optimistic about Shan’s chances now that the merge has hit because I think no one will look at two people from Ua when there’s the Luvu threat to contend with. As long as Shan and Ricard can stick together, I think the two will be in it for the long haul.
GUS – EVVIE JAGODA – NOT
Evvie appears to be hedging their bets a little bit across the Yase tribe—or at least they’re being more friendly with Xander than the rest of the tribe. I don’t blame Evvie for that; it’s not a terrible idea, at least. But in practice, I fear that it’s fraying their relationship with Liana and Tiffany prematurely.
ALI – EVVIE JAGODA – HOT
I’m back and forth on where to put Evvie. I think they might be overplaying and trying to get everyone on their team at once? At the same time, everyone seems to like them and wants to work with them, and Evvie would be stupid to turn that down. Ultimately, I think that this Yase group of four is in a good spot, provided they can all work together. My only concern is that Liana might blow that way open with this new advantage of hers, which brings me to…
GUS – LIANA WALLACE – HOT
Can I just say that I hate Liana’s advantage? Especially in conjunction with a season wherein activating an idol forces you to draw undue attention to yourself. Having a Mario Party-style advantage where you can just freely steal someone else’s advantage / idol feels monstrously unfair.
ALI – LIANA WALLACE – HOT
I think Liana’s playing well, and her bonding with Shan is going to serve her well down the road. I’m a smidge concerned that she’s going to upset the apple cart with this new advantage by taking Xander’s idol. However, I think she does have the social chops to smooth the ruffled feathers after the fact. Over all, I’m interested to see where Liana goes from here, and I think this budding relationship with Shan is promising.
GUS – TIFFANY SEELY – HOT
Happily enough, Tiffany has a tight alliance with Liana, who herself is in a good spot. I don’t see her being targeted as a merge boot, and she’s got the first glimmers of a cross-tribe alliance forming in her teammate.
ALI – TIFFANY SEELY – HOT
For the first time ever, I’m giving Tiff a Hot. With the merge, Tiffany’s stock is on the rise as an older woman. Now, Tiffany’s not a liability, and she’s also not a threat. Furthermore, everyone on her tribe seems eager to rope her into their schemes. The future looks really bright for Tiffany for the first time in the game. I actually think now that Tiffany could make it deep (please don’t make me regret saying that, Tiffany).
GUS – XANDER HASTINGS – NOT
I love Xander, but he’s continued to establish himself as kind of a putzy Survivor player. His poorly managed lie to Tiffany about the idol and the fact that Liana can very easily just steal that damned idol that he worked so hard for, combined with the fact that he’s an athletic man heading into the merge, make me very worried that his days are numbered. Even if his burgeoning friendship with Evvie is legitimate (I’m not sold on that), I fear it won’t be nearly enough to save him.
ALI – XANDER HASTINGS – NOT
Liana finding that advantage is only bad for Xander. Not only that, but he didn’t exactly handle that idol reveal with Tiffany very well. As a side note, what is with this season and no one keeping their idols to themselves? Naseer so far is the only one who has kept that information on the down-low (though that’s not super going to work out since Ricard, Shan, Xander, Liana, Tiffany, and Evvie all know that he has it).
I think out of these four, Xander is in the worst spot, and he hasn’t been super able to endear himself to Liana and Tiffany. Since the merge spells doom for strong guys, I’m a little worried about Xander now. Not only that, but I don’t think Xander has the strategic chops to wiggle his way out when things get hairy.
Gus: I’m really happy that we were in agreement about the Luvu tribe. Or, I should say, about Naseer.
Ali: Just historically, a tribe that dominant in the pre-merge gets attacked in the merge by anyone left from the other fractured tribes. To me, most of them won’t survive that. The only one I think has even the vaguest chance of winning on Luvu at this point is Naseer, and that’s a pretty big long shot.
Gus: Conversely, what in the world possessed you to give Shan a not this week? A week she came out of with 1) an idol, 2) a lasting alliance with Ricard, and 3) a burgeoning alliance with Liana, who 4) has the Knowledge Is Power rig– I mean, advantage.
Ali: I think she bungled her interaction with Ricard and caused unnecessary drama in that relationship that didn’t need to happen all due to her paranoia. I thought she played this badly but was in the power position, so she didn’t suffer any blowback. However, I’m worried that she damaged her relationship with her closest ally right as they are going into merge down in numbers AND she has a little bit of a habit of voting people out who are loyal to her that I question.
Gus: It was a three-person tribe. I would be suspicious of anyone on a three-person tribe, especially if they were holding my advantage. Ricard hit her with the comment that she was trying to pull what she pulled on JD on him. But it’s just as true that him having the extra vote could be construed as the same move, the other way around. I don’t see that having a long-term dragging effect on their alliance or relationship. To your second point, she barely votes out people she has close relationships with. JD was wise to her as a threat early on, and Genie had no choice but to be loyal to the two of them, and unwisely so, as shown by this entire episode.
Ali: Also, Brad would like a word lol. And Sara.
Gus: Pre-merge boots who weren’t her number one. Ricard has, apparently, been her number one from day one. By that logic, she should never have voted anyone out.
Ali: All right. Apparently, I shouldn’t hate her because she’s popular.
Gus: You shouldn’t hate her because her gains far outstripped her losses! Not because she’s popular!
Ali: I should clarify, I don’t hate Shan. I just had to say that for the phrase. Speaking of popular, Evvie is popular. They’re in a good position with everyone on the tribe going into what looks to be a hectic merge. How is Evvie a Not?
Gus: Evvie’s alliance members openly discussed how they’re getting chummy with Xander was threatening and how they might need to do something about it, and how Evvie was visibly keeping their options open.
Ali: So they bungled something and got a Not from you like Shan bungled something and got a Not from me.
Gus: Sorry I must have missed the scene where Evvie found an idol and made a firm cross-tribal alliance while also shoring up their core alliance on their own tribe, and also where they talked about how they have an advantage too.
ALI: Wow… you know what? For the first time ever, I think you might have better points than me. Where do I send my apology fruit basket to Shan?
Gus: Well that’s just not right.
Ali: A broken clock is right twice a day? Or did you get super husband arguing upgrade?
Gus: Six of one. Are those the only two we disagree on?
Gus: Wild. Til next time!
Ali: I’m genuinely shaken that I admitted I’m wrong.