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
Now, people are going to get frustrated with me, I think. However, I’m trying to do some calculations in my head, and it’s looking like the Yase three might be in some trouble going forward. While I appreciate the enormously awesome play that they did, it’s looking like the Luvus and Uas are working together for the time being with Deshawn and Danny at the helm. Deshawn impressed me this week with his ability to stay cool and advocate for his needs in the game. He seems to be doing well socially with the rest of the players, which is why he was targeted in the first place. Do I think the other players are going to let him last long in the game? Probably not. But I think they’ll likely pick off another Yase before they turn their eyes on him.
GUS – DESHAWN RADDEN – NOT
Though Deshawn is in a firm alliance, he was the minority’s target last week, and he seems to be pretty reliant on that alliance for survival. Knowing that he’s potentially in continued crosshairs from the minority does have me worried for him.
ALI – DANNY McCRAY – HOT
Similarly to Deshawn, Danny impressed me this episode. Though, when Danny started talking about stepping into an arena and such, I was yelling about how he shouldn’t remind the rest of the players that he’s an athletic threat. Regardless, it seems as though Danny’s social game is much better than I thought it was. Not to mention that he’s found his way into a nice alliance that I think will work together for at least another week.
GUS – DANNY McCRAY – NOT
Danny’s a buff dude at merge. Again, he’s got his alliance, but Shan and Liana have both been shown to jump ship on allies without a moment’s notice before, and I don’t trust that they won’t do that again if Danny’s name starts going up in lights.
ALI – HEATHER ALDRET – NOT
Heather has frequently been described as “crazy” during this game by other players. I had hopes that maybe come the merge she might break off and do her own thing. It would be in her best interest to do so since the other group has expressed almost zero interest in working with her. And yet, this episode we saw Heather working with people who have been pretty willing to throw her under the bus. I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of room for Heather to maneuver. Sadly, if she’s able to withstand the culling of other players, I think she’ll be dragged to the end as a goat.
GUS – HEATHER ALDRET – NOT
I just want to get to know Heather! She seems fun! But I can’t give her a Hot with no knowledge of what she’s doing.
ALI – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – NOT
Similarly to Heather, I felt like this was Erika’s week to flip, and she didn’t. She made the right decision turning back time, because she definitely would have gone if she hadn’t. But then she wasn’t able to connect with another group of people. I’m hoping that Erika isn’t accidentally stuck with the Luvus, because once they inevitably start turning on each other, she will be the first to go. Since Erika failed to really do anything with the hourglass smash, I don’t know if I can give her a Hot this week.
GUS – ERIKA CASPUNANAN – HOT
As much as I am not a fan of the Turn Back Time twist, Erika handled it in the only way she realistically could—by securing safety for herself and putting almost all of her erstwhile tribemates in danger. I was surprised to see that she opted to target Sydney, who was acting in league with the Yase tribe, rather than Danny and/or Deshawn, who openly fought for her to go last episode, but to each their own, I suppose. I have some fear for Erika in the long run, but I think the chaos brought about by her move might actually not blowback on her too hard right off the bat.
ALI – NASEER MUTTALIF – NOT
Not to sound like an echo, but Naseer is also drawing dead with the Luvus, and I would have loved to see him jump ship last episode. I understand that he has an idol, but it really puts a target on his back since everyone knows about it. The other side even tried to rope Naseer in at one point, only for him to essentially turn them down. I would have loved to see Naseer seizing more of his fate. I’m worried that by the time he realizes he needs to jump, it’ll be too late.
GUS – NASEER MUTTALIF – NOT
This is tough. I think the backlash against Naseer from earlier in the game has mostly dissipated, but he’s also floating through without much in the way of alliances. Unfortunately, the rest of the players seem to care not a whit for him or the possible help he might provide them and are mostly looking at him as a vestigial limb to be hacked off in due time. At the same time, he’s got an idol that can no longer be stolen from him, and his name wasn’t brought up at all when he was perfectly vulnerable. After a lot of thought, I’ve come to the conclusion that short-term safety does not necessarily imply long-term success, however, so I have to, sadly, give Naseer a Not this week.
ALI – RICARD FOYE – HOT
I’m a little worried about Ricard because I don’t think he quite realizes how close Shan is with other folks on the island. However, I do think that Ricard has keen observation skills and strategic ability, so he may be able to spy the way the current is moving. He’s one of the only people outside of the core four that I think was in the right to vote with them. If he hadn’t, he would have blown up his spot with Shan. But worst case scenario, Ricard is in nicely with the majority alliance, and since he isn’t leading it, he likely won’t be on anyone’s radar. That’s a good spot for the merge.
GUS – RICARD FOYE – NOT
Ricard voted with the majority last week, but didn’t do much else. He seems to be in a safe enough position for now, but as far as we know, his bridge with Shan is still burned, and I’m not sure what other alliances he’s got set up for himself.
ALI – SHAN SMITH – HOT
While Liana’s mishap with the idol was also not an awesome look for Shan, at the end of the day, she came out of the week in a core group of four within the greater majority alliance. When people vote together, their bond solidifies. My one concern for Shan is that it seems as though her relationship with Ricard will come back to haunt her at some point if she’s willing to dump him at the wrong moment. And Ricard is a strong enough player to see betrayal coming. For now, though, it seems as though Shan is close with almost everyone, so I don’t see her going anywhere any time soon.
GUS – SHAN SMITH – HOT
Shan retains her physical real estate in the game, her alliance, and her having voted with the majority. Though she is growing increasingly panicked during high-stress moments, that’s not enough for me to summarily dismiss her chances in the game.
ALI – EVVIE JAGODA – NOT
Evvie did a great job this episode. Ranking them as a Not has nothing to do with the events of last week and everything to do with the spot they’re in now. The three Yase members who are not Liana are all in an abysmal spot. Everyone was gunning for Evvie, and by the grace of Xander, they didn’t get the boot. I do think that there’s hope since Xander managed to hold onto his idol, but how many times is he going to be able to pull that off? What’s frustrating is I think that the edit is setting up the Yase group to be a pretty complex group of characters, which indicates that they’re important. How this group survives this week and next intact, I’m not quite sure, and that’s why I’m nervous enough to give Evvie a Not.
GUS – EVVIE JAGODA – NOT
I don’t think Evvie has done anything wrong, per se, but they’ve drawn a lot of eyes. Evvie survived last week by the skin of her teeth. Sydney could have all but secured Evvie’s elimination by voting for them.
ALI – LIANA WALLACE – NOT
This was not a great look for Liana. She’s a smart cookie, and her advantage steal had all of the potential of a great move. Sadly for Liana, she got bested by Xander. His move forced her to burn an advantage. That’s what she and Shan got for underestimating him. I’m not quite clear on why Liana is so gungho on getting rid of Xander. It’s a bit bizarre, really. Plus, rather than getting credit for eliminating her target, she got embarrassed. I’m concerned for Liana’s future in the game.
GUS – LIANA WALLACE – NOT
Liana took a big swing and had a big miss. She was knowingly baited into wasting her advantage on Xande—an advantage she could have just as easily held on to for some time. She also seems to have fully cut ties with her old tribe, which may or may not turn out to be wise. But in the short term, it appears to have served only to reinforce divisions rather than forge bonds. Her long-term stock depreciated for me last week, and her gameplay was unfortunately shortsighted and sloppy. Fortunately, she does still have a firm alliance with Shan, Deshawn, and Danny. But that’s not enough in my eyes to justify a series of misplays this week.
ALI – XANDER HASTINGS – HOT
I can’t not give him a Hot this week. Everything I said for Evvie is still true for Xander. I think he’s in a tricky spot numerically. However, thanks to Xander, the Yase three were able to hold onto the idol for another week. Am I concerned that now there’s a majority of Luvus and Ua who will be looking to take out this smaller group? Absolutely. But… I just had to give him kudos on the genius idea of making a fake idol and giving the real one to Tiffany. Just genius. If he can keep playing like that, the future looks bright.
GUS – XANDER HASTINGS – HOT
Xander pulled a hell of a move this week. He managed to outfox Liana’s Knowledge Is Power advantage, keep his alliance safe, AND keep his idol and advantage in play. With how rapidly advantages and idols have been changing hands this season, I have some concern as to whether or not Tiffany will willingly yield his idol back to him. But considering that she verbatim said to him at tribal “it’s your idol,” I’m inclined to believe that she’ll hand it back at the top of this week’s episode.
ALI – TIFFANY SEELY – NOT
This wise-cracking mom had one heck of a role to play this week. I love watching Tiffany thrive on my screen. My biggest worry about Tiffany is that she’s at the bottom of the numbers. I worry that the Yase three are being perceived as targets at this point in the game. Unless Yase can pull in some folks from the other tribes, I worry they may not be long for the game.
GUS – TIFFANY SEELY – HOT
Despite folks being out for Yase’s blood, it looks like the fracturing of Luvu might take the cake here. And with a normal Immunity challenge this week, Tiffany might well be out of the crosshairs. Beyond which, who’s to say (in the eyes of the rest of the players) that she doesn’t keep Xander’s idol? Her stock is surprisingly high for me of late, and I’m thrilled about it.
ALI: How does it feel to be the king of wrong this week?
GUS: I will wear my crown with pride. I stand by what I said before. Sydney was, like, the ninth choice to go home. How are you giving Deshawn,who was a prime target for elimination, a Hot this week?
ALI: He didn’t go, and he’s in the majority. He’s safe while they’re distracted by the Yase three. Though, now that I think about it, Xander’s still got that idol. Oh man, am I second-guessing myself?
GUS: This season is an exercise in second-guessing. Xander’s got that idol; half of Luvu was safe last week; Erika might be in danger this week (I’m already regretting my Hot for her); chaos may well reign. I have no idea who could be in danger, but I feel like Yase as a unit might fade into the background (Evvie excepted).
ALI: Yeah, I couldn’t rank them all Nots, and there were people I felt less confident about than Deshawn. I think that the Yases will likely not want to target the same person twice so that they’re not too obvious. But there’s also room for people to flip over to work with the Yases, which definitely needs to happen. Based on how the Yases are being portrayed, I doubt that it’s going to be a pick-off scenario. I think we’re in for a ride with that group. But I also think that Liana, Shan, and Deshawn will likely be in for the long haul too? It seems to me, though, that the majority of the group is willing to go to bat for Deshawn, so I think he’s as safe as he can be in a game like this? So, you know what? I’m going to double down and say Deshawn is safe this week.
Speaking of you worrying about your Erika Hot. Let’s talk about Erika. I think she’s a dead woman walking unless she flips to Yase. I really am not quite sure why she didn’t do it this past episode. Probably because she didn’t think she had the numbers and wanted to play it a little safe in the early merge. But she’s going to need to do something to elevate her position or she’s going to be an easy pick-off.
GUS: Honestly, yeah, she was stuck between a rock and a hard place, and she handled it as best she could, which got her some praise from me. But she also saved five people this week—and only really burned folks she was already at odds with. Deshawn and Danny got their woman out, too, which makes me wonder whether they might ease off their obsession with crushing a women’s alliance (an obsession which, frankly, seems like it would make the women more likely to form one than anything) and maybe even keep Erika around. There’s just no good reason to get Erika out beyond spite, is the thing that I don’t understand. So why would they double and triple down on it?
ALI: They haven’t wanted to work with Erika since Luvu. Why would they start now?
GUS: I’m not suggesting they’ll want to work with her as much as I’m hoping she might stop being the center of attention. Honestly, I should have given her a Not.
ALI: I think she’s doomed if she doesn’t jump ship. Maybe she will, but I’m worried for her. They will likely see her as expendable even more than they did Sydney. Let’s talk about Danny on that note. I pretty much gave him a Hot for the same reasons as Deshawn. But unlike Deshawn, Danny’s name didn’t come up at all, so he must be doing something right. I did cringe a little, though, when he started talking about his athletic history. I don’t think we want to remind people of that.
GUS: That’s where my concern was rooted. The athletic guy at the merge with little strategic acumen and no tribal council experience often finds himself playing the sacrificial lamb. Considering how dominant Luvu has been in challenges leading up to the merge, I have to think that the rest of the players will get wise to the threat he poses soon.
ALI: I mean, “little strategic acumen” might be a bit harsh, but he has made some blunders for sure. I don’t think Danny is long for the game. I don’t see end game here, but I do think that he has found himself in a majority, and that’s something to be lauded. Though, now that we’ve been talking about this, I regret a little giving Danny and Deshawn Nots. Ugh, Survivor has me out here doubting my instincts a little. I guess the key difference in our rankings is whether we think the majority alliance will hold for this vote. I think it will, but it could easily not, and then I could be the Queen of Wrong next week.
Sticking with the majority group, let’s talk Ricard. He and Shan were having some spats on their island, but it seems like they’ve been able to come back together a little. Maybe it’s just for this vote, but I think that Ricard may be cautiously loyal to Shan going forth. I worry a little that Shan might turn on him, but I don’t think she’s in a comfortable enough position to do it yet. I also think that Ricard is a smart enough player that he may see it coming and be able to make something happen. I see long game potential in Ricard. Maybe I’ll regret saying that, but I do.
GUS: I dunno. I’m optimistic, but Shan seems to have fully abandoned him in favor of her new alliance—it’s bigger, and it’s newer, and it’s got stronger players on it. I feel like he’s rudderless at the moment; what did he even do last week? Honestly, I nearly gave him a Hot just by dint of his having voted with the majority… but I don’t see what his long-term gameplan is either.
ALI: Maybe he’ll realize he needs to flip. But I still don’t think they’ll go after him this week. They have other fish to fry who will take the attention away from him. Alright, last but not least, Tiffany. I think the majority will try to target her because they think she’s the least obvious candidate to flush Xander’s idol and get rid of someone in the minority. She could be in some trouble this week. And it’s never great to be playing down in the numbers.
GUS: True. To be honest, I was sort of shooting blind this week. After a wild “merge” like that one, it’s darn hard to make a prediction!