Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor 42 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 – Chanelle – HOT
Chanelle coming out of the woodwork as the by-necessity provider for her tribe was a cute, entertaining scene. And that hermit crab looked positively juicy! All in all, this was a pretty solid week for Chanelle. She’s got utility within her tribe, and she and Daniel are close enough that Daniel chose to rope her in on his devious plan to undermine Mike’s idol aspirations. She’s certainly not leading any charges right now, but she’s friendly enough with others that I don’t anticipate her being cut loose any time soon.
ALI – Chanelle – HOT
Last week, I discussed how Chanelle had a great awareness when it came to the pairs that were forming in the tribe, prompting her to try and form something with Daniel. Well, looks like that decision paid off in dividends this week, considering Daniel went straight to Chanelle to tell her about Mike’s idol. I think Chanelle’s got an under-the-radar intelligence that will really serve her well in this game. Also, I relate to her realization that, while she thought there would be a provider on the tribe, she now knows she has to step up into that role. She found the heck out of that crab.
GUS – Daniel – HOT
Daniel made some moves this week that were bold, brash, and ballsy (and I’m not just talking about his advice to Rocksroy), but that also allowed him to keep a low profile. The trust that exists between him and Mike may allow him to nullify three idols, and he’s expanded that economic advantage outward to rope Chanelle into an underhanded plan to cut the legs out from under his other ally. Now, is it possible Daniel’s playing too hard? Sure, that’s always possible. But at this point, with his bad shoulder keeping him out of challenges, I feel like he should be able to fly low enough under the radar that he won’t fall victim to tall-poppy syndrome—even if he is making big moves behind the curtain.
ALI – Daniel – HOT
“You gotta protect the balls, Rocksroy.” There have been some truly amazing confessionals this season. Not to mention Daniel’s hilarious scene trying to help Mike find the re-hidden idol. I’m loving Daniel using the information on Mike to solidify an alliance with Chanelle. That’s how to cement alliances, use other peoples’ secrets to build trust, rather than give alliance members personal intel that could make them turn in the future. This is a savvy player, and I look forward to seeing how he and Chanelle work together going forward. I think that’ll be a relationship to watch.
GUS – Hai – HOT
Not a ton of content from Hai this week, but what we did see was a really tough scene where he found himself forced to choose between his values and his survival in the game. I don’t envy that choice, but I think he did make the right call in choosing to eat a little crab for the sake of his strength. He’s getting a Hot from me for showing his prioritization of longevity and gameplay. Also, props to his tribe for handling that situation so well.
ALI – Hai – NOT
I feel for Hai. Survivor’s a tough game for folks with dietary restrictions, especially veganism. Hai made the right but gut-wrenching choice to eat crab meat so that he could play the game. My concern for Hai and Lydia is that they’re on the outs when it comes to who knows about Mike’s idol. That’s not necessarily game-ending circumstances, but now Daniel and Chanelle have a reason to keep Mike around because they think they can use him for his advantage. That would also force them to work with Jenny as well. That becomes a strong foursome, leaving Hai and Lydia on the outs. While Lydia was a hero in the most recent challenge, Hai has no such safety net. I’m concerned that Hai could be an obvious choice to go if this tribe should lose a challenge.
GUS – Mike – NOT
I still really like Mike, but I think his fears of talking too much are bearing fruit right away. The fellow finds an idol and immediately tells half the camp—who then proceeded to tell even more of the camp. And then he loses the idol, and when he finally finds it again, he opts not to try to activate it. Now, sure, do I agree that blurting out random phrases about soccer at every immunity challenge might be kind of suspicious? Definitely, but I worry that Daniel will be able to maneuver him out of ever saying his phrase. And that kind of pliancy is concerning in the game of Survivor. Also, the fact that he said he would “work hard around camp, lay low” and find an idol… only to immediately spill about the idol. Oh, and he doesn’t have a vote now. That sucks for him.
ALI – Mike – NOT
This gets me every time. Someone finds an idol and immediately tells someone else. Insert a confessional of them saying, “at home, I swore if I found an idol, I wouldn’t tell anyone.” Cue me yeeting myself into a nearby river. There’s a reason that those of us playing couch quarterback get so aggravated when someone spills those beans because it usually means that’s going to come back to bite them in a major way later on. It does seem like Mike and Jenny are tight, so I was maybe willing to give Mike a pass here, but then Mike goes to Daniel?! There are only six people on this tribe, and now half of them know about the idol.
The more people who know about an idol, the less power it has. Not to mention that the information is usually going to be used as a justification to eliminate the player possessing the advantage. Exhibit A: Drea. The only exception I can think of to this rule is if a person’s in a minority alliance, then maybe share the advantage on that specific occasion. On top of that, Daniel scurried over to Chanelle and spilled the idol beans to her. So that just leaves two people out of the loop, and how long is that really going to last?
I don’t think that Mike will be booted prior to the swap since he’s a pretty big asset in challenges, but I could see all eyes shooting straight to him once the tribes intermingle. While I’ve said I think Chanelle and Daniel are now interested in working with Mike after this reveal, I think that long term, Mike’s game will suffer from this choice. Plus, it doesn’t bode well for the end game if Mike has loose lips on week two. As an aside, I’ve always said I’d do terribly on Survivor because I’d forget where I hid my idol. That scene with Mike made me feel very seen.
GUS – Jenny – NOT
I really waffled on what to do with Jenny this week, and I ended up making her a Not only because of lack of content. She helped Chanelle scavenge for crabs, and she was told by Mike that he had an idol, both good things for her. But neither of which showed me that she’s advanced her position in the tribe or solidified her existing alliances. I trust she’ll be back in the land of Hot next week, but, for now, alas.
ALI – Jenny – HOT
Jenny found a crab and has a close enough relationship with Mike that he told her about his idol. However, I think Mike was playing pretty fast and loose with Jenny’s game this week, considering Chanelle has stated Jenny and Mike are a duo. Oftentimes, when someone looks like a threat (like if they have an idol), people will be nervous about taking a shot at them, so they’ll look to weaken them by going for their “lieutenant.” That would be Jenny. Luckily, Daniel perceives Mike as someone he can manipulate going forward (probably aided by the fact that Mike had a difficult time relocating the idol), so it looks like Daniel and Chanelle are set to work with Mike and Jenny.
GUS – Lydia – NOT
I just want to preface this again with a full-throated “I love Lydia.” Hher performance as caller in the challenge was tremendous, and her personality as a whole is just sublime. But, from a gameplay perspective, she’s not establishing herself as much of a presence on her tribe. The central incidents of her tribe this week were Hai’s choice to eat crab meat and Mike’s idol find. And she wasn’t really engaging much with either of those. This isn’t her fault, to be sure, but in absence of any real evidence of her being a central figure on her tribe, I have to give her a Not.
ALI – Lydia – HOT
“Both of y’all bitches, come here.” Once again, Lydia keeps bringing us some iconic Survivor moments. Chef’s kiss. I was a little conflicted as to where to put Lydia this week. On the one hand, she had a great come from behind victory in the immunity challenge that set her up to be a tribe hero. At the same time, I think she and Hai are potentially on the outs in their tribe. At the end of the day, I decided to give her a Hot for that great come from behind challenge win because I think the rest of the tribe will view her as an asset since she had the chance to prove herself. I’m thinking Lydia may have saved her own behind because if she lost the challenge, I think she’d have gotten the stinky boot.
GUS – Jonathan – HOT
Jonathan has pleasantly exceeded my expectations, and he continues to do so every week. I expected this guy to be some kind of hybrid of Vince from Worlds Apart and Joel from Micronesia. Instead, it seems like we more or less have the second coming of John Hennigan from DvG, and I love it. His blossoming friendship with Omar also gave me big Brochachos vibes (the DvG Hennigan / Christian alliance). Even though he did ultimately fail his tribe as the caller (sadly, he’s not so good at puzzles and communication), he completely escaped blame for that mess-up. And his growing friendship with everyone on the tribe except Marya (who has now been voted out) makes me feel like his only possible Achilles’ heel is being too well-liked.
ALI – Jonathan – HOT
I adore a good Survivor odd couple. Omar and Jonathan’s bromance is delivering that to me on a gilded platter. My one worry for Jonathan is I think he may be trying a little too hard to be everyone’s friend. He’s looking like a big social and physical threat, which may really hurt his end-game chances. At the same time, if everyone likes him, they may be reluctant to get rid of him. Worst case scenario, I’d bet good money we’ll be seeing Jonathan at the merge since he’s such an incredible asset in challenges. And I think that, if you might not be the biggest brain on the island, one of the smartest moves is to ally with someone who has complementary skills. Omar’s a great foil for Jonathan to fence with.
GUS – Lindsay – NOT
Not a ton from Lindsay this week, but what we got showed her as a willing accessory and compatriot to her tribemates. That’s not a bad thing most of the time, but when you’re down to four members of a tribe, you have to be a little more powerful than “just another number.”
ALI – Lindsay – NOT
Lindsay’s close with Jonathan, so she must be doing something right. But she didn’t seem to hold as much sway as Omar and Jonathan.
GUS – Maryanne – NOT
Last week, I prognosticated that Maryanne’s “always-on” energy might eventually rub her tribemates the wrong way. And her status as the alternate vote this week sadly seems to have begun to do just that. I don’t think she’s doomed by any means, but I worry for her safety if Taku heads back to Tribal. That said, I don’t think she’s playing poorly. The woman kindly made an elaborate prayer mat for Omar, for Pete’s sake! But I am concerned.
ALI – Maryanne – NOT
Ask Gus, I was this close to saying last week that, while I loved Maryanne’s bubbly personality, it may get a little grating after a long while with no food and trapped on an island. Marya and Lindsay both expressed some annoyance with Maryanne. Her saving grace was Jonathan pushing to keep her around. Meanwhile, Maryanne did a lot to prove why she should be eliminated by publicly looking for idols and getting flustered under pressure. If the tribe has to eliminate another player, I think Maryanne will be the number one choice to go.
GUS – Omar – HOT
How could I give the other half of my favorite alliance this season anything but a Hot? Omar is a riot, and he and Jonathan have the potential to go very deep in the game. In her exit press, Marya pondered how odd it was that Omar was never even brought up as a possible vote-out and ruminated on how well-liked he was within the tribe. This suggests to me that, even though he may not be a challenge god, he’s got enough social capital to hang on for a good while.
ALI – Omar – HOT
I love Omar’s whole thing about being Jonathan’s brain shield with Jonathan being Omar’s meat shield. The two have such a wonderful dynamic and feel very JT and Stephen to me. Though, in this case, it appears to me that Omar’s a fairly beloved member of the tribe. So, if things evolve going forward, I think people will be more willing to give Omar credit for his game than poor Stephen received.
GUS – Rocksroy – NOT
Rocksroy isn’t doing so hot—and it looks like he’s yet to really moderate his paternalistic energy back to something more palatable for his younger tribemates. Unless Drea tries to pull some highfalutin’ stuff in the coming weeks, I worry for his longevity in the game.
ALI – Rocksroy – NOT
We didn’t see much of Rocksroy this week, but Drea was still holding his behavior last week against him enough to want to flip on him. In my eyes, he hasn’t redeemed himself as a player. He got lucky that Drea shared too much with Swati. Otherwise, I think his ousting was inevitable.
GUS – Romeo – NOT
I’m pretty sure we didn’t see Romeo at all this week, so he’s getting a Not from me. Sorry!
ALI – Romeo – NOT
There wasn’t a ton of Romeo content. However, Drea flipped on him and Rocksroy in the wake of the vote. Regardless of whether Swati will go after Drea, Romeo’s in a significantly worse position than previously. Therefore, he gets a Not from me this week.
GUS – Swati – HOT
Ha! I knew Swati was clever! Her instant clocking of Drea’s hedging of alliances was encouraging, and her parleying that into a closer kinship with Tori bodes well for her in the future. She’s got options, and she’s in fair enough position of power within those options that I don’t see her going home any time soon.
ALI – Swati – HOT
Swati went from being on the outs to having someone to gun for this week. Because Drea told Swati about the extra vote, Swati correctly gauged that Drea’s become the biggest threat on the tribe. Knowing that Tori was in a similar position, Swati was able to loop her into the plan. Now, she just needs to blindside Drea, which Rocksroy and Romeo will be happy to do since Drea flipped on them. Things aren’t looking so great for Drea, but they’re looking swell for Swati.
GUS – Tori – HOT
I went back and forth on Tori this week, but I’m giving her a Hot because she’s not pushing too hard in any direction. She’s been approached by several other members of her tribe for potential alliances, and she’s playing the field in such a way that’s neither duplicitous nor lazy. Maybe she’ll suddenly blow up next week, but for now, she’s getting a Hot.
ALI – Tori – HOT
What a difference a week can make. Last time we saw Tori, she survived by the skin of her teeth to fight another day. Thankfully for Tori, Rocksroy rubbing Drea the wrong way became Tori’s life raft in the game. Chaos in a tribe means that folks on the bottom can suddenly find themselves in the clear, provided they play their cards right. Drea turned herself into a target by accident, and Swati jumped on that, picking up Tori in the process. Now, Tori has an ally and a plan. Things are looking Hot!
GUS – Drea – NOT
Drea is drowning in potential alliances. But unlike Tori, I feel like she’s not handling them particularly well. Her latest pitch of an alliance was inspired as much by a desire to cut Rocksroy as it was a desire to simply build a women’s alliance (something that historically crashes and burns since Cirie, Amanda, Parvati, and Natalie did it so well in Micronesia). And Swati’s reluctance to join in on such an alliance makes me worried. Admittedly, Drea has a billion advantages (and potential disadvantages), but I don’t know that she’d have the wherewithal to throw one out in the short term considering how labyrinthine her current alliance statuses are.
ALI – Drea – NOT
Based on last week, I predicted that Drea was ready to jump ship on Rocksroy and Romeo. And things were looking really great in that regard: she found an advantage and was picking up the two women on the bottom to flip the status quo. Drea’s big mistake was letting Swati and Tori know that she has an extra vote. Mike is lucky in that people don’t perceive him to be a strategic threat, and Daniel looks at the idol as something to be exploited.
Meanwhile, Drea, at least optically, has a lot more going on under the surface. In that advantage reveal, Swati saw the full extent of Drea’s threat level. Unfortunately, Swati can now exploit Drea’s willingness to flip on her old alliance, and I think she’s intelligent enough to do so. Drea showed too many of her cards, and now I think she’s going to be royal flushed out of the game.
GUS: What did poor Hai do to merit a Not from you this week?
ALI:Okay, this may be a completely off-the-wall interpretation, but to me, it’s looking like a foursome has been created, as I stated above: Daniel, Chanelle, Mike, and Jenny. Chanelle got into a semi duo with Daniel last week, and we saw that really come to fruition now since Daniel went straight to her to talk about Mike’s idol. Mike, meanwhile, wants to work with Daniel, which is why he spilled the beans on his idol in the first place. We also heard from Chanelle last week that Mike and Jenny and Hai and Lydia are the two duos, prompting her to buddy up with Daniel. When Daniel was discussing Mike’s idol with Chanelle, he said that he wanted to essentially use Mike going forward. If they’re looking to work with Mike, they’re not going to go after his number two, Jenny, and risk alienating him. That leaves Lydia and Hai as the two left out of the loop, making them easier targets.
GUS: I see where you’re coming from, but I’m not sure I’ve come to the same conclusion. You’re suggesting that Mike is in a tight alliance with Daniel, whom he trusted with the idol knowledge and who immediately went behind his back to share it with Chanelle, with whom he made plans to eternally void that idol? That doesn’t feel to me like something that allies do to each other. That makes me feel like Mike is a pawn in Daniel’s game. But, we agreed on Mike, so, to your point about that being an alliance of convenience (which I can begin to get behind), if so, why did you give Lydia a Hot? You’re talking about her being on the outs here, yet she’s done well enough to get a Hot?
Really quick, as well, to the point about Hai. Sure, I understand that logic, but we saw him make some really seriously hard choices this week for the sake of his game, and I really just wanted to reward him for that.
ALI: I definitely get wanting to reward Hai for making a tough choice for the game. I was honestly this close to giving him a Hot myself for that very reason. But I couldn’t see Mike going anywhere next week, and someone has to be on the bottom in this tribe. As much as I hate to say it, I think it’s Hai.
As for Lydia, I’ve said that I really wrestled with where to put her this week, and it might be one of the biggest back and forths I’ve done since starting Hot or Not. She’s on the outs, and honestly, I think she would have been the likely choice to go if she hadn’t had that incredible come-from-behind win. Considering I think that she saved her own butt this week and potentially proved she’s worth keeping around over Hai, I think that was enough to earn herself a Hot this week.
GUS: Yeeaaah, okay, I can get behind that… but, I mean, she was completely absent from any discussion of strategy or gameplay and had no connection to any of the throughlines within her tribe. That bodes ill for her long term. Yeah, she’s not a hindrance, but is she valued? Beyond how much we value her for being legendary? I get your point insofar as Jenny, by the way, and I can support it. But I don’t put as much stock in that nascent alliance as you do.
ALI: I definitely understand giving her a Not for the reasons you stated since I nearly did the same. Lydia’s a pretty big question mark for me at this point. She will definitely be in the hot seat if this tribe hits tribal. We’ll see what happens with that. As for Jenny, I gave her a Hot because I think she’s not going anywhere due to this foursome forming. Was that her doing? Not really. But I also think that she has the smarts to navigate this new situation in a way that Mike can’t
GUS: Excited to see what next episode has in store!