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 – NOT
Chanelle suffered greatly from her choice to risk her vote a few weeks ago, and it looks like we’re still seeing the repercussions of that choice in her near-doom this week. On top of that, she cast a throwaway vote (not unwisely) for Mike, which Mike appeared to sniff out almost instantly. I understand her choice to cast that vote in a game with the Shot In The Dark as an active advantage, but her decision to target an erstwhile ally and idol-holder on a whim was, in my opinion, poorly done. Much better to have thrown away her vote on Lydia. Admittedly, Mike did sign off on the plan to let her go home, but that doesn’t mean it was wise for her to consider him as a safety vote. Chanelle goes into the merge as a recent backup boot, and now she’s likely burned what little trust she and Mike still had. She might be able to make a life for herself as a free agent, but I have concerns.
ALI – Chanelle – NOT
This week’s going to be tough, prediction-wise, because there are so many unknowns heading into this merge-lite, but Chanelle nearly went home this week. Hai even wanted her to go, but Daniel did such a good job playing himself out of the game that the target on him became too big. The fake merge could be the saving grace that Chanelle needs to move forward. However, I’m worried because Chanelle’s really managed to attract Hai’s attention in a negative way. Only time will tell if she can find her game again or if it’s lost like a receipt at the bottom of a Chanel purse.
GUS – Hai – HOT
Hai has really turned things around for himself since he stared the Strunk Train dead in the face and refused to flinch. To be fair, it might be more accurate to say that Daniel really helped Hai out by voluntarily derailing the Strunk Train the moment he saw Daniel on the tracks seventeen miles away. But Hai’s the one who’s still in the game, so whatever. Hai’s also managed to parlay Daniel’s horrible decision into a strengthening alliance with Mike, all the while keeping Lydia in his pocket as another ally (I fully expect that Lydia is doing more than we’re seeing, but I can’t account for what I can’t see). Hai goes into the merge as one of my potential winners, right alongside Mike and Drea.
ALI – Hai – HOT
Hai is one of my favorite players to watch so far. He was dead on about Chanelle being the better player to gun for, but he was also able to adapt to the way the winds were blowing. From a strategy and social ability standpoint, I’m fairly confident that Hai will be able to roll with whatever punches this latest twist throws his way. My only big concern is that Drea and Lindsay may try to eliminate Hai over that Advantage Amulet. We could be setting up for a big showdown between Drea and Hai if my hunch is correct. If that’s the case, I think the Amulet is going to be all three players’ undoing. Though, I think that Hai’s abilities as a player will see him pretty deep in the game. Hopefully, my fears are unfounded.
GUS – Mike – HOT
Somehow Mike has been able to slide around tricky situations without getting so much as a raised eyebrow from his tribemates. He goes into the merge with moderately strong allies (though he and Chanelle clearly have some talking to do) and an activated idol, one which, if I’m honest, he did a pretty good job of covering for. Admittedly, we didn’t get to see him spin the full tale of why the game of soccer makes him cry, but it sounded to me as though he covered for the awkward phrase pretty well (and fortunately for him, considering that he only had to say it once, a good plan).
ALI – Mike – HOT
Maryanne and Drea know that Mike has an idol, something that’s definitely going to work against him a bit. Mike’s been a bit of an impulsive player. He knows what the right things to do are (not telling anyone about the advantage, not saying the code phrase and letting the idol activate at the merge) but he cant seem to follow through on those instincts. Despite these blunders, though, I genuinely believe that no one will be looking at Mike when there are so many bigger threats on the board. Plus, he appears to be in the tightest group of three in the game. I think the team of himself, Lydia, and Hai is incredibly promising. On top of that, Mike’s under the radar enough that he’ll skate by in a way some of the other men won’t (read: Jonathan).
GUS – Lydia – NOT
Okay, look, I’m really proud of how Lydia played this week. She took pains to protect her vote, she made sure to check in with her whole tribe when she got back from her journey, and she did indeed remain completely safe at tribal. But she also panicked to her number one ally Hai and seemed openly concerned that she was being targeted. To be fair, I do not blame her for this; she was targeted recently in a very contentious tribal. But that sort of open distrust doesn’t bode well for her remaining calm, cool, and collected down the line. I don’t see her going home any time soon, and she’s managed to maintain her position decently well, but strengthen it? Reinforce it? Set herself up for a win? Not that I’ve yet seen.
ALI – Lydia – HOT
In this trying time, I ask you, who is going to go for Lydia? She did a great job of surviving, finding another player to put in front of herself, and laying low until the merge. What she needs to do now is get out of Hai’s shadow and start playing her own game. Let’s see if she has what it takes. For now, Lydia’s not going anywhere.
GUS – Jonathan – NOT
It pains me to do this, but with the merge (or hourglass twist, whatever) imminent, I’ve got a lot of fear for Jonathan’s game. Maryanne has a point in that he’s a great shield. But, how long will the rest of the tribe want to keep such a dangerous shield around? I see a scenario in which Jonathan singlehandedly wins safety for his half of the players, only for the hourglass to be smashed and Jonathan sent home—all for no fault of his own. Other than that, Jonathan is the de facto figurehead for the seemingly unkillable Taku tribe. He snatched victory from the jaws of defeat this week after Omar’s humiliating performance on the ropes, which is sure to be rubbing the other tribes the wrong way. It feels dirty to be penalizing Jonathan for playing too well, but that’s where we find ourselves.
ALI – Jonathan – NOT
Looks like we’re hitting a switch-up next episode. I’ve said from the beginning, the minute that Jonathan is vulnerable, he’s toast. Everyone is already calling him “Thor” and resenting him for constantly beasting in the challenges. Furthermore, by waxing poetic about how this tribe is so solid, Jonathan’s put the rest of Taku in danger. No one’s going to want to keep around a core four, and no amount of denial after the fact can undo that damaged perception. Our god of thunder came into this game with a bang, and boom, just like that, he’s going to be gone.
GUS – Lindsay – HOT
Lindsay was playing the middle ground between Jonathan and Maryanne this week, staying in each camp’s good graces without leaning into the growing tiff between them. I still have some concerns for her longevity post-merge, considering her holding an Amulet. But I’m optimistic that she’ll be okay in the short run… unless, of course, Hai and Drea decide to team up to get rid of her because she’s the Amulet holder on the hated Taku tribe. But I don’t think that’ll happen right away.
ALI – Lindsay – NOT
The tribe shakeup is going to hurt Taku the most, in my estimation. Losing has a way of bonding tribes together, and I’m thinking the other two groups will be looking for ways to target Taku after they were fairly unbeatable in the challenges. There’s some suffering solidarity between those two that Taku doesn’t have, putting them at a disadvantage. Not to mention, Lindsay has started to grate on some of her tribemates. If she can’t get along with everyone, it will be a rough road for her to get to the end. My last point of worry is that Lindsay has the Amulet that basically encourages the other players to eliminate her. From what I’ve seen, it feels as though Drea and Hai are more adept players than Lindsay. I think they may use Taku’s reputation as an excuse to get rid of her. But who knows? She might surprise us.
GUS – Maryanne – NOT
A sudden downturn for Maryanne this week as her boundless energy and enthusiasm ground up against the day-by-day weariness eating at the rest of her tribe. She and Jonathan appear to be at odds for reasons that are not entirely either of their faults. Maryanne is trying to keep her spirits up however she can. And Jonathan appears to just be in “get stuff done” mode. But this sort of disharmony right before a merge does not a promise of longevity make. With the quasi-merge coming, I feel like she might be able to lose herself in the shuffle for a while, but that, combined with personality clashes, don’t bode well for her.
ALI – Maryanne – NOT
Maryanne’s someone I’d love to hang out with in real life, and I think that her personality has made her such an engaging player to watch. On the other hand, she’s even annoying zen Jonathan out there. If Maryanne keeps irritating people on the island, she’s giving them every reason to get rid of her. The saving grace here might be her idol and extra vote, but so many people know about her idol, and I don’t know if she has her finger on the pulse of the game enough to play it correctly. On the other hand, can I just say how wonderful it is that two women have found the pre-merge idols? You go, ladies!
GUS – Omar – HOT
Despite Omar’s terrible challenge performance, he remained pretty insulated from any blowback or negative feelings from the rest of his tribe (likely in no small part because of his buddy Jonathan’s one-two punch on the slingshot). He remains in the Hot position now due to his 1) solid social game, 2) non-threatening challenge performance, and 3) potential to be picked up as a number if Ika and Vati decide to take shots at each other (unlikely but possible). I could see him going home if he’s perceived as Jonathan’s lieutenant, as it were, but I doubt that’s going to happen any time soon. There are much bigger fish to fry ahead of that.
ALI – Omar – NOT
It’s going to be interesting to see how Omar does if his meat shield is taken away from him. I’m pretty concerned that, in general, the other tribes have been resentful of Taku’s dominance in the challenges. They’re going to be looking for a reason to target Taku for that reason alone. Do I think Omar’s doomed this week? No, I think he’ll be able to find his way out of it. Though, the fact that he has no vote going into a twist will be a big hurdle to overcome. But the mix-up definitely hurts his game through no fault of his own.
GUS – Rocksroy – NOT
Rocksroy’s game actually took a bit of an upswing this week. He was very open and honest post tribal as he reflected on how poor his social game must have been thus far to be left out of a slam-dunk vote. And he was a strong advocate for Ika strength post-merge. However, a too-little-too-late push for solidarity on a tribe that’s clearly still reeling bodes ill, not only for him but for Ika as a whole. I could see Rocksroy sitting at the end quite easily, but I can’t see him winning as the game stands now. Maybe I’d be more bullish on him if he had an extra vote.
ALI – Rocksroy – NOT
Rocksroy has provided some much-needed chaotic energy this season, but he’s not playing well. He’s even said so himself. Maybe the vote for Swati will make him open his eyes and start pivoting his game in a more positive direction, but I think he’s too stuck in dad mode to give his game the nurturing it needs.
GUS – Romeo – HOT
I was tempted to give all of Ika Nots this week, but as I think on it more, there are upsides to being on the strife-filled tribe. Romeo and Drea, in particular, find themselves in a happy position. They can advocate for tribal unity if they so choose, and they can find cracks among the rest of the players if needs be. To be honest, it’s kind of tough for me to get a good read on Romeo’s position right now. He was in a nice middle spot within his tribe from the get-go, and while one side of that middle has utterly collapsed, he appears to have more or less escaped the blame for that failure to launch. But I just don’t see him being voted out in the near future.
ALI – Romeo – HOT
While Drea is outwardly the person in the driver’s seat, she’s a huge meat shield for Romeo. Drea listens to what Romeo wants to do. We’ve seen it when Romeo decided to save Rocksroy. So while Romeo does not appear to be threatening to other players, he’s using a clearly bigger threat to maneuver his way in the game. Much like Lydia, though, Romeo’s going to have to figure out a way to step out of Drea’s shadow come the merge.
GUS – Tori – NOT
I’d bet that Ali disagrees with me on this one because I almost disagree with me on this one, but here we are. Tori is in a powerless position on a contentious tribe going into the merge. If push were to come to shove, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest of Ika agree to vote her out. She’s got no strong allies, and though she ultimately wasn’t the target a couple weeks ago, she was still the backup. It can be tough to look past that, especially when you’re almost immediately dropped into a new situation with a lot of potential new allies.
Then again, Tori could become a swing-vote free agent in the merge. She could start to blaze her own trail and own her game. She might even be sent to Exile island Erika-style and smash the hourglass, sending her careening into the stratosphere of short-term power. Those are all possibilities, which is why it was so tough for me to give her a Not. But I just can’t back her when so many things have gone wrong for her so recently.
ALI – Tori – NOT
People just don’t seem to like Tori very much. I’m consistently impressed with her ability to save herself when the going gets tough. The problem is, the going has been nothing but tough for Tori thus far. That’s not spelling awesome things for her game at the moment. The good news is that Tori’s game just got a lot more wiggle room with the shake-up. I think that she’s a smart enough player to take advantage of the opportunity. But I’m going to need to see her really take control of her game in order for me to give her a Hot.
GUS – Drea – HOT
In shocking reversals, Drea has somehow managed to skate through a pre-merge wherein she’s been drowning in advantages completely unscathed. She’s headed into the merge with an active idol, an Amulet, and an extra vote. Even if Hai and Lindsay decided it was time for her Amulet to fall, they’d be hard-pressed to sneak their way around all her ammunition to snipe it away. More than that, Drea’s ally in Romeo is still in the game, and the two of them could make a potent duo.
ALI – Drea – HOT
I went to my trainer this week and told her that I want arms like Drea’s. The woman is ripped and needs to drop her fitness routine for me, pretty please. Otherwise, it’s hard to predict how Drea’s going to do during the next episode’s change-up. I’m nervous for her because she has three advantages, making her a monster competitor. Even worse, there are people in the game that know about all three of them. Hai and Lindsay know about Drea’s Amulet, and they’ll want to get rid of her because of it. Drea’s a bigger threat than her arms, and if the other players know what they’re doing, they’re going to go for her as soon as they can. On the other hand, perhaps Drea’s so protected that no one will want to touch her? We’ve seen that happen before.
ALI: Whelp. Daniel going this week was… not the most surprising moment in Survivor history.
GUS: No, far from it. I must admit I’m saddened he’s left us, but after what was easily one of the worst deadlock performances that I’ve ever seen… sorry, bye. Oh, and I see that you’re sticking by your Lydia guns? Because she did so much to improve her position this week?
ALI: I struggled when it came to Lydia. I don’t really know what to make of her game, to be honest. I think that she’s surrounded herself with people who will protect her, and she was able to come back from what looked like a certain elimination. I think that her relationship with Hai is what’s carrying her through right now, and I think she does deserve some praise for surrounding herself with loyal people. And, in this next vote and at the merge, who will be going after Lydia when there are so many bigger fish to fry? I do think she’s going to need to start taking control of her game going forward if she wants any chance at winning, though.
GUS: Sure, I get where you’re coming from, but I worry about her tendency to panic and not trust Hai. He was shown reassuring her for a while there, and a panicky ally does not a good ally make. Love Lydia though I do; her role thus far in the game has been to be a number for Hai. Even this week, when she had the chance to advocate for herself and show some agency, she chose the safe move (which was admittedly the right move). I’m hopeful that she’ll turn this around as the game continues, but without any strong indicators about where she’s headed, I can’t justify giving her a Hot this time around.
ALI: In her defense, she nearly went home the episode before in what would have been a blindside. I don’t blame her for being nervous. And it’s not like she was broadcasting her anxiety to the entire tribe, just her closest ally.
GUS: Sure, sure. I’m just feeling shades of Ricard and Shan from Season 41. Hopefully, it’s nothing. Shall we address your Omar slander?
ALI: Here’s my thing. I think that folks are going to aim for Taku, and I could see Omar getting caught up in that. Do I think Omar’s doomed this week? No. But I think that the folks that are going to get hit the hardest by tribes coming together will be the members of Taku. I mean, Jonathan, both physically and in that discussion about how close the tribe is, is not helping their case going forward. To me, Omar’s game is going to take a hit, but I think he’ll get himself out of it. Make sense?
GUS: Yeah, makes sense. I just feel like there are better targets in 1) Jonathan and 2) Maryanne. I also feel like if there’s any in-fighting there, it’s gonna be between Jonathan and Maryanne. And so those two are the most likely to end up taking one another out. But, yeah, I get it. What I don’t get is you making Lindsay a Not. That’s the entire Taku tribe down the drain for you!
ALI: Oh yeah, I think that Jonathan’s toast this week. If he survives, then it won’t be for long. Who would not be going for him at this point, especially if he’s vulnerable? And I think that Hai and Drea are going to gun for Lindsay because of the Advantage Amulet. I’m just not sure if Lindsay has the gameplay to outmaneuver them if (and, in my opinion, when) they do.
GUS: That’s also fair. Honestly, I was on the fence for all three of your Nots this week; I just decided to err on the side of optimism. Who is going home this week? Jonathan?
ALI: I say Jonathan for sure.
GUS: Only time will tell…