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.
Ali and Gus were away last week at a conference, but arre back this week and ready to dive into a so-far very exciting post-merge!
Gus – Mike – HOT
This felt like The Mike Episode. And it wasn’t the first time I’ve felt that way. Mike continues to form tight bonds with his fellow castaways, with Omar describing him as possessing tremendous empathy and others clearly enjoying his company. He was the first to suggest that four castaways volunteer to sit out of the challenge for rice, correctly matching Jeff’s inflection point for how many people would need to give up their shot at Immunity.
When the vote was trending towards Romeo, he was the one who brought it back around to Chanelle. But he did so without making it seem too much like it was his idea, sussing out the one or two tribe members who didn’t really want to switch to Romeo and expanding on their reluctance to the point that Hai and the rest who were targeting Romeo gave him up as a lost cause. He also threw out a “three of us til the end” to Jonathan and Hai, and though I question the wisdom of bringing Jonathan to the end, having the god of challenges and the crafty schemer on his side only bodes well for him in the long run.
Honestly, it seems to me that that alliance would form the perfect Survivor player—challenge prowess in Jonathan, social mastery in Mike, and tactical mayhem from Hai. I hope to see it persevere.
Ali – Mike – HOT
Someone told me about a study recently done by UC Berkley wherein they determined that the only intelligence that directly correlates to success is emotional intelligence. Mike has emotional intelligence in spades. As an older member of the tribe, Mike could easily find himself on the outs just due to the fact that other folks might not relate to him. We’ve seen time and time again certain older players have a difficult time integrating themselves into the tribe. Mike doesn’t have this issue, and it’s impressive to watch him genuinely connect with the other castaways. In this case, Mike’s age is an advantage because it masks what a threat he is in the game. I’m predicting lots of success for Mike going forward.
Gus – Jonathan – HOT
Once Omar landed four balls in the chute, I thought to myself, “not even Jonathan could bring it back around now.” O me of little faith.
Jonathan seems positively inhuman in his group challenge prowess, something that his fellow tribemates only benefit from, while simultaneously falling just short of winning individual immunity challenges—-something else his tribemates only benefit from.
Part of me wonders if he’s getting close to winning challenges and then failing on purpose because it’s giving me the impression that the Immunity run that I pondered for him might just fail to materialize. In addition, he has somehow locked himself into the core of a large alliance—one that will have to fall apart sooner or later. But one that should shield him from early merge boots, where we expected him to immediately be picked off for his absurd strength and dexterity.
Ali – Jonathan – HOT
Every week, I keep yelling, “how is no one looking at Jonathan?” I was the same way with Xander last year. Last year, the edit really faked me out in making me think that Xander was a bigger social and strategic threat than he ended up being. Perhaps something similar is happening with Jonathan, and that’s why I’m left so confused as to why no one is going after the big guy when he’s wide open. How many times do we watch him drain shot after shot before he gets inevitably sniped? On the other hand, Jonathan isn’t winning the individual immunity challenges; that crown rests squarely on Tori’s head.
Gus– Maryanne – NOT
Maryanne is not in a great spot, but I’m not sure it’s entirely her fault. She’s wound up towards the bottom of her tribe, and she’s even been flirted with as a potential boot option. But, to this point, she hasn’t been the main target. I think Maryanne is in a spot right now where folks don’t necessarily want to play with her, but they don’t feel any great need to get her out either. And they may well be scared of her (very visible) idol. I could see Maryanne turning things around in the long run and finding herself in a better and better position, but as it stands, it seems she’s mostly just viewed as an eventual boot.
Ali – Maryanne – NOT
Poor Maryanne. It’s not easy finding yourself on the bottom. But I don’t see the other players wanting to keep Maryanne around, no matter how many tears she sheds or how much rice she gets them. But I can’t wait to see Maryanne’s smiling face on the jury because I know it’ll make me smile right back.
Gus – Lindsay – NOT
We didn’t get much from Lindsay this week, which, unfortunately, has been the theme of the season for her. In the absence of much motivated strategy or direction, she’s bound to be riding the Not train for a while. I will say that I applaud her for taking the initiative on sitting out of the challenge to get food for her tribemates—and for her (correct) confidence in believing that she was safe.
Ali – Lindsay – NOT
There just isn’t much to say about Lindsay’s game at this point. I wish we saw more of her. She’s in the majority, so she’s safe for the foreseeable future, but I don’t see a winner’s path ahead of her at this point. But who knows? I was certainly surprised by a player I said similar things about last year.
Gus – Tori – HOT
This was a hard one. Tori has been in a bad spot for a while now—two weeks in a row she’s been the likely boot—and she’s saved herself only by clutching out two immunities in a row. With double boots coming, she’s even more likely to be sent packing. But, by dint of double immunities, she’s also twice as likely to be safe. I think Tori has a long way to go before she’s in a good position. She’s abandoned her former tribemates and now appears to be adrift without much in the way of good options. But I just can’t discount the fact that she’s continued to better her position, and what merits a Hot more than that?
Do I think there’s a solid chance we’ll see her go home this week? Absolutely I do. Do I stand by this choice anyway? …mostly.
Ali – Tori – NOT
I love players who are like cockroaches; the others can’t seem to get rid of them. Tori is one of those players who seems to have nine lives in this game, throwing the others completely off balance. Personally, I love to see the chaos that Tori winning immunity adds to the game, and I’d love to see her go on an immunity run. The problem for Tori is that the immunity train is a pretty dangerous bet. Let’s face it, Tori’s not a Mike Holloway. The minute she’s vulnerable, she’s going to go. Plus, if she makes it to the end, she’s irritated a lot of people. But I want to see Tori last as long as possible so that she can keep these other players on their toes.
Gus – Romeo – NOT
Romeo’s panicked meltdown this week nearly cost him his game. And it was only by the grace of Mike’s distrust of Chanelle that he was able to keep himself safe. With his former allies turning against him and his name being one of the “potential boots” this week, I fear that Romeo will be on the Not list for a good while.
Ali – Romeo – NOT
Romeo’s on the bottom of the tribe, and his head was on the chopping block this past week. If the tribe’s willing to entertain someone going, that usually spells doom for that person’s game. Kudos to for Romeo not becoming king of Ponderosa, but that was largely thanks to Mike. If Romeo can’t figure out how to get out from the bottom, he’s going to join Chanelle soon.
Gus – Hai – NOT
This is going to be controversial, but hear me out. Hai is certainly in a good position in this game—he’s part of the core alliance, he’s got an amulet, and he’s got allies. But if what makes a Hot is the delta, the change in a player’s game-state. Hai just doesn’t quite make the cut this week. Though he’s in a powerful position, we’ve seen him fail to get his way two weeks running. He’s not gained any power in the game, nor has he been pushing the game’s direction the way he wants it to go.
Was he happy with Chanelle being voted out? Sure. Would he have preferred it to be Romeo? Most likely. Hai himself said it last week (paraphrasing) that the great get what they want and the merely good just fold. Hai has been forced to fold two weeks running, and that’s a trend that doesn’t bode well for him in the long run.
Ali – Hai – NOT
Hai is in the majority after cutting his closest ally. The issue is that now his game is on the back foot. Where Hai was once a power player on his tribe, now he’s throwing out names and other players have enough sway that they aren’t doing what Hai wants to do. Typically, if someone is in the power position on a majority alliance, the vote has a tendency to go their way. Since Hai isn’t in the driver’s seat, I fear it may not be long until his car crashes.
Gus – Drea – HOT
Drea is fast becoming the Jeff Bezos of Survivor 42. She’s swimming in advantages and has the potential to wind up with three idols—her true Idol, her amulet (which could upgrade to an Idol), and her knowledge-is-power advantage (which allows her to snag someone else’s idol, barring some Xander level shenanigans). Did I mention that I can’t stand this advantage being on a season with the “cute phrases for idols” twist? Drea’s social standing in the game is fine. Nobody seems to be on to her enormous wealth, and it appears that she’s been keeping clear of any huge swings in gameplay. I’m not sure she’s setting herself up for victory, but she’s certainly setting herself up for longevity.
Ali – Drea – HOT
I dub Drea the advantage queen of the season: extra vote, amulet, idol, advantage… And the best part? No one has any clue how “Survivor rich” she’s become. With this new advantage, Drea can steal an idol from another player, and she’s well aware that Mike and Maryanne have idols ripe for the taking. The only snag in Drea’s game is Tori, who immediately noticed Drea’s red arm that was dyed by the advantage. Drea’s cover would have been brilliant, had she thought to mess with the paints a little prior to Tori noticing. Sadly, Drea’s story didn’t land and Tori’s become even warier.
I suspect Tori will continue to be a thorn in Drea’s side, and if history tells us anything, having a rival in the game can be the death of both games. A confrontation between Tori and Drea is coming. Luckily for Drea, she’s dripping in advantages that can protect her and Tori’s on the bottom of the tribe. Drea’s not going anywhere any time soon.
Gus – Omar – HOT
As Omar would be the first to tell you, he’s sitting pretty in the tribe. Not only is he part of the big group, but the outsiders think he’s not, so he’s swimming in intel and trust. He also came out of left field with some truly impressive challenge prowess, nearly winning the reward for his tribe (only to be eclipsed at the last second by his buddy Zeus Thor Perun Jonathan). He himself said that losing the challenge didn’t matter to him that much since he was able to perform so well under pressure.
Omar is uniquely positioned in this game to go far. He’s certainly on my radar as a potential winner.
Ali – Omar – HOT
First, let’s acknowledge Omar’s super impressive basketball skills in the reward challenge (before deus ex Jonathan was able to swipe the win at the last second.) Those aren’t the only shots he’s taking that have been nothing but net. Omar was able to take the team’s loss and use it to bond with fellow losers: Lindsay, Omar, Maryanne, Hai, and Romeo. That’s the brilliance of Omar’s game; he can take a negative and transform it into a positive. Despite not having a vote, Omar’s a mover and shaker in this game. It doesn’t look like that’s changing any time soon, especially with meat shield Jonathan still taking up space in the game. Omar’s a player to watch going forward.
Gus – Rocksroy – NOT
Apart from being Mike’s excuse to turn the vote back around to Chanelle, Rocksroy was pretty absent this week. And “he was used by another player to justify a vote they already wanted” isn’t exactly quality content. Rocksroy may be working his way into the numbers, but that seems to be all he really is at this point—a number.
Ali – Rocksroy – NOT
Just when I’m ready to count Rocksroy out, he claws his way back in by approaching the guys about starting a men’s alliance. Though, I’m not feeling like it’s going to be enough yet for me to start saying that he’s playing a Hot game. People form loose alliances all the time, and this could easily be a red herring so that we start paying attention to Rocksroy. Yes, Rocksroy is in with the majority at the moment, and he’s got some agency in the game. However, he grated on people so much in the pre-merge, I’m not convinced he’s doing enough to earn votes in the end. He’s on the right track, but I need to see more before I give him a Hot.
Ali: Chanelle is queen of Ponderosa. And I think we should honestly applaud her for lasting as long as she did. Daniel really blew up her game, and it looked impossible to crawl back from. Now, she’s serving as a cautionary tale for those who get too tempted by advantages. I’m really loving that advantage grabs are getting these consequences to them. It’s a cool game mechanic.
Gus: Truly! The more I learn about that move from behind the scenes (see Daniel Strunk’s exit interviews), the more I realize that she couldn’t have played it more wrong. She screwed over Jenny; she screwed over Strunk; she screwed over Omar, and then she cast a throwaway vote at Mike. Bad, bad, bad! On that note, I’m wondering whether you think Drea’s Mark Zuckerberg-level accumulation of wealth will end up biting her. Or if she’ll just buy the whole game of Survivor with all of her advantages?
Ali: I’m starting to worry for Drea for sure. But I think that there is something to be said for having such a high threat level that everyone’s afraid to come after you. That could be a direction that she’s heading in. I think it depends on if she can continue keeping her finger on the pulse of this game and if she can keep just how powerful she is a secret.
Gus: Tori’s got it in for her. But, even though I gave her a Hot, I’m not sure how much weight that’s gonna carry with the rest of the tribe. I could see her successfully lobbying for a Drea blindside this week, though. What do you think? And what do you think about Tori as a whole? She’s on our draft team, but she hasn’t been putting up much of a showing for us (immunities aside).
Ali: Yeah, I have really admired Tori’s chutzpah with her ability to win immunity and noticing things like Drea’s arm. Unfortunately, her social game is so lacking that I just don’t see her being able to pull out a win in the end. I think she’s pretty dead in the water at this point. I get why you gave her a Hot, though. I mean, she’s truly the definition of a survivor at this point. There are so many moments I’ve thought, “this is her week,” and she’s come back fighting. I could see a world in which she wins her way to the end, and they’re so impressed they just give it to her, a la Mike Holloway. But we still have a lot of game left, so I doubt it. Plus, people tend to be more forgiving of men’s social blunders than women’s. It sucks, but it’s true for this game.
Gus: Totally agreed with you there. She’s getting painted as a villain, which is fun (?), and I expect her to get cockroached out before too long. Maybe she’ll be able to take Drea out before she’s gone, but even if she does, there’s not much keeping her in the game after that point apart from her impressive sense of balance. Literally. She’s demolishing all the balance challenges. Here’s what I want to know, though… who’s going home this week?
Ali: I think it’s Tori or Drea. We’re headed for some kind of showdown between those two.
Gus: Agreed. I can’t wait to see, though. This season has been an absolute blast so far!