Survivor 42

Finale – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not heading into the finale?

Photo: CBS

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.


I took my time getting on the Maryanne train because I had a hard time looking past her pre-merge edit. Over time, I’ve become impressed by how much Maryanne has come into her own. The thing that sealed her win for me, in my mind, was the move that she made last week against Omar and the entire jury’s reaction to it. Omar was perceived as running the game and had gotten some respect and enmity from the jury for his cutthroat gameplay. Whether that would have earned him the win or not, the eyes of the jury were on him. Maryanne was able to publicly take him down and get credit for the move.

To me, Omar didn’t look upset with her over this; rather he looked impressed. The ability to cut someone without sparking their ire while also giving the jury a bit of wish fulfillment by axing the guy who turned on them? That’s the move of a winner. Part of this was Omar being a good sport, and the other was that Maryanne correctly assessed who the biggest threat was AND who the jury secretly wanted to get the boot. Not to mention that Maryanne had to scrap her way through the game, which gives her a lovely story to tell at final tribal.

Furthermore, Maryanne was able to find advantages like a champ and has the only idol that no one knows about going into the finale. If Maryanne can keep building up her story in the finale, she’s got a real shot to win. There are enough distracting people in front of her and grudges that don’t include her to make her place in the final three a true possibility. I’ve come around, and Maryanne is my official winner pick. Better late than never, I suppose!


I am conflicted about giving Maryanne the “Hottest” award this week because while I do think she’ll win the game, I’m not entirely sure why. It seems to me that Maryanne’s strengths have lain mostly in being 1) fun and happy to be around and 2) not getting voted out. Two big strengths in Survivor, but not necessarily winning ones. Then again, she’s been a core part of several big votes, and her plan this week was executed flawlessly—the epitome of a blindside in a season with the Shot in the Dark advantage.

As I think about it more, I wonder whether I’m weighting Maryanne’s achievements more heavily, mostly because of this week’s move: taking out Omar without anyone else realizing it was what she was doing. With Omar publicly revealed as the mastermind behind some of the earlier groundbreaking moves, Maryanne’s sniping him, which Omar credited her with, feels as though she inherits some of the clout that Omar had suddenly found himself burdened with.

More than that, it seems like her tribemates remaining in the game continue to underestimate her chances at the end, with vote-outs as recent as Drea pointing to Mike as the guaranteed winner. Even more than that, she has an idol that nobody knows about—all but guaranteeing her access to the fire-making challenge at a minimum. If Maryanne gets to the end, which seems likely, I think she has a very, very good case to win the game.


Mike’s got an idol, so he has a little something that will help him in the eliminations to come, but he only has so much time to use it before losing it. I adore Mike as a player, and I think he definitely has an argument to win. Drea said that he would win if he got to the end, and Mike is right that this statement is “the kiss of death.” While Jonathan and Maryanne are working with Mike now, it’s only a matter of time before they take Drea’s words to heart. I also think that Mike could potentially be in a tough spot with the jury because two separate people, Hai and Omar, have seen themselves as his puppet master, only for him to turn around and burn them.

If the jury’s perception of Mike is as a man who was manipulated, or if Mike has earned the anger of certain jury members, the well may be too poisoned against him to secure the win. It feels like Maryanne’s star is rising while Mike’s might be waning. That being said, I think he may have one of the better winning arguments over the remaining players. But at the end of the day, I’m not sure if he can get to the end.


Mike carries with him into the finale all of his strong gameplay from the pre-merge and the early merge, so that’s good. He also carries with him his closeness with many of his tribemates, so that’s good too. But the tradeoff is that he can’t shake his many missteps in the past few weeks. If anything, Mike is the anti-Lindsay—a player with a strong first ¾ of a season and a lackluster last few weeks. Unfortunately, those last few weeks are usually pivotal in securing the jury’s favor.

He appears to be seen by his tribemates now as a bit of an airbag, someone who thinks they’re playing a more strategic, controlling game than they actually are. And, regrettably, the past few votes have lined up with that perception. Mike was goaded by Omar into voting Hai out; he was saved by Omar and Lindsay in the vote to eliminate Drea, and he was hoodwinked by Maryanne in Omar’s elimination. Yes, Mike had a good grasp on the game before that point, but with his grip slipping away, it’s tough to justify his game as a whole to a jury.


Lindsay would potentially be my winner pick for this season if I thought that she had any chance of getting to the end. With Mike, Maryanne, and Jonathan now aligned, Lindsay is definitely on the outs. Not only that, but she’s the biggest threat that’s on the outs. If Lindsay loses the next immunity challenge, she’s my pick for who will go. Could she pull a Mike Holloway and win her way to the end? It’s certainly a possibility, and she has some challenge wins under her belt. But that’s a pretty steep path to the end. Unfortunately, Lindsay is going at the next opportunity. However, at least she has a chance to win, unlike some of the folks below her.


I’m absolutely shocked that Jonathan is still in the game. It must speak to both his challenge prowess and the strength of his alliance, but it also speaks to his perceived threat level. The second Omar was revealed as a threat to Mike’s and Maryanne’s chances to win, he was cut loose. Why is Jonathan still around? In my opinion, it’s likely because they don’t expect him to win in the end.

Jonathan has played a very good game. He’s provided for his tribe, made friendships, taken part in alliances, and even had some strategic plans. But he’s also had his fair share of blunders, gaffes, and failures. His strategic plans are usually met after the fact with some disdain from his tribemates, and while I understand his caloric debt issues, he’s clearly been rubbing his tribemates the wrong way lately. Whether or not all of the irritation is deservedly pointed at him isn’t for me to determine; perception is reality in Survivor. And while Jonathan has played well to get to this point, I don’t think he’s played well enough to take it home.


Jonathan has been a challenge beast, but that’s just about everything I have to say about his game. Sure, he’s gotten in with the right people, but he’s frustrated them at several turns. While his performance in challenges has been impressive, the other players have to like and appreciate his game enough to vote for him in the end. If this was a game based solely on survival ability, Jonathan would have this in the bag. But I don’t think he’s got much of an argument at the end to recommend him over the other players. In my view, Jonathan has held challenge ability in too much esteem as he’s navigating the game, and, therefore, has a bloated sense of his threat level. I’m predicting Jonathan’s going to be a no-vote finalist. We’ll see if I’m right about that.


Lindsay has stepped her game up in the past few weeks, but Jonathan has continued to be her white whale—the object she is bent on destroying at any and all costs. The trouble with that sort of myopic gameplay is that it can come at the cost of other, more immediately useful gameplay stratagems. And while she’s done a fair job of coordinating and taking part in other votes and plans (coming up with the idol-swap strategy to outsmart Drea’s advantage was particularly clever), if she winds up next to Jonathan at the end, she’s toast. Even if she takes Jonathan out before the end, that’s not much to go on after several weeks of focusing on challenge wins and backup plans.

Admittedly everyone but Romeo deserves a “hot” or better. No offense intended to Romeo, but he hasn’t really done anything. And I wouldn’t be totally shocked if Lindsay won, but, to this point, she hasn’t done enough to justify a win in my books.


Who is Romeo aligned with? At this point, his best bet is to become a no-vote finalist or get cut at a convenient time. He’s gotten a straight-up villain edit at this point and has no one looking to work with him, so I don’t really see a path forward for him other than the “why would we target him when there are so many other threats?” scenario. There’s just not a lot of winning upside for him at this point, unless the jury is so angry at everyone else that they all decide to vote for him. I suppose stranger things have happened.


While, admittedly, Romeo played a part in this week’s Omar blindside, and he’s got a good ally in Maryanne, he really has nothing else going for him. He’s perceived as just another mouth to feed by his tribe; he’s got no strategic accomplishments of his own to his name, and as far as I can tell, the jury doesn’t have any reason to cheer him on, either. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did wind up sitting at the final tribal council, but he’s not getting any votes to win.


GUS: Good to see we’re more or less in agreement going into the end of this season. And, what a terrific season!

ALI: Just as the contestants have been brawling on the show, there’s been some pretty good fights between the two of us this season in these articles. I’m so jazzed to find out who is going to take home the crown. It looks like the two of us only disagree on our placements of Jonathan and Lindsay in this finale.

I went back and forth on those two if I’m being honest. I went with the placements I did because, while I feel that Jonathan has a way better chance to make it to the end, I think Lindsay has a far better argument for why she should win than he does.

GUS: I think she has that argument to make, but I think Jonathan is running at a higher profile than she is. I also went back and forth. For me, Lindsay is the anti-Mike—behind the scenes til the last couple weeks, then suddenly out in front. But, Lindsay’s story is also focused almost entirely around getting Jonathan out. And her game hinges on being able to do that, by her own admission. I had trouble giving her too much credit considering that she’s been so focused on him.

ALI: True, but I think Jonathan has an inflated sense of how the others have perceived his game. He’s frustrated plenty of people on the jury. His dogged pursuit of what he wants to do has been touched on quite a bit, and not just by Lindsay. I think people aren’t as likely to reward challenge beastiness as much as they were in the early days. There has to be strategy to back that up, and I don’t know if Jonathan is perceived as someone with a lot of strategic prowess. But I could be wrong there.

GUS: No, I mean, you’re right. I don’t know. I think I would just be more surprised if Lindsay won. We’ve seen Jonathan rub a lot of people the wrong way, you’re right. But, we both agree that it’s almost certainly Maryanne, yes?

ALI: I think Lindsay and Mike are the next two to go in that order. Jonathan, Maryanne, and Romeo will be at the end. If that’s the case, Maryanne crushes them both. If Mike, Jonathan, and Maryanne are at the end… that makes the end a little more interesting.

GUS: Whatever the final configuration is, it should be a heck of a fight!

ALI: Hoping for a great end to what has been a great season!

Written by

Alexandra Shields

Alexandra “Ali” Shields is a sketch writer and playwright from Chicago and a graduate from Northwestern University. Alexandra has published humor articles with The Second City Network and Alexandra’s play, Twelve, won first place in the Jackie White National Memorial Playwriting Contest in 2018. Ali writes Inside Survivor’s weekly Hot or Not feature with her fiancé Gus.

Gus Schlanbusch

Gus is a Chicago-based theater artist and Survivor fan. He and his fiancée Ali also co-run a small theater company and produce a podcast about The Wheel of Time called “Wheel Takes.” When he’s not busy with all of that, he’s probably playing board games. Gus writes Inside Survivor’s weekly Hot or Not feature with Ali.

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