For our last week, Gus and Ali have decided to rank the contestants on a scale of “Hottest, Hotter, Hot, Not, Notter, and Nottest” based on their perceived gameplay and chances of winning. They will then argue with one another in the Trash Talk section of this article below and will resort to merciless teasing should one of them be incorrect.
Go ahead, hit us with your best shot. We’re probably wrong anyway, but that’s why it’s fun!
Disclaimer: Our article contains discussion centered around information revealed as part of the “next time on” preview segment. Should you wish to watch this coming week’s episode without any foreknowledge, don’t read this article!
RETROSPECTIVE: CHRISTIAN HUBICKI
Last week, Christian Hubicki’s game came to an end. We have been predicting ever since Christian’s day one declaration that he wrote papers on slide puzzles that his threat level would get out of control, and we are sorry to say that in this case we were correct. Though we’ve had ample time to prepare for sweet Christian’s departure, it still made us quite sad to see such an awesome player go. We are definitely looking forward to seeing Christian’s jury questions next episode!
Over the course of the season, Christian received:
Six Hots and five Nots from Gus (+1°)
Five Hots and six Nots from Ali (-1°)
Culminating in a total of eleven Hots and eleven Nots (0°)
-Christian is the only player post-merge to be eliminated with a net temperature of 0°.
-Christian is the first player since Jeremy to be eliminated with a net temperature of 0°.
-The only other player besides these two to have a net temperature of 0° is Jessica.
-Ali and Gus disagreed about Christian three times: episodes 3, 6 and 7.
THE FINAL SIX
ALI: NOTTEST – MIKE WHITE (runner-up, no votes)
I think Mike has the longest shot to win the game. Everything Mike has tried to do either fell apart or took an extremely long time. He tried to keep the Goliaths together, which didn’t fare well. He tried to get out Christian, and that’s taken pretty much the entire post-merge. There are some who claim Mike has been running the game this season, and I would love to hear examples of moments where this has been true. Ultimately, I feel that if Mike tries to defend his moves, other players will have a greater claim to those moves. -This isn’t to say that Mike has played a bad game, but the other players have far more compelling stories to present in front of the jury. The only exception to this may be Kara, but she can point to being on the bottom of a tribe and being left alone once her close allies Dan and Alec were out of the game. Mike has played a pretty chaotic game. At times, it seemed like he was playing more for his Survivor bucket list than he was playing to win the game. I have a hard time believing that he can beat any of the remaining players – unless there is a surprise final two with Angelina and everyone hates her that much.
GUS: ANGELINA KEELEY – NOTTEST (runner-up, no votes)
To start with: I cannot understate how much I enjoy watching Angelina, and I hope she plays again at least eleven more times. I would love to see her come back with David vs. Goliath in her rear-view mirror and play a game fully aware of her flaws from the first time around. I think future Angelina could play a pretty good game. That being said… present Angelina has been in a slow-motion train wreck since the merge, or maybe since before the merge. Ali and I have been predicting her downfall since she rallied the troops to eliminate Jeremy. The extent of her narrative arc this season has been asking for things from other people, and while I fully expect to see her at Final Tribal Council, I also expect her entire argument to consist of tales of rice spoken over lengthy shots of Alison rolling her eyes (side note, the ongoing “Alison is tired of Angelina’s s**t” thing that they’ve been showing us is hilarious and brings me so much joy). Angelina has become the over-the-top, un-self-aware hyper-villain Survivor player that we have always needed but didn’t know that we did, and I can’t wait to watch her crash and burn through the entire finale.
ALI: NOTTER – ANGELINA KEELEY (runner-up, no votes)
Angelina… I’ve told you from the beginning to slow down. I’ve told you from the beginning to play nice. I will give you one thing, lady, you have fire in your belly. Angelina’s been a riot to watch, but she’s managed to make quite a few people feel bitter. I think her odds of getting to the end are almost certain. She’s become an incredibly tempting goat, and I think people are loathe to get rid of someone they can beat. However, I don’t want to underestimate Angelina. I still think she has a slight chance of being able to win. It’s not a secret that Angelina has been playing this game hard, and it’s possible that people, in the end, will respect that if she’s sitting next to Mike and maybe… Nick or Kara? This is assuming, of course, that the jury holds some of Nick’s play against him and they don’t respect Kara’s game. These are a lot of assumptions to make, but they were essential to me in determining who among Mike and Angelina I thought had a better chance of winning. And this ultimately depends on Angelina’s ability to convince the jury to vote for her.
A Redditor I saw in passing put it best (sorry I cannot credit you. I don’t remember your username). What Angelina needs to have in front of the jury is humility. She’s played a very cutthroat game and has worked her way up from the bottom, which I think the jury could respect. What could be her downfall has been her downfall all season: her delivery. Angelina has a great instinct for the game, but she cannot present her ideas in a way that is palatable. If Angelina can go in front of the jury and show them the person behind the player, there’s a chance that she could convince them to vote for her. The Redditor that I saw named a perfect example of someone who was able to do this: Sophie Clarke. Sophie was not well liked going into her FTC, but she was sitting next to two people who were not respected. She was able to defend her game and showcase some vulnerability, where the other players were not. If Angelina can hop on the Sophie train, she could ride her way to victory.
GUS: ALISON RAYBOULD – NOTTER (fifth)
Yeah, I know that more or less all of the players have been tossing Alison around as some kind of big threat, and I know that I’m wrong to say that I don’t see it, but, y’all, I don’t see it. She’s performing well enough in challenges that I can see how she’s a significant immunity threat, and she seems to be more or less pleasant around camp, but from a strategic and gameplay perspective I don’t see what Alison has done this season. With the Goliaths now firmly in the majority, it seems like it would be wisest of them – if they really are worried about Alison going to the end and beating them – to take her out early rather than late, and prevent her from Immunity-ing to the end. Could Alison win in FTC? Sure, I think she could – maybe against Mike and Angelina – but I don’t see her making it there with such a large target on her back.
ALI: NOT – ALISON RAYBOULD (sixth)
Alison has been in trouble for a while. She’s playing a good strategic and physical game, but her threat level has started to catch up to her. Alison has been named as the alternate target for many votes. Now that Christian is out of the picture, Alison’s target just gets bigger. Unless Alison can win a bunch of immunities down the line (which is possible, she’s won them before), I fear she’s not long for this game. In looking at the content she’s received this season, it doesn’t scream immunity queen winner. We have gotten more personal content from her than from Kara, but Kara has been able to stay off the radar. Alison is a blinking dot and everyone left has their finger on the trigger. Winning to the end isn’t a great option to be left with, we’ve seen it work only a handful of times at most.
GUS: MIKE WHITE – NOT (runner-up, no votes)
I waffled on where to put Mike because last week he finally came around, rallied the troops and put a plan into motion – and a plan to eliminate Christian of all people. What basically every other person in the game since the merge has at one point or another tried to accomplish, Mike managed to execute with some pretty sneaky vote-rallying. Which is perhaps more impressive when you recall that he’s been bouncing back and forth between “I should make a move” and “oh no wait I shouldn’t” for pretty much the rest of the game up to this point. All that being said, I really would be shocked if Mike were to win. He’s already got his financial success, and I don’t think he has the story or resumé or persuasive chops to convince the jury to vote for him at FTC, so I’m putting him down here on the Not side of things. But I do think that his game has taken a significant uptick in the past couple of weeks.
ALI: HOT – KARA KAY (fourth)
Yet another person that I was low on coming into the game! I’m sensing a theme to this finale, and it’s “make Ali eat her words.” Kara has been playing a beautiful under the radar game, making alliances and winning immunities when needed. Kara is one of only two players remaining who has yet to receive a vote against her. This is no easy feat in the cutthroat game of Survivor. Should Kara make it to the end, she could certainly receive votes from all of the Goliaths in her alliance (excluding perhaps Dan, who seemed a bit bitter against her in his exit). That alone would be enough for her to win. The next three eliminations could easily take out Alison, Davie, and Nick, all of whom are far bigger threats than Kara. That would leave Kara free to waltz to the end and wipe the floor with Angelina and Mike. My only problem with this scenario is that Kara’s story arc doesn’t scream winner. She’s undoubtedly been present and has plenty of strategic content, but what else do we really know about her? I’m encouraged by her visibility last episode, but I’m hoping that she can find a way this episode to get in with a good group.
GUS: DAVIE RICKENBACKER – HOT (sixth)
My dream conclusion to David vs. Goliath is a Davie win, and I think that could happen, but I think Davie’s got a huge uphill battle to get there. Davie has turned his back on the Jabeni 3. He was on the outside of the vote to eliminate Christian – actually being the backup target if Christian had an idol played for him. He’s done the most flashy gameplay of the season with his several idol plays. And he’s got friends on the jury (Carl, Christian, potentially Elizabeth, maybe Gabby). Coming out of this past week, it’s going to take either a couple of immunity wins or some real idol-scavenging to push Davie through to FTC, and I just don’t see him being able to keep his head down enough to get there at this point. He’s already too clear of a target; he’s the only David without a strong Goliath alliance, and, as I’ve said previously, he actively ran from the Jabeni group that would have carried him pretty far. I put Davie up here in the Hot side because I think he would easily win in any FTC, but I put him as the Nottest of the Hots because I don’t think he has a way of making it there. Davie, I love you, but I think you’ve overfished.
ALI: HOTTER – DAVIE RICKENBACKER (fifth)
Davie was also someone I was low on coming into the season, showing me once again that first impressions are not reliable. Davie has made strong social bonds with the likes of Carl, Christian, and Kara, but is it enough to get him the win at the end? Perhaps. What Davie has going for him is his charm and some very flashy advantage moves. Furthermore, Davie has just the right amount of blood on his hands; no one hates his guts, but he’s been shown hustling. I think that this season could come down to Davie or Nick, and I believe that we are ramping up to a significant showdown soon.
Unfortunately, I have more faith in Nick’s arc this season than Davie’s, so I’ve put Davie a bit lower down. Should Davie be able to pull an upset and get rid of Nick and Alison, he would be my first choice to win the season, but this will be no easy feat considering the strong alliance of three on the other side. I hope that Davie will use his connections with Kara, which were further developed last episode, in order to go against the Jabeni alliance to eliminate Nick. There is also a possibility that Mike would be willing to turn on Nick soon; he’s been shown playing turncoat before. If Davie can get a good alliance going, he has a definite shot of making it to the end. Regardless of what happens, I don’t think we will be asking “where is Davie?” in this finale!
GUS: KARA KAY – HOTTER (fourth)
It’s been my story of the season – do I like Kara, or is she just dead weight? She’s hovered right around the freezing point (0°) for the entire season, never going more than 2° in either direction up or down in spite of my variably calling her my backup winner pick or ruefully saying I expected her to be gone in no time due to a deflected Dan bullet. I still don’t think that Kara will win, but I think that the calculus of the finale puts her in a pretty good spot to win if she can close the deal. She’s a Goliath on a merged tribe where the Goliaths have a 4-2 advantage. She has nobody gunning for her, unlike Nick, Davie and Alison. She’s got friends on the jury – Dan and Alec at least, and likely more. She’s won an immunity (although to be fair, that can be said of seven of the thirteen merge tribe members), and might be able to take that through to the end. I could honestly see Kara sneaking into FTC and swinging the jury over to her side through sheer charm and charisma, and walking away with the money and the title – but only if both Davie and Nick are eliminated, which, honestly, isn’t particularly unlikely.
ALI: HOTTEST – NICK WILSON (Sole Survivor)
Nick came into this game hot, and I didn’t think it was in a good way. Throughout the game, Nick has dodged elimination by forming alliances with, well, everyone, and breaking them when it behooves him. This defense attorney will probably have to use his skills to defend his position in the game, but I think the odds are in his favor. At the moment, his path to the end looks solid. He has the Jabeni alliance on his side. Davie and Alison are good threats in front of him. Nick also has the clearest story of the season. All of these are points in his favor and indicate to me that Nick is a strong candidate for winner. Now, there is the matter of the misplayed idol which could work against him. But I think that this will ultimately work in his favor because it diminishes his threat level to those still in the game.
In order to win, one must first get to the end. Perhaps Angelina and Mike will think that this recent embarrassment will increase their chances against him, and will thus have an impetus to stick by him. To win, I feel that Nick’s best move would be going to the end with Mike and Angelina, which is entirely possible since they have an alliance. His best interest would be to get rid of Davie and Alison since they are the biggest threats to win besides himself. Davie is a particular threat to his game because the two of them played so closely together. It may be difficult for the jury to distinguish who between them played a superior game. However, Nick needs to be cautious about when to cut these threats, lest he becomes the biggest remaining threat. Should Nick get to the end with the right people, he’s a trained orator, and won’t have any problem crafting a story to get the million. Nick could be our first lawyer winner, and I certainly don’t object.
GUS: NICK WILSON – HOTTEST (Sole Survivor)
Nick has been my frontrunner since the merge. Actually, Nick has been my frontrunner ever since he spent half of a confessional talking about how he hit Goliath in between the eyes with a slingshot, and I can’t remember for sure, but I believe that was in the original TV spot for the entire season. Nick has been in a dominant position from the shadows for the whole game. He’s had the tightest bonds with the most people, he’s been out of the crosshairs of his tribemates, he’s been invited into countless alliances (or invited others into them), and as far as I can remember he’s only been looked at as a potential vote-out twice (once on day 3, and again last episode when Davie went nuts about his potential second idol).
With that said, Nick played horribly last week: his double-idol plan worked insofar as it prevented Christian from searching for the replacement idol, but failed in that it caused him to be a target. His primary target – Christian – did go home, but at the cost of Nick a) burning an idol, b) losing all of his trust in Davie, and c) looking awfully dumb in front of everybody when he screwed up the fake idol play. Nick is still playing well enough to merit the overall rank of Hottest player remaining because I think he’s winning – and in part that is because he stumbled in the most recent episode. He’s certainly not on anyone’s radar as an urgent boot – I expect to see Davie go first, followed by Alison, and then presumably Kara in fire-making. Unless Angelina and Mike realize that Nick is an urgent threat to win and kick him out ahead of the Final 4, I expect Nick to win this game in a landslide.
TRASH TALK ZONE
ALI: And here we are! The finale! Can’t wait to see what we have in store tonight! It’s been such a fun season and I would like to thank our readers (read: Gus’s parents) for such a wonderful experience.
GUS: (Hi mom and dad!) We’re surprisingly consistent this episode, speaking broadly. We aren’t mixing up people in the Hot side or the Not side; we’re only at odds about relative degree.
ALI: I just want to know how in the world you have Davie below Kara. Kara can beat Angelina and Mike. She can’t beat Alison. In my view, Davie could beat Alison. Alison is only so low for me because I’m pretty certain she’s going soon. And you have Alison crazy low as well! In what world is Mike playing better than Alison?! I have so many issues with your rankings.
GUS: (Davie’s) below Kara because I think he has way less chance of getting to the end. All of Davie’s final tribals result in Davie winning, but I don’t think he’s going to get there in the first place. Hence, it’s more likely that Kara will win, because Kara has more paths to the end. E.g. (not actual data) Davie wins 2 out of 2 possible paths to the end; Kara wins 5 out of 12. I’d bet on Kara. Alison is low because I don’t see her being able to win in front of a jury except in the absence of any better players, and I also just don’t know what it is that she’s done to get to the end. I could see Mike making a compelling argument for his journey through the game, but Alison I could only see saying “you all wanted me out and I’m still here,” which is an argument that can work, but sadly not in the face of really anyone else but for maybe Angelina.
ALI: Alison has won a few immunities, has been a threat the whole game and has participated in a lot of strategy. Kara was with Dan. Then with Alec. Then kind of floating around until Davie picked her up. She did win an immunity or two, but it feels like Alison has had more control in the game than she does. Granted, all of what she’s doing is a legitimate strategy. It just feels like if I were on the jury, I would be more inclined to give it to Alison than Kara. I also think that Alison might be able to have a clearer argument for her game. I do think both of them played well, but when it comes to control, I think it’s in Alison’s court. As for getting to the end, I concede that Kara has a much better shot.
GUS: Which is really what we come down to, it seems. I put more weight in the players’ potential to make it to the end, and you’re more interested in who could win when they get there. Both are fair. I agree that Alison would beat Kara at the end, probably. She’d certainly beat Angelina and Mike. But there’s no reason for Angelina and Mike to go to the end with Alison, especially not with Angelina being more or less dead-set against allying with her. I’m actually far more surprised at Angelina being above Mike for you. How did you arrive at that conclusion?
ALI: I think that Angelina could beat Mike in a final two if she presents her argument in a way that brings out the human side of Angelina. I think, ultimately, Mike’s story is “I tried to make a lot of moves that didn’t work and I burned people,” whereas Angelina’s is “I got burned by my alliance (albeit by playing too hard and being annoying) and I clawed my way back up several times.” Overall, while Angelina annoyed literally everyone, I respect her chutzpah and hustle. I think she and Mike have made plenty of mistakes, but I appreciate her ability to stay in the game when for a while she looked like a dead woman walking. She found people to play with when she was drawing dead. That’s significant to me. Is it probably in part because they see her as easy to beat? Definitely. But I think she’s harder to beat than people think. If she were against the right people, I think she’d have a shot.
GUS: Well, sure, Angelina has gotten to this point, but I think it’s less because she dodged bullets and more because she actually is a dead woman walking. Her extreme jury pandering during the merge episode really blacklisted her in the eyes of I think all of her tribemates, and I can’t help but feel like she is still reeling from that. Were she to do an emotional and humanizing kind of FTC then maybe she would take it home but let’s be honest, is she going to play that way? I really don’t think so. Judging from what we saw in the Next Time On, she’s about to turn full Lucy Hwang Dictator on the rest of the tribe and try to dominate her way to the end, which, you know, works for some people, but definitely is not working for her.
I think Angelina’s error this season is that she is too reliant on the strategic side of the game and is undervaluing the emotional and connective side. Hence her extreme dependence on the bartering for the rice and her repeated attempts to leverage things from people with the argument, “hey, I did do this for you, ergo you have to do this for me.” That isn’t really how things work in Survivor. And being reminded that other people have gone out on a limb to help you (apparently) doesn’t really do much for one’s game – if anything, it makes you look worse because you’re blatantly reminding your tribemates that they’re in your debt and you’re demanding compensation. This serves only to alienate others and make them resent you, and it turns a selfless act into nonsense selfishness. Even if you are being selfish – and, frankly, in Survivor, every single move has to come from a place of selfishness to advance one’s own game – you can’t remind your tribemates about that.
ALI: All of that is well reasoned, but we’ve heard a lot about Angelina’s poor gameplay. I still don’t see how Mike played better.
GUS: Should it be Mike vs. Angelina, Mike would only need to sit back and let Angelina destroy herself in front of the jury. Mike has also gotten a few moves through – he was behind the elimination of Christian, and he can argue compellingly that the cross-tribal bonds that he tried to make (though oftentimes he did abandon them really prematurely) gradually did pay off for him. When challenged about why he abandoned those alliances early, I think he could correctly say, “I realized after the fact that I could not make that move at that time, and, hey, I’m up here. Clearly that was the right call.” He has more strategic acumen than many seem to think, even if he was pretty reluctant to make early moves in the game – I think vs Angelina, he easily beats her. She’d just talk about her rice and her orchestration of the vote for Jeremy. All of that being said, in the Final 3 format, he loses to anybody who ISN’T Angelina, I think.
ALI: I really hope that the final three doesn’t include them both because that would be a really dull end to the season. They’ve done their best to give them both justifications for why they could win, but I think that is just to manufacture some suspense at the end.
GUS: Me too. But, honestly, if the rest of the castaways are wise, they WILL take both of them. Unless Kara decides she needs to do the Hannah thing and get rid of the nice juicy goats. Could you imagine if we came down to Nick, Alison and Davie? That would be the best.
ALI: I would be deceased.
GUS: Nick or Davie were it up to those three?
ALI: Nick, but it would be close.
GUS: Davie might have a more compelling and visually appealing story to his Jury.
ALI: Nick’s dad traded his blood for milk.
GUS: Yeah but Angelina won rice for the tribe after she traded in possible Immunity, which, incidentally, is the sole reason for Davie not having been eliminated. At least, that is what Angelina argued some time ago.
ALI: Blood and immunity are the same. Angelina is winning this game.
GUS: Angelina was secretly Nick’s dad! It’s the twist that we’ve been waiting for!
ALI: I’m here for this fan fiction.
GUS: Ugh I’m really going to miss DvG. To wrap things up: predict FTC’s result in overall winner votes.
ALI: Okay, here’s my fan fiction. Nick, Angelina, and Mike at the end. Nick gets all the votes but one. Dan pulls a Vytas and gives Mike a petty vote so that Angelina doesn’t tie with him. His voting confessional is: “I really loved the Emoji movie.”
GUS: So good. I’ll say the same, except Alison casts the hinky vote with the confessional, “I hate rice.”
ALI: I love it.
GUS: And that’s it for our trash talk! Hope you all enjoyed, and we’ll see ya next time!