Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor Season 38 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. In order to avoid what Gus likes to call “hedging bets,” Nots cannot be given to more than half plus one of the castaways. For example, with twelve people remaining in the game, the maximum number of Nots that can be given out is seven.
Go ahead, hit us with your best shot. We’re probably wrong anyway, but that’s why it’s fun!
WARNING: This segment uses content from the “Next Time On” preview. If you are someone who doesn’t like watching those segments prior to the show, do not read further. You’ve been warned.
GUS: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – NOT
I’m calling this one a short-term Not with a potential for some very toasty Hots down the road. Wardog is playing all out now; he’s been pulling strings for many weeks now, and he’s finally moved out into the limelight at the final 10/9. Is this a good thing for his win potential? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing for his short-term survivability? Definitely. So far as I can tell, Wardog is the most obvious strategic threat remaining in the game. Ron has been halfway dethroned. Julie, Gavin, and Aurora have basically no resumés to speak of outside of things they were set up to do by the Wardog. Lauren has been virtually inactive since the merge hit. And Devens can point to the Julia boot and returning from Extinction, and that’s really it.
Other people have debated extensively as to whether or not Wardog made his move to get out Kelley at the right time or whether he voted her out too early. I’m on the fence. I think that he made the right move, and though it may have been too soon, it’s tough to say considering how this game has been playing out. If Wardog can solidify a group of three, I think he’s golden. If he continues to bounce, I think he might not be. I’m just worried that he’s way too far out in front compared to the rest of the players and that he’s a clear threat to win.
ALI: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – NOT
“Gloves are off. We’re all playing for a million dollars, right?”
Wardog was a tough one for me this week. On the one hand, I completely respect the move he made, and if it were any other player, I would be giving him a Hot. However, because Wardog is now the most apparent threat in the game, I think that this move may come back to bite him. Now, if Wardog can pull in Rick and Ron to form a threats alliance, my mind will again be changed. But I think that Ron and Rick are far behind Wardog in terms of threat level, so they might be reluctant to go with him. Furthermore, early in the episode, Wardog said, “The other person I really trust is Gavin”… only for Wardog to betray his Lesu alliance and Gavin immediately after forming a group of six. Was Wardog just doing this for attention? It’s unclear, but it’s a pretty swift way to have a lot of people angry with you. It appears that Gavin will not take kindly to Wardog’s betrayal next episode, and I think it may come back to hurt Wardog in the long run.
I ultimately agree with Wardog’s decision to eliminate the returnees, as there was certainly no good reason to bring David and Kelley to the end. However, I think that this move might have been too early for Wardog, as he now no longer has any place to hide. Was it entertaining? Absolutely. Was it good gameplay? That remains to be seen. I think it’s very possible that this move might have been too soon, and it will be an uncomfortable environment for Wardog going back to camp this week.
GUS: LAUREN O’CONNELL – NOT
Sure, Lauren didn’t go home, but she also hasn’t done much of anything since the merge. She’s still got her idol, but she just lost her closest ally (who outed said idol to every other eliminated player). She’s playing well in challenges, but she’s not playing nearly well enough. I can’t help but feel that Lauren’s lost the thread… or at least that we have lost Lauren’s thread.
ALI: LAUREN O’CONNELL – NOT
“Don’t play that card right now.”
Lauren got left out of Kelley’s blindside, and let her only true friend in the game go home with an idol in her pocket. Because Kelley and Lauren are such a unit, like with David and Rick, a blindside against Kelley is a bad look for Lauren. Wardog being so willing to blindside Lauren after they had worked together for the entire game spells trouble for her going forward. Luckily, she has an idol (not that that helped Aubry or Kelley!) and is pretty solid at challenges, so there’s a chance she can bounce back now that her back’s against the wall.
GUS: RICK DEVENS – HOT
Rick lost his closest ally this week, and yet he’s still considered a threat. He was on the right side of the Kelley vote. He’s got a close partner on the Edge of Extinction who’s likely to feed him every single advantage he finds (which I sorta hate, frankly). He made some bonds with Victoria, sort of. He won Immunity. He’s in a good spot. If Wardog doesn’t win (he probably isn’t going to win), I think Rick Devens has the highest likelihood of taking the game.
ALI: RICK DEVENS – NOT
“Everyone really wants this baby, including me, and I’m glad I had it.”
Honestly, I really wish that I could give everyone a Not this week, but Gus would scream about me hedging and it’s against the new rules so…
Being a ride or die pair with David worked out a bit for Rick this week. He got one of the Edge advantages and therefore was able to secure immunity for himself. However, this all came about after Rick was left out of the David vote. It appears that Rick doesn’t factor into the majority’s plans, which means Rick is on the outs. With Rick’s Extinction Island story, I don’t see anyone feeling great about taking him to the end, and I think he could be one of the biggest threats remaining. People were talking about how dangerous Rick is this episode, and I have a feeling that winning immunity and getting an advantage from the Edge will only grow his target. If Rick and Wardog can make their “threats alliance” work, then fabulous. But something tells me that the under the radar players may be out for threat blood next week. Say what you will about this cast, but they are no slouches. I don’t think they’re going to let Rick or Wardog anywhere near the end.
GUS: RON CLARK – HOT
Ron had the relatively unique experience this week of having another player make a potentially suicidal game move towards him and then deciding not to explode their game for his benefit. Aurora’s decision to hand Ron her extra vote and basically say ‘hey, if you vote me out this week, you’ll be able to keep and use this’ was the most foolish move I’ve seen on Survivor since all of Laurel’s game in Ghost Island. And it shows a lot about Ron’s remaining status in the ex-Kama group (which somehow still has a 5 to 3 majority). If Ron so chose, I have to imagine that he could whip together those 5 and shove Wardog, Rick and Lauren out of the plane leaving only Kamas in the final 5. I have no doubt that Ron isn’t going to do that, but he probably could.
Ron’s Hot this week comes both from the stupid level of trust that other players were placing in him before tribal council and because he was a swing vote who seems to still retain a modicum of power. I’m not sure whether he made the right move for HIS game – getting rid of Aurora would entirely destabilize Wardog’s relationship with Kelley, and it would leave him with a very happy ally in Julie – but he’s arguably the best set-up for success who isn’t a former Lesu player.
ALI: RON CLARK – HOT
“I love being in the middle and being the decision maker.”
Ron is back in the driver’s seat after a stint on the bottom. I reluctantly give him a Hot, because I think he could very well still be a target next week. However, I have to give him credit for going from a very precarious position to the coveted swing vote spot. I think that Ron still has game left in him, and there are now two larger threats ahead of him: Wardog and Rick. On the other hand, I think it might have been a wrong move getting on Julie’s bad side. If anything is going to get Ron eliminated from the game this week, it’s Julie. Do not play a toymaker.
GUS: JULIE ROSENBERG – NOT
Julie’s weird insistence that Aurora be voted out over anybody else is working against her, and although she was on the right side of the vote during the David boot, she was NOT on the right side for Wentworth. I think that with Ron voting against her, she’s going to feel wholly left out of the loop and probably struggle to find a path forward.
ALI: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT
“To try and shake things up again would be like rearranging the paintings on the Titanic. There’s no point.”
Julie has been playing a really emotional game thus far. Now, she is fixated on Aurora as a target. Everyone knew that she would be upset that Aurora didn’t go home, and so they just decided to leave her out of the vote. The fact that Julie’s allies value her opinion so little that they would rather exclude her than be upfront about their attentions spells bad news for her game. Julie needs to get on the same page with someone, or she’s going home. Unfortunately, we’ve seen Julie in this position before, and she wasn’t stellar in how she handled it.
My hope for Julie is that she’s so low on the totem pole that she may be able to fly under the radar. I don’t think she’s going home next week. I feel that the “threats” alliance will only work in theory, and in practice, the threats will be too tempted and then cannibalize each other. In that scenario, Julie should be safe.
GUS: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
I’m shocked that Ron didn’t vote Aurora out this week, considering how colossally stupid her gambit was with her extra vote. Beyond that, Aurora knows she’s on the bottom and is doing everything she can to stay in the game, which frankly is admirable. It’s just unfortunate that 1) she’s doing things that are more likely to eliminate her than they are to keep her around and 2) she’s got Julie over there trying to get her out at all costs, for whatever reason.
ALI: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
“Growing up in the foster care system, I didn’t have friends. So I’m good being alone.”
Man, this really broke my heart. I feel for Aurora, and if she ever wants a friend, I’m totally down to hang out with her. That said, this whole episode was terrible for her. Last tribal, she barely survived, and she was the target twice. I’m proud of her for toughing through it and winning immunity. My only concern is that if Aurora doesn’t find a way to endear herself to Julie, she may very well be out the door next.
Also, Aurora had one glaringly obvious error this game that evoked some Sierra Dawn-Thomas realness. When you want someone in a power position to work with them, do not tell them that they can have your advantage if you are voted out. Rather, what you should do is say, “I have an advantage and I will give it to you if I am still in the game after this vote.” The former gives another player incentive to get rid of you, while the latter gives them a reason to keep you in the game. Aurora got lucky that Ron didn’t pull a Sarah Lacina and vote her out. That gameplay alone, even if she had a good position in the tribe, would have been enough to earn her a Not.
GUS: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT
If a Kama wins, I think it’s either Victoria or Ron, and I’m leaning towards Victoria. We saw Rick attempt to make some inroads with her this week, and she was on the right side of both of the votes; she’s in a decent position and could jockey for influence as the game continues.
ALI: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT
“I’ve been in on very little conversations in the past few days… since Devens won immunity today, Aurora and I seem to be left as options.”
Victoria said herself that she was being looked at as an option for elimination. The thing is, she wasn’t really talked about in a way that we saw during the vote. If people aren’t working with her, then that’s not great for her game. However, she’s flying under the radar in a way the rest of her alliance isn’t. Ron, Julie, Wardog, and Aurora all have bigger targets than her, so I don’t think she’s going to be singled out for elimination this week if the “goats” all get together. This, coupled with the fact that Victoria’s screentime has made me pretty confident about her chances has convinced me that she isn’t going anywhere this week. Again, I want to mark everyone as a Not this week because I think things are about to go haywire next episode, but I have to make some judgment calls.
GUS: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT
I thought we were going to see more of Gavin, but I’m pretty sure he’s getting buried so we can see more of EoE. Oh well. He didn’t do so hot this week.
ALI: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT
Got roped into a six only to be left out of the vote. At this point, it looks like Gavin may be expendable. There isn’t much more to say beyond that because we saw very little of him this week. Unlike Victoria, Gavin has challenge prowess that makes him a threat. If he gets in Wardog’s face too much next week, which it looks like he might, Wardog might want to tie up a Gavin loose thread.
GUS: REEM DALY – KINDLED
Reem is staying around.
ALI: REEM DALY – KINDLED
Mama Reem? Where were you this week? At least we know you’re not going anywhere because, once again, the sunk cost fallacy is clearly in effect.
GUS: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
Chris is staying around.
ALI: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
“What if it’s at the mast?”
He wasn’t great at finding advantages this week, but his physicality gives him enough of an advantage to want to stay in the game.
GUS: AUBRY BRACCO – KINDLED
Aubry is most likely to return.
ALI: AUBRY BRACCO – KINDLED
Said surprisingly little this week, but it makes sense considering there was a double returnee boot in an hour-long episode. Her chances of getting back in the game have decreased, but she’s going to see it through until the end.
GUS: JOE ANGLIM – KINDLED
Haven’t really seen Joe, but I think he’s in it for the long haul.
ALI: JOE ANGLIM – KINDLED
Hey Joe! I’m engaged now too! Also, he’s not going anywhere.
GUS: ERIC HAFEMANN – KINDLED
With hardly any time spent at the Edge this week, I can’t say much about people, so I’m just making Eric a Kindled.
ALI: ERIC HAFEMANN – KINDLED
“It’s not there.”
He recovered from last week’s let down and seems in good spirits.
GUS: JULIA CARTER – ASHEN
I don’t think she’s quitting, but she isn’t getting back in.
Ali: JULIA CARTER – ASHEN
I think her lack of screen time alone shows that we don’t necessarily need to be invested in her story going forward.
GUS: DAVID WRIGHT – KINDLED
He likes to be playing from the bottom.
ALI: DAVID WRIGHT – KINDLED
“I’m still in game mode.”
Found an advantage for his friend, Rick, and he’s not going anywhere.
GUS: KELLEY WENTWORTH – KINDLED
Will be fine.
ALI: KELLEY WENTWORTH – KINDLED
“Sometimes when it’s too easy, it makes me nervous that there’s some other…”
Like I feared last week, Kelley got too used to not playing her idol and failed to do so when she needed to. Can’t wait to rub that in Gus’s face this week. That being said, she’s definitely not going anywhere.
Quick question: Kelley, why would you out Lauren having an idol like that? What gives?!
ALI: Honey, I hate to tell you this, but you said this last week, “Who’s safe? I’m gonna say David and Victoria.” Prepare for merciless teasing part one.
GUS: I deserve this.
ALI: Don’t expect me to go easy on you just because we’re engaged now.
GUS: I would never.
ALI: David was such a big threat, he could go home at any time. And yet. AND YET, you said he wasn’t going home last week. And then BOOM! Wardog’s anti-returnee agenda came into fruition, and your butt was smote! SMOTE!
GUS: To be fair, I didn’t think Wardog would go so hard on his anti-returnee stuff this quickly. It caught me off-guard.
ALI: You know, I have to say, I respect the move. Which brings us to Kelley Wentworth, yet another thing you were wrong about. I tried to warn you, to save you from yourself… But your hubris was your downfall. You thought an idol would protect her, when I knew that she would misplay it because she, like every other returnee this season, underestimated the newbies.
GUS: Yes, I was also surprised by that. I’m really impressed by Wardog; he’s been going in on returning players and making moves across the board. If he can get far into the game, he’s all but guaranteed the win. Although I very much do not think he will get far into the game.
ALI: Unless he makes everyone angry on the way…
GUS: Still, I feel like his game has been dominant enough and the only person he’s really been out and out mean to is David. If he makes F3, he deserves to win.
ALI: Don’t change the subject. You were wrong about Kelley Wentworth and I’m going to gloat, darn it!
GUS: I was wrong about a lot of things. I’m usually wrong about a lot of things. Like last week apparently I said, “if David had played an idol at tribal, Wentworth also would have,” forgetting that when David DID play his idol, Wentworth just… actually didn’t. I’m not sure what I was thinking.
ALI: You’re wrong about a lot of things, but you sure were right about me. DAWWWWW!!!
GUS: By the by, folks, we’re gonna try to minimize the “we got engaged this week” gushiness in this article, but we’re really excited, so it might seep out a bit. Sorry about that.
ALI: NOT SORRY!
GUS: Anyway. Are you done murdering me with words?
ALI: Stab stab stab!
GUS: Shall we progress to our disagreements for this week? There aren’t many. We seemed to be in agreement about everybody making the wrong choices across the board. I think we were scrambling to give minimum Hots.
ALI: Everyone made some bizarre choices this week. People who should keep threats in the game were campaigning to get them out. Kelley needed to keep David in the game, and yet he went. Then, she went right after. It’s super entertaining though! But I wouldn’t say that people are playing “Hot.” But if that move ends up working out for Wardog, he’s a god.
GUS: I love the Wardog. He’s playing so hard, and if he wins he’s going to be a god-tier winner. It’s a very dangerous playstyle, however. I do like how we each gave Wardog a Not this week in spite of his boldness. Or I guess because of his boldness.
ALI: I just think it would take hella gameplay to convince this savvy cast to keep him around after that. If he does it though, I’ll adore him.
GUS: Enough about what we agree on. We disagree this week on Rick Devens and Julie Rosenberg. Who do you want to start with?
ALI: Let’s start with Julie because I have little to say other than I don’t think it’ll be her this week and I was out of Nots to give. Your stupid rule has screwed me yet again. I guess the thing with Julie that I will say is that I think that the move from this week benefits her ultimately the most because it eliminates a big threat that would have been in her way. As time goes by, it’s looking more and more likely that she’s going to be in the finals, and that’s closer to winning than most get. Who is going to get rid of Julie when there are so many others in the game? And I think realizing that she shouldn’t be dependent on Ron for guidance in the game might actually benefit Julie going forward. I think we could have a Julie break-out episode on our hands, so I felt of everyone, she had the most to gain from this week, even if she was left out of it.
GUS: Okay, I can get behind that, but I think we can also both agree that Laurel was guaranteed to make Final Tribal of Ghost Island, yet I would have never given her a Hot. Julie also is advancing practically by accident – she’s been left out of a plan with the only allies that she had left, and she’s essentially floundering for some purchase. That helps her so far as it makes her a desirable commodity as a stray vote, but I can’t say it gives her any level of win potential or helps her in terms of making her a desirable ally beyond her one vote.
ALI: I think Julie is a better player than Laurel, though. I’m not saying she necessarily deserves a Hot by virtue of her own gameplay, but I think she deserves a Hot more than the people I gave a Not.
GUS: Ehh. I understand what you mean, and I can sympathize with you. I just felt like there were others who were more deserving of that Hot. Such as Devens. Although honestly even he doesn’t REALLY deserve one that much. He’s just sort of bobbing and weaving effectively, and Wardog is absorbing a lot of the heat he might otherwise be taking.
ALI: Okay, then let’s talk about Rick. I feel like more people will be inclined to work with Julie than with Rick. Both were left out of votes this week. How do you justify giving Rick a Hot over Julie? Rick lost his closest ally. Julie lost… Kelley? Who she didn’t really seem to love in the first place. She just didn’t get to get rid of her bizarre nemesis, Aurora.
GUS: Julie has to KEEP Aurora, and deal with Ron going against her. We have already seen how Julie deals with what she views as betrayal – she goes full “I’m gonna jump ship.” What alliance does she have left? Conversely, Rick is in a position to work a lot more with Wardog, and he’s got others putting themselves out ahead of him, and he’s ALSO got a man on the outside feeding him a stream of papers and advantages. It’s almost unfair. You saw his immunity challenge thing this week – it was an enormous advantage. I feel that it’s fair to assume that David is going to give ANYTHING that he finds to Rick. And I worry that all of that might just shove Rick all the way along – supposing David finds more things.
ALI: Though, Rick’s target is growing, and it looks like Wardog may implode next week. Where does that leave him then?
GUS: Reliant on Kama being a total wreck, as they have shown themselves often enough to be.
ALI: You may be right about Rick. I just felt like Julie might have a better shot of staying in the game at this point, especially when he was left out of a huge majority vote.
GUS: Certainly she does. I think Rick’s got a far more clear shot for the Sole Survivor, though, and he wasn’t ever going to vote David. I think that was just a foregone conclusion. He must have known the vote was against David that night and he chose to hang with his ally for one vote.
ALI: But why single himself out like that?
GUS: I don’t think it was all that damning. It’s a matter of principle. It’s foolish, but it keeps him in David’s good graces. And I mean it’s really not so uncommon of a voting technique.
ALI: Sure, and I guess it could get him some advantages from Extinction (which is already working out).
GUS: Pretty topsy-turvy episode across the board. Are we all good for debate?
ALI: Alright, who’s going this week? I think it’s Ron.
GUS: I think it’s Wardog. He’s too good right now. But who is safe? I haven’t a clue… but let’s just say Victoria.
ALI: I’ll say… Eek… This is hard… Let’s go with Julie. Alright, who’s winning? I think it’s Rick.
GUS: Yeah, it’s probably Rick. If I had to pick a different person I’d say Wardog should he escape elimination at this Tribal. But it’s a tough proposition.
ALI: I think it’s Rick or Wardog, with Victoria and Lauren as long shots… Barring whoever comes back from Extinction.
GUS: Right, yeah. Extinction throws a lot of wrenches around. How about we predict the EoE returner? I think it’ll be Aubry.
ALI: I was going to say Aubry, but I read American Girl Magazine growing up and I dare to be different so… I’m going to say Kelley. Khaleesi is going to rain down fire on these newbie hineys.
GUS: That’s bold. And I like it. So, I think that’s all for this week?
ALI: Wait, have we mentioned we’re engaged?
GUS: Not sure. Just in case… we got engaged.
ALI: To wed. Speaking of Wed, happy Survivor Wednesday y’all! I’m Ali Shields, signing out. Ba Na Na Na Na!