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: LAUREN O’CONNELL – HOT
Lauren is in a surprisingly good spot considering that her closest ally was voted out a week ago and she just lost another former Lesu member. Somehow she’s remained more or less out of the limelight; she’s still got her idol, and she’s still a good player insofar as challenges go (in spite of not having actually won an individual immunity yet). If she’s able to rally her game now that Wardog is out and the field has thinned, I think Lauren has a realistic shot to win this season.
ALI: LAUREN O’CONNELL – HOT
“I think I can get others to rally behind me, but it’s this weird feeling of, ‘I don’t know where people stand anymore.’”
I went back and forth with where to put Lauren this week. On the one hand, Wardog, the last person that Lauren was truly allied with from the beginning, is gone. Now, Lauren may find herself in a sea of Kamas who could see her as easy pickings. Is it possible that she voted out Wardog too early? On the other hand, she was able to get revenge for Kelley and get a major threat out of the game. I give her some points for discussing how she didn’t want to play emotionally. Taking emotions out of the equation is key on Survivor, so this was a major positive in my opinion.
Looking at the two sides which Lauren would have ended up with was vital in making my ultimate decision. On one side, you have Wardog, Rick, Ron, and Aurora. Realistically, Lauren can probably beat one of those people. The other side has Julie, Victoria, and Gavin. Julie hates Aurora and will never vote with her. Julie and Rick/Ron have a tenuous relationship, but it looks like it may recover. If Lauren and Julie are now working together, that may give Lauren some options down the road. Victoria and Gavin have been pretty burned at this point, and seem to be doing their own thing. I think Lauren would be wise to try and make inroads with them because I think she has a pretty good chance of beating them. However, their threat level is about the same as hers, so they won’t be too tempted to eliminate her. I think, ultimately, Lauren made the right decision. Plus, she still has the idol for extra insurance.
GUS: RICK DEVENS – NOT
I loved Rick in the pre-merge, but he’s just falling flat for me now. Sure, he was on the right side of the Kelley vote and is being seen as a big threat to win the game… but so was Wardog. It’s been a tradition for the whole of the merge up to this point to take out the leader or the biggest threat, and Rick sure is (apparently) the biggest threat right now. With his connections to folks on the Edge of Extinction, he’s definitely in a good spot to win over jury votes and potentially be an endgame threat.
Contrary to what this intimidating persona might suggest, I don’t think that Rick is playing a very good game of Survivor. Besides the fact that he’s voted wrong for most of the post-merge tribals, he’s also acted pretty cocky at the tribals where he believed himself to be in control. This week we saw him repeat and elaborate on Wardog’s commentary about his (Rick’s) being a big threat and boast about how the remaining women weren’t even playing the game, only to then see said women pull the wool over Rick’s eyes and vote out his new ally. I’m not sure Rick has anyone left to hide behind from this point out.
ALI: RICK DEVENS – NOT
“Every opportunity is a setback, and every setback is an opportunity.”
Congratulations to Rick for winning immunity. I think that if he hadn’t, there’d be a pretty decent chance he would have gone to the Edge this week. Kudos to Rick for saving himself. Rick was left out of the vote this week, which means that he’s been left out of more votes than not. That’s a pretty bad look in front of the jury. Also, everyone knows that Rick is a jury favorite (shout out to Kelley Wentworth for her oh-so-subtle excitement at his winning immunity). If this wasn’t bad enough, this is his second immunity in a row. Rick even professed his anxiety over doing well in the challenges at tribal because he knows that it’s causing his threat level to grow. It looks like next week Rick may be going full Kool-Aid Man, but may also be slapped with some Ron trickery. Either would not be fabulous for his game, as drawing further attention to himself will be a death knell for sure. Unless Rick can pull out a bunch of immunity wins, he’ll be updating us on the weather at Extinction.
GUS: RON CLARK – NOT
Ron finds himself in a similar boat to Rick this week. Both he and Rick have been seen as threats, and I think Wardog was right on the money when he said that all three of them needed one another to stay alive in this game. I could see Ron going this week in lieu of Rick, but Ron also has more tight bonds with the Kama folks than Rick ever did so there’s also a decent possibility that he manages to make it through to the end with a couple of them.
ALI: RON CLARK – NOT
“Wardog says that if all the threats in the game are gone, the next largest threat would go. If we take out Wardog, that leaves me in the hot seat because I’m the next biggest threat.”
Exactly. So why in the world did you vote for Wardog? I think in all likelihood, Ron knew that they didn’t have the numbers to eliminate Aurora, so he went with Wardog. It’s also not the worst idea to pick up the person on the bottom and use them. But then, why not use Aurora to eliminate another target. I don’t think it would have been very difficult to convince Wardog to eliminate Gavin. Aurora has no ties to Gavin. I think that probably would have been the best move for them going forward, especially since Gavin was so burned by the Kelley vote.
Now, as Wardog predicted, Ron and Rick are going to be the top two targets on the tribe. I think this was the right move for everyone but Rick and Ron. Had Ron been able to keep Aurora by his side, perhaps they would have been able to pick people off like they planned, giving Ron a better shot at the end.
GUS: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT
It’s a really good time in the game to not be in charge, and Julie is NOT in charge. She voted for the right person this week, but she didn’t appear to be the overarching master planner. She’s still surrounded by Kama (for what that’s worth), but she’s not the leader – Ron still bears that burden, it seems. Julie is in a good spot to slide a ways further in the game.
ALI: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT
“I’ve been kind of pushing for Aurora to get voted out of this game forever.”
Yeah… we know.
I think Julie handled last week’s blindside in the best way possible. I was impressed with how she was able to acknowledge that she and Ron cannot vote together every time. That would put a target on them as a duo. Perhaps, Julie’s blindside last week was good for her game, as it separates her a bit from Ron. Julie was able to regain control of her game this week. She got back on the same page with Ron, made a new ally in Lauren, and her ideal target (Wardog) went home. I always say that it’s a great sign when someone’s plan is the one the tribe ultimately goes with because it showcases their sway over the game. In this case, Wardog’s elimination was best for Julie’s game. Julie is not a big threat this season, so she needs to start getting rid of big threats. Wardog is a big threat. Ipso facto, Wardog is her best choice for elimination.
GUS: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
Aurora keeps getting votes no matter what she does. That rarely bodes well for someone’s ability to win the game; if anything, it seems like she’s everybody’s secondary target and hasn’t had a chance to develop herself beyond that. Ron also mentioned this week that spending 39 days alongside Aurora isn’t worth a mere one million dollars, so I have to imagine she’s not the most well-liked around camp. I worry that she’ll have difficulty defending her game in FTC – if she can make it there.
ALI: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
“I’m used to being around drama queens because I am one.”
Aurora has been the target for several votes now. Usually, when someone has a target on their back over and over, eventually someone will take the shot (e.g. Christian from DvG). She’s been a threat in the challenges enough that no one is going to let her get closer to the end. In addition, her reveal to Ron that she has an advantage is going to come back to bite her eventually, especially now that nemesis Julie is in the know. On top of that, Aurora can’t seem to get along with anyone. Everything we’ve seen about her since Joe’s boot has been negative second-person narration, largely having to do with her social game. Even if Aurora manages to make it to the end, I think her chances of winning are slim.
GUS: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT
Victoria didn’t do a whole ton this week, but she’s still not considered a threat which means she’s in a great spot for this game. I don’t have a ton else to say for her, unfortunately. She’s doing fine, nobody has targeted her, and I think she could hold her own in a Final Tribal Council.
ALI: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – HOT
“One of the threats won immunity, so maybe you vote the other threat out. It can be as simple as that.”
Same with Julie, Victoria is not a huge threat at the moment. It’s in her best interests to get rid of a big threat in this game, and Wardog was the right target for her. I think that Victoria has a shot of winning if she makes it to the end, and I think she has a good shot of making it there at this point. My only concern for her is that we haven’t seen her building enough relationships. Hopefully, that won’t shoot her in the foot later on.
GUS: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT
I hate to give Gavin a not, but he just hasn’t really done anything. He’s at no more risk than Victoria of being voted out (in my opinion) but nor has he accomplished much beyond being on the right side of the vote pretty regularly. Gavin just doesn’t have much of a game at this point.
ALI: GAVIN WHITSON – NOT
“I’d rather make big moves with y’all than be talked to like a dog.”
Again, like with Julie and Victoria, this was the right move for Gavin.
Something that baffles me about Gavin is that he acknowledges that getting rid of Devens would be most beneficial because he’s clearly the jury favorite, but then he says that he’d rather get rid of Wardog. There will be many opportunities to get rid of Wardog down the line. It’s not like Wardog is going to win challenges any time soon. I’m concerned that much of Gavin’s choices are emotionally based, and he even acknowledged that much of his reasonings for targeting Wardog were based on emotion. Granted, Julie was gung ho about getting rid of Wardog over Rick as well. But it seemed like Julie wanted to get rid of Wardog because she was genuinely threatened by him, whereas I felt Gavin wanted to eliminate Wardog because of the betrayal. I hope it doesn’t come back to bite him. In addition, Gavin’s reaction to Wardog’s betrayal was to instigate a fight whereas Julie’s response was to try and reconnect with Ron. Gavin is lucky that his fight with Wardog didn’t make him a target. I’m mindful of how Gavin’s emotional decision making may play into the season going forward. Lastly, at this point in the game, I’m not sure if Gavin has done enough to win. I’m hoping that he puts the pedal to the metal soon and change my mind!
GUS: REEM DALY – KINDLED
I don’t really expect Reem to make it back into the game, and this Kindled is just my way of expressing my support for everything she’s providing us from an entertainment perspective.
ALI: REEM DALY – ASHEN
“Everybody knows there’s a healing process once you’re here, but it takes time.”
I just don’t see her getting back in the game at this point. Even if she does, it seems like this “superfan” has done a good job alienating everyone on the jury. However, I hope she stays around as long as possible.
GUS: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
Chris could make it back. He won’t, but he could.
ALI: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
He isn’t going anywhere, and he has a good chance of winning the challenge. Based on his edit, I don’t think he’ll make it back in, but you never know!
GUS: AUBRY BRACCO – KINDLED
She gives good hugs, doesn’t she? (I don’t know, but the “Aubs” she gave Wentworth this episode sure looked pleasant)
ALI: AUBRY BRACCO – KINDLED
“You just gotta laugh at it all, cause it’s a game, right?”
She has an advantage in the challenge, and I think there’s a decent chance she may make her way back in.
GUS: JOE ANGLIM – KINDLED
He and Wentworth got to hang out. That seemed nice.
ALI: JOE ANGLIM – KINDLED
Based on how Joe has been portrayed this season, I’m not sure he’s going to make it back in, but he’s the odds on favorite to win.
GUS: ERIC HAFEMANN – KINDLED
Same as Chris.
ALI: ERIC HAFEMAN – KINDLED
Like Chris and Joe, he’s got a good chance of winning the challenge.
GUS: JULIA CARTER – KINDLED
She’s not returning, but she’ll give it her all.
ALI: JULIA CARTER – KINDLED
“It’s gonna be a rough night on the Edge.”
She’s no slouch in challenges. I don’t think she’s going to make it back in, but stranger things have happened.
GUS: DAVID WRIGHT – KINDLED
He could make it; didn’t really see anything from him this week, though.
ALI: DAVID WRIGHT – KINDLED
His challenge performance isn’t stellar, but he won a few in MvGX, and he was doing well this season. He’s certainly not going anywhere.
GUS: KELLEY WENTWORTH – KINDLED
She’s pretty strong-willed. This week almost seemed like her epilogue from a storytelling perspective, but I’ve got faith.
ALI: KELLEY WENTWORTH – KINDLED
“I will beat myself up over this for a long time.”
Aw, Kelley, don’t beat yourself up. With her threat level, it’s honestly a miracle she made it as far as she did. She’s got a shot of making it back in the game!
GUS: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – ASHEN
I love the Wardog, but a challenge god he is not.
ALI: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – ASHEN
“If people are playing smart, they’ll vote Wardog, but I’m banking on stupidity tonight.”
Wardog would have done so well on Ghost Island. Unfortunately for him, this cast is smarter than that. Like the returnees, Wardog drastically underestimated his competitors, and they sent him packing. And, based on his challenge abilities, I rate his chances of getting back in the game at an all-time low. I do think that there’s a world in which Wardog decides to sabotage and torment everyone so much that they all just rage quit, but then he’s certainly not winning so…
GUS: Do we really only disagree on Reem?
ALI: We’re so in sync, we can finish each others’ –
ALI: That’s true. I don’t like to fold. You don’t like to put things away. Symbiosis.
GUS: These are the real couple goals.
ALI: Alright, so here’s my thing with Reem. I don’t think she’s going to win the challenge, and even if she does, she’s alienated pretty much everyone on the Edge. I don’t see them voting for her to win. I’ve started looking at these rankings as a “who has the best shot of coming back in” and for me, she’s pretty much at the bottom of the list. Everyone knows I love her, but I just can’t see a path to the million for Reem.
GUS: I’m just gonna be totally up front here and say that you’re completely right and that Reem isn’t coming back and that even if she did, she’s not winning. I absolutely agree with you on all counts. But LOOK AT HER. Look at her fiery spirit. She’s more on fire than [Game of Thrones spoiler removed]! She’s burning brighter than [Avengers: Endgame spoiler removed]! I’ve got to give her a Kindled just for that alone. This isn’t based in logic at ALL. It’s just… she’s my hero.
ALI: I understand. And I hope she will sign the adoption papers that I sent her because I really want her to be my third mom. I also would like to formally pitch a captains season of Reem, Nat Cole, and Lauren Rimmer called Survivor: No F**** to Give.
GUS: If they ever do Survivor: First One Out (hi Josh Wigler), she’s winning. Hands down no questions asked*.
ALI: Okay, we agree. Reem isn’t winning. Apparently, you can’t pull the trigger on Mom Goddess and give her an Ashen. I understand that. Alright, who’s going to the Edge?
GUS: I hope it’s Rick, but I think it’ll be Ron, but can I real quick tell you what my Nightmare Scenario for this season is?
ALI: Of course!
GUS: Here’s my worst case scenario conclusion for this season…
1. Lauren goes out at 7
2. Rick goes out at 6
3. Rick gets back in the game at 5
4. Rick gets an idol from production like he did earlier in the game and idols his way to 4
5. Rick wins fire=making
6. Rick wins the game
I think that would be the least satisfying conclusion to the entire season (the most satisfying conclusion, of course, is Reem coming back in at 5 and winning in a 13-0-0 vote*).
ALI: I reject the idea of a production idol on principle, but I understand your fears. That could very well happen.
GUS: Who do you think is going to be voted out?
ALI: I think Ron, but just to dare to be different I’ll go with Rick.
GUS: Who’s safe?
ALI: I think Lauren. At this point, the Lesu folks are a pretty minor threat. It looks like the Kama majority has blown up. She has an immunity idol in case things get funky. You?
GUS: I’ll go with Julie. I really don’t see anyone wanting her out.
ALI: And our winner picks? I actually am really starting to think a woman is winning this season. I can’t see how Rick or Ron make it to the end with their enormous targets at this point. Unless the winner comes from the Edge, which is what I know you fear… But I can’t predict that. So, I think it’s going to be Lauren. She’s really started to break out since Kelley is gone.
GUS: I don’t fear ANY winner from the Edge. I fear Rick winning off the Edge. Rick would have been voted out multiple times in one season, and he got voted out before anyone knew we even had the Edge. I could see a player voted out post-merge making the argument that they played big intentionally knowing that they had recourse for winning their way back into the game. If Wardog came back into the game and said “I was playing it safe until I learned about the Edge, then I decided to really push the game my way and take big risks, and I figured if I had to scramble my way back in then I would do it”, I would respect that. What I’m worried about is Rick being voted out multiple times, playing a mostly bad game even outside of that, and then just being handed the win because he knows most of the jury. That being said, I was also going to say Lauren, but I’m going with Ron because you said Lauren. He reminds me a lot of Mike White, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ron at F3. I also wouldn’t be too surprised if Ron got eliminated this coming week.
ALI: Well, there are only two episodes left after this week. Only time will tell if Rick will fulfill all of Gus’s nightmares. But, as my mom always said, “nightmares never come true.” So we’ll see if my mom is a big liar. There’s a lot hanging in the balance this week.
*I don’t actually think this