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.
Go ahead, hit us with your best shot. We’re probably wrong anyway, but that’s why it’s fun!
GUS: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – NOT
Oh alright fine. Wardog is overplaying somewhat. I mean, yeah, he swung a vote around from Kelley to Chris… but what was the point in doing that? All he did was cost himself a loyal ally. It seems as though the vote was changed less because Wardog is particularly savvy as a player, and more because David and Rick were concerned about pissing Wardog off in the long run – demonstrating that what I had perceived as steadiness and consistency may actually be coming across to his fellow tribemates more like stubbornness and obstinacy. With a swap coming up, Wardog will most likely find himself in the minority both in terms of former Manu tribemates and likely matched against a Manu who would have rather the vote went the other way this past week. His game is probably going to hinge on whether or not he can build trust with Kama.
ALI: DAN “WARDOG” DASILVA – NOT
“The problem is, I trust Wentworth way more than I trust Chris. So I think, ‘maybe it’s not Wendy or Wentworth, maybe it’s Chris.’”
Every episode thus far, we have seen the Wardog attempt to flip the vote to a target he prefers. Now, two out of those three times has been successful, but to what end? First episode, he intervened in a unanimous vote for absolutely no strategic advantage. Why switch the target to Wendy? Wardog isn’t going to work with Reem, so he should just let her go and keep his head down. Second episode, Wardog dug in his heels about Keith to the point where everyone commented about it. Wardog wanted to get Wendy out three days before, so why not just let her go? Why does he have to control everything? Third episode, Wardog wanted Wendy out once again, but when an ally came to him with the idea of eliminating Wentworth, instead of convincing that ally to put the target back on Wendy, he completely flips the script and puts the target on that ally. Again, I ask, why? If Chris is so loyal to Wardog that he’s willing to give Wardog information at the risk of his own game, why would Wardog want him gone? Chris didn’t go to Wardog and demand to eliminate Wentworth; he simply told him about an alternate plan and asked Wardog’s opinion. If this is how Wardog rewards loyalty in the game, he’s not going to have many friends going forward.
GUS: RICK DEVENS – HOT
Rick played it safe this week and going into a swap that’s what you want to do. When faced with the choice of making a big move and voting out Wentworth (and irritating Lauren and Wardog) or taking it easy and taking out Chris (and only annoying Wendy ), Rick chose the path that would make him the fewest enemies. As far as Kelley, Wardog and Lauren know, he’s never had it in for Kelley, meaning that in the event he finds himself swapped onto a tribe with one of those three, it’s possible they’ll be able to operate as a unit rather than immediately ditching one another in the hope of mercy from Kama.
ALI: RICK DEVENS – HOT
“I’ve been pushed in a corner now where I have to betray… somebody. I’m a villain now. I’ve turned into a villain.”
The cutest villain of all time. Rick has all of the benefits of David’s game, without any of the drawbacks that might make Dave a target in the future. My one concern is that Rick might take the fall for David as his lieutenant, but for now, I’m hopeful for Rick’s chances.
GUS: WENDY DIAZ – NOT
DON’T RELEASE THE CHICKENS. WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU. THIS ISN’T QUIRKY OR FUN, IT’S SABOTAGE AND PANDERING TO THE AUDIENCE. Wendy seems to know that she’s on the bottom, so she’s taking the J’Tia route of just burning her camp down around her and laughing. In my opinion, the worst thing that can happen to a season of Survivor is when a player decides they have no chance to win and they just start messing around. I could go on about Wendy, but I won’t. She’s playing terribly and causing problems for everyone, and I have no patience for it.
ALI: WENDY DIAZ – NOT
“I always said, ‘if my tribe won the chickens, I’d release the chickens.’”
Oh man, Wendy… Like the chickens next week, it looks like Wendy’s senses have flown the coop. There is no logic to the decisions that she makes, and I have to admit, it’s pretty fun to watch. While she’s burning up my screen, her gameplay is anything but Hot. I’m hoping this swap will keep her around a little longer, but that ankle isn’t doing the girl any favors. I think the major takeaway from this week is this; don’t leave the person on the bottom alone around any supplies.
GUS: LAUREN O’CONNELL – HOT
Lauren still has an Idol. She’s also a big Joe fan, and she could find herself on a tribe with Joe. I’ve got a lot of faith in her.
ALI: LAUREN O’CONNELL – HOT
“That would be psychotic.”
Lauren is going into a swap with allies and an idol. If anyone is looking to take out one of the Manu tribe, they aren’t going to suspect that Lauren is the one with the idol, and she has plenty of shields in front of her that they will target instead. She’s the Manu member to watch.
GUS: KELLEY WENTWORTH – NOT
It’s most likely that Kelley will find herself next week on a tribe with three Kamas and a Manu who was trying to get her out this week. She’s got no chance of finding an Idol with the exception of ending up on the third tribe’s beach. Unless she manages to swap to the tribe with both Aubry and Joe, I’m very concerned for her Survivor game.
ALI: KELLEY WENTWORTH – NOT
“Kill or be killed.”
Before we dive into Wentworth’s gameplay this week, I just wanted to say how hilarious it was when the flint went missing at camp and Wentworth immediately had flashbacks to her time on San Juan del Sur when the flint went missing at Hunahpu. It’s just her staring into space, saying, “Don’t do this to me, guys. Don’t do this to me.” Go back and watch it with that in mind. It’s gold.
Wentworth has had a target on her back every episode so far. On the other hand, she’s managed to build relationships with Lauren and Wardog that are strong enough that they are willing to vote with her and share information with her (except for Lauren’s idol, but I think that this spells more positives for Lauren’s strategy than it does negatives for Wentworth’s gameplay). Unfortunately for Wentworth, I think her reputation has put a target on her back that is only going to get bigger with time.
GUS: DAVID WRIGHT – HOT
David is playing arguably the best game of the season so far. Everything that I said about Rick also applies to David, but WAY MORE so. Dave is the sole returnee to have a strong base of newbie players on his side (Wentworth has Lauren, sort of) and he’s managed to fly under the radar from a gameplay and strategic threat perspective. I was concerned that David would be unable to play if he wasn’t playing from the back, but he’s managed to hide himself incredibly well in this group – along with finding just the right group of newbies to ally himself with. Dave’s in a very good spot for a swap.
ALI: DAVID WRIGHT – NOT
“It’s my Survivor Spidey sense, and it’s telling me right now, ‘target Wentworth.’”
David’s fixation on Wentworth is starting to feel a little obsessive. This week, it seemed like every word other out of his mouth was “Wentworth.” Granted, this could very much be the result of editing, but there was clearly enough material to splice together, and he’s been targeting her specifically for two votes now. Two weeks in a row, David’s clear target has not left the game, so it seems he does not have as much control as I initially thought.
I believe David’s thinking is, should he be able to eliminate a few of the returnees, he may be able to slip under the radar. While I think that could be true, I feel it’s too early to begin drawing lines in the sand and attempting to exert this much control over the game. Luckily, David was able to use Chris as a scapegoat, so Wentworth has no idea that he was targeting her. However, Wendy knows that David was planning on targeting Wentworth, and she’s shown herself to be an unpredictable player. It appears that David neglected to include Wendy in the vote this week, which may become major trouble if Wendy goes full J’Tia: Agent of Chaos next week. Wendy may decide she’s had enough of loyalty to David and throw him under the bus. And why shouldn’t she? Wendy has proven that she will be loyal to David, only to be left out of two votes in a row. Loyalty is a two-way street.
GUS: JOE ANGLIM – NOT
Joe is wise to his being in danger from his Kama allies, but there’s very little he can do about it. If he tries to flip to Manu at the swap, I worry that he’ll just get targeted after the fact. I’m not sure what Joe’s going to be able to do in the next few weeks apart from just win at challenges.
ALI: JOE ANGLIM – NOT
“We are kind of on the bottom of the barrel.”
The swap could not have come at a better time for Joe. That being said, it’s always tough to predict what could happen at a swap. Odds are, Joe will end up on a tribe that has a significant contingent that wants to get out returnees. Joe has an opportunity to build new relationships with other people, but he hasn’t been successful thus far. Because of the returnees, this season has moved at a much faster pace than it would normally. In a typical season, Wendy would have left last episode, but the newbies have to think a few steps ahead. While normally, Joe would be a shoe in for the merge (but not survive much longer), it’s quite possible that the players will be looking to eliminate a threat before he can fight for individual immunity.
GUS: AUBRY BRACCO – HOT
That idol scene was the most pure and lovely thing ever. I’m thrilled for Aubry having found an Idol, and I think this swap gives her a good opportunity to use it – potentially. It’s very likely that her Kama tribemates will attempt to take her out, pulling a quasi-Alec Merlino and throwing a tribe majority for the sake of getting out a player they see as a threat. Ali might call this fanfiction, but I think it’s completely possible and that Aubry might find herself idoling out, say, Julia or Ron.
ALI: AUBRY BRACCO – HOT
“I’ve done nearly everything in Survivor except win and get an immunity idol.”
Like I said, “never underestimate Aubry Bracco.” When Aubry is in a tough spot, she is going to find a way to keep her game going. That kind of resilience gives Aubry the ability to outlast time, after time, after time (take note, Rupert). The moment Aubry started crying finding that idol, I started crying too! But more than just my affection for Aubry, going into a swap, she’s in a much better position than fellow returnee, Joe. No matter how the chips fall, Aubry has something in her pocket to protect her going forward. I’m also encouraged by the confessional wherein she described her Survivor bucket list containing only two things: finding an immunity idol and winning. Aubry has managed to cross a big-ticket item off her list, and that confessional reminded me a lot of a confessional of Adam’s during MvGX in which he said, “the only thing left to do is win.” Regardless, that confessional certainly wasn’t a bad sign, and I am looking forward to seeing how things go for Aubry down the line.
GUS: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – NOT
That scene with Victoria getting surprised by Joe was hilarious. As soon as the cameraman began to move, I knew something silly was going to happen, and I was not disappointed. It’s shocking to me that Victoria could make such a blunder – she’s on a deserted beach, you’d think it would be a little easier to notice somebody sneaking up behind you – not to mention that this blunder has left her in a position where she could easily be a top target for either Aubry or Joe. The upcoming swap is probably going to break in her favor, but if she’s on a tribe with one of the returnees, I find myself worrying for this New York waitress.
ALI: VICTORIA BAAMONDE – NOT
“This is our first chance and we should get to play before they do.”
One time, in fifth grade, I was talking to a friend about a problem I was having with another friend, and when I looked behind me, that girl was right there listening to everything I said. I’ll never forget that moment, and it was certainly a terrible look. It happens to everyone at some point or another, but you never want it to happen on Survivor. Seeing this episode convinced me that David Bloomberg needs to add “be aware of your surroundings” to his list of Survivor rules. Victoria was so eager to talk strategy with Ron, that neither of them took it upon themselves to turn their heads 360 degrees. Heck, Ron only really needed to look straight ahead, so I blame him more than Victoria. But wow, that moment was not good.
The good news is that Victoria is doing all the right things. She has an alliance of six, which is invaluable in this game. But now, Aubry and Joe have confirmation that the newbies are coming after them right when they are going into a swap. And Joe specifically mentioned Victoria and Ron as being particularly difficult for him to read, giving him little incentive to want to work with them going forward. When the tribe should have a united front, they’re fractured, and it’s going to be very easy for sophisticated players like David Wright and Kelley Wentworth to find those gaps.
GUS: RON CLARK – NOT
See above commentary on Victoria for my thoughts on Ron. His open plotting against Joe and Aubry RIGHT IN FRONT OF JOE (and from a spot where he could MUCH more easily notice Joe) means he just might find himself as a target before long. His menu of advantages is also worthless at this point, and unless he can use it as a makeshift fake Idol, I don’t know that he’s going to be in a great position for much longer.
ALI: RON CLARK – NOT
“It’s a matter of deciding which one of the three you want to vote out.”
I can’t reiterate enough how hilarious it was that Ron literally needed to look directly to his right to see Joe squatting there. How was Joe able to sneak up on them that easily? Is Joe a ninja? Does his mustache give him special sneak powers? And I can’t help but think about the fact that Ron is a teacher! I teach after-school drama to kids, and even from those experiences, I know that you have to be aware of your surroundings at all times. This should be second nature to Ron! What happened?! Ron’s alliance is out in the open, and his advantage has expired. His gameplay gets an F from me this week. Ron, see me after class.
GUS: ERIC HAFEMANN – HOT
Eric’s doin’ good. He’s in the big alliance. Kama is very big. Hooray. Yay. Not much else to say at this point.
ALI:: ERIC HAFEMANN – HOT
It was a quiet episode for Eric this week. Unfortunately, his alliance got exposed, which spells trouble for Eric’s gameplay. However, can I really penalize him for others’ mistakes? The fact that he’s in an alliance at all is an indication that he’s playing well. Ultimately, the heat was more on Ron and Victoria. Going forward, Eric’s challenge prowess may be what saves him, and I think the chances he is eliminated next week are low.
GUS: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
Aurora doesn’t even know the rest of her tribe was thinking of voting against her this past week. One of the downsides of having your tribe win every single immunity before the swap is that you never learn who’s really against you – and Aurora might have no idea that she’s completely alone among the newbies. Joe and Aubry may want to work with her, but that’s it. Once the swap happens, it’s likely that she’ll have the numbers over Manu – but she doesn’t have much else going for her apart from that.
ALI: AURORA MCCREARY – NOT
Last week, I noted that all the newbies except for Aurora were expressing interest in eliminating the returnees. I began to worry that, should Aurora not be on the same page as the rest of the newbies, it might signal some trouble brewing for her game. This theory was confirmed this week. Unfortunately, Aurora has found herself on the outs. Similarly to Aubry and Joe, this swap could not have come at a better time, but I cannot say that she is playing well if she needs a swap to save her game.
GUS: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT
Julie too is in the large alliance. Kama is still very big. Julie’s doing pretty well. But really, just about the only thing that she’s got against her is that she might get targeted as a slight liability in challenges; but that’s dependent on a lot of factors.
ALI: JULIE ROSENBERG – HOT
Julie wrestling with Jeff over the idol was adorable, but also probably a little obnoxious to the other tribe. We will see if this hurts her going forward. Gameplay wise, Julie is working within the majority alliance going into a swap with the larger tribe. I think Julie is secure for now. She’s been a fairly vocal presence in the premiere, and I can’t help but think that her confessional about women finding idols suggests (like with Angelina) that Julie’s story may not be over. Despite Julie’s status as an “older woman,” she managed to avoid being targeted early on, and I’m hoping she will be able to endear herself to her swap tribe as well.
GUS: GAVIN WHITSON – HOT
He’s doing well. I don’t have a lot else to say. The Big alliance. Kama. Great.
ALI: GAVIN WHITSON – HOT
I’m not totally sure how to rank Gavin this week. We haven’t seen much of him in the past few episodes, but we know that he’s in the majority alliance and he’s looking for idols. I think Gavin is doing a nice job laying low early on in the season, while still clearly playing. I’m hoping that Ron and Victoria didn’t blow up his spot. If they did, then I think all the signs point to the two of them being targeted over Gavin.
GUS: JULIA CARTER – NOT
ALI: JULIA CARTER – NOT
For this season, any player who chooses to live on the Edge of Extinction will appear here as one of “The Extinguished.” Each week they remain in the game, they will be given a label of either “Kindled,” meaning we think they’re in it for the long haul, or “Ashen,” meaning we think they’re not.
GUS: REEM DALY – KINDLED
Reem’s hanging in there. She has Keith giving her strength; if Keith leaves she’s got Chris to help her out. I think she’s in it for a while.
ALI: REEM DALY – ASHEN
“I was ready to raise that mast… But now, I feel like I have to stay to make sure okay.”
If Reem is only staying on Extinction Island to look after Keith, and I’m not thinking that Keith is going to be in the game long, I can only surmise Reem will follow close behind.
GUS: KEITH SOWELL – ASHEN
Keith’s excited about having rice. Let’s see if that lasts.
ALI: KEITH SOWELL – ASHEN
“Oh my god.”
Sweet Keith, I just don’t think you have it in you to survive on Extinction Island for the remainder of the game.
GUS: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
Chris is pissed. He’s not leaving.
ALI: CHRIS UNDERWOOD – KINDLED
“Screw those guys. I’m getting back in the boat.”
Chris learned a tough lesson about trust this week. He overestimated his relationship with Wardog, and he got burned (or should I say snuffed) for it. I think having his torch extinguished lit a fire under his butt. And, unlike the other two, I think Chris has the physical ability to thrive on Extinction Island.
TRASH TALK ZONE
ALI: Okay, let’s fight. First, I was right about Aurora, and I was right about Chris, AND I was right about Wardog… I want to point out that I almost accidentally called him Wardong, and I needed everyone to know.
GUS: Yes. That is all true. But you were wrong about Lyrsa.
GUS: Dave’s doing FINE.
ALI: Here’s my reasoning, David has betrayed Wendy, who we already know is not the most stable person in the world. He has gone to her twice with the idea to target Kelley. I’m worried that Wendy is going to go to Wardog and let him know that David is the one who came up with the idea to target Kelley.
GUS: Wendy is not enough of a wildcard to take out David unless he rolls a 1 and ends up on a tribe with her. There’s a 20% chance of that happening, and I feel like she’s STILL a better target in that case. And, why would Wardog believe Wendy? He can’t stand Wendy.
ALI: Except David can actually win. Who is Wendy going to win against?
GUS: It’s pre-merge. Wendy will be notorious for letting the chickens go. People will be (I hope) wary of her wackiness.
ALI: Unless she becomes a Phillip. Wendy is a very tempting goat. David is an actual threat. If there’s any week David is in trouble, it’s this one.
GUS: You’re still banking on David ending up on a tribe with JUST Wendy. None of the other players want him out. Sure, they’d push for him over themselves, but I don’t think David is anybody’s top target. Besides, Kama still hasn’t gone to a tribal council; they might fracture Goliath-style in the new tribes.
ALI: Not just Wendy. Wardog, Kelley, or Lauren if they find out prior to the swap, it may turn them against him and then where does that leave David? If Wendy tells them before the swap, David is in trouble. Regardless, Wendy having dirt on David is certainly not good for David’s game. Wardog has made it clear that people coming for Kelley get a one-way ticket to Extinction.
GUS: But Wendy doesn’t have any sort of social traction in the tribe. Her only ally just got voted out and she’s (per what we saw in the preview) about to release Manu’s chickens. Why would they believe her? They’ll want to murder her, not strategize alongside her.
ALI: I also feel that because David is more of a similar type to Aubry, if he swaps onto a majority Kama tribe, he might be in a bind and his good work will be undone.
GUS: Yeah, David might be swap-boned. That is a possibility, but I think it’s at best a 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 possibility. I don’t think he’s out this week.
ALI: I don’t think he’ll be out this week, but I think the swap isn’t great for his game.
GUS: Yeah, it’s not – it’s really not. My Hot was more of a reflection of his gameplay last week than it was a forecast for his chances this week. He really put himself into the best spot possible.
ALI: Fair. I think this is a matter of differing criteria. I worry for David going into this week, and David’s narrative has been revolving around Kelley for a few episodes. I’m worried they’re headed into battle soon and I’m scared for David’s chances should that come to a head.
GUS: All entirely legitimate things to worry about. You want to dedicate a couple of words to Reem?
ALI: Sure! The reason why I thought Reem might be in trouble is because she was saying that she would leave if no one came to Extinction. I worry about her staying power in light of that confessional. I think that Keith may quit at some point, and I don’t think she’ll be far behind. I don’t think Chris would make her stay in the same way. She literally said that worry for Keith is making her stay in the game.
GUS: I feel like Reem just needs some company. I think she’ll stay for at least this coming episode.
ALI: We will see. I think if Keith quits, it may set off some dominos and she could get caught up in that. It’s a short fight for us this week!
GUS: Not much going on to fight about! Kama’s really not had any episode time, so we don’t even know anything about several of them. Julia’s not even had one confessional!
ALI: Here’s hoping the swap shakes things up a little! I think Kama and Manu are both ready to fracture, so hopefully the games begin.
GUS: Should we do predictions? I feel like we aren’t really knowledgeable enough.
ALI: Okay, I guess we will do two just randomly? I think Wendy and Kelley going home. Staying… I’m going to say… Julie and Rick.
GUS: Could be eliminated are… Wendy and Aurora. Our safes are… Lauren and Aubry.
ALI: Nice idea, picking the gals with the idols. Tune in next week to see how wrong we are!