Survivor: Edge of Extinction

Episode 7 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not after Week 6?

Photo: CBS

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.



Keith Gif 1

Keith chose to leave Extinction Island this week in a rather confusing segment. Just last week, it looked like Keith might be willing to fight for his game (hence why Ali gave him a kindled), only for him to raise the white flag the instant he returned to the island. We would have liked to see why Keith decided to leave, but this was unfortunately left on the cutting room floor. Ultimately, in the game of Survivor, it’s sink or swim, and true to form, Keith sank.

Throughout the season, Keith received:

0 HOTS from ALI
0 HOTS from GUS
2 NOTS from ALI
2 NOTS from GUS

Leading to a total of 0 HOTS and 4 NOTS

4 ASHEN from ALI
5 ASHEN from GUS

Leading to a total of 1 KINDLED and 9 ASHEN

-Ali labeled Keith Kindled the week he was eliminated from the game. Laugh at her in the comments.
-Keith’s elimination week is the only time Gus and Ali ever disagreed about his ranking.


Wendy Gif 1

This week, our Chicken Queen Wendy flew the coop. Gus and Ali were pretty down on her gameplay this season, but they have to admit that she provided sparkling entertainment this pre-merge. Wendy ruffled feathers and clucking smashed that final challenge despite her Tourette’s, and for that, she’ll be missed.

Throughout the season, Wendy received:

0 HOTS from ALI
0 HOTS from GUS
5 NOTS from ALI
5 NOTS from GUS

Leading to a total of 0 HOTS and 10 NOTS

1 ASHEN from ALI
0 ASHEN from GUS

Leading to a total of 1 KINDLED and 1 ASHEN

-Gus labeled Wendy Kindled the week she was eliminated from the game. Laugh at him in the comments.
-Wendy’s elimination week is the only time Gus and Ali ever disagreed about her ranking.

Keith Gif 2




Uh, Kelley, WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! I wonder if Wentworth is so used to playing from the bottom that that’s her default playstyle – that rather than finding a way to overwhelm a majority, her gameplay default is to find a way to throw other players out in front of her. When you’re a helpless group of 3 against the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of a group of 9, that’s the right play. When you’re in a fractured 7 on a merged tribe where there exists only a solid group of 6, that’s NOT THE RIGHT PLAY.
Taking things down to a slightly calmer, less scream-y zone for a second: I’m sure there was something we didn’t see in this episode to explain (not justify) Wentworth’s choice to go after Devens this week. Her confessional wherein she proclaims “OH, HELL NO” to Devens’ return has been shown to have been the victim of extreme editing in a secret scene (she doesn’t even mention Devens’ return in that particular confessional), so it seems that Wentworth’s choice of Rick was really just a frantic “anyone but me” attitude.

Maybe she was sold on the Kama tribe being more fractured than it seemed, or banking on taking some more time to find those cracks before committing to one or the other group – in which scenario, Rick would be a decent (not great) compromise vote in the meantime. But I can’t get past the foolishness of Wentworth’s attempted voting out of Rick – a person who most likely bears zero ill will towards Wentworth – at a time when Wentworth is in desperate need of allies. What happened to the Lesu Four who were willing to draw rocks for one another just a few days back? From whence came this sudden need to get David out? Didn’t the Aubry vote set off some alarm bells in Wentworth’s head?

I’ve turned this into an Ali-level essay at this point, so I’ll get to the point: Wentworth played stupid this week, and I cannot come up with a satisfactory answer as to why unless it was simply that she was so frightened that she switched back to her Cambodian playstyle of “AAAAAAAAH SNEAK”. This is not a scenario in which this playstyle is helpful; all she’s done is obliterate what tenuous trust had remained between the Lesu Four. Hopefully Wentworth can patch things up between herself and David by next week, or she might be doomed to this scrappy, panicked playstyle for the remainder of what time she has in the game.


“Devens was the only person where I thought, ‘Oh. Hell. NO.”

Controversial splicing aside, it seems that Kelley somehow concluded that she had to target Rick. It’s unclear who targeted whom right off the bat, but we have to go with the narrative. When David heard the plan to eliminate Rick, he verbatim said, “that is just bad gameplay on their parts.” I 100% agree with David’s assessment. The Original Manu had the chance to get into a comfortable position going forward and instead chose for some unknown reason to target Rick. Even if Rick were targeting Kelley first, that’s pretty understandable because she voted him out mere episodes ago. It was her job in that moment to put herself back in Rick’s good graces, and the send-off they gave him should have helped that. Instead, she went for Rick in a very confusing move and trusted people she had never played with before. Whatever her reasoning, this week was terrible for Kelley’s game, and further drove rifts in the minority group when they cannot afford to be fractured. Kelley’s name has been on the table nearly every vote thus far, and at this rate, she will continue to be a target until she’s eliminated. Her only saving grace is that idol. Maybe next week she can pull a Hail Mary and get David and Devens back on her side, only time will tell.



David is far less at fault for his Not than Wentworth is for hers – or for his. I don’t see that he had many options once he was told that Wentworth was targeting him. Unless he were to go to Wentworth and spill the beans, in which case he would be jeopardizing both his relationship with Wentworth and any fledgling relationship that he’d hoped to build with Kama. Wentworth is not the type to let up the pressure after she sinks her teeth into a plan, and David’s not the type to go down easy. What boggles my mind is how David wasn’t able to approach Wentworth earlier and solidify their alliance – ideally at the merge feast. Why hobnob with the Kama majority before making a solid plan with your own alliance when you know that you have an 8-5 disadvantage? Sure, do your hobnobbing if you have a solid game plan – DON’T DO IT BEFORE THEN. I’m almost getting Tocantins flashbacks – who else remembers the Exile Alliance dissolving because of insufficient communication between Brendan and Taj? Could that have been what happened to Lesu, or am I just writing fanfiction?

On the bright side, David does have one half of an  immunity idol (as his nametag Chryon will probably start showing us next week), and should he and the rest of Lesu make up (hooooo man they sure better), he’ll be in a group of six with three idols between four of them (say that to someone watching 2008 Survivor and watch their head melt).  Add to that the randomness that EoE advantages might bring to the mix, and who knows the situation that David will find himself in before long? Whatever happened this week to break down Lesu, David would have been awfully hard pressed to reverse it. He’s getting a Not because of his lack of forethought, but to be honest, it’s mostly because of Wentworth’s incomprehensible strategy.


“Looks like we’re gonna have to earn this.”

David got his closest ally back in the game this week, and thanks to his loyalty brand, he has an idol to show for it. David plays the best when his back is against the wall, and it certainly isn’t a good sign that he and Rick were left out of the vote. Regardless, from what we saw, Rick was targeted by Kelley first, and we’ve admonished a lot of players for letting their ride or die leave the game. Loyalty pays off in a big way in this game, and David is starting to see that come to fruition. This week wasn’t great for David’s game, but he did the best with the circumstances dealt to him, and he managed not to get voted out.



It just didn’t feel right to have an episode without a Wardog confessional in it. I missed hearing his slightly strained-sounding voice explaining his cryptic playstyle. Maybe if we’d had some confessionals from him this week, we might have had a better idea of what the plan was. I suppose seeing him vote against David solidified for us that he’s remaining Wentworth Strong (for lack of a more appropriate term), which puts him in a curious position as he’s allied to two women with idols who apparently aren’t super into keeping him around, as Lauren’s comment in last week’s episode proved. I don’t know if this is good or not. What I do know is Wardog was suckered into a circular firing squad (as it has been called elsewhere) this week, and for that, he earns yet another Not from me, which is a shame because I think he’s a pretty good player all things considered.


“The tribal lines are still intact.”

We didn’t see a lot of Wardog this week, which I actually view as a necessary cool down from the WD. This is what I can say about him from this merge episode…

Pros: He managed to keep the target off himself. He’s the only member of Manu who has zero votes against him, despite being an incredibly visible presence on the tribe (and occasionally annoying everyone).

Cons: Went along with Lauren and Wentworth’s plan, alienating a potential ally he couldn’t afford to lose. This was the one week I think Wardog should have come forward and changed the plan, and this was the one week he didn’t.



Honestly, I feel like Lauren (Luaren) (Lorine) was just following orders from Wentworth this week, which is reason enough in and of itself to give her a Not. But bearing in mind that those orders turned out to be stupid orders and insofar as she never knew that she was up against a much stronger and fully unified enemy the whole time, Lauren displayed a thoughtlessness independent of Wentworth’s poor planning this week which definitively earns her her second ever Not from me. I have a lot of faith in Lauren’s ability to turn the game around in the coming weeks – I think that if anyone can pull herself out of this completely unnecessary hole that Lesu has thrown itself into, it’s Lauren – but for the time being… it’s a Not from me.


“Devens is a great scapegoat.”

Followed Kelley Wentworth’s plan to target Rick, and I think that was a pretty terrible plan. Luckily for her, she’s an athlete, and she’s got an idol in her pocket. Hopefully, this mistake won’t cost her.



First, hooray for Rick! He’s back from the Edge of Extinction! OH YEAH! Second, hooray for Rick! He owns one half of an immunity idol! OH YEAH! Third, watch out, Rick! You’re being senselessly targeted by the very people who should be attaching themselves to you with gorilla glue and singing your praises! OH NO! Rick did everything right this week, besides voting for Wentworth, but as I said in my write-up about David, I really don’t know what he might have done better. He’s well positioned for future gameplay as he’s not really attached to anyone (yet), but if he doesn’t either become part of a reminted Lesu plus Aurora, he’s bound to wind up as another casualty of the nigh-unstoppable Kama Six.


“I have to do what I have to do to get past this first vote.”

Rick got back into the game, got an advantage, reconnected with David, got Julie in his corner, and managed to avoid a massive target. The results of this week weren’t the perfect scenario that I had envisioned, wherein Rick reunited with the Original Manu and the underdogs went on to conquer the game. However, there’s a lot of game left, and Rick may not be dead in the water. It’s not a great sign that Rick was left out of the vote with David, but Rick has an advantage to protect him and a ride or die in David. People have done a lot more with a lot less. At the very least, I cannot give him a Not with all of those factors in place.



Leaving aside for the time being the debate about whether or not Kama was correct in their targeting Joe over Kelley (I would say no), Ron played exceptionally well this week – as did the entire Kama Six. Being able to remain unified as a group that large this early in the merge – particularly when they had yet to even attend a single tribal council together – demonstrates a level of cohesion that I honestly didn’t think the Kama six would have. It seems that Joe did too good of a job of keeping his tribe happy and fed; with no strife extant, no cracks were able to form outside of the obvious ones of “newbies against returners (plus Aurora).” Ron’s swinging the vote from Kelley back to Joe also demonstrated that his voice carries a deal of weight in his tribe and that he’s not just a number to fall into line.

To touch briefly on whether or not it was smart to cut Joe this early, I think it was unwise only because it shows the Lesu six (and Aurora) that they’re completely out of the loop, and could provide them with a communal experience around which to cohere in the coming weeks. Had Lesu voted out Kelley instead, an idol would be gone, Lauren would be alone, Joe would be off his guard, Rick, Wardog and David would feel secure in thinking that they were tight with Kama, and Aurora would continue to Aurora. Voting out Joe means that David, Wardog, Rick, Kelley, Lauren and Aurora are suddenly on the alert that there is, in fact, an alliance running circles around all six of them.


“If you’re playing Survivor, and you have a chance to take out Joe, every time is the right time.”

Since Ron Clark and I are both teachers (I teach drama and improv for after-school programs for kids) I want to use a few experiences from teaching to analyze his game. One of the things that I always remind kids when another child is performing is to “watch their faces,” meaning I only want to see supportive facial expressions when fellow peers are onstage. This week, I had to fight the urge to yell “watch your face” to Ron during tribal council. Now, there have been some post-game discussions where Ron has stated that his tribal council performance was a part of his strategy to throw Joe off the scent after Victoria’s “big threats” comment. But Ron wasn’t just preaching Kama strong at tribal; he started openly celebrating when Wendy was revealed as the eliminated contestant at the very beginning of the episode. Postgame analysis from players has to be taken with a grain of salt because they’re often more riddled with revisionist history than my parents’ divorce.

Do I believe that some of Ron’s behavior this week may have been influenced by his strategy? Absolutely. Is that the only thing going on here? No. I believe Ron was telling the truth when he said he wasn’t excited to merge with another tribe. Ron’s the one who came up with that Kama chant and dance just a few episodes ago, and I doubt any of the original Manu are going to forget that kind of showmanship in the face of their defeat. Ron may have exaggerated his loyalty to Kama this week, but it certainly isn’t far from the reality of the situation. If Ron had played things a little closer to the vest earlier on, perhaps there wouldn’t be such a need for showboating at that tribal council. Though, my reasons for giving Ron a Not do not solely rest with his tribal performance.

In my classes, we play a game called “Security Guard,” which I use to teach the kids how to work together as a team, or “ensemble” as we say in theater. In “Security Guard,” the class has to trick me by working together to sneak a stuffed bunny back to home base without me being able to guess who has it, and they win or lose as an ensemble. Invariably, there is one child who tries to muscle his vision for how the game should be played, and without fail, that child causes the whole team to completely malfunction until they relinquish their need to be the only voice in the room. That’s why this game works so well in teaching the basics of an ensemble; no one can be the star because everyone has an impact on the final result. But before that happens, typically a lot of my students will get pretty frustrated with the kid trying to push his agenda. Luckily, I’m there to ameliorate this situation and guide my student to the right track by encouraging them to listen to the other voices in the room.

Like many of the children in my classroom, Ron Clark muscled the vote so that it went his way, and just like with my students, I think that spells frustration down the line. Obviously, I’m not calling Ron Clark a child, but our tendencies as children never truly leave us. A lot of us want to be in charge, including myself, but that’s not going to work in an ensemble, and it’s not going to work in an alliance. Just like with “Security Guard,” Survivor exposes who you are at your core, and what your faults may be. A man as successful as Ron has to crave leadership; otherwise, there’s no way he would get where he is now. But in “Security Guard” and Survivor, you have to take the other voices in the room into account, and Ron failed to do so because he wanted to be the one to bring the bunny back to home base. Ron wanted to be the star. And, as I remind my students time and time again, “you can’t always be the star. Sometimes, you have to take a supporting role for the good of the ensemble.” Eventually, the Kama 6 may come to resent Ron Clark’s leadership and buck under that control. While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about Ron Clark’s plan…

Julie wanted to get out Wentworth. Ron wanted to vote for Joe. Both strategies have their merits, but what matters is which plan will benefit the group long term. Joe is a challenge beast, and the longer he stays in the game, the harder it may be to eliminate. However, as Victoria pointed out, “there are other kinds of threats than just in challenges.” Joe has never been a strategic mastermind, regardless of what Stephen Fischbach may say on RHAP. There has been very little evidence on our screens of Joe’s mental acumen. Ultimately, Joe is not going to be the strategic force that Wentworth can be and therefore is a threat that can be dispatched the next time he loses a challenge (at this point in the game, it’s statistically likely that Joe will lose at least one challenge).

Compare that with Wentworth, who has orchestrated some of the most high profile blindsides in Survivor history and is no slouch when it comes to challenges. We all know that Wentworth has found an idol in the game, which is information that Ron doesn’t know at this juncture. However, Ron need only look back at Wentworth’s gameplay to know who is more likely between Joe and Wentworth to possess an idol, which would certainly indicate the bigger threat in that regard. Wentworth also has a band of battle-tested allies by her side (albeit rather fractured at the moment, but she’s definitely got Lauren and Wardog in her corner)… Joe has Aurora — Aurora has… no one.

Ron wanted to vote for Joe because Joe didn’t give him anything when they talked game in the shelter… but does that necessarily mean that Joe has to go? I doubt Wentworth was sharing much of her gameplay with Ron. Now, Ron’s gotten rid of Joe so that Joe can go to Extinction Island and most likely win his way back into the game, and I’m pretty sure I know who would be one of the first on Joe’s list. In addition, Ron’s most likely targets next will be Wentworth, Lauren, or Wardog. Two of those people have idols in their pockets (not to mention David and Rick also having an active idol this upcoming week), and Ron has just made himself pretty visibly a leader of the Kama 6. He may have just put a glaring target on himself, and based on the NTOS, I think we might be in for a downfall episode, and Ron may come to regret letting Wentworth get a foothold in this game.



Julia is in the large alliance. She’s unlikely to go home soon, but that being said, I worry that she might be the surprise boot if Lesu is able to recohere (PLEASE) and pull off a successful Idol play. No good reason for thinking this other than “she’s not likely to be holding an Idol.”


“We are going into this merge with all the Kama people back together.”

Julia’s in the majority, and a person she targeted went home… But I’m just not seeing enough strategy from her to give her a Hot. She posted recently on Twitter that Ron basically strong-armed the vote at the last second, and she tried to stop him. We didn’t get to see any of that (like I’ve said, beware revisionist history), all we saw was her doing what Ron was instructing. All we’ve seen all game has been her doing what Ron was instructing. As I’ve said above, I’m not sure if voting out Joe was great for Kama, and I just don’t know enough of where Julia’s head is at to be able to say she’s playing a Hot game.



I LOVE JULIE, but she came off poorly this week with her strange idea that voting for Rick would be a sickening and cruel move, but that summarily executing Joe after he fed and sheltered and provided Kama with immunity for three weeks is completely fine and morally acceptable. I don’t follow that logic. She was wise to build a bridge to Rick and David, and she demonstrated terrific prowess in the immunity challenge, and I have to agree with Lauren in my assessment of Julie’s play this week: it’s Hot. Even though her target (Wentworth) didn’t go home (see above why I believe that Julie’s plan would have been a better one than the one that they ended up going with), Julie never lost her cool and stayed focused on what really mattered: that her Kama Six remained unified and voted together. If Julie can maintain that level of leadership and control within the Kama Six, she’s very well equipped to make it very deep.


“I’m not just going along with whatever people are telling me to do.”

First, and completely unrelated to Julie’s gameplay, I really need her to message me her secrets for having such a bangin’ body after having babies! For that alone, she deserves a Hot, but I digress. We saw an immunity win for the hot mom this week, in which she beat out many younger and strong competitors. Usually, I would be concerned about someone winning immunity so early in the merge, as it can make them appear threatening. Julie’s advantage, however, is that she will be underestimated as the older woman in the bunch, so I’m not too worried about her on this front.

The vote did not necessarily go Julie’s way, but as I’ve said above, I think that has more to do with Ron muscling the vote than it is an indication of Julie’s place in the tribe. Initially, Julie was able to rally everyone in her alliance to her side, and she started to build cross tribal bonds with Rick and, by extension, David. Julie’s foresight in recognizing that she can’t stay solely in the Kama camp spells good things for her gameplay down the line. Plus, I’m super impressed that Julie was able to take a step back and let Ron commandeer the plan without making too much of a fuss over it, even though she ultimately had the better idea. There are moments when it’s important to pick one’s battles wisely, and Julie showed this week that she’s able to see the bigger picture. It looks like this toymaker has carved herself a secure spot in the game.



Poor Aurora. No confessionals in five episodes, no real storyline outside of ‘I’m gay and even I’m team Joe.’ If she doesn’t find her way into a strong reforged Lesu alliance, she’s doomed to either be a number until she’s discarded or to be eliminated with no fanfare.



This is one of those weeks where I wish I could give almost everyone a Not. Gus and I implemented the half rule at the start of the season for weeks like this because, frankly, it’s not fun to play it safe and give everyone a Not. I think there were quite a few people who took big hits to their gameplay this week, and there was some clumsy gameplay on both sides of the board. Quite frankly, I think Julie might be the only one who deserved a Hot this week, with everyone else either firmly in the middle, or way in Not territory. So, my picks for Nots have had to be very deliberate this week. Aurora’s was pretty easy. Her face at the end of the episode said all we needed to know. Her closest (and quite possibly only) ally in the game got the boot, and she may not be far behind. It looks like this divorce lawyer needs to marry herself to an alliance soon, lest she end up facing Joe on Extinction.



It was a pretty quiet week this week for Victoria, but she was an important intermediary and communicator in the Wentworth vs. Joe option and she remained tight with her Kama Six. She gets a Hot for that reason.


“It’s hard to know what’s right.”

Victoria has seriously impressed me this season. While we’ve had plenty of chances to see her strategic prowess, she’s taken a step back at the merge and let Julie and Ron call the shots. We know she has the chops to be a major player going forward, but she’s savvy enough to know that sometimes it’s better to play the lieutenant early on. She had a small potential blip at the tribal council but managed to get the target out anyway. I’m hoping, going forward, she can avoid letting things slip, especially during tribal council.



Eric, Gavin and Victoria continue to meld together into one player for the purposes of my rankings this week.


“We’re just rehashing, making sure nothing’s changed.”

The only thing that really worries me about Eric is that he may be eliminated because he is a muscle man. Thus, if Wentworth or Lauren bust out the idol next week, he may be the one to take the hit. On the other hand, I think Ron revealing himself to be so pro-Kama may take some of the heat off Eric. I think he’s gotten in a nice alliance with the Kama 6 and has further solidified connections with Victoria and Gavin. We’ve seen a little bit more of his gameplay than Julia’s, so I feel comfortable saying that I think he played well this week. A big guy like him should stay quiet at the merge in order to avoid inadvertently bringing the target on himself.



See the above Eric entry.


“That’s what makes Survivor great is you never know what’s swimmin’ around the corner.”

Like Victoria and Eric, I think Gavin’s in a good spot. We’ve gotten to see a bit of his game, and I’m liking what I’m seeing. Gavin has strategic chops without making himself too visible, and Eric and Victoria are more likely targets ahead of him. I think his tight group of three might be able to help him avoid anything “swimmin’ around the corner.”




I adore Reem. She must stay. She’s too perpetually irate to quit.



Say what you want about Reem, but she’s not a quitter. I am a little concerned that she may be discouraged by Joe coming to Edge of Extinction, but after her emotional reveal of what Survivor means to her, I have a hard time believing that this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I essentially look at it as a Sunk Cost Fallacy; she’s already put so much of herself into this game. It seems unlikely that this one event will cause her to quit.



He theoretically could beat Joe to get back to the game.


“You can’t be perfect. You’re gonna screw up.”

I think if one person can beat Joe, it’s definitely Chris. He won’t quit just because Joe comes to Extinction.



Why I love Aubry: “LET’S ******* DO IT!”


“LET’S ******* DO IT!”

Aubry was so psyched to be back in the game; there’s no way she’s quitting now. Like Aubry said, she’s best when she’s the underdog.



With Joe having arrived at the Edge, my big question is whether he’ll curry favor with his new tribemates (do we call Edge of Extinction cohabitants by that term?) in providing food for them, or if he’ll hoard the food and shelter that he’s able to pull together for himself in hopes of driving the others out. I would bet the former.


“They made a biiiiiiiiig mistake.”

Edge of Extinction was made for Joe. He painted a freaking Phoenix on the flag. He’s not going anywhere.


GUS: I have a prepared statement that I would like to read out. Let me just read back to you something you wrote last week.

ALI: Be my guest. I stand by everything I said.

GUS: “I’m feeling the best about Joe that I’ve felt in all of his seasons.” THE BEST?

ALI: He was actually playing well! He was doing what he needed to ingratiate himself with the tribe and convince people they needed to keep him around.

GUS: Clearly not. As the COLOSSAL Kama blindside proves.

ALI: I believe it was a foolish vote. You can’t necessarily plan for foolishness.

GUS: And yet I saw it coming a thousand miles away. And everybody predicted something like it happening BEFORE THE SEASON EVEN STARTED AIRING. And Joe has gone to four post-merge tribal councils where he wasn’t immune, and he’s been voted out at (currently) THREE of them. And you were banking on this week being the apex, the crémé de la crémé of godlike Anglimian strategy. And then Joe sat on a rock and painted a pretty picture before being drawn and quartered by his allies. I’d call that more of a nadir than an apex.

ALI: What else would you have had him do? He was between a rock and a hard place. If he sits around and paints, maybe he gets the focus off him and on someone else. It’s a legitimate strategy when you’re a huge threat.

GUS: Alright, so which strategy is the right one? The one you touted last week as incredible strategy wherein Joe is making connections and making people feel like they need him and puffing up his tribemates, or the one you’re cheering this week where he does absolutely nothing? Because it seems like your stories are conflicting.

ALI: I can’t fault people for trying multiple angles. Or… should I say… Angleims.

GUS: Eyyyy. Anyway, you’re also full of **** this week.

ALI: I’m rubber, you’re glue.


ALI: Alright, here’s the deal. I stand by that Joe was playing well last week. The problem was, that strategy didn’t work out for him because Ron MUSCLED THE **** out of that vote, which I will rant about momentarily-

GUS: Ron is a polite man and I won’t stand idly by for this libel.

ALI: He is a self-described “mean girl.” Re-lax. He has a Burn Book and dances to Jingle Bell Rock.

GUS: So that’s why he was presented as a total bully this week, and as some kind of DaSilvan megalomaniac who pulled a plan out of his hat at the last minute? No! Ron had a plan. Julie had a plan. There was calm discussion, then Ron’s plan was chosen as the better one. Was it the better one? No, I certainly don’t think so. Is he being set up for a Carl-style godfather exit sometime down the line? Yeah, I kind of think so. But does a good move now AUTOMATICALLY tank his game and rate him as a Not? Far from it!

ALI: You know who else had a plan? Angelina. You know who else muscled their vote out plan into existence when there was a perfectly obvious target already in play? Angelina. You know who you gave a Not last season for doing exactly what Ron did? Angelina.

GUS: Ron is not Angelina. I also gave Christian a Not for being really good at slide puzzles. Ron is also really good at puzzles, and I never gave him a Not for that. It’s a different season AND a different time within that season. Angelina strongarmed a Jeremy vote with 18 people left in the game. Ron posited a Joe vote at the merge – when the typical plan is either “yeah that person is just annoying everybody and we might as well,” or “get out the BIG BOY.” Julie was trying to make a Big Move, which I do think would have been FAR better in the long run – but Ron’s swinging it back to Joe isn’t necessarily BAD for his game.

ALI: The difference between Ron and Christian is Ron didn’t stand up in front of God and everybody and proclaim himself a Puzzle Beast. Christian lost the game the minute he did that. Now, back to Joe, who we are still talking about, one thing I think he screwed up on was the moment in the shelter with Ron. That’s what put the target on his back, and that was the poor gameplay that led to his demise. Does that negate the good gameplay that he exhibited last week? I don’t think so. I didn’t take the cowards way out and give him a Not when he played well on the likelihood that he might be voted out this week. Even you admitted when you gave Joe a Not last week that he played well. If he played so well, why did he deserve a Not Gus? Huh? Were you maybe HeDgInG?

GUS: I gave Joe a Not because I thought he had a really good chance of going home this week and I didn’t think he’d done the requisite legwork to keep himself safe. I thought he played well, but I didn’t think that he played well enough. It’s like he pulled a straight in a hand of five-card draw; it’s decent, but I wouldn’t ever count in it for an all-in.

ALI: How did you know that? Julie was all for throwing a challenge to get him out last week, and Ron told her not to because of what Joe was doing around camp! From what we saw, he did keep himself safe last week!

GUS: LAST. Not THIS. Merge time is a different time entirely. I figured he would flip towards Lesu/Manu. I figured his tribe would get skittish about that. I figured EVERYBODY would be thinking, “hey, why is Joe still around?” I really only saw him hanging around if the Manu/Joerora alliance coalesced, but I did not think it had a good chance of doing so.

ALI: First of all… Joerora… Niiiiiiice. SECOND! All we have to evaluate gameplay is each episode week to week! LAST week, he was playing well, so LAST week, I gave him a Hot.

GUS: This from the woman who is basing half of her Ron ranking purely off of a seven-second long clip from the NToS.

ALI: … Call me out.

S38 Joe Ron
Photo: CBS

GUS: I would refer you to our header in each episode: “Hots are indicative of castaways who we think played well this week or who are setting themselves up for success. Nots are indicative of castaways who we think didn’t and aren’t”. I think that Joe sorta did, but he certainly wasn’t (setting himself up for success).

ALI: Had Ron not taken his Muscle Milk this week and forced that vote to happen, Joe would have been setting himself up for success this week, which brings us to Ron.

GUS: Oh you’re completely wrong on that one for the reasons discussed above. But I do agree with you that voting out Joe was the wrong move. I don’t think that Ron’s downfall will come swiftly or as a result of him voting out Joe over Kelley, though. Kama 6 seems to have remained strong – which is why I gave them all Hots this week. I saw several points where cracks EASILY could have formed between the players – Ron’s new plan being the most glaringly obvious – but courtesy and reason prevailed (in no small part thanks to Julie). And Ron got his way without any bloodshed or, as far as we were led to believe, hard feelings (Julia’s tweet notwithstanding; I know there’s always more happening in the game than we know, but I can only award rankings based on the gameplay that I see).

ALI: HOLD ON! If we are already anticipating a Ron downfall, how is that setting himself up for success, Gustav?

GUS: He’s maintaining the integrity of his group of six and working in the best interests of the group as a whole. He’s putting plans forward in a way that appeared to be reasoned out and clearly thought through.

ALI: Bad plans. Wentworth is a way bigger threat.

GUS: Yes, I agree, but it was still a reasoned out and apparently thought through plan, as his tribe ultimately opted to vote with him. Would he have set himself up for greater success by voting out Wentworth? Yes. Was this still an OK move? Also yes. And I’m not anticipating a Ron downfall for any reason other than the NTOS seems to be setting him up as this evil overlord.

ALI: Look at how everyone reacted to his idea when he first posited it though. It didn’t look to me like people were super psyched about changing the vote to Joe, and eventually, he had Julie basically throw up her hands and say that what mattered was that they vote together–

GUS: That’s my point! They DID vote together.

ALI: So… your reasoning for Ron being a Hot is that his alliance simply didn’t turn on him?

GUS: It’s that he guided his alliance in a direction that he saw as the most beneficial, and I think it was a good enough idea and earned him enough Survivor brownie points that it was overall a good move for him. It wasn’t the BEST move for him, but it was a GOOD move for him. I don’t think you can help orchestrate a circular firing squad among a majority alliance and then get blasted for picking the wrong target.

ALI: What Ron did was the same thing I criticized Wardog for. There’s a perfectly good target, and it’s not you, why put in so much work, bring so much attention to yourself, to save Kelley? Just let Kelley die. It just makes him look inflexible and like he’s the leader of the group.

GUS: Well, how about this: if merge isn’t the time to start playing the game when is? Should Ron have waited til final eight like Will Wahl to make his first move? We all know how well that turned out for him. Ron chose to make a move this week that didn’t hurt him, and if anything upped his Survivor street cred. Maybe this week the first confessional will be a five-way split between Julie, Gavin, Eric, Victoria and Julia all saying RON IS SO RUDE, HE STRAIGHT FORCED US TO VOTE OUT JOE, WHAT A JERK, but til we see that confessional, I’m not convinced that Ron earned a Not this week.

ALI: Should that happen, I will be just as compassionate next week as you were about Joe this week. Alright, we’ve written a novel about Ron and we still have to talk about Rick, David, and Julia. Shall we move on? Or do you have more incorrectness to spout?

S38 Ron Julia
Photo: CBS

GUS: You know me well enough to know that I am a bottomless well of incorrectness. But let’s progress to Julia. She got a confessional this week. She’s winning the game.

ALI: You heard it here first, folks. Julia will be least extinct.

GUS: Full disclosure: I don’t actually think Julia will win the game. But she’s in a good enough spot this week that I’m confident she isn’t going home next week.

ALI: Sure, but does that mean she’s playing a Hot game? We don’t really know anything about her. Plus, last episode, you gave her a Not because she was portrayed as the “Tricked Newbie.” That’s been her only content other than a generic, “we’re going into the merge with numbers” confessional. So what happened this week that made you think, “man, I need to give this girl a Hot?”

GUS: Yeah my argument is really weak for Julia, to be honest. I couldn’t give Eric and Gavin Hots and Julia a Not. All of them have done very little of late (albeit Julia the least) to advance their games, and although I see no chance of her winning the game, I also feel like she’ll be safe for a while.

ALI: I just feel like we know more about Eric and Gavin’s strategies than we do Julia’s. We’ve gotten to see them play more than we’ve seen her. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t feel like I can give her a Hot over someone who has really had to show their cards.

GUS: I don’t think I can fight you there. She’s been woefully absent from our screens, moreso than anyone except for Aurora. The Hot from me was just a “good for you for being on the right side” more than anything. Did Julia play well this week? I mean, I guess so? She didn’t actively sabotage her own game. But that doesn’t count as playing well. Was she setting herself up for success? Again, maybe? She didn’t actively hurt her standing within the alliance? But that doesn’t count as setting herself up. I just felt weird about pulling her out of the Kama six as the one Not based on visibility. But I get why you chose to.

ALI: That’s completely fair. I was really stuck on what to do with her, but there were other people I wanted to acknowledge over her, which brings us to Rick and David. I feel like we need to discuss those two as a pair.

GUS: Yeah, they do appear to be a tight two. Although not according to the NTOS, but I’ve been hurt before, so let’s pretend the NTOS doesn’t exist for now.

ALI: Wait, I do want to comment on the NTOS before we continue. I have a perspective on that. I think the way it is edited is trying to lead viewers to believe that David will turn on Rick. I feel like there’s a possibility, though, that he specifically means turning on Wentworth and co earlier on. I feel like it might be too late to go back and vote with Wentworth. He’s written her name down, and now he has to, as he said, “find another way forward.”

GUS: Sneaky sneaky splicey splicey.

ALI: I mean, this could be total Fan Fiction, but it just feels like Wentworth will know who voted with Rick. Why would David flip on Rick now after they voted together last vote?

GUS: It’s the NTOS, so I’m completely in for Fan Fiction. But let’s look at what happened this past week and why you’re wrong about either David or Rick being Hot, although I will grant that it isn’t entirely either of their faults.

ALI: I agree that it isn’t their fault. At least, from what we’ve been shown… there are some alternate claims about what happened floating about, but, as Fischbach says on Rob Has A Podcast, “those aren’t canon.”

GUS: Oh, sure. They’re not. But from what we saw, David and Devens got shoved into a garbage situation and they played their hand pretty well – but they still got shoved into a garbage situation. I fault Kelley Wentworth for this one billion percent.

S38 David Kelley
Photo: CBS

ALI: I agree that the cause of this ill will rests with Kelley, but I think that part of being a good player is what you do with a crap hand. I think that David and Rick were able to take a bad situation and turn it around for something better. Plus, they have an idol in their pocket now.

GUS: But it’s a Kaoh Rong idol. Those are so hard to play.

ALI: We’ve only ever seen it that one time. And Rick and David are far closer than Tai ever was with Jason and Scott.

GUS: Yeah, but I still worry that choosing to go along with Kama dooms David and Devens to be on the outs forever. I mean, I don’t know that they could have done anything else. If Wentworth is coming for you, she’s not about to stop. But the net result of this week was that they came out of it in a far worse place than they entered it (well, not Devens, as he had been voted out of the game, but you know). A big part of my ranking also hinges on David and Rick not solidifying their internal Manu/Lesu alliance before branching out to the Kamas. If Wentworth was spooked by Devens chatting up Julie at the merge feast, I think that’s partially on Devens for not cuddling up to Wentworth beforehand. He neglected to connect with them again, so Kelley got spooked.

ALI: That’s assuming the responsibility lay with Rick to solidify that alliance. They voted him out. I feel it was the Manu/Lesu job to make new inroads with him. He was the burned one, not them. Also, I’m worried about them being on the outs too. If they didn’t have an idol between them, I would be far more concerned. My feeling is that perhaps they may be able to either salvage their relationship with OG Manu or make some inroads with the Kama folks. There are definitely people that they can pick up – Aurora is just sitting there. They aren’t totally washed up. They’re both still in the game. Voting aside, Rick had a great week, and I couldn’t give Rick a Hot without giving David a Hot as well.

GUS: To touch on your first point, it’s on both of them. Going back to Tocantins, neither Taj nor Brendan spent any time on furthering the Exile alliance, and it collapsed. It was both of their faults. I suppose it’s different because Devens was voted out; but wouldn’t that make it even more on Devens? He’s never going to believe Kelley, Lauren or Wardog – he’ll think they’re scrambling to get numbers. Kelley, Lauren and Wardog know that he could easily flip to the other side; if he approaches them about continuing to work together, only then can the relationship be repaired. With respect to being on the outs, I agree Rick and David aren’t totally washed up. But I think either they have to recohere with ex-Manu plus Aurora or hope Kama goes after Lauren and Kelley first, and then fractures before they turn their sights to Rick and David. And, yeah, Rick did have a really good week. You’re right. I felt bad giving him the Not, but I just couldn’t not Not him.

S38 Rick
Photo: CBS

ALI: I don’t know how eager I’d be to approach the people who voted me out and offer them my trust. I think that has to be earned back. Hence, it’s their responsibility to show Rick that he can trust them.

GUS: But he was ready to trust them. I read an interview that he did with Josh Wigler this week (I know, grain of salt) and he said essentially that he was hoping to pull Joerora in with Manu and make a go of it. It seemed like Rick was gung-ho on Manu, but he never communicated it to them, so they assumed he was skittish and hostile.

ALI: Hm. Well, that is a failing on his part for sure.

GUS: I think you have to share blame for Wentworth and Lauren’s defection. Neither side made communication happen. Both of ‘em simply assumed.

ALI: You know what happens when you assume… Oof, I must admit that I worry for Rick and David, but I had to give two Hots, and I felt that there was enough good in Rick’s game this week that he earned it.

GUS: I can respect that. I mean, you’re super wrong. But I can respect your wrongness.

ALI: Just like you’re wrong about Ron.

GUS: Just like you were wrong about Keith being Kindled.







ALI: Alrighty, whom do we think is safe?

GUS: You first.

ALI: Joe.

GUS: I was gonna say Joe.

ALI: Wow, we should date.

GUS: But really, who’s safe? Just one now that we’ve merged.

ALI: I feel good about… Gavin

GUS: I feel good about Victoria.

ALI: She’s a good pick too. Who’s going?

GUS: Uhhhh. I mean, I’m worried it’ll be a Kama 6 getting idoled out is the thing, but I don’t want to say one of my Hots is getting idoled out. If I had to put odds on that happening, though, I’d say Eric.

ALI: Yeah, I’m worried for Eric. He’s a big target now that Joe is gone. I almost made him a Not for that reason… I think it’s Ron.

GUS: Yeah, honestly it could be Ron too.

ALI: I think on one side it would probably be Ron… and I think if a Lesu gets the boot it could be Wardog. I’m going to stick with Ron, though.

GUS: Alright. We’re pushing 12 pages of trash talk, and our article was super long this week in and of itself.

ALI: We had a lot to break down.

GUS: We did. Someone is wrong. Or maybe we’re both wrong. Or maybe we’re both NOT wrong. We’ll have to wait to see.

ALI: You’re wrong. It’s you…

GUS: ..who is RIGHT. Thank you.

ALI: Me. Goodnight!

GUS: Later!

Written by

Alexandra Shields

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

Gus Schlanbusch

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

One response to “Episode 7 – Hot or Not”

  1. I guess that this means that you don’t think anyone is going to be medically evacuated. No prediction on who you think faints? Personally, I don’t think there will be a tribal counsel this week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.