Survivor: Island of the Idols

Episode 10 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not in week nine?

Photo: CBS

Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor Season 39 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.



Lauren may not have suffered greatly this week, but all of the perception of her around camp is “she’s Tommy’s ally,” and that’s it. She’s got nothing going for her insofar as her own merits or performance goes, and she just lost her other largest (ostensible) ally in Missy. Considering how visible a threat Tommy is becoming to the other players, and considering how little acclaim Lauren has among her tribemates, I don’t have a good feeling about her game going forward.


I struggled on where to put Lauren this week. On the one hand, she seemed to have a good alliance with Tommy, and that’s why he ended up staying. On the other hand, I worry that she played her hand too early with Missy, and that may leave her vulnerable. Ultimately, I decided that there are bigger threats than Lauren around, so there doesn’t seem to be a big reason to target her at the moment. I fear that Lauren may be a victim of a stray bullet, but I think it may take another week before that happens. She’s in the majority now, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. It’s not a great reason to give her a Hot, but other people deserved Nots more than she did.



Elizabeth went from being in a strong 3+ person alliance to being a lone wolf in a single night. That’s not a good thing for her. Losing Missy and Aaron in back-to-back Tribals leaves Elizabeth with hardly any other players to turn to, and it makes it unlikely that she’ll be able to follow Missy’s parting order of ‘kill Elaine slowly.’ I think Elizabeth can recover from this in the long run, as she’s essentially now no big threat to anyone, and, if anything, is a rogue vote to be bought, but I can’t in good conscience give her a Hot after all that happened to her.


Elizabeth lost her two main allies last week. She decided she knew which way the vote would go, and along with Missy, failed to convince Karishma to take out an obvious threat. Elizabeth is a likely candidate to go next unless she can convince people to work with her. As we saw last week, convincing might not be her strong suit.



Janet went from the bottom to… kind of maybe still towards the bottom, but not out of the game, which is pretty cool. Ali and I were terrified that Janet would meet her end this week, and seeing her half-tribe rally votes entirely away from her and right onto Aaron was a relief. I am a little worried that this means that Janet is at this point seen as no threat to anybody (sort of like how Elizabeth and/or Lauren might be perceived). Still, I think her burgeoning alliance with Dan (of all people) and closeness to the other members of her tribe bodes well for her in the long run.


Janet really turned things around last week in a big way. I don’t know whether her progress in the game will stick, but there are bigger targets on the horizon than her right now. It’s the time to start getting rid of strong players, and, while Janet is a threat to win, she’s not necessarily a challenge threat. They can get rid of her at any time. Time is important in this game, and I think Janet has the time and the ability to turn her game around. This week was an indicator of her skill in this regard. Maybe I’m blinded by my love for Janet, but her ability to avoid going home this week, when all signs pointed to Ponderosa, was great gameplay.



Dean was concerned this week about Aaron’s departure being an omen of his inevitable departure, as he, for some reason, considers himself (and Dan [of all people]) to be a physical threat. But I don’t think Dean has really shown himself to be much of a physical threat and I don’t think he’s in much danger of going home either. Dean is absolutely one of my favorite players remaining in the game, and his intent (per the preview) to rally a ‘goat army’ is making me far more excited than I have any right to be. If he can make that happen, even though I don’t think he’ll win, I think he’ll secure some good longevity in the game.


Dean’s instinct about keeping challenge threats around was spot on. He and Tommy will go home if they don’t make efforts to keep one another in the game. Aaron going home last week is not a good sign for Dean or Tommy. Luckily for Tommy, he has some allies in his corner who are actively trying to keep him. Dean has no such luxury since he singlehandedly got rid of the person that was working with him. Dean doesn’t seem to have clear allies at this point in the game, so I’m concerned about his future.



SLAYRISHMA QUEENTEL with her idol find, her completely disinterested walk-away from Missy, and her actual control and domination of the vote at Tribal Council. Was Missy the right choice for her vote? Maybe, maybe not. Was it incredible to watch her obliterate Missy’s entire game because Missy was being rude as all get out? Yeah. Is Karishma weirdly set up to do well for the rest of the game? She definitely is. Nobody is looking at her as a threat (still), but she’s got an idol that nobody knows about, and she looks to be finally playing the game.


Karishma crushed it this week. She went from an obvious boot to the swing vote with an idol. She isn’t totally out of the woods yet, but the fallout from this past vote will probably be enough to shield her for a while, and she has the idol for insurance. Granted, women have been going home with idols in their pockets at alarming rates this season, so it doesn’t guarantee that she will be safe. I can’t predict what the future will hold for Karishma, but I know that this week was fantastic for her future prospects. I’m toasting a Shark Bowl in her direction.



Noura was the driving force behind the Aaron vote, which is pretty fabulous, but she didn’t really do much else, and her wildcard attitude is getting to the point where she might be considered more of a liability than a really attractive goat. Should the goat army materialize, she might be safe, but otherwise, I don’t see her doing well in the near future.


Noura did great work on the vote this week and was able to get the results she wanted. Props to her. I also resent that people think that Noura is drawing dead because I do believe that there are people she might be able to win against (Karishma, Dan). However, I don’t necessarily see Noura’s path to the end. She’s been labeled erratic and a liability, and this makes me fear that people will want to get rid of her because she’s unpredictable. If one of the “goats” goes, I think Noura has the highest probability.



Tommy didn’t go home, Tommy’s still got the world’s greatest edit, Tommy still has Lauren in the game, Tommy’s able to sell Missy’s boot as his idea. Tommy is doing well. He’s also not a ton of fun to watch, but you know, whatever. Good for Tommy.


Gus hates obvious winner edits, so he’s going to be bitter about how well Tommy is doing. I would like to point out, though, that Gus has disliked characters for their “winner edits,” and those people have rarely won: Gabby Pascuzzi and Rick Devens instantly come to mind in this regard. I don’t necessarily think that Tommy is winning. However, he has people who have his back and will actively work to keep him in the game. Tommy also has the ability to win challenges, and he’s in the majority. I think he’s safe for now.



Seems to have an alliance with Janet, still Dan.


It would take a lot for me to give this man a Hot.



Elaine got her target out, and she’s got a good deal of power remaining within the tribe. I’m hopeful that people will look at Tommy before they look at her as a next good winner-contention boot, but that remains to be seen.


Elaine is still garnering attention for being a threat, but so are a lot of people. I think she was smart to keep Tommy in the game for two reasons. First, Tommy is a great meat shield for her. Second, Missy has been willing to screw her over before. Tommy might think twice about getting rid of Elaine after she saved him. There are a lot of people in front of Elaine at this point, and I think she might be able to wriggle through another week.


GUS: Dean did nothing wrong except be wrong about how much danger he’s in.

ALI: Dean sent Kellee home, and now he has no real allies. He played himself moves ago, and now he’s in a corner. If Dean had told Kellee what was up, she’d still be in the game and would be working with him. Dean doesn’t have power because he let his ally walk.

GUS: Dean is about to rally the Goat Army to victory. Dean eliminated a threat last week, and he eliminated a threat this week, and nobody views him as a threat, and in this game, the only people going home are threats.

ALI: I didn’t think he was rallying, I thought he was telling on them. Maybe I misinterpreted, but Dean doesn’t seem the kind of guy to think of himself as a goat. Maybe the GOAT, but not the goat.

GUS: Well, that’s certainly possible, but I think he’s aware enough of the possibilities that a goat army could provide him. Plus, Aaron going home was NOT a bad thing for Dean’s game, despite what he might think. This week specifically worked out pretty well for him.

ALI: I disagree. In Survivor, strong men are like dominoes. One goes home, and the others follow. Look at Australian Survivor this past year for evidence of that trend. Also, you have lectured me so many times for using a preview as the basis for my arguments about a player… and now look at you. DISGUSTING!

GUS: Hey, I’m just following your example. Don’t yell at me for that. Also, Dean may be a strong man, but challenge threat he ain’t. I see far more likelihood in either Elaine or Tommy or Janet going home next week than I do in Dean going home, and I gave all of THEM Hots too. What, is Karishma about to idol out Dean? When Tommy is a much better target?

ALI: First, Karishma idoling out Tommy is something you are absolutely manifesting. Admittedly, it would be epic. Second, who is going to cry for Dean? He’s an easy vote. He’s a strong dude. He’s a sitting duck. But now I think we are just circling around the same argument. Let’s discuss Lauren.

At this point, no one is going to target Lauren over Karishma, Tommy, Dean, Elizabeth, Elaine, Janet, or Noura. Lauren will stick to Tommy like glue and vice versa, which will give Lauren Elaine in her corner as well. Should the goat army truly assemble, they are far more likely to go for Tommy or Elaine (or Dean if he’s not on their side). Should Karishma be able to idol someone out, she will most likely go for Tommy or Elizabeth. It’s certainly possible that Lauren could get a stray bullet… but that’s true of anyone.

GUS: What if Tommy wins Immunity? If we’re operating under the assumption that Lauren is widely viewed as Tommy’s Lieutenant, she’s the next most obvious target. And if we’re also operating under the assumption that Lauren isn’t going home over almost everyone left in the game except Dan, doesn’t that also indicate that she’s sort of in a bad spot insofar as gameplay is concerned?

ALI: I concede your point. It’s certainly possible she gets booted. I just felt that there were others that might be more likely. Obviously, I would love a goat army that comes out of nowhere and blasts Lauren, Tommy, and Elizabeth away. I would adore a final three of Dean, Karishma, and Noura (or Janet, but she’s not really a goat). But I’ve been burned before, and I don’t want to get hurt again.

Alright, who is on the chopping block. I’m going to do something weird and declare that it’s Tommy this week in a shock boot. I don’t know why and I know it’s stupid, but there’s something telling me that if he’s going to go, it’s this week. As for who is definitely safe, I’m going with Karishma.

GUS: Yeah, Karishma is definitely safe as long as the Angelina Curse doesn’t continue. But I can’t pick the same person that you pick, so I’ll go with Elaine just to be goofy. And the person in danger is Lauren because fight me IRL.

ALI: That’s it for this week! Happy Thanksgiving!

GUS: See ya!

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.

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