Survivor: Island of the Idols

Episode 12 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not in week 11?

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.



Despite being targeted this episode, Lauren is in a pretty OK place. She’s still a strong player, she’s rightly under the impression that she’s got a good read on the game, and, though I don’t think she’s winning, she’s certainly in a good place with a couple of strong allies. Her being the leader of the Lauren/Tommy duo is a point against her. It seems likely that she’ll be taken out before Tommy, and she had a couple of bad reads with respect to what Noura, Dean, Karishma and Elaine would do back at camp (erroneously believing that they couldn’t possibly plan against her). But it’s not like she’s the worst player on the island.

I do think that Lauren is not long for this game, and I really considered giving her a Not. The trouble is, I can only give out four Nots this week, and there were at least four people who played worse than she did.


Lauren is in firmly with the majority. She’s the second most likely to win at this point after Tommy. However, my concern is that she’s going to be like Domenick Abbate, as she may be unwilling or unable to cut her ride or die before the final three. Given that everyone seems willing to go to bat for Tommy, I’m guessing the Jury will be lining up to give him their votes. For now, Lauren is in a good position, and will likely be around until the end.



Congratulations on your granddaughter, Janet!

Janet probably doesn’t really deserve a Hot. She’s jumped into this Tommy/Lauren/Dan/Noura alliance, and she seems to be an important part of it, but it’s not her fault that they’re sort of boring to watch. I’m worried though that she’ll be first to go when the alliance inevitably turns on itself (if not this coming week, then during the finale). She’s got history with Dan, and she’s not as tight with Lauren & Tommy as Lauren & Tommy are amongst themselves. BUT, again, I think enough people are playing worse than she is that I can’t give out more Nots.


All the commotion at this week’s Tribal took a lot of heat off Janet. Dean, Noura, and Elaine are all now sitting ducks in front of her. I don’t think the other players will let Janet get to the end, but I think she’s safe for this week, and that’s a lot more than I can say for everyone else.



I mean, yeah, it was probably a good idea to not be counting on Noura insofar as any sort of reliability is concerned, but also, COME ON, DEAN! Kellee was absolutely correct: these were the dumbest moves, and Dean was at the center of them.

I understand that Dean seems to think that Tommy is his closest ally (maybe?), but considering that he didn’t pick you for the family visit and that he’s clearly pretty tight with Lauren, it’s perhaps not a good idea to out TO HIM that he’s about to be voted out. I mean, had Noura actually flipped, it wouldn’t hardly have changed anything to have Dean spill the beans. It just would have confirmed to Tommy that Noura was telling the truth.

At this point, with the Jury as opposed to Dean’s gameplay as they seem to be, I have to think his chances of winning have gone down the toilet. If his delusional (yet deeply entertaining) gameplay continues the way it has been, he might well make it to the end… but as Tommy’s second goat.


Man, oh man, Dean just loves playing against his own interests. Tommy only got lucky this week because of Dean, and I’m struggling to figure out a reason why Dean would make the decision to tell Tommy what happened. I’ve concluded that it’s Dean’s delusions that he’s a threat and that therefore, Dean needs to keep Tommy around to lower his own threat level. Now, the meat shield strategy only works when one is actually a threat. Look, I don’t hold it against Dean that he thinks he’s a threat. On paper, an under the radar athletic white man is a huge threat. But Dean’s strategy misses the mark, and he has no real friends in the game. Unfortunately, Detective Dean won’t solve the mystery as to how to win the game.



I’m all for honesty, let me be very clear about that right up front. But Noura’s insistence to always cop to every single plan she’s ever considered has been stupid all game, and I think it’s finally killed her here. Lauren and Tommy made it clear to one another at Tribal Council that, come next Tribal, Noura’s gotta go: she’s considered working against them too many times, and has been open about it. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t vote her out next.


She figured out she was on the bottom, but the family visit is a pretty late time to discover that. Noura’s emotions keep getting the best of her, and I feel that the prospect of working with Noura is probably what caused Dean to flip to keep Tommy. Noura was honestly lucky it wasn’t her this episode, and I’m not sure she’ll be as lucky this week.



Tommy’s really tight with everyone to the extent that Dean blew up his game to protect him. He’s got a really strong shield in Lauren, and he’s not bad at challenges. I’d be shocked if he didn’t win at this point. I do really feel bad about giving Tommy so little in my write-ups, but there’s just not that much more to say about his gameplay. It’s superb, but not very interesting or dynamic. He’s tight with everybody and clearly performing well in terms of the social game, but apart from repeating that and pointing out specific instances (like above), there’s just not that much I can say about his gameplay. It’s really good.


Unless someone acts quickly, Tommy is most likely winning this season. This guy catches every break that comes at him, and everyone is willing to fall on their swords for him. It’s actually impressive to watch, and maddeningly frustrating at the same time. It’s like he’s the Road Runner, and everyone else is Wile E. Coyote. They all keep setting up Acme traps, only for him to private dance out of them like it’s no biggie.



Dan is in a great spot, but there’s no way he’s winning. I do think Janet will go before he does, but, much like Ali’s and my disagreement about Karishma and Elaine last week (heh heh heh), I think Dan is more likely to lose at final tribal than Janet. That might be wishful thinking on my part since exit press suggests that he’s pretty widely viewed as a good strategist, but I’m sticking by it.


Alright, I think Dan is in a good position in the game, but he’s not winning, so it’s not enough for me to give him a Hot. And frankly, I don’t want to give him one.



This one breaks my heart. Elaine’s road to the end doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. I thought last week that she was tight with Tommy and Lauren and whatever “her four” was. But I guess that was all either an elaborate ruse or something that just fell apart since she was completely fine with just voting out Tommy or Lauren come this week’s episode. Worse still, her plan got exposed at tribal council (even though it wasn’t entirely her plan, still she was a part of it), and then she had to scramble to get in on conversations about what *would* be happening at that vote.

She managed to belatedly vote with the numbers and get rid of Karishma (I’m not sure why), but her position within the tribe was surely compromised. If she had been part of the Tommy/Lauren et cetera group, I have to think she’s not now. If she was in a safe place before, she is in a worse place now.


Elaine shot too late, in my opinion. She should have let Tommy go when he was in trouble weeks ago, but now she’s in a tight spot. She just got caught massively betraying Tommy. He’s not going to forgive her for nearly blindsiding him. And Tommy now has the numbers to take her out. Couple that with the fact that Elaine’s story makes her a massive threat, and Tommy has zero incentive to keep her. Unless Elaine can pull off a hail Mary, she’s toast.


GUS: Incredible. We’re completely in accord this close to the end of the game.

ALI: Looks like there’s hope for us after all. But we have some business to attend to. You were wrong about Karishma. But I’ll be very gracious about it and not make fun of you at all.

GUS: Yes, go ahead and psych yourself up. Cuz you were COMPLETELY WRONG ABOUT KARISHMA, AND I’M NOT THAT GRACIOUS, HEE HEE HOO HOO HAA HAA. ‘Course, Elaine’s probably going to go this week, and then I’ll have been wrong too, but…

Anyway, who’s safe, and who’s going?

ALI: Tommy’s safe.

GUS: Darn it, I was going to say Tommy. Fine. I’ll say, even though I don’t want to say it, that Dan’s not going anywhere. And I think Noura’s in serious trouble.

ALI: I mean, they did say they were going to vote for her this week. That’s a pretty good sign.

GUS: Yeah, I’m very good at reading between the lines.

ALI: Alright, with Noura taken, I’ll go with Elaine.

GUS: For once, I agree with you there.

ALI: Short one this week. Thanks for reading!

GUS: Bye!

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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