Survivor: Island of the Idols

Episode 4 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not in week four?

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.




Rough week for Dean. He lost his (not actually a) showmance, he’s the only person who voted the wrong way, and he continued to be shown as the goofiest goofball to ever goof. Although I am still a huge fan of his, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t concede that this week was terrible for Dean. Hopefully, he’ll be able to pick up some momentum in the swap.


Oh Deanie Baby… He’s in a lot of trouble. First, he was a target. Then, the one ally he had in the women’s alliance went home. According to Chelsea, they were not even close to a showmance, so her elimination was really due to any perceived association with Dean. That means Dean is very much on the outs, and he doesn’t have enough challenge prowess to be worth keeping around. Granted, Dean’s likability saved him this week, but he’ll be an easy vote down the line. Things aren’t looking good.


Karishma is in a horrible place. She’s been routinely dumped on by her tribemates, she’s only reinforced that position by being (understandably) miserable throughout the process, and she’s managed to escape being voted out only by a severe case of Moveitis on the part of her tribe. With a swap coming up, Karishma actually has a great opportunity to potentially work with others, but it’s just as possible that she’ll fail to do so or find herself still on a tribe where she has no wiggle room. I’m actually optimistic for her chances in the next few weeks, but not enough to give her a Hot.


The swap could not have come at a better time for Karishma. She was on the outs, was berated at tribal council, and was viewed as an easy vote for the past few weeks. Part of this was Karishma’s failure to find inroads with the rest of the tribe, which she can hopefully rectify this week. The only thing for her to do is to flip on everyone post haste. Karisma has gotten herself into quite the hole, and this is partially her lack of social capital, so I have no choice but to give her a Not.


I maintain that Elizabeth is in a good spot throughout the pre-merge. Nobody is going to vote her out for challenge performance, as her particular brand of challenge prowess is unlikely to translate well into individual immunity wins. She’s managed her allies well enough (with the exception of Dean) and seems like she’s still in tight with Elaine and possibly Aaron and Tom as well. Considering that she’ll be nothing but a huge asset until the merge, I expect to see Elizabeth around for a good while yet.


I really didn’t understand her need to keep Dean if she was just going to turn around and backstab Chelsea. This whole week was really just confusing, but I’ll touch on that more later. In the end, I think this was the wrong move for all of the women, especially going into the swap. The tribe is now fractured, and Dean and Karishma should be ready to flip at a moment’s notice. The women haven’t been able to keep an alliance together with pretty much anyone. It’s a mess, and Elizabeth is enmeshed in it.



I really liked Missy in the pre-season, but since the game started, she’s dropped like a stone in my rankings. Her simultaneous desire to lead alliances and make huge, explosive moves is either a pathway to victory (unlikely) or a pathway to an early boot (very likely). If she’s able to survive this scorched-earth strategy she’s been running for the remainder of the game, then she’ll be remembered as an unbelievably dominant player who ran away with an entire season. More likely, however, she’ll be remembered as an early flameout who wildly underestimated the “sheep” that she claimed to be herding. As it is, I think she’s primed to be much more of an Edge of Extinction Aubry than she is to be a Redemption Island Rob.


Again, I’m confused. I don’t really understand what Missy was thinking here. There were zero logical reasons to get rid of Chelsea beyond “big moves.” I’ve listened to the podcasts, I’ve read the interviews, and I still do not understand Missy’s move. If anyone has any logical explanations, please leave that in the comments. For now, I don’t understand what Missy was thinking in splitting the group like this right before a swap, so I’m going to have to give her a Not.


Tom seriously messed up in voting out Chelsea (and alienating Dean), but I don’t know that he had a whole lot of say about that. It really seemed like Missy railroaded everybody into voting Chelsea right ahead of tribal, and Tom sort of just had to go along with the plan.


Didn’t get ousted because of the women’s alliance, and I have to assume that’s because people like Elizabeth are so attached to him because he’s the “dad” of the tribe. If Tom can keep up that likable dad thing, then he’s got good things on the horizon. Plus, he’s no slouch in the challenges, so I think he should be able to stick around a while (provided the Vokai don’t totally Pagong the other tribe.)


Aaron DOES have the advantage of a strong bond with Missy, but with her recent tendency to overplay and make moves for the sake of making moves, I’m not sure that’s the best bond to have. If he and Missy can shield one another, they’re well set up to go far (I think?), but with both a swap and their respective tendencies to make stupid moves for the sake of making stupid moves, I’m concerned.


Aaron went from easy target going scorched earth to taking the time to bond with Missy and break up the girl’s alliance. For the third time, I’m super confused, but Aaron was pretty much the only person that benefitted from what went down this week. He and Tom got out from under the women’s alliance that was threatening to tear them apart. And now, his scorched earth attitude is going to help him during the swap. Aaron is likable enough to find some people to work with, and he’s going to be valuable in challenges. There’s hope for him pretty much for the first time this whole game!


I waffled on Elaine. Her awareness of Missy’s erratic gameplay and hesitancy to go along with the Chelsea plan bodes well for her. And her unwillingness to then capsize the vote does as well. As a counterpoint to Missy and Aaron’s bizarre idea that everybody who isn’t self-destructing by day 12 is a “sheep” who “isn’t playing the game”, Elaine is offering us a measured style of gameplay. One which is powered not by a need to be flashy and unreasonable, but rather by a steadiness which will benefit her well in the pre-merge. I believe she’ll need to step things up come merge, but for now, she’s playing a solid game.


Much of what we saw of Elaine this week was her dismissing targets, including the person who actually went home. For the fourth and hopefully final time this week, I’m really confused! What made Chelsea the right target? There’s very little else that I can say other than that we missed like four steps until Chelsea’s boot. Regardless, I still think this was a terrible move for the women’s alliance, which Elaine is a part of. So, as much as it kills me, Elaine gets a Not this week.




Jack is positioned well going into a swap. He’s rebuilt his alliance with Tommy, and he seems to be in good with Jamal (and his new idol) as well. With a slow week for members of Vokai who aren’t named Jamal or Noura, this was about the best Jack could have hoped for.


Jack has been having as tough a game as Jamal, but he doesn’t have an idol. Jack needs to pull a Karishma and jump ship fast, but I don’t know yet if he is game savvy enough to do what is necessary to survive. 



She’s continuing to be good at things, and she did wisely point out that no reasonable person would volunteer to go to the IOI right before Noura volunteered to go. I imagine she’s well-positioned for a swap.


I’m comfortable saying that I was wrong about Lauren’s move to eliminate Molly having blowback. Lauren stayed under the radar again this week. She’s not the best player out there, but she’s far from the worst. That’s a great place to be in the closer she gets to the merge. I also think that she has the social chops to make connections during the swap. 



Kellee spoke before the Island of the Idols vote that whoever went to the Island would either be a huge potential ally for her or a huge potential enemy. Noura is the worst-case scenario for both of these things. However, knowing that Noura wasn’t offered an idol but rather what was I think the worst risk/reward combination in Survivor history (more on that later), I feel like Kellee is by and large safe from Noura-related backlash. Depending on how the rules pertain to the idol that Kellee has, it may or may not still be good for some time, as well. I can’t really tell whether Sandra and Rob are saying ‘this is good for THE next three tribal councils’, meaning the next three vote-offs, or ‘this is good for YOUR next three tribal councils’, meaning the next three times Kellee is at tribal council. If it’s the former, her idol has expired, but if it’s the latter, she’s got it for (I believe) two more tribals—which is a bonus amount of safety.


Folks with idols are dropping like flies, but I think Kellee is savvy enough to know when to use her idol. I’ve been really impressed with Kellee. She’s in a good alliance, no one seems to suspect she has an idol, and she successfully managed to avoid getting a target on her back when she went to the Island of the Idols. I look forward to seeing what Kellee will bring to the swap.



Janet seems to have integrated well with the rest of her tribe, and she’s keeping on keeping on. I can’t imagine she’d go home soon short of a terrible swap.


Seems like she’s in good with Tommy. Unless Tommy pulls a Missy this week, I think he will protect Janet. She has still managed to smash all expectations. The only problem is that the swap makes things impossible to predict. Gameplay alone, Janet is doing well and deserves a Hot.



Noura has developed past the Debbie Wanner phase of being annoying to the Coach Wade phase of being out and out hilarious. Her trainwreck of a lie was among the best things I’ve recently seen on my television (and I just binged the first two seasons of The Good Place). And her complete failure to accomplish her tas—a task which, by the way, would have rewarded her with by far the worst reward Survivor has come up with since the Legacy Advantage—was exquisite. She’s done nothing but make herself a more and more obvious target, but I find myself hoping that she manages to blunder her way to the merge, if only so that she can be there for the jury.


She drove everyone crazy on Vokai, can’t wait to see her drive everyone crazy on her swapped tribe. Noura’s a beautiful mess, but a terrible player.



The editors are really having fun showing Feely Dan at his Feeliest. I really don’t think he’s more touchy than anybody else on the island, but considering that his introduction to us was that he’s way touchier than Kellee has any interest in anyone being, we sure do see him touching other people a lot. I’m not sure about the state of Dan’s game this week. Jamal was throwing his name around last week, and he may be still hoping to see Dan go home. A swap might spell disaster for his game, or it might help him feel his way into a new alliance. Only time will tell.


Dan was a Not last week, and there wasn’t enough content from him this week to convince me that he deserves a Hot. 



Jamal got himself an idol and survived into a swap. That’s pretty much the dream for him at this point. When you consider that he’s also got some measure of allies as well (however swingy and minor they may be), I do believe that Jamal is in a pretty solid place going into the swap.


The swap couldn’t have come at a better time for Jamal, and he has an idol in his pocket. Jamal needs to find a way to tone down the nap and turn up the gameplay. It’s hard to figure out how things are going to land in the event of the swap, but he’s got an idol in his pocket, so he’s better off than most.



I’m weirdly proud of Jason for turning the game around as much as he has so far. His name seems to have completely fallen off the table, reinforcing the idea that if you can escape that first tribal council after your name is thrown out, you’re likely to be safe for some time. He seems to have shaken himself free of Noura, which is REALLY good for him. With a swap coming, I think Jason is in a good place moving forward.


Challenge beast Jason over here seems to have worked his way back into the hearts of the rest of the tribe. At first, I thought that Jason and Noura were on an island, but watching Jason bounce back this week was absolute masterwork. I can’t believe how much Jason’s prospects in the game have changed. Credit where credit is due.



I really like Tommy as a player and as a person, but his content makes me irrationally upset. He’s positioned well in his tribe, but he’s not really done anything except let others make moves. I’m only giving him a Hot because, well, he is well-positioned going forward. I don’t really know what else he’s got up his sleeve apart from being friendly and having good networking skills, but sometimes that’s all you need.


I’ve also been impressed with Tommy. He has good relationships with pretty much everyone, and he performs well in the challenges. My one concern is that maybe others might begin to notice how well he’s playing. This has been an all over the place season, and Tommy could be a heartbreaking victim of it. But based on gameplay alone, I think Tommy is Hot!


GUS: This is actually our most divisive week yet. I’m shook.

ALI: Oh my god, and your takes are garbage. How can you justify giving Elaine AND Elizabeth Hots? I am as confused about that as I am about Missy’s move this week.

Side note: I have to say in an indignant matter that this is the first time your “pick half plus one for hots maximum” also known as the “anti-hedge your bets” rule royally screwed me. I put Chelsea as a Not, and then you made me change her to a Hot and look what happens! Look what you’ve wrought! I would have been right! But NOOOOOOOO!

GUS: You had ten Nots before you made Chelsea a Hot. Making Chelsea a Hot means she was dead center of the pack for you. You could have made any of those other nine people a Hot, but you chose to make Chelsea a Hot. You even chose to ignore the coinflip that told you to make Elizabeth a Hot instead of Chelsea, so clearly, you had good reason to go with Chelsea. That’s why the rule is there. Otherwise, there’s nothing to stop us from making everybody a Not just in case they MIGHT go home. Which is trash.

ALI: You’re trash. Gottem.

GUS: The insurmountable comeback. Alright. Elizabeth is number one, and I’ll explain why. Because I think she’s cool and that nobody (including Dean) will hold her personally accountable for the Chelsea vote. And because she’s part of several larger alliances within Lairo. And because she’s wild good at all of the pre-merge challenges. And because her name never even came up as an option, even though she was the caller and she lost them the challenge. They could easily have rallied votes to eliminate her, but she wasn’t ANY of the plans. Not even Spray & Pray Missy considered voting her out.

ALI: She was a fine caller and almost caught them up. Jason was also a freakishly good caller.

GUS: Still, she wasn’t targeted at all.

ALI: Not being a target does not a Hot make. She made a terrible move going along with Missy this week. As, by the way, did your beloved Elaine. If you’re going to throw Missy under the bus for her move, you should also do the same to her henchwomen. They’re High School Musical. They’re All In This Together. It was a terrible move across the board.

GUS: But it was Missy’s move. Elizabeth and Elaine BOTH didn’t want to go along with it, but what choice did the really have? It seems that Missy threw the plan at them RIGHT before tribal.

ALI: Regardless, it puts them in a worse position. Even if it was out of their control, they’re in a worse position for it.

GUS: I really don’t see it biting Elizabeth or Elaine specifically, though. They’ve still got all the bonds they had previously (except for Dean), and they know that Missy is a loose cannon, so they’re more prepared to cut ties with her.

ALI: I think it weakens them going into the swap. And, as Elaine said, if Missy can turn on a friend, then maybe she shouldn’t trust her.

Let’s talk about Aaron while we are on the subject. He’s in a way better position than he was in last week, only for you to give him a Not? The swap came at the best time for him, and he managed to make inroads with Missy.

GUS: As you said a paragraph ago, Missy can turn on a friend like it’s nothing, so maybe he shouldn’t trust her.

I waffled pretty hard on Aaron; he IS in a better spot than he was, but he’s still VERY cocky and making stupid, over the top plays. That’s not indicative of a player who’s learned any of his valuable lessons, it’s indicative of a player who’s lost perspective. What happens if he swaps to a tribe without Missy? Do you think Elizabeth or Elaine would keep him over one another? Or would Tom? Or would any of the Vokais? He’s really stapled to Missy and only Missy. And I expect that once he swaps, he’ll start immediately pitching stupid, shortsighted blindsides to his new tribemates cuz that’s apparently the only way to play the game.

ALI: That’s certainly true, but also, what stops him from turning on Elaine and Elizabeth and getting rid of them? Not much. And he’s a bigger challenge asset than either of them. He has no reason to stay loyal to them. He’s in the scorched earth mentality, and now is the best time for that.

GUS: I don’t think any Lairo wants to keep him around except for Missy. I don’t know the same is true for the duo of Elizabeth and Elaine. Shall we talk about Jack?

ALI: Bless his heart, but he’s on the outs. If Aaron deserves a Not, so does he.

GUS: He is at that. I was really giving him a Hot only because I think he’s got more connections than he should, considering that he was blindsided a couple of weeks ago and that he’s navigated things pretty well. And he’s friends with Jamal still, I think. So that’s good. With the idol and all of that.

ALI: Jack seems like a great guy. I’m just not sure if he has the social intelligence to navigate the swap. And he’s already on the outs. He was the one I was least sure about.

GUS: Yeah, me too. I guess we’re pretty much middle of the road on him. Meaning he’s guaranteed to go home.

ALI: Who the heck knows with these crazy kids on this crazy season? Alright! Who is safe?

GUS: We can’t really say one tribe or the other this week, so let’s just pick two people. I’m going with Janet and Tom.

ALI: GAH those are good picks. I’m going with… Tommy and Kellee.

Who is going home? I’m saying Noura and… Tom. Boom.

GUS: Shook. I’m thinking Dan and Missy.

That’s all for this week!

ALI: 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.

3 responses to “Episode 4 – Hot or Not”

  1. I also didn’t understand Missy’s move whatsoever. She alienated Dean, proved herself to Elizabeth and Elaine as someone who is comfortable flipping last second on their own alliance, got rid of someone who was on board with her… And what was that berating Karishma at TC? Why would you think insulting someone to their face in a social game would make them your pawn? Bizarre. I think she’s setting herself up for failure, and so is Aaron by association.
    Noura is entertaining, but I do want her to leave soon, make room for us to watch people who actually have a chance of winning strategize, if you get what I mean.
    I think Jason and Jamal definitely managed to up their game since their rocky start. Jason might even be the seasons breakout star.
    Elizabeth/Elaine for Lairo, Tommy/Janet and Kellee/Lauren are the pairs I think look the best right now.
    Hot or Not is my favorite! I love your conversation towards the end.
    As feedback, do you guys think it’d work for the segment to include a chart of the season’s Hot/Nots per episode so far? Like the Edgic chart. Perhaps it’d give a fun look at how the characters are evolving with their gameplay.

    • We actually do have a spreadsheet that we use internally to track our Hots and Nots! It’s pretty dry data, though – it takes time for anyone to really make a dramatic shift.

    • Hello JD!

      Great takes! I definitely agree with all of those, which as you know from reading the articles is rare for me!

      So glad you like our articles! We’ve talked about including our charts in our “season retrospective” at the end. Gus and I will talk about how best to include it!

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