Survivor: Winners At War

Episode 2 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not after Week 2?

Photo: CBS

Gus and Ali, a real-life couple and fans of Survivor, will be individually ranking the Survivor Season 40 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.

SELE TRIBE

Adam

ALI – ADAM KLIEN – NOT

I want to preface literally all of my coverage this week by saying that there hasn’t been a weak spot on this cast. I’ve been entertained by everyone this season. Even players like Michele, who hasn’t had the most content, have been playing the game and putting the work in to succeed.

Adam spices up this season more than a spice kit. I’ve loved watching him navigate the game with the other winners, providing his colorful commentary throughout. 

However, Adam has always had a bit of a prickle to him when he interacts with other players. I think his interaction with Denise was no different than how he occasionally spoke to Taylor and Jay in MvGX. Adam’s occasional condescension got him in trouble last time, and I see it coming back on occasion. When Denise came to Adam, she suggested giving half of her idol to Parvati. Was it a bad plan? Absolutely! But there are ways to shut down bad plans so that one’s allies still feel empowered in their decision making. I’ve spoken before about how my mom says one needs to approach people with a “velvet hammer.” What she means by this is that one can state their opinions but need to include a gentle touch when expressing their feelings to others. According to my mom, this is the best way to ensure that others will listen and will increase the likelihood of getting a positive result. Adam’s all hammer here. Denise might eventually tire of having a twenty-something talk down to her, therapist or no. If Adam can reign in his desire to impose his ideas on others, he’ll go far. 

There are a few more reasons I didn’t feel comfortable giving Adam a Hot. First, Adam stated from the jump that he wanted to get rid of Parvati. Even with Adam muscling his opinions (as seen above), he couldn’t get the votes to eliminate his target. We’ve talked before about how often times that failure indicates one’s influence over the tribe, and therefore one’s place in the hierarchy. At tribal, Adam was very confrontational when Rob was demanding people empty their bags. It’s possible that Adam was trying to give Denise time to hide her idol by bringing attention to himself. But didn’t he also have an idol in his bag? So how does that make anything better? It merely puts Adam at further risk of discovery. At the least, it made Rob instantly suspicious of Adam. Adam may have inadvertently put a target on his back this episode. We know how Rob feels about idols. While I don’t think that Adam will go next episode, this wasn’t a great week for him.

Lastly, Adam can’t find holes.

GUS – ADAM KLEIN – HOT

Adam is doing a hell of a job playing the semi-underdog game. He’s got half of an idol from Denise; he’s on the new-schoolers’ side; he also is in some kind of an alliance with Ben. The previously extant target that was on him seems to have vanished (yay, I was right!), and unless Rob decides that he CERTAINLY has an idol because of how he reacted to Rob’s goofy demand that everyone empty their bags, I have high hopes for him in the coming weeks.

Of course, this is all assuming that next week he’s not targeted in an IotI Premerge Massacre of the Gameplayers cull. That could also happen. But considering how influential he was across the board this week, and how few waves he made in the process… I’ve got good feelings.

Ben

ALI – BEN DRIEBERGEN – NOT

I’m going to come out and say it, I’ve always liked Ben. I like him even more on his second iteration. Ben is an amazing personality on this season. I’ve really enjoyed watching him play. He’s just a big old goober this time around, and I kind of want to give him a hug. I love his little dances and the way he trips over his words when Rob stares daggers. But here’s the deal, he’s really entertaining, but he’s not playing the best game.

Don’t get me wrong, there are elements of his game that are good. I love that he’s focusing on social relationships this time around instead of idols. I’m sure it took remarkable restraint not to grab the second half of the idol from Denise. He’s one of the few first-time winners who I really feel reflected on how to improve his game going forward. But if he wants to play a game without idols this time, why is he hunting for idols with Denise? He’s not taking his own advice.

On top of that, everyone thinks Ben is nuts. Person after person discussed how Ben is a “wild card” or “crazy,” and in this chaotic game, people want stability. Regardless if Ben is taking the time to improve his game, perception is reality on Survivor. If people think that they can’t predict Ben, there’s no reason to keep him in the game. In addition, Ben caused so much paranoia at tribal council that Rob demanded everyone empty their bags. While that was one of the most entertaining things I’ve seen on Survivor, it was terrible for Ben. Ben knew that his alliance was hiding an idol, and managed to almost completely blow up their spot. Luckily, Denise is an expert at sleight of hand. 

GUS – BEN DRIEBERGEN – NOT

I really waffled on this HARD. Ben is probably my favorite character to watch this season. He’s like Tony but not Tony. He’s an absolute flail-y mess. I love it. It’s the funniest thing I’ve seen on Survivor in a bit.

That being said, he’s also playing an explosive game (appropriate to his former strategy of throwing out “Ben Bombs”); while this is good for keeping people on their toes, it’s definitely NOT good for making his allies feel secure in what he’s doing. Every single time he opened his mouth at Tribal Council, I felt Denise and Adam clench their jaws in terror. That’s not a desirable quality in a deep-game ally; that’s the kind of Noura stuff you want to keep around because it keeps other people off-balance, until such time as it starts to put you off-balance.

I do applaud Ben for not seizing the idol from Denise’s hands and even more for recommending that she NOT give it to him. Partially I think this is because dude can’t keep his cool AT ALL anymore, but, regardless, it was a good move.

Denise

ALI – DENISE STAPLEY – NOT

I went back and forth about what to give Denise. On the one hand, she was uber sneaky at tribal (yes, she had the advantage of being on the other side of the bench from Rob, but still)! As someone with a tendency to panic, I would have immediately been sweating so badly that everyone would know I had an idol. How Denise was able to keep her heart rate under control, I’ll never understand. Then, Danni gave Denise a fire token. This indicates Denise was able to maintain a close enough relationship with her (even while voting her out) that Danni wanted to give her a token over everyone else in the game. This tells me that Denise is nailing the social game.

But one thing is stopping me from giving Denise a Hot this week. She had terrible reads! First, Denise decides to go idol hunting with Ben, a person with a track record of finding idols. This is Ben’s thing. It’s his schtick. Why would she go idol hunting with someone who is so good at finding idols? Odds are, he’s going to find the idol over her. Maybe Denise wanted to keep an eye on him just in case? But Ben has said that he’s not hunting for idols this time around, which tells me that maybe this was Denise’s idea. Denise got lucky in that she found the idol before Ben.

Then, flag on the play, Denise has to split her idol. Players know that they should keep the idol secret, or at least tell as few people as possible. The move here was probably to give Ben the other half of the idol for two reasons. One, it minimizes the number of people who know about the idol. Two, it incentivizes Ben to keep the idol a secret. Even though Ben insisted that Denise give the idol to someone else, I think the move was to give it to him. Now, Ben has no tangible reason to keep that information a secret, and if the opportune moment arises (or, in Ben’s case, if Boston Rob looks at him), he’s going to spill the beans.

After that, Denise dances over to Adam and tells him she has the idol. Alright, awesome, that’s someone you’re aligned with and who is loyal to you. That’s a great person to hand the idol. *Record scratch* She wants to give it to Parvati. Say what now? Parvati, who seriously thought about eliminating either you or Adam last vote? I was completely with Adam when he told Denise that was a terrible idea. Thank goodness Adam successfully talked her out of that plan. Denise is an intelligent woman, but right now, other people are influencing her moves (and thank goodness they are).

GUS – DENISE STAPLEY – HOT

This is another player whose ranking I vacillated on, but the combination of her incredibly cool performance during Rob’s tribal grandstanding and her finding of an idol which she wisely DIDN’T give to Parvati. She has fledgling bonds with many of her tribemates. I think Denise is in a strong position due to her no longer being targeted and her potential to close on any number of alliances.

Ethan

ALI – ETHAN ZOHN – NOT

Sometimes, players get Nots because of what other people do in the game. This is the case for Ethan this week. Who could have seen Danni’s implosion coming? We didn’t! Gus and I both gave her Hots last week. Allegedly, I stated very confidently that she was safe. 

This week was terrible for Ethan. Danni outed the old school alliance, drawing a line in the sand. The old school is firmly in the minority, and the new school has every reason to pick them off. Ethan lost an ally this week, and now the spotlight is on him. Survivor is a game to be played in the shadows.

Thankfully, Ethan is the smallest target of the old school players. Then again, Danni was the former smallest target and look where that got her. I do think Ethan has enough connections with the new school group that he may come out of this in one piece, but only time will tell if they trust him after Danni completely blew up his spot.

GUS – ETHAN ZOHN – NOT

I hope I’m wrong. Ethan is a great and entertaining player, and I’m really hoping he’ll go deep in the game. However, the rise of Old vs. New and Ethan’s somewhat tertiary position in his alliance makes me worry that he could be more on the early side of the casualties from that back-and-forth. In the event that we see Parvati fall before Ethan, on the other hand, I could see Ethan moving rather far up my rankings.

Jeremy

ALI – JEREMY COLLINS – HOT

After a rough week last week, Jeremy exhibited why you never give up in Survivor. At the onset, Jeremy got an advantage from Natalie, giving him a little protection moving forward. Jeremy was a likely candidate to go this week if he didn’t turn it around. No one was going to eliminate Michele over fireman, father of four, physical beast, all-around good guy Jeremy (challenge wins aren’t as big of a consideration in returnee season strategy). 

Experienced players like Jeremy know that sometimes the best thing to do in the minority is to sit back and let one of the majority blow up their spot. Boy, did that happen this week. Not only did Jeremy successfully escape the chopping block, he also got himself in the majority within the majority. Danni blowing up the old school alliance was great for Jeremy because it forced the once fractured newbies together. There’s every indication that the new school players will be coming for the old school this week, putting Jeremy in a comfortable spot.

GUS – JEREMY COLLINS – HOT

(Real quick lemme just say that I ****ing hate this thing where EOE can send advantages into the game for Fire Tokens.)

OK, so, that having been said: Jeremy got a cool (if poorly named) advantage! Yay! I think this will come in handy big-time for him as he’s in the minority, although it’s not as cool as an idol. Beyond that, the target seems to have somewhat abandoned him as Old School vs. New School begins to solidify in the Sele tribe, and New School may carry a slight numerical edge over Old School. I also expect Natalie to continue feeding him advantages for as long as she’s able… which should be until he gets voted out (did I mention that I ****ing hate this EOE advantage thing?).

Michele

AlLI – MICHELE FITZGERALD – HOT

Similarly to Jeremy, Michele got herself back in the majority (and the majority within the majority). People like Adam were coming to her and pitching plans. This is important, so I’m going to repeat it, Adam came to Michele with plans to move forward. Michele didn’t have to scramble because people want to work with her. If people want to work with her, they don’t want to get rid of her. I know that sounds obvious, but it shows what a difference a few days can make in the game.

GUS – MICHELE FITZGERALD – NOT

Michele is in the New School group, which is good, and she was on board with getting Danni out, which is good, but apart from that, I’ve yet to see her do anything that would really define her game as being Hot.

Parvati

ALI – PARVATI SHALLOW – NOT

Occasionally, Parvati has this way of accidentally ostracizing other players. We’ve seen this kind of thing before with her. She made Eliza feel on the outs in Micronesia. Notably, she didn’t tell Russell before her big idol move, causing him to target her close ally, Danielle. For such a dominant social player, Parvati occasionally blunders, and it can come back to bite her in a big way.

Was Danni overly paranoid? Absolutely. I’m sure that her sudden flip was a huge surprise to Parvati. Although, a big part of Survivor is correctly assessing how to make one’s allies feel comfortable. Should Danni have walked over to the old school alliance when they were all hanging out without her? Yes. But her alliance should have realized they were alienating her by not inviting her to join them. 

I had a roommate in college (who is still my friend to this day) who was going to a party one night I really wanted to attend. I knew that if I straight up asked if I could go, she’d say yes. But I didn’t want to be “that person” who asked to go to a party. I wanted her to want me at the party. Even though I dropped hints, she never picked up on them, and I ended up not getting that invite. I imagine that’s how Danni felt on the beach that day. She wanted to be invited to the alliance party. On Survivor, it’s a player’s job to continually ask their allies to the party. They can’t assume the other person knows they’re invited, no matter how long they’ve been playing together. Continually checking in is essential in a game where things move so rapidly. 

While Ethan, Rob, and Parvati all share responsibility in not making Danni feel a part of the team, Danni specifically felt betrayed by Parvati, throwing a target on Parvati’s back. Now that Danni has given other players permission to target behemoth Parvati, it will be easier for the others to toss her name around going forward.

GUS – PARVATI SHALLOW – NOT

Ooh, boy, Ali’s gonna kill me…

Parvati failed to reinforce her bonds with Danni, which looks to be a continuation of her Achilles’ heel that plagued her in Heroes vs. Villains, where she failed to form strong bonds with people on the Heroes’ tribe. Her name is consistently being thrown out in a much more visible way than Rob’s, and all of her tribemates are listing her as a consistent and massive threat. If she sticks around, she might be golden, but I doubt whether or not she’ll be able to for too long.

And yet… in spite of all of this, Denise wanted to give Parvati an idol. Parvati wasn’t ultimately targeted. Parvati has a COLOSSAL meat shield in Rob. I hope somebody wises up to the foolishness of the ‘keep Parvati around as a meat shield’ strategy soon, else she very well may make it really deep.

AND YET… I feel like somebody will make that estimation soon, so Parv gets a Not.

Rob

ALI – ROB MARIANO – NOT

Rob said it himself, it’s a bad day to be him. His wife was voted out of the game in a specific attempt to weaken him. The message was clear. The other players haven’t forgotten he’s a threat. Even with Rob’s wife out of the game, Rob is still a clear target going forward. It barely impacted his threat level. If anything, now that other players know that gifts are coming from the Edge of Extinction, Rob gets more dangerous the longer he stays in the game.

While Rob smashed it in the challenges in the premiere, he got completely frazzled this past week. I think Amber’s elimination messed with Rob’s head and impacted his ability to perform. It’s understandable, but when one volunteers for the hero role, one has to be able to clinch it. Otherwise, it’s a bad look. Rob had a similar reaction to Tyson’s vote out on Heroes vs. Villains. When things don’t go Rob’s way, he gets rattled. With the others targeting Parvati next week, I wonder if there will be a lot of things that won’t be going Rob’s way moving forward. If Rob lets the game get to his head, he’ll have a rough time moving forward.

The final nail in the coffin for me is Rob’s play style. He’s a phenomenal player, but he only knows how to play a dictator game. Look at how Rob played on All-Stars, on Heroes vs. Villains, on Redemption Island, on this season. He only feels comfortable when he’s dictating the game. Just this week, he decided that this group of winners needed to dump their bags out at tribal so that he could look for idols. While it’s admirable that, even on this season, Rob can have that kind of influence over the game. This season isn’t full of scared newbies he can intimidate into submission for a prolonged period. Eventually, this group is going to tire of being told what to do, and Rob won’t know how to sink into the shadows.

GUS – ROB MARIANO – HOT

How Rob is not constantly a target is mindblowing to me. As Ethan so aptly put it, Rob’s performance in the immunity challenge this week “sucked.” He is also part of what appears to be slowly becoming a minority alliance in the “old school” crew. He has no idol, one of his allies jumped ship on him this week, and his nearest and dearest ally in Parvati was considered as the boot (apparently) until being discarded for one of his other allies. Yet, somehow, in spite of all of this, Rob continues to be on the top in his tribe, not be targeted for elimination, and have a large amount of say in who is going home week by week. Can this continue? I can only hope so.

DAKAL TRIBE

Kim

ALI – KIM SPRADLIN-WOLFE – NOT

Kim found an idol! Yay! I automatically assumed she was going to give the other half to Tyson. Sure, he demonstrated he wouldn’t have an issue throwing her under the bus last vote, but he’s the only one remotely in Kim’s corner. As Adam points out to Denise (we’ll get to this moment later), you want to give your idol to someone loyal to you. Sophie is not that person. Kim’s poor judgment earns her a Not this week. 

GUS – KIM SPRADLIN-WOLFE – NOT

This was a hard week for Kim. While she found an idol, she made the colossal mistake of sharing that information with one of the fulcrums of the alliance that was targeting her. I do believe that this was a calculated gamble—a play to bring Sophie around and get into one another’s good graces—but unfortunately, it seems to have failed. Kim has a massive uphill battle as it is with being widely considered one of the GOAT castaways, and it looks like every attempt she makes at gameplay is just flagged as her being too kind and too social.

Sandra

ALI – SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE – NOT

I’m concerned that Sandra is going to bear the brunt of the Amber vote. Rob looked like he was about to murder her at the challenge. It looks like we’re being set up for a confrontation between the two, and if that happens in game, it’ll be terrible for both of their games.

GUS – SANDRA DIAZ-TWINE – HOT

I’m really just so happy that Sandra is still in the game. She’s got her idol, she’s got (some degree of) friends, and she’s got puzzle prowess (although I think this week it was less her puzzle prowess and more Boston Rob’s puzzle ineptitude that pulled out the win for Dakal). The preview implied that Tyson might be targeting her next week, but I’m confident in the Queen’s ability to a) switch the target to anyone but her, or b) idol someone out.

Nick

ALI – NICK WILSON – HOT

We didn’t see a lot from Nick this week, but he was in the majority last week. No one appears to be gunning for him. I think he’s safe for now.

GUS – NICK WILSON – NOT

Nick didn’t really do anything this week. No real fault of his, as far as I can tell, and I’m a massive hypocrite for giving him a Not while I give Wendell, who is in the exact same strategic position, a Hot. But… sorry. I’m giving Nick a Not.

Tyson

ALI – TYSON APOSTOL – NOT

Not a ton of Tyson this week. I think if Kim’s still on the outs, he probably is too. Because Tyson didn’t elevate his position at all, I’m going to have to give him another Not.

GUS – TYSON APOSTOL – NOT

Tyson made some good strides this week insofar as NOT doing what Kim did; however, he also seems to have been dropped by Kim in her struggle to reintegrate with the majority and violently distance herself from the “Poker Players Alliance.” I think this means that Kim is a likelier target than Tyson is, especially considering that Kim has (half of) an idol (unless Sophie had to give it back, which I’m really not clear on). However, barring that, it seems as though Tyson has become somewhat of a free agent.

Actually, you know what? I’ve got a good feeling about where Tyson is headed. I think he’s on the up and up, and I think in a week or so he’ll be in a really good spot. This week, I’m not wholly confident enough in his chances to give him a Hot, however, and so he’s going to (unfortunately) remain juuuust on the far side of Not for me.

Wendell

ALI – WENDELL HOLLAND – HOT

Again, not a ton of Wendell this week. However, it appears he’s in with the majority and playing an under the radar game. 

GUS – WENDELL HOLLAND – HOT

Wendell didn’t really do anything this episode, so that means that nothing really changed for him, and he was Hot last week, so he’s Hot this week too. I guess he’s sticking to his “don’t do too much in the pre-merge” strategy. I hope it works out for him.

Sarah

ALI – SARAH LACINA – HOT

Sarah really paid off in dividends for me this week. Last week, I defended her from Gus, who constantly insists on bashing her. Look at her now! She’s got a great thing going with Sandra and Tony but has the game smarts to know to keep that quiet. Like her or not, Sarah’s a smart player, and she’s playing well this time around.

GUS – SARAH LACINA – HOT

I’m happy to say that I seem to have been wrong about Sarah. She’s approaching the pre-existing relationships thing REALLY WELL with Tony, insofar as wanting to work with him without seeming to be working with him. Plus, her name hasn’t even come up yet so far as I’ve heard, and that’s truly amazing for someone who was numerically Public Enemy Number One in the pregame press.

I do worry that Sarah might either get betrayed by Tony again later on (as happened in the first ill-fated “Cops R Us’ alliance… as Tony so kindly pointed out to us) or that she might become Tony’s new Trish and lose somewhere near the end. For the time being, however, I’m really impressed with Sarah’s game (and I’m really happy with how much I’m enjoying it!).

Sophie

ALI – SOPHIE CLARKE – HOT

I’m super here for mob boss Sophie Clarke coming out to play. She has no intention of working with Kim but had no problem taking half of her idol. Seeing legendary player Kim Spradlin so thoroughly duped was mind-boggling. Sophie was dazzling this week, especially in her confessionals. Now that Sophie’s in with Yul, she has endless potential going forward.

GUS – SOPHIE CLARKE – HOT

Sophie’s got people coming to her from all sides to try to work with her: she’s still a core piece of the Yulliance, and Kim decided that, of all people, Sophie was the one to just up and GIVE HALF OF AN IDOL. Good golly, is that a good sign for Sophie… or is it?

Part of me wonders if Kim’s move is indicative of her seeing Sophie as being a power player in the game. Similar to how Denise thought about giving her idol to Parvati, Kim might have been looking to Sophie as a suppliant rather than a bondsmith. If that’s the case, I worry a little bit for Sophie being targeted as a strong player; but if, as I suspect, Kim came to her not as a peasant to an empress but rather simply in the hopes of forging an alliance, Sophie should be in good standing for some time.

Tony

ALI – TONY VLACHOS – HOT

Tony’s just a beautiful mess, and I feel so lucky to have him on my screens for another week. I’m very stoked to see the shark moment next week. I have a feeling that it’s going to become a top Survivor moment. If it takes a ladder and a shark to keep Tony’s mind occupied enough that he doesn’t blow up his game, so be it. Say what you want about Tony, but he’s taken the time to reflect on his Game Changers experience and is taking the necessary steps to improve. His antics are entertaining the tribe, and sometimes being entertaining can incentivize people to keep the fun player around. 

Also, as a side note, I appreciated that Tony had everyone else carry the ladder even though he built the ladder and the whole escapade was his idea.

GUS – TONY VLACHOS – HOT

I would happily have watched the ladder thing for an entire episode. That was hilarious. If CBS released a secret scene of that and only that which was just uncut footage of the entire thing, I would make it my new homepage.

Tony is doing shockingly well at sticking to his strategy of not acting shady. I like that he’s doing this by channeling his crazy energy into wildly impractical and vaguely dangerous camp tasks, but I believe it’s succeeding in keeping the target off of him from a strategy perspective. The extent of the camp discussion surrounding Tony this week had to do with his ladder and his inefficient Breadfruit gathering, and I think that’s exactly what he’d been hoping for.

Yul

ALI – YUL KWON – HOT

Last week, it looked like Sophie and Yul were running things on this tribe. Now, it looks like Sarah, Tony, and Sandra have something going on as well. However, Yul and Sophie are under the radar in a way the other group can’t be. Going forward, Yul is in a great position to run the table.

I do hope he learns how to pronounce Sandra, though.

GUS – YUL KWON – HOT

BREADFRUIT! Yul didn’t do much of tactical significance this week, but he made an effort to provide for his tribe, and he didn’t almost squish half of his tribe in the process (cough cough Tony). I can’t see him going this week.

TrashTalkZOne

ALI: First, no comment. Second, I really enjoyed that you and I both praised Ben for not taking the idol right out of Denise’s hands. We just expected Ben to go full WWE on Denise for the idol. Full Golem vs. Frodo for the ring. Third, this might be the most we have ever disagreed in the history of this column.

GUS: You don’t just get to “no comment” your way out of saying that Danni was the one who was guaranteed safety. That’s not how that works. Own it. I think you’re right, though. This might be the least consensus we’ve ever had. What does this mean for our impending nuptials?

ALI: In my defense, you know how in The Avengers, Dr. Strange says there’s only one scenario in which The Avengers wins? He would also say that about Danni going home. It’s rare to see someone blow up their own game that thoroughly in a returnee season. I’m wracking my brain to think of similar instances where a returnee has done that much damage in a single episode.

GUS: I’m as surprised as you are. But Danni is gone, and we’ve ceased doing the whole “kindled/ashen” thing because I’d bet heavily on nobody quitting EOE this season. So, with that in mind, how DARE you come after the Queen like this?

ALI: I went back and forth on Sandra this week. Rob knew instantly she had something to do with Amber going home. If they get swapped together, she’s completely screwed. On the other hand, Sandra does well with an adversary, so maybe she can save herself. In the long run, I don’t think it’s a great plan to have Boston Rob as her enemy. The other players are also starting to come for the greats, and she’s on Mount Rushmore. If her tribe follows suit, she’s a goner. On the other hand, again, Sandra’s got the idol, so maybe she’ll be okay? It’s hard to know. 

GUS: She and Boston Rob aren’t even on the same tribe. Nobody has thrown her name out more than as a “theoretically we should get Sandra out, right?” thing. And I’m sorry, but who is coming for the greats? Our boots so far have been Natalie, Amber, and Danni, and as much as I love Natalie, nobody’s about to call Natalie one of the Idols. There has been DISCUSSION of coming for SOME of the greats, but Sandra’s name has so far only really been thrown out by Amber (who is gone), and apparently Tyson (who is in the minority). Plus, she’s got an idol. She’ll be fine!

ALI: There’s been a lot of discussion in the direction of getting rid of Parvati. They literally got rid of Amber because of Boston Rob. She wouldn’t have gone in a vacuum. Kim and Tyson are in huge trouble too. 

GUS: Kim and Tyson are on her tribe, and both of them are in much more trouble than she is. Why boot Sandra pre-merge? That’s what everyone must be asking themselves out there—why bother? She’ll never win an immunity. We can get rid of her later. Better to take out TYSON, who is famous for having a strategy whereby he fakes being injured and then pulls out clutch immunity wins. Also, I’m sorry, but I just saw that you gave Adam Klein a Not, and I need to stop talking about anything else other than how outrageous of a choice that was.

ALI: Sandra could win the tiny foothold thing. She had two babies, didn’t even get an Aspirin. Adam’s issue is always in his delivery. He likes to tell people what to do. Telling Denise outright that her idea was terrible is questionable. Typically, winners try to have a little more finesse. Also, he made a bit of a scene at tribal, casting a lot of attention on himself. And, despite him gunning for Parvati, she’s still in the game. In what world is that an outrageous choice? What’s outrageous is you giving Boston Rob a Hot after this week.

GUS: No, no, we can’t leave Adam behind just yet. Sorry. Back up for a second. You say that Adam needs some velvet hammer, and I agree with that… but I would also argue that he was starting to display just that very quality in this week’s episode. He was sitting down the beach with Michele and Jeremy and discussing the next boot, and they asked him, “would you push for Parvati?” or something like that, and he didn’t say ANYTHING for like 25 seconds. He just gauged their reaction and estimated their hopes and dreams for AGES until essentially going, “I mean, would you?” Yeah, sure he was pushy with Denise, but much more pushy in confessional than he was to her face. Also, let’s be honest here: giving Parvati half of an idol would be a god-tier bad decision.

ALI: I’ll give you that. Not sure what Denise was thinking. And yet, you still gave her a Hot. We’ll get to that in a minute though.

GUS: OK, on to Rob, who has not been targeted even a little bit and who Adam even directly said of, “we need Rob,” apparently for his brute Dad-Strength.

ALI: In the words of Ethan, “you (Rob) sucked today.” He completely blew the challenge. Were I Denise, I would have been pissed with how he handled himself in that. That “look at me” stuff is what teachers and parents do to kids. She’s a grown woman. And then he proceeds to be part of alienating Danni. He should know more than anybody the importance of keeping an alliance solidly together. He was militant about it on Redemption Island. I think that what went down with Danni is going to be their undoing. If Rob keeps blowing it in the challenges, there’s one less reason to keep him around.

GUS: Rob sucked at one puzzle. Last week he very literally carried his entire team. If he sprains a tendon or something and can’t beast mode through the physical portions, yeah, maybe he’d be in danger. I think everyone was totally fine with the fact that he was despondent over Amber’s elimination and just wasn’t at his best. Parvati was the secondary target, not Rob. Rob got zero votes. Rob was the target of zero votes. Nobody is so much as looking at Rob. Rob also wasn’t the one who Danni felt ostracized by; it was Parv. Amber is gone, so Rob has no pre-existing strings tying him down.

ALI: The old school alliance got blown up, and now everyone is looking at them. Danni going home wasn’t great for Rob’s longevity.

GUS: Longevity, no. He’s on a downward slope. He could go home in the event of an imminent swap. However… I don’t think that’s gonna happen right away. But we’ll see.

ALI: I thought part of Hot or Not was who has the potential to go far, not just survive a vote or two.

GUS: Yeah, it is. I don’t think Rob put himself in a significantly worse long-term position this week. I think he put himself in a slightly worse long-term position, and if it gets even worse, THEN I’ll give him a Not.

Speaking of, I’m not sure where you’re getting your Michele vibes from. What has she done to merit a Hot?

ALI: Last week, she was on the outs. This week, she found herself successfully back in the majority. People were coming to her for the vote like I said. It was rather effortless for her to find her way out of the bottom, and that’s a really tricky thing to do. Just because we didn’t get whole segments devoted to it doesn’t mean she didn’t do anything. She made herself approachable and let Danni blow herself up. She didn’t panic and get paranoid. She did what she needed to do to survive to next week (and probably longer than many of the people you gave a Hot). Is she playing a winning game right now? No, but it’s the pre-merge, and nothing really counts until merge. She doesn’t have to do anything but survive and find her people. She’s doing that work. She’s not going home this week, and I feel so confident about that. You giving Wendell a Hot and Michele a Not when Michele was in a far more precarious position than Wendell and managed to stay in the game is ludicrous. As is your giving Nick a Not, but you already called out your own hypocrisy there. You’re just making sure that if one of these quieter players goes in a one episode blaze of glory that you’re covered. 

GUS: Nick and Wendell and Michele all fall under the same general category of “I don’t really know,” honestly. I’m happy to let all of those lie. Okay, who’s going home this week and who’s safe?

ALI: 

Dakal:

In trouble: Kim (No explanation needed.) 

Safe: Sarah (shocking after Dalton Ross’s pre-season votes, but she’s playing well and in a nice alliance).

Sele:

In trouble: Rob (Parvati will be the decoy, but people are mad at Rob for making them empty their bags).

Safe: Michele (I’m positive this time).

GUS:

Dakal: 

In trouble: How about Sarah? Just for kicks.

Safe: Sandra (fight me).

Sele: 

In trouble: Parvati (FIGHT ME)

Safe: Ben!


Written by

Ali & Gus

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 cracked.com. Alexandra’s play, Twelve, won first place in the Jackie White National Memorial Playwriting Contest in 2018. Gus Schlanbusch is a Chicago-based playwright, theatre director and Survivor fan. His plays have been produced in Chicago, Detroit and Boston. He is a relatively new survivor superfan, his first live season having been Season 33, but Ali has caught him up pretty thoroughly on what he missed before then.


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