Survivor: Winners At War

Episode 3 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not after Week 3?

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.




Jeremy is probably going to keep on getting advantages from Natalie, and he’s still got the “Imma Head Out” thing in his pocket. He stared down an irate Boston Rob, and he’s got Michele on his side. I don’t see Jeremy going home soon.

I’m curious about his apparent desire to keep Boston Rob around, though. I feel like trying to use Rob as a meat shield is an incredibly dangerous strategy, especially when you’ve executed two of Rob’s allies in a row. It seems probable to me that Rob isn’t going to be satisfied being a shield, and will instead want to get back at Jeremy for targeting Ethan. I’m excited to find out.


Like Denise, Jeremy has a nice little bag of tricks. He’s got something that can remove him from Tribal Council. And he has Natalie hanging out for him on Extinction, handing him advantages when she can. I don’t think Ethan’s presence is going to make a difference to Natalie’s ability to solve the Extinction puzzles, so I foresee Jeremy having a helping hand from here on out. Plus, Jeremy and Michele are starting to emerge as leaders of their tribe, which is a vast improvement on Jeremy’s position from two episodes ago.



Ben didn’t blow up his own game. He also voted with an alliance. He’s laying low(er) than he has been. And more than that, he’s one of the only people who knows about Denise’s idol. I’m high on Ben. I don’t seem him getting voted out any time soon unless Adam flips or something crazy.


Ben went from the wildcard last week to firmly in an alliance this week. What a turn around. Adam is now public enemy number one, spoiler of plans. This leaves Ben to coast and let Adam take the fall. Ben’s private dancing himself into safety, and I’m here for it.



Midway through the episode, I turned to Ali and said, “why did you give Michele a Hot last week? She’s not DOING anything.” Then this episode happened, and WOW have I been sleeping on Michele.

I would imagine that there was more give-and-take and mutual hatching of plans between Michele and Jeremy than we got to see, but all the same, Michele did a terrific job of driving the vote to get out Ethan. I wish that I knew more about WHY Michele wanted to keep Parvati, besides the obvious “to spite Adam,” which I don’t think is enough… but nonetheless, the control and power that Michele had over the target this week was impressive and sets her up for strong play going forward.


TAKE THAT AGAIN, GUS! The two women I said would be coming in hot last week are paying off. Michele took charge of the vote when things were falling apart. She showed she’s here to play, and I’m excited to see what she does next.

My one question is why Michele didn’t choose to go for Boston Rob when she had this chance. My theory is that it was a combination of Michele wanting Parvati around as a potential social meat shield, wanting to leave Adam out of the plan, and wanting to punish Adam by getting rid of an ally. The best part about this whole thing for Michele is that, even though she orchestrated the blindside, all eyes are still going to be on Adam.



Nothing like a little bit of overconfidence for a season such as this. Adam, outrageously, decided it would be tremendously wise to treat Boston Rob like someone that’s On The Outs just because Boston Rob was, in fact, On The Outs. This is something that should never be done, no matter how On The Outs Boston Rob may be, and I have no idea why Adam thought it would be a good plan. Instead of actually getting his way, Adam managed to destroy his own spot and completely fail at playing the middle… which ALMOST NEVER WORKS. I got HUGE Angelina/Elizabeth vibes from Adam’s play this week and was not happy about it.

Apart from the above, I think Adam CAN salvage this play. He torpedoed himself pretty hard, but he’s certainly not in an inescapable hole. If Adam can rekindle his relationships with the folks on his tribe or get lucky with a swap, he might still stand a chance. If Sele goes back to Tribal, though, I think a Rob or Parvati boot is more likely than an Adam boot, but it’s possible that he’d be gone.


Sweet, sweet Adam. He really blew his game up this week. First, he went to Ethan and told him that his ally, Parvati, would be his target. This drove Ethan to turn on Adam, which was the exact opposite of Adam’s intentions. 



Yeah, so I was wrong about Boston Rob still being this God-Tier threat and player and everyone following his lead. They CERTAINLY didn’t follow his lead this week. Rob played really well, but that was as much a function of Adam’s overconfidence as it was of Rob’s strengths as a Survivor player. All in all, I’m concerned for Rob going forward; people may want to work with him for the time being, but especially considering his strength in challenge performance, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him voted out in anticipation of a swap or, later, the merge.


I said last week that Rob’s bullheadedness would be an issue, and I was proven right. Ben had enough of Rob and went straight to the other side. Boston Rob honestly got lucky this episode that the others were targeting Parvati over him, and that Ethan somehow went home at the end of the day. If Parvati goes, Rob is the logical choice to go next. Rob needs to realize that he’s not in the driver’s seat on this tribe, or he’s going to be driving straight to Extinction. 



Parvati seems to still be displaying the same flaws she had in Heroes vs. Villains—not connecting adequately enough with those outside of her alliance. I think this is purely because of the editing this season. Still, we really have yet to see Parvati do much of anything except for 1) be in an alliance with Rob and 2) talk about murdering Adam, which ultimately didn’t happen. Sure, it seems as though Michele is hoping to work with her, but if Sele goes back to Tribal, I think the boot will either be Adam or Parvati (and I think Parvati is slightly more likely).


Once people have your name in their mouths, it’s hard to get it back out. Now that people are starting to go for the big guns, it looks like Parvati may be in the most trouble. Luckily for Parvati, she has a history of climbing her way out of these scenarios, but a part of me wonders if she’s going to be able to pull that off with players of this caliber. With Ethan gone, Parvati is at a huge numbers disadvantage. Her only hope is that Rob manages to get himself into more trouble.



I’m thrilled that Adam gave half of the idol back to Denise. With a full idol in her pocket and a strong alliance (many of whom don’t know about said idol), she’s in a good position going forward towards a swap or merge. She betrayed her closest ally in Adam—which is a bummer—but that’s Adam’s fault, not Denise’s. With tight connections to Michele, Jeremy and Ben, and an existing tight two with Adam that I think may still exist, Denise looks to be in a great spot.


A great week for my winner pick! She now has a full idol in play, has an extra fire token, and has solidly found herself in the majority (though she may need to cut Adam loose). I think without Adam to anchor her, Denise stands to thrive on this tribe. She’s an athletic older woman, so no one will be eliminating her for challenges (not that this is usually a big concern on returnee seasons). Just in case, Denise has a bag of tricks she can turn to if she gets in trouble. All hail Denise!




I believe Tyson erred in aiming at the Queen. Will it come back to bite him? Probably. Might it not? Maybe. Was it worth a try anyway? Not before they were going to Tribal, I don’t think. Tyson perhaps should be focusing more on just getting into his tribemates’ good graces than going hard on the strategy front, especially considering the main strategy of his tribemates, which is “don’t be a strategic threat.”


Tyson had a plan of action this week to get out of his rough spot. The problem is that it looks like his plan to eliminate Sandra will blow up in his face next week. Truth is, at this point in the game, Tyson is optically a bigger threat than Sandra. Tyson can win challenges, whereas Sandra can be taken out at any time. If Sandra keeps pushing the poker alliance agenda (along with Yul and Sophie), Tyson could easily go pre-merge.



Dakal has had so little non-goofy content lately that it’s really very hard for me to say anything about Sophie’s gameplay. As far as I can tell, she and Yul are still killing the strategic game, and nobody is coming after them, and that’s really all I know. She’s doing fine.


Call me crazy, but I’m getting winner vibes from Sophie. She’s aligned with Yul, who’s a great meat shield for her. On top of that, everyone seems to be coming to her or her close ally (Yul) with any and all information. They’re the power players right now, but there are so many bigger threats than those two around that they slip under the radar in ways they could never on any other season. I’m really getting good vibes from Sophie!



I don’t want to be on the fence about Sandra, but I’m a little tiny bit on the fence about Sandra. I could absolutely see Yul coming after her next week, and if she’s not expecting it, I could see her not playing her idol either (it’s good for two more Tribals, so she might want to save it). At the same time, Sandra has started trying to be more of a quote-unquote “provider” around camp, which I don’t think is going to be her strongest suit, but I do believe it will help her at least in the eyes of some among the tribe (Yul).

Sandra should be target number one—and if her tribe was losing challenges, she almost definitely would be. However, since they get to sit people out for EVERY challenge, and Sandra’s poor challenge performance won’t hinder her throughout the pre-merge (short of a swap), I would hope that she’ll be able to stick around for some time—until the merge, at least. It’s not out of the question that she might get eliminated in the same way that she got booted out of Game Changers, though, especially if she and Rob end up on a tribe together.


This is killing me to say, but Sandra’s strategy this season is worrying me a little bit. Sandra wants to prove her worth to the tribe by helping them catch fish and such. Ozzy can tell you that this isn’t a winning strategy. Maybe Sandra took too many Facebook haters to heart, I don’t know. What I do know is that Tyson correctly assessed Sandra as an “easy vote.” He’s not wrong. Others will likely want to save Sandra and keep her as a shield going forward. Though, I’m concerned that Sandra may be too focused on the fish and not focused enough on when something is fishy. I know she has an idol, but we’ve seen people go with idols in their pockets before.



Wendell, much like Nick, is still in the game. That is all I can say. I have arbitrarily decided that Wendell is playing better than Nick, and I am definitely right about that, and it’s not at all the result of a coin flip due to insufficient data. #GoWendell


There isn’t a lot to go on with Wendell. He has more real-world connections on this cast than Nick, giving Wendell a slight edge.



There’s not a lot to say about the strategic game being played on Dakal, purely because they really haven’t had to do anything with their strategy for a good long while. Yul seems to still be the crux of all of the major strategy talk—Tyson working through him to target Sandra, he and Sophie working together with Sandra to figure things out about targeting Tyson—so he’s likely still in a good spot. However, I am a little concerned that Yul might get found out as the dude playing the middle (for lack of a better term) and that he could find himself targeted. But that’s all dependent on Sandra and Tyson talking, and it’s also reliant on EVERYBODY outside of his Core 4 being allied against him. I feel currently like that’s unlikely but possible, so for the time being, Yul remains Hot.


People are coming to Yul like he’s The Godfather. He’s hearing every plan and deciding what works best for his game. The only person, in my opinion, who is in a better position than Yul, is Sophie. Yul is the frontman, but that also makes him a target down the line. For now, Yul’s in a great spot, and it tickles me to see Yul and Sophie work together.



Sarah’s got herself a vote steal (which I will maintain for the rest of my life that she did NOT play correctly in Game Changers because Michaela would have gone home anyway, but, hey, whatever). She’s got a tight alliance with Tony. She still looks to have feelers out with Sandra, and she’s incredibly entertaining. I can’t see her going this week.


TAKE THAT, GUS! Sarah was on fire this week. She’s secured a great alliance with Tony and Sandra (and by extension, Sophie and Yul). Her content was absolutely hysterical this week, and Winners at War Sarah is quickly becoming my favorite Sarah. That sneaking through the camp scene and everything with Tony was just TV gold. She’s just such a fantastic foil for his antics. I’m pitching a buddy cop show with the two of them to CBS! On top of everything, she’s got an extra vote that can help her out in a pinch. I’m feeling great about Sarah this week.



This is more of a cautionary measure than anything. I don’t think Kim is in quite as much trouble as she had been: she has at least half of an idol, and she may or may not have some allies outside of Tyson. It’s really hard to say because she hasn’t been a huge part of the strategy discussion.


We didn’t see a ton of Kim this week, but I’m assuming she’s in as much trouble now as she was when we last saw her. A lone Wolfe without a pack is a dead Wolfe.



I’ve never enjoyed any Survivor Tony or Tony Clone as much as I’ve been enjoying WaW Tony. The guy is just nonstop entertainment. In no small part, I have to imagine that this is because nobody from Dakal has been in danger for like eight days, but ignoring that, Tony has had a solid week in which he could either skeez his tribe out or become an entertaining and helpful presence… and he seems to have been succeeding at the latter in SPADES. Combined with the renewed Cops-R-Us alliance (leading to one of the funniest moments on Survivor since… well, since last week’s ladder scene, I guess) where Sarah and Tony were sneaking late at night with Tony shaking a ****ING STICK in front of him as some kind of dowsing rod/cane… I mean, the guy is in such a good spot.


Tony is just TV gold. I just adore him. And the best part is that his antics seem to be lessening his threat level where once they raised it. Tony also has the benefit of being aligned with one of the few more threatening winners, Sandra. If Tony can keep clowning around and keep the idol hunting to a minimum, he stands a great chance of making it to the merge. 



Nick technically got a confessional this week, if you can count screaming “AUURGH.” He’s… still in the game. Which is all I can say. Unfortunately. But, then again, as he put it on Twitter, he’s on a tribe with the Queen and Tony. If he were getting more screen time, it would almost be upsetting. Nick’s getting a Not because I don’t want to give both him and Wendell the same ranking. It’s completely arbitrary. Sorry, Nick.


It’s tough to say what Nick’s up to on the island right now, which makes it hard to confidently call him either a Hot or a Not. I’ll say that typically if I really feel like I have nothing to go on, I’ll play it safe and give the person a Not (for those go down in flames that occasionally pop up). While I don’t think that Nick will flame out, I don’t really know anything about his handle on the game. The one thing I could observe was that it seems he may be spending a lot of time with Sandra, as they were in many shots together. Other than that, sorry, Nick!


GUS: Look, I gotta be real with you. As much as I love Wendell, that’s not the hill I want to die on. His Hot from me is completely arbitrary and based on almost nothing.

ALI: It’s not a hill I want to die on either. I just couldn’t decide what to do with him and Nick, so it felt safest just to give them Nots for now.

GUS: I mean you’re right, I just thought that was the coward’s way out, so…

ALI: My people have a proud tradition of fleeing when things get hard. I carry on their cowardly traditions in this article. I feel zero shame about it. 

You have to earn a Hot from me. And I didn’t see enough to show me they earned a Hot. Therefore, a Not it is! Probably editing and not them (knowing how great they are on their seasons), but all the same, I have to go with what I see. Bold of you to give Sandra a Hot.

GUS: You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about…

  1. Sandra is suddenly a provider? That’s cool. She caught a shark. “Sandra’s Shark,” as Tony so aptly put it.
  2. Tyson went for Sandra. Yul immediately told Sandra. Sandra then fired up the “f*** Tyson Up” engine.
  3. Sandra has an idol.
  4. In the preview for the next episode, we see TYSON approaching Sandra with a plan to vote out, potentially, Yul, meaning that somehow, Sandra has found herself in the middle and in a power position in her tribe.
  5. Apart from Tyson, nobody seems interested in targeting Sandra.


  1. Sandra had an entire confessional talking about how her strategy is to provide this time around. Did you fall asleep during it? How dare you? The Queen was speaking.
  2. Sandra was still a target, and Yul said that he viewed Sandra as a wild card and considered not working with her.
  3. People with idols get eliminated all the time.
  4. This is true. I hope it works out.
  5. Yul literally talked about it. Also, a swap is definitely coming in the nearish future, and others are wanting to take out big guns.


  1. My point is she was succeeding at that strategy.
  2. Yul considered not working with her. Then he worked with her.
  3. They also play them correctly a lot.
  4. Yes, it is.
  5. BUT THEY HAVEN’T. Nobody has done that. And I have yet to hear anyone else except Rob, who has zero power, talk about getting rid of Sandra.

You’re right that there are theoretical solutions to all of these points that I’ve made where Sandra gets voted out, but we’re talking about several edge cases.


  1. Ozzy caught things too.
  2. Yul is working with her now. What about after Tyson and Kim are gone?
  3. Fine.
  4. Fine.
  5. Fine.

We’ll see. If all goes sideways for Sandra, I’ll be here to dry your tears. I have a bad feeling right now. Okay, who is going from each tribe?

GUS: It’s hard to say. I’m gonna contradict my self a little.

DAKAL: Sophie.

SELE: Adam (though it breaks my heart).

ALI: SOPHIE?! You’re high! Whatever, you can have your bad guess. I’m going with…

DAKAL: Kim (hearts are broken).

SELE: Parvati (breaking every heart ever).

I think the safe ones are…


SELE: *Penner voice* Denise.

GUS: Safe?


SELE: Michele.

Thanks for reading, as always!

ALI: Bye!

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 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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