Survivor: Winners At War

Episode 4 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not after Week 4?

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.



It’s always tricky to place players in the event of a tribe swap, but I’ll do my best. I’m honestly shocked that Kim is still in the game. The tribe swap couldn’t have come at a better time for her now that her only real ally, Tyson, is out of the game. This doesn’t mean she’s out of the woods yet. At the moment, Kim doesn’t have many allies, and should the numbers turn against her, she might not have a place to turn.

On the other hand, this may be an opportunity for her to flip the script. Though, will people be super eager to work with one of the best players in history? I doubt it. Only time will tell if Kim will be able to salvage her game. If anyone can do it, it’s Kim.


Kim ALMOST got a Hot from me because of her idol. My thought process was I think she won’t be targeted due to her current position of being a potential target for flipping, so really the only way I could see her going home is if she either gets swapped onto an all-Dakal tribe or a 4-1 Dakal/Sele tribe. And even then, it wouldn’t happen for a while because of her idol. Then I thought: actually, wait. Does Kim have her whole idol? We don’t actually know, do we?

I have to assume that if we didn’t see Sophie give Kim the idol back, we can’t think in good faith that Kim has it, so… Yeah, no, that’s actually really bad for Kim. Though, she might take the opportunity to flip… but then again, that might be a bad idea too. This is all wild conjecture, which is based entirely on the swap, so I’ll just say that Kim’s position is poor, and she lost an ally this week in Tyson, so I worry for her going forward.



Sandra got eliminated because of the tribe swap in Game Changers, and I fear the same may be true for her this season. She’s fabulous at getting her tendrils into people early on, and by some miracle, she can manipulate her way into staying in the game that way. In a tribe swap, all of the work Sandra does is undone because many of her new tribemates owe her nothing. There’s also a part of me that wonders if the tribe swap will be a great opportunity to eliminate a huge threat in the game. Players are going to be itching to be the one who gets rid of the queen, and I worry that they may jump at the opportunity. 

I also don’t think it was the right thing for Sandra to get rid of Tyson. She needs to make sure that she’s focused on keeping the bigger targets around, and with Tyson gone, she just got a lot more visible. Sandra’s playing a great game, and it’s frankly a miracle she’s still around. But if I’m right that the swap is going to produce three tribes of five, that doesn’t leave her with anywhere to hide. I’m nervous Sandra’s about to get benched for good. 


I’m absolutely devastated to say this, but I have to give Sandra a Not this week. Her consistent strategy of sitting out of challenges, highly effective so far at covering up her extreme lack of challenge prowess, is no longer viable at this point in the game. Without a numbers majority in her tribe, Sandra will have to participate in immunity challenges—which could seriously hinder her stock among her tribe.

I do think Sandra was right to get rid of Tyson this week; Sandra’s strategy has always been to eliminate people coming after her, and had Sandra wound up on a swap tribe with Tyson, she’d have been in tremendously hot water. Maybe the decision will come back to bite her, but I think it was the right thing to do all things considered. Luckily Sandra’s got an idol good for one more Tribal, so she should be OK short of Nullifier shenanigans from the Edge (I’m not gonna rule it out), but in that case, she’d be all but doomed should her tribe lose immunity afterward.



I’ve often said that if you’re the decoy target, then that showcases your position in the tribe. Multiple members of Nick’s tribe spoke about his lack of work around camp. People complained about Nick’s work ethic on David vs. Goliath, as well. Now, helping around camp won’t make or break a game, but it can draw negative attention if one doesn’t help enough. The trick is to help out enough that one continues to fly under the radar. Nick didn’t learn this the last time he played and apply it to his game this time around, and it made him a target. 

Survivor’s a social game, and people may be annoyed that Nick isn’t producing his fair share. This kind of reputation can make or break a game, and I fear that may be the case for Nick.


Nick got votes, so he’s on the losing end of the Wendell/Nick coin-flip. The swap could be good or bad for him; he’s up in numbers (by 1) being on Dakal, so I think he’ll be okay.



Wendell is playing a great under the radar game. Has he done much in the game? Not so far. I think that’s exactly what he should be doing. Wendell’s a huge social threat, so the correct move is for him to keep his head down until the merge. 

It looks like he’s about to be swapped on a tribe with his ex-girlfriend, Michele. Surprise! I actually think this is going to be a boon for his game. The split, based on some light social media stalking, appears to be amicable. In Survivor, the smallest connections can bind people together and carry them through the game. It looks as though this season is favoring lower profile winners, and Michele and Wendell both fit that bill (especially with how Wendell is playing this time around).


Thought I’d mix it up this week on my Nick/Wendell coinflip. Based on the preview, it’s reasonable to believe that Wendell ends up on a tribe with Michele. She mentioned her ex; I’m almost certain that’s Wendell. What does this mean for Wendell? I really don’t know. Maybe she’ll target him. She might also get targeted because he’s there. There’s no real way to say.



Tyson was a loyal ally in the game, but I’m actually encouraged by Sarah cutting him. Usually, I would say that eliminating an ally is a bad idea. In this case, the tides were turning against Tyson, and Sarah had lots of options other than Tyson. If anything, her connection to Tyson would have probably brought her down. While Sarah did her best to save Tyson, she recognized that her relationship with Sandra would ultimately be more beneficial. In addition, Tyson was going to be more loyal to others in the game over her, so there was good reason to be rid of him. To me, this indicates Sarah’s ability to be flexible, and in Survivor, that’s invaluable. She also has an advantage, so that’s a plus.


Sarah has an advantage, which—I hate to say it—automatically bumps her up a little bit in survivability immediately post-swap. She’s also got strong alliances that are somewhat under the radar, which also bodes well for the immediate post-swap. She’s also good at challenges. I don’t see her going anywhere this week.



Sophie experienced a bit of a cool down episode this week. That doesn’t concern me at this point. Sophie’s best chance is to keep laying low and letting everyone else pick each other off. In the meantime, she’s in a stable duo and voting with the majority. Barring getting swap screwed, Sophie’s in it for the long haul. 


Sophie’s got a decent alliance, and nobody’s really looked at her as a target yet. Tyson straight-up forgot her name. While this doesn’t necessarily bode well for her chances to win at this point, it does suggest to me that no matter how the swap shakes out, she’ll sneak through alright. Also, her target went home this week, which is a big plus for her.



I really didn’t think Tony would last this long, but somehow he has. I actually think he’s in a great position. Sandra and Sarah are both great allies/shields for him. Clearly, he’s playing the game well, as Yul admitted (somewhat tactlessly) at Tribal that Tony was quite different than he expected. I’m really enjoying watching Tony play the lovable buffoon, and I think that this will propel him forward the more he appears less threatening to others.


Tony has yet to be targeted by anybody. He’s got terrific strength both in challenges and in camp life. He’s got strong alliances (I think). Nobody has yet targeted him. Sure, his apparent target in Nick didn’t go home, but I don’t see that being a huge blow against him. I think Tony will be OK for a while.



Still a mob boss who is running the show. I’m really loving the opportunity to watch Yul play again. Where some thought he would be robotic, I think he’s brought a love for the game and a refreshing perspective. I think that he and Sophie are set up well to run the table (not the poker table, obviously), and I can’t wait to see how he navigates the swap.


I’m actually kind of apprehensive about this one. Yul has been running things well enough from the shadows, but Tyson rightly pointed out that he and Sophie and Wendell and Nick would eventually come after the big threats. I could see Yul being targeted by one of the folks on Dakal if they wind up in the minority, or if the other tribe wisely notices that he’s a strong player and a threat. I still feel MOSTLY good about Yul, but that might change depending on how the swap shakes out. His target went home this week, and he’s good in challenges, so those are good things.



Oh, Adam… It’s true, you never give up. The swap came just before curtains for this fella, but I can’t help but stay worried about Adam’s fate in the game. He’s a lone wolf at this point. Lone wolves don’t tend to fare well in Survivor. Now that Adam’s viewed as untrustworthy, it may behoove the other players to throw him under the bus once the swap hits. I fear he may have a tricky path forward, and he may need his fighting spirit to survive.


So all of Sele is gunning for Adam, which is really not a good thing going into a swap. If he’s in a 4-1 Sele/Dakal tribe, he’s doomed. If he’s in a 5-0 Sele/Dakal tribe, he’s doomed. If he’s in a 3-2 Sele/Dakal tribe, he’s doomed. If he’s in a 2/3 Sele/Dakal tribe, it’s a toss-up; and if he’s in a 1/4 Sele/Dakal tribe, he’s doomed. So, I think Adam might be doomed. Or maybe he’ll turn it around and find new allies? But I doubt it.



I’m worried about Ben for two reasons going into the swap. First, he’s known for being an idol fiend. Second, everyone thinks he’s bonkers. Third, he has a tendency to spill the beans when he gets star struck. I think people may be looking to cut him loose going forward.


I’m going REALLY hard on Sele this week, which isn’t entirely fair because they’re only down by 1, so it’s statistically guaranteed that they’ll have the majority in at least one tribe. But, I think Ben might get targeted this week as a semi-wildcard, or because he’d push for Adam and/or Rob/Parvati to go home, or because he knows about Denise’s idol. Apart from that Ben is playing pretty well insofar as that he’s got numbers and he’s got allies.
Dude, swaps are the worst for prediction.



Denise is a bit of a wild card right now. She’s not particularly tied at the hip to anyone. On the other hand, she’s in a position to be flexible now that the swap is here. I’m a little worried about her when it comes to her tangible connections. But that can also be a blessing because people aren’t looking at her as a target right now. She’s managed to worm her way into the majority group, and I’m encouraged that everyone is making an effort to keep her in the loop. Plus, her idol should keep her safe if she knows to play it.


Denise has a full idol and something like 4 likely allies on her original tribe. A swap shouldn’t really hurt her.



Rob’s in the same league as Parvati. Unfortunately, though all of the winners are “a big deal,” there are some that have more prestige than others. Rob is one of those. I think he’s going to be hanging out with Amber on the Edge sooner rather than later. Hopefully, Rob can figure out some folks to throw under the bus.


Rob did a masterful job of duping Sele into thinking Adam was still a two-timer. Unfortunately, he’s about to swap and very likely NOT end up on a tribe with both Adam and another Sele player, and I can’t help but imagine that he’ll be a prime target on his new tribe, especially as the merge looms.



The deeper Parvati gets into the game, the more trouble she acquires. I’m concerned that people aren’t going to want to take such a crafty player much deeper. Now that her name has come up, it’s going to be easier to bring her name up going forward. Unfortunately, it appears that the big players are being targeted, and it doesn’t get much better than Parvati.


Duplicate what I said about Rob, and you’ve got my thoughts on Parvati, except that people will most likely think Parvati is more dangerous than Rob and be more likely to want to get her out.



Jeremy is leading the majority alliance on his tribe. He’s got a tight ally in Michele, and it looks like he has friendly relationships with Ben and Denise. With Natalie sending him advantages from the Edge, he’s looking good going into the swap.


Again, unfortunately, having an advantage is a HUGE boon this episode, and Jeremy’s got a strong one in his “safety without power” thing (or whatever they’re calling it). Jeremy should be A-OK for a single Tribal, and with Parvati, Rob, and Adam coming from Sele with him, there are many juicier targets than him regardless.



Similarly to Wendell, Michele is comfortably in the majority. She has an amicable enough split with Wendell that she should be fine in the swap. I think Michele has started to come out of her shell this season, and I can’t wait to see how she does going forward.


Michele has had a good week, and I’m actually pretty optimistic about her chances. She’s getting a Not partially because she’s on Sele and partly because I could easily see Rob and Parvati going after her and because I’m tired of giving out so many Hots and I could see Michele being targeted. Also, the whole “Wendell is my ex” storyline showing up makes me nervous that either Michele is gonna target Wendell or Wendell is gonna target Michele. They might become best friends, but that seems less likely.


ALI: You’re garbage. What did Wendell do to deserve this?

GUS: Nothing, didn’t you see what I wrote? Wendell did nothing wrong; he was just Tails this week. I’m kidding, of course. But I could see things going wrong for Wendell more than I could see them going wrong for Nick.

ALI: Nick’s already had his name out. He does nothing around camp. If he keeps choking in challenges, there are no reasons to keep him around.

GUS: Yeah, but Wendell’s gonna be on a tribe with his ex. Wouldn’t you vote out your ex if you were on a tribe with your ex?

ALI: Okay, you have a valid point, but my exes are not as charming as Wendell and Michele. The two seem to genuinely like each other despite the breakup. In this game, you’re looking for anything to connect you to another player. What better than being former sweethearts?

GUS: I dunno, Michele seemed concerned about it. I think that existing allies might be a better thing to fall back on than an ex. If I’m being honest, I think Wendell will be okay. I really wanted to err on the side of caution this week considering how erratic swaps can be, and how hard it is to predict what will happen.

ALI: Was she concerned or just laughing at the universe? To me, it came across as good-natured.

GUS: I couldn’t say. I think it was laughing at the universe. Could have been concerned. But it came up either way… so, hopefully, you’re right, and it turns out his way.

ALI: I just can’t get past how friendly they are on social media. I just feel like there’s something there.

GUS: Maybe they rekindle a spark on the island. Maybe it becomes Survivor/Bachelor. It’d be much better than Peter’s season of The Bachelor. I’d watch.

ALI: Very true. I think Wendell is playing better than we’re seeing. I think under the radar is a good strategy for him pre-merge. The real game is once the merge hits, and I think he knows to keep in the shadows until then. I vehemently disagree with your assessment. Now, who is doomed this week?

GUS: With a swap, it’s HARD to say. Do we pick two this week? Or three?

ALI: Mmm, I think since we don’t know the tribes, we should stick with two. Three next week.

GUS: Alrighty… Parvati (I will never let this go).

ALI: Booooooooo!

GUS: And Nick, because why not?

ALI: I actually think Nick’s a good pick. I’m going with Rob and Adam. I think one of them is done for.

GUS: I can get behind that. Who’s totally safe?


GUS: Fight me.

ALI: And Sophie.

GUS: Sandra and Jeremy. I’m playing it safe with the advantages. If Sandra gets ganked by Nullifier shenanigans, I’m quitting Survivor forever.

ALI: Chill your jets, my dude.

GUS: I’m still in mourning for Janet, OK?

ALI: Why did you have to bring up Janet right before I go to bed? I’ll be crying myself to sleep. Alright! Tune in next week for more Hot (or Not) predictions!

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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