Survivor: Winners At War

Episode 5 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not after Week 5?

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.




I’m really concerned about the long term dynamics of this tribe, but I’m certain that Sandra isn’t going home this week short of some kind of post-Tocantins JT level misplay. She’s got an idol that’s good for only one more tribal council, and I don’t see her playing that idol on somebody who ain’t her. I also don’t see her keeping the idol in the hopes of using it as leverage or a fake idol later in the game: that’s just not her playstyle. I fully expect if Dakal goes to tribal (and I really hope they won’t, for reasons I’ll get into later), Sandra will play her idol on herself rather than go home with it.

Long term, I’m concerned about the efficacy of Tony’s threats alliance plan, especially considering that Sandra opted to vote out Tyson (which, again, I think was the right move at the time). I could easily see Kim flipping to work with Jeremy and Denise instead of sticking with Tony and Sandra, especially considering that OG Dakal is up in the numbers.


Let me make this clear, Sandra isn’t going anywhere this week. She has an idol that is expiring this tribal council. She’s going to play it for sure, and it will likely be on herself. There’s no way she’s going home with an idol in her bra. But The Queen messed up when she ostracized Kim. Now, Kim is likely going to flip to working with Denise and Jeremy. The idol can only protect Sandra for this vote. If the tribe loses again, Sandra is vulnerable.



Denise has an idol, which is enough to get her a Hot. She’s also probably less likely to be a target than Jeremy, just because we’re getting towards a merge, and Jeremy is better in challenges… or at least has a better immunity challenge record than Denise does.


The best-case scenario in a swap (after swapping into a majority) is swapping onto a tribe where someone in the majority is ready to flip. Denise should be thanking her lucky stars that the majority was so clearly anti-Kim. Furthermore, Denise has an idol that she can use to protect herself if things are looking dire.



Jeremy has his safety without power advantage, and I think he’s wise enough to use it if he’s not feeling secure about a potential vote. His fate this episode will likely lie in Kim’s hands: if he and Denise feel like Kim will vote with them, I doubt that Jeremy will play his advantage, opting to instead keep it for some time after merge. If Kim is questionable, I think he’ll play it. Jeremy gets a Not because I think there are more situations where he chooses NOT to play his advantage than there are situations where he chooses TO play it. And with the likelihood of several other idols flying around, I think it’s possible that Jeremy will leave this week even with his advantage.


All of the things that are true about Denise are true about Jeremy this week. Both of these players have the social acumen to get Kim on their side. And if Jeremy needs, he has safety without power (he can send himself away from the tribal council and keep himself safe).



Kim has an idol and is the middle person in the tribe. Dakal needs her; Sele needs her. I don’t see her going anywhere, not to mention the fact that she’s got a full idol. She’s got most of the power this week.


The swap came at the best possible time for Kim. She was on the very bottom of her tribe and was likely the next to go. Now, she’s in the much-desired swing position. This can be dangerous for an inexperienced player, but we all know that Kim is more than capable of working her newfound power role. Plus, if things get dicey, Kim has an idol in her pocket. To our knowledge, none of the other players on her tribe know this. I’m looking forward to seeing what she’s able to do now that she’s out from under her original tribe’s thumb.



Tony is the one person on nuDakal without an idol or advantage, which he can use for safety, and that really makes me worried that he’ll get Advantagegeddon’d out of the game. If that happens, I will riot quietly in my house (because I can’t riot on the streets).


Tony also screwed up by ostracizing Kim. They made it no secret that Kim was on the outs and would be going to Extinction next. This is going to come back to haunt Tony now that Kim has the upper hand. I don’t think she’ll hesitate to get rid of him, and he’s one of the few who makes as tempting a target as Sandra. Sandra’s idol is his only saving grace, and I’m willing to bet she’ll go the self-preservation route and play it on herself.

Even more importantly, Tony is the only one on this tribe without some form of protection at the tribal. If everyone plays their advantages, Tony will get Cirie’d out of the game. Tony might have walked under his ladder because that’s some bad luck.




Parvati is still the biggest target on Sele, and she’s down in the numbers. She’s got nothing in the way of advantages, and although she’s got four fire tokens now, I don’t know that she’s really able to do much with them. She might buy a challenge advantage, but I think she’d be wiser to save them until such time as she can buy an idol if she’s able to get that far.

Parvati is generally able to worm her way out of tough situations like this, though, so Parv fans shouldn’t give up all hope. Maybe she’ll be able to get Nick on her side, or flip Wendell somehow, or reforge a Cook Islands connection with Yul (although I don’t think the latter is likely).


Parvati’s in the minority and is the clearest threat on the tribe. I don’t think she’s close enough to Yul for him to try and save her. Perhaps she can make something work with the Michele/Wendell conflict, but I don’t think it’ll be enough to mask her ginormous red target. Maybe she can convince Nick to fulfill his high school dream of being around her, but he’s no dummy. All the crush in the world is not going to keep Nick from voting her out if he has the chance. Parvati’s only saving grace is her fire tokens, but she doesn’t have an advantage yet, so only time will tell if those will be of any use. If not, Michele is about to inherit a ton of fire tokens.



Michele is in a better place than Parvati, but considering that she’s both down in the numbers on her tribe AND has a lot of weeeeiiiirrrd vibes going on with Wendell, I don’t think she’s going to have a good time in the coming week(s). I do think that the likely boot order on nuSele right now is Parvati then Michele, but I could see Michele going before Parvati if she and Wendell continue to butt heads, and I don’t see her building a real coalition with anyone from OG Dakal.


Neither Michele nor Wendell came out of the ex debacle smelling like roses. Michele was clearly hung up on Wendell, and it made the whole situation a little uncomfortable. I get complaining to a friend about an ex, but all of Michele’s content was talking about Wendell. Yes, part of that could be the editors, but she had to have talked about it enough where they had that much footage to show. 

I think it’s going to be hard for Michele to be objective about Wendell going forward, and that can be a death knell to one’s game. It was interesting to see someone so lauded for their social skills be that flustered talking to an ex. It may be Wendell will want to get rid of her just to tie up a loose end. I don’t think she did herself any favors as far as Wendell was concerned.



Wendell should by rights be getting a Hot, considering that he’s up in the numbers on his tribe and hasn’t really done anything too wrong from a gameplay perspective. Still, the vibes between him and Michele are just TERRIBLE right now, and I’m worried it’s going to negatively impact his gameplay. I also think that if Michele and Parvati are able to convince Nick or Yul to work with them, Wendell would be target number one due to his and Michele’s history.


“We kicked it,”? You dated, Wendell. Show some respect.

But in all seriousness, it seems like Wendell and Michele were on very different pages about their relationship. Or maybe Wendell wasn’t comfortable talking about it on camera. Regardless, he came across as pretty cold when Michele talked to him about it. Another player that has such a great social game who really put their foot in it this week. Wendell did not ameliorate the situation in the least, and I think he could pay the price for it if Michele gets the upper hand.



Nick is probably Parvati and Michele’s main hope for a Dakal they can poach to their side, and I’m pretty sure that they’ll make AGGRESSIVE moves to that effect if they lose the next immunity challenge. I really don’t see Nick going with this strategy, though, especially not considering the fact that his new tribe contains three of the four members of his day-one (or two or three or whatever) alliance. He’s got a lot of power on his tribe right now, and I think he’ll hold true to his original alliance rather than go full Merlino.


Nick is sitting pretty in this tribe’s majority and got a fire token to boot. Other than that, not much to report.



Yul is on a tribe with two of his original alliance members, and he’s managed to link up with the only player in the game who he’s actually played with before in Parvati. He’s certainly still a huge threat, and I think Sophie was a closer ally to him than Wendell and Nick, but I don’t see him getting targeted this week.


Yulis still the godfather of the game and is amazingly under the radar. He swapped onto a tribe with two people he’s been working with. Parvati is a target that everyone will be able to agree on, and Michele isn’t showing any signs of wanting to work with Wendell. It looks like Yul is going to make the merge!




In a vacuum, Ben and Adam were probably right to target Rob. However, considering the Chancellor Palpatine-like unlimited power that Sophie and Sarah are holding, it may have been a mistake… although, of course, Ben couldn’t possibly have known about that. I do think that Adam would go over Ben in the event of a tribal council. Adam has become widely known as a shady overplayer. But Ben still managed to put himself in a really difficult position with the loss of Rob. To be fair, his position would have been similarly bad if he HADN’T voted Rob and had instead voted out Sophie or Sarah, but I think he accidentally put himself in the worst spot possible.


Everything that can be said for Adam’s game going forward can be said for Ben. I see a scenario in which Sarah might want to work with Ben. She has a history of aligning with hot-headed alpha males (Tony, Brad Culpepper, Troyzan…) Ben fits the bill.

But while I see a scenario in which Sophie convinces Sarah to work with Adam, I see almost zero chance that Sarah gets Sophie to partner up with Ben. Ben is emotional, where Sophie is logical. He’s unpredictable where Sophie is methodical. They’d make a great buddy cop film, but their aligning in Survivor would feel like some bad fan fiction.

I think of Adam and Ben, Ben is the more likely to go to Extinction. If Ben could have worked with Rob for one more vote, this could have been avoided.



That was definitely one of the most exciting idol finds I’ve ever seen, and I fully expected Rob to be the one who found the idol during his voiceover. I had to rewind the video and rewatch Sophie’s frenetic stowing of a bundle to really process what had happened. Sarah and Sophie control the Yara tribe now. I expect that, if they go to tribal, Ben will happily vote out Adam in the hopes of an imminent merge; if not, I expect that Sarah will throw out her steal a vote and send Adam home anyway. And with Sophie in control of the idol, this pair seems like they’ll be set for a WHILE.


I’m thrilled at how many women have found idols this season. Say what you will, but the past few seasons have featured a plethora of women finding idols, and it’s pretty exciting to see the tide shift in that direction. This season, maybe there are a few women who will be able to play the idol correctly. Sophie is absolutely crushing it, from finding the idol, to making tight alliances with powerful players, to getting Kim to reveal her idol. I can’t wait to see what Sophie brings this episode.



I could honestly just repost my whole Sophie post here… but I’ll go into a little more detail. Sarah now has MULTIPLE tight alliances: Cops R. Us 2.0 with Tony, and the Advantageers (my name) with Sophie. She’s in an incredible spot through the merge.


I’m really loving what Sarah is bringing to the table this season. The editors are finally showing more of that “phenomenal” social game Sarah mentioned last season (and many players have confirmed). First, she reunited with Tony and Sandra, forming a tight alliance (while also making bonds with Tyson). Then, we saw her having a true moment of connection with Yul over Stacy Title’s devastating battle with ALS. Lastly, Sophie trusted her enough to share her idol discovery with her.

Now that the numbers are even on the tribe, Sophie and Sarah are in a great position to blindside either Ben or Adam. It appears that they may even be able to do so without using the idol, as their alliance is far stronger to Adam’s and Ben’s. They may be able to play the two against one another and keep the idol for darker times ahead.



Adam, unfortunately, played WAY too hard pre-swap, and then had the misfortune to fall under the fire of Boston Rob. He’s probably the next to go from Yara if they go to tribal.


Rob was definitely gunning for Adam on the old tribe, let’s get that straight. So, on paper, it looks like Rob’s elimination was great for Adam’s prospects going forward. But Rob was never going to flip to work with Sarah and Sophie. His brand is staying loyal to his original tribe and pagonging his way to the end. There was every reason to go along with Rob for this vote and eliminate either Sarah or Sophie. Once Adam and Ben had the numbers advantage, then getting rid of Rob would be a no brainer.

Now, Adam is stuck in a stalemate between two groups from different starting tribes. Even worse, Sarah and Sophie have an idol that they can use against Adam. Sarah and Sophie are definitely tighter than Adam and Ben, so maybe Adam can team up with that duo and convince them that Ben is the better target. Ben’s antics on his season would certainly make him appear more threatening down the line. I see a scenario where Sophie may want to team up with Adam, given that they’re both very cerebral players. I don’t think Sarah would be opposed to aligning with Adam as well, but I think that would be a more temporary arrangement on her end.

For now, Adam is at the mercy of whether the other two players want to keep him around more than Ben. They may be afraid Ben has an idol (history would suggest this) and feel the smarter play would be to eliminate Adam. The more conservative play would be to fake follow Boston Rob for this vote and then gain an ally in the remaining player to remove Rob from the game.

Comparing this tribe to the others, I have concerns they are likely to go to tribal again. In that scenario, Adam has a fifty percent chance of getting the boot.


GUS: You gotta stop with all of this Slandraing you’re doing.

ALI: She isolated Kim, and now she’s paying the price. I think that was a miscalculation on her part, and it’s biting her in the booty.

GUS: She barely isolated Kim. She didn’t work too closely with Kim a couple of times. And that was, like, a week and a half ago in game time: Kim hasn’t been in danger since then. Might Kim flip? Yeah, sure. Is Sandra going home this week? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.

ALI: No one was talking to Kim during the episode Amber went home, or the episode Tyson went home. Kim’s no idiot, she knows what that means. She even said what that means. Now, she’s in a position to move forward with people who want to work with her. This is great for Kim, and she’s not going to miss the opportunity. Jeremy is safe as far as Kim goes. The only scenario that makes me worry for him is if they vote Sandra, Sandra plays the idol, and Tony and Sandra voted for Jeremy. That’s one scenario out of a bunch. But I think they may go for Denise over Jeremy because Jeremy’s a bigger challenge asset.

GUS: You’re acting SO certain about Kim wanting to work with Jeremy and Denise. Tony makes a great point: if he and Sandra and Kim don’t stick together, they’re gonna get picked off. Yeah, they had to work against each other before… but for all we know, they’re back on the same page now. And if they do vote Sandra, which seems likely, honestly, considering her challenge prowess (or lack thereof), I really don’t see her not playing her idol. All I’m saying is Jeremy has a SOLID chance to go home this week that you’re ignoring, and Sandra has NONE.

ALI: Alright, if you’re right (you’re not), feel free to rub it in my face next week. Who do you think is safe this week?

GUS: Three, right?

Sele: Nick
Yara: Sarah
Dakal: Denise


Sele: Yul
Yara: Sophie
Dakal: Kim

Who is going to be eliminated from each tribe? In my opinion, for Dakal: Tony.

GUS: I think Dakal’s elimination would be Jeremy, just to be contrary. From Sele,i t’s gotta be Parvati.

ALI: I agree with you, but now I can’t say Parvati… I’m going to say Sele votes out Michele. Alright, now for Yara: Ben

GUS: Yara, Adam… cuz it won’t be Sophie or Sarah.

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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