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.
ALI – ADAM KLIEN – NOT
Now, I really think Adam is in a tough spot this week. I thought that Sophie would feel a stronger connection to Adam than to Ben, but we saw last week that she actually feels closer to Ben. Sophie’s going to want to keep Sarah around, and she’s got a newfound connection with Ben. To me, that indicates Adam’s in trouble if this tribe goes to tribal.
GUS – ADAM KLIEN – NOT
Adam sure is getting a whole bunch of content, but, again, his tribe is heavily stacked against him. He’s got Sophie and Sarah with advantages, and Ben, who would likely vote him out in a second given a chance. If Sarah so much as hints to either of them that she’s got a vote steal, I think Ben and Adam will be climbing all over each other to flip first and save their respective butts.
ALI – BEN DRIEBERGEN – NOT
Ben is slightly less screwed than Adam, but not by much. Sophie has an idol. Sarah has an extra vote. They are going to save each other over Adam or Ben. I think Ben’s put in the work to save himself, and I applaud him for that. In playing the lovable buffoon, Ben’s managed to buy himself extra time in the game. However, I think if the going gets tough and Adam finds some safety, Sarah and Sophie will have no problem throwing Ben under the bus.
GUS – BEN DRIEBERGEN – NOT
Ben and Adam can only be saved by a merge, and even then, they’re kind of screwed. Adam is probably going before Ben because he’s now perceived as shadier and more of a liability, although I supposed Sophie and Sarah could see that as meaning that Adam is more likely to flip on his original tribe. Regardless of whether he’s going before or after Adam, Ben’s position in this tribe is tenuous at best, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him go soon.
ALI – SARAH LACINA – HOT
Sarah is going to gain the majority with her extra vote. She’s going to take her partnership with Sophie into the merge. The thing that has always separated Sarah from other players is her ability to create tight bonds with people. I’m excited to see what she and Sophie do going forward.
GUS – SARAH LACINA – HOT
With her vote steal and Sophie’s idol, the calculus for Yara is heavily stacked in Sarah and Sophie’s favor. With Sarah having tight alliances with both Tony and now Sophie, I very much expect Sarah to be in a very strong alliance at least through the merge.
ALI – SOPHIE CLARKE – HOT
Now that Sophie’s able to step out of Yul’s shadow, she’s playing a fantastic game. She has plenty of protection in case things get weird at the next tribal, and I’m willing to bet she can hold onto her idol going into the merge. Yes, Sarah knows about the idol, but I think that this serves to build a bridge of trust between the two. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of Sarah and Sophie come merge. They have the potential to become major power players.
GUS – SOPHIE CLARKE– HOT
Sophie’s situation hasn’t changed AT ALL from last week. She’s drowning in advantages, she’s got a strong ally in Sarah, and Ben and Adam have no idea what’s going on around them. I don’t see any way that she goes home, except if Sarah decides to lose her entire mind (I know that last week I said that Sandra wouldn’t go home short of a post-Tocantins JT level misplay, but… well, she kind of had a post-Tocantins JT level misplay).
ALI – KIM SPRADLIN-WOLFE – NOT
Kim had the option to flip the script on Sandra and Tony but decided against it. I fear that Jeremy and Denise may be looking to eliminate her now that she’s no longer useful to them going forward. I don’t think that Kim’s move was a necessarily bad play, but the outcome certainly didn’t go in her favor.
Kim’s saving grace is that Tony makes a far more appealing target. Tony is unpredictable and has a history of big idol plays. Granted, Kim has found an idol in the past, but she’s not known for explosive moves like Tony. I also think this tribe is the most physically threatening tribe on the board. If I had to put my money on a tribe that isn’t going to tribal, this would be my pick.
However, I think Kim was forced to play her hand last episode, and it didn’t go well for her. I think Tony wouldn’t hesitate to throw her under the bus to get ahead, and I don’t know if she would do the same in return.
I’m also interested to know the rules for Jeremy’s safety without power advantage. Theoretically, if he played it on Kim or Tony, would that mean that he and Denise have the majority for that tribal? Is he able to play the advantage that way? I’m interested to see what happens here. Regardless, it’s not great for Kim.
GUS – KIM SPRADLIN-WOLFE – HOT
Kim’s position in the middle seemed to work out well for her this week and might just work out well for her next week as well. I could theoretically see her going home as some kind of consensus peacemaker vote… but I don’t think that’s likely.
ALI – DENISE STAPLEY – HOT
I’m back and forth on Denise this week. On the one hand, her play made her a huge threat where she once was invisible. On the other, she’s taken out a much larger threat and evened out the numbers on her tribe.
Sandra’s move was… questionable. I think it’s a JT sort of thing where she took a big risk, and it might have been great if it worked out for her. But in Sandra’s eagerness to make a big move, she missed the forest for the trees. She couldn’t see that she was making herself vulnerable, and her game suffered for it.
It looks like, in the previews for the next episode, Tony may be targeting Denise. The only problem is, Tony and Kim are always going to be bigger targets than Denise. I seriously doubt that Denise is going to suffer the consequences of the last vote this week. Jeremy won’t get rid of her after she saved them both. I don’t think Tony will go to rocks for Kim and vice versa. I think Denise did what she had to in order to save her alliance and eliminate the biggest threat.
Could Sandra have made a good ally? Well, Denise already saw that Sandra was willing to throw her allies to the wolves behind their backs. What reason did Sandra give her to trust their alliance going forward? Was it a big move? Absolutely. Was it a good move? I think that remains to be seen. But I don’t write this article to play fencey fencerton. For now, I think I’m going to give it to Denise. She risked it to get the biscuit.
GUS – DENISE STAPLEY – NOT
This may be controversial, and some might think that this is just because I’m upset that Sandra went home. While it is true that I am upset that Sandra went home, I really do also think that Denise may have made some errors in gameplay.
Post-game, Denise has said that a big part of why she voted out Sandra is that she didn’t trust Sandra to work in her best interest. What’s strange about this is, Sandra has never really been seen to betray her allies unless they betrayed or worked against her first, with Tony, this week, being the closest thing to a betrayal she’s ever done. Knowing Sandra’s game, Denise likely could have worked with her and stayed in an unlikely duo for some time. More than that, Denise burned her second idol. Yes, she kept Jeremy in the game, but 1) it was a misplay, 2) she now has no idol at all, 3) Sandra was legitimately trying to work with her, and 4) it was a huge play pre-merge, which will put a target on her back.
Denise might come out ahead in this, but I think this will ultimately turn out to have been a bad move for her.
ALI – JEREMY COLLINS – HOT
Whenever someone plays an idol for someone else, it indicates that the receiving party is playing a pretty excellent game. Denise could have let everything fall on Jeremy, but Jeremy was tight enough with her that Denise wanted to keep him around. Now, Jeremy has the ability to save himself if it gets too dicey. Overall, he’s in a good position going forward, and Denise is a more tempting target than him.
GUS – JEREMY COLLINS – HOT
Natalie going home early was the best thing that could have happened to Jeremy. He’s more or less a floating number now, and with Denise throwing her neck out to protect him from a potential blindside by Sandra, he’s got in good with his tribemates. I don’t know who would go home this week from Dakal. Denise clearly wants to keep Jeremy around, and with Kim having been on the outs, I have to think it would be Tony, although Kim might also be a consensus target. But it won’t be Jeremy, especially not after Denise’s idol play.
ALI – TONY VLACHOS – NOT
I think if this tribe goes to tribal, Tony is toast. I honestly couldn’t believe he managed to survive the last round. Maybe Denise can work something with Tony by revealing that Sandra wanted her to get rid of him last tribal? The only way I can see this working out for Tony is if Denise has included him in her future plans, and Tony cuts Kim as soon as possible.
GUS – TONY VLACHOS – NOT
Tony seems like he could be the consensus next boot. Kim was the likely flipper, and I have to think she’d flip in the event that NuDakal goes back to tribal. Tony was also deeply concerned that he would go this week—and Sandra had planned to send him to EOE if she could. Denise apparently wants to keep him around, though—at least more than she DID want to keep around Sandra—so, he’s got a chance.
ALI – MICHELE FITZGERALD – NOT
Michele lost her closest ally in the game and couldn’t get Nick or Wendell to flip with her. Signs point to her going to Extinction should this tribe lose the next immunity challenge. However, there may be some hope in the Next Time On. It looks as though Wendell pulls Michele aside for some secret reason. Perhaps he’s revealing Michele is in his long game plans after all? Perhaps Wendell is ready to flip? Or this is another red herring in order to keep us guessing. I can only really speculate.
I think Michele is definitely in hot water. Time will tell if outside relationships are going to factor in this equation positively or negatively. I think that there’s a big chance that she and Wendell are playing up their animosity to disguise the fact that they’re working together, but we’ll see!
GUS – MICHELE FITZGERALD – NOT
Michele is all but doomed if Sele goes back to tribal. With Parvati going, Michele is now all by her lonesome—and Nick and Yul are most likely not going to want to get rid of a Dakal right before the merge. I suppose if Wendell continues to overplay wildly, Michele might be able to sneak her way into the Dakal’s good graces, but I don’t see that as particularly likely.
ALI – WENDELL HOLLAND – NOT
Wendell seemed really sketchy at the last tribal. He openly negotiated with Parvati in front of everyone. If I were Yul, I wouldn’t be interested in keeping him around much longer. I think Nick will do whatever Yul tells him to do, and Michele isn’t in a position to say no to any plans. Wendell’s wishy-washy behavior at last tribal might get him in some trouble this week.
GUS – WENDELL HOLLAND – NOT
Wendell is just playing poorly, it would seem. He’s pushing way too hard on vote-plans, going wild in his attempts to get fire tokens, and he’s doing it openly at tribal. Part of me thinks this was all an act to force Parv out into the open, but it may also just have been a frantic overplay on his part, which could very easily lead to his being voted out next… but I still think Michele is a more likely elimination than he is.
ALI – NICK WILSON – HOT
Nick’s in a good position with Yul and now gets to decide who goes between Michele and Wendell. In my opinion, Nick made the right decision in choosing to eliminate Parvati last week. The only troubling spot is Wendell, and Nick could easily get rid of him now if he’s proving to be up to no good.
GUS – NICK WILSON – HOT
Nick was the target for flipping, and while he didn’t commit to it, it seems like Michele felt that he certainly could have. He’s unlikely to go home before the merge.
ALI – YUL KWON – HOT
I don’t know how to say in any new way that Yul is running things right now. This is a very controlled game. We’ll see if anything changes come merge.
GUS – YUL KWON – HOT
Yul is in a great spot. His target went home (he’s now eliminated Parvati in two separate seasons!), he’s still got two folks from his original alliance with Dakal, and there has been not a single discussion suggesting he could be a target. I really don’t see any way for Yul to go home next.
GUS: Please roast me for everything I said about Sandra. I deserve it.
ALI: I don’t know if I have a lot of ground to stand on, because I said she wasn’t going, even though she was a Not. It was tough to predict the move she made. However, I didn’t rank her as a Hot, so though I’m standing on shaky ground, it’s a lot better than what you’re standing on.
SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADO… I will roast you with your own words…
“I’m certain that Sandra isn’t going home this week short of some kind of post-Tocantins JT level misplay.” – Gus Schlanbusch
“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.” – Gus Schlanbusch
“Is Sandra going home this week? Not a snowball’s chance in hell.” – Gus Schlanbusch
“All I’m saying is Jeremy has a SOLID chance to go home this week that you’re ignoring, and Sandra has NONE.” – Gus Schlanbusch
I really want to thank you for providing me with so much entertainment this quarantine.
GUS: I do what I can. I blundered almost as hard as Sandra did. That being said, Denise is still a Not this week.
ALI: How could you possibly give her a Not when she was the sole perpetrator of such a ginormous move? Sandra was not going to ally with her for long. Denise would be in no better position if she’d gotten rid of Tony. If anything, at least she can go to Tony and tell him she saved him from Sandra. Sandra was going to get rid of her the minute it no longer benefitted her, and the proof was right there in her giving that idol to Denise.
GUS: That’s not how Sandra plays. Historically, Sandra has never turned on a strong ally, except for Tony, and I think everyone was ready to turn on Tony since Tony hunkered down next to the water well for some stupid reason. Historically, Sandra finds her ally and sticks with them as long as she can: Rupert, Courtney, Rupert again (sort of). Denise had no reason to believe that Sandra would have thrown her under the bus or done something tremendously shady, and Sandra even said that she wasn’t planning on stabbing Denise in the back. Denise killed Sandra for no reason at all, AND she wasted her second idol in the process. If Sandra HAD been planning on betraying Denise, yeah, this would have been a God-Tier play. As it is, she’s sown dissent among her tribe for no huge reason and taken out a GIGANTIC shield who wanted to work with her.
ALI: Sandra wasn’t going to be a strong ally for Denise. They’d met mere days ago. Sandra has a long history of sowing dissent and turning people against one another. The fish incident, sugar gate, Russell’s hat… it goes on and on. Sandra’s great, but she can ruin someone’s game in an instant. By the way, the fish incident directly ruined Sandra’s close ally, Christa’s, game.
GUS: Sugargate happened for a reason: JT had an idol. Russel’s hat happened for a reason: Russel was the worst, and she’d put up with him for ages. The fish incident happened for a reason: they thought they would vote out Rupert and then come back and enjoy Rupert’s fish. Sandra didn’t try to pin the fish on Christa, it just happened to hit Christa.
ALI: Sandra voted out her friend, Rob’s, wife because he didn’t tell her he was playing the game. She’s cutthroat.
GUS: Rob proved himself to be a poor ally. They weren’t playing together, and Romber was clearly going to work together if they were able.
ALI: I’ll defend Sandra’s gameplay until the cows come home, but she left herself wide open, and Denise took the shot. How can we fault her for that? Tony is a better shield than Sandra. He’s far more visible and is now more likely to work with Denise in the long run because he owes her.
Lastly, that tribe isn’t going to tribal. Everyone on it is a beast.
GUS: Oh, no, you’re completely right. They’re gonna be fine. Which, by the way, is part of why Kim is a Hot this week. That and her idol.
ALI: I think, on this tribe, Tony’s the doomed one. I see a world, though, in which Kim goes because she thinks it’s Tony. She hasn’t exactly been on her A-game this season (all due respect). I also think she should have taken the opportunity to flip, as Sandra and Tony were seriously gunning for her on their old tribe. I think she missed a good opportunity while trying to stay loyal. Denise and Jeremy might resent her for that and target her. She did have some serious guts not to play the idol when Denise played the two last tribal. I would have played it to be safe.
GUS: Yeah, no, I’m fully on board with the “Kim might be next” theory. I just feel like, as you said, Tony’s a way bigger target, and Denise looks to be in the mood for some moves.
ALI: I think that if Denise or Jeremy are eliminated, it might be Denise, but I don’t think that detracts from the massive move she made. I think Kim and Tony could be in trouble, but Tony is in far more trouble. I just think, down the line, it might have been a better move for Kim to flip, and then she wouldn’t have had to play her idol at all.
GUS: Alright, who’s safe this week?
DAKAL: Kim (there are no good options on this tribe!)
Who is going?
YARA: Ben (by default, since you called dibs on Adam, but I think it’s Adam)
ALI: Alright, everyone, tune in next week and see if there’s more I can roast Gus about!