Survivor: Winners At War

Episode 9 – Hot or Not

Who is Hot or Not after Week 9?

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.

Ali and Gus both ranked Adam as a Not. They’re really in a good groove this season. Hopefully, they aren’t blindsided this week.



Just when I thought the threats alliance had zero shot at moving forward, Adam goes home. The under the radar players have given up their majority and are now tied with the more high profile players. The smaller threats don’t seem to be wise to the fact that the big threats are allied. This is a perfect position for Tyson. If he can continue to keep the major players together, he should have smooth sailing for a few more votes. As Tyson said, he only needs a little time to worm his way in, and then he becomes difficult to eliminate.


Tyson jumped on board the chaos independent of Nick’s talking about the chaos plan, which suggests to me that he’ll be able to roll with the punches for some time. I think Tyson is in a good spot going forward.



Ben never fails to crack me up this season. His karate antics during the immunity challenge had me cackling. But then there’s the other side of Ben that gives me pause. Ben can be very confrontational with other players (especially Adam). I’m concerned that his behavior will get increasingly less cute going forward and will start making enemies. Ben forgets that the people he addresses this way end up on the jury. This time around, the jury may not reward his aggressive gameplay.


Ben got in a fight with Adam this week. That’s not so great. Adam did go home, though. I think Ben might be the next target of Nick’s chaotic ire; he seems like he’s on the edges of the Lion thing, and I don’t really see him doing a ton this coming week.



Sarah had heads turning when she gave up her reward to Nick this week. Everyone immediately assumed that it was a game move, and it didn’t buy loyalty from Nick. Hilariously, post-game, we know that Sarah actually gave Nick Chinese food because she’s allergic to it (I’m assuming she’s allergic to MSG). Unfortunately, as Tony pointed out, it appears that this put a target on Sarah’s back.

Sarah also was too trusting of Nick (who was on the bottom) and nearly turned against Tyson because of it. Since Nick was a player on the bottom, Sarah should have immediately been suspicious of the information he was giving her. If Sarah continues having misreads, she could put herself in danger going forward. Her saving grace may be her extra vote, but we have yet to see that advantage really change a vote (at least on American Survivor). I also wonder if Tony will let Tyson take out his close ally this early.


Sarah made a key mistake in giving up her reward to Nick. I think her reasoning behind it was fair (apparently she’s allergic to most Chinese food and wouldn’t have been able to eat it anyway, according to her twitter). Still, unfortunately in Survivor, perception is reality… and I think this choice might come back to bite her, especially with Adam accurately clocking how different that seems from her gameplay in Game Changers.



We didn’t hear a ton from Sophie amidst the chaos this week (other than some brief moments of stress). I feel comfortable since Sophie has an idol, with a finger on the pulse of the game. Her name has only come up once, despite her playing an excellent game. Something’s going to give soon with this large group of people, but Sophie has the foresight and means to protect herself.


Sophie did almost nothing this episode, but she’s still got power, and she’s still in a strong alliance. That’s, unfortunately, about all I can say.



Here’s the deal, I’m a little worried people are going to start seeing Kim as an immunity threat. However, since she’s sitting comfortably with the other threats, I’m not sure if I need to worry about this yet. I’m also comforted by the fact that Kim has the immunity ability to get herself out of trouble if she needs to, and an idol if desperate times call for desperate measures. For now, I’m willing to bet Kim is going to be fine.


Kim won immunity! Congrats to her for setting the record for women winning immunity! That’s really, really exciting. She’s also in the Lions alliance, which means she’s got BIG numbers advantages, and she’s got an idol… so she’s got a LOT of good stuff going for her.



It breaks my heart, but Denise is looking like a big target post-Sandra boot. Everyone was talking about getting rid of her last episode. Luckily, this week she went under the radar, but I don’t think anyone’s going to forget about her. The one thing that gives me hope for Denise is her alliance with Kim and Jeremy. I wonder if, now that the threats are joining together and successfully eliminating the under the radar players, if Denise will be a really tempting target.


Denise lost Adam, her day-one ally, this week.. and though I think that was a wise decision on her part (to not push to keep Adam when he was clearly on the outs), it’s not a good thing for her that some of her closer, earlier allies are vanishing. Though I think she’s in a good place with her alliance with Tony, I don’t think she’s got too much staying power and might get targeted as a threat later on.

I was going to say, “yes I know it’s hypocritical to rate Tony a Hot and Denise a Not,” but actually, I don’t think it is because Tony’s playing under the radar and Denise is not.



Jeremy’s facial expressions during the chaos this week made him an MVP. Though, I obviously can’t give Jeremy a Hot for entertainment value alone (though another shout out to his flailing during the immunity challenge). I truly think he’s found himself in a great position in the tribe, especially when compared to where he started. He’s a part of the big alliance and a sub-alliance therein. He has great relationships, especially with Denise, Michele, and Kim. Everyone is coming to him with plans while he sits there. My only concern is the fact that Jeremy clearly has a hard time hiding his emotions during strategy discussions. But it doesn’t worry me enough to impact his ranking.


Everyone came to Jeremy with plans this week, which makes me think he’s in a good place. He’s got the safety without power thing as well, so I think he’ll be safe this coming week.



I’ve been pretty down on Tony the last few weeks, despite how much I love the guy. Now, I’m cautiously optimistic that Tony’s in a great spot. Everyone was coming to him and telling him how to vote, and he is doing a great job taking a back seat. Now that the threats are getting together to form this big alliance, Tony is in a nice spot. I think there may be some hope for Tony after all! (Now please don’t go this week!)



I don’t know how much longer this is going to last; it’s like a fever dream. But with the Lions vs. Hyenas thing apparently popping up and being a real thing, and the Lions seeming to outweigh the Hyenas significantly (especially with Ben calling himself a Lion), I think that Tony is safe for a while. With a close ally in Sarah, and with her pushing her target level higher with her (apparently, totally chill) giving up of her reward to Nick, that makes Sarah a bigger target than Tony as it is. I need to ride this Give Tony Hots train as long as I can. I don’t know when I’ll have this opportunity again.



Michele’s been left out of the vote several times now. Kim said she, Nick, and Adam were on the outs. Though Michele had a good relationship with Jeremy early on, it appears Jeremy is now closer to Kim and Denise. It behooves Jeremy to stick with bigger players like Kim and Denise (who suddenly emerged as a threat after booting Sandra) than to stay with a smaller target like Michele. Ben also told Tony that Michele threw Tony under the bus. We know from experience that it’s never good to make an enemy of Tony. It also indicates that Michele is putting her trust in the wrong people, and it’s not working out for her. I think if Nick manages to save himself, Michele could be in big trouble.

On the other hand, Michele now has an advantage, but there’s no guarantee that she will be safe with it. I’m not sure this coin was worth four whole fire tokens. There might be something more valuable around the corner that makes Michele regret wasting her tokens so quickly.


Michele was left out of the Wendell vote and she didn’t handle it well. She’s got her coin-flip advantage, and she threw all of her fire tokens away to get it. I do think this was the right choice, but, let’s be real… it’s not a very good advantage. A full idol is one thing, but a 50/50 chance of MAYBE getting immunity is not great.



The scene I found most telling this week was when Sophie and Sarah were both openly rooting for one another during the immunity challenge, and didn’t say a word to Nick. Nick was sitting right next to them. Kim even called him an easy vote. They didn’t even try to hide that they weren’t rooting for him. Much like Adam, I think Nick’s days are numbered. He’s been a target from pretty early on. Eventually, the axe will fall on him.


Nick is playing a chaotic and flailing style of game, which can be a good thing when you’re on the bottom… but I don’t know if it’s going to work out for him in the long run. Sarah giving him her reward singled him out as much as it did her, and now that Adam is gone, I’m not sure who else he’s going to be able to have the chaotic target land on. As he and Michele pointed out to each other in their hilariously catty discussion post-tribal, the two of them seem to be sort of on the outs. It’ll be difficult, I think, for them to keep the target popcorning elsewhere, especially now that Tyson has picked up on the strategy of chaos and will likely use it better than Nick did.


GUS: Well, that was easy.

ALI: This hasn’t happened in a long time. I’m trying to remember the last time we completely agreed on something. I have nowhere for my indignance to go. Alright, well, who do you think is going to go this week?

GUS: Maybe we’ll disagree here. Let’s say it at the same time.



GUS: Jeez.

ALI: 2020 really is a strange year. Maybe quarantine has us thinking the same thoughts at this point. Alright, I think the more interesting thing will be who we think is absolutely safe. I’m going to go with… Sophie.

GUS: Oh you’re dead wrong. It’s Tony.

ALI: That’s bold. I respect it. Oh my god, what’s happening to us?

GUS: I don’t know, but I don’t like it. Bye everyone!

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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