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By Gina Carbone
(Sorry, the time for this season’s “spoiler alerts” is over.)
The “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” finale won’t air for another two hours East Coast time. (Read my live blog of the show when it starts, if you feel like it. No pressure!)
The “real time” status of the show is a final five of Colby Donaldson, Jerri Manthey, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Parvati Shallow and Russell Hantz.
But considering the spoilers boot list shows Sandra, Parvati and Russell as the final three, there’s really nothing I can imagine Sandra doing at this point to deserve winning over Parvati.
Not that I don’t love Sandra. You kidding? It’s like she can’t lose “Survivor”! She’s played twice and won twice. Pearl Islands and now Heroes vs. Villains. She’s a rock star. Whatever she is doing, it’s working. But it’s not my preferred style of Survivor.
Sandra excels at the slow burn. You sit around and stay out of the way for the first half of the show. She didn’t do well at challenges and that occasionally put her on people’s radar to eliminate, but she also made sure there were a few other people (Courtney, for one) who looked even worse than her. Plus, she also excels at the “anyone but me” theory of voting. You can rely on Sandra to help you get rid of someone — anyone — as long as it isn’t her. That can be helpful, especially on a season filled with emotion-driven eliminations.
Once into a merge, her lack of challenge skills are no longer a major threat to the others. She isn’t into the big moves like Russell or Parvati and her mouth isn’t as big as Danielle’s or Rupert’s. She can mostly hang back while the “stronger” players eat each other alive.
You’d think the castaways would try harder to eliminate someone who has already won this game, but 90 percent of the survivors seemed more interested in dumping Parvati than Sandra.
Sure, Parv has won this game, too, but she has also lost. This is Parv’s third time at the wheel after Cook Islands (she was 15th voted out and the 7th jury member) and Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites (she won over Amanda Kimmel).
Parvati played a big, big game and — unlike Russell — she showed you can be a true Villain without making things personal or ugly.
Parv warned Russell right off the bat: I don’t ride coattails. He said she’d want to ride his, thinking of Natalie White. But Parv is no Natalie White. Natalie won “Samoa,” but only because she wasn’t Russell. Parv should’ve won “Heroes vs. Villains” because she is Parvati Shallow.
She played a superb physical game — winning multiple balance/concentration challenges and holding her own in the more physical challenges; she just saved her own arse by winning immunity over Rupert.
She played a superb strategic game — the idol-double play alone is worthy of the Survivor Hall of Fame, but she also held her nose and stuck with Russell through everything, never once writing a fellow Villain’s name down after the merge. (Not even Candice, whom she considered a new Villain and less of a threat than Rupert. She was right, but emotion ruled the vote for the others.)
And she played an award-worthy social game — just snuggling up to Russell alone is a feat for the ages. But her flirty ways managed to sucker in just about everyone. Even Sandra is now laughing with Parv. And did you notice how Jerri, who called Parv a “virus” back in Villains camp, picked Parv first for the family reward this week?
Parvati has a magical charisma. And she knows when to use her skills and when to shut up about them. Danielle doesn’t. Danielle, who loved Parv as much as Russell, made the fatal error of boasting about their connection at Tribal Council. Russell — who played such a sloppy, emotion-driven game that I can’t believe this is the same troll-in-control of “Samoa” — loved Parv so much he couldn’t stop giving her the immunity idols, even when she had her own. He always thought he was king, but she was clearly the one wrapping him around her finger. Jealous of the Danielle bond, he successfully broke Danielle down and got rid of her, but when he tried to do the same to Parv she blocked him. That’s what a survivor does and that’s part of why Parvati should’ve won.
Parvati never sat back and waited, like Sandra did. She played a big, loud, hard, fast game. When JT wrote his love letter to Russell asking Russell to get rid of the person the Heroes considered the #1 threat — Parvati — Russell could’ve seen the sense in it. Get rid of the girl who controls everyone. Instead, he showed the letter to his girlfriend so they could laugh about it. Then he gave her the idol JT gave him. Amazing. You never give the enemy the idol, Russell mocked the camera of JT’s decision. He should’ve listened to his own words.
But, instead, we’re going to have another Tribal Council where the winner isn’t the best “Survivor” player. The winner will be the least reviled player. It makes no sense for Sandra to beat Parvati on game playing. Parv was never vicious like Russell. She never called people “dumbass” to their face or lied on her children’s names. And she never played both sides when it suited her. Sandra switched it up every week. You never could tell what she was going to do, based on what she said to the Heroes and the Villains individually.
Parvati was loyal to her alliance. Sandra didn’t even have an alliance after Courtney and I can see honoring her for that alone. But Parv had to fight to keep her alliance because her alliance-mates — Russell, Danielle and even Jerri — were flaky, childish and incredibly stupid. She deserves a medal for putting up with them.
By this point Parvati has played more hours of Survivor than anyone in history. Her game play seems to be increasing with each hour. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to get to the Sandra decision and who will decide she deserves it more than Parv, but here are my guesses:
I’m guessing Coach and Courtney vote for Sandra because Court is Sandra’s friend and Coach is probably still wounded from Russell + Parv.
I bet Rupert makes Sandra’s prophecy come true and votes for her even after she dumped him.
I bet Colby picks Sandra because he hates Parv + Russell and he’s lost track of what “Survivor” is all about.
I bet Candice, Jerri, Amanda and Danielle pick Parvati because she supported them and/or she’s their friend.
I was going to bet JT would pick Russell because he’s another Southern guy and he complimented Russell after the vote-out, but maybe he’d pick Parv or Sandra. Not sure. Some people might be confused and think Parv rode Russell’s coattails, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Based on my guesses above, I’d have to bet he picks Sandra.
We’ll find out in a couple of hours!
Catch up on my “Survivor” stories in this nifty archive.
I loved this season. This is the All-Stars we should’ve had the first time. The idea of going back to the usual Survivor of strangers seems anticlimactic. I hate to admit it — and please don’t tell him — but I’m even going to miss my Evil Oompa Loompa.