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'Survivor: Blood vs. Water': Parvati Shallow Recaps Premiere

The three-time competitor and winner of "Survivor: Micronesia" -- who was on the island for the first days of filming -- shares her insights into the CBS show every week on THR.com.

Veterans vs. Loved Ones
Timothy Kuratek/CBS

“Who you vote out could potentially affect the other tribe.” -- Culpepper

Before this season got underway, I was the lucky lady asked to fly down to the Philippines with TVGN and host the behind-the-scenes of the Survivor 27 preview show. During my time down there, I got an inside look into the brilliant and twisted mind of host Jeff Probst. We casually bumped into one another in the crew dining area as I piled fresh fruit and a heaping stack of hot-off-the-griddle pancakes onto my plate in wide-eyed wonder. He was dressed in full Survivor Probst gear: hat, khaki pants, blue weatherproof button-down top. Ready for battle.

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“This is totally surreal,” I beamed.

“What do you think of the twist?” he replied.

“I think you guys are complete sickos. You take an ego-driven, highly competitive game where the M.O. is to lie, cheat, steal and betray, and you throw in mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, brothers ... this game could potentially lead relationships to ruin!”

He smiled, showing off his trademark dimples, “It’s gonna be a great show.”

If there's one thing Survivor knows how to do well, it's massive show opens. As a member of the press on location, I scampered out of my cozy bed at 3 a.m. to go watch the open live and in person. One of the best parts about getting to play Survivor is the chance to go out into the unknown and trust yourself to handle it bravely and confidently. As I watched all of our twosomes emerge from the jungle together, hand in hand, I silently commended them all for the incredible adventure they agreed to take part in. This will prove to be one of the most complex and emotional games of Survivor we’ve ever seen.

And ... action!

Jeff wastes no time splitting the happy couples up into two opposing tribes and shocking everyone with an immediate vote. From my vantage point on the beach, the five alpha males on the loved ones’ tribe drop back, give one another a wink and a nod, and with that, an alliance is formed and Laura Bonham is sent packing. She thinks they’re all threatened by her husband. I think it’s the tie-dye.

The lines aren’t so clear on the returnee tribe. In the end, Candice ends up being the sacrificial lamb and joins Laura on the mat of shame. Just when the ladies think they’re out of the game, Jeff throws another curveball.

"Hey guys, you have a chance to battle it out at Redemption Island and earn your way back into the game. Yay!"

Oops, premature celebration.

"There’s one more thing. If you want to prove how much you love your wife, Rupert, sacrifice yourself and take her place."

My head is about to pop off my body. This is out of control!

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Fans of Survivor always ask me about the most challenging aspect of the game. Well, this is it: playing the smartest, strategic, social game you can, while simultaneously controlling your emotions so you don’t make irrational decisions in the heat of passion. It comes down to head vs. heart.

With Rupert, apparently, it’s all heart. His tribe looks on in horror and I watch in absolute shock from the beach as Rupert pulls a play from the Katniss book of winning and sacrifices himself to save his beloved wife, Laura. Sweet gesture, but dumb move, Rupes. With her husband’s heroic action, Laura becomes a member of the returnees’ tribe, reclaiming her position as the odd man out. Rupert’s decision to take his wife’s place smacks of showmanship and poor strategy, but with this twist, it’s going to be much harder to understand a person’s motivations. Making rational, unemotional decisions will prove extremely challenging as the lines have been blurred between love and an individualistic desire to win. If Rupert had stayed in the game, his chances of success would have increased greatly. Laura, a fish out of water in her new tribe, will prove an easy target for early elimination. As a member of a couple, don’t you do what’s best for the couple as a whole so that at least one of you has a real chance to win the game? I can only assume Rupert’s desire to protect his wife trumped all logical thought in this instance.

These people have a lot to think about and not a lot of time.

Now it’s John’s turn to fall on the sword. Jeff gives Candice and her husband a moment to quickly discuss and make a decision. Now that Rupert has set the bar, we all expect John to follow suit. He doesn’t. Whaaaaat?? Another shocker. John returns to the open arms of his tribe of alpha males and sweet, little girls, leaving his wife, Candice, slighted, alone and forced to contend with Rupert on Redemption Island. Rest assured, I am 100 percent in agreement with this decision. I know it doesn’t look good, but it simply makes sense. Candice is a smart, strong, self-sufficient woman. She has a better chance at Redemption than in her own tribe right now. John, an athletic man in a tribe full of dudes, is already integrated into a band of brothers who will protect him. To an outside observer, it’s a no-brainer. Normally, in order to score a victory on Survivor, the head trumps the heart. Now the contestants have to consider that their actions in the game could have lasting effects on the future of their marriage. What’s worth more to you?

It’s a whole new game. 

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My head is spinning there is so much to discuss, so let’s just skip all the fluff and get right to the juicy end -- Tribal Council and the theme of the night: guilt by association. The first vote in Survivor is tricky because the contestants haven’t had enough time together to really get to know a person’s character. Any little reason to vote someone out is a good one. It’s not necessarily fair, but it is widely accepted in this world to judge people based on the company they keep. As a contestant on Survivor: Blood vs. Water, you’re not only being judged by your own actions, but by the actions of your loved ones as well -- another complication of the twist, and yet another thing to factor into your strategy. Marissa pleads with her tribe to judge her based on her own behavior and merit and not to punish her simply because her uncle made a ridiculous display of poor sportsmanship at the end of the challenge. Finally, the tribe decides to teach Gervase a lesson in the rules of engagement. Uncle Gerv’s outburst gets Marissa the boot and she saunters off to join do-nothing Rupert and hard-working Candice at Redemption Island. I cannot wait to watch that battle!

I am so excited to get all the details from the contestants as I meet face to face with each week’s castoff on the Survivor After Show. Join us at CBS.com/survivoraftershow beginning next Thursday, Sept. 26.

What are your thoughts about the new twist? Any favorites? Tweet me!

Twitter: @parvatishallow