Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor': Overconfidence Leads to Blindside

The 'Survivor' champ analyzes season 29 for THR
Courtesy of CBS
Jaclyn and Jon

Parvati Shallow is a Survivor champ and three-time competitor on the show. The OG Miss Survivor and Survivor Hall of Famer now covers health and wellness for CBS News in New York City. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.

Natalie has got this game on lock. 

After last week’s voting Alec out snafu, Nat has some explaining to do with the gang back at camp. She’s worked hard to earn the trust of her allies, so playing dumb is her best defense. Because Jon’s been in the leadership position since blindsiding Jeremy, he’s gotten trusting and comfortable. Natalie is smart and strategic. She’s seething right under Jon’s nose and he has no idea. He hasn’t had an alpha male or female to outwardly challenge him, and he’s beginning to drop his guard.

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At the reward challenge, we see evidence of just how much Jon trusts and cares about his fellow players. When Missy hurts her ankle, the Jon and Keith continue to carry her through the challenge and catch up to the opposing team. Their comeback is indicative of just how good Jon is in these challenges, and it also serves as another huge bolster to his confidence. 

Jon has been playing the hero throughout this game and probably through most of his life. He’s handsome, charming and kind. He’s been chivalrous with the women, establishing a close mother/son relationship with Missy on the island. And, he’s the idol king this season. He’s amassed a lot of power, and he hasn’t been a jerk. From the outside, this could look like a fail proof strategy. Jon’s tragic flaw, however, is that he’s been the golden boy all his life and he’s come to expect that outcome. He’s been successful at building trust with others, relying on a team, and winning championships. But this is Survivor, and what you see is not always what you get. 

When Jaclyn tells us that Jon is great at visualizing the win, alarm bells start ringing in my ears. Isn’t this exactly what went down with King Aras in the first Blood vs Water? When Aras sat on top of a mountain meditating on his win while everyone back at camp was plotting his blindside. 

Visualization is a powerful tool in life. You can use it before a big presentation, a job interview, or an audition. Research shows that visualizing in and believing in a good outcome makes it more likely to occur.

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When you visualize the end in a game like Survivor, however, it can take you out of the present moment. That’s dangerous. In this game the most vital component to victory is staying present to the reality that presents itself. Getting caught up in your visualization can prevent you from picking up on little clues like body language or verbal tells. 

Natalie’s tell is easy to spot, if you know her story at all. Natalie’s twin sister has been out of the game for about 30 days. This is the very first time that they’ve spent this much time apart. They’re like glue. If you know this about Natalie, and you look at her relationship with Baylor, you know that Baylor is Nat’s Survivor Nadiyah. She will protect her to the end. 

Jon has been leading the pack for so long that either he doesn’t consider Natalie a threat or he is so caught up in what he believes is going to happen, he doesn’t watch out for her. 

It may not look like it to you or to Jon, but Natalie is running the show. 

When everyone arrives at the immunity challenge, Natalie’s determination comes into focus. On the beach, she’s funny and doesn’t take life too seriously, but at this challenge, she’s all grit. She steps onto her platform and holds steady. Her only thought is beating Jon so she can pull off the blindside she’s been plotting for days. As Missy sits on the bench with her broken ankle, watching, the others drop one by one and join her. 

I’m loving Natalie’s focus. This ability to completely concentrate and block out any pain you’re feeling or distractions around you, is what it takes to win these quintessential Survivor endurance- balancing challenges. 

It’s down to Natalie and Jon in the end. No doubt in my mind, Natalie’s winning this. 

When she wins, she enthusiastically runs over to give Jeff a hug— giddy with the power she now possesses.

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Back at camp, Natalie rallies the troops. She talks to Baylor and Keith, telling them tonight is the night Jon goes home.

Keith is tickled. He’s been on the outside of every alliance since the game begun. How he’s still in it is a mystery to him (and to me). 

He agrees to go along with Natalie’s plan and “act depressed at tribal council like he’s going home.”

Baylor unsuccessfully attempts to convince her mom to vote out Jon. Missy’s refusal is based on the fact that she says she has not betrayed anyone and doesn’t plan to start now. She gave Jon her word and she has to keep it. 

Before heading to tribal, Jaclyn voices some doubts to her boyfriend, Jon. “What if they’re planning to blindside you?” 

He brushes it off. 

Tribal goes down like a dream for Natalie. Keith plays his part perfectly, and everyone else sticks with the plan. 

Jon goes out in a big old blazing blindside, leaving Natalie in complete control of the game. 

Now, it’s just a matter of time until Natalie is sitting sandwiched between a mom and a daughter in the final three. Don’t you agree?

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