Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor' Premiere: Not So 'Amazing' Finish for One Castaway

The 'Survivor' champ analyzes the season 29 debut
The castaways meet.

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.

I think 39 days is plenty to live on a deserted island with no food and no friends. I guess if you’re playing Blood vs. Water you have a buddy to hang with, so an extra day of starvation and sleeping in the dirt is a small price to pay.

Honestly, I like the way Survivor: San Juan Del Sur — Blood vs. Water part dos starts off with a day zero. This way we get a chance to meet the castaways in the company of their loved ones. When people are thrown into a vast unknown like Survivor and are forced to compete in some huge opening challenge right off the bat, the audience at home never gets to see the contestants with their guards down. Day zero helps us to get to the heart of the castaways before they armor up.

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Right away, I love Josh and Reed. These guys won me over on location when I went down with the press to do the preview show. They are huge fans of the show, they are vibrant and enthusiastic about the adventure, and they know how to make fire and hunt for crabs. Who knew a couple of Broadway performers could be so manly?

Father and son firefighters, Keith and Wes, are another two of my favorites. How adorable is a pair of firefighters decked out in camo, with syrupy Southern accents, that can’t start fire? They’re nearly as cute as all those wild howler monkeys crawling all over mother-daughter pair Missy and Baylor. Seriously, those monkeys are frightening.

On the flip side, we have the twins from Amazing Race, Natalie and Nadiya. For now, these two are enjoying themselves and laughing it up together, but the future is looming and it’s not looking so bright. These ladies are going to have a tough time out here. Survivor is brutal. It’s hard to vote people off that you like and even harder (I imagine) to see someone you love voted off. At the end of the day, it’s an individual game that brings out the primal protect-yourself-and-take-no-prisoners mentality, and I don’t think the twins will take separation well. They count on one another for everything, and they have no idea how hard this is going to be.

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After spending a cozy night together, the contestants gather in the arena for the first real day of the game. Did any of you catch a glimpse of John Rocker’s girlfriend Julie McGee’s platform wedges? Girlfriend told me she was ready to get down and dirty, but her choice in footwear is speaking louder than words. Her dreams of being carried around the island by her man were dashed once Jeff Probst explained tribe breakdowns.

And then, we have our first challenge. Two individuals will battle it out for reward for his new tribe, the loser goes to Exile Island. Jeremy, another firefighter, proclaims with enthusiasm that he must go into battle. The twist: His opponent will be his wife, Val. Up to now, Val has been talking a huge game about being tough and independent. Let’s see if she can back it up.

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Unsurprisingly, Jeremy wins the very physical challenge, and tearfully sends his wife to Exile Island. As Jeremy chooses Keith, the older firefighter, to join Val at Exile, Keith starts crying also. He glances over at his son and explains his premonition that this is going to happen to all of them. Maybe this makes me a heartless cow, but watching these grown men get all gushy makes me feel nothing. Typically, watching other people get sentimental makes me sappy, but this time I just want everyone to suck it up and get to work building shelter and making alliances.

Even when the tribes make it to their respective beaches, I am unimpressed. Coyopa makes a poison shelter and Josh’s eyes hurt, and old man Dale wants to prove his worth. Haven’t we seen all this before? Where’s the rabid howler monkey invasion or the cannibals paddling over from neighboring tribes? I need more drama.

Let’s check out John Rocker’s tribe — he’s controversial. Young firefighter Wes is on to Rocker. But Rocker’s not ready to give up the goods. He caused quite a stir back in his pro baseball days, and people may not welcome him with open arms. Wes, it turns out, is a fan. Once Rocker’s ego gets a little stroke, he tells Wes his true identity.

In my opinion, Wes better get cracking on using that information as ammo for an alliance with a few other people on his tribe. We’ll see how this plays out in the future.

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The rest of the day covers all the Survivor stereotypes:

-- Drew, the model, talks about how great he is, and everyone is annoyed.

-- Dale, the old guy, starts fire and proves his worth, but no one cares that much.

-- Val on Exile finds a clue and hides it.

-- Jeremy, the good-looking firefighter, charms the ladies while some other guy complains about building the shelter.

Let’s see if we can get a good challenge to amp up the action. Challenge producer John Kirhoffer and the Survivor art department have outdone themselves this time. This challenge rocks harder than Rocker. And, coincidentally, I’ve got my money on his tribe pulling out the victory. He’s just so big, it looks like he could throw everyone up to the top of the platform without wasting time on the other parts.

Off to the races! Could you tell how fast Jon, Jacklyn’s boyfriend, flew through that crawl? He was like a wild animal escaping a predator. Go watch it again if you missed it. He’s truly inhuman.

Rocker’s tribe, Hunapu, reaches the puzzle just a bit ahead of the opposition. But, as we all know, the puzzle is always the great equalizer. It’s still anyone’s game. Until, it isn’t.

Hunapu wins, sending Coyopa to Tribal Council.

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Heading into tribal, we’ve got a potential girl’s alliance brewing, a gay in the swing spot and an old guy on the outs.

Things aren’t looking good for dear old Farmer Dale. He made a good argument about dumping Nadiya back on the beach, but was it enough to persuade the group? I like this guy, and I think he’s proved his worth by making fire and working hard at camp. The tribe would be foolish to vote him out now. But, then again, we’ve seen some really dumb things go down on Survivor.

In the end, Dale triumphs. The tribe votes out Amazing Racer Nadiya because she’s proven herself to be conniving on reality television in the past.

This just isn’t fair, but someone’s got to go first, and it sure as heck ain’t gonna be me.

Well-played, Farmer Dale. I see you’ve got some Survivor skills up your sleeve. I’ve got my eye on you, and now, a new favorite to win the game.

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