Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor: Second Chance': Brutal End for First Castoff

Season 31 of the CBS reality show features returning castmembers who were chosen by viewers.
Monty Brinton/CBS
'Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance'

Parvati Shallow is a 'Survivor' champ and three-time competitor on the show. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.

Getting a second chance to play Survivor is like winning the lottery of a lifetime two times.

The entire cast of Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance was flying high before the game started. They were reveling in the excitement of being chosen by the fans to return to the game. Some people, like Jeff Varner and Kelly Wigglesworth, had been waiting for 15 years for a shot at redemption. Others, like Joe and Shirin, barely had any time between their last game and going back for this season. No matter how long the contestants were waiting for their shot to return, they all felt the pull of the competition. The heartbeat of Survivor is a primal one. It beckons from a deep place within. It’s difficult to resist, and when you’re out there living on the island, the pull to stay in the game intensifies. 

Read more 'Survivor' Casting Director Reveals Secrets to Landing on Show: "We Will Break You"

Getting another shot and being the first one voted out, is a brutal end. I feel for Vytas. I believe the twist in the first episode was his ultimate undoing. After his tribe lost the challenge, they headed straight to tribal council. They were on lockdown. No more strategy talk allowed. 

Before the game began, contestants were plotting to vote off Vytas first. They felt threatened by his connections to Ciera from his first season and superhuman Terry Dietz. When there’s no time to strategize and solidify a plan right before tribal, fear takes over and runs the show. Everyone is terrified about being the first person voted out of Survivor, and they are willing to vote anyone as long as it isn't them. The time before tribal is critical to get everyone on the same page. This time, everyone was scrambling at tribal council to figure out who to vote. Would it be Abi, who was already stirring up conflict at camp? Or would it be smarter to vote out a well-connected threat like Vytas?

Ultimately, old-schooler Jeff Varner decides to join the new-school strategizers, Kelley Wentworth, Spencer and Shirin, and turns on Vytas. Meanwhile, Terry and Wigglesworth are left dumbfounded with their jaws on the floor.  

With Varner’s vote, the elephant in the room is outed. Now, the strategy-obsessed new-school kids outnumber the shelter-building, survival-focused old-school players. Voting out Vytas so early on could be the kiss of death as far as future challenges go for this tribe. We’ve seen this time and again on Survivor. When people vote out strategic threats and strong physical players early on, they pay a heavy price. 

I do like this tribe though, and I hope I’m wrong. The mix between honorable, stand-up people like Kelly Wigglesworth, Terry Dietz and Woo with cunning, deceptive players like Wentworth and Varner should make some fun fireworks. I don’t want to see any more of them go anytime soon. 

Kelley Wentworth proved her worth this time. Unlike Fishbach’s seriously un-stealth idol hunt, Wentworth found the clue to the immunity idol without anyone noticing. Then, she quickly grabbed that baby in the challenge while her tribemates’ attention was focused elsewhere. I saw this in-person at the challenge, and everyone on production was going crazy for her ballsy move. I’ve said it before, and it merits another mention: Kelley Wentworth is here to play. I can only hope she teams up with Varner. This would be a magical alliance. 

And, speaking of magical unions, the alpha males are making moves over on the other beach. Joe in particular has already melted the hearts of America, and now he’s caught Foxy Tosha and Andrew Savage in his web. It must be the man bun. 

I was a bit worried about Joe going back to play this time, because he was so targeted his first time in the game. But now, it looks like Joe has enough fans on his tribe that he will stick around and get a chance to show us some more skills. I mean, the guy is good at everything, so I just know he has more hidden talents to reveal. 

Until next week, I’ll be talking more Survivor strategy on my Vimeo channel. Check it out. 

Survivor airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. on CBS. What did you think of the premiere, and who is the early frontrunner?