1:34pm PT by Parvati Shallow
Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor: Second Chance': Bring on the Waterworks
Parvati Shallow is a 'Survivor' champ and three-time competitor on the show. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.
This season of Survivor has started off with a bang. It’s only the second episode, and we've already seen some people turn on their alliances. From where I'm sitting, I see the power in the game going to those who have the best relationship building skills. Jeff Varner and Terri Dietz seem to have the market cornered on that for Ta Keo.
Though they share great interpersonal skills, Varner and Dietz are two very different players. Varner was responsible for siding with the "new school" players in the first episode and voting out Vytas. Now, Varner is working to bring Terri back into his gang and to get rid of Shirin and Spencer. Varner explains to Terri that Shirin and Spencer are playing too hard, too fast, and he says he can’t keep up with them. This reasoning works for Terri, who wants back into a majority alliance. But I'm sure as hell not buying what Varner is selling. Varner is great at understanding a person's motivations and needs. He plays up to Terri's good guy side, and makes him feel like he's not alone in wanting to slow down the pace of the game. Despite his fantastic sales pitch, Varner is playing full steam ahead, and it looks like he's going to take whomever he wants along for the ride.
On the other side, it's all harmony, happiness and team bonding with the Bayon tribe. Joe, with his perfect man-bun and sun-kissed golden skin, takes it upon himself to whip up some hammocks out of the tribe's extra fishing net. At first glance, this seems silly. Why would you want hammocks more than you want food? But a few moments later, we see Joe fishing with another net, so it appears Survivor's Golden Boy has thought of everything. Not to mention, one of the reasons people break down out there is because living in the dirt and sleeping in sand can be incredibly uncomfortable and demoralizing. Joe has lifted their bums, and perhaps he’s hoisted their spirits as well.
Andrew Savage certainly feels comfortable enough with this tribe to expose his softer side. At the girls' request, Savage begins to tell the story about how he met his gorgeous, South African supermodel wife. *Cue the eye roll* As Savage continues to speak about his marriage, he starts to get choked up. His emotions cause an outpouring of emotion from all of his tribemates. The flood gates have been opened.
Jeremy Collins is hit hard with homesickness and walks off to cry in solitude. Good move, Collins. Although tears can be a door toward showing vulnerability and building deeper bonds, Collins understands that sharing his emotions about his pregnant wife at home will only serve to put a large target on his back. No one wants to keep around an expecting father for the final tribal. He'd win the hearts of the jury by a landslide. Yes, Jeremy, better to keep it under wraps for now.
The only person on Bayon who seems to be missing out on the group bonding, is Stephen Fishbach. When Jeremy walks off, Fishy accuses him of idol hunting. The rest of this group couldn't be less on Stephen's side. Everyone here is acting content to simply hang out with each other and build trust. If this tribe loses the challenge, it looks like the Fish may be out of water.
That doesn't happen, however, because Bayon's team unity helps them to win another immunity challenge. Our friend Fishy gets a reprieve this time. This means Ta Keo must make the walk of shame back to tribal council and vote out another member.
By season 31, we're all aware that power dynamics in this game shift rapidly. Shirin and Spencer, who were on the top last week, have fallen to the bottom of the totem pole this week. Why? Well, it goes back to that always-relevant question: Who are you playing with? To play Survivor successfully, you must adapt to the personalities of those with whom you are playing. This season, it's full of people who want to develop relationships and share a personal, human experience. Spencer and Shirin lack the social skills needed to cultivate deep relationships quickly. It takes self-confidence, compassion and a true curiosity about others to create the type of bond that makes someone want to stick their neck out for you. Terri Dietz has these qualities, and we see how easy it is for him to gain Abi's trust and loyalty.
Shirin knows she's in danger, and in a mad scramble to save herself, she approaches Woo. Woo shuts her down instantly. He says that she never made any attempt to speak with him, and now that she's in trouble, she wants to talk. He finds her last minute effort inauthentic, and he won't have any of it.
Once we arrive at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst makes quick work of this tribe. He cuts to the core of Shirin, and she admits that she made a mistake in not standing up for Abi. She blames herself and accepts responsibility for her own undoing.
I hope that Shirin can move through this and forgive herself for making mistakes. We all do dumb things, and we all need compassion for ourselves and from others to be able to learn from our past and grow into better people.
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