Parvati Shallow Breaks Down 'Survivor': Rice Games

The 'Survivor' champ analyzes season 29 for THR
Courtesy of CBS
Dale and Kelley Wentworth

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 this season of Survivor needs a new title: Survivor Rice Games. People are starving much earlier on this season than we usually see. What gives?

Hunapu has been on an immunity tear since the beginning of the game. Maybe there’s a link between the amount of carbohydrates and protein they’ve been fueling themselves with for challenges. After further thought on the matter, I say gobbling up all the rice at the very start may actually become a legitimate strategy moving forward. Especially if Jeff Probst continues to allow these guys to barter and make exchanges. Why not eat everything up? Probst set a precedent with these newbies when he allowed them to swap a reward for badly needed flint. Now, they see that anything’s possible as long as you speak up and ask. That Jeff Probst does love to make dreams come true.

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JP also loves to stir things up. With this episode, we see a tribe shakeup. After drawing rocks for new tribes, we end up with three pairs of loved ones and Keith on Coyopa and one lone couple, Josh and Reed, with a tribe full of singles. 

This could get interesting. 

Or, now that older brother Drew is no longer in the picture, it could just become the Alec show at Hunapu. No, really. Please do not make it all about this sweet little ego tripper. 

It doesn’t take long for the rest of Hunapu to assess Alec’s personality and decide to go after him to help break up the couple with a vote against Josh, should the time come. Alec’s got his mind on his brother and his brother on his mind. He’s just running around camp, puffing up his little chicken chest and squawking about how much better he is than his older brother. I don't know how much more of this I can take. 

Good thing we move over to the other side to check out the action at the new Coyopa. And, when I say action, I mean things are getting steamy over here with boyfriend and girlfriend, Jon and Jaclyn, reuniting. 

Baylor, whose mom Missy joined her on the new tribe, wistfully watches the makeout session from the sidelines. “Of course I’m jealous. I’m sitting here single, hanging out with my mom,” says the perky cheerleader.

The tribe swap makes for entertaining antics between loved ones and solos, but we still don’t see much of any strategic game play going on … like zero, actually.

Nothing like an immunity challenge to heat things up. And, this challenge is a real Survivor original. I can just see the snickering from challenge producer John Kirhoffer and the rest of the art department when they set this ball rolling. The elements of the immunity challenge are as follows: digging in a sand pit, swimming through mud, shaking a giant pole and tossing some balls onto a "wobbly platform."

Admit it, this is why you watch the show. 

Even with a new tribe full of loved ones, Coyopa still blows the challenge. Now, they must return to camp and show us how they strategize.

Or, they could just go back and continue their steamy make outs. I’m pretty sure that’s what Jon and Jaclyn would prefer to the reality they find themselves in. 

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Jon and Jaclyn have become the peanut butter and jelly inside a couple sandwich. Since this episode is all about rice and the epic decision to either eat or horde, I’m sure you will appreciate the food reference. 

In the end, there’s little strategy discussion, and it seems to all come down to an emotional decision about rice takers and rice keepers. Dale, Kelley’s dad, is a real Scrooge with the rice. Missy, Baylor’s mom, just wants to feed her daughter. Isn’t that what mom’s all biologically created to do? Dale, you’re fighting a losing battle. And, you’re putting a target on your daughter’s pretty back at the same time. Kelley tries to calm down her dad, but he’s all full of fire and rude remarks. 

After hearing Dale call Missy a "self-centered, bossy, bitch," we realize Kelley is now the one fighting the losing battle. They say you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, and that’s even more true on Survivor. When people have reached their limit; they have no comfort, they’re dehydrated, nutritionally deprived, and running on little sleep, it tends to bring out the bitch in us.

Maybe Missy was being a diva, but that’s no real reason to go after each other. It seems the reality of the situation is, Dale and Baylor have been at odds since day one, and now, one of them is looking to stomp out the other’s flame.

But why choose Kelley and not Dale? Isn't he the grumpy one everyone is fighting with? Isn’t he the odd man out?

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As Kelley walks up to Jeff to have her torch snuffed, I’m baffled. Maybe she couldn't integrate with the girls fast enough. Does she regret not joining them and working to vote out her dad? 

What options did she have that we didn’t see?

This episode leaves me with more questions than answers. Hopefully, next week we’ll get some insight. 

Stay tuned…