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Parvati Shallow is a ‘Survivor’ champ and three-time competitor on the show. Find her on Twitter @parvatishallow.
All hail Queen Abi!
The Brazilian bombshell is being courted by all of her tribemates in hopes of securing her loyalty and her vote on Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance. The thing is, Abi is so temperamental that she cannot be relied upon to actually stick with anyone for very long. She’s caught up in the Survivor paranoia that can run rampant in these jungles. It appears to me that Foxy Tasha is the only person able to give Abi the sense of security that she craves.
Tasha is a fearless leader, grounded in reality. She is approaching this game with a warrior spirit, not allowing the hard knocks of being cast onto a tribe with nothing — no shelter, no food, no fun — to get her down. She works through her demons far away from her tribe and will not let anyone see her crack. She’s strong, and she’s decisive. Though Abi may feel like she’s in control, Tasha is the true powerhouse calling the shots right now.
I know that her ally, Andrew Savage, must be absolutely delighted to have such a strong woman by his side. We’ve been watching Andrew crumble since the tribe swap. He didn’t take the news that he was switching tribes very well at all. The swap brought up all his residual Survivor: Pearl Islands PTSD, and he’s had to cope with that baggage as well as try to find a way to secure his safety in an underdog on a new tribe.
It’s funny that Survivor mimics life so much. Just like life will bring us opportunities to learn from our mistakes and take a different course of action, Survivor brings us these life lessons in a more compact, intense format. It’s like a full-immersion, experiential life master class.
Savage has his moment to shine when we arrive at the reward challenge. His tribe desperately needs food and a morale boost. When Probst announces that this will be a hero’s challenge in which one person from each tribe will step up to take all the responsibility, Savage gets his chance to test his mettle. He’s up against two strong, athletic alpha male challenge dominators, Terry Dietz and Jeremy Collins. How much has Savage grown since his last time on the island? Can he handle the pressure?
At home, I know we’re all watching and pleading mentally with Savage to win. It’s always fun to watch underdogs win, right? Let’s see Angkor get some food in their bellies tonight. Come on, Savage!
When he wins in a come-from-behind victory, I start to cry. Seriously, I’m getting emotional as I’m writing this. I’m so happy to see this man win food for his friends. Well done, Savage. I hope this experience helps to release some of the pain from your past.
The celebration on Angkor is short-lived, however, as we watch them all but die in the immunity challenge. One meal just isn’t enough to help rebuild your strength to get through these demanding physical challenges. Angkor looks completely depleted as they sort of just give up at the end and resign themselves to the loss before the challenge is even over.
Oh, yeah, and Jeff Varner probably broke his toe.
When we get back to the beach, Angkor again has the heavy burden of choosing one of their own to vote off the island. This time, Tasha works on Abi first and gets her thinking about voting off Varner. He’s a strategic threat, and he’s got a lot of friends over there on other tribes. Varner’s dangerous, much more dangerous than Woo. Abi takes in Tasha’s ideas, but Abi is still angry about the way Woo keeps writing her name down. She’s going to need a bit more convincing. That’s cool, though. Tasha is up for the challenge.
Varner needs to put the hard sell on Abi. He’s working the loyalty, protectiveness angle, without much success. The problem is, Tasha has already secured the protector role for Abi, and Varner is no longer needed. This bodes well for Tasha and very poorly for Jeff Varner.
When we get to tribal council, it’s either Jeff Varner or Woo hitting the road. Woo and Varner plead with Abi to keep them. Woo campaigns on physical strength to help win challenges, and he claims he will be loyal to Abi from now on. I don’t know how much weight this loyalty claim holds, but his challenge strength cannot be questioned. Varner makes a strong case about always having protected and stood behind Abi. He says he will remain her loyal ally for the rest of eternity, but it’s not enough. Tasha’s plan works, and Varner is voted out.
I’m so bummed. I loved Varner’s spunk, his strategic mind and his enthusiasm to play this game. To hear more of my thoughts on the game, a strategy breakdown from this episode and a preview of what’s to come, check out this video.
Until next time!
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Michael K. Williams