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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.
Fear can be a very powerful thing.
The Hunapu tribe has been systematically obliterating Coyopa since the dawn of season 29 of Survivor. They have won nearly every challenge. They are cool and focused under pressure. Being able to put a game face on for challenge day is something they excel at. From the outside looking in, these guys can do no wrong.
Life back at camp tells another story. In their downtime, all Hunapu can do right is make massive errors in judgment. The story tonight is, the tribe is running out of rice, and everyone’s panicking. To be clear, the tribe has not lost their rice, nor have they had an irate castmember chuck it into the fire during a bout of temporary insanity (i.e. J’tia). The hungry people of Hunapu just ate all their rice, plain and simple.
Now, they’ve sent Papa Probst in for a rice delivery. Never one to miss an opportunity to host an impromptu group therapy session, Probst asks everybody how it feels to be a group of misfits who keeps needing dear old dad to bail them out. The whole scene brings back vivid memories of the lectures I received in my marauding teenage years. The shaming doesn’t stop there, however. Probst decides that a trade for rice means the castaways must give him everything they’ve won thus far; they’re essentially starting over (just way skinnier than they were in the very beginning).
At this point in the game, trading your tarp for rice is pretty much the worst possible thing you could do. Clearly, a reward challenge is coming. And, not to mention, the merge is happening soon. We know this because every single person on tonight’s episode says as much. If Hunapu can hang in there for another day, they will get fed.
The other thing about this trade that really fires me up: They still have rice! The trade isn’t happening because the tribe is running on empty, it’s happening because the tribe is terrified of the possibility of running on empty. These people haven’t experienced a day without food yet, but they’re still feeling the effects of malnutrition. Their brains are focusing on the lack of food in their rice bag rather than looking at the big picture. You can’t fault anyone for this. Fear can be a much stronger force than logic or reason. These people are freaking out right now, and in this moment they are willing to trade sleep for food.
The only person that seems to think this may be an unwise move is Julie, though she doesn’t speak up when the trade happens. She just whines to the camera in an interview after the deal is done. Sister, when people are making a bad decision involving your tarp, you speak your mind, and you speak it loudly.
In an ironic twist of fate, the reward challenge is a competition for steak and chicken kabobs. Well, there you go.
Reed takes on Baylor, tradition holds, and Hunapu comes away with the barbeque. They return to their barren camp and feast.
Now, the rain comes, and tiny Julie suffers. She calls the rainy, sleepless night “the hardest night of her life.” Are we going to lose her? It seems like she’s hanging by a thread. Finally, the sun comes out, and Jeremy gives her a solid pep talk to keep her in the game.
Jeremy does need Julie to keep herself in check. He’s going to be in real trouble when the merge happens. He’s a free agent and he’s a strong competitor — a double threat.
Talking about threats, let’s hit the immunity challenge real quick. I feel for Coyopa here. This tribe reeks of defeat. They’ve lost pretty much everything thus far. A victory today will be a much needed morale boost, and it will save Dale’s farmer butt.
Coyopa comes so close to winning, but, in the end, they are no match for our dynamic Broadway boyfriends. Reed and Josh clinch the victory for Hunapu, and Coyopa, once again, has a date with Probst at tribal council.
Now, we will see if Dale’s fake idol trick will work. He’s been playing Jon for a fool since the beginning of the day, and Jon’s been taking the bait.
At tribal council, it could be Missy, Keith or Dale going home. And, it’s all up to Jon.
He bases his vote on loyalty and opts to keep Missy and Baylor together, voting out Dale. Dumb move, Jon and Jaclyn. Baylor is running your tribe, and the moment she is in a secure spot, she will turn on Jon and Jaclyn so fast.
I like how Baylor’s playing. She’s adorable. She’s scrappy. She’s a great flatterer. And, she knows when to turn on the tears and when to keep her mouth shut. Baylor’s protected from many different angles. She’s got Josh, who’s now on Hunapu. She has a new relationship with Natalie from their time together on Exile Island, and she has her mother’s protection. I’m quite certain Missy would never turn on her daughter, though I can’t say that Baylor wouldn’t vote her mom out if push came to shove. I’m on Team Baylor for sure. This girl could take it all the way to the end, and she could win.
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