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Stephen’s Survivor Strategy Blog: Parvati Pulls a Power Move
April 23, 2010
“Anyone who enables another to become powerful brings about his own ruin.” –Machiavelli, The Prince

What is wrong with the cast of Tocantins? Tyson blindsides himself, Coach is Coach, and now JT gets voted out with his own idol. Was there something in Brazil’s Rio Novo that made us spectacularly self-destructive? Or did the producers just pick the wrong castaways from my season?

Thursday’s episode starts with the two tribes merging. Both sides delicately feel each other out over a feast, while Parvati sulks on the beach because nobody’s paying her any attention. “I’m over it,” she tells Danielle. It’s a touching reminder of how lonely you can feel stranded for a month with nineteen strangers, especially when they’re all out for blood. Parvati’s a 26-year-old girl, not a supervillain, and sometimes it just sucks to be left out .

While Parvati pouts, Russell works his black magic on the Heroes tribe. “Don’t even worry,” he tells Rupert and JT. “I swear on my kids that I am on board with y’all. Just let this happen. Just breathe.” The pitch exemplifies the best and worst of Russell’s gameplay. He excels at making people feel safe — lulling his prey into a false sense of security before he strikes. But he also takes the game a step too far. Lying on your kids is just unnecessary. That exact lie cost Twila the game in Vanuatu. Rupert gives some of the best Survivor advice I’ve ever heard when he later says: “Russell looked me right in the eye and swore on his kid’s life that he was with us. And anybody that would do that — right away, I don’t trust them.”

That was this episode’s theme: How do you know who you can trust? With so many great players trying to bamboozle each other, there were bound to be a few big winners — and a couple losers. While the most splashy face-off came between dueling Southern charmers — Russell and JT — the episode actually hinged on the face-off between two old allies.

How much fun was it to see Amanda and Parvati dance around each other with half truths while pretending to be the closest of friends? In spite of the lies and misdirection, I believe that Parvati really wanted to reconnect. Why else would she show Amanda her idol? Sure, you can say it’s a token of trust and a trade for information. But showing the idol now exposes Parvati to a lot more risk than it offers in reward. It makes her a target and hints at the real dynamics of the Villains tribe. Parvati was feeling left out, so she turned to an old friend. Sometimes human emotions determine game decisions for even the best players.

But when Amanda tries to flush Parvati’s idol, it doesn’t take a foxy boxer to realize she’s lying. “You better play that thing,” Amanda tells her former ally. Okay — hint dropped. Now move on. But instead, Amanda continues, “Just in case. Just play it. Just to be safe.” And again: “And if we don’t talk again, play it. For you.”

Amanda might as well hold up a sign that says: “SUBTEXT: YOU DON’T NEED TO PLAY YOUR IDOL.” Russell and Sandra are both masters at dropping a hint — the Russell Seed and the Sandra Bug — that tease their targets into a paranoid fever. But seeds and bugs start out small. When Amanda clobbers Parvati with the Amanda Bat, Parvati immediately realizes two things: her old ally has betrayed her, and she won’t be the Heroes’ target.

There’s a big difference, however, between knowing rationally you’re not a target and risking your neck at Tribal Council. Parvati wins the Fishy this episode for her bold move: she gives both her “two little green men” away in one fell swoop. She doesn’t just use one idol to try to save an ally and hold on to her second for a rainy day. She gives both her idols away — and to the two Villainesses who like her least. The move keeps the Villains tribe intact, sends JT home, and proves that Parvati is one of the best players of all time. Well done.

JT’s entire game this season has been a high-wire act. By flipping between alliances, he decided every vote on the Heroes tribe and eliminated his biggest threats one by one. But he never built up a history of trust with any of his tribemates. When Amanda and Candice caught him with his hand in the idol jar, he was pushed into tossing the idol like a hot potato to the other team. It was a bold move. Last night, it came back to haunt him. –Stephen Fishbach

Tell Us: Why wouldn’t JT believe Rupert? What will happen between Parvati and Russell? Is this curtains for the Heroes tribe?

For the links and photos and to comment,  go here:


Colby Donaldson says “reality was manipulated” on Survivor Heroes vs. Villains
Survivor Heroes vs Villains »   
by Andy Dehnart / June 3, 2010, 1:02 PM 

Survivor Heroes vs. Villains cast member Colby Donaldson was maligned by viewers and even criticized by the show’s host for his role in Danielle and Amanda’s fight for the immunity idol clue. But Colby revealed to reality blurred that the event did not occur as it was shown, and worse, that the entire season included examples of manipulative editing that didn’t affect the outcome but did distort reality.

“The thing with Danielle and Amanda, I was sort of the victim. I was the one getting berated in the show recaps based on how I reacted and what I said and didn’t say in that scene. And what the viewers saw was not what happened, and that’s really all I can say about that,” Colby told me, after saying earlier, “I’m limited on what I can say about that now after that interview.” That’s yet another example of CBS reprehensibly limiting its reality stars’ comments.

“That interview” refers to Colby’s exit interview with Reality TV World, in which he revealed “Danielle had that [idol clue] in her possession. She had the clue. It was not on the floor. It was underneath her when Amanda reached underneath her to grab it. They edited it and showed a cut of Amanda’s hand going down on the floor to grab it — that was actually Danielle’s hand and it was not where the clue was to begin with. Anyway, it made it look like Amanda picked it up off the floor and it was free game because it was on the floor and I sided with Danielle. That’s not the truth. I told Amanda that I thought it was Danielle’s, but it was based on the fact that she had it in her possession.”

In his EW column about that episode, Probst condescendingly criticized Colby, and Colby told me, “I called Probst, [and] he pulled the actual footage and watched it and apologized. He saw it; the footage is there,” Colby said. “When Probst asked the editors and producers or whoever was in charge of that why they did it the way they did, the response was, well, we didn’t have the right coverage, we didn’t have the right shot to make it play out. Probst told me, ‘We’re at a point now where we have the resources to pick up a shot.’ And that’s not to say create anything, but if you don’t have a shot of someone’s hand reaching in and grabbing something, you go reshoot that moment if you have to, not with Amanda and Danielle, but you make it work. It’s water under the bridge; what can I say?”

Sidebar: A pick-up is when small part of a scene is filmed later to add to existing footage. For reality TV, that means either having cast members recreate a part of a scene, which some shows have done, or having doubles do it, which Colby is suggesting here. And since Survivor already uses doubles for most of its helicopter shots, that wouldn’t be a huge stretch.

Colby’s disappointment—and my own, because I hold the show to the very high standard it’s set for itself—didn’t end there. “I felt like the reality was manipulated by the edit, and I’ve never felt that way. I’ve played the game and I’ve never witnessed that,” he said, and then told me about another example of manipulation. “It wasn’t just that episode after the reward challenge. That was the one that made me look bad. But the truth is, the examples were throughout the show. There was a challenge Parvati won and it showed it coming down to the very end and it was Rupert and Parvati , and they were holding these poles up with their hands. And Rupert’s big claim to fame is how he was the one who went toe-to-toe with Parvati every time. Well, that’s not even how that challenge played out. And he wasn’t the last one with Parvati. It was Jerri, they edited Jerri out of that whole thing and made it look like it came down to Parvati and Rupert, and that’s just not the truth.”Colby added, “I’ve just never seen Survivor do that. Maybe that’s a new thing; I don’t know. I’ve just never seen the reality manipulated and the viewer led to believe something took place that didn’t. Does it ultimately skew the outcome? No. It doesn’t affect who wins the game; it’s not as if they’re affecting the vote or anything like that. It’s just no accurate as to how the game played out.” (We have seen other examples of manipulative challenge editing, though previously it seems to have been about compressing a challenge for time.)

Colby was the last remaining Hero tribe member, though his performance was disappointing, to say the least. “I owe a lot to Survivor for what it’s given to me over the last decade, and if it weren’t for that show, I wouldn’t be out here, I wouldn’t be pursing this. It’s been a great memory,” he said. “I just didn’t enjoy Samoa. I agree with you: I went into it with high hopes and certainly prepared for it both physically and mentally, and I was ready. And I got over there and it didn’t take long to realize the game had changed a lot. After Stephanie and Tom were eliminated, which made no strategic sense to me, I was detached, and I think it was very obvious. I didn’t want to be there.”

Colby is hosting the History Channel’s first-ever competitive reality series, Top Shot, which debuts Sunday. (Look for my conversation with him about that show tomorrow.) But he says that his experience with the fake editing on Survivor Heroes vs. Villains is something he took into his new job. “That was something I was very cognizant of on Top Shot, which was making sure that we’re telling the story that really happened,” he said.

See the whole article with the links here:

Thanks Peach!  :waves:

We always knew reality tv is somewhat"directed" this just gives us more proof!

After Stephanie and Tom were eliminated, which made no strategic sense to me, I was detached, and I think it was very obvious. I didn’t want to be there.

You gotta hand it to Cirie and the other heroes for making it happen. :groan:


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