‘Survivor’ Strategy Roundtable: Jeff Probst, Parvati Shallow Take on the All-Stars


"Survivor" (CBS)

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This past week, I thought it’d be fun to see how “Survivor” host Jeff Probst and “Survivor” champion Parvati Shallow would work with the White Collars, Blue Collars, and No Collars if they were in the game together.

For a special bonus round, I asked them the same question about a variety of characters from “Survivor” history…


“Boston” Rob Mariano
Jeff Probst: Oh dude, I’m playing with “Boston” Rob until the end! Are you kidding? This is a dream come true. The only thing that bugs me is I’m pretty sure that he’d vote me out before I’d realize I should vote him out. And that would hurt. I’d wonder for years in therapy whether he ever really liked me or if he was just using me.
Parvati Shallow: I would get rid of “Boston” Rob real quick, only because Jeff loves him so much and everyone knows a couple’s alliance is a real threat.
Gordon Holmes: (Laughs) I can’t follow that. Parv’s right though, I’d lose “Boston” Rob before he had a chance to break out his rulebook. He doesn’t seem to miss any angles.

Rupert Boneham
Shallow: Ohhhhh…hell no. I’ve played with Rupert once, and I will never do it again. Anyone who goes to war over bananas is straight up cray.
Probst: OK, here’s the truth about Rupert. The fans love Rupert. They love him. He is the most adored player in the history of “Survivor.” And that surprises me. But, Rupert is not the best player by a longshot. I don’t think he knows that. So, with all due respect, I think Rupert is easily played and I would keep him at arm’s length for a while. There’s no reason to get rid of him because he is a worker. I don’t mind his complaining. And, I’d see how I could utilize him. But he’s absolutely no threat.
Holmes: My understanding of Rupert has always been; the fans love him while the players don’t. I’m not out there to get the fans to love me, I just want five or six jurors to give me their vote in the end. So, I’d happily work with Rupert. I’d build him up, tell him I’ve been a fan of his since Cooks (EDIT: er…Pearl Islands),  and I’d happily take him to the end.
RC Saint-Amour
Holmes: RC just didn’t have anyone to trust her last time around. I’d go out of my way to prove she could trust me. We clicked when we chatted in the Philippines, I’m hoping we’d click again. We could pair up and run the whole show.
Shallow: RC and I would be the best of friends and the fiercest of allies. I think I could trust her to do my bidding and she’d be able to play some of the others easily with her cute little smile and a dagger in her bikini bottoms.
Probst: I liked RC…we wanted to bring her back and it didn’t work out. We were going to have her on “Blood vs. Water.” She just needs a little love. Somebody to say, “I think you’re good enough, just as you are.” If I said that to her, I’d have her in my pocket, then we could do some damage.
Gordon Holmes
Holmes: Yeah, I know I’m not a “Survivor” All-Star, but I open everyone else up to this scrutiny, so I might as well take some shots myself.
Probst: Gordon…you have a much darker side than I first knew when I first met you. I think you’re a bit of a contrarian. You like to mix it up. I like that in my normal life, I’d love to go to dinner because you would be challenging me all (expletive deleted) night. “Yeah, but that’s not…” But in terms of the game, that scares me. I want someone I can get into the sand with and go “A or B?” And they say “B” and I trust it. And with you, you would love nothing more than to say, “I voted Probst out.”
Holmes: Get out of my head. Stop describing my dreams.
Probst: (Laughs)  I think I’d approach you and say, “This is real life, you know me, I know you. I think I’m better at this game than you are. You may challenge me on that. But I’m better at reading people than you are. And I think I know you better that you think I do. So, if you want it, come get it. Cause if not, look out for that knife cause I will take you out and I won’t miss you at all.”
Holmes: That part at the end was hurtful.
Probst: That’s what I want! And if you come to me and say, “I’m not that bad.” I’ll say, “Good, now you have to prove that every (expletive deleted) day.” And I would keep you wanting to please me. Parent/lover/friend. That’s how I’d play the game. I’m either going to be a parent to you, a lover to you, or a friend. Depends who you are.
Shallow: I would get Gordon on my side by letting him win some challenges and making him feel really good about himself. He thinks he knows everything so it would be fun to mess with him by really feeding his ego and giving him an opportunity to be the teacher. At some point I’d gather the girls and we would have him wear tribal paint and chase a fake wild boar with a spear made out of a stick. Then, I would get Sierra and RC and we’d slit his throat and watch him hobble away with two idols in his pocket. Ouch.
Holmes: Ouch, indeed.
Russell Hantz
Holmes: Russell doesn’t have a history of working with guys like me, and I doubt there’s much I could do to change his mind. If he approached me, I’d be open to it because it’d be a fun ride and he has a history of coming out on the right side of crazy votes, but otherwise, I’d probably do my best to get rid of him early.
Shallow: I would burn all of his clothes. Every last one of them. And then I would laugh when Sandra burns his hat.
Probst: (Laughs) Well, the showdown that “Survivor” fans will want to see is either Russell destroying me, and they’ll take absolute joy in that. And others will want to see me destroy Russell. I don’t like to lose, but I’m enough of a storyteller to want Russell around for a while. So, I’m going to go to Russell and say, “You and I are the story this season. We can both blow it, cause I’m not going to win and you’re not going to win. So, you can vote me out and you’ll be out a couple of weeks later. Or, we can make a devil’s pact and say, let’s go to the merge. And from then on, if we can get each other out, we got for it.” And then every night I would lie awake wondering.

John Cochran
Probst: I would trust Cochran. I do think Cochran sees me as a mentor and there’s a part of him that says, “I can’t do that to Jeff. Even though I can do it to anyone else I can’t do it to Jeff.” I would play on that. And I would say, “Here is how you pay me back…and brother, you need to pay me back.” Even though he doesn’t have to pay me back for anything. I would just put that thought in his head. I’d try to play on his insecurities that he’s not quite as cool as he thinks he is. Then I would try to get rid of him in the end cause there is no chance I let Parvati, Cochran, or “Boston” Rob beat me in the finals.
Holmes: I’d work with Cochran, but I would always keep an eye on him. He’s too smart to think that the same strategy he tried last time would win it for him again. So, I don’t know what he’d be up to.
Shallow: Cochran is way too likable to let him get far. People underestimate him, and they want to see him succeed because he’s such a lovable nerd. I would really want to work with him, but I would have to get rid of him early on before everyone fell in love with him.
Dawn Meehan
Probst: Dawn’s tricky. I would say, “I think you’ve been underestimated. I think you’re smarter than people give you credit for that. And the reason is because you’re too emotional. So, I’m going to help you with your emotions. We’re going to develop some kind of hand system. When I go to my hand, you relax. I’m going to trust your instincts on how to play the game.” That’d be our quid pro quo.
Shallow: Dawn needs a pillar of strength. I would be the Cochran to her Meehan, calming her down in times of extreme anxiety by simply standing still within the storm. With a Meehan on your hands, you have to just relax, ground yourself and reel her in. She’s not winning in the end, so I’d be happy to make her my number 1.
Holmes: I feel like Dawn took all the heat in Caramoan. I’d team with her in a heartbeat, and I’d let her know that I was willing to take my fair share of bullets. Whether or not I actually did would be another story.

Parvati Shallow
Probst: Parvati is…
Holmes: She’s a nightmare.
Probst: Not a nightmare.
Holmes: Is she still behind me?
Shallow: I’m right behind you Gordon.
Probst: Parvati…is tricky.
Holmes: Not really, have you seen her in challenges recently?
Probst: (Laughs) Well, Parvati won and the reason she could win again is because the male/female dynamic is central in “Survivor.” It can be mother/son, it can be boyfriend/girlfriend, it can be “I just want to sleep with you.” With Parvati, she’s such a good flirt, I could never trust her, and I’d want to. Because she’d be fun to play with because she’s so good. Parvati and “Boston” Rob and Cochran are three people off the top who if they said, “I’ve got a plan.” I’d say, “Great.” And I’d trust it because I’d know they’d thought through it. But with Parvati I could catch myself thinking,  “She’d never do that to me.” And then I’d be super pissed. I’d never live it down. I’d have to move to one of these islands.
Shallow: This girl is really smart and seriously pigeon-holed by Jeff Probst. I would play with Parvati because I would think she’d already burned her flirt identity, played out her Black Widow persona, and outlasted as the underdog. What’s left? The lovable mother. I think Parvati would be a sweet little pussycat in round four.
Holmes: I’m going to second that. People always say Parvati is a flirt, and I just don’t see it. Parvati is more like Regina George from “Mean Girls.” And I’m referring specifically to the part where they say that you want her to like you. You just do. And it’s not exclusive to gender, everyone wants Parvati to like them.

Don’t miss the 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Worlds Apart” on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 at 8 pm ET on CBS.

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