When Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains began I was lukewarm about Parvati. By Survivor standards she was not a colorful personality in Micronesia, and she didn't play the game in an overly flashy manner. No one has done more to win me over this season. Parvati got the lion's share of quotable quotes this season. Her gameplay was fire and ice - serene confidence and sassy dominance.
After talking with her twice, I am well aware of the Parvati charm, and it's easy to understand how Russell could let it go to his head. I asked her about the after party, Amanda's vote for Sandra, Candice's comparison of Parvati to an abused wife, and where she draws her confidence from.
Parvati, how are you today?
It's been a long day. It sounds like we're both in the same frame of mind, so this ought to be wildly entertaining. Did you have a wild party last night?
Wild Survivor party. Lots of tikis.
Very nice. I love it
A few Mai Tais.
Delicious. I could go for one of those right now.
Did you have a wild Survivor party last night?
I didn't, actually. I have one of my best friends from high school in town. My family is in town. I just didn't want to get caught up in the madness that was going on last night. We just kept it low key in my room. We had a pizza party and hung out.
With the second place finish, were you disappointed?
Of course I was. I think I played the best game overall. It just came down to a few bitter jurors, and also the backlash of the Russell hatred. I think that's why I didn't get the vote from the jury. Of course I'm disappointed. I worked so hard. I put my blood, sweat and tears into that game.
How did it compare to Micronesia?
I played even better than I did in Micronesia, and I won that game. It just shows that Survivor really is such a social experiment. It shows human nature at its most base level. When people feel wronged they will do everything they can to make sure that the person who wronged them does not get rewarded.
Did Amanda and Danielle vote for Sandra?
Danielle voted for me. Amanda and Candice voted for Sandra.
We didn't get the context there. How did Amanda come to vote for Sandra?
Amanda just didn't want me to win. I think Amanda got outplayed by me in every way possible. I beat her record for the most days out there. I won in Micronesia. Every possible way that Amanda could be beaten, she was beaten by me. She wasn't going to vote for me. She was getting up at the final Tribal Council campaigning for Sandra, saying how wonderful Sandra is. I'm like, "You don't even know her! You just don't want me to win!" She didn't even ask me a question. That's how bad it is.
Wow. But I thought you guys were best friends for several years.
We weren't best friends for several years at all. We had a relationship during the game in Micronesia. It's tough when you're in this game because there's trust issues afterward, and the resentment for one person winning and the other person not. But this time there was a lot of distrust between us because we didn't know if the other person was telling us the truth, and we were right. We weren't telling each other the truth. I don't blame her for not voting for me. I completely understand. I just think it makes her look lame. Her game is to play a strategic, athletic, competitive game, and I know that she knows that I played the best game. I think she just looks kind of lame for voting for Sandra.
Why didn't you get Candice's vote?
Candice gave the most horrible, bitter jury speech I've ever heard in my life! She called me a battered wife, and that I played the game under Russell's thumb, and I was riding his coattails the whole time. It was a complete misconception that Candice had. Everyone in the game had a different perspective on what was going on and they could only see certain portions of what was happening. I don't really think Candice believed that was what was going on. She just wanted to speak her piece for other people to vote for Sandra, and to make you look as bad as possible.
Russell came across as unlikable to a lot of people. Did you connect with him?
I mean, let's face it. Russell is just not a big teddy bear. He is not the most likable guy. At all. But I did respect the way that he played the game as a competitor. He was out there. He put it all on the line and it paid off for me in the beginning when I was with him. I needed someone like that who was willing to make big moves in order to keep me there. So for me to be able to suck it up - I can create a relationship with pretty much anyone. Those are the skills I have that make me good at the game, because it is a social game and you need to play with what you have. And given the way people were after me, I was blessed, honestly, to have Russell align with me, because I would have been the first person out.
Stephenie commented that she felt she was targeted early because she hadn't been involved in the Survivor social scene. It seems like you're at the center of it, but you were targeted from Day One. What role does that play?
I've never been to any of the Survivor events. The only time when I'm involved in Survivor is when I play the game and when we do the finale. So I don't really hang out with all of those people. I don't do the charity events. The only person I hang out with is James. Everyone thought Amanda and I were going to team up, but you saw that didn't happen. Everyone has preconceived notions in an All Star season anyway, so there's nothing I could have done to prove to those people until I got the chance to actually [compete.] You know?
Did Sandra play a great game?
I think Sandra played with the skills that she has, and it paid off for her. Sandra is able to fly under the radar and not be seen as a threat, or targeted. In the end, since her alliances had been voted out, I don't think Sandra made any big strategic moves to get herself to the end. She just played kind of a "Not me, not me, not me" game, which is a good strategy to get you to the end, and if that's the talent you have to play with then, you know, that's what you have to work with. I couldn't play like that because I was targeted from the beginning as a huge threat. I had to step it up and win challenges. Good for her, though. She conserved all her energy. She didn't have to. But she saved all of her energy for a good final Tribal performance. She did very well in the final Tribal.
Do you feel like Sandra throws the challenges or she's just terrible at them?
I think Sandra doesn't really care whether she wins or loses in the challenges because she knows she doesn't have to win. I think Sandra realizes that being a weaker competitor in the challenges has paid off for her in the past. So I don't think she really puts her heart and soul into those challenges.
What was up with Colby? Where did his energy go?
You know what? As soon as we merged and got onto the Heroes camp it was like walking into a rain cloud. Colby was the biggest wet puddle I ever seen. He was so depressing. Everyone there looked at the ground. No one would smile. It was like [game show sound effect] wah wah wah! So, so bad! Colby was the ring leader of the great depression. He was completely checked out. Didn't want to be there. Hated everyone there. I guess he just felt like he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
At the second to last Tribal Council when you made that comment about how you've been protecting Russell, Jeff Probst seemed to egg Russell's paranoia on a bit more than he should. Is that how it came across to you?
Yeah. Jeff likes to put his two cents in. Jeff always wants to crack somebody or change a vote at Tribal or make somebody break down to change the game up. Jeff always wants a big surprise or a big blindside. If he can say something to set Russell's wheels in motion he's going to do it. That's why I have to be 100% set going into Council that I'm not going home in order to sit there and be calm and collected and confident while Jeff shoots his firy bows and errors at us.
You do seem to have a calm and confidence that not a lot of people have, even on this show extraverts. Where does that come from?
I do a lot of yoga. I grew up in a Hindu community so I've always been very even minded and pretty even tempered. Not much really ruffles my feathers. I think, honestly, doing yoga has really created a solid foundation for me. I realize things can only effect me if I let them. Especially when I do Survivor that becomes an impenetrable wall. I don't really let my emotions get the best of me. If I did, I would have broken so much earlier in that game.
You had some tough days out there.
On the fourth day I felt alienated and alone, and I constantly had people after me. When you walk into a group of people and they scatter and walk away, or you join a conversation and everyone stops talking, it's like "Oh wow! Nobody wants me!" It's horrible. So you have to have a calm exterior and think, "Nothing gets to me. I'm unbreakable" in order to make it.
(Images courtesy of CBS)
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-Interview conducted by Henry Jenkins