Let’s Talk About That Tense Banishment in ‘The Traitors’

Note: This article contains spoilers for episode 8 of The Traitors season 2.

Some part of me thought it could never happen. I have watched her survive so many scrapes before, somehow convincing her reality show competitors to trust her despite her reputation for ice-cold strategic gameplay. But alas, even the mighty can fall, and my queen Parvati Shallow has sadly been banished from The Traitors.

The Survivor legend, who recently revealed she is in a relationship with comedian Mae Martin, spent the first half of this season displaying her usual tactical brilliance. After being tapped to be a Traitor by host Alan Cumming, she calmly murdered her co-stars by night and showed no cracks in her façade come breakfast. But after former Bachelor Peter Weber sniffed out (and successfully eliminated) one of her fellow Traitors, Big Brother winner Dan Gheesling, Parvati’s grand plans began to unravel.

Parvati tried to “seduce” Peter into joining the Traitors, but when he declined the secret offer, her only (ostensible) ally was Phaedra Parks, who has revealed herself to be something of a Machiavellian mastermind herself. In this most recent episode, the Real Housewives star survived an attempted ousting that brought Peter and Parvati together as unlikely allies. Instead, Parvati got voted out and Phaedra is (for now) the only Traitor left in the castle.

This season has been riveting, and occasionally difficult viewing, from the shocking early banishment of Peppermint to Alan Cumming’s increasingly spectacular wardrobe. (Honestly, at this point, I’m watching to find out what the host is going to wear to breakfast just as much as I’m watching to find out who got murdered.) But from a pure gameplay perspective, this has been the finest season in the international franchise to date. From Peter laying a complicated trap to out Dan to all the pre-banishment vote whipping, we’re watching The Traitors evolve in real time from a fun party game into full-blown three-dimensional chess.

That’s in no small part due to Parvati and fellow Survivor icon Sandra Diaz-Twine being on this season. It took years for Survivor to evolve from a physical challenge with light social elements into a game as complicated as the British parliament, but Parvati and Sandra are doing the same with The Traitors basically overnight. (Let’s not forget, either, that the winner of the first American season of The Traitors was perennial Survivor runner-up Cirie Fields. Are you sensing a trend yet?)

Parvati’s murder spree may have ended, but my money is on Sandra to sneak her way to the end of yet another reality show. Why? Survivor people with a strong social game are just built differently. For proof, look no further than Parvati’s exit interview in the postmortem episode. “There’s suspicion on me constantly and I’m having to play two different parts,” she said of her final stretch on the show. ‘The truth is I’m a Traitor; I have to hide that from everyone. And then I have to connect with everyone in a real way so that they trust me. And then I have to pretend that I’m a Faithful […] So there’s just a lot of different, complex layers happening in the moment.”

That makes my head spin but it was second nature for her — and for people like Sandra. But whoever ends up taking home the grand prize, one thing’s for sure: We all win every time Alan Cumming wears a new hat.

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