Who will win 'Survivor' 35? Parvati Shallow thinks Devon has the best shot

Posted Wednesday, December 20, 2017 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

UPDATE: Surprise! Ben did end up winning after all, beating Chrissy. (The other finalist Ryan was not a factor and he knew it.) Just the fact Ben survived to the final two probably garnered him votes given what a target he had been for so long. His ability to find immunity idols was unmatched, the first person to ever play three idols in a row. And fans were split over the new twist that allowed Ben a shot at the final three after near certain death. 

"Survivor," in its 35th incarnation, has had a few wild moments, enough to make it a fairly entertaining season to date. But the cast members overall have not been quite as distinctive or appealing as they have been in year's past. And the shifting, fluid alliances have created some head-turning game play that hasn't made for consistent story arcs.

As I have several times before during previous seasons of the sturdy CBS reality show, I have asked former Atlantan, season 16 winner and "Survivor" Hall of Famer Parvati Shallow for her thoughts before the season finale Wednesday night.

So far, the season, she said, has been pretty good. "They keeping creating new twists, hiding immunity idols in different places," she said. "The challenges have been amazing." And she has warmed up to many of the characters though she doesn't love any one person in particular. "Personality wise, nobody is grabbing me," she said.

She thinks surfer dude Devon Pinto is in the best position to take home the $1 million prize. Why?

"He's super likable," she said. "He's playing well. He's in the mix all the time. He knows where the votes are going. He's got a good leg to stand on for his final jury speech and answering questions with the people he put on the jury."

His affable, laid-back exterior hides a surprisingly sharp strategist underneath. His idea to have Ben Driebergen play double agent a few episodes back was brilliant by throwing chaos into the proceedings but placing the pain directly on Ben, not him.

Parvati is astounded how he has stayed under the radar and avoided being targeted the way folks like Chrissy Hofbeck and Ben have.

But she said if the other four are stupid enough to allow Ben to make the final three (or he somehow wins the last two immunity challenges), he will likely get the respect of the jury for his often wackadoodle maneuvers and two consecutive immunity idol plays and take home the prize. Plus, she said he has a great back story regarding his time in the Marines and PTSD as well as his family. She was also befuddled that the other "Survivor" players allowed him to find immunity idols without trailing him.

She isn't sure if Chrissy would be able to garner the votes if she made the finals given how she has alienated people despite winning four immunity challenges. Parvati doesn't think Dr. Mike Zahalsky or Ryan Ulrich have a prayer to win. Dr. Mike, she said, has been generally on the outs and is seen as so harmless, he's kept himself off the target range. At the same time, he hasn't pulled off any real strategic wins either that would help him with the jury. Ryan had some interesting moments but she doesn't feel like he has garnered respect for his game play.

"The Survivor Devil" - Ryan Ulrich, Ashley Nolan, Mike Zahalsky, Ben Driebergen, Chrissy Hofbeck and Devon Pinto at Tribal Council on the thirteenth episode of SURVIVOR 35, themed Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, airing Wednesday, December 13 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Screen Grab/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Parvati liked the one Atlanta representative Desiree "Desi" Williams, felt she simply latched herself to troublemaker Joe Mena  too long and didn't make a big move in time to avoid her fate.

As for that fire-making twist, it seems EW's Dalton Ross' "Survivor" fans generally disliked it more than they liked it:

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Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
I cover local radio and TV for both the print and online editions. I write a blog on the same topics.Rodney Ho's Radio & TV Talk blog (new) | Recent archiveSports...