Survivor Winners at War episode 1: The legends stay legends

Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Timothy Kuratek/CBS Entertainment ©2020 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /

Boston Rob, Parvati Shallow and Sandra Diaz-Twine came into Winners at War as Survivor legends, and after the premiere, they proved why.

There are many reasons why Survivor is still one of the greatest shows on television, and one of those reasons is the casting efforts. Over the years there has been so many amazing personalities to land on the show. Even more amazing is that three of the most celebrated characters: Boston Rob Mariano, Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow, are back in the same season.

Watching these three legends take the island by storm in the season premiere took long-time fans back to the good old days. Each of them did everything they could to evade their ginormous targets and survive their first Tribal Council. Let’s take a look at each of these three winners’ episode 1 performances, explaining how they continued to prove their legendary status.

Don Mariano flexes his muscle

Arguably the best moment of the premiere happened when Boston Rob mafia-bossed Ben and Danni away from the idea of writing his name down. When Ben took a walk with Rob and his right hand man Ethan, he mentioned that a lot of names have been floating around. Instead of being casual or deceptive about it, Rob went full tilt, trying to get every single detail out of Ben.

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It was clear that Ben wasn’t ready for Rob’s aggressive gameplay. After threatening that their relationship in the game was at risk, Ben spilled all of the beans. With that information he approached Danni and asked her if she was gunning for him. This forceful strategy worked perfectly, as Ben and Danni were either too scared or no longer interested in trying to blindside him.

What’s awesome about Rob is that he didn’t need an idol, or an advantage or some kind of twist to save himself. Using his unique social skills, he succeeded in drawing the target well away from him. He is just too good at using fear to shake people up while balancing that out with loyalty and integrity to keep both his friends and enemies close. Oh yea, and he KILLED it in both Immunity Challenges. That might not help him in the long run, but any Tribal Council this massive target survives is a victory in itself.

Parvati lurks in the shallows

The new mom didn’t make any crazy Boston Rob-like power moves, but she is beginning to position herself for a deep run. In Heroes vs. Villains, Parvati aligned with one of the biggest personalities of the season in Russell Hantz, and that helped in subduing her threat level. It looks like she’s back to her old tricks, pairing up with the only castaway on her tribe who has a twenty-foot statue of themselves in Fiji.

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She still has the knack for connecting with people and gaining their trust with her charming personality. Coming into Survivor as a mother now, Parvati has a new angle to reach her tribe members and she already put that to work. Escaping the first Tribal Council without a scratch is huge for Parvati, giving her the opportunity to expand her influence before people notice her.

Sandra switches crowns

This two-time winner came into Game Changers with a completely different approach than her first two outings. Her calculated and intentionally arrogant attitude made for some big moves and memorable moments, but it wasn’t sustainable. It looks like Sandra’s gameplan is in that middle ground between her Heroes vs. Villains and Game Changers performances.

Sandra excelled at being present in as many conversations as she possibly could. During that chaotic time before Dakal headed off to Tribal Council, there were so many discussions going on. Sandra’s game awareness kept her at the center of the group, always in the know of the latest voting changes.

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Instead of distinguishing herself from the tribe, Sandra kept a relatively low profile and made an effort to get along with everyone instead of creating division. She was up to some of her same old social tricks again, but she never pushed it too far. After the first two Tribal Councils of the season, these three all-time greats have lived up to their reputation. It will be interesting to watch how long they can keep up this elevated level of play.