In a post-boot interview, Jessica “Sugar” Kiper suggested that her fellow Survivor Heroes vs. Villains cast member Parvati Shallow had information about Russell Hantz’s game play or strategy, despite the fact that his season hadn’t even begun to air. Meanwhile, someone on location during the first episode has detailed the ways in which the editing on the first episode’s first challenge was distorted, including faking the way Stephenie dislocated her shoulder.
Asked about what she and others knew about Russell before the game, Sugar told Zap2it.com, “Certain people might have inside people who might know more about what’s really going on and they’re best friends with people… It’s life, it’s ‘Survivor,’ it’s Hollywood. People did know certain things [coughsParvaticoughs].”
That echoes conversations in the Survivor community that Parvati received information about Russell’s game play from someone in casting and/or mutual friends before the game began. During the first episode, Parvati actually says that Russell was “telling everyone the same thing” but said, “I want the devil on my side,” which takes on new meaning in light of Sugar’s statement.
If Parvati was told about Russell before the game, that’d be pretty damning, but is the reverse true? In his CBS.com pre-game interview with Jenna Morasca, which is inexplicably shown in its entirety on EW.com, Russell says he wants Boston Rob out because he’s “a very strategic player,” but later says, “who I would like to align with, if she was there, was definitely Parvati. … I think that she would be somebody, believe it or not, that I could trust.” For a self-professed student of the game like Russell to say he could trust one of the most strategic and cunning players in recent memory seems, well, odd.
Speaking of Sugar, she wrote on Twitter that the editing distorted her real-life crushes: “I was never attracted to Colby,and J.T.slept with me pregame and told me we’d stick together.That edit really confused my friends & fam.,” adding, “No,seriously,I wasn’t attracted to the tall cowboy,I really DID want the one with the underbite,beer belly, and marbles in his mouth…” (Sugar elaborated on her pre-season romance with JT during our pre-game conversation.)
Meanwhile, in his first episode recap, Entertainment Weekly’s Dalton Ross offers “some bonus intel from being out there” during the first three days, which is a nice change. Most significantly, he details how the first challenge actually played out versus the way it was edited, and repeatedly calls the differences between the two “confusing.”
He points out that the game wasn’t won by the first team to three points, but the first team to five, and at one point, the Heroes were up 4 to 0, until Coach dragged Colby across the finish line. (That the challenge was out of order was somewhat noticeable on TV, because they kept moving to different lanes in the sand, and not in order.) Most damningly, Dalton writes this:
“The first-round match-up you saw with Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle was actually round six and got the Villains back to being down only 4-2. But wait, it gets even more confusing.
Remember how you saw Stephenie dislocate her shoulder and Probst remarked how she injured herself in the very first round of the very first challenge? Well, that was true, but it wasn’t the round you saw. The actual first round (that you did not see) featured the exact same match-up (Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle) and it was actually a Heroes victory.
Not only that, but the injury appeared to occur while Stephenie was slapping the mat with her extended arm to give her team the win. So, the round you saw presented as the first match-up was actually a rematch that Stephenie was participating in after she had already dislocated her shoulder! (How tough is she?) So, the injury happened in one place, but was edited into another.”
He’s careful to point out that “There is no monkeying around” in terms of the results, which I agree with, and chalks this up to “not enough time,” which is bullshit. I absolutely believe that the challenges are fair and straightforward when they’re played–there’s even a CBS standards and practices person there to make sure of that–but while the challenges are edited to be as dramatic as possible (which makes sense), this one was clearly edited to get drama from a fake version of reality (which doesn’t).
While I am unforgiving of that kind of manipulative editing, I do understand that compressing hundreds of hours of footage into 44-minute episodes is exceptionally challenging. (The first immunity challenge in Samoa alone was a half-hour, so there’s no way it could have been shown in its entirety, and the immunity challenges I observed in Gabon and Tocantins both included elements that were edited out.) But why pretend Stephenie was injured in a brawl when she wasn’t? The editing even made it look like Courtney suggested that one her Villain teammates “break her shoulder,” but since that injury happened earlier, that’s not accurate or fair.