By People Staff
Updated February 26, 2010 12:00 AM
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS(2)

“The common are impressed by appearances.” –Machiavelli, The Prince

Does anybody else think that Parvati’s sex appeal has evolved? On Cook Islands, she stripped down with Ozzy and Yul in a hot tub. On Micronesia, she built flirt-liances with James and Natalie and backstabbed her way to victory. Now her flirtatiousness has metamorphosed into a force of nature. She’s seduced Russell, enraged Jerri, and driven Coach and Randy to distraction. She can’t even step up to the wrestling platform without shaking her hips. She’s like a mythical seductress; a thousand ships are ready to go to war.

That’s why Parvati earns this week’s Fishy Award. Lots of come into Survivor expecting to flirt their way to the finals. Usually that means cuddling at night, building an alliance … and getting voted out pre-merge. Apparently there’s something both threatening and disposable about a sexual woman. Sugar, Marisa, Carolina, Michelle — the first boot of the past four seasons has been an attractive girl. Micronesia’s Mary Sartain cozied up to Mikey B and ended up first off her tribe. On Tocantins, we voted out Sydney, partly because we thought she was too tightly allied to Joe, and partly because we worried she’d start snuggling with a Timbira alpha male at the merge.

But Parvati has turned flirtation into a game-winning strategy. Last night, when her name came up as the obvious first boot — for her known deviousness and her Micronesia alliances — she managed to charm the Villains tribe into voting out Randy.

Maybe “flirting” is the wrong word. How different is what Parvati’s doing here from the way JT played Tocantins? Charming transcends gender. Parvati just seduces Coach with her hips while JT used his Southern drawl. There are male flirts, too. Rob was a flirt on All Stars, and that worked out pretty well for him.

Moreover, Parvati isn’t some out-of-control sexpot. She wields her superpowers like a scalpel, and gives everybody precisely what they’re looking for. She flirts with Rob and cuddles up to Russell (and p.s., how funny was it to see Rob and Coach try to teach Russell Survivor algebra when he’s doing calculus); she reads Jerri’s antagonism and calls her out in public; and she plays to Coach’s ego. “I don’t think fear’s ever controlled you,” Parvati tells him.

Coach knows she’s working him, and he’s struggling to resist. “For some reason when she pays attention to you, you feel like you light up. It’s not that don’t see it, it’s just that they are allured by her charm,” he says. When Jerri sees them strolling down the beach, you can see the murder in her eyes. “Parvati is a virus,” she says. “She has a way of just roping in, even when they don’t want anything to do with her.”

The only person who doesn’t care if Parvati is an angel or a demon is Sandra. While Coach, Randy and Jerri are giving disquisitions on the dangers of dalliance, Sandra is concerned with one and only one person. “I’m not in trouble. Therefore, all I’m going to do is — where’s everybody at. Boom. That’s it. Done,” she tells Coach. Sandra invented the “anyone but me” strategy, which I never really understood until this episode. It isn’t declaring your allegiance to anybody and everybody — it’s specifically declaring your allegiance to nobody. That way she can’t get trapped on the wrong side of the number. She is, by definition, on the side of the numbers. By always voting with the majority, nobody can see her as a potential threat. Sandra is the Switzerland of Survivor. Genius.

When those numbers come down for Team Parvati, and Randy is voted out, the former King of Gabon throws his buff into the fire in disgust. “I hope that vote comes back and haunts each and every one of them,” he says. Knowing what a great player Parvati is, it just might.

Tell us: Did the villains miss a chance to vote out Parvati? What did Tyson whisper in JT’s ear? And who knew Rupert was such an adept chicken-catcher?Monty Brinton/CBS(2)