Episode 7 of The Traitors picks up right where we left off: on a cliff-hanger. Parvati and Phaedra have just invited Peter to be a traitor — an option he can choose to accept or refuse.
In a twist that felt both surprising and boring, Peter refuses their offer. He says he wants to be a faithful to the end of this game. All I could think was, I guess Peter doesn’t want to win the game that badly! That’s always a tension in these kinds of competition reality TV shows: do you want to sacrifice your integrity, and win, or maintain your integrity, and lose? (Though of course — it’s not that simple; you decide what defines your integrity, and whether or not you sacrificed it.)
Though Parvati is frustrated that Peter declined her offer, she is not giving up. On the contrary, she is like, “I’ve got my predatory headband on and I’m coming for that bachelor.” I love her.
At breakfast, once everyone has arrived, it’s clear that once again, no one was murdered. Led by Bergie, the contestants reason that any time a Traitor is banished, they’re given the chance to do a recruitment. And since no murder occurred, there must’ve been a recruitment last night. (My ears perked up here because this was a reminder that this is not the first season of the show; contestants know things that first season competitors didn’t know. We’re already seeing the game evolve!!!) Of course, the players are mostly right — there was an attempted recruitment, but it was thwarted. They don’t know that.
Parvati sees her in — Peter doesn’t want to reveal that he received the recruitment offer and declined it, and while she can’t make him, she can certainly steer the conversation in that direction. And that’s exactly what she does! Parvati turns the conversation towards the elephant in the room, even asking whoever received the letter to raise their hand.
It’s thrilling to see someone go on the attack like Parvati is. And even this early in the episode, it’s working. People are starting to look at Peter differently, like maybe he has something to hide. Maybe his aggression isn’t because he’s so committed to being a faithful. Maybe it’s exactly the opposite. Parvati doesn’t have to convict him; she only needs to implicate him. He’ll do the rest.
Host Alan Cumming feeds into the brewing paranoia by offering no information about what happened last night, no explanation for the lack of murder. I love how actively Alan is involved in the drama and plot points of this show!
After breakfast, Peter sequesters his allies — whom Phaedra’s now calling “Peter’s Pals” which I’m obsessed with — to tell them what really happened last night. He divulges that he received the traitors’ offer, but he refused, because he’s an all-American good-guy faithful through and through!!! (Okay, he didn’t really say that, but he may as well have.) Peter’s Pals all seem to believe him. But having a strong group of allies isn’t always enough in a game like this. First Phaedra, then MJ, try to go into the room Peter’s Pals are in. Peter, while trying to placate with a broad smile, asks them to, in so many words, not come in. He closed the door in Parvati’s face last episode, and Phaedra and MJ’s in this episode. Interesting strategy, to say the least!
Peter’s attempt to act like he’s being nice and polite about this exclusion makes it even more cringe. But I also find his repeated faux-pas exciting, because… the drama! In being so obvious about where his allyship starts and ends, he’s created more than just Peter’s Pals (Peter, Bergie, Trishelle, Kevin, and John); he’s also created Not Peter’s Pals (Parvati, Phaedra, CT, Shereé, MJ, Kate, and Sandra). Survivor legends know better than to alienate the people they’re not allying with — and Peter is playing with not one but two Survivor legends.
Perhaps the best part of this episode comes next when Survivor icon Sandra Diaz-Twine does an in-depth demonstration, using pool balls on the pool table, of why Not Peter’s Pals need to align against Peter’s Pals. She argues that it’s a numbers game, and what isn’t explicitly stated is that even if Peter isn’t a traitor, it’s still in the best interests of the Not Peter’s Pals to get him out. If they don’t, Peter’s Pals will continue to dominate the game and pick the others off one by one.
This moment made me think about how this show (at least the US version) is in many ways in its infancy; the game play is still somewhat rudimentary, because the players don’t have that much data on previous games to play with. The earlier seasons of Survivor were much more about the whole survival-in-the-wilderness elements than the social game play, whereas over 40 seasons later (!!!), contestants are not only players, but also students or fans with years and years of past performance to inform their movements. Early seasons of The Traitor seem primarily focused on identifying the traitors, but Sandra’s strategy suggests that maybe that isn’t really that important, at least not yet. After all, to win the game, you have to still be there at the end of the game, whether you send home traitors or faithfuls along the way. Sandra seems to want to find the traitor, but moreso, she wants to make it to the end.
So all this is to say, before this episode’s challenge has even started, lines have been drawn. Peter’s Pals want Parvati out. Not Peter’s Pals want Peter out. Let the games begin!
This challenge involves carrying bags of money through the forest in pairs, while answering trivia questions about the castle along the way. I actually forgot to take notes here because I was so engaged — not because of the running or the forest, but because of what happens should you answer a trivia question incorrectly. The traps are absolutely brutal and extremely surprising! One of them involves somehow a whole net coming up around the poor soul that answered incorrectly, trapping them in a net full of leaves and lifting them several feet off the ground. I actually screamed the first time this happened! Again, every aspect of the Traitors goes so hard!
Only two teams are even able to get through the forest with their bags of money — Sandra and Kevin, and Parvati and John. Sandra and Kevin completed the challenge the fastest, so they’ve earned shields for themselves.
Back in the house, Peter is flailing. CT told him that his name is on the chopping block, so Peter is desperate. He even tries to pull Parvati and Phaedra into a room and offer them an alliance. Too little too late, bud! He seems to be cracking under the pressure, one thing that neither Parvati or Phaedra do.
After Parvati and Phaedra shut Peter down (lol), Alan introduces another twist: there will be no roundtable tonight! There will be no banishment. Instead, contestants will choose, one by one, who they want to protect from being murdered, until only five contestants remain. The Traitors will then choose one of those five to murder. Kevin and Sandra, as they have the shields, are the first to choose someone to protect.
Before they even begin, some people choose to try to advocate for themselves — namely, Peter and Trishelle. I get that they’re trying to save themselves in a high-stakes moment, but it felt kind of embarrassing to me! Like, do you really think begging and guilt-tripping is gonna make someone prioritize you? It doesn’t.
Kevin and Sandra pick Shereé, who then picks Phaedra, who then picks CT (which Parvati doesn’t like, though I’d argue that maybe it would’ve roused suspicion if Phaedra had picked Parvati), who then picks John, who then picks… Peter. I’m pretty sure I literally said “UGH!” because it seemed so clear that it would have otherwise been Peter’s last night. So this leaves Kate, Parvati, Trishelle, MJ and Bergie unprotected — the Traitors will have to pick one of them to murder.
My bet is that they’ll pick MJ, so that it can look like Peter really is a Traitor, and that he murdered someone not in his little group. We’ll see!