‘The Traitors’ Goes Full ‘Fear Factor’ With Nauseating Cabin Challenge

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Peacock
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Peacock
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(Warning: This post contains spoilers for The Traitors Season 2, Episode 8.)

Anyone who’s watched even five seconds of The Traitors knows that our host Alan Cumming’s Scottish castle is not exactly a relaxing retreat. Even by the Peacock reality show’s usual standards, however, this week’s challenge was a doozy. After gathering at a cabin in the woods, the players were forced to tunnel their way out, braving all manner of roaches, maggots, and worms in the process. It was like the world’s most disgusting game of “Would You Rather”—would you rather crawl around in dirt tunnels searching for gold while it rains bugs, or would it be better to stay above ground and man the lights while getting doused with just as many bugs and also urine?

Here’s the good news: The Faithfuls finally caught their second Traitor! After successfully banishing Big Brother winner and Traitors saboteur Dan Gheesling two weeks ago, they’ve now unmasked his partner in crime, Survivor legend Parvati Shallow. That said, one foolish Faithful might’ve made a critical error along the way, imperiling several of her friends.

For those who’ve never made the trip to Scotland, the premise behind The Traitors is simple: Dozens of reality stars gather in the castle for a chance to share a $250,000 cash prize. Among them are an undisclosed number of Traitors, each of whom will take all the money for themselves if they make it through the final elimination ceremony. Each week, the players vote to “banish” one suspected Traitor, and the Traitors, in turn, choose one Faithful to “murder.”

Coming into this week’s episode, the list of possible murder victims was slim, and in reality, it seemed like it would either be Real World: Las Vegas star Trishelle Cannatella or Love Island USA alum Carsten “Bergie” Bergensen. Turns out, it was “Bergie.”

Good ol’ Bergie took the whole thing in stride, and once again, Real Housewives alum Phaedra Parks—our third Traitor this season—did a strangely horrible job at pretending to be shocked about the reveal at breakfast. Instead, she commented on how good her drink was and looked for the cream cheese and preserves.

That caught Trishelle’s attention. She already revealed last week that she had got her eye on Phaedra after Dan wrote her name on his chalkboard on the way out. (If he was trying to build trust with the Faithfuls as a Traitor, wouldn’t he have written down the name of a fellow Traitor to throw them under the bus?) Trishelle has caught on to Phaedra’s caginess, and as a Poker player, she also couldn’t help but notice that Phaedra has a bit of an eye twitch whenever she talks game. Could it be a tell?

Here’s the problem, though: Trishelle has come for a lot of people in this game, and until now, she’s consistently been wrong. Like, so wrong. We all remember when she took out poor Peppermint in the beginning of the game based on nothing. If there’s anyone who can rally a large group against a thus far unsuspicious player, it would not be Trishelle.

All Hail the Greatest ‘Traitor’ of Them All, Parvati Shallow

And here’s the even bigger problem: Trishelle’s game plan here turned out to be absolutely awful. Yes, she managed to convince former Bachelor Peter Weber—our de facto Faithful Strategist in Chief—that Phaedra could be a Traitor. But why was she so adamant that they had to get Phaedra out this week? According to Trishelle, doing so later would be hard, given that the Pilot Pete and Pals’ numbers are dwindling. While that is absolutely true, Parvati was already the sure kill for this week, and by switching strategies and coming after Phaedra, Trishelle’s group opened themselves up to way more suspicion than necessary.

Parvati Shallow and Kate Chastain in The Traitors.

Parvati Shallow and Kate Chastain in “The Traitors.”

Euan Cherry/Peacock

Let’s not forget that just last week, Phaedra and Parvati—our two remaining Traitors—had all but convinced a majority of the group to vote Peter out. Phaedra’s most iconic quote from this week might actually be her Peter dig: “He’s so divisive,” she said. “You know, if you’re Sherlock Holmes, be a nice Sherlock. Don’t be Sherlock the Dick.”

Credit where it’s due, however—after choosing to follow Trishelle’s absolutely absurd game plan, Peter pulled it off as well as anyone could. He managed to talk Parvati into working together, under the guise that he’d decided Phaedra was the “real” Traitor. (Given that she was already on the chopping block anyway, what did Parvati have to lose by entertaining this transparently fake olive branch?) On the way to the cabin, Trishelle floated her idea to a few more people who seemed at least willing to entertain the notion.

Once the players reached the cabin of horrors and met Cummings’s houseguest, reality personality Dr. Will, all strategy halted as they went into survival mode. It turns out, the whole thing was an escape room—and the only way out was for most of the group to root around in the tunnels for the exit (and some gold and a shield) while a few players hung back to man the lights. Whenever the lights went on in the tunnels, they switched off upstairs. It didn’t take long before all of our Bravo-lebrities—Phaedra, Mercedes “MJ” Javid, Shereé Whitfield, and returning Traitors alum Kate Chastain—used the safe word (“haggis”) and got the hell out of there.

It’s hard to overstate how disgusting this challenge seemed, but a few stars emerged in the muck. Before appearing on Real World, Cannatella rose to fame by winning Fear Factor, and her grace under pressure was on full display here. Chris “CT” Tamburello was also a champ, running upstairs to help Bling Empire star Kevin Kreider with the lights before diving back into the tunnel to retrieve the last piece of gold. In the end, the group netted netted $11,000 from the challenge. (They would’ve won $15,000, but the group who vacated the cabin collectively cost them $4,000.)

Trishelle also nabbed the one available murder shield from underground, and wisely, she declined to reveal to the larger group that she’d gotten it.

As he emerged from a moldy well covered in bugs, former Parliament member John Bercow dropped what might’ve been the best line from the entire episode: “That doesn’t matter a damn,” he said of all the creepy crawlies on his jacket. “I’ve had much worse in my previous work.”

The jokes quickly stopped later on once the group made their way to the roundtable. It was there that some players might’ve sealed their future doom.

Trishelle immediately went after Phaedra. She pointed out that Phaedra never seems surprised by the murders or worried that she might eventually be murdered herself. Just like when Dan came for her, Phaedra kept her cool, replying, “I’m not frantic like you.” Unfortunately for Phaedra, a few more players than last time seemed willing to hear the case against her.

How Phaedra and C.T. Became a Hot Power Couple on ‘The Traitors’

That said, Phaedra planted one seed that could come back to haunt Peter and his crew, revealing to the group that last week, Peter offered to work with Parvati right in front of her. As she put it, Parvati’s willingness to side with Peter now was nothing more than a “backroom deal.” Not everyone seemed convinced, but still, that might complicate things for Peter in the future.

In the end, the group chose to vote Parvati out over Phaedra; the only people to vote for the Real Housewives alum were Peter, Parvati, Kevin, and Trishelle. While Trishelle has a shield, the rest of her friends have effectively painted targets on their backs. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to get Parvati out this week and keep their powder dry to take one clean shot at Phaedra next week? Ah, well!

Luckily for all of the Phaedra voters, she chose to recruit a new Traitor tonight instead of going straight for a murder. This time, she’ll have to recruit face to face. Her choice? Kate Chastain, who can be bold and brash and also knows this game backwards after playing it last time. It seems likely that Kate would take the bait, but it will take a lot of toil and trouble for these two to throw the Faithful off Phaedra. Maybe Phaedra’s “castle daddy” C.T. could help, but at this point, I’m not so sure.

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