For most of the past few weeks, we’ve said in both article and video form that Gabby Pascuzzi is one of the most dangerous players on Survivor: David vs. Goliath. She was incredibly smart strategically and socially, and above all else she was underestimated by some of her fellow players. Christian didn’t want to believe that she could betray him even when he was directly told it was happening by Davie, and the only reason why we’re talking with her today is because Christian played an immunity idol on himself. Nonetheless, she had a really good run and we’re left to wonder what could have been if a few things had gone differently.
With that in mind, let’s break down a few of those things now in our latest weekly Survivor exit interview. As per usual, we also have a video at the bottom of this article with some of our takeaways. For more, be sure to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and take a look at our Survivor playlist.
CarterMatt – First and foremost, what was it like having to watch this episode back last night?
Gabby – I went out with such a bang for what I knew would be a controversial move. It’s something that I still stand by and I’m proud of — having gone out trying to make a move. It was good watching it back and remembering my rationale for why I wanted to do it at that time. I still stand by that rationale.
I feel like you were underestimated a lot out there, which feels a little like a blessing and a curse. It’s great when you’re not the #1 target, but it’s also bad when people are not giving you enough credit for the moves you are making. How frustrating was that experience?
I think I was underestimated and I maybe should have used that longer rather than trying to bolster my threat level. The reason that I did was because I think it’s really hard to change people’s perceptions in the game. Being underestimated can get you really far in the game — I think I could have easily made it to the final three, but could I have actually changed people’s perceptions in the final three and said ‘secretly, you guys were underestimating me and I was doing this stuff all along’? That might have been too little, too late.
There’s an easy debate to make here in that you could have easily said ‘okay, I’m going to play the game to get to the final three,’ but you made a conscious decision to try and play the game to win. If that ended up with you being on the jury, you end up being on the jury.
Absolutely. I went into the game very consciously thinking that I did not want to be taken to the final three and lose. The reason for that is because I’ve seen it happen so many times with my archetype, with women like me who are smart and emotional and wear glasses and have a strong ally. How many times have we seen this happen? We saw it happen with Hannah [Shapiro], and while I hadn’t seen Laurel’s season yet [in Survivor: Ghost Island], that was exactly what I was trying to avoid. I went in not wanting to play for third place. Maybe people can fault me for not wanting to get third place, but I wanted to win.
How long had you been thinking about trying to remove Christian from the game?
I had been thinking about it all game as something that I needed to do, but I just wasn’t sure when the timing would be right. I thought it would be around the final eight, seven, or six because he had an idol and we had the final four fire-making challenge. You don’t want to let him get to the final four. You don’t want to even let him get to the final five! There were basically three votes where I could do it and I chose to do it as early as I did because I did not want him to see it coming. He and I had talked about him using his idol, and he had said that he was a little worried that they might come for him at seven. With that, he was like ‘I feel like I should play it at seven’ and I was like ‘yeah, you should play it at seven!’ (laughs).
I purposefully wanted to do it at eight because that’s when you don’t expect it. I know that there are people out there saying that I did it too early and I hear you, but that was kind of the point.
Christian has also become a little bit of an immunity threat, so were you also thinking that you had to try this here when you had the chance?
That is exactly what happened. He had two forms of immunity in my head — an idol plus the ability to win a challenge. We had just seen him dominate at the perch challenge and the thing about an idol is that if you know how to find one, you know how to find another.
Lastly, the last season that we watched before we went out and played was Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, and we had just seen Ben Driebergen win his way to the final four. That was in my head! This was only the third season where we had a final four fire-making challenge and the strategy here is still kind of new. I was thinking that if I waited too long to take out Christian, he could win immunity, use an idol, or win the fire-making challenge.
Had you never hatched that plan, who do you think would have been going home?
I think it very well would have been Alison, because that was pitched to me before I pitched Christian. After the Carl blindside when Nick was really upset, he was really like ‘we need to vote out Alison. We can’t give up the David numbers’ and I was like ‘fair.’ Then, after they came back from reward they were still like ‘it’s Alison, it’s Alison.’ I pitched to Nick and Davie ‘I know you want Alison out; why don’t we split the votes between them so one of us gets what we wanted?’. I think it could have very well been Alison.
How receptive would you have been to voting out Alison? It seemed like you two were rather close.
If it was between me and Alison, I would have voted out Alison in a heartbeat (laughs). I was annoyed two episodes ago when Carl didn’t want to include me in the plan to vote out Alison; I feel like they spurred along a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s hard to say now, but I may have voted Alison out had they told me. The fact that they didn’t, that just told me that I was on the outs with Carl. That made me want to vote out Carl. If he had told me about the plan, maybe I actually would have done it.
One of the things that strikes me about this season is how fluid it is. Mike, who just voted with you at the Carl vote, just voted you out! How hard is it to keep track of allegiances when there’s so much movement in the game?
That’s how I saw the game, which is why I thought I could make this move on Christian. People are saying ‘well, you just blindsided Nick and Davie. Why did you think they would vote with you?’. Well, because the game was very fluid. I thought we were going to be in this fluid state of voting out this threat and that threat and that threat and then suddenly, I’m in the final four and there were no more threats around.
So, it was fluid, it was just fluid against me (laughs).
What was your desired final three at the end of this?
It’s a funny question, because I don’t think I had an exact two. The game changes from day to day. Somebody who is not a threat could be a threat the next day.
For me, I knew I wanted to be the last David standing and I felt like I would have a really good story to tell about how I broke out from being on the bottom of the Davids. For me, it wasn’t about who I in particular wanted to sit next to; instead, it was more about making sure I was viewed as a strong player with a convincing story.
Do you think that there was a conscious fear among the Goliaths about going to end against a David, just because of that idea of a story?
I think they were very worried about that. The Goliath strong mentality was real, and it was real frustrating too. Some of those Goliaths were on the bottom, and it was constantly like ‘why do you want to stay with those Goliaths when you’re not going to win with them?’.
I can’t blame them for it, since having the David underdog story is a great story to tell. If I were a Goliath though, I would find a way to tell my own underdog story. I think some of the Goliaths do have their own potential underdog stories that they can tell. I don’t think that they should worry so much about it being David vs. Goliath and worry more about how they themselves can win.
Are you interested now in going back and playing Survivor again?
I think I would; I think I’d just delete most of my social-media accounts (laughs). Just kidding.
Is there anything that you’d do differently? I feel like now there’s not going to be any underestimating you and people will know what you’re capable of.
I think I would actually be more loyal because I’ve developed my own confidence. I think part of my need to make this move was that I needed to prove myself because I was being underestimated. So now, if I went forward with confidence, I wouldn’t need to pull off a huge move to prove myself. I would already be exuding the confidence myself.
I would still play boldly, but maybe I would not be so worried about a resume.
Do you want to see Gabby come back and play Survivor again? Be sure to share right now in the attached comments! (Photo: CBS.)