Survivor: David vs. Goliath interview: Christian Hubicki on finding himself a constant target

Christian - SurvivorThere’s no doubt in our mind that Christian Hubicki was one of the stars of Survivor: David vs. Goliath for many reasons. He gave great confessionals, he was super-likable, and in a lot of ways he became one of the game’s biggest underdogs. Despite being targeted on a number of occasions, he managed to still find a way to survive a number of Tribal Councils thanks to inventive plays and immunity idols.

Alas for him, on Wednesday night’s new episode he was voted out due mostly to a shrewd plan by Mike, who wanted to ensure that he jumped at the opportunity to get him out. This was a big play for Mike to make, and it’s all even more ironic given that he actually didn’t vote for Christian to leave. (He voted for Davie instead.)

So what did Christian have to say about his time on the show, being voted out, and finding himself such a big threat? We talk about all of that in our latest exit interview below! Remember that you can also check out our impressions of this exit interview in the video below; for more; subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and take a look at our entire Survivor playlist.

CarterMatt – Going into this season, did you ever even imagine that you would perceived as such an uber-threat for so long in the game?

Christian – No (laughs). I did not think that could happen. I thought a likely trajectory for me would be something David Wright esque from Survivor 33, where I could be an early target because I could be seen as not a real asset in camp life or a challenge benefit. I thought that if I could skate by until around early to mid-merge, people would then be like ‘hey, I kind of like Christian. Maybe he might be a threat to win.’ So, early in the game and at the end of the game — that was my sort of threat schedule I was operating under.

Then, I hit the merge and I was a threat at the merge — final 13. Then, I was a threat at 12, 11, 8, 7 … that’s crazy. I don’t know of someone who had that sort of threat profile and could take that all the way to the end. I knew that any way I could get to the end would have to be crazy.

I’ll be honest — I was first worried about you back when you just completely smoked that puzzle at the start of the game. Did you ever think about not coming across as so good at that?

It was weird. I actually tried to play that moment off and Jeff was being like ‘oh, Christian, you were so good at that puzzle. Why were you so good at that puzzle?’. You don’t want to be like ‘look Jeff, I’m really smart. Be afraid of me about everything’ (laughs). I was more like ‘this is my very specific skill set. I used to write slider-puzzle algorithms and this is in my wheelhouse.’ Now, of course, the word ‘algorithm’ is a scary word, it scares people, and I was aware that it was the sort of thing people might see as threatening.

But, that was ten minutes into the game and I was like ‘if people are targeting individual threats at this stage of the game, that’s bizarre. If I make the merge, I’ll deal with it then. I failed to realize just how much of a threat profile I had generated by that time. I had no idea.

CarterMatt – Despite you being a pretty visible player this season, you were fairly quiet on last night’s episode. How confident were you that you were staying?

I was fairly confident, but not as confident as other nights — which should have been a hint. There were some confounding factors. There was a lot of rain and it was hard to get away to plot as much and get everything locked down. Beyond that, the whole buildup to the vote was crazy in terms of the targets. There were so many targets floating around and I’m glad that it read on television how it felt to me. I thought the plan was that me and Davie, along with Mike and some of those guys, were on board to take out Alison. My reasoning was that Mike had been screwed over by Alison at the final 11 vote, and I had been working with Mike very closely late at night. We would meet really late at night — Mike’s idea — and I would say to him ‘Mike, I will never lie to you. I never have lied to you, and I want to work with you.’

I thought that because he wanted to go deep into the game, he would want to go deep with me, and not Alison because he could trust me more, but he made a decision that he thought, presumably, would maximize his chances of winning. He thought that I could beat people in the end, so good on him.

After being through so many close calls, did you just start to have a sense of your Survivor mortality out there, where you could go home at almost any time?

Oh yeah. I was stunned and a little proud of the fact that I helped get the game to the state that it was at the final seven where it could have been somebody else and not me, based on that craziness. One would ordinarily assume going into that episode that if I didn’t win immunity or find an idol, they were all just going to vote me out. Open-and-shut case. But, it wasn’t that way.

I knew that I was always a target, but I was really proud of myself that I got to a point where I wasn’t a dead a man walking. I was just on a tightrope and I didn’t walk that tightrope quite right.

You mention having an idol. How much were you searching for it on this past episode?

Nick’s deception was really effective. I didn’t search for it after he found it. It was especially effective because he had the note for the immunity idol and I didn’t know that he had already found an immunity idol. Davie knew that he already found an immunity idol, and therefore knew that he had a note that he could use to make a fake note. Nick did trick me, and I have to give him credit for executing that move really well.

I think it was funny that Nick actually wanted me to find the fake idol — he tried to drag me over to the raft to go find an idol, and I’m going over there being like ‘why do you think that it’s under the raft?’, and he was like ‘oh, it was there last season and in season 35.’ I was then like ‘it was only found there because there was a little marking on the raft that told the person to dig under the raft.’ Basically, I’m pulling out the Survivor trivia. I didn’t think it was there, so I didn’t really look and he gave up. I think he was just like ‘I can’t give Christian this fake idol, so I might as well find it in front of everyone.’

Did you expect the relationship with Nick, which was once so great with Mason Dixon, to be so untenable after you and Gabby flipped and voted out Carl? Was that how you ended up seeing it in the end?

That’s a roughly correct assessment. I knew, like Gabby, that Nick would not want to take me to the end. We got along great and we were good alliance partners — Mason Dixon was fun. I always did know somewhere in my mind that he was not in my corner. He didn’t tell me little things like about the steal-a-vote advantage or Carl’s nullifier. I told him first about my idol.

Also, with the way that we formed Mason Dixon, I always logged it in my brain as possibly suspicious. Within an hour of hitting the beach, he went up to me and was like ‘you could be like Stephen and I could be like JT from Survivor: Tocantins. We’re going to the end!’ I was thinking ‘I just met you an hour ago.’ There was a bit of suspicion that was always there.

After the Carl vote, I knew he would be mad and that was partly the point, but I didn’t know how mad, while watching the episode, that he was. That was probably the only thing that really shocked me, but in the moment the game is very real and very hard. I don’t begrudge him that.

From my vantage point, it felt like you had a pretty good chance of winning no matter who you went to the end of the game with. Did you have a desired plan for making it to the end of the game? Who did you want to sit next to?

I did not care, and I don’t mean that from a standpoint of ‘oh my God, I can beat anyone.’ It was more a matter of practicality because I was targeted throughout the post-merge game. I have no room in my brain, nor can I put constraints on my game where I get to the end with certain people. I just have to get to the end. I cannot afford to get fancy and think ‘oh, I have a slightly better chance against this person than that person.’ Don’t think about it. Just get there, and however you get there, explain it. That was going to be my game.

Is there a move that you made, or a move that you wish you had made but didn’t, that keeps you up at night?

One flat-out mistake I made, just from a vantage point of a tactical error, is that after Dan played his second idol and got nullified out of the game, I didn’t think that a new idol would be re-hidden. That might sound crazy to people, but I was thinking that in previous seasons like in season 35, idols would be re-hidden, but in such a way where there would only be one idol in the game at a time. That’s what I was thinking at the time, and I didn’t have Wikipedia in the game to remind myself. I just assumed that there was one idol and it was in my pocket.

But, David and Nick kept looking and that led to Nick getting that idol. Not that I would’ve necessarily found it before him, but that was a mistake that I made. I should have looked for the idol.

Do you have any interest in going back and doing this again?

Certainly if Survivor were interested I would take the call and take it very seriously. Some of those moments in the game where you’re running around and talking to these interesting people and talking about putting together cool vote plans or about life, it’s just fun. It was so much fun sometimes and I remember that when I remember the experience. Certainly that’s something that you would like to recapture at some point in your life.

Yet, at the same time I do have a new job. I’m a professor and I’m a director of my own robotics laboratory that I’m starting up, which is great. I would have to make sure that everything could run smoothly in my absence.

As someone who has watched and enjoyed the game for such a long time, would you ever watch it the same way now that you’ve played it?

It won’t be the same, that’s for sure, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy it. The game gives me more of an appreciation when I’m watching the players and judging them — and when I mean judging them, I’m saying ‘do I like that move or do I not like that move.’ I have a lot more sympathy for people in the game based on what it’s really like in there. Now, I would never be the sort of person who would get down on any particular player, but it does still give me sympathy for how hard it was. It’s not just the elements, which were quite difficult, but it’s also what it was like to be so mentally fatigued.

Related Check out our full preview for the Survivor: David vs. Goliath finale right now!

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