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Gordon Holmes: This usually starts off with “Aww…so sad you were blindsided,” but this time I’ve gotta start it off with “Good for you for swinging for the fences.’
Gabby Pascuzzi: Thank you!
Holmes: What inspired you to do it at that time? Walk me through your thought process.
Pascuzzi: Thank you, first of all for appreciating that I tried to make a move, because for me I did not want to get dragged to the end. I could’ve gotten further in the game and then been told I was carried there. The thought process was that I had to play without Christian so I could rid myself of the perception that he was the only one playing the game. He and I had made a lot of our moves together, but he’s absorbing all of the credit because he’s so likable and he’s a smart guy. I didn’t want to be seen as someone’s second fiddle. The timing to do it then was intentional. That was largely due to the final four fire challenge, which to me has bumped up the end game by one vote. I knew he had an idol. I knew he was good at immunity challenges. And the last season we had seen was Ben winning Season 35. And he won his way to the end, they tried to take him out at seven. I thought I had to do it one vote earlier than that when he’s not expecting it. When he’s not going to play his idol. And that was last night…and it didn’t work!
Holmes: I’ve been doing pre-game interviews for ten years now and not once has someone said, “It’s my lifelong dream to come in second place.”
Pascuzzi: Exactly. And I think I was hyper aware of perceptions the entire game. Especially with my archetype where I’m the nerdy girl that wears glasses and she’s emotional. We’ve seen it happen before. We’ve seen it happen to Aubry, we’ve seen it happen to Hannah, I hadn’t seen her season yet, but it happened to Laurel. So, this happens a lot! I thought the only way to avoid that fate was to play my own game not tied to Christian. And I said, “If this gets me voted out, so be it. At least I did it with gumption.” I would’ve regretted it way more if I got to the end with Christian and came in second place…yay me.
Holmes: So, the new archetype is cute, nerdy girl with glasses who’s a total badass?
Pascuzzi: (Laughs) That’s what I tried to be!
Holmes: Probst does his spiel, “If anyone has an idol and they want to play it, gimme it.” Christian pauses and looks around. Is he trying to read people’s faces at this point?
Pascuzzi: Given that I’ve seen the episode and I’ve seen Davie tip him off, you have to think Christian went into that Tribal prepared to play his idol no matter what. And I got that sense at Tribal. You can read the room, you can see who feels comfortable. And Christian seems weirdly comfortable. So, maybe he was putting on a little bit of a show to make people think he was reading my face. Maybe a wink-wink to Davie to not let everyone know that Davie tipped him off. But, that was a terrifying moment when he looked at me and I had to look dead at him. I kind of shook my head and looked at him and was like, “What?! Why would you want to play your idol?”
Pascuzzi: I was really like, “Oh, this is going down the drain.”
Holmes: Say Christian goes home. What are your next steps?
Pascuzzi: I feel like it was going to be a hard path forward for me no matter what. But, I thought there were a bunch of threats ahead of me that everyone was going to band together to take out. Earlier that day, I’d had a conversation with Mike who I did not talk strategy with that often. And he said, “Let me tell you about the three biggest threats in the game; Christian, Alison, and Davie.” So, I’m thinking there are only four votes left and there are three people that people want to take out ahead of me. So, I hadn’t planned out this person, then this person…I just knew there were bigger targets ahead of me.
Holmes: I keep hearing that Alison is a threat. She’s liked socially, she’s good in immunity challenges. But, other than that she isn’t making things happen. It seems like she’s always late to the party strategy-wise. Is she really a threat or was that just a way to get people looking in another direction?
Pascuzzi: She was viewed as a threat, totally. That’s an interesting question because I don’t know where that came from. It might be because she won the first immunity. It might’ve been because she’s a strategic, smart person. You always saw her having conversations. You knew she was playing the game. No offense to Dan, but he wouldn’t really talk to the Davids. His game was straight-forward. Alison is really smart. So, we don’t know what she’s capable of. And I think perception is reality. If I watch it now, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to go with the Davids of the Goliaths. But out there it seemed like she was playing the middle really well.
Holmes: Alright, let’s do some word association.
Pascuzzi: I love this bit that you do.
Holmes: Thank you, it saves me so much time thinking of questions.
Holmes: We’ll start with Angelina.
Pascuzzi: Beautiful inside and out.
Pascuzzi: Old school.
Pascuzzi: Rough around the edges.
Holmes: Johnny Slamtown?
Holmes: Let’s finish with Christian.
Holmes: Angelina and Mike split the votes in your direction. Why would they target you?
Pascuzzi: I thought they were voting for Alison. I had even talked to Mike and Angelina and I lied to them and told them I was voting for Alison. So, I don’t know why they changed it to me. Part of it could be because I wasn’t working with them. That’s smart. I didn’t really get along with Angelina. I incorrectly thought they would want to take out Alison because Angelina had voted for Alison before. Mike was maybe a bit of a misread. I thought he saw Alison as a bigger threat. Part of me also wonders if they were still playing “David vs. Goliath” and they didn’t want to get rid of Goliath.
Holmes: Last week when Angelina negotiated for the rice, there was an interesting part where Mike said, and I’m paraphrasing, “I think she’s right, but she’s still annoying.”
Pascuzzi: I think his word was “aggravating.”
Holmes: Yes, I think that’s correct. A lot was made of this online that she was coming off as bossy. I talked to Carl, he said that everyone was all in on this rice negotiation. This is something we’ve seen before, on the show and in life where a strong man is respected and a strong woman is bossy. What was your take on this?
Pascuzzi: I totally recognize that misogyny is deep-rooted in our culture where we call assertive women bossy. We get annoyed by them. That’s complexly valid. And I’ve had to reflect on if that colors my perception of women like Angelina. I’ll say everyone was super grateful for her doing that because we did need the rice desperately. I don’t think she was bossy, I just don’t think it was as selfless as she claims it was.
Pascuzzi: Because it’s “Survivor.” What would have happened if she didn’t give up immunity? Somebody else might have. And she has a confessional where she says it goes on my resume, so it’s not done selflessly. I appreciate her taking charge of that situation, but I was not fooled that it was a selfless move for the tribe.
Holmes: It’s seems like everybody is going out on good terms. I love to see that. Hopefully that cuts down on bitter jurors. Was this something that was discussed at camp during the game?
Pascuzzi: I don’t think we explicitly talked about it, but we went through such a bonding experience because we underwent the terrible weather. We had to go through the cyclones. And we felt a kinship toward each other and that carried through the game and after the game as well.
Holmes: A lot of people change after being on “Survivor.” Whether that’s appreciating loved ones or having a roof over their heads. You had an arc where you burst out of your shell and tried to take out your closest ally and the biggest player in the game. Will this carry over into your regular life?
Pascuzzi: I think I learned self-compassion. I’m such an empathetic person I’m always looking out for other people. And I’m the hardest on myself. When I was crying about being on the bottom of the Tiva tribe, I wasn’t blaming Dan or John or Alison for being bullies, I was being hard on myself for feeling like I wasn’t fitting in. I think what I learned is that I’m a likable person, I’m smart, I’m all of these wonderful things and I need to give myself the credit. And maybe that confidence would make people see me as a stronger person. I think perception is reality. So, if I’m acting insecure, no wonder people aren’t seeing me as a threat.
Holmes: So, when you get the call to come back…I’m calling it right now…you’re going to go full Russell Hantz. I know it.
Pascuzzi: (Laughs) Nooooo! I don’t think I could ever go that villainous.
Holmes: Nope, I can see it now.
Pascuzzi: You saw bits of the villain. I think I’m still the sweet, nerdy girl with glasses.