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Six players and three hours of television remain before Survivor: David vs. Goliath calls it quits and crowns its champion. Finalists vying for the million-dollar prize include the former Goliath tribe’s Angelina Keeley, Alison Raybould, Kara Kay and Mike White, as well as two remaining David tribe veterans, the idol-seeking Davie Rickenbacker and Nick Wilson.
The person left right on the outside of the finale looking in: Christian Hubicki, the robot scientist who has drawn comparisons to former champion John Cochran, by the good professor’s own admission. In his exit interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Christian focused mostly on the tale of his legendary immunity victory over Alec Merlino. A few minutes were spared for another piece of business, however, as Christian took one last look back at the competitors he left behind, offering a glimpse into the mind of one of the ten individuals charged with selecting the new Sole Survivor.
As the seventh place finisher of David vs. Goliath, as well as the seventh member of the jury, Christian joins THR once again to weigh in on each of the six finalists, presented in first name alphabetical order — and in true Survivor spirit, there’s a twist: his present thoughts on each player come paired with his past thoughts on these same players, recorded before the season began filming.
1. Angelina Keeley
Long ago, as she prepared to whip the votes to unanimously oust Jeremy Crawford from the game, Angelina was the first to admit that she’s used to getting her way: “In my day-to-day life I use the power of persuasion. I use it if I’m pulled over by a police officer for going a little bit too fast, for getting discounts at restaurants… whatever it may be.”
That approach to life was not lost on Christian in the days before the season began, during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter on March 27, 2018, roughly 36 hours prior to the start of production. What follows here and in the sections below are Christian’s first impressions of his competitors based on nonverbal cues picked up from Ponderosa’s pregame lockdown conditions, beginning here with his take on Angelina: “She’s always looking around, giving looks. It’s hard to miss those eyes. She’s clearly trying to get her people together, and pretty aggressively, at Ponderosa… without talking, of course.”
Of course. How about Christian’s impression of the hard-negotiating Angelina once the talking commenced?
“Oh, Angelina,” he says now, speaking with THR the morning after his exit episode aired. “She’s pretty much what you see on TV, but if you were to distill her down to the moments where she brings up the rice… I loved talking to Angelina about social justice issues and all of that business. I was also her surrogate jacket in the shelter. I would be clutched for warmth at night. I was Angelina’s designated cuddle thing. I sort of just laid there: ‘I guess I’m owned by Angelina now!’ That’s how it worked.”
2. Alison Raybould
She’s Reddit’s favorite Survivor player, and with good reason: Dr. Alison is “one of us,” a big-time fan of the show who listened to podcasts and at least dabbled in the online Survivor community’s many forums, if not outright engaged in them. (Here’s the audio evidence of her preseason flirtation with Reddit, if you’re so inclined to listen.)
With that said, Alison’s superfan status was very much on Christian’s radar in the preseason, as he told THR back then: “She’s a gamer. She’s clearly a fan of the show. She had one of the biggest reactions when [executive producer and host Jeff Probst] flew in on a helicopter. She’s very forthright with the furtive glances at Ponderosa. She’s looking to work with people. Is her alliance going to stick, or is it going to flounder? That’s the question for me. I have to see which side I’m going to be on.”
As it turns out, Christian very much wanted to be on Alison’s right side, despite his voting record against her. Here’s Christian’s explanation for why he continually voted against Alison, often described in the context of the season as one of the biggest threats on the board:
“She’s very confident in that she knows she’s a threat. She’s a threat and she believes it, that she’s a threat to win. That’s why I wanted to have her around. She was someone who was useful to me, as a person who thought she might stand a chance in bringing me to the end. Alison, even though I voted for her at the Gabby vote, I knew she wasn’t going home. I never wanted her out. The only reason I voted for her this time is we were just literally running out of targets. I knew Davie was going to play his idol, Nick was going to play whatever I thought his idol was — which he ultimately did — and Mike was immune, and I’m me. That left us with just Angelina, who no one seemed to want to vote for, Kara, and Alison. Alison was the only target that would have been able to marshal votes against of those three, really.”
3. Davie Rickenbacker
Alas, Christian has no pregame read on Davie, certainly not one that’s on the record. There’s a simple explanation: Davie wasn’t part of the pregame, at least not until very late. One of two remaining David tribe members, Davie joined the cast as a very late addition, replacing a player who opted to drop out at the last minute. Davie was asked to take the spot, flew to Fiji and started playing the game in a matter of two full days, give or take a few hours.
(On that note, go back and review Davie’s first confessionals from the season premiere and listen to the hoarse quality in his voice. That’s because Davie briefly lost his voice after screaming with excitement about his eleventh hour stroke of luck, as he confirmed during THR‘s First One Out series of podcast interviews.)
While Christian wasn’t in a position to remark upon Davie before the game started, he’s certainly in the position now, owing so much of his life on Survivor to the player occasionally known as Devilish Davie — a nickname he’s more than earned, as evidenced by Christian’s stories of the man.
“We were so much closer than we were shown on the show,” Christian tells THR. “We had this sort of secret thing where we would meet once per day in secret, away from camp, and then sneak back to camp after we discussed strategy. He tipped me off in the most hilarious way to the idol play [at the Gabby vote]. In the middle of the night, I was out on the beach. I was sitting and watching the waves, and all of a sudden I was hit in the face by a clump of sand. I’m like, ‘What? What the heck is that?’ And I hear: ‘Psst!’ It’s coming from the treeline. I go over, and it’s Davie. He says, ‘Christian, I’m in my spy shack. Trust no one. Talk tomorrow.’ And then he retreats into the darkness. The next day, he told me about Gabby’s plan to vote me out. That’s Davie!”
4. Kara Kay
“She’s tough. I think she’s here to play. She looks extremely athletic,” Christian said about Kara once upon a time, speaking with THR in a Fijian cubicle oh-so-long ago. “I think she might be one of the female challenge beasts of the season. She’s giving lots of glances around. I think she’s looking to make alliances, and I’m curious to see how it coalesces with all of this pregame stuff. While you can’t win the game in the pregame, you can lose it, is my impression.”
Kara certainly didn’t whiff on the “pregame stuff,” as her social game has carried her deep into the season with a one in six shot at a million dollars. What’s more, Christian’s observations about Kara’s challenge abilities paid off, at least as far as her immunity victory during the episode in which Gabby Pascuzzi was eliminated. As for how Christian viewed Kara after playing with her?
“She’s really stealthy,” Christian says now. “She’s the person when I’m counting on my fingers who’s still in the game, she is always last on my list, just because she is charming, but not in your face about it, like maybe I was. I guess I’m such a forthright presence for people that you’re like, ‘Oh! There’s Christian.’ But Kara? She’s there. She’s likable. She will talk to you and make you feel good about yourself.”
As an aside (and a testament to Kara’s social game), Christian adds: “She would do my hair, by the way, which was very critical come the merge. You’ll notice that when my hair starts to get a little janky near the end of Tiva, and then I met Kara. I told her I needed help with my hair. Before every Tribal, she would do my hair, basically combing it for me. I really appreciated that.”
5. Mike White
The Hollywood filmmaker was the man who marshaled the votes to oust Christian from the game, as seen in the season’s penultimate episode. Looking back at first impressions, perhaps Christian shouldn’t be surprised at how things turned out.
“I don’t know if [Mike] likes me,” the robot scientist said way back when, proceeding to explain his hunch by way of articulating his pregame pasta strategy. “I’m trying to carbo load before the game. I had this bowl of spaghetti. I actually think it’s the same spaghetti as the spaghetti reward [from season 35] you love so much, with the bolognese sauce. First off, part of my strategy here is to eat a lot of spaghetti as practice [in case the pasta twist returns]. So, I come back to my table with a huge bowl of spaghetti, and [Mike] goes, ‘Oh, god.’ It wasn’t in the way of, ‘Oh, that’s a lot of spaghetti!’ It was more like, ‘This guy is disgusting.’ I don’t know if that’s what he was thinking, but that’s how it came across! And in a sense, it doesn’t matter what he actually meant. What I took from it is he thinks I’m a gross person.”
Somewhere along the way, Christian’s view of how Mike viewed Christian changed. (Whew, that’s a bit complicated, right? Survivor, you guys!)
“In the middle of the night, I would take Angelina’s arms off of me,” says Christian. “I would delicately move them to the side, get out of bed, and go tap Mike on the shoulder, who was sleeping in the hammock. We would talk strategy every single night, in the middle of the night, for a long time. He is a beguiling, charming figure who I think is perhaps being very underestimated by the players, and the audience.”
6. Nick Wilson
Last but not least, the Mason to Christian’s Dixon: Kentucky’s very own Nick Wilson, public defender and ruthless Survivor schemer. Among the David vs. Goliath cast, few people caused as vast a range of preseason reactions as Nick, with some people pegging him as a Wall Street type (here’s looking at you, Davie), and others seeing him as a literal alien. (“He has an extraterrestrial quality about him,” Mike White told THR in the preseason, speaking about Nick.)
As for Christian? Color him uncharacteristically confounded, as we revisit his preseason take on Nick: “I had no read on that guy until he opened his mouth and had a southern accent. Whoa! For some reason, that just did not hit me. I’m interested to see what he has to say.”
In short order, Christian clearly liked what Nick had to say very much, as the two players worked side-by-side for much of the game. Now that their partnership has come to an end, and now that Christian is able to look back on the televised experience, Professor Hubicki feels “very validated” by watching Nick in action.
“He’s very clever, as clever as I assumed he was,” Christian says now. “I actually feel very validated watching Nick on the show. I’ve been thinking: ‘Okay. He was always smart and scheming. I was right to always have one eye open around him.’ It looked like I trusted him completely on the show, but really, I knew he was going to come for me at some point soon. At least, that’s what it felt like. I don’t feel like I was disproven by what I’ve seen on television.”
The winner of David vs. Goliath will be crowned during the season finale, airing Dec. 19. Follow along at THR.com/Survivor for full coverage leading up to the reveal and beyond.
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