‘Survivor’ recap: can Christian be beat this time?

Originally posted Thursday, December 6, 2018 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

In basketball, you score 50 points, you’re a rock star. In chess, you win a game, you win a game. On “American Idol,” you get the most votes, you are the victor.

“Survivor” is not like that. The show, in its 37th season, has maintained high production values, fresh twists and that continuous ability to surprise. Oh, and the characters!

This season's crew has been excellent, led by Christian Hubicki, a Florida State University robotics professor who recently finished up a post-doc at Georgia Tech. He is Stephen Curry, Gary Kasparov and Kelly Clarkson all rolled into one on "Survivor." He has a solid social game as Mr. Empathy. (He's a hugger.) He's beyond intelligent. (Robotics? Come on!) He has studied the game of "Survivor." He has found Idols and made alliances and side alliances and even won an immunity challenge.

Win or lose, he’s a shoe-in for fan favorite and the producers would be crazy not to invite him back for a future all-star edition.

But viewers are not voting. Fellow players have to decide who will win the $1 million. Even if one makes it to the final two, three or four, everyone is aware who they bring with them will make or break their shot at victory.

For weeks, multiple players on the Goliath side have tried to slay Christian and failed. What was surprising tonight was how intent his biggest ally Gabby Pascuzzi was in taking him down to burnish her resume.

He didn’t win immunity and Gabby lined up everybody to blindside him to ensure he didn’t use his idol.

But surprise! Atlantan Davie Rickenbacker didn't take it personally that Christian had made moves behind his back twice. He believed at this point, with eight left, Christian provided him "cover" and he figured it wasn't the right time yet to take him down.

So he told Christian about what Gabby was up to.

Christian indeed had no clue. "I'm stunned," he said. "Gabby and I have been together for this entire game. We haven't been separated for more than hour... I have a hard time believing it."
He could think that Davie is lying to him, that Davie is merely doing this to suss out his immunity idol. Christian is also aware that Nick Wilson was so burned by last week's Carl blindside, he wants to take revenge out on Christian.

Naturally, Christian is well aware he is a target at this point. He also doesn’t want to use his immunity idol just yet. So he tries to repair the damage with Nick. It doesn’t really work and it’s hard to tell if Christian believed Nick when he said they were still buddies.

At tribal council, Christian read the tea leaves and figured he was going to get votes - lots of them. He even paused to look at everyone before making his final decision. (Drama!) So Christian pulled his immunity idol out of shoe.

“How’d you get that big brain?” Gabby asked admirably while votes were being cast for him (and not counting.) Everyone else looked equally impressed.

And while there was talk to take down Alison Raybould (who Christian voted for), Gabby herself was taken out by... Mike White and Angelina Keeley. Wow!

“Sorry Christian, I love you!” she said as she departed.

Gabby had a great idea and it was impressively audacious.  She just didn’t realize she was the “back-up” plan among two Goliaths in case Christian used his idol.

As I said before, this game is nothing if not unpredictable. And that’s what keeps me watching.

Christian knows he has to win immunity challenges to survive going down the road because at this point. He knows everyone else is gunning for him. His chances of winning remain pretty slim at this point. But it’s great TV to have him around another week!

And the trailer next week tries to show there are other targets besides Christian, including Nick, Davie and Alison. This could be a feint. It could be real. We’ll see.