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December 06, 2018 at 10:50 AM EST

There were no tears when Gabby Pascuzzi was voted out of Survivor: David vs. Goliath. That may surprise some who were used to the regular waterworks from the 25-year-old technical writer, but Gabby went out of the game in the best way possible — while trying to make a big move. It didn’t work after her target of Christian was tipped off by Davie, but at least she was blindsided while being an active participant in the game rather than a passive bystander.

Was it really seeing Christian reunited with his girlfriend Emily that inspired the plan to take him out? What was her reaction when she saw him play his idol? Whom did she want to sit next to at the end? And what was up with all those tears? We asked Gabby all that and more when she called into EW Morning Live (SiriusXM, channel 105) and here are the highlights from the chat.

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ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So what is going through your mind as Christian goes up to play that idol?
GABBY PASCUZZI: That was a gut-wrenching moment because I knew there was a chance he could play it, but in the back of my head I thought the rest of the people had voted for Alison, so I was still hoping a little bit. And then when he sat back down, I had a feeling that something did not go right.

Why was now the right time to make the move to take him out?
That’s the really hard part of Survivor is that we’re not seeing what everybody else is thinking so you do have to wonder: When are you going to make the move? Some might say it was too early, but I would say back to them, you never know. Had I waited another vote, it could have been too late. Maybe he could have won immunity, maybe he could have found more idols. We’ve seen this happen. So I don’t know whether it’s possible to say this was too soon because you ever know if it’s going to be too late.

It appeared that you really settled on this plan to take out Christian after seeing him with his girlfriend Emily. Explain how that led you to connect the dots in terms of your relationship in the game and why you needed to make this move.
It was something I was conscious of the whole time. I was using Christian as a shield. I knew that he was taking care of me. I knew that I would have to cut him eventually. And let me say, I knew he had a girlfriend! Some people are saying, “Oh my God, is she jealous?” No! I lived with him for 32 days. I knew he had a girlfriend. I loved seeing them together. I really wanted to win together because I wanted to meet her.

But I think what it really emphasized for me was Christian is a very good caretaker. He’s a very empathetic person. And he knows how to make people feel protected, and that’s what he did to me in the game and that’s what he does to people in real life. And we’ve seen him do it to other people in the game too, like Alison. So I knew that I couldn’t go to the end with somebody that had been seen as my caretaker. I wanted to show that I didn’t need a caretaker and could play the game by myself. So it was something I had been thinking about for a while, but the Loved Ones visit was just the most salient example of that.

Do you think he would have turned on you at some point or taken you all the way?
I think he would have taken me all the way. It was something that we talked about. He talked about if we were in the final three together, and he talked about how he would tell the jury about all the moves we made together. And I’m like, “That’s great gameplay but the jury is never going to vote for me over Christian. They’re just not.” He wanted to go all the way with me. I knew I would have to cut him eventually. Obviously, my attempt may have been at the wrong time since it sent me home, but I don’t know what the right time would have been.

Who was in your final three as you were plotting to take Christian out?
I feel like I’m going to sound stupid when I say this, but there wasn’t a particular final three that I was looking at. I just wanted to be the last David remaining and that I would have a good shot if I was sitting next to a couple of Goliaths. I wasn’t opposed to sitting with all women at the end.

Even though I was close with Alison, I thought Alison was a really big threat to win because she had survived these votes and I was worried about the same thing with Alison that I was worried with Christian. I didn’t want people to think that I was riding Alison’s coattails to the end. So I think it was a hard path for me to the end just because of the perception of me that people had that they did not see me as a strategic player. So I just knew that I couldn’t go with the Davids.

How are you and Christian now?
I think we both understand that it is a game and Christian knew the day I was going to turn on him would come eventually. I don’t think he knew it was going to be then, so I think and I hope he respected the move as a game move. And we had such a close bond out there. I would say we were the closest two out of anybody out there. That kind of bond doesn’t just go away, so I hope that we are friends for a long time.

Did you know going into this season, Okay, I’m someone that wears my emotions on my sleeve, I know I’m going to be crying a lot? Or did the river of tears take you by surprise?
Oh, it was no surprise to me! Anybody who knows me in real life, if you watch a movie with me, if we’re talking something personal, I cry all the time. I think it’s one of my greatest strengths. And people tell me that they feel more comfortable opening up to me because I open up to them.

What I was surprised at was not that I cried, but that I couldn’t control it at times that I wanted to control it. And so knowing that, I tried to use it to my advantage when I could. So if I know that I can’t change it and that I’m going to cry, well, who am I going to cry to? Okay, I’ll cry to Christian because I’m close to him. I’ll tell him I feel like I’m on the bottom of the tribe, whatever. It’s hard, but that’s just my personality.

So I knew it was going to come out. Of course, I have to remind people that you see a tiny fraction of what actually happened out there. I was not crying for all 72 hours of the three-day period that you see in an episode. I think I’m a pretty fun and bubbly person outside of that. Don’t let the crying distract you from the fact that I was playing the game.

Anything you wish had made it on to air that we didn’t get a chance to see?
We had so many fun moments. One of my favorite moments is when on Tiva, the green tribe, when we won the kebabs and the spices, Christian and I actually had a spicy pepper eating contest. We took two of the most spicy peppers, and Dan was acting like Jeff Probst narrating the challenge and Alison was the judge, and we were sitting there with our eyes watering and [without] milk or anything to take away the sting. After we did the contest we were like, “That was pretty dumb, but it was fun.”

See, that’s what you should have done all season when you were crying — just blame it on the peppers!
Oh my gosh! I should have been like, “Sorry I touched my eyes with my pepper hand!”

What surprised you the most watching the season play back on TV?
That’s a great question. I think one of the things that was hard to tell out there was how much a few of the Goliaths were really flip-flopping and being wishy-washy on if they wanted to work with the Davids or not. So talking to Alison and Alec and Mike in the game, they were like, “We want to do this Strike Force and we want to work with the Davids!” And we never we never really knew if it was true or not. So to see their confessionals, where you have Alison saying, “Yeah, I’ve got to stick with the Goliaths,” I was like, okay there it is. That is what it was.

What was it like seeing your mom out there and did you have any hard feelings when you weren’t picked to go on the Loved Ones reward?
I loved seeing my mom. It was a super-special moment, but I did not need to win that reward. There was only seven days left in the game so I knew, Okay, I’m going to eat eventually so I don’t really need to go on the reward. I’m going to see my mom again. I actually went to college 10,000 miles away from my mom when she lived in the Philippines and I went to school in the U.S., so I am used to not seeing her. As soon as Nick and Angelina won, I was like, “Yep, I’m not getting picked.” It was like, whatever. It sucked to not get fed, but that’s part of the game.

As I wrote in my recap, while I’m sure you went out earlier than you would have liked, this was actually kind of the best way to go out in that you were at least trying to make a move. And I think I kind of saw that in the way you walked out of Tribal Council because you seemed, all things considered, actually pretty upbeat about the situation.
I agree. It’s disappointing to go out at any point, but I was much more thrilled and humbled and excited and proud to go out in eighth place trying to make a move that could have maybe won me the game, rather than be dragged to the end to the final three and be a goat and have everybody say that I sucked at the game and had rode coattails. To me, that was a far worse fate, and it was one that I was actively trying to avoid. Because I’ve seen it happen to so many players similar to me before. And I don’t think that’s necessarily even their fault, but I know how juries work and tend to see players like me.

Make sure to read our full episode recap as well as our Q&A with Jeff Probst. And for more Survivor scoop, follow Dalton on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

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