Abi Maria Gomes might just be the perfect reaity show contestant. She’s attractive, loud and most importantly dramatic. Abi’s “ability” to cause tension and strife wherever she goes makes for fantastic TV and especially so on Survivor, which is so much about interpersonal interactions. The thing that makes Abi so fun to watch made it hard for her to win in her first season of Survivor and as a result, was eliminated. However now that she is has been brought back for Survivor: Cambodia, the same thing that killed Abi’s game the first time around might be what allows her to win it.

Abi Hasn’t Changed Much…

The elephant in the room needs to be addressed. So far on Survivor: Cambodia, Abi seems to be playing the game largely the same. It took a comically small amount of time from Abi telling the camera confessional that she was going to play a less emotional game to her blowing up at a fellow castaway for “stealing” her bracelet. From Day One on the island, Abi had her feud cross-hairs set on Peih Gee, the alleged bracelet thief. This often one-sided battle was as glorious as it was never-ending and petty.

…But It Doesn’t Matter

Yet Peih Gee is the one who was sent packing and Abi is still in the game. Abi is not only still playing, she’s in a bigger power position than ever before. She went from the bottom of an alliance to arguably at least top 3. In fact, Abi has been to every tribal council in season 31 of Survivor and has yet to be voted out. This isn’t for lack of trying on her fellow castaways part either. Abi’s name has been written down at all but one of these sessions. Abi remains though and each tribal council she leaves in a stronger position than before. 

The first week the “old-schoolers” (which was a really pretentious name for alliance) wanted Abi out. Yet it was the honorary old-schooler, Vytas, who went home. (Side-note: the only thing more pretentious than being a self-proclaimed old-schooler is being an honorary one.) Vytas being sent home inside of Abi is because of the work of herself and her alliance.

The second week it was Abi who flipped the power dynamic of the tribe pitting old-school against new-school and her former alliance member Shirin was eliminated. Abi did the same thing in her new tribe, narrowly avoiding her torch getting snuffed out yet again. It’s true that Abi rarely has final decision on these calls. The edit makes someone like Jeff Varner or Tasha seem like the real mastermind but Abi is the impetus for all these changes. Simply put, so far in Survivor  Cambodia Abi is the most influential player in the game.

How Abi Could Win It All

Despite her undeniably influential position, no one views Abi as a threat. She’s the “wild card” and the one in the alliance you can’t trust. This is certainly true but so far Abi’s wild card nature hasn’t led herself astray. She’s some anti-Obi Wan of tribal councils. She’s never struck down but she keeps rising stronger than ever before. As erratic and emotional as Abi’s moves in the game have been they’ve still allowed her to get to a better place in the game. 

This makes her a perfect candidate for a possible winner of Survivor: Cambodia. The paranoia hit season 31 hard and fast. Nearly everyone is playing some insane game of chess on cocaine. No one wants to keep a strategic and smart player in the game for a fear of a future blindside. The biggest threats in Survivor: Cambodia aren’t physical players or social ones, but smart ones. Abi is in the perfect position because she is constantly underestimated. No one thinks crazy Abi is masterminding their demise but even if it is in an indirect way, Abi has had a hand in getting rid of every eliminated player.

Abi isn’t an idiot. Abi’s biggest weakest in her first season was a lack of self-awareness. The Peih Gee feud doesn’t suggest she’s gotten a lot better in that regard but her interview confessionals do show a different side of Abi. Abi does seem more calm and socially aware than she has ever been before on Survivor. Since she has blown her original plan to be a less emotional player,  Abi should just embrace her not-so-inner drama queen. She should start fights, be unpredictable and just generally be as anarchic as possible. 

Everyone will write her off as crazy Abi. She’d be the perfect person in their minds to take to the final. Abi’s strategy could be to have no strategy at all, doing and saying whatever she wants as long as it gets her to the end of the game. No one will be able to predict her moves. She’ll be written off as annoying but harmless and she’ll get passed over again and again for more “legitimate” threats. Until there is no one left and Abi is sitting pretty in the final tribal council. It would be an unconventional strategy but on unconventional season like Survivor: Cambodia it could be the most effective one.  

Survivor: Cambodia airs Wednesdays at 8pm on CBS

(Images courtesy of CBS)

Derek Stauffer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV

Derek is a Philadelphia based writer and unabashed TV and comic book junkie. The time he doesn’t spend over analyzing all things nerdy he is working on his resume to be the liaison to the Justice League.