Abi-Maria Gomes was the breakout villain of “Survivor: Philippines” because of her irascible temper, petulance and bullying, but it turns out she had a secret reason to be cranky: She badly injured her knee early in the game.
“I was trying to play it off while I was on the island because I didn’t want them to think of me as the weak link,” Abi — voted out at the last Tribal Council — tells Zap2it. “But when I got back to reality I actually had to go through surgery. That’s the reason I was performing so poorly at challenges.”
The “Survivor” medical team told Abi that to treat her injury, she’d have to be pulled from the game. “I didn’t want that to happen. They told me, ‘We understand you’re in pain, but if you want a knee brace you basically have to be medevac’d.’ I said out of question, no way.”
“I’m not a quitter,” she insists. “I wanted to give them hell,” she laughs about her fellow Castaways, who were largely unaware of the extent of her injury. “I got really mad — I wanted to make their life miserable!”
“My injury really helped me be that temperamental, emotional character that I was. I didn’t go there wanting to be that — I went there wanting to be a hero. But due to circumstances I ended up being the villain.”
“I don’t want to blame culture,” the Brazilian babe says about her clash with the group. “I’m gonna own it. I was just trying to play the game and win a million dollars.”
It’s because she was so disliked that Abi genuinely believed Skupin was going to invite her on the whale-shark-watching reward challenge.
“If he wants to win this, he has to take me with Lisa to the end,” she insists. She was heartbroken because taking Malcolm on the reward meant Skupin definitely planned to vote her out. “He’s not keeping me — he doesn’t want to work with me. I was the goat, I was the bottom feeder, I was the horrible person, who else better to take to final three than me?”
Abi doesn’t think she was mean or bullied “Survivor” sweetheart Lisa. “I wasn’t trying to be mean to her — I had no clue who she was. I looked at her just like my opponent, and I could tell that she was getting off of the leash, so I’m like, Ah, come here. That was I guess my way of trying to keep her close, but that was a huge mistake what I did, of course. I didn’t want to be mean to her.”
Her biggest regret, shares Abi, is being “too close” to her “evil three” alliance with Pete and Artis. “I was ready to take a bullet for them. I just got so emotionally attached to them that I was just riding it with them rather than playing the powerful game that I started playing [at the end].”
“Making it to the final five so far — that’s a huge accomplishment,” Abi says.
“Especially with the injury that I had, staying there and just being able to be as honest and upfront and blunt and powerful and still stay till the final five.”
Do you think the final four made a mistake voting out Abi?
The two-hour “Survivor” finale airs Sunday, Dec. 16 at 8 p.m. (8:30 ET), followed by the one-hour reunion show on CBS.