In its 25th season, CBS's reality juggernaut has produced perhaps its greatest villain ever. In a month of game play, the diminutive 32-year-old Brazilian has Josef Stalin–like turned against her closest comrade and masterminded her expulsion, citing an imaginary conspiracy against herself, lashed out violently at any and all, openly gloated in the face of starving castaways after winning reward meals, played victim, and perhaps in the most insane-slash-brilliant maneuver in the show's history, concocted a multiweek charade pretending to be hiding a nonexistent immunity idol.
And best of all, it has worked. Despite constant cries from other contestants that she is breaking them down and reports from the ousted that even her allies have been driven bonkers by her, Abi-Maria has dodged bullet after bullet and made it to the exalted heights of, at this writing, Survivor's top five. At this rate, victory itself is not impossible, as Abi-Maria seems to have so flummoxed all around her that they can do little more than stumble and fall into her web. —R.R.