With every castaway spotlight that we are doing for returning players on “Survivor: Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites,” our main focus is looking at how the game they played the first time will shape the moves they are able to make in their return. For example, some castaways (Phillip, Cochran) are likely to be saddled with pre-existing impressions, while others (Brenda, Andrea) may be respected as good players.
With Malcolm Freberg, you have a wild card in that while we know his game, the castaways do not. This is the first time since Russell Hantz in “Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains” that there is a returning player whose entire game is a mystery to everyone else. This season filmed before “Survivor: Philippines” even aired, so with that he has the luxury of being able to go in, play the same game, and hope to make it even farther than his previous fourth-place finish.
But is Malcolm really primed to succeed? This is where we are torn and the “Russell Factor” comes into play. JT should have known that there was a reason Russell was brought back almost immediately, and his poor risk-taking skills (to put it mildly) led to one of the biggest blunders in “Survivor” history, even though a pair of people in Brandon and Erik on this season have done worse. These people have to realize right away that there is a reason that Malcolm was brought back: sure, he may seem cool, likable, and an asset … but is there something sinister under the surface?
This possible sentiment among the fellow Favorites is something that Malcolm needs to be aware of, and his self-awareness was probably his weakness the first time around. He failed to realize the right time to make a final three deal, and even before that he lucked out a few times when he could have otherwise been sent home. He also runs the risk of being a little bit of a flirt; and while he was able to escape Angie-gate during his first game, he may not be so lucky in the sequel if he makes himself an obvious target by forming a pair even tighter than he and Denise.
Let’s switch to the positives, since there are plenty with Malcolm. He’s a great challenge player for one, and he’s also as big of a fan as anyone out there, save for maybe Cochran. The guy knows and understands the game, and should blend in well for the first week or so while the big personalities cancel each other out (which is exactly what he allowed to happen with Russell Swan). His game is a little similar to Ozzy’s with the exception that there is a little less physical prowess and a little more humility; and if he gets in with the right group of people dumb / crazy enough to take him to the end, this will serve him well.
Prediction – Sadly for Malcolm, this Favorites tribe is stuffed with people who were burned by physical threats. Ozzy defeated Cochran, Dawn, and Brandon on Redemption Island, Andrea, Francesca, and Phillip dealt with Boston Rob, and Brenda had Fabio. The only two people who may be interested in working with him beyond the merge are Corinne (since she was with Marcus and Charlie in Gabon) and Erik (another physical threat). That’s not enough of an alliance.
We see some of the ladies sweetening up to Malcolm early in the game to make him feel safe, but these women are far more aggressive than Angie Layton or Lisa Whelchel. We see him going either right before or right after the merge, and for two reasons:
1. The baggage of some of these people versus physical players.
2. The unknown about facing a returning player whose entire game is a mystery.
With that being said, Malcolm wins the game if he makes it to final five or six, save for another massive challenge choke job.
How do you think Malcolm will do? Be sure to share your thoughts below, and you can read some of our other “Survivor Caramoan” spotlight articles here.