If nothing else, Malcolm Freberg knows how to put on a show. And clearly, he does know a little more, or else he wouldn’t have come this close to winning Survivor Philippines (if not for two game-ending challenge chokes).
Malcolm has been at the center of three epic moves over the past three weeks of Caramoan. (Three excellent weeks of the show, I might add; I was and remain very down on the front half of the season, but Probst’s hype is starting to bear fruit in the post-merge portion of the game.) Three epic moves that haven’t worked out quite as well as he wanted them to. Sure, he and his fellow Amigos live to fight another day after this latest stunt — but at Malcolm’s own admission, the numbers remain six against three, and not in his favor.
Wasn’t there a way for Malcolm to have a showy, explosive night, while making a move that advances the Three Amigos’ long game, rather than just letting them survive three more days? I think so. Please, join me in The Wiggle Room, and let’s talk about what Malcolm could have done differently to really change the game — and who he really should have targeted.
First and foremost, make no mistake about it: Malcolm is a badass. It was badass enough when he demanded and received the idol from Reynold last week, all while his own secret idol lingered in his back pocket. Then this week, he goes out and finds the restocked idol, right in front of his adversaries, and shocks everybody by presenting his own idol during tribal, deathproofing all of Stealth R Us’ available targets and forcing Phillip out of the game. A bold and sexy play, no doubt about it.
But was it Malcolm’s best available play? I don’t think so.
Why target Phillip? Or, at least, why target him openly? Malcolm has it right: Phillip is a fun-sponge, running around Enil Edam beach with his pink underwear and his nicknames and his basketball skills and rabble rabble rabble. If one of the Three Amigos can’t go home, then surely Phillip leaving next isn’t such a bad alternative for the rest of SRU.
So, why target the bad guy that everybody can’t wait to get rid of, when you can target a better, more self-interested player, someone who is likelier to cut a deal?
If I’m Malcolm, I don’t announce I’m targeting Phillip. I put the target on Cochran. Historically, Cochran is the most self-interested player in that game of Survivor. He sold out his entire tribe to avoid a purple rock. Surely he would betray Phillip and swing over to the Broliance if it means saving his life in the game. That would give the Amigos four votes. If Cochran can swing his closest ally, Dawn, to his side, then that makes five votes. Let’s assume Erik swings to the bros as he did in reality, and that’s six. That’s majority. Phillip, or whoever the newly formed Amigos R Us targets, goes home, and a new alliance is born.
Or, if a new alliance isn’t born, at least it’s born for one night — and the Amigos can keep their idols for another day.
Or or, if Cochran doesn’t bite, then you vote his ass out, and suddenly the biggest threat in the game is gone in shocking, fiery fashion.
So, okay, few moves on Survivor are ever that easily executed. I admit that. But I do think that smart, savvy and self-interested players like Cochran, or the unstable Dawn, or the scrambling Andrea, are likelier to flip and cut a deal than Agent Shephard, whose entire game hangs on the continued loyalty and success of SRU. Would flipping Cochran or someone else have actually worked as outlined? Maybe, maybe not. But I think it’s worth the risk. Malcolm, Reynold and Eddie are about to go out bang-bang-bang without their idol defense anyway. Attempting to meaningfully change the tribe’s dynamics, while still hanging onto those two idols, is their only real shot at continuing in the game with the numbers so lopsided against them. Put another way, who cares if one goes out tonight if he’s just going to die tomorrow?
Malcolm orchestrated a short-term win, not a long-term gain. It’s as if there was no real attempt to make anyone flip; it was a move designed to make people squirm and scramble on national television, get rid of the most annoying person in the game — not the most dangerous — and nothing more. A fun, entertaining move for the folks at home, no doubt about it. But was it a move that puts the Amigos on their best footing going forward? I don’t think so. Sadly, I think after three very strong weeks of Survivor, we’re in store for three very predictable back-to-back-to-back eliminations — unless one of these Bro-neheads can go off on an immunity run.
That’s just the arm-chair opinion of one overweight blogger who would get absolutely shredded up by actual Survivors. Agree or disagree? Why not target Cochran, or Dawn, or Andrea, or someone else likelier to play ball than Phillip? The comments or Twitter is the place to let me know.