With the help of my friend Gavin, we’ll outline exactly what went wrong for the most recent boot from Survivor: Game Changers. Since this is a season with returning players, we’ll also take a look at their span of games and if that influenced their demise. Which is 100% likely. Also, not that I need to mention this, but there are definitely spoilers ahead.


Malcolm Freberg

malcolm freberg

This guy is, and always will be, a huge fan favorite. From his charm to his wit to his game play, he’s the perfect Survivor package. The audience loves him for the self-deprecating humor and easy narration of the season. The other players love him because of his excitement and energy he brings to the island. The dude is just a stellar all-around human being that also does extremely well on Survivor.

So how in the hell am I writing about him as our fourth boot from Game Changers?! This is the worst he’s ever placed (I believe coming in at 38 days on Philippines and 30 days on Caramoan) at 11 days here on Game Changers. He’s the type of player that I would expect to make the merge 9/10 times because of his charm/likability. So, I guess this is that unlucky 1/10.

Let’s take it back to his Philippines days and see if we can search for the Malcolm missteps. 

Malcolm came into Survivor: Philippines as the goofy, young kid. He could bro down with Zane, he could cuddle up to Angie, and he could strategize with Denise. His adaptability was one of the first things we saw from Malcolm, especially since his tribe was terrible in challenges. Loss after loss gave us a big picture of Malcolm as a player, first trying to save his cuddle-buddy and then ditching her for the sake of the “tribe” (in quotes because it was going to be three total people).

Once the Matsing tribe was down to only two people – Malcolm and Denise – he was thrown into the six-person Tandang tribe. The disadvantage was very clear, but Malcolm turned on his charm and was able to integrate himself as one of their own. Come merge time, Malcolm even avoided being a target after his idol was found by good-natured Lisa. Seriously, to walk away unscathed after your idol is public knowledge at a tribal council is a true testament to how people felt about Malcolm. They wanted him there because of the bond them made with him.

We get down to the final four (where Malcolm and Denise have survived amazingly) and Malcolm pulls a pretty bone-headed move. When Denise asks for a heads up or if Malcolm would be willing to tie the vote, he hesitates and ultimately says I’d need to think about it. That right there is the trigger Denise needed to seal Malcolm’s fate. With a loss at the final immunity challenge, Malcolm heads into tribal council a bit more confident then maybe he should. By a 3-1 vote, Malcolm heads to the jury.

On to Caramoan…

Malcolm comes back the very next season (something only few people have done in Survivor’s history) for a Fans versus Favorites setup. Inherently, the favorites tribe will always be better off and if you need examples just look up Survivor: Micronesia, Survivor: Caramoan, and Survivor: Blood vs Water, but Malcolm still makes sure he is in a good spot with his fellow faves. He plays on his social charisma to make people want to play with him, even becoming initiated into the Stealth-R-Us alliance by Phillip or finding an idol with Corinne. People WANT him around.

Fast-forward to the merge, where Malcolm is ready to shake things up in his favor. He wants to boot one of his fellow faves in order to take control of the game. It’s a huge move and a big risk, but Malcolm is willing to take that risk. Unfortunately, Malcolm didn’t have a tight enough leash on his alliance members and the plan fell through. He then had to rely on hidden immunity idols (both his own and one from an ally) for the next two tribal councils in order to avoid being booted. It’s when people started seeing Malcolm as a huge threat did they realize he needed to go sooner rather than later.

Which brings us to our current version of Malcolm. We know that Malcolm is good at integrating himself with new players. We know that Malcolm is seen as a strategic threat. We know that Malcolm does NOT make the best spur-of-the-moment type of decisions.

I think what I’m getting at is Malcolm is great at playing the long game, but not so great at playing the short game.

Had only one tribe gone to tribal council and had that tribe been Nuku, I would be hard pressed to say Malcolm would be the one leaving, and that’s due to his social game with his other tribe members. When he has the time to play with others, he can get them on his side. But when another tribe is ALSO going to tribal council with you and you’re ALL voting out one person, things got tricky. Being a strategic and social threat, Malcolm was targeted and for good reason, right? He’s helpful to Nuku in challenges and in the long run, he’ll be someone to watch out for. Why not just nip that in the bud?

And I think where Malcolm went wrong was not doing anything once at tribal council. Granted, there’s a lot we don’t see, but from what we did see, it’s pretty safe to say Malcolm was confident he wasn’t going home and didn’t do anything about it. That’s where he went wrong. He couldn’t have done anything differently up to that point in the game, but when he had an opportunity to turn things, he didn’t. When JT went to talk to Brad Fucking Culpepper, he didn’t do anything about it. When his tribe huddled together and said to stick with the plan, he just went along for the ride.

I mean, he literally sat and giggled with Sierra as the tribes were up and about talking. I think his confidence got the best of him and he trusted his new ally, JT. That’s it.

Like I’ve mentioned time and time again, Malcolm is one of a kind. He’s a fan favorite (and probably a production favorite) that will be welcomed on our screens for the fourth time. His energy and excitement for Survivor excites the audience. His charisma pulls the viewers in and we’re not even playing with him! I’m excited for Malcolm to return once more and remind us just how good he is at this game. Plus, with that 1/10 non-merge is outta the way, we’re guaranteed 6-some episodes with him.


Alright, that’s it for What Went Wrong this week. Check out last week’s What Went Wrong and of course catch up with our most recent Recap from Episode 3 to see for yourself just how sad it is watching Malcolm get booted early.

Disagree with any of these opinions? Have ideas for what Malcolm could have done right? Just want to say you love him and would marry him if given the opportunity? Leave us a note in the comments below. And don’t worry about having a WordPress account, you can always just be anonymous 😉

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