If you’ve read this blog for a while (well, at least since last season), you know that I’m a big fan of Malcolm Freberg. He’s up there in my personal Survivor Hall of Fame with people like Rob Cesternino, Todd Herzog, Stephen Fishbach, Tyson Apostol, Yau-Man Chan and I’m forgetting a few (only men? strange… I blame you sexist editing). People who I believe are the best players to ever play this game (ok, maybe not Tyson, but his awesomeness makes up for his imperfect gameplay). It’s been a long time since we got such a well rounded player, even the ones I’ve just mentioned usually lack on the physical side.
So, I’m pretty excited to see him back (well, I never had a doubt he’d be back), with one caveat though. I wish he hadn’t returned so quickly (although, I’m pretty sure we’ll see him play a third time one of these days). Everybody has said it before (himself included in his pregame interviews), he’s now in Russell’s position during Heroes Vs Villains, that is playing as a returnee, except that nobody knows him, nobody has seen him play, and also, he’s had only two weeks or so to recover from the previous season, not enough time in my opinion.
Now, he’s in that pretty strange position where he has a serious advantage on everybody else, but that advantage puts a big target on his back from the get-go, especially because of the Russhole precedent.
However, there is a huge difference between Malcolm and Russell: Malcolm is very charming and has a great social game. Was there even one person to dislike him in the Philippines? No.
So, what I believe will happen is that people will be scared of him, but also intrigued and then charmed, possibly even wanting to ally with him. Maybe not everybody, maybe not Cochran (I don’t see Cochran being interested to be friends/ally with an unknown player who will remind him – at least physically – of Ozzy), but he shouldn’t have trouble finding allies.
How well can he do?
Seriously I have no idea, as a wild card for the other players, that makes him a wild card for the game too. He could be voted out early if other people get too paranoid, he could go far if he charms the right people early on (and I believe he will). However, I see the same fate for him than in the Philippines: being voted out near the end, because everybody will be aware than if he gets to the end, he’ll win it all.
In any case, good luck Malcolm, I’ll be rooting for you again!