‘Survivor’ Fave Malcolm Freberg’s Pre-Season Power Rankings


Malcolm Freberg (CBS)

Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…

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I’m pretty good at being able to tell when someone is going to be a big deal.

I knew No Doubt would become a major band back when they were bouncing around Southern California. I knew CM Punk would become a big-time player in the wrestling industry when he was wrecking the Northeastern independents, and I knew Malcolm Freberg was going to be awesome on “Survivor.”

The good thing about that last one is we got to see Mr. Freberg pull off hilarious moments such as the Amigos’ triple immunity Tribal Council trick and his defense of Angie Layton’s cookie strategy. The bad thing is stupid CBS kept bringing the guy back and I never had a chance to guilt him into doing the Power Rankings.

Well, CBS finally let the guy take a break. Now he doesn’t have an excuse for avoiding the Power Rankings…

Note: Malcolm’s pre-season rankings are for exhibition purposes only. The actual Power Rankings will begin Monday, September 23, 2013.

Another Note: Betting on the XFINITY “Survivor” Power Rankings is frowned upon.

 1. Ciera – My favorite “Survivor”-related quote I ever stumbled upon was one of Hatch’s – “You have to know who you are to win ‘Survivor.’” This 24-year old with two kids has self-awareness in spades. Combine that with being cute, some subtle charm, and being fit without being intimidating, and she’s got everything she needs to take home the title. I was already a fan of her mom from Samoa, so get used to me sporting #TeamMorett.  2. Vytas – If Ciera has subtle charm, Vytas waves his in your face and dares you not to melt from it. The grizzly yoga master is clearly a physical asset early, but that can be said of many males this season, so why Vytas for my male pick? Because he’s actually not that smooth – he’s a bit unpolished in his interviews, Aras let slip that he’s a hot head, and he’s got a colorful past. But these ‘negatives’ are going to become the reasons people keep him over the other fit men come crunch time. Then he could win his way to the end – yogi’s always dominate – and own all of his faults at the final Tribal and get paid big for it, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Also, it’ll piss off Aras that I ranked his brother higher than him.
 3. Hayden – I have never watched “Big Brother,” so I wasn’t completely sure what to make of the Hayden-casting announcement – in fact, I have a funny story about not recognizing him at LAX that I’ll make sure Holmes lets me share at some point. But all you have to do is watch how he handles Kat in their interviews to know he’s got the social game down pat. Knowing nothing else about him, that was enough for me to think he could pull it off. Also, I don’t think winning BB will manifest as harshly in other contestants’ minds as previously winning “Survivor” will.
  4. John – My man-crush. Apparently he doesn’t say anything ever, he just does push-ups with his wife on his back and saves lives in the army and looks at you with those eyes and *sigh*. He doesn’t seem threatening at all, but having rubbed shoulders (ostensibly amongst other things) with Candice for three years has to instill some sort of gamesmanship, flawed or otherwise. If he can maintain the image of the unassuming, happy-to-help soldier boy he could get taken deep, and he appears smart and strong enough to go on a win streak if he needs it. Biggest mark against him, unlike my top three but less-so than some people below him, is that I don’t think he wins without other people making the mistake of letting him get close to the end.

(Sidenote: My top four picks are newbies. I know historical precedent, and had I paid attention to that fact I might have altered it. But I put thought into this beforehand and this is how I actually felt, and I won’t apologize for the things that come out of my gut. Unless it’s a fart, then I politely excuse myself)

 5. Colton – He said insensitive things. Racist things. Horrible things. And I now pronounce my first of two unpopular opinions: I’m rooting for him. I want to believe that he just got caught up with his own wit, that on “One World” he forgot ten million people were going to see and hear what was coming out of his mouth, and that his story this season will be one of redemption. I’m not totally convinced he’s changed from his interviews, but his take on his reputation was exactly what it needed to be: he’s not going to convince us with words beforehand, but with how he conducts himself for (hopefully) the next 39 days. If you’re a fan of the strategic side of “Survivor,” you are, even if you don’t publicly admit it, excited he’s back. He could be the first boot and I wouldn’t be taken aback in the slightest, and if he acts the same as last time I’ll be over him very quickly. But if he survives the first few votes and turns his attitude around, he’s my favorite to win.
  6. Laura M. – The most terrifying grandma since the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood. In case you’ve forgotten, she was one of the first to recognize elder Hantz (we obviously can’t say ‘big’ Hantz) for what he was. I also feel close to her because we’d likely attend the same support groups for being on a tribe managed by Russell Swan. She’s a smart, fit, capable older woman with a shrewd mind for strategy. My biggest doubt is her ability to disguise those traits – she described herself as ‘a machine,’ and she oozes intimidation and intensity. If she wins, it’s because she powered her way through the end game and got there with coattail riders who never stood a chance. To reiterate, I’m #TeamMorett this season, but I like the daughter’s odds better.
 7. Tina – I’m surprised I have her this high, but thinking through it logically I could see her pulling it off. She could make it through the first phase of the game by getting in the right alliance, then she’s clearly likeable and non-threatening enough to navigate the middle without trouble, and if she gets towards the end she can pull the ‘no one will vote for me, I already won’ card, and then she’s smart enough and sweet enough to win a final Tribal. A lot of things have to go right for her – I don’t think she controls her own destiny – but I think a lot of people will carry her much farther than they should. I’m really torn; Tina could be the second member in one of two hyper-exclusive “Survivor” clubs after “Blood vs Water” – The Diaz-Twine Double Winners, or the Francesca Hogi Double Faults.
 8. Aras – I have the old winners next to each other by complete coincidence. Aras has all the traits of his higher-ranked brother, plus one very glaring flaw: not having flaws. He’s a mellow, laid-back guy who’s not the life of the party and someone who you feel very comfortable around, but he’s not going to slip through the cracks like last time. He was greatly aided in Panama by being a part of the amazeballscrazy pants Casaya tribe, plus being kept as the only viable chance to defeat challenge monster Terry Dietz. I think there’s a 0% chance Aras goes pre-merge, but I think he’ll be targeted soon after that because of how popular he’ll be. Still, if anyone lets him close to the end, his combination of likeability and overcoming past-winner stigma will be unbeatable.

  9. Katie – Little Tina gets points for apparently being ready to turn on mommy in a heartbeat. I think there’s a lot of power in NOT being a pair as the game moves forward, and if Tina goes early Katie may go deep by being kept around as an extra swing vote. Otherwise, she strikes me as a friendly girl, willing to follow orders and who could be taken deep, but not be so daft as to roll over in the end game. Slim chances, but there is a chance.
 10. Tyson – If I were ranking based on where my heart lies, Tyson gets Power Rankings spots 1-20, and everyone else can start after that on another page. I love the guy. But this is what I think of contestant chances, and I struggle to see him winning. Great television, yes. Great Survivor, no. I know I wasn’t out there and don’t know all the circumstances surrounding the vote, but I consider him voting himself out on “Heroes vs. Villians” dumber than JT’s note, dumber than Erik’s immunity surrender, and dumber than Jason’s f***ing stick. And his blindside in Tocantins wasn’t particularly encouraging either. He’s a hilarious, mouthy athlete; let’s enjoy him as long as we can.

 11. Caleb – It almost says something positive about Colton that his fiancé is so cool. He’s a capable, mild mannered provider that’s not going to upset anyone. But he’s got two massive things working against him – first, his boy toy has a reputation, and my bold prediction for the season is that this won’t be held against Colton, but against Caleb. In a move to weaken the flamboyant strategic mastermind, his enemies may strike his significant other. Second, he seems exceedingly passive – I imagine one would have to be to handle a relationship with Colton. If he’s going to make the end game, I feel like he’d have to be taken and, if my read on him is right, he’s way too charming for anyone to want to take him that far.
 12. Gervase – I was initially excited by the throwback pick for this season. I was twelve years old the last time Gervase played “Survivor,” but I haven’t watched Borneo in at least a decade. Then his interviews threw me a bit, and I admit to doing more research to Gerv’s reputation than I did for anyone else. Apparently he was lazy around camp back in the day, and I actually giggled a bit when I confirmed that he couldn’t swim on season 1. He seems like a guy I want to get a beer with, not a guy I’d vote for as sole Survivor. His interviews seemed a little recklessly strategically confident for a guy who didn’t really ‘play the game’ the first time out, and his choice of his niece as a good second doesn’t help his cause.
 13. Candice – I now get to say something I’ve thought for a long time – I had a crush on Candice in Cook Islands. But I was like eighteen at the time, and now that’s superseded by my crush on her husband, so I’m over it and can comfortably place her this low. I think her reputation is going to wreck her – she’s impossible to trust. On one season she mutinied, on another she destroyed her original tribe. If her tribe mates know their “Survivor” history, she’s one of the most disloyal players in history and they won’t give her a chance. If she does get deep, however, she’ll get carried to the end and could flaunt what she had to overcome to a jury, but that feels like a stretch even as I type it.
 14. Brad – The guy looks less like an ex-NFL’er and more like an extra from the set of “300.” He’s not going anywhere in the beginning – the ability to lift heavy objects is too valuable early. And I would actually put big money on him going deep into the game for the same reasons I picked Vytas: he lacks the threatening polished charm which some of the other fit guys have. But what he seems to lack is self-awareness. I can’t even put my finger directly on it, but he grates on me. I could see him getting dragged to the end, then leaving the final Tribal Council thinking he’d won, and having no idea until the votes were read live that no one picked him.
 15. Marissa – I actually like her, but only see trouble for her in the game. The way she talked over Gervase at a few points in their interviews seemed telling of social unawareness, like she cares more about her own voice than others. I want to make one of those ‘if she gets the right alliance’ speeches here, but even if she has that I feel like a big alliance would use her as a first cut.
  16. Monica – Confession = I didn’t watch all of “One World;” we were filming “Philippines” during most of it. But I seem to remember Monica being on the outs early, and feeling like she didn’t understand that she was being too preachy. I got the same feeling from the interviews, like she may not totally be aware of how she’s affecting those around her. I don’t have a strong opinion on where she may place in the game, but pulling out the victory would be a major shock to me.
 17. Laura B. Mrs. Rupert, in my eyes, had a major strike against her coming into all of this: she was Mrs. Rupert. We’ll get to my feelings on the big pirate shortly, but his personality makes it difficult to hear anyone else in the same conversation, so I really didn’t glean much from the interviews and could be way off base here.  To hear them talk about it, they’re both aware she’s the more realistic, less trusting one in the pair. And while that’s encouraging, I still found it difficult to take her seriously since they thought matching tie-dye was a good idea. My hopes are not high for the Boneham clan.
  18. Rachel – I mean absolutely no disrespect here, but I expected fireworks from Tyson’s girlfriend. I expected lighting and wit and radiance, and Rachel just seemed like a kind, quiet girl who may be a bit overwhelmed by her situation. I hope it was a temporary thing during the interviews because there were flashes here and there of personality, and I understand it must be difficult to make yourself heard over Tyson all the time, but as far as winning? Being that forgettable isn’t going to do it.
 19. Kat – I want to party with this girl. Let’s grab Hayden and go find a happy hour spot and put our feet up and hang out till sunrise. But “Survivor” victory? Even Hayden was barely keeping a straight face when the topic came up during the interviews. On some level you could tell she knew how she was perceived, and she spoke passionately about overcoming that image, but everything else she said lent itself to that high degree of naiveté. Kat’s ability to, at least on some level, acknowledge her own silliness keeps her out of the bottom spot.
  20. Rupert – And now for unpopular opinion #2: I’ve never understood the Rupert love. I comprehend that he’s an entertaining character to some, that his exaggerated speech patterns and shoe stealing are fun to watch. But the reason he easily claims the bottom spot on my ranking is exactly why Ciera got the top spot: self-awareness. I don’t think he understands the way he’s perceived by the rest of the world. And, quite simply, you can’t win “Survivor” without that ability.

Any Questions? Drop Malcolm a line on Twitter @MalcolmWHW

Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.

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