Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Michael Skupin. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.
Five months ago, Malcolm Freberg was sent packing because of his inability to recognize an ‘80s sitcom star. Last night he was done in by Andrea’s annoying little sister impersonation.
“Survivor” is a funny game.
I spoke with Malcolm the morning after his elimination and had a chance to ask about playing back-to-back seasons, where Erik really stands, and his role in one of the most memorable Tribal Councils in the show’s history…
Malcolm Freberg: What would happen if we didn’t talk about “Survivor”?
Gordon Holmes: So, if we talked about “Bioshock: Infinite”?
Freberg: Scariest thing ever! That one guy…
Holmes: Right? I’m a grown man sitting in my own house, and screaming like a little girl.
Freberg: I am not a grown man, I was drinking cheap beer and sitting in my dirty apartment and I jumped off of the couch.
Holmes: And you’re a man who lived on a crappy island for 60-some days.
Freberg: Yeah, and little video game monsters do the trick.
Holmes: I think CBS is going to be annoyed if we don’t talk about “Survivor.”
Freberg: I’m trying to get you fired.
Holmes: You’re ruining my gig.
Freberg: (Laughs) OK, shoot.
Holmes: So, “Survivor” sucks and I don’t enjoy it anymore.
Freberg: (Laughs) I feel the same way now.
Holmes: Let’s start there. Cochran gets credit for being the hardcore “Survivor” fan, but you’re no slouch yourself. Having been this close to it, two times in a row, do you still have a passion for the show?
Freberg: I think so. I haven’t seen “Survivor” in a year now without me on it. I don’t know how I’m going to react next week. I’ve seen every season and I’ve been so passionate for so long. I’m not sure how I’m going to feel about it now.
Holmes: I just assume it’s going to be a disaster.
Freberg: (Laughs) Keep saying nice things, it makes me a little more numb.
Holmes: I remember last time I made you feel way worse.
Freberg: You did! I forgot about that. Be conscious of everything you say because my feelings are very fragile this morning.
Holmes: My natural instinct is to be a (expletive deleted) but I’m going to try to steer away from that this time.
Freberg: (Laughs) Appreciate that.
Holmes: What was the deciding factor in making the decision to branch off from Stealth R Us?
Freberg: It goes back to the first couple days. I managed to weasel my way into Stealth Is Nonsense, I refuse to say that name, but I was always on the bottom. I wasn’t a part of the decision making. And I’d gotten to the end of the game, so I know I’m not an immunity challenge monster. I’m good, but I’m not great. And nobody’s going to drag me to the end, so if I’m going to make this thing, I’m going to have to take control of my own fate and mix it up. I couldn’t see it working out sticking with the favorites.
Holmes: Cochran mocked you a bit during the vote last night. That shocked me a bit because it never seemed like there was any animosity between you two.
Freberg: We were surprised how well we got along. On the interior we’re very similar. Maybe we don’t look the same. Apparently we’re different on the outside, but we got along very well. I think…he’s going to kill me for saying this…but maybe there was a touch of jealousy there. Not on a superficial level, but because I was the one who got to make crazy moves and he was playing the sit-back, less flashy game. He will hate me for saying that.
Holmes: Eddie and Reynold are both really nice guys. And you know I’m about to insult someone when I preface something by saying they’re “really nice guys.”
Freberg: Yeah, way to tee it up.
Holmes: Do they get the game? You know the auction is going to feature an advantage and Reynold’s like, “Oh, a mystery item? Take my money.” And then the advantage does come up and Eddie has all of his money and he sits on it. Do they know what’s going on? Have they seen the show?
Freberg: I’ve been watching on TV for the past couple of months and I have no idea what they’re thinking. To this day I still don’t know what’s going on between their ears. I love them both to death. They’re both really good guys.
Holmes: That’s what I said!
Freberg: I don’t know if all the “Survivor” neurons are firing out there. Eddie could not get it through his head why you would ever vote off an attractive girl. It doesn’t make sense to him. One of my proudest “Survivor” accomplishments was convincing him to vote for Andrea. That was the hardest conversation I ever had. You could see smoke coming out of the kid’s ears. And Reynold, part of the reason you can’t help but like Reynold is because he’s such a reckless optimist. You come to him with an idea and he’s 110% behind it. Not everyone would give you an idol and I was toying with it, but Reynold absolutely would.
Holmes: Nice guys.
Freberg: Sweethearts. Maybe not cut out for the strategy portion of “Survivor.”
Holmes: After the merge, you thought you had Erik. Clearly you didn’t. What happened there, I ‘m having a tough time getting a read on him.
Freberg: Clearly I was having a tough time getting a read on Erik as well.
Freberg: I never was that sure about Erik. I said I did so my potential allies thought we had the numbers. But the words I’d use to describe dealing with Erik are “kid gloves.” Nobody knew what he was thinking. He’d hang out all day, then go swimming, then do a challenge, then go paint something. I don’t know. I couldn’t read him, but I thought he was going along with the Sherri vote until it got turned on its head. Then he randomly votes for Phillip. He was up for doing things, but there was no rhyme or reason.
Holmes: Russell Hantz played back-to-back seasons and he said it really took a toll on him physically. And then going from playing with civilians to facing all-stars was really tough as well. What was your experience like?
Freberg: Physically, I’m still not recovered. I was a pretty in-shape guy, but my muscle mass has not come back at all. It’s come back to some extent, and I’ve been working out, but my body is still wrecked from doing it in quick succession. Mentally, the exhaustion started to sink in when things weren’t going my way. Do you play poker?
Holmes: I do, badly.
Freberg: It’s like if you get all the way to the end and lose at the final hand, you’re like, “Let’s play again immediately.” And then you play and things start going wrong right off the bat and you start playing aggressive and more reckless than you need to. That’s kind of what happened to me. I stand by the things I was trying, but some of it was because I was so tired I started swinging for the fences.
Holmes: Are we going to see back-to-back-to-back?
Freberg: No. I need time to eat carbs and drink beer and sit on a beach without having to worry about people talking behind my back. Give me some time. I need a cuddle before this idea of coming back comes up again.
Holmes: I was going through the CBS press site looking for a picture to use with this interview and there’s one of you chugging a beer…
Freberg: That one.
Holmes: Normally I go with the picture of Probst snuffing…
Freberg: That one! That one!
Holmes: Fine, it’s how I prefer to remember you anyways.
Freberg: Imagine if you were going to tape a picture to my gravestone.
Holmes: Again, you’re a monster “Survivor” fan and you pulled off a monster “Survivor” move last week with the two idols at Tribal. I haven’t done the math yet, but I’m thinking that’s one of the top five Tribal shockers of all time.
Freberg: I wouldn’t put it that high because it didn’t go any way the way I saw it going in my head. It was a double down version of when I bluffed in the Philippines and Jeff Kent went home. All I wanted to happen was for us to pull them out, scare them, and get them to vote for each other. And then I was going to tackle Eddie to keep him from getting up and giving the idol to Probst. It was supposed to be a bluff. As far as entertainment value, it’d have to crack the top five, maybe top three. But as far as pulling off a great move, it wasn’t supposed to go that way.
Holmes: People have said you should’ve played them after the vote, but I liked how it was done. It forced them to turn on each other and gave you some ammunition to work with once you got back to camp. It’s a shame you had to lose two idols, but as for breaking up an alliance, it was pretty genius.
Freberg: Well, thank you, first of all. Everyone’s got a different opinion on how we should have done that. There was no loss or risk, worst case scenario is what happened. Pulling them out afterwards wouldn’t have been any better. But, Erik of all people has to have his first lucid thought and we had to play them.
Holmes: I know I’m going to regret this, but we do a word association here…
Freberg: What’s word association?
Holmes: I’ll give you the name of someone on your tribe. You give me the first words or couple of words that pop into your head. It’s an exercise to get your true thoughts on someone.
Freberg: So, make it up right on the spot?
Holmes: Yes, having something prepared defeats the purpose.
Freberg: I see…that’d be really interesting if someone had something prepared beforehand.
Holmes: Not really. Only a horrible jerk would do such a thing.
Freberg: How disappointed would you be if I hadn’t prepared something?
Holmes: My heart would be broken.
Holmes: You’re the only one who gets this special dispensation.
Holmes: Alright, Phillip?
Freberg: I juggled with this one, because it’s not fair to the real El Guapo to call him El Guapo. So we’re going with Son of a Motherless Goat.
Freberg: Ned Nederlander.
Freberg: Dawn is Allison Reynolds.
Freberg: Dusty Bottoms.
Freberg: Sherri is Principal Vernon.
Freberg: John Bender.
Freberg: Claire Standish.
Freberg: Andrew Clark.
Freberg: Brandon? You can’t have people from before the merge!
Holmes: Oh! I can’t?! You make up the rules here?
Freberg: Brandon is the Invisible Swordsman.
Holmes: (Laughs) Cochran?
Freberg: Cochran is Brian Johnson.
Freberg: I wanted to say Carmen, but like if the girl from “Deadwood” was in “The Three Amigos” and was Carmen. That would be Corinne.
Holmes: Alright, we’re running out of time. Just, quickly, tell me the sun will shine again. Tell me I’m not always going to feel this bad.
Freberg: (Laughs) Nope, the world’s over. Sorry.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes