by Martin Holmes and Ian Walker
Survivor: Caramoan is much maligned for its first half, with people like Shamar Thomas and Brandon Hantz generating a lot of negativity and controversy that rubbed fans the wrong way. However, the season kicks up a couple of notches once the merge hits, and that excitement is best captured in three simple words: Hold Up Bro.
Survivor is no stranger to bro-alliances. Many have formed and fallen in spectacular fashion over the 31 seasons. There is something about the male ego and its irrational fear of “evil women” that draws men together in the game of Survivor. But no alliance has been quite so “brodacious” as Survivor: Caramoan’s Three Amigos. Their buffs were just three Greek letters short of turning them into full blown frat-boys.
The bro mentality is highlighted best in this episode when resident Survivor nerd John Cochran joins the Amigos on a waterfall picnic reward. Eddie Fox and Reynold Toepfer try swaying Cochran over to their side by selling him on the idea of, what Cochran describes as, “testosterone unity”. Anyone who knows anything at all about Cochran would know that trying to appeal to his sense of male camaraderie would be about as successful as convincing Donald Trump to attend morning prayer at a mosque. Eddie and Reynold’s failed bro pitch leads to an excellent Cochran confessional in which he states: “I don’t want to engage in any masculine tomfoolery with these numbskulls.”
But this episode is best remembered for the actions of one particular bro. This is the tribal council where Malcolm Freberg, Survivor renegade fighting against the Stealth R Us establishment equipped with a hidden immunity idol, deduces on the fly that Phillip Sheppard and his forces have caught on to his rebellion and that he’s on the hot seat. It’s unclear whether Phillip was intentionally trying to draw an idol out of Malcolm and allies or if Phillip was blithering away as Phillip is wont to do, but whatever the motivation was, it made Malcolm nervous.
All of this posturing at tribal council came after a particularly crazy round of pre-vote scrambling, where it looked like Malcolm was set to be taken out by the Stealth R Us group. That is until fellow bro Eddie tipped off his flirtmance partner Andrea Boehlke that an idol was probably being played from his side, and that the bros would be voting for her, sending Andrea into a tizzy, pleading with her alliance to not vote one of the bros. So, Stealth R Us decided to put the vote on the most innocuous member of the minority alliance, Michael Snow, who knew nothing.
Malcolm, however, wasn’t the only person feeling the pressure of the vote, as fellow bro Reynold rose to the occasion to play his idol, but Malcolm had other plans. He stopped Reynold in his tracks, ordered his bro to “Hold Up” and worked his Malcolm magic to convince Reynold to give him his idol (despite Malcolm already having an idol of his own). Reynold, being the good bro that he is, gives it over, and the rest is history.
Malcolm plays Reynold’s idol; Michael goes home; Malcolm doesn’t receive any votes, and the only vote Reynold gets comes from Malcolm in the ultimate cover your butt move. It’s a moment of sheer guts and quick thinking and established Malcolm’s place in history as a player with serious Survivor swagger.