Over the coming months, Inside Survivor is undertaking its biggest list ranking yet, as we count down the 100 best episodes of Survivor ever. As always with these kinds of lists, it’s entirely subjective, and we’re sure many fans will have different opinions. This is simply Inside Survivor’s ranking. Join us each weekday for a new entry.
Episode: “Cut Off the Head of the Snake” (Episode 9)
Broadcast Date: April 10, 2013
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Caramoan is much maligned for the first half of the season, with the Brandon Hantz breakdown and other negativity rubbing many fans the wrong way. However, the season kicks up a couple of notches once the merge hits, and that excitement is best captured in this episode by three simple words: “Hold up, bro.”
Survivor is no stranger to bro-alliances; many have formed and fallen in spectacular fashion over the 40 seasons. There is something about the male ego and its irrational fear of “scary, dangerous women” that draws men together in the game of Survivor. But no alliance has been quite so “bro-dacious” as Caramoan‘s Three Amigos, comprised of Malcolm Freberg, Reynold Toepfer, and Eddie Fox. 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 and Reynold try swaying him 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 concede. 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 deduces on the fly that Phillip Sheppard and his forces have caught on to his rebellion against the Stealth R Us establishment and that he’s on the hot seat. It’s unclear whether Phillip is intentionally trying to draw an idol out of Malcolm and allies or if the Specialist is just doing Phillip things. Still, whatever the motivation is, it makes Malcolm nervous.
All of this posturing at Tribal Council comes after a particularly crazy round of pre-vote scrambling, where it looks like Malcolm is set to be taken out by the Stealth R Us alliance. That is until fellow bro Eddie tips off his flirtmance partner Andrea Boehlke that an idol is probably being played from his side and that the bros will be voting for her. This sends Andrea into a tizzy, pleading with her alliance to not vote one of the Amigos. So, Stealth R Us decides to throw the vote on the most innocuous member of the minority alliance, Michael Snow, who knew nothing.
Malcolm, however, isn’t the only person feeling the pressure of the vote. Reynold is also worried about his safety in the game and rises to the occasion to play his own idol. But Malcolm has other plans. In a bold move, Malcolm stops Reynold in his tracks, ordering his bro to “Hold up.” He then works his magic to convince Reynold to hand over his idol to him (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.
Before Jeff Probst reads the votes, Malcolm plays Reynold’s idol, though it’s of no use. Michael ends up being the one voted out, with Malcolm not even receiving a single vote. And the only vote Reynold receives comes from Malcolm himself, in the ultimate cover your butt move. This in-the-moment move is an act of sheer guts and quick-thinking and establishes Malcolm’s place in history as a player with serious Survivor swagger.
Check back tomorrow when we reveal which episode placed at number 83. You can check out the previous entries here.