During the pre-season, each contestant is asked several questions in their CBS bio to gather more information for the public to get to know them. The castaways are all primarily asked about their hobbies, pet peeves, accomplishments, why they think they will win Survivor, and which past Survivor players they’re most like. It’s that last question that is the focus of this new weekly feature.
After each player is voted out, I will compare their gameplay to the past Survivor player they mentioned they were most likely to play like. Then, based on that, see if they played like that particular past player, or if they didn’t, could that have helped them improve their overall placement in the game.
This week’s boot, Cody Assenmacher, said the Survivor castaway he would play the game most like is Malcolm Freberg.
Which past Survivor will you play the game most like? Malcolm – he was a likable, physically skilled, humble player who used that skill set to advance his way through the game. Malcolm and I share multiple character, personality and physical skill sets. The ability to sit back and sometimes play the role of a fool to fool the fool who thinks they’re fooling you is critical in competing in this game.
This elimination has got to be one of the most cutthroat yet epic blindsides in Survivor history. In honour of its title, the episode felt like an actual telenovela filled with highs and lows, culminating with Cody being monumentally blindsided at the final six. Regardless if it’s considered a villainous or a necessary evil move, it was a good reminder for the jury and even for the viewers that nothing is written in stone on Survivor until Jeff snuffs a player’s torch.
The game started for Cody when he was placed at the Vesi tribe, where he rapidly demonstrated that being an elevators salesman and having a “surf-boy chilled vibe” was only part of his personality. This façade hid one of the most strategic players of this season. Vesi soon divided into duos: Cody and Nneka, Justine and Noelle, and somewhat Jesse and Dwight, as the last pair debated for a time which alliance they should join to form a majority.
Meanwhile, Cody enjoyed his role as a provider and started to show his strategic side when he convinced everyone, some of them unknowingly, to hand in their beads to give him an immunity idol. After Vesi’s first immunity loss, the tribe seemed to waver between voting out Nneka or Justine, with the latter being ultimately eliminated due to Jesse’s vote and Cody’s effort to paint Justine as untrustworthy due to her career as a salesperson.
Cody then showed how cutthroat he could be when, after another immunity loss, he and Jesse decided to “keep the tribe strong” over social bonds and alliances, with Nneka being eliminated after a disastrous challenge performance. Vesi enjoyed a winning streak after this, and Cody once again showed how cunning he was after he was elected to raid Coco’s tribe, and he was able to dupe them into giving him more supplies over the threat of him wanting to take their machete.
The merge was set to begin, but players still had to play to earn their place in the next phase of the game. Cody was on the losing team and was immediately targeted by most, but was spared as other targets began to emerge, mainly Elier from Baka after Gabler threw her under the bus and for her getting caught in multiple deals. Afterward, Cody set his sights on Dwight, mainly to dilute Noelle’s influence, leaving her on the outs, but not before Cody giving his idol to Jesse to protect it when James found the Knowledge is Power advantage.
At the final ten, players divided again into two teams of five, each having to go to tribal council back-to-back. Cody managed to win a reward for his team and, alongside Jesse and Gabler, decided to stick with Cassidy in sending Ryan to the jury. Cody began to come up just short of winning the immunity necklace, but his solid social game kept him in the loop whenever his name was mentioned.
Cody and Jesse were inseparable at this point and jointly made all their game decisions. The duo was already considering voting out Noelle for being a jury threat. When Cassidy approached them to do just that, they rallied the troops to organize Noelle’s blindside, but not before Gabler started to tell other players, like Karla, that Cody & Jesse needed to be separated before they went to the end together.
After finding his second advantage, called Choose your Champion, Cody was able to bet on one of his castmates to win immunity, and if that player won, Cody would be safe as well. When Owen and Karla later won immunity, it was revealed that Cody bet on Owen, making Cody safe for the upcoming tribal. Cody tried to play Karla in voting for her closest ally Cassidy, but when Sami announced at tribal that he was playing his Shot in the Dark, he was unanimously sent to the jury.
Cody was sitting pretty within his all-boys alliance when Karla and Cassidy began to target each other. At the reward, Karla told Cody and Owen that she didn’t have an idol, unaware that Cassidy was telling Gabler and Jesse the truth back at camp. Cody once again missed out on having individual immunity, though he wasn’t concerned when he hatched his newest plan of flushing Karla’s idol and eliminating her. When Cody told Jesse of his latest scheme, Jesse realised his game was too intertwined with Cody and that he was risking losing to him if they both made the final tribal council.
Weighing his options and choosing between his head and his heart, Jesse masterfully orchestrated Cody’s downfall by using Cody’s idol to protect Owen, forcing Karla to play hers, and ultimately sending Cody out of the game. After a tense moment, Cody and Jesse shook hands after the votes were read, and Cody’s torch was snuffed but not before he aloha’d his fellow players for the last time.
Cody chose Malcolm Freeberg as the past Survivor player he most wanted to play like. Malcolm is one of the most recognizable players in the franchise, despite not being a winner. Still, he largely cemented himself as a fan favourite during his first two seasons. Malcolm was a well-rounded player that managed to survive the infamous Matsing tribe in Philippines, reaching the final four. He later came back for Caramoan, where his most memorable moment was playing two idols to save his allies, and he sent Phillip Sheppard, aka “the Specialist,” to the jury. Malcolm returned a third time in Game Changers, where he couldn’t manage his threat level and was brutally blindsided early on.
Both Cody and Malcolm had a strong ally from the get-go, with whom they played alongside throughout the game, only to be cut by them when push came to shove (Jesse and Denise Stapley, respectively). Though both were recognised as social and strategic threats, they avoided being the primary targets, and had they made it to the end, it’s safe to assume they both could’ve been winners. Both could manoeuvre easily between former and newer allies as the game progressed and were eerily physically similar. They both looked “chill,” but both demonstrated to be threats to win.
The most significant difference between them was that Malcolm sensed he was in danger when he reached the final phase of his first season and knew that he needed to win immunity, unlike Cody, who thought his closest ally Jesse wouldn’t make a move against him.
Cody was a character throughout the season, as he showed himself to be a laidback guy with a “livin” tattoo that took it upon himself to be as unforgettable as possible. His social and strategic game allowed him to position himself continuously in the driver’s seat throughout the season, and it took his closest ally to take him out. Had Cody reached the final tribal council, he had superb odds of winning, as several jury members stated in their exit interviews. Cody is a likely candidate should Survivor ever do another second chance season, and I bet his “preposterous” and flamboyant personality wouldn’t be missing.
- Survivor 43
- Original tribe(s): Vesi, Gaia
- Placement: 6/18
- Survivor: Phillipines, Survivor: Caramoan, Survivor: Game Changers
- Original tribe(s): Philippines (Matsing, Tandang, Dangrayne); Caramoan (Bikal, Gota, Enil Edam); Game Changers (Mana Nuku)
- Placement(s): 4/18, 9/20, 17/20
Similarities: Both had a close ally that eliminated them; both were seen as strategic, physical, and social players; both found idols and/or advantages, and both reached the merge and jury (except for Malcolm in Game Changers). Both were unable to manage their threat level; both were blindsided (Cody in Survivor 43, Malcolm in Game Changers); both were seen as jury threats.
Differences: Malcolm is a three-time player; Cody was only played once so far; Malcolm played his idol, whereas Cody gave Jesse his and Jesse played it for someone else.