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Survivor recap: Malcolm in the Middle

The bartender lets his team down in the challenge, and then must decide whether to keep Denise or Russell

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Survivor Philippines Malcolm Freberg
Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS


TV Show
Reality TV
run date:
Jeff Probst
Current Status:
In Season

It was billed as a season of second chances (although in Jonathan Penner’s case it’s really a third chance, but I seem to be the only one who cares to nitpick about that) — people who returned to the show after suffering medical maladies that prematurely forced them from the game. This was their chance to play again and let other contestants, rather than doctors, determine their fate. But here we were in just episode 4, and it appeared that we were once again about to lose someone to an unfortunate medical condition.

It should have been no surprise. The immunity challenge was a grueling affair that forced players to carry and balance heavy objects while navigating through a deadly obstacle course. Near the end, exhausted tribemates were crawling on hands and knees just to make it those last few inches to the mat. It was only a matter of time before someone was clearly in need of medical attention. Only in this case, that someone was…Jeff Probst!

Caught up in the heat of a challenge with high stakes (the utter demolition of the Matsing tribe one mere loss away) and even higher drama (Kalabaw coming back from a huge deficit to try and beat Matsing for second place), Probst worked himself into a full-on tizzy. “KALABAW DOWN TO 2 POTS LEFT! MATSING 1 POT LEFT! KALABALW 1 POT LEFT! THIS IS IT!” In the end, after spotting the telltale signs of what could only be described as massive hyperventilation, I was ready to call Dr. Romona myself and have Jeff medically evacuated before he had a coronary artery spasm on national television.

But then what would happen? Let’s say Probst gets pulled from the game a la Penner, Skupin. Russell, Colton, Papa Smurf (I still can’t believe there was a contestant named Papa Smurf…or Papa Bear for that matter), and all those other unlucky schmoes. Who’s there to take over? I’d suggest one of the other players who already got kicked out assume all hosting duties, but I’m not sure how great they’d be. Zane would try to quit, then tell us he wasn’t really quitting but rather playing chess with the producers, then get fired because he already said he was quitting. Roxy would get far too upset when people sat too close to each other at Tribal Council to stay warm. And Angie…well, Angie would simply be too distracting for the men. Plus, I’m not sure how long everyone could sit there and talk about cookies.

Thankfully, Probst was okay. But I don’t blame him for getting excited. That challenge had my heart beating through my chest as well. I really thought Matsing was going to pull it out. Apparently, I thought wrong. And being wrong for me is hard, seeing as how I’m a guy that was formed by God’s hands a perfect creature. And everything I’m supposed to do is supposed to be excellent. Oh well, I suppose even superheroes can have off days.

And with that, let’s make like Superman reversing the direction of the Earth’s rotation to save Lois Lane and go back in time ourselves so we can start at the top of the episode. And the episode begins as every episode begins and ends — with the Matsing tribe completely depressed. They have lost every challenge and have now lost their fire. But Russell has a plan! “My plan is to mount the greatest comeback that has ever been seen.”  That’s an awesome plan! Why don’t more people do that? It sounds so easy! But Russell later tells us they have a legitimate shot and that they’ve only been losing “because of a smoker, a lunatic and a beauty queen.” (Hmmm, that’s odd. I had no idea Russell smoked and took part in beauty pageants.)

NEXT: RC stands for Really Confused