The way this week’s episode of Survivor was edited genuinely tricked me a few times. Firstly, apropos of nothing, Brenda starts crying at camp. She’s horrified that with the events that transpired at the last Tribal Council, she is “losing control of the game.” Jeff Probst even echoes this later: “There is no certainty in this game,” he says to a still dysphoric Brenda.  And so with these sentiments floating in the ether, I was primed for some kind of major upheaval this week.

That did not happen.

But here’s what did happen: Survivor auction! After we see a confessional of Malcolm discussing how he will deny himself any food in favor of whatever strategic advantage offered in the game, he capriciously blows 20 bucks on a beer and some nuts. He still manages to buy a clue for the hidden immunity idol for his remaining 480 dollars though. Other highlights include Cochran purchasing an advantage for the upcoming immunity challenge, and Brenda chowing down on some pig brain.

Later on, Malcolm wakes up in the middle of the night to put the aforementioned clue to use but is interrupted in medias res by Andrea. “I love the smell of fresh dirt,” she says coyly. And thus begins the standoff. Malcolm stands around looking nervous while Andrea sits on a stump watching him intently. Although Malcolm knows The Three Amigos could greatly benefit from an immunity idol, he cannot act with Andrea there. And Andrea is not moving for she knows that if Malcolm can pull anymore magic at Tribal Council then she is toast. We literally see night fade to day. They are still in their respective positions. They eventually call a détente and walk back to camp together.

I have to admit: I was immensely perplexed when Cochran bought the advantage for the immunity challenge. In his possession it seemed like a waste of money. I understand that he wants to prevent Eddie, Reynold, or Malcolm from winning immunity, but what good is this in his hands? If they were really serious about thwarting these guys, shouldn’t Andrea maybe shell out the cash for an advantage? Well, it turns out Cochran knows what he is doing: With his advantage, he manages to defeat Eddie in an endurance strength challenge.

OK, so maybe there is no certainty in this game.

The Three Amigos are now desperate and they attempt to bring Sherri into the fold. Malcolm goes as far as promising her a spot in the final three. He then lies about having the hidden immunity idol and they shake hands. Sherri actually seems receptive to this plan. And oh yeah, I’m not sure if you knew this—I sure as hell didn’t—but Sherri is “calling the shots” right now.

Meanwhile, Andrea is contemplating whether they can trust Erik in the vote. She says, “I don’t think Erik’s dumb enough to switch over right now. You know, how dumb would you be to do that?” This is the second occurrence that faked me out, because at that moment, I was convinced Erik was voting with The Three Amigos. Anytime you have to rely on Erik’s ability to make rational decisions you know you’re in trouble.

Much to my dismay, Erik and Sherri stay with the alliance formerly known as Stealth R Us; Malcolm is eliminated.

It was interesting to see Malcolm play this season of Survivor. Last season, he was the supreme underdog. His tribe lost every challenge. When he and Denise merged, literally everyone wanted to be in an alliance with him. It reminded of JT on Survivor Tocantins. And as viewers, we all love rooting for the underdog too; many of us cheered on Malcolm.

This season, instead of operating from a defensive posture, Malcolm was fairly confident. He wasn’t the underdog he was in Philippines. I recall a conversation he had with Andrea concerning dreams she had about him having the hidden immunity idol. He lied and said he did not have it; she believed him. In his confessional he said something akin to, “Good thing I have a lot of experience lying to girls.” It’s the kind of line you say to seem demure, that girls otherwise wouldn’t date you. It’s the kind of line Jon Hamm says on Real Time with Bill Maher. But the awkward way in which Malcolm delivered that line made it sound like he actually has a lot of experience lying to girls.

Now of course I don’t actually think Malcolm has to lie to girls, but that summed up the way Malcolm appeared on this season for me. He used to be this adorable guy who we sympathized with; now he’s still electrifying, albeit a little cocky. Our hero lost some of his purity. I wondered how that might affect his fanfare. He did manage to pull that stellar double hidden immunity idol maneuver last week which resulted in one of the most fascinating Tribal Councils we’ve seen in a while, yet I imagined—maybe incorrectly—that his public support dwindled from the highs of Survivor: Philippines.

My opinion of Malcolm hasn’t wavered. Often, when I would be talking about Survivor with friends, I would find myself saying things like, “I like Malcolm. He seems like a cool dude.” I realize how stupid that statement sounds. I know you can’t judge the character of someone based on their stint on a reality TV show. But when he is calling Cochran “The Ginger Kobayashi,” or when he jokingly says “That a boy, Reynolds,” I feel like I know this guy, or perhaps more accurately, I wish I knew this guy.  

When Malcolm is walking away from Tribal after being voted out he says, “I need a drink.” This is a guy who said a few weeks ago, “All we do is win challenges and party!” Or to put it another way, this man does two things: win challenges and party—and he’s all out of challenges to win.

Damn, that guy was cool!