The 34th season of “Survivor” begins at 8 p.m. Wednesday evening on CBS with its 500th episode and Malcolm Freberg of Hermosa Beach and Oscar “Ozzy” Lusth of Venice among the 20 castaways.
The season was conducted in the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji and has the theme “Game Changers” with a set of castaways who previously played the game and “helped evolve the game even further by launching an accelerated level of competition and proven willingness to risk it all in order to become the Sole Survivor,” according to CBS.
Freberg finished fourth in the series’ 25th season and ninth in the 26th.
“Malcolm is a favorite,” host and executive producer Jeff Probst said in a video supplied by CBS. “Even though Malcolm is extremely cocky, he’s still likeable cause you kind of look at him and go, `I get it.’
He has many game-changing elements to him, but Malcolm does have an Achilles’ heel. He’s pretty good in challenges, but not great. He’s pretty good strategically, but not quite there and he’s yet to close the deal with his words.”
Freberg described himself as “the most competitive human being on the planet,” and “charming as hell.”
“I’ll stab you in the back and you’ll say thank you afterwards,” Freberg said.
Lusth was the runner-up in the 13th season, ninth in the 16th and fourth in the 23rd.
“I got so close the first time I played,” Lusth said. “The second time I played I got close, but not quite and the last time, I was so incredibly close. This time it just needs to happen.”
Probst said he doesn’t think Lusth can win.
“I think Ozzy still doesn’t get the social game,” Probst said. “I want him to because God the guy’s so good in the jungle and he’s willing to make moves.”
A memorable move by Lusth cited by Probst was purposely losing a challenge and being sent to Redemption Island, the secluded area introduced in the 22nd season where castaways voted out of their tribes would be taken to, later rejoining the other castaways if they keep winning duels with other castaways sent there.
Second-time castaway Sarah Lacina said while it is intimidating to compete against Freberg and Lusth with Lusth playing for the fourth time and not winning in his previous appearances, “if you’ve been married four times, would you be good at marriage?”
Other castaways include two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine, Tony Vlachos, the winner in the 28th season, Aubry Bracco, the runner-up in the 32nd season, and Brad Culpepper, an NFL defensive end for nine seasons turned lawyer who finished 15th in the 27th season.
While many previous seasons have included castaways who have played in the past, this is only the second all of them have. Probst said he has no preference among a season with all new castaways, a mix of new and returning castaways or all returning castaways.
“I just like the game, the challenges (to) your morality, justifying ethics, changing your line in the sand,” Probst said.
—City News Service
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