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For those of you who have watched Survivor: Philippines before, it will come as no surprise to you that Malcolm Freberg is a massive Denise Stapley fan. However, Malcolm’s reasoning for Denise winning Survivor: Winners at War is based entirely on strategy, not only because he genuinely wants her to win. 

Denise Stapley and Jeff Probst
Denise Stapley and Jeff Probst | Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment

Was it dangerous for Denise to tell the other castaways how she ousted Sandra?

The 33-year-old writer and producer explained why he feels Denise is on top to Rob Cesternino on Rob Has a Podcast on April 5, 2020. The first question Cesternino asked was whether or not Malcolm thought it was dangerous for Denise to tell everyone that she single-handedly ousted two-time Survivor champion Sandra Diaz-Twine.

“This is exactly how it needs to be going,” Malcolm told Cesternino. “They framed it like she ran her mouth.” 

During the merge feast, Sarah Lacina asked what happened with Sandra. The castaways on the other tribe didn’t know how they ended up voting the Queen off. 

“Jeremy and I were on the bottom,” Denise began. She told her tribemates that Sandra offered her a deal — two fire tokens for Sandra’s immunity idol. However, Sandra didn’t know that Denise had an idol already. She played one idol for herself and one for Jeremy.

“I was the only one who voted for Sandra,” Denise continued. “They all voted for me. So that is the story of the Queen.”

Everyone immediately began calling her the “Queen Slayer.” In a confession from Sophie, she paints a picture of Denise now having a target on her back for taking down Sandra.

Malcolm feels Denise’s gameplay on ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’ is ‘perfect in every way’

“I think she was just trying to control the narrative,” Malcolm told Cesternino. “She wanted to tell the story before somebody else did.” 

Malcolm feels Denise’s gameplay is spot on. She is “above the hyenas, and below the big threat level,” he tells Cesternino.

“It was perfect in every way, shape, and form,” he continues. “I think she’s nestled right where she’s supposed to be. You’re not going to hear from her for two or three weeks. 

Malcolm emphasizes that he has not talked to Denise since she returned from Fiji, so he does not know what is going to happen. However, he knows Denise very well. 

“Denise is going to do something brilliant,” he says.

Denise’s day one alliance with Adam Klein is vastly different than her alliance with Malcolm

“Denise is extremely pragmatic,” Malcolm explains. “She’s going to do what’s best for her. That’s why we bonded. We got along because it’s just a game.” 

Then he tells the story of exactly how he bonded with Denise on Survivor: Philippines. Although the pair formed a day one alliance, it wasn’t until the night that they voted Russell Swan out that the two truly bonded. 

There was a typhoon over the islands the night they went to tribal council that made the waters so rough that Denise almost quit the game. Malcolm talked her into staying and promised her that he wouldn’t let anything happen to her. He says they were so cold that they spooned all night to keep warm. 

“She never went ride or die with him,” Malcolm explains. “Denise will cut him. And if she thinks that it’s putting a target on her back, she will cut him.”

Malcolm can see that Denise is in a great place in the game and ready to go all the way to the top. “She’s cutthroat and great.”

We will watch how it all plays out on Survivor: Winners at War Wednesday nights at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.

Read more: ‘Survivor 40: Winners at War’: Why Wasn’t Malcolm Freberg Asked to Compete?