When Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites 2 Legit 2 Quit began just three months ago we bemoaned the ubiquity of loud, boisterous, attention-grabbing personalities like Shamar, Brandon Hantz and Former Federal Agent(?) Fillip. It felt like a season plotted by casting – and by casting just a few controversial, polarizing figures, stunt casting essentially – than a season anchored by appealing, charismatic, engaging characters who we would want to root for, and a season that might rely on shock value and stock reality show antics than good stories, solid gameplay and jaw-dropping twists. Well, we are happy to say that we were wrong. While the pre-merge game was dominated by those big names and big bodies, and while some of our favorite players were eliminated earlier than we would have preferred, after the merge Survivor: Caramoan has delivered great Tribal Council after great Tribal Council, offering some landmark series moments. It was like viewing a Sandra Bullock film back to back to back. Blind Side after Blind Side after Blind Side. And it’s left us with five somewhat unlikely players, none of whom are physically dominant or socially controlling or remarkably devious. Just five players who’ve managed to get to the end, through considerable disadvantages and obstacles, each carving a somewhat different path. It wasn’t what we foresaw for Caramoan, but we’re not complaining.
Cochran, for sure, is the front-runner, having played a smart, strategic, clean game. But Dawn has been right there with Cochran, and she’s made stronger personal bonds, which could play in her favor. Don’t discount Sherri though, who took an entry-level position with Stealth ‘R’ Us when the fans’ alliance fell apart, came in everyday on time, punched her card, worked hard, and is one of the few employees still with the company. Then there’s Eddie, who’s been on the outs from day one, has been to nearly every Tribal Council and was always at risk of going home, and who has made no enemies. Finally, you have Erik, who’s ruffled very few feathers, managed to flip and flop without seeming untrustworthy, and has an excellent chance to sweep the remaining challenges. Really, out of these five, you could make a case that all of them can win the million and it’s going to be interesting…
Oh, wait, never mind. Erik’s down. He must have been overserved at Alpha Epsilon Pi mixer, because he’s making like a college freshman who’s downed too many Fuzzy Navels.
Either that, or the all donut diet has finally gotten to him. We’ve been saying all season that Erik has been abusing the sweets, and it seems that his glucose level has finally dropped to dangerous levels. Luckily, Jeff Probst senses a disturbance in the force and quickly pops by.
And, even more fortunate, he’s got Dr. Joe with him. Hi Dr. Joe! And Dr. Joe, along with his trusty assistant
Eddie Dr. Jen, will fix Erik up in no time. Just a little IV here and then Erik will…
Oh, no, we’re losing him!
Whoops, sorry, that was just Dr. Joe’s beeper. Dr. Joe, why do you have a beeper? Do you sell drugs?
But with Erik’s blood pressure (and blood sugar, no doubt) dangerously low, Dr. Joe makes the tough call the pull Erik from the game, so close to the finish line. But before they carry Erik away to a local clinic, Erik beseeches Cochran to come closer as he reveals a shocking secret.
And with that Erik is gone (only to inevitably feel better about forty minutes later and no doubt be pissed that he can’t reenter the game).
ALWAYS REMEMBER, ERIK, LOOSE SUGAR HIGHS SINK SHIPS.
Sure, that sucks for Erik, but Final Four! Right, everybody?! Or so Cochran thinks, because this guy has gotten so stone cold good at this game he can separate his emotions and empathy from his pursuit of the million. Outside Caramoan Cochran would be sitting by Erik’s side, gently caressing his hand while he receives much-needed fluids. But out there in the jungle, with the final three so close, Cochran knows that Erik’s exit gets him even closer to the million, the biggest physical threat now eliminated. This kid is the real Specialist.
But amongst all of this, shockingly, Dawn has held it together. Oh, wait…
With Erik’s premature departure the next challenge becomes not an Immunity Challenge, but a competition for an advantage in the final Immunity Challenge. In this penultimate challenge the remaining Survivors have to build a house of cards, but the challenge might as well be called “Killing Time,” because that’s what the episode needs to do here, with much of the drama removed along with Erik. “If you could go ahead and screw up a few times and knock over your towers just inches from victory and really draw this thing out that would really, really be appreciated,” Jeff basically says. “There’s a lot of time to fill up in a two-hour finale, and whatever we don’t accomplish here will have to be made-up in the Fallen Comrade walk.” Why they couldn’t just compensate with a Probst carrying the votes to Los Angeles via five different modes of transportation montage, we don’t know, but the players oblige and struggle to build solid structures. Instead of a clip from the challenge, here’s one of our friend Conor, which is pretty much the same thing:
Sherri certainly does her part:
And rebounding from a rough start, never giving up hope, embodying the eye of the tiger, Cochran comes back to win yet another challenge, giving him a leg up in the next and final Immunity and adding another chapter to the Legend of the Challenge Monster. With that victory he knows that the Final Three, and thus the million, is within his grasp. But careful kid, don’t get Cochrany.
With Cochran taking control of the game, Dawn fears that the sun might be setting on her game.
Unfortunately, the Reward Challenge didn’t take up enough time and later the Final Four are forced to go out and visit the tombs of the fallen. Hey, remember Julia? No? Neither do we. Sherri is wistful upon reflecting on the loss of
Jamal Shamar, but Eddie, in particular, is moved by the memory of his dearly departed BBF (Best Bro Forever).
R.I.P. Reynold, Reynold
Okay, now let’s burn this mother down and get to the final Immunity.
In the competition Cochran’s advantage is that he doesn’t have to untie his bags of puzzle pieces, which proves to be a huge edge. The Challenge Monster can just climb the stairs, grab his bags and slide to victory.
Of course, Dawn being a mother of six means she’s spent a lot of time working on puzzles, so she manages to quickly erase Cochran’s significant lead. Sherri, meanwhile, is still in the game, we just remembered. As for Eddie, well, just substitute “Eddie” for “Sherri” here:
But Cochran cannot and will not be stopped. Despite appearing to be unable capitalize on his advantage he roars back and earns his guaranteed spot in the Final Three. Dawn, of course, loses in an entirely mature fashion. Oh, wait…
Well, Dawn’s reaction was totally understandable. These challenges are incredibly emotionally draining. She quickly pulls it together. Or not.
With his back against the wall, and the Final Tribal Council in view, Eddie decides to take a page out of Reynold’s book and use his sex appeal to seduce Cochran.
He also opens up and reveals his dream plan for the million dollars.
We were lucky enough to acquire an exclusive artist’s rendering of what this space would resemble:
In response to Eddie, Survivor producers might want to consider raising the minimum age requirement for contestants to 20. Teenage boys are fun and all, and have some Wild and Crazy ideas, but maybe are not right for Survivor.
At Tribal Cochran is faced with a tough decision: Eddie or Dawn (or Sherri, we guess. Or whatever). Eddie hasn’t stabbed anyone in the back, hasn’t engineered anyone’s ouster, and is like
someone who wants to open a bar for an adorable puppy. If he makes it to the end he might just receive all the votes, a true Survivor. But Dawn has been front and center the whole game, a charter member of Stealth ‘R’ Us, a trusted player who oft used that trust to blind side others, making several bold, risky moves along the way, a tough mother who seemed to oscillate between conquering her demons and being possessed by them. Who does Cochran have the better chance to beat? Or whom should he remain loyal to? And, oh yeah, Sherri.
Dawn has very made it clear whom she wants to go. Can someone add some flames or something to this?
Well, Andrea, get ready for a nice plate of spageddie at Ponderosa, because Donkeylips is coming home.
ALWAYS REMEMBER, EDDIE, LOOSE LISPS SINK SHIPS.
After wasting some more time back at camp, enjoying some champagnemilk and discussing chess strategy, it’s right back out for the final Tribal Council. And apparently Eddie had some other obligations – or had some creative differences with the producers – because he appears to have been replaced on the jury by The Jersey Shore‘s very own Vinny, in what must be some sorta Reality Show Bro Exchange Program.
Meanwhile, refusing to give up, fellow Bro Reynold tries to use his Samantha Stephens-like magic to switch places with Sherri and put himself it the Final Three. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work.
It’s time for the Dawn’s jury speech and put on your ponchos, here come the waterworks. Oh, no? Really? Okay. Wow. Good for you, Dawn. Not an entirely effective or convincing argument, but extra points for not dissolving into a pile of tears. Cochran, however, kills it. One of the great Survivor speeches. It’s seemed like for most of the season Cochran has been playing the character of “Cochran,” this suave, dashing guy who is unstoppable at challenges and overflowing with bravado, but somewhere along the line he began to believe he was that guy, and at this point he is that guy. He knows what he’s accomplished, he knows he made the exact right moves at the exact right time, and he knows that he deserves the million. Oh, and Sherri is there for some reason.
And now for the jury remarks.
Eddie, not surprisingly, takes the time to plug his doggie daycare-gastropub-nursery school and pretty much wastes our time as well as Cochran’s. He does then, however, offer a pretty provocative line of questioning:
Former Federal Agent(?) Fillip, demonstrating the trademark delusion and obliviousness that made him the presumptive star of the season and led to his elimination, criticizes Dawn for making camp life miserable, which is like the pot calling the kettle Former Federal Agent(?) Fillip. And then taking his delusions of grandeur to another, record level, FFAF revokes Sherri’s membership in Stealth ‘R’ Us, meaning that the agent codename “Tenacity” is back up for grabs. Erik, completely recovered from his medical emergency, returns with a vengeance and really puts Sherri on the spot.
Michael, who really did better work as jury foreman than as a player, is up next and continues his stellar post-elimination run, showing the signature flair that should make him a fixture on juries to come.
Then Reynold makes things weird.
You can imagine Dawn’s response:
Reynold’s demand certainly elicits an animated reaction from the jury, especially from Malcolm & Michael. Looks like Team Bro might have a new member! And there might be a new sitcom coming to the UPN this fall.
If Reynold made things weird, then Brenda makes things positively uncomfortable, as she requests that Dawn remove her retainer in order to show the jury what Brenda saw that day by the dock, that toothless grimace, basically trying to extort Dawn’s vote. Yes, Dawn stabbed Brenda in the back after Brenda has shared so much personally with Dawn, and, yes, Brenda had a right to be especially angry with Dawn. But demanding that Dawn dispense with her retainer and her pride, and basically holding a vote for ransom, was a really vindictive, crass and petty move by Brenda, and was rather unbecoming of someone who would later win Fan Favorite (SPOILER ALERT!).
Kinda gross. And we’re talking about Brenda, not Dawn’s jack-o-lantern grin. We would have preferred for Dawn to just say “No, I will not humiliate and debase myself like that, and your vote is not worth that much to me.” But, apparently, Brenda’s vote (or maybe her friendship) was worth that much to Dawn (SPOILER ALERT: she does not get Brenda’s vote).
Shockingly, they did not save Eddie’s interrogation for the end, and thus when Brenda rests her case it’s time to vote for the million. Remember guys, this time you’re writing down the name of the person you want to win, so either Cochran or Dawn (or, Sherri, we guess. But, c’mon). Fillip, not surprisingly, casts his vote for Cochran, explaining that FFAF threw the game so Cochran could win. That, obviously, was his master plan all along. But as for the rest of the votes, we won’t know until Jeff gets back to CBS Studio Center. Cochran or Dawn, Dawn or Cochran, could be either one (or, Sherri, we guess. But, c’mon).
And it’s Cochran!
And it had to be. He played every day with Dawn, and they made every big decision together, but he kept his hands clean, played with a clinical precision, let the game come to him and made the moves at the exact right time they needed to be made, not a moment too soon, or too late. For Dawn, she played a great game, and was never the target that she was every day so paranoid about being. But her histrionics and massive mood swings, as well as her deeper personal connections and thus deeper personal betrayals, did her in. So for those reasons (and we hate to do this but it’s too good):
ALWAYS REMEMBER, DAWN, LOOSE RETAINERS SINK SHIPS.
As for Sherri, we’re going to do what the jury did and what the reunion show did and just ignore her.
But Cochran, sweet, sweet Cochran, ferocious, unstoppable challenge monster, we should have known that you won when we ran into on the streets of Brooklyn a few weeks ago and you were wearing a mod new shirt and hip new glasses, and a bashful apprehension and appreciation that indicated there was much you could say but contractually couldn’t, that we were in the presence of greatness, but only partly understood it. Just like he tricked everyone in his tribe, he tricked us. And brilliantly. Good job, Cochrocky. And now he looks like he’s ready to bartend at a speakeasy-style cocktail bar. Take that, Malcolm.
And how did Cochran do it? Well, as he explains at the reunion, it was something he learned from Boston Rob: he went to bed every night thinking about the best moves for each of his opponents and then planned his strategies and arguments around that. You can see it here in this exclusive secret scene:
And about those Boston Rob Rules, now put down in print by Rob Mariano himself, #1 should be “Play Survivor Four Times.” And that’s pretty much about it.
Which brings us, after fourteen episodes, to our final A-B-C of the season, and it could only be one thing:
Always Be Cochran
Because he wasn’t John out there. He was Cochran. He was a different, more confident, more cunning, more courageous version of himself. And his win showed all those undersized underdogs out there that you can be Cochran too. It was a triumph for the little guy, the little guy who’s become the big guy, the superfan who has become the super hero.
Well, that’s about it. All and all a pretty great season, especially considering our muddled expectations going into it. But if we had one regret, it would obviously have to be this:
See you in the fall for Survivor: Bloods vs. Crips!