REVENGE OF THE NERD: John Cochran wins Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites
Here’s everything you need to know about what happened in Survivor: Caramoan Episode 14 — “Last Push” – who won the challenges, who was voted of, who played well, and who is on the outs. Feel free to add your notes, thoughts, and questions.
Aired May 12, 2013, covering night 36 through night 39
Reward Challenge winner: Cochran (help in final Immunity Challenge)
Immunity Challenge winner: Cochran
Cochran – We just witnessed the third – out of 26 – perfect season played of Survivor on the part of John Cochran. Only Brian Heidik in Thailand and Rob Mariano in Redemption Island have played flawless games. The unanimous jury vote wasn’t the only indicator of this, either. His final Tribal Council speech and all of his answers were absolutely perfect. Reynold, Malcolm, & Phillip all looked like they were in love. Cochran took a narcissistic question by Malcolm (what do you have that I don’t?/a “heightened level of insecurity”) and turned it around perfectly. How many times have we seen someone answer that question like that? Malcolm looked like he took a slap to the face with that answer – and loved it.
Cochran’s transformation in this game is stunning. He turned into, as Dawn referred to it, a “challenge beast” and won this game not just with strategic planning and execution, but with challenge dominance as well. Give him credit – he had an advantage in the final Immunity Challenge and it did nothing for him – and he still one. His performance in puzzle-based challenges had been poor and yet he still pulled it off.
Eddie – How did we know Eddie was toast? It was the instant that he started talking about how he wanted to use the million dollars to open up a bar/dog kennel. Cochran poured his heart into the game, Dawn did even more so and stressed how she was playing for family, and Eddie was there to win money to open a bar that people could bring dogs to. Is there anything wrong with that per se? Of course not, but editing has very strongly favored heart and emotional play and that was the signifier that anything else wouldn’t cut it.
We would have preferred a final 3 scenario where Eddie was asked what he would use the money for. A dog bar.
A dog bar.
Dawn – The Dawn hate is tiring and has been for some time now. As far as betrayals, Dawn didn’t do anything worse than Cochran. The final Tribal Council could’ve gone better, but she was no worse than anyone else. Malcolm and Reynold challenged her to own her traitorous ways…just minutes after she already did. It wasn’t even the severing of the close relationships that did her in. It was her insecurity (which she didn’t handle as well as Cochran, obviously) and her aptitude for crying and freaking out. But was it that much different from anyone else? Not really. But it was obviously more annoying, which is half of what did her in, and it made her look weak to the point where no one respected her, which was the other half. Did you see the eyes roll in the jury when Eddie was voted out and she told him she would miss him? Weak.
As for the whole retainer incident at Tribal Council, no doubt many people are pleased as punch that she was put through that, but it had nothing to do with this game and she didn’t deserve to be humilated by Brenda over something that she is extremely self-conscious about. If it had caused Brenda or anyone else to vote for her it might be a different story, but it didn’t. Brenda was a vengeful crybaby who only wanted to hurt someone she thought liked her because she played the game in a way that caused Brenda to lose. Newsflash, Brenda: Dawn wasn’t there to win a million dollars for you.
Sherri – Not that she had much of a chance, but Sherri’s inability to keep it together at the final Tribal Council perfectly capped her game. When nobody respects you, stumbling over your words when you are trying to convince people that you actually were a good player, telling them how nervous you are, and snapping back and losing your composure when the remarks bite are all behaviors unbecoming of a winner, who has to take the good with grace and let the bad roll off his/her back. It’s a shame that she had face time in this episode at all.
Erik – Well, Erik set the record for latest medical evacuation, so there’s that. And his exchange with Sherri at Tribal Council was pretty great (and spot on). But his exit was symbolic of his total performance in this game: just not able to get it done. Everything he does in the game seems to come just short – even his inability to climb the tree to retrieve coconuts in the penultimate episode.
Final Thoughts on This Season
Survivor: Caramoan was a really great season with a lot of dramatic moments, and the best part was that it was done with the players, and not with a bunch of ridiculous twists or dumb gimmicks (unless you count the concept of a team of returning players against a team of super fans to be a dumb gimmick).
Episode Summaries & Commentaries:
Tribal Council was still filled with plenty of fireworks as contestants blasted Dawn for making and breaking personal connections to get to the end, and steamrolled Sherri for…well, doing nothing. Tribal ended in a truly ugly fashion as Brenda — who found Dawn’s missing fake teeth only to later be voted out by the woman — insisted on making Dawn remove her retainer and humiliate herself as some sort of payback for the hurt she caused her. While Dawn’s betrayal was a move based strictly on gameplay (although faulty gameplay since her chances for beating anyone plummeted after she backstabbed her friend), Brenda’s move was purely personal and came off as both mean and petty.
After the last Tribal, Erik starts not feeling well. He says his head is killing him and everything’s spinning — do you suppose it’s lack of food? Probably shouldn’t have gone climbing that coconut tree yesterday.
The EMTs take his blood pressure and it’s low (though not super low), but the doctors tell him he’s not going back to camp. That’s a bummer.
Everybody gives Erik platitudes and praise like he’s dying of an Immunity Challenge-sustained injury or something. Not that we aren’t sympathetic to how hard “Survivor” is — but this is like the lamest medical evac ever.
Cochran’s greatest strength wasn’t his strategy chops or his challenge skills, however, but his gifts as a storyteller. All season, Cochran’s been narrating his own journey from super fan to superstar. Last night, he deserved an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
“This is the culmination of 13 years of passion for Survivor,” he said about himself. “I’ve seen every season of Survivor. I’ve never seen a collection of threats like this,” he flattered the jury.
Final Tribal’s biggest challenge is praising your own game while mollifying the jury for theirs. In a pitch-perfect speech, Cochran said his success came down not to muscle, charm or even strategy – but to timing. “Whenever a threat emerged, I would strike before I could be struck,” he said.
When the Q&A started, there wasn’t any question who would win. The jury bristled with anger at Dawn and disregarded Sherri. Brenda, in an ugly moment, demanded that Dawn remove her retainer.
I actually thought Dawn gave a stellar performance, owning up to the way she used her friendships to further her game. “If this is football, I have to be willing to tackle,” she said. She pointed out that if she hadn’t made those bonds, she and Cochran would never have had the information they needed to make their decisive game moves.
But nothing she could say would appease a hurt jury.
What are your thoughts on this episode? Share them in the comments below!