Survivor: Caramoan - Finale (Part 2)
The Last Push
By Ben Willoughby
May 14, 2013

Cochran has never touched this many lady parts before.

Previously on the Survivor finale, Erik suffered a collapse after leaving Tribal Council and was pulled from the game. Cochran won an advantage at the final immunity challenge and then the final immunity challenge, making him the least likely ever and most-appropriate-for-this season challenge beast. Also, there was the walk of fallen Survivors, but who cares?

Everyone congratulates Cochran again back at camp. He interviews that he has won four individual challenges, and now he has to decide who deserves the 100 grand for second. Okay, maybe it is burgeoning ego after all. He says that Sherri is not going to get any votes, so it is between Dawn, who has had lots of emotional outbursts, and Eddie, who is a chauvinistic idiot. He says “it is so lonely at the top,” and then he laughs. “This is horrible stuff to be saying when I of course lose."

Dawn and Cochran take a walk down to the beach. “What are you going to do?” asks Dawn, before immediately busting into tears. I think she’s expecting Cochran to put her down like Old Yeller. She talks about how emotional she is, and how different her journey has been, this season to last season. Yes, well dealing with all the Brandon drama and the Phillip drama and then straight into the cut-throat part of the game can’t be easy. But also, her game is completely different to her last season and I think that’s why the emotional journey has been so torrid.

“We’ve done it together,” Dawn says to Cochran, which translates as “Take me to the end." In interview, Dawn describes herself as “my own worst enemy” and says that “part of me that feels like I don’t deserve to do good."

Eddie and Cochran are talking, and Cochran claims that Eddie or Dawn could both beat him at the end. Eddie tries out some of this logic he has heard other people talking about. He says the jury loves Dawn, who will “play the mother card. She’s gonna start crying. People will give in to her,” while “I’m an idiot. What do I talk about? I’ve done no talk on strategy. I’ve only voted for one person”. That’s very succinct, Eddie. I’m almost proud of him. Of course, those are all reasons why he shouldn’t win, but they are not reasons why he should be taken to the final Tribal Council.

Then Eddie interviews about how he likes dogs and bars, and if he won a million dollars he would like “to open a shelter/kennel/playpen attached to a bar.” “If I could just open a bar and you could just bring your dog there, that would be unbelievable.” Pure Eddie. I like chicken and I like ice cream, but I wouldn’t mix the two experiences. I’d certainly go to Eddie’s fun-sounding dog bar, though.

Cochran is still interviewing about what a good game he has played, and he’s still thinking about who he can beat at the end. “I hope I don’t kick myself out of this decision.”

Tribal Council. In come the members of the jury, including new members, Brenda and Erik, who looks sufficiently recovered already.

Probst’s first question to Cochran is about Erik passing out. Cochran holds back his elation and says that it’s “a scary reminder of even how late in the game something devastating can happen." Probst asks Eddie the unsentimental question about whether it opened any doors for him. Eddie spills that he thinks Erik, Dawn and Sherri were the planned final three, so yeah. When asked by Probst about why he wasn’t on that list, Cochran says that “it is alarming. It’s probably a 'good’ thing that Erik wasn’t there... it was the circumstances how he went that made it hard to celebrate it."

Anyway, Probst asks Cochran about his immunity win. “It is bizarre to me,” says Cochran. He says that when he looks at the Survivor logo, he thinks maybe he can satisfy the “outwit” part, but not the “outplay” or “outlast”. He mentions his first season and how people made him feel he was worthless. “I’m feeling more confident. That fact that I’m able to succeed is remarkable to me." Then Probst moves onto today’s immunity win, because it’s all about Cochran. “The most incredible moment of the game for me so far... because I wouldn’t have been capable of doing that a couple of years ago."

Probst confirms that tonight is between Dawn and Eddie because even he knows how toxic Sherri seems to be. What is Dawn’s case? She says she has done a pretty good job of maligning herself with everyone on the jury, while Eddie is very likeable.

“Eddie,” Probst gives a cue. “Yeah?” says Eddie. “It’s your game, brother.” Everyone starts laughing at his cluelessness. Even Erik. Can we seriously see anyone not named Reynold voting for him in a final Tribal Council? He finally says “I would say the same thing as Dawn, but the flip side. Not to put my own self down, but I did only put one person on the jury. Strategy-wise, how much did I really, really do out here?” True. Though not having voted for anyone on the jury is considered a plus.

What is Cochran thinking? Cochran defends Dawn as not being a complete villain. What is important to him is what criteria the jury will be using to make their decision.

Probst hasn’t asked Sherri anything yet, so he asks her what it’s like with “nobody really paying any attention?” She says that no one seems to consider her a threat, but everyone forgets she is still sitting there. Several of the jury don’t want to be reminded of that. Cochran also defends Sherri, saying she has done more than has been apparent.

Eddie tells Cochran that his best chance of winning is going with him and Sherri. Sherri likes that idea. Dawn is fearful, but no more than at any other point on the game.

Anyway, it’s time to vote. We see Eddie’s vote for Dawn, “Sorry Dawn, me or you,” and Dawn’s vote for Eddie “Please go home.” We don’t see Cochran’s vote, which is for “the only person out there who can beat me, so you gotta go.”

Probst “tallies” the votes, and it is “Dawn, Eddie, Eddie, Eddie." Dawn thanks Cochran. “What a game, guys!” says Eddie. Probst tells the remaining three that “you have gone as far as you can go in this game. Tomorrow night the power shifts to the jury." Take the night off!

Eddie’s final words are that Sherri has zero chance of winning, and if he was going to the end “first place would have been mine for the taking”. I would love to hear Eddie’s rationalization of that. He continues that as it sucks to be going he is happy with how he played the game. “I made it to fourth, that speaks a large volume about how I played." I’m sorry, but Eddie thinks he was playing?

Back at camp after the commercial, Sherri asks Cochran for his definition of “pawn”. Cochran says that pawns are worthless. “You’re willing to throw them out, they’re no strategic threat, no real strengths and expendable." “My husband’s going to be so proud of me,” says Sherri, pawn.

After the Day 39 breakfast fry-up, Sherri continues with her “I’m going to win” argument. “I came into this as a fan, I came in as an underdog, I... didn’t know how to survive, I was adaptable, I was flexible, and I had an alliance, which is why I’m still sitting here." I agree all of this is true and Sherri has played the game to get where she is, but it is eerily similar to what Michael Skupin said last year. And he only won one vote. From the Eddie-equivalent of that season. While Sherri has played an under-rated game, the people she will be arguing this to are not an objective group, but the people who under-rated her in the first place.

Dawn is running through her arguments, too. She says her alliance in the game was with Cochran, but her real alliance was her family at home. “I am changed. I accomplished the goal of getting to the end of this game, something that was a dream.” She says she has learned she can play the game well, with no one to make decisions for her. So Dawn wins this season's Lisa Welchel award. Dawn and Cochran are on the beach. “We couldn’t have gotten this far without each other,” says Dawn. Cochran says, “we called every single shot." Dawn feels that she and Cochran at the final is a “storybook ending." She is confident she can beat Cochran and Sherri.

Cochran’s turn. We get an endless series of shots of him looking contemplative, including a hilarious one where the camera does a 360 degree pan while Cochran sits there with a “thinking hard” look on his face. He says that he wrote a prize-winning paper on the Survivor jury system, but there’s a big difference between paper and practice. After sarcastically thanking Harvard for not teaching him how to address a jury, he shares his self-doubts about being still the awkward geek who hasn’t done anything, and he has to remind himself to be confident in himself and in how he played the game.

I think that’s part of the reason why we’ve seen so many interviews with Cochran saying “I am a challenge machine” and “it’s lonely at the top.” It’s confidence-building practice for him. If he says it enough, it becomes true. If it’s documented on television, it becomes true. It reminds me of Phillip, who says something first, and then believes it because he says it.

The final three arrive at the last Tribal Council, and in comes the jury. Probst recaps the season of “39 days, two evacuations, one impromptu Tribal Council and lots of idol paranoia” and repeats the “power shifts to the jury” bit. Opening remarks!

Dawn is playing the “humble” card. She knows how hard everyone played and she knows she was emotional and found it very hard to be duplicitous. “I wanted to have at least one ally who i could strategize with and make decisions with, and that was Cochran... I wanted to be in control of my own game... and the hardest part, I had to give myself permission to actually play the game, in my normal life I build trust and friendships with people, I don’t exploit them, I had to come out reminding myself this is a game for a million dollars. This is football, and I have to not be afraid to tackle. I wasn’t afraid to make the hard decisions, and that’s what got us both to where we are today."

Sherri says that “you all know me as the stay-at-home mom” but then makes the big reveal that she is “a very successful businesswoman!” Didn’t they know this already? And her plan was to play the way she ran her fast-food franchises! She flubs a bit here, before explaining that she’s very nervous. Erik is face-palming. Sherri says “I had to make a lot of decisions and become very pliable” and she thinks she was able to successfully “integrate” with each person on the jury. No one is making eye contact with her because they all think she’s a weirdo.

This reminds me of what Dawn said a few episodes back about “how you can’t let the game happen to you.” Everyone thinks the game has just happened to Sherri. It would be interesting to parse why players like Sherri and Michael Skupin were so disdained by their fellow castaways at their Tribal Councils, yet Sandra has used the exact same strategy to win Survivor. Twice.

Cochran says that this is the culmination of 13 years of obsession with Survivor. He used to wear a Survivor buff while watching the show! He says it is surreal and an honor, and that he wouldn’t have believed in his wildest fantasies that he would be one of the top ten challenge performers of all time, or that someone so socially awkward and anxious would have become the tribe therapist.

Cochran continues that he is strategically proud of the game he played, and then tells a strategic lie that “I’ve seen every season of Survivor and I’ve never seen a collection of threats like this." He says that while he could not out-muscle or out-charm or even out-strategize everyone, what he did was beat people in timing. Whenever a threat emerged, he struck before he was struck down. He deceived people and was proud of it, and he wants to prove why he played the best game.

Now for the jury questions, and the “information they need for a million dollar decision," like they haven’t already made up their minds.

Malcolm is first, and he offers his congratulations to everyone, before saying he doesn’t have a question for Sherri. He says his vote is for Cochran or Dawn, and says to Dawn, “I’m going to be your best friend tonight. You played cold-blooded... but you can’t have your cake and eat it too. You have to own it tonight...You can’t be warm mother of six who stabs people in the back... If you fight for it, I will vote for you.” Sure, that might win Malcolm’s vote, but it won’t win the votes of people who want Dawn to grovel.

To Cochran, Malcolm excuses his narcissism, and asks “what quality do you have that I don’t have?” Cochran’s answer is that he has “a heightened level of insecurity” that meant he didn’t like when other people had a different plan. He feels the insecurity manifested itself in a positive way because he voted people out before they got around to targeting him. He explains to Malcolm that he cannot imagine him being insecure. Good answer. Self-deprecating but highlighting Cochran’s strengths, ego-stroking and yet convincing. Plus factually true.

Eddie. His first words are for Sherri, that she was carried to the final three. Sherri does not think she was carried, but everyone on the jury laughs. It’s pretty dumb that Eddie is saying this. Imagine if he was sitting in Sherri’s place. Someone could equally say the same about him and everyone would laugh. But Eddie doesn’t get it.

To Dawn, Eddie says that he saw her as the weakest, most fragile contestant, in a constant state of paranoia. Eddie has been at the dictionary, because he actually uses the word “correlate”. Dawn says that she sees herself as strong, but she has been worn down by the game, and then basically repeats Malcolm’s words about how she owns the game she played.

I think there’s a different thing that doesn’t correlate. Eddie’s correct that Dawn has been emotionally fragile in her daily routine, but at immunity challenges, Dawn has been there mentally every time. Someone having emotional breakdowns every day has done better at “mind over body” challenges than Eddie, who was checking out for donuts.

To Cochran, Eddie wants to know where he sees himself with the Three Amigos after the season is done. In front of the bar, behind the bar, at the bar? What Eddie wants to know is, are we friends or are you going to snub me at Survivor reunions? Cochran lays it on thick, saying that he is at the bar with the Three Amigos, presumably knocking back brewskis.

Two years ago Cochran would have had panic attacks about going to bars and parties, but now he would not just hang with Eddie, Malcolm and Reynold, he would bro down with two women on each side. Cochran has transformed into Diedrich Bader’s character in Office Space! “Two chicks at the same time! And I think if I were a millionaire I could hook that up, too; 'cause chicks dig dudes with money!” The Three Amigos are lapping this up, and Malcolm fist-pumps. If Cochran had known about Eddie’s dog-bar plan, he would have thrown that in too.

Phillip congratulates all three, and claims to know the sense of satisfaction of reaching Day 39. What does he say about the crushing defeat that comes with realizing no one respects or likes you? Nothing. Instead, without notice, he rescinds Sherri’s membership of Stealth R Us. Then he complains about having to live with emotional outbursts every day from Dawn about being targeted. It made “very disruptive,” as though living with Phillip and having to do all these stupid things to keep him happy was a picnic.

But Phillip has “no malice” towards Cochran who is “a real class act” due to spending so much time invested in keeping Phillip happy. I wonder what Phillip will say after he sees all of Cochran’s confessionals about what a lunatic dingbat Phillip is.

Erik. He talks about how he and Dawn helped each other, but since Brenda was voted out, he wants to know if their relationship was genuine. “Are you aware of the damage you caused?” Dawn says that she used her “relationships to advance herself in the game,” she was more loyal to Cochran, and everything else was about “who is a threat? Who needs to go?”

Then Erik asks Sherri if she knows why she is here. “No one is asking you strategic questions!” as though anyone would be asking Erik strategic questions if he were in Sherri’s place. Sherri doesn’t know why that is. “You were a seashell on a beach!” Erik is saying this, but he should be wondering why his ears are burning. As someone who played an opaque game himself, I don’t see why he needs to put her down.

Sherri’s response is aggressive. “That’s your opinion, Erik. That’s fine, and I don’t care." She tells Erik not to talk down to her with a “holier than thou attitude." “If you’re done with me I’m done with you. I don’t need your vote! I’m obviously not going to get it! You can sit down!” I think by this point, Sherri has well-realized that she is not going to win, and just wanted to get some self-respect back. Erik is sent back to his seat.

Michael. He doesn’t have a question for Sherri either. After the swap, he saw Dawn and Cochran working together and he feels that “Dawn, you’re getting more of a punch-gut kind of thing.” Can Dawn explain why Cochran is not being called a villain while she is? Dawn explains that she developed relationships in the game, and also had more responsibilities when it came to dealing with people, so maybe Cochran isn’t seen as having as much blood on his hands. He wouldn’t be here if Dawn hadn’t developed the relationships, and “there were times when he didn’t have to do anything but turn up and say ‘How do I vote?’”

Michael asks Cochran if what Dawn is getting is deserved. He says he doesn’t know but is “happy she receiving these reactions” because his chances went way up. He disagrees with Dawn’s assessment. “Certainly there was a reciprocity and symbiosis...” Dawn says she never said that, but I think it's because Cochran is using Harvard words.

He continues. “The paranoia that ran rampant with you around camp was crippling to the alliance." Dawn says that her paranoia was fostered because of her role in the alliance – to be the one talking to everyone – and without her playing that role, Cochran would not have gotten as far in the game. Cochran agrees that Dawn was an absolute huge asset, but claims that he was the one making decisions. “If I hadn’t become your therapist, I don’t think you’d be still in this game." That was a little cruel, but it effectively counters Dawn’s argument Cochran was reliant on her. Instead, they were co-dependent.

Reynold. He loudly proclaims that he “disliked [Dawn] from Day One because you’re a complete fraud." So, Reynold says “the truth shall set you free." He wants to know what Dawn thinks about Reynold, in three adjectives. Phony. Egotistical. Sexist. Come on Dawn, it’s not that hard! Reynold even said one of the adjectives for you.

“I know what she said to other people, just give it to me!” says Reynold, who seems to be confusing phoniness with politeness. If we lived in Reynold’s non-phony world, Reynold wouldn’t have a lot of fun because everyone would be telling him what a ridiculously smug, conceited blowhard he is.

But Dawn umms and ahhs about how to play it, before settling on “chauvinistic," then backtracking with “great sense of humor." Sure, his great, chauvinistic sense of humor. Then Dawn doubles back again with “vulgar." Reynold says “that is awesome!” like some chick took her top off at a kegger.

Dawn says “I’m not trying to be fake in this game," but Reynold wants her to own it and say to the jury “I kicked your ass." She does, and Reynold wants her to go on “and I liked it, a little bit." “I liked it a little bit,” says Dawn. What is Reynold on? (Also, I think he liked having his ass kicked by Dawn a little bit.)

Andrea says that she is not bitter she was blind-sided, before saying she is not bitter again which is how you know she’s a little bit bitter. But acceptable Malcolm-level bitter, not Reynold-level. She has the dumbest question of the lot, which is “what animal is your Survivor game style like?” Whoa, deep. We only see Cochran’s answer, which was “chameleon,” because of the changing of the colors and doing it at the right time. Adaptability and timing.

Andrea has words for Dawn, that if she was at the final three she would say she played a similar game to Dawn, with the connecting with people and whatnot. Imagine the stuff people are saying back at the Ponderosa about Dawn that three out of seven jurors so far are basically saying “Everything you did was part of the game. Have some emotional support!”

Finally, the one we’ve been waiting for and apprehensive about. Brenda. “Let’s do this," says Brenda.

Brenda says to Cochran that they didn’t have an emotional bond, but she did him a solid at the family visit. She feels like she gave Cochran something, and almost instantly, he took something from her. “Sell me on it of why I should give to you now.”

Cochran talks about how I developed this sociopathic ability to separate the game and emotion” and that “beyond this game I’m willing to prove my gratitude to you." As for why Brenda should vote for him, “You were a threat to my game and I took out a threat to my game. And that’s really the core of the game... It’s cold but I think it’s the truth.” Survivor: rewarding sociopaths since 2000!

Brenda to Dawn. Brenda talks about how strong her connection was with Dawn and how her vote hurt more than Cochran’s and Sherri’s. “I saw you at the most vulnerable state ever." She recaps about the retainer and how Dawn said she would leave the game and Brenda convinced her to stay. You said, “‘I owe you everything, I’m in this game because of you, Brenda.' I realized after, I had Dawn’s fate in the game in my hands. Would you really have given it up if you didn’t have your teeth back? Something cosmetic.” “No. I wouldn’t have,” says Dawn.

It’s not quite enough for Brenda, who wants Dawn to take out her teeth. Dawn says she is not going to do that but Brenda insists. “I had your fate in my hand that day, and you’re saying, ‘I would have stayed. It wasn’t a big deal.' If you’re telling me that ‘I’m strong, I’m a fighter’ then prove it to me right now."

Dawn accepts that she will have to do it, and talks at length about how she’s going to do it. Brenda is all “let’s do it, let’s do it” and Dawn is “I’m going to, I’m going to." Eventually Dawn does it and then bares the gap in her bottom teeth, which was quickly screen-captured and put all over the internet. “I wanted you to feel that because it’s kind of what I felt, a little bit heartbreaking,” Brenda says.

Well, that was uncomfortable for everyone. I realize that Brenda wants something personal from Dawn. But at the same time, I’m not sure exactly what she was expecting to get. Brenda certainly wasn’t going to get the emotional catharsis she felt she needed, no matter what was said or how much Dawn humiliated herself.

That ends the proceedings. Time to cast the million dollar votes!

Phillip votes for Cochran. He’s very proud of him and thanks him for joining Stealth R Us. We don’t see Malcolm’s vote, but he says “this is not the name I thought I’d be writing down tonight” As we’ve only seen one vote and it’s for Cochran, we all know how this will end up. Even Phillip’s original season, Season 22, Redemption Island, teased us with the incredibly distant possibility that Rob might actually lose to Phillip.

However, Probst says while he’d like to read the votes right here, everyone will have to wait almost a year for the result. Then he walks out manfully like Cochran after an immunity challenge with the voting urn tucked under his arm. Presumably, everyone left behind compares notes.

But look! Here’s Probst coming into the well-forested auditorium of CBS Studio Center in Studio City, Los Angeles! “Let’s get to this!” he says before blathering on about how anyone could win this game. Sherri, the millionaire who no one likes! Dawn, the hyper-paranoid rider of the emotional roller-coaster who no one respects! Cochran, the easily-sunburnt fish out of water who has had a hipster make-over sometime in the last year!

Sherri admits that the odds of winning are not good. Cochran is confident, but preparing for the worst. Dawn doesn’t think she can win the million, but should win enough to buy some new teeth.

Probst reads the votes. Cochran. Cochran. Cochran. Cochran. Cochran. Clean sweep. Cochran is the Ultimate Survivor, and all his wet dreams have come true! Cochran’s life is all downhill from here! He hugs Dawn, then Sherri, then goes down to see his family. There’s Cochran’s mom, and grandma, and his Dad who is not wearing sunglasses even though he’s in Hollywood!

Probst declares that Cochran is the most unlikely winner every, and then says we will hear from him, Brenda, Dawn and soap star heartthrob Malcolm. As well as Boston Rob, Rudy and Richard Hatch, because this season didn’t have enough interesting people!

Stay tuned for the reunion recap!