Survivor: Caramoan - Reunion
By Ben Willoughby
May 15, 2013
It was certainly Cochran’s season, though. Everything fell together for him, not just the editing. He had the luck of being on the dominant tribe, which was also filled with not-good, impatient players. He had the good sense to get onboard the majority alliance at the beginning, and to be part of the decision-making core of that group. The tribe flip didn’t leave him stranded. His alliance with Dawn really worked for him, as he and his alliance could identify threats as they arose. His past mistakes, like ditching his alliance because he didn’t want to go to rocks, never haunted him. The others on his tribe saw him as strategic, not untrustworthy.
He won immunity challenges, and he happened to win advantages to those immunity challenges and the right immunity challenges to get him further in the game. He was never directly targeted by anyone because there was always someone else to get rid of first, like Phillip or Andrea. But he was still seen as a strategic player to be gotten rid of the vote after next instead of a coat-tail-riding weakling. This in turn allowed him to go to the end with weaker players. He put on a great final Tribal Council performance and his narrative of being an anxious nerd who rose to the occasion thanks to the confidence-building powers of playing Survivor. Dawn performed creditably in owning her misdeeds, but I think ultimately lost any votes she had by apologizing to Brenda. Sherri was only talked down to by the jury, but she also had a terrible final Tribal Council performance, talking about how successful she was in real life.
Overall Cochran played a good, solid and thoughtful game. He has obviously put a lot of thought into both the strategy of the game and the social side, as well as what to say to the camera. He didn’t really make any mistakes, and waited for others to make theirs first. But he was always comfortable. At no point in the game did he have to scramble for his life in the game. He was never even directly put under pressure. Compare against his first season, where he was playing with people who didn’t like him. Cochran talked a lot about learning from past mistakes, and I’m happy for him that he has grown in confidence and ability since his first season. But we never saw whether he has truly learned.
I expect given Cochran’s Survivor fandom, the show will try and place Cochran among the pantheon of great Survivor players, like Boston Rob, Richard Hatch, Parvati Shallow and Sandra Diaz-Twine. I think a more realistic placement would be around the level of Todd from the China season, Earl from Fiji and J.T. from Tocantins, who were also good players who told a good story, but were also very lucky in their seasons. Certainly he’s above the terrible, forgettable winners like Bob from Gabon, Natalie from Samoa (who was still more deserving than Russell Hantz), Aras Baskaukas from Exile Island and Fabio from Nicaragua.
Anyway, enough about Cochran. It’s on to recapping the reunion, where we traditionally spend as little time talking to the winner as possible.