Survivor: Caramoan – Winner Results – Finale Video
Survivor: Caramoan is over, and you’ll have a hard time convincing me (or any students of the game) that the right person didn’t win. “Last Push” serves as a showcase for the talents of John Cochran, perhaps the biggest fan that ever played the game. In many ways, it’s fitting that a fan (cast as a favorite) wins the Fans vs. Favorites season, as only someone who knew the game inside and out could have performed at such a high level, particularly in terms of jury management. I found myself wondering if, perhaps, Cochran hadn’t delivered the greatest jury performance in the history of the game, rivalling similar showings by previous winners Chris Daugherty (Vanuatu), Todd Herzog (China) and Parvati Shallow (Micronesia). I couldn’t help but be impressed with the ways in which he both owned his game, and told the jury exactly what they wanted to hear. It’s hard to argue that Cochran didn’t play a near-flawless game, keeping the blood off his hands, for the most part.
In looking into the bare facts of what happened, this was one of the more exciting finales in recent memory. Almost immediately after last week’s tribal council, Eril is pulled from the game for medical reasons, which is a shame since, while I don’t think he would have won the million dollars, I think he was on-track to making final tribal council. He was playing a solid, under-the-radar, “anyone but me” game, in the vein of two-time winner Sandra Diaz-Twine. At least, that’s what we could surmise from what we’ve been shown, and only then if we’re being generous. Erik has been one of the more difficult players to get a hold on this season, as it became increasingly hard to tell whether his strategy was genuine, or if he was simply being carried along by the tides of better players. That said, I wouldn’t be averse to seeing him play again, since I think there’s the kernel of a decent player there, even if that potential hasn’t exactly been realized.
Erik’s medical evacuation brings us down to four, which makes it a bit easier for Cochran to win the final reward challenge, a card-stacking challenge that gives him an advantage in the final immunity challenge. With that advantage, he’s able to secure a comfortable lead, winning the final immunity challenge and securing his spot in front of the jury. I honestly can’t think of a moment, as a Survivor fan, as satisfying as seeing Cochran win final immunity, particularly since he and I were both 13-year-olds watching Survivor on our couches when it premiered. Except, obviously, he’s a million dollars richer. There’s a lot to be said for how exquisitely Cochran played this game, though, as he sticks with Dawn and Sherri by eliminating Eddie, and then plays up the unworthiness of both in front of the jury.
It’s wonderful watching Cochran not only exhibit his lawyering skills in front of the jury, but it’s also terrific to see him completely own his game, explaining that he made many of the decisions that put the jury where they are, while Dawn played a game that would never have come to fruition without his help. That final tribal council, while undoubtedly a clinic put on by Cochran, was one of the more dramatic in recent memory, particularly when Brenda demanded that Dawn remove her teeth for all to see. Her rationale was in Dawn’s earlier insistence that she’d have pulled herself out of the game if Brenda hadn’t found her retainer in the water. Thus, Brenda calls Dawn on her vanity, asking her to show the world what she looks like without teeth, to prove that the game is more important than her appearance. After a bit of back-and-forth jockeying, Dawn follows through, and I almost expected that the bravery on display might have secured Brenda’s vote for Dawn. But the jury was a mercurial sort, completely unpredictable, with Phillip revoking Sherri’s Stealth R’ Us certification, while Reynold begged Dawn to give an honest assessment of him, since she’s been relatively phoney throughout the entire competition. Throughout it all, Cochran handled the jury beautifully, assuaging Phillip by explaining how Stealth ‘R Us fell apart in his absence, and placating Eddie by detailing how he’d be every bit the bro outside of the game, if he won the million dollars, that they would want him to be. It was a beautiful bit of business, so it was unsurprising when Cochran became only the second person in the history of the game to win a unanimous vote.
I don’t think, as a Survivor fan, that I’ve ever been happier to see someone win this game than I was to see Cochran take the million. It was a game nearly devoid of flaw, and I wouldn’t have wanted it to end any other way.
Reunion show notes…
Brenda forgave Dawn. And Brenda is pregnant!
Clue for next season. I think it’s “blood is thicker than water.”
Sprint Player of the Season
Finalists: Malcolm (36%) and Brenda (35%)
Malcolm is the Sprint Player of the Season!
He won $100,000 from Sprint.
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