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'Survivor: Caramoan' – John Cochran Blows Away All Competition For The Title!

May 13th, 2013 10:48am EDT

John Cochran was crowned Sole Survivor As the episode begins, only Cochran, Dawn, Eddie, Sherri and Erik are left in the game. After Tribal Council, Erik begins to feel dazed and disoriented, his head spinning. Jeff Probst comes to his aid, and brings in the medical team to assess Erik’s condition. His pulse is low, as is his blood pressure, and after 36 days, Erik has to be pulled from the game, for medical reasons. As the others say goodbye, Jeff gives them a pep talk, telling them they have to stay strong. There are only three days left, and one of the four will be winning the million dollar prize.
Back at camp, Cochran’s already thinking strategy, and knows he must make a move towards Eddie, before anyone else gets to him. He and Eddie decide that they’ll take Sherri to the Final Three, voting out Dawn next.
Everyone’s thrilled that there will be a Reward Challenge, hoping the reward will be food. But Jeff tells them that the reward is an advantage, to be used in the final Immunity Challenge. The Survivors have to build a tall house of cards (wooden tiles) to win, using one hand to hold on to a rope to steady a balancing board, and the other to place the tiles.
This is a challenge that requires patience and concentration. Everyone’s card stack falls at least once, and Dawn is just one card away from the top when her tower collapses. Eddie’s so close, multiple times, but can’t get his tower high enough. Sherri and Cochran are neck and neck, when Sherri’s structure collapses, and the Challenge Monster wins again! Jeff hands Cochran the sealed advantage, to be opened at the Immunity Challenge.
Cochran interviews that he’s happy to have won, not only to continue his winning streak, but to keep the advantage out of anyone else’s hands. He’s tired of Dawn’s incessant weeping, and now, a catatonic paranoia. He reassures her that she’s safe, while telling the audience that every day with her has been like a rollercoaster, but not a fun ride. She should be paranoid, because he’s had enough.
Treemail on Morning 38 excites Cochran, as it announces that they’ll do the traditional “Walk of Shame” to honor the fallen comrades. As they encounter each totem, they reminisce. Brandon, Shamar, Phillip and his pink underwear, are remembered, as well as the lesser lights that didn’t make as big an impact.
Jeff welcomes everyone to the Immunity Challenge. He warns them that this final challenge will take everything they have, physically and mentally. They must first race up a three story structure, retrieving bags of puzzle pieces, then race to a slide, finally untying the bags, and solving the puzzle. Cochran finds out that his advantage is that his puzzle bags will already be untied, saving him significant time in the trial.
As the challenge begins, Cochran has a huge advantage, as he’s on his third bag when the others are still struggling with their second. He has all of his puzzle pieces out, ready to be assembled, and begins the puzzle.
But Eddie’s right behind him, and Dawn isn’t far behind Eddie. Sherri is impossibly slow. Cochran has trouble with the puzzle, allowing Dawn to catch up. Even Sherri has more pieces in play than Cochran or Eddie. Eddie doesn’t have a chance, as Dawn and Sherri race to finish. But it’s Cochran for the win... and the final Immunity. Four individual challenge wins for the geeky nerd! Probst praises an exultant Cochran, who is flushed and blushing as the Immunity Necklace is put around his neck.
And he’s still scheming. Cochran interviews that he’s still trying to figure out who will win second place, who will be beside him in the Final Three. “Do I want to bring Dawn and her constant emotional outbursts, or Eddie, a chauvinistic 23-year-old idiot?” A weepy Dawn tries to ensure that Cochran is still on her side. Eddie tells Cochran that he’s no threat; he’s an idiot, who’s never talked strategy throughout the game. Cochran’s biggest question is whether he can beat Sherri or Dawn for the million dollars.
Tribal Council begins, and the jury files in, now with Erik as one of the jurors. Erik looks much better. Eddie admits that Erik being pulled was a huge advantage for himself and Sherri, the two players Erik planned to take with him to the end.
Cochran says that he’s still riding the high of winning immunity. Eddie notes that Dawn has made huge moves in the game, while he’s not done very much in terms of strategy. Sherri is not mentioned. When Jeff asks Sherri how she feels about being the invisible fourth, Sherri admits that she’s been sitting quietly throughout the whole game; everyone has underestimated her staying power.
When the votes are read, it’s Eddie who becomes the 17th person voted out. Both Eddie and Dawn are surprised. Jeff tells the Final Three that they have one last night of play, and suggests they’ll need a good night’s sleep before facing the Jury at the Final Tribal Council.
Day 39. Sherri sits at Cochran’s feet, soaking up his wisdom. A full and wonderful meal is set up for the Final Three, and they all dig in. Sherri’s still awed to be enjoying this final day. Dawn, as well, is exultant at reaching the end of the game, feeling that this time, she’s made all of her own decisions. She thinks that she and Cochran are having a story book ending.
Cochran’s got a lot on his mind, too. He’s written papers on the game of Survivor, but nothing could have prepared him for the reality. He feels it’s his game to lose, but still doesn’t feel confident.
Before they know it, its night and time for the jury to take the stage at Final Tribal Council. Jeff addresses Dawn, Cochran and Sherri, congratulating them on making it to the end. It’s now time for them to plead their case to the jury, before the jury has their turn to ask questions, and then to choose a winner.
Dawn begins, and admits that she allied with Cochran from the get go, but decided she had to make her own decisions this time around. She’s proud of her game and of her decisions.
Sherri’s next. She confesses that, beyond being a wife and mum, she’s a successful business owner with 75 employees. The jury is shocked.
Cochran reiterates his glee and surprise in having become a Challenge Monster, but says that he felt his main role was as a peace maker, and he feels it did it well. He is proud of his game, he owns it, and he believes he deserves to win.
It’s now time for the jury to speak. Malcolm congratulates the trio. He tells Dawn she has to own up to her game play, and be either the mother of 6, or the cold blooded player. And he asks Cochran what quality enabled Cochran to make it to the end that Malcolm lacked. Cochran admits he can’t believe that Malcolm could ever lack confidence.
Eddie accuses Dawn of being a mess throughout the game, always teary, who now wants to claim that she was strong and strategic throughout, and asks Sherri if she felt she got carried to the final three. Cochran tells Eddie that the game has given him great confidence, and he’d now feel comfortable hanging out in a bar with guys like Eddie.
Phillip rescinds Sherri’s membership in “Stealth R Us,” and then tells Dawn that her weepiness made camp life very uncomfortable for everyone. Cochran he calls a class act, whom he enjoyed playing the game with.
Erik attacks Dawn for being a traitor to Brenda, and is another one to ask Sherri if she understands that she’s in the Final Three purely by default. Sherri defends herself angrily, telling Erik to sit down.
Michael asks Dawn why she thinks everyone is on Cochran’s side, but not on hers. She claims that she made a lot of decisions for Cochran. Cochran’s happy to hear that people are coming down heavier on Dawn than him, but angered that Dawn is taking credit for the strategical moves.
Reynold is even crueler, calling Dawn a complete fraud and disingenuous. Dawn says that she’s glad to hear his words, as she had no idea people thought she was a phony. Dawn calls Eddie chauvinistic and vulgar, with a great sense of humor. He agrees with her assessment, and tells Dawn she needs to own her anger, and admit to them and herself that she feels like she kicked everyone’s butt. She agrees.
Andrea asks Cochran his secret; he says he was a chameleon, who changed his colors to blend in as the game progressed. Andrea praises Dawn for playing a good game.
Brenda first tells Cochran that she feels that she gave him something that was immediately thrown back in her face. Cochran says he’s able to compartmentalize, and play the game without emotion. Of course, Brenda brings up how devastated she felt at Dawn’s betrayal, mentioning the day that she literally held Dawn’s fate in her hand in retrieving her dental bridge. She dares Dawn to remove that bridge on camera, to prove that she’s really played a brave game. Dawn hedges, but eventually removes the bridge, and shows the camera her mouth without the bridge.
Regardless of Dawn’s betrayal, Dawn’s move was based on game play. Brenda’s humiliation of Dawn seemed rather petty and mean-spirited, and not in keeping with Brenda’s stated plan to “be humble.”
The jury prepares to vote. Probst reminds the final players that this time, they want to see their names on the ballot, as the one with the most votes will win a million dollars. When the votes are all in, Jeff grabs the urn, and dashes off-screen ….
And onto the stage in CBS Studio Centre, Los Angeles, still wearing the same shirt. Hope he had it dry cleaned somewhere along the line!
Jeff sums up the Final Three, praising Cochran for hanging in, even while his translucent skin burned in the Philippine sun. Sherri admits she’s been a long shot, which she only realized after the Final Tribal. Cochran says he’s hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst. Dawn doesn’t think she’ll win, but thinks she may be able to buy some new teeth.
The votes are read. And the first five votes are unanimous … it’s Cochran. The winner of Survivor: Caramoan is John Cochran, the Challenge Monster!
Cochran’s sojourn on the island is chronicled. The self-proclaimed Harvard nerd, who sunburned instantly, metamorphosed into a winner, dominating the game from the beginning. Cochran says the win is incredible, he’s still stunned, but he owes it all to his mother. He’s still a socially awkward, freaky nerd guy, but has accepted himself, and was able to just focus on the game. It’s a dream come true for this geek.
Jeff basically calls Cochran the anti-Malcolm, and wonders if awkward kids come up to him on the street and praise him for being “one of them.” He admits it’s true, and says he’s proud of what he’s become. Cochran’s never been more Woody Allen in his attitude. Probst also asks Cochran if his recent graduation from Harvard Law guarantees his becoming a lawyer, but he says he’s more interested in becoming a writer.
On to Dawn. This season was a roller coaster of emotions for her, which she admits. Jeff points out that social media crucified Dawn’s betrayal of Brenda. She admits the negative impact caused her to shut down her Twitter account, as the sheer number of assaults was painful. She knows who she is, and she doesn’t need or want that much negativity in her life.
Sherri – tied with Dawn for second place – is not asked a single question throughout the reunion. She looks great, though!
Brenda weighs in by satellite, apparently still so hurt by Dawn’s betrayal that she couldn’t be on stage in person. Dawn apologizes, but says that it was all about winning for her kids. Brenda says that she is past the moment, and is willing to be friends with Dawn. And then Brenda shows off her very large belly – she’s pregnant and due any day, so could not fly in to the show from Miami.
Phillip has his moment in the sun, giving Jeff his own Stealth R Us nickname …. The Piercing Eagle. “Soaring from above, arising above the fray, and coming in with a question that is piercing and on point. Welcome to Stealth R Us!” We’re also shown a lot of clips where Phillip references the “BR Rules,” his definition of Survivor as played by Boston Rob’s rules.
Cue Boston Rob in the audience! He calls Phillip one of the most entertaining characters the show has ever seen. He’s plugging his new book, “The Boston Rob Rulebook,” and gives a copy to Phillip.
Malcolm’s up next… Malcolm is definitely the fan favorite, (although I do not like his moustache) with a strong social media presence who were quite vocal when he was voted out. Malcolm talks about how difficult it was physically to play two games back to back, and how annoying it was to leave without that last idol. Also, a clip is shown of Malcolm doing a cameo on “The Bold and The Beautiful.”
Jeff calls Andrea out for her relationship with the males on the show, and asks her how it felt to leave the game with an idol still in her pocket. She says she respects the games and the players too much not to respect their gameplay. She actually wears the Immunity Necklace all the time.
Reynold says that returning players have an advantage, in that they can watch the game play without getting emotionally attached. He says they are all good friends now, post game.
Erik maintains his reputation as the "Silent One," never speaking a word at the Reunion.
Probst talks about the very first Survivor, in 2000. Scenes of that season, including Richard Hatch’s penchant for walking around nude, are shown. Rudy Boesch (now 85 years old) is in the audience, and doesn’t fail to amuse with his comments. Hatch has sent in a video of himself nude on the beach.
Jeff says that the votes cast this season for Player of the Year overloaded the line … and was between Malcolm and Brenda. It was close, but Malcolm, at 36%, beats Brenda’s 35%, and wins the $100,000.00.
Cochran is given his million dollar check. It’s just a normal sized check. I’m sure Cochran would have preferred one of those enormous novelty checks, but as long as it clears, it’s all good.
Jeff teases the viewers with the next season … Survivor: Blood vs Water ... but we won’t know what the story is until this September.
(Actually, I have found this information on the internet: “Survivor: Blood vs. Water is the twenty-seventh season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor, which will premiere in the fall of 2013. The season will feature returning castaways playing against their family members. As with the previous two seasons, the season will be filmed in the Philippines, but this time at Paulaui Island, Cagayan.”)
My verdict: The season started slow, but the final episodes kicked the excitement up every week. I truly hope that the producers learned that stunt casting is not the key to ratings, and that annoying players like Shamar, Brandon, and yes, even Phillip, are no longer needed or appreciated.

Related: Jeff Probst, John Cochran, Survivor: Caramoan, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Reality, TV Networks, CBS

Photo Credits: CBS

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