Is Cochran an Instant 'Survivor' All-Star?
Is Cochran an Instant 'Survivor' All-Star?
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
The premiere of Survivor: South Pacific did a good job of introducing several of the castaways for the new season, and it's an interesting crop. Yes, we saw the return of Ozzy and Coach, but the new players made a strong first impression.

Recap: Survivor: South Pacific Premiere>>

There's spoken word poet Semhar (does that count as a job?), cocky marijuana dispensary owner Jim and gay cop Mark, who gets everyone to call him Papa Bear. There's also Russell Hantz's nephew Brandon, who got off to a bad start by comparing himself to Hitler's nephew, creepily ogling Mikayla while talking about his born-again Christian values and vowing not to reveal his relationship to Russell despite having two tattoos with the name "Hantz" on them. That's a recipe for disaster.

But the breakaway star has to be super nerd John Cochran, a Harvard law student. The poor kid is already setting himself up for a lifetime of disappointment since every time he goes into a courtroom, people will be sad he's not the "real" Johnny Cochran, but that's now what made him an instant star.

The nerdy kid's strategy was to come in and proudly talk about how he's a huge fan of the show. He's seen every episode, knows every player, has a collection of buffs at home and talks to Jeff Probst like the two have been good friends for years. He even demands that Probst calls him "Cochran" since all the best players on Survivor go by their last names.

It's easy to hate him right away, but instead, I found myself magically transfixed by his strange way of playing the game. He's almost a meta castaway, a guy so familiar with the ins and outs of Survivor that his commentary seems to be that of someone watching from home. During Tribal Council, he implored Jeff not to say "It's time to vote" before he had a chance to defend himself, which was like showing us the man behind the curtain.

Cochran's entire defense for not being the first person to get voted out seemed to be that he didn't want to be a Survivor loser and, miraculously, it worked.

The translucent kid is obviously desperate to stay and live out his Survivor fantasy for as long as possible, but what makes him my new favorite is that he understands the game. He's not afraid to bring up the fact that the vote was between him and Semhar because he knows that's how it works, and instead of pretending that the castaways don't make up their minds prior to showing up, he mentioned it. He's like Abed on Community, standing apart from the action and commenting on it while simultaneously being involved in it.

I haven't seen every episode like Cochran has. I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of Survivor or a collection of buffs. But I know a great reality competition star when I see one, and that's precisely what Cochran is. His anxiety, fear of getting voted out and total love of the game might not take him all the way to the end, but he's destined to become someone fans won't soon forget.

(Image courtesy of CBS)