After a season of several twists and shocking blindsides, it is the Survivor: Caramoan finale. In the beginning, I don’t think many people would have predicted this final five or guessed that Cochran would be one of the powerhouses. This season has been about big plays and alliances constantly shifting, and has provided one of the most entertaining and unforgettable seasons in a long time.

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Erik Spins Out

Erik gets the dreaded Probst visit, because he is having a battle of dizziness. Maybe he did need a few more hamburgers. Erik is dehydrated and worried about what is happening, and Eddie proves he does have a purpose being around by explaining what the EMTs are doing. The news turns out to not be so good, and Erik ends up getting pulled from the game. Cochran says his game has been rocked by this news, but what he really means is, “Yippee, my one real threat to winning is out of the game!” Eddie also realizes that as sad as it is to see Erik go, this is a game for a million dollars, and he thinks the surprising exit is his big chance. Apparently, he is saying this without being sarcastic.

Cochran quickly gets over the Erik loss, and starts thinking about getting to the finals. He thinks Eddie will win the next Immunity Challenge, and so he makes a pact with him. They decide to take Sherri with them to the finals. Eddie, at this point, can’t really believe in alliances anymore, though, can he?

Dawn pats herself on the back for making it near to the end and for apparently making big strategic moves. “Big strategic moves” must now mean ratting out your fellow players and following Cochran. To be fair, she has been aggressive this season, and I do think she has earned her spot. It isn’t her fault everyone was dumb enough to keep on trusting her.

Reward Challenge

The challenge is stacking up a house of cards, with the winner getting an edge in the final Immunity Challenge.  The words that I never thought I’d type: Sherri takes the early lead in the challenge. Cochran and Dawn are close behind, but then Cochran’s cards topple. Sherri’s cards topple, and it allows Dawn to take the lead, while Eddie follows close behind. Cochran then continually drops his stack to become a non-threat. Dawn is almost ready to win, when her stack topples. Eddie has the lead to only drop his stack, and Sherri is back in the lead. 

It continues to become a race where someone is in the lead, and right when it looks good, the stack topples on them. It comes down to Sherri and Cochran, and Sherri has a slight lead when her cards betray her again. Cochran becomes season 26’s challenge warrior, as he wins his third individual challenge.

Another Dawn Breakdown

Cochran declares himself the Challenge Beast, and glad he has the advantage over Eddie and Dawn. He is now debating which one he wants to send to Ponderosa. Eddie and Sherri discuss knocking Dawn out of the game because they’re scared she is a lock at winning jury votes. I think that despite her powerful sympathy card, Dawn burned enough people by ratting them out or blindsiding them that she actually won’t be that much of a threat.

Dawn then goes all paranoid on Cochran and is worried she is the next target. She obviously is right about Eddie and Sherri. Cochran seems to have tired of listening to Dawn’s freakouts and is now contemplating blindsiding her too. Dawn looks like she may just crumble or melt before him as she panics over her future. I still think Dawn is a perfect person for Cochran to bring with him.

The Last Rites of Survivor

They do the classic tour of fallen survivors. It is always a fun nostalgia trip, and to be reminded about all the players along with the players’ snarky comments. Brandon’s little soundbite reminds me that Survivor really needs to do some better psychological testing. I’m also pretty sure Julia speaks more in her little soundbite than in her entire time in the game. Cochran says his most shocking thing of the whole season by stating Phillip was a master strategist while there is video footage of Phillip’s crazy-man dance. Malcolm obviously makes many fans giddy by promising he will return so that he can win.

Final Immunity Challenge

Dawn gives up her Immunity Necklace, and is already fretting over Cochran possibly not sticking to his word of taking her. I am sensing a meltdown if she goes to final tribal. The challenge is racing up a giant structure to get a bag of puzzles, and then obviously, they need to assemble the puzzle to win. Cochran has the advantage of being able to get all his bags of the puzzle without needing to untie them. This puts Cochran way ahead by getting his second bag, while Eddie and Dawn just come down with their first. Cochran quickly gets his third and final bag, while Dawn and Eddie follow with only their second bags.

Cochran is working on his puzzle before Eddie and Dawn arrive with their final bags. Sherri goes back to being the player I know by falling way behind. Cochran’s lead doesn’t help him as he does nothing with his puzzle, and Dawn gets three pieces set up quickly. Sherri starts getting her puzzle together as well, and Cochran falls behind the two ladies. Eddie proves his specialty is physical challenges as he just stares at his puzzle pieces.  

Cochran then starts getting some momentum and the lead with eight pieces. Eddie finally gets his first piece, and could get in the lead if a gust of wind makes everyone else’s puzzle pieces fall apart. Cochran continues to shock me by becoming a challenge icon by winning his fourth challenge. 

Dawn seems more excited than Cochran by his win. She obviously has high hopes that he decides to keep her with him. Though Cochran may not be as loyal because he reveals he may want to knock out Dawn and work with the other two instead.

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The Idiot’s Strategy

Cochran proves why he has become one of my favorite players this season as he sorts out in confessional who he should bring with him. He know Sherri will be a goat, but isn’t sure of the other two. He tries to sort out if he wants someone crying and sobbing at final tribal or take a “chauvinistic idiot” with him. Some may think it is cruel he calls Eddie an idiot, but then Eddie tries to appeal to Cochran by playing his “idiot card.” To really prove his smarts, he rants about a dog bar. In the least shocking thing on this show, Dawn has another meltdown in front of Cochran.

Tribal Council

Eddie and Dawn both try to showcase their flaws in order for Cochran to bring them to the finals. Eddie goes over how he hasn’t made strategic moves and hopes Cochran brings him for his uselessness. Dawn brings up how she has made most of the jury hate her. Sherri basically gets ignored in all this, but warns that she is bringing the big guns to the final tribal. Eddie throws out one final appeal that Cochran can beat him over Dawn, and Sherri echoes her agreement.

Eddie’s plea of idiocy isn’t enough to keep him around, and Cochran sees him as his biggest threat. We’ve got Cochran and the ladies in the final, and I’ll be pretty shocked if Cochran doesn’t almost sweep the voting here.

Last Day on the Beach

Sherri wants to know the definition of a pawn, and Cochran then goes to throw some subtle insults at her. This doesn’t burst Sherri’s happy bubble, as she thinks being a lowly fan is her best way to win over the jury. Dawn is equally proud of her showing, and hopes the jury realizes she made some of the big moves. Cochran is nervous he may not be able to convey the confidence and stick to his decisions. I think Cochran has it wrapped up, but a poor performance to the jury could ruin things for him. They then leave the beach without burning their shelter; I wonder if this is something they were ordered to do.

Jury Out for Blood

Dawn starts off and mentions she is humbled to have outlasted many great players. She hopes the jury can appreciate the moves she made and realize she controlled the game. Brenda’s reaction makes me think there are some definite hard feelings.

Sherri tries to do a speech mentioning how she approached the game as a business. I get distracted while Reynold makes shocked faces during her whole speech. I’m thinking he isn’t a big fan. She then tries to say she did a great job building relationships, and more shocked faces make it appear they don’t agree.

Cochran gives the best speech, as he admits he lied and backstabbed. He says his whole strategy was to take out threats before they could get him. He admits it was all about just trying to stay ahead of other players. It was an honest and confident speech, and it is up to how bitter the jury is at this point.

Malcolm passes on a question to Sherri. He then goes on to congratulate Cochran and Dawn making big moves in the game. Malcolm than warns Dawn to not stick to the sympathy card, but instead, stick to the fact she was cold-hearted in the game. Malcolm wants to know what Cochran had that he didn’t have. Cochran says it was his insecurity, which is why he made the big moves to knock out people he was threatened by.

Eddie wants Sherri to admit she was carried to the final three, and when she disagrees, the jury laughs. Eddie calls out Dawn as not being tough, but instead someone who was weak and had meltdowns. Dawn admits that she had moments of breaking down, but she still stuck to her decision to knock people out. Cochran tells Eddie they will hang out at the bar together, but he will have two hot women with him.

Phillip kicks out Sherri from “Stealth R Us.” Phillip complains about Dawn’s paranoia. Phillip basically makes it clear he is voting for Cochran.

Erik is upset Dawn blindsided Brenda. He says they don’t have any more special connections, because it always seemed like they were best buds to me. Erik, who did very little in the game, then accuses Sherri of not doing anything in the game. Sherri basically yells at Erik and makes sure she doesn’t have his vote.

Michael gives Dawn a chance to defend herself over being called the villain, while Cochran isn’t getting burned for his actions. Dawn essentially says it was her job to build the relationships and she had to do all the work, and accuses Cochran of not doing as much as people thought. Cochran says he is happy that Dawn is getting the heat, and Cochran claims that his job of being her therapist kept her in the game. Dawn and Cochran bicker against each other, but Cochran comes out looking lighthearted, while Dawn looks bitter.

Reynold accuses Dawn of being fake. Dawn tries to defend herself by complimenting him with being humorous, but also being chauvinistic and vulgar. Then Reynold gets her to admit that she kicked everyone’s ass and she liked it.

Andrea proves to be really cool by not being bitter over her blindside. She is a class act. Andrea then goes pre-school and wants to know what animal Cochran would be. Cochran chooses chameleon, because he had to always adapt. Andrea then gives her endorsement to Dawn, and says she would have played like her. This may be one of Dawn’s votes.

Brenda wants to know why Cochran blindsided her after she allowed him to be with his family. Cochran says he did appreciate what she did, but she was his biggest threat in the game. It is always nice to butter up your big vote to the million. Brenda isn’t as easy on Dawn and forces her take out her retainer and show her gap in her teeth. After that humiliation, I think Brenda owes her a vote.

Both Dawn and Cochran do really well in the final tribal. Poor Sherri’s never given a chance to defend herself.

In the final vote reveal, it ends up being a massive runaway. Cochran gets a sweep win, and he goes from Survivor dork to Survivor champion.

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(Image courtesy of CBS)

Chris Spicer

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV