Survivor: Caramoan – Finale Review

OK guys, if you haven’t seen the finale of Survivor: Caramoan yet, move on – I won’t be responsibly for spoiling it! It was a fun episode that capped off a pretty solid season.

Things started off a little slow, with too much focus on crazy antics from Shamar and Brandon. But the strategy heated up and we saw a lot of players really adjust their games based on their previous seasons. For some it worked out pretty well, for others not so much.

If you’ve seen the episode, click on through – there’s lots to talk about.

Disclaimer: I wrote this during commercial breaks while the show was on (I have a day job, guys! so please excuse errors.)

Somebody Call an Ambulance

The tribe hadn’t even returned to camp after Tribal Council yet, and Erik was so sick that Probst had to call in the medical team. Everyone had noticed that Erik seemed dazed during Tribal Council (though, isn’t he always a little dazed?) and he was feeling incredibly dizzy, like he might faint.

erik 2Erik was looking incredibly thin for the last few days of the game, so I guess this didn’t come as a surprise – he had symptoms of starvation and very low blood pressure. The medics gave him an IV, but ultimately decided that it was too risky to let him continue in the game. With only three days left! That was an absolutely crazy twist for the game, and a terrible disappointment for Erik. I don’t think Erik played strategically this season and he didn’t deserve to win, but of course I would never want to see him go out this way. Insane. And, a massive reminder of just how real this game is. This is why we keep watching, season after season. It’s always so unpredictable.

House of Cards

eddie01Back to camp, Cochran was immediately strategizing. I love that guy. He knew Eddie had a good chance of winning the final Immunity Challenge and becoming a VERY important vote, and he knew he hadn’t bonded with him much. It was a little late in the game to be buddying up to Eddie, but it didn’t matter. Eddie sees Dawn as the biggest threat in Tribal Council and wants to take her out. On paper, she is – she’s sweet, bonded with a lot of people, and has six adopted kids to put through college. But in reality, I wasn’t so sure Dawn would do well in Tribal Council. All those “friends” on the jury were people she stepped on to get there, and that hurts more than someone you didn’t love stabbing you in the back. Cochran didn’t dive down and find Dawn’s fake teeth, Brenda did.

The Reward Challenge was a good one – I wonder if it was originally intended to be an Immunity Challenge? Because Erik got evacuated from the game, I assume they had to bump one or two challenges. Players had to steady a board with one hand, while they built a house of cards on it with the other hand. There were lots of ups and downs, but eventually Cochran pulled out another win. I’m excited for him! He was such a little pencil-necked nerd in his first season, and he still is – but he’s infinitely exceeded expectations this season. He won a secret advantage in the final Immunity Challenge.

Somebody Call a Waaahmbulance

sherriBack at camp, Sherri told Eddie that she also wants Dawn taken out next. Interesting. On the one hand, I totally get it. But still, I think everyone is overestimating Dawn’s sympathy factor. I think some people will feel betrayed by her, and others will feel fed up with her constant crying. I don’t think her breakdowns have been sympathetic, I think they have been annoying. And I feel like people are underestimating the likability of Eddie as a sweet, dumb, pretty oaf who never had to betray anyone. People will be mad at Dawn, they might be mad at Cochran. They don’t like Sherri. They’ll give a million bucks to Eddie by default.

What didn’t help Dawn’s case was her ten millionth emotional breakdown of the season. She was panicking because she knew Eddie and Sherri wanted her out. At best, the vote would be a tie, and at worst, Cochran would turn on her and she’d be eliminated. Dawn was right to worry, but not to freak out. She needs to pull it the hell together. She needs to play, not whine.

Fallen Comrades, a.k.a. This Is When You Should Refill Your Chip Bowl

Here are some thoughts on the tribute, in case you were refreshing your snacks at the time:

  • “I guess I have a lot of potential in Survivor, which is going to remain unrealized.” – Francesca
  • Was this a weak season for medical evacuations, or what? A speck of sand in an eye, too crazy,  and too hungry? (I’m counting Brandon as a mental health evacuation, not a vote. I mean really.)
  • “I was going to flip for a gay and three hotties, that’s Corinne handbook number one… I’m exactly who you think I am, if not worse.” – Corinne


The Immunity Challenge was also exciting – players had to run up a set of stairs, untie a bag of puzzle pieces, and slide down  – three times. Then they had to solve the puzzle. Cochran’s advantage was that his bags were already untied, and it paid off. He started the puzzle with a big lead, and then he almost blew it. Dawn and Sherri were pulling ahead, until Cochran finally got it together and finished the puzzle first. Wow! A fourth individual immunity win for Cochran. Who woulda thunk it?

Had Dawn won that challenge, I still don’t think she had a shot at winning. I think Cochran would beat her. I think Eddie would beat her. I think people are more fed up with Dawn’s crying than they sympathize with it.

Cochran then had a big decision to make. Of course, he was hilarious as he was making it. “It’s so lonely at  the top… This is horrible stuff for me to be saying when I, of course, lose.”

Bringing Sherri to the end is a no-brainer, but would it be better for him to bring Dawn or Eddie along too? Eddie tried his best to get Cochran to bring him.  “The jury loves everything you say,” Cochran told him. “That’s because I’m an idiot!” Well, I can’t argue with Eddie on that one.  If Eddie wins the money, he wants to open a dog playpen that’s attached to a bar. Guys, I actually started to root for Eddie!

dawnI thought he should bring Dawn. I thought Cochran could beat Dawn. But I was worried “A chauvinistic 23 year-old idiot,” in Cochran’s words, would pull out a surprise win. When Cochran cast his vote, he said “I think you’re the only person out there that can beat me.” I still wasn’t sure whose name he’d be writing down. There were arguments to make for both Dawn and Cochran.

Dawn. Eddie. Eddie. Eddie. I think Cochran made the right decision there. Eddie had too many friends on the jury, and there was too great a chance that angry, bitter players would give him a million bucks for being a nice guy. I thought he definitely would get votes from Phillip, Reynold, Malcolm and Andrea.

Prediction Time

First of all, I say this every season, but I HATE final threes. Sherri is such a non-entity here. Maybe she’d get one vote from some crazy like Phillip, but she certainly wasn’t a contender to win and it’s just a buzz kill to have her in the mix.

cochran 2So, Dawn vs. Cochran. I have Dawn in the Survivor office pool and her winning would mean a cool $190 in my pocket. I also like Dawn as a player, despite her high-strung emotions, and I would be totally fine with her winning. But, I loved Cochran this season and was rooting for him to win. I think he earned it, I think he was the rightful winner.

Thinking about the jury before Tribal Council, I was pretty sure Cochran would get votes from Reynold, Andrea, Malcolm, Brenda, Erik and Eddie. They’re people who respect the game and would appreciate Cochran’s strategic strength and physical accomplishments this season. Phillip is a wildcard. Michael is tough to read.

Prep Time

I really do think it’s great that Dawn and Cochran made it so far together this season. They both had a lot of potential in their original seasons and they both screwed up. They played great this season, they kept their alliance relatively hidden from everyone else and they consistently made great decisions together. It’s too bad two people can’t win.

Before the final Tribal Council, Cochran started to feel insecure. “Sorry Harvard, you haven’t really taught me a lot on how to address a jury.” I had a feeling we were just being made to think he might blow it, when he’d end up knocking it out of the park.

Jury Time – Opening Comments

I liked Dawn’s opening comments a lot. She didn’t apologize, and I worried she’d Amanda-Kimmel it. She was proud of herself for sticking to a plan, playing hard, and making tough decisions. She spoke well.

I don’t know why Sherri decided to reveal to everyone that she runs successful businesses and has 75 employees. So… you lied and you’re rich? No one is giving you any money. She was also so nervous she could barely speak.

Cochran was in his true Woody-Allen-esque glory during his opening comments. His obsession with the game, the fact that he surprised himself with social skills and in physical challenges, and his strategic prowess were the key points he made, and he set up a strong argument.

Jury Time – Questions

Malcolm told Cochran and Dawn that his vote was up in the air. (He didn’t have a question for Sherri.) In fact, he actually just gave Dawn advice, which was awesome. He asked Cochran what quality he has that Malcolm himself doesn’t have. Cochran’s answer, “insecurity”, was both flattering and accurate.

It was quite clear that Eddie would vote for Cochran. Eddie just wanted to hear Cochran say that he’d be less of a wallflower with a million bucks.

Phillip used his time to fire Sherri from “Stealth ‘R Us”. Oh man. He told Dawn that he had no time for her tears. He told Cochran “You’re a real class act.” Well, that was simpler than I expected.

Erik’s words were more interesting because he was close with Dawn. But he was hurt by her blindsiding Brenda – he just didn’t have an opportunity to voice that before, when he was getting medically evacuated from the game. It was a little hypocritical for Erik to tell Sherri that she never did anything and was “a seashell on the beach”, but her telling off Erik certainly wasn’t going to win her Miss Congeniality.

Michael used his time to give Dawn a chance to talk about why she was getting painted as a villain when Cochran wasn’t. I think Dawn was correct – Dawn made more personal relationships and used them to get ahead, thus had more blood on her hands. I think that’s true, and that’s a plus for Dawn. I think in some ways she played harder. But her tears, the paranoia, etc. That stuff lost her votes, and rightly so.

Reynold told Dawn “I pretty much disliked you from Day One,” because he thinks she’s phony. He asked Dawn to shoot straight and describe him. “Chauvinistic, great sense of humor, and vulgar” was probably a good combination of honest and not too mean. I mean, he is a disgusting pig. It was clear that he’d vote Cochran.

I love that Andrea wasn’t bitter at all. She asked Cochran what animal he played the game most like. “Chameleon” was a great answer to a silly question. She told Dawn that she was proud of her for playing a strategic game. I originally thought she’d vote Cochran, but ended up thinking she’d vote Dawn.

I was looking forward to Brenda’s words, because she was so hurt over being blindsided, but is also a great player and lover of the game. Brenda gave Cochran a visit with her family, and she gave Dawn her retainer when she was about to quit. And they voted her out. Brenda asked Dawn if she actually would have quit the game had she not found her teeth. Dawn said no, I would have stayed. Brenda said prove it, take your teeth out. It went back and forth, and eventually Dawn did it. Wow. It was an intense exchange, and when it was over I still wasn’t sure if Dawn complying meant that Brenda would vote for her. I really wasn’t sure at all what Brenda would do, but in the end I predicted that she’d vote Cochran.

So my predictions were two votes for Dawn, coming from Andrea and Michael, and the rest for Cochran. But I was so unsure about Michael’s vote, I thought there was a good chance that Cochran would take it 7-1. No matter what, I knew it would be a landslide. And I think Cochran deserved it. He might have written an A+ paper on Survivor, but he finally played an A+ game.

And the winner is…

We saw Phillip vote for Cochran, and Malcolm say “This is not the name I thought I’d be writing down tonight,” – did he vote Dawn? If so, wow. Interesting. It wouldn’t matter, but interesting.

Dawn telling Probst “I don’t think I’m gonna win, but I think I’m going to be able to buy some new teeth,” was pretty amazing. Everyone knew Cochran had it in the bag. Good for him! And congratulations to my Nana for winning the money!

Cochran actually swept it – I’m surprised, because I felt sure that Andrea would vote for Dawn. I’m also surprised that Malcolm didn’t expect all along to vote for Cochran, and wonder how Dawn lost that vote.


“My mother helped pick this out.” “It helps that I kind of resemble an eleven year old.” Cochran now has a million dollars, but he still has that lovely self-deprecating humor. My mom and I have been saying that he should be a writer, so I’m glad he’s not going to just go be a lawyer.

Is it just me, or did it feel like Probst was trying to make Dawn cry? It seemed he was being overly aggressive in asking her about hearing negative things from the public. I just wanted to get to the stuff with Brenda.

Brenda and Dawn hadn’t spoken since the game ended, and it was too bad that Brenda was on satellite instead of there in person. But it was because she’s about to have a baby! Good for her. (There were loads of tweets from people wondering whether Brenda was pregnant during filming. The production on this season wrapped nearly a year ago. So, no.) I was glad she accepted Dawn’s apology, but I wish we’d heard more from her about whether she voted for Cochran because she thought he deserved it more, or if it was because she was mad at Dawn. Sometimes I hate how Probst runs these reunion shows. Less emotional crap, more strategy talk, please!

 I mean, really. Phillip was a waste of time. That weird little kid in love with Malcolm was a waste of time. I didn’t need to hear 85 year-old Rudy reminisce and make awkward gay jokes. Is that supposed to be cute? It’s not.

Malcolm and Brenda received most of the votes for player of the season. I’m surprised Cochran wasn’t in the running, he’s so funny! I love Brenda and was hoping she’d win it, but Malcolm and his flowy, poofy hair took it.

OK guys, take to the comments and tell me what you thought of the finale! Did the right player win?

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