Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Survivor Caramoan: Deciphering the Finale

My dry spell is over. I finally have a winning first pick in Survivor! For a die-hard Survivor fan, you'd think that I'd be better at choosing picks that are guaranteed to win. But who am I fooling? I easily fall for the hunky studs (*cough Bobby Jon, *cough Malcolm)! But I seriously thought I had it nailed last season with Malcolm since he is the ultimate combination of brains and brawns, and maybe a bit of charm that there wasn't a day since Malcolm first graced my TV screen that I didn't dream of him running away with the mill. But I digress, the star of this blog is supposed to be the newest winner - John Cochran! Cochran is the scrawny nerd who wrote papers on Survivor and I distinctively remembered asked Jeff during his first season to call him by his surname, just like he did with other Survivor greats. Jeff quipped to him, "Let's see if you earn it!". Fast forward to two years, here's a totally different Cochran who no longer just calls himself a "challenge beast" but also with the title Sole Survivor under his name.

The road to getting there was never easy. Cochran figured in one of the most controversy-ridden, twist-befuddled season that Jeff hyped up before premiere as better than the Philippines edition. For someone who loved the Philippines enough to relegate it as one of the top 3 seasons ever, I held high expectations.

Before the airing of the Finale episode, I had an inkling that Cochran had it in the bag. He had the advantage in jury votes in any given final 3 scenario. But I can't say I had some doubts lingering as the episode went by. This game seems to sneak up on you when you least expect it. And when you're complacent, it pulls the rug out of you. Just ask Andrea and Brenda. They got complacent and Cochran was smart enough to go after them because he knew either one of them would've given him a serious run for the money!

The first big twist of the finale episode was Erik's medical emergency. When the clip was shown last week, I knew it had to be Erik! They were building up this storyline of him being weak and out of his senses, especially since the timing was odd and it seemed even forced given that he basically had zero confessionals for the most part. It's like the editors forgot about him and they realized that he will be medevaced in the coming episode so they had to integrate that into the previous episode so it does not come as an entire shock to the audience.

The Erik situation gave Eddie a free pass to the Final Four. It's funny how Eddie thinks that if he can get to the finals that he has a shot at winning the million dollars. Who are you kidding, Eddie? I'm sure you're nice. But aside from flirting with any hot girl you can set your sights on and being bros with Malcolm and Reynold, you did nothing to merit a million dollar!

The first challenge promised a reward that was going to prep the winner for the challenge that matters - the final immunity challenge. Kinda anticlimactic, huh? I actually did not like this concept when they first used it in the Philippines. Jeff told the castaways that the winner of that challenge won an advantage to the Final Immunity Challenge! Hear me out here: it creates a sense of guarantee of winning the next challenge. I also feel it's a bit anticlimactic in a sense that their focus is torn between the current challenge and the one up ahead, which is the more important one. I'm sure it was a move done by the producers after Erik left rather unexpectedly due to medical reasons, since this was clearly being setup as another immunity challenge. Then again, Cochran ended up winning his third individual challenge and gets an advantage heading into the final immunity challenge that could seal his fate in the Final 3.

His advantage ended up being key to his final immunity win. I was expecting that the previous challenge would've worked more for a final immunity challenge than this win. Final immunity challenges typically require focus or endurance. This one was oddly similar to that same challenge that Malcolm won during the finale episode of Survivor: Philippines that earned him the advantage. But Cochran's advantage was huge! He struggled to figure out the puzzle early on such that Dawn ended up putting the first few pieces of her puzzle together. The competition might've kicked him into high gear as he ended up putting his puzzle pieces together quickly after he got the first one.

The Eddie vote at the Final Four tribal council was a feign attempt to make it seem as though Cochran will change things up. Earlier in the episode, we saw Cochran make a pact with Eddie about the Final 3 but we knew it was a defensive strategy on Cochran's part to secure his final three slot knowing that Eddie is the sole remaining threat to win immunity. And thus... the final three is Cochran, Sherri, and Dawn.

They celebrate with a feast in the morning before the real deal begins. Cochran delivered what I believe was one of the best opening speeches at tribal council. He covered all the grounds - he pointed out that he wasn't the best strategists nor was he the most physically competitive (although it's hard to ignore the fact that he won the most individual challenges this season!). He also pointed a realistic element to his gameplay that helped get him far and showed that he's a real smart player - timing. According to Cochran, his success in the game can be relegated to the fact that he managed to strike at his opponents before he can be struck at and he owned it!

Dawn took a beating at the final tribal council with several of the jury members thinking that she used relationships to gain an advantage in the game. However, she raised an essential point that these relationships were the key to the success of his alliance with Cochran because if it weren't for those relationships she built, she wouldn't have been able to gather the information needed to make their next big move.

Sherri, on the other hand, seemed to have been lost in the equation. The only memorable thing about her stint at the final tribal council would have to be her snide remark towards Erik who tried to ridicule her game and Eddie trying to make fun of her insistence that she got carried to the final 3.

However, nothing could've been more unforgettable as the Brenda-Dawn moment. Still reeling from the Dawn betrayal, Brenda refreshed everyone's memory of the day when Dawn lost her retainer and she dove in the water to get it. In doing so, she asked Dawn to take out her retainer so everyone would see what she looked like that day. Brenda lost a bit of favor with me for that particular move. While majority of the jury understood the strategy involved with taking them out, she seemed to take it the hardest and made an unconscionable move by asking Dawn to take out her teeth. We all know she voted for Cochran anyway, so what's the point with that? Apparently, she wanted to humiliate Dawn. And I think she crossed the line there. And the worst part of all, Jeff Probst even pushed Dawn (on live TV at that!) to apologize for Brenda! For someone whose seen this game first-hand and witnessed worst betrayals and backstabbing, I don't think Jeff was in a place to push Dawn to apologize for voting someone out! That's just plain ridiculous.

That moment, though, was only one of several awkward moments in what I thought was one of the worst reunion shows EVER! For someone whose seen all 26 seasons to date, it's saying a lot! After Cochran's announcement as the winner of Survivor Caramoan, the reunion show went downhill from there. Jeff had the decency to ask Dawn and Sherri for a short comment right before the reading of the votes. Little did we know that those were going to be Sherri's last words for the night!

It was also starkly obvious that the pre-jury members weren't on-stage. I thought that this was the setup during the reading of the votes, but as the show went on it was slowly dawning on us that the pre-jurors weren't going to have a part on the show. The worst part is that not even their presence were acknowledged! I understood the reason behind this was to make it less obvious that Brandon wasn't there - I caught word that he was banned by CBS from attending the reunion show! But who cares about Brandon? I'm sure a huge percentage of the fans would be pleased to know that the CBS producers finally got back to their right senses and not invite Brandon back! But what they had done to the pre-jury members was a disservice to those people who, regardless of how long or short they stayed in the game, were critical part to the journey.

While the pre-jury members were ignored, we got unnecessary airtime from Boston Rob (ugh), Richard, and Rudy, and some random girl. We know how great Boston Rob is and how Jeff Probst kisses the ground he walks on. But why not use that time instead to catch up on the Survivors that we haven't had much chance to see on the show? Do we really care about some stupid book that BRob is trying to promote?

The revelation of the Player of the Season was probably my only personal consolation during the finale. Malcolm won the title and the $100,000 that goes with it! I think it was well deserved because he undeniably played big. Come on, Episode 10 tribal council was memorable mainly for Malcolm! But above all the charades, he played a strong game but it just did not work out for him as he did not have enough people to make his plan work!

In conclusion, this reunion show did not do the season justice. It wasn't my favorite season despite the fact that I am ultimately satisfied with the winner and was entertained for the most part, although I would gladly do without the Phillip and Shamar antics, as well as all the drama with Brandon early on. But the strategy and gameplay at the latter part helped to save what would have been a disappointing season. I hope this only applies to this season's reunion show because it would be an insult for CBS to exclude the people who were out before the merge like they did this time out.

I'm sure most of you have an inkling as to what the next edition of Survivor is going to be, so I thought that teaser was pretty lame. What do you think of the concept for next season? As for me, it's something I'm not too excited about as with the Redemption Island concept, but this one might be worse. Share your thoughts below.


  1. Dawn needs to apologize to Brenda due to the fact that Brenda helped her a lot yet Brenda still got a knife on her back. Brenda also needs to apologize for that teeth part but I also get Brenda's point. Dawn said she will not quit Survivor because of the false teeth then she needs to prove that. No one will vote a crybaby that you helped then backstabbed you. Dawn looked too phony and fake in the eyes of the jury.

    The reunion is a really bad ending to a great season. What happened to Francesca and getting voted out twice? Shamar? Erik's evacuation? I remember also in the Micronesia finale that Jeff talked to people who were blindsided, Jeff did not talk about that this season. Well, he did talk to Andrea but the topic was about those chauvinistic good looking men that got a lot of airtime. Watching Jeff - so obvious who are his favorite players.

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  3. Jeff was in a hurry to fly back here in the Philippines, leaving the castaways on stage clueless (Malcolm's expression) on what to do next.

    I agree, this is the first time after 26 seasons that the pre-jury members were not recognized. I was looking forward to them coming out of the makeshift hut hugging one another after the announcement of the winner. Not even a single camera shot....

  4. This reunion show was indeed terrible. I just knew they were going to comment on how Francesca was the 1st survivor to be voted out 2x's. They didnt even show her. I get that they probably did that so as not to talk about Brandon, but why not say that and move on. I love hearing about the pre-jury players and I feel like I got jipped. I like the season but there were a few things that made me made. I am glad Cochran won, I think Dawn should have not stabbed Brenda in the back, Sherri is the laughing stock of the game, and I think they gave too much air time to those former survivor players. Rudy? Come on now, he was saying some things he could have kept and we didnt need to hear, we didnt need to see Richards blurred nakedness and BR - love him, but lets move on. I wish Brenda would have won player of the season because she did such a better job actually playing the game this season than her last (where she used her body to get through). She proved that she is a competitor and I feel like she didnt get all the accolades that she deserves. I laughed at Eddie all season because he literally did nothing. He didnt win a challenge, he did help out much in challenges, he was a goofball and I dont like that. You cant just be hot (which Im dont really think he is) and built and worth nothing on your tribe. NEXT! Im excited about next season but I dont like the way they promo'd it. Lets just get on with it. This reunion show was by far, the worst. Still a fan though.


Thanks for your comment. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say! :)