And just like that, it was all over. Who made it to the final three? Who won the big bucks? Let’s relive last night’s SURVIVOR blow by blow.
And Then There Were Four: Wanna know why the final episode is 3 hours long? Well, the first 10 minutes are nothing but a recap of what we’ve all watched all season. But once we get through that, we pick things up just after the last tribal council and Erik has gotten so dizzy that they have to pump saline into him. And damned if because of dehydration and malnutrition, he isn’t officially pulled from the game on day 36! It’s hard to imagine what’s going through the minds of his fellow players. On the one hands, they’re clearly stunned. But on the other, they’re one step closer to being named the winner.
So Close, So Gone: Human nature being what it is, once everybody’s back at camp… well, by the time folks get back to camp, they’ve stopped fretting about Erik and instead turned their thoughts toward themselves, with Eddie pointing out that he’s “just as starving.” As Cochran put it, “We kind of exchange a few sad pleasantries about the sad state of affairs, and I’m already thinking about the game.” At the center of everyone’s plan: Eddie. The reward challenge involves building a house of cards… with one hand while the other holds onto a bar that balances the whole ball of wax. The prize? An advantage in the final immunity challenge. And Cochran — the man Erik dubbed a “challenge monster” before being carted off — lives up to the name by winning yet again.
The Cray Cray Report: With the final immunity challenge looming, everyone’s on edge… and Dawn is one step away from a meltdown. “Every day, I get to see a new freak out from Dawn,” says quote monster Cochran. “There’s the over-the-top weeping, sobbing, flailing of arms, asking to be left alone. Unfortunately, today Dawn was leaning more towards the catatonic breakdown.” As if to back that up, Dawn tell us that the longer the game goes on, “the harder it’s been for me mentally to… ” oh, Dawn, let us just stop you there. No need to go further.
Bored Now: Sorry, but my finger hits the fast-forward button the second we find out that it’s time for what Cochran dubs “the famous Survivor right of passage.” You know, the whole traipse down memory lane. “You get to reflect on the past 38 days,” he points out… because, you know, they haven’t had the last 38 days to do exactly that every TV/radio/internet-free second.
The Unstoppable Ginger: I don’t know who the production assistant is who runs the final immunity challenge course as Jeff describes it, but he’s a total babe. Anyway, the final four have to do basically what every challenge on Survivor entails: run up, slide down, build a puzzle. You know the drill. Cochran’s advantage? He doesn’t have to untie the knots connecting his puzzle bags to the course, he’ll be able to grab-and-go, saving him a nice chunk of time. Personally, my favorite thing in this challenge is that as Jeff loudly yells out updates on how many pieces each person has assembled, you can almost see how badly the contestants want to tell him to shut his pie hole so they can concentrate. Despite majorly blowing his initial advantage, Cochran manages to pull yet another win out of his butt. Even as Dawn is hugging him as if they’re already the final two, Cochran admits there’s a devil on his shoulder telling him to get rid of her. Confession: That devil is me.
Stud-Be-Gone: Cochran’s feeling pretty damn sure that he’s going to walk away with the million. Who should he “give” second place to? “Do I want to bring Dawn and her constant emotional outbursts, or Eddie, a chauvinistic 23-year-old idiot?” he muses. And just when you’re thinking he’s become downright insufferable, he laughs and says to the camera, “This is horrible stuff for me to be saying when I, of course, lose!” Eddie scores major points with me by saying if he wins, he wants to use the money to open a bar with an attached doggie playground. At tribal council, Dawn is visibly freaked when Sherri and Eddie appear to join forces in attempt to throw her under the bus Cochran is driving. But in the end, Cochran realizes that Eddie is “the only person out here who can beat me” and sends him home.
Fight Club: At the final tribal council, Cochran, Dawn and Sherri — who has about as much chance of winning this as I do — face the jury and make their individual cases. Dawn’s argument is basically, “I gave myself permission to be a d-bag… oh, and I’m an emotional basketcase who will go psycho if I don’t win.” Sherri makes the worst case ever by informing the jury she owns several businesses. Might just as well have said, “Yeah, I don’t need your stinkin’ money!” Cochran’s opening statement? “I’m a Survivor geek who played an awesome game and want to prove that to you during the Q&A session.” Malcolm starts off the questioning by dissing Sherri. “I don’t have a question for you,” he admits, turning instead to her rivals. Eddie continues the dump-on-Sherri fest by saying she was carried to the final three. When she denies it, people actually titter. Phillip tells Sherri she’s no longer a member of Stealth ‘R Us, and while she actually looks stricken, Malcolm is one step away from becoming the living embodiment of the acronym ROTFL. And that’s before Phillip reenacts Dawn’s daily meltdowns. In fact, every time they cut to Malcolm, he seems to be having the time of his life. Not surprisingly, Phillip makes the entire thing about himself and doesn’t bother to ask any of the final three questions. Erik joins the pile-on-Sherri brigade, and she finally snaps. “I don’t need your help!” she says, adding, “You can sit down!” Reynold makes my day by calling Dawn out as a big fraud. To prove his point, he suggests she list three adjectives that she would honestly use to define him. Asked to be genuine, she, of course, fumbles before going with chauvinistic, vulgar… and great sense of humor. Andrea refuses to just sit there and look pretty, instead asking Cochran what animal he felt he played like. His awesome answer? A chameleon. Brenda — who is wearing some cool Pocahontas-like outfit — calls Cochran out, asking how he was able to blindside her immediately after she’d given him time with his loved ones. Again, his answer is brutally honest: “I’ve kinda developed this sociopathic ability to separate game and emotion.” At this point, I’m basically ready to end this and just give Cochran the million bucks that he clearly is going to win. But then Brenda tops herself by saying that she saw Dawn in a way nobody else has and asks if she really would have quit had Brenda not retrieved her teeth that day. When Dawn claims she wouldn’t have, Brenda demands she take out her teeth! “It’s my thing. I know it’s harsh,” says Brenda. “But I had your fate in my hands that day, and you’re telling me… it wasn’t really that big a deal.” Dawn eventually does and damned if it’s not kinda gross and shocking and a moment that will go down in the show’s history. And with that… it’s time to vote.
And The Winner Is… : We cut to the live broadcast featuring the cleaned up players, and danged if Cochran doesn’t look like he just stepped off the set of THE BIG BANG THEORY. Questioned by Jeff, Sherri says she has no chance, Cochran admits he thinks he’s the front-runner… and Dawn? “I don’t think I’m going to win,” she admits. “But I think I’m going to be able to buy some new teeth!” Sure enough, it ain’t even close. The first five votes give Cochran the win. (As far as I can tell, Cochran actually walked away with all the votes… meaning technically, neither Sherri nor Dawn came in second but rather tied for last.) And during the live after show — a format, by the way, that Jeff Probst excels in to the point that BIG BROTHER’s Chenbot should be ashamed — Cochran kinda proves why he won everyone’s hearts by summing up his approach to how his life changed as a result of playing twice: “Accepting [that] my eccentricities as just a part of me instead of letting it be a source of embarrassment. I’m proud of who I am.” And for perhaps the first time ever, I’m actually humbled by the winner of a reality show because Cochran is, in a word, awesome.So what did you think of the finale? Exactly when did you begin to suspect Cochran might walk away the winner? Do you agree with the jury’s vote? Sound off below!
Richard Simms is the Executive Editor of Soaps In Depth magazine and the author of Crimes Against Civility, which is available on Amazon.com.