May 13, 2013

John Cochran: Caramoan's Sole Survivor

Being named Sole Survivor must be worth more than a million dollars to John Cochran. It was a win thirteen years in the making for the nerdiest, smartest, and cutest Survivor superfan of all time.


I've never been so happy about a Survivor winner. I'd been pulling for Cochran from the start. By the end, it was clear he was the only one who deserved to win.
OUTWIT: John Cochran was always in control. He said it best: He was calm without being complacent and vigilant without being paranoid. He chalked it up to timing, but it was so much more. He's the most intelligent castaway ever to play Survivor.
OUTPLAY: He was the challenge monster he claimed to be. Even if he did need the advantages to win the immunity challenges, he earned them by being smart enough to buy the one and skilled enough to win the other. 
OUTLAST: Not only did he make it to the jury's cross-examination, he made it through the jury's cross-examination, which is the bigger accomplishment. Not to mention that every one of his answers was perfect.
To top it all off, I'm certain that Cochran said things in his testimonials solely for the benefit of the cameras. He summarized the plot articulately, concocted snide (yet witty and endearing) insults, and spoke ambiguously enough about strategy that his comments were ready-made for teaser previews. He doesn't just understand the game from a castaway's point of view, he understands it from the producers' point of view.

The Challenges
I was thrilled with the finale's challenges. The reward challenge was a reprise of one of my favorites. Remember this moment from South Pacific?

Watching that challenge again reminds me how happy I was for Sophie. She's now a close second to Cochran in my list of favorite Survivor winners.

The final immunity challenge was a great combination of challenge elements. Sure, it was mostly a puzzle challenge, but puzzle challenges are my favorite. I think they prove that even the "outplay" pillar of the game is about more than just brawn.

The Jury Speaks
I can't not address the Dawn and Brenda squabble. You know I feel that this is a game, and should be treated as such. Dawn made a smart move and has no reason to regret any of her game. As for Brenda's tribal "question," that was low. Low and unnecessary. It stemmed from somewhere bitter and that's not cool, but it's also not uncommon. Being a bitter juror is easy. I have more respect for the gracious jurors - like Andrea.

If anyone had a right to be bitter, it was Erik, not Brenda. Poor Erik. He doesn't know how to leave Survivor the usual way! Boy, did Erik show his bitter side to Sherri. That was a fight I wasn't expecting. Sherri got the short straw in this finale, and I don't think that's fair. Maybe she didn't articulate it well, but Sherri did play a strategic game. While there was still an alliance of fans, she was in control of it. Had he not been medevac'd, she doubtless would have been in control of Shamar. And unlike any of the other fans, she was able to infiltrate the favorites alliance. Did she play a game worth a million dollars? No. But she played a game worth a few more questions, both from the jury and at the live after show.

There is one thing I'm still curious about. Was this a unanimous jury vote? Sure seems that way. No one cast a single vote for Cochran all season, until they all voted for him in the end. There's your fairy tale.

This was an unbelievable season of Survivor. In spite of the tough times, it was one of my favorites to watch, and seeing Cochran win was the icing on the cake. Just for Cochran, let's imagine that as vanilla and peanut butter icing. Congratulations, John Cochran. You deserved it.

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