Teeth vs. Geek: Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites Finale Recap May 12 2013

13 May

We begin the episode in the dark, with Erik sitting down holding his head and obviously ill. It’s shortly after tribal council, and the players haven’t gone far, so Jeff Probst and his usual contingent of Australian medics are quickly on the scene. Erik explains that he’s dizzy and the world is spinning around. The Ozzie M.D. hooks up an I.V., and we immediately hear a clear, concise explanation of what the IV is doing, delivered by none other than… Eddie? You would think the only thing he gets fed intravenously are brewskis, but it turns out Eddie the fireman is also an emergency medical technician.

Last episode when Erik climbed the tree it sounded like he was toying with the idea of quitting, so I found the fainting spell a bit dubious, but the medic’s diagnosis is that Erik should not be allowed to return to the game, and the ice cream server is scooped into a van and driven away.

This development immediately makes the finals more interesting. I said in my last post that Erik was a lock to get to the finals because every other player knew he wouldn’t get votes. With him out of the picture, the final voting seems guaranteed to be more competitive. But what would the producers do, since this throws the numbers off? Were we headed for a final two rather than a final three, something I wish Survivor would go back to?

Cochran wastes no time pondering the ramifications for his game and resolves “I have to be the first person to get to Eddie.” As the most likely person to win the next challenge he stands to be someone you must have as an ally. But at their first conversation Eddie says right away that he wants to go with Cochran to the end, rather than Dawn! Either I’m seriously misreading the way the jurors will see Dawn, or Eddie is seriously dense. As it turns out it’s the latter. However… I’ve heard some chatter lately about Eddie being one of the worst players in the history of the game. That’s ridiculous. He’s bad, but he’s not even one of the five worst on this season! Did you see Julia, Brandon, Shamar, Laura, and Erik?

Meanwhile a stressed out Dawn says that at this point in the game “It’s almost all you can do to keep it together.” Ookay Dawn, but it’s not like you have come anywhere close to keeping it together! Quite the opposite!

Time for a reward challenge, which I assume was originally supposed to be the second-to-last immunity challenge before Erik’s departure threw the numbers off. It turns out that the reward is not food or anything like that, but an advantage in the final immunity challenge. Eddie’s face lights up and he’s heard to say this is a big deal, which is a bit of a surprise because the same thing was at stake in the “floating doghouse” challenge a couple of episodes ago, and he quit right away to eat (if memory serves) a doughnut!

The challenge is one that was used before, I think in one of the Ozzy seasons: the players have to build up a house of cards with only one hand while keeping the platform steady with their other hand. Several different people seem close to winning when their towers topple, but finally Cochran, whose tower crashed several times, wins it.

Back at camp in becomes clear that in addition to Eddie not wanting to take Dawn to the finals, Sherri doesn’t want to see Dawn next to her either. Sherri notes, “Dawn has played the sympathy card in this game like no other.” What are Cochran’s thoughts on Dawn? “Every day I get to see a new freakout from Dawn. There’s the over-the-top weeping, sobbing, flailing of arms, asking to be left alone. Today Dawn was leaning more towards the catatonic breakdown…. Dawn feels like she automatically deserves a fastpass to the finals, why exactly I don’t know. Every day’s a roller-coaster with her, and it’s not fun, it’s not funny… on Day 37 she should be paranoid because I am considering ditching her.”

Time for the fallen comrades tribute, which Cochran the fan says he loves. I love it too, although I liked it better when they would just show highlights of the voted-out players. Now they add in self-serving quotes from those people. It’s always a bit silly to hear someone who was voted out really early claim they made a huge impact and/or accomplished everything they wanted to accomplish. And of course I resent those psychos Brandon and Shamar getting any airtime whatsoever. With 20 people there were a lot of fallen comrades to get to, and some of them were half-forgotten already. Not BMX Matt though, who I hope they consider bringing back if and when there’s another “all-star” season. The most entertaining moment was probably when they came to Hope, whom Eddie called his first Survivor love. Her quote was “I would do it again in a heartbeat. Without Eddie.” Ouch. By the way, Hope was only on screen for about 1 second at the reunion show, but you could see why she was voted Miss Missouri. Yowza.

The final immunity challenge involves climbing a tower to get bags of puzzle pieces and sliding down with them each time, then trying to put together a puzzle that looks like a  giant flame. Cochran uses his advantage to get a big lead, but loses it, yet still wins the challenge. The second he wins, Dawn yells out “oh my gosh” and over-emotes ridiculously as she congratulates him again and again.

At camp, Cochran tells the camera he has the million wrapped up but needs to decide who gets $100,000 for coming in second. Eddie makes his pitch to Cochran, and unlike when Reynold tried to bro down earlier in the season, Eddie approaches him using logic. Who would vote for a player who did so little, he asks. Eddie points out that the whole season, only one person he voted for went home (that being Phillip). Later Eddie tells the camera that if he won the million he’d start a kennel and dog playground attached to a bar, since he loves both dogs and bars. Uhh, he is kidding… right? Whatever the case, Eddie is voted out at tribal council. And nothing of any consequence happens between that and the final tribal council, so let’s get right to the good stuff.

The players make their opening statements, and Sherri gets off to a curious start: she says she told everyone she’s a stay-at-home mother who’s been married a long time and has a bunch of kids, and all of that is true, but she’s also a successful businesswoman with several businesses and 75 employees (OK, so she was slightly lying about the “stay-at-home” part). Why she makes this revelation at the exact time that she needs to convince people to give her a million dollars is a real mystery. As for Cochran, I notice two things: one is that his ears are absolutely enormous, and the other is that based on the opening statements he has this thing in the bag.

We’ve seen glimpses of an evil-eyed jury as well as glimpses of Andrea’s amazing outfit, and it’s time for the jurors to ask questions. Malcolm says he has nothing to say to Sherri, tells Dawn she needs to “own” her moves rather than trying to play the nice-person card, and asks Cochran what qualities he has that Malcolm doesn’t have that merited his getting further in the game. Cochran says his insecurities led him to try and take out other players, and he couldn’t imagine Malcolm ever being insecure. Cochran is dominating this tribal council!

Erik gets his turn and tries to take Sherri to task for having done nothing in the game. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! This is the guy who just wanted people to point to a name on a sign right before tribal council to tell him whom to vote for! And his claim is not true anyway, though Sherri’s main moves were in the early going. Sherri quickly tires of this and tells Erik he’s being holier-than-thou, and that he should just go sit down. The ice cream scooper slinks away. Sherri, you go, girl! Erik has officially made himself look like a complete idiot on two different seasons.

As the council continues, Reynold tells Dawn “I think that you are disingenuous,” Andrea says “I’m not bitter, I have no mean words,” and Sherri is hardly addressed by anyone.

Now get your popcorn ready for a classic moment. Brenda, unlike Andrea, is very bitter, and brings up the moment when she dove for Dawn’s retainer, and how thankful Dawn was. Brenda’s convoluted reasoning for what’s coming escapes me, but it somehow has to do with wanting Dawn to feel a moment of vulnerability: she wants Dawn to take her retainer out and show everyone. Dawn says she won’t do it. Then she says if Brenda wants her to humiliate herself, so be it. So Dawn takes the retainer out… and she has no bottom teeth in the middle at all! It’s really shocking and scary! I understand much better now just why she was freaked out by the prospect of having to play the rest of the game without her retainer.

This was an unbelievable moment, surely one of the top final-tribal moments ever. The whole tribal council is one of the best final-tribals ever, and Cochran’s performance was among the very best.

At the reunion show, the votes are read, and Cochran wins. By a unanimous vote at that!

When I “handicapped” the favorites at the end of my previous post I correctly said Cochran had the inside track (no great feat), but when I looked at the potential finals matchup of Dawn/Sherri/Cochran, I thought that one would be close. Michael, Brenda, Erik, and Eddie all had reasons to vote for someone else, or so I thought. But then again who knew Cochran would do such a great job of addressing the jury?

At the reunion show something different was done than in past seasons: even after the votes were read, only the jury was up on stage, though most if not all of the players voted out earlier were in the crowd. I like that better, as trying to give every person some camera time didn’t usually result in good television. That dolt Erik didn’t get asked a question at all, thank goodness.

A couple of entertaining moments: Phillip reveals that he has a Stealth ‘R Us nickname for Probst, namely the Piercing Eagle. I kind of like that. Also, Rudy Boesch from the first season is there. He was 72 when he played and still looks good now, at 85!

I’ll be back with some final thoughts on this season, and where it stands in the all-time rankings, in the next few days.

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