John Cochran went the entire season without having a single vote cast against him. Until the final Tribal Council, that is, when he got all the votes he needed and was named the winner of Survivor: Caramoan. It was a remarkable turnaround for a guy who was berated for being disloyal and mocked for his inability in challenges the last time he played in Survivor: South Pacific. Cochran won four individual challenges this season, although two of them were with advantages.
The episode began with an immediate medical evacuation, as Erik left the previous Tribal Council only to feel his head spinning. After being examined by a doctor, he was pulled due to dangerously low blood pressure, leaving only four players left (Cochran, Dawn, Sherri, and Eddie). That meant the next immunity challenge (which forced the contestants to build a house of cards with one hand) was changed to a reward, with the winner (Cochran) getting an advantage in the final immunity challenge. Also needing to fill time with the loss of a Tribal Council, the show trotted out its often maligned Fallen Comrades tribute, where the contestants awkwardly try to come up with nice things to say about the people they voted out along the way. Using the advantage he won in the reward, Cochran also won the final immunity (which involved retrieving puzzle bags and constructing a fire puzzle), and Eddie was voted out, dashing his dreams of opening a bar for both humans and dogs.
While Cochran’s victory was pretty much assured at this point, Tribal Council was still filled with plenty of fireworks as contestants blasted Dawn for making and breaking personal connections to get to the end, and steamrolled Sherri for…well, doing nothing. Tribal ended in a truly ugly fashion as Brenda — who found Dawn’s missing fake teeth only to later be voted out by the woman — insisted on making Dawn remove her retainer and humiliate herself as some sort of payback for the hurt she caused her. While Dawn’s betrayal was a move based strictly on gameplay (although faulty gameplay since her chances for beating anyone plummeted after she backstabbed her friend), Brenda’s move was purely personal and came off as both mean and petty.
When the votes were finally read back in Los Angeles, Cochran officially won his million dollars and title of Sole Survivor. My full recap will be up soon, but you can check out an exclusive deleted scene below and sound off right here and right now. Did the best player win? Did you love or loathe Brenda’s payback at Dawn? And how do you feel about giving away advantages for the final immunity challenge instead of having everyone compete on equal footing for a spot in the finale three? Hit the message boards to weigh in, and for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.