Previously on Survivor : For weeks, Stealth-R-Us had control of the game until the 3 Amigos pulled off a shocking move, using two immunity idols to blindside Phillip.
With Phillip gone, they hoped SRU would fall apart but they were wrong. Malcolm and Eddie went home, back to back.
After Erik won the last immunity challenge, it seemed obvious that Eddie would be the next one voted out but instead the game changed again and the majority alliance began to target each other. Cochran: “This is the beginning of the end.”
At a surprising Tribal Council the majority alliance turned on each other and, with an idol in her pocket, Andrea was the first to be blindsided.
This was a very neutral recap as is the case when we get this close to the end. While Jeff didn’t credit anyone for changing the game, Cochran was the one that was heard in confessional talking about the beginning of the end.
This Game Is Crazy.
The episode started with Eddie’s confessional the next morning: “All the chicks that I go after, that I try to hook up with, get voted out…I think I’m pretty much a sitting duck.”
The story of the curse that the guys put on all the women they associated with is now complete. It was weird though that the episode started the morning after, cutting out the scene showing the players commenting on the previous TC.
Eddie was talking to Cochran, saying he’s next. Cochran pointed out that he could win immunity and asked who would go in his place. Eddie said it could be Cochran, that the group could be voting for him.
Cochran (solo): “I always thought that I’m the scrawny, annoying twerp who is not good at challenges so of course everybody is going to go to the end with me. Now, I’m taking a step back and looking at myself and thinking: “Wait. Can I really get to the end of this game? Or do I have an expiration date that is rapidly approaching.”
The observer can look at himself and shows self-awareness.
Dawn and Brenda were also talking about Eddie winning immunity. Brenda said Cochran should go in that case. She added that she was pretty sure Erik would be on board.
Dawn’s confessional was heard at this point. It was cut in half so we could see Dawn talking to Brenda and Erik, saying she trusted them and that Cochran was a big threat to win the game.
Dawn in confessional: “I woke up feeling pretty good about being locked with Cochran and Sherri but now I have Brenda and Erik saying we will work with you at the end. That guarantees me Final 3 if I go with them but then that breaks my agreement with Cochran and I know that they want to target him. The good thing here is that I have options and hopefully that means I am going to take responsibility for it in the end and prove to people that I played a game that was worth a million dollars.”
This is the first we hear about the tie between Dawn, Cochran and Sherri. From the beginning, this season felt that it would be dominated by the weaker, smarter players instead of the muscle heads. The animal imagery, highlighting the small primates, pointed us in that direction and a Final 3 of Cochran, Dawn and Sherri fits in with that theme.
The next scene started with Erik pointing out that he had now been 70 days on Survivor. Maybe that was why he started losing it, thinking that the coconuts hanging from a tall tree were laughing at him!
Erik (solo): “I should be happy but I am not…This has been one of the hardest days…I have to have food…I feel like I am in prison…it’s horrible. There’s nothing to be talked about…I’m miserable here…These days are killing me…I’m super hungry and those coconuts have been laughing at me…As I’m climbing, I’m thinking: “You could fall off of that tree and break your leg and you’ll leave the game”…No one would judge me, they would say “you tried your best. It was just an accident.” I’m trying to defeat myself at this point…It scares the hell out of me.”
It seems that Erik learned something from Micronesia: Kathleen’s brilliant idea of cutting off her fingers to get pulled from the game without quitting. This scene set up the family visit nicely, showing how much this sappy moment is important to the players. It could also be telling us that Erik will be the one receiving Jeff’s visit next time.
Just then. Eddie brought them the tree mail news.
Brenda’s dad was the first shown and Brenda had a confessional telling us how much she wanted to hug him and, more importantly for future events, she added he told her to be humble.
Cochran’s mom, strangely, calls him Cochran, not John…
Erik told us that seeing his brother on video brought him back in the game and ready to fight.
Survivor’s Kiss n’ cry.
Brenda brought Jeff to tears when she told her dad that she followed his advice and had been humble.
When Jeff told everyone they’d be competing with their loved one, Cochran’s mom told him: “Sorry.” He laughed.
When Jeff said she was slowing down, Cochran intervened: “Don’t say anything about my mom.”
Erik and his brother, by far the most athletic pair, led all the way but disappeared after landing their first bolo. Did Erik throw another challenge?
Brenda and her dad had been close seconds all along and they “won” the reward challenge.
Can we call it winning? I feel the show has gone overboard with its dilemmas. It’s fun when they have to choose between each other to share the reward but now Brenda had no way out. She was going to make someone angry no matter what she did. Besides herself, she was either depriving the group of 4 or Dawn from seeing their loved ones. Dumb choice. So dumb that Brenda should have kept the reward for herself and Dawn. It certainly couldn’t have been worse. Brenda should have known not to win these individual rewards. They never learn.
Cochran had a confessional just as the reward started: “Summer of 2000, I’m 13 years old, sitting on the couch with my mom watching Survivor Borneo…I’m still watching it. Never missed an episode. This is the culmination of 13 years of loving this and loving this with somebody I love…You can’t beat it.”
Is this the culmination? Shouldn’t that culmination happen on Sunday night? Are we being told that Cochran’s journey is finished? Let’s call it misdirection!
Eddie’s mom told us he lost a lot of weight.
Sherri told us that seeing her husband made her weak in the knees and that hearing her son was on the island made her want to hold him in her arms just like the first time.
Cochran told us that his dad, a neurologist, doesn’t do Bar-B-Q but there he was with the sunglasses, working the grill.
Standing only 50 yards away, Brenda and Dawn could see everything that was going on. We heard the familiar sad piano melody while Dawn tried to chop some firewood while holding back tears.
Dawn’s confessional: “I’m exhausted, I’m hungry, the game is just breaking me down. I’m beyond rational thinking, I am just beat. Brenda earned all the good favor today because she’s the one that gifted everybody. Somehow, I feel like I’m just lost. Being with people that will be full and have seen their loved ones for the whole afternoon makes me want to spit.”
Brenda told Dawn to let it out. She added: “4 days from now, we are going to have big smiles on our face.”
Somehow I doubt that. Then again, it could be another winning quote in Dawn’s favor.
Brenda in confessional: “I’m praying that this is the right choice regardless of what my stomach is saying but Dawn doesn’t feel the same. Dawn is upset…Dawn is livid. Whenever you do anything big in this game, whether you save someone, whether you do something bad to someone, it’s funny how it’s always a double-edge sword. It could be amazing because they can be like: “I’ll never vote off Brenda because I owe her” or it could be Boom! Downfall.”
Cochran would soon tell us which it was: “At the time that Brenda made her decision… there was a sense of: “Brenda is fantastic…This is a game winning move” This is actually what my mom whispered to me: “Brenda is going to win this game. But the better and more likable and more untouchable Brenda seems, the more people are going to want to get her out because we’re at that point in the game where likability is a liability…I think Brenda will be experiencing that soon if I have anything to say about it.”
The Immunity Challenge
Eddie had a confessional telling us he knew he had to win to stay in the game.
Dawn was the only one with an overhand grip, all the others were underhanded most of the time even if Sherri switched at some point.
Erik wanted some food to jump in but Jeff had nothing for them.
Cochran experienced some trouble after 15 minutes when he told us that he wouldn’t be jumping out of this challenge. He tried to get Eddie to jump first.
Cochran awkwardly fell in.
With everyone watching him, Eddie was the next to drop. Erik quickly followed.
Sherri was the first woman to fall.
We then had some negotiations between Dawn and Brenda.
Dawn: “I don’t want to sit all day…I haven’t had one.”
Brenda wanted to compete but she didn’t last very long.
Jeff said this was Dawn’s first immunity win, but he was forgetting the first challenge after the merge in South Pacific.
Brenda had the doomed person’s confessional: “I don’t ever, ever want to be that person that jumps into the water, that gives up immunity. If that was Eddy up there? I would have held on a lot longer.But, someone as paranoid as Dawn, gotta keep her happy. I jumped in the water, it was all good.”
Brenda’s confessional continued after the break: “The whole challenge today was to make sure Eddie didn’t win immunity. As soon as Eddie jumped in the water it was like glee all over my face. I have to work on that because I felt bad showing how happy I was. I think…Eddie is going home and after that…the plan is to take out Cochran. It’s the perfect plan if we can just stick to it. Everything will go amazing.”
Cochran had a confessional: “If I had my pick between Eddie and Brenda, personally, I’d like to have Brenda go. I think it’s a move that benefits me and indirectly benefits Dawn and Sherri. The problem with that is everybody is so gung-ho about getting Eddie out…This is going to be a pretty hard sell.” Talking to Sherri at the pier, Cochran found out it wasn’t a hard sell because Sherri guessed that was the scenario he was contemplating and she was on board. Cochran’s confessional continued: “It is the perfect move because tonight is the perfect night to make it. If Brenda had one more day in this game, she could upset everything…She could go on a winning streak, she would win at the Final Tribal Council. I’m making sure that doesn’t happen.”
Cochran talked to Dawn, saying that Brenda was a big threat, Dawn agreed but she worried about Eddie winning the last challenge and being at the mercy of his decision. Neither looked impressed by Eddie’s performance up to now so it wasn’t a big worry. Dawn then said: “I’m still locked to you but I didn’t play my own game last time so I’m trying to do it but it’s hard.” Cochran said they could stick with Eddie but he really wanted to go after Brenda.
Dawn in confessional: “Originally, I thought we’d vote out Eddie but there is a part of me that feels like Brenda is the biggest strategic threat in this game to actually win it and my approach all along has been to take out the biggest strategic threat…I know she isn’t expecting it and I know it will only take three votes to get her to go home tonight. I feel like I am a little bit swayed by Cochran’s emotions and, last time, I feel like I let my game in his hands and he controlled it and I went home before him. I don’t want to do that this time. I’m really confused.”
Dawn said it felt good to have immunity, She could just breathe and not worry so much.
Brenda said it felt OK to finish second because it was Dawn: “I wanted her to win it versus me just jumping off.”
Eddie said he knew he’d have to pack his bags. Jeff made him say that he sounded like a broken record.
Brenda told Jeff that the family visit dilemma was hard and easy at the same time.
Dawn said that Brenda’s gesture could buy her something because everyone was happy.
Sherri said they were looking at Brenda as a saint.
Cochran agreed with Jeff that Eddie was an easy vote but he added: “The easy vote is not always the smart vote. It’s about weighing short term gratification versus long term benefits.”
Eddie said it was his final stand but he was grateful to everybody there.
Cochran looked over at Dawn who had a puzzled look on her face.
It was already time to vote.
A hot subject last week was answered during this vote: The smile that Andrea gave Eddie as he went to vote and the reaction from Malcolm when he realized that Eddie had a chance to stay tell us that Eddie has the votes to win if he just makes it to the end.
Brenda turned to her executioners to say: “I was honest with you guys, I was genuine with you guys.” After her torched was smuffed, she turned once more and added: “It hurts.” We heard her crying all the way off the set.
Jeff ended the evening by saying it will be a crazy finish.
Brenda cried through her final words, saying she had been true to Dawn and that it hurt so much.
This was one of the cruelest votes ever and Brenda’s reaction reflected it. I’d say the invisible edit she received was to diminish any connection the viewers had to her in order to avoid outcries of immorality. Often, an invisible edit is given to someone that is eliminated by the eventual winner. That way, the eliminated player isn’t an audience favorite. Here, I don’t think it was done to protect either Dawn or Cochran but to protect the game itself. Survivor is an evil, heartless game and we’ve had enough heartless events in the real world lately. While we enjoy the game, this move would have been too much for many viewers if we had connected with Brenda from the start.
Erik: Can a case be made for Erik? He was still portrayed as a Dumb Player in many occasions and we heard from many players now on the jury that Erik wasn’t playing the game. He certainly could earn a few point with a well delivered explanation of his game but we would have heard about it ourselves much earlier than this. Fabio told us from episode1 that he would let others think he was dumb. Erik wasn’t treated with that kind of care. In fact, most of Erik’s thoughts on the game, the forks in the road that he faced, served only to create suspense for the upcoming TC, not to build his credentials.
Sherri: I think this episode gave us an idea of what Sherri will say at Final TC and how she will be received. She was the one that brought up Brenda’s name, not Cochran so she may claim that it was her idea just like she told us it was her game. The problem is that Cochran or anyone else could say that Sherri didn’t decide anything. Sherri was simply pointed in the right direction and she followed. She was probably on everyone’s list for a seat in Final 3 so it will be hard for her to say she made her own way to the end. Despite all their mistakes in the game, all of their arrogance, Reynold and even Eddie have been presented as nice guys. They should get the last laugh on Sherri.
The Case for Eddie: After observing the jury’s reaction, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind, viewers and players alike, that Eddie wins if he makes the F3. I always wonder why jurors don’t hide their reactions. They’d have a better chance of seeing their favorite make it to the end if they didn’t reveal who was that favorite.
The Case for Dawn: In many ways, this was her season. Her role, post-merge, was key in every single vote. She also had two winning quotes in this episode alone. One came from her: “I am going to take responsibility for it in the end and prove to people that I played a game that was worth a million dollars”. The other from Brenda: “4 days from now, we are going to have big smiles on our face.” Unfortunately, Dawn had the perfect plan like Brenda said but she didn’t choose it. Instead, she let her game fall in Cochran’s hands again, repeating her South Pacific mistake. The new Dawn certainly is a cutthroat player but she will have a hard time taking responsibility for it in the end because it will be impossible for her to say it wasn’t personal. She showed so many emotions during the game that everything looked personal.
The Case for Cochran: In a season where we heard that a winner makes decisions, Cochran is the one showing making the moves that benefit him the most. His decision to eliminate Brenda was explained rationally: Brenda was too likable and she was targeting him. We saw him manipulating Sherri, pointing her in Brenda’s direction and letting her come up with the name. Cochran didn’t tell her what to do so that had to be satisfying for a woman used to be in charge. From a viewer’s perspective, Cochran is the strategic threat that needs to be taken out but Dawn is locked in to him. Once more, he is controlling her game. He should be able to get the necessary votes.