Be careful on Survivor when you seek a blindside – because it may be you going home. On Once Upon A Time they say magic always comes with a price. On Survivor, seeking blindsides always comes with a major edited irony risk. But that’s for later in the column.
Get our your Doublemint gum because it is double your tribal night. That’s right – two eliminations in this episode to line us up properly for next Wednesday’s Final Six elimination and the Mothers’ Day Final Five finale. For those wondering why we need to do it this way – you can, like with many other things this season, look back at the first Fans vs. Favorites ten seasons ago. Because of the amount of injuries and mental breakdowns that season, the Show had to ditch the Final Three plan and return to a Final Two (one of the last two seasons to employ a Final Two) because they were running out of players. In order to avoid this same dilemma, we have 20 players and some quick Tribals later in the game once it is clear there weren’t too many injuries. If they had this the first time around, Parvati Shallow would not be an all-time great player – it would be Cirie crowned as Micronesia champion.
Another reason why Cirie is important right now is that we may have a new Cirie. Her first time around, she had an infamous first episode where she was afraid to look under leaves. She barely survived her first vote. She had one of the more impressive arcs as ever seen on the show back in Season 12 making it very far. Her second time around she was arguably the brains of the operation and would have coasted to a Final Three win. This season – Cochran has become the new Cirie.
I know – scrawny ginger nerdy man is very different from full figured African-American woman, but run with me a bit here. Cochran’s first few days in South Pacific were a disaster. He was afraid to take off his shirt. He rambled endlessly at Tribal even though he was not the target. He started playing defense right away and really never recovered. However, he still made it to mid-jury that season. He didn’t right the ship the way Cirie did, but he righted it enough to survive and get pretty far. However, exactly like Cirie, he has stepped up his game in his second attempt. He’s the brains of the operation – not Phillip, not Andrea, it’s been Cochran all along.
And now after this week – which destroys my pre-season pick for the win – we have, what I believe to be, the power alliance in place to go to the Finals. Cochran. Dawn. Sherri.
Let me display – immunities of course a factor I cannot predict – how I expect the next votes to go. On Wednesday, Eddie’s magical carpet ride comes to an end. Finally. He has no allies left, and no one really needs his vote. Unless he wins immunity – and we have seen nothing to indicate that he can win immunity – he’s toast. Next out in the Finale will be Erik, and then Brenda. Why them? Because Cochran and Dawn know they can’t beat them. But Sherri? They can beat Sherri. To be honest, barring an Erik or Brenda Final Four immunity win – I can’t see how Cochran loses this thing now. He can bring likability with the Jury, he can prove mastermind cred, he has immunity wins, and he has the personal growth from his previous season on top of that. No one brings that combination. Sherri doesn’t have enough to present to a jury. Dawn has been the direct cause of too many jurists losing. Eddie gets no votes outside of Reynold.
Amazing. This is Cochran’s game to lose. The little guy has come a long way.
Now, as for Andrea. She goes down in Survivor history as just the latest victim of Hidden Immunity Idol comfort. Having won immunity and the HII earlier in the episode during Reynold’s swan song, Andrea found out the hard way that she was not the one in charge. It was Cochran. She also joins Corinne, Malcolm and others who were not aware that Cochran and Dawn were closely aligned from the start. Dawn sold out earlier attempts at big moves, and now it was Cochran’s turn. That duo has been the key part of this entire season. It has shifted power so many times. I think no one expected this to be a duo based on Cochran’s betrayal of Dawn in South Pacific.
Never assume on Survivor. Never. Especially on a returning player season. This is why Boston Rob – way back in All-Stars – didn’t trust Lex and Big Tom. He heard (if you believe him) that the former Africa players had a pre-set alliance. This is that in reverse – no one expected an alliance based on what we saw on TV. But these two thought differently, and in retrospect, it was brilliant.
Andrea went to Cochran with her plan to take out Brenda, but her error was including Dawn as her backup plan. The seemingly throwaway plotline of Andrea and Eddie’s showmance clouded her thinking. She seems to think Eddie would be an easy F3 opponent – probably because he is incapable of strategic thought. However, as Cochran told her, they’d lose to him. He’d have three votes in pocket – and no real enemies. Cochran was right.
So, he went right to Dawn and Brenda and told them what was going on. Instantly, they were on board with him. We don’t see them getting Sherri on board, but that would have been an easy sell. Erik sees himself as a swing vote here – but really, all they needed was Cochran/Dawn/Brenda/Sherri to get it done. And just like that – Andrea was gone.
She played a good, hard, aggressive game. As it turns out, she played it just a tad too hard. In retrospect, the right move for her would have been to oust Eddie and fall into a comfortable F4 alliance with Cochran, Dawn and Sherri. That’s a winnable F4 immunity for her. She just got slightly more ambitious than she needed to be – Cochran was talking all about timing this episode. And he’s right. The time was wrong for big move within the alliance – and she’s done as a result.
Oh, and Reynold was voted off in the first half in what was one of the most anticlimactic eliminations you’ll ever see. If the Stealths had failed to take out Reynold when he was finally totally vulnerable, then they did not deserve to win a damn thing this season