'Survivor: Caramoan' finale: John Cochran, Dawn Meehan or Sherri Biethman, who won the prize?

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cochran-dawn-survivor-caramoan-finale.jpg Update: Our exit interview with John Cochran, who says his playing days are over.

Here we are, gang. The finale of "Survivor: Caramoan" -- who do you think will win it all? We'll say right now that if Cochran makes the Final 3, we think he's got it in the bag.

Madeline

After the last Tribal, Erik starts not feeling well. He says his head is killing him and everything's spinning -- do you suppose it's lack of food? Probably shouldn't have gone climbing that coconut tree yesterday.

The EMTs take his blood pressure and it's low (though not super low), but the doctors tell him he's not going back to camp. That's a bummer.

Everybody gives Erik platitudes and praise like he's dying of an Immunity Challenge-sustained injury or something. Not that we aren't sympathetic to how hard "Survivor" is -- but this is like the lamest medical evac ever.

After Erik leaves, Cochran and Eddie dish about who should be in the Final 3. Eddie makes a deal with Cochran and Sherri, but Cochran would never go with that -- he has to know Eddie has too many friends on the jury. Dawn and Sherri would never beat Cochran, but Eddie might. Cochran's not that dumb.

Reward Challenge

The reward is an advantage in the final Immunity Challenge. The challenge is building a stack of blocks above a red line, but the really challenging part is they are holding their building surface via a pulley with their left hands.

Sherri is quite steady at this, just getting higher and higher as everybody else falters -- but then she loses her concentration for just a moment with her left hand and her entire tower falls. Cochran pulls it out.

Meanwhile, Eddie and Sherri scheme to get Dawn out -- they don't want to sit next to her at teh end, but honestly? If I were them, I'd want Cochran out. Dawn isn't going to get jury votes over Cochran, he's a totally likable, sudden challenge beast who loves this game with his whole heart.
 
Dawn's paranoid about being taken out, so Cochran once again has to talk her down off the ledge. Yeah, I really liked Dawn going into this season, but she has lost all my good will. Not just with Brenda, but because it's like somebody sneezes and she loses her mind.

Cochran is considering ditching her, but there's no way. He has to be sitting next to Dawn and Sherri at the end -- he'll win in a landslide.

The Fallen Idols Walk

Sorry, I don't recap this. This is dumb. They're not dead, let's move on.

Immunity Challenge

It's a race up a tower for puzzle pieces, then assembling the puzzle. The puzzle is actually pretty wicked -- very creative, challenge designers. Well done.

Cochran's advantage is that his bags of puzzle pieces are not tied. They're just up there. Ahhh. So, by the time Cochran is getting to the puzzle, he's a whole bag ahead of Eddie and Dawn. That's a pretty decent advantage.

And it pays off, as Cochran wins Immunity. Sherri and Dawn give it the ol' college try, especially considering how far behind Sherri was on the physical part of the challenge, but they just can't catch Cochran. Eddie was never really in the puzzle portion.

Pre Tribal

Dawn is still running around, totally paranoid -- she calls herself her own worst enemy and she's not wrong. Sometimes if she could just shut up for a minute, she'd be a lot better off.

Eddie works hard on Cochran to get Dawn out, but as I've said, I think Eddie's right that he has a great chance to win if he gets to the finals. Cochran should know better than to take Eddie, but maybe Eddie's getting into his head?

Eddie then reveals his big plans for the money -- a bar where you can bring your dog. He tries to make it sound like a dog "shelter" thing, but it's not that. It's a bar with an outdoor dog park. *headsmack*

Tribal Council

They rehash the Erik thing, with Eddie saying he thought the planned Final 3 was Erik/Dawn/Sherri, which Cochran is a little alarmed to hear. But he doesn't seem overly concerned.

Then Probst talks about Cochran winning the challenges and the jury is smiling. They love that he won. How can you not? Seriously, he is totally going to win this game -- IF he gets rid of Eddie. Eddie doesn't have much game-play argument, but he did outlast and he hasn't offended anybody. As Dawn says, he's so likable and he hasn't made any enemies.

Eddie tries to argue that he had no strategy and Dawn did, so she's a shoo-in to win and Eddie's not. But Eddie knows that if the jury is full of bitter Betties that he's got a lot of friends on the jury. Something tells us Cochran won't buy it. But Cochran's right -- it all depends on what the jury values.

Maybe I'm too convinced of the jury rewarding good gameplay, but Cochran will probably win no matter who he's sitting next to. However, his chances are better against Dawn than Eddie, I think.

The votes go Dawn, Eddie, Eddie and Eddie. Yeah, that's the smart move. Dawn can play the sympathy card all she wants, but these jurors are not going to fall for it, I don't think.

Madeline

Sherri is adorably excited just to be in the finals. And she should be, but she's there because she played basically no game (that we could see) and is no threat to win, so ... meh. I'm not sure that's something I'd be super excited about.

She's right that she came in as the underdog, but it's not like she's been running great guns all along and fought her way into the finals. She just managed not to get voted out. That's not the same thing.

Final Tribal Council

Dawn's strategy is a combination of kissing up and talking up her game play -- how she took control and made decisions. It's not a bad thing to argue. She really has a great case, except for the fact that nobody likes her.

Sherri ... says some stuff about her business. Blah blah blah. Nobody's voting for you, lady.

Cochran also kisses major jury butt, but he owns up to his lying and deception and says that he played the best game. It's pretty straightforward.

For questions, Malcolm doesn't seem overly bitter and he rather hilariously dismisses Sherri out of hand. He then doesn't question Dawn, he just tells her to own her cold-blooded game -- if she does so, he'll vote for her.

He then asks Cochran what quality Cochran has that Malcolm doesn't have that got him to the end. Cochran very, very smartly says it's his insecurity -- getting insecure about other people's plans and alliances and taking them out. He says he can't imagine Malcolm being insecure. It's unclear if Malcolm buys it, but it was a good answer.

Eddie wants Sherri to admit she got carried to the finals and she won't, as the jury laughs. Yeah, she's not getting a single vote. Eddie then tears Dawn apart for being so weak and paranoid, which is a good strategy on his part if he wants Cochran to win.

Dawn starts using the word "own," so at least she can follow directions from Malcolm. She says she's not weak, the game has just really been taking its toll on her. Finally, Cochran gets to talk up his self-confidence and how he wants to be buddies with the Three Amigos and before, he never would've been like that because he was so insecure.

Seriously, the Cochran has the jury in the palm of his hand, you guys. It's so obvious. He's going to win unanimously, maybe. He is the exact right combination of self-deprecating and confident -- bold and humble. He's doing this perfectly. Not that I thought he didn't have this in the bag already, but he's not shooting himself in the foot. Cochran is doing very, very well.

Phillip doesn't have any questions -- he just removes Sherri from Stealth R Us, calls Dawn cuckoo for cocoa puffs and then lauds Cochran for being awesome. That's my Phillip.

Erik then tears Dawn a new one for what she did to Brenda. She argues that she was playing the game for herself and being loyal to Cochran. She keeps insisting it's a game, it's a game -- and I am totally on board with that. It IS a game. But you have to have some self-awareness and cutting a sweet girl off at the knees after she was like your BFF does not curry favor. As I said, it was an un-fun blindside. It was awful to watch.

Then Erik gets kind of bullying with Sherri. He wants her to admit that she did nothing and just sat like a lump all game, and she takes offense to this. He's not wrong, but he's being a jerk about it. There's no need to be mean to Sherri. She has to know she's not going to win, but what is she supposed to do? Sit there and say, "Yeah, I suck. Don't vote for me." Would the show even let her do that? She has to argue her case and there's no need to be a jerk. Just tell her you have no question for her, like Malcolm did.

Instead, Erik's like, "I want you to understand" and "I just want to help you" and that's B.S. He just wants her to admit she sucks and that's petty and immature and ridiculous. Grow up, slim.

Michael -- gosh, I kind of forgot all about him -- says that Dawn and Cochran played the same game, but that Dawn is getting more punched about it than Cochran. Well, she is. But a lot of that has to do with Brenda and, as Brenda told us in her exit interview, it's a different situation. Yes, they both blindsided her, but Dawn was her friend. Brenda saved Dawn during a really embarrassing thing that she was completely losing her mind over. Brenda didn't do that for Cochran.

It wasn't personal between Brenda and Cochran, but it was personal between Brenda and Dawn. So Dawn is getting more the blame. Also, nobody likes Dawn because she was a daily-meltdown-having drama queen around camp. Cochran didn't do that kind of thing, he's incredibly likable. That's the difference.

Dawn's response is that Cochran didn't have to do much and she has way more blood on his hands. Hmmm. I don't think that's entirely true. Honestly, Dawn might think she was in charge, but Cochran was the puppetmaster all along. And she just didn't recognize that. She did provide Cochran with a lot of information, that's true, but that's because about every other day she wasn't sure what to do with herself and went running to him.

Cochran also says he was her therapist and that's what kept her around and while maybe us viewers haven't seen enough to know if that's entirely true, that would not surprise me.

Reynold then calls Dawn out for being disingenuous, which ... I can see how that comes across, for sure, but I don't actually think she's phony. So he puts her on the spot to describe him and she says he's chauvinistic, funny and vulgar. He then makes her admit she kicked everyone's a** in the game and she liked it. Heh.

Andrea is awesomely not bitter, but she asks a kind-of dumb animal question. Cochran smartly says he was a chameleon, which the jury loves. They are really reacting to him.

Now Brenda. She's pretty hurt about her ouster and that's totally fair, honestly. She wants Cochran to sell her on voting for him. He says she was a threat to his game and he had to take her out before she took him out -- he's not wrong, she wanted to get him out.

But then Dawn. Brenda is so hurt about Dawn and she brings up the retainer thing. Dawn then says she would not have quit the game if she didn't have her teeth, but Brenda demands proof. She wants Dawn to take out her retainer so everyone can see her the way Brenda saw her that day. Wow. Gauntlet thrown.

Dawn doesn't want to do it, but she eventually does. Wow. You know, Brenda's feelings are probably still pretty raw, but that's not cool. That's a separate thing from the game and I get that Brenda doesn't want Dawn to minimize what Brenda did for her, but ... that just isn't nice, you know? It's petty and small.

During the voting, we only see Phillip vote for Cochran. We head to the live finale -- and once again, so disappointed Probst doesn't arrive, like, riding a silverback gorilla or something -- but anyway, the votes go Cochran, Cochran, Cochran, Cochran and Cochran! Aww, good for him.

And it turns out it was unanimous, so Cochran joins Earl and J.T. as the only unanimous winners.

So, how did you like the "Survivor" finale? Are you happy with how this season turned out?
Photo/Video credit: CBS