Last week I said that there isn’t much drama left in this season of Survivor. With Andrea gone the only thing we have to look forward to will be what Cochran and Dawn will do. I still think that’s true. But nonetheless, I didn’t expect to enjoy this episode as much as I did. It was very buoyant and charming.

Exhibit A: Erik’s showdown with the coconuts. How great was that! Erik is famished and these damn coconuts just tantalizingly hang from this impossibly tall tree. Climbing this tree would be reckless. It is nearly a suicide mission. All it takes is one slip-up and Erik would unequivocally be facing a medical evacuation.

Erik climbs the tree.

Why not? He will be damned if he is just going to sit around and let these coconuts laugh at him. It’s evidently Erik’s 70th day on Survivor and he isn’t feeling so stellar. “These days are killing me," he says. He is trapped in the “beautiful prison” that is Survivor Caramoan. He eventually recognizes his folly and he climbs down coconut-less. “I’m trying to defeat myself at this point,” he says alarmed. Oh Erik, when have you not been trying to defeat yourself?


Well, the six remaining contestants are in for a surprise: Family reunion time! So you know how these things usually go: Everyone is crying and people hysterically run towards their family members and embrace in a passionate hug. Mark this day in Survivor history because Jeff Probst, for the first time ever, tears up upon seeing Brenda and her dad. Coolest family members awards go to (a) Brenda’s dad for not only exuding the same confident chillness that Brenda displays but also being clutch in the competition, and (b) Eddie’s dad—Big Ed!— who just seemed like a delightful person.

So after Brenda has chosen Dawn to share the BBQ award with, Jeff Probst gives her an alternative: She can either have family time, including a second family member, for her and Dawn or she can forfeit reward to the remaining 4 contestants. She altruistically chooses the latter. This move compels Cochran’s mom to tell him that she thinks Brenda is going to win Survivor. We are also introduced to Cochran’s dad who handedly wins the award for best 2nd family member. He is wearing sun glasses and working the grill, you know, because that’s what cool fathers do. Cochran assures us this is all an act: “Since when are we doing that dad?”

Back at camp, Dawn is breaking down again. I love a good Dawn meltdown. And what’s interesting about this meltdown is that she is essentially angry that Brenda picked her to share reward with only to benevolently sacrifice both of their family time for the other four. She is undoubtedly justified to be frustrated but the morality of her indignation is muddled.[1] She is pissed and wants to eat something (Erik never did come through with those coconuts) and Brenda is totally Zen, saying platitudes like, “Someday later we’re going to laugh about this”, which I imagine is only making Dawn more pissed.

It’s easy to say that Brenda made a bad decision about giving up her family time now, but honestly both of her options were undesirable. My reflexive response would be to go the selfish route yet that still leaves four people gathered together potentially plotting your demise. I think that your best option for these family competitions is to throw them, especially now that they are introducing these kinds of caveats.

In the immunity challenge, Eddie falls out second resulting in yet another final-two negotiation between Dawn and Brenda; Brenda still declines. Brenda likes to challenge herself, except her warrior instinct loses out to her heart: She covertly throws this challenge (note: Do not throw competitions for any reason whatsoever particularly when it is the final six) in deference to Dawn’s anxious mental state.

Cochran is using the reward as fodder to push for a Brenda vote tonight and people seem generally amenable to the idea. Sherri is all in on it, which again, when are these people going to realize that Cochran and Dawn pose more of a threat to them than Brenda? Dawn is open to the idea. However, earlier in the episode she is proffered a final three alliance of Brenda, Erik, and herself. They marked Eddie for elimination with Cochran as a fallback plan. Since Eddie lost immunity Erik and Brenda are casting a vote for Eddie. Dawn still feels tied to Cochran but is apprehensive of playing Cochran’s game, in spite of her own, again.

At tribal Eddie basically says, “Yeah, I know I’m going home tonight. It’s totally cool guys. Don’t worry about it.” Well despite his invitation, Eddie is saved and Brenda is sent packing. She has been such a tranquil presence all season and it really is disconcerting to see her go like this. She was too beautifully innocent for this world. Her parting words: “I was honest with you guys. I was genuine with you guys. It hurts.”

Oh yeah, Eddie voted Erik. This guy is tragically out of the loop.

I’m going to reiterate this Cochran quote from last week because it is so apt: “It’s all about making a move the second before a move is about to be made against you.” Cochran again intuits the perfect time to strike. He has really been having a standout season and if he is in the final three I can’t conceive of any legitimate reason why he shouldn’t win.

The finale airs this Sunday at 8:00PM eastern, so set your plans now. Will Reynold grow back his mustache for reunion night? Tune in to find out.


[1] I’m sure she realized that.