I'm so glad Cochrane won, as he was the only one who deserved the million dollars out of the final five who went into the episode at the start. That was probably the most dominant game play since Boston Rob's last season. It would have been completely unsatisfying and would have dragged this season's rank as one of the better seasons down big-time if anyone else had won, and only the latter half of the season was good anyway. Cochrane was getting a bit full of himself at times (hey "challenge monster," you did have a major advantage in two of them), but for the most part he lived up to his own hype this time and was a 180 degrees away from his terrible and disappointing performance last time, where he just folded under the pressure.
I was wondering how Sherri and Dawn would be paid too, since neither of them got any votes. Do they both win the second place prize of $100,000 (Dawn deserves it more than Sherri, but not by much)? Do they split the second and third place prize money? It would have been nice if some more emphasis was placed on this during that waste of a reunion show.
Brenda is catching a lot of flack around the web for her "mean-spirited" treatment of Dawn by making her remove her false teeth, and I'm sure there was some payback involved, but at the same time she did have a valid point in bringing it up. Dawn said she was ready to walk off the show and give up the million dollars if she had to appear on camera without her bottom teeth, and Brenda saved her from having to make that choice. So, Brenda was essentially saying "Why should I give my vote to someone who was willing to quit over vanity?" It calls into question her honesty and the whole "I'm playing for my kid's college fund" stuff if she was so easily willing to quit. Now, I think Brenda could have made the same point without forcing her to actually go through with it, because all of Dawn's reluctance to pull them out made it pretty clear that she was lying about saying she wouldn't have quit that day, so while it was sort of a cheap shot and a bit of revenge on her part, I do see where Brenda was coming from and don't think it reflects too badly on her.
Sherri gave one of the absolutely worst final tribal council performances I have ever seen. Who the hell brags about how wealthy they are and how many businesses and employees they have when you're asking people to vote to give you a million dollars? Every other millionaire who's been on the show has known to keep that a secret if they could (unless they were widely recognized, like Jimmy Johnson. Jeff Kent was able to skate by most people). Also, telling everyone that she treated them like her employees? How off-putting. And while Eric was completely accurate about her not doing anything this season (ironic coming from Eric), flying below radar is a valid strategy to get to the finals, so I thought he was a bit over-the-top in his criticism of her; and it was also a bit strange to see Eric finally wake up and get mad about something, since he seemed so mellow. That being said, Sherri handled it the completely wrong way, and managed to alienate even more of the jury by shouting Eric down and saying she didn't need his vote. Not that I think she would have received any votes anyway, but if she even had any chance she completely blew it there.
I did feel bummed for Eric. Getting medevac'd after making it to the final episode is the worst. I don't think he's that great a player or very charismatic, but I hope he gets another shot at returning in the near future.
Eddie was exactly as he was described by both himself and Cochrane: an idiot. A bar with dogs? I'm pretty sure that would be a health code violation. Plus, his question to Cochrane (also bar related) was moronic, but Cochrane --as he did with all the questions-- answered it perfectly and with grace and humor.
I thought Andrea and Michael came off by far the best out of the jury members. Andrea was a real class act by congratulating everyone and saying she has no bitterness over the blindside and appreciates the gameplay. It doesn't make for great TV, but it was nice to see nonetheless. I hope she gets to return as well, since she seems to learn and modify her gameplay a bit each time; though she's got to stop clinging on to the "hot guys" so much. She's a strong player in her own right and shouldn't rely on that. Michael had a good point about how Cochrane sort of relied upon Dawn's intelligence gathering and was not getting a lot of criticism that she was, although Cochrane also did not form the tight emotional bonds with people that she did, so it was less of a bitter pill to swallow when he got you voted out.
Philip was surprisingly kind of entertaining and rational in both the tribal and the reunion show. Of course, there was the ridiculous voting Sherri out of Stealth'R'Us crap (Malcolm's reaction was hilarious), but I think that was just for fun. He paid a great complement to Cochrane on his gameplay and was funny at the reunion show.
Malcolm and Reynold are both strong physical players, and Malcolm is marginally good at strategy (but great at making big moves which shake things up even if they don't always work out for him in the long run), but I don't think it's possible for these two to be any more full of themselves if they tried. Both of them made the tribal council questions about themselves, which is the height of arrogance. And Malcolm with his Legends of the Fall
hair better not quit his day job, because he was an awful actor even with the low bar that's set by soap opera acting.
That was one of the better final tribal councils we've had, but one of the worst reunion shows ever, and reunion shows also don't set much of a high standard to begin with. I hated that they didn't even let the other contestants besides the jury sit on the stage. I think they earned that much respect at least. They used to at least try and ask all or most of them a question, then it got down to just talking to the interesting ones, and now they've eliminated them altogether. I guess we needed to waste more time showing that teenage girls get nervous on camera when they're awkwardly asked to talk about their crushes (on Malcolm), that old people are cute with their casual bigotry (Rudy), that Boston Rob could whore his book out like nobody's business, and that Richard Hatch likes to get naked. Really, riveting stuff, producers. I thought Boston Rob was going to say that Philip's stalkerish man-crush on him was a bit creepy, but I guess not. One of the fan theories is that they didn't put the rest of the contestants on stage to draw attention away from the fact that Brandon was not asked to come back for the reunion show, but who cares? He recorded a remembrance of the fallen survivors clip, so they can't be that upset with him, and even if he wasn't there, so what? Show everyone else. I think they just keep cutting everyone out to waste time. Honestly, they didn't even ask Sherri, Dawn, and Cochrane that many questions. The one pointed question Jeff asked was why Malcolm didn't keep searching for the immunity idol even with Andrea shadowing him (answer: he actually did keep looking for a while, it just wasn't shown) but that was answered in a video clip a long time ago, so that wasn't even that great a question. I don't care if Shamar was a dickhead, I want the other people up there being asked some interesting questions, not seeing a bunch of filler from people who weren't even on this season.
The clue about next season first made me think something shark related, like Australia again or South Africa, but after a second I got the "blood is thicker than water" connection. So obviously it's going to be a bunch of family members competing together. I don't know how that's going to play out, since the obvious move if the families are only part of the tribes would be for individual players to vote out the family members immediately, since obviously they're going to stay loyal to each other. Even if you don't care about voting out a member of your own family, it would make you irredeemable in the eyes of the other contestants and fans voting for the fan favorite. The solution would be to make both tribes up entirely out of different families so that they wouldn't be the obvious first targets (just like how anyone who gets too flirty early on gets voted out right away too). I'm just hoping that with it being families that they don't go for the obvious and have a gaggle of Hantz family members on the show, because the three or four of them they've shown so far have all been assholes. Boston Rob and his wife Amanda(?) would be an obvious choice if they go for returning family members, but with both of them being former winners and BR being such a dominant and well liked player I'd have to think they'd be major targets right out the gate. Maybe they'll stick to families of unknowns, but the trend has been to have returning players each season now.
Anyway, great latter half of the season, with some of the best tribal councils ever, and the person who deserved to win won, so all in all I'm very happy with how things went down.