Survivor: Why Cochran Deserves Some Credit

Survivor Recap- Cochran Gets Eliminated
Stephen Fishbach
Rob Kim/Landov

updated 12/01/2011 at 12:00 PM EST

originally published 12/01/2011 12:30PM

"You cannot profit from small techniques."
– Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

Well, that ends that debate. For the past three weeks, Survivor message boards, Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds have been aflame with chatter over whether or not Cochran made a good move when he flipped to Upolu. Some argued that he boldly seized the game by the reins. Other, smarter people, said that he sacrificed his chance to win for a small-minded act of revenge.

With last night's vote, we can finally move on. Cochran was eliminated in 7th place (or 8th place, depending on how he fares against Ozzy). He trusted the Upolus's sense of obligation rather than calculating their self-interest. By any rational expectation, he would have at least gotten 6th with Savaii – and possibly done much better.

An Ode to Cochran



I've been hard on Cochran all season long, but you have to give the little weasel credit. Cochran started the season living out every Survivor's worst nightmare. He was cast on a tribe with no natural allies, flubbed the first challenge and immediately became a target. The fact that he was up for elimination every single tribal council but managed to stay just this side of the vote was a testament to his own self-awareness and hard work.

His willingness to scramble was evident last night. Cochran went individually to Edna, Albert and Coach and tried to convince each of them that it made sense to keep him. He told Albert how Rick had mocked him and called him "princess." He played up Edna's need to stay safe. And he acted out another Coa-Chi session on the beach.

If Coach were a savvier player, the plan might have come together. Coach should see that a four-way alliance with the weasel everybody hates, the chatterbox they're sick of and the lazy princess who snores is an ideal endgame scenario.

Coach's Endgame Plans

But maybe Coach isn't thinking of dragging two goats to the end. All season long it's seemed so obvious – take Edna and Brandon or Cochran to the final three and win by default. But does Coach have other plans? This episode, his big debate was between which of his golden tickets he wanted to rip up.

Coach wins a very special anti-Fishy this week for botching what might have been a game-winning move. Big flubs like Cochran's flip get all the negative attention. But Survivor is equally lost by missed opportunities.

And the Fishy Goes To…

I thought about giving the Fishy to Albert this week for giving away his massage. Yeah, sure, it was blatantly obvious that he was trying to win Cochran's jury vote – but that doesn't mean it didn't have an impact. How many contestants have been eliminated for not sharing with the tribe? Albert gave away a reward that he didn't even have to. When you've been deprived of all comfort for a month, that takes an unremitting focus on the prize.

That said, overall Albert had a weak week. Being lazy around camp is more likely to cost jury votes than a gimmick is to win them. And once again, Albert was at the center of a scheme that never launched.

So the Fishy this week goes to Sophie. My favorite moment of the episode came when Jeff said it had been "an eye opening tribal council." Sophie merely replied, "no." Sophie seems to know exactly where she stands in the tribe and what she wants out of the endgame – even if the rest of us aren't so sure what that is.

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