Exclusive: John Cochran talks 'Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' (Part 2)
By Reality TV World staff, 05/14/2013
John Cochran was revealed as the winner of Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites' $1 million grand prize during the live portion of Sunday night's finale broadcast on CBS from CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA.
Cochran, a 25-year-old law student from Washington, DC, beatDawn Meehan, a 42-year-old English professor from South Jordan, UT -- who, with Cochran, previously competed on Survivor: South Pacific and returned this season as "Favorites" -- and "Fan" and newbie player Sherri Biethman, a 41-year-old fast food franchisee from Boise, ID, in the season's final jury voting results, which Survivor host Jeff Probst revealed live during the broadcast.
Cochran received every single vote from the jury members comprised of previously-eliminated Survivor: Caramoan -- Fans vs. Favorites castaways.
In an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Monday, Cochran talked about his Survivor experience and victory. Below is the concluding portion of his interview. Click here to read the first half. Make sure to check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for interviews with the other Final 5 castaways.
Reality TV World: When I talked with Andrea Boehlke, she said she felt her biggest mistake was telling you she had been planning to go after Dawn next because she hadn't realized how close you two were. And when I talked to Brenda Lowe, she said the same thing, that she had underestimated the relationship you had with Dawn. What are your thoughts on that? Are you surprised they weren't aware of the bond you two had, especially since you had already played together and been allies on your first Survivorseason?
John Cochran: Yeah, I mean, Dawn and I would always kind of like debrief every morning, and we'd just be baffled like, "Why aren't people trying to split us up?" We'd approach people as a pair and recommend breaking up other pairs, and they wouldn't look -- they wouldn't notice that the most powerful pair was looking right at them. I don't know what to think the reason for that was.
I mean, it's obviously great that that had happened. We weren't super overt about hanging out all the time. I'd say the majority of my time was spent with [Phillip Sheppard], with Andrea, I spent a lot of time with [Corinne Kaplan] actually too -- when she was still in the game -- and then Dawn maybe after all those.
Dawn was never the person -- I was not attached to Dawn's hip or vice versa. We tried to, you know, Dawn spent time with Brenda and [Erik Reichenbach]. I spent time with Phillip and Andrea. We had our own little spheres of influence.
Reality TV World: You went on that little challenge run at the end of the season, but do you think you still would've made it to the end had you lost that last challenge?
John Cochran: Yeah, I would've, which is kind of bizarre to me. I mean, all the conversations leading up to before I won that challenge was, "Oh yeah, we've got to get rid of Dawn before the final Tribal Council," assuming it's not [Edward "Eddie" Fox]. I mean, it was always going to be Eddie, but I'm saying if Eddie would've won immunity, the plan was, "Okay, we're going to get rid of Dawn, I guess."
Nobody ever seemed to mention voting out me, which you know, I don't know whether I should be insulted that I was viewed as such a non-threat that it's not even worth like ever voting for me or if I did such like a great job at building relationships with people they didn't want to vote me out. Who knows, but I think I would have been there. I don't know why exactly, but I think I would have been there in the finals.
Reality TV World: When I talked to Corinne, she said she felt a lot of the returning players were trying to make moves out there that would make good TV and almost help them just win the $100,000 "Player of the Season" prize. Did you feel the same way, and if so, whom did you get that impression from?
John Cochran: I don't know if it was necessarily vying for the $100,000, but I definitely felt like with [Malcolm Freberg], after Corinne went, he knew that destroyed his game.
And I think at that point, he was like, "I'm probably going to get voted off at some point sooner rather than later, I might as well go out doing all the wacky, goofy stuff that like you dream about doing even if it's not necessarily the most strategically sound stuff."
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Like the Phillip Tribal Council when he played the two idols, it was great to watch. It was one of the most exciting Tribal Councils. Strategically, it made very little sense. He could've done a million things differently. He could've told people back at camp that he had two idols and caused us to start cannibalizing each other back at camp that by the time we reached Tribal Council, we're already eager to vote one of our own off.
He could've split -- he could've had Eddie vote for Andrea, [Reynold Toepfer] vote for Dawn and he vote for Phillip and then tell the rest of us that we had to choose among the three about whom we were going to get kicked off. He mishandled it... If it was for the $100,000, mission accomplished, because he got it. But I don't think that that was the motivation.
Reality TV World: Phillip and Brandon Hantz were both controversial characters this season, and there was the whole controversy about whether Phillip was really the leader of the "Favorites" tribe with the "Stealth R Us" thing. There was also the whole school of thought about whether Brandon really should've even been deemed stable enough to play the game again. I know those are both kind of big general topics, but what are your own thoughts on them?
John Cochran: Well, you know, I thought it was unfortunate that the first half of the season seemed to focus so much like on dysfunctional people as they are portrayed on the show -- not that they're like in real life dysfunctional people.
But it seemed like the first half was like, "Look at this guy threatening to urinate in the beans supply. Look at this big Marine guy screaming at people and getting his eyeball scratched. Now look at Phillip, he's talking about playing basketball with people who are 13-feet tall."
That was a little bit disappointing, because I felt strategically, it was such an exciting season. It was a pity to spend so much time on just these kind of goofy character reels, and especially character reels that weren't especially funny. They were just like kind of upsetting to watch, I don't know.
I don't know exactly what the question is. I felt like there was too much focus being put on that, but I think the second half of the season, basically everybody enjoyed. I think they were very skeptical of the season, first when the cast was announced, and then after the first few episodes there.
But I think the second half of the season was, and I think I'm being objective when I say this, I think it was one of the best post-merges ever. Pre-merge, I'm not going to say it was one of the best pre-merges ever, but I think it ended really strong.
Reality TV World: During the reunion show, you said even though you're graduating from Harvard Law School this spring, you're probably not going to become a lawyer and feel you have the gift of gab and want to do some writing. What's that mean, what are you looking to do career-wise going forward?
John Cochran: I don't know. That's what I'm trying to figure out. The great thing, or one of many great things, about winning Survivoris that now I kind of have this safety net where I am not -- there is no urgency for me to run off and get some high-paying miserable law job. I can experiment with different types of writing. I think I'm a good writer, you know?
I have very few skills and writing is one of them. And so, I honestly don't know what sort of writing I want to do, but that's what I'm hoping I find out over the next few months or year or whatever it would be. So that's the kind of liberty that Survivor, or winning Survivor, afforded me.
Reality TV World: Malcolm was in that weird situation where he was competing out there as a "Favorite" but no one knew anything about him at the time because his first season hadn't aired yet. Did that have any impact on the way you approached dealing with him, and do you think being an unknown was an advantage or disadvantage for him?
John Cochran: Well I wanted him gone immediately, like if I was in a perfect world, I wanted him gone first -- which was never going to happen because he was probably our only really strong male challenge competitor. I mean, Erik was good [too]. But it made me suspicious of him, because obviously the only precedent for that sort of thing was somebody like [Russell Hantz], who was you know...
Reality TV World: Not good. (Laughs)
John Cochran: I mean, they were basically not aware that he was the biggest villain, I mean like a real Machiavellian guy. Had they watched his season, I think that people probably would've been more eager to team up with him.
He did have the benefit though of like -- we all had negative baggage and we just had to like kind of guess what his might have been, whereas people know I'm disloyal and bad in challenges and annoying.
And people know that Brandon's a nutcase or whatever. People know that Phillip can be eccentric and overbearing. But you know, I don't know what the saying is, "The devil you know is better than the one you don't." Maybe that hurts Malcolm too, I don't know. And that whole thing neutralized itself pretty quickly.
However it happened, he was still part of the majority alliance at the beginning, and I think he flipped -- I know all about flipping too soon in the game of Survivor from my first time playing -- I think he flipped too soon this time. He was flipping at the merge vote, which is the same mistake I made the first time I played. He should've waited a little bit longer, because he was in a good position. He was in the majority alliance.
Reality TV World: CBS announced last night that Survivor's next season will be Blood vs. Water -- which would seem to all but confirm rumors that the season's format is going to feature returning castaways competing against relatives of theirs. So as a massiveSurvivor fan, what would be your take on that concept -- do you like the idea or do you kind of feel the show might be jumping the shark?
John Cochran: I think it has the potential to be either unbelievably dysfunctional and like a train wreck or to be something pretty incredible. And either one, I mean, a train wreck is pretty great too, so either way it could be great. I'm sure, assuming it is a family thing, you have to imagine they're just dying for the opportunity to vote off their loved one.
I mean, can you imagine? That's like television history stuff, like a father going to his daughter and telling her that they're going to vote her off. I'm salivating at the thought of it. On the returning player thing, am I completely bummed that they're bringing them back all the time? I don't know. Obviously I was a beneficiary of one of those over-use of returning players, so I'm not going to be one to bash it.
But I do think that the family thing could be good. What's going to matter -- what's going to be big is whether they can cast family members that independently want to play the game.
Like if I played the game with my 64-year-old mother, and I was voted off before she was, she would have no desire to continue playing. She'd want to quit immediately. They're going to have to make sure they're going to get a bunch of people that, even if their loved one is gone, they're going to want to keep playing.
Reality TV World: You mentioned you thought Malcolm had made his flipping move too soon. What do you think were the two most important strategic moves that led to your victory?
John Cochran: I think the Corinne vote because that completely put the power in the hands of my alliance and created a clear group of outcasts, and then the Brenda vote for me personally cut off Dawn's option of going to the end and actually unintentionally, I guess, probably caused a lot of ill-will among the jury against Dawn and it paved the way for me.
Again, being an instigator but not really having the blood on my hands seemed to be the big theme of the final Tribal Council.
Reality TV World: Do you really see yourself going out drinking with Eddie, Reynold and Malcolm and being friends with them going forward or was that just jury bickering.
John Cochran: Where do you think I was last night?! Why do you think my voice is so hoarse? (Laughs) Well you know, we're all hanging out right now because it's the finale, but they are enjoyable to be around.
I get a little anxious in bars and stuff but they're fun to hang around with and they treat me as one of their own. So it's four amigos now or whatever I guess. But no, I was kind of trying to appeal to Eddie's sentiment when answering that question, but no, there is truth in that. They are fun to hang out with.
Above is the concluding portion of Cochran's exclusive interview with Reality TV World. Click here to read the first half. Make sure to check back with Reality TV World in the coming days for interviews with the other Final 5 castaways.