So here are the last 4 hours of Survivor, plus my weekend in LA, told through LEGO. Grab a coffee or a whiskey - you're going to be here awhile.
Erik is dying. He's hungry, & it is taking its toll.
|"I just want food!"|
The Sprint Phone arrives & it's family visit time. The sweeping Jurassic Park-esque music is unnecessary, CBS, as I'm already in tears. Brenda's Dad, Erik's Brother, Sherri's Husband, Cochran's equally adorable Mom, Eddie's Dad, & Dawn's Husband make their entrances. For the Reward Challenge, the pairs will unscrew rails for a bolo toss challenge. The winning pair gets a floating BBQ with all the fixin's, close enough to shore so the losing Survivors can see, hear, & probably even smell exactly what they're missing. Wow, it can't get any crueler than that, OR CAN IT?
Probst notes that Cochran's Mom is slowing down, & just when I think I can't adore Cochran any more than I already do,
Then there's an exchange where Probst compensates for that AND asking Arlene's age by saying "You look good, woman."
|Get it, girl.|
Brenda & her Father win the Reward Challenge, & she's happy until she remembers that it actually sucks balls to win an individual Reward Challenge. Probst tells her to pick one pair to share the Reward with her, & she picks Dawn & her husband while everyone else begs to be chosen. THEN, Probst says "Let me complicate things a little bit", & what he means by that is "Muahahahaha". He shows Brenda via Sprint phone that everyone has a second loved one there as well. Brenda can choose one other pair to join her & Dawn on the Reward, or give up the Reward for herself AND Dawn, & let the other 4 Survivors enjoy the BBQ with all of their loved ones. While I think choosing one other pair would have been fair, & it would have split them evenly, Brenda gives up the reward for herself & Dawn. It's bad enough to ask the winner to give up her reward for others, whether it may be a strategic move or not - but it's complete bullshit that someone else has to lose this visit because they were chosen to partake. Bullshit, I say!
Cochran is surprised to see his Dad being the cool guy working the grill. "He's basically me in 40 years."
Dawn is having a rough time after having the Reward taken away from her. Much like Dawn had to comfort Brenda when she was despondent days earlier, now Brenda is comforting Dawn. Brenda realizes that giving this gift could be a double-edged sword - yes, she will be well-liked after this, but that's exactly why she might be prevented from getting to the Final 3. Remember that: she realizes this.
The Immunity Challenge is a repeat from One World, which actually happened the same week as my one LEGO recap that season. Survivors will lean over water, holding on to a handle which Probst will lower. Last one standing wins Immunity. It comes down to Dawn & Brenda, as it came down to Kat & Kim in OW.
Dawn wins Immunity (with Brenda claiming she let go to keep paranoid Dawn happy), & back at camp, everyone is scattered. Eddie is the easy vote, but Brenda wants to vote out Cochran, & Cochran wants to vote out Brenda. After getting Sherri on board, Cochran gives Dawn a list of reasons why Brenda has to go: "She hasn't betrayed a single person, she allowed all these people to see their loved ones, she won an Immunity..."
At Tribal Council, they speak of the good will Brenda's gesture earned her. Sherri's tell makes another appearance as she says, "You just couldn't do anything to her right now" while her shoulders are shaking.
Brenda is voted out & she is hurt, understandably so. What's beyond understanding is all the hate that Dawn received online after this vote. So much that she left twitter because her children were reading hateful, awful things about her, including wishes that she would die. WTF, people. Yes, it sucks that Brenda was genuinely hurt. She wasn't shown this season doing anything but getting the short end of the stick - buying pig brains at the auction, giving up her family visit, now getting voted out. So many people seemed shocked that Dawn, a woman who seems so damn good on paper & our televisions - a Mormon Mother of 6 adopted children - could be "so heartless and cold". Please. Do not underestimate a mother who is trying to win $1 million for her family. Dawn made a good move in a game, to further better her chances. TEAM DAWN.
After this episode aired, my brother & I packed our bags for LA. We arrived late on Friday night & were met by adorable airport greeters.
When my brother & I arrived at our destination for the weekend, our host, the one & only former Survivor professor, Max Dawson, met me at the door with a beer. JUST LIKE PONDEBROSA.
|Let's bro down together.|
The next morning, a group of Survivor fans met us for a hike to the Hollywood Sign, a hike I was led to believe would be "fun". It was not "fun", as this all-too accurate LEGO reenactment via Vine will show.
Did I get separated from the group? Yes.
Did I make it to the top of the mountain? No.
Was I technically lost on the mountain by myself for a good hour? Absolutely.
But I'll tell you a secret - I threw this challenge. The members of our group who are not part of my inner inner alliance might scoff at this revelation, & say it was more med-evac than anything else, but I assure you - it was my plan all along. Besides, I'd already gotten THE photo.
I found my way back just after a ginger alert had been sent out, & after a BBQ with all the fixin's, we went our separate ways before meeting up again at the hotel. I was introduced to Cochran, & this happened:
|"Hold up, MomofKai."|
Cochran's Mom was as charming as he was, & even though I forgot to get a photo with him (my sole regret), my weekend was made in that moment. It was almost as memorable as our adventure after this: a group outing to a Hollywood club, reenacted via Vine.
The next morning, a few of us did the WB Studio Tour, where we saw sets like Central Perk & the street where the opening song from The Muppets takes place, & the fire escape where Christian Bale sang Santa Fe in Newsies. I mean, ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I was in heaven.
After that, it was time to quickly change & my bro & I left for the Survivor Finale.
Watching the 2 hour episode with such a large audience was exciting, but more than anything else, it was interesting. How quick the majority of the audience was to boo Dawn on the screen, yet they had nothing to say at mentions of Brandon & Shamar - truly disruptive characters this season. I can't even imagine what it was like for Dawn's family to be sitting in that audience - it was uncomfortable for me.
The episode begins just after the last Tribal Council - Erik is feeling light-headed & is pulled from the game. We know now that this was the result of a leg infection that was never shown on air.
For the first time, Eddie is shown saying something that's not trivial as he explains how the IV will help Erik. But after Erik leaves, Eddie says "I feel like I could win this million dollar prize" & the live audience erupts into laughter.
Off to a Reward Challenge, which is a repeat of the incredibly difficult House of Cards challenge from South Pacific, which I had just made a Survivor Musical Vine of several weeks earlier. So timely! This was a really fun challenge to watch with the live audience, & despite their overwhelming Dawn hate, they really loved Cochran, & that I could get behind. Cochran wins an advantage for the final Immunity Challenge.
There is scrambling as everyone is trying to figure out who they would want to go to the end with. Cochran, Dawn & Sherri say they're locked, but Eddie & Sherri are worried about Dawn, & even Cochran isn't sure he wants to bring Dawn to the end anymore. The night of the finale, @spooloflies asked,
Hey, Twitter, are you erupting with rage yet that Cochran is considering betraying Dawn? I'LL WAIT. #Survivor
— Amy von Doom (@spooloflies) May 13, 2013
Silly Amy. If Cochran plans to vote out his closest ally, he's just being strategic. When Dawn does the same thing, she's a bitch. The live audience thought Cochran's idea was the greatest idea of all ideas. There were no cries of But that's exactly what Dawn did to Brenda & we hate Dawn for that now!. Just "WOOOOOOO"s. I get it - we all know I'm a huge Cochran supporter, so any move to better him, I'm behind. But the double standard was ridiculously obvious in the middle of that audience, whether you take favourites into account or not.
Fallen Comrades time, & when they reach Allie, Cochran says "Who exactly was Allie? Which one of the 3 blondes was she?" My Survivor Musical Vines have been SO TIMELY.
Off to the final Immunity Challenge, where Survivors will climb a structure to untie a bag of puzzle pieces, & slide back down. When all 3 bags have been retrieved, they can begin a puzzle. First person to finish wins Immunity & a spot in the Final 3. The advantage won by Cochran is that his bags will not be tied, which is huge.
Despite this advantage, Cochran takes a while to get started on the puzzle. Once he gets going, though, he catches up to Dawn & Sherri. Eddie gets his first piece long after everyone else & the live audience cheers & laughs at his delighted "Got a piece! Whoa!" when he gets his second piece.
Cochran is slow to start, but then blows past everyone else.
|COCHRAN WINS FINAL IMMUNITY|
The live audience went nuts. Couldn't even hear what Cochran said until I re-watched at home.
|"Hasn't lost it's novelty yet, Jeff, do it, do it, do it."|
Probst says, "Cochran with his third Individual Immunity win, fourth Individual Challenge win...you are in a very elite group right now." Cochran counters, "I told you I should be among the Donaldsons, the Marianos, & now I'm doing it, right?" Probst is delighted that this goes all the way back to Cochran's first day on South Pacific, & he's not the only one who appreciates such a good story.
Cochran now gets to decide who to bring with him to the Final 3. He's set on Sherri, but does he take emotional Dawn, or SuperBro Eddie as his third? Eddie reasons with Cochran, & it's the most level-headed & impressive moment we've seen from him so far. He says "I'm an idiot. What do I talk about? I don't talk about strategy. I haven't pissed anybody off, but...I've only voted 1 person off, so how strategic have I really been?" He then tells us his plan for the million dollars is to open up a dog bar. "Those are my 2 favourite things. I like dogs & I like bars, so if I could open a bar &, like, you could just bring your dog there, that would be unbelievable." HAS THERE EVER BEEN A BRO-IER BRO?
Cochran decides against this argument, & a still-smiling Eddie is voted out, leaving a Final Three of Cochran, Sherri & Dawn.
After one last day of feasting & celebrating (& occasional doubt & worry), the Final Tribal Council begins. Malcolm is first up, & he says something to Dawn that is absolutely infuriating.
"You can't have your cake & eat it, too...you can't be the warm Mother of 6 who stabs people in the back. It doesn't work like that." YES, IT DOES. It absolutely works like that when you're playing a game that could mean $1 million for your family.
Generally speaking, I kind of hate people. But when I like people, I GET VERY ATTACHED TO THEM. I understand how quickly a bond can form when you spend a lot of time with a group. When I'm in a musical production, the cast & crew become a second family. Likewise, anyone I spent this weekend with now knows that they're stuck with me in their lives forever, & I'm not going anywhere unless they do something drastic like send me up a mountai...wait a second...
Anyway, I would stab any one of those mofos in the back if I thought they stood between me & $1 million for my family. Does that mean my affection for them isn't genuine? Of course not. If it's smart & strategic for a man to blindside an ally in this game, it should be smart & strategic for a woman to do so. Even a Mormon Mom of 6. It's YOU who can't have your cake & eat it, too.
While I'm seething inside, the live audience is loving Malcolm's comment. I vow that if I meet Malcolm later that night, I'm going to discuss this issue with him. He's going to get an earful, alright.
Eddie is next, & continues to be an Eddie we haven't seen. Why save all the great Eddie moments for the finale, CBS? This Eddie is super entertaining. He asks Sherri to admit she was carried to the Final 3, which she doesn't. He is most concerned about what Cochran's recent challenge dominance means for his future as a bro. "If...you're at the bar with the Three Amigos - me, Reynold, & Malcolm - where do you see yourself? Are you next to us?" Cochran says Bro, you're gonna be asking for lessons on swagger when I show up at Bar(k) with honeys hanging off of me.
Phillip takes away Sherri's Stealth-R-Us badge, & I bet she's still weeping into her piles of Cinnamoney. Phillip tells Dawn she made camp life "very disruptive". I mean, he only got to give out ridiculous nicknames, like, 4 times.
Erik is up, & he also feels betrayed by Dawn. Dawn says her connections were honest, but she's playing a game. Erik goes after Sherri, telling her she did nothing in the game, comparing her to a "seashell on the beach". Sherri gets so mad that she gives up hope that she'll get a vote at all, & starts snapping at Erik like he spilled every drop of mustard at her Wetzel's Pretzels shop.
Michael recognizes that Dawn is taking the brunt of the hate for moves that Cochran made as well, so yay Michael. Dawn says if she hadn't made the emotional bonds, Cochran might not be sitting in the Final 3. Cochran says if he hadn't become Dawn's therapist, she wouldn't be there.
Reynold begins by saying he never liked Dawn & thinks she's fake. What kind of backwards world is this Tribal Council taking place in? He bros down, & wants her to be honest & tell him what she really thinks of him. "Do it to me! Do it to me, Dawn!"
|YES! Chauvinistic, great sense of humour & vulgar! AWESOME!|
Andrea is sunshine & rainbows & not bitter at all. She is wise.
Brenda steps up & there's a tremendous amount of ugliness that comes from this gorgeous woman. I understand that she was hurt & felt betrayed in the worst way, but this was abhorrent. After Dawn admits that she wouldn't have quit the game had Brenda not returned her missing retainer, Brenda demands that Dawn take out her teeth to prove it. I have to say, this was the one moment I teared up in the live audience, because the excitement around me for this violation was disgusting. The whole pageantry of it was shameful. And to everyone who has asked me to recreate this moment in LEGO, I would never, ever do that. I think Dawn handled a monstrous request, a request with the sole purpose of humiliation, bravely. TEAM DAWN.
While everyone is shown voting on the screens, the Final 3 & jury walk onto the stage. We did not see another epic vote-delivery like this:
...but I did see something that caused me to tweet like I've never tweeted before.
THE HAIR IS DOWN. I REPEAT, THE HAIR IS DOWN.#survivorfinale
— Lisa Ferreira (@MomOfKai) May 13, 2013
Probst walks through the audience, & it is so.exciting. He reads the votes, & with every "Cochran", the roar gets louder. On this, we can agree, live audience. Cochran wins. COCHRAN WINS!
My brother & I had amazing seats, but not in a camera-ready area. The one time you can actually pick us out easily is when Cochran is hugging his family.
|So close, John. So close.|
Usually while this is happening, the pre-jury members of the cast come out to congratulate the winner & take their spots on the stage. Not this year. Earlier in the day it became known that all pre-jury members - minus Brandon Hantz, who was banned from the Reunion - would be seated in the audience. Sure enough, they just filed in to no fanfare to take their seats in the audience, with family members, fans, & nerds who made Survivor Musicals. Not cool. Allie wrote a spectacular post regarding this snub, & if you haven't read it yet, you must. It's almost hilarious looking back at my outrage that Probst completely ignored my beloved Kourtney Moon in the OW Reunion Show.
|Probst said there was simply no room.|
|I respectfully disagree.|
After Cochran plugs his twitter account one more time like a boss, & announces plans to write (!!!), Probst's attention turns to Dawn. There is polite applause, & I fulfill my vow to scream out my love for Dawn, & you can kind of hear it in this Vine. But a guy in front of us gave me such a look that I didn't shout my support for the rest of the finale. I hope you're happy, bro.
Brenda is in Miami via satellite, & Probst presses Dawn to apologize to her, something she had been attempting to do in private. He pushes & pushes her & it feels quite uncomfortable, like he's bullying her into apologizing for playing the game.
Brenda, for her part, looks beautiful & accepts the apology & then stands up to show why she's not in LA.
Malcolm is fawned over by Probst, who asks such interesting questions as Who loves you more? Women, kids, or me? Then this poor child in the audience gets dragged into it & she's nervous & awkward & please make it stop.
Rudy shows up after a few other Survivors from this season speak briefly. What a novelty! Again, yay for Rudy, but he wastes even more Reunion time by saying "queer" & "homosexual" a bunch of times, leading into a pointless taped bit from Richard Hatch.
Malcolm wins Fan Favourite, & the only surprise there is that Brenda, & not Cochran, came second. Then there's a lame tease for Survivor: Blood vs Water, like what could that possibly mean? If only this hadn't been news already, like, a month prior.
I have to share that there was a possibility that a portion of Hold Up, Bro was going to be shown during the Reunion Show. It was terribly exciting. I imagined it would go down like this: a montage of Tribal Council moments, & Probst saying something like So many crazy Tribal Councils this season, & one of them inspired a fan to make a LEGO musical. Check it out. And then 5 seconds of it going to commercials.
Earlier that day, though, I received a call from a producer saying rehearsals were already running long & they would have to pull it from the broadcast. Initially disappointing, of course, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT, I'm so glad it wasn't shown. It's bad enough that most of the cast weren't spoken to at all. It's worse that half of them weren't even seated on stage. Former Survivors & a nervous girl taking up their time? That's awful, too. But would anything have been worse than an out-of-context clip of a fan-made LEGO video with over-earnest singing on top of it, perhaps taking the place of Corinne speaking about anything? Nope. I dodged a bullet, for sure. I would have been more hated than that poor girl & Blossom.
They did show a portion of the video to the live audience during a commercial break, & it was more awkward than Malcolm's soap opera clip. No context, only the first few lines (LEGO Malcolm's hair was still up - I mean, come on), & then the warm-up guy asked me for the YouTube link, & I got so flustered at that (Oh, why it's youtube.com/7f09dk3d...) I almost forgot to say the name of the video. I did get some recognition from the bros on stage & Dawn, so that was nice, but it was odd. Oh, & the dude in front of me who had shot me that look during my TEAM DAWN support turned around & said "You guys are Hold Up, Bro? That rocked!", so that made me feel marginally better about that guy.
As soon as the show stopped filming, The Hair was captured once again.
After returning to our hosts & making a blink-&-you'll-miss-it appearance on the Post-Finale & Reunion Recap of Survivor Know-It-Alls (around the 39:30 mark), our group headed out to the after party.
Fun times! Current & former Survivors everywhere! Most I didn't recognize even after others googled for me & I will forever be mocked because of it! Maybe I thought Burton Roberts was Eric Bana, & maybe I thought Matt Elrod was Chase from House. WHAT OF IT. This bar made really great Manhattans, & I have an abysmal Survivor memory of seasons I haven't written about.
I was taken around a corner to be introduced to Malcolm, when he spotted me first. Finally, here's my chance to tell him everything that was wrong with his Final Tribal speech. In actuality, here's where I apologize to fellow feminists (& my husband). Malcolm is very charming & he started talking about Hold Up, Bro & all of the reasons I wanted to have a serious discussion with him about gender roles in Survivor just went out of my head.
|We posed for a pic.|
Malcolm stops the pic. He's all Hold up, bro - I read your recaps, I know I'm The Hair. And he releases The Hair. It happens right in front of my eyes & a light from heaven shines on his glorious mane & I can hear angels weeping.
|I faint. My husband rolls his eyes even though he's not there, & Max laughs at me forever.|
|The Hair was captured again right after this, so suck it, everyone else at the party.|
Around the same time I'm giggling like a moronic schoolgirl, my brother & Max's lovely wife are discussing the moral implications of quantum computing with Yau-Man.
Matt & I were introduced to Rob & Nicole Cesternino & were able to congratulate them in person on their exciting pregnancy announcement.
I met Dawn, who was lovely & appreciative of the support, & she didn't cry. Not even once.
This has been a nutso season for me, & in an odd way, I kind of feel like it has mirrored Cochran's journey (minus the $$$$). To sit in the live audience to watch Cochran, of all people, win Survivor was incredible. He told me he loved me before the LEGO, & I loved him before he became a Challenge Beast. I have been a Cochran supporter since his Day 1 on South Pacific, & as he has grown from that first day, so have I. SP was the first season I wrote about, & wow, what a different blog I have now (& not just because of the addition of LEGO). I, too, have grown more confident & self-assured over the past 2 years. I rock the LEGO & meme challenges, & I've somehow wormed my way into a strong alliance of Survivor fans. In my very first Survivor recap, these are the first words I said about Cochran:
"The first contestant to get an intro piece (aside from returning rock stars Coach & Ozzy) is John Cochran. I admit right now I have a nerd crush on this super nerd, & he is my pick to win it all."
And then he goes & wins it all. Dressed like this:
We should be friends for real, John. I know it, you know it, your Mom knows it.
I have made my LA weekend photos public on my Facebook page for a little while, in case anyone would like a peek at the real photos that these LEGO photos were recreated from (worth it for The Hair alone). It was a wonderful weekend, so thanks to everyone who made it so: my real bro Matt, my bbf (best bro forever) Max, Cait, Rene, Dave, Jude, Laura, Jessica, Clayton, & new pals Sam, Evan & Ryan.
I do have more Vines planned, & at least 2 more full-length song/videos for the Survivor Musical project (the next one documenting Cochran's development from Nerd to Challenge Monster). Follow me on twitter, & "like" this blog's Facebook page to stay updated. Don't forget that you can purchase Hold Up, Bro on iTunes, & I'll see you back here in September for Survivor: Blood vs Water!