UPDATE: Yep, Cochran won!
Perhaps the greatest trick Ginger Kobayashi ever pulled was convincing his Survivor: Caramoan castmates he didn't exist as a threat to win.
This season started with a final three spoiler of Cochran/Dawn/Sherri and no matter what other spoilers pop up — including a false one about Julia being Medevaced after getting hurt by Shamar, and another about Phillip getting Medevaced after an injury — the final three has stayed solid. It's just a matter of who wins.
At this point — May 1 — John Cochran has already won two immunity challenges and he seems firmly placed in a majority alliance. Yes, one of his main alliance mates, Andrea Boehlke, just got booted, but that actually strengthens his argument to win. Andrea played a bold, beast of a game and she was the only other player with anything resembling a "winner" edit. And Cochran was the key to taking her down, via a blindside (when she had an idol in her pocket).
Sherri Biethman had a great edit for the first half of the season, then she fell off. Now she's quietly playing an under-the-radar game. Dawn Meehan has been surprisingly cutthroat, winning people over with her sweet mama reputation, only to turn on them and protect her core alliance. She could win for that ruthless gameplay, but she may kill everything with the crying game. She's too emotional, and she's unlikely to own her moves in final tribal.
Another spoiler says Dawn betrays Brenda Lowe, leaving both Brenda and Erik Reichenbach furious with Dawn at final tribal. (Next week's preview hints to Brenda targeting Cochran, and maybe Dawn turns on Brenda to save her #1 alliance mate.) If that's true ... since Brenda did go down into the muck to retrieve Dawn's teeth (!) you could argue that Brenda has a right to feel emotionally betrayed. At the same time, also if true, well played Dawn for using her trustworthy mama bear persona against the other players. She learned her lesson.
However, Cochran also learned his lesson. He was, by his own admission, "annoying" on South Pacific. He seems to get along with everyone now. He was lousy at challenges before. Now he's even able to take down Malcolm and the other "amigos."
Did Dawn and Cochran have an advantage by bringing their previous South Pacific relationship into Caramoan? Yes. Does Sherri deserve credit for being the one Gota underdog to make it all the way to the end, despite long odds? Yes.
But Cochran is such a known "super fan" and winning would be his dream come true. That could come into play, along with everything else. Even his own castmates seem to cheer him on in an almost cutesy way (Jeff is going to pinch his cheek and pat him on the head, you just wait). But he’s had a good social game (at least on the island - he’s been getting more arrogant in confessionals), he’s won challenges and he let Dawn/Andrea be the bad guys. People have won with less to their credit.
The amigos would almost certainly vote for him, as well as Andrea and maybe Phillip. It's possible Brenda and Erik don't blame Cochran as much as Dawn and also vote for him. If not, maybe they go for Sherri. Michael could be a wild card, but he may also be for Cochran.
What do you think? Cochran to win? Or will it be Dawn, Sherri or someone else? What about Player of the Season? Malcolm? Cochran? Andrea?