I don’t even know if there is anything to say after watching tonight’s episode. There are so many things that could be said that arose out of that one issue from tribal council. So many. And I feel like things need to be said to make it better, yet I also feel like nothing should be said for fear that it will make it worse for those involved. In the end I decided I had to do commentary on what could end up being one of the most controversial episodes ever.
So here’s what happened. The same tribe ended up back at Tribal Council again tonight. Jeff Varner knew he was in the bottom of the tribe after Sandra went home last week. He and Zeke bonded during the episode, and Jeff was surprised he was so open.
However, Jeff then thought to save himself he needed to try and convince everyone to vote out Ozzy. But Zeke was unwilling to do that, as he knew he needed to leave a bigger threat than himself in the game. But he was more cagey than that with Jeff, and that worried Jeff, so he then tried to set something up to raise doubt among Sarah and Andrea by pinning stuff on Zeke. I don’t even remember what he was pinning on him, as it’s so important now.
Once they got to Tribal Council, everyone knew it was either going to be Jeff or Ozzy. It depended on if Jeff raised enough doubt in the others. And at this point I was thinking it could be Ozzy, as he still doesn’t have a social game, and even though he knew his name was being thrown out there, he was doing absolutely nothing about it.
But Jeff, when trying to make his case that people shouldn’t trust Zeke, tried to show …. it just sounds so bad for me to even repeat this. But to show he couldn’t be trusted, he outed him and told everyone there at Tribal, as well as all of us at home watching, that Zeke is transgender. And in his two seasons in the game, Zeke had never outed himself as transgender. That was his secret.
Jeff, a gay man, tried to fix it by noting how big he is in the LGBTQ community. He explained he does a lot of work to help transgender people in North Carolina. But really … how could he even do that? How could he say he cares about transgender rights and take Zeke’s rights away from him from being able to decide on his own when and if to come out?
And that’s what everyone threw back at Jeff. Tai, another gay man, was clearly disturbed over it. Sarah was visibly moved, talking how she comes from a conservative background, and until that moment she didn’t know how she would feel, but now she did.
Even Ozzy. Ozzy, the guy with no social game. He said it was wrong for Jeff to do that and said more than I’ve probably heard him ever say in all his seasons of Survivor.
And Jeff tried to play it both ways. He said he wanted to show that Zeke could be deceptive. Yet he also said he thought everyone knew about Zeke and that he was out. As Jeff Probst told him, you can’t have it both ways.
Throughout the exchange, Jeff got it. He was clearly upset realizing what he had just done to try to win a million dollars. He stepped on a person’s rights to his privacy. Rights that in his everyday world he protects, but there with a million dollars on the line, he stepped on them.
It was a truly, truly moving episode. The look on Zeke’s face said it all. It’s bringing me to tears to just think of his face as what he had fought to protect all came crushing down on him. It was all so very unfair.
Jeff Probst knew there was no point in voting. There was a slim chance at the beginning of Tribal Counceil that Jeff might stay, but there was no way anyone was going to let him stay in the game now after he just destroyed Zeke. Everyone confirmed there was no need to vote, and Jeff was sent home.
But before he left, Jeff and Zeke hugged it out, a truly impressive moment. Zeke was able to put that behind him and hug a man who just tried to destroy his life for a million dollars. That says a lot about the type of person he is.
And after he was voted out Jeff buried his head in his hands, not being able to believe he had just done that, that the game had gotten in the way of his beliefs.
And what could be very interesting is what effect this has on the rest of the season. Right now Zeke is a very sympathetic vote. Once the others find out what happened, he would be an easy win if he makes it to the end.
But that’s where the question lies. Will anyone be so instilled in the game at this point that they decide to vote him out, knowing he’s a lock to win? Or will everyone be afraid of being looked at the same way as Jeff by using something like that against him?
I honestly don’t think anything that callous has been done since Johnny Fairplay lied and told everyone his grandma was dying to further himself in the game. But Johnny never felt bad about what he did, and it’s clear Jeff already did by the time his torch was snuffed. He was there to be a Game Changer. But he didn’t change the game. He changed someone’s life.
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