“What I’m showing is a deception.” Survivor: Game Changers April 12, 2017 recap

16 Apr
Debbie, as scheduled, joins the blue tribe which just lost a member. She has decided not to tell about how luxurious Exile Island was for her, complaining “there was no flint.” Meanwhile, Tai correctly tells us, “I’m terrible at Tribal.” And Zeke tells Varner that though he had to lie about Sandra not being the target at the vote, he’s sincere about going to the end with Varner.
The reward challenge is for ten pizzas for the winning seven-player tribe! Led by Ozzy’s usual athletic excellence, the blue tribe wins. On a side note, Cirie, bizarrely, participates wearing a dress. Is that a Survivor first for Day 17? Maybe she had some sort of wardrobe malfunction and the producers had to step in.
Having failed to win the reward, the orange tribe is in tears at their camp from the hunger and the exhaustion on Day 17. Brad tells everyone he now understands why his Monica was such a wreck after going the full 39 days on their prior season, and that he wasn’t able to comprehend it then since he went out pretty early that season. Aubry tells us viewers that in her opinion Brad is the most genuine person in the game. And Brad has a fivesome in mind that he wants to move forward with: Troy, Sierra, Aubry, and Cirie. Which is bad news for Michaela and Hali.
On the blue tribe, meanwhile, the odd man out is clearly Jeff Varner, who tells us his only chance is to “throw some shade” on someone, that person being Ozzy.
In the immunity challenge, Blue has a big lead but then has to unscramble a long word at the end and can’t get it. Hali figures out that it’s “metamorphosis,” bringing the win to her tribe. So yet again, Cirie escapes going to tribal council!
So who will be voted out for blue, Jeff Varner or Ozzy? Zeke wants Ozzy to stay in the game because he wants bigger threats than himself to take the attention off of him. That was really the problem in Zeke’s prior season: he suddenly found himself the biggest threat remaining.
Zeke has another friendly chat with Varner, and the tidbit Varner gleans from it is that Zeke and Ozzy have some sort of understanding, officially or unofficially. He decides to tell the women about that, and Sarah and Andrea take everything he says at face value and are furious at Zeke (I don’t think Varner actually lies about anything here, just puts the most negative possible spin on things Zeke said).
At tribal council, Jeff really lays in on thick, prosecuting like Hamilton Burger to the power of ten (he kind of reminds me of Taylor’s over-the-top performance last season). He reveals the secret alliance between Zeke and Ozzy to the world and tells the women individually that they’re making a mistake. Not a bad strategy on his part … so far.
Then he says “There’s more…” and asks Zeke, “why haven’t you told anyone you’re transgender?”
Zeke is silent. Ozzy and Andrea both have an “oh gosh” look.
Varner continues: “What I’m showing is a deception.”
Then everyone else starts to yell at him — that’s too personal! Andrea starts crying.
Varner says he argues for the rights of transgender people every day in North Carolina. That doesn’t pacify the others, and even Jeff Probst is pretty critical. Varner apologizes. All this time Zeke is silent except to say he never brought it up in two seasons.
Later in the conversation (which takes up the last 15 minutes or so of the show), Zeke explains that he doesn’t want the label of being transgender, he just wants to be known for himself. We hear the various reactions, the most notable one being that of Sarah who, in tears, says “that was a malicious attack what he did.” This coming from a cop who presumably has seen some pretty awful things. Varner backtracks as fast as he can this whole time, but the damage is done. Finally Jeff Probst says, “We don’t need to vote, just grab your torch.” Surprisingly , Varner and Zeke share a long hug.
A few thoughts on all of this:
– As it was going on, my first thought was that the show lingered on it a bit too long, but now I think it was just right.
– One thing I love about Survivor is the way they do reaction shots. On some reality shows, when they want to show “surprise” they find footage of someone with his mouth so wide open you could stick an apple into it. Here, the more subtle reactions of Ozzy and Andrea were much more powerful.
– It was quite clear that not only did nobody in the cast know Zeke was transgender, few in his personal life did either. So to reveal this was quite shocking, especially coming from Varner, who as mentioned last week, is gay himself. It really was a malicious attack, and on top of that I’m not sure how that was supposed to help his goal of getting Ozzy voted out! And even if he had, how do you go from that to hoping to get any votes at a final tribal council?
– Poor Zeke. Not only was a very personal secret of his revealed against his will, having who-knows-what negative effect on his life, but there’s no question that this also hurts him in a game. To be a sympathetic character is to be a “jury threat” in this game, meaning nobody wants to take you to the finals.
Certainly a memorable episode, but for all the wrong reasons.
contenders: 1. Brad, 2. Cirie, 3. Sierra, 4. Andrea, 5. Aubry, 6. Ozzy, 7. Hali, 8. Troyzan, 9. Zeke, 10. Sarah
no chance: Tai, Debbie, Michaela

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