By Mickie McLeod

Did you happen to miss Survivor Game Changers this week?  Well, let me tell you, you may have missed what will be probably one of the most historic moments ever on Survivor.

Metamorphosis: also can be referred to as a transformation, was the theme of this week’s episode of Survivor Game Changers.  It may not have been clear as to why, until the last ten minutes at Tribal Council.

Reward Challenge

It’s a pizza party reward in this week’s episode! What sounds better than a total of ten boxes of pizza and soft drinks for an entire hungry tribe?

This week, as always, the tribes fairly compete in a series of obstacles for their win. In the end, it was the Nuku Tribe that won this week’s pizza party.


After losing the reward challenge, the whole tribe seems to be completely defeated. Not just because of the lack of food, but on a psychological level too.

In this week’s episode, the Mana tribe start to come to a group realization of how hard the game Survivor, actually is.

Can you imagine playing the game yourself?

Imagine yourself living outside within complete nature with no bed, no roof over your head, all while using a tree stump as a pillow at night.  Imagine going days without fresh water, living off of rice, and washing your exhausted body with the same sand you slept on the night before.  Imagine going days without living in society and having your whole world focused on only this game.  How would you feel coming back home from living days, weeks, or even over a month of all of this?

This week, the realization of the game hit Mana hard.  Tears were flowing down everyone’s faces, even from Mr. Strong Man himself, Brad Culpepper.

This week, Brad Culpepper shared his emotion of the game by using his wife as an example.  She played with Brad on Blood vs. Water much longer than he had and changed when she got back home to society.  Culpepper related as he shared his wife’s feelings towards the game.  “Metamorphosis” is a big word represented in Survivor, because it’s not just a transformation in the game, it’s also a transformation in your life.  In this episode, Aubry and Cirie both told Culpepper that they agree with him that Survivor truly changes your life and perspective.

Immunity Challenge

What’s an Immunity Challenge without a puzzle?  This week, the word, “metamorphosis” was not introduced until this challenge.  At the Immunity Challenge, the series of obstacles took place in the beautiful waters around the Mamanuca Islands.  After the obstacles, the first tribe that solved the 13 letter puzzle, had won Immunity and was safe from Tribal Council. That word, yes, was revealed as the word, “metamorphosis.”

The Nuku Tribe was in the lead the majority of the challenge until the very end during the puzzle. The Mana Tribe noticed their “metamorphosis” quicker than Nuku.

Because Mana solved their puzzle quicker, Nuku was sent to Tribal Council, which turned out to reveal an even deeper meaning behind, “metamorphosis.”

Tribal Council

This week, Nuku seemed to set up Tribal Council just like any other episode.  There were clearly two people who were on the chopping block to be voted out and it didn’t seem like any major surprises were coming as I was watching on my couch at home.

In this week’s episode, I’ve never seen a Tribal Council like this one in all of the seasons I’ve watched of Survivor, (and I’ve seen every season of Survivor).

There were two sides on Nuku, the vote seemed to be kind of split between Jeff Varner and Ozzy; two large threats on this tribe.  Varner wanted to get out Ozzy and foreshadowed it this entire episode.  Varner aligned with Zeke and explained how Ozzy needed to be the next one voted off.  However, Zeke was not exactly 100% on board with Varner.  Zeke didn’t want Ozzy voted off because he wants larger threats than himself in the game, so he can look weaker towards the rest of his tribe.  Zeke didn’t reveal this reason to Varner though; he just simply disagreed with voting Ozzy out.

Because Zeke didn’t agree with Varner’s vote towards Ozzy, Varner began to doubt Zeke’s trust all of a sudden.  Varner and Zeke both shared their bond of being two gay men and became very close on their tribe.  It was a shock how quick Varner turned on his closest alliance.  In Varner’s eyes, because Zeke didn’t want Ozzy voted out, Varner assumed that Zeke was working with Ozzy too.  Varner started to panic, thinking he would be the next to be voted out.  Varner did everything he could to save himself in the game; he was desperate.

At Tribal, it was between Ozzy and Varner.  Varner knew he was on the bottom because Zeke had been honest with him and told him straight up. Varner began his argument why he shouldn’t be voted off, but instead of explaining why to vote out Ozzy, he decided to turn on his closest alliance, Zeke.

During Tribal, Varner is painting an awful picture of himself.  He is coming across as such an a$$hole just to stay in the game.  Varner tells the rest of the tribe that Zeke is playing both sides when really; we all know Zeke wasn’t after all… Zeke was just playing smart.

Varner is the only one who is speaking at Tribal Council at this point.  He says to his whole tribe that Zeke and Ozzy are in a “secret alliance” and that everyone else is on the bottom.  This ridiculous statement all of a sudden transitioned into a plain old dirty, malicious way of winning a GAME.

Jeff Varner then turns to Zeke, in front of the entire tribe, Jeff Probst, and for all of America and says:

“Why didn’t you tell anyone you’re transgender?”

At that moment, I had to rewind what Varner just said.  How could anyone just out someone for being transgender — especially on national T.V?  This was a complete shock.

Remind you, Zeke had just played the last season of Survivor Millennials Vs. Gen. X.  He was on the Millenial Tribe and was known as Zeke, the Survivor player.  He was never known as a Zeke, the transgender Survivor player.  This was never revealed on Survivor, and Jeff Varner just came out and told everyone.

Yes, it was personal, and a dirty way of playing from Jeff Varner. The whole tribe felt the same way I did and didn’t react very well.  Andrea, Tai, and Sarah even began crying.  The entire tribe attacked Varner saying how wrong that was for him to say, just to save himself in this GAME of Survivor.  Ozzy, who had been quiet this whole time even says, “You’re not just playing a game now, you’re now playing with people’s lives.”

Varner revealed that Zeke is transgender, and no one knew.  Zeke trusted Varner with that information and Varner used it against him. Varner began to defend himself immediately saying he was revealing that Zeke was “deceiving.”

The whole Tribal was cringe-worthy and just awful to watch Varner’s true character come out.  As a gay man himself and part of the LGBT Community, it would seem he would know better. After seeing the reactions from everyone sticking up for and defending Zeke, Varner felt astonished and began to finally realize what he just did… not just revealing Zeke’s secret to his tribe, but to all viewers across America.

So how is Zeke during this whole entire thing?  I would say, very stoic, just without any emotion at all.  Almost so strong, but hurt at the same time? I wasn’t too sure, at first…

After Jeff Varner faced national embarrassment, Zeke took the reveal in the most positive way.   Zeke didn’t shed a tear, even though the majority of the tribe had.  Zeke was shown as the mature, awesome guy he always has been on Survivor.  Zeke said that he’s strong and that he’s built himself up just in case something like this would happen.  He was shocked that someone else would reveal he’s transgender, but he faced it.   Zeke included and related to the word to the “metamorphosis” theme in his reaction statement to host Jeff Probst, explaining how his whole life has been a transformation and that it’s led to this moment on Survivor.

Zeke was proud and said that he didn’t want to be known as the transgender player, but now that it’s come out to be known, he hopes that this message will bring positivity to those who are currently or have transitioned with their gender.

In the end, this Tribal Council was absolutely historical.  Jeff Varner was so embarrassed and I personally stopped listening to him after he kept making everything about him rather than fully owning up to his mistake.  After apologizing, he even tells Zeke that he’s his “biggest cheerleader.”  Zeke replies to it, “I don’t even need a cheerleader.”

This Tribal was so unanimous on who was going to be voted off after this, that host Jeff Probst just basically politely tells Jeff Varner to leave.

No one voted at this Tribal Council, and Jeff Varner did indeed leave.

Wow, what an episode.  What were your immediate reactions towards Tribal Council?  I’ve always been a fan of Zeke, but I like him even more for how strong he was through all of that.  Varner may know now how wrong it was for him to reveal Zeke, but overall, it really showed who Jeff Varner is.  Zeke is about half of Varner’s age and he shows more maturity.  I suppose metamorphosis doesn’t always apply to everyone though… hopefully, it’ll finally apply to Varner and that he’ll grow up a bit from this.

Tweet me @mick_cloudy with your thoughts about this episode! I want to hear them all!

You can watch this season of Survivor, Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS and don’t miss my recaps of Survivor Game Changers every Thursday morning on!

Comments (2)
  1. Dom Selgrade says:

    Staged. Metamorphosis is not a word that would be used in a challenge then this big reveal. Disappointed in Survivor for staging this act.

  2. I tend to agree. Why was the title and or theme leading up to the tribal council Metamorphosis? It seems like a rather curious coincidence.

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