“Playing Survivor is like climbing Everest. It only gets harder the higher you climb” – Zeke in the latest episode of Survivor Game Changers, “Reinventing How This Game is Played”
After a hard fought season and a pretty well played game, Zeke Smith has been taken out of the game probably far sooner than he should have ever been. I actually think Zeke has done really well this season. But his fatal flaw for the second season in a row, is targeting someone that he could have worked alongside far too soon. It was Chris Hammons in Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X and it was Andrea Boelhke this time around. Let’s get right into Why Zeke Smith Was Voted Out of Survivor.
Tendency To Want To Make Big Moves
Zeke has a tendency to want to make big moves. He said so himself a couple of episodes ago. The New Yorker declared that he can’t just sit still and watch the game pass him by, blindly going with the numbers, he wanted to have fun and mix things up! But this was the main reason for Zeke’s elimination from the game. I’ve spoken many times about why you should never make big moves unless you absolutely have to. As an example check out Why Jeff Probst Needs To Stop Telling Contestants To Make Big Moves. If Zeke wanted to take Andrea out of the game, taking her out at the final twelve was far too soon. For one Andrea was a close ally working for Zeke in the game, but for another even if she and Cirie had found themselves in the power position, the New Yorker still had plenty of options going forward and plenty of time to wait for the right moment to dethrone them. Sarah was fighting almost entirely for him, while if it got down to it Brad, Troyzan, etc., could have been pulled in when necessary. Trying to take Andrea out only made him target numero uno in the minds of his own alliance, which as we all know, is the main reason why he was eliminated from the game.
Not Pulling In Brad and Troyzan Sooner
One of the keys to Survivor is taking people out before they take you out. It is something that nearly every winner of this game has mastered. Amazing winners of this game like Tyson Apostol, Parvati Shallow and Jon Cochran are just a few standouts in this regard. But here’s the thing, Zeke knew Andrea was coming for him. So waiting for Sierra to go home first before he planned on making this massive shake up against his own alliance was a rather unfortunate decision. Waiting gave Andrea the chance to strike and she ended up getting Zeke before he got her.
Now this is harsh because Zeke did almost everything right in this episode and above we’ve just asked him to be patient in making moves. But on this occasion, his patience kind of bit him where it hurts. It’s also harsh because what he did excellently well in this episode was use his fantastic communication and interpersonal skills to pull in Troyzan and Brad. The problem was that he wanted to pull them in starting with the next vote rather than the current one. Again, the Brooklyn native was excellent in this instance in giving Brad and Troyzan some hope and letting them know that they were in his thoughts despite the vote not going their way. His thinking was likely that once Sierra was gone, Brad and Troyzan were pawns that he could pick up for his game and I think he did an excellent job in actually winning them over. The only thing that went wrong was that he didn’t tell Brad, Troyzan and Tai to vote for Sierra. Indications suggest that if he had, Brad might have actually done it and Sierra might have gone home. The former football player said “It will bother me if I have to vote for Sierra or Tai. But make no mistake, I am here to win this game”. So in Zeke not letting them in on the current plan, Sierra, Troyzan and Brad put their votes on Tai, which turned out meaningless. Instead, Brad and Troy’s votes could have gone to Sierra and if Sarah had been on board as well, he would have been able to make it a 5-5 tie.
You may think that is a bit of a stretch, but it’s actually not. Zeke was planning on voting for Sierra anyway, so if he had just said something to Brad and Troyzan along the lines of “If you show me that you’re willing to vote for Sierra, the three of us can go to the final three together”. The only hard part is then in convincing Sarah to do so as well but even that wouldn’t have been that hard as Sarah was always fighting for him.
The Architect of His Demise
It was Zeke’s own fault that Andrea started to lose trust in him but the co-host of People Now is still responsible for Zeke’s elimination from the game. By trying to backstab Andrea, Zeke lost the trust of Cirie, Andrea and probably Aubry too. So they were quick to make a plan to get him out and it was always the People Now star leading the charge. She and Cirie even managed to convince Michaela and Sarah to do so even though it was against what they really wanted to do. If Andrea had been willing to let Zeke back in for the long-term and if the relationship had been repairable, he wouldn’t be eliminated from the game. But their relationship couldn’t be repaired and Zeke was sent packing.
Pre-Season Thoughts & Prediction
Shot In The Dark Prediction: 6th place.
Thoughts: I’ve been impressed with Zeke’s game in Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X all season long. The way he can pull people in is just so incredible and it seems as though when he speaks everyone wants to listen to him. I might have rather seen David Wright or Adam Klein come back first but I am still really looking forward to seeing Zeke back a second time. I believe that Zeke even has tremendous potential to go far on a returning season. He was an incredibly savvy social player and had he not made that one mistake in voting out Chris he might have been on a path to victory. Although Zeke might not be your typical Game Changer, his ability to win allies, connect with people from all walks off life instantaneously and immediately earn their trust is a Game Changer in itself. Zeke is very likable, adaptable and can fit in regardless of the situation he finds himself in. I definitely think he will go far in Survivor 34, especially with no one having seen the way he’s played in Millennials vs. Gen X. Zeke will just lay back, fit in and not make any waves until the merge. Hopefully he just doesn’t try and vote out one of his best allies again until it’s absolutely necessary. His return to Survivor despite only one season after appearing on the show for the first time is certainly a welcomed one and I think he will be a massive character in this upcoming season.
I liked Zeke back then and I like him even more now. I really do think he is a really good player but that he just can’t sit still. If Zeke is to ever win this game, and I think he will be given at least one more shot, he needs to learn the Adam Klein art of waiting for exactly the right moment to take out those that are threatening to you. Of course it is a different situation because while Adam was towards the top of his alliance with David, Ken, Adam and Jessica, Zeke was towards the bottom of his. However, it was not the right time to make a big move and it resulted in his downfall just as it did in Survivor Millennials vs. Gen X. It’s kind of funny that I almost hinted that this would be how he went out, I just wish it hadn’t happened this way as I would love to see Zeke win this game because of the great capabilities that he has. Everything I said about him up there still stands true except for the point I made about rather seeing David or Adam come back first. I am incredibly happy with the producers’ decision to send him back out there before the two of them and I would definitely welcome him again on a third go-around.
Conclusion & A Zeke Sendoff
Zeke is great. He handled the controversy with Jeff Varner so incredibly well and he navigated his way through the game almost flawlessly until the merge hit and he got a little bit power hungry. I know this day will come so I am incredibly excited to see Zeke back for a third time. Heroes vs. Villains 2 anybody?
Always ready with a good quote and so amazing at articulating his gameplay, Zeke’s role on this season was certainly important and he was so fun to watch! I am a little sad that he went out this early but I still feel as though he did a fantastic job and definitely made his mark on Survivor Game Changers.
Thanks for reading, check out our full episode recap and I will see you next time!