Zeke's last stand

By Dalton Ross
December 08, 2016 at 02:38 AM EST
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Credit: CBS Entertainment
S33 E12
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  • TV Show
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  • CBS
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Poor Will. Poor, poor Will. He was so determined to make a big move. And even more determined to get credit for it. He was sick of being treated like a boy when he wanted to play like a man! He wanted to prove he could dramatically influence this game with a huge move that put his name out there in big, bold letters! He made really dramatic proclamations like “I didn’t come here to be dragged as a goat. I came here to play,” while pointing violently at his crotch for some reason! (By the way, when you add in the placement of Adam’s hidden immunity idol, this was a very crotch-heavy installment of Survivor. Just sayin’.)

THIS WAS WILL’S TIME!!! He was going to do it, dammit! He was the swing vote! More than that, he was the flip vote! He and he alone would be responsible for sending Zeke home and everyone would know it! It was all him! Until it wasn’t.

Because then, not unlike the guy from the old Harlem Globetrotters cartoon who would reach into his afro to retrieve any and every item necessary, Adam reached down into the family jewels to pull out an idol. And then he used the idol. On Hannah. Then the first name came up. Hannah. Then the second. Hannah. Then the third. Hannah. Then the fourth. Hannah.

Oh, the drama. Adam did it! Adam saved Hannah! Only he hadn’t, because the idol was completely unnecessary. Will had, in fact, flipped, making the total five votes for Zeke and only four for Hannah. But instead of that move coming across in big, bold letters, it ended up a mere afterthought due to Adam’s dramatics.

So, in perhaps the worst-case scenario imaginable — outside of getting voted out, of course — Will made his big move and flipped on his alliance partners…and now STILL will not get the credit for it. He’s like the singer who comes out on stage and belts out an amazing number, and then all anyone can talk about is how great the microphone was. Will did it! He flipped! He sent Zeke home! Only he didn’t, because instead of five votes, all they really needed was three. (Insert sad trombone noise here.)

And this is what makes me such a terrible human being, because while that is undeniably sad for Will, it’s also kind of funny. I’m sorry! It is! Look inside yourself. You know it to be true. If you still have the episode sitting on your DVR, go back and look at Will’s clear frustration after Adam plays his idol. It’s hilarious! That poor bastard! Here he is on the brink of finally being taken seriously and seen as a big-time gamer, and Adam comes in and nonchalantly sweeps it all away with the completely unnecessary passing of his Crotch Idol over to a clearly un-psyched recipient in Jeffrey Probst.

I don’t want to make fun. Seriously, I don’t. I actually like Will. Got nothing against the guy. He went out there as the youngest player ever and has totally done nothing to embarrass himself. In fact, he’s come off quite well. This is just one of those things that makes the game of Survivor so absolutely amazing. You can have all the grand plans and master designs you want, but this game often has a way of humbling you. It may not be fair Will made his big résumé-building move only to watch Adam come in and steal all the thunder, but whoever said Survivor was fair? Also, before we move off this topic completely, it’s worth pointing out once again that Adam pulled a hidden immunity idol out of his crotch. And then handed it to Jeff Probst. Who took it. Just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page about what happened there. Okay, let’s look at what else happened in yet another topsy-turvy edition of the greater-by-the-week Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X.

The episode begins with Hannah crying after the rock-pulling Tribal Council. Just a warning: There’s going to be a lot of crying this episode. I mean, a lot. Like, an abnormal number of tears will be shed before all is said and done. David is not crying over burning his idol for no reason, but he’s certainly not happy about it. There is one person who is happy: Zeke! “This vote was all about David and I going to war together,” says Zeke. “And I definitely won the battle.”

He’s certainly right about that. Nothing wrong there. “I’m trying hard not to get too excited,” he adds. “But I feel like I’m going to the final five.” Uh-oh. Now you’ve done it, Zeke. Everyone knows a statement like that is the kiss of death. It’s as if the moment you say the words, the Survivor Gods (which, incidentally, are comprised of Mark Burnett, Charlie Parsons, and Dreamz from Fiji…don’t ask) immediately send down lightning bolts of fury that blow up your game and send you stumbling in a befuddled daze over to the jury. As soon as Zeke said that, I knew his days were numbered.

NEXT: New Survivor challenge: Try not to cry during the loved ones visit

Hey, let’s all buy stock in Puffs and head over to the reward challenge and watch everybody bawl their eyes out. Why? Because it’s time for the loved ones visit! I love the loved ones visit, mostly because it forces Jeff Probst to say super-awkward things like, “On my god, you are going to race through those obstacles to the end toward love,” and “Here we go for reward in the form of love,” and my personal favorite, “His shot at love is falling away!”

Most normal people with a beating heart like the loved ones visits because they show the rawest display of emotions imaginable. It’s like that stupid Apple Frankenstein’s Monster TV ad mixed with E.T. dying mixed with E.T. coming back to life mixed with that moment where the sloth, wooly mammoth, and saber-toothed cat return the Neanderthal baby to his Neanderthal daddy — which makes no sense on multiple levels — in Ice Age mixed with any episode (seriously, take your pick) of This Is Us.

And I get it. It’s cute. Look, there’s Sunday’s husband Jeff running out like a linebacker about to tackle his wife and risk incurring a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a blow to the head. And there’s Bret’s dad, Don, working on his stand-up act on national TV. And there’s Hannah acting as the calm and controlled one in her family. (Think about that one for a second.) And there’s Will’s mom, Irene, who for some reason thinks she’s in Timbuktu.

But for my money, the two most emotional reunions were between Zeke and his dad, Sam, and Adam and his brother, Evan. First off, I love the energy from Zeke’s dad, who just yelled “Yeah!” for no particular reason as he ran out. I’m going to start doing that every time I enter a room. YEAH! Just blurt it out and see how people react. Thanks, Zeke’s dad! Also, the fact Sam said he models his behavior after his son couldn’t help but get even me a little choked up. (I considered saying the same thing to my son after we watched this tender moment unfold on our TV, but decided against it in fear of being called a “lame-o.”)

And there’s Adam and his brother. Obviously, there is a lot of context here with their mother suffering from stage 4 lung cancer, and it’s no wonder Adam completely lost it upon seeing a family member and reestablishing a connection to home in this trying time. But what I find even more interesting was Adam’s big announcement as he talked about his reward-steal advantage and then told everyone he could not use it to take them away from their loved ones. What a magnanimous proclamation to make! But why make it in the first place? Adam could have easily just not used the advantage without making a big announcement about it.

Adam is obviously dealing with a lot of real, raw human emotions that extend well past the parameters of the game. But he also loves this game and came to play it and play it hard. His mom loves this game and wanted him to go out and play it and play it hard. So, I’m fascinated and wanting to know whether that little speech was specifically designed as a game move. And, to be clear, if it was, I have no problem with that whatsoever. (And clearly it worked, because Jay later said he chose Adam to come with him because of that speech.)

I have argued ever since Adam got the reward steal that it was a completely self-defeating and self-destructive advantage he would be silly to use. I’m guessing he agreed and decided to do the best thing possible with it. He put on a big show about it, gaining praise from his peers before giving the advantage to Jay, thereby not only gaining potential favor from another player and possible future juror, but also giving Jay the chance to shoot himself in the strategic foot by denying someone else a well-earned reward down the line. To that I say, well done, Adam — even if that was not your true intent. (But I kind of hope it was.)

NEXT: Ken completely loses his mind

One last thing about the loved ones reward: I would throw it. I know that’s easy to say when I’m writing with my family off in other rooms currently ignoring me — and that it’s a whole other deal when you have been away for a month living in the wild with complete strangers — but I have seen too many people get upset at the person who did win for not picking them to join in. Jay had to select three other players to join him, which left five others who could be potentially pissed off.

The way I look at it is this: If I don’t win the challenge, there are still three more spots to join the reward as selected by the winner. That means that even if you purposely lose so you don’t have to make a decision that could anger other players, you still have a 37.5-percent chance of getting the reward food and family visit anyway. I’ll take those odds. (There’s also the whole other question of whether you would rather spend some time with your family member — where it’s easy to lose focus on the game — or with the loser group solely comprised of players with whom you can strategize and perhaps exploit hurt feelings over not being picked.)

But there is one aftershock to the loved one’s visit: Will’s geographically confused mom has inspired him to get off his high-school butt and start playing the game. He wants to make a move — any move! — and tells David he is ready to flip on Zeke. (Why he didn’t just do this a few days prior instead of going to rocks remains unclear.)

After learning Ken is the target, Will goes and tells Ken. Well, that should certainly prove his allegiance, right? But then Ken does the least-smart thing imaginable. He goes and confronts Jay about the plan to get him out, throwing Will under the bus for no discernible reason other than apparently taking some “test” Ken is administering. The test apparently being: Can You Survive Some Of The Worst Gameplay This Show Has Ever Seen?

Here’s the craziest thing about Ken selling out the one person they need to get rid of Zeke: He was on the exact other side of this himself. Earlier this season, Lucy told Ken to get rid of Jessica, so Ken informed Jessica. And what did Jessica do? She sold Ken out and went to Lucy for confirmation. Remember: Ken was PISSED!!! And yet, he then goes and does the exact same thing to Will that Jessica did to him? I don’t get it. Is this some sort of bizarro world version of paying it forward? Is this paying it backward? And if they ever make a sequel to Pay it Forward, can they please call it Paying it Backward? Also, could they please not make that sequel?

NEXT: Zeke’s last stand

Ken doing this without that previous incident would be nonsensical enough, but when you factor in what happened with Lucy and Jessica, it is downright flabbergasting. So now Will has a terrible choice in front of him: Try to make this big, shocking move that now seems neither big nor shocking because it’s already all out in the open — and do it aligned with someone who just blew up your game — or come crawling back to your original alliance, who will never trust you again. Welcome to Survivor!

So off we go to Tribal Council, where Will tells us how he feels insulted: “Everybody treats me like the 18-year-old high school kid. I don’t want to be treated like that. I want to be treated like an adult.” That’s all well and fine, but then things get super weird when Hannah alleges that “There’s been a lot of fluffing Will up on that side.” To that, Jay responds, “You know what, Will? I’m not here to fluff you.” Considering a real-life fluffer’s job description is to keep male porn stars erect on the set of adult films, that seems like a wise choice on Jay’s part. But still a weird thing to say.

Hannah tells Jay she thinks she’s going home, and whether it’s because of that or because he heard there’s a fluffer present, Adam reaches down into his pants and pulls something out. He hands his “package” to Jeff Probst (whom I’m pretty sure has been bathing in Purell ever since).

It marks yet another wasted idol, but does certainly swipe Will’s hype in terms of the drama behind the outcome. Either way, Zeke is a goner. Too bad for him. And too bad for us. Zeke was everything you want in a Survivor player. He played hard, made moves, was solid in challenges, and was an entertaining narrator (a very underrated aspect of a quality Survivor contestant). If you’re gonna go out, better to go out in a big way (like Jessica and Chris, and Michaela, and hell, almost everyone this season). So, while I’m sure Zeke’s not happy about the result, there don’t appear to be a lot of sour grapes here, which is nice.

Speaking of nice — awkward transition alert! — we have some nice bonus goodies for you. Like an exclusive deleted scene below. And our weekly Q&A with Hostmaster General Jeff Probst. And we’ll be chatting with Zeke on Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) Thursday morning. You can also hear that later on the EW Morning Live Podcast (subscribe for free right here). And for more Survivor scoop, follow me on Twitter @DaltonRoss.

Now it’s your turn. Did you bawl like a baby during the loved ones visit? Would you have handled Adam’s Crotch Idol? And whom do you think should and will win from the remaining competitors? Sound off in the message boards below and I’ll be back next week with another scoop of the crispy!

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Survivor

Jeff Probst leads adventures in the ultimate (and original) reality series.

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