Mana breaks down and Varner is shut down on Survivor: Game Changers

Last week Sandra was sent home on a busy tribal council leaving Varner on the bottom, but that didn’t take all eyes off Tai.

Let’s jump right into the challenge this week since there’s wasn’t too much before that. Three teammates work together to unspool ropes and release a key, before building and climbing up a ladder to unlock a bag of balls. After that, they squeeze through a net swing and land five balls in targets to win a classic pizza party. Tavua made quick work of the whole challenge, pretty much. They just flew through everything, much to the chagrin of Mana.

After the challenge, everyone is breaking down on Mana after losing another challenge, and Culpepper breaks into a comparison between Monica and his experiences. His crying has made the girls swarm – who knew an emotional break would bring the tribe together?

Immunity gets real

4 members swim to a raft, pulling themselves to stations where they’ll dive down to collect buoys. Once they’re brought in, the rest of the tribe will solve a 13 letter puzzle.

Both tribes are pretty evenly matched at the start, but once they get to the diving Ozzy speeds through. Partway through, I realised which leaves Varner, Debbie and Andrea to the puzzle. They’re not bad, but yikes – why wouldn’t you keep your best puzzle person available? In the end, that didn’t work well for them. After their huge lead, it all slips away as Mana manages to puzzle out the word – metamorphosis.

Varner v Ozzy

It seems like it’s between Ozzy and Varner but after Varner’s one on one time with Zeke, everything goes haywire. Suddenly the girls are concerned Zeke and Ozzy are colluding and Varner is ready to spill the beans on Zeke – not that we know what it means.

Varner is pretty quick to throw shade against Ozzy and that’s the second time in as many Tribals, which must be a bit worrying for him. We haven’t heard any of this teammate talk or strategizing from Ozzy, so I’m really curious what they aren’t showing us here.

If Varner thinks Ozzy and Zeke are together, then why does no one consider Zeke a big threat? I know I love him and don’t want to see him sent home, but he’s a great player and usually, that comes with a target on your back.

Varner turns the tables – and it backfires

But then Varner drops his big bombshell: “There’s deception on levels, Jeff, that these four don’t even understand.” Zeke is outed as transgender and suddenly this turned really dark. Everyone is silent for a moment, seemingly blown away Varner would out someone like that, and Zeke is sitting there. Silent. Probably incredibly uncomfortable – and clearly unhappy that withholding that personal information is being turned into a deception by Varner.

Everyone immediately gets emotional and angry towards Varner, and Jeff Probst looks downright angry. Andrea is crying, Sarah and Debbie are checking in with Zeke to make sure he’s okay, and Tai is downright furious. Varner’s defence? He’s fighting for his life and would never say or do anything to hurt a transgender person – except what he’s currently doing, of course?

It’s one of the only times that Probst is silent and it seems like he has no clue what to say. After composing a little, he really tries to logically go up against Varner’s argument for revealing that information. Primarily, that there’s a big difference between someone not revealing private information and someone being deceptive. Apparently, competing for $1 million is enough reason to

By the end, Varner is incredibly emotional – he never considered that everyone in Zeke’s life may not have known, or that millions of people watching this show would also find out. That’s a big realisation to have all at once and I do feel bad for him to have that after doing what he did… but by now it’s Zeke’s turn.

We don’t even do a vote this week because everyone is obviously sending Varner home. What a move, I don’t think something has ever backfired more drastically than this.


Turns out, Zeke had been up front about this in his Survivor auditions, which means Probst and the producers would have known from the start – and that makes me even happier. No one pushed him into revealing this and they didn’t try to make his being transgender a sensational aspect of the show. He’s not the first transgender Survivor player – he’s Zeke, the Survivor player.

But now we must move on. Next week, we get our merge and the power battles are only just beginning.