Survivor: Game Changers spotlight: What will Zeke Smith have learned?

Zeke -The more time we’ve had removed from Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X, the more we’ve felt like had he played on a season that was seven or eight years ago, odds are that he would’ve won. He has everything that you can want in a winner for this show, with the exception being that he couldn’t get there. He played basically too good of a game and was a little too out there in terms of how obvious it was. He didn’t make some of his flaws clear enough to disarm people.

The question moving into Survivor: Game Changers is simple — did Zeke have enough time to correct some of his mistakes? We do think one thing that helps him immensely here is that there are so many known threats that he, as an unknown, may need to skate by.

Past performance – 9th place (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X)

Historical perspective – He gave great confessionals, had an incredibly strategic mind, and famously figured out a way to convince players to go to rocks with him even when it wasn’t in their best interest … and many of them weren’t even aligned with him for all that long. He also shared arguably the best moment of the season with Bret as the two of them discussed sexuality and the influence that generations and society can play on individual expression. The sentiment leaving the game the first time was that he had the potential to be so much more than 9th place, and he is being brought back almost similar to Jeremy from San Juan del Sur.

Strengths – Zeke may be the smartest person on the entire season, and also the person who understands the game the best. Like Cochran, he may have struggled somewhat to separate the analytical and the personal sides of the game the first time, but now that he’s got that experience behind him, this should serve as an opportunity to better express himself and build solid relationships with his tribemates. He’s affable enough to win anyone over, and while he may not look like the most obvious challenge threat on paper, he gets the job done.

Weaknesses – Patience! In making the Cochran / Jeremy comparison again, making a move is really all about timing, and like with both of those guys, we wonder if Zeke made a move before he needed to and left himself vulnerable to be picked off. He needs to be more of a stabilizing force — or at least put off the perception of that — and allow other people to stick their necks out as the catalyst. He’ll also need to figure out how to integrate himself into this group very quickly, given that he is playing with people with such extensive experience in the game.

Our prediction

Zeke is just someone you naturally want to root for just because he is a big fan of the show, and meaning the game would mean so much to him. Remember how we’ve been comparing him constantly in this article to Cochran and Jeremy? Well … we’re not going to go out on a limb and pick him to win just yet, mostly because he’s coming into this game without anyone other than Michaela knowing who he is. That may help him last for a while, but we think the threat of the unknown could eventually cause him trouble at around the final 6 or 7. He’s also so smart that nobody would want to compete against him in a jury vote, and Cochran and Jeremy had more of a layover to reflect and know what to fix about their strategy.

The one thing we’re banking on is that him, his magical mustache, and the most elaborate shirt designs since Rupert make it far into the game.

Before you go, we invite you to check out all of our other spotlights when it comes to the season. (Photo: CBS.)

What is your take on Zeke going into this season? Share in the comments.

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