We may only be one episode into the 33nd season of SURVIVOR, but we’re ready to proclaim mustachioed millennial Zeke Smith a winner. Because whether or not the guy walks away from the show as <i>the</i> winner, he’s proven to himself — and viewers at home — that what you see is most definitely not always what you get.
In the season premiere, Smith stood out from his teammates from the get-go. “I’m not dressed for the youth parade,” he said in comparing himself to his younger, hipper tribemates. “I’m dressed for the singles mixer at the Miami retirement center!”
Yet it was the Twitter-despising, fellow-millennials mocking asset manager who essentially provided his tribe with shelter and fire. “Against all odds,” said Smith, seeming as shocked as we frankly were, “I have become the leader of the camp.”
It was at this point we realized that Smith perfectly represents what SURVIVOR can be for participants. “I never think of myself as, like, the person who feels adept out here in the outdoors,” he admitted. “I’m not that kind of person. But I’m very intrigued by the idea of proving how tough I am. And so in a weird way, SURVIVOR is helping me rise to my potential. I never in a million years thought I was going to be the guy who makes fire without flint! I feel like a milestone has been reached in my life, that I’ve become a new man!”
The joy on his face, arising not so much from the acceptance he received for having proved his worth, but rather from what he was discovering within himself, was contagious. “I feel like I’m growing as a person out here,” he declared, “and I’m proud of myself!”
It’s impossible to say where the remaining 36 days will take Zeke, but in our books, he’s already proven himself to be not only awesome, but a winner.