The 34th season of pioneering CBS reality TV series “Survivor,” and the fourth “all-star” season which featured returning players, has certainly taken some deeply emotional turns in the past month. It began on the sixth episode of “Game Changers” that aired April 12, when during Tribal Council for the Nuku tribe, two-season veteran Jeff Varner made what turned out to be a fatal (game-wise) error by outing “Millennials vs. Gen-X” returnee Zeke Smith as a transgender male.

Jeff’s action led to his being booted out without a formal vote, only to encounter a backlash of epic proportions at home, such as being fired from his job as a real estate agent.

Despite the other Survivors and host Jeff Probst having defended him, Zeke realized that his new notoriety on the show had made him a juicy target for elimination. On the ninth episode aired May 3, it finally happened.

Popularity ‘weakness.'

Due to Zeke Smith gaining a surge of reputation among his fellow “Survivor” players – as well as the viewing audience – for his outing by Jeff Varner, his name had begun to circulate among the castaways, especially once the tribes were unified, as a target for voting off.

Zeke had been a competent player both in challenges and in managing alliances, and his tribe-mates feared that his backstory could garner jury sympathy should he make it to the final tribal council. Ultimately Andrea Boehlke (from “Redemption Island” and “Caramoan”) rallied a majority bloc to put forth Smith’s name.

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During his closing speech upon being eliminated, Zeke lauded Andrea for going after him in the vote, thus frustrating his own plans to cajole the Survivor majority to move against her. He also thanked the show for how much it has inspired him; he got on board the program with “Cook Islands” back in 2010.

"I will forever be a better person because I played Survivor," he said.

Something positive

Zeke Smith had spoken about his decision to keep being transgender a secret, saying how “liberating” it had been when he moved to New York after his procedure and established himself as “Zeke.” This was also a factor in his keeping quiet about the fact even to his fellow “Survivor” players both in “Millennials vs. Gen-X” and this current season, “Game Changers.”

When Jeff revealed his secret, he simply explained that he didn’t want his fellow castaways and the TV viewers to know him as the “trans ‘Survivor’ player.” He then declared, "I wanted to be Zeke, the 'Survivor' player."

"I felt I was in a position where it was very important to model resilience," Zeke told The Hollywood Reporter in an interview. "No matter when I went, I needed to go out swinging."