John Powell – GlobalTV.com
The Vinaka Tribe’s civil war has finally claimed one of the two opposing leaders. Zeke Smith’s alliance squared off against David’s once again but this time there was a turncoat in their midst. Waiting to make a “big move”, Will Wahl turned on Zeke, and voted him out. Although he counted Will and Hannah as solid allies, Zeke admits that he is at least partly responsible for them flipping.
“The linchpin to my strategy was to build close bonds and relationships with all players in the game. I was successful in many respects, but believe that the two key flips which took me down – Hannah and Will – were a result of coming off as a cold, intimidating player down the stretch,” Zeke told GlobalTV.com.
Saying if he has the chance to play again, he would make more of an attempt to cultivate personal relationships with the other players and his allies, rather than be totally focused on the game the entire time, Zeke gives credit where credit is due.
“Where David best outmaneuvered me is his ability to be vulnerable and emotionally honest. David was able to make people feel that he cares for them and that they’re safe with him in a way I was not. I also think coming off as more human and less “game robot” decreases the intimidation factor. What do I need to work on, then? Feeling feelings, at least that’s what my therapist says, “ said Zeke as he discussed why he voted Chris Hammons out and what his next move would have been if he had stayed.
John Powell: Having now seen the episodes is there anything you wish they would have shown that they didn’t?
Zeke Smith: “I told so many hilarious dick jokes. Survivor should release an R-rated reel of my jokes.”
John Powell: Why did you decide to turn on Chris and send him home as you two seemed to have such a strong bond together?
Zeke Smith: “Chris and I did have a strong bond but I knew I wasn’t in Chris’s long-term plans. Also, I knew I needed to come for David and since David had a Hidden Immunity Idol, I knew I needed a big group of allies to split the votes against him.”
“I developed a strong relationship with Bret and Sunday and felt that once I voted Chris out, Bret and Sunday would be loyal to me. I was right! Unfortunately, my closest ally, Hannah, flipped to David’s side.”
John Powell: What surprised you the most about the entire experience?
Zeke Smith: “Even as a Survivor super fan, I was surprised how deeply the experience affected me as a person. I found unknown depths of strength and grew tremendously as an individual. I expected to come play a cold, heartless game but I made great friendships and found a new appreciation for the importance of kindness – an unexpected revelation in such a cutthroat game.”
John Powell: As a juror, how do you approach voting for the winner? What criteria is most important to you?
Zeke Smith: “For me, the winner is the person who played the riskiest and most effective strategic game.”
John Powell: Did you ever consider taking out Will since he did flip and break his trust or was that too great a risk?
Zeke Smith: “Honestly, there was no time to consider taking Will out. We sniffed out his flip just minutes before Tribal and the best thing we could do was convince him to flip back. Had we more time, I think it’s possible Will goes home.”
John Powell: If you had stayed and Hannah had been voted out, what were your plans going forward?
Zeke Smith: “Get Dave out of the game. At that point, I was such a visible target and I needed to play vote to vote, causing chaos to keep the votes off me. Honestly, had I stayed I would’ve needed to find a Hidden Immunity Idol and win several individual immunities.
John Powell: You were one of the strongest players this season, ready to play right out of the gate, did you have a strategy going in?
Zeke Smith: “Thank you! I’ve been a Survivor fan for a long time and, subsequently, had been plotting my strategy for many years. Survivor, fundamentally, is about relationships. My core strategy was to form as many close bonds as possible then, when the moment presented itself, start making big moves. I wanted to be sure that if I made it to the end, I would win. I’d rather go out of the game at ninth making big moves, then sit at the end and lose.”
Next time on Survivor…