Survivor host Jeff Probst has dramatically evicted one of this season's contestants after what many viewers are already calling the most horrifying moment in the history of the show.
The current US season of the show, its 34th, is Survivor: Game Changers and brings together a group of popular former contestants in the show to do battle with each other in a bid to win $1 million.
Two of these contestants are 50-year-old Jeff Varner, who's twice previously competed in the show, and 28-year-old Zeke Smith, who was a popular contestant in the 33rd season.
Through this season's six episodes to date, the pair, who both openly identify as gay men, have forged a close friendship.
That all changed at Tribal Council this episode, with Varner feeling the heat as he knew he was likely to be voted out.
Attempting to get the target off his back, Varner encouraged his fellow contestants to cast a more critical eye on Smith. He announces that Smith had been lying to the group: He's transgender, and this is information he has not shared with them. "It reveals the ability to deceive," he tells them.
As Zeke sits stunned that his gender identity has just been outed in front of his castmates - not to mention a worldwide TV audience - it's immediately clear that Varner's move has backfired. The other contestants howl him down, several becoming extremely emotional as they grapple with what he's just done to Zeke.
Horrified viewers took to social media, echoing the sentiments of those on the show
That tribal council was horrifying and triumphant and devastating and beautiful. I never want to watch it again. #Survivor— Andy Herren (@AndyHerren) April 13, 2017
I think it's safe to say that Varner will most definitely not be asked back ever again. #Survivor— Chris (@ChrisTaylor8859) April 13, 2017
Varner outing Zeke like that, in the middle of tribal council was LOW. Lower than low! It wasn't for him to tell. I'm speechless...#Survivor— Stephanie Gois (@Steph_11and78) April 13, 2017
#survivor Varner needs to go NOW. This is the worst thing anybody has done in 34 seasons.— Ed Shaskin (@cuinnj) April 13, 2017
Gay/trans people don't lie about who they are b/c they're deceptive, they do it because they fear for their safety #SurvivorGameChangers— Nato Tornado (@KingPotato027) April 13, 2017
It's been 20 minutes and I'm still stunned to silence over that tribal. That was unreal. #SurvivorGameChangers— Marissa Gibbons (@gibbons_marissa) April 13, 2017
Speaking to host Probst, Varner seemed to grasp that he'd made a terrible mistake, and attempted to backtrack.
"I'm not saying, Jeff, that transgender people are deceptive," he said, to which Probst scoffed: "You're saying that by not revealing it, he's capable of deception. That's a giant leap of logic. Do you honestly not see that?"
Probst then made an executive decision: There would be no vote. There was no need. It was clear who had to leave the island.
"We don't need to vote, just grab your torch," he told Varner.
As he left the show, Varner broke down in tears as he admitted his mistake.
"Nobody on this planet should do what I did tonight - ever," he said. "And I am so sorry to anybody I offended, especially Zeke, and his family and his friends. I can't talk. I'm sorry," he said.
He tweeted a more thorough apology as the episode screened today:
After taking some time to compose himself, Smith spoke out about why he hadn't publicly spoken about being transgender.
"There are questions people ask. People want to know about your life and they want to know about this and that. It sort of overwhelms everything else that they know about you ... One of the reasons why I didn't want to lead with that is I didn't want to be, like, the trans Survivor player. I wanted to be Zeke the Survivor player."
"It's really not cool," he said of what Varner had done. "But I'm fine."
To learn how to be a better ally to trans people, click the link below. *Spoiler alert* Don't out people. https://t.co/5uBmPMwNgx— Zeke Smith (@zekerchief) April 13, 2017