Many fans groaned and others raised their collective eyebrows when notorious "Survivor: One World" villain, Colton Cumbie, was listed among the returning players for this season's "Blood vs. Water" cast. Love or hate on Colton, there was universal approval of him being on the show when all was said and done, because his inclusion led us to the introduction of his fiance, Caleb Bankston, a man who upon getting to know a bit, seems like Colton's polar opposite in personality. Opposites do indeed attract. After his elimination during Wednesday's episode, I had a chance to speak to Caleb today (in case you missed the stellar episode, here is my full Episode 12 recap).
Yes Caleb was cool and collected the entire season, soft-spoken and understated. Fans seem to love him. Yes, the exact opposite of Colton in every way!
He always seemed to be in a good position in the game and quickly became a safe "under-the-radar" pick. But early on, he showed an emotional side, deciding in the spur of the moment during a Tribal Council that he would be voting Brad Culpepper out of the game instead of Ciera, whom his alliance had previously planned to oust. His move happened to work and his alliance never looked back, even when his ally Vytas was shifted to the other tribe.
That left him with Hayden and the two were a solid pair for quite a while. After the tribe shift, Tyson, Gervase, Ciera, Hayden and Caleb formed a five-person alliance that they planned to take to the end.
But after the merge, it seemed like their alliance wasn't as strong as originally thought. Ciera seemed to be getting shifty and Caleb and Hayden decided that the time to make a move against Tyson was now. But little did they know, Ciera chose to align herself with Tyson and tipping him off to their plan, Caleb was blindsided by them and was sent to Redemption Island. When his house-of-cards tower tumbled with less than 30 seconds left in the competition, Caleb's fate in the game was sealed.
Here is my full interview with Caleb, where we talk about his time in the game, his reaction and true feelings about Colton quitting the game and who he was rooting for to pull out the white rock at last night's Tribal Council.
Tom Santilli, Survivor Examiner: Well it's really good to talk to you Caleb, other than the fact that you are out of the game!
Caleb Bankston: It's all right. Good to talk to you too.
Tom Santilli: Let's start way back at that Tribal Council, when you decided at the last minute to vote out Brad Culpepper. Any regrets with that move looking back?
Caleb: No, I had no regrets about that. I knew it had to happen. It was nice having that big target in front of me, to stand behind, but ultimately it worked because we went on a winning streak. Tadhana kept winning though so I think it was a step in the right direction.
Tom Santilli: But if Ciera were to have gone home at that point, it's a much different game.
Caleb: It would have been, definitely. But honestly, I think Brad might have decided that I would be going anyway soon, so I don't think that I would have gone as far as I did had I changed things there.
Tom Santilli: After the tribe swap, you formed what seemed to be a pretty solid five-person alliance, with yourself, Hayden, Ciera, Tyson and Gervase. In your opinion, who was the person that led to the downfall of your alliance? Why didn't things work out?
Caleb: I would think that it would be Ciera. We sort of heard a rumor from her that she had overheard Tyson, Gervase and Monica talking at night, thinking that they were a lot closer than we thought they were letting on. So she put that in our heads and me and Hayden started spinning our wheels, like we need to get them before they get us. So we just decided to put something in motion with Ciera and for whatever reason, she just decided to flip on us. Apparently she didn't want to work with us. She wanted to be with the veterans. She said she didn't want to be with an alliance that was flipping and flopping, but look! Ciera herself was flipping and flopping. So it's kind of ironic that she would say that when she was doing the same thing. There's a lot of things that go into it, but I'd say that it was definitely Ciera that started making us think that it wasn't all that we thought it was.
Tom Santilli: Now I know you love Colton and I'm sure you are a bit biased in answering this next question, but were at all disappointed in him for quitting? It's not that he lost in the game, or not like he was voted out, but he just quit.
Caleb: Not at all. I told him to always go with his gut and if he felt not good about something, get away from it. Don't do it. Don't do anything that's going to jeopardize you or your attitude. You know, he's grown a lot from his One World experience. To go back to the place where he was, he was real insecure, he was mad at the world for a lot of different things, there was a lot of stuff within his own family. But whenever he decided to quit, he just kind of made the statement that he didn't want to go back to the place where he was. He didn't want to be that person anymore, that person that America hates. It broke my heart a little bit. I mean, yes, you've got to get out of here, you've got to go somewhere else. So I was actually ecstatic that he made the decision to quit something that he loves doing just so he didn't lose himself. I mean, I'd rather him quit the game rather than have him go home and have Colton be broken. So I was fine with that.
Tom Santilli: You spoke of America "hating" Colton. As I'm sure you're aware then, he's not the most beloved Survivor ever to play the game. Even Jeff Probst laid into him pretty heavy on the show, calling him a two-time quitter and things like that. Does all of this criticism towards Colton bother you at all, or do you consider their frustration and disappointment towards him something that is justified?
Caleb: Yeah, it kind of pisses me off just a little bit, because the people that say things, they're not there. They may want the chance to play, but they don't really know how they would fare until it happens to them. They're not there, they don't understand what you're going through. Some people can't just go without food and water and sleep and they don't handle those things as well as other people. So I get it, when you want your chance and then you see somebody quit. Because I was that way with Purple Kelly and NaOnka (Survivor: Nicaragua). I felt like they quit and they took somebody's spot. This time around it's kind of different because you had to have already played and have a loved one who is good enough to be on the show to even get the chance. New players don't really have a leg to stand on when they get mad at Colton for quitting. And about Jeff saying he's a two-time quitter? Jeff wasn't going to the doctor and the hospitals with him getting everything checked out when we thought it was appendicitis. I was with him at the doctor, I was with him through all of that. There was something wrong, it wasn't just Colton wanting to leave the game.
Tom Santilli: So back to the game...you are sitting on the jury watching last night's epic Tribal Council unfold. Are you rooting for a specific outcome? Are you hoping that Tyson pulls out that white rock?
Caleb: Definitely. With Ciera trying that, I think it was a good move to try. It wasn't a really good move if you consider that it was only three people drawing rocks, it wasn't four people. Ciera didn't realize that Gervase wasn't going to be drawing. Her side had the odds stacked against them, Tyson's side had the more favorable odds in a three-person rock draw. That's not good odds, but in Survivor, what are you going to do? So I don't think it was the smartest move on her part, but I don't know, I think Hayden getting that point across to her at Tribal was big and Monica saying you know four is better than six. That kind of hit home for her that she had to do something, she didn't know what, and that was her only option.
Tom Santilli: That's too bad for you that she couldn't have come to that realization a few episodes back, huh?
Caleb: It really is, isn't it? (Laughs)
Tom Santilli: When Tyson played his hidden Idol, did you or to your knowledge anybody else know that he had it?
Caleb: To my knowledge, no one knew. Even Gervase seemed a little shocked. So I don't think he told anybody.
Tom Santilli: Talk to me a bit about Monica. She's been portrayed this season as very paranoid. Yet we never saw you or Hayden trying to really work on her. Why was she not an option and why was she so tight with Tyson and Gervase?
Caleb: I don't know. A lot of people out there talk trash about Monica saying that she would get on their nerves. She was always needing reassurance and it was just a revolving door of getting annoyed with her. I didn't know about trusting her, because her and Colton's season with their history, I didn't know what there relationship was this time around. I didn't get any indication that they were OK. With his and her history during One World and me getting out Brad, I just didn't feel like I was in any position to take Monica's word on anything. When we targeted Tyson and then Ciera flipped on us, we tried to get Ciera out. At that point Hayden did try to pull Monica aside and Monica assured him that she would vote for Ciera. But it was obviously just talk.
Tom Santilli: Well good chatting with you man. Best of luck to you and Colton down the road!
Caleb: No problem! I appreciate it.
For even more, be sure to watch the day-after interview with Caleb in the video to the upper left of this column. Also be sure to subscribe to this column (above by my name) to receive email alerts of new postings and you'll want to follow me on Twitter too, @tomsantilli, and at tomsantilli.com as well!
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