December 05, 2013 03:30 PM by Ryan Haidet
Calm. Cool. Relaxed. Those words easily sum up Caleb Bankston’s time on Survivor: Blood Vs. Water. His easy-to-like personality has many wondering how on earth he has any connection with two-time castaway Colton Cumbie — who is infamous for his abrasive, negative attitude. Even after Colton quit, Caleb stands by his man. When I talked with Caleb today, he explained his feelings toward Jeff Probst for accusing Colton of quitting twice, revealed his thoughts on Ciera opting to swap sides and dished details on what it was like sitting at Tribal Council in person watching them draw for rocks. That’s not all, Caleb expressed his utmost love for Colton and revealed when they will be getting married.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Were you nervous about going into the game with Colton?
Caleb Bankston: Yeah. I knew Colton’s reputation was gonna be something. Obviously, if there was any returnees from his season, they might have hurt feelings. Monica Culpepper shows up and I’m thinking that is the one person that we wouldn’t have wanted to see. She was the person Colton was instrumental in getting out in a blindside after the tribe shakeup (on Survivor: One World). Seeing that and knowing that his reputation was what it was, I knew that I had some work to do to kind of get people to realize we’re two different people who would play different. We have different personalities and things that make us strong. That’s what I went in saying. In life, I’m real quiet and Colton’s the social guy. He’s the one who kind of brings me out of my shell, and I provide comfort for him. I gave him what he needed the most out there and he gave me what I needed early on in the game to build relationships. You rip us apart, you take something we both need to help thrive.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: When I interviewed Colton (read it here) after he left the game, he was very vocal about his feelings toward the way Jeff talked to him when he decided to quit. Colton said he felt attacked. Did you feel that way as Jeff was talking?
Caleb Bankston: The only thing that really just drove me nuts — and I wanted to call Jeff out on it — but I was raised to respect your elders so it was not something I would do, was he said Colton quit twice. The first time, medical pulled him. They made the decision to pull him. I went to the hospitals and doctors with him. Jeff wasn’t there. For him to say that he thought he quit twice, it was kind of a you-don’t-know-what-you’re-talking-about moment.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Were you surprised by Colton’s choice to leave the game?
Caleb Bankston: Whenever the twist was revealed that you could switch with your loved one at Redemption Island, I honestly was worried for my own safety because I knew Colton would probably get voted out before me. If that happened, I was gonna switch with him. There was gonna be no questions, ifs, ands or buts about it. The fact he decided to quit, I thought, “I’m not gonna have to switch with him. He’s not gonna go to Redemption Island. I’m not gonna have to switch with him.” It was a huge weight off my shoulders that I didn’t have to worry about that anymore. Instrumentally, I think that decision is what put me on day 30.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: How did you and Colton meet?
Caleb Bankston: In Alabama, he was studying public relations and I was starting law school. After we met, we hit it off and dated the rest of that year. The April 2011 tornadoes came through about a year and a half later and we just decided that we were leaving Tuscaloosa. I didn’t want to do law school anymore and we moved up close to my family in an old family house. We’re farmers now. He’s going to school to be a teacher and, yeah, it’s working.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: A lot of people are surprised that your calm personality has connected with somebody known on TV as being abrasive. Do you get that reaction a lot?
Caleb Bankston: I do. I get it from people on the Internet on Twitter, Facebook and stuff like that. He is a lot more out there than I am. I’m more quiet, reserved and don’t really get into a lot. The people that know Colton, they know there’s a different Colton than what the Survivor world sees. That’s the Colton that I know and love. I mean, I love every part of him. I love the little 1 or 2 percent that can get really vicious if you put him in a corner like Survivor does. When you take away all his comfort and everything and “Young and the Restless,” it kind of makes him stressed out. I like the stressed out Colton and I like the happy Colton that I get to see every day. There’s always two sides and people are really quick to judge. I hate it for him. I hate that he has to deal with it. But I’m there. I’m there to reassure him that I don’t really care what people think. We’re gonna get married in October and we’re gonna live happily ever after.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Do you respect the way Colton plays the game?
Caleb Bankston: Yes. Jeff actually asked me if I would ever tell Colton, “Hey, this is how you play Survivor. You did it wrong. This is how you do it. See how I was doing it? I made it farther than you.” My answer to him was no. I would never disrespect Colton and tell him he did something wrong when he did what he thought he had to do. I did what I thought I had to do. It’s all opinion. It can go either way. He makes decisions, I support him. I make decisions and he supports me.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Colton told me he would never ever play the game again after the experience he had this time around. But would you?
Caleb Bankston: I would love to do it again. It’s kind of a two-sided thing. I would love to do it again with Colton, but actually get to play with Colton. I think we could be a really big power couple if we had both of us playing on the same team. This one, we were kind of expecting to get to play together, but on day one they split us and kind of screwed it up. But I had a blast and I would definitely do it again.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: It was tension-filled as a viewer watching Tyson, Ciera and Katie draw rocks. What was it like being there in person?
Caleb Bankston: It was crazy. I was excited. I wanted to jump up and down, run around, talk or just do something. But on the jury you have to be silent and just watch. It was really difficult just to be silent and watch. It was like a football game where you really want to root for some people.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: What were you hoping the outcome was going to be?
Caleb Bankston: I was really hoping that it was gonna be Tyson served up on a platter. The odds were against Ciera and Katie. Even with Ciera flipping on me and ultimately sending me out, I was still rooting for her and Hayden to go all the way. It was kind of a feeling of, “You choose to flip now?” But it was something else to watch it.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: We saw Hayden campaign really hard last night to get Ciera to flip — and it worked. And like you said, had Ciera made the move last week, nobody would have been drawing rocks because you four would have been in the majority. Why didn’t you, Hayden and Katie campaign harder just a few days sooner to convince Ciera to flip?
Caleb Bankston: It wasn’t really campaigning because she was still telling us that she was with us. Even going back to Tyson, it was me and Hayden sitting in the hammock and she walks by and doesn’t say a word. That’s when I realized she’s not with us anymore. She’s with Tyson. We called her out. ”You’re getting really close to Tyson. What are you telling him? What are you saying?” She’s like, “I didn’t say anything. We’re talking about my mom.” We knew it was a line of BS, but she was still trying to give us the idea she was still with us. That’s when we decided to go to Tyson and throw Ciera in. Ciera had kind of said that Tyson and Gervase were a lot closer to Monica than they were letting on. Instead of the five of us, it was the three of them. That was the tipping point when we decided to make a move on Tyson. When we realized Ciera flipped, we went to Tyson to try and turn it around a little bit. He told us that he was on board with getting Ciera out. Hayden trusted him. I didn’t. I asked Hayden,” Do you believe him?” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “I don’t feel good about it, but I’m gonna trust you.” I chose to trust Hayden on that one and it didn’t work out.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: Let’s go to the moment when you were eliminated from the game. When Jeff Probst said there were only 30 seconds left during the Redemption Island duel, why did you continue building your house of cards? You were so far ahead of Tina at that point and stopping everything would have forced her into scurrying to stack faster. All you would have needed to do was stand back and watch without making your structure weaker with height.
Caleb Bankston: At that point, with everything going on, you don’t think about looking to see how high she was. I was just kind of in a zone of, “I need to do this.” I had never done anything like that. I had never built a house of cards. I played with Tonka trucks and moved dirt and rocks around when I was little. The only house of cards thing I’d ever seen was on “The Brady Bunch.” That’s the only time I’d ever seen it, so I didn’t really know what I was doing. Once I kind of got in the motion and learned it, I didn’t really have a chance to turn around to look and see where Tina was in her stack. I was just trying to work up until the last second and go as far as I could.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: What was going through your mind when you saw your stack teeter over?
Caleb Bankston: When Jeff pointed out that it was leaning, I looked and was like, “Oh, man. This is not gonna be good.” I was like, “I’ll get one more, go up, put them on top and help stabilize it and let go at the last second.” I grabbed those two, I looked over and that sucker just goes. A gust of wind came through and just knocked it over.
Ryan Haidet, RealityTVMagazine: When Jeff announced that you guys only had two minutes remaining in the challenge, was that a surprise or was it an element of the duel that you were well aware of before it began?
Caleb Bankston: We knew that.
What are your thoughts on what Caleb had to say? Do you appreciate how supportive he is of Colton? Do you think Caleb could ever win Survivor? Would you want to see him play the game again? Sound off and leave a comment in the section below!
Photos courtesy of CBS.