Quick Note: We’re going to be bringing you all kinds of “Survivor” fun this season including episode recaps, exit interviews, and Power Rankings with Malcolm Freberg. And, we’re inducting three members into the “Survivor: Hall of Fame” starting Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for up-to-the-minute news and info.
Caleb Bankston and the Alabama Roll Tide have a lot in common. They were both heavy favorites to win a title, they were both only a few steps away from that final championship round, and they both came up a little short.
But, that shouldn’t negate how well they played all season. Alabama proved once again that they’re a force to be reckoned with on the gridiron while Brad Culpepper learned that Caleb is not to be underestimated at Tribal Council.
I spoke to Redemption Island’s latest victim the morning after his elimination and had a chance to ask him about Colton’s affect on his game, his alliance with the Coconut Bandits, and all of this season’s Tribal Council shockers…
Gordon Holmes: Alright, I hate to start this off on a bad note…
Caleb Bankston: That’s fine.
Holmes: But…my father went to Auburn University…
Bankston: Don’t say it!
Holmes: My sister went to Auburn University…
Holmes: My brother-in-law went to Auburn University…
Holmes: So, on their behalf, I’m saying to you a tiny, respectful, “War Eagle.”
Bankston: That hurt. Let me tape my wrists back up. You just slit them. (Laughs)
Holmes: I’m glad we have that ugliness out of the way.
Holmes: At Redemption Island you called out the Utah and Philadelphia-based players for lying. But, it seemed like you and Hayden were making moves on them first.
Bankston: (Gervase) pointed that out, but I’m not sure if that’s 100%. The way everything shakes out, you don’t know who’s making the moves first. We felt like they weren’t being 100% with us. We felt like Monica was a little closer to them then they’d made it out to be. Were they playing us? Should we get them? Maybe we verbalized it first. But, it didn’t feel like I was doing bad to them, because I thought they were going to do it first.
Holmes: Why do you think they targeted you before Hayden?
Bankston: I want to think it’s because maybe I was a bigger threat than Hayden. Maybe because of my Tribal Council with the Brad vote. And Gervase had made the comment that he couldn’t read me. They’d be talking, and Hayden called me out on it. He said, “It’s hilarious watching you talk to Tyson and Gervase about a plan because you’ll just nod your head.” And I said, “That means I’m down with it.” And he said, “Well they have no idea that you’re down with it because you’re just kind of silent.” Well, if I don’t have anything to say, I don’t have anything to say. So maybe they couldn’t see where I was standing.
Holmes: You mentioned the Brad vote. And my understanding from most of the Survivors I’ve talked to is you almost always know who you’re voting for when you go to Tribal. That didn’t seem like the case when you sent Brad packing. What was the tipping point that switched your vote?
Bankston: You know, Jeff has a way with his questions. He knows what to ask, when to ask it. And he asked a question saying, “Caleb is by himself. Should you cut him loose now? Why should you keep him?? It was so easy for them to come up with a case for getting rid of me. So I thought, this isn’t going down this way. I’m going to control my own fate. Something clicked. The weather changed. Something was different. Something was off. But I was originally voting for Ciera that night.
Holmes: So you’re saying that Jeff Probst is not to be trusted?
Bankston: (Laughs) He’s a sly fox.
Holmes: I feel like Ciera did the same thing. Her early comments made it seem like she was solidly in Tyson’s camp. Any idea what was said that made her switch it up?
Bankston: I think she was already thinking about it. Gervase picked Tyson and Monica to share his reward. He didn’t pick the new girl who need assurance. He couldn’t not pick Monica because she’d get paranoid all over again. So, maybe she had it in her mind. And when they were pushing that she was number four, she didn’t realize that she wasn’t in the hierarchy above Monica.
Holmes: When Colton left the game, he said it was because he knew you’d have taken his place at Redemption Island. At the time, did you understand that that was Colton’s motivation?
Bankston: No. When we got back home I asked him, “Why didn’t you give me any kind of insight? I didn’t know who to trust.” I didn’t know if he was working with somebody. It turns out that he and Monica were closer than I thought. I would’ve tried to pull her closer and smooth over the Brad thing. But when he sat in my lap and we had our moment, he said he couldn’t do it. He said he was a changed person since the last time he played, but he felt like he was headed down a road he didn’t want to go down. And I said, “If you feel like you’re going to be broken by this, go home. Don’t risk it. I’d rather you leave on day seven, than have a broken Colton.” I wish he’d told me, but I was glad we got to say what we did.
Holmes: Marissa paid the price for Gervase’s smack talk. Colton had a rough run of it out there. He rubbed some of the members of Galang the wrong way. Did you experience any positives or negatives from your association with Colton?
Bankston: I didn’t. Walking up on the beach with the new players, they all gave me a chance. They all got to know me. They’re like a lot of people who say, “I don’t get it, I don’t get you and Colton.” And so, they would hear me talk about him. And as time went by they understood what it was about us that worked. I was able to make my own mark. I think Katie said, “I wonder if Caleb’s mean deep down and he’s just putting on a front. “ But Ciera took up for me and said, “No, Caleb’s too sweet. He doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.”
Holmes: You’d have to be the best actor in the world to hide meanness under your sweet demeanor.
Bankston: I appreciate that.
Holmes: You mentioned that people don’t get you and Colton. I’m a big believer that you don’t really choose who you click with, who you fall in love with.
Bankston: You don’t. My last boyfriend, I was in a relationship with him for three and a half years. You think you love somebody, and then something happens. Maybe this isn’t what you thought it was. With Colton there’s never been that. We’ve been together for four years and it’s been happy every day. I love waking up next to him. I love going to bed next to him. He’s the one I look forward to talking to every day. Besides you today.
Holmes: See! Too sweet. No meanness hiding under there.
Bankston: (Laughs) You can’t choose who you love. If you could and you did what everyone wanted you to do, I’d be marrying a woman in October. Everybody loves Colton. All my family and my friends. He’s stolen a lot of my really good friends. I don’t think they’re my friends anymore. They’re his friends and I’m just Colton’s boyfriend.
Holmes: He can’t be trusted. He steals friends.
Bankston: He does! The dogs love him. I was the favorite, but now they love him more.
Holmes: Alright, word association time. We’ll start with Monica.
Holmes: Laura M.?
Bankston: Really, really tall.
Holmes: Let’s finish with Colton.
Bankston: The love of my life, dude.
Holmes: If things had gone your way and you’d had a Tadhana final four, I’m thinking you and Hayden would have been in the driver’s seat. What would’ve been your argument for the jury to pick you over the others?
Bankston: I would use the Brad Culpepper vote because that was definitely my big move. I’d play the fact that coming in with Colton we had the deck stacked against us because of his reputation. I’d separate myself from him and show that we’re two different people and play two different ways. I’d play to my likability, I got along with everybody. I did a lot around camp.
Holmes: Caleb, this has been great. Thanks a ton for your time.
Bankston: Can I get a “Roll Tide” before you go?
Holmes: I can’t say that. I’ll be disowned.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes