Exclusive: Caleb Reynolds talks 'Survivor': I was done in by Sierra Dawn Thomas and Hali Ford's alliance
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/16/2017
Caleb Reynolds was voted out of Survivor: Game Changers at Tribal Council after a three-tribe swap during Wednesday night's second episode on CBS.
After losing Season 34's third Immunity Challenge, the new "Mana" tribe voted off Caleb, a 28-year-old from Hopkinsville, KY, at the third Tribal Council session via a 5-1 vote on Night 9 of the game. Caleb -- who previously played on Season 32, Survivor: Kaoh Rong -- Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, but was medically evacuated before the merge -- cast his vote for Hali Ford.
Due to Caleb's pre-existing friendship with Tai Trang, Mana viewed them as a power couple, and it didn't help Debbie Wanner had also competed on Kaoh Rong. Caleb therefore became the target since he'd be a huge threat come the merge, and Tai -- seemingly thanks to Brad Culpepper's manipulation alone -- decided to betray his best buddy.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Caleb talked about his Survivor experience. Below is the first half of his interview.
Reality TV World: How disappointing or frustrating was it for you to leave the game on the same Day 9 you had gotten medically evacuated the last time?
Caleb Reynolds: You know, honestly, I just -- it's just a coincidence. I wasn't paying attention to the day. I know [Jeff Probst] -- he said it at Tribal -- he was like, "Caleb, if you left on Day 9, the same day that you left in Kaoh Rong, how are you going to feel about that?"
And I just said, "You know what Jeff? I guess it just makes room for a third time's the charm, and I'll see you again on another season later on." And I just didn't really pay attention to the day. To me, the coincidence of it being Day 9 both times, I guess it kind of seems like a curse! What if I did play a third time and I went home again on Day 9? Holy cow! That would be really weird for me.
But, you know, you play the cards you get dealt and that's all you can do. And that's exactly what I did and it just happened to be on Day 9 that everyone saw me as too big of a threat and wanted to get rid of me.
Reality TV World: Since you voted for Hali, you were seemingly well aware it was either her or yourself going home. So what did you think your chances were of staying? Did you think anyone was on your side voting with you?
Caleb Reynolds: I thought if there was one person, it would've at least been Tai, but I know he had to do what was best for his game. And from what I've been told -- because Tai called me. He was upset and was like, "I'm scared about this episode! I don't want you to hate me," and all this stuff.
I kind of felt that at least Tai would vote [with] me, but I guess Brad told him that if he would've voted for me, that would show where Tai's loyalty lied. And that scared Tai because if Tai writes Hali's name down when they're all choosing to keep Hali, it makes sense then that, well, Tai is next!
So Tai had to do what was best for him, and I didn't think I was going to have any votes at Tribal. I knew I was leaving, especially because during Tribal, Jeff pulls stuff out of people to make you go, "Oh!" Like when [Tony Vlachos] left, [Troyzan Robertson] said, "Well, when this person goes home, there's going to be less paranoia around camp." Well, that obviously means Tony, and Tony knew that.
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So Tony knew he was going home, and that's kind of how mine was when [Sierra Dawn Thomas] said, "Well Tai went to Caleb's wedding!" They didn't show that part, but Sierra was like, "Tai went to your wedding, Caleb. Why would we want to keep you two together?" That automatically proved and told me that I was the one going home. I thought if I was at least going to get one vote, it would've been Tai's.
Reality TV World: I'm wondering why you and Hali locked into the idea one of you was going home. Did you ever consider teaming up with Hali and taking out Debbie? If you had Tai with you, you could force a 3-3 tie, and since there's no revote after a tie anymore, you could've given Sierra and Brad the ultimatum to vote for Debbie or draw rocks -- assuming the tribe wouldn't reach a unanimous decision at Tribal.
Caleb Reynolds: Right. Well I'll say this: The stuff they showed on the episode is what they show. I can't control that obviously. It's production and all the editing is on them, but I did go to Tai basically with an ultimatum and said, "Look, Tai, you and I can flip one of these girls to be with us, and we would have three and three for a tie vote." And Tai had left.
I think the problem here was pre-game alliances. I believe that Sierra and Hali had played before together. They were friends and got matching tattoos and all that good stuff from their prior [Survivor: Worlds Apart] season.
And I just believed that Hali got in good with Sierra, Sierra was in Brad's front pocket, and then Debbie was in Brad's [pocket]. Everyone on that tribe was in Brad's pocket. And that's why he is the alpha male of the tribe.
So when I came in basically wanting to be an alpha male as well, I think he might've thought that would hurt his chances of getting further [in the game] because there's another bigger and better [version] of him.
I tried to come up with a solution, and I pulled Tai to the side -- and I'm sure Tai will attest to this, because they didn't show it -- but I asked Tai, "Tai, you and I can do this. Debbie was on our season. Do you not think we can get her on our side and even possibly have Hali come with us because she has been with me? I think we can do it, and then we'll send Sierra home."
That was the whole thought process, and he said, "Okay, well, I'll talk to them. I'll go talk and see what I can do." And then he came back and said, "Bae, they're not doing it Caleb. Brad Culpepper has convinced them all to want to send you home."
And so I said, "They want to keep Hali?" And that's when he's telling me that Debbie straight up said she wanted me gone. The moment [Debbie] was on the island with me, she wanted me home. And to me, that didn't make sense because I had played with her before!
It didn't make any sense to me, but I tried my best to have Tai try to get them to switch to be with me and him, and he just said that they wouldn't do it. He was like, "Brad Culpepper convinced them all that you're bad for our tribe," and that I was bad for his game.
Brad had told Tai that I would be detrimental to his game if he wanted to keep me, so he ended up convincing Tai to not even want to be with me. But again, they will show what they want to show. But I will say I did try that method. I did try to get people to swing and change their votes, but they just were not having it.
Reality TV World: At the time you left the game, did you think Brad and your tribe was making a huge mistake since keeping strength and physical players around at this point in the game for Immunity Challenges is important?
Caleb Reynolds: Yeah, I do believe that and I don't believe that they'll win a challenge with Brad being, really, the only strong person there. Say their challenge came down to having to pick that snake up now; they would never even get it out of the water. They don't have the strength to do it.
Now granted, strength isn't everything. But at the beginning of the game, strength and social game is everything. But you have to have strength to get through challenges, and if you're not winning challenges, you're not making it far in the game.
Check back with Reality TV World soon for the concluding portion of our exclusive Survivor: Game Changers interview with Caleb Reynolds.